Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In it for the long haul

I am currently training for a half marathon in January 2012.  I never thought running 13.1 miles would be something I would do, let alone willingly sign up for. I set this goal last spring while recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery on my knee. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Last month I ran a marathon-length relay with three friends. That means I only ran 6.6 miles total, and those were in 2.2 mile legs. I was the slowest team member, but it was manageable. Training is going fine, but I still think about 13.1 miles with something akin to dread. This sure wouldn’t have been a big deal when I was 25 – sigh.

Then I saw the article "World's oldest marathon runner completes Toronto race at age 100." That’s right, Fauja Singh from east London ran 26.2 miles and finished in eight hours, 25 minutes and 18 seconds – ahead of five other competitors! Holy Cow! I am 30-something with aches and pains when I run!  How is this guy doing it?

Singh attributes his success to ginger curry, cups of tea and "being happy." His nickname is the "Turbaned Tornado" – the title of his biography, published last year, which he unfortunately has not been able to read because he is illiterate.

In 2004 he replaced soccer star David Beckham and boxing legend Muhammad Ali as the poster boy for Adidas's "Impossible is nothing" advertising campaign. He now hopes his next project will be participating in the torch relay for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  

Seeing this article was inspiring. 

We all know that exercise is good for you. Staying physically active helps keep your heart healthy and your muscles strong, and in cancer patients it has even been shown to ward off relapse. 

A study published in January 2010 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, confirms that logging time at the gym not only helps maintain good health but may even prevent the onset of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, osteoarthritis and dementia. Exercise is also linked to helping people with chronic pain manage that pain effectively with fewer medical interventions.

Did you know, the exercise guidelines for older adults aren't much different from any other age group? According to the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, elders should do regular cardio exercise to keep your heart and body healthy, aiming for about 2.5 hours a week (or about 30 minutes, 5 days a week) of moderate intensity activities like walking, cycling, swimming, jogging or any other cardio activity you enjoy. These activities not only offer physical benefits, but mental as well.

No, I haven’t revealed any magic bullets or drawn a map to the fountain of youth. But reading about Mr. Singh made me more determined to stick with my running routine, even when I get discouraged, or when it feels like my bones and muscles have turned to mush, which was in turn processed into goo…painful goo.

How have your exercise routines changed as you have gotten older? What keeps you motivated?  Is there anything you find yourself doing or not doing now that you used to? How do you get past the aches and pains? What do you think is the perfect exercise for aging? And most importantly, just how am I going to do 13.1 miles?!?


Kristin Huff
Senior Projects Director