Run Streaking Across the US with László Piringer
One of the favorite things to cover in this publication are runners that of course run but more so run for purposes, meanings and most of all run streaks. This month’s run streak feature isn’t your typical run streak. This is one that spanned 3,110 miles over 78 days through various states. László Piringer states that this run streak was for reasons bigger than himself in support of No Kid Hungry. Let’s take a trip across the U.S as we discuss Laz’s journey.
MSM: Prior to your cross country trek give our readers a peek into who Laz is. We all tend to meet our fellow runners as they’ve been able to find their groove in which we see their successes. What was running like for Laz prior to finding your groove.
Laz: I am a musician or “artist’s soul” as my father has always said. Most of my life sports were really far away from my main interests. Now looking back I wish I had explored the beauty of sport, and not just art, much earlier. It has taught me so much about myself, confidence, sacrifice, goals, running has taught me how to start something new again from the absolute beginning. Two years ago I looked in the mirror and wasn’t happy with what I saw. I believe I, like so many other runners, began to run to simply start losing a couple of pounds. Pretty quickly my hobby running turned into a complete lifestyle change! I grew a passion and deep love for running, even though I still sometimes feel like just a hobby runner as I’ve only really been running for a few years. I was turning into a determined person who had found something new that i was missing in my life! I was constantly working on myself growing physically and mentally. The first year running honestly was just about pushing through the small injuries and pains beginner runners all have and learning not to give up and enjoy the growth my hard work had created. After reaching a certain level i began to think my feet can take me further than just around my neighborhood streets. In my research about running I came across the story of Terry Fox, a great Canadian athlete who has his leg amputated due to cancer and decided after to run across Canada to raise awareness and money for cancer research. His story inspired me and made me realize that this running across a continent is a “thing” you could do. After for some reason I couldn’t let this idea go, I felt I had found a new goal. I began doing more in depth research about the subject and every day seeing clearer and clearer that this was my path!
MSM: Let’s get into the preparation. From what I’ve seen on your post, to run across the United States is very unforgiving, especially dealing with the western states and its elevation. How did you prepare and train for such a run?
Laz: I don’t think there is any way to truly prepare yourself mentally for a run like this. Physically I ran a lot and eventually hired a coach, who I think is the best coach in the United States, coach Thomas Schwartz (aka Tinman) it was a really difficult training program that he had given me, one that was tailored to what I needed in order to prepare myself the best I could for my transcontinental run. My training was really hard with him! Some people have some kind of awakening or spiritual moment on their USA crossing because of the challenges they face but I actually had those moments during my training because of how difficult it was preparing for this massive undertaking. I also had a test run a few months before my transcontinental. I decided to rent an RV similar to the one we would use for our transcon. and run across the state of Florida from my home in South beach to Naples. Giving me an idea of what it would be like not only running the average miles per day I was planning during my USA crossing but also test how I would handle the RV life and how my fiancé would be navigating during the bigger USA run. I ran through the everglades in extremely hot weather which was brutal but also great preparation. I will say in retrospect after completing this Transcontinental run that there is no way possible to train for a cross country run in just one place. There are so many different factors I feel you only encounter and overcome as you go through it. Rain, hail, snow, mountains, desert, cars, people, streets with no shoulders..there’s just so much.
MSM: I’m sure training for such a run would mean lots of hours on your feet and lots of time in solitude running alone in ALL types of weather. Mentally how did you get ready for the solitude and quietness to run hours at a time alone.
Laz: Again, I don’t think you can be ready for that but you can get used to it and slowly be able to handle it better. Everyday is different, some days feel really long and boring and others are victorious! I listened to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts which were able to take my mind to another place. Sometimes I didn’t listen to anything, and when you’re alone in your mind this long you have thoughts from nowhere. Memories from kindergarten, past events. Imagine being in an empty room for 9 hours a day and letting your mind wander.
However, in my opinion, It’s not like a loneliness throughout the days running without anyone by my side, It’s more like a loneliness knowing no one who hasn’t done this themselves will truly understand what and how you feel out there everyday. It’s hard to explain. It’s very personal and unique because it’s not like a race or marathon that is easier for people to grasp because they’ve done it and experienced the event together, they can somehow relate. It’s lonely in the sense that there isn’t anyone to celebrate the real feelings of accomplishment when the run across the entire continent is complete. Even my fiancé who was by my side during this journey has a completely different understanding and experience than myself out there on the road in my head. I am very thankful to experience something like this in my soul that many may not have the opportunity.
MSM: You mentioned this journey across the US wasn’t just for you but also in support of No Kid Hungry. You’d think that a country that’s known as the land of opportunity unfortunately struggles with thousands of children not being able to have a nice warm meal daily. What made you want to donate and contribute and also share this journey with No Kid Hungry?
Laz: Because I didn’t just want to run for myself, it was important for me to find something larger than myself to run for, a cause. For me that was mandatory. I think food is the bare minimum any human needs to function and no one, especially a child should ever be without. That’s why I chose to run for No Kid Hungry. It was not easy for me to choose the right charity because so many places need and deserve funding.
MSM: To take on such a journey usually means that there’s a pretty steady support system in place and one that tends to usually be next to you standing side by side from start to finish. Who was that person for you that held you down on this journey?
“I don’t think there is any way to truly prepare yourself mentally for a run like this. Physically I ran a lot and eventually hired a coach, who I think is the best coach in the United States, coach Thomas Schwartz (aka Tinman) it was a really difficult training program that he had given me, one that was tailored to what I needed in order to prepare myself the best I could for my transcontinental run. My training was really hard with him! Some people have some kind of awakening or spiritual moment on their USA crossing because of the challenges they face but I actually had those moments during my training because of how difficult it was preparing for this massive undertaking”.László Piringer
Laz:: My support team was a concrete solid support system consisting of ONE person, my fiancé. She was as essential as my own two feet on this journey. She secretly blew my mind everyday with how strong and focused she was. Driving, navigating, cooking, cleaning, photographing, documenting, mentally and physically supporting me and problem solving! This journey has definitely proven we are a powerful super team able to conquer anything put in front of us! Extremely thankful and proud of her! We also took our 11 year old English bulldog turbo who was a seriously huge help on the hard days of my run. Hugging him literally took the edge off of the long days’ battle with the road and the elements.
MSM: Okay let’s get to the juicy part 3,110 miles across the United States starting on March 15th which had a special meaning. Your heritage is that you are from Hungary Budapest and March 15th was National Hungarian Independence Day. What was day 1 like for you, from what I’ve seen it seemed like it was very low key.
Laz: March 15th was not only the Hungarian National Holiday but also my fathers birthday. I purposely wanted to choose a day that would give me some kind of magic and meaning. I’m a man of beliefs, traditions, and rules which I feel give me an “advantage” over other runners. My first day didn’t feel alone because my beliefs were behind me, like an army running with me.
MSM: How did you prepare and do your route planning as I’m sure most of these routes have never been run before. I assume there’s not a simple road that says “run this way for a direct route from Santa Monica to NY”.
Laz: I wish there was, but no. There is no velvet carpet leading you from one side of the country to the other. There were so many challenges on this route which made this journey exciting and gave me so many stories to be able to tell. A lot of my route was from a gentleman named Chris Howard who modified the original LaNy footrace race to create a path for a previous runner named Robbie Ballenger, in the beginning and towards the end however I separated from that route and went my own way. It was crazy in some places! Sometimes the route would lead me to a place I thought there was no end or connecting two main highways by running through some abandoned tunnels underground that looked very sketchy like something straight out of the horror movie “IT”. I would go through “trails” (beaten service roads) out in the middle of nowhere in the desert and roads closed that no one has ventured through in a very very long time, climbing through barbed wire and over railroad tracks. I had moments of sweet adrenaline feeling not like I was a runner but someone more along the lines of Indiana Jones haha!
MSM: As we mentioned earlier those early runs seem like they were the toughest going through those huge elevations in the western states. How did you manage through all of that elevation, most of all how did your knees and feet feel after that. I’m cringing as I type this awaiting your answer.
Laz: Nothing to manage unfortunately, just needed to keep moving forward and get through it. One thing I really loved about this run is no matter how difficult it was there was no way around it, the only way was THROUGH! I trained for it well, but in Florida, which is obviously extremely flat! There were no hills in Miami to practice on but I trusted my training and my coach. Those mountains definitely challenged me, I ran across some beautiful nature in those western states but I was definitely happy to say goodbye and leave them behind me.
MSM: 3,110 miles in 78 straight days, no off days with an average of 40 miles a day means recovery is at somewhat of a minimum. I would think that you’d tend to work yourself into a routine post run which can also be seen as an active recovery?
Laz: Yes there was really zero recovery. I had one goal and that was to cover everyday the amount of miles I needed to complete before the sun would set. The human body is a miracle, this I learned on my journey! Your body adjusts and adapts after the first week or so. My mind was another story. But through injury and pain you simply need to keep going, there are no other options and you can’t allow your mind any green light to take it easy. From sunup to sun down I was put on the road running, I didn’t really stretch post run or have any type of recovery but my air relax boots I would use for about 15 minutes before I fell Into bed to sleep.
MSM: On to my favorite topic FOOD. Most of your runs were around 40 miles per day at a very good clip 10 mins per mile. That’s a decent pace for hours at a time, which means the most important part is fuel. What were some of your recovery meals post run and during the run?
Laz: I ate like a pig! 6 times more than I would eat in my normal day to day life because I’d burn around 6,000 cal daily. I am vegetarian so zero meat and very little animal products (cheese here and there) during the run my snacks were a lot of chocolates and pretzels, ice cream, etc. My fiancé was really good about preparing and cooking from scratch homemade veggie burgers, veggie quesadillas, falafel, and even homemade baked pastries in the RV. But yes, food, like fuel , was extremely important. It didn’t matter how much I ate though I would simply lose weight and slim down no matter what.
MSM: I imagine there’s so much quiet serenity that you’ve seen crossing this country that you would probably never see in the car, train or air. There’s something different about taking it all in on foot. What were some of your favorite scenes while running?
Laz: The amazing thing about this run is that I was able to see so many things and places first hand that I would not have otherwise. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to experience in this unique way the beauty of this country, seeing places i wasn’t even sure really existed. In a car you fly past the trees and everything around you, when running you interact with everything you come across. Again, this is very personal and hard to describe experience. but for me in places that are to others seemingly boring and flat like Oklahoma are actually long roads like a snake moving up and down under your feet. seeing the open fields and farmland are a blur in the car but when you’re out there for 9 hours a day it’s a wholly different experience. I have seen many mountains and forests in my lifetime so for me seeing the american farmland was a completely new experience and interestingly Oklahoma was my favorite state to cross. The peace of these huge empty quiet fields had its own kind of beauty I had not experienced before.
MSM: I read on one of your posts that what got you through days of running were podcasts and audiobooks, a few of those being Stephen King novels which are personally a couple of my favs. Can’t go wrong with Stephen King, Cujo, The Langoleers, The Stand, Misery and Salems Lot are a few of my favorites. What were some S.K novels that got you through those days on the pavement?
Laz: 90% of all of those that you mentioned! I had a lot of time to go through the Stephen King audiobooks. My favorite was the Dead Zone read by James Franco but I also listened to the Running Man, Thinner, Misery, Salems Lot, The Stand, The Institute, The Shining, Pet Cemetery (WOW!), Four Past Midnight, I also listened to some Hemingway, the Silent Patient by Alex Michselides, the autobiography of Kevin hart, Barack Obama, and Matthew McConaughey. Oh and also the David Goggin and Rich Roll – Finding Ultra and Devoted by Dick Hoyt was very heartwarming and inspiring. Plus a lot of Joe Rogan Podcasts.
MSM: Any states that stood out more than the other while running. Ones that you had much joy running in vs ones where you may have said good riddance?
Laz: My favorite/least favorite weren’t necessarily states but more so areas or towns. All the states had good and bad which made the journey interesting. For example in the Navajo Nation there were so many stray dogs I was afraid were going to attack me (a few of which did) which made the area difficult for me but also had some beautiful wild west type scenery and with extremely kind and inviting people. Victorville wasn’t my favorite for sure but it was also in the very beginning of my journey which I will say perhaps I was a bit “new” into what I had gotten myself into running across an entire country, it was definitely a “you’re not in Kansas anymore” moment for me. My favorite was running through Oklahoma as I said that was a peaceful, beautiful place for me and there were a lot of amazing moments in random places along the way where I just felt I was in the right place doing the right thing at this moment of my life. I will say in every single state there were people who were waving and cheering and just extremely welcoming! In the end I can truly say America and the people in it are beautiful and amazing!
MSM: Such a long journey, so many miles. What were some of your thoughts as you started to get close to the end where you knew that finish was close.
Laz: Bittersweet. Of Course I was sooo happy to not have to run 40+ miles a day, a huge pressure on my mind and body, but also a bit sad to see it come to an end. Even now, about 18 days after the finish of my USA run, I still haven’t found my place outside of those streets and highways. My heart pulls me back to the road and I miss it. But I’m slowly working on a new running program and hopefully soon a new adventure.
MSM: You started on a Hungarian National holiday and you’re now finishing on Memorial day. Was that perfect timing or planning on your part. Either way, it was pretty amazing to start on your country’s national holiday and finish on an American holiday.
Laz: Not going to lie, the beginning was planned, but the end date constantly changed along the way. I believe the ending date was a bit meant to be and everything I wanted or imagined happening on this journey did in some way, so it was perfect. Proud to have been able to come full circle and honored to be able to finish my run on such a meaningful day for a country that has given me so much.
MSM: So here you are 3,110 miles later approaching the finish line of good ole New York City, Central Park’s Strawberry fields, what were some of your feelings crossing the finish line?
Laz: I didn’t cry. I am not even sure my mind understood when I stopped in Central Park that this was over and I finished and conquered this run! It took days for me to understand I didn’t have to get up and run 40 miles again. I feel more emotional now looking back at all of the videos and photos of my journey along the way, of all the places i ran through, i remember it so vividly. When you are in it and doing this kind of run it somehow doesn’t seem that big, your mind and body has gotten used to everything. But looking back.. from forest to desert to mountain i begin to realize how BIG of a run this all was, how long and hard the days were, and slowly your mind starts to grasps what you’ve done once you’ve kind of zoomed out a bit.
MSM: They say Marathon finishers make up 1% of the population but what you just did was by no means an easy feat, I looked up this number and it said only 300 people have made this run across America, i’d say that number is now 301. YOU DID IT!!!! Your determination and focus is unlike any other and I think we speak for many when we say that we are truly proud of you and this accomplishment.
Laz: Thank you!
MSM: For our readers that would like to keep up with Laz how can we stay in touch?
Laz: My main page is on Instagram: @LazRuns Feel free to add me, contact me ,whatever you feel. It’s my personal page. I handle myself so if i can, i will respond 🙂
MSM: Any last words you’d like to share with our readers?
Laz: Get out there and do something! Don’t be a person who just sits and watches life pass by in front of your eyes. There are no Do Overs. If you are here on this planet just one time make sure you’re not spending it staring at a phone screen!
MSM: From us here at Mid Strike we wish you nothing but the best and look forward to seeing what the next adventure holds.