Matt Leibman


I remember my last long run training for the 2013 NYC marathon. This was the last hurdle until I would taper, culminating in a goal that I had spent months training in order to cross the finish line in Central Park. Unfortunately, my knee and hamstring had different plans for me, and my 21 mile run turned into 19 miles and panic. Ultimately, I would withdraw from the marathon a few days prior to the race with hamstring tendonitis, which was crushing given the time and effort that I put forth training.
Fast forward early February, with my legs feeling great, I decided to go for a short run, which was surprisingly pain free after a slow three mile jog. Unfortunately, two days later, I badly threw out my back with a herniated disc and was crawling on the floor in agony. Once better two months later in April, I decided to play in a spring basketball league – I was not yet over the injury bug as I took a nasty fall, broke a bone in my elbow, and had ligament damage.
Finally, late in the summer of 2014, after the better part of a year away from running, and 20 pounds heavier, I was ready to get back to running. I found Achilles by checking out the New York Cares website as I wanted to explore volunteer opportunities in the city. Achilles seemed to be a perfect fit to volunteer, while regaining a level of fitness that I craved. I remember my first run with Achilles, which was supposed to be a 4 mile run at a 9:30 pace with one of the other athletes – “should be a breeze,” I thought thinking of my past running history. Only we ended up doing 5 miles, at an 8:15 pace, and I was happy to finish and not get sick in the process. During the weekly Tuesday and Saturday workouts, I always heard that Charles was incredibly fast. I told myself that one day I would be able to keep up with him. Finally, this winter, I felt ready to keep up with Charles for a workout because the last thing I would ever want to say while guiding one of the Achilles athletes is, “can we slow down?” As I’ve gotten to run with Charles regularly, we truly push each other whether it’s running a fast 6 mile loop of the park, or incorporating speed work on Harlem or Cat Hill. There are certainly days when I feel like taking off, due to a long/bad day or poor weather, but those are the workouts that I am most proud of with Achilles. I recall early this June running with Charles on a rainy, miserable day – our workout would end with six sprints up Cat Hill – I absolutely would have stopped if I was on my own, but it was an example of Charles pushing me – completing that work out, on a rainy Tuesday in an empty Central Park, was a massive accomplishment for both of us because we wouldn’t quit.
I’m grateful for my involvement with Achilles and the friends that I have made along the way. It is such a rewarding experience being able to be a guide athletes of varying skill level – that is one thing that I tell people whenever I describe Achilles – it isn’t just to work out with runners that are very fast like Charles, but those of all abilities that may even just walk and need the assistance of a guide. I’m incredibly fortunate to be part of the Achilles group, and not just because my clothes fit again, because I’ll get to achieve my goal of running my first marathon, while guiding Charles to his first as well!

2 thoughts on “Matt Leibman

  1. I hope you have a wonderful weneekd in Boston.It does sound like a worthwhile organisation. The name made me a shudder a bit. I got new running shoes (supposed to be like running barefoot) and my achilles tendons are in agony. The website did warn me but I thought it wouldn’t affect me. I was wrong.I am full of admiration for anyone with a disability to takes part in sport. Fab.

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