On my quest to learn ever more about fitness, I recently read an article in the New York Times titled “The Best Exercise for Aging Muscles”. Aging changes us. Exercise changes us. We don’t bounce back from training and from injuries as quickly as we perhaps once did. So what, pray tell me (as my mama would say), is the most effective way to exercise for my aging body??
A study was recently published in Cell Metabolism on this topic. Researchers studied the effects of different forms of exercise on sedentary men and women younger than 30 and older than 64. One group did heavy duty weight training, one group did interval training on a stationery bike, one group did a combo of moderate biking on some days and light weight lifting on the other days and the last group did not exercise.
After 12 weeks, everyone showed improvements (except of course that last group!). The first group gained the most muscle. The interval group gained the most endurance. BUT. The most exciting discovery came in the biopsied muscle cells. The activity levels had changed in 274 genes of the interval trainers as compared to 170 for the moderate work out group and 74 for the weight lifters. This was in the younger test subjects. The results were even more astounding in the older subjects. Almost 400 genes were working differently as opposed to 33 in the weight lifters and 19 in the moderates. WOW.
The subjects showed an increase in the number and the health of their mitochondria. The main role of mitochondria is to produce energy (#science).
- Healthy mitochondria = YAY!!
- I’m not too old to change things = WOOHOO!!
All exercise is good. It’s important to strengthen the muscles with weight lifting. It’s important to strengthen the heart with cardio. It’s important to work on balance and flexibility. What this article did for me was to remind me to throw some interval training back in the mix. I’ve been a little lax on that lately. To that end, I’ve started doing tabata intervals on the stationery bike a couple of times a week. Tabata, in short, is 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy x 8 for a set. Rest and repeat. I’ve always followed the rule of thumb that 20 minutes is a good amount of time to do intervals. (Note: there are tons of free tabata timer apps).
So that’s what I learned this week in my quest. It’s never too late to be better.
Had myself a ball in a small town
A little bit of John Mellencamp to brighten up my day.
I spent last weekend in my hometown for my mom’s 75th birthday. And I tell you, there is nothing like running in my small hometown. I left my dad’s house. Stopped at my mom’s for an extra pair of gloves. Stopped to chat with an old friend just opening his shop on Main Street. Ran by my brother’s house. Ran by my BFF’s house. Ran through the cemetery to pat the grave of loved ones gone too soon. Ran by my elementary school and church. Past the house where I grew up. And then stopped at my sister’s to drop off those extra gloves.
Total route – 2 miles and I’m back at my mom’s for breakfast with a smile on my face. Not enough mileage to have cake for breakfast, but enough to make my soul happy. There’s a lot to be said for a happy soul.
Happy Birthday Baba!
This. This is the struggle.
For so long, I had it. I had it in spades. My life was arranged around it. But, somewhere along the way of life, work, family… I lost it. 🙁 I have struggled ever since to find my way back. I’ve had bursts of motivation, but have never reached the glory days of yore. (Yore being like 5 years ago. LOL)
So this is about getting that back. That focus. That goal. That passion.
I have the goals. I have a couple of races I want to do this year. I did a trail half marathon at the Grand Canyon 2 years ago. It was fantastic! We hit Zion too and the beauty of that part of the country is stunning. This is the why for me. To do these things. To feel the joy of running well and even the misery of a not so great run. To feel that I can do anything I want to do. To see the beauty of our cities, towns, national parks in a way that only running gives you. This is the why.
So now I translate that into the every day practice, the every day lifestyle that gets me there. That gets me to being physically capable of pursuing these goals. The every day hard work. The consistent working towards what I want. That’s the life I want back. That’s who I want to be.
Indestructible. And loving every minute of it. I want it all back. I miss that me!
This is where the fun begins. 🙂
And I like to kick. And stretch. And kick some more!
Sally O’Malley had the right idea. Age is just a number. It’s important to keep moving.
And kicking and stretching of course.
What I’m finding is that the stretching and the strengthening, all those things that runners need to do, are probably just all that more important as we age.
I recently started going to a weekly Hip Mobility class at FLEET FEET St. Louis #ffstl and I immediately noticed a difference. I had nagging knee issues all throughout my last marathon training. Strengthening my hips and glutes = MAGIC. My knees are so much better!!
Excuse me for a moment. I feel the need to knock on wood here.
But I digress. I feel looser when I run. Free-er. (Is that a word??) This is awesome. I don’t know why I ever stopped doing these types of exercises. Duh. They make a huge difference. This free-er (there it is again) looser version of me can run a little faster!! This gives me hope that all is not lost. LOL
The Clams. The Bridges. The Inchworms. Oh my!
Simple, yet extraordinary exercises. Good for everyone, vital as we age. My instructor recommends one Strength class (such as Hip Mobility) and one Stretching class per week for optimal results. Basically, it’s just good maintenance. Keeps everything moving smoothly. And if you’ve veered off course towards injury (EGADS), it can bring you back.
Next up for my arsenal against age decline, I heard about a book on nutrition for the aging athlete. Gotta do some research on that!
– runner girl
My longest run to date on this comeback is 7 miles. It started out like any other run and ended up being a breakthrough. Oh, praise the running gods! There is life left in these legs!
Thus far, I’d say every single step has pretty much been a struggle. What is it, like 1500 steps per mile? That’s a lot of struggle. A whole lot of struggle it seems to me. This run was the same. Pushing myself to keep going. Doing all sorts of negotiating with myself. Am I really going to run 7? Maybe 6 like last week is enough. Heck, maybe 5.
And then it happened. After 3, maybe 3.5 miles, I FINALLY felt like my legs were moving on their own. I found the Magic. I got into a rhythm. A glorious rhythm. I had forgotten what that felt like. It had been sooo long. There was no more negotiating. I was doing 7.
This got me to thinking about my recent runs. Was there something I was or wasn’t doing that was hindering my progress? I run around the streets. I sometimes get stopped by traffic, by trains, etc even early in the morning. I thought maybe it was time to head back to the track. I used to do a lot of running there. The consistent motion of going around the track was how I picked up some speed (relative term). Sort of like a hamster in a wheel I guess.
Consistency. Rhythm. Track. OK.
The past two Wednesdays I have taken 2 classes at the new FLEET FEET training center in Des Peres, MO. Functional Strength for Runners and Running from the Core. The premise of the classes is to isolate the muscles that runners use and thus strengthen these specific muscles.
The exercises are those things that we should do as runners and just don’t do. Or don’t do enough. The first week my abs were sore for days. Today I am feeling my butt, my hammies, my quads. The most painful (or one could say hated) exercise yesterday was 3 sets of 12, Bulvarian Split Squat, knee all the way to the floor, back leg raised on a box, arms behind head. YIKES. My partner and I cheated a little on the second set and only went to 10. Don’t tell Brandi. I have a feeling she’d make us pay (someone recently told her the back of her shirt should say ‘BITCH’ instead of ‘COACH’). Yeah, she doesn’t need to know.
A lot of core work. A lot of hips. A LOT of squats.
This is going to be good.
Yay FLEET FEET!
It’s long run day. Well. Long is a relative term.
Last night I checked the weather forecast for this morning. Rain. Rain. And more rain. Lovely. So I thought I could do an Insanity workout instead and do my long run before work on Sunday. This being decided, I didn’t even get my running clothes ready. Fast forward to early AM.
It’s not raining.
And … my head is not in the game. I thought it was going to be raining. I thought I was going to do the Insanity DVD. But … it’s not raining. I should run. I want to run. Of course I do. Don’t I??
So I lay in bed and flip through my phone, trying to will myself out of bed to run.
Then I saw it.
I have friends running various races this weekend. One in Louisville posted that he saw a girl wearing a t-shirt that said “Suck it up, buttercup”.
That’s it!! That’s the thing that reached me and pulled me out of bed to run 6 miles today. Hey, what moves you, moves you.
Thanks Buttercup. Hope you got a PR.
So. I went to a Fleetwood Mac concert recently. Some of you may wonder what this has to do with running. Others may wonder just who the heck is Fleetwood Mac. For the first group, let me explain. For the latter group. Sigh. I have no words.
I am on a ‘comeback trail’. Many of us find ourselves on this trail for one reason or another – injury, work issues, personal life issues – that knocks us out of our running habit for a time. And the comeback trail is fragile at best. It is so easy to come up with a myriad of excuses as to why you can’t run today – it’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s raining, I’m too tired. You know the drill, you are out of the habit. When you’re coming back there is always the danger that you might listen to these excuses. You might lack the power and resolve to beat them down. And that is exactly where I found myself. Contemplating getting out of bed to run. All of these reasons why I really didn’t have to playing out in my head.
Then I remembered the concert. Stevie Nicks told a story on stage of a teenage girl who gave a TEDx Teen talk on being a strong female character. She ended the speech saying – “Just be Stevie Nicks”. She said she admired that Stevie was unapologetically herself. Unapologetically flawed. A strong female to be emulated. Stevie felt that this young girl not only listened to her music, listened to the words, but that she understood what she was trying to say. Be a powerful woman. Support other powerful women.
Just be Stevie Nicks.
Ahh! This thought got me out of bed and running. No more excuses. Just me and the road, flawed and slow though I am. I ran. I didn’t cut my mileage short. I ran. Every time you conquer the demon voices in your head, you get a little stronger and they get a little weaker. Victory.
Just be Stevie Nicks.
Inspiration and motivation can come in varied and crazy forms. It might be the vision of crossing a finish line, it might be that PR you’re working for. It just might be Stevie Nicks. Whatever it is, wherever it comes from, grab onto it and run with it. Don’t ever let go.
Rock on Gold Dust Woman.
Mile 9.5 Felt like I could run all day.
Mile 10.5 Felt like walking.
Mile 14 Knew I was going to make it.
Mile 15 Thought I’d be perfectly content to walk the last 5.
Mile 18 Dropped my water bottle. Stared at it. Wanted to leave it. Realized it was the only one with any liquid left. Picked the damn thing up.
Mile 20 Whew! Didn’t cuss God or man. Victory.
How was the race? Hmmm. Forgot a food pantry item, got lost and biked 13 extra miles, had 2 flat tires, ditched bikes and ran 3 extra miles, ran into a tree mountain biking, ended up with ghastly heat rash on my legs. 7 hours and 10 minutes. And we can’t wait to do it again.
Yes, Mom, I paid money to do this.
Goomna. Nepalese meaning to roam, to wander, to explore. We certainly did that.
– Runner girl