Mike McShane: Running, His Way

By J. Jody Kelly – January 1, 2014

For a runner who says, “I do everything wrong,” Mike McShane, 69, must be doing something right. After all, he runs a marathon nearly every year and has finished each 3M Half Marathon since its beginning in 1995.
When the 3M Half celebrates its 20th anniversary on January 19, McShane plans to celebrate his 20th finish. And, after finishing every Capitol 10K since 1978, he plans to race again on April 6 for the 37th time.

All the things McShane does “wrong” might make hard-core runners shiver, but they work for him. He wears cotton socks. He doesn’t take in anything but water during half marathons and marathons. He doesn’t train and drill with a group but simply runs in his neighborhood five days a week for an hour at a time, covering about five miles.
During training runs, he doesn’t focus on speed, drills, technique, nutrition, or any of the usual topics. Instead, McShane contributes to his award-winning career as a mechanical engineer at Motorola by working on designs in his head.

After retiring, McShane accepted an offer to return to Motorola part-time, so he works in the morning and runs in the afternoon, whether it’s 27 or 107 degrees outside. Heat and cold don’t bother him, but McShane says he prefers the heat. Perhaps most contrary to other runners, he buys only one pair of running shoes a year, getting 1,400 to 1,500 miles out of them.

The things McShane does “right,” however, would warm the heart of any coach. He never loses his base level of fitness because he runs consistently, month-in and month-out. In building up to half or full marathon distance, he finds it easy to increase his distance gradually until he’s ready for the race. His typical pre-race meal of spaghetti and meatballs squares up with the carbo-loading practice of many runners. Certainly his mental strength, motivation, and attitude toward running would find common ground with others who love to run. As McShane has aged, he notes that “getting out the door” is a little harder than it used to be, but he does it anyway. His consistency and experience have helped him prevent or recover quickly from illnesses and injuries. Anyone who says “I run so I can eat Blue Bell ice cream every night” knows the fun side of running as well as the health benefits.

Although McShane did a little running and played football as a kid, he didn’t become a regular runner until 1978. A torn ACL kept him away from athletics for a few years, but the idea of running the Capitol 10K appealed to him after he heard that some of his friends planned to run. Since then, a dedicated group of friends have enjoyed running every Cap 10K since its start. After finishing a longer race these days, McShane finds himself asking, “Why am I doing this?” But he keeps on running, and he has no plans to stop—after 3M, he will run the Austin Marathon on February 16.

In looking forward to the 3M Half, McShane says that he loves to see families running together. Parents who push strollers don’t bother him at all because he believes it’s important for everyone, from kids to elders, to stay fit. Although his wife Susie doesn’t run, she walks a lot and supports him during his training and racing. Their three adult sons and four grandchildren are also active.

One of the most important aspects of the 3M Half Marathon to McShane is the spectators who line the route and cheer for the runners. Since the course goes through several neighborhoods and the University of Texas campus, many Austin residents come out to shout and ring cowbells. Like everyone, McShane enjoys the net downhill aspect of the race, but the few uphills on the course don’t give him any trouble. He runs hills in his neighborhood all the time.

It’s not just in running that McShane’s way of doing things has paid off for him. Recently, he was inducted into the Mechanical Engineering Hall of Fame at the University of Texas, where he received his degree. His work on semiconductors and microelectronic packaging has garnered 33 patents with 20 more still pending, and he has published 20 technical papers. He has served as fellow, general chairman, and chairman of the board for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

If you have a smartphone, you can thank McShane for helping to develop some of the packaging and mounting devices inside. If you’re a runner, you can thank him for being an inspiration to the Austin running community.


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