Focus on the Process

I’ve been reading The Passion Paradox by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness.   It’s not a long book – 164 pages – but it’s packed with practical ideas and analogies.  Not a quick read.  In fact, after reading it once and putting it down for a few weeks, I picked it back up and am reading it again.  Am seeing more the second time through for sure!  That’s often the case with good books.  For the record, the authors are accomplished runners and coaches.  Magness ran a 4:01 mile in high school.  I’ve heard conversations with each of them on The Morning Shakeout Podcast with Mario Fraioli.  Both really solid, thoughtful guys, which led me to buying the book. The essence of the book is that passion can be the fuel to do great things.  It can also lead us off a cliff.  Rather than seeking a balanced life, when we are driven by passion things can be great – we’re focused and full of energy – things get done – but we need to watch for signs we’re approaching the cliff.  One of the dangers of passion is it is often results oriented: “I do this so I can accomplish that.”  And it may happen, but it may not. They use an example of Brenda Martinez leading … Continue reading

Broken Pieces

For the past 20 months, I have had a desk in a co-working facility in Burlington, Vermont called HULA.  It’s an amazing place.  Visitors marvel that THIS could be located in northern Vermont.  It’s an old oven factory located on Lake Champlain that has been completely modernized and added to.  It’s spacious, very bright due to huge windows everywhere, and boasts net-zero energy usage due to solar panels covering the entire roof.  Like most projects of this scale, it took entrepreneurs with vision and a high-risk tolerance to make it happen.  By all measures, it’s a great success.  There are over 400 “members.”  About half are connected to the 50+ businesses based here with enclosed office spaces.  Another 200 or so are “air disk” members, typical of co-working places everywhere – they have 24/7 access and sit wherever they find open spaces and desks, never a problem to find.   About 50 of us have “designated desks,” which provides us with our own sit-to-stand desk situated next to a window, with a filing cabinet, a small bookcase, and dividers between desks.  There are 16 conference rooms and about 20 phone booths available to all members for meetings or extended call or Zoom. The reason this is relevant to my Run Strategies blog … Continue reading

The Senior Runner YouTube Channel

The Run Strategies website was created in 2015 primarily to explore issues related to aging runners.  To date, the content has primarily been blog posts through my own journey as an aging runner.  I recently surpassed 100 posts and have been thinking about next steps.   When I was taking exercise physiology classes at UVM, I came across Andy Galpin, a research professor at Cal State Fullerton and Director of CSUF’s Center for Sports Performance. Andy has created around 40 YouTube videos, ranging from five minutes to over an hour on a range of exercise physiology topics.  These are fun and informative with interactive video elements.  He hasn’t posted a new one in a year and maybe he feels he’s exhausted the most relevant topics. The primary principles of exercise physiology pertain to all ages.  We all function within the same planes of movement and depend on such things at VO2 max and moving oxygen and glucose in and CO2 and lactic acid out of our muscles during performance.  However, each aging runner need only look at their own experience to know there are differences with aging.  But what are these differences and what drives the change? The Run Strategies blog posts have looked at some of these issues.  But I … Continue reading

Why We Age

We’re all getting older.  So, what else isn’t new?  Recently I was reviewing Peter Reaburn’s The Masters Athlete.  The first chapter sets the stage for the rest of the book by describing the aging mechanism.  Ultimately, it comes down to what is happening in our cells, the building blocks of our bodies.  I thought it might be of interest to readers to review the major theories of cellular aging and function.  The caveat is we are each somewhat unique individuals and as we age our differences are increasingly revealed.  Also, the factors discussed are interactive and some may be more dominant in one part of our lives than others.  Full disclosure, I have drawn liberally from Peter’s book in writing this post. So, here are six theories of aging impacting the senior runner listed in The Masters Athlete: Genetics. Reaburn suggests this is probably the major determinant.  Somewhat jokingly he suggests we pick our parents well!  In any event, our genes influence the other five factors discussed in terms of timing and degree.  Also, the expression of genes is affected by environmental factors, such as whether we smoke or live high-stress lives. Bottom line, genes guide our immune response, the function that helps keeps us healthy. Cellular Degeneration.  Cells respond variably to free-radical oxidation, which is … Continue reading

Give It a Rest (Blog Post #100!)

It’s no secret that as we age it takes longer to recover from races and intense workouts.  While the science clearly tells us that, the proof is in the pudding — we feel it! There is a fine line, sometimes a very fine line, between pushing it and giving ourselves a breather, to take the foot off the pedal for a few days or longer.  Doesn’t mean we’re comatose.  In fact, it’s good to do something aerobic everyday. It’s a good habit to have.  And something to look forward to and plan the day around.   Two weeks ago I ran a half marathon.  I was somewhat undertrained – averaging only 25 miles a week with just one 12-mile run and a couple of 10s in the prior three months.  But I thought I could maintain a pretty steady pace and maybe pick it up at the end.  I made some dumb mistakes: overdressed, didn’t take nutrition on the course, and wore new shoes.  Anyhow, at 11 miles I bonked – a strange feeling I hadn’t had in years.  Simply no energy or drive.  Flat out dead in my tracks!  I might have stopped, but the only way back was to the finish area. So, I walked, then jogged, walked some more, etc., only picking it up … Continue reading

Ascension!

In Again to Carthage, the sequel to John Parker’s Once a Runner, Quentin Cassidy, the fictional Olympic Silver Medalist miler turned marathoner, suggests the allure to racing is “when you’re a competitive runner in training, you are constantly in a process of ascending.”   He muses this is true in various endeavors as we age, including running prowess, but eventually things level off – and then decline.  Moving “up” to the marathon gave Cassidy another chance to ascend and a driving force in his obsessive training regimen.  Parker is a compelling author, who draws on his own experiences as a competitive runner and the last couple of chapters of Carthage are riveting. Unless we change sports, the time will come when we run (literally!) out of options to move up.  For any given distance, our times will erode.  Assuming running is an important part of our lives, this is the masters runner’s dilemma. Our success and happiness in life depends upon finding ways to accept declines in those things we love to do and feel competent doing. In The Master’s Athlete, Peter Reaburn suggests age-grading (AG), developed by Alan Jones and adopted by World Master’s Athletics (WMA), serves to provide such an opportunity.   An AG% is the ratio of one’s time compared to the … Continue reading

Attrition

Over the years, we get used to going to key races, such as the regional USATF Grand Prix Series, and seeing our friends and rivals there.  That’s a big reason why we travel to these races.  Many of us keep track of our times and places at these events and maybe note who we beat or beat us.  Yes, this can be obsessive, but it’s also part of the fun! Yet, as we age, we see fewer of our cohort showing up.  We invariably hear directly or through the pipeline about the reasons why: an acute or chronic injury; a serious debilitating illness; an unwillingness to train as workouts feel harder and less fulfilling; less motivation due to slowing times; and even death.  The data bears this out.  Results from the 2019 BAA Distance Medley Races (5K, 10K, Half Marathon) with over 23,000 finishers, showed that 80% of the field was under age 50; 14% were 50-59 and just 6% over 60.  Last Saturday’s New Hampshire 10 Miler, a tough, hilly Grand Prix race that weeded out some younger casual runners, drew 1,088 finishers.  Of those 33% were over 50 and 11% over 60, with just 23 runners 70 and older.  It would be an interesting longitudinal study to … Continue reading

Covid Part 2

As noted in my May 23 post, I lost all hearing suddenly in one ear after a track workout two weeks after contracting Covid.  It’s now two months further down the road and maybe 5% of the hearing has returned in that ear.  The good news is the right ear is holding its own, and I’m doing my best to navigate life in monotone.   After taking steroids for two weeks, I did four weeks of hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT).  These are two-hour sessions in a chamber at 2.4 times normal atmosphere (simulates ~45 feet underwater) with 100% oxygen (normally we breathe 21% oxygen.)  The idea is that oxygen forced into the tissues encourages healing.  While this is proven to help many conditions, including those with open wounds or undergoing cancer treatments, and has been used by athletes to supercharge their recovery for some time, it only succeeds about 40% of the time for hearing loss.  And that’s when started within two weeks.  For various reasons, it was 26 days before I started HBOT. At this point, it’s likely I will never recover much of my hearing, though of course I’ll keep hoping. The ENT specialists I’m working with indicate viruses have been shown to cause permanent hearing loss. The … Continue reading

The Morning Shakeout

The Internet is a crowded place.  Depending on your interests, there is a myriad of topics and themes to choose from.  The running space is no different.  I Googled “running-related podcasts” and came up with a list of 19 compiled by Run to the Finish.  There’s only so much time and attention in the day and week.  So, how to choose? Recently, Kevin, a member of my running club, suggested I listen to an interview with Pete Magill on The Morning Shakeout,  a weekly podcast hosted by Mario Fraioli since December 2017.  Kevin knew as a coach I recommend Magill’s book, Build Your Running Body.  After listening to Mario’s conversation with Pete, I scrolled through the archive and saw and listened to conversations with Alex Hutchinson, author of Endure, George Hirsch, founder of the New York City Marathon and former editor of Runner’s World, Amby Burfoot, and Bill Rodgers.  It didn’t take long to conclude TMS was a mother-lode of great stories about everything running on roads and trails.  Now 40, Mario has spent most of his adult life involved with the sport.  Through writing, editing, coaching, his own running, and an outgoing personality that enables him to easily connect with folks, he has a deep e-rolodex to draw on.   TMS now has an archive … Continue reading

Covid and Running

After 2+ years of avoiding Covid, it caught up with me.  Not at an opportune time (if there ever is one!) as we were in Boston for the week to do a variety of things and had to high tail it back to Vermont, leaving Covid in our wake with two of our friends. My symptoms included a pretty deep cough.  Perhaps because I had been vaccinated and boosted, within five days most symptoms were gone.  But it did set me back. This was two days after running the National Masters 10K race in Dedham MA and to be honest I felt a little tanked then.  So, after walking easy for several days I began running 3 miles, then 4, then 5.  All very easy, though none of it felt that good and I was as tired as if having done a tempo run.  Nevertheless, I pressed on, and the following week picked up the pace and distance.  All clear? Maybe not!  10 days post symptoms I did my first track workout.  All seemed fine, ran pretty good splits, and I was thinking of running a local five-mile race on the weekend to test my fitness.  After stretching and doing some weights at the UVM gym, I walked back to … Continue reading