Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Resolution: Strength Training to Conquer the Overhead Bin Lift

December’s last run on O’ahu and first run in Wisconsin resulted in the expected temperature jolt. With running gear adaptable to both climates, I was prepared for the transition from balmy upper 70’s in Makakilo to breezy lower 20’s along the Rock River.

Post-run on O'ahu

Post-run on O’ahu

trail along Rock River

Rock River Parkway Trail near family holiday stop in Wisconsin

Because this trip was planned for two distinctly different climates, I was doubly pleased to include everything needed for a multi-stop sojourn in a single carry-on bag and a roomy handbag. Sportswear designers deserve some of the credit for my efficient packing. Much of my running gear can now be combined with street clothing. Running skirts and dresses, leggings, and a running shirt (preferably one without a list of sponsors across the back) along with a wrap will take you to dinner and out for a run in the morning.

As a frequent traveler, I’ve worked to rethink what must absolutely be included in a packing list.  Self-sufficiency in handling baggage is important as circumstances will sometimes dictate when you – and only you – will be elected to get your worldly traveling goods from Point A to Point B. The always increasing checked baggage fees are an added impetus for this frugal traveler to lighten up.

My packing plan seemed flawless until I boarded the first flight. Lifting my carry-on to waist and chest height: no problem. Lifting it over my head: not happening.

English: Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340...

English: Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340-600 aircraft (economy class). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fortunately, a fellow traveler with upper body strength to spare and about a 10 inch advantage in stature made short work of settling my bag into its space. Ever grateful for the help of strangers when I travel, this experience told me that with my bag packed about as heavy as the airline allows, my upper body strength was not equal to the task.

I was not put to the test again as a full flight out of Honolulu led to a request that some carry-on’s be tagged at the gate. I quickly complied, slipping my laptop out before my carry-on was handed-off. On the last leg of the journey, my husband joined me on the flight and made short work of stowing our carry-ons.

Still, this is a message that I need to heed. Do we loose muscle mass as we age?  Yes.  Can we take action to diminish that loss?  I think so. I admit upper body work and strength training in general takes a back seat to my mileage needs as a distance runner. A trade-off to spend time doing strength training when I could be experiencing the pure joy of running in the outdoors is a tough one, but one that it’s time to address.

Strength Training

Strength Training (Photo credit: Rtist MrB)

My strength training goal for 2013:  Build upper body strength to a point where I can single handedly lift a carry-on into overhead storage.

I’m all ears on advice from anyone who has a workout or a plan for a senior runner who would rather log miles than lift weights.

With gratitude that I’m still running, I’m wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy and Active New Year.

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6 Comments»

  Mind Margins/Run Nature wrote @

This is one of my goals as well.

  marylouharris wrote @

If you have a training plan, please share. I’ll be looking at some and talking to one of the trainers at my fitness center.

  rachelbeginshere wrote @

my advice would be incorporate upper body strength moves where you least expect it…for example grab some bracelet weights and strap them on before a run…try yoga (surprisingly strengthening)… push ups are a good start… and any strength/cardio class at your local gym should keep you entertained.

  marylouharris wrote @

Thanks, Rachel. The push-ups are my first go-to. And, you remind me that I have been away from yoga for too long. I’ll check out some of the nearby schedules. BTW, really enoyed your post on Cooking Essentials.

  rachelbeginshere wrote @

thank you!
good luck to you

  Running in these Golden Years | Still a Runner wrote @

[…] MORE STRENGTH TRAINING -If you’ve successfully avoided the weight room – or the family room floor with its soft carpet and space for pushups and planks – do yourself a favor and allocate some time.  Hollmann says greater muscle mass help our joints withstand the impact of running.  Strength training also speeds up our metabolism, and who doesn’t want a speedier metabolism?    (I wrote earlier about my moment of reckoning with loss of strength (Conquer the Overhead Bin.) […]


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