Running the Distance

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr.
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs
Typically, running long distances is an acquired taste for most people, but for Master Sgt. Matthew Mancuso, U.S. Central Command commander's administrative staff manager, it's a way to getaway, stay in shape and physically challenge himself.

"I run to stay in shape as well as to remain focused and balanced in life. It's my happy place," said Mancuso.

Mancuso participated in track and cross country in high school, but gradually stopped running after graduation. It wasn't until he joined the Air Force and later deployed that he found the motivation to start again.

"The spark to start running again came while I was deployed to Qatar in 2005 while watching the Chicago Marathon on T.V., I was inspired by the elite runners," said Mancuso. "Later, while in Qatar, I ran the Gasparilla 15K race. I struggled and realized just how out of shape I really was; I barely finished the 9.3 mile race. It was a difficult and humbling experience."

After the Gasparilla race, Mancuso says that he was determined to get back into running shape.

Mancuso says he ran his first actual marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon, in Jan. 2006 after only six weeks of training.

"I basically went from the couch to the marathon in six weeks and I spent a good year and a half with shin splints and stress fractures in my shins," said Mancuso. "I wouldn't recommend that to anyone."

Now, Mancuso sets aside an adequate amount of time to fully prepare before running a marathon.

"I usually do a four month build up training plan in preparation for a marathon maxing out at about 70 miles per week in running," he said. "That is with keeping a steady training base of 30-40 miles per week in running and ensuring I watch my diet and make healthy choices."

Since that first marathon, Mancuso has run in 17 more, bringing his total to 18.
One of Mancuso's major accomplishments was participating in a 12-hour race in which he ran a total of 61 miles and placed first overall.

This year Mancuso turned 43 years old, and to commemorate his birthday he ran 43 miles on June 7. He managed to finish in eight hours and 53 minutes in 94-degree heat.

"I decided this year I was going to run my birthday miles so I ran 43 miles on Bayshore Boulevard and Davis Island going back and forth on the sidewalk," he said.

Mancuso's next goal is to run the Florida Keys 100 race in May 2015.

When asked what he would tell someone who desired to start participating in marathons, Mancuso offered this advice:

"Join a local running group, it makes a huge difference. You'll meet some great people that can help you with your running, training, race prep, etc.," he said. "As far as your runs go, get someone to run with as it will keep you accountable if you tend to talk yourself out of running. And, in the end don't think about it too much...just do it."