Foot Notes: Blindsided by life? Running can help you cope

Andy Sandrik
Foot Notes

Almost every runner has gotten the question at some point: What are you running from?

Perhaps the purpose of the question is to annoy us, or perhaps it's just a way for our non-running friends to break the ice.

Either way, the truthful answer is ... sometimes we are running from quite a bit.

There are times we run away from conflict, or to prevent ourselves from causing a conflict. I can think of a number of times where I've received infuriating emails or hurtful comments on social media and took a run to blow off steam before responding (or not responding at all). When my kids do everything in their power to get under my skin, I've found that sometimes it's better to retreat for a run rather than erupt in anger and say something that I will regret.

Running is often our natural reaction to trauma. Whether it's the passing of a family member, a marriage that has fallen apart, or a sudden loss of income, life has a way of blindsiding us. And for runners, running is our best way to cope.

Andy Sandrik, Foot Notes columnist

When I lost my dad years ago, I remember feeling hollow inside. I pushed forward on a series of long runs because I didn't know what else to do. Sometimes when we don't know what to do, we turn our attention to something that we know exactly how to do.

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We run away from our difficult adult decisions all the time. Should we stay at our current job or break away to pursue something bigger? Do we attempt to rehabilitate, or shield ourselves from, the toxic people in our lives? How about inking the dotted line on that mortgage that we'll be paying off even after our kids have kids?

If I don't know the answers to the hard questions that are thrown at me, I will often run until I do. It gives me an opportunity to sort my needs from my wants and my priorities from my preferences.

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At the end of the day, if we're truly seeking closure, our issues and questions and trauma will eventually need to be addressed directly. But I also understand the feeling of being overwhelmed with anxiety, anger, or grief. These are not states of mind I want to be in when decisions need to be made. Sometimes the best first step we can take is a step back.

There is no shame in running away from something we're not ready for, so long as we pick the right shoes and plot a safe path home.

Race results: Strong back-to-back efforts for Walker

Take one look at photos of Matthew Walker from three years ago, and it's hard to believe the once-obese Chambersburg man has transformed into one of Franklin County's must-watch running prospects.

Walker, 34, recently cashed in on his hard-earned fitness with strong race efforts on back-to-back weekends. In Reading, Walker plowed through the mud at the Ugly Mudder 10K to win the Clydesdale Division with a 1:02:54. One week later, racing on the roads for the St. Patrick's Day 5K in Shippensburg, Walker claimed second overall in 22:17, only finishing behind Chambersburg's Jeremy Hawk, who won in 22:10.

Chambersburg’s Matthew Walker, left, claimed second overall at the St. Patrick’s Day 5K in Shippensburg with a time of 22:17. He is joined in the photo by fellow Chambersburg runners Eric Guyer, who won the Masters Division in 23:14, and Stacy Guyer, who won the 50-59 AG in 28:49.

Walker was chased in the Ugly Mudder by Chambersburg's Eric Guyer (1:07:22), as well as Shippensburg's Kristina Deutsch (1:28:44) and Brian Caudill (1:28:45). As for the St. Patrick's race, it was loaded with local talent, including top female Tasha Koenig of Shippensburg, who posted a 23:09 to defeat Dover's Molly Myers (24:08) and Shippensburg's River Burrows (24:29). Other top runners in the race included Chambersburg's Stan Vaughn (23:04), Guyer (23:14), Steve Vanscyoc (23:18), Shelby White (23:31), Craig Leisher (24:05), Doug Eshleman (26:38), Christine Metcalfe (26:41), Brad Etchberger (26:56), Joel Van Kampen (27:06), Grant Bohn (28:08), and Shippensburg's Sean Burrows (24:31), Doug Shields (25:10), Bonnie Craig (25:27), Kimberly Diehl (25:27), Rylan Asper (25:34), Ron Slozat (25:35), Nadia Blount (26:44), Patricia Blount (26:47), David Hill (27:08), and Luke Barber (28:01).

The Celtic Canter 5K in Westminster, Md. drew 534 runners, including a handful of locals. Hagerstown's Will Marquiss claimed second in the 50-59 age group with a 19:51, while Williamsport's Jamie Turner also finished in 33:16.

Runners from the area also tested themselves on the virtual racepaths at the Two Rivers Tread Winter vs. Spring 5K and the Lucky Leprechaun 5K. Finishers of the races included Chambersburg's Andrew Shearer (24:08), Alexis Shearer (31:51), and Dallon Espinosa (31:51), Williamsport's Jordyn Truax (27:45), Keedysville's Catherine Hall (38:37), and Hagerstown's Dana Diehl (40:36).

Finally, a big round of applause for Hagerstown's Jana Fridrichova. The 42-year-old continued her dominance over the local ultrarunning circuit with a 50K time that most of us would be happy to have in the marathon. Fridrichova cruised through the Mid-Maryland Ultra 50K at an 8:31/mile pace to finish as the top female in 4:24:22.

Upcoming racing events in the area

The Lucky Charm 5K/10K: Saturday-Sunday, in Harrisburg. Start your running season off on the right foot with these races, which include a finisher's medal, t-shirt, and a gift card to Fleet Feet Mechanicsburg. Register for the race on

Chambersburg Half Marathon: Saturday, 8:30 a.m., in Chambersburg. Put your winter training to the test with this rugged half, chock full of rolling hills on rural roads. Brad Dodson won last year's race in 1:12:39. Register online at

Indian Rock 10K: Saturday, 9 a.m., in York. The York Road Runners Club will conclude its full season of Winter Series racing this weekend. Find info for the fifth and final race of the Winter Series at

Also: Special 13 & 26 Mile Trail Run (Saturday, in Safe Harbor); Roger Snyder 5K/10K/Half Marathon (Saturday, in Richfield); Two Rivers Tread "Hi Neighbor" 4 Miler (Saturday, Virtual); Two Rivers Tread Blast Off! 5 Miler (Saturday, March 20, Virtual); Garden Spot Village Half Marathon (Saturday, March 27); Naked Bavarian/Prussian (Saturday, March 27, in Leesport); Big Woods Half Marathon (Saturday, March 27, in Elverson); Roof Park 10K/5K (Saturday, March 27, in New Cumberland); Shamrock Shuffle Half Marathon (Saturday, March 27, in Harmony); Two Rivers Marathon Race Festival (Saturday-Sunday, March 27-28, in Lackawaxen); Operation Enduring Warrior Half (Sunday, March 28, in Potomac, Md.).