PROFILE: Andy Ferrara has been running for 58 years

(Dec. 2021) After growing up in Brooklyn and starting a teaching-coaching job there, Andy Ferrara had to move to a Houston suburb for a new position during New York City's financial difficulties. The move took root, and he continued running and teaching. Now 73, he has covered more than 100,000 miles and has a daily running streak that goes back more than 44 years. His secret? Maybe that when his body starts hurting, "Those times don't consume me."

Career/profession? I was a high school teacher and track & field/cross-country coach for 52 years. Retired in June 2021. 

When did you start running, and why? I started running as a sophomore (1963) in high school (Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn). I just wanted to make the track team. Once on the team I discovered cross-country and wanted to be a part of that as well. Little did I realize that it would become such a big part of my life. After high school I attended the City College of New York (CCNY) and continued running cross-country and track. After a change of majors, I was determined to be a track and cross-country coach. I “floated” around to various NYC high schools, as was typical in the 1970’s, until finally getting permanently assigned to South Shore HS in Brooklyn. My running stopped during this time, as family, teaching and coaching filled my time. The NYC financial crises changed all of that in 1976. I lost my job after 7 years. I began running again as a release and to have “time to think.” I ended up in Houston, Texas and continued my teaching and coaching career. I retired last June after a total of 52 years teaching and coaching in high school.

How much did you run in your peak years? For a 3-year period 1978- 1980, I ran 3,042- 3,234- 3,346 miles. An average of 61.4 miles per week. Once in Texas I resumed serious training again and started a running streak that continues to this day. On August 18, 2021, it reached 44 years (16,071 days). I ran my first marathon in Houston in December 1977 (2:59:19). I followed it with the 1978 NYC Marathon (a disaster of over ambitious proportions). My best time was a 2:38:01 in 1984 in the Houston Marathon. Probably my proudest race was in 2016. After not racing for 25 years or so, I gave the Houston Half Marathon a try. Less than 2 months before my 68 th birthday I ran 1:52:45 and finished 7 th in the 65-69 age group, surpassing all of my goals. 

Top races and/or proudest achievements? My marathon best is 2:38:01 in the Jan. 1984 Houston Marathon. I’m probably most proud of running 1:52:45 for a half marathon 2 months before my 68 th birthday. I hadn’t run a race for about 25 years.   

Any idea of your total lifetime miles? I reached 100,001 miles on Nov. 1,2021. 

What is your current running routing, plus other cross training? I run every day still, and don’t cross-train, don’t stretch, and don’t do strength work.

Any recent races? I haven’t raced since the half marathon in 2016.   

Does it bother you to be getting slower? It sometimes bothers me that I’m running slower now. Not that it’s slower than years past, but slower than 12-18 months ago. As long as I can still “lace them up” and get out the door, I’m good. I have small personal goals, reaching 100,000 miles, keeping the daily running streak going (it was 44 years on Aug.18, 2021) 

How have your diet and weight changed through the years? My weight has stayed pretty constant over the years. It’s been within 10 pounds for 40 years (137 to 145). Currently it’s 142. I take a multi-vitamin daily and added vit. D3 on doctor’s recommendation 2 years ago. 

Any big injuries or health issues? Fortunately, no major issues to speak of. The rare case of flu hasn’t stopped me. The biggest problem has been avoiding dogs. I’ve been bitten 3 times in the last 8 years, drawing blood and requiring stitches.   

Have you got a favorite inspirational quote or two? “Now, I’m liberal, but to a degree I want ev’rybody to be free But if you think that I’ll let Barry Goldwater Move in next door and marry my daughter You must think I’m crazy! I wouldn’t let him do it for all the farms in Cuba – Bob Dylan “I shall be free no. 10” 

What 3 short tips would you offer to other hopeful lifetime runners?

1--Do it because you enjoy it. 

2--Race if you want to, not as justification.

3--If you must make comparisons, make them to the current you, not the past you. 

How does running and fitness improve your life? I honestly don’t know. There are times when it seems like everything hurts. Those times don’t consume me, and I know I’m doing better than most after all the years and miles.   

What are the biggest life lessons you’ve learned from running? I continue to run because I can, and I still enjoy it. At heart, I’m a numbers geek like many (most?) track coaches and fans. I like compiling stats, setting goals, being active. If that qualifies as a philosophy, then there it is.