Wednesday, August 12, 2015


One of the things we love about our sport is the freedom it affords us. We can lace up the shoes and run at any time. We are not constricted by a court or a field, and, for the most part we are not even governed by weather conditions. We simply run through most of what Mother Nature throws at us.

We also appreciate the fact that we have the ability to conduct our workouts without the help of anyone. If fact, there was once a book written, entitled, 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.'

Throughout my career, however, I have considered myself somewhat of a 'social runner.'

In my first book, Running Shorts: A Collection of Stories and Advice for Anyone Who Has Ever Laced Up a Pair of Running Shoes www.,, I open with a chapter entitled, 'Cast of Characters,' in which I talk about the handful of runners who have guided me through my 39-year running career. That very important core group has been with me, and we have been through the good and bad times together, both in our running and our lives. Together, we have made each other better runners.

I still train frequently with 'Cast' members Brian Tonitis and Eric Anchorstar, even though their brash antics, if you've read the book, have been life-threatening on several occasions.

This past weekend I ran a 5-Mile race conducted by 'Cast' member John Ausherman. Over Labor Day, our families will vacation together at Myrtle Beach.

Make running your social club. Heck, most civilians probably get tired of us talking about running anyhow. It makes more sense to hang out with people who understand chafing, splits, and plantar fasciitis.

Running with someone who is faster than you will make a better runner. One of my 'Cast' members, Randy Haas, earned an Olympic Trials berth by running a 2:17 marathon. Randy hammered me on numerous long training runs. Those punishments paid dividends for me in future races.

Particularly on those dreaded track speed workout days, it doesn't matter if your running mate is faster or slower than you. The fact that you are out there together helps you to run faster.

On those days when you'd rather stay in bed, or when weather conditions seem unbearable, if you have a running partner(s) waiting for you, you are less likely to skip the workout.

Finally, there really is strength in numbers. Macho, aggressive drivers are less likely to flex their muscles when there is a group of runners than they are if you're running alone.

So, don't be afraid to lean on your 'Cast of Characters. Through them  you will become a faster, happier runner.