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Masters Spotlight - Nolan Shaheed


He is smooth, fluid, energetic and he never skips a beat. They are just a few ways to characterize Nolan Shaheed. And the description refers to his performance on the track as well as in the music studio.

The 2013 USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships showcase a range of athletes similar to Shaheed - dominant in competition and accomplished away from the track. The 12th edition of the meet, the Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships begin today and run through Sunday at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Center in Landover, Md.

Shaheed has been competing in masters indoor and outdoor events for more than 20 years. When he turned 50, his passion for running hit a new high and proved to be a turning point in his career.

Shaheed’s long list of accolades includes world records for masters age groups between M50 through M60 and multiple American records.

As time has passed and Shaheed has more experience, the old adage “less is more” is actively displayed in his training regime. During his younger days, he would train until the brink of exhaustion, then run another quarter of a mile or full mile depending on the day’s workout.

Rigorous practice eventually took its toll on his 5-foot-9, 123-pound frame, even during some meets. He desired to have more energy to finish races, but admitted some energy may have been utilized during practice sessions.

Now at age 63, he understands the power of the mind and letting the body heal naturally with rest. Fifteen years ago, he would run 20 laps at a pace of 65 seconds. Today, he stops at 12 at the same pace.

Shaheed’s new system has proven to be successful. Last season, he established a new world record and a new American record. In January of 2012, he eclipsed his own record in the indoor mile at the Hartshorne Masters Mile in Ithaca, N.Y., with a mark of 4:50.95.

One month later, Shaheed broke another record. This time, he achieved an American outdoor record in the 3,000m with a time of 9:57.46. Despite besting the old record by 14 seconds, he aspired for the world record.

As with most runners, diet serves a vital part when competing. Shockingly, the former top-ranked masters runner only eats one meal a day while he is training for an upcoming meet. More shockingly, when he is not training his food consumption is cut in half, to one meal every other day. July is designated as the month he takes off from training.

When he is not destroying the competition running, he spends time playing his trumpet in Pasadena, Calif., where he was born and raised. Shaheed has performed with some of the world’s best and most respected artists, including Natalie Cole, Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder.

In fact, playing the trumpet is his first love and introduced him to running. Distance running  improved his sound quality and breathing during practices and concerts. Shaheed’s elementary band teacher casually mentioned those positive side effects during a practice session and he ran with it.

Shaheed loves running and will continue to participate in competitions as long as his body permits. As for this weekend, alongside more than 1,000 athletes that are competing in Landover, Shaheed will take his best attempt at more records when he competes in the men’s 60-64 age-group in the 800m, mile and 3,000m.

Joey Lamar
Communications Intern
USA Track & Field

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