For years, many believed that running had little effect on lengthening one's life. With the untimely death of the famous author and runner Jim Fixx, some even suggested that such exercise could kill you. The truth is, Fixx had a diseased heart because of his many prerunning years of smoking and an unhealthy lifestyle (not to mention any genetic predisposition to heart disease he might have had). Running probably extended his life for 12 or more years.
Numerous studies now are indicating that running's impact on the overall health and wellbeing of those who work out can contribute to longevity. For example, runners rarely smoke, are usually not overweight or are maintaining a consistent weight, eat healthy diets, have more efficient cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, are more relaxed and less depressed, and feel a sense of selfworth—all the right stuff to defend against the leading causes of death in the United States, heart disease and cancer. Runners, therefore, likely do live longer. Even if you believe that runners do not live longer, they probably live wider than they otherwise would by being healthier day to day.
To help you keep this vigorous lifestyle going for this decade and more to come, we recommend that you walk these 10 steps on the stairway to a long, vibrant, energetic, happy running life for as long as you live. Here are the 10 R approaches to aging well.
Run often: Consistent exercise is crucial. It's better to run 5 miles each day than to do 15 miles twice a week. Your body will stay adjusted to the everyday movement and not fall asleep after three or four days of nothing. Remember, it's good to wear out your running shoes; it means you must be in shape.
Ride occasionally: Take a break from your runs and climb on a bike. The change will keep your passion for running fresh, and you'll enjoy the territory you'll be able to cover on wheels. A good 25mile ride gives you the equivalent of a strong 10mile run. Nothing is lost . . . much is gained.
Race frequently: This step helps you to set goals that challenge you and provides you with the intensity factor that we talked about earlier in the chapter. Vigorous workouts are easier with a group, and racing provides this naturally.
Rely on others: Join a group or a club. Have a running buddy.
When you rely on others, they rely on you. Knowing that you're expected to be at the park at 7 A.M. to join the group will keep you on track. The social benefits as a result of this are numerous and contribute to your overall lifestyle of fun and wellness.
Relax: Be sure to take the time each day you train to meditate, visualize, and use your affirmations prior to your workout. Taking time to rest and relax recharges the body and soul. You will notice how your energy, lost throughout the day, will begin to return when you take time out to recover. This becomes even more important as you age.
Reps of weight training: Don't forget to include a weight training program with your running. As we age, we run the risk of losing large amounts of muscle mass unless we continue to maintain or build by lifting light weights with high repetitions. Talk with someone knowledgeable before you begin, in order to avoid overdoing it or to guard against potential injury.
Relish good foods: Refuse to eat processed substances, which can be toxic to your body. Instead, fill your worldclass body with the best nutrition—fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats. Be moderate with alcohol and caffeine. Consider food to be the fuel you ingest to feel good at higher levels of performance. Be sure to hydrate often with water. High fluid intake will help prevent cramping and other problems associated with dehydration.
Read good books and magazines: This is more food for the soul, keeping the mind stimulated and alert. Consider that which opens your heart to your greatest human potential, and in this way you train not only the body and mind, but the spirit as well.
Reflect: When you take time to relax during your day, be sure to reflect upon your running journey—where you were when you began and how far you have come, not only as an athlete, but as a person. Feel appreciative and fortunate that you have the gift of running. Reflect upon the periodic cycles and fluctuations in performance; what can be gained from contemplating these natural ups and downs?
Rest Your Body. Remember to stress, then rest. This is even more crucial as we age. Your interval training should be followed by a pause, during which you run a moderate or easy workout or take a complete day off. Rest is the single most important ingredient in the recipe for successful running into the advancing years.
Running Within -- OmRiyadat