Good grief ...
I wrote a song a long time ago -- back when I was playing guitar a lot, and the wife and I were performing at open mics and coffee shops and such -- that was called, "Running." It was a pretty good song. Upbeat rhythm. Cool melody.
"Running ... always running. Running ... always running. Running up, running down; running in, running out ..."
One time, we played two songs at the Saxon Pub down in Austin, and when we finished "Running," people started cheering. That was pretty cool.
I've been running, running all day today, it seems like. A busy, good, and productive day.
Started off heading over to Lampasas to interview an old friend named Hippie for a feature story for the local newspaper. Hippie -- that's his actual (nick)name, from way back when -- is a lifelong biker who had a horrific motorcycle accident last year and lost his right leg below the knee. It was rough for a while, but he's up and at 'em again, even riding his new Harley once in a while.
Then, I went and got a haircut from a really nice young lady. We were talking and laughing about gray hair (mine is pretty damn gray when I leave it alone and don't use any of that men's hair color stuff from Walgreen's), and how it doesn't always want to act right.
After that, I came back to the house and had a phone review with our financial guy. That kind of stuff makes my eyes glaze over, and I think he is amazed sometimes how financially illiterate I am, but he says our accounts all are in good shape, and I have to believe him.
I wrote a book description for one of my new books. It's important to have a catchy book description, and I think this one turned out pretty well. Now, I've got to do that same for the two mini-books that go with it.
Oh yeah, I also drove to the newspaper I freelance for and delivered the month's invoice, so I can get paid.
A little while ago, I sent in my senior fitness column for next Friday's paper.
Now, I'm working on this little batch of words, and I think I'm done.
Off to watch another re-run episode of my favorite, NYPD Blue.
Good to be back!
So much has been going on, but no excuses for neglecting the ol' blog for so long. Here we go ...
Muscle strength begins to decline in our 30s as a natural part of the aging process, but there are things we can do to mitigate what can become a serious health threat. People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 5 percent of their overall muscle mass each decade after age 30. By the 60s and 70s, this growing weakness may lead to dangerous falls and fractures that decrease independence, and can even be life-threatening.
Although muscle loss is inevitable, it can be slowed down and even reversed through strength training, an important part of any senior’s health and fitness routine.
For those new to a regular exercise program, the first recommendation from any qualified fitness specialist should be to consult a healthcare provider. Talk it over with your doctor, get checked out, and make sure there are no serious physical issues that should be taken into consideration.
After your doctor gives the go-ahead, make exercise a regular part of your daily routine. The most important part of any program is consistency. Decide on a schedule, and stick to it. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, and you will be surprised at how fast you progress. Start slowly. Bodies and muscles not used to stress take time to adjust. Participating in a fitness class is a great way to start, or working with a personal trainer who can teach proper exercise technique and/or design a specialized program just for you.
Here’s one schedule you might consider following:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: light warm-up and stretching, followed by strength training (nautilus machines, light dumbbells, exercise bands).
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: walking
Sunday: stretching (or rest)
Finally, for older adults, listening to your body is important. Know when to say when. Some discomfort and soreness is expected for the first two weeks or so, but if the pain seems excessive, it may be better to cut a workout short, or take a day off to rest, than to risk an injury and be unable to exercise at all for an extended period of time.
It's never too late to get in shape.
You can do it.
A while back, I talked about doing two pole vault practices in the same day -- one in the morning, and another in the afternoon.
I think I talked about that ...
Anyway, it was sort of a crazy thing to do, and luckily I escaped uninjured, but I don't think my body really appreciated the punishment. So I vowed to never do that again, and I haven't.
But today, I'm going to make it two days of pole vault practice in a row.
A little risky, but I really think it'll be all right.
Yesterday's practice with Ben down in Austin wasn't real intense. I didn't go after any high crossbars, or anything like that. Just some short-run take-off and swing drills, and I feel fine. Even my sore left knee feels better since I got that new brace for it. That was a good decision.
My friend, Ben Ploetz, owner of Austin Pole Vaulting and Throws, surprised me last night with an invitation to come down this morning and join him for a morning jump session before a bunch of youngsters arrived for a group practice at noon.
I got there early and Ben wasn't there yet, so I took off to find a restroom. It's about an hour's drive from my house, and I was chugging coffee all the way. The vaulting facility is in a big warehouse complex, and I guess now that I think about it, I could have gone in the back doors, where some other people were doing something in an adjacent section of the building, but I headed back up the road, found a McDonald's, went in and used the facilities, then promptly took a wrong turn on the way back.
My sense of direction has always been pathetic. I pretty much knew I was headed the wrong way, but whipped out the GPS just in case. Sure enough, U-turn.
Ben arrived shortly after I pulled in the second time, and we both got to warming up after a little bit of small talk, then this former college decathlon champion, showed me some sprint drills I can work on to help improve my speed, and some little drills with mini-hurdles to also improve running mechanics with and without a pole in hand.
Then, it was over to the main pit for some two- and three-left jumps, where Ben finally got me to stop making my little hop-step start to the approach, and use a smoother, rock-back type start that hopefully will make my run more consistent.
Good vaulters, their run and take-off is very consistent. When they plant the pole and take-off, most all the time, they are hitting the same mark -- the same spot on the runway. When you do something the same way every time, or at least close to it, it is a lot easier to make adjustments.
When you're not so consistent -- like me -- it's kind of hit-or-miss, hit-and-hope.
Eliminating that little hop-step, so that I'm consistently starting from the exact same distance each run, was awkward, and that's why I never really tried to make it happen. But I stuck with it today, and the rock-back technique started getting more comfortable. And my take-off got better, too.
I'll use the rock-back tomorrow when I go to my regular Sunday practice at Jack's place. Jumping two days in a row is a little iffy, especially with Nationals coming up in a few weeks, but I'll take it easy today. Everything feels fine, so if I don't do anything crazy, it'll be all right.
Anyway ... how are things going with you?
The ol' take-off (left) knee has been sore as hell for a few weeks now, and I finally decided there's no pushing through it.
What the knee really needs is probably a few weeks' rest, but that just ain't gonna happen -- now or probably ever. I've got Nationals coming up June 19, and I suppose I could rest it until them, but I've got to keep pushing at least a little bit.
Nationals is a pretty big deal.
This is my first time to compete, and I wanna make a good showing. Based on the number of entries in my age group, I've got a chance to finish in the Top 10 nationwide for old guy pole vaulting -- in my first-ever national competition.
That's going to be amazing.
One thing I need to do this summer is sit down and map out a detailed training schedule. There are so many different things to be done in training for the pole vault, and they're all important.
There's actual vault training, which I will be doing two days a week after Nationals. There's weight training, because the stronger you are, the better, in any sports. There's speed training, because in pole vault, speed is "everything." There's core training. There's losing-weight training, because overweight pole vaulters are not real common.
And to wrap it all up, there's be-careful-of-doing-too-much-and-getting- injured training, which is super important for older athletes.
Seven days in a week is not enough time to do everything I need to do.
So that's one of the next things on the agenda -- prioritize and schedule.
Then, stick to the schedule.
You can do the same thing.
Figure out exactly what your fitness goals are, and then set a schedule that will help you achieve those goals.
If you need some help with that, let me know.
I'm ready, willing and able to help.
You can do it.
Rain, rain, go away -- come again another day, when I don't have an outdoor workout planned.
The skies opened up this afternoon, putting an end to my plans to run some sleds out in the side yard after work. Probably a good thing, as my left knee is pretty damn sore. I think I need a better knee brace than the cheap one I got a while back at the drugstore.
A beautiful day for pole vaulting practice.
The ol' legs felt a little bit dead today as I started warming up, but things turned out OK. I joined in with a small group of young high school kids who seemed mostly to be fairly new to vaulting -- lots of new faces -- and Jack had them doing some platform vaulting, which I had done a couple of times before, but not quite like this.
He asked me if I wanted to try it, and I told him I'd watch a few of them go at it first.
It looked a little intimidating, as the first few youngsters lifted their pole, ran a few steps along an runway elevated to probably 5-feet high, planted the pole down on the ground off the end, jumped, and took off into a soft, squishy pit below.
I wasn't real keen on the idea of having a spectacular crash and burn doing something I wasn't used to doing, but decided what the heck. So I got in line, climbed up there, walked out to the edge of the runway, where Jack gave me a few tips on how to do complete the drill, then backed up, took a deep breath, and went for it.
I splashed down successfully onto the landing pads -- decent form, a successful jump, and uninjured.
Well, all right.
Let's go again.
Everybody went through maybe a dozen rotations, then the kids moved on to some one-step drills over on the secondary pit, and I went over to the main runway and worked my way up to a five-left approach. Sometimes, I'm still pulling on the pole, instead of pushing, and that makes me "helicopter," or sort of turn sideways through the jump -- which is not good.
For the most part, though, I jumped pretty well. We rarely jump using crossbars at Jack's place, so I'm not exactly sure how high I'm actually jumping these days, but I'm fairly confident about going 8-6 at next month's Nationals.
After I hit a nice jump on my biggest pole, straight to the back of the pit, hips fairly high, and no helicoptering, I decided to call it a day.
Adios, y'all ...
Not much to report in the way of workouts today.
Too busy a day, and too damn tired to do much of anything but go home and hit the couch.
At least, that's what I thought was going to happen.
Then, my freelance writing gig threw a bunch of unexpected stuff at me that sent me into an uproar before I figured out how to take care of it, but, still, that took a while. Right now, it's nearly 10 minutes after 10, and I just got everything done.
Tomorrow, I'm going to head down to Austin to watch a kid I've known since 6th grade try to win a gold medal in pole vault at the state high school track meet. Evidently, he's one of the favorites to win, so if he has a good day, apparently he's got a good chance.
I've jumped quite a few times with this kid at the club where we both practice, so that's pretty cool. He's a good young man, and I can only imagine what it would be like to be a state champion at something.
Well, hell, now that you mention it, I am actually a state Masters champion in pole vault, since I won gold in my age group at last year's Oklahoma Senior Games.
How 'bout that?
I'm also planning to become Top 10 in the country in my age group at the National Senior Games next month in Albuquerque. That will really be cool.
Top 10 in the nation ain't too bad.
Wow -- March 23?
Been longer than I thought.
As usual, the NCAA basketball tournament was pretty good -- what I saw of it, anyway. I've been busier than a mosquito at a nudist colony, but I'm going to do my best to get back here and report on the daily comings and goings.
Today was one of those days when I absolutely did not feel like going to the gym after work. About an hour before it was time to call it a day, I started getting really tired -- and sleepy. I told somebody how nice it would be to just head on home and flop on the couch. But I've been giving in to that little voice way too often lately, and not working out like I need to.
Consistency is the key, and I haven't been very consistent.
So I sucked it up, took my butt to the gym, put on my workout clothes, and hopped on the treadmill. A nice little eight-minute warm-up, just to get the ol' blood pumping, and then it was over to the free weights area to do a little back and legs workout.
I started with some lat pull-downs, super-setted with some seated cable rows, then I did some dumbbell rows and some leg presses. Every time I work out, I like to set a new P.R. (personal record) somehow, on something. One extra set, five or 10 extra pounds on the last set -- something extra. This time, it was leg press. My last set, I had five 45-pound plates on each side of the machine -- 450 pounds total. Last time I did leg press, I maxed out at 420.
The 450 was pretty easy for four reps, and I thought about throwing on a pair of 25s for one more set, but decided that might be my 25-year-old brain talking, instead of my 61-year-old body.
I'll save that 500-pound set for next time.
I finished up with some straight-arm cable pullovers, which sort of gives the same movement as driving the pole vault pole down and through, followed by supersets of seated leg extensions and hamstring curls.
A pretty darn good workout, and I felt fine afterward.
Moral of the story?
You know what it is -- even when you're a little tired and your mind says, no, most of the time you can still get in a workout.
Now, I've got to get crackin' on a little more writing, then get my butt to bed. I'm freelancing more for the local paper, including a weekly column on senior fitness, and working on finishing my three Fossil Fit books, which will be out sometime this summer.
Several other irons in the fire, as well, so lots of good things happening. How about you?
You can do it.
It's never too late ...