Catching up with Meredith Mills: Arete Masters Runner Extraordinaire

We are a diverse team of women who bond over our love of running and the strength that comes from working together to push ourselves and our teammates to overcome new physical and mental obstacles.

When we envisioned this team, we never pictured having such a stellar cast of masters runners (women over 40) or grandmasters (women over 50). We believe our all-star masters roster adds wisdom, perspective, and tenacity. These women are our daily role models who remind us that if we foster our love of team, health, and humor, our passion for running will blossom through the years.

We are grateful to learn from Stanford University professional and team grandmaster standout 60-year-old Meredith Mills. Meredith is fast, hilarious, bright, and keeps us all on our toes.

Enjoy our interview with Meredith Mills!

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Tell us a little about yourself and your background with athletics and running.

My sister, who is a year younger than me likes to joke that I started running when I could walk so I guess technically I started to be an athlete and runner when I was one!  In grade school I competed in all comers meets (yes, they had those back in the day) and then I started to run more competitively in junior high and was recruited to an AAU team (this is before USATF).  In high school we did not have a girls track team as Title IX had not kicked in yet, so the only opportunity girls had to compete was on a AAU team.   I had some really excellent coaching and had a wonderful experience running with some fast and furious ladies – including several Olympians and went to Nationals four years in a row, the first year in the 400 meters then moved up to 800 meters. I also ran cross country and a marathon during that time.

I went to UCSB as a freshman and had no plans to compete as they did not have a track team but then found out because of Title IX they had just organized one and was able to walk on to both the cross country and track team – still as an 800 meter runner and an occasional 400 meter hurdler.    After college I got married and started having kids (3) and I just ran really to stay in shape – about 20 miles/week and I would still race (mostly 5ks).  It wasn’t until my mid-40s that I took up marathoning after a 28 year hiatus.  I joined a team – West Valley Track Club.  Many of my closest friends are still the women on that team.   I think the excitement and camaraderie with those women is really what made racing fun still.  There is nothing better than a long run with good company!

Many of us are inspired by you because at age 60, you are running incredibly strong and consistent. In fact you’re faster than many women half your age! What’s your secret? How have you managed to stay fit, strong, healthy, and competitive through the years?
I think the biggest secret is consistency and cross training.  I have always made time to work out; it is just part of who I am and part of my day.  It is nice to have a habit that is good for you!   I realized after college that I did not have to run a ton to stay fit, but I needed to get out there at least 3 or 4 days/week, get some kind of speed workout in,  and swim or do some other cross training the other days.
How has your relationship with running evolved over the years?
Funny, I still just love it and I love competing but at 60 what I really love is how fit it keeps me!
Some younger runners might dread the time when their age catches up to them and they are no longer “fast like they once were.” What’s your advice to those runners to make that a positive transition?
On one hand be realistic about what you are capable of and respect the aging process, but also don’t sell yourself short and think age is going to be such a limiting factor – I had PRs in the marathon (3:15) and half marathon (1:29:55) when I was in my 50s.
What’s your advice to masters runners who want to remain competitive and in the mix?
Definitely run with a team and get a coach (most everyone reading this is already doing that).  Make sure you still race to keep you in the spirit.
What motivates you to lace up and race? 
I love the excitement and vibe at races and love to see what I can do out there.
What would you tell your 30 year old runner self? 
Be patient, as you have a whole lifetime of running ahead of you.
You turned 60 years old last year. Do you have any new running goals in this decade ahead?  Next decade? 
Ha!  Wow, it would be great to just still be running (and alive) at 70.
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Quick takes:
Favorite place to run: Nisene Marks Forest, Aptos
Best race to date:  4th place in my age group at Boston in 2008. This year it would be the she.is.beautiful 5K (Editor’s note: 8th overall – out of 1100+ women, 1st place age group,  21:33 finishing time. Age-graded: 17:10)
Best running memory so far:  I have so many but maybe the American River 50 miler that I did just before turning 50 – 9 hours of running and totally loving every minute of it in a beautiful setting.
Being 60 rocks because…Others have pretty low expectations of you.
I don’t leave the house without…my underwear.
Best part of being on a team:  Camaraderie and getting to know such wonderful people.
Cheers,
Meredith
Thanks, Meredith! We love having you on our team!
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