Thursday, July 19, 2012

Will you still run when there are no PRs left?

This is a question I have been asking myself lately. 

I did not start running until I was 34 years old.  When I starting running (jogging) I was 300+ pounds.  I have never achieved a normal running weight.  In the last 9 years I have managed to be 200-205# for maybe a total of 18 months ... maybe.  The rest of the time I have been heavier, often 220-240#.  At one time I had 20# more upper body muscle (350 bench press) - But I stopped lifting 5 years ago, so 180-185 would be equivalent to the old 200-205.

A reasonable weight for a runner who is 6'3 is 160-170 pounds.  I always have locked up potential in the handicap I carry around my waist, butt and thighs.  I have run over 40,000 miles in the last 9 years.  I often dream of the potential I could achieve if I hit a runners weight.  I believe that all my PRs would be shattered if I weighed 175-180 pounds ... even at 43,44,45 years old (Currently 43).

In 2012 the typical cycle continues - After a fat gaining winter, I have been working hard. I Started the year @ 242 and for the last month I am pretty steady at 200-205#. Sometimes after a long hot workout, I have even seen dehydrated 193.  I continue to hold onto the hope that I can balance the summer family & friends fun time that often includes good food and good beer, with training and work and actually achieve a better running weight.

For some reason this year I have the feeling that its now or never - Either I figure out the great mystery of getting everything in balance and getting my weight to a more reasonable runners weight, or I turn in my runners card and become an occasional jogger.  It is not a desperate feeling, just a realization that time is not on my side.

What drives each of us to run is ours.  My accomplishments would be humorous to many for the time and effort spent.  "You spend how many hours a week on a hobby to achieve mediocrity?"

I am not even sure I like to run ... Sure, there are days of amazing runs, but overall?  I do like the process of training.  I love to race!  No matter what shape I am in, I love the strategery of trying to get everything out of your body that day.

I can get the buzz of racing without being in good shape ~ So logically the only reason to train at a high level (For me) would be the carrot of PRs, the pull of race success or success against individuals I want to be compete against.

When all these are gone - What will be left?  Will it be a runner?

A common saying in our group is "Runners Run".  This means at some point everything else fades away and you are left with who you are ... a runner.

At this point, I still do not know who I am ...

Good running to all!


  1. Excepting mediocre ultras, my PRs are all from the 1980s. I've considered using the WAVA age-graded time comparisons, though they don't go past 50K. My PRs were also set at 128-136 pounds on a 6 foot frame; I don't think I'd be happy that thin any more (but 144 sounds good and I'm swinging between 152 and 160).

    So... would that make me a "Quarter Horse?"

  2. Steve - You are a Stallion ... hoping to be put out to stud. You have run long past PR stage of your life - What keeps you interested? The "Runners Run" argument is that it has nothing to do with interest. You cannot fight who you are - You are a runner, so you run.

  3. Wow, I always thought you were an ex hs/college runner.

    I to started running later in life, 28 years old after I quit smoking.

    You've still got plenty of time to crush some PR's. (all of my pr's have been in my mid to late 40's)

    I run so I can drink beer and not get fat.

  4. I dont question this with PR's but with distances and challenges associated with them.. when I have "ran/often power hiked" those distances I ? if I will be interested still or if I will get fat and talk about the days when I could..

  5. Old man - I can run 120-140 mile per week and still drink beer and get fat if I am not careful.

    Richard - There are certain races that will always be a challenge or might alwasy be beyond me or my desire. Hardrock, Barkley, Arrowhead. I do not know if this can be enough - Trail ultras could be, but I live in the worng place and will have to run flat and road most my runs in life.

    My question is not one that can be answered today or tomorrow - But will be discovered over time.

    I know a few runners that go from National Class - Like a post college low 31 10k woman to not running at all. To me there is a group of people that start running for various reason, but keep running because they are really good at it and then stop. Another group that run to see how good they can become and then stop. But then there are the life long runners.

    I know I am not in the 1st group, but I am interested to see if I will fall into group 2 or 3.

  6. You can always look at Arthur Webb's performance at Badwater this year. At age 70 he set a three and a half hour PR. (and he's run it a dozen times)

  7. JojaJogger - Arthur Webb - what a story. His interview on Talk Ultra before Badwater was great. His race was insane!

    Big Horse - I too started running "later in life" after 33 years of hating it. As you know, I am also bigger than the average bear and not built like most runners. My reason for that first 50k, and the subsequent further distances, was really not my own. I was running for cause I believed in - for someone else, so I found the mental struggles easier to overcome. (in hindsight I can say that). Hindsight also shows that ignorance is bliss. I didn't know what that trail shoes existed, no clue how to train for an ultra, barely knew about nutrition (other than eating everything at every aid station) and didn't know that I shouldn't be running as fast as I was for the lack of real training I did.

    Ultimately, though, we have to run for ourselves, whatever reason that might be. I often ponder why I run. Why I put myself through the pain of races when I know I haven't put in the time to train, or recovery from the previous race. I will never win a conventional trail ultra, so it isn't the external competition. It must be the internal competition, mixed with a crazy masochistic association of pain and suffering to betterment of self. So even though I appear to getting slower on the clock, I can still set a PR for personal punishment. Probably will result in me ending up some day being a non-running, more overweight never-was been.
    But in the meantime, I love striving for that point in a race when you reach that place where you aren't fully conscious, can't really feel the pain, and it feels like you are running so fast your feet aren't touching the ground. Sort of feels like a dream within a dream.