My six-year runniversary, celebrating the start of my informal middle-aged commitment to running, slipped by without me noticing. When I began running at age 46, I was really excited by the whole endeavour. I enjoyed the milestones, I liked noticing my progress in mileage, speed and endurance. I ran a few races, I had a few injuries, I logged everything using apps and spreadsheets and loved watching the graphs I could generate. I participated in online and in-person running communities as much as I could.
And then for a couple of years I swung the other way. I ditched all the fit-tech, the races, the goals, the groups, the tracking. I just wanted to enjoy the process of running by myself, the zen of being out there, not focusing on the numbers my activity would generate.
Now my pendulum has swung back. I’ve just replaced my old Garmin Forerunner 305 with a swanky Garmin Vivoactive. It has some smartwatch features that work with my phone, is small enough and comfortable enough to wear as a day-to-day watch, does accelerometer-based fitness tracking, talks to a heart-rate strap, and most importantly to me has a GPS chip in it that tracks all my self-powered outdoor travel. It does the tracking without the help of my phone, and because it’s waterproof I can take it pretty much anywhere without any worries.
I’m not training or setting any goals at this point. But I enjoy seeing my numbers improve, particularly since I’ve just introduced regular road-biking into my life and that’s changing my fitness. Cranking up the steeper sections of the mountain roads here several times a week is building my muscle mass, for sure.
I do have a chronic running-related injury in my left ankle/heel stretching back three or four years now. It has defied all my efforts at repair and rehabilitation. It’s always there, but if I limit myself to at most 3 or 4 times a week, totalling 20-25k maximum, mostly at a 6:00/km pace or slower it stays under control. So the cycling, which doesn’t bother the heel at all, is filling in the rest of my exercise week really nicely. I can alternate an easy run with what are for me harder days of hill-climbing on the bike. This works beautifully and will continue to be a great way to stay in shape at least as long as the snow is off the roads.
Now that I’m both running and biking regularly, there’s a niggling voice in the back of my head muttering “tri, tri, tri.” But I am not a good swimmer, nor do I much like swimming,. And the lake is too cold 10 months a year. And the pool in Nelson is about to be closed for months for asbestos removal. And, and, and… So I’d be surprised if a triathlon ever happened for me but I suppose you never know.
Here’s a cool result from a nifty if fairly crude tool. The worldfitnesslevel.org calculator quizzes you about your age, gender, size, weight, resting and maximal heart rates and exercise habits, and gives you a “fitness age.” I come out looking pretty healthy these days.
Just for fun I repeated the quiz with what I think were my stats just before I started running. I came up with a fitness age of 40 vs. a chronological age of 45. I’ve definitely widened the gap since then!
Lately my life seems to go like this: Cooking, cleaning, computering, RUN! Cooking, cleaning, computering, RIDE! And repeat. Whatever. It works.