If you want to know the role Shannon Higham plays in her husband’s running success, look no further than their interaction at the Mile 7 marker at last year’s St. Jude Memphis Marathon.

More than a quarter into the race, Adam Higham, its eventual champion, was feeling comfortable with his pace and keeping his energy reserved for a strong finish.

“Normally you’d expect her to be bubbly and cheering, but she had this look of anger on her face,” says Adam, who finished second in both the 2017 and 2018 events. 

“She was screaming at me and saying, ‘You need to hurry up. The guy in first place is a minute and a half in front of you.’ I was like, ‘I got this’ … but she looked at it like I was a minute and a half behind and she was going to hold me accountable in achieving my goals.”

“I told him before the race I was done with second place,” Shannon admits with a laugh. “By Mile 7, I did yell at him—in a loving way.”

Not only did Shannon’s extra motivation work (Adam’s winning time was 2:29:17), it also served as a perfect illustration of the strong support dynamic between the Collierville couple.

The owner and president of Principle Construction, Adam ran his first St. Jude Memphis Marathon in 2012 and has since matured into one of Memphis’s few elite runners, sponsored by the Sugar Run Elite 5K.

Adam, 32, and Shannon, 29, are the parents of four children: Payton (8), Carson (6), Logan (4), and Jordan (5 months). Their big family, and juggling everyone, means Adam’s training needs to fit into a very specific schedule.

When deep into training, Adam runs around 120 miles Monday through Saturday. His six weekly runs begin at 4:30 am to ensure he’s home by the time his wife and kids are up and about. 

Shannon tends to baby Jordan during the evening to ensure Adam is rested for his morning run. She also does all the cooking during the week to make sure everyone is eating healthy.

“We made a deal that if he was going to commit to running, it wouldn’t interfere with our family time,” Shannon says. “He’s really good about making sure he’s up in the morning and we’re all together at night.”

Adam, who will compete in the Woodlands Marathon in Houston in March and the Nashville Marathon in April, says he wouldn’t have had the success in his running career if it wasn’t for Shannon.

“There’s no way you can devote the time and effort into becoming an elite runner unless you have a very, very good network around you,” he says. “She supports the fact that I take time off away from our kids to do things like this.”

It’s not just a one-way street for the Highams, either. Shannon, who competed in the St. Jude Half Marathon last year, heads off for her big weekly run when Adam returns from his on Saturday mornings. 

“Adam is about the most supportive person,” Shannon says of her husband, who also serves her own fitness coach. “He 100% wants me to reach fitness goals. He knows how important running is to him, so he makes time for me to get it in too.”

“We find a good balance where she can get her workouts in, and it’s not all about mine,” Adam says. 

“While my workouts may seem more important because I’m an elite athlete looking to win the race, I know how important it is to her. If I have to be up at 4 am on a Saturday morning so that she can get her workout in, I make that sacrifice.”

Both Highams, who are running the Valentine’s Day 5K in Bartlett this month, agree that being supportive of your partner’s fitness goals is essential within relationships.

“I think it’s vital—and not just in our workouts,” Adam says. “Whatever our goals are individually (obviously we don’t just run, work, or take care of the kids), we have other goals or aspirations, things that we want to do. I know she supports me in it. Anything I set my mind to, she’s going to be there and say, ‘Let’s do it together.’” 

“Running has really enriched our relationship,” Shannon says. 

“When we met, Adam was an athlete and I was not. Once he got into running, it made me want to get into running, and now we both share a passion for it.”

By Ben Stanley
Photos by Tindall Stephens