FAQ

Hey, welcome to my blog! I created this FAQ to help you understand why I write this blog and what you might get from reading it.


Why did you start running?

I first started running in grad school, in fact I even did a half marathon and a couple of marathons (5hrs+). I was not a very smart runner and information was hard to come by (or wrong).

A few years ago when, I was 51, I was helping my sister-in-law move into her new house and I really felt the days exertions...I was wiped out.  At the time I weighed about 60lbs more than I do now.  When I looked in the mirror I saw a fat, out of shape, old guy. Errrrk. Not good.

Then, if that wasn't bad enough I went to the doctor for my 50 year old physical exam (finally) and he told me that:

  • You are borderline obese. (gasp!)
  • Your total cholesterol is too high: 177
  • Your good  cholesterol is too low given your total: 45
  • Your BP is too high.
me before running (2007)

He suggested a "low dose of Lipitor" as a fix for ....I told him I would *fix this* myself.  I couldn't stand the idea of being on such a complex medication for (potentially) decades.

What did I do? I started running again (very slowly), cut down on dairy fats, reduced meat intake,  dropped my excess pounds (over 6 months), and ended up with 113/65 for my numbers, weight down to middle of range for my height. No Liptor for me. Yay!

me (2010)
I feel really good now and am quite addicted to that feeling. Yes, I miss piling tons of Parmesan cheese on my spaghetti, but I like the way I feel too much to screw it up.

I do love to eat, and running lets me get away with eating a lot and not gaining any weight.


How did you pick the name of your blog?

I learned that part of the "bad news" of getting older is that your muscle mass and aerobic fitness start to really degrade. There's basically nothing you can do about this. But, the good news is that you can 'shift the curve' up so high (with exercise) that you can be just as fit as a 30 year old (and I mean an average untrained 30-year-old that's not obese but not doing huge exercise).  You'll feel really, really good after you get 'over-the-hump' of learning how to find your groove.

This 20 year time shift can be held for your whole life...e.g. you can be at least as fit at 70 as a sedentary 50 yr old. (Guess who's already got dibs on 60-is-the-new-40 and 70-is-the-new-50 blogger domains? 8)

You can see that I'm really interested in inspiring other slow, older runners and helping them to start exercising.

When I see somebody over 50 running I have real respect for them. I' m filled with empathy when I see somebody going painfully slow remembering my own early plodding....I wish I could give them a picture of themselves a few years down the road if they kept it up.

What about your knees? Don't you think you are ruining them?

Nope. I don't have knee problems these days. I did when I started running in my 20's. My knee problems were due to weak quadriceps muscles and by doing some exercises I fixed the problem.

A recent study of runners in thier 70's and 80's showed healthier knees than sedentary people.

I'm always amazed at the work people will put into making, fixing and optimizing complex human creations (machines, houses, objects, art) but seem to think they have to treat there body as immutable: "I tried running but my knees hurt, so I stopped".

There are problems that can't be debugged (e.g. severe arthritis) but often problems are due to biomechanical issues. The most common reason for problems is probably just trying to do too much too soon. It's easy to improve so fast in your conditioning (heart, lungs) and muscles that you get too far ahead of your connective tissues (tendons, ligaments and bones) too fast. This is what caused my knee problem when I started years ago.

As an older runner I've discovered that Achilles Tendinitis is my weak point, and I've learned how to control it by reading about it, trying various ideas and seeing what works for me.

In my opinion, it takes a full year for your body to adapt enough to handle 20-25 miles a week of running. You may be luckier than that, but in general, boost the miles slowly! I did not attempt marathon training mileages (40-50 miles/week) until I'd been running like this for almost 2 years.

If you have a problem, try googling around and see what others think. Drop me a line and I'll try to help too.

People weren't meant to do so much running. It must be bad for you.

Au contraire, I think the evidence is overwhelming that humans evolved specifically to become the best runners on the planet. The upright stance, ability to sweat, ability to get high energy foods all contribute. (Google "persistance hunting" to learn more)

The "Western States 100 miler" was started as a horse race (the Tevis Cup endurance race) through the rugged Sierra mountains. It's often a hot, at high altitude, and of course, very hilly (over 18000' of climbing).

These days humans have taking to running it and they do it faster than horses. The records for Men is 15hr 30min and women are right up there at 17hr 30min....these times are faster than the fastest horse!

So the upshot is I think that people were designed for endurance running, i.e. slow running or run/walking. You can build endurance at any stage of life. Faster running is another story...that's a bit tricky as the stresses are harder on your body.

I just read about somebody dying in the XYZ marathon, aren't you worried?

Nope. Every year in the USA 400,000 people run a marathon. The odds are worse for a lot of (less fun) activities that don't leave you any healthier.

Wow! You can run a marathon...I could never run a marathon.

You may not be *interested* in running a marathon but for 9 out of 10 of you reading this I'm sure you could. The other 10% could run/walk one for sure. It just takes time and persistence. My cousin Ross went from zero to his first marathon with an 18 week program.

Why do you like running so much?

I like running because I can -- that's not a glib answer...(and I didn't invent it), but it's true.

It's very intense physical animal experience (as contrasted with sitting in a chair working on engineering problems all day) AND it's  a 'body-as-machine' experience.

You get to know your own 'house' as pure experience as well as cerebrally.


Why this blog?

I started writing this blog because some friends told me "You should write a blog". Why did they say this? Because I was talking their ears off about running! This way people can take my blabbering in small doses on their own time. 8)

As mentioned above, I'd also hope to  motivate even just a couple of 50+ types to get moving!

Seriously, we all know health is very important to enjoying life.  Right now, I feel very lucky to feel as good as I do, so I want to make sure I can remember these times years and years from now.

Some day down the road, when I'm sitting in a wheelchair (strike that...rolling *fast* in the wheelchair), I will look back and remember how great it was.

Are you a Nerd?

Oh yes. Check out the Number Crunching page for proof.


Where is your blog header picture from?

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, Ca.