Category Archives: Running

Should You Be Lifting Weights After 50

Bucket Carry at the 2015 Arizona Spartan Sprint.

Should you be lifting weights after 50?

A recent article in BarBend not only says yes but also recommends the more demanding subset of Olympic Lifting.

For those that don’ know, Olympic lifting is made up of the lifts that are a part of the Olympic Games and include lifts like the Snatch and Clean and Jerk.  This lifts can be fairly sophisticated but with the right coach can lead to enormous gains in strength, mobility and balance.

So why take up weight lifting of any kind after 50?

  1. Muscle mass – Muscle mass naturally declines as you age. However this can be offset to some extent by continuing to lift heavy things. Use it or lose it as they say. You don’t have to Olympic lift to get this however, as you can do other things like just lift rocks or other heavy items in the yard. You could also Powerlift which includes the Bench Press, Deadlift and Squat. The key is that you do something correctly and safely and build up naturally over time.
  2. Functional Fitness – In order to deal with every day life, you need to be prepared to move quickly or in a way that is not natural. Think slipping on the ice or picking up your grand kids. You need to continue to be able to move in your normal range of motion and you need to have balance. All of these things can be accomplished through proper weight training of some sort.
  3. Fun – for the right people in the right environment, weight lifting can be fun. It is also pretty easy to see progress and can be done with other people.

Whatever your situation, you could probably benefit from lifting some weights. So reach out to a coach or trainer if you haven’t done it before and give it a try.

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Unbreakable Runner – What is CrossFit Endurance?

At 54 years old, I still run, work out, hike, paddle board, play ultimate frisbee and climb. I also compete periodically in events such as my upcoming StoneCat Trail Marathon to test myself and to raise money for charities such as The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. The problem of course is how do you the find the time.

After reading two books, I think I have figured it out to a large extent.

The first book is called Fit After Fifty by legendary coach Joe Friel.  Coach Friel’s primary advice is to focus on more intensity less often and more recovery. The BoomerangFit blog has a lengthy review of the book HERE. 

The second book is called the Unbreakable Runner: Unleash the Power of Strength & Conditioning for a Lifetime of Running Strong.  This book is by Brian MacKenzie and TJ Murphy. For those of you who haven’t heard of Brian, he is a well know strength and conditioning expert who came up with an innovate system called Cross Fit Endurance. Again the premise here is that endurance training, in this case for all ages, needs to focus on form, cadence, strength and stamina and not just on the long slow distance that is still so popular with most people. Running long regularly especially without the proper form or core and leg strength is a recipe for injury. 

With CrossFit Endurance, I am focusing a lot of form and cadence while running. Intuitively I know that I need to have a faster turnover and to strike the ground with my forefoot. However, with practice and strength improvement, I can’t keep that up over a long run. I am constantly reminding myself to forefoot strike only to go back to heel strike when my attention wanders. It has to be subconscious or built into a patter over time through repetition. And, this pattern needs to be supported by the strength primarily in the feet or lower legs necessary to do it correctly at scale.

Additionally, I am spending a lot more time focusing on functional fitness than I ever have for running. The book, as you might guess, recommends CrossFit like workouts but I find I can do other things as well such as kettlebells or just doing burpees and carrying heavy things around the yard.

Why I came back to New Balance

I started running seriously in about 1975. When I say running seriously, I mean not just running away from something like my friends or my brother, but running towards something, in my case I was trying to lose weight and wanted to eventually compete in high school cross country.

Back in that day there were many different running shoes to choose from, however the shoe of choice on my cross country team at the time was New Balance. I don’t remember the name or number of the style and if I remember correctly they only had one anyway. It was pretty cool looking for the time and they worked well. I felt fast. This was also back in the time when if your shoe soles wore out, you just loaded on some Shoe Goo and kept going. Do they still make that stuff? We wouldn’t have dreamed – or been able to afford – replacing shoes more than maybe once a year.

Later in the 80s while going through college and the inevitable post college “I never weighed this much before so I better get back to running” phase, my commitment and nostalgia for New Balance wavered and I tried other shoes like Nikes, Saucony’s and even ASICS. I regularly tried new brands and new models but never found what I was looking for elsewhere.

Now that I have returned to the fitness fold and have again become “serious” about fitness, I have returned to my home with New Balance. It doesn’t hurt that they are a local company where I live near Boston. The real reason however is that they have a number of models that are just very comfortable at a reasonable price and that fit well with my focus on running, hiking, functional fitness and climbing.

I started with the New Balance Minimus for functional training. I do a lot of kettlebells, deadlifts, carrying things, crawling, burpees, etc. And it is important to have a small or zero drop to keep my body aligned and the Minimus works really well for this. It is also lightweight and pretty sturdy.

Next I decided to get back to running. To avoid injury, I wanted a lot of padding but I also didn’t want something that was unstable and mushy. I tried a few other shoes but ended up trying the New Balance Vazee Pace 2. This shoe had amazing padding but somehow without the bulk of the other shoes. I have two pair now one for crappy weather and one for nice weather.

As a former cross country runner, after I had gotten back into running, I started to crave the trails. So I went back to New Balance and came up with the Vazee Summit Trail V2. These shoes have some great traction and great padding but still have great stability.  This November I will be running the StoneCat Trail Marathon and these will be my go to shoe.

Finally, I have started climbing mountains as well to raise money for the CureAlzeimer’s Fund. In order to train for the mountains, I started doing some very vertical hikes carrying a lot of weight. For this I chose the New Balance Leadville.  The Leadville is also a trail running shoe but I found it to be substantial enough for hiking as well even with a heavy backpack. As a matter of fact, I hiked to base camp at 7000 ft on Mt Baker with about a 75 lbs pack using just the Leadvilles.

What shoes do you use and why?

Disclaimer – I do not receive any compensation from New Balance.  

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