Chuck: Tupelo will always be the race that hooked me. Mike Lail was the race director at that time and he was as shocked as I was when I crossed the finish line in 2 hours and 34 minutes. It was a hot day and I loved the total feeling of exhaustion. Mike Lail was there for me. He showed me that it is the people involved in the race that make all marathons more than just 26.2 miles. My experience at Tupelo every year I have done it, is one of the reasons I keep running. I love to find races like that with people like that. In this day and age of big time marathons with exorbitant entry fees and high dollar entertainment, races like Tupelo, Little Rock, Grand Rapids, Lake Placid, Flying Monkey and a handful of others stand apart.
RD: Since you’re a “marathon junkie” there must be an addiction in there somewhere. Is that addiction for the distance, the race, the crowd, the competition, the record-breaking, or all or some of the aforementioned?
Chuck: People who have never "won" don't know what they are missing. I like to win. But as mentioned before, you just never know who will show up any given day. That is a thrill for me. Thinking I could win a race in Dayton Ohio only to finish second to Josh Cox by more than ten minutes was a complete rush. I was the most fit for any race I had been and I wanted to win badly. Josh showed up and qualified for the Olympic Trials. I was crushed with second place, but elated that Josh had led me to a new PR. The addiction is and will always be to push my body to the breaking point and when it breaks, how much further can my mind take it. I set goals beyond just finishing races or running 52 in a year. For me it's about my personal race. I know how healthy I am at any given race and I like racing sick or injured or after two marathons in the previous two days. Racing...putting my heart rate up there as high as I think it will go without my heart exploding. Then, in specific races, seeing if my heart will pop before my brain says quit. That's the addiction. That's how I like to run.... on my personal edge. It's not about bragging to the world that I finished a billion races in one year. All I need to have to do that is money and a good travel agent. I will stick to running as fast as I can in any given circumstance. Take what the day gives me and run hard. The marathon deserves that much.
RD: Speaking of records, you have quite a few—the most sub 3-hour marathons in the world; #1 and #2 fastest 50 back to back official marathons; the fastest average for 52 consecutive marathon weekends (October 2008 - October 2009); the most consecutive U.S. marathon victories with 7 in 7 weekends in which you set 7 course records in each race (2006); running 3 days of sub 3 official marathons twice; winning back-to-back Saturday and Sunday marathons twice. Man, I’m pooped just listing them all. Those are some awesome accomplishments. I’m sure you’re extremely proud of them all, but is one more special to you than the others?
Chuck: I am reminded by others about these records. At this point in my life, I just want to RUN MORE! I don't want to spend time counting things when I could be putting in more mileage. People count things when the are finished and want to reminisce. I will admit, however, that when I won my 100th marathon race and popped a can of soda in Bristol New Hampshire that the Dr. Pepper never tasted more sweet.
RD: You race so frequently, that your racing is probably your training or is it? What does a typical week of running look like for you?
Chuck: I try to do one speed day per week and one long run in the middle of the week. I also do my own version of plyos to maintain strength and flexibility. The week can be as high as 120 miles or as low as zero when I am decompressing. I like the 120 weeks better, but the zero weeks are needed from time to time. However, even during the zero weeks I will still try to bike or swim.
RD: I stress over and over to my running clients the importance of good nutrition to fuel their training effort. Do you have a favorite training food that you like to eat? Pre-run? Post-run?
Chuck: I love steel cut oatmeal with fresh blueberries and brown sugar for my pre-race meal. During the week its a lot of whole grain pastas and just a bit of chicken. But you gotta figure that during the weeks where I am putting in 120 miles I can eat pretty much anything. The book "Once A Runner" had a quote that said "If the furnace is hot enough, anything will burn." I say eat what you like and RUN MORE to burn it off.
RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
Chuck: I run alone. When I do run with others I tend to get into a racing mentality and that can destroy a weekly training regimen.
RD: What’s the funniest or oddest thing that’s happened to you while on a run?
Chuck: There was a race in the Pacific Northwest that I decided to make a quick stop in the woods. It's a pretty crazy story. I still won the race. It was, however, the slowest winning time in that particular race's history. Didn't bother me in the least.
RD: You mentioned that Nike has been your running shoe of choice? Why?
Chuck: My shoes have been and will always be NIKE! I love the Vomero 5 for training and the Lunars for racing. They just work for my feet. Nikes always have worked for me. I encourage any runner to find the right shoes for their feet and not to wear what the latest gold medalist is wearing.
RD: Tell us something about you that might surprise us. Bake? Sew? Sing karaoke?
Chuck: I do cook a lot. I love to cook. I even sing....when no one is around. I am a pretty simple runner. I think I am down to earth most of the time. I just have an unusual addiction to the pain found at or near the finish line of a marathon. It's just a beautiful thing.
RD: If you were speaking to a group of non-runners or runner wannabes and trying to encourage them to run, what would you say?
Chuck: One mile at a time. Most runner wannabes look at the whole cheesecake and eat it with their eyes. I tackle it one slice at a time. You can finish it if you start with one piece and don't think about the next piece until you are ready for the next piece. Any race really is just preparing your mind for one mile.....and then the next.
RD: You've accomplished so much in the past 10 years since that first marathon. What's next for the MarathonJunkie?
Chuck: I have a few goals. I would like to run another 200 sub 3 hour marathons before I hang up the shoes. I would like to win 50 more. But I will be happy just running and running more.