Saturday, 17 November 2012

Running in old age

Last night I was waiting to meet some German guests of ours who were arriving at Luton Airport.  Not a brilliant place to be at the best of times, especially when I was dark, cold, foggy and wet.  Then I started chatting to James who I vaguely know as we both have daughters at the same school.  He's a Doctor and even better he is a Doctor AND A RUNNER!  Wow that is a great combination.

But first, my own Doctor

Just as an aside I pause to think of my own Doctor.  From his appearance he is definitely NOT a runner: flabby, grumpy and moves around in a stiff kind of way.  Furthermore he cannot understand why I want to run so much - he approves of gentle jogging totalling 120 minutes a week, or whatever the NHS diktat is for this year but cannot appreciate why anyone wants to push themselves for any reason once saying "you're fit and in good health, why would you want to take anymore exercise?".  That "says it all" about my own Doctor and it's why I found last night's conversation with James so refreshing.

Running into older age

Although he's about 10 years younger than me, James is ahead of me with three marathons under his belt and a PB of 3.32 which I think is pretty cool.  As we got talking about running I asked him about how long people can run for in older age.

"Providing people don't over do it and by that I mean pretend to be Usain Bolt it has to be a good thing.  There's no reason why most people carry on running into their 70s."

I asked whether people can burn themselves out or can only run for two or three decades

"No not at all.  Running is a good thing to do.  It does put strain on the body, particularly the joints in older age but that strain, or wear and tear, helps the body maintain even better joints"

He went onto explain how, in his view, getting the balance right between training, rest and dealing with injuries.  James recounted the times when he's pushed himself too far and too intensively, suffering injuries and needing physiotherapy.  He said something about the such-and-such muscle being a frequent injury site for runners and how painful the physiotherapy can be in a way like he almost enjoyed it.

Wrapping up he left me with a couple of thoughts.  Firstly how we runners can continue to benefit from running well into our old age and secondly why we go running together sometime?  Now there's a thought - he lives not far from my office, we could do that sometime....

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