Actor Bruce Dern, sounding suitably gravelly, excitable and, as ever, a little unnerving, was being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. I remember him fondly from Hitchcock’s final movie, Family Plot, although there was nothing especially remarkable about his performance, just solid and certainly not ham fisted.He talked passionately and intensely about understatement, his craft, his new movie, Nebraska, his daughter. The following exchange at the very end caught my attention.
Terry Gross: You’re a marathon runner. Do you still run?
Bruce Dern: Every day.
Gross: How far?
Now I try and get a half-hour but sometimes because I compete at 800 meters and 1500 meters, I don’t have to do as much mileage. So in 20 minutes or 30 minutes I can do a bunch of real fast-slow interval-type training and stay in shape to do what I do. In my life, I think they say I’ve run about 104,000 miles, which is four times around the world. And just to give you an idea of how sick I was. . .
He then describes how he begin running long, insanely long, distances, culminating in a run from Santa Monica to Denver (“Every day, 40 miles a day.”)
“How much did it hurt?” Gross asked. He audibly grumbled. “I didn’t hurt but I realized I was diseased.” They both laughed. He continued:
I’ve run all my life. . . I’ve never felt any endorphins or a runner’s high, or whatever they’re looking for. And I time every damn run I ever take, even if I run to the store, I’ll time [myself]. It’ll take me seven minutes. I’ll try to come back in 6:50. It’s just whatever it is. I try not to time anything else in my life but I do time when I run. And what it’s done for me is it’s given me a feeling that in an emergency and we’re all hurt, I can go for help.