GWYou: Dr. Jeff Hartman

‘Every Day is a Great Day to Run’ for Exercise Science Professor

GWYou: Dr. Jeff Hartman

National Running Day is celebrated June 5, but every day is running day for Dr. Jeff Hartman, Gardner-Webb interim chair and professor of exercise science. He’s preparing for a marathon (26.2 miles) in October, but the first time he ran over 3.1 miles, he was tricked into it. Another GWU professor invited him to run a “5 miler” that turned into 9 miles. With that accomplishment, Hartman started trying longer runs.

“I didn’t know I could run more than a 5K, so I figured, what the heck, let’s see if I can run a half marathon (13.1 miles),” Hartman reflected. “Once you run a half marathon, the next dumb question you ask yourself is, I wonder if I can run a marathon? Then I tried a couple 50Ks (31 miles). After that, I figured I’d try to run at least 1 mile every day of the year.”

That was in 2016, a leap year. He averaged running 5 miles a day for 366 consecutive days. “There were some days when I only ran 1 mile,” he said. “There were other days I ran 20 miles.”

Achieving his goal meant that some days he ran at 3 a.m. or during a snow storm. “There was no, ‘it’s raining today, I’ll do my run tomorrow,’” Hartman affirmed. “Since I made the goal of running every day, every day was a great day to run.“

Currently, Hartman runs 4 to 5 days per week for a total of 25 to 30 miles. “Running is freedom for me; it is life,” he observed. “Running allows me to clear my head, pray, give thanks, gain perspective, meet like-minded people, meet God, challenge myself, fail and succeed. Running is something you can do wherever you go with minimal equipment needs. Running allows me to see parts of the world I would not normally see from a perspective most won’t have.”

For those who want to begin a running program or fitness regimen, Hartman recommends hiring a credentialed professional. “And don’t neglect your feet,” he added. “Go to a mom-and-pop running store and have them fit you for your shoe. Buy a good pair of socks. Your feet will thank you for it.”