Tiffany K. Martin believes that “health” is about much more than the traditional elements of healthcare. She recognized that the existing system doesn’t adequately address the needs of many people, and so she founded Elevated Health and Community to provide resources for those who need them the most. Elevated’s “Not Just for Runners” event includes a 5K and one-mile run/walk/roll that are designed to ensure that everyone finishes with a sense of accomplishment.

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Tiffany’s running journey began in high school, where she ran track and field. She was a sprinter and jumper, but at an international track meet, she recalls, her coaches asked her to run the 800. “They were like, ‘Okay, Tiffany, we don’t need you to do anything except finish. Just cross the line. We don’t care what the time is. We just need points on the board for teams. And I ran the 800 and I didn’t come in last. I think I came in third at that event. And I was within like a couple of minutes of our school record and so they wouldn’t let me stop. I think that was my first taste of distance endurance running because you know, as a sprinter you keep it fast, and even the 400 was torturous for me. So the idea of having to do the 400 twice was just really torturous in my head.”

She didn’t run during college, but when she resumed, she embraced distance, and has now completed more than 10 marathons and over 55 halves. “Never in a million years did I think I would be running those kinds of distances,” she says. “And the majority of that has been since the age of 30. So that’s only been the last couple of decades for me. I’ve done more in my thirties and forties, athletically, than I did in my twenties and under. And I feel very blessed and privileged to be able to make that statement that I’m in good health and I can run and show up the way I want to.

“As a master’s athlete, I’m blessed to celebrate my 50th birthday this year, and don’t let anyone make you feel like athleticism has an age limit because it does not. We will transition in how we show up. You might spend more time on recovery and rest than you used to, but these are all okay things. Whether you’re recovering from injuries or as you’re starting to get older and do more, you just realize what you want to do or how you perform is different. That’s exactly what it is. It’s different. It’s not done.

“Doing things differently is not necessarily a bad thing. And you can still embrace every aspect of being an athlete as you get older. As your body changes, your expectations can change and they might change for the more, like you might get after it and want to do more. I think people think of age as a limiting factor and I don’t think it has to be.”

Medical professionals are often quick to tell their masters patients that they should quit their sport, but Tiffany encourages runners to seek out other voices. “There are a lot of practitioners and individuals who will feel like, ‘Nope, you’re done.’ But for every hundred of them, you can find one that says, ‘Yeah, not necessarily.’ And I say, make it a priority to seek that voice out, to look at all aspects and options, even the ones that you think you would never consider, so that you can make an informed decision about what you want for yourself.  Because I do believe where there’s a will there’s a way, and it’s just a matter of negotiating how you want to show up and what’s the give, what’s the take. You may not be able to do it exactly the way you want to do it, but how can you show up in a way that brings you peace and fulfillment? I do think you can meet that metric with resources that are available to you. Seek the information and the support you need and put a plan together. Start the plan. Figure out what that takes.”

Tiffany’s goal is to make putting that plan together easier through her nonprofit, Elevated Health and Community. “I think when we think of health, we think of the traditional things like nutrition, fitness, exercise. We think medicinal, in terms of doctors, and we think of our traditional healthcare systems. When I speak of health, I’m speaking of anything that has a positive or negative impact on how we show up day in and day out to do the things we need to do and the things we want to do.

“And so I founded Elevated Health and Community because I recognize that health is a privilege in our country. Theoretically, we believe it to be a right, but the way our systems are structured, it really is a privilege. And I want to encourage and challenge brands, and events, and health care providers to redefine and broaden how they show up and how they define health and health options for patients and clients because I think the more preventative we can become, the easier we can shift from being a sick care system to really being a health care system. One that cares about health and wants to invest at the front end, rather than when someone’s sick and ailing and requires repair. 

“I also recognize that marginalized communities, statistically and historically, have a different track record with how health alternatives are presented and their history with the healthcare system. And so at Elevated Health and Community, we want to bring the access, information, and resources to any and everyone who needs it to make informed, high quality health decisions for themselves and loved ones. But we recognize that marginalized communities have different barriers. And so we have a particular focus for individuals within those communities.”

One way that Tiffany focuses on community is through Elevated’s “Not Just for Runners” event. NJ4R includes a 5K and a one-mile run/walk/roll, and Tiffany ensures that everyone feels that they belong. “There are a lot of individuals who want the experience that a formalized 5K and one-mile event give, but they may feel that they are not a runner, right? And so they won’t ever go that route because they don’t think that route is for them. They don’t think they’re the target audience. They don’t think the path is paved for them. They know they’re slower, and there’s cutoff times.”

Tiffany keeps her course open for two hours, to accommodate all participants. “A lot of events are very welcoming, but they don’t necessarily include all participants. They don’t make sure that everyone has an equitable experience and that’s really what I tried to focus on with this event.” She wants to make it a rewarding experience for participants of all levels. “My fastest last year was just around 20 minutes. So she’s a ‘runner runner ‘and I love that she came and showed up as her authentic running self, even for a community event. And that didn’t put off any of my other participants. They were like, ‘You do you, you get to the front, you run fast, and we’re gonna do us.’ And everybody felt comfortable and that’s what I wanted to see. I wanted to see that comfort across all the different levels of performance. That was really what I think is important. 

And I think that event producers need to be more mindful of what is the experience across the demographic of your participants? The first finisher and the last finisher, does the event resonate with them in the same way or in comparable ways? It’s going to be different, of course, but do they still feel just as fulfilled and accomplished? And that’s what I wanted. That’s what I wanted.”


Elevated Health & Community’s website

Not Just for Runners registration (May 4, 2024)

Tiffany’s Instagram

Elevated Health & Community’s Instagram

Thank you to Precision Fuel & Hydration, HydraPak, and AG1 for sponsoring this episode.

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