dailymiler of the week: Tony B.

Every few weeks we pick one inspiring dailymiler to be featured on the blog. This gives us a chance to learn the stories of members of the dailymile community. Check out past dailymiler’s of the week or nominate a dailymiler for a future post!

This week I got had the opportunity to ask Tony B. some questions. He’s a runner from Wichita, Kansas and has been running since a young age, taking time off intermittently but never totally laying off the activity. This year, his goal is to run at least 1 mile every day for a 2013 running streak. Just goes to show that goals don’t have to be time, or even race-based.

Tony provides some great insight in to how running fits in to his life, and also offers some helpful advice for new runners (my favorite of which is the last bit: listen to your body). One of the most important skills you can develop as a runner, triathlete, or cyclist is to become adept at heeding your body’s signals. Tony is no doubt pretty good at this after 39 years of hitting the roads!

When did you first start running?
Living on a farm in southwestern Kansas, there were times when I would take the dogs and chase rabbits through the pasture. I can remember a few times taking my older brother’s track shoes and running down our 1/2 mile drive way. They were too big so of course I had to stuff paper in the toes. I was doing this as early as age 10. Actual “running” running started with track in the 7th grade (March 1974). My first 2 track meets coach had me doing sprints. Then one of our long distance guys quit and coach moved me to his position. It seemed to fit me better than the sprints so he left me there and I’ve never stopped running. I have had to take a few breaks, but I always keep going.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself outside of running.
Where do I start…. I was pretty lazy in high school and could not figure out why I needed to go to college. Then, 11 years later, I decided to go to college anyway and ended up wishing I would have went years sooner. I earned my RBA in 3 years and impressed myself for doing so.

I have been a volunteer for the Arthritis Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Special Olympics. It wasn’t until 2000 that I finally found my niche in life, working with behavioural kids. After about 10 years, I started working with adults with disabilities. The dollar amount on my paycheck isn’t very good, but when one of my person’s served tells me how much they appreciate what I do for them, that paycheck is worth more than any amount of money.

I have 3 children and 13 grand-children and love every single one of them. They are stretched out from Germany to Elkhart Kansas.  I have enjoyed being able to run with them although none have carried it much further than just track in school.

Your goal for 2013 is to run at least 1 mile everyday. How is that going so far? Do you anticipate that it will be easy or difficult for you?
As long as my feet will move, I don’t forsee any problems with reaching my goal for 1 mile every day. I think I’m just too stubborn headed to NOT make my goal. It was 8 days ago today that I broke a blood vessel at the 1st knuckle of my big toe and I have pushed myself to keep running. Sounds crazy, but after a couple miles it starts going numb and doesn’t hurt much. So, as long as that is the worst thing to happen this year, I will make it.

Do you prefer to run solo or in a group? Why?
It depends on what I’m training for. I started running Ultras in 2010 and needed to learn how to slow down. I find that it is easier for me to run slower paces by myself than in a group that has some faster runners. In a group, I have a tendency to want to stay up with everyone. Speed work (my speed work anyway) is often better in a group with runners faster than myself.

When is a run a good run?
Any run you finish is a good run. For me, though, if I finish a run knowing I could have done better, I don’t consider it a good run. I do consider things like being sick or slightly injured as well. As long as I run to the best of my ability and training schedule, it is a good run. I have had 1 DNF in 39 years and consider myself fortunate. If it wasn’t for all the inspiration I recieve from my daily mile friends and running mates, Im sure I would have had a few more.

What’s your favourite race distance and why?
I have two races that I am really fond of. I like the half-marathon because it is a good race distance for me. I can push the pace and not get too tired before the finish line. The other distance I really enjoy is the 100K. It is a really nice relaxing trail run and I feel like it is the perfect way to spend the day running.

Besides the obvious fact that you probably want to be clothed, what’s the one piece of running gear you couldn’t live without?
My shoes!!!!! I can run without anything that I have now (garmin, fuel belt, water bottle, etc) That’s the way we use to do it back in the day. And since I’m pretty much “Old School” there’s nothing I really can’t run without.

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Have you ever gone through a rough patch with your running (i.e.: injury, lack of motivation etc.)? What got you through it? 
I’ve had two injuries that have kept me from running for a week (each time). Both times all my friends were offering inspiration. The one that meant the most was to have my best friend in the whole world that kept me going as well. Her inspiration and encouragement made a lot of difference and I love her so very much. She has really made a difference in my life as well as my running. Add that to my own determination, well, I got through it and became even better.

What’s the toughest race you’ve done? What made it so tough?
The toughest would have to be my DNF at the Heartland 100. What made it the toughest was a few different things. First, I did everything that I had been training NOT to do. Second, the weather was not good at all. The third thing had to be something I drank at the last aid station I had passed through. Whatever it was, it made me sick. Two mile from the station, I had the heaves. I stopped about 4 times to get sick and each time it was harder to get going again. By the time I got to mile 42, I knew I was done.

Another tough one, that I did finish, was a 24 hour run on a high school track in July of last year. The air temp was 108 and the news station shot the temp on the track and said it hit 135. I have never drank so much fluid or taken that many soaks in ice water or even taken that many salt tabs as I did in that one day. I was exhausted.

What’s your favourite post-long-run thing to do? 
My favorite thing after a good long run? There’s a tie with that one. A nice long shower and lots of food is the icing on the cake for me.

If you could give advice to other runners starting out what would you tell them?
Get the proper shoes to start with. I have seen many people quit running because they didn’t know that they needed shoes from somewhere else besides the $19.99 section at Wal-Mart. Shoes make all the difference in the world.

Find a running group with veteran runners and ask a lot of questions. I’ve been doing this for 39 years and I’m still learning all the time.

Start out slow. You don’t need to try to go long when you first start. Let your body get use to doing each new distance before increasing that distance.

Maintain proper nutrition. Not all diets work for different people. The foods and quantities I eat are a lot different than what my running friends take in and what they do works just as good for them as what I do works for me. Ask for advice based on your training goals. And never try something different on race day. If you haven’t trained with it for at least a week, don’t do it on the day of the race. It may just make the difference between a good run and a bad one.

Be part of a team. By that I mean, find a group to hang with and be supportive of their efforts as well. We all set goals and need help reaching those goals. Just because I’m a veteran runner doesn’t mean that my goal is any easier to obtain that the goal of a new runner trying to run their first 5K.

Never think that you’re not doing very good. As a newer runner, your task may seem really difficult at times. Always remember that those runners you see running faster and further use to be in the very same shoes you are in. They will help you get to where you want to be.

Stretch, stretch, stretch. Make time in your workout for stretching. You have to get those muscles warmed up so you don’t get hurt when you go to run. A few cool down stretches doesn’t hurt either.

Listen to your body. Your body will tell you when it needs something, whether is food, drink or even rest. Always trust in what your body is telling you. Get to know all the signs and the different ways your body talks to you

Thank you Tony for answering my questions and good luck with your 2013 goal! I’ll be cheering you on!

About Steph

A used-to-be-un-athletic-wannabe-ultra-runner-running-coach-history-lover-turned-science-nerd-student from Montreal, Canada. She runs to wake her brain up for the day, to keep sane and to keep Zoe (her dog) happy. After 4 marathon and 2 ultras in two years, she has decided to spend the rest of 2012 and 2013 building speed and working toward a faster 5km. But she won't forget her desire to run a 100 miler someday! When she's not running or having her brain eaten by school she's writing, reading or singing in her garden. She dreams of one day having a farm with chickens that she will love and never eat.
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