Determination – the Older Runner’s Secret

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What follows is a Comment from a Reader


This is not related to your blog post but is about a subject close to our interests. You may have deduced that I am especially interested in running (long distances)’ This is from site that I am subscribed to:

Thanks, Gordon! This is good stuff!
How do these older athletes do what they do counter to the normal
physiological decline?
Could it be as simple as determination?
We study the obvious physical qualities we can measure to see how these 80 and 90 year old athletes are different, but the answer is more likely in their minds.
My Mother is 90 and has had severe osteoporosis at least since age 75. She exercises 5 days a week, moves so fast it is hard for younger people to keep up with her and stands straight as a narrow – all 5 feet and 90 pounds of her. Her weight has not changed since she was 18 years old except during her 12 pregnancies. She takes one medication once a day for blood pressure at a very small dose. I don’t think it is so much genetics as her determination to enjoy life as much as she can.
Determination, or really wanting something and being willing to work hard to get it and never giving up – it is not everything but it is a huge
factor of success.
Merry Christmas! In 2016, go after something you always wanted to be able to do but gave up thinking you could!

On Friday, December 25, 2015, Gordon Cherr posted the link to the story in Science Daily reporting on the American Journal of Physiology — Cell Physiology study.

He concluded:
Any thoughts on this one? I think Julie Alstairs has a good observation regarding her own mother and what we need ourselves.
That study reported:
To the researchers’ surprise, the muscle fibers of masters athletes contracted at a speed and force similar to those of older non-athlete adults, not the young adults. Success in high-performance sports in old age does not appear to be due to maintained contraction capability of the fibers, Power says.
No Question – determination is their secret.  Just keep on keep’n on and your body will adapt and find away of supporting your goals.
Jim – thanks for the great information.  Makes signing up for the upcoming 52DC that much more important.

Hip Flexor Stretches and Exercises

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Happy Hoofer from the 52DC sent me this Link to a blog article about Hip Flexor Stretches.  Although the Blog is part of Foundation Training – and yes they are selling something – still the information is good and the Hip Flexor exercises are interesting.

My research team and I evaluated all the hundreds of kinematic and kinetic variables that can be measured in a sophisticated 3-D motion analysis force plate instrumented gait laboratory. You might think that we found a lot of age-related differences, but actually, and rather surprisingly, we found just one. As we get older, we don’t extend the hip of our trailing leg as far backwards as we once used to. We found this in multiple studies (listed below) and in multiple populations where the reduction in hip extension was exaggerated even further in various disease populations as well as in frail elderly people who are at risk for falls.

I went in search of various Hip Flexor stretches – they are myriad. The Classic Runners Stretch incorporates the Hip Flexor as do some of the warm up exercises I already do.  Yoga is replete with them.  Still there is value in the way they attack the stretch. Check out this video.

The value of the 52 Day Challenge is -in part- the sharing of information.  Thank you Happy Hoofer.

The Life Extending Power of Protein

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The June 2015, issue of Men’s Health magazine, focused the value of Protein.  The article by Lou Schuler, entitled “The Life-Extending Power of Protein” was particularly interesting.  It focused on the Baby Boomer generation – who are now Seniors.  The picture of guys flexing muscles was of 4 gents, ages 62, 67, 78 and 97.  Sure it caught this guy’s eye – after all – I’m 70.  I’m also I guy who is at the gym 6 days a week – 7 if I can.  What follows are some highlights of that Article.

  • “After age 30, an untrained body tends to lose about 1 percent of its muscle mass each year.”
  • “T]he weakest men on two moves – the bench press and leg press – had the highest risk of premature death.”
  • “A study of adults in the U.K. found that those who had the worst composite scores on three fitness tests – grip strength, balance, with their eyes closed, and functional ability (time needed to sit down and stand up from a chair) at age 53 were almost four times as likely as top performers to die over the next 13 years.”

Comment – I’ve always noticed how so man people need to boost themselves up from a chair by using the arms of the chair or the dinner table.

And this report from a study done at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas is of particular interest to me – I had to stop exercising and even – active movement for 90 days while recovering from surgery.

  • “In one recent study, Phillips had older people reduce the number of steps they took each day  by 76 percent.  In just two weeks, they lost almost 4 percent of their leg muscle while gaining fat.  Even worse, they saw a rise in insulin resistance – a precursor of diabetes – and a decline in muscle-protein synthesis after eating.” 

During the 3 month period of severely limited activity, I lost weight, muscle and gained fat.  The amount of strength lost, shocked me.  I never expected that the loss of strength would be that significant.  It is now 60+ days after getting back to the gym and my strength gains are slow in happening.- but they are happening.  I’ve also gained some weight – but lost girth around my waist.  Strange world.

One part of the story bothers me.

  • “[O]ur bodies crave an optimal amount of protein, and once we’ve consumed it, out appetite shuts down.  It usually takes a protein intake of 25 to 35 percent of total calories for the mechanism to kick in.”

 25% – 35% of my calories would put my protein intake at 160 –  220 grams per day.  That is over the top.  I try to keep my protein level below 140 grams – otherwise I undermine my Low Carb eating.  Where does this concept come from?  Probably because the author discounts a high fat diet in shutting down our appetite.  If you are eating High Carbs and relatively Low Fat – then this makes sense.

The article then goes on to stress the value of exercise in slowing cognitive decline – no surprise there.  Exercise is one of the first things a neurologist prescribes for someone showing memory loss.  

This was a pretty good article.  If you don’t subscribe to Men’s Health magazine – maybe you should.

One way or another – get off your sorry arse and start moving.  Check out the 52 Day Challenge as place to help motivate you.

Classic 52 Day Challenge starts on Wednesday, October 22nd

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The 52 Day Challenges came into being 12 years ago in the fall of 2002.  “Determined” was the guy who came up with the idea.  The “Classic” honors that first one.  We’ve tried to put together a bit of the history, before it fades into the mists and shadows of the past.  Check out the History.  While you are there – check out the FAQs and learn how the 52DC has changed – over the years – but remained true to its roots.

I strongly urge you to Sign Up now and become part of the 52DC Family.  It is a great and varied group of Challengers.  I always learn something new from the give and take during each Challenge.

I have been doing these Challenges – 5-a-year – since the Summer of 2008.  No breaks – done ’em all – even when I was recovering from Hernia surgery.  Well this winter is going to be different.  I will probably be forced to sit out the Winter Challenge.  My Hip Replacement Surgery is tentatively scheduled for December 17th, right after this Challenge ends.  I will be limited during the Winter Challenge which starts on January 7th – how limited – no idea.  From reading – very limited.  How long – hopefully, I will be back in action for the Spring Challenge.

It is my intention to use this Blog – in part – as a journal of my experience from Surgery to Recovery.  Maybe we can all benefit from my therapy.

We’ve got 3 days to develop a workout plan for the Classic Challenge.  Given the pain and limitations of my hip-joint, I’m going to modify some of my exercises.  Still – I want that area to be as strong as possible prior to surgery.  Supposedly that will help with recovery.

One of my Personal Goals for this Challenge – Develop a post surgery Work-out/Therapy plan.  Yes – I know that I will have  professional therapists – but I learned from my wife’s stroke recovery – that you can not just rely on them.  You must shoulder that burden yourself.  Research and preparation.  You can’t wait until after the fact.

See you all at the Starting Line.


Protein – Low Fat Chicken Breast

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With the advent of the Low Fat Mythology – skinless – boneless – chicken breasts have become the go-to protein source.  They are ubiquitous and affordable.  They have also been a major component of my family’s diet for ages.  Then I read Keto Clarity and realized that eating too much protein may significantly undermine Ketosis.

I’ve come to understand that 120-140 grams of protein is my daily limit.  Even that much may be too much.  (One day I will actually do a blood test measurement – just not yet.)  So now – I have to review my eating plan.  Limiting carbs – not a problem.  I can hold the line at 30 or so a day without any difficulty – unless I have decided to indulge.  Dietary fats – no problem.  Cream, cheeses, sour cream, butter, coconut & olive oil and fatty meats – a joy – love the stuff.

But Protein is so easy to over eat.  I’ve limited myself to a shallow scoop of whey protein powder prior to exercising. That’s about 20 grams.  Then – breakfast – 2 eggs plus a variety of stuff.  Another 20-30 grams.  Lunch and Dinner are the problem.

One ounce of meat – be it chicken, beef or fish range from 6-9 grams.  A 3 ounce chunk of meat can be 24 to 27+ grams of protein.  Three ounces – damn – that is not even an appetizer size.   I rely on Nutrition Data for information.  Really is a great source of information.  Check it out – especially the skinless boneless chicken breast.  One cup of chopped chicken – which is basically what I would use for a chicken salad lunch – has 43 grams of protein.  Wow!  Here is the Nutrition_Facts_Label.

[Closed the program down and hit the wrong button – “publish” instead of “save.”  Sorry for the incomplete post.]

The recommendations for Protein intake are all over the place.  If you examine the information – more often than not – you are comparing different worlds.  Is the world that of the Standard American Diet, the “big muscle” diet, High Carb, Low Carb, vegetarian, Paleo, or Ketogenic?  What play ground are you playing in?  Oh – one other concept – have you reached the age where muscle preservation is as important as muscle growth?

Some of the new information indicates that taking in much more than 20-30 grams at a meal will not increase the impact of protein on your muscles.  So aiming for a 30 gram protein limit per meal, is not wrong.

Limiting your protein intake for the entire day to enhance ketosis, taking into consideration the amount of exercise you do, will probably limit you to less than one gram per pound of lean body mass.  For me – 120-140 – max.

The nutritional advice that protein should be an accessory to the meal and not the main event – may not be wrong after all.  It is just that they consider carbs to be the main event – while I consider dietary fats – the creme dela creme.

So if you are looking for a definitive statement – not gonna happen – the jury is still out.  For me – it is time to cut back on Protein.




This Blog has been and will continue to be a chronicling of my fitness and diet journey.  At times, the journey has been smooth – almost predictable.  At other times, I’ve hit some major bumps in the road.   So far – none of the curve balls that life has thrown at me and my family has thrown me too far off course.  In fact, some of those bumps have actually kept me even more focused on my journey.

The stroke that felled my wife has had a number of unexpected ramifications.

She was in residential re-hab for 3 months:  Going to the gym every day – kept me sane.

When she returned home, her Physical Therapy sessions were less than thrilling.  I became her Therapist – Personal Trainer.  This has kept us going to the gym 6 days a week for the last two years.  I probably would have thrown in the towel if I did not need to help her.  At her last physical, her physician was amazed at her recovery.  I commented that she is working hard.  He said – she has a great Coach.  We make a great team.

The stroke hit her neurologically.  Guess what – Ketones are part of the answer.  Surprise.  Again – this has kept us on the straight and narrow.

Years ago, all of these bumps-in-the-road would have resulted in my regaining my weight and walking out of the gym and not looking back.

Not today.  Not ever.

And Now – The latest Detour – I need my Right Hip Replaced – the pain is over the top.  Bone on bone – the cartilage is gone. Eventually – the left also.  But now – we focus on the Right.

So far – I keep going to the gym.  I’ve pulled back on certain exercises – and weights – but I am still doing more than the next guy.  I believe that my muscle tone will help my recovery from surgery – it had better help.  The surgery will be mid-December.  I intend to chronicle this aspect of my journey as I have the others.

There is some humor:  The loss of weight should make the surgery easier.  But – I will gain 1 -1.5 pounds from the prosthesis.  Not Fair.

The muscle tone should help recovery – but too much muscle interferes with the surgery – Damn – how do I know when too much is too much?  Yeah – probably Schwartznegger size might be too much – no worry here.



Climbing back up the Mountain


The last two years have seen a plateauing of my exercise progress.  First was the stroke hitting my wife and my taking on more responsibilities once she came home.  It was more important for me to be her Personal Trainer than to focus on my workout.  Then my son ran into some significant health issues that significantly impacted him and his family and which added more impediments to exercise.  When things finally started to stabilize, I ended up with a helluva bout of Sciatica.

Through all this, I kept on exercising.  Doing what I could do, but some of my hard-fought strength gains have dissipated.  Not surprising, since at my age you have to fight hard against the ever-increasing loss of muscle.  Sarcopenia is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass (0.5-1% loss per year after the age of 25), quality, and strength associated with aging.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m far from an “old guy who can’t do.”  It is just what I want for me is more than just being able to do.  I want to be “one of those guys” at the gym that others look at and wonder – why can’t I do that?

The Fall 52 Day Challenge starts on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.  I’ve started re-working my exercise program – this time with the focus is on me.  Got out the Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises and designed my own workout from the Template I put together a couple of years ago.  I have done the first two workouts of the 3 day a week program.  I will post it once I’ve done the 3rd workout and determine what if any changes are needed.

This morning, I got out my Dip Belt and took it to the Gym.  Hooked up a 25 pound plate and did 3 sets of Dips.  Probably would have been more fun to just eat my way to an extra 25 pounds – ah well.  I’ll add more weight once I get up to 10 reps at this weight.

I had been at 4-45 pound plates on the Bar for Dead Lifts – that is 225.  Today, 2 plates – or 135.  Did 3 sets of 8.  Next time – adding 20 pounds and will continue to add weights until I get back to where I was.

I’m pushing to increase my weights across the board.  I’ve got some other goals in the back of my mind that I would like to push out onto the Gym floor.  Two are up and running – the Chin-ups with Hanging Leg Raises and the Weighted Dip.  Hmmm – I wonder if I could do a weighted Chin-up?

This upcoming Challenge is about climbing back up that mountain.  Gonna make it happen – after all – the more you do – the more you can do.

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