Sunday, January 19, 2014

Running and Getting Older (Day 19)

Run - 8.7km,  52 minutes

So after a week of sluggishness it was back to running and feeling much happier. My last run, when I was sickening, was a struggle but this felt steady.  Good. It means I can keep on keeping on and have not fallen off a fitness cliff.

perhaps II felt better today because I had had a bit of a rest. As I get older recovery is something that takes more time and needs attention and is the reason I never thought of running everyday for Janathon. After a few consecutive days instead of feeling enlivened I would be ground down - and that is not a good thing. I run for satisfaction, to make me more at one with my surroundings, and lift the spirits  but if you are tired it becomes a chore and stops working.

It is important to be realistic about age and manage your expectations. You have to accept that you are not as elastic as you once were (actually I was never that elastic) and the same amount of effort now yields less speed. You to accept and adapt and be a bit smarter in targeting each session. For instance today I wanted to run at least 40 minutes at a steady pace, later in the week I will run  longer but at a lower heart rate, and my third session will be higher paced intervals. I have a plan, whereas before I would have run more but not be at all disciplined.

Until a couple of years ago I just used to try to ignore the fact that I was getting older but it is now nearer the forefront of my mind. I was interested in reading a question posed in the New York Times: is there any scientific evidence to substantiate the claim that older runners (over 45) should limit the amount of high impact exercise, like jogging. The answer did a good job of citing evidence that suggested the reverse (that running and walking tend to help not only general health, whilst not causing arthritis or other damage to the joints). Good. 

But I was interested in the fears that underlie the question and the way fears can stop us doing things even when benefits outweigh the risks by a large margin . Every single activity has some risk: you can trip taking a gentle stroll and seriously hurt yourself, you can do some easy stretches and pull a muscle or strain a tendon, and always there are stories of people being damaged doing something innocuous.  However the question we have to ask is: what are the chances? How many people out of how many come to harm? You cannot be timid just because you can imagine a dangerous scenario, you have to know if it is likely or not. There is always an element of uncertainty but one thing twe are sure of is that one of the most dangerous thing you ca do is ... nothing. Sitting on a sofa will take years off your life.

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