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In this episode we talk with Chuck Engle the man who holds the record for most career marathon wins of any person in the United States.
He has won 164 out of 332 marathons with an average time of 2:43. At age 42 he continues to race almost every weekend and he continues to win.
Chuck lives in Coos Bay, Oregon, and is the internet marketing director for marathonguide.com. His approach to marathon training is “run more”.
Ten questions for the marathon junkie:
Ten Questions for Chuck Engle
How did you get into running marathons?
I was working at a college in Mississippi as a coach and running workouts in the morning with kids and workouts in the afternoon. My shtick there was . . . if an “old guy” like me can do it, surely you kids can too! I was logging 15-20 miles a day. One of my neighbors suggested I sign up for a marathon. So I did.
How fast did you finish that first marathon?
I actually ran a 2:34. It was dumb luck.
Why run so many marathons? What is driving you to do this?
I think meeting the race directors and the people involved has been my social outlet. My job keeps me focused on computer screens all day. I’m the advertising director for marathonguide.com. So the races are my chance to get out on the weekends and have a social life.
What’s your favorite marathon that you’ve run?
Little Rock has always been a favorite. A marathon in Greenville, California called Running with the Bears just swept me off my feet. I wholeheartedly expect to go back.
In your opinion what is the state of marathoning in the U.S.?
I think the state of running is moving towards odd races. There is not so much of the competitive fever anymore. It’s more of a participatory sport . . . people are focused on how much fun they can have at the marathon.
Any tips for improving marathon times?
I do my own version of plyo-metric drills. Plyo-metrics are fast rapid explosions. I tend to do endurance plyo-metics with 45 minute sessions once a week. I think that’s definitely helped my leg speed.
Any tips on cross-training?
If anybody wants to get ramped up quickly, I recommend deep water running. It works on your hip flexors, which a lot of runners don’t work on. It also works on your arm form and overall body strength.
Tell us about your motto “Run More”.
I coined that in 2003. I’m a believer in big base mileage. With a big base you tend to recover faster from speed workouts and races.
Do you train according to heart rate zones?
I do. I actually have a Polar Heart Rate Monitor sponsorship. I follow zones for workouts, long runs and easy runs. I don’t typically use it for races.
Do you have any advice for a new runner for whom the thought of running a marathon is a little scary?
I like to see people build up 5k, 10k, half-marathon then do the marathon. Its a gradual progression. If they want to finish in 6-8 hours I think they can go out and do that next weekend. I think the human spirit, with the right motivation, can get anybody through 26.2 miles. But if you take the time, run more, and put in the work, your first marathon can actually be a sub 4 hour marathon.
How to Run More without Injury
Going with the theme of this episode we want to encourage you to safely run more. Obviously if you’re struggling with an injury this is not the time to take on more miles. But for those who are healthy, running more is one of the best ways to improve as a runner. Here are some tips to stay motivated and run more over the holidays.
- Have a plan. If you leave it up to how you feel on the day you probably won’t do it. Decide what your “run more” strategy will be and implement it.
- Get some motivation and accountability.
- Don’t increase your mileage and intensity at the same time. This can be a recipe for injury. Make sure you do your easy/recovery runs at a truly easy pace.
Here are some ideas for running more:
- If you normally do 3 mile runs try extending it to 4 miles.
- If you run 3 days a week see if you can run 4 days/week.
- Consider doing a running streak where you commit to doing at least 1 mile per day for a certain amount of time- Runner’s World has a holiday streak from T-giving to New Years.
- If you’re an advanced runner consider doing 2 a day runs or back to back long runs.
- When you’re thinking about your running goals for 2014 set a mileage goal- maybe try to do more than you did in 2013.
- Take on a new distance in 2014.
Also Mentioned in this Episode:
We were personally invited to the Arbuckles to Ardmore Marathon in Ardmore, Oklahoma (located 90 miles south of Oklahoma City) which takes place on March 29-30, 2014. We will be hanging out at the race expo and running the full marathon. We’re totally stoked about partnering with this race as their recommended marathon training program. For all of our friends who live in the heartland of America, we hope to see you there.
MTA Technical Shirts
After three years we finally have our own MTA technical shirts! Our supplier’s name is Shelia Dixon with Panther City Tees. She also does the swag for the Vinnie Tortorich podcast.
Click here to see how to order.
Did he rubbed anyone the wrong way? Talking down to people who are back of the packers, who often subsidize his running because those are the people providing prize money. And the starvation diets? If anything, his talk discouraged me on what it takes to “win” an event.
It’s my opinion that Chuck is a very driven runner (you’d have to be to win 300+ marathons). He’ll probably never understand what it’s like to be a middle or back of the pack runner (like the rest of us mortals). I admire his dedication to the sport but also think it’s perfectly acceptable to have different goals for races. Some of us just want to have fun, see the world and maybe get a PR 🙂