Tom Miller is either 45 or 106, depending on whether you're going by earth years or the number of marathons he's run. A lot of people never run a single marathon in their life, so Tom has taken it upon himself to run theirs for them.
He is not a person for whom the word "sedentary" makes any sense at all. This is a man who was in the Marine Corps for 21 years and trains harder now that he's retired.He's run so many marathons he's taken to guiding other people who run marathons. He's been the "eyes" for blind marathoner Harry Cordellos in a number of 26.2-mile races, including both the Boston and Deseret News marathons. Other times, Miller has run marathons while strapped with scientific paraphernalia. Two years ago, he ran the Boston Marathon wearing sophisticated pulse and VO2 intake monitors.
Running and fitness is his way of life. When he isn't training any number of aspiring local runners, or working on his doctoral dissertation - a study of the responses of distance runners to bicycle interval training and/or mental stimulation - he's selling running shoes at the Village Sports Den.
Name a trail on the east side of Salt Lake City and he's no doubt been on it. He's run City Creek so often he has the campground names memorized.
Perhaps the most amazing part is that throughout all this activity - and this affectation has been going on now for well over two decades - Miller is yet to suffer a debilitating injury, either mentally or physically.
In 106 marathons, and untold hundreds of 5K, 10K and other assorted distance races, Miller has never been sidelined. Not unless you count the time years ago, when, after placing in the top 10 of a marathon in Chicago, he got to the finish line and celebrated by jumping in the air and clicking his heels.
When he landed, he broke a bone in his foot.
But that wasn't, technically, an injury due to running.
As for mental injuries, Miller's consistent devotion to running is evidence enough that he has never gone home after a long run and thrown his shoes in the trash.
His last marathon was in Pittsburgh in May. His next will be at Brian Head Ski Resort in August.
In between, he will run the Deseret News 10K tomorrow morning.
Who better, then, than Mr. Tom Miller, the Master of the Marathon, the Ruler of Running, to say a few words of wisdom on the eve of yet another Deseret News running day? Thousands of Utah runners await the start of tomorrow's annual 10K and Marathon runs. Apprehension is all that's left between now and the starting gun.
To bide that time, here are Tom Miller's Commandments of Running, applied specifically to the Deseret News 10K and Marathon.
For the 10K:
1. Warm up as if the race starts uphill, not downhill. Take short quick strides (to warmup) and start the race in a light sweat.
2. Base your race goal on effort, not on how fast you want to run.
3. Let gravity provide as much energy as possible on the downhill course.
4. In the latter part of the race focus on your breathing, emphasizing the exhale not the inhale.
5. Keep tension out of your arms and shoulders, especially near the finish.
For the Marathon:
1. Get up early, take a hot shower or bath, get to the starting line in plenty of time for a good warmup.
2. Run with the downhill start (let it go) and then hold back just a little on the uphills.
3. Run lightly and fluidly on the downhills . . . or, as Harry Cordellos said after running the mountainous Deseret News Marathon, "You shouldn't hear your shoes in the Deseret News."
4. From mile 20 on - "when you're starting to lose it" - breathe steadily and focus on a good rhythm.
5. Smile when you cross the finish line.
Miller smiles when he says the above.
"Hey," he says, "Sports psychology is like voodoo - it works for those who believe."
Miller believes that running is good, clean fun and, more than that, it's an opportunity to develop your own strategies for success and then test those strategies in races.
He's also realistic enough to know that all of it is easier said than done. That was illustrated the last time he guided Cordellos along the Deseret News route.
They were about four miles from the finish line, moving along the Days of '47 Parade route on Main Street, when Tom shouted back to Harry, who he could hear was dragging, "Harry, I can hear your shoes in the Deseret News."
To which Harry replied, "I don't want to hear it. At this point, I have no control over my shoes."