I first met Tiff-Hill in Tucson, AZ, when I joined her running team, the Grinders, in November of 2013. Tiff-Hill and her husband, Dave, started the group in 2004 and retired from coaching at the start of 2022.
Joining the Grinders took commitment. They met in the dark at 4:30 in the morning, four times per week, to complete challenging speed workouts and long runs within pace groups. Everyone was friendly, welcoming and serious about training.
Ahead of each speed workout on a flat, marked greenway path, Dave Hill put out cones on the quarter mile markers, with lights inside to make them glow: a beacon for each pace group to chase in the darkness.
As Grinders set out for their warm ups and repeats on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and long runs on Sundays, Tiff-Hill always stayed put on the greenway path. She did the same workouts she wrote for the team, but she ran them alone … because she ran in place.
She runs in place because she now has nerve damage in one leg from a 2007 injury that still prevents her from running forward. When I learned this, I asked why she doesn’t take up another sport. “I consider myself a runner,” she says. “ I never wanted to try another sport like cycling. It didn’t interest me.” And so, she runs in place. No music, just her own focused mind, picturing herself in a race.