PROFILE--Mike Fanelli has been racing for 50 years

(Sep 2020) Mike Fanelli is almost without peer as a collector of track and running photos, programs, and other odds 'n' ends. His Facebook page is famous across the Internet for the great photo content he shares from his home in Asti, CA, where he houses his collection in an HVAC-controlled mini-museum. Fanelli, now 64, has been racing as long as he has been collecting, having just passed 50 consecutive years of track competitions. He's a little concerned about 2020, with all the Covid-canceled events and an upcoming foot surgery, but he knows one thing for absolute certain: He'll be back and racing again soon. He's already looking forward to competing in the 70+ division. Fanelli and friends are also great fans of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, which he considers a track super-event that he wouldn't consider missing. Look for him next year in Eugene. He'll be the one with the extra luggage packed full of vitamins and supplements. His wife says he has the most expensive "pee" in California, and she might be right.

Career-profession? I spent nearly 20 years in a variety of positions largely related to the sport. This included working in / managing / owning a series of running shoe stores. I spent a few years working for Reebok, first in the Southern California marketplace as a tech rep, and then in house at HQ in Boston working in running promotions (athlete sponsorships, event sponsorships and the like). I later became

an agent for top athletes, coached a dozen Olympic Trials qualifiers and was named USA National Team Coach in 1992, 1996, 2000 for international competitions in Korea and Japan. I've also done a fair amount of race announcing and color commentary on both radio and tv. 

Beginning at age 40 I started my real estate career, which I still work at full time today. I mostly represent both buyers and sellers of luxury properties in San Francisco, Marin County, and Sonoma / Napa Wine Country. 

When did you start running and why? As a 12 and 13 year old I'd do casual running either at the local high school track or cross country course ...nothing organized. My actual running 'career' began 50 years ago  with high school freshman cross country in 1970. Since then I've never taken any time away from the sport aside from when injured. 

While my size and hand eye coordination were below average for football, baseball, and basketball, my capacity to run, most often demonstrated during juvenile delinquent activities, surpassed all other athletic capabilities. 

How much did you run in your peak years? I was usually good for 70- 80 or so miles a week infused with quite a bit of track interval training. Like most marathoners of the period, I ran my share of 100- 115 mile weeks but not consistently.

 Top races or running achievements? 9:03 2 miles, 14:37 5,000, 30:53 10,000 2:25:57 marathon, 3:05;13 50K, 6:03 50 miles, 16:40 100 miles. But my favorite mark is probably a 4:57 mile at age 50, and my age 70 times that are still six years in my future.

An estimate of your total lifetime miles? 112,179 miles...I've kept a training log since October 1970 and rarely ever miss a day of running. 

How much are you running and cross-training now? When the gym is open, I have a 30 minute routine that I do about 5 days a week...a combination of core and upper body work. Otherwise I do push ups and sit ups 5 or 6 days a week...have for years. I do not stretch and pretty much never have. Though, I did have a ton of deep tissue bodywork done on pretty much a weekly basis from my mid 20s until age 60.

Any recent race results? Last year was my 50th consecutive year of competing in various running events, mostly track meets. My streak is in jeopardy this year, as all the local track meets have been canceled, and I am scheduled for foot surgery late this year (fusing the navicular and cuneiform).Thereafter, I intend to ramp back up the track training with an eye towards competing in the 800 / 1500/ mile at 70.

Does it bother you that you are slower now? I am mostly just grateful to still be able to still run, and to run hard. Aside from the track, I'm not overly concerned about my times as long as I know that I've fully immersed myself in the discomfort zone. That's the sandbox that I like to play in. I try to be comfortable being uncomfortable for an extended period of time, all while recognizing that said discomfort is temporary. A whole lot of 'interesting' self-talk takes place during these self-inflicted sessions. 

First high school xc race

Early role models?
Having run Middle Atlantic AAU road races in the early - mid 70s, I was SO fortunate to be exposed to men like Browning Ross and Ted Corbitt. They seemed ancient to me then, but I admired that they were still getting it done. Funny, I am older today then they were when I was a kid. They were extraordinary role models whose inspiration has carried on for decades.

How have your diet and weight changed through the years, if at all? In my college track and cross country days, I typically weighed in the low 130s. Today am around 145 lbs. I was an ovo lacto vegetarian for about ten years during my prime. Nowadays I just eat healthy in two meals a day, not three. 

With regards to supplements and vitamins, my wife likes to tell people that I have the most expensive pee in Sonoma County. I've taken lots of supplements regularly since my teen years. Today, I take supplements three times per day. They include mega-dosage of B complex vitamins, a multi-vitamin, minerals, collagen with hyaluronic acid, turmeric, a daily aspirin, triple strength MSM with glucosamine, various herbs, and Endurox. My focus is largely on supplementation that enhances recovery. I am of the belief that 90% of one's fitness takes place in the recovery phase, and so therefore emphasize it.

Injuries or other health issues? I've had every typical overuse running injury including stress fractures in tibia, metatarsal, and cuboid. At age 40 I had a very near deadly bout with fungal meningitis and have had some prostate surgery. I am confident that running related fitness enabled me to recover at a better-than-average rate.

An inspirational quote? "Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." --Calvin Coolidge

Three short tips for hopeful lifetime runners?

1--Train don't strain

2--Consistency is the key

3.--Keep a detailed training log

How does running & fitness improve your life on a daily/weekly basis? For me running has become a combination of daily discipline with specific goals and benchmarks attached (i.e. streak days and total lifetime mileage). I run early in the morning and it helps to clear my mind and structure my day. It's meditative and a time to plan an attack on the remainder of the day. Bonus: It helps me fit better into a suit. 

First Training Log entry

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from running? I relish the practical applications of everyday living that are derived from lessons learned in sport. In training for the big race, it's important to work backwards from the end result and create a course-of-action that will help you achieve a successful end result. I approach my business in the very same way--a process learned from coaching and competing. 

At this stage of my running career, I stay in maintenance mode for extended periods of time and apply specific work only when I am preparing for a designated contest. This approach has enabled me to have great consistency. That and really focusing on the ancillary recovery work keeps me in what is hopefully 'perpetual motion.'