As a massage therapist who works with athletes of all levels, I emphasize that the best way to keep from being sidelined by injury is to avoid injury in the first place. So, I was excited to talk with local legend and American Ultrarunning Hall Of Fame Athlete, Frank Bozanich about how he has remained injury free over his 60+ year running career.
When asked to what he attributes his running longevity, Frank smiled and said “I chose good parents.” While genetics certainly play a part in any athlete’s durability, Frank shared what he feels has kept him injury free.
#1 Build a solid base
Frank’s advice to anyone considering running ultra marathons is to take your time and build up to running distance. He expressed amazement at people who decide to run a marathon, having never even run a 5k. Frank began his running career as a high school track sprinter and continued to run track in college. It was there that he ran his first two-mile race and eventually a 10k. He didn’t run his first marathon until he was nearly 28 years old. Frank built a solid base over years before his first ultra marathon.
#2 Listen to your body and keep perspective
Frank is a firm believer in listening to the cues his body is giving him. He would rather DNF (Did Not Finish) a race if he felt the pain of a potential injury, than run through the pain and risk being sidelined later. Frank shared a story of toeing the line with a competitor who made a comment about the result being “Life or Death.” In his service as both a US Marine Corps Officer and in law enforcement, Frank has seen life and death situations. He states, “A race is not life or death. You’re not going to win every race and that’s okay.”
#3 Warm up and Recover
Frank emphasizes that in addition to training properly for a race, you should always warm up before and recover after. He does a warm up run before any race, whether it be a 5k or 100 miler. He never starts cold. The day after a race he will go for an easy recovery run to loosen his legs and prevent stiffness.
#4 Self Care
Frank gets chiropractic adjustments and enjoys the occasional sports massage as needed. When asked about other self-care strategies, he says he has never caught on to any of the sports performance trends. He doesn’t go to hydration lounges or use any designer nutrition products. He credits his wife’s fabulous cooking for keeping him fit and healthy. And to this day, the only race nutrition he uses is flat Coke and water.
No End In Sight
Now in his mid-seventies, Frank can be found running daily on the roads and trails of Reno. While he can still keep pace with the speedsters, he’s equally happy to run alongside a newbie. Frank continues to race and enjoy competitive success. He plans to run another ultramarathon in Summer 2020. His Hall of Fame Bio states, “Of all the superstar athletes featured in the American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame, Frank Bozanich has ultimately turned out to be the most durable.” To learn more about his running career, visit American Ultra Hall of Fame
If you have the opportunity to go for a run with Frank, I highly recommend it. If you need a sports massage afterward, you can come see me at Connective Touch Therapeutic Massage in South Reno.