Friday, December 9, 2011

Thoughts on Aging and Muscle Loss

I often regret not discovering running until midlife.  I think about my personal goals and wish I started 20 or 30 years ago.  I envy people like my wife, an accomplished runner that met her many running goals more than a decade ago.  Even now, on a whim she can go out and kick a ½ marathon in 2 hours flat, averaging a 9 minute pace, with little training and prep.  She’s already developed the nervous system and “muscle memory” to support what she asks of her body, even if not in great running shape (sorry Dear…)  I’m envious though, not because I can’t pull 9’s, but because if she trained for it, she’d be in mid 7’s or 8’s, which would be incredibly hard for me to achieve. 

Twitterverse revealed to me this morning a study published in the Physician and Sports Medicine Journal that Masters Athletes Keep their Muscle Over Time.  My knee-jerk response was “I’m an idiot, I should have started running long ago”.  And then I think a moment and say “Wait a minute, you’ve been an athlete your whole life!  Just not a runner.”  So OK, I’m good with this now, I think.

But twenty years ago I already knew this.  I recall an ancient conversation with my trainer when we discussed the atrophy effects of age, and how the key is preservation of what mass you’ve got.  And while my goals are no longer “size, strength, power” they are “endurance, strength, power”, with the key change being the primary goal.

So while my weight is lower, and my triglycerides, cholesterol, resting heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels are all lower, I’m beginning to think that not squatting 225 or deadlifting 315 every week isn’t such a bad thing.  Although I’ve got to admit, driving into work this morning I had the sudden urge to load up a bar, wrap the knees, tighten a belt and give it a go. Either way, I'm likely an athlete until I die even though my goals will adjust, but I'm guessing that's not a bad thing.

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