Jogging at age 65-plus

After a half decade of Big Years, from age 60, I’m now in a different mode, less frenetic, less obsessed. It’s a “slow glow.” One of the many aspects of life that I’ve chosen to zero in on is my jogging. After all, I’ve now been running (slowly, oh so slowly) for half a century! And running gives maximum cardiac exercise per minute, is great for bone density, and is an all-round bodily workout. More importantly, I love it, in a love/hate kind of way. So I’ve jumped off the bike, cut down on the hiking, and told myself to just jog regularly, three or four times a week. (Plus I do gym three times a week, that’s another story.)

Unfortunately, just as I decided running is the go, my body and mind rebelled. I overloaded the left knee last September in Darwin and have been under the care of a great young physio, R, ever since. Five years ago, I was running 40 kms, four hours’ worth, a week. Suddenly I was back to 5 kms/week, almost nothing, barely a sweat.

Six months later, good news and bad news. First the good stuff. The knee has recovered almost completely, due (I surmise) to a glute/lower back strengthening regime of exercises from R, a careful approach to increasing my “load” (R’s term for my kms/week), a different running gait (higher cadence, less stride), and resumption of glucosamine tablets. I’m now at just over 10 kms/week, still a pittance but at a level that leaves me sweating. Now the bad stuff. My breathing almost immediately becomes ragged and my willpower seems daunted. It takes a lot to talk me into upping the mileage. This week I’m running 3.5 kms each time, no closer to my short-term goal of 5 kms (so I can do Parkruns) than I was two months ago. I’ve had a concerted attempt at losing weight … and failed.

Today I had my final session with R. “I’m cured,” I yelled. As befits the best of coaches/mentors, he asked me about my immediate running goal (“Parkrun’s 5 kms”) and next goal (“10 kms 3 to 4 times a week”) and impossible dream (“a half marathon”), then he assured me that at my age, none of those are at all ridiculous, that I should work my distances upwards gradually (he’d given me a rule of increasing my three-week moving average by only 10%). As a parting gesture, he added jumping to my gym routine, saying I need to maximise bone density attention.

All of which leaves me buoyed. A future, I reckon.

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