I just finished my first 50 - years that is. That was a long haul, waaaaayyy longer than a regular marathon. I didn't train too hard, it just kind of happened. Like any run though, once it's over you look back and think "That wasn't too bad. I could do better, though. I wish I could do it again. I would do it all differently." Yes, on Dec. 24, I joined Team Golden.
I am now officially as old as the state. Which is going to help me down the road when I forget things like running shoes and shorts, my bib number, my bib name, my name, my meds and why I'm standing in line at a Port-A-Potty in Boston.
So how am I supposed to eat, drink, be merry and train for the next long haul?
The answer is simple: Just continue on. My body has told me what and when, how and why, and with some reports from those more knowledgeable than myself, I have learned, and will continue to learn, a few things along the way.
Less is more
There is often no reason to kill myself on every outing. If I have a high level of fitness, a day or two of hiking, pingpong or whittling on my cane isn't going to delay an Olympic invite. If I'm starting from scratch (i.e. no fitness level), I should talk to a physician, start slow, have fun and rest as necessary.
Studies show exercise prolongs life. Elderly runners are half as likely to die prematurely from heart attacks, cancer, infections, neurological disease including strokes and other causes than the non-runners. They don't suffer as often from arthritis or need as many knee replacements as non-runners.
Just like lifting weights won't ruin your jump shot, the old wives tale that says "older folks shouldn't exercise because it will wear down their joints" was probably started by an old wife to keep an old husband home with a honey-do list. But if you think about it, depending on the list, that can also be considered exercise.
People who run also tend to have better diets, better moods, better sleep habits - all factors that can decrease stress and influence lifespan.
Good for the "sole"
There is little doubt that exercise is good for you. It lowers stress, improves circulation and decreases pressure on the heart. If running hurts then try something else. Swimming, elliptical machines, a Nordic track, rowing machines, light weight lifting and cycling are all good cardiovascular exercise which will in turn decrease blood pressure while improving circulation to the vital organs of the body. Each can be as effective as running, excercise-wise, and may be better tolerated in certain cases.
As far as clothing is concerned wear what is suitable for the weather and the outing or what the club rules suggest. If you can still pull off the original ripped Woodstock smock or your high school's old sports shorts, than god bless.
It's never too late to start running or exercising. It may not help on day one, but the benefits will accrue over the weeks. Find a training partner, group or activity that you feel comfortable with. Many fitness activities have age categories and, like fine wine, Team Golden tastes better with a bit of experience.
When I started training for my first "50" a movie ticket cost $1, a loaf of bread cost 20 cents, 707's began flight and young girls loved Mattel's Barbie Dolls. Dwight D. Eisenhower was president (started the President's Council on Youth Fitness three years earlier) and would later say, "Ankles are nearly always neat and good-looking, but knees are nearly always not."
So now movies seem to cost as much as jets and you can't take a sandwich through security, boys playing with Barbie dolls is socially acceptable and Obama plays basketball (probably lifts too). Yet, I am still on the course.
I am quite proud of this first outing as I just did something Geoff Roes hasn't done yet. I ran my first 50 ... sweeeeeet! Running is just a state of mind. You are only as old as your "sole" feels. Now if I can just remember how young the state is ...
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