Running Into The 80s, Part Three: Jim Christensen
Please meet Mr. Jim Christensen. At 75 years young, he’s still covering lots of ground!
How did you get into running?
“I have always been involved with sports in my life which I think helped lead me to becoming a runner. In 1976, I moved back to Marion [Kansas] from Stafford, KS. During my time in Stafford, I was an assistant football coach for seven years, a head football coach for five years and then I also coached wrestling for ten.
In 1980, I got serious about running after I had developed multiple health issues. These issues motivated me to change and live a healthier lifestyle.”
Obviously you like running, but what do you enjoy most about the sport?
“The main thing I enjoy the most is the comradery with the other runners that participate in races. Running serves as a social outlet for me and has given me the opportunity to meet many great individuals that I often see multiple times a year at races. Running allows me to be involved in something that I like.”
How long have you been running competitively and how many races have you ran in?
“I would have to say that I have been running competitively since 1983. I started out running 1-2 races in ’83 and kept with it from there.
Oh wow… I honestly don’t know how many races I have run in. There are too many races to keep track of (chuckles). I really don’t keep track of those types of things because I am mainly out there running for personal enjoyment and to stay fit.”
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment in competitive running?
“Being able to compete as long as I have. It gives me satisfaction and motivation to be able to run in races year after year.
In high school [Marion, KS], I was on the state championship indoor mile relay team. We won the state championship in all four of my years there and set an indoor record at Ahern Field House [Manhattan, KS] that still stands today.”
What is your favorite distance to run in a race? PR?
“For race distances, I really enjoy the 5K and the 4-mile. It takes a lot of recovery time for my body to run in races that are longer; therefore, I don’t do it as often.
Currently, I have the best mile time in the state [Kansas] for the 75-79 age group (8:25). My fastest 5K time is 26:22, and I ran a 28:20 in this year’s Prairie Fire Spring Race Series in Wichita.”
What is your favorite pre-race and/or post-race meal?
“I don’t really eat a lot before my races because they are always early in the morning. If I eat something it is a Power Bar, and I drink 32 oz. of Gatorade with it (1.5-2 hours before the race). I like to keep it light before I run.”
Do you have any special rituals or routines that you attribute to your running career?
“No special rituals or routines for me! I try to stay away from stuff like that just because I think I would get distracted mentally and not run as well. Worrying about a checklist of things to do might alter my mindset and focus for a race. My mentality is to just get out there and go for it!”
What is your favorite aspect of the Prairie Fire Race Series compared to similar events?
“I really like all of the personable people associated with the Prairie Fire Race Series and being able to watch and cheer on others as they run. I tend to show up early to watch the marathon and half marathon runners start and then stay late to watch those participating in the one-mile run. From a course standpoint, I like how flat the course is. It is not only easier on the body, but it makes for a good finishing time.”
What is your goal for this year in the Fall Prairie Fire Marathon Race Series?
“I want to be under 28:00 for the 5K this fall. I am recovering from a hamstring injury so we will see how it goes.
Aside from the Prairie Fire Race Series, I have a goal this year to lower my state record in the one-mile on November 8th at the “Kansas Road Mile” (USATF State Championship) at Towne East Square.”
What is the best piece of advice that you could give to someone wanting to take up running?
“As a runner, I would say be patient and don’t try to reach your expectations/goals right away or else you may risk getting injured. Try not to over-extend yourself and work your way up to where you want to be. It is a lot better for you and more beneficial if you take your time and avoid injuries.”
Any thoughts/plans on your running future?
“Right now my main focus is to just keep going as long as I can and take things one step at a time. At this stage it is all about taking care of your body and enjoying the ride.
Overall, I like to run in cool weather like in the fall months because it is easier on my body. I may try to limit myself during the summer months moving forward considering how hot it can get in Kansas.”