Last updated: August 25. 2013 6:17AM - 69 Views

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LIMA ó For some athletes, running is perceived as a punishment, something athletes need to do in order to perform at their very best in their respective sport.

For 81-year-old Ottawa resident Bill Meyers, itís a way of life.

Meyers has been running for nearly 30 years. In those three decades of running, Meyers has competed in road races all over. Most recently, Meyers competed at this past Wednesdayís Star Spangled Spectacular Freedom 5K at Faurot Park.

"Iíve been running since I was 52," Meyers said. "I like to go out and run all the time. Right after I started to run ó the year after ó I ran 41 races that year. Iíve ran all the races around here. I also have ran in Hartford, Conn., and in Atlanta, Ga. in the Peachtree Race. I like to go all over to run."

Meyers said heís seen some changes in road racing over the years.

"There are more races now, but there arenít as many 10Ks. The farthest Iíve ran is a half-marathon. Iím going to run the Square Fair (5K) and the same day (Aug. 4), Iím going to run the St. Anthonyís (5K) in Columbus Grove," Meyers said.

There has been substantial research done over the years on the effect that jogging has on peoplesí overall health. The Copenhagen City Heart Study, with more than 35 years of follow-up, found that jogging was associated with an increase in lifespan on an average of six years, compared to non-joggers. This was based on 1 to 2 1/2 hours of modest running per week, according an article in "MedPage Today" on May 4.

For 61-year-old Lima resident Jim Berney, running has evolved into a lifestyle. The annual Freedom 5K is always going to be a special race for him.

"Today is my third anniversary of my first 5K," said Berney at Wednesdayís Freedom 5K. "I ran this in 2009 and 51:56 was my time. I got addicted to it since then. Itís a lot of fun. You meet a lot of great people. I see a lot of the same people at a lot of the races. Since that time, Iíve done nine half-marathons and about 50 5Ks. And Iím training for my first full (marathon) in Columbus this fall," Berney said.

Berney, who now owns a personal-best time of 24:52 in the 5K, said running has totally changed his life.

"Iíve lost 92 pounds since Iíve started running. I dropped one of my blood pressure pills and I eat a lot better. I had to buy all new clothes. I went from a 42-inch waist to a 36. Everybody I used to work with kept asking me if I went on a diet. I didnít go on a diet. ... Diets fail. I made a complete lifestyle change," Berney said.

Longtime Spencerville cross country coach Brian McMichael was introduced to running during his teenage years and now at age 64, is still going strong.

"At first it was the competition aspect ó trying to get better and better and seeing what I can do," McMichael said. "(In high school) I was always a baseball player, but I could never make the team. So, I went out for track. ...I just kept running after that. Itís a great feeling, getting out and pushing yourself. And itís also a great way to stay in shape. If I would have ever stopped running, Iíd probably weigh a couple hundred pounds by now."

McMichael has always enjoyed running with his teams at Spencerville. However, heís begun to realize that his pace isnít quite what it used to be.

"I run with the cross country kids all the time. I used to do every workout with them until about six or seven years ago. I started to run behind the girls team, then I got behind the junior high kids. So, I thought Iíd better run and just enjoy it," he said with a smile.

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