Earl Fee Shows How to Go From Good to Great

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WARNING: This article will cause some people to get defensive, to get their hackles up, to make excuses for their less-than-great physical condition while others will find hope in it. Proceed with caution.

Canadian Earl Fee went from being a good runner in his youth to being a great one in his later years. By applying what we can learn from his hugely successful transformation maybe we can go from average to awesome shape or maybe become a masters athlete or a more successful one. Before looking at how he did it, we should probably take a peek at a little of why he’s considered a great runner today.

Earl was a good, maybe even a very good middle-distance runner in high school and college — for example, his 400-meter time was around 51 seconds (not bad at all, but not off the charts either). After a 33-year hiatus from running, this nuclear engineer/supervisor decided to start running with his two sons, Curtis and Tyler. At the time he was in excellent shape having kept active through the years with tennis, water and snow skiing and a habit of doing about 50 push-ups every day. At age 56 Earl competed in his first race since college, did well, found it was fun and hasn’t looked back since.

In his 24 years of competing in masters running Earl’s been very successful, to say the least, in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 300m hurdles, 10Ks, cross-country races and more. How successful? He’s won 12 Canadian cross country age-group titles. As of 2009, he has broken 53 (and counting) masters World Records and still holds 14 of them. This past March, on his 80th birthday, he celebrated by running a World Record breaking 1:11.23 in the 400m at the Ontario Masters Athletics Indoor Championships. This time annihilated the 80-84 age-group Canadian Record by 8 seconds and shattered the existing World Record by more than 4 seconds; showing his stamina, just three hours later he was back on the track running the 200m in 32.07, just missing American Mel Larson’s 31.86 World Record and breaking Aleks Ernesak’s Canadian Record by over 3 seconds. A few weeks later, in Raleigh, North Carolina, he set a new outdoors World Record in the 400 with a blistering 1:10.64 and back in Toronto a new outdoors 800 World Record (pending?) with a blazing 2:48.95. If Earl is slowing down, it’s not by very much. If you’d like to see Earl’s 800m World Record race, go to YouTube and type in “Fee breaks World 800m” — it’s really worth a look.

That Earl Fee can run this well at age 80 means he’s dong something(s) right. In a talk he gave this November at the Ontario Senior Games he told the audience, “My main training secret… is to age slower than my rivals.” Let’s see how he’s done this:

  • Earl uses short intense anaerobic intervals rather than long aerobic runs “to slow the aging process” and set new records
  • He follows hard workouts and races with easier ones and stretches several times every day
  • Cross training (rowing, weight lifting, swimming and pool running) is interspersed between running sessions/days
  • Uses mental techniques before and during races to improve results — sees training as a mind-body experience
  • Formally and informally studies the art and science of running and training — keeps meticulous logs of his running/training and refers to them often to see what is working and what isn’t
  • Eats well — enjoys a low-glycemic diet consisting of mostly fish and a little chicken for his protein, fruit, nuts, whole grains, red wine and heavy on the vegetables — takes 13 nutritional supplements, including vitamins C and E, arginine and glutamine (amino acids), fish oil, Co-Enzyme Q10
  • Earl has kept the long stride of a much younger runner by doing periodic stretches throughout the day — Typically stride length decreases about one inch per year due to loss of flexibility

Earl also believes in a balanced life. In this regard, he is not only a runner, but also a family man, artist, poet, motivational speaker and author. He is the author of The Complete Book of Running: How to be a Champion From 9 to 90 and has another due out in late 2010, entitled: 100 Years Young the Natural Way — Body Mind Spirit Training.

Although Earl acknowledges that good genes have played a role, he says that the “intense training I’m doing is keeping me young…” By a look at all his Canadian and World Record performances in his 60s, 70s and now his 80s, we can assume he probably knows what he’s talking about. To find out in finer details how Earl stays so youthful and continues to astound the running world, check out his blog posts at YoungerLegsblogspot.com

If Earl Fee can go from good to the greatest, then maybe we can learn a thing or two from him. Then, perhaps we can incorporate a couple or more of his secrets into our own life so we can go from where we are to great, too!

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Source by Ed Mayhew

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