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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Me And Bill Rodgers!

As I get into what I hope is my last two final competitive running years, I remain amazed at the continued decline in my performance. Even though I know that almost all runners improve during their first 6 years, peak into the next 9, and then start to decline at varying rates of speed depending on their God given genetics, it is still an amazing process. I found an interesting statistic the other day. No distance runner, at any distance, has set a world record and then set another one outside of a 9 year period. Also, 90% of all marathoners set their PR's within their first four attempts. My favorite runner throughout my running life has been Bill Rodgers. Besides his many marathon victories, many people forget that, for a short time, he held the world road record for 10K at 28:36. This represents a 4:36 per mile pace. This was done at a time when Bill ran 120 miles per week in training. Today, at age 64, Bill has run a few 10K races in the 47:32 range, or 7:38 per mile. So Boston Billy has slowed down about 3 minutes per mile at ranges from 5K thru the half marathon (he smartly doesn't marathon anymore). He does this on approximately 45 miles per week. Now in my prime, I ran 37:54 for 10K, or 6:07 per mile. That was on an average of between 42-47 Miles per week. Now for my 10K race at the end of the month, I am hoping for a time that averages around 9:30 minutes per mile. That would be on an average weekly mileage of about 27 per week. Given that I get about a 20 second per mile handicap for Deming's altitude of 4400 feet, I have devolved at a similar rate to Billy, only faster, because I am just reaching 60. Now this kind of decline is faster than would be projected by those darn age graded tables by a good 45 seconds per mile. I recently contacted Ed Ayres thru his blog ( to comment on the fact that he has competed for 54 years, at 74 will be competing in the JFK 50 this November, and can still train hard like a young man. He will be doing a post in the future to discuss this issue, as he realizes he is also a bit of an anomaly. He will be looking for input from runners who have run competitively for more than 30 years. I wonder how many there are? Anyway, in the mean time, I keep plugging away trying to defy the heat, smoke, arthritis, and age to get to that starting line at the end of the month!

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