Three For Thursday – Mark Cucuzzella


Here’s Egg In Your Face

I first met Mark Cucuzzella about ten years ago, when he helped me secure The Bavarian Inn as a transition point for the American Odyssey Relay, of which I was the Race Director at the time. In late April of 2010, Mark stood with me on the road just below the Bavarian Inn. . . at 2:00 AM. As we waited for the first runners to appear, we heard a thud. What we thought was a laundry bag turned out to be a human being–a middle-aged man who had fallen off the side of a nearby hill. Thankfully, Mark is a highly trained physician. He jumped into action and within a short period of time, the injured man was airlifted to a hospital (he eventually made a full recovery). And so began a decade-long friendship.

Mark is an Air Force Reserve Lieutenant Colonel who practices family medicine in Ranson and Martinsburg, WV. He is also a professor at WV University School of Medicine and conducts continuing medical education courses on health, fitness, and running through HealthFitU. Mark has run competitively for almost four decades, with more than 100 marathon and ultramarathon finishes. He continues to compete as a national-level masters runner, with 30 straight years under the extremely competitive 3:00 mark for the marathon. Mark owns Two River Treads, the first so-called “minimalist” running and walking store. He lives in Shepherdstown, WV with his wife and two children. Mark is also the author of a new book, entitled, “Run for your Life: How to Run, Walk and Move Without Pain or Injury and Achieve A Sense of Well-Being and Joy.

Mark’s Three For Thursday follow.

The egg represents the simplicity of healthy eating, which is an important component of my lifestyle. An egg provides all of the essential nutrients we need. If left to its own existence, an egg would become an entire animal. It’s ironic that eggs used to be vilified, but we now see them as a foundation of nutrition and they are nowhave been allowed back on the plate. We need more than just eggs for a healthy diet, though. It’s also good to get some plants, some meats, a bit of food from the sea, and full-fat dairy. Sugar and grain….best to avoid.

Emma Morano lived to be 117, the oldest recorded age. She said “I eat two raw eggs a day and have been doing it forever.” More than one person discounted this dietary practice, saying it wasn’t good for her. But, I see many elderly patients in the hospital for orthopedic and other non-dietary issues, and as a group, they are generally healthy and eat a lot of eggs. Saturated fats are not associated with disease. That paradigm has been debunked. Eat eggs with joy.

Running Sandals
I’m a big believer in running sandals because I believe in the beauty of the human form and in honoring the way we evolved. Our feet are one of the things that set us apart from other animals. I’ve run 50-mile races, the Boston Marathon, and the Marine Corps Marathon in sandals. This is how we should all be able to run. If you can’t run in sandals, there could be something wrong with your gait. All runners should at least try sandal running, gently at first. Walking with sandals is a good first step! Any minor biomechanical problems or weaknesses should be corrected, with the help of a specialist, to prevent injury. Foot support can be reduced as strength and function increase. It’s a process, not an event! Most runners are in it for the long haul, as a means of health and sanity. Regaining the ability to run with minimal foot support will allow you to run for a much longer time in good health.

Ubuntu is a word that originated in South Africa. I first heard it at the Comrades Marathon in 2013. Nelson Mandela represented the quality of Ubuntu. Ubuntu’s dictionary definition is “a quality that includes the essential human virtues; compassion and humanity,” and it stresses the connectedness that should exist between people. Put differently, Ubuntu means “I am because of you.”

Most people in the health fields are there as a way to serve others. Our service to others actually feeds back to us. On the individual level, as a health care provider, it’s a good day if I’ve helped someone. Influencing people to make better choices on a larger scale has to happen through the community. West Virginia is number one in the U.S. for rate of obesity. To fight the obesity epidemic, the hospital where I work got rid of sugar drinks. To make big changes in public health, we need to be bold and make the kind of large structural changes that will ultimately help the community.

Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from other people. That’s why I feel that the ability to give back, and provide people with the hope of improving their own health, is so important.

One For The Road
The nightly glass of red wine! All potential medical benefits aside, the reason to have a glass of wine is not to live a day longer, it’s to celebrate making it through another day; to celebrate being with your family and, hopefully, enjoying a meal you’ve prepared. If it was a really rough day, well, consider two glasses of wine!

How About You?
What are your Three For Thursday? I’m looking for people who are willing to share their life wisdom.  Please email me at if you’d like to be interviewed for a future Three For Thursday blog.