Just to show the quality of Tore Axelsson's 8km cross-country running time, I looked up his age-graded equivalent (WAVA score). It's 92.33%. At age 55, his time equals 22:58 if he were 25 years old, basically. Age-graded is technically based on the percent of the world record for one's age. Let's put it this way, using WAVA (the standard), Tore's time is equivalent to 28:28 for 10,000m (on grass). That's quite stellar, don't you think? Tore was a 30 flat 10,000m runner in his 20s, when he ran 120 miles per week and trained hard. He kept getting injured while training with other guys trying to make it to their national and international teams. We have talked about this, and I told him I sure wish I could have coached him in his 20s because I think with my methods and advise he could have reached 27:40s for 10,000m on the track. I truly believe that. I think the same thing about Kevin Miller, who ran an age-graded equivalent time of 13:45 for 5000m on the roads a couple weeks ago and an age-graded 10km road time in September of 28:58. I think Kevin would have run somewhere near 28 minutes had I been blessed with the opportunity to coach him in his 20s or into his early 30s.
I admire these guys a lot. They are truly dedicated, focused, and mentally and spiritually believe in why they run, which is reflected in how they run. If you communicate with either of them, you will notice that they believe they are blessed with gifts that they need to use. They know that time is precious and they need to go after their running with passion. They both lost a lot of years to injuries, building a family and a career, and now they are able to commit to training and racing like never before. When those two get up and 5 or 5:30 am to train, you know they are committed. All the best runners I've coached have that same commitment in common. Andrew Duncan set the USA track on fire, especially indoors like Kevin, and he trained at 5:00 am every morning for an hour or more. He went from 16:36 in the 5km at Carlsbad at age 37 to 15:31 at age 43. He ran 15:22 in another race at that age. He ran his first half-marathon in 1:11 flat in Las Vegas, at 43 and a half years old. I am reminded of the good times we had, as I coached him for 7+ years to running way faster than he did in his teens and 20s. It was a true joy to see him grow fitter, faster, and more confident. By the way, he contacted me today to ask for coaching as he preps for the Las Vegas Marathon. He's been trying to coach himself, using my methods, for the last year or so, and he's been through some rough patches. If he calls this weekend, we'll review his logs, share thoughts, and get the ball rolling again.
My friends, the goal of sharing this post is to inspire you. If you ever thought that you are getting too old to improve, forget about it. Yes, age takes a bite out of you each year, but the one thing that age can never, ever take away from you is passion. The top guys, the ones I just mentioned, all have passion. They are committed too! They know that the road to personal excellence is filled with holes in which they can step and strain their legs and lose momentum, but they never give up. They ride it through, and never lose faith. They don't let themselves get discouraged. They believe in what they are doing. They love / enjoy what they are doing. I hope you do too!
And, even if you are not a masters runner, the same belief system and work ethic that the above men have will work for you too. As an example, I coach Javier Ceja, who lives in Wichita, Kansas. He ran that state record for the half-marathon this past weekend (1:06:51) beating a 3:56 miler/14:00 5 km runner from Kenya in the process. Javier is excited about the future and wants to know how fast he can run at the Houston Half-Marathon this January, his goal race for the winter. I said 65:30 is a good target (5:00 per mile) but we don't know what will happen for sure. We do know that he can train smart, be dedicated, take care of all the details, as I have mentioned often on this website, and continue to have passion, joy, and a firm belief in himself (and in his coach too, which is a key because forming a strategic alliance really makes you stronger/faster/more capable). I see the passion in his words, and I sense his belief system is strong. I see the trend toward greatness he's on. The journey is not short, and it requires continued energy to succeed. Love for what you are doing; love for the gifts you've been given; the freedom to run and the experience of feeling energy; all of these must be held to one's heart, mind, and soul. Never look to the numbers, the results of your race-times for validation, I say. Feel the joy in your heart and let it take you to wherever your destination ends. Enjoy the scenery, enjoy the sunrise and sunset each day, and breathe in the air. That's what it's all about!http://www.runnersworld.com/tools/age-graded-calculator