Regaining his health and easing his mind
Name: Richard Crum
“Running is a way to put more distance between you and death.”
Background: Richard Crum grew up in New Mexico. In high school, he set a pole vault record of 13.5 feet and was the 1972 state decathlon champion. He later coached high school soccer, basketball and track for 20 years. His children all participate in sports, too. “I didn’t want my family to sit around and be couch potatoes,” he says. Crum taught English for 10 years and has a master’s degree in education. His book, “Relentless,” tells of his son Dax, an incredible basketball player despite having one hand.
The Challenge: In 2001, caring for his wife became his first priority; his own health was ignored. “I didn’t exercise for about three years,” says Crum. She passed away from cancer in 2004. He remarried, but lost his second wife to cancer in February of 2010. The stress of those anguished years and the weight he gained took a toll on him. He started having chest pains. In January of 2011, he was in the beginning stage of heart disease. Having a stent put into his LAD coronary artery caused a heart attack. “It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest,” he recalls. “That’s no exaggeration.”
The Turning Point: “My cardiologist told me I needed to get skinny,” Crum says. He follows a book about preventing and reversing heart disease, and has lost 40 pounds. There are three food groups for Crum — vegetables, fruits, and grains. He’s given up his beloved peanut M&M’s and says it’s worth it. He jogs three days a week, beginning with stretches to warm up, and ending with “a serious sprint.” He claims, “You start running and you forget about your stresses.”
Staying Motivated: Crum has five grown children and one teenage daughter to live for. He also has a frightening memory that makes unhealthy lifestyles unattractive. “I see it every day — men who haven’t experienced a heart attack eat anything placed in front of them,” he says. “I don’t ever want to experience one again.”
Goals: Crum took 2nd place in the 100-meter sprint at the state’s senior Olympics. “I was almost the fastest old man in Arizona,” he quips. He plans to compete in that event again next year, and perhaps be the fastest.