Daily run a key part of first-year UMass football coach Charley Molnar's routine

Last modified: Thursday, August 23, 2012
AMHERST - At some point after his team is settled into its Hartford area hotel Wednesday night, Charley Molnar will seek out the concierge.

The new University of Massachusetts football coach will be looking for a path to run on the next morning. If the concierge doesn't have a good spot, he'll move on to the front desk attendant, the bellman or anybody else nearby.

"Anybody who can find me the best path," Molnar said.

August 30 will mark game No. 1 of Molnar's head coaching career and the 1,491st consecutive day he's taken to the road for a run. Last year alone, he found spots to run in five different states on game day and several others on recruiting trips. He's taken that tradition with him from Notre Dame, where he was the offensive coordinator, to UMass, where he'll lead the Minutemen into their first season as a Bowl Subdivision program.

Molnar, 51, has run on game day and Christmas day, in oppressive heat, hard driving snow and everything in between. If at all possible he avoids running on streets, but he's rather pound the pavement than not run at all.

He takes his streak seriously and celebrates Aug. 1, the day it started, on Twitter. Last year he Tweeted: "I'm not obsessive, but today starts my 4th year of running without missing...1,096 straight days, 40 Gamedays, 31 wins!"

On his 2012 runniversary: "Today's 7 miler started my 5th year of running without missing...1,461 straight days #RunToWin #ground game #not obsessive."

The streak isn't ending anytime soon.

"It would take an injury or some sort of vehicular crash to keep me from getting my run in," he said.

In the off-season, Molnar runs road races. He was a regular at the Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club's Tuesday night cross country races in Northampton and is hoping to run next year's Boston Marathon.

But during the season, Molnar, who usually wakes between 4 and 4:30 a.m. likes to start his day with a run.

"I like to get my run in first thing in the morning. Once I get into the season, that will be my routine. I run very early," he said. "There's been some mornings where I feel like I need to get A, B and C done and I'll head into the office and then head to the locker room to get my run."

The distance is only less than six miles on the rarest of occasions and occasionally stretches to seven or 7.5 miles.

The streak started four years and two jobs ago, the day before the players reported when he was an assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati.

"I had a long streak going for a couple years and I had to get my knee scoped," Molnar said. "When that happened I took about a year off and only ran sporadically. Taking a year off really made me miss it. I hit it with a vengeance and I haven't looked back since."

Like just about every other time in his day, during his hours on the road, his mind is racing with thoughts of football.

"That's all I think about. I very rarely listen to music when I run," said Molnar, who'll even occasionally talk on the phone during a run. "I always have my phone. Sometimes I'll be running and I'll be having a heated football conversation. It's hard but if I have to I will. I don't like to stop. I may slow down a bit depending on the importance of the conversation."

That's part of the motivation for running early.

"It the run isn't before 8 a.m., there will be phone calls," he said.

Molnar said running has made him a better football coach.

"It's proven to be good therapy for me. It helps me get my focus every day," he said. "Once I have my run in, I feel much more like I'm ready to conquer the world."

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at http://www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.