Ken Rideout is living life as the best version of himself. After struggling with an opioid addiction, the “hobby jogger” from Boston began training with a purpose in 2010, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Running has brought the 51-year-old a wealth of medals in as far-flung places as Tokyo, where he came first with a time of just under 2½ hours in the 50-54 category. In fact, in a 17-month period, Rideout competed in London, New York, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, and the aforementioned Tokyo without ever placing less than second place.
M&F sat down with Ken Rideout to find out what motivates him to cross the marathon finish line.
“I originally got into endurance sports as a way to deal with an opioid addiction,” shares Rideout, who turned to drugs as an escape from an anxiety ridden career in finance.
For him, the addiction was more about escaping his feelings rather than partying, and it took his participation in a rehabilitation program to finally make him understand that he was trying to fill a void in a very self-sabotaging way. In contrast, running became a great way for Rideout to let off some steam in a more constructive manner and feels that it has become a newer, more positive addiction to embrace.
In training for an Ironman competition as part of his desire to get healthier, Rideout realized that he had huge potential as a runner. Then, right before he turned 50, that potential started to become an undeniable reality.
“I won the Myrtle Beach Marathon (finish time 2:30) the day before I turned 50,” he says. “I was happy to win but thought I could have run faster. What I’ve come to realize over the past several years is that the victory is great, but the process is the ultimate reward. I didn’t start running with a goal of winning races. I started running with a goal of being healthy, both mentally and physically.”
Ken Rideout Controls the Variables for Consistently Great Runs
Still, there’s a difference between training for a local marathon, as opposed to travelling internationally for one, like the London Marathon for example, where he came second but completed with a time that was one minute faster than his first place Boston Marathon effort.
“I like to get to international races at least a week prior to the race, to get my circadian rhythm aligned with local time at race,” says Rideout. “I’ll also try to control as many variables as possible such as diet, training and sleep. At the same time, I try to mimic the routine that I maintain when training at home.”
In terms of training, Rideout isn’t your typical runner. He has a blocky, muscular build from years of lifting weights, but he feels with some justification that strength training has helped him to become faster. “I train with weights three to four days per week, usually in the evening” he shares.
He adds: “I run first thing in the morning. My typical exercise routine includes pullups, bench press; incline and flat, barbell and dumbbells, always varying the routine slightly. I do situps, lots of kettlebell exercises, as well as variations of squat exercises for my legs. I think the strength work I’ve done has helped my body to stay strong late in marathons where most people start to break down and it has also helped me to absorb and recover from the miles that I’ve put in with running.”
Rideout believes that everyone should be working out in order to receive longevity. “I think you should take care of your physical and mental health like your life depends on it, because it does,” he says. “To me, that everyone should be doing some form of cardio and resistance training. I don’t know that my training program is right for everybody, but it works for me.”
Rideout says that he is feeling great. Around five years ago he was involved in a bike crash that required surgery on his hip, and he’s also had shoulder surgery as a result of falling in the snow, but he says that aside from the usual aches and pains that most runners can relate to, he has no intention of slowing down. “There’s something rewarding about experiencing some soreness,” he says. “It makes me feel alive and reminds me that I’m competing in life, not just participating. There’s a big difference between competing and participating.” And, when Rideout does suffer from muscle spasms or tight hamstrings, the gold medalist says that simple recovery methods like stretching, heat, ice, and the percussion massage gun work wonders.
Ken Rideout Uses the Right Supplements and Footwear to Get to the Finish Line
When it comes to footwear, Rideout wouldn’t be without his Reebok Floatride Energy X running shoes. “The Floatrides provide the perfect balance of cushioning, support and more importantly, responsiveness,” he says. “The cushioning and support really help to keep me healthy when I’m logging 100-mile weeks, and the responsiveness is great when I’m doing speed or tempo work.”
As for supplements, Rideout takes a protein and carbohydrate shake post run, every day, for recovery. He also drinks Athletic Greens and creatine. “I also take a daily multi-vitamin and fish oil,” he says. For support with sleeping, Rideout likes to take a Sleep Pak containing magnesium and theanine. He also likes to consume some beef bone broth daily. “Obviously, I think everybody should exercise on a regular basis, but particularly recovering addicts,” he shares. “Training and physical activity can serve as a great distraction from drugs. Physical activity can also become a source of pride. One thing most addict’s experience is a massive sense of shame and self-loathing and getting fit can help restore self-confidence.”
So, whether you are dealing with your own personal issues, or just need an inspiration like Rideout to help you lace-up those sneakers, the marathon champ has a final word for you: “Get busy living, or get busy dying! You don’t have to run marathons, but you should absolutely be doing some form of cardio and resistance training on a regular basis.” Got it? We’ll race you to the gym!