NO SE­CRETS

Canadian Running - - GOLDEN SHOE AWARDS - Tim Hueb­sch is a staff writer for Cana­dian Run­ning. He was the first to in­ter­view Whit­lock mo­ments af­ter break­ing the 85+ world record in Toronto.

“Ithink genes are 80– 90 per cent re­spon­si­ble,” he says. “I sup­pose longevity genes en­able me to keep go­ing. I’ve been able to over­come my in­juries and have never had any se­ri­ous set­backs. There’s a de­gree of per­se­ver­ance but that may well be ge­netic, too.” Whit­lock’s fa­ther lived to 82, his mother 95 and he notes a rel­a­tive liv­ing to 106. Whit­lock has two sons, Neil and Clive, both in their 50s, with his el­dest still com­pet­ing. Whit­lock and Brenda have no grand­chil­dren.

Whit­lock re­calls three times over­com­ing what was be­lieved to be se­ri­ous knee in­juries that forced him to take time off for at least one year at a time. Whit­lock de­scribes one episode where he was told that he has se­ri­ous os­teoarthri­tis and noth­ing could be done. A sec­ond opin­ion, how­ever, from Toronto spe­cial­ist (and run­ner) Mark Bay­ley, sug­gested that noth­ing was too bad. “I was able to grad­u­ally run it off and af­ter that, I felt bet­ter,” Whit­lock re­calls.

Train­ing-wise, Whit­lock is trans­par­ent with de­tails, al­beit his meth­ods are quite sim­ple: just run, a lot. His train­ing runs reach as long as three-and-a-half hours in the ceme­tery around a 500 m loop. No water, even on the hottest days. (He ran the men’s 85–89 10,000m world record in 35 C un­der a heat warn­ing in Toronto last sum­mer.) Per­haps, the most glar­ing dif­fer­ence be­tween Whit­lock and the av­er­age run­ner are his shoes.

On Oct. 16, Whit­lock raced with a pair of 20-year-old Brooks, one of many iden­ti­cal ver­sions, though all in vary­ing stages of dis­re­pair, he has in his home. To give the shoe a Whit­lock makeover, he re­moves the rub­ber sole, cuts out the ma­jor­ity of the cush­ion­ing on the heel, and reat­taches the grip in a sort of run­ning shoe surgery. “All the newer shoes seem too stiff,” he ex­plains as he folds his pair of Brooks f lats in half like he would a piece of pa­per. At the Sco­tia­bank Toronto Water­front Marathon expo, he brought his favourite pair to the Brooks booth and asked, “why can’t you make them like this any­more?” He still owns a “brand new” pair of the Brooks shoes, still pris­tine white decades later.

He also fol­lows no spe­cific diet. “I just eat what I want,” he says. “I’m not a veg­e­tar­ian, but I don’t eat a lot of meat.” He ad­mits that he con­sumes more sugar, mostly in the form of pep­per­mints and ice cream, and fat than a di­eti­cian would rec­om­mend. He drinks less than a dozen beers a year, mostly on spe­cial oc­ca­sions, but has wine at din­ner.

One of the world’s most fa­mous mas­ters run­ners has never run the world’s most pres­ti­gious marathon. Though he has done about 40–42 marathons (he’s not sure ex­actly how many), av­er­ag­ing about one per year since his de­but, Whit­lock has never run Bos­ton.

“It’s not record le­gal,” he says, al­lud­ing to the race’s point-to-point course and net down­hill pro­file. “I would like to run Bos­ton be­cause it is the marathon and I’m sure the at­mos­phere is great. But it would not be a good course for me as there are hills. I also don’t like run­ning one-way races. At the end you have to as­sess how well you have done and ap­ply any ad­just­ments – wind, course and elevation – to ex­plain away your per­for­mance. All those things even out in a race that starts and fin­ishes at the same place.”

On the topic of races, Whit­lock says that he fol­lowed the Rio Olympics last sum­mer. He has no favourites, say­ing “I don’t have he­roes in my life,” and that “I don’t be­lieve I should be a hero.” He says that “the most ex­as­per­at­ing event is the 1,500m. That’s ridicu­lous the way they run that race now,” re­fer­ring to a re­ally slow first three laps fol­lowed by a fast fi­nal 300 m.

Whit­lock of­ten re­ceives ques­tions about train­ing and what he ad­vises other peo­ple do. “I’m not sure what I’m do­ing is good for me, let alone any­one else,” he says. “In gen­eral, peo­ple should find what’s best for them and go ac­cord­ing to that.”

His records would sug­gest his meth­ods are do­ing him just fine.

ABOVE LEFT Whit­lock with chal­lenger Joop Ruter from the Nether­lands, both com­pet­ing in the M70–74 age group at the 2005 Toronto Water­front Marathon, their ages re­flected in their bib num­bers. Whit­lock out­runs Ruter by 42:33 to fin­ish in 3:02:41 OP­PO­SITE Whit­lock with his record-set­ting and cus­tom-tuned Brooks Run­ning shoes

ABOVE RIGHT In 2010, Ed Whit­lock car­ries the Marathon Flame through the streets of down­town Toronto, to mark the 2,500th An­niver­sary of the Marathon

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