At age 68, running legend Bill Rogers still logs up to 40 miles per week. But it is a far cry from the 130 to 140 miles per week he was running while he was at his peak. During that time, he won four Boston Marathons, broke the U.S. record twice, and was a member of the 1976 Olympic Team.
But with all the information available about training regimens and nutrition, Rogers told the 205 runners and staff at Culver’s Distance Camp they were running at the best possible time.
For example, Rogers said, it used to be that his participation in cross training was sporadic at best. And his high school “barbarian diet” often consisted of ice cream sandwiches after a race and his mother’s macaroni and cheese during training. He now eats better and trains smarter now than he did at his peak.
Rogers, former women’s marathon world record holder Jacqueline Hansen, and CGA and Princeton cross country and track star Alex Banfich ’08 conducted a special 45-minute question-and-answer session for camp attendees Monday evening.
Hansen, who was also a 1984 Olympic Marathon qualifier, said she was fortunate that she worked with an “old school” coach who believed in interval training and cycling workouts based on the seasons. He also emphasized that his runners always train on grass or dirt trails to avoid injuries. “We never ran on cement,” she said.
Both Banfich and Hansen emphasized eating a balanced diet in moderation. Making proper food choices based on when you are racing or training is wise, but there is “no one diet” that will work for every runner.
You need more calories, not less. But they must be quality calories.
Hansen added that anorexia is prevalent among distance runners because of the misconception that “you will run faster if you are lighter.” It may be true for the short term but it will quickly catch up with them. “You need more calories, not less,” she said. “But they must be quality calories.”
The ideal is to stay “stay strong, not thin,” Banfich said.
All three discussed the ups-and-downs of their careers and how they handled injuries. Banfich told the runners they need to listen to their bodies. Easing back on mileage and going with softer practices allows the body time to heal, she said. She had a serious injury following her senior cross country season at Princeton, she said. It wiped out her final track season. She got through that time thanks to her teammates. It also made her rethink how she could help others while on the sidelines.
Rogers added that most runners will find themselves out of running as some point in their careers, whether it is due to injury or disappointment. “We all quit at some time,” he said. That is when friends and teammates can offer that much-needed support.
Hansen reminded everyone they will develop a “love-hate relationship” with running. “You can do your homework, do everything right, and the race will still go all wrong.”
But it is the physical motion of running that keeps them going – even Hansen, who now runs in a pool to reduce the impact on her arthritic knees. “My day revolves around my workout,” she said.
And while she doesn’t run competitively any longer, Banfich said staying mentally in touch with the movement of her body while she runs “is what keeps me going.”