PROFILE: Mark LeDuc has been running for 43 years

(Oct. 2021)Mark LeDuc completed his first run on April 1, 1978, but there's nothing foolish about his career running record. In particular, he shines at compiling his running data. How many of us can say, "
I have run in 1224 races lifetime, winning 46 races outright and placing first in my age division 247 times." Now 67 and living in a Minneapolis suburb, LeDuc is still logging 30 to 50 miles a week. He follows the Cabbage Soup Diet when he needs to lose a few pounds, and is still chasing one big goal: to achieve a Boston qualifying time in each of the 50 states.

Career-profession: In my 20’s I was a retail manager with Kmart. In my 30 - 40’s I was a meter reader for a electric utility company. In my 50’s I was in field collections (shut offs) for the same utility company.

When did you start running and why? My first run was April 1st, 1978. Although I did not know this till one month later, It was also the date of my sister’s (Annette LeDuc) first run. I actually tried running for a month in 1973 in my parents basement. I was too embarrassed to run outside since I did not know or see other runners. I started running to improve my aerobic capacity and get in a good cardio workout to go along with my calisthenics and weights. My sister Annette convinced me to run my first race in 1979. I did not know any runners, but Annette assured me that I would not finish last. I really believed that races were just for fast school jocks!

How much did you run in your peak years? I use to run 50 to 70 miles a week. Additionally, I walked about 30 miles a week across lawns, snow and fences to read meters for my job. Always worried that a running injury could effect my job performance. In my 40’s, started running with other runners about 3 times a week. This helped make me faster as well as running on a race team "Marathon Sports" and later "Molar Milers”. I usually take two days a week off from running. A true non-streaker! Probably never ran more than 10 days in a row. To prepare for marathons I typically run 5 to 10 long runs (18 to 30 miles) before each marathon. I once ran a 30 mile training run by myself and reached the marathon split in 2:58! Most of my long runs were run at about a 7:30 pace.

Top running achievements? I have run in 1224 races lifetime, winning 46 races outright and placing first in my age division 247 times. I hold the Minnesota age 55 record in the 20 mile with a time of 2:17:31.

I was the 97th (and oldest along with Benji Durden) finisher of the "50 States Sub 4 Hour Marathon Club”. My average marathon time in the 50 states is 3:13 (2:50 age graded).

Running PR’s? mile-4:47; 5k-16:40; 10k-34:15; 15k-52:45; 10 mile-56:15; 20k-1:10:45; half marathon-1:15:12; 25k-1:32; marathon-2:46:46; 24 hour run-100 miles.

Recent running times? At age 60, mile-6:05; 5k-20:45; 10 mile-69:50; half marathon-1:34; marathon 3:19.

How much are you running and cross-training now? Today I run 30 to 50 miles a week. I consider my bi-monthly sports massage and my occasional Recumbent Trike trek across park trails as cross-training. I stretch for about 5 minutes before my run and perform a better stretch about 3 miles into the run when my muscles have warmed up.

Does it bother you that you are slower now? The slowing process from age was only really noticeable as I moved into my later 50’s. I was never really fast in my 20’s. Most of my PR’s came at age 30 to 40. In fact, from age 29 to 41, I could maintain pretty much the same speed through out all distances. Now I consider it a victory if I run a race in a time close to the year before.

Who or what inspires you? Runners who are my age but are much faster do not inspire me. I view them as runners from a different planet. Still, it is good to know that someone my age can do some great times! I’m inspired more by runners of my age with similar abilities. They make me push and train harder.

How have your diet and weight changed through the years? I use to run between 145 - 150 pounds. Now, I try to run at 155 - 160, usually ending up at 165. Time off for injury usually takes my weight up to 170 pounds. I have a family history of morbid obesity among my grandparents. Maintaining a good weight is hard! When I get real serious about an upcoming race I’ll try the Nolan Shaheed (musician, miler from CA.) diet. This consist of eating one meal a day! Not easy at first, you get use to it after awhile. Also, the 10 day cabbage soup diet works pretty good.

Tips for hopeful Lifetime Runners?
You don’t always have to run in a run! If you feel like walking during a run then walk! If you need to take a day or two off from running do that!

When I go out for a run it seems like I keep picking up the pace. I am not even conscious of doing this. There are days in which I don’t feel like running. On those days, it’s best to not push it or perhaps just walk or take the day off! Also, try running with others of your ability. This will keep you more motivated to run. 

How does running improve your life? It gives me a barometer of where I am physically in life. If something is a little off, I’ll probably feel it on the run. Without running I would have no reference point to gauge how I should feel from day to day. Running gives me a sense of well being.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from running? I have noticed that people who have compulsory habits seem drawn to running. Some transferred a negative habit to the very positive habit of running. When I first started running, it was all about fitness. But then fitness wasn’t a thought in my mind when my running turned to performance and competing in races. Now, competing is no longer on the front burner, and fitness is more important. In summary, this whole running thing has turned into more of a hobby than a sport! Well, speaking strictly for me.

Future goals? I still have a goal of running a BQ at a marathon in Wyoming and Kansas. Once this is accomplished I’ll have run a BQ in every one of the 50 states!