PROFILE--Benji Durden logged a 190-mile training week last month. Honest. And he's 67.

Benji Durden, now 67, has done things in running that few can match. Among them: He placed second in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials (in the U.S. boycott year, 1980, so he didn't get to compete in the Olympics), finished third in the Boston Marathon, and has a personal marathon best of 2:09:57. But we're more impressed by something he did last month: He ran a 190-mile training week, his all-time high. (And his wife wasn't far behind him. See below.)

Your professional career? My wife, Amie, and I time running races in and around Boulder, Colorado, where we live. (Occasionally we have timed other things like XC ski races, bike races, etc).

When did you start running and WHY? I wanted to be a competitive athlete. I tried baseball, but the ball speeding by my head (this was before helmets) made me uncomfortable. I didn’t like getting hit when I tried football. I was an okay swimmer, but the early morning practice in a cold pool wasn’t that much fun. Finally, I went out for track and selected the pole vault. I moved to running when I saw a kid break his arm and collarbone when his pole snapped. So in 1965 I became a runner.

Peak running? I ran as much as 140/week for a period, but found my best racing was when I stayed in the 85-95/week range.

Best performances? I ran best as a marathoner with a 2:10:41 to make the 1980 USA Olympic Team and a 2:09:57 to finish

PROFILE--George Banker has been running for 37 years

Profile -- George Banker has been running for 37 years
George Banker, a retired Technical Sergeant (TSgt.) in the U.S. Air Force followed by 25 years at IBM, has run 113 marathons. He clocked his 100th at the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). He was averaging 50 miles per week prior to his heart surgery in 2017. Nothing keeps Banker, who resides in Fort Washington MD, down. “If you want something bad enough, you will do whatever it takes to get it done.”

Started running and why? June 1982. (DOB: December, 1949). I picked up running while working for IBM. Every summer, my office sponsored a one-mile run that the branch director won every year. When they asked me, then 32, to participate, I thought I’d kick the butt of the “old gray-haired man.” Well, I didn’t win it, didn’t even come close. Ran a 12-minute mile and thought I’d die. It was ugly. I decided to become a better runner and started reading running magazines. My first race was the 1982 Philadelphia Distance Run (half-marathon). My goal was to finish in two hours and I ran it in

RESEARCH--For telomere health, aerobic training beats strength training

Having grown up mainly concerned about our cholesterol and blood pressure (and weekly mileage total, of course), many of us have trouble absorbing some of the newer health-fitness markers. One of those is telomeres--the tough little strands, sometimes compared to the plastic tips on shoelaces--at the end of chromosomes. 

Deteriorating telomeres are a bad thing, a sign of aging and disease. Anything that helps to maintain telomere health is essentially a good thing. An anti-aging thing. Previous research has shown that exercise protects telomeres and helps them regenerate. That's a very good thing.

Now German investigators have shown for the first time that endurance aerobic training and interval training promote telomere health, while strength training does not. This doesn't mean you should abandon strength training; you shouldn't. It has many benefits. Among them: It helps protect you from falls.

But as far as total health and anti-aging vigor go, it appears that endurance training beats strength training. As the German scientists point out, early homo probably depended more on running (and even sprinting) for survival than on lifting heavy objects. In their paper, the authors conclude: "Our data support ESC [European Society of Cardiologists] current guideline that resistance exercise should be complimentary to endurance training rather than a substitute."

In the actual prospective, randomized, controlled trial reported in the European Heart Journal, it was shown that endurance training (3 x 45 minutes/week) and interval training (3 x 45/wk) improved markers of telomere health while circuit weight training (3 x 45/week) did not.

PROFILE--Dr. Gabe Mirkin has been exercising hard for 70 years

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., has been practicing and espousing exercise-as-medicine for 70 years. A runner for many years and now an avid cyclist, Mirkin, 83, continues to produce a free and up-to-date website and e-newsletter with the latest info on fitness, nutrition, and health. You can subscribe here.

Career-profession? A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. 

Dr. Mirkin hosted a popular call-in radio show on fitness and health that was syndicated in more than 120 cities. He has written 16 books including The Sportsmedicine Book, the best-selling book on the subject that has been translated into many languages. His latest book is The Healthy Heart Miracle, published by HarperCollins. 

When did you start running and WHY? I went out for cross country at age 14 in my freshman year in high school because I thought

RESEARCH: New data supports our exercise habit, especially for racers

Believe it or not, some doctors and scientists are trying to keep up with us. They’re looking for data and explanations to understand why so many Lifetime Runners enjoy such outstanding health and vigor.

In particular, a group at Ball State University is near the forefront. They are continuing the pioneer work that Dr. David Costill first began there in the 1960s. I was a guinea pig in his lab then. It hurt--a muscle biopsy amounts to a sharp stabbing! And consecutive days of hard, two-hour runs on a treadmills are … just hard.

In a new paper, Scott Trappe and Ball State colleagues investigated the cardiovascular and muscle health of folks just like us. Trappe called them

ESSAY--Amby Burfoot is running his 56th consecutive Manchester road race

H.S. Yearbook photo, 1964
Thursday morning--Thanksgiving day--I expect to line up in the middle of Main St., Manchester, CT, for the annual 5-miler that’s actually 4.748 miles. In Connecticut, land of steady habits, we don’t change road race distances. We hold to tradition.

I have been here before. Fifty-five times, in fact. Consecutively. Here are a few things I remember:

1963: In my first-ever road race, I was thrilled to be running a distance longer than the 3 miles of my high school cross country races, and impressed by the range of humanity lining up next to me--a few young kids, several hundred road-race veterans, a guy with one arm, a runner in his 60s (how old can you get?). I couldn’t believe the size of the crowds along the course, especially near the finish line.
Manchester finish crowds, mid 1960s
H.S. xc, 1963
1968: Seven months after winning the Boston Marathon, I won Manchester for the first of nine times. Not a bad year.
Boston Marathon, 1968
Several Manchester winning photos.

1978: I stopped winning Manchester when World XC champ John Treacy broke the tape in 1978. I thought it was great that Manchester had leaped onto the world stage. Forty years later, John returned, and we had a great reunion.
November, 2017
Treacy above; Eamonn Coghlan, below
Various years: Stuff happens, good and bad. I've run Manchester with walking pneumonia that caused a thick throat crackle when I breathed, and also with Achilles tendinitis that likewise crackled (look up "crepitus"). Too name but a few of the challenging years. But it was great fun to run the race with Julia Chase Brand in 2011 on the 50th anniversary of her breakthrough Manchester finish of 1961.
At finish: "Yes I can."
At start, 1961: "No you can't."

1998: On a rainy morning, I carried an umbrella to keep my wife comfortable on her 37th birthday. At our wedding three years earlier, I had promised to keep her “warm, dry, and well-fed.” It's been worth the little extra effort.

2001: I posed with longtime hero Charley "Doc" Robbins before the start of his 50th consecutive (and last) Manchester. Nowadays, I look forward every year to seeing his daughter, Barrie. She of course runs the race barefoot, as her father did.

2013: It was supposed to be a big celebration, my 51st Manchester in a row. Instead, I got sick with a weird microbiome disease that caused me to lose 13 lbs ... and even more strength and health. Basically, I was a wreck. Only the support of family and friends got me through the 5 miles that morning. Two months later, my body began to heal itself. I’ve been fine ever since.
I needed an escort to guide me to the start.
Fortunately, I had the best--family.

2011-2017: A highlight of recent Thanksgivings has been the annual visit from my one-and-only namesake, “Little Amby,” who will turn 9 in a couple of months. His dad runs Manchester every year.
Our first get-together in 2011

2017: I talked Bernard Lagat into posing for a photo with my Manchester painter's cap, which I have been wearing since 2013. Each Thanksgiving, I cross off the previous year's total Manchesters finished, and add a new one. Lagat didn't come easy. He spent 5 minutes investigating the cap, inside and out, to make sure it had no sponsor logos that would compete with his Nike contract.

2018: Weather forecast--windchill in the single digits. I'm thinking of wearing a balaclava for the first time. Whatever it takes. To keep the streak alive. My recent book is titled Run Forever, but I'm no nut job. I just think we might as well have clear, bold, and optimistic goals. Look for me on the starting line.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. 

COMEBACK KID: After 31 years away from running Gregg Duckworth plunged back in

New York City Marathon, 2018
Gregg Duckworth, (born May, 1955) of Peru, Illinois, came back to running marathons after a 31-year break. In his first life as a runner,1978-85, he completed nine marathons, plus one 50-mile ultra-marathon. Then changes in jobs, and life in general sidelined him for 31 years. His “one more marathon” was Chicago in 2015. He ran Chicago again in 2017 and the New York City Marathon in 2018.

Why did you stop running? In 1984 I was doing 70 miles per week and was in the best shape of my life. But all that training was putting a lot of stress on my body, and at 6-foot-7 with a lanky build, my body never seemed ideal for running. I started out 1985 thinking if I ran more I would be even faster. Then, in July knee troubles appeared and they didn’t go away. A specialist eventually scoped out the knee but found no major damage. Then a new job in another state and life changes in general pulled me further away from running. I made some attempts to run but was still bothered by knee soreness. After that my way of dealing with all of it was to step away from running completely, mentally and physically. I loved running, and now that I couldn’t, I didn’t want to be reminded of that.

 Why did you decide to return to running after a 31-year hiatus? When I turned 58 in the spring of 2013 the idea was rolling around in my brain. It nagged at me like unfinished business left on the table. I figured that maybe if I retired at 65 I’d have time to pursue running again. But at the same time a contrary thought was telling me, why wait? And I often thought about a great line from