Fuel Your Purpose: TOMMY O'GORMAN
Reaching Your Goals Starts With a Single Step
— Anne Mercer
Tommy O'Gorman doesn't listen to music when he runs. He runs in silence, soaking up each moment along the way.
Between the roar of the crowds at high-profile competitive races like the Hartford Marathon and the suburban soundtrack of everyday life found in the neighborhoods throughout West Hartford, each run has its own tempo, melody, and harmony.
We met Tommy through our good friend, Steph Blozy, at Fleet Feet West Hartford. Little did we know, he knew about us long before our brands partnered!
We met up with Tommy to talk about his running careers, inspirations, and what drives him to keep going mile after mile.
“My coach qualified for the Olympic Trials twice, so he was a big inspiration and role model for me taking my running career seriously.”
The Hartbeat Track Club was founded in 2018 with the goal of providing a flexible and welcoming atmosphere for post-collegiate runners in the greater Hartford area. The team’s structure allows athletes to continue chasing their running career goals while also managing their professional careers and personal lives.
Around 2018, Tommy took a short break from running. But, like most bitten by the running bug, he couldn’t stay away for long. His desire to run again was noticed by the team and they welcomed him with open arms.
He revealed the team’s motivation and encouragement were one of the reasons for his triumphant return to running.
“I’ve always found that running is a team sport. All the people around you push you to be better. And, if you have people that want to help you succeed, it ultimately pushes you to do your best.”
As Tommy spoke about the team, his respect for his teammates was evident.
Being part of a club that is so competitive is really motivational because everyone around you has individual goals. We push each other to meet and exceed them.
Persevering One Run at a Time
For the average individual, running is a chore. We know it’s a healthy activity for our minds and bodies, but the thought of hoofing it up a hill isn’t the most enticing.
Tommy is extraordinarily open about his running experiences, admitting that not all races or casual runs are fun.
“Some races can really hurt and suck. But, if you’re driven and focused on the moment, you can let the adrenaline wash it all away. Then comes the fun.”
It’s this surge of adrenaline that keeps Tommy running great lengths week after week, even when it’s single-digit temperatures or everything is telling him to take a day or two off.
“Running in its own way is therapeutic. You get lost in your thoughts and can release all that stress.”
But, sometimes taking a step back can be great for our progress too. During his collegiate running career, Tommy found himself at a point where he didn’t enjoy running as much. By making the conscious decision to take a short break, he reignited his love for running.
“I missed being able to get out and explore while running. I just really love being in the moment. When I tell people I don’t run with headphones in, they look at me like I’m crazy!”
And, by being in the moment, Tommy is able to focus his energy on overcoming whatever obstacles a race throws at him.
“When I was younger, the concept of pain would scare me in a way. I would tell myself I don’t want to reach that point. But now, running is something that you always have something to learn from. And as I’ve learned more and more, I’ve discovered that if you’re feeling pain you’re doing something right—because it means you’re pushing yourself more and more.”
It’s this mindset and perseverance that has allowed Tommy to get out of his comfort zone and take his running career to the next level.
“Now I tell myself, ‘I’m able to run a certain pace for this amount of time so why not do a little more?’”
Imagine what could be possible if we all did just a little more?
Looking to the Future
After years of training with the Hartbeat Track Club, Tommy entered the Hartford Marathon in October 2021.This race would be his first-ever official marathon. For runners in Connecticut, the Hartford Marathon is a coveted race. Runners from all over New England flock to our great state to run through the capital city.
By this point in our story, it should come as no surprise that Tommy crushed it and placed 9th overall out of 1,326 runners, maintaining an average 5:54 pace throughout all 26 miles.
And Tommy was just getting started.
Soon after, he’d go on to set a course record at the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s Blue Back Mitten 5k Run with a trailblazing time of 15:21 and run the Chevron Houston Half Marathon with a 1:08:44 finish time.
As he also noted during our conversation, he technically ran a marathon on New Year’s Eve 2021 when he and a friend ran from Manchester, CT until they reached 26 miles in Colchester.
Naturally, Tommy has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
After I finished the Hartford Marathon, I thought it might be a while before I do this again. Then I found out a lot of my friends were doing the Boston Marathon and now I’m doing Boston!
Excuse the running pun, but it’s clear that Tommy’s running career is picking up the pace. When asked about his professional aspirations, his response was one of humility and love of the sport:
“Being a professional runner may be a little ambitious of a goal, but nothing’s impossible! With running it takes time to get to the professional level, so if I’m lucky enough, I would love to. But if not, running will always be something I’ll do.”
Building a Running Community With Fleet Feet West Hartford
Tommy has been working at Fleet Feet West Hartford, a Victus Coffee retail partner, since 2019.
Fleet Feet staple in West Hartford and Tommy’s life for decades. Prior to joining as a staff member, Tommy’s sister worked there and he purchased his running shoes there throughout his middle school and high school years.
When he took some time off from school, he knew exactly where he wanted to work.
Fleet Feet West Hartford is known state-wide for its welcoming community and wide range of training programs accommodating new runners and those working towards a marathon. This community of runners is one of the many reasons he loves his job there so much.
“It’s hard not to love the community we have here!”
To that end, Tommy leads the Saturday morning Fun Runs and the We Run WeHa, a training program that set out with a goal to run on every single street in West Hartford. His “We Run WeHa” program received such high praise from participants that there’s a demand for a similar challenge in 2022.
Tommy was working at Fleet Feet right as the global health crisis hit in March 2020. As the company adapted to the new protocols and ever-changing restrictions, he noticed an enlightening shift in the local community.
“A lot more people got into running during the pandemic as a way to cope. And, as things started to ‘get better,’ I noticed that fun run and race participation grew an insane amount. A lot of people are now hooked on running as a result.”
This growth is a testament to the welcoming community that Tommy helped create at Fleet Feet West Hartford.
For many, Fleet Feet has been the home base of their running journey, before and during the pandemic. Whether they started as a middle schooler purchasing their first pair of shoes for cross country or are a parent looking to get in shape with a group of great friends after the lockdown, the Fleet Feet crew is there for it all.
“It was great to see people who haven’t run in years come into Fleet Feet to replace their shoes during the start of the pandemic. Then we started seeing them at training programs and Fun Runs. Then, they start setting running goals and the rest is history.”
As a training program coach and Fleet Feet employee, people come to and trust Tommy for running advice. His response is simple:
“I tell people to set goals and work towards them every day. Even if you set a big goal and come up a little short, you still worked towards something. You still got somewhere rather than nowhere.”
It all starts with a goal and a few steps.
We can’t help but think that Tommy learned this mantra from our friend and Fuel Your Purpose alum, Steph Blozy, the owner of Fleet Feet. Sure enough, Tommy had nothing but wonderful things to say about her.
“It’s an inspiration to work for Steph. She’s such an outgoing and welcoming person, so it’s really hard to not enjoy working there. She’s always there for you and thinking of ways to help other people out. She’s always pushing you to be better too, so it feels good to make her smile—as if she’s ever not smiling!”
True to the nature of Fleet Feet’s community, Tommy spoke highly of the shop’s philanthropic efforts. His worlds collided when Fleet Feet teamed up with the Hartbeat Track Club to collect more than 700 pairs of used running shoes for Hands On Hartford.
Fueling Each Run With Victus Coffee
One day while scrolling on Instagram, we saw a post about a local race. We noticed one of the runners was wearing our Victus Coffee wristbands and sure enough, it was Tommy!
We had already developed a relationship with Fleet Feet through our coffee subscription for runners but had yet to meet Tommy. Turns out, he had known about us long before this partnership.
“I went with a friend to the J.René Coffee over on LaSalle, saw the Victus Coffee display, and thought the logo looked really cool. I love wearing the bands on my arm. I thought ‘Oh this is sweet!’ I’m always trying to find a good cup of coffee anywhere I go.”
An Instagram message and a pop-up cold brew table at a community run and the rest is history!
After spending so much time drinking bad coffee, I discovered that freshly brewed coffee is way better and makes you feel better too. It’s something that I love.
Tommy then told us about his family’s love for coffee, too. His family all drinks coffee and often comes together to connect over a cup or two.
“Coffee is one of those things that you can sit down with and talk about anything with. My grandma would drink coffee a lot and at her house. There was a little counter and for years she would sit there and drink coffee. I loved getting to sit with her, drink a cup of coffee, and chat about anything.”
Join Tommy in fueling your run with our Victus Coffee for Runners subscription! Each month you’ll receive your favorite coffee blend plus a surprise gift picked out by the Fleet Feet team.
Rapid Fire Questions
— "Favorite race of all time?"
“The 2012 Manchester Road Race. I was 13 years old and this race was the start of my journey into running.
This is a race that everyone in my family has done. Every year we all ran the race before dinner at my Grandmother’s house. 2012 was my first race and my favorite race. I remember sprinting for a bit, stopping, and weaving through people trying to catch up with my Dad!
The atmosphere of that race was special in its own way. I would love to race it every year if I can!”
— “How do you like to stay active outside of running?”
“I enjoy hiking and kayaking. My grandmother lived down by the shore in Niantic and I’d spend the summers kayaking on the bay. I’ll go biking every now and then for cross-training too.”
— “What does wellness mean to you?”
“To me, wellness is about being happy and doing what you’re passionate about. That can be anything for anyone, so long as people are doing what they love and enjoying the little things along the way.”
— “What is one thing you want to be known for other than running?”
— “If you could share a cup of coffee with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why?”
“My Gram and Grandad.
My Grandmother was someone who always taught me life lessons. I spent every summer at her house and lived with her for a few summers in between school semesters. She was always someone to look up to.
She passed away recently and we were very lucky to have her around for as long as we did. She was the Grandma.
My Grandad was a sprinter in college and did hurdles. He may still hold the record at Manhattan College for the 100-meter hurdles!
I’d love to sit down with them both again and ask even more about their lives… see what other lessons I can learn from them. They always had stories about growing up. Plus, they always had coffee!”
As a young runner, Tommy has a world of success ahead of him, especially as he continues to accomplish his goals one step at a time.
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