Trucks at Work

The Iron Man

"Running is one of the best solutions to a clear mind." --Sasha Azevedo, athlete

I met Jack Dwyer, oh, nearly 15 years ago now at one of the many trucking shows we reporters cover for a living and quickly stuck the nickname "Iron Man" on him. At the time an avid marathoner, Jack would somehow regularly clock in 10- to 15 -mile training runs despite the long days and nights us hacks faced when we attended these conventions.

I met up with him once, outbound on a morning jog (more like plodding, actually) in Arizona, while he was coming off a 10 miler. He hung with me for a couple of miles and I just couldn't believe the pace he could set -- and keep -- after logging in that kind of distance. He didn't pound out those kinds of miles every day, of course, but he didn't slack off on the road either -- he kept to a solid routine, despite his travel schedule, and it really paid off healthwise for him.

I mean, here was a guy in his 60s with the energy and looks of someone in his 40s -- lithe, not a spare pound of flesh on him, able to run circles around me, then in my mid-20s. He pulled the same brutal hours everyone else did, but his high level of physical fitness enabled him to hold up better than most -- especially in terms of maintaining the mental agility needed for writing stories on the fly.

A great story I got about him was the time he took the train down from his home to run in the Boston marathon. He walked from the train station to the starting line, ran 26.3 miles, then walked down to the now-closed Eliot Lounge for a post-race party, walked back to the train station and then went home. THAT, my friends, is the definition of endurance.

I relate Jack 'Iron Man' Dwyer's tale because it proved to me that physical fitness really does matter -- exercise really DOES provide the health benefits all the doctors keep telling us about. Now, this doesn't mean drivers must start clocking in 15 milers every day. What it does mean is that with some creative planning and a willingness to stick with it, staying healthy on the road is not only possible, it can sustain you for the long term. I myself am trying to stick to Jack's method -- though at most I cover 5 miles on a run or speed walk, I try to exercise every day, especially on the road. And I find exercise helps sustain me when I travel, not only in terms of physical health but mental clarity as well.

I talked with Jack not long ago and he told me he's given up marathoning -- and most other running -- now, instead volunteering at marathons and half-marathons and going to the local Gold's Gym for a one-hour workout almost every day. He's still sticking to his schedule, though the form of exercise he uses has changed. My hope is that I can stick with it, too, and end up looking like him when I am in my 60s.