There are different meanings to exercise and sport

We were at pizza joint with a group of my wife’s friends. They’re mostly her friends from yoga. Yoga folks are pretty cool and I enjoy hanging out with them.  As a rule they are all fit and health conscious. It never fails that one or two of them quiz me on the subject of my less passionate view of yoga. I don’t do yoga, but I stretch every morning for about half an hour plus or minus a few minutes here and there.

My daily run which begins in my backyard

Mixed in with the purest yoga students there are runners who practice yoga. While I never bring up the subject of running many of them know that I run or at least have completed many somewhat difficult runs. (Brenda told them) They are all younger and will at times ask for advice. (Often the advice relates to a medical concern. Brenda also told them of me medical background.)

Sooner to later, like the yoga inquiry, I get quizzed about my running, which is only about 2 miles a day.  That’s enough for me for the moment.

Trail running in North Georgia with River

When I mention 2 miles a day jaws may pop open as if I’ve uttered a severely unacceptable comment or committed some sacrilege. One fellow asked me if I missed it referring to running longer distances.  I said no, plainly and simply I don’t miss running long solo miles.  If I keep the mileage at three or less per run River, my nearly 9-year-old lab, is happy to run along with me.  Beyond 3 miles and she gets bored. At two miles she’s happy and I have company while running.

Another inquisitor asked me if I missed triathlons. (Brenda, again)  He’s training for a triathlon.  He’s heard I have completed lots of them.  As with running, “Nope,” I answered.  When I said “Nope” the yoga runners and yoga triathletes looked at me with saddened eyes as if I had nothing to live for.

“Look,” I said to the small audience watching to see if I was going to die on the spot, “I do a lot of exercise.”  I added, “ I stretch every morning, which is a lot like your yoga.  A number of the stretches are actually yoga moves.” The audience appear unimpressed.

Then, I pointed out that indeed I run only 2 miles a day. I also ride a bike by time rather than distance or some combination of time and distance everyday for an hour to 90 minutes.  So, I pointed out I get a lot of exercise. The additional cycling seemed to satisfy many that I was doing the correct amount of physical fitness training.

Some scenery is well worth the ride

I was going to mention that those exercise intervals are warm-ups sessions only.  That the 2 to 3 hours per day doing those workouts are, in fact, not my primary sport.  Further I didn’t mention that I head to the gym once or twice per week.  All of which are secondary activities to the 2 to 5 hours per day of archery practice.  It seemed to me, that in the setting of the conversation, bringing to light the nearly 8-hour day of work to be a decent archer would have been wasted breath.

Beyond our backyard fence is where 3D practice is the current primary focus
There’s always a dark target in a hole in 3D – gotta practice this shot

Everyone around Brenda and I eating pizza was a lot younger.  The top end age, outside of Brenda and I, was probably upper 30s to at most 42 years old. The majority of those in attendance were younger than our children. They all workout several times per week at yoga and a few do train to run or work toward completing an international distance triathlon. Most of them have jobs, not all, so working out or training  much more than they’re doing takes a certain frame of mind. The question becomes what it is you want and what are you willing to give up to get it.

What I learned is that what time most of them put toward exercise and fitness max’ed out at around 14 hours per week.  That’s good and overall for most people a lot of exercise.  None of them is working toward any specific sport goal beyond a completion of some target event.

Good to practice the shot, but it sucks to break an arrow

“I’m training to do a triathlon,” or “I’m training to run a 5K,” are great goals and eventual achievements. There is, however, a difference when your goals include breaking records, winning titles and championships, or  being ranked top in the world.  This difference in the meaning for the exercise or training in no way implies one set of priorities is more important than the other.  There’s just a difference.

Greater progression of athletic performance in older Masters athletes (2)

At the 2019 Georgia Field Archery Championship in the age group of athletes from 60 to 70 years old the prior State record was surpassed by three archers including the prior record holder having set the old record in 2017.  In the women’s over 50 group a new record was set.  That means two new records with four scores surpassing prior records were achieved. Outside of those Masters athletes only one other record was broken in the cub group. (1)

Record holding triathlete the “Iron Nun”
Yes that a pack of kids chasing a Master athlete

Looking at Masters athletes as a whole a group of investigators found that improvements among the Masters athletes is advancing more rapidly than among younger athletes.(2) The researchers stated that, “While younger athletes’ performance has stagnated, Masters athletes improved their athletic performance significantly and progressively over the years. The magnitude of improvements was greater in older age groups gradually closing the gap in athletic performance between younger and older participants.”(2)

We’re all getting older, we just don’t have to get old (George Burns)

If you have read my writing here you’ll know that I’ve been offering the opinion that Masters athletes are being overlooked by sports companies.  We, the older athletes, are indeed reaching new levels of skill not seen from past performances.  I remain steadfast in my belief that companies bypassing the recognition, particularly in the US, of Masters athletes are missing a major market opportunity. (Wake up -Nike, Elite, Hoyt, Mathews, UnderArmour, and you other sport companies and smell the sweat.)

Reference:

  1. http://gbaa.georgiaarchery.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-GBAA-State-Field-Results.pdf
  2. Akkari A, Machin D, Tanaka H: Greater progression of athlete performance in older Masters athletes. Age Aging 2015 Jul;44(4): 683-6. Doi: 10.1093/ageing/afv023. Epub 2015 Mar 8.

The benefits of exercise

There are lots of articles at this site about the benefits of exercise.  Some people exercise their entire lives. Others are professional athletes where various forms of exercise are their work. For some of us exercise is an activity done at best a few times a week.  For too many people exercise is an activity they avoid.

When we see young fit glorified professional athletes we are amazed at their being ability.  You may think, “I could never do that.” Perhaps, it is outside your ability.  If you are 5 feet 4 inches tall, age 50 and overweight, you will not ever play in the NBA.

You do not need to be a professional athlete to be fit.  You don’t need to be 6 six 8 inches tall to enjoy playing basketball.  Being fit has nothing to do with professional athletes. There are a lot of ex-professional athletes, now in the 50s and 60s who are massively out of shape. There are also plenty that remain fit. There, too, are amazingly fit individuals that have never earned a dime in sport.

Being unfit can reduce how long you get to live.  I had a friend, tremendously unfit, who once said to me, “I’m here for a good time, not a long time.”  He said this to me when we ran into one another after years of not seeing each other. I nearly didn’t recognize him. A few months later he fulfilled his statement.

A lack of fitness will increase your risk for: coronary heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, hip fracture, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, obesity, and being over weight.  On the other hand exercise can lead a disability free extra 18.4 years of life.

Aging well is supported by fitness.  If you are young begin now developing a life style that will lead to an enjoyable existence in your later years.  If you have reached a point in your life that you feel too old to begin exercise you are mistaken.

In 2013 a group of investigators looked at physical activity and quality of life. They concluded that physical activity does improve quality of life. (1) It seems like a simple concept. Yet, the CDC has reported that 39.9% of the adult population of the US is obese. (2)

I do run nearly everyday. I also do a lot of walking during archery practice

Of course, you do not need to become a marathoner, Ironman, or open water distance swimmer to be fit. Walking, too often over looked for the lack of glamour given it by sports apparel corporations, is an ideal method to gain fitness. (3)

If you are reading this and you are an unfit archer you are on a path that can improve your fitness. Already you walk, back and forth to retrieve arrows, when you practice.  You may not be able to practice archery everyday, but you can walk everyday. Adding more walking to your archery-training plan will improve over health and fitness.

References:

1.Diane L. Gill, Cara C. Hammond, Erin J. Reifsteck, Christine M. Jehu, Rennae A. Williams, Melanie M. Adams, Elizabeth H. Lange, Katie Becofsky, Enid Rodriguez, and Ya-Ting ShangPhysical Activity and Quality of Life. J Prev Med Public Health. 2013 Jan; 46(Suppl 1): S28–S34. Published online 2013 Jan 30. doi: 10.3961/jpmph.2013.46.S.S28PMCID: PMC3567315 PMID: 23412703

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  2. 3.https://www.emedicinehealth.com/walking_for_fitness/article_em.htm#walking_for_fitness_getting_started

How Many Hours Per Week Do You Train?

On the internet I stumbled across an interesting article about archery.(1) It was based on a survey.  Years ago I ran a studies that collected survey data. In that research we needed to be certain the data submitted was correct.  In order to do so we contracted with a major university that audited cancer surveys. They’d developed a program that would sort suspicious entries. Those entries could then be questioned and verified.  The archery article I read had in the results data that I found questionable. (1)

Not certain those numbers add up

What caught my attention among the data on this survey were the hours that 2% of the respondents stated they practiced per week. (1) Those archers submitted they practiced more than 50 hours per week.  That seemed like a lot of practice.

I asked some professional athlete friends how much they trained per week. They train closer to 30 hours per week (triathlon/cycling).  More training than that and the return on training begins to diminish. I searched and found that as a group professional athletes practice about 5-6 hours per day 6 days per week. (2) That’s,  around 30 hours per week.

50+ hours a week of cycling would be too much for me.

There a limit of what the body can absorb from training.  If someone is pushing 50 hours per week, allowing for a 6 day week (assuming, perhaps erroneously the 50+ hours per week archers give themselves a rest day) that is 8.33 hours of archery practice per day.  It seems like a lot of archery in a day.

He’s my schedule:

Running is a great adjunct to archery. Races are fun.

I shoot and train about 30.5 hours per week.  I do not have another job so my days are clear for athletic work.  Not all of that 30.5 is shooting arrows.  I shoot arrows on an average two and a half hours per day broken, mostly, into two sessions.  I spend an hour per week at the gym, 2.5 hours stretching, 6 hours running, and 7 hours cycling.  This time does not include video review or study. I have one day off a week.  There are training cycles where this varies, this is an annual analysis.

Training as an archer should include more than shooting arrows

Now, you my think that shooting arrows about 14 hours per week will take a long time to reach 10,000 hours, the number of hours often associated with elite performance.(3) If that 10,000 rule was an absolute, you would be correct.  The 10,000 rule is not an absolute.

Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, often is misquoted in regard to the 10,000 rule

You may further think that 14 hours per week shooting is the extent of training.  Here you would be somewhat incorrect.  Indeed, it is archery practice. However, the other elements of training, the stretching, running, going to the gym, and cycling are all components to becoming a better archer.

Shooting a bow for more than 90 minutes at a time is a long time.  So, I typically break up archery practice into morning and afternoon practice sessions.  Aside from not becoming too physically fatigued, and increasing the risk of an injury, it means I have what I consider the best time frame for mental focus.  Too long at practice and it is easy to become mentally tired which can be followed by sloppy form.

Coaching tip

The brain needs a break as well as the body.  Anyone practicing archery for 50+ hours per week is likely headed toward injury or burnout. Personally, I question archers who claim to be practicing 50+ hours per week. Their math may be wrong or they may be including other activities. Either way, 50+ hours is a lot.

How many hours per week do you train? (The answer is for you, this is not a survey)

Reference:

  • hitting-the-bullseye-reel-girl-archers-inspire-real-girl-archers-full
  • https://www.quora.com/How-many-hours-do-athletes-practice-a-week
  • https://www.businessinsider.com/anders-ericsson-how-to-become-an-expert-at-anything-2016-6

Saving Turtles

Part of my overall training for archery includes cardio fitness exercise. In that essential area are running and cycling.  I’ve done a lot of running and cycling. Often, while cycling or running along side of a rural road I see a turtle trying to make it to the other side of the road.

Turtles aren’t known for speed but they do have endurance.  In that matter I can relate.  Whenever I see one on the road I pause to help it across.

Today I crossed paths while riding my bike with a large turtle and gave it a tow handed lift to the other side of the road.  This turtle never completely ducked back into its shell.  Perhaps it knew I was hoping to help.

On the round trip I checked to be sure I’d headed it in the correct direction.  I was pleased to find it making progress.

I searched for the turtle on the ride back. It took some looking but there’s it is heading away from the road.

Athens and Cycling

Some of the places I’ve lived and trained on a bike:

The flag tells it all for a cyclist.
Seriously, there’s some $$$ around here

Savannah, Georgia, Easton, Maryland, and New Hope, North Carolina, are all coastal cities. The cycling there is primarily flat. There’s wind, but there are no hills. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania there’s not much wind, there isn’t a level road in the city. In Pittsburgh you are screaming in pain on a climb or screaming in terror at 48 – 52 miles per hour going downhill. Cleveland, Ohio, where I lived near Lake Erie is flat. Kennesaw, Georgia has rolling hills and not much wind.  Augusta, Georgia and Statesboro, Georgia had some hills and were easy on the wind for cycling.

Athens is unique.  Athens has nice rolling hills with some decent climbs – nothing of the Pittsburgh caliber. What is unique is the wind.  There’s always wind. The wind here is practically coastal in nature.

On some rides, you just have to stop and smell the cow sh.t. We’re surrounded by cattle. (Better cows than cars)

Wind is an environmental element that anyone who plays outside must deal.  The only times, it seems, when the wind is calm are at times like these when I’m typing, glancing out the window, and see no limbs or leaves moving.  Of course!

Time-Trial Flop

If you read posting on this sight you know that I am keen on health and fitness. Everyday I do some form, often multiple forms, of exercise.  For example, aside from archery practice today, I stretched, ran, and did a time-trial on a bicycle. It’s that time-trial that flopped.

Now, I did get through the course I’d planned.  The idea was to break a prior personal best on the 11.7-mile course. No, 11.7 miles isn’t a long ride. It is the course that makes it tough.

For the first 3.6 miles the ride is all uphill.  Then, it levels, dips a little, and climbs some more.  The backside has a steep short downhill, then a gradual climb for the next several miles.  The final 2 miles intersects with the start of the course.  It is hard and I’ve been trying to break 30-minutes on the ride.

The plan was to use a triathlon bike.  On an easier try the day before I’d done the course in 32 minutes using a tri-bike. There was, along with the climbing, a heavy wind.  Usually, I’m on a road bike, the tri-bike using a tucked position helped in the wind. Without much effort I’d come close to the 30-minute time.

The bike I’d planned to use

When I picked up that Cannondale Slice tri-bike today the rear tire was flat.  Perfect.  I grabbed a road bike and planned to go for it anyway.

Let me say, I’m no meteorologist, but it seems unlikely that there can be a headwind at every turn and in every direction.  Yet, today it happened.  As hard as I pushed the wind pushed harder.

At 8 miles I thought there’d be a chance.  I thought I’d get out of the headwind and have a tailwind.  I was wrong. I didn’t get that sub-thirty minutes.

Fitness Minded

I often mention the number of archers that I compete against that appear, in my expert opinion, to be taking beta-blockers. They’re taking the drug, a PED in archery, to manage their hypertension.

I spent a solid decade studying hypertension and methods of treating it.  During that period I published research, sponsored the research of others, and helped develop methods to improve the health of people that have hypertension.

One of the best ways to combat the typical hypertension I see is through diet and exercise.  I worry about hypertension and the impact it could have on me.  Personally, a stroke would seriously limit my activity.

With that in mind, I exercise a lot.  The exercise aids in keeping my weight down – I do enjoy a good meal.  I admit I have exercised a lot all my life.

Picking up archery later (at 58 years old) than most archers being fit has not hurt me.  If I stopped shooting a bow tomorrow I’d still run and ride a bike.  In fact, I run almost everyday and ride a bike at least 4 times a week.

Wear these once then wash them. Fives days worth this week

I used to ride more when I raced bicycles.  When I picked up duathlons and triathlons cycling became another element of the sport. Of all the sports I’ve done cycling is my favorite (no offense to archers).  Actually, football is my second favorite sport and had it not been for cycling I’d have played in college.

Lots of nice open roads here in rural Georgia to enjoy cycling

In my junior year of high school I’d been scouted by a few college teams.  My high school coach had all but guaranteed my parents I’d get a chance to play in college. To them that meant college tuition they’d not have worry about.

But, I got hooked on cycling and thought I’d give it a ride to see if I’d make an Olympic Team.  It is impossible to keep weight on while racing bicycles.  So, my football opportunities dropped as fast as the weight.

Cycling didn’t pan out either.  Just out of high school I did have a chance to race in Europe but passed and gradually migrated my attention to academics then a day job.  Through out it all I stayed on a bike. And I eventually raced in Europe.

ITU Long Course Duathlon, World Championship – 2007

Decades of fitness are paying off now that I’m in my mid-60s.  I take no prescription drugs.  My blood pressure runs around 117/68 and my percentage of body fat is in the single digits.

Where fitness pays other dividends is in archery.  Over a long two-day tournament I am far more bored than fatigued.

I thought I heard someone yell, “Get him!.” So I ran like I stole something.

The hardest thing for me in archery is to remain in the game.  During a 4-hour 100-mile bicycle race or a 5-hour 70.3-mile ½ Ironman, I can stay focused.  (The young professionals are much faster than those times.) During a marathon or ½ marathon focus isn’t an issue.  During a long archery tournament my mind becomes numb.

That lack of focus might be assisted by a PED.  Certainly, those early end jitters would be reduced.  But, it is better to be fit and get through an event without the aid of a hypertension support medication. It is even better not to have high blood pressure.

Want to get fit? Check with your doc before you run around the block.

Lots of Competition Among the Older Runners

Before I left the house on Saturday morning, aside from stretching and eating breakfast, I took River for a run. We ran a short mile.  I kept it short because I needed to get on the road. I had a 5K race at 0900.

The race was really a nice run.  Over half of it was off road.  There was a good crowd even if the weather was a little sketchy.

Interestingly, the collection of subsets of runners on this Saturday is becoming more defined by my observations. I’ve been noticing this evolution of the running collective over years. It breaks down something like this:

There’s the young crowd of local track team members.  Then, there are women and more mature men.  By mature men, I mean the population of men over 50.

Here’s the thing about this group of runners at the 5K, some male age groups were totally unrepresented. There were no male runners from 19 years old to 24 years old.  There were two male runners between the ages of 25 and 29 and zero male runners between 30 and 34.  The age groups didn’t get populated for men until the 45 years old group. From 45 years old to 75 years old the grey haired male runners were abundant. Not only were there plenty of mature male runners those in attendance were fast.  The second fastest time of the day came from the 70 – 75 year old male group with the old fellow pacing out sub-7 minute miles.

After the race when I read the times I wanted to meet the 70+ year old man that ran sub-7 minute miles. So did another runner or two and we searched for him looking for his bib number.  We didn’t find him.  Obviously, he’d won and headed home, back to Snellville.  We all assumed he ran home.

I won my age group and did well overall.  I’d noticed the medals and wanted one so I stayed for the award ceremony.  Sometimes I see the award medal decide it isn’t worth the wait then head home skipping the award ceremony. But, this medal was clearly unique and a fair amount of thought had gone into its design.  I wanted it so I waited.

The wait wasn’t long – they started with the higher age groups and I’m in the third from the oldest group for this race.  When they called my name I walked to the awards area.  They’d handed the 2ndand 3rdplace finishers the cool looking medal each with a bronze or silver finish.  I received a water bottle!

To be fair, it is a nice metal water bottle.  I’m sure it cost more that the medal.  The water bottle has nothing on it to represent the race.  It’s a water bottle with a local middle school logo – the school whose grounds were used to host the race.  I am disappointed.  If I’d known, I’d had held back for second.

What I do know is there seemed to be percentage-wise few young adult males in this race.  When I first began running, then racing, the male population was by far the largest percentage of a race.  Not too long ago at major marathon the women, for the first time in that race’s history, outnumbered the male runners. Since then, not knowing the exact count, I think the races I’ve entered have been at least even based to gender and if anything the higher number of runners appearing to be female.  Certainly, in this 5K the female population was greater in number than the male population.

It will happen if you run trails. 

I’ve read and been told that archery is the second safest sport.   It really depends on the reference.  No doubt, archery is a safe sport. Running on the other hand, while it seems safe, can be hazardous.

If you do a lot of trail running you know where I’m headed.  Sure, you might get attacked by a mountain lion and need to fight for your life.  You might run up on a rattlesnake, copperhead, or other poisonous snake.  That’s when you sprint away while doing the hopping chicken dance.  Heck, in some places there’re bears to worry about.

Most likely all of those animal intersections with a runner are limited.  The more likely trouble comes from something that doesn’t even move – the root. In come cases a root might be a rock, stump, or other obstacle that just sits there waiting to trip you.

If you run trails it will happen. You’ll cross paths with that non-moving hazard and eventually the impact will be just right to create a face plant.

Run trails and a face plant is just a matter of time

I’ve had more face plants mountain biking than running.  I still have a fair share of running tumbles.  Yesterday, I ended up face down on a trail.  It wasn’t a bad fall.  Nothing has broken; there was a slightly scraped nose and a little frustration.

I was running with my dog, River, and I swear when she saw what had happened she laughed.