The Old Folks are Alright

My parents lived in a retirement community if Florida for about 25 years.

When they moved in they were in their early 70s and were the new kids down the block.

The Old Folks are Alright

When they bought their home the old folks were in their 80s and 90s. People who were WWII vets and who endured the Great Depression: The Greatest Generation.

These folks were in their sunset years. Many dealing with issues of old age but still enjoying life.

When there were social events at the club house these people would show up. The music was mostly Big Band and Swing music from the 40s along with country music probably through the 70s and 80s.

My parents grew up with that music and listened to that music on the radio, so that was fine.

For many years my parents went to most of the social events at the club house and visited with friends in the park.

My parents generation and the ones that came before them were joiners.

Before there was TV or the internet, people had to go out to socialize.

In the old days all of the civic clubs were much more popular than they are now. It’s hard to get people to even join the VFW these days.

When I was a kid my dad belonged to several sports leagues or clubs at work. My mother bowled and belonged to several organizations in town.

We are the Old Folks Now

Inevitably my parents became “the old folks” in the park..

About two years before my Dad died, I was visiting them and had to go to the club house to use the Wi-Fi.

As I sat in the card room I could hear people in The Hall setting up for a social event that evening.

By now my folks were in the mid 80s and had stopped attending most get-togethers at the club house. They didn’t have the energy and most of their friends had died.

As I sat there going through work email, I began to notice the music.

I was tapping my foot and humming along.

They were playing The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones!

That’s when I realized that my parents had become the old folks in the park. It really hit me that there had been a generational change in the park.

It is a 55+ community and younger people had discovered the park as a relatively inexpensive place to live. These people went to work every morning. Some of them were my age!

And the 70 year old folks living in the park were flower children! They were the same age as members of The Grateful Dead and The Stones.

They didn’t want to listen to Benny Goodman, they wanna rock! They grew up in the 50s and 60s.

One time I was out for a run around the park and I swear I could smell pot!

I had to laugh.

Old Age is a Relative Term

As I watched my parents move into their 80s and closer to 90 I saw the slow decline. Over time my siblings and I increasingly took care of things.

As technology became more prevalent in everyday life they managed to keep up with some things. But they were about as far from being digital natives as you could get. So we guided them as best we could.

As we became more involved in helping them I began to see their age as old. All of their frailties and health issues began to define old age to me.

But people who are 70 or 80 are also old, it’s just that most of them are more able than people in their late 80s. But they are less able than people in their 60s.

And when my parents were in their 70s they didn’t feel old even with their health issues. The people 5-10 years older were old or people who were dieing or dealing with major health issues were old.

Now the old folks are listening to rock and roll and smoking weed. Some of them served in Vietnam but they are not “The Greatest Generation”. They are the leading edge of the Baby Boomers.

Is 50 the new 30?

What ever age you are, the people 10-20 years older are old.

When I was 30, 50 seemed old but not OLD. Sixty seemed old.

Now that I am almost 58, sixty seems kind of young.

I definitely do not feel 30 anymore and it’s getting harder to convince my self that I am still young. I’m pretty comfortable with the reality that I am in the middle of middle-age. There’s no denying that!

As an old friend used to say “Facts is facts!”.

Having seen my parents age and die, I’ve come to realize that 10 years from now I will look back on a younger me. The me sitting here typing away right now.

No matter how old you are, in 10 years you will wish you could be that age again.

Think of the mistakes you could avoid and the things you could have done if you had only realized the older you wouldn’t be able to do them in the future.

Looking Through Time

So I have seen the end. Twice.

As my dad used to say, life is about taking a series of fall back positions. As you loose the ability to do something you do something else. Or you deal with your illness and the infirmnety that comes with it.

You just deal.

So I know that 10 years from now I may not be able to run marathons, or run at all. With that in mind I need to take better care of my self.

In 20 years I may have problems walking and going to Europe and seeing the sights may not be a possibility.

Over the years many of us add on the pounds like rings on a tree. They come with each year.

If I don’t adjust my diet and maintain my fitness, eventually I’ll look like most of the old men in America. Then I will really feel old.

Age comes to us effortlessly and the days pass by swiftly.

It is up to each of us to do our part to see that next day pass and make sure that as old folks, all of us are alright.

Live Well my Friends!

Andy

Fitness Level Calculator

What is your fitness level?

Physical fitness is key to a long life and good health.

Many of us judge our fitness level by what we see in the mirror, how fast we can run or what we can do in the gym.

These are all good indicators of physical fitness, but there are other factors that we cannot see in the mirror or on the stop watch.

One of these factors is cardiovascular fitness.

Cardiovascular fitness is a key health factor and indicator of fitness.

Your body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise (VO2 Max) is the most precise measure of overall cardiovascular fitness.

There are two ways to measure your VO2 Max.

Based on extensive research, The K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, developed a survey that you can take to easily estimate your fitness level (VO2 Max).

The survey takes about five minutes to complete and requires information most of us know about ourselves.

The survey is anonymous and free. The data you provide is added to their database for research purposes.

The results of my October 2014 worldfitnesslevel.org questionnaire are below. Click my 2014 results and go to the Worldfitnesslevel.org website to calculate your fitness level.

Vo2max, age, fitness level calculator

I knew I was in the best shape of my life in 2014, but these results were surprising.

The survey asks questions about your weight, height, exercise routine and your diet. They also ask for your resting heart rate.

That’s probably the most difficult question for most of us to answer.

In 2014, I used a resting heart rate of 50 in my calculations. At that time my resting rate was usually below 50.

The best way to find your resting heart rate is to check your pulse before you get out of bed in the morning. Count your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. At a doctor’s office it’s not unusual for your heart rate to be slightly elevated!

Either method is fine as you are getting an estimate and not a diagnosis from this survey.

I took the survey again in March of 2019. This time I estimated my resting heart rate to be 56. It may be lower than that, but I’m certainly not in the same shape I was in 2014.

I weigh a little more in 2019, but my exercise and diet are similar if not a bit better. A question that I do not recall seeing five years ago was “How many hours a day do I spend sitting?”

Between work, commuting and sitting around the house, I estimated 12 hours per day. It’s probably more than that!

VoMAX, fitness

I am now five years older and weigh about 5lbs more than I did in 2014.

My results show that I have the fitness level of a 34 year old. That’s not bad for a 55 year-old. But five years ago I was as fit as a 24 year-old.

I didn’t dig into how the calculations are made, but the details are on their web site.

I’m pretty sure my pulse, weight and sitting time were the biggest factors to my loosing 10 years of fitness over five years!

I have read that it is important to know your VO2 Max for training. I never knew how to make these calculations and my doctor would not do it or refer me to a specialist to get the calculations.

Having a calculator designed by scientists is a good way to get a good approximation of your VO2 Max and fitness level. These calculations may not be 100% accurate, but it’s a good place to start.

Age can be measured by more than years

An October, 2014 New York Times article by Gretchen Reynolds discusses the research study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) that helped develop this calculator. The NTNU have conducted studies on fitness and how it relates to wellness for more than 30 years.

This study, begun in the 1980’s, collected data from 55,000 Norwegian adults. They used the data to calculate the subject’s VO2max and fitness age. The higher your VO2max in relation to others your age, the lower your fitness age. Then they checked the death records for the study participants and discovered a relationship between VO2max and mortality.

It turned out that people whose calculated VO2max was 15 percent or more below average for their age— meaning that their fitness age was significantly above their chronological years — had an 82 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than those whose fitness age was the same as or more youthful than their actual age. According to the study’s authors, the results suggest that fitness age may predict a person’s risk of early death better than some traditional risk factors like being overweight, having high cholesterol levels or blood pressure, and smoking.
Source: NY Times

The NTNU study collected data from Norwegians and the researchers understand that their results may not be accurate world wide. They plan to expand their study group and update the questionnaire to help make the calculator more accurate for people around the world.

Precisely Measuring Your Fitness Level

The most accurate way to measure your fitness level is a direct measurement using calibrated equipment.

In the Boston area Cenegenics Medical Institute in Boston and Outback PT in Somerville offer the VO2 Max test. The test is conducted on a treadmill or exercise bike while you wear a heart rate monitor and a mask. The mask collects all exhaled breath in order to make the VO2 Max calculations.

For a VO2 Max test at Outback PT the cost is $199. At Cenegenics the VO2 Max test will run you $150.00, or combine it with a DEXA Body Composition Scan for $300.

Check out this video from Outback PT to see how the VO2 Max test is conducted at their office.

While nothing can replace a direct measurement of your fitness level, the on-line questionnaire is an affordable place to start.

Have you checked your fitness level?

Run well my friends,

Andy

Training at 50

The 50’s are here!

AARP can wait. I need that membership fee to sign up for a 5K. If you saw my post yesterday, I have a few to run in the next 12 months.

running,runner,training Over the years, my birthday has fallen on Labor Day or Labor Day weekend several times. Three days to eat, drink beer and usually swim a lot. Very nice.

This year my birthday was on a Thursday which means I get to party on two weekends! Last weekend we had a nice family get together in New Hampshire with lobsters, a few IPAs and the traditional swim.

I also managed a 21 mile long run in sweltering heat which didn’t kill me. This weekend I have a 20 mile long run and the wife and I are going out for my birthday dinner. That means someplace nice. Maybe appetizers and desert. Maybe Salvatore’s in Medford Square?

Training this week

I had a nice 8.34 mile birthday run on Thursday. Mostly under 8 minute miles with an over all average of 8:18. The Esplanade is mostly flat and those miles felt pretty good.

When we had cake at work today, everyone asked me if I was doing anything special for my birthday. I told them I just gave my self a nice long run. I think most of them thought I was joking. A nice run that will help ensure I make it to my next birthday. That is a priceless gift, and it was free.

My weekly total came in at 35.6 miles! A weekly high and nothing really hurts. So far my Baystate training is going well.

I have no real plan. This is a totally by the seat of the pants training program here. I run the Sunday long run every week, I’ve lengthened the Tuesday night run to 8 plus miles and I run one or two days at work, 6-9 miles. I’m just a knuckle head on auto pilot. Relying on experience and listening to my body.

A gift from the BAA

Who says you can’t give the gift of time? Upon turning 50, my qualifying time for The Boston Marathon increased by 5 minutes to 3:30. Now I ONLY have to run 26.2, 8 minute miles, instead of 7:49 miles. What a relief!

I know that I can run 6 to 8 miles under 8 minutes during training. Under race conditions I can probably stretch that to a half marathon at my current fitness level.

With six weeks to go I have a lot of work to do, and I am looking forward to it. Just like last week, I am looking forward to the long run. 20 miles. Bring it on!

Any good mid-week 5Ks that you can recommend in the Boston area?

Run well my friends!

© 2014 anagelin

Time on my hands

Instead of time on my feet, I now have time on my hands

Due to my knee issue, I’ve been advised not to run for the next 7-10 days.

pink floyd, time
Time Marker
Courtesy of wordlesstech.com

I’ve managed to catch up on all of my DVR’d Colbert Report shows and we are making a dent in the backlog of John Stewart’s The Daily Show as well. I even have more time to write blog posts.

Taper Time from Hell

This is the worse taper ever: totally unplanned and way too early. In addition to the agitation that comes with decreased physical activity, in the back of my mind I worry about my running future.

All runners confront the end of their running days at some point in time. All of us will get to a point where it hurts too much or takes too much physical effort to even jog.

This is probably just be a bump in the road for me, but it gives me pause to think about THE END. What will it be like when I can’t run anymore? Ever.

I’m a runner. It’s a big part of who I am. What would I do from now on if I could not run?

At 49 I feel like I have many more years of running in me.

The Male 40-50 bracket always has a good number of runners in it at most races. It is also a competitive bracket with many strong runners. It’s not unusual for the top 25% of men 45-50 to beat the bottom half of the men 40-45.

running numbers, time
Running Demographics

The statistics here are in 10 year chunks so the drop off looks dramatic. If these were “by year” stats I think the slope would be relatively flat until age 45 and then drop off dramatically after age 50. From my personal observations, I think a lot of men, and women, run well into their late 40’s. These stats don’t show it but I think the dramatic drop off begins after age 50.

The decade between 55 and 65 cuts our number by more than half!

Achy, breakey, bite me!

I’ve had hip problems,muscle problems and tendon problems. A runner’s body always has an ache somewhere, it just moves around. None of those issues made me think about the end of the road the way this injury has. I was in PT for months with a sore hip and hanging up the shoes never crossed my mind.

I often see people running with various knee supports and braces and always hope I can get to 80 and avoid all of that. I still have that hope.

I’m still in the early phase of my recovery and I still have twinges. They worry me, but I keep telling my self that the healing process has just begun. I’m going to miss a race or two, but I will run again. I still have Boylston street in my sites.

Run well my friends!

Andy

© 2014 anagelin