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Runner hits 50,000-mile mark

Created date

March 22nd, 2010

In 1971 when Robert (Bob) Gralley wanted to shed a few extra pounds, he decided to give running a try. This month, he will run his 50,000th mile and he has no plans of [caption id="attachment_8837" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Bob Gralley holds a number he received in the Baltimore Marathon, just 1 of the 42 marathons in which he has competed. His next will be in Baltimore on October 16. (Photo by Jeffrey Getek)"][/caption] stopping. Back when I started, jogging was not really in style. In those days, if you were running down the street in a pair of shorts, your neighbors would think the police were after you, jokes Gralley, who now lives at Oak Crest with his wife, Betty. The first marathon I ever ran in was in New York City s Central Park in 1975. There were about 500 of us. Now there are 30,000!

Off and running

One of the things I find most interesting about running is setting goals for myself, says Gralley, who just achieved his ambition of running the distance equal to twice around the world, or 49,761.37 miles. How does he do it? Five mornings a week, Gralley laces up his running shoes, grabs his GPS (which tracks his mileage), and hits the ground running in his Parkville neighborhood. On average, he runs 20 miles over the course of five days and bikes 15 to 20 miles on Saturdays with his son Kevin. Like the famous postman s creed: Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet Gralley never lets the weather deter him from his daily run. I have to admit, there were days in the past where it didn t make a bit of a difference what the weather was like; I would run outside regardless, he says. Now if it s really cold or raining or snowing, I will run on the treadmill in the fitness center. One of the advantages of living atOak Crestis having a great fitness center just a few steps away.

Stay the course

Gralley rarely breaks his exercise routine, not even when on vacation. Whenever we travel, the first thing I do is find out where the gym is located, says Gralley, who recently returned from a Caribbean cruise. I feel good about how running has affected me over the years. I know my blood pressure would be higher without it. It affects you physically, but also it keeps you mentally fit. It makes you feel better about yourself. There are so many benefits to the whole thing, I don t want to stop. According to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine, Gralley may be on to something. The study tracked 500 runners ages 50 and up for more than 20 years and concluded that regular running actually slows the effects of aging. Experts say those who ran an average of four hours each week had fewer disabilities and a longer span of active life, among other benefits.

Going the distance

Gralley attributes the longevity of his running career to a combination of factors, including the support of his family and the convenience of living atOak Crest. My wife and kids have really supported me over the years. My wife, Betty, enjoys exercising. My son Kevin bikes with me. And my son Greg runs marathons with me, says Gralley. I ve also been very fortunate that I haven t had any problems with my feet, knees, or back. I guess you could say there is a bit of good luck attached. With 42 marathons under his belt, Gralley s next marathon will be in Baltimore on October 16. As he prepares for the race, he offers new runners this advice: It s important to take small steps. You really shouldn t do more than a 10% increase each week. You don t want to overdo it too early. That s the real secret of getting started, enjoying running, and maintaining a balance that allows you to continue.