Over the years, my running has had many stops and starts. Fortunately, I’ve never given up on it which is the plight of many runners who were competitive high school and college athletes. I started in rather late at running --- when I was a graduate student --- and did it on my own without a bunch of teammates or a coach to push me along. Perhaps that’s why I still run today and am still pretty much on my own. The unique thing about my situation now is that it has become crystal clear to me that it isn’t as easy to get back in shape as it was in the past --- even ten years ago. My thinking right now is that, if I can once again get into acceptable condition, I’d better stay that way, because it might be impossible to recover again.
Here in Norwich, NY, my hometown now, we have an annual Thanksgiving 5K run. I’ve competed in it many times, usually winning first or second place in my age group. After COVID restrictions were lifted, I again competed in 1981 at 80 years old. My time was a disgraceful 42:08. I was in such terrible condition that I had to walk a lot more than I ran. In 1982, I competed again with a time of 35:29, a major improvement, but I still had to do some walking to finish the race. This coming Thanksgiving, I’m determined to run the entire race with a time of under 30 minutes. This will amount to a pace of under 10 minutes/mile. After that, I vow to never get out of running condition again. You can hold me to that vow!
Amazingly, in both 1981 and 1982, I won first place in my age group (80 and up). The reason was simple. In 1981, there were no other competitors and, in 1982, there was only one other guy whose time was very slow. It’s a sad fact that, among seniors, there are very few of us that are capable of running a 5K distance --- or even walking it. I’ll be writing more about the sorry condition of senior citizens in future blog posts and what I hope to do about it --- at least on a local level.
In December of last year, I had a hernia repaired. Needless to say, that messed up my fitness activities for a while. However, I mapped out a “post-surgery” fitness program that I’ve been fairly faithful to since then. It includes both strength and cardio work. For cardio, I run and pedal a stationary bike on alternate days of the week. My feeling is that running at the slow pace I’m stuck with doesn’t do too much for leg strength whereas, when pedaling a bike (of any kind!), it’s easy to make your thighs burn --- something that has to lead to strength gain. My running program uses the method I described in my first book, The K*I*S*S* Fitness Program. This program involves a 30-minute “walk/run.” You start the program walking almost the entire time and gradually replace the walking with running until, ultimately, you’re running the entire 30 minutes. Sounds like my goal for the 5K, right? So far, I’m on track. I’m up to running around 4/5 of the 30-minute time period at the 10-minute pace. My plan is to be running the whole thing by the end of April. As soon as I can run the distance, I plan to compete in 5K races. Actually, my hoped-for time of 30 minutes is very good for an 80+ year old guy --- even though it seems like a snail’s pace to what I’ve done in the past. That’s the way things go, I guess. I’ll provide a running update in another month or two. Stand by…