Thursday, March 21, 2019

What I'm Doing to Stay Healthy and Fast Over 50 (and a cool video)

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of aging. It gets a bad rap. It seems to most people getting older = losing your edge, not being as fun. When you hit 50 oftentimes the message is that the best part of your life is over and it's all downhill from there. And, you are just moments away from shitting your pants, chugging Ensure and spending your evening with Pat Sajack.

NOT TRUE, obviously

I'm wondering if any of you have felt what I've felt. That you're looked at differently for being older. This becomes very interesting when you forget you are 50+ because you feel like 30, but then people treat you in a certain way. Like you won't understand them or you're fragile or you're not cool or you don't get what they're about because you're an old lady.

Getting older is humbling in some ways and so uplifting in others. I'm probably happier and more comfortable in my own skin than I've ever been and I would take 50 ANY DAY over the high school bullshit years. God, those were the worst. I definitely look happier here than I did my senior year of high school while I watched General Hospital and ate a gallon of cookies and cream ice cream from Giant (anyone remember that east cost grocery store)?


Taken at Snow Canyon State Park in St. George, UT this past weekend

But, I still struggle. I am sandwiched between my parents (who both turn 80 this month) and my kids who are both now technically adults (well, Emma turns 18 in 20 days. So on April 10 she can be found smoking a cigar while getting a tattoo followed by buying a lottery ticket and fireworks. Such milestones when you turn 18!) It's a rather unique place to be and one that all feels very out of control.

And, then there's running. Most people say you get slower as you get older. I am fighting that every step, literally. I know that pace and age group placings are not what is most important about the sport. But, these things keep me motivated in my training. They keep me committed and interested. Sure there are days when I couldn't give a shit about how far or fast I'm running. But, I like being competitive with my peers. This, of course, means focusing on how others in my age group are doing because that's apples to apples, right?

So, I did an experiment. After clawing myself back from major injury and finally being solidly healthy (I fell on May 11 at 9:07 a.m. and tore the mother eff'ing shit out of my hamstring), I can now work on fine tuning things. There are two secret weapons I'm using (these are not purely original, but they are tried and true).

1.  I decided to add in a day of speed work each week just to see how it might affect my overall performance. Typically I do "junk miles" where I just go out and do whatever. For the past 5 weeks I've been reluctantly jumping on the treadmill (trying not to do that when it's on like this time). As the weeks go by, I mind it less and less because I see the gains. Here's the workout I do (I made it up, it doesn't come from some fancy running website):

1 mile w/u: 6.0 mph @ 1% incline
1/2 mile: 6.5 mph @ 1% incline
1/2 mile: 6.8 mph @1% incline
1/2 mile: 7.0 mph @ 1% incline
1/2 mile: 7.2 mph @.5% incline
1/2 mile: 6.5 mph @ 1% incline
1/2 mile: 6.8 mph @1% incline
1/2 mile: 7.0 mph @ 1% incline
1/2 mile: 7.2 mph @.5% incline
1 mile c/d: 6.0 mph @1-2% incline

Total: 6 miles

I see results. Just in the past two weeks or so, I am consistently running faster with less effort. I have cut about 15-30 seconds off per mile.

2. I'm focusing on sleep. From some research I've done lately on recovery, the findings seem to be that the absolute best thing you can do to recover (even better than ice baths, stretching, etc) is to get good sleep. I know I'm an over achiever so I get about nine hours of sleep per night. I can hear you gasping. It is the truth! That is unless the dog barfs or I wake up worried that the picture hanging above our bed is going to fall and behead me (<I love the shit we dream up to worry about in the middle of the night). One thing I'm enjoying is that my new Suunto watch tells me how long I sleep and how many hours of deep sleep I get. It is highly satisfying.

Last night's deep sleep
Total sleep time average this week
Hi Pussy!





















Sleep duration is measured by an accelerometer - a motion sensor which detects movements from your wrist. An added benefit of using a sleep tracker is that your heart rate while you sleep is a good indicator of how well you are truly recovering. If you are over-training and/or not recovering properly, your resting heart rate could be elevated.

Pro-tip (I'm not a pro at anything, but I like the jargon): I take two full rest days each week. Old ladies need it.

So, there you have it. My secret sauce for the moment.

Oh, and hey, meet my new team mates! Can you find me? I'm pretty sure my legs are spread wide eagle..not sure why I always do that.



How many hours of sleep do you get per night on average? 8-9

Did you like high school? Why or why not? No. Mostly because I went to my freshman and sophomore years overseas then moved back to the U.S. my junior year. It was tough breaking into the cliques.

How old are you and what's been your favorite phase of life so far? I'm 52. I actually like this phase of life right now.

Treadmill, yes or no? Being outside wins for me - but I do the treadmill if it serves a purpose - like for speed work or when it's icy outside.


SUAR

PS: Check out the 2 minute video from this weekend. Don't blink or you will miss me.


35 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I turn 50 in July and have been struggling with this number. Gonna give speed work a try!!

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    1. Yes, if nothing else it will challenge you and give some variety!! Countdown to 50!! Woohoo!

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  2. Thank you from a 62 yr old who needed a bit of a kick to get out of the "I'm just slowing down" mode of thinking. I agree that the extra rest day and PLENTY of sleep make a big difference overall but may have to take your advice about the speed work to heart.

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    1. Give it a try. It's not always the most "fun" activity, but I do think it makes a difference!

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  3. Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would
    be okay. I'm definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

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  4. I love sleep. Love. Loss of endurance and speed... not so much. Acceptance is a process. One thing I'm finding that works is strength training. Pretty amazing!

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    1. Acceptance IS a process. In many, many ways. Strength training is definitely key too. I don't do enough of it.

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  5. Turned 50 in November last year and I swear it was like a switch in my brain turned me into a senior citizen. I physically felt different. Of course I was in the middle of a bout of depression over tearing hip muscles 4 weeks before the Chicago marathon in Sept. I’ve struggled ever since to get healthy. Finally went for my first outdoor run a week ago today and 1 block from home tripped on a sidewalk, kissed it and broke my nose. My 50th trip around the planet is proving to be a challenge.

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    1. Oh no. This is a very sad story. I'm sorry. Keep the faith. I do think it will get better.

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  6. 54. I slowed down a lot last year. It sucked. I got injured in January last year and I am still trying to get back into the groove. I've lost the motivation to train a lot. But I am still running. I think speed work is helpful ,and the treadmill is a great way to do it. I also like hiking. I hated high school and quit twice but still graduated. I sleep a lot, 8-10 hours.

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    1. It is humbling to see the slow down. To work harder for slower results. I keep telling myself speed is not everything. I know how much running does for my mental health, so no matter what pace or how far I go, I'll be out there for the pure benefit of what running does for me!

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  7. How many hours of sleep do you get per night on average? 7-8

    Did you like high school? Why or why not? Yes and no. I grew up in small-town Michigan (went to high school in a "village" for real) and had a graduating class of about 60. Then, junior/senior year, went to high school in Boulder. Talk about culture shock. I hated it.

    How old are you and what's been your favorite phase of life so far? 48. My favorite phase was probably early 40s. I hope to have another favorite phase, as soon as I dig myself out of this funk.

    Treadmill, yes or no? Yes. I prefer being outside, but the treadmill is quick and convenient and prevents excuses.

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  8. Didn't somebody famous (cough-Oprah-cough) say "50 is the new 30" a while back? Seems legit psychologically for me; I, too, would take being 50 over 16 any day of the week. I'm fitter physically at 50 than I was then, too. However, I do recover more slowly which has taken me some time to get used to. And I have to do more strength training now, le sigh. Curious as to whether you do any and how you fit it into your training/life schedule?

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    1. Strength training is an area I could do much better at. I do some basic stuff at home - planks, crunches, push ups and I do some circuit weights for upper body 1x per week. Pretty lame, but it's something.

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  9. I want to be you when I grow up.

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    1. What? You want to be on old white lady who drinks too much wine?

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  10. I'll be 51 in April. My pace has slowed a little, but mostly coming back from injury takes forever! Two rest days a week is great for me too. And I find myself telling the younger runners that they need to watch it or they will overtrain and get hurt. haha!! Such old lady talk. But in general I think my age and ability impresses the younger runners in our group and surprises them. That's a feeling of accomplishment for me!

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  11. 59 YO trail runner here. I picked up running again when my kids graduated from HS.

    I wonder how you are fitting in strength/core as part of your overall training schedule? I do strength training 3x per week run 3x and off one day. On the one hand I am convinced that my heavy strength work has reduced my injuries. But, it's a drag at times. Hard to run when sore from deadlifts or squats. I get plenty of sleep 9 hours. Thanks!

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    1. Hi. I'm not great about strength stuff. I do some weights at the gym 1x per week, then home strength (situps, pushups, planks, arm weights) about 3x per week, but it's pretty basic stuff. I could definitely do more. I think you are right - it helps iwth injury prevention and also is good as we age...Keep it up 59 year old!! 60 could be your best year yet!

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  12. Well as usual loved the post. But, don't get depressed because I beat you. I beat you in age. Yup, 63. But that's it. I too, have found that speed work (as much as I hate it) is easier on the treadmill. You can't slow down! I think I saw you in that team picture - you were the one with the white shirt and black pants, right? That video was super! I would love to do that - so much fun!

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    1. Yes, that was me on the left. Good call! I hope to be running just like you when I'm 63!

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  13. I try to get 8-9 hours sleep per night, sometimes more successfully than other times. I hated high school, worst time of my life. I am 60 and still running strong. I don't feel invisible I find a lot of the younger runners are inspired by us oldies still running! Treadmill = yes, good for dark winter mornings and speed work. Although, I have to translate your session into kilometres seeing as I'm in Australia and we're all metric-like :)

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  14. I just discovered your blog this week so I have a lot to read and catch up on! I am 57 years old and I am a runner, not of your caliber but at least I am out there. You are so motivating! I would only go back to high school IF I knew everything I know now. Imagine how much more confidence and success we could have. Looking forward to reading your older posts. Thank you!

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    1. Glad you found the blog! Sounds like we have a lot in common!

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  15. Welcome to the 50+ Club! I've been in it now for the last 4 years and love it. Love how your focus is so amazing and congrats on making the Suunto team. You are rocking it and look awesome! I too have been working on getting more sleep and pushing away from junk miles to structured miles. Thanks for the push to continue.

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  16. Excellent article. I certainly love this site.
    Thanks!

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  17. What's up, I read your blogs like every week.
    Your humoristic style is witty, keep up the good work!

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  18. I get six hours of sleep and feel well-rested - I'm a very heavy sleeper, so even though I only sleep from 12am to 6am, they're quality hours. If I got 9 hours, I'd be so groggy I'd feel drugged.

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  19. I just turned 44 and I do love celebrating birthdays and getting older but it can be a mind f**k when it comes to staying competitive. I definitely take one full rest day each week (well, except in the winter when I snowboard!!) so I'm thinking rest may be key for me in the future. You look awesome and have been an inspiration to me since I starting reading years ago! Keep kicking ass with every candle on that cake woman!! And YES, I remember Giant Food stores - LOL!

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    1. Thanks for continuing to read through the years! I agree with your comment on getting older being a mind fuck with staying competitive!!

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  20. I get about 6-7 hours of sleep a night. I can't make myself get in the bed early, unfortunately. The high school years were just ok - I definitely feel more confident now. I'll be 50 this summer and the 40's have definitely been the most fun. I am hoping that the 50's will be great too. I definitely prefer running outside, but I am going to try your speed workout on the treadmill soon.

    Keep going - I just love reading your blog - so inspiring and funny!

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    1. I am with you on running outside!! It's going to get harder and harder for me to hit the treadmill as the weather gets better. But, I figure I can do once per week. They payoffs are huge! I hope you have fun plans for your 50th!!

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  21. How many hours of sleep do you get per night on average? 6-7

    Did you like high school? Why or why not? I LOVED high school. Now that I am a parent of 2 high schoolers, I'm deathly afraid about how much I loved high school and the reasons why. #partygirl #karma

    How old are you and what's been your favorite phase of life so far? I'm 51. Favorite phase? Probably my 40s.

    Treadmill, yes or no? I love the treadmill. But not for speed work! I hate speed work, LOL.

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    1. Haha I totally get that about your teens..I know what I did so it scares me what they do...

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