Monday, June 08, 2009

Big Announcement

I have decided to stop running.

This time it is not the sad, weepy, forlorn type of situation that caused me to stop in March of 2006. (If you like, you can read the pitiful details in my October 2006 blogs.)
I was exhausted then.
This is a more logical, reasoned decision.
Let me explain.

First, let me be clear - I LOVE RUNNING.
A part of me wants to keep running until I die.
And I will miss it (and the endorphin highs it produces)
But my logical side ("Trainer") has forced me to face some facts.

I am 64 years old.
I have managed to stay injury-free my entire running career - almost ten years. (9 years 10 months, actually)
But I have less-than-ideal genetics for running/exercise.
My limited muscle mass is all I have to burn calories, and running burns a lot of energy and calories.
Too much for me to maintain what little muscle mass I have, it seems.
I have noticed that since I started running again last year, I have lost muscle in my legs.
This is not good.

So I am going to stop running and increase my weight lifting activity.
I had been lifting weights for five years before I started running.
I can go back to that pattern.
I have been doing it, on a reduced schedule (two days a week) all the while I have been running.
I plan to increase my weight workouts to three-per-week, and ultimately to four-per-week.
I will still walk three miles on the days that I do not lift weights.

The advantage of weight lifting is that it is very easy to control, both in areas of the body and amount of effort per body area and total body.
It is hard to reduce/adjust your running effort in mile four of a six-mile run.
You either stop (with wounded ego) or keep going and suck up whatever your issues are.
I enjoy the effort and challenge of running, but weight lifting has its own challenges.
Every rep is a challenge.
And if you are having a bad day, you can stop a couple of reps short of your goal/plan for that exercise (in fact, that is usually how I find out I am having a "bad" day - I can't lift as much.)
And I can do it in my house, any time of day, no matter what the weather is.
No traffic to worry about.
No concern about what to wear to accommodate the weather.

The contrast between running and weight lifting is interesting (and amazing)
If you assume that I take a 30-inch step when I am running, I take about 2,112 steps each mile I run.
About 1,056 steps for each foot/leg each mile.
That calculates out to about 13,096 steps for a six-mile run.
And if you assume that my bodyweight is about 165 pounds, my legs lift about 2,160,840 pounds during a six-mile run.
A weight workout for just my legs is nothing like that.

My total leg workout lasts a little over an hour (including rest periods between sets) - a little longer than it takes me to run six miles.
The total poundage that I will lift in such a session will be about 71,000 pounds. (weight times reps)
Nowhere near the 2 million pounds I "lift" in a run.

The difference is in duration and range of motion.
The duration of a "rep" during a run is about 250 milliseconds.
The duration of a rep in a weight workout is from one to four seconds.
Up to sixteen times as long.
The range of motion of the thigh relative to the hip is about 45 degrees in a run.
The range of motion of the thigh to the hip in a squat or lunge is about 90 degrees.
About double this range.

The net result of a weight workout is that I gain muscle (assuming I eat enough protein).
The net result of a run is that I burn a little muscle because I do not have the genetics (strength) to sustain such effort.
Genetically, I am better suited to running (medium frame/light muscle mass) than lifting.
But my body thrives on weight lifting.
But lifting does not produce the rush of endorphins that running does, so I subconsciously prefer running.

I have found that my body (this is true for anyone) will adjust metabolism, muscle mass, strength, appetite and cardio-vascular capacity to match the tasks/stress/challenges it faces on a regular basis.
I found that challenging weight lifting sessions will build cardio capacity.
Not as well as running, but well above just walking.
(when I first started running, I ran a three-mile course the second time I went out. I was amazed.)

I will miss running.
But this new plan will be easier on my aging body and easier to regulate.
Today was my first workout in my new plan.
I lifted 46,200 pounds.
Not bad for an old geezer.

In God We Trust.

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