Josh Beck is the owner of Appalachian Running Company with a background as a professional cyclist, duathlete, and triathlete.
Let’s start with “Be a Difference Maker.” What is this about?
“Be a Difference Maker!” is our mantra at Appalachian Running Company. We filter everything we do through that lens. It’s taking mundane things like shoes to help people move better, so that they can go out and pay it forward. At its core, being a difference maker is about being kind to others.
The phrase “Be a difference maker” was born from a very personal experience. In 2013, I received news that my friend, Donna, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Through conversations, we agreed that she could still go out for some runs. That summer we ran a couple of times a week and subsequently participated in some races including the Boiling Springs Triathlon, Harrisburg Half Marathon, and Harrisburg Marathon. Donna passed away shortly after the Harrisburg Marathon. For the Harrisburg Marathon, she determined to finish in under three hours ‒ which we did! It was a really special time and blessing to be able to help somebody who could use it.
The difference you make in someone’s life may not always be measurable, but it’s worthy.
Among other accomplishments, you placed third in the World Powerman Championship in 2015. As a follower of Christ, how do you think about competition ‒ either on the side of athletics or business?
God gives you certain gifts and talents. Use them to the best of your ability. God will use your talents not for your glory, but ultimately for His glory.
Owning a business is a very humbling process. I don’t take the responsibility as a store owner lightly when others are putting their livelihood under my leadership. By the same token, if you do all the heavy lifting yourself, you’ll just burn out. There is a certain level of spiritual growth and maturity in running a business. There are days when you can see storm clouds approaching, and you do what you can to prepare. Other times, you just have to trust that God provides just enough for the day.
Every experience is there for a reason. Sometimes you wonder when that bad experience is going to end. Other times, you’re riding the really high wave of enthusiasm and experiencing a great time in your life. God doesn’t give you too much to handle.
Business is booming. As I understand, there are now two stores, one in Carlisle and another one in Chambersburg. Amidst all the successes and accomplishments, how do you stay humble?
You have to stay humble. It’s never a good idea to be constantly measuring yourself against your competition. In the comparison game, someone will rise to the top and somebody else is going to be at the bottom. I’d rather not live my life comparing all the time.
The world recognizes success by your finishing place, trophies, and accomplishments. For me, it’s about pushing myself to the most with what I’ve been given.
Sometimes, that results in a first-place trophy, and sometimes if things didn’t line up that day, I might not even finish the entire race. Running is more about seeing what I can do than getting a big fat race resume.
While there have been times that I do get some form of recognition, I try to always point it back to God. The truth is that these aren’t really my physical abilities, but God working through me.
So you run Appalachian Running Company, and you are also a triathlete. How do you get through trying days especially when motivation runs low?
There is a verse from the Bible that says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Rom. 8:28). I take that to simply mean that things will all work out in the end. We might go through some lean times or might have to adjust as we go but I hold fast to the idea that good can come from this. God gives you the strength when you need it.
What do your spiritual practices look like on a daily basis?
Each day is an opportunity to be hungry to see where God is for the day. Some days, it lines up with my day but more times than not, it takes me in directions that I never thought I would go or doing things I wasn’t planning on doing.
In terms of daily practices, I do my Bible reading for about ten to fifteen minutes in the morning. Currently, I’m subscribed to Max Lucado’s Upwords. I also pray with my wife and our kids before I head out.
Another part of my spiritual practice is in fact when I bike or run. As soon as I throw my leg over the bike or start running down the sidewalk, that’s a time when I feel God’s presence. If I never competed another day of my life, I’d be okay with that. But, I’d still really want to continue to run and ride. Those are good God moments for me.
What is one purchase below $100 that has positively impacted your life?
I bought this $12 duct-tape wallet some seven years ago. It’s very well worn and carries what little bit of cash I have and other important things. Besides, I won’t know the difference between some fancy-pants wallet and this wallet; that’s just kinda how I roll.
What are you learning these days?
The store is now nine years old. It’s grown bigger and my role has changed immensely. I used to be on the floor all the time and know everything that went out the door. As much as it’s uncomfortable, I have to slide to the side to be more of a cheerleader and encourager. I’m continuing to learn to uncover the gifts and talents of our staff to make sure they work in the areas that they not only like, but are good at.
Happiness and contentment aren’t always the same. I strive to be content.
You remember what it’s like when you don’t have much, but it’s also important to be thankful for what you have.