Volker Rose is a scientist and a runner.
Aged 52, the German-born American can tell you that “using Route 66, I live exactly 26.2 miles from the start line of the Chicago Marathon.”
If that wasn’t enough of a reason for Volker to get into running, he had plenty more motivators along the way.
His wife Petra inspired him to lace up after seeing her finish the Bank of America Chicago Marathon back in 2014.
“It’s impossible not to feel the thrill as you watch thousands of athletes running through the streets of Chicago supported by enthusiastic spectators. I wanted to be part of that experience, but not just as a spectator.
“I am a scientist 24/7 so I am someone who keeps records. I know that my running career started on the week of 29 December, 2014 and I ran a total of 4.1 miles. About nine months after watching Petra in Chicago, two days after my 46th birthday, I ran the first race of my life which was a 10-mile trail race and there was no looking back from there.”
Before running became his passion, Volker had grown up playing soccer, ice hockey and ballroom dancing but when he reached his 40s he didn’t have a structured exercise routine and was considered overweight. Watching in Chicago gave him the drive to start moving again.
“I did not just dive into marathon racing. Instead, I built up slowly and consistently over a period of 17 months. After feeling ready and well prepared, I ran a small local marathon in the Chicago area in May of 2016. With a time of 3:12 I was able to qualify for the Boston Marathon, probably the most prestigious Major that I have run every year since then. I ran my first Major - Chicago - in the fall of 2016, finishing with a time of 3:09, improving my position for the 2017 Boston Marathon to the first wave of runners.”
Having tasted the experience of Chicago and Boston, Volker decided he wanted to run all six Majors.
“The six Abbott World Marathon Majors are the most renowned marathons in the world that attract the best elite athletes, the best sub-elite runners, as well as the largest crowds offering endless support along the way. Each of these Majors is a dream come true for a runner like me.
“I achieved my Six Star Finisher's medal in London last year. I am so very happy to have achieved my athletic goals, running all six Majors with an average time of less than three hours. However, being a Six Star Finisher doesn’t mean that anything came to an end. It’s more like profit-taking in the stock market: take the gains today and be ready to re-invest. Indeed, this is what I did. I am currently very invested in my training for the Boston Marathon this month, and two more Majors are already on my race calendar for the fall.”
London 2021 wasn’t only a Six Star moment for Volker, he was also representing the United States in the AbbottWMM Wanda Age Group World Championships.
“The 2021 London Marathon was a turning point for me. Thanks to the well-thought-out and effectively implemented COVID-19 protocols, in-person marathons became possible again. The international running family came back, celebrating the joy of the sport once again.
“I went well prepared into the race, knowing this would be my first London Marathon and my sixth Major and the World Championships. To me, it was a big honor to be part of the Championships. I invested about 180 hours of running and strength training over a period of 18 weeks to get ready. Luckily, I was able to obtain a new personal best by finishing the race with a time of 2:49:21.
The race week started with a wonderful welcome reception in the beautiful Southwark Cathedral and concluded with a big celebration party for Six Star Finishers and Championships participants. It was a memorable event where athletes from all over the world celebrated their personal achievements as well as the first Age Group Champions.”
Other than a well-thought out approach to his running and natural talent, what else does Volker credit his success to?
“There is no successful running without a strong support structure. First of all, there is the incredible support of my wife and my three kids. They never complain about me hitting the road for hours on my long runs. On the contrary, they celebrate any athletic achievement together with me. Sharing the excitement of running with others, particularly my family, is the biggest motivator.
“The second driver is my running club, the Fast Track Racing Team, where I have found so many running friends of all ages, abilities, and goals. There is so much to learn from other runners (and not just from the ones who are faster than you). The team spirit and support allow you to reach goals that otherwise would be inaccessible.”
Now that he has the Six Star Medal, Volker is not resting on his achievements. Instead he wants to carry the momentum forward into round two.
“I am a Six Star Finisher, but in no way do I feel that I have “completed” the Majors. Of course, I cherish the opportunity I had to run the six Majors, but now I also look forward. This is very similar to how I approach life in general: it can be rewarding to celebrate past achievements, but it is more important to reflect and learn from the past in order to shape the future. For my running this means that I analyze my racing and keep my focus on improving my future performances at the Majors.”
With Boston less than two weeks away, Volker is fully focused on the task at hand.
“Training for the Boston Marathon in the Chicago area provides its own challenges. Blizzards and dangerously low temperatures over the winter sometimes leave only the treadmill as a viable option. I prefer running in hot temperatures, so for me winter training can be harsh.
“My primary goal for Boston is to execute my training well. I am in total control of that aspect. This also includes recovery and nutrition during the training cycle. My goal on race day can be summed up as 'run to win'.
"By that I don’t mean to cross the finish line first, instead, to me 'run to win' means to be the best runner on race day that I can be. In Boston, based on my current training and if well executed, a new personal best is in reach.”
*Always consult a physician and get a full health evaluation prior to marathon training. Even if athletes appear healthy after treatment or surgery, or to have a disorder under control, underlying medical conditions could exist.
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