Runner Greg Prom: At 77, lower miles but good knees, a sense of freedom

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Struggling with that New Year’s resolution to get fit? Stuck in a middle-aged, sedentary lifestyle? Need some inspiration? Then take a look at St. Anthony resident and marathoner Greg Prom. The septuagenarian began running when he was 45 and has never stopped.

Today, at 77, Prom says he’s competed in nearly 400 races, including about 65 long-distance marathons. What started out as an exercise routine has turned into a life-long passion for running.

Prom spent his career at Honeywell as an electrical engineer. When the company began a running group, he joined to get fit. “When I was in my 40s, Honeywell started a running club. I thought that sounded interesting, so I decided to join. We did a little bit of everything—track, short races, long races—but I liked the longer races.”

Besides running in every Twin Cities marathon, Prom has participated in other long-distance races. “I’ve run the Boston marathon twice, I’ve run the Disney marathon in Florida a couple of times. I’ve run the Cancun marathon in Mexico… San Francisco, Tucson, Chicago. The Marine Corps marathon in Washington DC—that was one of the nicer ones. But I probably like the Twin Cities marathon best of all. It’s a lot easier to do because I don’t have to travel. Grandma’s [in Duluth] is nice, too, I enjoy it up there.”

Prom trains all year long, and prefers to run outdoors, even in winter. If it’s extremely cold, he’ll run on the treadmill at home. “For my shorter runs, one of my favorite places to go is the local cemetery,” he says. “Sunset Cemetery. It’s convenient and at least part of the year there’s water and bathroom facilities at the golf course nearby. There’s not a lot of traffic there, and as I tell people, the residents haven’t complained.”

Prom says his health is excellent, although he has worn a pacemaker for about 25 years due to a hereditary condition that caused him to have a slow heart rate. “I’ve been very fortunate not to have any real heart problems or blood pressure problems,” he says. “So far the Lord has given me good knees, so I’ve been able to survive whereas a lot of people my age have to drop out [of running] because of knee problems.”

Age has caused Prom to make some modifications to his workout regimen. “I have cut down on mileage in the last years,” he says. “I figure at this age I don’t have to put in such high mileage. I used to do a couple thousand miles a year, and now I’m down to about 800 miles or so, plus the races.”

What does he like most about running? “The freedom,” says Prom. “There is a so-called ‘runner’s high,’ but I don’t notice that as much now as I used to. Running makes you feel good all around. It’s kept my weight down and my health good.”

Only one of Prom’s seven children has followed in his footsteps. “I’ve run a few races with my daughter,” he says. “Now I think we’re probably pretty close to the same speed, but before I was a lot faster. When I race I like to go all out. The Lord gave me a bunch of speed, and because of that I’ve been able to take first or second place in my age group for most races.”

Son Jim calls his father an inspiration. “He started running at 45 years old, and I think that is probably the most inspiring part,” he says. “You can turn around in your middle age, decide to do something and become the best at it. It might not be running—it might not even be a sport—but whatever you want to do, you can start at 45 and become the best at it.”

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