Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Strength Training

Mandela – A Remembrance

Nelson Mandela once said that “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire.”  Mandela-sports-quoteSport does have the power to inspire, as did Mandela. Though boxing was his sport, he was also a cross-country runner. It was jogging that was his companion through 27 years in prison.  It’s reported he jogged seven miles of day, sometimes in a cell, sometimes in the prison courtyard.

English: Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robbe...

English: Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island Français : Cellule de Nelson Mandela, Robben Island Deutsch: Nelson Mandelas Gefängniszelle auf Robben Island Myanmasa: Robben Island (ရော်ဘင်ကျွန်း)ပေါ်ရှိ Nelson Mandela’s (နယ်လဆင် မန်ဒဲလား) ၏ထောင်အခန်း (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Early in the morning. Twenty-seven years, seven miles a day, jogging in limited space. Sometimes followed by push-ups. Early in the morning. Before work detail.

No Garmin to record those miles. A treadmill?  I doubt it.

This vision rather diminishes any discomfort or boredom on those days when ice and frigid temperatures make me see reason, opting to step on the treadmill. It offers blinking lights, measured miles, set pace, neat storage space for my water bottle. Disgruntled that my spirit can’t run free down the path along the river this day, I run the miles.  Not 7, but a few. Not years, but a day or two. Considering this, I am both in awe and feeling silly with the notion that such strength and focus can even be comprehended.
Sport – and Nelson Mandela – wil continue to inspire this runner.

Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993.

Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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On the Outside of 65+ with Outside advice

We’ve all picked up those magazines with “through the decades” articles.  Whether the topic is personal finance or skin care regimen, they generally begin with advice for each decade of your adult life, through 50 & beyond.  Since moving out of the 50’s decade I admit to taking umbrage with the “and beyond.”  Really, should I have the same plan at 60, 70, or 80 that I had at age 50?  Or, since there fewer of us beyond 60, do we cease to be a large enough part of the readership?

I recently opened the October issue of Outside Magazine and saw a by-the-decades series of articles on living your best life. Warily, I paged through, wondering if there was a decade for me. Starting at 0-20 (been there), on to 20-30 (been there),  30-40 (been there), 40-50 (been there), 50-65 (o.k., stretching those years a bit, been there) and finally, here we arrive at 65+. The + apparently indicates as long as we are sentient beings.

Within the 65+ segment, featured athletes include 79-year old Bill Iffrig (the Boston Marathoner knocked on his butt by shock waves from the bomb who then proceeded to the finish line), 

Bill Iffrig

Bill Iffrig 

80-year old Lew Hollander (a finisher of 50 Ironmans),

Lew Hollander

Lew Hollander

80-year old Yuichiro Miura

Yuichiro Miura

Yuichiro Miura

(the oldest person to climb Mount Everest), and 78-year old Harriet Anderson (a 12-time Kona AG winner).

 Harriet Anderson

Harriet Anderson

I object. Can’t we age 60-70 folks have our own segment where the grueling and impressive feats of those in their 70’s and 80’s don’t overshadow us? No? Well, I’ll go with it, since your recommendations for 65+ reinforce my own personal cobbled-together plan. Those include:

Osteoporosis Testing. Outside warns men they are not exempt from this quiet and debilitating disease.  (Yeah, we women get warnings from every direction and get tested, so this one specifically for men is warranted.)

Adding Resistance Bands to your Weight Lifting plan.

I’m onboard with this, having just replaced some worn bands with a fresh set with varying levels of resistance.images-5 The instructions with my recent purchase advised against using outdoors, but I do when I travel by car. They’re convenient to wrap around a lamp post or a tree in a rest area for a few assisted squats and stretches.  It breaks up a long ride.

Eat more Protein, fewer Carbs. Outside says that dietary guidelines call for at least a third of an ounce of protein per 2.5 pounds of body weight but note some experts think that’s not enough for we Baby Boomers.

I’ve read this in other sources and taken heed. I take in some protein shortly after most workouts, whether its running, weights or swimming.  My go-to protein is a shelf-safe boxed chocolate milk. Another favorite is dry roasted edamame, roughly 14 grams of protein in a small handful.  IMG_1275My current brand is GourmetNut.  Both items are convenient for post-workout and fit in the pocket of my gym bag.

Supplementals. 

Lots of information on this topic about vitamins and such, although the take-away was to get as much as you can of what you need from quality food loaded with nutrients, like those listed in Outside’s section for 30-40. Had we been eating those items consistently for the last 25 years (yes, I know some of you have) we would have a stronger base now.

The sci-fi blood spinning/youth pill stuff is interesting but it sounds like we in the 65+ group will be out-a-here before most become commonplace or affordable.

Overall, this issue is a good read with current information on how to stay healthy so that we can continue to go out and play.  Though much of the content of Outside is targeted to young men, the high quality of writing and interesting exploration of our natural surroundings appeals to this senior woman as well.  That quality writing includes an article in the October issue penned by 70-something Jim Harrison,images-6 author of books on the outdoors and many other topics that make life worthwhile.

So, Outside, thumbs up, although I’m still hankering for my own decade.  Is 60-70 too much to ask?

Running in these Golden Years

David Bowie told us nothing would touch us in these Golden Years.  I’m not sure he had aging runners in mind.

Nothings Gunna Touch You In These Golden Years

Nothings Gunna Touch You In These Golden Years (Photo credit: ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser)

For those of us blessed with any mix of good genes, healthy habits, and maybe a little luck in holding off age-related diseases, we’re still running.

For a refreshing dose of reality, I recently read Lena Hollmann’s article titled Running in the Golden Years. Hollman, a senior athlete, personal trainer and certified running coach, published her article in RRCA’s Spring/Summer Club Running.  

Beyond just showing up for runs, this coach says to get the most years and quality from our running, older runners need to take heed of age-related body changes and add the following areas to their fitness program:

barbell

barbell (Photo credit: MarkKoeber)

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.)

Balance

Balance (Photo credit: Canon in 2D)

MORE BALANCE WORK – Hollmann recommends exercise to maintain our balance – and here she includes flexibility. This could include some basic Yoga poses and/or dynamic stretching. I appreciate her examples because they can be done as I go about my day.  Have the microwave set at 2 minutes? Stand near the counter and do a tree pose.  Cooling your heels at the corner of walk & don’t walk? Do a few ankle raises while you wait. Longer warm-up times also help address the need to keep our flexibility.

Bike ride at sunset

Bike ride at sunset (Photo credit: dgarkauskas)

MORE RECOVERY TIME – Hollmann advocates for longer recovery times between workouts, but she doesn’t advocate lolling about on the sofa. She suggests instead a day of cross-training or some alternate cardio workout, maybe get out on the bike, or swim some laps.

Setting an example for working the three ‘mores’ above, Hollmann had an early career running track in the 1970’s and moved to distance running in the 1980’s.  She PR’d at the NYC Marathon in 1983 with a 2:44:10 and took 10th place in the 1984 Boston Marathon. She continues to successfully run today, competitive in her age group, and encouraging other senior runners to continue.

I’m on board for following her advice. How much ‘more’ any of us will need of course varies with the individual. I’m reminded every day that I can’t be complacent in maintaining my strength, flexibility, or my health in general.

Are other seniors out there doing more to maintain and support their running?  I sure hope so. I need the company out there on the road.

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.