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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
3rd at Boston in 1983. I had decent shorter performances with a best of 43:28 for 15K at the Falcon Run and 28:36 for 10K at Peachtree.

Current running and cross-training? I do little cross training other than race walking. I usually run and or walk 60-80 miles/week.
In the 1983 Boston Marathon,
Durden finished third behind
winner Greg Meyer, on left.


Any recent race results? This year (2018) I ran 3:48:52 at the Houston Marathon, 46:07 at the BolderBOULDER 10K and 36:15 at the 50th Anniversary 1968 Olympic Trials Run 8K. A trivia record I hold is for the longest duration between 1st win, the Carolina marathon 2/5/1977, and most recent win, Texas Quad: The Waddle 11/24/2017, a span of 40 years, 292 days.
A recent running activity of note: Amie and I spent our 2018 Thanksgiving week running as much as we could, and not much else. There was some walking as warm-ups and cool-downs for our runs, but all the miles added together to give us both PRs for miles in a week. Amie covered 188.3 miles with 160.4 of that running.  I went 214.1 miles with 190.2 running.

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What training routine currently works best for you? A schedule that looks something like the following:
1--long day – 15min RW, 2-3 hr run, 15min RW
2--easy day – 30min RW, 30min run, 30min RW
3--threshold day – 15min RW, 1:15-1:45 run total with 10min-30min at threshold pace, 15min RW
4--easy day – 30min RW, 30min run, 30min RW
5--“speed” day – 15min RW, 1:15-1:45 run total with 60sec-3min fast with 1-2min recovery, 15min RW
6--easy day – 30min RW, 30min run, 30min RW
7--plus an additional easy day where needed

Former and current training paces? Does it bother you to get slower? I ran at about 6:40-7:00/mile in my prime and 10:00-12:00 now depending on fatigue levels. Getting slower bothers me sometimes, but I just tell myself to forget about it.

How much did you weigh in your prime? Now? 145 then, 155 now.

How has your diet changed? I ate pretty much everything in my prime just to keep up with calorie needs. I began to slow down on that approach as I aged and in 2003 I quit eating red meat. I try for balance, but have to admit I could improve my diet.

Do you attempt to maintain the weight of your younger years? How? I try to keep within the 10 lbs over that I am currently, but I am not fanatical about it. I cut out sweets if I start to get too much past 155.

During Thanksgiving week, Benji and Amie
Durden logged a combined total of 350 miles.
We're calling that a world record for married
couples.
Vitamins, minerals, supplements? I take a good number of supplements that have been recommended over the years. They may or may not help but don’t seem to hurt so I live with expensive pee if that’s all I’m getting.

Injuries or other health issues? My elite career ended with a plantar fascia tear and I took 15 months to heal. Then I made a comeback as a masters racer, and tore the other plantar fascia and decided to quit racing. Fifteen years ago (2003) I found out I had prostate cancer. After recovering from the surgery, I decided I missed racing and refocused my life with more running and racing in it.

In 2016 I found out I had colon cancer. I race walked and ran some during the chemo that followed surgery and gradually shifted to running over the course of the 6 months of chemo. In the year after I got off chemo, I ran 10 half marathons and 10 marathons.

Cross training, strength training, stretching? I have been off of cross-training (unless race walking counts) for a few years, but I have just started going to the gym again recently. I think the main benefit is that it helps reduce injuries.

I stretch some as I feel the need. I don’t do a formal routine, but after I have warmed up a bit, I will stretch if something seems to need it. I don’t think it correlates that much with being uninjured and I don’t enjoy it that much.

Why do you keep running? After over 50 years of running, it is who I am. Racing is still challenging and training to race keeps me running more than I might if I didn’t race (though I might still run a lot anyway). In one way, for me, running is like breathing, it is part of me being alive.

What is your philosophy of life, running, and aging?
This is hard articulate. I am a bit zen; I live mostly in the moment and seldom think about the future so I don’t really think too much about aging though I do think about goals. I am also a realist and mostly accept the limitations of reality, but I don’t limit myself in my running. In general, where it comes to my running, I am a bit of an optimist, I know what I should be able to do at any given time, but I don’t hold myself back if I start to exceed those expectations.

What are the biggest lessons (life lessons and running lessons) you have learned from running? Perseverance counts. Preparation is important. Patience pays off.

I mostly just don’t think about aging. I know I will slow down. I will get sick or injured at some point, and eventually I will die. These are the realities of life. I don’t borrow trouble. Of course I have days where I get down like everyone else, but then I go for a run.

Who or what inspires you to continue running and maintaining your fitness? Ed Whitlock inspires me to believe faster days can be ahead. The research on exercise as a benefit to general health helps me explain my habit to others.

A favorite quote or two?
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“Never give up, never surrender.” Jason Nesmith-Galaxy Quest