The Milwaukee Running Group – OMG is lucky to have a handful of runners who generously volunteer their time, personality, humor, wisdom, and running knowledge to hosts each of our dozen+ weekly runs. They are a special breed and we acknowledge them here.

Emily Jo Peterson

By: Anne Miller – February 1, 2019

It took a health scare to get Emily Jo Peterson into running. Though we disparage the circumstances, we are infinitely glad she became a runner because with her dog Maya, sage wisdom, and friendly demeanor, she has become an integral part of OMG.

Back in 2012, before Emily Jo became the prolific runner she is today, she had just accepted a teaching job in Janesville when she had the call. You know, one of those calls that splits life into the before and the after.

It was her mother. A routine physical had revealed, just in time, that her mom was 90% clogged in her widow artery. She required emergency heart surgery, and her doctor said that if she didn’t lose weight, she was likely to have further complications, recommending she eat clean and take on a physical activity, like running.

Vowing to help her mom get healthy and avoid the heart problems she had endured, Emily Jo started running three times per week for three miles at a what she now calls “sexy pace,” 12:40 minutes per mile. Her mom was able to lose 150 lbs. through eating healthy and other aerobic exercise, but Emily Jo had caught what we all have: the running bug. Growing up in Green Bay, she had always wanted to be a runner, and at age 25, she finally was.

After learning about the group while house sitting in Milwaukee, Emily Jo’s running journey finally intercepted with OMG in 2015 when she moved to the city as a newlywed and was looking for running buddies. On her first run, our fearless leader Patrick misremembered her name, of course. That’s basically a rite of passage for new OMG-ers at this point.

“I went to a Saturday morning run, and after I finished, Patrick thought that my name was Katie, she said, laughing. “But I’m not a Katie – I’m Emily Jo! I still give him crap about that.”

These days, Emily Jo can be found on morning runs in ‘Tosa on Wednesdays and Fridays and sometimes jogging her favorite five-mile loop in the city on Saturday morning runs. Her running style reflects the last marathon she ran: No Frills. Emily Jo shies away from fancy gear, instead relying on her Brooks (a poor man’s shoes, as she calls them), trusty Garmin, weathered running clothes, and handmade knitted items.

Her dog Maya is her main accessory. The beagle dachshund mix loves running and attention. For other runners wishing to take their pooches jogging, Emily Jo recommends asking your vet if your dog’s breed is compatible with running and if so, how far they can go. She also notes that leash training them to stay on one side helps. (Her left side is Maya’s, so stay on her right while running.)  

Emily Jo takes Maya on a variety of runs throughout downtown Milwaukee, West Allis, Green Bay, and beyond. She’s an avid user of City Strides, a website that tracks the percentage of streets in the city you have run, so her routes are often winding and require a map. This year, she’s trying to run every street in West Milwaukee and ‘Tosa.

When she’s not running, Emily Jo can be found teaching at Franklin Elementary in West Allis, playing the organ at three churches, practicing yoga, and trying all sorts of teas. She’s also an avid knitter; she attends knitting conventions in her spare time and owns Emmy Jo Knits. When you see Emily Jo next, be sure to ask her about her weather blanket, a project she completed last year that incorporated a line of yarn a day that varied in color depending on the temperature outside. According to Emily Jo, it is focusing on her day job and her many hobbies that help her maintain a healthy relationship with running.

“In the past, I put all of my eggs into one basket,” she says. “I lived and breathed running. But that wasn’t healthy because running isn’t all I am. Now, I have parts of me that are a knitter, an organist—I identify with those things too. I’m more well-rounded and accepting.”

Emily Jo, we look forward to many more years running with you.

Emily Jo – Factoids

Running Wisdom

“As a runner, you’ve got to find different ways to stay engaged, like finding new running partners or trying new distances. Don’t do the same thing each time. Don’t do the same Atwater run and back. It’s boring.” – Emily Jo Peterson

A Few of Her Favorite Things

Route: The five-mile loop at the beginning of El Classico, the Saturday morning route

Distance: 8K

Race: Twilight 10K in Madison. “My husband and I have run it for the past three years,” she says. “It’s the only race he’ll run. Running through downtown Madison with a bunch of drunks cheering you on is somehow very fun.”

Running book: Your Best Stride by Johnathon Beverly. She also recommends his podcast.

Running website:

City: Milwaukee. Compared to her hometown of Green Bay, there are never-ending places to explore and people to meet. Her favorite place to run, though, is ‘Tosa.

Football team: The Packers (of course)