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Team Amazfit Athlete Story: Jim Arden

1) Please share your name, age, and where you are from.
I am 65, born and raised in the Chicago area, and have lived in Pelham, New York (a suburb of New York City) since 1987.

2) What has your journey with running looked like throughout your life? Feel free to elaborate and share your fitness journey!

Until 2017, I ran to maintain or improve fitness, running 2-3 miles each time. If I wanted to improve fitness, I would run more frequently, but over the same 2-3 mile distance.
In the Fall of 2017, I decided to see if I could lose some weight by adding to the distance I ran. After a few months, I was running 4-6 miles, about 5 times a week. With the extra running, I found it was becoming easier and more enjoyable.
During a business trip to Bogota in 2018 I mentioned to a colleague from the city that I had done a 7-mile run that day. She seemed very surprised and told me visitors usually can’t run much given the high altitude (8600 feet). That encouraged me to think I might be good at running, and on returning home, I looked for a half-marathon in the area to run, and that began my distance running.
3) What keeps you running?
I enjoy it. I feel grateful I can do it.

4) Have you run the Boston marathon before? If so, what was your experience like? If not, what are you most looking forward to?
I have run Boston twice, a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime experience in 2021 and a disappointing run last year. I decided I would like to see if I could have another great experience this year, and improve on my 2021 time. I retired last year and have had a chance to increase my mileage in training.
I have run 10 marathons and what makes Boston stand out is not just the history, but the course – it’s a point to point that has enormous variety and support from each of the communities you run through, with special points throughout (like the Wellesley College scream tunnel near the midway point, the Newton hills, and the reverberating wall of sound that hits you as you turn onto Boylston for the finish). The whole experience is really a blast if you can run it. But as I found last year, it’s also a course that will expose you if you haven’t trained enough, or if you start out at an unrealistic pace.

5) What has your training looked like for the Boston Marathon this year? Has your training differed over time?
I have been able to have a few 60+ mile weeks leading to next week’s taper. My training before last year’s Boston meant 40-50 miles in the 10-12 weeks before a marathon. My last Boston included cramps in my legs and one foot, which led to my worst marathon time (through my first 8 marathons, I had my best and worst times in Boston). I upped the mileage and had a very positive experience in Chicago last October (3:30, a PR for me).

6) What are you most proud of in your running/ athletic career thus far?
I am glad, first, to have been able to run marathons without injury and, second, to improve my times as I get older.

7) What are your future athletic goals? Where do you want to go next?
I would like to continue to run marathons at a BQ pace. My next scheduled marathon is New York in November, but I might add one before then if I feel up to it after Boston. My stretch goal is to qualify for Berlin, which guarantees entry to runners over 60 with a marathon time under 3:25. That would mean an improvement of over 5 minutes from my Chicago time, which would be difficult to do on Boston’s challenging course, but might be possible on another course.

8) What would you tell someone running their first marathon?
I would tell them to enjoy the experience, start out slow and don’t focus on the time. The first marathon is a learning experience. If you begin with overoptimistic expectations, and go out at a pace faster than your training can support, things will deteriorate quickly at some point between mile 16 and mile 20. In my first marathon, I felt great through 16 miles and was convinced I was headed for a Boston-qualifying time, but suddenly my legs rebelled and by mile 17 I was wondering if I would even finish. You can go out too fast in a half marathon and still hold on to finish with a good time, but you really need to match your pace to your training to run a marathon. Matching those things requires experience.

9) What are some things you do in your daily life that keeps you healthy as an athlete?
I run most days, eat based on how much I run, and get a good night’s rest. Nothing restores the body like sleep.

10) What are you hoping to accomplish at Boston?
My first goal is to run and enjoy the course from Hopkinton to Boylston, meaning no leg cramps. My second goal is to improve on my 2021 Boston time of 3:37. If everything were to turn out well, and I am able to quicken my pace over the last 10K, I would like to see if I could run close to or under 3:25.

11) What is one thing people may not know about you?
Some people assume I ran track in high school or college, but distance running is just a late-adopted hobby.

12) What do you tell people who don’t think they can run a marathon?
I tell people they won’t know until they try running and see how their body adapts along the way. No one can run a marathon without marathon training, and no one would want to undertake marathon training if they haven’t trained for and enjoyed running shorter distances. I’ve told people that if over time they can build to 6 mile runs, things might click and they might discover running can be a lot more fun than they thought.
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