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A Geezer Jock To Learn From In All Sports

July 06, 2024 4 min read 4 Comments

A Geezer Jock To Learn From In All Sports

David Craig is a master in the 400 meters. Here he wins the M65 400 in 2021 with a time of 1:02.67. Three years later he is just 1 second slower. How? Read his story for tips how to make yourself better at any sport. Photo by Rob Jerome.

 

By Ray Glier

COLUMBIA, Md.___David Craig kicked the ball and started running and there was instant recognition. He had been here before. He still “loved to run.”

He was 63 and playing in an adult kickball league. David, a track & field athlete in college, had dropped out of running competitions for 17 years. Kicking that ball nine years ago was a revelation.

“It was too late for a midlife crisis, or whatever crisis you have in your 60s,” said Craig, who is 72. “It was just a thought, that's all. ‘I wonder if I can still run competitively’.”

Yep. He can still run competitively. And he can jump competitively, too.

Craig is No. 1 in the world in the 400 meters (M70-74) with a 1:03.54 he ran June 21 at the Tennessee Senior Olympics.

David ran 1:04.76 here June 29 at the USATF Masters East and Southeast Outdoor Championships.

Craig, who lives in Columbia, Tenn., but competes for the SoCal Track Club, went 1.45 meters here in his new endeavor, the high jump. That mark ranks him No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 3 in the world (M70-74).

You know by now there are some skilled Geezer Jocks walking beside you on the street. And you also know there are a few things to latch on to with their stories that will help Geezer Jocks, like you and me, who have some skills or little skill.

The following are a few of those 'David things' worth 3 more minutes of your read time this morning.

*When he reheated his track career in 2015, Craig ran the 100 and 200. He did quite well with a second in the 200 and third in the 100 in the 2018 World Masters Athletics championships in Spain.

Then friends said to him, “You have a long stride, you should try the 400.”

Craig gave it a try. He ran his first USATF 400 meters race in 2018 in the Kentucky Senior Games and began to learn pace and strategy. Then, in 2021, 2022, and 2023, he won the national championship in the 400 in the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships.

His 2021 national title (1:02.69) came in the M65 when David was 69, at the top of the age group when decline is supposed to set in. It was all a matter of finding his sweet spot.

So if you are playing softball or baseball for a senior team, for example, do you really have the range for second base? Do you have a rightfield arm that can throw out runners going from first to third?

Ask a friend you trust, not a competitor trying to move you out to claim the spot for themselves, “Where should I play?”

What else is in David’s story to help you and me?

*David wanted to save his knees for running so he gave up competitive racquetball and basketball.

“That is a lot of twisting and turning and pounding,” Craig said. “I gave up some of those things in an attempt to milk as much mileage out of my knees as I can.”

Think about your knees as you get older. They are vital. Most times, they are the first to go, and then loss of motivation follows. Sports are fun, but sitting on the couch with ice packs on your knees is not fun.

*David ran a 1:02.67 in 2021 when he won the USATF 400 (M65-69). Last month in Tennessee, which was three years later, he was just a second slower with the 1:03.54.

“I think I can go 62 again,” he said.

It’s the training, Craig said.

“I do more work in the gym than I used to,” he said. “I go to the gym twice a week and work on upper body and core work, a little bit of leg work. The upper body balance and a lot of things that I hadn't had time to work on, I’m working on.

“And then I get on the track two to three times a week and run intervals.”

That 62 seconds in the 400 at his age is ambitious. But it is reachable. David went 1:02.22 at The National Senior Games in Pittsburgh in 2023. He was 71.

The lesson for the rest of us, if we can afford the time, is don’t sell yourself short. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you try…and fail..

…or succeed.

*The 400 is more strategy, of course, than the 100 or 200. That’s easy to decipher. The 100 and 200 you just dig for it and try not to fall behind.

When your chosen sport is the 400 and there is more deliberation how precise can you teach yourself to be? Do you know when things aren’t clicking?

“I have my pace sorted for the first 200 to just try to stay relaxed and stride through the first 200,” David said. “I try to keep a certain breathing pattern. And if I'm going too fast, I can't maintain the pattern of breathing that I want and I know I've gone out too fast. So I try not to get suckered into going out too fast.

"The last 100 (meters) you go to work and go fast.”

Craig is a psychologist with a Phd. He has put it to work with his running.

Listen up here.

“I do try to not to get too stressed at it and try to relax,” David said. “And I do think through races ahead of time. I try to run races in my mind and try to think where I'll be at the race at each point and what my breathing ought to be.

“I've got some bad habits, at this point, that are pretty firmly ingrained in muscle memory so I have to get through those, like tensing up and holding my shoulders up.”

If you have any of these issues, such as not knowing where you fit in your sport, or fragile knees, or getting stressed, take David Craig's word for it.

You can fix it.

Please share this story and support Geezer Jock.



David is the best in the world 70-74 in the 400 and the best in the U.S in the high jump at 1.45 meters. Photo by Blake Wood.

 

 


4 Responses

Debra L Hanes
Debra L Hanes

July 08, 2024

Great article. I am a 77 year old Senior Olympian in the throwing events. This article is highly motivational.

David Gutnick
David Gutnick

July 08, 2024

Great story

Darlene C Backlund
Darlene C Backlund

July 08, 2024

David- I enjoyed reading your story and am glad that we are teammates in SoCal Track Club. I hope to see you in Sacramento. You might check out the article Geezer Jock did on me. Keep on moving and if you’re in Sacramento—let’s talk.

Glen Betts
Glen Betts

July 08, 2024

Nice article. Dave, I’ll see you at the Pan-American Games

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