Guest Post: How an Old Timer Keeps Up His Fitness Regime

Author bio: Gary Baker is the proud founder of ActiveAuthorities.com, a blog dedicated to encouraging others to stay healthy and active. He writes on various hobbies he has taken up to achieve this, as well as product reviews such as his recent Callaway Supersoft review.

I am quite old. In fact, I am currently in my 50s, and I did not begin truly unlocking my body’s potential until a few years ago, when I was in my late 40s. Back when I started, it seemed to be at an age that many considered too late to begin. Who starts exercising after their physically prime years have passed anyway?

Well, I am proud to point out that I have maintained an enjoyable and highly beneficial daily jogging routine for a couple years now. It keeps me in shape, avoids issues men my age typically run into, and is leagues better than letting my body fade away due to age.

Today, I have the opportunity to share with you all how I kept up with my fitness goals and routines. Certainly, my experiences can be greatly applicable to yours. These are lessons I personally learned, but lessons that can be applied practically to anyone who has set a mission for themselves. With that said, let’s begin.

Set up proper preparation

 Setting up the appropriate steps to prepare yourself for the journey ahead is a huge part of the battle for general fitness. It is especially important if you have had years of inactivity and are just now stepping into the game with a head full of ambition and seriousness.

The first thing I would do is analyze what you need and want. You cannot make goals if you don’t know where it is you’d like to be. Take time with this, since it varies from person to person. Some people desire incredible strength while others want to simply be quicker or more mobile. Some want to bulk up while others just want that lean body. Figure out first where you are and what your body is at the moment. Then evaluate the potential places you can go from your current state. For example, it is impractical to go from “skinny-fat” to “lean body with muscle definition”. The most efficient way to go from point A to point B in this case is to bulk up in muscle, then cut down on fat. Likewise, wanting to go from an already-heavy body to a bulkier, stronger body is manageable, but not ideal. Optimally, you would shed some fat first, then slowly put on weight in the form of muscle mass..

Take it slowly

I cannot stress this enough. Too often, especially if you’re like me and had a rapid burst of obsession with fitness after years of idleness, people ignore the bigger picture. When I first began jogging, I was exhausted only a few minutes in. This happened each day for at least 2 weeks. Especially at my age, I felt very little willpower to move on. But I looked at what kind of change I wanted to implement with my life and what kind of effort and time commitment that entailed.

Take it day-to-day. Each struggle is just one battle of many in your path to success. Whether it be failing a set while lifting weights, accidentally binge eating 1000 extra calories over your daily limit, or waking up weighing a pound more than expected, take these failures with stride and carry on.

Do some research every now and then

I don’t see this being recommended enough when talking to others about reaching my goal. Doing your own research on ways to help you personally reach your own goals is far more important than understanding basic information that may or may not be relevant to you. Search on Reddit (their /r/fitness and /r/running subs are my most-visited places) or other discussion hubs for people similar to you, with body compositions and/or goals like yours.

Truthfully, most people trying to jog daily are not over 50. Most are actually 18-30 year olds. Of course, that information is valuable to me, but what’s even more valuable are documented journeys of people actually my age that also want to accomplish the same goal. I used Reddit’s search function and found many similar people. I tried to find people facing the same struggles I faced in my journey (losing too much water weight was one of them, for example) and learn from them.

Make sure you’re having fun

The last thing I learned from my continuous journey is to keep doing what you love to do. I love every moment of putting jogging in my morning itinerary. I love plugging in my earphones and listening to The Beatles or a podcast on my phone. I love the burst of oxygen and the fresh air I inhale from my increased heart rate.

I know some parts of fitness are simply dreadful. I could see myself getting tired of lifting weights or consistently tracking my food intake. But I’d say learn to love it. Try to make it a passion of yours. One easy way to begin is to understand why you’re doing it. Then look beyond simply doing it for your goals. Start considering your daily habits as part of your lifestyle, and the whole concept of doing it could change for you.

I hope I have informed you all of useful advice. I have certainly learned plenty in my bumpy journey to a more active lifestyle. These lessons have helped me get through it and truly enjoy what fitness means to me personally.

 

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5 Tips For Runners Tackling Their First Marathon

This is a guest post by Shaun Dixon, who is an elite runner and head coach at Let’s Get Running. A self diagnosed ‘run-addict’, he uses his experience of training and competing over a range of distances to coach runners of all ability levels. Shaun is training me for the 2017 London Marathon.

Thinking of tackling your first Marathon? Here are 5 tips to read before you kick off your training.

1. Be patient.

Don’t take on too much too soon-you’ll find quickly find yourself injured, ill or both. Give yourself some time, and slowly build up to it- you need to be fit at the end of the training period not the beginning.

There is a fantastic stat about Marathon running. 95% of those who line up on Marathon day will complete the race but only 72% of those with a place actually make it to the start line. Your number 1 goal should be to get to the Marathon fit and healthy.

So be patient, both in terms of volume increases and the pace of your runs too. The key to improvement, rather boringly, is consistency. Establishing a good routine of steady or easy pace running is an absolute priority- preparing a base level of fitness on which you can build. You can’t build anything on shoddy foundations. So take it easy- always run with your next run in mind, so finish feeling there’s more in the tank. You want to get out and want to run, not sit and wallow in a hole of fatigue!

2. Set yourself a target

All runners struggle with motivation but it’s easier to deal with dark periods if you have a clear goal for the run.

I like people to have a race goal. It could be anything from, simply getting round to running sub 3hours, but it needs to be firm and measureable. If you want to work to a time but don’t know where to start, I suggest running  a 10k race or time trial. An online race time predictor or calculator will then give you an estimated marathon time based on this performance (Runners World is a good place to start). It’s no guarantee but it’s better than a blind stab in the dark!

3. Lock in your routine

If you look at the routines of the majority of top athletes they are fairly regimented. They know when they will run and roughly what each run will look like. We don’t have the luxury of structuring our lives around our running but we can make sure sure our run time is sacred. Set an hour aside, arrange to meet a friend, or join a group to make sure your run plans don’t get shelved.

If you’re wondering how many runs you should commit to each week then it all depends on your goal. The beauty of running is, for the most part, you get out what you put in. If you’re aiming for a time beginning with 3 you need to commit to 4 ‘sessions’ a week ( though this can include a cross training session). 3-4 sessions should be a good target for all runners aiming for a Marathon. Beginners should start with 3 and progress to 4 or 5 if the body reacts well to the training.

4. Think about your body- don’t just tick boxes.

It’s very easy to get very bogged down in numbers when Marathon training. You must follow a 16 week plan, include a 20mile run as your longest run 3-4 weeks from race day, and run all your miles at such and such a pace to run this or that time on race day. Focus on getting your body into the best possible shape to run, not fitting in with a generic structure.

Once you have established a good base of steady running it’s worth having a think about the attributes you need to improve as a runner and thinking about how your training works to support that. Tempo runs, intervals, strides and fartleks can all be a little intimidating at first but understanding their benefits and importance should make them less daunting.

If we were to build a Marathon Runner from scratch here’s what we would need.

Strong Running Body. Built by a consistent routine of steady aerobic running and your long stamina building runs.

Big Heart. Improved by sustained, reasonably challenging runs (tempo, threshold, some fartleks and Marathon pace runs for faster runners. Running at a controlled challenging intensity trains your heart to pump rich, oxygenated blood to the muscles!

Big lungs. This involves interval training- spending some time running at your maximum comfortable range of breathing, in order to improve your ability to take on, and use large volumes of oxygen. Our focus should be on giving the lungs a workout- not flat out running but running where your aerobic system is challenged but not over extended. Breathing should be deep and rhythmic and you should be maintain for the pace for 15mins without stopping.

As a basic guide you should be aiming for a series of intervals of between 2-5mins each, with a rest between each half or ¾ as long as each interval, and a total volume of c.20mins hard running.

Efficient Movement Patterns…brain training!

Efficiency of movement can be improved in two ways; Strength and Conditioning to improve strength and mobility, and through regular faster running!

Running fast is really important. In being more dynamic and explosive you make use of a larger range of muscle groups; improving their capabilities and the efficiency of the communication from brain to muscle. Essentially you’re building your arsenal and figuring out ways to activate those weapons! There are lots of different ways to approach this- from hill sprints to ‘strides’, (relaxed technique sprints).

The key to working on speed is to always consider the purpose of the session. You should always aim to run fast but relaxed- gurning faces and shoulders around your ears are a big no-no!

5. Practise positivity

Very few endeavours require as much mental fortitude as long distance running, and your enjoyment of the training and race itself will hinge on the nature of your mindset.

Charlie Spedding, the last British man to medal in the Marathon at an Olympic games, had a simple yet highly effective method to mentally prepare himself for big events. Everyday in the lead up to the 1984 games he told himself that the Olympic final would be the best day of his life.Over and over again, for the next 3 months. He started to believe it and on race day he felt relaxed, confident and eager to run. He produced an incredible performance to take an unexpected bronze medal. You can do the same thing. Be really positive. The marathon will be fantastic experience- so remind yourself how great it will be.

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Shaun Dixon of Lets Get Running

Joining Reebok for the London Marathon

I’m delighted to announce that I will be joining Team Reebok as a Reebok Floatride Ambassador for this years London Marathon.

I ran London last year, and it was one of my favorite marathons ever, so I was disappointed to miss out in the ballot this year. Reebok and The Running Bug saved the day however, and I look forward to working with my coach Shaun Dixon over the next few weeks to get in shape for London!

I am also looking forward to trying out the new Reebok Floatride shoes for the marathon, and letting you know how they perform.

Better get back on the training wagon!

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Kinematix TUNE Giveaway!

I have been using the very clever Kinematix TUNE for a few months now, and am constantly amazed at the amount of information it gives on the biomechanics of my running, and how to improve them.

Kinematix have very kindly given me a TUNE, for one of my readers. Simply pop onto the RandRuns Facebook page, and tell me in one sentence what you think TUNE could best help improve in your running. I’ll pick the best one on Friday December 23rd – just in time for Christmas! Terms & Conditions below.

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Terms and Conditions:
One entry per reader
Entry is by posting a comment on the RandRuns Facebook page
Prize is a Kinematix TUNE, supplied by Kinematix directly to the winner
No substitutions of the prize
Judges decision is final

The Jimmycase

 

After a recent incident where my iPhone fell out of my belt while running, and smashed into a lot of expensive pieces on the road, I decided that it might be a good idea to use a protective case with the new one. Although I don’t usually carry my phone when running, I sometimes need to if I have to be reachable, and I will be carry it more often now when I am using the Kinematix TUNE.

To this end, I have tried the Jimmycase, an American-made protective phone case that is made from the slightly unusual combination of silicon rubber and mahogany.

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Despite the inclusion of the bulky-sounding mahogany, the case is quite compact, and incorporates an elasticated cardholder on the back. It looks great, and, having dropped my phone a few times since I’ve gotten it, I can confirm it protects well too!

I discovered an advantage to the silicon rubber casing that I doubt was part of the design brief – I accidently left my phone on my car roof one day after a run, and drove the 4 miles home, at speeds of up to 60 mph, and when I got out of the car at home, there was my phone still on the roof……I don’t recommend you try this yourself though!

All in all, I’m very happy with the Jimmycase, and would be happy to recommend it to runners, or anyone else who needs a case that can take a few knocks and protect your phone – the card holder is also handy for those long runs where you forgot to bring water and need to buy some.

CBS The Green 5k and 3k Run

If you are anywhere near Tralee on Sunday September 25th, come along to The Green School, beside Tralee Town Park, and take part in the CBS The Green School 5k or 3k. The run is being organised by CBS teachers Helen Kelliher and Karen Tobin to raise funds towards the construction of an all-weather pitch. Entry is just €10 for adults, and €5 for students and children. You can enter at the school the day before, or on the morning of the run, and there are lots of activities for younger kids going on, and the run is suitable for all abilities, including walkers. My eldest attends CBS The Green, and is looking forward to the pitch being finished, so he’ll be there, as will I, as long as I survive the 24 Hour Endurance Race, which finishes an hour before this starts. I hope to see lots of you there!

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Kerry 24 Hour Endurance Race

My next race will be the Kerry 24 Hour Endurance Race. This will be a big test of where I am mentally and physically after my travails in the 100k, and I’m really looking forward to it (though I wish I’d more training done!). The race was originally scheduled to take place on a running track, but has been moved to Tralee Town Park, where the Tralee parkrun takes place. This move could be interesting, and will certainly be more scenic!

The course consists of 0.75 mile laps of the park, and it starts at 12pm on Saturday, September 24th, and ends, not surprisingly, 24 hours later, at 12pm on Sunday.
If you are in the area, and aren’t up for running it, be sure to drop in and give us some encouragement.

There are 12 hour and 6 hour versions running at the same time. I’ve a feeling I’ll be very envious of those runners on the day! I believe there are still places available through Run The Kingdom for anyone interested.

My eldest son’s school, CBS The Green, which is adjacent to the park, is organising a fundraising 5k starting at 1pm on the Sunday, with registration available at the school – I’m considering entering it – surely an hours rest will be enough for a 5k……

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