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.

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.

Christmas Morning Run

I try to run every morning. It is rare I miss it.  Christmas was no exception – I ran.

Running the backroads

We, Brenda and I, were in Tignall, Georgia for a Christmas celebration with Ray, my father-in-law and Wade, my brother-in-law. All the kids and grandkids where out to town either at Disney World or visiting in-laws in Pittsburgh. (Girls, should you read this and if given the option include Brenda and I next year in Pittsburgh. Just kidding – Disney World will be fine.)

Whether at home, on the road, in Pittsburgh or Orlando I’d run.  Many times I run and ride a bike.  And, if you’re a frequent reader and an archer – I do have a bow with me and Ray has a range here in Tignall.

Coaching tip – athletes run (even archers)

Running is the simplest way for me to exercise aside from stretching.  It is inexpensive, you can move along at your own pace, and running is fun.

This morning as the sun was rising I able to run near to and on the shore of Lake Strom Thurmond – Clark Hill for Georgians.  No cars, no dogs (other than River, my lab and constant running partner) and had a wonderful run.

End point of this Christmas morning run

Aging and Exercise

In a recent paper sport champions and athletes were asked what they thought it took to become a champion.  The group had a large sub-set of Olympians (medal winners and participants), world Champions, State and Regional Champions as well as a sub-set of “chronic” athletes that had, at the time of the survey, not earned a Championship.  The group had spent a significant portion of the lives competing and training.    This of course makes sense because achieving a sport level of performance to reach a major championship takes years of preparation.1

The group seemed in general especially bright mentally as noted by their responses to the survey.  This wasn’t too surprising because the mean of the group is 53.8 years with a range of 26 to 78 years of age.1Nevertheless; there was an air of vitality among these athletes.

The survey was not done face-to-face with the athletes.  However, a large percentage of the athletes were seen face-to-face as part of typical social interactions.  In addition, after the survey a number of the athletes felt compelled to discuss the work by phone.  At times one or more of them were present at different gatherings.  Among those surveyed there remained a competitive presence as well as a high degree of verbal and body language mild posturing that could be considered friendly yet slightly aggressive regardless of age. The overall impression a bystander might of noted is that these people appeared extremely healthy and engaged. Certainly, the group is physically fit regardless of age.

An important observation is the general health of the group.  At a mean age of nearly 54 they are generally not overweight.  A few are overweight.  An archer is obese (but currently on a strict diet to drop the weight), there’s an overweight ex-football lineman (thought not obese) and in that category there is a PGA golf pro, and one ex-major league pitcher who are heavier than during their playing days.  In general, the group was not overweight. This may be attributed to; overall the group continues to exercise to a large degree.

Coaching Tip

Exercise is a relatively easy why to remain in good health both mentally and physically. 2,3As we age we can hope to die young at a very old age. In that vein exercise can be an adjunct to prolonged health and mental compacity.4Aside from clearly obvious physical attributes associated with aging and exercise, exercise decreases the degradation of our brains.5

Being physically active isn’t the sole method to engage our brains as we age. One study showed that individuals who played chess were cognitively engaged and had better health than a control group.6The same study, which compared the chess players to master level track and field athletes, revealed the athletes had more injuries than the chess players.6For those injuries the athletes gained a lower prevalence of chronic disease.6However, the chess players and athletes had a lower incidence of chronic disease compared to a control group.6

As we age, exercise can be modified to account for slower recovery times.7, 8Even with modification exercise among the senior population can improve quality of life and independent living.9As a measure of successful aging, exercising among the older population may be a model to support concepts of best health over longer durations as exercise works to protect the body including the brain.10, 11

Through active engagement in sport and exercise we can prolong better physical health and mental health. This becomes clear to an observer in the presence of chronic athletes.11By adding a regime of exercise to activities of daily living we can improve our quality of life.9

References:

  1. Lain,D C; What it takes to be a Champion.In review, NFAA Publication, Archery, Nov. 2018
  2. Trapp, S:Master athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001 Dec;11 Suppl:S196-207.
  3. Zhao E,Tranovich MJDeAngelo RKontos APWright VJ: Phys Sportsmed. Chronic exercise preserves brain function in master athletes when compared to sedentary counterparts. 2016;44(1):8-13. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2016.1103641. Epub 2015 Oct 29.
  4. Geard D,Reaburn PRJ, Rebar AL, Dionigi RA.: Masters Athletes: Exemplars of Successful Aging. J Aging Phys Act. 2017 Jul;25(3):490-500. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0050. Epub 2017 Jun 28.
  5. Tseng BY1,Uh J, Rossetti HC, Cullum CM, Diaz-Arrastia RF, Levine BD, Lu H, Zhang R.: Masters athletes exhibit larger regional brain volume and better cognitive performance than sedentary older adults. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2013 Nov;38(5):1169-76. doi: 10.1002/jmri.24085. Epub 2013 Mar 21.
  6. Patelia S, Stone RC,El-Bakri R, Adli M,Baker J.: Masters or pawns? Examining injury and chronic disease in male Master Athletes and chess players compared to population norms from the Canadian Community Health Survery. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2018 Nov 30;15:15. doi: 10.1186/s11556-018-0204-z. eCollection 2018.
  7. Foster C, Wright G, Battista RA, Porcari JP. : Training in the aging athlete. Curr Sports Med Rep.2007 Jun;6(3):200-6.
  8. Soto-Quijano DA.: The Competitive Senior Athlete. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am.2017 Nov;28(4):767-776. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2017.06.009.
  9. Spirduso WW1,Cronin DL.: Exercise dose-response effects on quality of life and independent living in older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun;33(6 Suppl):S598-608; discussion S609-10.
  10. Geard D, Rebar AL, Reaburn P, Dionigi RA.: Testing a Model of Succesfult Again in a Cohart of Masters Swimmers. J Aging Phys Act.2018 Apr 1;26(2):183-193. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0357. Epub 2018 Mar 24.
  11. Tseng BY,Gundapuneedi T,Khan MA, Diaz-Arrastia R, Levine BD, Lu H, Huang H, Zhang R.: White matter integrity in physically fit older adults. Neuroimage. 2013 Nov 15;82:510-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.06.011. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Running in the Dark

Often you’ll read at this website that I post articles about fitness.  Many of those posts include stories about running.  While cardiopulmonary fitness isn’t essential to pick up a bow and shoot it, it does improve one’s health and ability to maintain an athletic posture during long archery tournaments.

During hunting season I wear orange every time I run trails

Among the exercises I do as part of my training regime, running is a major element.  One manufacturer of running shoes once had an advertisement that read, “Athletes Run.”  Whether or not archery is part of my life, I believe running will always be a part of it.

One of the running pleasures I find most appealing is trail running in the dark.  In the winter months running in the dark is easy – it’s dark when I get up to run. In the warmer months this isn’t the case.

A head lamp is a must for running in the dark. River, my lab, has a little read clip-on light on her collar.

For some, the thought of running through the woods in the dark might bring to mind some scene from a horror movie. Not the case for me.  I do run with a light – getting smacked by a tree or limb isn’t on my bucket list.

Some mornings we finish running just after sunrise

Running in the dark is peaceful in my mind.  The woods are quiet and calm.  Occasionally, I run in the direction of some critter and that can be startling, but never horrifying.  I do run with my dog, River, who’s a big girl who provides a sense of ease when I cross paths with an unexpected animal.

Find this at night and you’ll wake right up

There’s a 1.3-mile loop behind my house that cuts a perfect trail to travel whether running or hiking. Sometimes I’ll run it in the morning and hike it in the afternoon.  I try to cover a few laps each time, more laps when running.

I understand not everyone that reads this site runs beyond being chased.  If you do run and have access to trails try running in the dark it is an entirely new experience compared to running during the day light. Oh, carry a light, bring your dog, and watch how you plant your feet. Also, let someone know where you’ll be running and when to expect you home. Plus, carry your cell phone just in case.  Before you run a trail in the dark run it several times during the lighted part of the day to learn the trail.  If you happen to get off the trail it isn’t difficult to get turned around.  If you happen to get lost, wait where you are until the sun comes up to regain your bearings.  Clear lens running eye glasses are ideal for not getting an eye poked out by a low hanging pointy limb. Now that I think about, maybe you shouldn’t run in the dark – you’d probably get hurt.

Buy My Book – “Simple Ways to Add To Your Life”

Ever read any of those self-help books currently on the market.  Most of them are over 70,000 words.  That is a lot of reading.

Decades ago I became interested in longevity. That is, why do some people live longer than others. Certainly, genetics and in today’s world some luck, play a part in how long we live.

But, what I reasoned is that there are 5 simple things we can do that can help each of us get the most years out of what we were born with.  And, yes this is a self-help book.

It’s a self-help book of the old style self-help books published during the beginning of the genre. It means this book is only around 10,000 words. If 10,000 words seems like to many flip to the summary at the conclusion.

I’ve also, just dropped the price to the lowest available on Amazon, $2.99.

Longevity

There are two things we can never really know – we don’t know when we’ll die or how. That said, it isn’t a bad plan to live everyday like it is your last while being prudent in your planning ahead.

One of my sisters recently gave me a family history that was done professionally. A cousin had hired a firm to verify some of the myths associated with our kin. The mythology, fantastic gossip passed down through a verbal history, included an unlikely tale of longevity.

If there was any grain of truth to how long our ancestors lived it was a bit remarkable. According to legend, a great many of my ancestors lived to ripe old ages. I’d heard the tales and blown them off as exaggerations.

Then, I got hold of a copy of this in-depth history of our family. There on the pages were many of the historical names I heard as a child. Most amazing were the data on birth and death records.

As I studied the data I thought that the time between birth and death looked pretty lengthy. So, I took those times and did the math.

The complete data on my ancestors’ age began around 1600. Further back the data became foggy. During the 1600 until the 1800 the average live expectancy was 35 years. At that time the women in our family were hitting 72 years old and the men reached 76 years old on average before they kicked the bucket. One fellow skewed the men because reached 100 years old. Taking him of the mix the men lived an average of 72.5 years.

The old fellow that lived to be 100 seemed like a mistake. On a whim I checked him out on the Internet. Why, not – everything else is there. Sure enough I found him and sure enough independent records confirmed his century of life here on Earth.

I figured if this group that contributed to my genes lived so long must have had money. I didn’t think there was anyway a person could nearly triple his life expectancy in the 1600s if he was poor. Sure enough, the oldest of us was noted as being “very wealthy” on the Internet. Sadly, his wealth didn’t survive to me.

The report my sister sent is extremely interesting. Among the data collected included two brothers that fought in and survived the Revolutionary War and a Southerner that fought against the North, deserted ,walked home,  planted fields,  then returned to the fighting. It seems a lot of the Southern Army practiced this fight and farm routine. The Northern Army later captured him. He survived the ordeal, too.

Overall, the Lain side of my family lives as long as the myths suggested. All I know of  “Mamas” side, the Weatherly side,  is that Grandmamma expired at 97 and Great-Grandmamma died at 104.

I certainly don’t know when I’ll die or how it will happen. I do know that we humans have being dying forever. We all have to do it. In the meantime, it is a good idea to treat others the way you’d like to be treated and set in place plans to cover the life you want to live.

A Short Bit About Fitness

Coaching Tip

Frequently, I’ll post about sports activities other than archery. Those are primarily cardio workouts. If you look over a USA Archery Training plan you’ll find blocks of time set aside for cardio fitness.

An early run in the woods – River has sprinted ahead
Riding a bike off road you come across neat stuff.

I enjoy running and cycling. Archery is my primary sport, but running and cycling where with me long before a bow. Lately, I’ve been running and riding on trails. Trail running is much more appealing that running on a road. Mountain bike riding isn’t more appealing that road riding. I just like being in the woods.

This mountain bike trail is just right
One of the locals in the woods is giving me the eye

Either way, off road or on road, cardio-fitness is a benefit to health and can keep you, as an archer, in better shape prolonging your enjoyment of archery. If you happen to be a 3D competitor you know some ranges can leave you huffing and puffing when you reach a stake. Should you be a hunter, you will know that hauling a kill out of the woods can be a major physical effort.

An ER Physician friend of mine says, “You’re not having fun until someone is bleeding.” I suppose I was having fun

I write about fitness often. That’s because I cross paths with too many folks, in all walks of life, that are not fit. It isn’t hard to be in shape. It is also better for you in the long term.

Finishing this day with 3D practice