Runners: Angela Staab

The Runners profile is posted on Friday mornings at Running Shorts. Today, meet Angela Staab, whose life has been dedicated to helping others get healthy and now uses running to practice what she taught.

Runners: Angela Staab
Angela Staab, left, during the PTI Run on the Runway 5K on Saturday.

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The Warmup






Husband, Tom, a retired Lorillard executive (they own a farm. raise loblolly pines and tend a large garden).

Daughter, Jennifer Staab, Florida resident. "She's my running champion. She taught me how to run and continues to run with me."

Daughter, Dr. Thea Carter, a veterinarian and owner of Carter Mobile Animal in Hurdle Mills. "She taught me how to swim."

Son, Tom Staab, a CFO for a pharmaceuticals company and a Raleigh resident. "My son didn't foster me in anything, except he encouraged me to run."

Adopted daughter, Shawna Pierrera. "My siblings died young. That's part of the reason why I run. Her daughter didn't have a father or a mother, so we adopted her as an adult, and she lives in Florida (front-line nurse)."

Three grandsons.

A career helping others get healthier

"Believe it or not, I was one of the first nurse practitioners in the United States. I designed the nurse practitioner program at the University of Pittsburgh back in 1970." Also helped start the program at the University of North Carolina.

Taught at several universities, including Pitt. Also as an adjunct professor at UNC and as a visiting professor at UNCG.

Founded a geriatric health center in Danbury, Conn., and held an adjunct position at the University of Connecticut.

Worked with the Moses Cone Health Center in Greensboro beginning in 1980 for about eight years. "Dr. Stewart Rogers and Dr. Timothy Lane, two of the founders of the internal medicine program, had a grant to start a chronic disease project. The grant was for three years, and we were to prove that by giving multidisciplinary care to chronic-diseased people adults of all ages, that we could keep them out of the hospital, keep them healthier and make insurance payments less. We took care of arthritics, diabetics, hypertensives, COPDers and obesity. The team was a physician, a nurse practitioner, a pharmacist, a social worker and a nutritionist, and we kept their hospitalizations from five times a year to two times a year. And they were so much healthier and knowledgeable, and they loved it because they knew what their disease was and why they were taking their medicine. If people know why they're taking their medicines, and about their disease, then they can avoid the pitfalls that happen to people when they don't know what affects their blood pressure or what affects their diabetes."

Former dean of the School of Nursing at Rockingham Community College.

Led the nursing program at Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville for more than eight years.

Retired as a nurse practitioner. "That was my true love. During all this time, I was teaching geriatrics to anyone who would listen. ... I taught all kinds of health education programs, designed programs, would teach anyone geriatrics."

Why I run

"One of my main things is you have to practice what you preach. And so that meant stay healthy and be the example. And when I was at Annie Penn, this is how I got started in running. My daughters came to me and they said, 'Mom, you can no longer be a slug. All of your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and mothers and fathers are dead from heart disease and diabetes, and we don't want you dead.'

"About the same time, Annie Penn was in a corporate cup (in about 1995), and they told me I had to do something, and of course I was a slug, so I had nothing to do. I wasn't strong enough to be in the tug of war. So they said, 'Why don't you run the 5K?' 'I don't run.' 'Well walk it. If you take first place, then we get 10 points, and that could put us over for placing in the corporate cup.' So I said I would do it.

"My daughters taught me how to run on my driveway on the farm. They would make me walk the driveway one way and then jog down, and they'd make me walk up and jog down. And you have to understand, I'm an arthritic; I've had arthritis since I was 16. So for me to do any of this, I had to do it over a long period of time to build up my muscles and my tendons around my joints because my joints still swell. And there's a lot of pain involved, but ibuprofen is my friend. They made me run more than walk. It took about a month, and then they finally took me out on the road. The day that I did the corporate cup, I had not run a 5K. I had only run on the road with the girls. The day of the 5K, one daughter ran beside me and the other daughter ran backward in front of me. They would not let me have my watch, that I was not allowed to know how fast or slow I was going or what my time was. And they just kept saying, 'Mom, lift your legs, lift your knees. Mom, move your arms. Mom, you're slowing down, get faster. Come on, you don't want that van back there to pick you up.' And I did it. And I got hooked, because I won, and I got the 10 points, and we won the corporate cup that year.

Angela Staab during the indoor track season at JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem.

"Then it became a matter of incorporating physical fitness into my geriatric teaching, and all of the things that I got invited to do was basically as an advocate for older adult health and fitness. And so I could not let my health and fitness go down the tubes and tell somebody else to do it. That meant I had to keep going. But by then, I was kind of hooked, because my daughter's a long-distance runner.

"Most of my life, I've tried to foster other people to do things, whether it was get into gerontology, be a nurse, whatever. It just came natural to say, 'All right guys, I don't care if you have arthritis, I don't care if you have one leg, you can do it. If you put your mind in and you really want to, you will find a way to do it. ... If you show me I can do something, and I feel good about doing it and makes me feel good about myself, I'm probably going to keep doing it. Your self-esteem is very important in life. I always thought when people's self-esteem was boosted and they were doing something that they liked, they would continue."

The middle miles

A world No. 1

"But you have to preface it by saying that because of COVID, I think the Australians were the only ones that were running. None of the Japanese or Asians, none of them were running; the only ones that ran were United States. And actually I've been a national champion indoor in the United States in the 800 and the 1,500, and even the 400 and definitely the weight and the super weight."

What I'm doing when I'm not running

"I play pickleball. I swim. I crochet. And I love visits from my family, and I'm known for my Italian cooking that I learned from my mom. They all come for either roasted beast or lasagna."

My running tribe

"My running tribe is my Pacers. There are two women that are my long-distance running tribe, Kathy Jacobs from High Point and Martha Hamblin from Mebane. They are my guardian angels on the 5Ks. They are both 65, and so they're 13, 14 years younger than I am. But they both watch out for me, make sure I get to the start line, and Martha invariably comes back a quarter of a mile to come get me to run in. And then my track buddy pacer is Louise Guardino from Raleigh. She started when she was 60. ... The Pacers have been wonderful. The young guys, particularly, they really watch out for us old ladies. The Pacer guys taught us how to throw, but both of us have learned how to throw and both of us are national champions in throwing. So we get a lot of points for our team because we not only run, we throw.

Angela Staab, right, with her record-setting teammates at a track and field meet in Toronto.

"When I first started in everything, I was constantly pulling muscles or twisting things or doing something dastardly to my body. I've had IT, I've had fasciitis, I've had torn hamstrings. You name it, I've had it. Finally (Dr. Bert Fields) said to me about five or six about six years ago, 'Angela, you are not going to survive your running if you do not get yourself a coach.' I was just abusing my body something fierce. He recommended James Wilson; he's coach at Greensboro Day School, and he was at High Point University. I go to him three times a week, and he makes sure that I only do what he tells me to do, and no more, so that I have my injuries have been majorly less. And he was my physical therapist when I had my right hip replaced three years ago."


"Just learning how to run. I was a non-athlete. I mean, I never did anything. Literally, nothing athletic. And to learning how to run, and then becoming an athlete – someone actually calls you an athlete – is a major accomplishment for me. And then the other accomplishment was learning how to throw.

Angela Staab throwing javelin at a meet in Winston-Salem.

"You maybe don't understand what it's like to be a woman growing up when I grew up. We learned how to cook, we learned how to sew, and we were supposed to be nurses or teachers or housewives. That was our only choice. There was no other choice to do anything. And so for me to become an athlete, and especially at this point, a noted athlete, that I actually can achieve national recognition, is just unbelievable. I sometimes have to pinch myself. And that's what keeps me going. I've written three books on gerontology. I've lectured all over the country. And none of that means as much to me as being someone recognized as an athlete. Now tell me that's not stupid."

It's gold for Angela Staab.

A workout I hate

"Interval training. Every Friday morning, you will find me on the track, either at Dudley or Greensboro Day or Rockingham County High School, doing intervals. And I know it makes me faster, and it gives my coach a chance to see me running so he can tell me what I'm doing right and wrong, and he teaches me how to take the angles on the track, track-type pointers. I love it but I hate it. And I'm so tired when I'm finished."

A workout I love

"I like working out in the gym. I like throwing the medicine ball and doing the pulldowns on the weights and the flexion with the knees and pushing the weight with the weak knees. I hate the treadmill. I don't love the elliptical, but I like it better than the treadmill. I'm not real keen on cycling, although I've done a lot of bicycling. My coach has a plan. And I do repetitions in groups of three and four. The gym that I go to has a big hill in the back. I do intervals on that hill, where I run up 60 yards or so and then I walk down and then I run up 100 and walk down and I run up to the next light pole and walk down and back and forth."

Pre-race meal

"Anything I want, just so it's not within three hours of racing. As I've gotten older, I've found that I'm better off to do some protein and a few less carbs, but something not heavy but light but nutritious."

Post-race indulgence

"Water. I kid you not. Water, and if they have oranges or fruit. In the summertime, watermelon, if they have it there."

Favorite race

"The Turtle Krawl, and it's down in (Indialantic) Florida, and it's 3,500 people, for the Sea Turtle Preservation Society. I just did it (Sept. 11). It's flat, and it's so much fun, because you're there for the turtles. And when the race is finished, they give you the most beautiful medal you ever want to see; it's a custom-designed turtle."

Last races

"I ran the Turtle Krawl (Sept. 11), I ran Moonlight Madness (Sept. 17) and I ran PTI on Saturday (Sept. 18). I will never do that again in my life because I was dead all this week. ... My coach was livid. He said that was too much."

Next race

"Women's Only; they're doing it virtually. But I'm actually going to go to Greensboro to run it."

The cooldown

My runner's high

"The runner's high, I get when I do the relays with my team. We have a team of three ladies that are stable, and then we have one that we fill in each time. They have adopted me because I run a 200 every once in a while, and I've proved to them that it really can be done by a middle-distance runner. And that's when I get my runner's high, when I'm part of a relay team and I'm standing on the track, waiting for Mary, and then I have to go as fast down that track to the next person. ... We've had over five national records. Some of them have been broken. I think we still hold three. ...

Angela Staab sporting her favorite singlet during state Senior Games in Durham.

"Just to go down on the track and a huge stadium with people in it. And they say, 'In Lane 1, there's Angela Staab, she's a national champion from North Carolina.' That is a runner's high. Because then you think about all the days that you're on the track in the rain and the snow and in the heat and the cold, and you're thinking 'I just can't run another step,' 'why am I out here doing this when I could be doing something else?' It all comes together right in that moment."

Finding the Southern Part of Heaven

"We had lived in Pittsburgh and Connecticut. You know what happens between the first of October and the first of April in both Pittsburgh and Connecticut. It snows: Feet, feet, feet. Many feet. You don't see the ground the whole winter.

North Carolina can still have cool weather for Junction 311 Endurance Sports' Jingle Jog 5K in December.

"And on one of my trips to North Carolina, I got off the plane in my heavy coat, fuzzy hat, fuzzy gloves, and the sun was shining and the azaleas were in bloom. The dogwood was in bloom. And when I stepped off that plane, I said, 'I have died and gone to heaven.'

"Everybody was so wonderful to me at UNC-Chapel Hill. And the weather was so wonderful. So when Tom and I decided we were going to settle, and we had three children at the time, I said, 'I know where heaven is.'"

What I've learned about myself through my running

"That I'm a tough old lady, and that I can do anything I put my mind to and somebody else tells me that they believe that I can do it. My coach is my wind beneath my wings. When I say, 'I don't think I can do it,' he says, 'You need to try it. You can do it. I believe you can do it.' His motto is Yoda; there is no try. You either do or you don't. When I say, 'I'm going to try it,' he says, 'No, you're going to do it.'

"He also says, 'I watch your face, I know what's happening. And if I think that you're getting to the end of your string, I'll stop you.' I'm his only All-American that he's ever trained, his only national champion that he's trained, and he uses me as an example with his high school kids. He says, 'If my 78-year-old lady can do this, you can do it.' I don't want to let him down, and he has never let me down."

Words to the wise

"You can do it if you have the heart and the desire to do it. But you have to do it smart. You have to either have somebody guide you that knows how to do it, or you have to read about it and then apply it. I've learned a lot of throwing by just reading and watching videos. My motto for older people is it's not how old you are, but how you are old. When I walk down on the track with the other masters athletes, it's hard to believe that they're as old as they are. Most of them do not look their age, do not act their age, and I believe it's just because they say age doesn't matter."