Sid Howard featured in Runner’s World chat

Rock stars know they’ve made it when they’re on the cover of the Rolling Stone. The equivalent for track stars is Runner’s World. Or the online version. Today we get to meet Masters Hall of Famer Sid Howard again — whose world and national titles are too numerous to count. Peter Gambaccini conducted the Q&A, which revealed Sid’s M65 training regimen and regrets over his San Sebastian race tactics. Cool read. Rock on, Sid!

Sid Howard of Plainfield, New Jersey, now 67, won the 800 in 2:28.37 and the 1500 in 5:09.42 the 65-69 age group at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in Linz, Austria in March. The next week, he was at the USA Masters Indoor Championships in Boston, winning the mile in 5:37.15 and taking second in the 800 in 2:29.85.
He holds American indoor 65-69 records of 2:19.4 for the 800, 5:23.05 for the mile, and 4:45.36 for 1500 meters. Howard, a vegan, competes for the Central Park Track Club, a USATF-registered elite development club; he and three CPTC teammates own the U.S. indoor 60-plus 4×800-meter mark of 9:58.0.
He owns a messenger and delivery service and got his B.S.W. from Kean College at age 59.
Runner’s World Daily: Was this the first time you had won two gold medals at the World Masters Indoor Championships?
Sid Howard: No, two years ago in Germany, I won two gold medals.
RWD: And now, you’re 67, in the middle of that 65-69 age group.
SH: In the middle. They’re going to get ready to take advantage of me now.
RWD: Are there in fact some younger guys coming up that you’re already worried about?
SH: There’s one guy from England named Reg Phipps. Next year, when I go outdoor, I’ll be 68 and he’ll be 65. I’m going to have to deal with him for about two years.
RWD: This time, you won the 1500 by six-tenths of a second over Werner May of Germany. Is it just that you can out kick these guys; is that how you’re winning these championships?
SH: In the two races (1500 and 800), I out kicked both of them. Last year, in San Sebastian, Spain, at the World Masters outdoors, I lost both races the same way I won both races this year. I lost the 800 by less than half a second and got fourth. I got boxed and I couldn’t get out. I started my kick too late in the 800, And in the 1500, I ran my fastest time in two years, 5:00.27, and I lost by less than half a second again and I got fifth place, and I was leading with 20 meters to go. I started my kick too soon, with 200 meters out.
RWD: Are you finding it easy to do hard workouts at this point in your life? Are you relying a little bit on the work you did in the past or do you really have to work as hard as you ever did just to keep sharp?
SH: I’ve been lucky. I met a young lady who came into my life last year. My first wife passed away nine years ago, and I got married for the second time. I was married for 39 years. We got married as teenagers. And my (new) wife, Asteria Claure, happened to be a coach and a masseuse and a good partner for running. Since we’ve met, I’ve been doing a lot of drills, a lot of stretching, and a lot of quality work. No quantity. I don’t even run 20 miles a week now. It takes too long to recover. I do drills, stretching, sit-ups, and fast interval workouts. I find as I get older, I’m taking more time off. I’m resting more. But it’s not helping me with my roads (road races). My roads are suffering because I don’t have enough mileage.
RWD: We were going to ask you about that. Do you still go to Bermuda to race every year in January?
SH: I’ve gone to Bermuda every year for 28 years now. And I won (the age group) again this year (in the 10K). I’ve been running there since 1979. It’s a ten-year age group (60-69), and I’ve won it every year since I was 60. I ran 43:00 last year and this year I ran it in 45:00. I got sick, I think from the airplane. I was only able to run one day for the whole week before the race. Bermuda is one of the greatest islands anywhere. The people are unpretentious. They treat you like a celebrity even if you’re just coming to visit. As far as the running goes, there’s nothing but hills. The only flat part of Bermuda is the airport.
RWD: And are you still doing the Pete McArdle 15K in the Bronx, three times around the tough Van Cortlandt Park 5K loop?
SH: I do. I ran it last year and won (the age group) again. That 15K is the one that really helps me with my 10K in Bermuda. The 15K is always the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
RWD: Can you describe the drills you do?
SH: Basically, they’re plyometrics. The butt kicks (the heel reaching the gluteus), running backwards, and the strides. And high knees, and you do the skipping and the bounding–you bound twice on one leg and twice on the other leg. And the diagonals, running from one corner to the other corner of the track. It’s very important. I stopped running on concrete and the roads. All my work is on the track or grass. And whenever you do a hard workout, take a nice ice bath, 15 to 20 minutes max. That’s very important in helping you get rid of that inflammation. It helps you recover much quicker.
RWD: When you go to these masters championship meets around the world, do you pay your own way?
SH: Yes, I pay myself. I’ve just been very lucky. I had someone from the team help me out with Australia (outdoors in Brisbane in 2001) and help me out with Spain, but most of the time, the money comes basically from myself.
RWD: Which event do you prefer at this point, the 800 or the 1500/mile?
SH: I’m stronger in the 800. It’s my premier race, even though I always wanted to be a miler. I think if I had to pick one race, I would pick the 800. Most good 5K and 10K runners can run with me in the 1500, but I have a better opportunity to beat them in the 800 because of my speed and a lot of experience. In Boston, when I won the mile, that was 34th national championship. I have five world championships that I have won, four indoor and one outdoor. And recently, in December, I was inducted into the National Masters Hall of Fame.
RWD: We noticed you had a rare lose in the 800 at the USA Masters meet. Were you just a little tired or did somebody else just have a great race that day?
SH: The person that beat me, I’d beat him the last six races that we ran. He, Mac Stewart, is a great runner. I have a lot of respect for him. Like I told him, I don’t want to make any excuses. He beat me. He ran a better race. My wife thinks that I should not have run two races after coming from Austria. It was a judgement call I made, but it didn’t turn out to be in my favor. But I have no regrets. I give him the credit for beating me.
RWD: You got back into running well into adulthood. What had you done athletically before that?
SH: I had run in high school. I was a co-captain. But I failed woodshop and math after the eleventh grade. I was ineligible to run cross-country. So I quit school at 17 and joined the Air Force. I didn’t do any kind of competing again until I was 39, 22 years later. That was when my son came in the house and said “Dad, they got an old man’s race at the high school.” It was a 35-and-over mile. I ran a 5:05. That October, at the New York City Marathon, I ran 3:02 on three months of training.
RWD: We saw you at a meet a few years back, when two masters milers got into a bumping match. At the end, the winner turned around and taunted the runner-up. You took the winner by the hand and walked him over to the other guy and insisted that they shake hands. What prompted you to do that?
SH: I figured it had no place. The winner was on my team and he was an excellent runner; nationally, he’d been nominated for runner of the year in his age group. The other guy, whom I met that day, was from Hartford, and I didn’t want him to think our team was arrogant and that it represented our style. That bothered me. I wanted my teammate, who was younger than me, to know that this behavior is not necessary because he was a star in his own right. This was going to take away from what he could do. No matter how good you are, if you don’t show good sportsmanship, you are never going to respected in this field. That’s what prompted me to do it. I know that in the heat of battle, you do and say things that you regret later. I don’t know what came over me, but I wanted those guys to say “whatever happened, that’s it.”
RWD: You must like the fact that the sport of running has taken you all over the world. Do you stick around places long enough to appreciate that?
SH: Without a doubt. My first place was Birmingham, England in 1997. A few teammates and I were the first Americans ever to run the European (Masters) Indoor Championships. Since then, they don’t let Americans run anymore. That was the first race I traveled to, and I went to South Africa after that and Australia, Puerto Rico, and Spain. God has given this gift to me and I’ve just able to take it and develop it and run with it. I’m very happy I’ve been able to afford to go to these pleases, not been injured, and been able to perform at the level that I’m at now.
RWD: The important thing is that after all these years, you’re still loving running.
SH: Yeah. This is my 28th year with Central Park (Track Club), my 28th year as a runner. The guys who started running me, they see me and wish me well and wonder how I’m able to do it. And sometime I wonder myself. But I think the fact I gave up marathoning in 1983, after running nine in five years, undoubtedly played an important role in maintaining my fitness.

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April 19, 2006

10 Responses

  1. Karla Del Grande - April 19, 2006

    I was introduced to Sid in Boston at the US Masters Indoors in 2003 by “The Great Earl” Fee, a member of my club in Canada. Sid’s love of the sport, and terrific sportsmanship have always been an inspiration to me and many others. He makes everyone he meets through Masters Track feel loved and respected. By any chance, did Runner’s World show a photograph of Sid with his “All-American” jacket that he was wearing in Linz? A group of us from Canada met him outside a restaurant on our last evening there. We jokingly asked him where he was from — as if we couldn’t tell by the stars and stripes and eagle on his jacket.

  2. Lesley Chaplin-Swann - April 20, 2006

    I first met Sid flying back from Boise…he was so complimentary and enthuiastic. He impressed me then and inspires me now. He is a true ambassador to our sport; he is always supportive and such an incredible resource to his team members on a local and national level.
    Thanks Sid.

  3. Chuck Shields M47 TODAY !! - April 21, 2006

    SID’s THE MAN !!
    Whenever I see him at the Armory or where ever, he never fails to ask me “How are those Philly guys doing”.
    I want to be just like him when I grow up !

  4. Chris Scotto DiVetta - April 22, 2006

    I first met Sid at the 2004 World Indoor Championships in Germany, I had no idea who he was. He greeted me as part of the USA team, and tried to make me feel welcome and at ease. After getting eliminated in the M45 800m, Sid again came up to me and tried to comfort me. Here was a person who won the 800m and the 1500m, but was trying to console me, a first timer. That stuck with me, not only for running but in everything I do. Thank You Sid, for making me understand.

  5. Bill Collins - April 24, 2006

    Sid, you are a great blessing to all of us in masters track and field. Not only with all the great things you have done on the track. But what you mean to each of us around the world as a track and field leader. I am proud and please to call you my friend, and a good one at that. We have shared some great moments together, I look forward to many more. Thanks for being there for all of us.

  6. Mack Stewart - April 24, 2006

    Hi Sid, Thanks for the kind words. You are too generous. I know that you were worn out from Austria!
    My best to your new Bride Asteria!!
    Take Care, Mack Stewart

  7. Bill McIlwaine - April 25, 2006

    I am not sure the year I first met Sid but it was when the USATF indoors were in Columbus, OH and it ws in the 800. I stayed with Sid for about 650 to 700 metres and then it was good bye as it was then and in every time I have competed against Sid that I have seen him from behind.
    Sid has to be one of the most gracious winners I have met. He always makes a point of seeing how the others in his race have done.
    When I went to pick up my registration package in San Sebastian I saw what looked to be a very familiar person but he was wearing this Orange and Blue track suit… on closer inspection I saw it was Sid in a Dutch uniform.
    Sid you are the best and hope to see you in Charlotte and we we can talk face to face before I see you face to back in the 800.
    Bill McIlwaine

  8. saladin allah - April 28, 2006

    How do I love thee? Words can never say….but I’ll try. “HE IS SIMPLY WHO I WANT TO BE IN MY LIFE”.
    On a track note, my first race as a submaster was in 93′(1:58).But leading up to the start of the 800, he gave me nothin’ but conversation, encouragement and hope. His heart is so good,and he deserves so much for his deeds in life.We have hung-out in this track life of ours since….and so began an education of life and love from thee, Mr. Sid Howard……THE MAN.
    Much love,

  9. Eddie Krok - February 21, 2018

    I’ve known Did since around 1952, when we played a lot of stick ball @ School #1 schoolyard. There were a lot of nice kids there, and I never expected that Did would become such a great runner. He was always a great guy, and we met again some years later at a health club that we both frequented. Did took some special stretching classes with Ralph Brown. Sid is one of God’s better creatures. Keep on trucking, Did. Run right into eternity and your just reward. Bless you. Eddie from Fulton Street.

  10. Jeffrey Allen - April 5, 2018

    I’ve Known Sid Howard all my life(he’s my Uncle), and he is all that you say plus more. he actually started me running when I was much younger. He actually had me running over 13 miles , my first time running. he is AWSOME.

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