Running and aging: part n + 1

I read the various memes about how one should keep improving, or making progress (however slow) reminds me that I am no longer who running groups market to.

Though my best days were not that good (39:50 10K, 18:57 5K, 5:30 mile), I’ll never see those times again….if I get to race this season (battling a case of..heel pain: spurs? PF?) I’ll be grateful for sub 29 for the 5K and maybe an 8:15 mile?

Yeah, I am too heavy (202; should be about 190 to be in running shape) but the slowdown is all too real and unavoidable.

But..there is something I’ve noticed: at races, older runners..even those who are waaaaay better than I am seem to accept me. There is this “hey, we are still out here” bond that we all hold. And there is something else.

I have this national class racewalking friend who also runs. He is my age and just ran a 19 flat 5K. Yes, I once ran that fast…35 years ago! (he was in the 15’s at that age, I’d guess). He KNOWS that I appreciate his feat, even if the 20-somethings that finished around him do not.

Oh well…I am grateful to be out there and while I cannot safely run right now (I am getting closer though) I can lift, swim, do the elliptical, and the bike.


February 21, 2018 Posted by | running | | Leave a comment

The cycle of athletic life

I am getting lapped by Jason (1:01:22)

This is probably my favorite photo from the Steamboat 15K this past weekend. Background: the course features an almost 2 mile out, then two 2.7 mile loops starting out at the bottom of Glen Oak park, going up the hill, some hairpin turns and then back down. During this stretch, some of the faster runners lap some of the slower runners.

The runner in red is Jason, a Religious Studies professor; I’ve swam with him before. He finished the course in 1:01:xx a bit over a 6:25 mpm pace. I walked the course in about 1:56, a hair under a 12:30 mpm pace. He was literally close to twice as fast as I was; when the photo was taken, I was just past 5K and he was not quite at 10K.

I was never as fast as he is; in my 20’s I ran a hilly 15K in 1:04, and in my late 30’s I ran a low 1:08 and a high 1:07 (the 1:08 was in conditions very similar to this past weekend). But yes, my 1998 and 1999 self would have lapped my 2017 self (walking).

But I can still beat the time limit, even as a walker. So, I’ll do this race as long as I can.

Workout notes: weights, 3 mile track run (32:45; last mile was 10:30), which was after weights:
rotator cuff, pull ups (4 sets of 10, 7-3), incline: 10 x 135, 4 x 160, 7 x 150 (good), military: 15 x 55 dumbbell seated, supported, standing: 10 x 45, 10 x 40, 2 sets of dumbbell rows (10 x 55), 10 x 110 machine.

Then the run, then a 2 mile walk (leisurely).

Note: platelet donation yesterday, so I backed off a bit.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | running, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

Loss of perspective

I work out more than the vast majority of non-athletes, especially non-athletes my age. Anyone who has even glanced my blog can tell that. So, there is no greater advocate of exercise (and living a reasonably healthy lifestyle) than I am.

Nevertheless, I also admit that I have been very, very fortunate so far. I make enough money to eat well. I live close enough to my job so I can walk to work, and my employer offers an on-site health club. I live close to a park which has suitable running and walking areas.

And I’ve made some good choices too: I spent money on a treadmill rather than for an in home movie theater caliber TV; I spend money on races rather than on cigarettes and beer.

But I have the kind of body that allows me to exercise; part of that is genetics and part of that is that I had health care while growing up (broken ankle, staph infections, broken shin..and later, knee problems, shoulder problems, back problems; all received proper medical treatment with proper physical therapy afterwards).

And this is why such memes irritate me:

How someone ages has a lot to do with genetics, illnesses, accidents and, yes, lifestyle is ONE factor.

I have nothing against the “fit” lady; in fact, I admire her. But she didn’t start working out hard until she was in her 50’s and …yes, she started with her sister who… sick and died.

Another example:

This is me with..Craig Virgin. If you don’t know who he is: NCAA national champion (XC), 2 time world cross country champion, 2n’d place in the Boston Marathon in 1981, 3 time Olympian in the 10,000 meter run; 10k PR 27:29. But when I saw him, I wondered “I wonder if I could run with him” because life had given him some serious blows:

As ecstatic as Virgin is about his induction, he has more he wants to do on the road. He doesn’t want to win, or even race; he merely wants to run a 10K again. Right now his body won’t let him.

During the last 15 years, he’s been involved in a head-on auto collision while driving 70 mph, suffered a fall on black ice that tore his right quadriceps from his knee and underwent 15 surgeries on various parts of his body. This year, he experienced pulmonary embolisms that would have killed most people. All this is on top of three surgeries related to a congenital kidney condition.

These days, he said, if he can eke out 2 miles of jogging and walking, it’s a good day. He’s been forced to become a gym rat to stay in shape.

Am I somehow more athletically virtuous than he is? Of course not. I am luckier in my old age (so far); that’s really it.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | running, social/political, walking | , | Leave a comment

Paying the price for a double…

Today: absolutely perfect day for a run/walk. So I started out with a was too tiring so I switched to a leisurely run/walk (jog the uphills and downhill, walk the flats) and toured my lovely 5.1 mile course. Barely broke a sweat.

I knew that I’d pay a price for this weekend (4 mile 37:20 Saturday, …yes, that used to be my recovery pace, 2:47 half marathon powerwalk on Sunday)

So I looked backwards to see similar doubles in my past:

1998: 19:53 5K on Saturday, 1:39 half marathon on Sunday…2 weeks prior to the Quad Cities Marathon
2000: 44 minute 10K on Saturday night, 1:42 half marathon on Sunday (National Capital races in Ottawa, Canada)
2000: 21:43 5K run on Saturday, 1:40:50 half marathon on Sunday (first part of a relay)
2002: 1:06 10K racewalk (judged) on Saturday, 6:22 50K powerwalk on Sunday
2003: 30:43 5K judged racewalk on Saturday, 2:17 half marathon powerwalk on Sunday (this one drained me; both were hard efforts)
2004: 28:59 5K walk on Saturday, 7:15 50K walk on Sunday
2008: 25:13 5K run on Saturday, 2:25 half marathon powerwalk on Sunday (cool weather)
2011: 27:45 5K sun on Saturday, 2:22 half marathon powerwalk on Sunday (cool weather)
2012: 33:52 4 mile run on Saturday, 2:30 half marathon powerwalk on Sunday (sort of warm) Ratio: 4.44
2012: 25:27 5K run on Saturday, 2:24 half marathon powerwalk on Sunday (rugged IVS course)
2013: 25:31 5K run on Saturday, 2:27 “run” half marathon on Sunday
2014: 25:53 5K run on Saturday 2:24 half marathon powerwalk on Sunday (cool)
2017: 37:22 4 mile run on Saturday, 2:47:22 half marathon powerwalk on Sunday (hot). Ratio: 4.48 (consistent with 2012, no?)

Bottom line: in addition to my becoming increasingly slower, recovery from these doubles is becoming harder.
I thought I might claim “weight” as an excuse, but even in 2004, when I was walking my best, I was about 5-6 pounds lighter. That is a difference, but not that much different.

Where to go from now: train for a fall walking marathon; make that my first priority. Reduce running to 3 times a week, keeping it short, with perhaps a little “pepper” . Key workouts: longer, slower workout (weekend), harder, medium-long workout (midweek), some repeat 1-2 miles to get readjusted to 12-13 minute per mile walking…rest is recovery. Keep up the squats.

Add some half marathon tune ups (3 more plus a 15K) to ramp up the pace a bit.

June 6, 2017 Posted by | marathons, running, walking | | Leave a comment

Damn you Father Time…

An unrelated post about Track and Field got me to thinking about my own performances. Yeah, they are declining.


1. One’s potential decreases with age. Competitive athletes told me that they notice this in their early 30’s. Of course, if one starts later in life, or decides to up the level of their training, they can see improvements in performance; after all it is possible for, say, 80 percent of a lesser capacity to exceed 50 percent of a greater capacity. But one’s upper bound does decrease and that decrease accelerates when one reaches their 50s and really accelerates in their late 60’s and early 70s. See: Gompertz law.

2. Injuries accumulate; I noticed a “jump” in my decline after my last knee surgery (2010)

3. Attitude: now-a-days, I tend to do “what is fun” when I workout rather than what is optimal training. And I don’t push as hard…I need to be able to recover to do the rest of my day.

4. Prior performances have taken something out of me: I know that I am not a real athlete. But there are some performances where I felt like I left a bit of myself out there. May 2004: I did 2 24 hour events in the same month: 101 miles and 88 ..then the next year (caustic 100 miles on a trail in just under 30 hours); I just haven’t been the same since.

But hey, it is still fun and even though I don’t have new PRs to look forward to, I still get joy out of a “good for this year” performance.

Workout notes: weights and an easy 5K walk on a beautiful day.
rotator cuff, pull ups (5-5, then 4 sets of 10), incline press: 10 x 135, 4 x 160, 6 x 150 (attention to hips), military press with dumbbells (20 x 50 seated, supported, 10 x 45, 10 x 45), Hammer rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200.
Headstand (got in easier) and goblet squats (sets of 5) 45-50-55-60-65-65-70-75. These ARE getting easier.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | walking, weight training, whining | | Leave a comment

Crisis of confidence: as you get older…

I am lucky that a Facebook friend gave me a playful taunt about the Steamboat 15K. She is a Bradley graduate and a stepdaughter of a retired colleague who will be back in town for the 15K.

Now I’ve never done well at this race. My times have ranged from a high 1:07 (1999, as a runner) to 1:41 last year, and 1:48 as a walker. I haven’t seen sub 1:10 since 1999, sub 1:20 since 2002 and my last sub 1:30 was 2014 (when I was much faster in the 5K). 1:35 would be a great goal for me.

But never mind that.

What got me to thinking about this post is all of the silly memes aimed at new know those that say “take “never” out of your vocabulary”, etc. Yeah, I get it: most new runners are capable of doing better than they think is possible.

But I am in a different place.

Yes, I’ve finished 60 events of a marathon or beyond. But what sticks in my mind more are the 7 DNFs, including one time I dropped from a 100 at mile 50 (with a time I’d love to do in a 50 miler) and got 20 more. (pacing others). I remember the literally hundreds of bad workouts I’ve had instead of the successful ones.

Even today: it was cool, (37 F) and dry (for now) and I decided to try my very hilly 8.1 mile “Cornstalk” course (10 good uphills in the middle 6 miles). My time was slow (1:36:01; 48:40/47:20) but I was more worried about being able to complete the workout than anything else. Yes, I’ve done slower. I’ve also done this in the low 1:20’s and faster over the past 2-3 years; it seems as if I’ve been awful since my October marathon. Part of it is 10 extra pounds, I think. Part of it was leg weights yesterday, and part of it was the long lay-off from training.

So, my confidence: I am having trouble distinguishing not having enough confidence and being realistic. After all, the last time I broke 1:30 for the Steamboat, I was running sub 25 minute 5Ks. Now, the equivalent time is 28 minutes; do the math.

And I’ve run half marathons (13.1 miles) faster than today’s 8.1 mile workout time. UGH.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Friends, running | | Leave a comment

Finding the happy medium

Today: my 4.15 mile walk in 56:45, which had a 13:58 first mile (plus) then a 13:16 finish; 29:30 middle part. pace: 13:42 or thereabouts.

I skipped leg weights as I might do a spandex chase fact, I am planning on it.

It is too soon to say how my training is progressing. I notice that my walks have gotten better and I am feeling it more in my butt; I wonder if that is a consequence of my goblet squats? Time will tell.

I’ll say something else: I may have gone overboard in “taking it easy”. Either I ran/walked sans the watch, or I did a race/speed workout.

I am finding that I need to do a few “in between intensity” workouts too: workouts that involve running or walking at a “deliberate but not hard” effort. There is a place for a leisurely stroll/jog but I can fall into the trap of only “leisurely ” or “race pace”. I need to do some medium effort stuff, like today.

April 21, 2017 Posted by | walking | | Leave a comment

Not giving up on a workout too early

I decided to try to run outside. And my first .25 miles were TERRIBLE; it was almost as if I could barely breathe and my legs felt like lead. I even walked a few steps.
But I stayed with my shuffle and made it to the first downhill section (Bradley Park) and by then, I had started to sweat and all was good from there out.
For some reason, there are days when the first mile feels like death.

The weather was pretty and I did my “jog, then run up the hills “hard” (say, 1 mile race intensity), walk a few steps to recover, jog and repeat. So I did 6 “hard” repetitions total and I even timed my final hill: 2:10 (better than any of my repetitions a week ago). This was from the gate in lower Bradley park to the parking lot entrance in upper Bradley Park. The whole workout took 1:02 to do (5.1 miles) and I am glad I stuck with it.

By the way: in statistics class, I am teaching about ANOVA. I used my own 5K run data from 2012 to now; my slowdown is about 20-25 seconds for the 5K per year. That adds up and seems to fit back to the late 1990’s.

Grading on a curve
I joked with my wife about the following: if she posts that she, say, finished a 4 mile walk at, say, an 18-19 minute per mile pace (she is, well, “elderly”..though it is hard for me to think of her that way), get gets 100+ “likes” and tons of complements (“you go girl”, etc.). If I post that I finished a marathon, MY FB friends critique my time and give consolation if it is worse than expected, kudos if it is better than expected.

Why I mention this: I have a FB friend that I’ve grown quite fond of. But she has serious injury history; I jokingly referred to her as “Humpty-Dumpty”. She finished a mile walk and I was genuinely overjoyed; I like her and love it that she is working toward taking care of herself and pushing through some pain to do so. So my praise WAS genuine, even if it was less than what my wife can currently do.

And we had a talk about having a “1 mile body but a 6 mile mind”; pre-injury she could easily walk 14 miles (albeit many years ago).

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Friends, running | | Leave a comment

Dreaming on the treadmill

Today’s workout was a routine 5.1 miles in 1 hour on the treadmill (slow run); this past weekend’s workouts left me a bit sore and stiff. But once I kicked myself into doing the first 10 minutes, I was fine. We had lightning outside so I stayed indoors.

While on the treadmill I daydreamed of hypothetical races to come…many of which I won’t actually attempt.

Funny..I remember the elation of success but rarely the pain of performance and the disappointment of failure. In my daydreams, I push through the pain of the final mile of a 5K, do not get sick during an ultra, do not blister up or get sick in the final 10K of a marathon, etc.

Reality: much different. Much different.

So about making those dreams a reality: that is part of the frustration of aging.

1. What worked 20 years ago…hell, even 5 years ago, doesn’t work anymore. My mix of workouts needs to be different and I need more recovery between hard efforts and races.
2. My capacity has diminished …but to what extent and due to what factors? I know that the extra 10 pounds I am carrying hurts me, but I know that losing 10 pounds won’t get me to a 22 minute 5K of a 3:50 marathon. What is realistic for me? Is walking sub 5:20 for a marathon realistic, at all?
3. I have to choose, now more than ever. Of course, a better bench press means slower running times, but even with that, a focus on an ultra means a slower 5K run, etc.
4. Attitude: I have less patience with the pain of intensity than I once did. I was never mentally tough, but I am even weaker now.
5. Physical reality: I can’t make a potentially muddy trail ultra a goal race any longer; I have to choose events that suit my current limitations.

But part of the fun is finding a winning formula and executing that plan.

April 10, 2017 Posted by | running, walking | | Leave a comment

Allergies, colds and enforced humility

For the past couple of days, my eyes have watered, nose runny (TMI) and I have felt ..sort of yucky. But my workouts have been ok. Last night’s exercise class was fine (decent challenge actually) and today I did weights then my usual “short, sweet” 2 mile treadmill run where I run the first mile in about 11 minutes; second one in about 8:45 or so (my current 5K pace). I usually finish feeling refreshed and today was no exception.

So I thought: ok…not bad…then I remembered October, 2000:

OLLIE NANYES (M41) 3:38:12 91 85 / 18 M40-44 PEORIA, IL, USA (91 of 400)

That’s an 8:19 pace.

Yep, I was happy, though I was well aware that 90 people were faster, and that the winner was done BEFORE I got to mile 20. Since there was an “out and back” segment, I got to see some of the faster runners on their way back.

Nevertheless: I’d be delighted if I could average 8:19 for a 5K this year; I did that a couple of times last year. My last sub 25 was in 2014. That might well have been my final one, ever.

Well, F*CK ME DEAD. Ok, no…I still can run, workout, chase cute spandex (though cute, SLOW spandex..can’t catch the faster spandex anymore).

Workout notes: weights plus the aforementioned 2 mile run:

weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10).
bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 190 (good)
incline press: 10 x 135
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine
dumbbell military (standing) 10 x 50, 10 x 45, 10 x 45
incline (Hammer Machine) 2 sets of 10 x 140 (70 each arm)
headstand (went ok)

Run: 10 minutes (2 at 5.2, up .1 mph every 2 minutes), 2:30: (6.7, 6.8, 6.9, 7 for 1:30, 7.1 for final minute) 19:41 for 2 miles, 2.03 total.

Now to dig myself out under a whole pile of grading.

March 23, 2017 Posted by | marathons, running, weight training | | Leave a comment