HOUGHTON - Joan Rundman, 47, of Hancock, knows a thing or two about exercise, rehabilitation and especially running. Rundman works in cardiac rehab at Portage Health in Hancock and was recently named Runner of the Year for 2008 by the Upper Peninsula Road Runners Club, the second time she's received such an honor.
Rundman helps classes of cardiac patients at the hospital during special classes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. While there, she helps patients to get back into their normal routine and tries to help them avoid future problems by gaining good exercise habits.
"I try to practice what I preach," Rundman said. "It's a lot easier to work with the patients when I can tell them that I do the things I'm asking them to do."
Joan Rundman of Hancock races on a trail during the summer. Besides being named U.P. Road Runner of the Year for the second time, Rundman also won her age bracket at the Noquemenon Ski Marathon.
Rundman was a gymnast as a youngster, and continued her gymnastics career well through college and into her professional life. She spent four years at Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., before moving to the Upper Peninsula.
She helped coach at Northern Michigan University when the University still had a gymnastics squad. Rundman enjoyed her time coaching, and cites a lot of those skills as the reason she is able to successfully work with the patients at Portage Health.
After completing her time at Springfield, Rundman started running, a new way to keep in shape. After starting, running just kept getting more and more enjoyable for Rundman.
"I've always enjoyed running, it seemed like a natural thing for me," Rundman said. "I enjoy setting goals and challenging myself."
Now that she is a 25-year veteran in running, she's taken up other hobbies as well, including Nordic skiing in the winter. In fact, she was very successful in Marquette in January, winning her age bracket of the annual Noquemanon Ski Marathon. Rundman will compete in at least a couple more skiing marathons this year, saying that she likes to be on the trails until the very end of the season.
"I enjoy skiing, it's actually better for my joints," Rundman said.
Rundman's plans for the summer are still up in the air, in the past she's had a very busy schedule for running, but she says she is just going with the flow now.
"I'll see what my family is like, what work is like, and balancing those to see what I can do," Rundman said.
She has completed at least eight marathons in her time, but has been out of that for 12 years, participating last in the 100th annual Boston Marathon.
"I'll be honest, as I've gotten older, I've accrued some injuries over the past years. So I try to balance it out, I don't do as much running as I used to. I would say I run about 35 miles a week," Rundman said. "I just try to make it fun. It helps me stay healthy, I just really appreciate the fact that I get out there every day."
Rundman says she is able to train with her dogs, enjoying the beautiful Upper Peninsula both in the summer and winter.
"I'm an outdoors person, so I run outdoors with my dogs in the early morning before work," Rundman said.
"If anything, I just want to be a good example for other people," Rundman said. "That anyone can do what they set their minds to."
The award was given out by the Upper Peninsula Road Runners Club, it is an annual award handed out to a standout runner from the U.P.
The award isn't based on performances or results, but instead is awarded to those that make the running community what it is in the U.P. Nominations were taken in late 2008, and the awards were announced in the bimonthly newsletter.
For information on the UPRRC, visit their Web site, www.uprrc.org.
Michael Babcock can be reached at mbabcock@ mininggazette.com.