ST. ALBANS –– Mike Mashtare has a long row of three-ring binders sitting on a shelf above his desk at BFA-St. Albans; they are the annual results of his cross country teams – more than 30 years of BFA runners and records dating back to the 1980s.
“Sometimes, I’ll have kids come back and want to look at their results,” Mike said at BFA, where he has worked for 33 years, primarily in physical education. “It’s nice when they come in and look them over.”
Now, Mike aims to help all runners feel better about their results, and themselves, through Better Running, an on-the-side business he launched last fall.
Mike’s initial clients were training for full and half marathons that were on their calendar this spring, but his clientele is “anyone that wants to enjoy the sport of running and become better at it,” from those seeking to simply get in shape, to hardcore marathoners and everyone in between.
“If you don’t like running, you may be doing it all wrong,” he said.
Mike is available by appointment, and he can either consult in person, or digitally, one person at a time, or in small groups. “The beauty of running is that you can base it out of anywhere,” Mike said.
All clients begin with a test run, so that Mike can gauge their fitness level. From there, his programs can span a few weeks or several months, depending on his client’s experience and goals. He also focuses on time management, cross training and stretching, and nutrition, if necessary.
“There are all kinds of programs you can get online,” he said, “but they don’t have that personal touch, which you cannot get daily by following an online program.”
Mike works with runners of all ages, but during the cross-country season he will not privately instruct high school runners from other coached teams.
“This business is aimed at helping runners at all levels, of all ages,” he said, “but I know from past experience that I don’t want to coach athletes that are already being coached.”
An Alburgh native, Mike graduated from BFA-St. Albans in 1977 and from Johnson State College in 1981 with a degree in physical education; that fall, he started working at BFA and remains there today.
Mike considers himself lucky, because he has been an inherently good runner since childhood. During his freshman year at BFA, his entire gym class got in trouble and had to sit under the watch of upperclassman and teacher’s aide, Greg “Moose” Christie.
“You mean we’re just going to sit here?” Mike wondered.
“Well,” Moose said, “you can run laps if you want.”
That’s when Mike joined the cross country team he would eventually coach. To date, he has run 30-plus marathons, including five Boston Marathons. He also made it to the national championships twice, during his freshman and senior years, while in college.
Mike is 54 and lives in Georgia with his wife, Kim, and their children, ages 13 and 10, who are both runners. Mike wants to carry Better Running into his post-retirement life from teaching, and he wants to keep running into the next quarter century.
“I want to be able to run for the rest of my life,” he said.