WTOC Senior Active: Dr. Joe Nettles - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

WTOC Senior Active: Dr. Joe Nettles

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

There was a time when Dr. Joe Nettles didn't appreciate what he came to know as a healthy addiction.

"I'd have patients who would come in with running injuries and they'd say it just hurts when I run,'' says the retired orthopedic surgeon. "And I couldn't understand it. I'd say so quit running stupid, next patient.''

But 35 years ago, he got started like most runners, one step at a time.

"I'd huff and puff for a quarter of a mile before I'd give out," said Nettles. "And then I'd go fall out on the couch.''

But Nettles has been separated himself from most runners ever since with almost 100 marathons completed and even more awards demonstrating both his commitment and ability in something that has been as much a lifestyle as a hobby.

"You get hooked on it and you realize when you're not running to keep your endorphin levels up, you're missing out on something,'' he says. "You don't realize it until you don't have it.''

Dr. Nettles originally hit the roads on a challenge from a former colleague who wanted him to try running for two months.

"I did it,'' he says, "just to shut him up.''

And he had an equally accidental introduction to racing when, looking through the window of the operating lounge at the old St. Joseph's Hospital, he saw a Savannah St. Patrick's Day race starting.

"I said, well that looks like fun,'' said Nettles. "I just ran in my scrub clothes. I almost killed myself, but I did it and I had so much fun that I took it up on a regular basis.''

Soon, he was among the best in his age group, as he has continued to be for three decades.

And although he runs and races less now, he still enjoys both as much as ever.

"I realize it's the easiest way to keep fit,'' he says. "You just eat what you want and don't worry about gaining too much weight. But mostly, it's that feeling of well-being that you have that you miss when you don't.'' 

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