Posts Tagged running

Backwards Running?

This video shows Aaron Yoder setting a Guiness World Record for running the mile backwards! He did it in just under six minutes. Aaron explains the sport and how he got into it here . Below are some excerpts from his article.

…running backward is just fun. One of the biggest rushes I’ve ever gotten in life is when I’m running backward in complete darkness and going downhill. Your awareness is so high because you can’t see a thing.

I’ve been running — first forward, now backward — my whole life…I didn’t slow down until I’d been working at Bethany College as a track coach for seven years. It got to the point where my knees felt like they were grinding whenever I ran. Three years ago, my doctor told me, “You should never run again.” While I ignored him, I was in a lot of pain and started to wonder, What am I gaining from this?

That’s when I had an epiphany. It was as if a voice said to me, “Just turn it around and make good of the bad.” I decided then and there that I was only gonna run backward for six weeks, and see how it went.

I didn’t change anything else about my training — just the direction I faced. I’d do a speed day. I’d do a hill day. I’d do a tempo day. I’d do a distance day. I’d do an acceleration day. All backward. After six weeks, my body and mind felt so much better.

A few months later, I traveled to Essen, Germany, for the International Retro Running World Championship, the Olympics of backward running. I’d never raced backward around a track before, but I quickly discovered that it’s the opposite of racing forward in some ways. When you’re running forward it’s an advantage to be right behind the leader so you know when to start making your move — because if you’re out in front you don’t know where everyone’s at. But in backward running, the best position to be in is the front. That way you can see where everyone is. The sprints, though, can be difficult because you’ve gotta worry about staying in your lane, which is hard when you’re going around turns.

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Life-Threatening Hobby Taking Pictures Of Lava

Kawika Singson is a Hawaiian-born “lava-enthusiast” photographer who risks his life to take close-up photos of flowing lava. He walks on mostly-cooled, but still very hot, surfaces to take his pictures.

The video above shows him running through the lava field. Singson’s run through the lava is just one part of his seven-mile hike that leads to the active flow. He usually starts his journey at night, so he can clearly see the orange glow of the lava beneath him.

His decades of lava running and living on Hawaii has made him an expert in this extremely dangerous and niche hobby that most people should never try, as Singson is at pains to point out.

Kawika Singson takes a lava picture

Kawika Singson takes a lava picture

I definitely feel that this athletic, life-threatening achievement is definitely worthy of applause and admiration. It may not be as highly skilled as traditional sports competitions, but it is a lot more unique and memorable than many of them.

You can read more about him here . And you can also see more of his videos here

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Jogging Is A Recent Activity For Normal People

Here is a surprising article by Phil Edwards on Vox. Who would have guessed?

Today we’re so used to runners that we practically ignore them. But as the above video shows, it wasn’t always that way.

Back in the 1960s, jogging was typically reserved for athletes. Normal people mostly didn’t do it — and when they did, it was cause for concern. The New York Times ran an amused trend piece in 1968 about the handful of unusual freaks who chose to run in their free time.

Running wasn’t just socially awkward, either — for a while, it was a form of punishment for prisoners, via the treadmill. Throughout the 19th century, treadmills were occasionally used as a form of hard labor, including for prisoners like Oscar Wilde.

But in the mid-20th century, running crept into respectability, thanks to a confluence of trends in the late ’60s. Jogging, once unusual, surged to “fad” status before becoming the fixture of life it is today. The interesting part is that, as the above video shows, all those runners pushing past us on today’s sidewalks would have been strange just 50 years ago.

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73-Year-Old John Maultsby Completes 50 Marathons In All 50 States

What I like most about this man’s accomplishment is not that he ran all those races. Not even that he didn’t start distance running until his late 50s and finished his first marathon at 60. No, what stands out for me is that he created this goal for himself that has so much meaning to him that it keeps him going and in shape and in training. Just recently someone said how fortunate it is to be excited about “anything.” My friend Joe always says that not too many people are passionate. Well this runner certainly is, and it’s motivating him to reach his goals.

Now that he is completed a marathon in every state, he wants to run one in every continent. Isn’t Antarctica a continent? How you going to run 26 miles there, Man?

John Maultsby completes his 50th marathon in 50 different states

John Maultsby completes his 50th marathon in 50 different states

Finishing just one marathon in your lifetime is something to be pretty proud of, but for 73-year-old John Maultsby, it just wasn’t enough.

Last November, Maultsby championed a feat few can lay claim to. He finished running a string of 50 marathons–one in every state.

Maultsby was cheered on by a crowd that included his wife, mother, and three daughters as he crossed the finish line at a New Hampshire race.

Maultsby’s daughter, Mabel, said that John had always been a runner, but took up distance running in his late 50s to help lower his blood pressure. He also adopted a vegan diet and soon started running long distances.

His first marathon was at age 60. It was during his first race, when he saw a man wearing a shirt that said “50 States Finisher,” that John thought he too could accomplish the feat.

It’s taken 13 years, but John finally completed his nationwide goal and now plans on running marathons on every continent. He’s run seven marathons this year alone and has run the Boston Marathon nine times.

“He’s so motivated,” Mabel said. “I’m so inspired by his motivation … by his balls-to-the-wall attitude…he still looks like the man he was in his late 50s!”

John believes he “looks older than he feels,” Mabel says, adding that he’s still very much “young at heart.”

As for the secret to staying in shape in his 70s? “The secret to longevity is happiness and a very supportive family,” Mabel said. “He’s trying to keep positive and always keeping goals. That’s what’s kept him going all this time.”

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Running The New York City Marathon At Age 60

Here is a really funny article by JERÉ LONGMAN that was in the New York Times with some photos and a video:

Wilson Kipsang of Kenya won the New York City Marathon in 2 hours 10 minutes 59 seconds — or as I like to call it at my age, a good night’s sleep.

At 60, I also ran Sunday’s race, one of about 3,000 windblown geezers among the field, expected to be 50,000.

“You need a pacemaker?” German Silva asked the other day.

“Hopefully not installed,” I said.

In 1995, before German’s second consecutive victory in New York, I joined him at 13,000 feet to train on the side of a volcano in his native Mexico. By “joined,” I mean that he ran up the volcano while I rode in a car with his coach.

A few weeks later, German finished first in New York, and, well, I finished. Actually, it was the only time I broke four hours. But that was nearly 20 years ago. Whatever speed I possessed receded with my hairline.

In April, I ran my first Boston Marathon: 5 hours 20 minutes. That is less a time for a race than a time for a crockpot recipe.

Not that 60 is a regretful age. Not at all. I’m much healthier at 60 than I was at 20. Back then I was on my way to 240 pounds. When I backed up, I beeped.

You know it is time to lose weight when you go horseback riding and the stablehand says, “Wait a minute; you’ll have to ride Big Boy.” Read the rest of this entry »

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40 And Mom Of Two Jo Pavey Finally Wins International Gold Medal

Here is a thrilling race and achievement by a mother of two who never quit, kept on trying and reached her dream goal after tireless effort. Not everyone is so fortunate, but her victory is quite inspiring.

Jo Pavey is 40 years old. She’s been running professionally for almost half her life, but she’s never won an international gold medal. That is, until now.

On August 12, 2014, Pavey, who’s from the U.K., won the 10,000m race at the European Athletics Championships, becoming the oldest woman ever to clinch a gold medal at the competition. But not only did Pavey win, the tenacious mom of two did it with a thrilling performance. As she started her final lap, she whizzed past France’s Clemence Calvin, who the BBC notes is 16 years Pavey’s junior.

“I’ve been trying for years to win this and never managed it. It seems funny to do it at the age of 40 now I’m a mother with two young children,” Pavey said after her win, per The Guardian. “I’m so happy in my personal life. I train really hard but don’t get stressed about it.”

She also told the news outlet that her victorious performance at the European Championships, as well as her bronze-medal winning 5,000m run at the Commonwealth Games earlier this month, has invigorated her.

“I wasn’t thinking of retiring but the last couple of weeks have given me hope that I will continue to [the 2016 Rio Olympics] and a couple of years after that,” said Pavey, a four-time Olympian. “I’m definitely still enjoying it and I feel renewed and motivated.”

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Some Athletes Actually Kill Themselves To Win

This article asks if female long distance runners are prone to depression and even suicide. They may be too hard on themselves, as they try to be perfect at everything in an obsessive, unbalanced and unhealthy way. Is this what it takes to be a winning athlete? This is drive for victory I have great difficulty relating to. But then I think my tennis-playing is a game, and I am amazed by those who view it as a war that takes no prisoners.

Here is an excerpt:

The women who succumb to those impulses are consumed by the need to win a battle that simply cannot be won; a battle to be the best at everything, all at once.

Like the gymnast and the ballerina, the distance runner is often defined by drive and compulsion. She is an endurance athlete. As such, her days revolve around the demands of her sport: 50, 60, 70, 80-mile weeks, weights, cross-training—and, above all, a complete focus on her body, its abilities, and its inabilities. Hers is a sport without mercy. Every race has one, and only one, winner—often determined by a fraction of a second. In running, results are clearly defined and indelible. Unsurprisingly, the distance runner has a tendency towards obsessive-compulsive behavior. She is willing to spend every day fretting over the extra mile or half-mile, the quarter of a second, the extra hour of sleep, and the infinitesimal margin of victory. She is competitive, driven, and, sometimes, crazy. She is Captain Ahab, and victory is her white whale.

Perhaps even more than their male counterparts, female distance runners are perfectionists and control freaks. This is hardly unusual in a society where the woman is expected to do it all. But it is particularly apparent—and, often, destructive—among the already-driven and already high-achieving population of distance runners. Stories of eating disorders abound. In many cases, those are only the tip of the iceberg. For women like Holleran, Ormsby, and Wazeter [ed note: who all committed suicide], the obsession is not just about training. Nor is the compulsion solely about food. The drive for success—or, rather, victory—extends to the classroom, society, and every other aspect of life. In the same way that the woman on Wall Street is expected to be a perfect mother, the woman on the track is often expected to be a straight-A student, team leader, social role model, and everything in between. Kathy Ormsby was known for taking her class notes to workouts. Madison Holleran’s depression was apparently triggered by what she considered a sub-par 3.5 GPA.

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He Risked Dying, But With His Lungs Full Of Air

Korea's best amateur marathon runner, Sim Jae-Duk

Korea’s best amateur marathon runner, Sim Jae-Duk

Here is a very inspirational story about a Korean shipyard worker whose work screwed up his lungs, so that he needed surgery to breathe better. How he responded is an amazing achievement!

Sim Jae-Duk, 44, started running after six years of nine-hour workdays inside the ships, breathing chemicals and dust through a face mask. His respiratory system was so weak that in 1993, doctors recommended surgery to help him breathe. But Mr. Sim, a determined man if there ever was one, refused an operation. “Instead of surgery, I decided to run,” he said. “I decided that, even if I died, I would die running, with my lungs full of air.” His lung capacity, measured in 2003 at 69.5 percent, now registers as normal, he said.

Despite still working five or six days a week at the shipyard—he now repairs welding machines—he runs three marathons a month; in spring and fall, as many as seven. In all, Mr. Sim has run 210 amateur marathons since 1995, and finished all but three of them under three hours. His personal best is 2:29:11, compared to the men’s professional record of 2:03:23.

Mr. Sim’s 90 victories are widely considered South Korea’s amateur best, although there is no official agency compiling amateur data. He sometimes runs a marathon on Saturday and again on Sunday, and has won six such back-to-back marathons. He excels in so-called ultrarunning endurance races, typically double the length or several times longer than the 26.2-mile marathon and often conducted on mountain trails. He has run more than 30 such races at home and abroad and won 10 of them. “I am happier running than walking,” he said in an interview at his home.

And here he is in 2006 after setting a course record in the 100-mile MMT mountain run in Virginia.

no complaints about jet lagging

no complaints about jet lagging

Sim Jae Duk, 36, only arrived in the United States on the Thursday before the run after traveling for 22 hours from his home in Korea. He was an unknown. But very early in the race, he asserted himself. He powered through the Shawl Gap aid station (8.7 miles) tied for second place and took over first place by Habron Gap (24.4 miles). From then on, Sim battled with Karl Meltzer for the lead, finally winning in 17:40:45, a new course record. Karl became only the second person to run under 18 hours when he finished in a time that would have won all previous MMT’s.

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Manteo Mitchell Finishes His Race With A Broken Leg

Manteo Mitchell looks good in this picture—8/9/2012

Another story of superhuman effort at the Olympics. It’s hard for me to imagine people tuning out the pain to this degree. Look back to the August 6th post to learn about Kerri Strug’s victorious vault. Humans can really be amazing. So I guess it’s easy enough for me to play tennis through a bit of a cramp. And I love the last line of this post. What planet is this guy living on?

LONDON – Move over, Kerri Strug. America has a new Olympian performing heroically on a broken leg.

Runner Manteo Mitchell said he “felt” and “heard” his fibula breaking midway through his lead-off leg of the 4×400-meter relay in qualifying heats. He kept running, going another 200 meters and handing off the baton to Joshua Mance. The U.S. went on to finish second in the heat, advancing to the final Friday night.

America would not have kept its medal hopes alive in the event without the effort of Mitchell. His injury was diagnosed after the race by team doctor Bob Adams: broken left fibula.

Mitchell (rt) finished his race with a broken leg—8/9/2012

“I knew if I finished strong we could still get it [the baton] around,” Mitchell said. “I got out pretty slow, but I picked it up and when I got to the 100-meter mark it felt weird,” Mitchell told USA Track and Field. “I was thinking I just didn’t feel right. As soon as I took the first step past the 200-meter mark, I felt it break. I heard it. I even put out a little war cry, but the crowd was so loud you couldn’t hear it. I wanted to just lie down. It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half. I saw Josh Mance motioning me in for me to hand it off to him, which lifted me. I didn’t want to let those three guys down, or the team down, so I just ran on it. It hurt so bad. I’m pretty amazed that I still split 45 seconds on a broken leg.”

Mitchell believes he initially injured the leg a few days ago in the Olympic Village when he slipped on a stairway. Mitchell says “I figured it’s what almost any person would’ve done in that situation.”

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From Couch Potato To Ironman Entrant In Six Months

Guy Adami at work

Pretty impressive story about Guy Adami, a Wall Streeter and Fast Money panelist whose historic exercise routine “consisted mostly of walking from his parking space to the front door of the CNBC studios in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.” But friends challenged him to do the impossible, a trainer gives him advice, and there is a charity involved as well.

Guy completes his first triathalon in New Jersey—5/2012

In May he was able to run a triathalon that had legs one fifth or one tenth of an Ironman—a half mile swim instead of 2.4 miles, a 13 mile bike ride instead of a 112-mile ride, and a 3.2 mile run rather than a marathon of 26.2 miles. And he still has not reached any of these Ironman distances in training.

It’s all a work in progress. But his dedication is intense, he is approaching his goals each day. and the results will be determined on August 11th, when he joins 3000 others in New York’s first-ever Ironman. He has already lost 38 pounds (from 235) and six inches around his waist. You sure have to admire his effort…Can you believe that 140,000 people a year compete in an Ironman? Interesting that 20% of those who sign up miss race day due to an injury or fear the night before the race.

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Aimee Mullins Has Opportunities Not Disabilities

Aimee is the new face of Loreal—nothing has held her back

My fellow blogger Paolo and his friends have a web site ( betarista.com ) that deals with challenges of all kinds, so here is his story involving another handicapped athlete, Aimee Mullins, who is a double amputee and has overcome her physical limitations. She is not only a competitive athlete, but also an actress, fashion model and motivational speaker. In her recent TED speech below, however, she stated that she wasn’t disabled. “From an identity standpoint, what does it mean to have a disability? Pamela Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do. Nobody calls her disabled.”

You can read more about Aimee on her web site , and here are some excerpts from her biography:

Aimee first received worldwide media attention as an athlete. Born without fibulae in both legs, Aimee was told she would never walk, and would likely spend the rest of her life using a wheelchair. In an attempt for an outside chance at increased mobility, doctors amputated both her legs below the knee on her first birthday. The decision paid off. By age two, she had learned to walk on prosthetic legs, and spent her childhood doing the usual athletic activities of her peers: swimming, biking, softball, soccer, and skiing, always alongside “able-bodies” kids.

After graduating from high school and working at the Department of Defense, she rediscovered her love of competitive sports. While a dean’s list student at the prestigious School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, she set her sights on making the US Team for the 1996 Atlanta Games. She trained with track coach, Frank Gagliano, and became the first amputee in history, male or female, to compete in the NCAA, doing so on Georgetown’s nationally-ranked Division I track team. She was the first person to be outfitted with woven carbon-fiber prostheses that were modeled after the hind legs of a cheetah. Then she went on to set World Records in the 100 meter, the 200 meter, and the long jump, sparking a frenzy over the radical design of her prototype sprinting legs. The essential design of those legs are now the world standard in sports prosthetics.

These are Aimee's cheetah-inspired running legs

After a profile in Life magazine showcased her in the starting blocks at Atlanta, Aimee soon landed a 10-page feature in the inaugural issue of Sports Illustrated for Women, which led to her accepting numerous invitations to speak at international design conferences. This introduction to a discourse relating to aesthetic principles fueled her interest in issues relating to body image, and how fashion advertising impacted societal notions of femininity and beauty.

In 1999, Aimee made her runway debut in London at the invitation of celebrated fashion designer, Alexander McQueen. This changed her view of her legs into body sculpture, because she wore dark brown wooden legs with carvings of grapes and magnolias. Of course the audience thought she was wearing boots.

Aimee now has at least 12 different prosthetic legs, some simulating “normal” caucasian legs and others made of clear polyurethane used for bowling balls that she calls her glass legs. One is like jellyfish tentacles, another like dirt, a third like a cheetah’s, with spots and paws. These different legs can result in five different heights, from 5’8″ to 6’1,” which led to one friend saying that it was unfair she could grow tall so easily and look so elegant. No wonder Aimee declares that she is not disabled and has capitalized on her differences. Amazing, inspiring, revolutionary…

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Inspirational Runner And A Magic Moment

Here is an 11-year-old with cerebral palsy whose achievements—to keep running and to push though his physical pain—inspire his friends to cheer him on during a class field day. And now he inspires us to cheer and work harder ourselves…because if he can do it… Excerpts below by Barbara Rodrguez:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—When John Blaine realized 11-year-old Matt Woodrum was struggling through his 400-meter race at school in central Ohio, the physical education teacher felt compelled to walk over and check on the boy. “Matt, you’re not going to stop, are you?” he encouragingly asked Woodrum, who has cerebral palsy. “No way,” said the panting, yet determined, fifth-grader.

Almost spontaneously, dozens of Woodrum’s classmates converged alongside him, running and cheering on Woodrum as he completed his second and final lap under the hot sun. The race on May 16, captured on video by Woodrum’s mother, Anne Curran, is now capturing the attention of strangers on the Internet, many who call the boy and his classmates an inspiration to be more compassionate toward each other.

Woodrum said he had a few moments where he struggled. “I knew I would finish it,” he said, “but there were a couple of parts of the race where I really felt like giving up.”

It was his fourth race of the day, and one he didn’t have to run. Only a handful of students opted to give it a try, and Curran said her son doesn’t exclude himself from anything, playing football and baseball with friends and his two brothers. “He pushes through everything. He pushes through the pain, and he pushes through however long it may take to complete a task,” she said. “He wants to go big or go home.”

“The kids will tell you that Matt never gives up on anything that he sets out to do,” Read the rest of this entry »

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TJ Faces Two Big Challenges

TJ (left) with friends—3/24/2012

Back on March 17th, I wrote about how I hurt my knee and was scared that I might no longer be able to play tennis…and then was ashamed that with all the sickness and sadness in the world, I had no right to feel sorry for myself. Here is a poignant and powerful comment from a reader named TJ. She has really set a high athletic challenge for herself: to run a marathon (26 miles) although the most she has ever run non-stop in her life is “just” eight miles! She also has another challenge involving her health and appearance, and has an unbelievably positive and adaptive attitude. She reminds me how in the past, as my hair thinned out, my bald spot became larger, and I watched a relative lose all her hair during cancer treatments, I would rationalize that “it’s better to be bald than dead.”

This post resonated with me, so I felt the need to comment. These are just some thoughts, so forgive me if the sentiment’s a little scattered.

This past December I entered the lottery for the New York City marathon for the fourth time in my life, and was admitted. FINALLY I’m getting the chance to live out one of my lifelong dreams of running 26.2 miles in the city in which I’ve learned some of my most important life lessons. To have the opportunity to meet this challenge head on, means the whole world to me, and every day that I go running, I just picture all of my Rocky Balboa-esque workouts culminating in that final moment when my mind has conquered matter, and I’m dashing across the finish line.

Another challenge presented itself this past December too—I discovered I have an auto-immune disorder called alopecia areta that causes my hair to fall out in patches sporadically. While otherwise perfectly healthy, I have absolutely no control over what my hair will look like the next day, and eventually, if my body doesn’t respond to treatment (cortisone injections in my scalp once a month), I could end up totally bald.

You can imagine that for a woman, not having any control over how I’m going to look is incredibly frustrating, and it’s made me consider how drastically others’ perceptions of me could shift in the next year or so. But surprisingly (even to me), I’m not that upset. I’ve had a lot of time since December to reflect on what my condition really is in the grand scheme of things. I’m not dying. Being bald wouldn’t change who I am fundamentally. There are so many worse things that can happen to a person. I have friends who are battling cancer, mourning the losses of their parents, and learning how to live their life again with only one leg. So whenever I start to feel sorry for myself for a little hair falling out, I remember that for now, I can still go for a run. Who knows? Maybe if I end up totally bald, the lack of extra wind resistance will shave a couple minutes off my marathon time? : )

she is losing patches of hair

It’s tough not being able to do something you’ve been able to your whole life. It’s tough not having control while your body changes. I know playing tennis and putting your hair up are in two totally different ballparks, but I think I can empathize with the sentiment. We’re all constantly on a journey to achieve and to perfect ourselves despite the wear and tear that comes with living. But maybe if you stay off of your knee for a while, you’ll have the opportunity to pull something else out of yourself you didn’t know was there. Maybe you’re a world class chess player? Maybe you’ll spend more time rowing and find that it’s something you love?

We are each a project that’s always evolving and re-growing. I could lose all of my hair. I could sprain my ankle and not even make it to the marathon (knock on wood). But until that happens, I’m relishing in shampooing my hair every morning and beaming with every step I take in the evening because you’re right—as long as we’re alive, it’s not enough to just watch the ocean from the beach. You don’t get a dress rehearsal, so you have to enjoy what you’ve got while you’ve got it and push for everything you want in this life. If you love tennis, play tennis until you can’t play tennis anymore, and then when you can’t, you’ll find a new passion within yourself and be a stronger person for it.

When I’m running, I spend a lot of time thinking about the people and ideas that have made me strong enough to conquer a marathon, and I want to put them all on the t-shirt I wear that day in some way to remind myself of who I really am. You can be sure that I’ll have a shout out to irasabs.com somewhere on that shirt. Thank you for always being an inspiration.

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Kathy Martin Keeps Breaking Running Records

Here is a story about Kathy Martin, a 60-year-old Long island, NY real estate broker who began running when she was 30 and then, “sometime in her late 40s…discovered…she was one of the most remarkable female distance runners in the world…

Last November, in the Philadelphia half-marathon, she finished in 1:28:28, 44th out of 5,888 women. She easily won the 60-to-64 age bracket; only three of her peers were in the top 2,000. Her time was so fast she would have finished sixth among women 30 to 34…

Distance running is more popular than ever. Running USA, a nonprofit organization that promotes the sport, counted 13 million finishers in road races in 2010, up from 5.2 million in 1991 and 500,000 in 1976. Much of the rise comes from aging baby boomers, building their stamina like a retirement nest egg. In 2010, 45 percent of all finishers were 40 or older; in 1991, the percentage was 35 percent, in 1976 only 28 percent.

Recent medical research shows that many of the ravages of aging are not so much inevitable as voluntary. Muscles do not have to shrivel, joints do not have to stiffen. Earlier expectations of physical deterioration were based on studies of sedentary people. But there is a marked difference in durability between the fat and the fit, the layers and the players. People who continue to exercise intensively have a much slower rate of decline…

Martin usually works out seven days a week, not four or five. She runs and does plyometric exercises that emphasize strength and speed. She eats sensibly though not fanatically….

Her face looks young for 60, and her legs have the muscle tone of an athlete half her age…“I hope I do this until the day I die,” she said. “I want to be all used up, just a wisp of dust left.”

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Micah True Is Gone

Too bad it’s over for Micah. 58 doesn’t seem so old to me…

Searchers on Saturday found the body of renowned long-distance runner Micah True, who vanished four days earlier after heading out from a lodge for a morning run in the rugged wilderness near New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.

The cause of death was still unknown, but there were no obvious signs of trauma. The 58-year-old True, whose extreme-distance running prowess is detailed in the book “Born to Run,” set out on what — for him — would have been a routine 12-mile run Tuesday from The Wilderness Lodge and Hot Springs, where he was staying. He left his dog at the lodge and never returned. A search began the next day.

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Ultrarunning Pioneer Micah True Has Disappeared

Micah True is known as Caballo Blanco (White Horse)

As I wrote earlier, I recently read the book Born to Run, and one of the main characters in author Christopher McDougall’s tale is Caballo Blanco, whose real name is Micah True. Two months after I first read about him, he is missing. I feel sad that this new “acquaintance” may not be running ever again.

Search teams intensified efforts Saturday to find renowned long-distance runner Micah True, who mysteriously vanished four days ago after heading out from a lodge for a morning run in the rugged wilderness near New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.

The 58-year-old True, whose extreme-distance running prowess is detailed in the book “Born to Run,” set out on what — for him — would have been a routine 12-mile run Tuesday from The Wilderness Lodge and Hot Springs, where he was staying. True, who left his dog behind at the lodge, never returned. A search began the next day.

Micah True often runs barefoot, like some Mexican Indians—notice his modest shoes

Lodge co-owner Dean Bruemmer, who helped with the search Saturday, said he last saw his friend at breakfast. He said True gave no indication of a specific route.

“That’s been part of the big problem with this. He didn’t really say where he was going from here. There are a lot of trailheads up the road. We don’t know which one he took,” said Bruemmer, whose lodge is situated about four miles from the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

Though daytime temperatures in southwest New Mexico have been mild of late, temperatures have dipped into the mid-20s on recent nights. True was last seen wearing only shorts and a T-shirt and carrying a water bottle.

Fourteen search teams that were scouring the area Friday were supplemented with additional volunteer teams from across the state Saturday morning, state police spokesman Lt. Robert McDonald said. Teams were on horseback, using dogs and a helicopter and search plane were being used.

Still, as the days pass, the chances of a successful rescue diminish.

“We’re going to do everything possible to cover as much ground as possible, but it’s already been four days,” McDonald said. “By no means are we going to give up, but time is of the essence as always in a search and rescue effort.”

True, who has been friends with Bruemmer and his wife, Jane, for 10 years, would often visit their lodge while traveling between Mexico and his Boulder, Colo. home. As a result, Bruemmer said, True certainly knew the trail system well — which makes his disappearance all the more mystifying to everyone.

“I find it hard to believe that he’s lost. I think that something happened, some kind of medical thing or an injury or who knows. Micah is a very strong, competent guy. I can’t believe … if he got turned around, by now he would have come out,” Bruemmer said.

Michael Sandrock, a columnist who writes about running for The Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, has known True for at least 20 years and has run with him. He called True a pioneer of the sport of ultrarunning, which involves running extreme distances, often on grueling terrain and many miles longer than a traditional 26-mile marathon.

True, he said, has a rebellious spirit but never sought to draw attention to himself even as he became legendary for his talents, which included “just going up and running for hours and hours at a time.”

“He’s just authentic and genuine … Micah is a guy who follows his bliss,” Sandrock said.

True is the race director of The Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, a 50-plus mile extreme race that took place in Urique, Mexico on March 4. He has been featured in articles in running magazines and was a central character — known by his nickname, “Caballo Blanco” — in Christopher McDougall’s nonfiction best-seller “Born to Run.”

“He’s such an integral part of the fabric of the ultra community,” Sandrock said. “He’s one of the stars …. the Caballo Blanco, he’s a legend.”

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Part 3—Running Barefoot And The Possible Fraudulence Of The Athletic Shoe Industry

Below is an article by Richard A. Lovett that appeared in National Geographic News on January 27, 2010. It talks about the benefits of running barefoot, especially fewer injuries and smoother motions. Both as a result of less stress on the feet and a different balance for the whole body.

In Christopher McDougall’s book, Born To Run, there is a whole section about barefoot running and also about the companies who sell running shoes. Out to make money, these companies sell shoes that are actually BAD for your feet! As the shoes support the foot’s bones and muscles and ligaments, the same foot does not develop as well and actually becomes flabby, which results in more injuries than those of barefoot runners! It’s a huge fraud on the public. “In fact,” McDougall writes, “there’s no evidence that running shoes are any help at all in injury prevention…a 20 billion dollar industry seems to be based on nothing but empty promises and wishful thinking…”

Naturally I can’t comment on the legitimacy of this view. But I love the idea that it’s so radical. Of course I have thought for years that it is important to have proper support or your feet, protect them from the pavement, rocks, glass, twists and sprains. Here is a knowledgeable and experienced runner and author challenging everything I have taken for granted my whole life. And that is the main point of this post…that we get into thought patterns that are often inaccurate or even harmful.

Now here is Lovett’s article:

Going barefoot isn’t just for strolling on the beach: Running barefoot reduces stresses on your feet and may prevent injuries known to afflict traditionally shod runners, a new study says.

In his bestselling book Born to Run, Christopher McDougall revealed that the best long-distance runners on the planet may be Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians, who race barefoot or in thin sandals through the remote Copper Canyons of Chihuahua state.

The new study used high-speed video and a bathroom scale-like device called a force plate to digitally dissect the moment-by-moment stresses on the feet of 63 runners as they ran barefoot.

The research revealed that running barefoot changes the way a person’s feet hit the ground.

Runners in shoes tend to land on their heels, so sports shoe makers have spent years designing footwear with gels, foams, or air pockets in the heels to reduce the shock of impact.

But barefoot runners more often land on the forefoot, near the base of the toes. This causes a smaller part of the foot to come to a sudden stop when the foot first lands, allowing the natural spring-like motion of the foot and leg to absorb any further shock.

“This form of landing causes almost no collision force,” lead author Daniel Lieberman, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, said in an email.

Not that the benefits of barefoot running should be a surprise, he added: “Humans were able to run for millions of years without shoes or in just sandals. Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 2—The Tarahumara Super Athlete’s Diet

Here is another post about these amazingly healthy Indian athletes who live in a remote Mexican canyon.

Tony Ramirez, a horticulturist in the US, who’s been obsessed with Tarahumara foods for decades says that “Anything the Tarahumara eat, you can obtain easily…It’s mostly beans, squash, chilli peppers, wild greens, ground corn and chia.” (Chia is a seed that can absorb more than 12 times its weight in water, and is available online at www.amazon.com)

The Tarahumara’s favorite drink, apart from home-brewed corn beer, is a little concoction whipped up by dissolving chia seeds in water and adding a little sugar and a squirt of lime. As tiny as those seeds are, they’re packed with omega-3s, protein, fibres and antioxidants. And there’s no arguing with its pedigree: On a diet like that, a 55-year-old Tarahumara runner won a 160km race through the Colorado Rockies.

Is it all true? Change your diet, and you can start running ultra-marathons your whole life? There are other benefits according to references in the book about this tribe, Born To Run.

An MIT professor of cancer research says that one in seven cancer deaths is caused by excess body fat. “Change your life style, and you can reduce your risk of cancer by 60-70%,” says Dr. Robert Weinberg. After eating less, we are told to give up all red meat and animal protein (cheese, eggs, milk, etc). Remove cancer tumors, and they are 300% more likely to grow back with a “traditional Western diet” than they are if the patient eats lots of fruit and vegetables. Because stray cells are stimulated by animal protein.

Reminds me of a fellow in the army who never ate vegetables. He pointed to his sharp teeth designed for ripping meat and refused to eat “grass” like a cow. But here is a link to a Weinberg lecture (one hour long) that you can explore. Unfortunately he admits that avoiding meat will help you avoid cancer, but once you have cancer, there is thin evidence that avoiding animal protein will help you get rid of it. Weinberg also points out that since the connection between eating meat and getting cancer has been demonstrated, the Burger Kings of the world have seen no major decline in customers. So most people aren’t changing their eating habits, and the fat in meat definitely adds to the flavor in my opinion.

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Humans Are Born To Run, Even If Many Don’t Anymore

Tarahumara runner Arnulfo Quimare and ultra-runner Scott Jurek run in Mexico's Copper Canyons

I recently finished reading Born To Run, a book by Christopher McDougall about ultra-marathoners who race off road for 50, 100, 200-plus miles at a time. There are even references to runners like Mensen Ernst who ran from Paris to Moscow on a bet, averaging 130 miles a day for 14 days. And Constantinople to Calcutta, “trotting 90 miles a day for two straight months.”

McDougall focuses on the Tarahumara tribe of Mexican indians who live in remote canyons and through diet and life style have become super human athletes. The author documents his search to contact the tribe, round up some long distance runners in the U.S. and then have them race the top tribe runners up mountains and on trails of dirt and rocks.

(Here is McDougall talking (6 minutes) with Jon Stewart on the Daily show. A limited intro to his story.)

Scattered throughout the book are pages on diets that are more likely to prevent cancer and give you astonishing energy and endurance. There is a whole discussion on the worthlessness of modern running shoes and a case for running barefoot…after building up all those foot muscles and ligaments that get flabby, when your shoes do the supporting. Another section attempts to prove that man has survived so well precisely because we are—actually were—able to run for long periods and great distances. Even outrun animals (like deer, racehorses and cheetahs) that are faster than humans for short bursts, but not for long chases.

There is also a major investigation about athlete injuries, and the conclusion that they are neither inevitable nor acceptable. Examples are given of people running quite comfortably in later years, sometimes after professional athletic careers. Wilt Chamberlain ran 50-mile ultras when he was 60 after decades of basketball.

Here is McDougall talking (15 minutes) at a TED Conference about running, the 2011 NY Marathon and the Tarahumara Indians—a much more complete description.

Very few outsiders had ever seen the Tarahumara in action, but amazing stories of their superhuman toughness and tranquillity have drifted out of the canyons for centuries. One explorer spent 10 hours crossing a mountain by mule; a Tarahumara runner made the same trip in 90 minutes.

“How come they’re not crippled?” you might be wondering. The Tarahumara drink like frat boys, subsist on corn mush and barbecued mice, live in perpetual peace and tranquillity, and run multiple marathons into their 60s. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Toughest Footrace In The World

the Marathon des Sables is a 151 mile run in Southern Morocco

Heading off tomorrow to ski in Idaho’s cold and snow (-9 F degrees at night this week), so I want to warm up by focusing on the MdS, an ultramarathon in the Sahara Desert. What kinds of people do these things?

Running a marathon is a nice achievement and all, but if you really want to challenge yourself, you should run six of them over six consecutive days in the Marathon des Sables. The MdS is in southern Morocco in April, when the temperature tends to be around 50C (122 F). Forget about paved roads; it’s rocks and sand dunes. You have to run while carrying on your back your sleeping bag, all your food for the race and other supplies. Runners must prepare their own meals. Water and tents are provided by the organizers.

The Marathon of the Sands, or Sahara Marathon is 243 km (151 miles), and the longest single stage (2009) is 91 km (57 mi) long. It is held every year and considered the toughest footrace on Earth. The first event of the Marathon started in 1986.

There are between 700-800 intrepid, insane people in each race. The record completion time is 19.5 hours. There is prize money, but most contestants are just interested in finishing the race. Because, you know, running across a desert for six straight days is good, leisurely fun.

Some humans are amazing, aren’t they?

Here is a blog link from adventurer Alastair Humphreys, who ran the MdS in 2008. I love two of his astonishing sentences: “I broke my foot on Day 5, which added to the challenge for the last couple of days…The next day we only had to run a marathon. That I say ‘only’ is a great indication of how the MdS allows people to expand their parameters and their perception of their own boundaries.”

This reminds me of a book I was given for Christmas called Born To Run, which is about a remote North American Indian tribe that for centuries has practiced techniques allowing them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner.

Canadian runner Robert Kent described the potential dangers of the MdS as follows: “Things that are pretty evident like, scorpions, snakes, camel spiders, unbelievable heat, total exhaustion, crappy food, crappy sleep, filth, crippling blisters and other injuries, and those nasty stomach issues.”

The official site is hysterical. Here are some excerpts:

Most people do this lunatic event just to finish it…be crazy once in your life. I can assure you that you will suffer like hell…You will often think of giving up but sheer determination will keep you going…you will be considered crazy before you go. BUT you will be the envy of all those people when you get home…you won’t [be able to stay clean]. You will probably wear the same clothes throughout the race, there are no showers and the loos are not worth using – you will find a dune or a palm tree to hide behind. Women should rearrange their cycle…

Many people go into a kind of depression after the race. Not because they didn’t win but when they get home, everything seems dull and boring by comparison with what they have just spent a week doing. They miss the friends they made, the evening chats in the tents, the awesome desert, the stars at night, the elation of crossing the finishing line and the sheer excitement of watching and taking part in “The Toughest Footrace on Earth”. You may be difficult to live with for a few days and it is hard to share the experience with someone who has not been there. Just ask some of those who have done it.

Let us know when you are ready to try it.

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World’s Oldest (100 Years) Marathoner Tells How To Stay Fit

Joe Marshall sent me this story about a 100-year-old runner who completes marathons…ten so far. He is a Sikh named Singh nicknamed the Turbaned Tornado, and he has a great sense of humor: he wears a T-shirt that says Sikhs in the City (you’ve heard of Sex in the City, right?). The two videos I located show Singh running and offering wisdom about how to live so long and so healthily. To keep fit, Singh runs 10 miles a day and eats sparingly. He also says that the largest reward and blessing is given to those who make other people happy.

10/17/2011
Living to 100 is a goal, a privilege, and, let’s face it, a nearly impossible task. It’s a destination few can reach or even imagine.

But for one of us, it’s the starting line.

Fauja Singh, born in 1911, ran an entire marathon in Toronto over the weekend. That’s amazing enough. He did it in 8 hours, 25 minutes, and 17 seconds. That’s even more remarkable. But consider that Singh started running competitively only after losing his wife and son 11 years ago, at age 89.

When an old man loses a spouse or a child, many around him worry that he will soon give up on life. After all, what is the day worth without the companion to whom you have devoted every day since you can remember? What’s there to look forward to?

Singh found something, and he put his whole heart into it. He didn’t want to simply make it to 100. He didn’t settle for a piece of cake and a nap. He wanted to break a record. And he did. Singh wasn’t just the first centenarian ever to run 26.2 miles. He beat five other runners. He’s now in the Guiness Book of World Records.

And he did it with a sense of humor, wearing a T-shirt that read “Sikhs in the City.”

This isn’t his first marathon, either. He’s completed 10, running a 6:41 at age 89, a 5:40 at 92, and a stunning sub-five-hours at 94. Only days before his historic feat, he accomplished something just as incredible: He set eight world age group records in one day — running the 100 meters in 23.14, the 200 meters in 52.23, the 400 metres in 2:13.48, the 800 meters in 5:32.18, the 1500 meters in 11:27.81, the mile in 11:53.45, the 3000 meters in 24:52.47 and the 5000 meters in 49:57.39.

Singh’s story, which started on a farm in the Punjab, has captivated many around the globe, who refer to him as “The Turbaned Tornado.” Now he wants to participate in the torch relay for the London Olympics next year.

“His will cannot be captured,” biographer Khushwant Singh told the TV show Amazing Indians. “It cannot be trapped.”

Singh has said, “I won’t stop running until I die.”

Words to live by.

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Stefaan Engels Runs 365 Marathons In 365 Days!

Marathon Man Stefaan Engels completes his last run in Barcelona—2/5/11

After writing yesterday about my inability to exercise consistently, here is an article by Eva Dou about a man who ran a marathon every day for a year to motivate people to exercise. Let’s hope this works for me…

BRUSSELS (Reuters Life!) February 10, 2011— People who run marathons often say one race a year is enough, both for body and mind. But that was never going to satisfy Belgium’s Stefaan Engels, who has just completed 365 marathons in 365 days.

Actually, even that wasn’t enough for Engels, who ended up completing 401 marathons in as many days: 18 on a hand bike and the rest on foot, including 365 in a row.

The 49-year-old from Ghent, northwest Belgium, is now the proud holder of the record for the most consecutive marathons, complementing his Guinness world record for the most triathlons completed in a year (20).

“It was a personal challenge,” he told Reuters by phone from his home this week, two days after completing his marathon odyssey. “I wanted to know if it was possible.”

He made it sound simple, but it was far from a straightforward “start running, stop after a year” challenge.

On January 1, 2010, Engels set out from Ghent to launch his campaign and ran the requisite 42.195 km (about 26.2 miles) on the first day. He kept up that pace for the next 17 days, but then a foot injury struck and he had to stop.

Quitting was out of the question, however. Engels bought a hand bike the same day and used his arms to propel himself through his daily marathons until his foot recovered.

On day 36—in a move that friends say is typical of the stubborn, asthmatic runner who was once told by doctors to avoid exercise completely—Engels announced he would reset the counter to zero and start the whole challenge again.

“People were saying, ‘You’re crazy, you’re throwing away 36 marathons,'” his friend Michael van Damme said. “But he was committed to running on foot all 365 marathons.”

Twenty-five pairs of running shoes later, Engels crossed the final finish line in Barcelona on February 5, completing a journey that has been compared to film character Forrest Gump’s epic run across the United States. As with Gump, local residents flocked to run alongside him wherever he went. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tower Running Causes The Most Pain

Collapsed runners. Rudolf Reitberger (white shirt) has just beaten Thomas Dold—2005 Empire State Rue-Up

Here is a great London Guardian article by Benjie Goodhart about this little-known sport that you can practice almost anywhere, any time. I just excerpted the first few paragraphs.

Tower running—racing up the stairs of skyscrapers—is a fast-growing new sport. It is also incredibly painful. Why is it so popular?

The agonies people are prepared to inflict upon themselves in the name of fitness and fun are often baffling, but “tower running” takes endurance to a whole new dimension. It is a sport of few rules: you run up a skyscraper’s stairwell, you collapse and the fastest time wins. Despite the fact that it sounds about as enjoyable as gargling with magma, it is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. In America, there are countless competitions, with the three majors being the US Bank Tower in LA, the Sears Tower in Chicago and the Empire State Building in New York. There are races, too, all over Europe, Asia and South America, though none yet of any significance in Britain.

The elite athletes who pioneer this new craze are, unsurprisingly, a rum bunch. There’s 55-year-old Kurt Hess, who holds the world record for altitude climbed in 24 hours (30,000m) and who trains for 12 hours a day at weekends. There’s Ed McCall, a successful broker, who liked running up stairs so much he introduced his teenage sons to it: the three now combine school and work with traveling to races all over the world. And there’s Tim Van Orden, who feels compelled to break records in a host of athletic endeavours, and to show the world (via his website runningraw.com) that all of this can be done on a raw vegan diet.

Their motives for taking up the sport may differ, but tower runners all talk of one universally shared experience – the pain. “It’s not all that pleasant,” says Ed McCall. His son, Colin, adds: “After my first race, I puked in a garbage can. Everyone high-fived me.” “Think about the most painful thing you’ve ever done, then multiply by 10,” says his elder brother Colin.

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Helene Neville’s Amazing 2500-Mile Run Across America

From 1921 to 2008, there have been 4,102 ascents to the summit of Mt. Everest by about 2,700 individuals. Since 1928, only 212 people have crossed the country on foot! (running or walking) Only one person has ever run the transcontinental southern route, during the hot, humid conditions of summer.

Helene Neville, her journey entitled “One on the Run,” set foot on a 2,520-mile run on May 1st, 2010 and completed her run on August 1, 2010—93 days! Helene is now the first person to run the southern route in the summer and the first woman ever to complete this course.

Helene Neville—incredible athlete and inspiration

Helene plans to run from Canada to Mexico in March 2011, north to south, all within the same calendar year.

If you go to her web site , you will find this amazing excerpt from her bio there: Helene has been a nurse and a fitness coach for the past 28 years. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in 1993, conquering the disease in 2001 after overcoming three brain surgeries, which she suffered between 1991 and 1997.

In July 1998, Helene’s doctors told her she would never recover. It was Helene’s persistent attitude that drove her to set goals in her life. She decided then to accomplish one more goal in her life, and she began training to run a 26.2-mile marathon.

Helene entered and completed her first marathon and has completed 25 more since. Among them was the London Marathon, where her finish qualified her to compete in the world famous Boston Marathon. Qualifying for Boston was a proud step for Helene in overcoming her extreme health obstacles.

Helene finishes her 2010 Run Across America—8/1/10

Helene’s most notable marathon challenge was the Fox Cities Marathon held in Fox Cities, Wisconsin. Helene’s close friend, Don Owens, who lost his sight twenty years earlier, asked Helene if she would help him train to run a marathon. After sixteen weeks of training, Helene and Don completed the marathon together, tethered to each other with a bungee cord.

Helene wrote me that “I was always an athlete. In high school and college I ran sprints and middle distances. In 1998 I took up marathons after the doctors gave up on me. I also competed in two bodybuilding competitions and climbed Mt. Whitney.

“I decided to run across the country to mark my 50th birthday, to promote the book Nurses In Shape that I authored and to get nurses healthy, so they can be more credible as they instruct patients to incorporate fitness and proper nutrition in their lives.

It was a run in part to deliver the message on foot to make a bigger impact. I stopped and spoke with hundreds of nurses at 30 hospitals along the way. My mission is: To change the health of our nation, we must first change those who care for the ill. Health care practitioners should be leading by example. I intend to change the face of nursing, so my profession can be that much more credible while we educate our patients on diet and exercise. Nurses are millions in numbers, so we can have a huge voice in changing the health and wellness of our society. If we don’t, in the end, we are literally bearing the extra load!

I will continue to run in every state to get this message to nurses, so they can become better ambassadors and teachers of health. Additionally, if we can get the school nurses to set examples, we might begin to see a decline in the epic climb of childhood obesity.

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Bill Ale’s Running and Cycling Story: There Are No Short Cuts, And One Can Achieve Almost Anything With Commitment and Hard Work

Bill Ale (L) and friend cycling in the Italian Alps—9/08

Bill Ale (L) and friend cycling in the Italian Alps—9/08

Hard work and commitment is the key to any athletic endeavor! Only a very small percentage of athletes have that genetic gift that seems to allow them to excel with minimal work. Most of us have to accept what we were given at birth and sculpt that into whatever athletic objective we may want to pursue or achieve. I am a perfect example of the latter guy.


I am a 58 year old, retired male and have been involved in competitive sport my entire life. I was not given the perfect body, but what I was given was heart. I learned that even though I did not have all the tools, I still could achieve anything if I committed myself to it and worked hard enough. 


After I got out of college, for the first time in my life, I had no sport, and much to my surprise I began to notice my pants more snug and my mid section starting to expand. So I began to jog, which I really didn’t care for, but I stayed with it. One day, while in the men’s room at Southern Connecticut State University, where I was attending graduate school, a frail looking gentleman approached me after noticing my running shoes and asked me if I was a runner. I sheepishly said, I was. He introduced himself and said he was also a runner. In fact, he said he was a marathoner. I was intrigued, as I had read some of Bill Roger’s books on marathon training.

48 Switchbacks of the Stelvio Pass in Italy—One of Bill Ale's best rides on a bike—9/08

48 Switchbacks of the Stelvio Pass in Italy—One of Bill Ale's best rides on a bike—9/08


Make a long story short, we set a date to “run” together. Our running date was a torture fest for me as I tried my best to keep up with him for the 5 miles we ran. After the run he offered me some constructive tips and wrote down a basic training schedule for me. I followed that schedule and soon began to see improvements. As the old adage goes “the better you are the better it gets”. I was hooked. I set my sights on running the Manchester Thanksgiving Day Road Race with my new running friend.

On the big day, which happened to be my first race, I had no clue where to line up for the start. So I lined up next to my friend, which happened to be in the second row right behind Amby Burfoot, Bill Rogers and Frank Shorter. The gun sounded and we were off. Mile one, I passed at a 5:10 pace. Mile 2, I was in a survival shuffle and by mile 3, I was walking. A harsh reality! I learned alot that day, mostly that positive outcomes are a product of commitment and hard work. Something I had not done. There are no short cuts.


One year after that memorable day and many miles I ran my first marathon in 3 hours and 55 minutes. Over the next two years, I joined a running club, trained hard and managed to lower my marathon time to just under 3 hours. Lots of 80 mile weeks . I did manage to get a PR of 2:53 in New York, but shortly after that I injured my knee, which ended my running career. Read the rest of this entry »

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