FOOT NOTES: Expert running a must for football stardom


I’ve been told this column is supposed to be about running, but after last weekend’s highly-entertaining Super Bowl, I’m still finding my thoughts stuck in the realm of football.

Say what you want about the game’s anti-climatic climax, this year’s clash between the Eagles and Chiefs will undoubtedly go down as one of the great games in Super Bowl lore. As a neutral fan in this game, I could only watch in amazement — and frequently shout “Wow!” — at the heart, desire, and pure talent displayed by both teams.

How do these guys get so good? We all know it’s the “hard work” behind closed doors, of course, but a lot of people might not realize that a big part of that workload is running. If you take a moment to really think about it, football is a game played by people who have absolutely MASTERED the discipline of running.

Many of us can walk or run a 5K, sure, but how much distance could we really cover sprinting through a battlefield with 300-pound behemoths aiming to take our heads off? Pro football players are expected to accelerate, decelerate, turn on a dime, leap, and dodge their way through the playing field.

In other words, they’re expected to be excellent technical runners.

Endurance, which goes hand in hand with running, also plays a major role in football. Put yourself in the cleats of the wide receivers, who have to run full-speed routes on nearly every play. The starting and stopping takes a toll over the course of a 60-minute game. Those who are still standing in the fourth quarter are there because of the endurance they’ve built during the course of the season.

My experience as a player on the high school gridiron taught me firsthand how running drills were a hellish, but necessary part of building up a football squad. From the dreaded hill repeats to the “suicides” on the practice field, it’s no wonder it took me until my 30s to fully embrace running as a participatory sport.

Not all of the running stuff was terrible, though, especially being a lanky boy who lucked his way into running drills with the big dudes from the trenches. My favorite workout with these boys was a single-file group run where at the whistle, the last man in line sprinted to the front to pace the group. Not only did that workout, now bearing the politically correct name of “Last Man Up,” help me learn so many new curse words from my brutish teammates, it also provided some of the precious few moments in my life where I’ve actually felt “good” at running. 

Of course there are many other factors in football — strength, strategy, and the ability to catch a ball come to mind — but plain and simple, you can’t play the sport if you can’t run.

So the next time you complete a hard race, slam dunk your water bottle and practice your touchdown celebration, because by running and competing you are putting yourself one step closer to an NFL field. Even if that field happens to be thousands of miles away.


Running through the heart of Death Valley National Park, Jesse Whitney had a marathon experience more picturesque than most. He was able to take in the scenic views of the surrounding mountain ranges, while running a path lined with exotic flora and fauna that can only be found on the desert floor.

It was pretty, yes, but the Waynesboro runner wasn’t exactly there for sightseeing, he was there to compete.

Whitney represented Franklin County, and the East Coast for that matter, well at the Death Valley Borax Marathon, running to an eighth-place finish in 3:47:50.

The idea of running in a place with beautiful surroundings was so appealing to Smithsburg’s Phillip Jones and Anne Shubert, they decided to take on the Froggy Hollow 9-Hour Challenge at Little Bennett Regional Park in Clarksburg, Md. Jones completed 34.4 miles in 8:06:30 to take third in the 30-39 AG, while Shubert ran 21.5 miles in 5:17:30 to win the 50-59 AG.

The Froggy Hollow 5-Hour Challenge saw Waynesboro’s Nicholas Snyder finish eighth overall in a field of 219 after completing 25.8 miles in 4:17:03, while the Froggy Hollow “More than a 4 Miler” race saw Corrie Jones, also from Waynesboro, cross the finish line in 55:42 to take second in the 30-39 AG.

The popular Cupid’s Chase 5K made its way to Harrisburg, and Chambersburg’s Connor Mulewich led the way for Local.News finishers, posting a 27:31 to take second in the 12 & Under AG. He was chased by Dan Mulewich (27:33), Tia Mulewich (28:03), Heather McAreavy (39:23), William McAreavy (43:06), and Waynesboro’s Tyler Bingaman (30:00).

Finally, in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Chambersburg’s Liliana Crawford posted a time of 39:25 at the Lover’s Lane Valentine Couples 5K.

And now, a look ahead:

Indian Rock 10K: Saturday, 9 a.m., in York. The York Road Runners Club Winter Series picks back up this weekend for its next-to-last stop of the season. Learn more at

Frozen Foot 5K: Sunday, 2 p.m., in Elizabethtown. The Frozen Foot series is back with its second race of the year. Last month’s race drew more than 150 runners. Register for the event on

Squirrelly Tail Twail Wun Half Marathon: Sunday, 10 a.m., in Lewisberry. Gifford Pinchot State Park serves as the backdrop for this challenging race. Find the event on

Also: Training Grounds Training Run 5K/10K (Saturday, in Denver); Welsh Mountain 15K/30K (Saturday, in New Holland); Eeenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe Half Marathon (Sunday, in Newtown); Run for the Cookies 10K (Saturday, Feb. 25, in Berwick); Medal Madness Saint Patrick 5K/10K (Saturday, Feb. 25, in Manheim); Race Under the Roof Indoor Triathlon (Sunday, Feb. 26, in Dunmore); Ugly Mudder 10K Trail Run (Sunday, Feb. 26, in Reading).

Foot Notes is a self-syndicated column by Central Pa. sportswriter Andy Sandrik that has been “running” since 2016. Andy always follows back on Strava and can be reached by email at [email protected].

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