Becoming a Lifetime Runner -Interview with Jonathan Beverly

Here at MTA we want to empower you to be a lifetime runner not just a “one and done” marathoner.

In this episode we speak with Jonathan Beverly author of the new book Run Strong Stay Hungry -9 Keys to Staying in the Race.

Why do some runners give up the sport when they get older when others continued for 40 years or more? Running journalist Jonathan Beverly interviewed 50 lifetime runners including champions Deena Kastor, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Bill Rogers to discover the key ingredients that kept them going strong.

Becoming a Lifetime Runner

Jonathan BeverlyJonathan Beverly (age 53) is the former editor in chief of Running Times Magazine and shoe editor for Runner’s World. He lives in Western Nebraska, near the Colorado border, with his wife, Tracy, and son, Landis. He helps coach the high school cross country and track teams and can often be found running the dirt roads and grassy hills of the high plains. He was on the podcast previously to talk about running form.

In this conversation you will hear why some runners gave up the sport while others have been running for decades.

photo credit: Jonathan Beverly

Interview Questions/Points

The book Run Strong Stay Hungry gleans wisdom from over 50 master’s runners—people who have been running for 30, 40, and 50 plus years and distills 9 keys to being a runner for life.

9 Keys

  1. Consistency: Lifetime runners have made running a habit (they run often and have made running a default). One interesting thing that he found is that you are more likely to get injured in the build up to high mileage than by maintaining high mileage.
  2. Variety: Mixing things up. Take time to get stronger, work every system, spice it up, and know who you are (keep a strong identity as a runner).
  3. Training by feel: Let go of the watch and use perceived effort, listen to your body and become a chef in your training. A chef doesn’t need a recipe.
  4. Humility and Hunger: Compare up, reframe adversity, embrace the process, and personalize success.
  5. Adaptability: Setting Goals + Flexing with the Times. Be flexible as your life situation and body changes, be creative, be adventuresome, step away (decouple emotion from paces/PR’s), build adaptive skills, run hard less often, trample on the past, specialize and optimize.
  6. Student of the Sport: Learn all you can, be your own scientist, and embrace the puzzle.
  7. Staying Connected: Nurture the ties that bind and motivate. Be inspired, bridle the downtimes, and broaden your purpose.
  8. Hope: Remember that optimism can be chosen (see the book Learned Optimism). Cultivate hope, choose optimism, and argue with the implications.
  9. Love: Lifetime runners simply love to run. Embrace your split personality- both the competitor and the runner inside, love the run, strike a balance, and find harmony.

Also Mentioned in This Episode

The book Run Strong Stay Hungry

The Running Form Episode -the first time we had Jonathon on the podcast.

Pittsburgh Marathon -Trevor is running this in May 2018.

Sun Basket -makes it easy and convenient to commit to healthy eating. Get $35 off your first order through our link!

Quick Tip: A Question From a Slow Runner

Here’s a great question we received from a listener named Maya,


So I’ve been training for a marathon for the past couple of months and I have to be honest with you- I am a slow runner. Running has never been easy for me, I’m really short and not built like a runner. But I set a goal all those months ago and I’d like to accomplish it. I’ve been training on and off and the marathon that I’ve already signed up for is pretty soon. I’m aiming for about a 15:00min/mile pace average. I just don’t want to be laughed at or judged for how slow I’m going to be running. That’s why my training has been all over the place. I keep convincing myself I shouldn’t even run a marathon. I guess I’m kind of freaking out that come race day, by the time I finish, everyone will be gone, and then when people ask me my time and I say about six hours,
they’ll judge me. I guess I’m looking for some encouragement and some advice on how to deal with this. -Maya

It’s very normal for most runners at one time or another to feel self-conscious about their pace.  Some people feel like they’re not “real” runners if they run slow (which we think it totally untrue).  The truth is that most people wish they were faster (whether they’re a 6 hour marathoner or 3 hour marathoner).  And unfortunately there are some judgmental people out there who won’t understand slower marathon times (both inside and outside the running community). But it does no good to worry about the critics.  I’ve had non runners ask me if I won the marathon I completed and when I answer no they seem disappointed in me.

I think the key to having peace with your marathon time is to decide that you’re going to do this marathon for yourself, on your own terms.  That way if someone doesn’t understand it won’t bother you as much because you’re not doing it for them.  People like to chime in with their opinions (and social media makes this super easy). But if you really define your “why” for taking on this challenge then it becomes about your personal journey and becoming a better version of yourself. Whatever your pace, training for a marathon is a life changing experience.


It’s also a good idea to make sure that you choose a marathon with a generous cut off time to decrease anxiety about your finishing time and to ensure course support along the way.  We have a couple articles on our website that may be helpful to you as you take on this adventure.  Best of luck! You DO have what it takes….

Issues Faced by Slower Runners

Race Day as a Slow Runner

6 Responses to Becoming a Lifetime Runner -Interview with Jonathan Beverly

  1. Mohit January 12, 2018 at 1:41 pm #

    Hi Angie, i believe you mentioned that you ordered a treadmill from amazon. i am in process of buying a treadmill and was wondering what you guys bought or which one you recommend. Thanks

    • Angie Spencer January 12, 2018 at 5:50 pm #

      Hi Mohit,
      We purchased the ProForm Pro 2000 (the 2016 model because it was on sale). It just arrived today so we’ll have to update everyone on how we like it after it gets a few good test runs. We’re literally just putting it together right now 🙂

  2. Mohit January 12, 2018 at 11:41 pm #

    Thanks Angie. 👍
    I look forward to hearing about the experience 😀

  3. Kellie Moeller January 22, 2018 at 9:36 pm #

    I want to add my thoughts about being a slow runner. I am definitely in the category. My best marathon was finished in 5 hours 16 minutes with more being over 5 hours 30 minutes, for a total of 5 completed marathons.

    One of my biggest frustrations is finishing the marathon and they have run out of ice cream sandwiches. That is my reward. But not only ice cream sandwiches, I have seen them be low on or out of water, and out of other foods.
    Hey, come on, you know how many people signed up for this thing, plan accordingly.
    Oops, a slight rant.

    I fully believe that those who are out there over 5 hours are the real winners. They are the ones that need those little pick me ups the most, like ice cream sandwiches. It takes a lot of endurance to be on your feet that long. Think about it, a lot of runners have already had their showers and headed to lunch and here we are still running, ok some are walking a bit too.

    My ex-husband used to ask me after every race if I had won. My answer is always the same, “I must have. They gave me a medal.” I think that is how all runners in the “slower” category need to think about themselves. You earned the medal. And you were at it longer than the others before you. That takes strong will, determination, and stamina. Back of the pack are the real winners.

    Ignore what you think others are thinking about you being slower than they are. It does not matter. What matters is you trained for it, you did it. Wow, way to go!! And look you got a t-shirt and a medal!

    A couple thoughts inspired by listening to Jonathan Beverly. Very motivating talk. I bought the book and have started reading it, the same day. He definitely comes from a different perspective than myself. I started running at age 49 with the goal of completing a marathon by 50-I did that one + 4 more. I do not have the younger running version of myself to compare to this age. I started with the goal to finish a marathon just because I happened to see runners in a marathon one day. My goal now is to run a faster marathon when I am 60 than I did at 50.
    (My body definitely argues with my goals.) Oh, and I will be 57 later this month.
    Thank you Jonathan Beverly for this book and giving me new perspectives to help keep me motivated to run. I love the 9 key concepts.

    I am enjoying listening to this Podcast during my runs.
    Thank you.

    • Angie Spencer January 23, 2018 at 12:40 pm #

      Hi Kellie,

      Thanks for sharing your perspective and congratulations on completing 5 marathons. I totally agree that those out there on the course have a special set of challenges physically and that the back of the pack are rock stars. It would be hugely frustrating when a race runs out of food (especially the good stuff like ice cream sandwiches). I actually like the system where races give out a bag or box of food to each participant or require ripping a ticket off the bib to access the food. That tends to cut down on faster runners (or gasp, non-runners) from consuming all the good stuff.

      Thanks so much for being a listener and all the best as you continue pursuing your running goals!

  4. Todd February 21, 2018 at 7:47 pm #

    My favorite part of this episode was Angie’s charge to “continue chasing life.” Considering making this my new day-to-day mantra. Did the math and realized that I have been running for 38 straight years. Still a lot more to accomplish.

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