Life-long healthy lifestyle keeps Fuoco fit at 70

Tom Fuoco continues a strong running/fitness program he’s maintained since his youth. (Photo by Corey Steiner)
      There’s a slightly tattered newspaper clipping dated Oct. 2, 1983 with results from the Courier Times Classic 10K race on it.
      Scan the list of finishers and there, in 18th overall place (out of 240 runners), you will find the name Tom Fuoco.
      Nearly 38 years later, the Bristol Township native still possesses that smooth stride and compact gait.
      Plus a tireless work ethic.
      To the surprise of no one who knows him, Fuoco continues to run and cycle with the best of his contemporaries. . .along with those significantly younger.
      And now, with Fuoco having celebrated his 70th birthday this past week, people can appreciate the model he’s set for others – namely, that a healthy lifestyle can keep the aging process out on the street and away from one’s front door.
      “It (running) has kind of been a lifestyle since I’ve been in my early 20s,’’ Fuoco said in a recent telephone interview. “I just want to be fit and enjoy life, live a long life and be healthy.
      “I don’t want to just be 85 and in a wheelchair. I want to be 85 and go for a walk. Walk the dog, throw some stones. Be able to move around.’’
      Tom and his wife, Julie (Heineman), reside in Yardley. Julie was a champion runner back in the day and, coincidentally, won the overall women’s title in the aforementioned 1983 race.
      The couple met through running around 1987. Julie’s dad, Bill, was an accomplished runner and so the three would train and go to big races together, including marathons.
      So that just made running even more a part of Tom’s life.
      “It (running) was a huge part,’’ Tom said. “Not just my relationship with Julie but her dad.
      “Back in the day, we would meet at his house and we would go to races together. Julie’s sister lived in Washington, D.C. and I remember one year we all signed up for the Marathon Corps Marathon sometime in the ‘90s and it was like a family affair.’’
      As for reaching this noteworthy birthday milestone, Tom said he’s been looking forward to it, just like most runners do when they enter a new age group.
      He’s had to work through some adversity, including an arthritis diagnosis a couple years back. But medication seems to have that under control.
      “I was looking forward to it (70),’’ he said. “When I was 65 and 66, I was doing real well in that age group. Then 67, 68 I started having some injuries. Wasn’t able to train like I wanted to. I slacked off on racing and just concentrated on getting better.
      “As 70 approached, I always had it in mind to be my best. That’s pretty much worked out lately. I’ve been running more than the last couple years. Things are holding together.’’
      He’s already signed up for the Bucks 5K Series “Bookin’ for Lookin’ 5K’’ on April 24,
      Fuoco is looking forward to the bicycle season and to his gymnasium when exercise facilities fully open again.
      “I’m going to try to make it (running, cycling, etc.) to 80 or further,’’ he said. “That’s my goal.
      “I’ve enjoyed riding the bike, even before I was a runner. All my life. I’ve never been injured on the bike, I could probably do that for the rest of my life.
      “But you have to be able to run a little bit to stay healthy. That’s my goal in running, I don’t want to get injured enough that I can’t run. When I have to take weeks off, I’m mad.’’
      Fuoco was a baseball player in his youth and competed for Woodrow Wilson High School. When the Bucks County Roadrunners Club began operations in 1978, Fuoco was one of the first on the scene.
      He became one of the area’s top runners in short order.
      Fuoco ran a pair of 10K races in the 33-minute range. Later, in the Newtown Athletic Club 5K, he just missed breaking the 16-minute barrier, finishing in 16:03.
      “If I had to do it over again in high school, I would have gone out for track and cross country,’’ Fuoco said with a chuckle.
      After graduating from Bucks County Community College, Fuoco pursued a career in the trucking industry, both driving big rigs and fixing them.
      In his “leisure’’ time, he competed in races far and wide.
      For Fuoco, it’s not just about the competition, it’s about making new friends, training with long-time partners and staying active.
      “I’ve met a lot of new friends, through the club (BCRR) and the Bucks 5K Series,’’ he said. “Many are a little younger because a lot of the runners that I competed with, ran and trained with, I don’t see anymore.
      “Most of the old guys either can’t run or they aren’t around anymore.’’
      The same applies to the measures he takes to keep running, like going to the gym to lift weights, stretch and keep his muscles toned for when he hits the pavement and the trails.
      Besides wanting to stay mobile into his later years, he says the camaraderie with the running community is key.
      “Most of my life is around running,’’ he said. “And I’m excited I can go back to the gym. It’s just so important. The older you get, the more I need the gym to do my strengthening exercises to be a runner.
     “It’s about getting the glutes strong, hamstrings. I try to do it at home but it’s just not the same. I don’t have the apparatus. The whole atmosphere being at the gym with other people. . .I get a much better workout. I’m sure my running is going to improve once I get back into the gym routine.’’
     Race calendar
     Saturday, March 27
     Blaze of Glory 5K, 9 a.m., Plumsteadville. Bucks 5K Series. Contact www.runsignup.com
About Wayne Fish 1351 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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