Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wisdom From 80 Year Old Ed Whitlock

I was listening to an archived podcast of "Marathon Talk" when I heard something really honest. Tom Williams was interviewing 80 year old Ed Whitlock. It's no doubt that Ed is most notable for his longevity. He ran as a young lad, a rival of another famous English long distance runner, Gordon Pirie (by the way, if you are a runner and haven't read Gordon Pirie's book "Running Fast and Injury Free", then I recommend that you do).

Ed Whitlock took a long break from running (sounds familiar) and started back up in his 40s. He ran his personal best in the marathon at 48 in 2 hours 31 minutes and 23 seconds, but he didn't stop there. He holds the world record for men 70 to 74 in the marathon in 2 hours 54 minutes 48 seconds. He is the only person over 70 to run a sub 3 hour marathon. He holds the world record for men 75 to 79 in the marathon in 3 hours 4 minutes 54 seconds. He also holds the world record for men 80 to 84 in the marathon in 3 hours 15 minutes 54 seconds.


What I found so refreshingly honest was his answer to this question from Tom: "What is it that motivates you right now? What is it that you love so much about running that's keeping you fired up? Is it performance or just the act of running? What is it about running that gets you going?

Ed answered, "I guess it's performance, really. I don't think I would run for my health. I don't get a great deal of enjoyment from jogging around and around for three hours, really. I mean this is kind of a jrudge, really. I only do it because I want to perform well. It's results oriented."

On a more local note, 71 year old fellow Cookevillian Dallas Smith (who appears to get more enjoyment from running) has the Tennessee state marathon records from ages 63 to 70, all of them impressively run on the hilly Country Music marathon in Nashville.



  1. I can't separate performance results from my enjoyment of running. Even a slight improvement one day to the next on a leisurely run helps fuel my motivation to keep getting out there. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

  2. Maybe you are saying the same thing Ed did from a "glass half full" perspective: you both get enjoyment from performance/improvement.