Blowing off steam through running

Washington PostJune 11, 2014 

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John Podesta, left, shown with President Barack Obama, took up running during President Bill Clinton’s term.

JIM WATSON — AFP/GETTY

White House counselor John Podesta arguably has had some of the most intense jobs in Washington. Serving as chief of staff during President Bill Clinton’s second term was a particularly stressful time, he said in an interview in the May issue of Runner’s World – and it was then that he “started running with a vengeance.... I had to melt the stress off.”

He and Clinton “had a very honest relationship.... He’d yell at me. I’d yell at him. But the stress is incredible. You’re always on edge.” After a tough morning on “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert, Podesta says, “I’d come home, throw my shirt off, and go outside and run and forget about whether I said something good or something bad. I just had to get rid of it.”

Podesta took up running in his late 30s and ran his first marathon at 52. Now, at 65, he averages “a half-dozen races a year, mostly 10K, 10-mile or half-marathon.” In an online video accompanying the article, Podesta explains the appeal of the sport. “I’m a man of simple pleasures. I like playing cards. I like watching old cop shows on TV. I like cooking and I like running,” Podesta says as he prepares a no-frills pre-race Italian meal – pasta with a walnut sauce, a simple marinara – to serve to his running group, the Progressive Ninjas.

Podesta says President Barack Obama, who is said to exercise on a treadmill, ought to “overrule the Secret Service and find a place to run outside.” Podesta enjoys running along the National Mall and in Washington’s Rock Creek Park, where, he says, he received his most valuable running tip, from a stranger: “Keep your head up – you’ll run faster.”

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