Dan King never knew he was a miler, but he found a silver lining during the coronavirus pandemic. With most of the races canceled, he focused on the event and now he has a world record for age groups.
The 61-year-old King from Boulder, Colorado, ran on August 29 at the South Carolina TrackFest in Columbia with 4: 49.08 and thus improved the previous world record for the age group of 60 to 64 year olds (4: 51.85), which was set in 2012 by Tony McManus from New Zealand was set up. The previous American record was 4: 53.01, held by Nolan Shaheed, also in 2012.
Behind two pacemakers ̵
“I felt fantastic at this pace,” he said Runner world. “I would lose to all sorts of people if it was a slower race with a kick. But if I do everything at a pace I can stand for a mile and run steadily, I’ll be fast that distance. “
The key for King, like many master athletes, was figuring out how to keep injuries at bay. He suffered from plantar fasciitis from the age of 40 until he had a Tenex procedure when he was 58. As soon as his plantar started to feel better, everything else started to hurt – especially his calves and hamstrings.
For most of two decades, King could rarely combine more than two months of high-level training. He’s had brilliant flashes – he won his age group at the 2011 World Masters Athletics Cross Country and 2015 US Club Cross Country Championships – but only recently has he found a training program that will keep him consistently healthy.
King, who retired in 2017 after selling a video and conference call company he founded with his brother, doesn’t have to tailor his training to a typical work week. That’s why he runs every other day on an eight-day schedule with intensive cross-training on the days in between. Every fourth day is a tough run. So it’s Cross-Train / Easy Run / Cross Train / Hard Run. To repeat.
For cross training, King depends on a rotation of the elliptical trainer, racing bike or deep water, depending on the weather in Boulder. Days off are not part of his normal routine.
“I just love being fit,” he said. “I feel so good mentally when I’ve trained.”
On hard days he either does strength / endurance training or shorter, faster intervals. On the track, 300 seconds at a mile pace (54 seconds) is a staple. Between repetitions, he walks the first 50 yards and jogs the second before rolling into the start.
“I roll into anything I do quickly,” he said. “I’m worried that something will break.”
On easier runs, he will travel between 5.5 and 7 miles and stop after about 4 miles to sprint for 8 to 10 seconds on a soccer field or on a rolling hill. He believes the short sprints are good for his form and core, and force him to run on his metatarsus. He recovers completely between repetitions – he’s not trying to make interval work out of it.
Overall, he averages 25 miles per week and skips in the long run. “I don’t like her,” he said. “I don’t know how useful they are [for me]. ”
The routine seems to have worked. His only remaining problem area is arthritis in his big toes, but exercising in Hokas Carbon X – with a carbon fiber plate – takes the strain off. He complements his aerobic workout with strength training exercises, including weighted squats and eccentric calf exercises for his lower legs. He also adopted a vegan diet when he turned 50.
When all of King’s finish races were canceled during the pandemic, he focused on a series of mile time trials. In March he ran on a local track 5:10 (in height). A few weeks later, he lowered that to 5:03. On August 14th, he ran in Nashville at the Music City Distance Carnival. In 89 degrees heat on a windy day, he ran 4: 57.27 and he felt that under more favorable conditions he could have a lot more free time.
For TrackFest, King reached out to eBay to find a pair of Nike’s newest spikes, the Dragonfly ZoomX, size 12. It’s the same version of the spike Joshua Cheptegei ran for his most recent 5,000 meter world record. The Masters Mile was the final event of the evening when the sun set over the Columbia International University track. All participants from earlier in the evening – including Open Mile winner Ollie Hoare, who ran 3: 53.35 – stopped to watch King.
The director Dave Milner worked on the microphone and kept around 100 viewers up to date on the record attempt. When King broke the record, Milner let him do a winning lap.
When he returned to Boulder, his neighbors gathered outside some distance away to drink champagne.
It’s a sweet victory for a man who has struggled with so much various pains. Each calf train, he said, has at least three weeks off. He wants to save others from his frustration.
“My only advice is that you broaden your thinking on what it means to be a master athlete as opposed to a master runner,” he said. “You have to train really hard, but you don’t have to run a lot of kilometers every week. Don’t lose sight of your own ability to run at a high level even if you are unwilling or interested in being a 60 mile a week runner. ”
King has found three books hugely influential since becoming a master runner: The China Study about diet, Younger next year about aging and Built to lastabout corporate culture.
One simple solution
To resolve his calf and Achilles problems, King turned to the Alfredson Protocol on YouTube.
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Wisdom comes with age
King was a successful college runner at the University of Colorado-Boulder with a PR of 5,000 meters of 14:34. But he also studied engineering and had a working study job 20 hours a week, which shortened his training time.
For years when he was young, he assumed that running was a constant in every person. “I thought you were really limited in what you could do with your ‘talent cap’,” he said. “I underestimated how much you can develop as an endurance athlete through perseverance, continuous application of knowledge and understanding of the sport.”
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