In My Words: Charles Strang

At 75 years old, the retired Honolulu businessman and professor still runs marathons.

Photo by mark arbeit

I was a sprinter and hurdler in high school and college, but it was all short distance. I thought that you had to have some God-given talent to be a long-distance runner, when, in actuality, you can take an ordinary person and make him a long-distance runner. You could be one in three to four months.

My first marathon was the Honolulu Marathon in 1976. I was in my mid-40s. Since then, I’ve done about 45 marathons. I still consider myself a mediocre runner. I compare myself to [marathoner] Tom Knoll—he’s done 145 so far, and he’s the same age as I am. My running times? Anywhere between a 10- and 12-minute mile. They’re so slow, I don’t even want to talk about it—not when I was doing six minutes 30 years ago!

Every week, I meet with a few other senior runners; most of them are older than I am. It really helps to be part of a group. We do adventure runs someplace on the island—Hawaii Kai, Manoa, Sand Island. And we all eat breakfast after.

No matter what happens, you slow up. I am slow compared to what I was back then. And I was running with some of the elite guys. But then, some of those elite guys quit when they started slowing up. I didn’t. That’s the difference.  I do it for health.  I feel good.

For my training, what I try to do now is different things.  I lift weights two days a week, run four or five days a week and when I get tired, I take a day off—I go walking.