45 Year Old Dad Discovers His Childhood Athleticism

April 21st, 2012 in NO RUNNING by 0 Comments

Whether you are a year removed from college track or a year removed from retirement, the athleticism of your youth is still inside you.

Like an old lawnmower, give it a good cleaning and it will restart…as this 45 year old dad discovered.

 

Mark,

The reason why I am curious about running track again stems from when I took my kids to the track in Seattle. They are only 4 and 5, so while they ran a little with my wife, I decided to just run one lap a little faster. I did it in 74 seconds very easily. Now, doing 4 of them back to back at 45 years old is a whole different story.

I found that all the steep hikes I have been doing since I’ve lived out here have given me more power, mental strength. I don’t do any crazy 10 mile road work. I go as fast as I can uphill and take it relatively easy on the downhill in the mountains.

The key, and this is key, is that I don’t go 90-100 percent every day – more like 90-50-75 on say Monday, Tues, Wed. Sometimes, for example, I’ll do 4000 feet of vertical (much of it in snow this time of year) as hard as I can one day, and nothing the next.

Rather, I lift weights, but not in the gym as much anymore. I use left over cinder blocks from when I renovated my house a long time ago. I have a piece of rebar that I sometimes slide in between them for curls, presses, etc. Some days, instead of running, I walk around all day with ankle weights or a heavy pack, or load up the cinder blocks and do squats. When I am working at home, I get up and do pushups in every room of the house when I take a break. I also use Billy Blanks old Tae Bo workout for cardio as well as Tony Horton. You kind of see the theme. It seems haphazard, but it really isn’t. My wife already thinks I am nuts – and she is right.

The key is mixing it up, and allowing my overtired muscles to recover while working muscles from different angles – you don’t get this by merely putting in 50-mile weeks or the same lifting routine in the gym. Whatever it is, I feel I have been getting faster again.

Diet-wise, I don’t get too strict. I naturally don’t like to eat fried foods and lots of sat fats. I eat lots of bok choy, broccoli, spinach and feta. I still drink milk, and get much of my fat from unsaturated sources like vegetable oils or nuts. I make a 4-egg omelet I share with my 5-year old daughter, but I only use 1 to 2 yolks. I stay away from processed foods. And too funny, I eat Chipotle, which was mentioned on your site. I could bore you to tears, but I’ll stop here.

Erik

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Erik,

Your story is not boring at all. In fact, your regimen is exactly the sort of thing I recommend to readers, particularly in my NO RUNNING rants.

You are actually more diet-savvy than most. Also, your rest / recovery philosophy is spot on. Shockingly, most athletes don’t adhere to this critical requirement for optimal performance. They are working twice as hard…and not reaching their full potential as a result.

With your lifting and long mountain walks, you’ve essentially been in a prolonged Endurance/Strength-building phase (two of the first three phases of a professional pre-competitive cycle).

The next step would be to introduce some speed training (slowly, of course!). Based on your routine, I suspect your legs are stronger than they are fast. Plyometrics would help unlock that strength. Drills would re-teach your body proper and efficient running technique (a.k.a. form). Quick sprints of 50-150M would improve your neuro-muscular coordination, eventually enabling you to regain much of the quickness of your youth. Longer reps (200s, 400s, 800s) at various paces / rest intervals and the occasional tempo run would come close to completing the equation.

Sounds like a lot to “complete the equation”, but the Endurance and Strength phases actually take the most amount of time to complete. Speed, Lactic Tolerance, and Fine Tuning can be completed in a few months time. The only catch is that you really ought to have a coach to assess your unique physiology to determine when and how much of each exercise will make you the fastest you possible.

Crazy as it might sound, you could actually compete at the Masters National Championships (August 2-5 in Lisle, Illinois). A 5:00 mile would likely place you among the Top 10 in the 45-49 age grouping.

I hope you give it a shot. I personally enjoyed my journey immensely. The transformation from “fat drunk” to National Champion gave purpose/direction to my exercise regimen. It also enabled me to recapture a piece of my childhood. I can now sprint, jump, and even play football against 20 year olds again…and beat them! For over 10 years thought those days were over.

In fact the athleticism of your youth doesn’t go away so easily.

It actually declines very very very slowly over time. The reason it seems to disappear is that we cease to use it. Like an old lawnmower in the shed, our bodies get rusty. But like that old lawnmower, all it needs is a good cleaning and overhaul. It’ll start right back up again — a little worse for wear…but only a little.

Keep me abreast of the progress and best of luck!

Kindest Regards,

Mark

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Mark,

Just came back from the track. I think you hit the nail on the head without even being there.

I did a couple of 100m sprints, but I say sprints loosely because I did not want to step on the gas all the way for reasons you mention. I did a couple of 200m in around 34 secs and ran one 400m in a little over 70 for the grand finally. I rested anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes in between as I was entertaining my 4 and 5 year-olds.

I gotta tell ya, that 70 was pretty tough. In terms of my legs being stronger than they are fast, absolutely true. I feel plenty strong enough for my Thurs night hike up a 5000-foot mountain in the pouring rain with a few other lunatics – I guess it’s birds of a feather…

Erik

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Erik,

On the track or on the mountain…lunatic birds of a feather indeed. We’re all a little nuts. LOL.

Those are pretty good times for someone at your age…and especially with your training experience. There’s definitely something lurking under the covers there!

FYI, the tough 70 was primarily due to your lack of “lactic acid tolerance” (in quotes because it’s a misnomer – topic for another day). That tolerance comes quickly, but is not recommended to push until later in training. 1) It’s painful!…a mind can grow weary of feeling that pain regularly and 2) it actually does involve acid, so it’s actually detrimental to your body and training, even though it’s critical to build tolerance to race your best times, and 3) it only takes 6 weeks to develop, so most knowledgeable coaches develop it at the very end of my season (a big reason why early-season times are so much slower than late-season times).

Keep a level head and sloooooowwwwwwly incorporate track workouts into your regimen. I have no doubt you will see great progress. If you simply stick to your philosophy of getting good recovery, you’ll be ahead of 80-90% of runners out there.

Thanks for sharing your “No Running” experience. Good Luck!

Mark


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Author: Mark

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