This is going to be one of those annoying 'just for the record' running logs. I'm just throwing this down to remind myself in the years to come of the progress I've made, running wise. It's also for those runners who are interested in the effects of running on an older person. I'm 57. If you're in your twenties or thirties and you are wondering if it's too late to start running, it's not - it never is. I'm living proof.
01/13: 41 min
01/14: 60 min
I'd run only irregularly for the 3-4 weeks prior to this. And had a lung cold or possibly the flu. Usually after a month off my body reverts back to its usual slug-like self, and then starting up again is like starting over completely from zero.
But something's changed. I was astonished yesterday at how easy the run was. Wanted to keep going, but I stopped after 40 min just because it seemed to be the prudent thing to do. Today I went out knowing that I'd only do 40 minutes again, and so went out hard, ran out further than normal (for a 40 min pace), turned around, did hills, did some slow/fast intervals, and then when I looked down at the watch, it was at 45 min and I wasn't close to being home. Ran the rest of the way home - more hills, drenched in sweat at the end, even though it was about 45° outside - and stopped at an hour. I could have run longer but there didn't seem to be a point. Tomorrow's another day. Might be able to do 70 minutes and some good trail time tomorrow. I always need something to look forward to tomorrow.
Something's changed. It's like my body has decided it wants to stay in permanent shape, and the lungs and the legs all feel good, good in the sense that they think an hour run is the new normal. Zero minutes on trail - that's the new non-normal. Pain is when you don't run. Happiness is when you do.
The waistline was, about 18 months ago, about 44 inches. Now it's 32. I used to be at 240. Now I'm a confortable 180-190 lb. I used to wear shirts that were XL, and even began gravitating into XXL. Now the best fitting shirts are mediums. Mediums. GIRLS wear mediums. Guys don't wear mediums. I don't think I've worn those since high school. Unbelievable.
My former wife had become a runner too, and she's stuck with it for years. She used to be a size 14 woman. Now she's a 6 and shrinking. She used to be the battleship around whom my small daughters buzzed like little corsairs. Now she's the tiny one, and they, young women in their twenties, are heavier than their parents are.
Would love to keep this weight and truly settle into it. I'd like to see if I can stay a medium when I start weight training again. What seems to work for the older body is mere calisthenics. In the summertime, I used to do thousands of pushups a day and hundreds of chinups. My arms got a little firm, but never bulky as when I was doing bench presses and armblasters. The benefits of pushups is that your chest doesn't get big. If you couple pushups with dips (usually any parkours place has parallel bars for dips), your arms and chest feel great, and your back muscles feel grateful too. As far as chinups go, I had to do thousands of curls with ten pound weights just to get prepared for chinups. Sets of a hundred, spaced ten minutes apart - soon these add up. I usually had trouble finding a good chinup bar, but a tree usually provided a branch at the right height that I could just grab it and do a modified version of a chinup. Chinups became so easy I'd fall asleep at night dream of doing them one-handed. And then when I got bored, do two handed. In my dreams I felt light as a feather. The reality of that dream still eludes me. Don't think I'll ever be able to do a one-handed chinup. *sigh*
I keep thinking that one year my body's not going to be able to let me do certain things it used to do the previous year. But the last few years it seems like the weight loss has permitted the obvious to occur: I can run for longer distances, I feel stronger, I am more effective doing arm exercises. My close friends who have known me in my fat years have said that the weight loss and toning up has made me look younger. That's a welcome compliment at this age.
I don't feel young or old. I don't feel like I'm any particular age. The only gauge I have is to look at my peers. The guys who have never gained weight since college days - I'm starting to look like them. And feel like them. They're utterly ageless. Their hair is getting lighter, but they look substantially as they did twenty or thirty years ago. The guys who have let themselves go... boy. They're hurting. Can't climb hills, can't do a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing, can't even think about running a mile. They look for parking spots close to the store so they don't have to walk very far. They don't like museums, because it's hard on their feet. They can't crew, they can't do 5Ks, they don't like to dance, they don't want to do road trips... It seems as if life has gone into a kind of suspended animation for them. Their lives seem to be defined by what they can't do, rather than what they can.
I was at an elegant restaurant in Boston with a wonderful woman on Christmas eve. She was one hundred pounds soaking wet. A gourmand, she knows food. She treated me to a seven course dinner. Since I know nothing about food, I was dreading the actual eating. The meals I'd had at good restaurants previous to this were heavy and filling. This meal was different: every course was little somethings. You'd look at your plate, and you'd see a tiny thing, covered with a teensy sprig of something green, and a sauce that was shaped in an S or a curve of some sort. American men don't usually like this kind of food, but she did, and I am getting to like it too. The essence of a great meal like this is not the quantity, it's the taste combinations. It's the wine pairings. It's all these intangibles that are lost on a guy raised on steak and potatoes. But a guy who doesn't eat much any more? Heaven on earth. I would spear the (little thing on the big plate) and ask what I should taste, and she would tell me. Her eyes danced when she ate her (thing). Exquisite pleasure! And she'd tell me what spices were involved, and what kinds of meats or veggies were used, and how the sauce was prepared, and the grapes from which vineyard were used for this late season wine. It was an incredible evening. Three hours in a restaurant, and neither of us became bloated. Sometimes a sorbet came between courses, for palate cleansing. It was all pretty new to me. But all pleasurable.
It was that evening that I understood that life isn't about big quantities of food or drink or sex or whatever. Big quantities are what I used to do. If something was good, more was better. That was old-school think. New school think is: if you do something, taste it, sample it, enjoy every delightful flavor of it, and then stop. Never do it to excess. Always leave yourself wanting a little bit more.