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Eleanor Beason tries to talk her way out of a compliment. That’s how it seems, as I sit down with a woman too humble to realize how inspiring her running story could be for others. Donning Hoka Cliftons and a Sprints hat, 65-year-old Beason looks like she’s ready for a run after our coffee, and she very well could be. After all, she’s attempting another run streak, after doctor’s orders sidelined her for a week during her last streak. Like the other streaks she’s ran (some more than 500 days long), this one is to encourage her to move every day.
When I met with her, Beason was days away from heading to Wichita, Kansas, for the Prairie Fire Marathon, held October 10. Aside from fretting about her headphones not cooperating, she was ready for what would be her 1,037th race. It’s taken her 23 years to accomplish all of these. Getting started at age 42, Beason had no idea when her brother urged to try running after quitting smoking that it would become her lifelong sport.
Beason offers up how she’s able to keep the love of the sport alive: Here are four tips for taking running with you for years.
Just like you can hurt your progress by going out too fast during a race, overcommitting early on can hurt you as well. Ramping up training too fast and pushing yourself to run longer races can lead to burnout. Beason says that her strategy for running marathons took a lot of stress off of her early on. “I wasn’t really doing long distances in the beginning. I had to build myself up, and it took me a year before I did the marathon.” At the urging of her brother, again, she ran her first marathon.
She recalls her brother’s excitement for her accomplishment, he almost (unknowingly) didn’t let her finish. “My brother sees me coming up to the finish, and he comes running out and he wants to pick me up. I scream, ‘Put me down. I still have to cross the finish!’”
It benefitted Beason to take her time and mentally and physically build up to racing. Pacing herself is how she’s able to get up and run at least one mile each day.
Accept That It Won’t Always Be Fun
There’s more to being fulfilled than constantly having fun, especially when outside factors impact your ability to have a smooth race or training run. “You’re going to have ups and downs,” says Beason. You’re probably going to get injured at some point, she notes. But the comeback can feel triumphant, and that can take you farther than just having fun.
In 2018, Beason broke her hip during the Broad Street Run. This injury would almost ruin her plans to run the Rio marathon about six weeks later: “They didn’t want me to run, so I decided to walk the course.” She never got her finishing medal, since the roads opened back up, and she ended up getting lost. She’d return home with no medal, but she desired to return and try it once again.
And she did the next year. This time, instead of a DNF, she brought home a medal.
Be Willing to Travel
A change of scenery can keep running exciting. Not only has Beason traveled to Rio twice, she’s also run the Sydney Marathon and various races around the U.S., including in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Kauai. Every experience was amazing, though some weren’t as favorable; this year, for example, she traveled to a small town that didn’t have much activity or food choices.
Her least favorite, however, was one in the Adirondacks that started as a lovely trip. “I went with a friend who brought her dog and we rented a cabin. It was just so peaceful and relaxing,” she says. But she was told the course would be flat and was met on race day with a very hilly run. After two previous races, a hilly marathon wasn’t in the cards.
Regardless of how grueling the hills were, Beason still came home refreshed with a story to tell. Travel is transformative, and adding a race makes it even more so.
Find Your Friend Circle
Beason is a member of Run856, a New Jersey–based running group with people of all ages and abilities. She is always able to find someone to come along on her streaks and group activities keep the sport fun, whether that’s a donut run or one delivering sandwiches to the homeless. “I still run by myself more than anything, but I like running with the group. It’s always fun,” she says.
Since she didn’t finish the Rio Marathon in June 2018, she signed up for the Atlantic City Marathon later that year, as a way to keep with her tradition of running at least one marathon a year. Not only did she show up, but so did her running group. “It was awesome. It was the first time I ever did a marathon where I knew everybody.”
Though Beason got a late start, she believes that she was always made to run. She recalls being a child and having the desire. “If it wasn’t for the fact that I smoked, I probably would’ve started running sooner.” And she doesn’t see herself easing up anytime soon. Her goals include one day running the Boston Marathon. Though she isn’t sure she’ll qualify, she’d consider a fundraiser. Instead of putting the pressure on herself, she’ll continue to enjoy the ride, one race and one run-streak day at a time.