The Journey Continues

The weather is beginning to break with cooler mornings, which is ideal for walks or runs. In the last column I made reference to getting back to the basics. Where are you with your fitness?

No matter who I speak with, there are a variety of reasons why people exercise and your reason is no different. And no matter what you may read or hear, it’s always best to consult with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe.

There is one step before even that, however: Seriously consider the question of do you want to do any exercise? There should be a reason and an understanding of what you expect to get out of it.

Like everything in your life, you need the goal and the plan to get there. To achieve the goal, you may not get there by yourself.

I started running as a form of fitness in 1982 and met my present coach through my job, in 1984, and we remain friends today. Joe has helped to get me though 10Ks, marathons, and 50-milers. It was a gradual process. There were words of encouragement and pointers to help make corrections, but I had to do the work.

I needed that desire to want to achieve my goals. No, it was never to win a race because that would have been a nightmare and not even a dream.

I ask, what can I do to help you? Do I offer you a training plan by the week which includes the short workouts and the long runs on the weekend? Do I give you a list of races that you should run to test how your training has progressed? I could do all of those things, but would they work?

There are athletes with whom I have spoken that been running for years and started in college but stopped. The reasons came in all shades, and if military was in the picture that was a game-changer as competitive running slowed. Once marriage and the family comes into the picture, that can also mean a major change.

I am sure there are many of you in that position. The demands of the children come before yours. There are times when you may have selfish thoughts, but they lose out.

The older you get, the more demands are placed on your time. You are faced with the questions of what is important and what to do first. Do you talk things over with your spouse to determine what you do and what impact your decisions will make on family and work?

I have been receiving a running publication since the 1980s and there were others along the way which are now out of publication. It never fails that I see the main themes of how to get faster, buy the latest technology, what right foods to eat, what is the best training program to follow, and what is the best race to run. The list goes on, but does any of these fall in line with your lifestyle?

What day are you going to look in the mirror and say, “I am ready to make a commitment”? Are you ready for making a life-changing decision? You need to understand when you step up to the line, it is a long-term commitment.

Give it some thought. It is not the workout that gives you the results, it’s the amount of effort that you put into it.

We all like to stay in a comfortable zone where we don’t “hurt,” but we want results. The challenge is you against yourself. Select that favorite event that you like and each year participate in it with a goal of improving until you reach that goal and then you will do it afterwards for the fun of it.

My very first race in 1982 was a half-marathon (13.1 miles). I had no idea what a half-marathon was or what it would feel like. There was no concept of time, but I thought two hours sounded good. The race was in Philadelphia and I finished in 1 hour 59 minutes–and I was proud of myself.

Suddenly, I was bit by the bug and I wanted more. Over the following years I returned each year until one year I ran 1 hour 22 minutes. I continued to run the race until one year my time was 2 hours–back to where I started, but I was still happy.

There is nothing wrong with doing what makes the heart happy.

Speaking of the heart, I am counting from July 10th when I had my surgery. In May I ran my 110th marathon but it took me 6 hours at a nice relaxed pace with running and walking. The month of August was walking and using the elliptical and the stationary bicycle. I did not start back running until September. The difficult part is getting through the mental barrier.

We all like to cling to what we “used to do.” The new focus is “what I want to do.” It is not easy and requires practice.

With determination I have finished 3 miles in 35 minutes on the treadmill. The goal: using the graphic of the track I run slowly on the straight part of the track and then I do a brisk walk on the turns. When I first started, it was taking me an hour. I do this two days a week with a break in between the days on the cycle.

On Saturdays, I have my long run of 6 miles which takes 1 hour and 22 minutes and this is accomplished by running 2 minutes and then a brisk walk of 2 minutes. There is some progress being made, but it’s slow. My mind knows that I can do better but the body is not there yet.

This is no different than coming off an injury or any layoff. It will take patience and that desire and determination.

I am making my move and now it is your turn. My goal is that sometime in 2018 I will run marathon number 111 with a goal to finish because that will make the heart happy!

Note: This is from the American Heart Association’s Facebook post of my interview. I hope you will be encouraged by my story!


About George Banker

George Banker is the Operations Manager for the Army Ten-Miler (US Army / MDW), the second largest 10-mile road race in the Unites States and this year the race will accept 35,000 runners. The responsibilities include the operational planning, logistics, community outreach, designing of the course, volunteer recruitment, and support to medical and police jurisdictions. Started August 2003.

Prior to joining the Army Ten-Miler he worked 25 years at IBM serving in administration and management within the federal marketing environment in Bethesda, Maryland.

Retired from the U.S. Air Force (Enlisted grade Technical Sergeant) Experience include ground refueling supervisor and cryogenic fluids production supervisor. He received 14 military decorations including the Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (1969-1989).

Since 1983, a freelance photographer and journalist, Senior Writer for the Runner’s Gazette, contributor to Running Journal newspaper, and RunWashington.

District of Columbia Road Runners Club (DCRRC) Hall of Fame Inductee for 2006

The former president and meet director for the Mid-Atlantic Corporate Athletic Association Relays (1986-1993). Director for the Washington’s Birthday Marathon Relay (1989-1999), started the Relay.

Race consultant, and steering committee member with the following events: Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run (1989), George Washington’s Parkway Classic 5K/10 Miler, Lawyer’s Have Heart 10K, Marine Corps Marathon (Historian – Ad Hoc Publicity Committee) , Navy Half Marathon & 5-Miler, and Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon.

State Record Keeper USA Track & Field, 1993 to present.
Chair, Trends and Issues Committee, Road Runners Club of America (RRCA)
Member USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Avid runner, 99 marathons completed and serve in additional capacity as race announcer, media relations, and invited elite runner coordinator for several local area races. Six JFK 50 Miler completed to date. The Marine Corps Marathon in October 2014 will be my 100th marathon and my 31st time running it.

Author of “The Marine Corps Marathon A Running Tradition” (1976-2006) September 2007 publish date. Completed 30 MCM’s to date (2013). (

December 2006 MetroSports Athlete of the Month

Hall of Fame Inductee 2011 – Marine Corps Marathon

Running PRs: Marathon 3:04:32 (’88) Houston-Tenneco, Half-Marathon 1:22:40 (’84) Philadelphia Distance Run, 10-Miles 1:02:10 (’87) Army Ten-Miler, 10K 37:42 (’84) Diabetes Derby, 5K 18:28 (’88) Stanford University, 1600 Meters 5:18 (’87) Gallaudet University.

Graduated with an AA in Accounting from Prince George’s Community College with honors, Largo, MD (’76), and a BBA in Accounting from George Washington University, Washington, DC (’84).

Educational community involvement:
Volunteer speaker, Connection Resource Bank, Division of Family and Community
Partnerships, Montgomery County Public Schools (1995- Present)

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