Fast running depends on consistent training and if someone is constantly battling injuries, that speed premise can wind up right on the living room sofa.
Rick Mingione, one of the fastest runners for his age group in the United States, realized this as he entered his masters years and that revelation has paid outstanding dividends.
At 65, the Yardley resident goes to great lengths to make sure he avoids those nagging aches and pains that can slow runners down.
Mingione employs core-muscle strength exercises to keep flexible and the results are in the numbers.
At last month’s Dietz & Watson/Philadelphia Half Marathon (run in conjunction with the Philadelphia Marathon), Mingione won the men’s 65-69 bracket in the sensational time of 1:30.19, a three-minute victory over runner-up Martin Keibel of Manchester, Conn.
To put that number in perspective, it works out to an age-graded score of 82.93 percent, which is national class.
“Injury prevention is the key,’’ he said during a recent telephone conversation. “Do I do enough to avoid that? Probably not. But I start to key on that more.
“Core training is essential. Every injury I had came with the recommendations (diagnosis) that I was out of balance. My glutes were weaker than my quads. That kind of thing. So I have some core-strengthening stuff that I try to do more often than when I was younger.’’
Also, Mingione believes it’s important to know when to push the training and when to back off.
“I don’t feel guilty about recovery days,’’ he said. “(Before) I always felt like I had to get out there every day and run, run hard every day. That’s wrong. You get more injuries. I would start to feel good, run 35 miles a week, do an 11-mile run pretty hard and then I would get hurt.
“So I would end up running a race with hip pain. It’s better to tone it down a bit and listen to your body. Allow yourself some recovery time, don’t push it.’’
When Mingione moved to Yardley a couple years ago, he joined the Bucks County Roadrunners Club and that also helped with his training program.
“I run on track night (Wednesdays),’’ he said. “Mixing in that speedwork allows me to mentally do a long slow run Thursday or Friday, knowing I’ve done some speed and distance, instead of trying to do everything at 7:10 pace.’’
Mingione grew up in the Downingtown area, ran in high school and one year at Lehigh University, where he was studying to be an engineer.
“I ran one year at Lehigh,’’ he said, “I was running pretty well but you’re chopped liver if you’re not one of the top five or six recruited guys.
“It’s kind of hard to put in all that time and work and come in 23rd. I started running on my own.’’
Injuries and the demands of raising a family (he and his wife, Margie, have three daughters) limited his running in his 30s and 40s. He seldom raced but continued to run.
“When my daughter started running cross country in high school, I just got the bug to race again,’’ he explained. “Started back with 5Ks. Then my middle daughter talked me into running the half-marathon.
“That was just what the doctor ordered. The pace of that race was more civilized. I ran a 1:32 at 58. I was keying on 1:38.’’
His breakthrough race came at the Philadelphia Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon when he turned 59. He ran a speedy 1:26.
When he turned 60, he joined USATF and ran nationals, where he finished second in that bracket.
“That hooked me,’’ he said with a chuckle.
Rick’s career had him with British Petroleum for a number of years. He was able to retire at age 60.
All three daughters have run at one time or other, including high school.
Christine, the oldest, teaches marine science at Stockton University in New Jersey; Carolyn is a psychologist practicing in Chicago and Monica is a civil environmental engineer.
The eldest two have Ph.D degrees.
Rick says it’s been great hooking up with BCRR and the annual Winter Series.
If you head on over to Tyler State Park some Sunday for one of the races, he will be easy to spot. Just look for the distinguished gentleman near the front of the pack.
Bucks County Roadrunners Winter Series Covered Bridge 5K, 9 a.m., Tyler State Park. Contact www.bcrrclub.com/winter-series.