That’s the life strategy that 63-year-old Bill Schultz lives by. Bill loves to run. He started running in 1978 and hasn’t stopped since.
Bill’s passion for ultra-distance running began innocently enough in 1981–the feeling of success that came from longer and further distances became a personal accomplishment. Soon, he was setting records in long distance races. In 1990, Bill took a leave of absence from his job as a fifth-grade teacher to run across the United States. He didn’t have sponsors. He didn’t have a lofty cause to stand behind. Bill ran not only as a test for himself, but also for his students. One of Bill’s lessons to his students: If you do the homework and prepare well, the test is easy.
“Many adults tell kids, ‘Try to do your best, you can do it,’ but kids don’t always see others doing that or their parents doing that,” Bill said. “I didn’t want to just say those words to my students–I wanted to show that I could do it.”
Bill’s journey began at the Pacific ocean in California by dipping a toe in the water to touch off his personal race. He estimated it would take him 100 days to reach the east coast. He had no doubt in his mind he would succeed. He was logging over 4,000 miles a year and had previously set an American record at a six-day race. “I was prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally,” Bill said. “I interviewed people, looked at charts, and did a lot of work to prepare. Once I left the west coast, I put my right foot forward, then my left, and repeated it.”
Ninety-five days later, Bill put his foot in the Atlantic ocean and triumphantly celebrated the completion of his cross-country dream.
And Bill continued to run.
Seven years ago, Bill (a vegetarian for 30 years) was sidelined by double bypass surgery. Running was the last thing on his mind while being wheeled into surgery. “I was thinking about living,” Bill said. “If I could run again that was a bonus.”
Once Bill recovered, he was hitting the pavement again, one foot after another. At the age of 62, The seasoned competitor set a record at the Six Day race in his age division.
During a recent, routine checkup, a blood test showed a compromised immune system. Despite this new health challenge, Bill continues to run.
“To achieve success, you have to pick an attainable goal and get it–that’s different that a dream–a dream is something you wish you could do. With a goal, you can write them down–step one, two, three, and four. If something comes up you have to back up and do 3a or 3b again or go around to achieve it. Keep the carrot in front of the donkey. There’s nothing like success, even small successes. If someone is losing weight and they lose one pound, that’s success.”
Bill is aiming for his 1,000 mile recognition at the next Six Day race in December. As long as he can, he intends to enjoy his passion to run. What fuels him in every aspect if his life is a five-line piece of inspiration he coined:
May the sun forever shine upon your face
May the wind forever blow upon your back
May your goals forever be in sight
May your beliefs forever give you strength
May your spirit forever run free
“That has been good for me–it gives me direction and energy,” Bill said. “That’s my therapy. I’ve written those five lines many times–especially for kids who graduate. I also share it on Facebook.”
Enjoy your day. May your spirit forever run free.
Karen Putz is an author, speaker, and Passion Mentor who helps others unwrap their passions at any age. For fun, she walks on water with the assistance of a rope, boat, and driver. Connect with Karen via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her website: Ageless Passions.