It’s the sound of thousands of feet hitting the pavement, over and over again. It’s the sound of the heart pounding against your chest and the sweat dripping down your face. The signs mock you as they fly past with promises of an end in sight: mile 21, mile 22, mile 23. Then a feeling of effortlessness settles over you and it seems you could do this forever. Running a marathon is not for the faint at heart, and yet those emotions and experiences are something Fred Miller lives for. Dr. Miller, a professor of Exercise Science at Anderson University, runs marathons.
A graduate of Huntington University, Miller has been running marathons ever since he was 20 years old. “My first marathon was with a group of my friends from the cross country team,” said Miller. “We decided to run one together and I’ve been running ever since….for the last 13 years.” Miller said he doesn’t run the marathons just for fun and not competition either. “It’s more of a competition within myself,” he said. “I don’t run to win but to beat my old times. I’ve only won one race, and there were only 30 runners.” [Photo on left: Dr. Fred Miller crosses the finish line at the 2009 Walt Disney World Marathon.]
Miller usually runs one or two marathons a year, although once he ran three in one month just to see if he could improve his time on each run. There is no real determining factor in how many he chooses to run, but he said it has become a spur of the moment decision. “I know my body and I know my limits. I know the sport, and I know what is safe,” said Miller.
Training for a marathon constitutes a very rigorous schedule of running varying distances until eventually the runner works his or her way up to the entire 26 miles. First time runners and those who don’t run very often have a long training period of at least six months prior to the race. Miller doesn’t need that long. “I run consistently about 40 miles a week throughout the year,” he said. “Because I’ve been running for so many years, I don’t need to train as long as someone who is just starting out.”
Around mile 20 of a marathon many runners hit a “wall.” The body is fatigued and is no longer running on carbohydrates but stored up fat. However, a runner can bypass this point by training properly and staying hydrated throughout the race. The best part of running a marathon or running long distances in general is achieving that “runner’s high;” the part in the run where one feels a sense of euphoria. “You find your niche…a pace that’s normal,” said Miller. “It’s the feeling of effortlessness that we runners live for.”
And what advice does Miller have to give those wishing to start running or training for a marathon? “Find a group to run with. You won’t be as bored running with others. Stay motivated and make sure you get in the weekly runs and you’ll be ready for a marathon in no time.”
— Missi Martin is a junior from Goshen, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Martin is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.