THE NEW DON'T EXERCISE

from

Rory Donaldson


Healthy and Fit with a Good Sense of Humor
"Cross the finish line smiling."

roryd@brainsarefun.com
In Denver: 860-304-3178
TWEET
(c)2007, 2008, 2009

In movement man has a chance. Bob Dylan

How Rory D, a trad fitness athlete, integrates body, mind and heart in order to go life's full distance - crossing the finish line with a smile. As Gypsy Boots so clearly put it, "Don't panic, go organic. Laugh your way to health." Almost everything you think you know about exercise is wrong.

INTRO: I was born in 1941. I'm 5'11" tall, weigh 160 lbs., am somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% body fat, Body Mass Index (BMI) 22.3. I am not a physician, exercise physiologist or expert in any manner, shape or form. My proficiency comes entirely from thriving as a persistent ectomorph/mesomorph (Myers- Briggs ENFJ) male fitness athlete for over 30 years (with lapses). 

I am the past editor and program director for the National Jogging Association, a former consultant with the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, a graduate of four Outward Bound courses, the Development Director for 9HealthFair in Denver, Colorado. I am somewhat compulsive, a Virgo, and recognize that what works for me probably won’t work for anyone else: “Find out what works for you, forget the rest," is my best advice.

In 2008 (age 66) I took a new job, began to suffer from exercise inirtia, and entered a new period of contemplation, rest and reflection. As an aging endurance athlete I find that I must increase my effort and commitment just to keep crawling.

In addition, I have begun reflecting on a book I wrote back in 1979, "DON'T EXERCISE, the other side of the coin." This seminal manual was written in order to give me permission to sit down and stop exercising during a particularly stressful training regimen I had undertaken. There is another side to the exercise coin, and an excellent site that reflects pretty much exactly what I currently think may be found right here

Good luck. Please let me know what you discover. Now, let's get outside and have some fun.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

These notes follow the success of the largest selling jogging book of all time, Guidelines for Successful Jogging, written by me in the seventies whenI worked for the National Jogging Association. They reflect fully what I continue to believe about exercise (and not exercising), especially the reading list.

2009 Stats:

  • Total cholesterol = 204
  • HDL = 62
  • LDL = 124
  • HDL/LDL ratio= .5
  • CHOL/HDL ratio = 3.3  
  • Blood pressure = 96/64
  • Resting pulse = 49
  • Maximum Heart Rate = 182
  • Weight 165
  • Height 5' 11"
  • BMI 23

The purpose of these bones and bonuses is simply to provide ruminations on my personal exercise expereince as I crawl to the grave. What I do. What I think and believe. How I'm going life's full distance with a good sense of humor. Maybe some of what I've learned will lend a helping hand. If not, you are free to sprinkle glass in my shoes and go someplace else. I may be emailed at roryd@brainsarefun.com. Hurry, I shall not live forever. Thanks, and remember, jog gently. 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Scroll down to see appropriate post:

1. What I Do - Goals?
2. Living Like and Athlete
3. Maximum Heart Rate
4. Endurance and Speed Play
5. Somatopause (growing fat)
6. Weight Training
7. How I Should Eat and Drink
8. Going The Distance
9. Bum Knees and Joints
10. On Going Slow
11. Poles
12. Gentle Jogging
13. Where and When?
14. Life as a Fitness Athlete
15. Dance
16. Free and Gentle
17. What I Have I Done to Deserve This?
18. Excuses and Injury
19. Age - The Aging Long-Distance Athlete 
20. Longevity
21. Shoes
22. Weight Loss
23. Stretching
24. Exercise and the job
25. Keeping a Log (Counting)

#1 WHAT I DO - Goals?

Everyone is an experiment of one. George Sheehan
Once we hit 50, our tendency to dwindle really takes off. Sherwin Nuland

Rory D sez: I love exercise. To respond to friends and acquaintances who ask about what I do, I post these bones and bonuses.

When people come to me with prescriptions about how I should exercise, I sprinkle glass in their running shoes and send them away. I have enough experience to suspect other people's prescriptions. As my Number One exercise guru, George Sheehan, admonished me in 1978, the height of the running boom,  "Do not tell me what I should do. Tell me what you do." What I do may suggest some ideas. I hope it does. But keep in mind, it's what I do, not what you should do. I'm just an experiment of one. We all are.

HERE'S WHAT I DO

I got turned on to regular exercise during my first Outward Bound course in 1971. I have been exercising, with momentary lapses, ever since. Currently (2006, 64 years old) I average 10.5 hours of exercise a week. I know this because I have been keeping count in my exercise log ever since I joined Weight Watchers March 19, 2003 to accelerate the loss of a few extra pounds of "ugly fat." I'd accumulated this fat responding to the realities and demands of life (As Robert Burns put it,  "the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglay.") Were I perfect I'd work out 12 hours a week, but I have excuses and only average 10.5.

Here's how my exercise schedule looked in 2006 - an excellent schedule that I use as a model.

Sunday - Rest
Monday - 1 hour Gentle Jogging, 1 hour upper-body weights and stretching
Tuesday - 1 hour bicycling, 1 hour lower-body weights and stretching
Wednesday - 1 hour Gentle Jogging, 1 hour upper-body weights and stretching
Thursday -1 hour bicycling, 1 hour lower-body weights and stretching
Friday -1 hour Gentle Jogging, 1 hour upper-body weights and stretching 1
Saturday -1 hour bicycling, 1 hour lower-body weights and stretching

This schedule allows me to be a "cross trainer." My primary endurance activities are gentle jogging (a sagacious mix of walking, jogging and high-intensity running) mixed with cycling. I alternate between these two activities so that I don't use the same muscle groups two days in a row, allowing 48 hours of recovery between similar efforts. I also mix up my activity with rollerblading (I use poles for upper body and balance) and swimming (with fins). Sticking to this "cross training" philosophy, I alternate my weight training between upper and lower-body muscle groups and try to get in plenty of resistance-stretching (all of this while  reaching for another handful of home-made high-oat granola).

When other fitness athletes tell me they run "every day," or repeat any activity "every day," I wonder, "Why?" Data indicates they would benefit more, feel more energized, have more fun, and reduce injury, by mixing it up. Muscles like about 48 hours of rest between efforts. It is during these rest periods that they actually grow stronger. To insure plenty of time to grow stronger, I take off at least one day a week. Using the same muslces, over and over in the same repetitious manner, is a recipe for injury and staleness. Muscles adapt when challenged with new activity. For this reason I search out hills, trails and stairs, requiring lots of variety. Sometimes I go easy, sometimes hard, but always with an eye towards avoiding injury. I practice running like water flows over a rock.

 
My current self-improvement recommendations include (click on link):

Anything by George Sheehan you are able to find - Dr. George is the best connection between mind, body and spirit.
Be Still and Know, by Roy Masters - Practice the free meditation and listen to about seven hours of radio shows.
Chi Kung, Way of Power by Master Lam Kam Chuen -  Time to think about chi?
Self Reliance by R.W. Emerson. What we must do is draw on our own expereince. And read Emerson.
Getting Stronger by Bill Pearls - Bill Pearl's book has a variety of very good weight training routines.
Heart Monitor Training for the Complete Idiot by John Parker - An excellent way to think about Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) and training.
Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness 2nd Edition by Phil Campbell - Work hard enough to stimulate the fitness hormones.
Stretching by Bob and Jean Anderson - the indispensable discussion of stretching.
The Energies of Men by William James - This 1907 paper by William James is included because of my desire to pierce the lazy veil of habit.
Ultimate Fitness by Gina Kolata - confirms the dearth of data that passes as science in the world of fitness and health.
Guidelines for Successful Jogging by Rory Donaldson - I wrote this book when I was the Editor and Program Director for the National Jogging Association, way back in the "golden age" of running and jogging, 1976. "Mother Earth News" has published a great deal of it here, for free. The fundamental recommendation remains the same, "If you're going to jog, jog gently."
The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), by Gary Craig - Free tapping techniques help with fear and resentment.
The Art of Aging, Sherwin Nuland, MD. The title says it all. Also see How We Die.
Core Rhythms:  great dance program.
Anything by Alan Watts.

Keep in mind a couple of tips I learned from Arthur Lydiard, the famed Olympic coach: "To become a strong runner, first become a strong walker;" "Adopt a hard/easy schedule, really mixing it up and getting plenty of rest between hard workouts." With these two tips in mind, nearly everyone has the basics of a great fitness program straight out his/her front door.

These recommendations are included because they help me achieve my goals.

WHAT ARE MY GOALS?

  • Eat less. Exercise more.
  • Health and fitness with a good sense of humor
  • Reduce sun exposure and wear sun screen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfq_A8nXMsQ
  • Adventure, excitement, fun
  • Cross the finish line smiling
  • Play
  • Minimal injury and pain-free movement
  • Triggering Human Growth Hormone
  • Using a whole lotta muscles
  • Staying lean and toned
  • Burning ugly fat
  • Staying young
  • Overcoming embarrassment and diffidence
  • Living like a fitness athlete
  • Enjoying life
  • Realize my purpose
  • Lov God and my family
  • Enlightenment and the courage to fly
  • Remain a full-flegged "bozo" on the bus

My exercise is a secondary source of energy. My primary source is a spark some call "God." The Maharishi calls it "bliss consciousness." Master Lam Kam Chuen calls it "Wu Chi." I call it "Yes!" It's a little positive spark in the dark that says "Yes!" to life. I beleive that as this positive force is acknowledged, prasied and embraced the fun, love, beauty and adventure of existence breaks through. In touch with this affirmation and energy I climb Cold Mountain; I optimize; I experience appreciating; I touch my ancestors, eternity and the infinite; I am thankful. "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better and better." "I deeply and completely forgive and accept myself."  AAAAaahhhhhhhhh Grasshopper!

SUMMARY: At this 2006 writing I average 10.5 hours of exercise a week: five hours of endurance training; five hours of light weights and stretching. I commonly get my hour of weights and stretching during lunch. I get my hour of jogging and cycling when I get home, either out on the roads or on a treadmill or turbo-trainer. I do not fatigue the same muscle groups two days in a row and intersperse scheduled rest days. My training is based on a "cross training" plan that I have cobbled together from thirty years of personal experience and reading that began with my first Outward Bound course in 1971.
 

#2 LIVING LIKE AN ATHLETE

What's the plan?

Rory D sez: Living like an athlete is taking me a lifetime to complete. Living like an athlete goes way beyond minimal fitness to an integration of body, mind and heart. I live like a fitness athlete becuase I can. While I average over ten hours week in and week out, I don't believe this much volume is required simply to stay healthy and fit.

Less compulsive people than I could do something like:

Sunday - Rest
Monday - Endurance activity mixed with accelerations, 1 hr.
Tuesday - Light Weights and Stretching 1 hr.
Wednesday - Endurance activity mixed with accelerations, 1 hr.
Thursday - Litht Weights and Stretching 1 hr.
Friday - Endurance activity mixed with accelerations, 1 hr.
Saturday - Light Weights and Stretching 1 hr.

WEEKLY TOTAL = 6 hours.

SUMMARY: Six hours a week is a very reasonable effort, but for whatever complex reasons is not enough for me. I am an experiment of one, and I am experimenting with 10.5 hours.

 

#3 MAXIMUM HEART RATE

How to make the most of the time I put in.

Rory D sez: With only so many hours in the day I want to be somewhat efficient in my training and avoid excess fatigue. Keeping my eye on the data allows me to do this.

My goal is to exercise hard enough and long enough to get faster, stronger, leaner, to preserve; not so hard that I cause injury, fatigue or illness. To accomplish this end I approximated the recommendations in John Parker’s book
Heart Monitor Training for the Complete Idiot. I use a Polar A5 heart rate monitor (but don’t really believe the model matters) and have determined my maximum heart rate (MHR) to be 182. I made this determination over a number of days by thoroughly warming up and then thrashing up a series of moderate hills until it seemed to me that I couldn’t reasonably squeeze out another beat per minute (perhaps if I had had a gun to my head). For me to establish my MHR in this manner was important because the common formula 220 – My Age returned a value of 158, a significant discrepancy.

Then, using Parker’s protocol again, I determined my resting rate to be 49.

With this data at hand I am able to quantify my running:

  • Fitness training (slow / easy) = 60 to 70% MHR (my Maximum Heart Rate 182) = 109 – 127 beats per minute (bpm).
  • Endurance training (moderate / long) = 70 to 85% MHR = 127 – 155 (bpm).
  • Speed training (hard) = 155 – 90% MHR = 159 – 164 (bpm).
  • Sprint training (maximal) = 90% (plus) MHR = 164 (plus). Interestingly, I found that various activities deliver various maximum heart rates. For instance, while cycling my MHR is about 164; swimming about 171 (bpm). I guess that this variance is because swimming and cycling aren't weight-bearing.

SUMMARY: Armed with data I can quantify my efforts, insuring I am training hard on some days, recovering well on others, optimizing the time I am investing.

#4 ENDURANCE AND SPEED PLAY

Building muscle

Rory D sez: It is during exertion that muscles transmit their need for more strength, triggering a call for growth hormone (HGH) in order to adapt. Triggering this transmission requires periods of 90% (plus) effort.

Referring back to the previous post:

  • Fitness training (slow/easy) = 60 to 70% MHR (my Maximum Heart Rate 178) = 126 - 139 beats per minute (bpm).
  • Endurance training (moderate/long) = 70 to 85% MHR = 139 - 159 bpm.
  • Speed training (hard) = 85 to 90% MHR = 159 - 165 bpm.
  • Sprint training (maximal) = 90% (plus) MHR = 165 bpm (plus).

In order to trigger the production of HGH (I am very wary of all so-called HGH supplements, sprays, salves or injections) it appears that muscles must work at 90% (plus) of maximum effort for short periods of time (a second or two). Obviously, this intensity can be very dangerous and result in a plethora of injuries. It must be approached slowly, and I have a history of illness and injury that testify to my hubris.

Currently my regimen reflects my current thinking and presently I am rested, strong, without injury or pain. I begin my workouts out at a fitness pace and maintain this pace until I begin to perspire, about 20 minutes. At this point I am warm enough to begin to pick up the pace and for the next 40 minutes, or so, engage in "speed play," choosing the pace most appropriate to the moment. I finish off the hour at either a fitness or endurance pace.

Speed play is a mixture of paces. Once warm I slowly accelerate until I achieve a hard effort; my pulse approaching 165 (plus). I maintain this hard effort for only a few seconds and then drop back down to a fitness pace to recover. I maintain the fitness pace for a minute or two, or more, until I am ready to begin another acceleration towards another hard effort. My goal is to repeat this cycle five to eight times, depending on how I'm feeling. If I am tired I skip the entire effort entirely and maintain a fitness or endurance pace for the total hour. If too tired I skip the whole workout and record a rest day, reminding myself that adaptation occurs during rest, not effort. If I am tired I am risking doing myself more harm than good.

Phil Campbell puts it this way, "The best form of growth hormone is produced by the body itself. Anaerobic exercise, the short, quick burst, sprinting types of exercise that gets you winded in less than 30 seconds does the trick. If you want to accelerate muscle building, here's the key - use large muscle groups, targeted weight training, in combination with anaerobic sprinting-types of exercise to increase your body's natural muscle building steroids."

Look at the difference in body type between sprinters and long-distance runners. Sprinters perform lots of anaerobic exercise and train with weights. The result is lots of muscle and little body fat. Long-distance runners tend to ignore weight training and anaerobic exercise. They end up with low muscle mass and low body fat. I want to be the best of both: plenty of muscle, lean, low body fat.

SUMMARY: After a long warm-up, five to eight, or more, "hard" (anaerobic) running or cycling efforts per workout. For a thorough discussion I recommend buying a copy of Ready Set Go.

 

#5 SOMATOPAUSE - Growing Fat

ALL THAT FAT

Rory D sez: There came a time when my body stopped producing all the hormones that it commonly produced in my younger years. The result is called “aging.”

Literally, I am "growing fat."
 
Somatopause – Both men and women, beginning about age 30, start severely shutting down the hormone production called "youth." "Somatopause" sets in - a gradual loss of the body’s ability to produce human growth hormone (HGH). This loss of production is keyed into a myriad of physical changing - called "growing old."

Andropause – For men, by the time we hit 50, the body has significantly stopped producing human growth hormone (HGH).

Menopause – For women, typically about age 50, the body has significantly stopped producing human growth hormone (HGH).

All of these “pauses” are related to a severe and radical a loss of energy, a loss of libido, an increase in fat, a loss of muscle tone, strength and speed, a decrease in general vitality and sexual libido (a loss of many of the gifts of youth). What, if anything, can be done to optimize and maintain the production of HGH and slow some of the symptoms of aging associated with "growing old?”

I am very wary of the many huckster claims for HGH supplementation, and do not take any myself. I do not trust supplementing HGH with injections. I am willing to include periodic maximal efforts, 90% of
Maximum Heart Rate, during my workouts. These repeated efforts put a demand on my muscles that call to my pituitary for more HGH. For a thorough discussion of this subject I recommend Phil Campbell’s site Ready, Set, Go!

After a slow 20 minute warm-up I may repeat about eight "hard" accelerations (depending on my mood). These maximal efforts require me to reach 90% (plus) of my MHR for just a few seconds at a time. I then slow down to a recovery pace to catch my breath, cruise along for a minute or more, and then repeat. Sometimes I come in as hard as I’m able, without much of a cool down. I am religious about not repeating these types of workouts back to back.

Periodic racing can achieve the same training effect. The trick is avoiding exhaustion and injury by trying to accomplish these maximal efforts day after day. By mixing my cycling and running I am not using the same major muscle groups two consecutive days, affording my muscles 48 hours of rest between efforts. Even then I am cautious about pushing to hard, too often. This is where the “art” comes in. Too often I have ended up in the "Crack Up," burning the candle at both ends. This is the folly of youth.

SUMMARY: Somatopause ain't good, unless I want to feel old, look old, and put a burden on our already overtaxed healthcare system. I believe that mixing hard/easy efforts optimizes what’s left of my ability to produce HGH. At this point, after thirty years of experimentation, I would say it’s working. Read Phil Campbell (listed above) and stay away from supplemental HGH.


#6 WEIGHT TRAINING

"You've wasted your whole life away reading books, when you could have been lifting weights."
Mr. Peepers


Rory D sez: Realizing that all the muscles are connected and work together, there are seven major muscle groups that I think about, stretch and strengthen when I lift weights: stomach, arms, back, chest, legs, shoulders, sides.

I work out with weights and stretch five days a week, about an hour a workout. I emphasize using light to moderate weights that allow me to easily complete 12 - 15 repetitions with good form. Because running pounds and uses my legs hard, I compliment my running days with "no-pound" cycling days. This "hard/easy" schedule reflects my overall plan of resting major muscle groups 48 hours between workouts.
 
Too many weight trainers overly and incorrectly emphasize "weight" over "speed." That is, the weight being lifted is emphasized rather than the speed and form at which it is being lifted. There are few good reasons for most people to lift heavy weights - the risks of injury are too great. Insead of lifting heavy weights, slow way down, count to ten and move through a full range of motion. You'll get a better workout.

I lift and lower weights slowly, typically at a count of 5 to 10 seconds up (contraction) and 5 to 10 seconds down (extension). I lift through a full-range of motion and work my way completely through one complete set before a second, maybe even a third, depending on how slowly I'm going, how much stretching, how I feel. By moving slowly, and through a full range of motion, I am able to get a good stretch. I am able to get in one or two more hours of stretching throughout the week by getting on the floor in front of my television set.

Two books/articles that provide a lot of insight:

Getting Stronger by Bill Pearls
Stretching by Bob and Jean Anderson
I have used many gymnasiums and workout machines, but they are totally unnecessary. An adequate home gym can be created with the help of an inexpensive stretching mat and a 100 pound barbell and dumbbell set from your local sporting goods store or Sears. Fancy exercise machines and gyms may be useful, but are not required. What is required is actually getting on the floor doing the workouts.

SAMPLE UPPER BODY WORKOUT
Chest - BARBELL BENCH PRESS
Back - PULL DOWNS
Chest - INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS
Back - ROWS
Shoulders - DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS
Biceps - BARBELL CURLS
Shoulders - DUMBBELL LATERAL RAISES
Triceps - OVERHEAD DUMBBELL EXTENSIONS
Biceps - ALTERNATE DUMBBELL CURLS
Triceps - PUSHDOWNS
Sides - SIDE BENDS

SAMPLE LOWER BODY WORKOUT
Legs - BARBELL SQUATS
Legs - LEG PRESS
Legs - DUMBBELL LUNGES
Hamstrings - DEAD LIFTS
Hamstrings - BACKWARD LEG CURLS
Quadriceps - LEG EXTENSIONS
Calves - STANDING CALF RAISES
Calves - SEATED CALF RAISES
Abdominals - REVERSE CRUNCHES
Abdominals - CRUNCHES
Abdominals - LEG LIFTS

Summary: I work out with light weights, through a full-range of motion, five times a week. I don't use heavy weights, but can get quite a burn by simply slowing down and insuring that I am moving through a full range of motion, 5 to 10 seconds in each direction. By alternating between upper and lower body workouts, I give myself plenty of rest.
 

#7 HOW I SHOULD EAT AND DRINK

"Eat Less. Exercise more." This is the great truth of healthy aging.

Rory D sez: Three keys to my physical, mental and spiritual health are calorie restriction, plenty of whole foods, and lots of exercise. These aren't the only keys, but are bedrock principles. As my brother-in-law Marcus would have me, "Don't exercise so you can eat. Eat so you can exercise."


When it comes to eating, I believe the best thing I can do for myself is to:

  • eliminate all foods with the words "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" on the label
  • eliminate all foods containing palm, coconut, or generic "vegetable" oils
  • restrict eating meat, including chicken and fish, to 8 ounce servings, 3 or 4 times a week
  • eat "organic" dairy products (yogurt)
  • eat no foods containing lard
  • restrict all fast food
  • eliminate refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, white flour blends, boxed cereals)
  • eliminate white sugar (sucrose), corn oil
  • eliminate artificial sweeteners
  • restrict even whole-grain flour. Replace flours with the whole grains, like oats and brown rice.


I AM DOING WELL WHEN I INGEST:

  • 30 grams (plus) of unrefined fiber per day (whole grains, fruits, vegetables)
  • 70 grams of high quality protein per day (whole grains and nuts, organic dairy, poultry, eggs, beef, fish, power drinks...)
  • a multi-vitamin/mineral (I take one tablet of a three-a-day regimen because I don't like all those megadoses, especially of B)
  • 500 mg vitamin C (when I feel like it)
  • 1,500 mg. glucosamine/chondroiten (for extra joint cushioning)
  • 2,000 mg. L-Glutamine with a carbonated seltzer before exercising (maybe)
  • olive oil and red wine or Bragg's apple cider vinegar as salad dressing
  • one or two glasses of beer (I'm partial to Oat Stout)
  • raw walnuts
  • Hearty Rye and Multigrain Wasa crackers
  • salads
  • organic oatmeal and oat bran
  • organic multi-grain breads
  • three cups of coffee a day (no sugar, low-fat milk)
  • 5-8 8 oz. glasses of distilled water
  • fruit and vegetable juices cut 50% with water
  • fresh, raw flax oil in salads, cereals and power-drinks for the Omega-3s
  • power drink made of 33g soy protein powder and 33g whey protein powder mixed with 6 oz water and flax-seed oil (Yum!)


One of my goals is to limit calories while getting plenty of nutrition. I try to limit myself to about 2,200 calories a day (not easy). Two hours of exercise burn about 1,000 of these. Believe me, I get plenty of calories beyond this spartan regimen, and haven't starved to death yet.

My cholesterol? Total = 172. HDL = 56. LDL = 106. LDL/HDL ratio= 3.07. My blood pressure = 118/64.

SUMMARY: Limit refined calories and junk food to no more than 10% of total caloric intake (calories do count); get plenty of high-quality protein, unrefined carbohydrates and fluids. Eat less. Exercise more.


#8 GOING THE DISTANCE

The great sin

Rory D sez: The point of all this effort is to go life's full distance, to cross the finish-line smiling, to live, to paraphrase Thoreau, deliberately -- to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I can learn what it has to teach, and not, when I come to die, regret that I have not lived. My greatest fear is to look back and ask, "Have I lived?" To my mind, this is the great sin.

Someone asked me if I loved exercise. I said, "Yes! But I don't love every minute of exercise." I especially don't love all the preparation required to get out the door. I usually don't love the first twenty minutes or so when I am cold and stiff and lethargic. I don't love being surrounded by the chaos and noise of a busy gym. I don't love all exercises the same. For instance, as a rule I don't love running on a treadmill as much as I enjoy cycling through the countryside. I don't like reverse crunches as much as I like bench presses.

But I get out the door anyway, knowing that even when I make it through the first twenty minutes of grumbling I might find another twenty minutes of boredom and repetition. However, if I'm lucky, after about 20 or so minutes the real action begins. I loosen up, pick up my pace, and derive the multiple benefits of warm oxygen, movement, hormones, deliverance and sweat. As hard as it was getting there, I join the ranks of the self-determined rather than the couches of the sedentary place markers. I enter a little self-made paradise and become winged.

It's often difficult to get out of my chair and get moving. I have a variety of interests and a million good excuses, but I do it anyway (averaging 10.5 hours of exercise a week). And I'm going to keep doing it until old age finally catches up with me and I run out of gas.


SUMMARY: I am an athlete, and when I come to die there are a handful of things I will be able to say: I have loved and been loved; I paid attention to my children's education; I got some exercise; I didn't resign; I didn't give up; I have gone my life's full distance; I have been the luckiest man alive.
Someone has to be me, and I am so happy that I was chosen for the job.
 
 

#9 BUM KNEES & JOINTS

"Start slow and then taper off."

Rory D sez: It occurs to me that a few comments directed at “older” men and women with knee and other joint problems may be in order. These comments are appropriate for all athletes, regardless of their age.

The problem with joint pain is that it’s very discouraging and feeds on itself. That is, when people have joint pain they tend to panic and commonly do one of three things: They attempt to “work through it;” they stop doing any activity at all; they visit a doctor. All may be appropriate, all have their problems. Here are my suggestions.

First of all, as with all treatment: do no harm. With this admonition in mind, a person with pain would do well to consider developing a sound weight-lifting program to increase both the strength and range of motion around the injury. If your doctor recommends a therapy program, do it. But remember, "If it causes severe pain, back off."

Regardless of the joint in question, begin with very light weights, perhaps 3 – 5 pounds. Ask yourself, “What motion can I perform that isn’t painful?” There are probably plenty, even after surgery. See
Getting Stronger by Bill Pearls.

For instance, sitting on a bench, even a person with severe knee pain can probably find twenty leg, hip, back, arm and abdominal exercises that cause no pain (stiffness and discomfort are not the same as pain). These are the motions that need to be developed into a routine, six days a week, 30 minutes a day, alternating between stretching one day and lifting light weights the next. (Don’t do the same exercise every day. That may be the mistake that got you into this mess in the first place.)

As strength and range of motion increase, the weight of the weights may increase. Move through as full a range of motion as you are able, very slowly (count of ten up, count of ten down, eight repetitions per set, one to three sets). Moving slowly, through as full a range of motion as possible, is the key to successfully working muscles without strain or injury. See
#6 WEIGHT TRAINING. Make sure you work through a full-range-of-motion, avoiding those spots where you enter pain. For stretching instruction, as always, see Stretching by Bob and Jean Anderson.

No matter how painful your injury may be, no matter how discouraged you may feel, you don’t want to stop working out. There are plenty of exercises you can do. Pick up those weights and stop making excuses. If you are able to swim, do it, but invest in a good pair of
swimfins. Swimfins turn lousy swimmers into good swimmers and provide a great leg workout without the pain and injury associated with weight-bearing exercises.

SUMMARY: The point is, I know there is plenty I can’t do, but what can I do? Do it!
 

#10 ON GOING SLOW

Rory D sez: When I miss a workout I don't try and double up the next day. I count the time off as a rest-day-bonus and pick up where I left off, knowing I'll probably feel great for the extra kindness to my body.

 
As discussed in Heart Monitor Training for the Complete Idiot by John Parker, "undertraining" is the secret weapon that leads to health and fitness with a good sense of humor. Rest is when adaptation occurs, and those of us who don't get enough rest between workouts aren't going to get stronger, or do much laughing - we will get tired and grumpy, perhaps injured, perhaps sick. Illness, pain and injury are the body's way of yelling at us to back off!

SUMMARY: "Clip-Clop, Clip-Clop...," one foot in front of another, is not the same as running. Improvement requires me to make occasional periods of sustained effort, blended with plenty of rest and a hard-easy schedule. With this in mind I almost don't care how hard I exercise, or how much time I spend in some "zone" or "range." When I feel like walking, I walk. When I feel like giving it the gun, I give it the gun. Probably the bottom line test of how well my program is paying off is how I feel when I first get up in the morning. Am I stiff? Am I limping? Do I have pain? I am very pleased to report that as of this moment, I am not stiff, I am not limping, I have no pain. I think I'm doing something right, even though, according to some people, my workout is pretty lazy. "Why," someone told me the other day, "I bet you could lift a lot more weight than that." "I bet I could," I responded, as I sprinkled glass in his running shoes, "but for how many days?" (After all, I've been at this for over thirty years.)
 

#11 POLES

Rory D sez: There are at least 25 reasons that I like to use “poles” when I run, hike, rollerblade or skate. There is only one caveat to using poles, over zealous pole-users (OZPU's) can develop what's known as "tennis shoulder," and anyone who has ever experienced this symptom of overuse, or its related brethren "tennis elbow," knows that this kind of injury can be quite enervating, painful, and take forever to heal. When used gently, and as part of a complete "gentle jogging" approach to fitness: 

  1. Poles involve more muscles than simple running, walking or hiking. Poles are very effective in protecting and strengthening hips, backs, knees, shoulders, arms, stomach muscles);
  2. When I use poles my hands, arms, shoulders and back become involved, contributing to a "full body" workout;
  3. Circulation and strength through my arms and hands is improved;
  4. Hands, shoulders and back become stronger and look better;
  5. Oxygen consumption is employed throughout the entire body;
  6. Integrating upper-body muscles burns as many as 40% more calories than simply using legs alone;
  7. Time in aerobic zone is increased;
  8. Cross-training of all muscles is encouraged;
  9. Balance is improved;
  10. Safety is improved;
  11. Exercise through my core is encouraged;
  12. Gravity becomes distributed through my arms as well as my legs, reducing pounding on legs and knees;
  13. Unweighting knees and legs with poles really helps people with sciatic nerve problems;
  14. Speed is improved;
  15. Unweighting with the arms takes a load off the back;
  16. Poles help me vault and fly over obstacles in my path;
  17. I really gain traction on hills, both up and down;
  18. Coming down steep hills, they prevent slipping;
  19. They help keep rhythm;
  20. When I’m on the flat I can carry one in each hand, horizontally, and use them as pistons to power along;
  21. They’re great when crossing streams or a slippery log;
  22. They provide a stretch through the entire upper body;
  23. They’re smart;
  24. They help prevent injury and strain;
  25. They provide me with a superior feeling as I clip past all those who aren’t taking advantage of all their benefits;
  26. They're fashionable;
  27. They’re hip;
  28. They're powerful;
  29. They’re fun.

SUMMARY: For good poles see: http://www.leki.com/. I'm really fond of Leki customer service. When I snapped a pole jogging Mt. Sopras they sent me a new pole at no charge, no questiosn asked.

 

#12 GENTLE JOGGING, Health, Illness and Injury

When I say “jogging” I’d like to emphasize that sometimes I WALK, sometimes I run,  sometimes I dance, or ski, or rollerblade, or hike, or bicycle. Sometimes I’m outside, sometimes I'm on a stretching mat inside, but one hour of exercise, six times a week, alternating between activities so Idon't use the same set of muscles every day.  What does "gentle" mean? It means no injury or illness, fresh enough to go out again tomorrow. See: Guidelines for Successful Jogging.  Bill Bowerman, the famous Oregon trainer emphasizes being able to pass "the talk test." Always be able to converse without being out-of-breath. This is what Joe Henderson calls, "Long, Slow Distance."

Running and athletic performance of all kinds is often associated with illness and injury - because my exercise must be gentle or thoughtful - I have been injured and tired too often. One of my goals is to feel fresh.

 

Since I’d prefer never to be sick or injured again, I prefer to think of myself as a “gentle jogger” – emulating water running over a rock, often accelerating after 15 minutes of slogging and warm-up into a full-paced run for a moment or two – sometimes accelerating my heartbeat to as high as I’m possibly able (Maximum Heart Rate). Then recover. Then accelerate again – eight to ten gentle cycles in 40 minutes. This type of effort uses a lot of muscles and oxygen, is vigorous, and must be undertaken like water running over a rock: Gentle and on balance. Gentle and on balance.


#13 WHERE AND WHEN?

The questions are asked, "When do you do this?" "Where?"

When? Usually between six and eight in the morning. Sometimes at lunch. Sometimes when I get home. But I get to it by planning ahead. Today, I already know when I'm going to exercise tomorrow. How? By scheduling it into my calendar.

Where? I have a Sears treadmill and a bike up on a CycleOps Turbo Trainer. I have a stretching mat, a 75 cm exercise ball and a small collection of weights ranging from 2.5 to 20 pounds. That's all I really need. Not very fancy, but it's effort and time, not "fancy." I often lift and stretch while watching television, but never listen to an iPod while jogging. Why? It's dangerous because I can't hear the traffic, but more than that, music distracts me from my personal rhythm. I view exercise as an opportunity to get away, not as another opportunity to plug in.

I jog and cycle straight out my front door, sometimes driving into the mountains for my favorite hills. I love hills. Always have, but I am extra gentle coming down and oftren use poles when I'm afoot on trails.

 

#14 LIFE AS A FITNESS ATHLETE

I am a fitness athlete because I use my body to achieve my goal of being fit - not to compete with others. 

 

#15 DANCE

Learn to dance,and take advantage of a million muscles. The hottest routine I know, http://corerhythms.com/. Watch the sample video, order the CD, and dance. And while you're at it, watch both Beatles' movies, they fill me with a sense of possibility that will never die. Yes!

 

#16 FREE AND GENTLE

Get on the floor and discover as many ways to move as possible. When I run I get off the straight, flat and narrow: up hill, down stairs, around corners. I practice as many ways to move as imagination will allow. I lift weights with creativity. I move through full and gentle ranges of motion. I experiement with balance, Balance, BALANCE.

 

#17 WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?

"What have I done to deserve all the benefits of exercise?" I've kept at it year in and year out for over thirty years and I've ended up asking, "What have I done to deserve this?" I've had a lot of fun on the way.

 

#18 EXCUSES AND INJURY

The words are often overheard, "I have an excuse." "I have an injury."

Therefore, "I can’t exercise."

 

What I really mean to say is that I can’t exercise the injured part(s). All the non-injured parts can continue to be successfully exercised, through full-ranges of motion. Especially when I exercise gently.

 

Regarding excuses, there’s no better place to start than by clicking through to: Excuses. for Poor Behavior and Some Solutions.

As always, Thank You, Bless You, Laugh your way to health and never, ever, ever give up. Above all, Love!

 

#19 AGE - The Aging Long-Distance Runner

Born way back in 1941, I know something about growing old and growing slow. In my thirties I experimented with the virtues of slowing down to the ten-minute mile and gentle jogging. Some people scoffed at me for going so slowly. These days, a ten-minute mile, six miles in an hours, six miles in a row, appears to me to be quite an accomplishment -akin to greased lightening - akin to Roger Banister breaking the four-minute mile. Today the ten-minute mile is fast!

When one is growing old, one is very advised to go gently. It is hard for me to keep up six-mile long-distance runs. They are a distance of great beauty that command me to go beyond and achieve - doing it without injury, illness, or hitting the crack up! I recommend the distance to you, three times a week.

They're hard workouts. To have the body and identity of a long-distance runner, they're required. To be a hobby-athlete (fitness athlete), they're required. To be an athlete I must live as an athlete, do hard things, train, and read Emerson.

 #20 LONGEVITY

I should eat less, but use food and drink as a way to escape my restlessness and angst. 

#21 SHOES

I don't buy what I view as hype about having to buy new shoes every few months. Rather, I "jog gently," and sometimes my shoes last for a year or two. I only use my shoes for jogging, not for any other recreation (or chores in the yard).

#22 WEIGHT LOSS and TONE

Eat less. Exercise more.

#23 STRETCHING

Stretching by Bob and Jean Anderson - the indispensable discussion of stretching.
 

#24 EXERCISE AND THE JOB

8.5 hours of really effective exercise a week can look like this:

      • Sometimes I get up at 5:15 AM, and after getting coffee for Louisa I get in 30 minutes of dynamic stretching, abdominals and light weights before the day begins.
      • Getting up at this hour requires me to turn the lights out about 9:00.
      • Four lunch hours a week I walk for 30 minutes.
      • Weekends, one hour walk or gentle jog both days.
      • Instead of overeating, sitting around a bar or watching television, when on the road I take a walk after dinner and earn extra points. I try to stay off the road.
      • Most important, I have turned my office into a fitness studio and can't recommend highly enough the beta found on: www.healthline.com/blogs/exercise_fitness/2008/12/trainers-dont-exercise-enough.html

 

#25 KEEPING A LOG (Counting)

 To change behavior I have learned the secret of counting and recording my exercise time and what I eat every day. The royal road to changing behavior is "counting." This is the secret behind Weight Watchers, a program with which I have had great personal success.