SPRINGRIELD, Mass. — In the past 41 years, retired Springfield school teacher Larry Saex has logged more than 200,000 miles with his daily 14.5-mile run and has never missed a single day of running in all that time.
Saex, 62, got his running start after playing baseball in college, then joining the track team, where he was known for his speed. He’s also stuck with 14.5 miles daily, not 14 or 15, because it brings him closest to 100 miles per week, he said.
The 2½ hours he spends running each day allow him to clear his mind, heal his body and meet new friends.
“I get to know all the people that live on the streets because they’ll come out to say hello,” said Saex. “I’ve been running for 20 years right here on Parker Street, Boston Road, Wilbraham Road, and Sunrise Terrace.”
Saex’s regimen is so strict that if other plans come up, he can sometimes be found running in the middle of the night. He has even found time to work in a run around the most important events of his life, whether good or bad.
“When my father passed away in 1974, I was in grad school in Syracuse, N.Y., and that’s a six-hour drive to my father’s funeral, and I did my running right before I left there and when I came home and I worked it around that,” said Saex. “My mind was relaxed at that time because it made me think of all the good things that he did, and running just helps me reflect. To me, it’s like – I always use this comparison – it’s like brushing your teeth: You do it every day.”
SAEX MAKES sure his body and mind are in perfect health, down to his 88-day diet he completes every summer, where he eats only fruits and vegetables. He said eating enough produce is one of the best ways to stay hydrated in the summer, besides drinking water, because the water from produce stays in the body longer in his experience.
When he’s not on his diet, Saex said he will sometimes eat tuna, whole wheat products or oatmeal, but he still tries to stick to fruits and veggies.
During a recent heart test, doctors told Saex his heart was as healthy as a 20-something’s, he said.
Saex also focuses on exercising his mind, making sure he reads for at least one to two hours each day. He bikes or walks when he’s not running.
“I spoke to a guy in Florida, he’s 105 and he’s out every day driving his car. I asked what his secret was to being 105, and he said, ‘Never stop what you’re doing, just keep going. Once you stop then your life ends,’ ” Saex said.
“I limit my TV to one hour a day,” he said, “I will not sit there watching TV unless it’s a special thing like a baseball game I want to see. I want to be active, not passive. It makes you feel better. You don’t feel tired or lethargic, you feel motivated.”
Though running has become a lifelong passion for Saex, he doesn’t necessarily recommend it to everyone.
“I do not encourage anybody to run. If they’re interested then I usually tell them to start real slowly because you’ll burn yourself out if you do too much at once,” he said. “Try walking first, then if it’s something you like and get into you can build up your speed or distance. You have to really like to do it or else you’re doing to be turned off.”
Saex said his goal is to continue running until he’s at least 90, and to continue to run every single day, rain or shine, blizzard or blazing heat – and he’s done it all.
“There’s a feeling that you get when you’re running that you can’t get anywhere else,” Saex said. “You feel like you can do anything when you finish your run, and nothing gets in the way.”