A Runner's Lament



Paul Sax teaches tennis and running, played college tennis, and won the Memphis Marathon in 1987. He would still be one of the best two-sport athletes in Memphis — if he’d trained differently.

To see our Q&A with Paul Sax, click here.

What’s your personal best marathon time? In 1988 when I was 27 I ran the Boston Marathon in 2 hours and 29 minutes.

Can you still run a marathon in less than three hours? I have not tried. I would like to think that I could. I have not run one since 1999, and I broke three hours then.

Why did you stop? I had knee surgery for arthritis and that kind of slowed my running down. What most people are going to find out if they traIn regularly is that getting on a soft surface will prolong your athletic career, whether it’s a soft tennis court or running on grass as opposed to concrete. I wish I had trained more on grass.

Where does your group train, and how often? I have two groups that meet on Tuesday mornings, mostly women, at Overton Park. Plus a workout of all skill levels, men and women, at University of Memphis track Tuesday nights at 6 pm. Up to 90 people participate in that. There’s no charge.

What’s your personal fitness routine? Back in the day, I probably ran 40 to 50 miles a week and lifted weights and taught tennis 30 to 40 hours. Now I’m on the tennis court about 30 to 40 hours a week, and my running time has been cut to 15 to 20 miles a week.

In general, are runners getting faster? I think there are more people running and not as many people running as fast as maybe they did in the 1980s. But more runners by numbers, like 14,000 in Memphis half marathon, marathon and St. Jude 5K race.

What’s a realistic one-year running goal? We took a lady who was about 40, a recreational tennis player, and she went from no running to run-a-minute, walk-a-minute for 30 minutes, and 13 months later she finished a marathon. A realistic goal is probably to complete a 5K in three months. You need small goals like that.

Best athlete of our time? Maybe Ivan Lendl. He won a pro golf tournament as well as a major tennis tournament. He raised the fitness level of tennis to another level.

Add a comment