GERING — Bill Watts, author of the book “Running for the Average Joe,” will speak at the pasta feed at the Marathon Expo Sept. 27 as part of the Monument Marathon event.
A 1976 graduate of Chadron High School, Watts shares a fascinating story of how he became a runner.
Watts has worked in the IT department for Arapahoe County, Colorado, for the past 34 years and lives in Centennial, Colorado.
“Back in 2001 I was in a supervisory role at work and gained about 35 pounds in six months,” he said. “My blood pressure, cholesterol level and about every health indicator was out of control.”
Having a hard time climbing the stairs at work, Watts decided to lose the weight and get into some kind of healthy activity — like running.
“I couldn’t run a half-lap around the track at first before I got winded and thought I was going to pass out,” he said. “A work buddy who had run in lots of marathons said I just needed to get out there and run a few laps to get started.”
Starting on New Year’s Day in 2002, he stayed with the program of running as much as he could. Six months later he was back to a healthy weight and decided to sign up for the Bolder Boulder 10K run, although he admitted he wasn’t sure he could finish.
While he didn’t complete the run in the time he wanted, Watts still felt good about his health in general. So he started signing up for more 10K events, then on to half-marathons, full marathons and ultra-marathons.
During training, he runs an average of 50-75 miles a week. While many of his runs have been in Colorado, he’s also participated in events in 32 states.
Watts took some time off from running after Achilles’ surgery in 2017, but was back in 2018 for the Colter Run in Chadron and more marathons. He also completed the 486-mile Colorado Trail run through the San Juan Mountains.
“I attempted to run it again this year but it was raining every day in the mountains,” he said. “After five days I developed blisters because my supposedly waterproof shoes weren’t, so had to give it up.”
Watts still keeps busy with running. He recently completed a103-mile event in Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah.
Aside from running, his 2017 book, “Running for the Average Joe,” has been a big success and is now in its third edition. The idea came about from when Watts first started looking for books on running.
“When I started investigating running books, I wasn’t finding any that were for average runners like me,” he said. “Most of them were for people that could run five- and six-minute miles. I wasn’t that person. And because I couldn’t find anything, I decided to write my own.”
It took about three years of research to complete, but Watts covers training plans, diet programs, dealing with injuries, and an in-depth look at the physiology and psychology of running.
“The psychology of running is mind over matter in convincing yourself the average person really can do this kind of stuff,” he said. “It’s a lifetime commitment, not just a fad or a diet.”
Ultra-marathon runner Marshall Ulrich, who’s completed the Badwater 135-mile event in Death Valley 21 times, wrote the book forward for his friend:
“Having been a runner for over 37 years, I thought I knew a lot about running. But Bill has taken every aspect of running, physiologically and mentally, then dissected it, examined it, and related it to us in a useful way,”
Watts will speak in the Gering Civic Center during the Monument Expo, coming up Sept. 27, the day before the eighth annual Monument Marathon. His talk is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. during the pasta feed. Runners, family and the public are invited to hear him address “What motivates you?”
“A lot of runners are looking for motivation,” Watts said. “They think the only people who can run marathons are gifted athletes and that’s just not true.”
More information can be found on his website at wattsrunning.com.