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Jim Rideout, 61, of Yarmouth set a new age-group record in the 800 metres at the recent Athletics Nova Scotia provincials in Stellarton.
Jim Rideout, 61, of Yarmouth set a new age-group record in the 800 metres at the recent Athletics Nova Scotia provincials in Stellarton. - Contributed

A couple of years ago, Yarmouth resident Jim Rideout made up his mind to get back in shape.

“I decided I wanted to start running again,” he recalled. “It just felt like the right thing to do. I was not fit, and feeling it, and I decided I’d like to get fit.”

Four decades earlier, Rideout had been one of Nova Scotia’s best runners. In 1973 and ’74, he set records in the 800 and 1,500 metres and represented the province several times at the national level in both track and cross-country, including the ’73 Canada Games in Burnaby, B.C.

He competed for a couple of years or so after the Canada Games. In the years that followed, he continued to run, “off and on ...  I did the odd road race but nothing regular or serious.”

Fast-forward to this summer’s Athletics Nova Scotia provincial championships in Stellarton, where Rideout, now 61, was returning to one of his old distances – the 800 metres – with the goal of setting a new age-group record for 60-to-64-year-olds. He had planned this for months.

The record of 2:53.35 had stood since 2002. When Rideout crossed the finish line – with the clock reading 2:50.11 – the record was his.

His thoughts on racing on the track again? “It was neat, kind of exciting,” he said.

Rideout had obstacles to clear before his return to running. He broke a kneecap in four pieces on Christmas Day 2009 and was laid up for the first half of 2010 as a result. He has dealt with arthritis in both knees and wears braces on both when running more than two kilometres.

He trains three times a week. “Mostly it’s 5K runs,” he said. ‘Sometimes easy, sometimes hard. Sometimes I throw in fast segments ... I don’t want to over-push it, so I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved on that little bit of training.”

His first race in many years was a 5K that he ran in Hawaii last year on his 60th birthday. This year, in early July, he ran 22:08 for 5K in Oxford. He is eyeing the 22-minute barrier, saying there might be an opportunity to break it within the next month or two.

Rideout says he’s had to readjust his approach to racing, saying, “It’s been an interesting learning experience.”

For those who might be thinking of taking up running – or perhaps returning to it – he suggests they follow something like the C25K (Couch to 5K) mobile app that he used.

“That would be the primary advice,” he said. “Make sure you’ve got a well laid-out program of some sort.”

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