Tag Archives: benefits

Some Good News for Runners

Good news, folks! If you’re thinking about getting into running but worried about the impact on your body, or that you’re too old to get the benefits, here are some news items you will find encouraging.

If you’re already a runner, congratulations and keep it up! I think you’ll appreciate the articles below as much as I did.

It’s never too late to start.

Excerpt (underline mine): University of Pittsburgh researchers found that aerobic exercise of any kind, including running, actually increased the size of the hippocampus — the brain’s seat of learning and memory — in middle-aged participants, leading to improvements in memory function and spatial recall. Aerobic exercise, the study’s co-authors wrote, effectively reversed age-related loss in the hippocampus by one to two years…
Read the entire article: http://www.nextavenue.org/article/2012-06/why-its-never-too-late-start-running

And your knees will be just fine – even better!

 

This is good for me...this is good for me...

This is good for me…this is good for me…

According to the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, running does not promote arthritis in the knees and hips – it actually helps them. Data from 90,000 runners and walkers showed that running is actually less likely to cause osteoarthritis or hip replacement than walking.
Read more here: http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/12-reasons-its-great-to-be-a-runner

Older runners still rock it out.

Excerpt: Researchers at the University of New Hampshire and other institutions recruited 51 competitive runners, ranging in age from 18 to 77…Their goal was to assess running economy, a measure of how much oxygen someone uses to run at a certain pace…[The] researchers had assumed that runners past age 60 would be less economical than youthful athletes, since older runners, as a group, are slower than younger ones. But…the runners 60 and older were just as physiologically economical as younger runners, even those in their 20s and 30s.

“It was quite a surprise,” said Timothy Quinn, lead author of the study. “[C]ontrary to our expectations, economy did not decline with age.” The results are encouraging for older runners, he continued, suggesting that aging lungs and leg muscles have no trouble using oxygen efficiently, and that older runners can still be fast.
Read the full article here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/for-older-runners-good-news-and-bad/

And all that coffee is GOOD for you!

Coffee, apparently, helps muscles recover more quickly after hard exercise. A study found that the equivalent of two strong 8-ounce cups of coffee two hours before a race increased anti-inflammatory substances in the body during and after a 15K race. (The effect on pre-race visits to the bathroom were not released.)

I pull a shot in my espresso class (which I took to improve my running, of course)

I pull a shot in my espresso class (which I took to improve my running, of course)

A couple of personal notes: Shell out for the good stuff. Stay away from the RCOD(*) and the like. Life’s too short for crappy coffee, even if you do live longer by running. But stay away from the sugar and fat-loaded specialty drinks (and if you even think about using “non-dairy creamer” I will reach through the screen and smack you).

Have I covered all your excuses yet?

It's COLD out, man!

It’s COLD out, man!

Sorry, that doesn’t fly either. As long as you dress properly, winter running can be just as enjoyable and good for you as in the warmer weather. Check out one of my past posts if you’re not convinced. Or stay tuned for my recap of last week’s Bigfoot Snowshoe Race. Just waiting on a couple of photos I ordered.

So see you out there!

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(*) RCOD = Red Can of Death. I think you can figure out the rest.

Making The Time

Group run Saturday morning was all right. It was 35 degrees, raining, and the melting snow either created icy patches or flooded the streets in massive puddles or running streams. But it was tropical paradise compared to a week ago. Finally, it didn’t feel like Mother Nature was trying to kill me whenever I stepped outside.

Yes, I wore gloves in my office. Long underwear, too (not shown).

Yes, I wore gloves in my office. Long underwear, too (not shown).

Later that day I was talking with someone about my fitness activities and the events I have planned for this year, including several ultramarathons and my first-ever triathlons. “How do you find the time to train?” she asked, knowing the type of training needed to perform well at these events.

Well, it isn’t easy. With a full-time job, a house to maintain, cats to serve, and plenty of other interests, it would be easy to claim that I didn’t have the time to exercise regularly. But I have been able to integrate exercise into my life without it seeming like a large sacrifice of my otherwise “free” time. Here are a few ways I’ve done this:

Saturday mornings. These used to be my “sleep in” days, and I would typically stay in bed until 10:00. Now I roll out of bed at 7:00, toss on running clothes, and head downtown for a run of 10 miles or more with PR Fitness. By 10:00 I’ve exercised, gotten some fresh air, and enjoyed time with my running friends. I go to bed earlier on Friday nights to make this possible, but that’s probably healthier for me too.

 

I may be crazy, but I have company.

I may be crazy, but I have company.

Afternoon walks. I did these long before I became a regular runner, and I still use them when I need a break. Just fifteen minutes is one mile, enough to reinvigorate body and mind and help burn off that after-lunch cookie (or two).

 

One of the fringe benefits of a summer night bike ride.

One of the fringe benefits of a summer night bike ride.

Evening short runs and bike rides. In the warmer months I can hop on my bike at 6:00 p.m. and get in a 20-mile trip before dark. Even one hour on the bike can be a good workout, or a relaxing cure for a tough day at work. And year-round I run Wednesday nights with PR Fitness.

So what am I getting out of all this? The physical benefits, for sure. I’m stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been. But that by itself doesn’t explain why running and cycling has become such an important part of my life. There are mental and spiritual benefits, too. A slow, easy run or bike ride are not much of a physical challenge, but they create a sense of peace and well-being that releases stress and helps restore my sense of perspective. The petty concerns of day-to-day life drop away, and I can spend some time in the moment, feeling connected with life, the universe, and everything (*).

Next time (or soon) I will talk about something else I’m working on, so far with mixed success, to work further on a greater sense of spirituality. Stay tuned.

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(*) Yes, the answer is 42.