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PAUSATF Runner Profile: Bill Dodson

By Lina McCain, Team Captain

How or Why did you start running?
In my late 40’s my older brother was having strokes caused by clogged arteries. My father had died at age 71 from clogged arteries. I was heading down the same pathway with high cholesterol and blood pressure. My office mate was a regular runner and she invited me to run with her. I was totally exhausted by 3 miles of slow running. She and I ran a Half Marathon in just under 2 hours in 1986, my first race (at age 51).
How long have you been running marathons and ultras?
I ran my first marathon in June of 1990 and my first ultra in 1997. I have run over 40 marathons and over 80 ultras.

Which are your favorite races and why?
My overall favorite is Dipsea – I hope to keep running it as long as I live – I even have a step in the first flight of stairs. With the staggered start and its history it is the most intense race I know of.

Please talk about your running goals for your new age group.
I’ll be 80 on Feb 28 and I’ve entered the USATF National 50K Championship on Mar 1 on Long Island in New York. I hope to finish in under 5:54 to set a new American Record for the M80 division. I also hope to go for the 50 mile and 100K American Records and possibly some time limit records.

We share in your excitement about breaking age group records. How do you keep it in perspective?
I choose races which push my limits, then I typically set 3 goals: a dream goal, a realistic goal and a disappointment ‘goal’. I no longer use the term DNF, preferring REG for Reach Exceeded Grasp.

What or which is/are your most memorable running experience(s)?
I guess there would be five: Boston at age 60 when I finished in 3 hours. Helen Klein Classic 50 mile, my first ultra when my son and daughter crewed for me and I got Helen Klein and Ann Trason to sign my race number. Three more at age 64: Rocky Raccoon, my first completed 100 mile run in 23:01; Western States 100 in 28:18; and Pikes Peak Marathon in 5:51, winning the 60-64 age group by 16 minutes.

What is the best bit of running advice that you have received or can give?
There are several related to motivation, training and injury avoidance – but I think the best advice is: running does not lessen the need for good nutrition!

Which are your favorite running shoes?
Currently for racing I have two (Mizuno Universe 5 and New Balance 5000) with a fall back third (Asics Hyper Speed 6). I recently got a pair of Hoka Cliftons which I’m wearing for training runs.

Which are your favorite foods to eat while you run?
For ultras I do best with regular food that’s not too sweet – boiled potatoes with salt, PB&J with not too much J. I would like a little more protein, but it’s rare except for PB. Chicken Noodle soup works well but doesn’t usually come out until night time. For marathons, I typically drink sports drink at every station. At this year’s CIM the sports drink had no calories, so I carried 5 GU Roctane gels and managed to use them all without getting nauseous.

Which foods do you like to eat after running?
Immediately after a hard ultra, the only thing I can get down for a while is beer . After that, whatever the race provides. If I don’t get enough at the race, I’ll stop at In and Out and have a burger – a rarity for me . Nothing special.

What are your favorite volunteer experiences?
Western States in the river at Rucky Chucky. I’ve worked at aid stations at lots of races and they are all fun.

What is the secret to the longevity of your running career?
No secrets – I’ll expand more on this in another article.
Good nutrition – I can’t emphasize this enough. A quick suggestion is to look into the Pritikin diet – that was my original input and I still recommend it. Possibly the most important is to increase Omega 3 fats and minimize most all others – try to approach a 1/1 Omega 6 to Omega 3 diet (The typical American diet is estimated at 12/1). Also minimize refined/processed foods in favor of more fruits and veggies. I do take some supplements but no mega doses or performance enhancement substances . Being an experiment of one, I don’t know how much they help.
A wide range of running with lots of intensity followed by adequate rest: speed work on the track, tempo runs, hill runs, long road and trail runs. Track meets, road races, cross country races and ultras.
Strength Training – intense full body workouts twice a week doing a wide range of exercises with the purpose of strengthening and balancing all muscles of the body. Core exercises with care not to overstress the spinal column. For upper and lower body routines, I repeat to exhaustion with a max of 12 repeats.
Injury Prevention – Consider pain as an indication of injury and stop whatever is causing it immediately – this is the most important component of listening to your body. Never take NSAIDs to keep going – no race or workout is worth the risk of injury.