Interviewed by Rachel Kohn
Shlomo Fishman is 25 years old and grew up in Monsey, New York. He spent a gap year in Israel after graduating from high school before moving to Silver Spring, Maryland, in the fall of 2012. Shlomo is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from NOVA Southeastern University, but even before completing his degree, he has already created a name for himself in the local fitness community and beyond.
What do you do for a living?
I am a Wellness Fitness Coordinator within the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). I design, implement, teach, and guide individuals to living a more productive, active, and stress-free lifestyle.
If you could have any job, what would it be and why?
It would be my greatest honor to help guide and train, both physically and mentally, injured service members back to living with purpose and passion. My plan is to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist and work for our nation’s military.
When did you first get into running?
I first got into running seriously during my gap year in Israel. I didn’t have much, and my means of transportation were my feet; so instead of walking from place to place, I would run. When I moved back to the U.S., I just continued and never stopped — literally.
What are your running goals?
My running goals change from year to year based on work, school, and family obligations. For the calendar year of 2017, I have two goals, one of which I already completed. One was to run a half-marathon in 75 minutes (or 5:43 pace per mile), and the next one is to complete the marathon in under 2 hours 34 minutes (5:52 pace per mile).
It is challenging for me to say where I stand as far as rankings are concerned. According to JRunners, an organization based out of Brooklyn, New York, the fastest marathon time of a Sabbath-observant athlete is 2:34:55. With my current level of fitness and training, I am confident that I will be able to set the new standard on October 22 at the Marine Corps Marathon. Only time will tell.
Are there any challenges you face as an Orthodox Jewish runner?
I would be lying if I told you there weren’t any. To be totally honest with you, there are some really cool races that are run on Saturday’s that I would like to participate in.
What advice do you have for young Jewish athletes?
For any athlete, in any sport and of any faith, my advice is this: Keep it simple. From my personal experiences, I always have the best workouts when I keep the technology at home, and I’m the one telling my body what to do and nothing else.
Is your wife Melanie [née Kugler, a Silver Spring native] also into athletics? Is she your superfan?
Yes and no. Both my wife and I have very different athletic/fitness goals. Having the ability to support each other in what we do is what matters most. The support doesn’t start and end with my wife — having my “mini village” of family, running friends, and co-workers is what allows me to succeed — but she is the best teammate one can ask for, and I couldn’t be any happier. Her ability to see past the extremely early mornings, the mounds of running clothes [presumably in the laundry], and gear is what makes her the most “super fan” in the world.