The Army made him do it


Exercise: Wilson Truehart had to run when he was in the service and he's been doing it ever since.

Health & Fitness

January 16, 2000|By Nancy Menefee Jackson | Nancy Menefee Jackson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Army's slogan is "Be all that you can be," but Wilson Trueheart had no idea that, in his case, it meant be a runner.

Trueheart never played sports in high school or college, but when he joined the Army, nearly two decades ago, he had to run.

"I started in the Army because you have to run; you have to do a two-mile run for time."

He found he liked it. "I started going out on my own, and I started getting faster than everybody else. So I got serious about it."

After the army, he started entering races, mostly 5Ks and 10Ks and half-marathons. He ran one marathon in 1993. Now at 51, with his Army days long behind him, he's still running.

Trueheart is a benefits and entitlements technician for the Social Security Administration. He works downtown, and two nights a week on the way home he stops by Brick Bodies on Charles Street to work out. He concentrates on his abdominal muscles, and on weight lifting to build his upper body strength. "I believe I'm pretty fit, but it's hard to get a lot of bulk," he says.

But running still is his passion, and which is why he still runs every night except Friday, his night off. If it's not a gym night, he goes home, enjoys a vegetarian dinner, and then runs five to six miles. On Sundays he'll run eight or nine miles.

He still competes, often winning in his age group. Lately, though, he says he seems to be doing better at the longer races, 8Ks and 10Ks, rather than the 5Ks that used to be his strong suit. He's even begun thinking about doing another marathon.

His most recent race was a six-mile race at Lake Montebello Dec. 18, sponsored by the Baltimore Roadrunners, of which he is a member. He finished eighth overall.

Trueheart, who lives in Belair-Edison, likes to run on the high school track at Archbishop Curley, or at Lake Montebello. There, he's likely to run into four or five guys who run in the same races. He enjoys running a couple of laps with them, and comparing notes.

The social side of racing appeals to Trueheart. "You meet a lot of people, and you get to talk to the same people. It's sort of like a party afterward.'

The spirit and camaraderie make up for running in all kinds of weather. Races are held in the snow -- like the one he ran in last St. Patrick's Day -- and in the pouring rain. "I've had a couple of those," Trueheart says.

Trueheart, who is 5-feet-6 and 140 pounds, is a strict vegetarian, eschewing not just meats but dairy products as well. To get the necessary protein, he eats a lot of nuts, beans and tofu. "It's hard to keep a lot of muscle on," he says.

He became interested in a vegetarian diet after reading about it. "I just thought it would be a healthy thing. I was reading things, and everything pointed me in that direction." At first he gave up pork, then beef and chicken. Fish was last.

"I've been doing that since 1982," he says. "So it's worked out pretty good now." It's certainly kept him fit into his 50s. At 51, he plans to continue his running and racing schedule, although as he gets older, "maybe I might race a little less." But his immediate plans will find him racing again on St. Patrick's Day and hoping for nicer weather.

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