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Bush runs to tackle terror

Washington, Aug. 23 (Reuters): President George W. Bush started jogging decades ago to cure hangovers, but now running helps him take the war on terrorism in stride.

“It’s interesting that my times have become faster after the war began,” Bush said in an interview in the October issue of Runner’s World magazine which goes on sale in September.

“They were pretty fast all along, but since the war began, I have been running with a little more intensity. And I guess that’s part of the stress relief I get from it,” Bush said.

“For me the psychological benefit is enormous. You tend to forget everything that’s going on in your mind, and just concentrate on the time, distance or the sweat.” Bush, a 56-year-old fitness fanatic who neither drinks nor smokes and has a cardiovascular system in the top 1 per cent for men his age, has stuck to a rigorous workouts despite the burdens of being commander-in-chief after September 11.

He tries to run 5 km in under 21 minutes six days a week. There are a treadmill, elliptical trainer, weights and an outdoor track at the White House. Air Force One has a treadmill and there is usually one in his hotel rooms on the road.

“It helps me clear my mind,” Bush told the magazine after the President’s Fitness Challenge, a 5 km race he organised for White House staff and others in June. “In essence, it keeps me young.”

The cover story, titled Leader of the Pack, says an out-of-shape Bush began running in 1972.

“Back then, I was a man who was known to drink a beer or two,” he said. “And over time, I’m convinced that running helped me quit drinking and smoking.”

“If you’re drinking too much, and you’re running to cure a hangover, pretty soon you have to make a choice. Do you want to keep getting a hangover, or do you want to feel the way you do after a run'” he told the magazine. At his last annual physical examination on August 6, doctors found little evidence that leading the war on terrorism was taking its toll, declaring him “in extraordinary health.”

Tests showed Bush’s dedication to running had paid off, elevating his cardiovascular fitness from the top 2 per cent of men his age in 2001 to the top 1 percent this year.

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