Forty Five.

Forty-five trips around the sun are complete. Trip #46 is now in progress. A few things:

  • I have decided that my approach to getting older is to make consistently healthy life decisions, continue training sustainably and consistently, and keep moving until my body gives me a compelling reason to do things differently.
  • The good news is, aside from training less overall than I did before, I don’t notice too much of a difference energy or fitness wise between 45 and 40, or even 45 and 35, aside from now living in a moderate altitude desert valley with dry dusty air and plenty of hills having an accordant effect on my aerobic performance.
  • I finally got comfortable with doing nothing on my days off, actually resting. This has made a profound difference in my overall well-being, my training, etc. Whether I’m totally resting or I trained that morning, I eat and spend the rest of the day sitting or sleeping. If I stay up I’ll read or do some research, or mess with Out of the Park Baseball or something. But if I’m tired, I lay down, and often I’ll nap.
  • My off-season is basically May (after the Vancouver Marathon) until around September when I begin ramping towards shorter fall races in Vegas (the desert’s racing season). Unlike past summers, I avoided hammering to rebuild volume after Vancouver as well as outright taking it easy. I found a middle ground of training regularly, but not too much.
  • The work of Alan Couzens has shaped how I train now (even though he specializes in training Ironman triathletes, much of it cross applies to simple running). Day to day training with principles like his has gotten a lot easier, yet more productive. I see continuous fitness improvements with consistent work. Longer or tougher workouts done consistently get easier with time.
  • If you don’t already take 3+ days off per week, make a point to take more easy/off days per week. Chicago made it hard for me to do this because all the walking living in that city required. Nowadays I take anywhere from 1 to 3 days off per week depending on biofeedback.
  • Really pump a lot of time and volume on the busier days, not just the long run/workout day. Hours, plural, on a couple weekdays. Work out twice a day if you can. Go for a walk whenever you can outside of that.
  • Split those busy weekdays up, get a lot done in the morning (starting early enough I can get a good 90-105 minutes), get some more in later in the day. Once I realized I didn’t have to cram all 2-3 hours or 10+ miles into one day, days like this became easily do-able.
  • Two or three big days per week, a couple easier hour-ish days per week, take it super easy or even rest entirely a couple days per week. Once I started doing this I bounced back so well between workouts while still building fitness that there was no real going back.
  • Figure out what your training monotony is and get it below 1.50. If you can get it closer to 1.00 or less, that’s terrific. Hitting the latter number made a noticeable difference for me. Get the hell away from any coach or runner who says it doesn’t matter (even last year I ignored it, and now see that’s the wrong move). Coaches who ignore training monotony are behind the times or defiant of where endurance training is heading, and ignoring this will only hurt your health and fitness in the long run.
  • I’ve since discovered that most marathon training plans get you no more than 75-85% ready for the race, and that’s if you diligently trained regularly on your own with no setbacks in the 2-3 months before you started the training plan. Whatever goal time a calculator says you can run, you need to add at least half an hour if you’re following one of these plans. And their training monotony is rather high on top of it.
  • I moved back to Vegas largely to pay down debt that just wouldn’t go away over my years in Seattle and Chicago. Four years later, even while saving and being able to travel, my revolving credit card debt is basically gone (anything I add and don’t pay off within the month is paid off in a couple months). The only debt I’ll have left after this year are my student loans, and if I lay low another year I’ll have those paid off by the end of next year. I’ll be debt free. This was a pipe dream 10 years ago. I never ever fell behind on my debt, but the payments were always an albatross on my budget.
  • While I made sure to travel a lot to Vancouver this past year… next year I’m gonna take it easier on travel after the next Vancouver Marathon. I might go again in the fall but otherwise probably will stay home.
  • The optimal run-walk workout: Run until your heart rate hits 75% of max, then slow to a brisk walk. Once your heart rate drops to 65% or less of max, start running again. Repeat ad nauseum until done. It matches your current fitness level perfectly. P.S. If you can run easy and stay the entire time under 75%, that’s even better! But most can’t. Until recently, I couldn’t.
  • TRIMP (training stress) is a vastly underrated metric. It’s like WAR in baseball (wins above replacement), a catch-all stat for how much work you did in a workout that cross-applies all types of walking, running and workouts. I focus on TRIMP more than mileage, and you probably should too.
  • If nothing else, paying for premium access to Runalyze may be worth it just to have a full-view dashboard of all your training (about $110ish USD, paid in Euro). It’s probably the most effective big-picture way to look at your TRIMP, plus your training monotony, and gauge how much work you’ve done or ought to do. However, the estimated VO2max and marathon shape metrics still have some fundamental issues and should be taken with a grain of salt. (I still use them but with quite a few modifications a bit too complex to share for now)
  • During the summer I actually considered weaning off and giving up coffee, but I just can’t. I can ebb and flow how much caffeine I take in by watering it down so it’s no addiction to that, but I simply enjoy drinking black coffee too much. I can’t imagine not getting to do that. And decaf BTW is literally toxic; don’t drink it. Also, tea isn’t close to the same experience or flavor.
  • I really cleaned up my diet this summer, though I still have phases where I make a point to consume more processed food to keep my gut microbiome honest. I find if I’m not sleeping well going back to it helps me get back to normal sleep. Just this past couple week I had frozen pizza for dinner most of the week, and errant sleep got back to normal.
  • Mostly, I’ve settled on dinners with steak or chicken, a bit of roasted potatoes that bake with the meat, and white or brown rice, all lightly seasoned with garlic salt. At work, I eat twice, having tuna or sardines with peas and occasionally an avocado. I usually don’t eat breakfast. I’ll mix in collagen peptides with coffee or hot water in the morning, plus some coconut oil. Some of the above I’ve been doing for a while, but this past year it’s settled consistently into the above.
  • After a couple of fitful years with sleep, my sleep has gotten markedly better this past few months. I still have rough patches where I wake up during the night for a few days, but I’ve slept solidly through the night a lot more consistently than the last few years. The above diet certainly helped, but so did supplementing more aggressively with magnesium glycinate, which helps more with sleep than other forms.
  • I finally weaned off any supplements containing stearates, which as I’ve mentioned could possibly cause some secondary health issues (though we don’t yet have any formal data to confirm). Basically, you want to avoid hard pills and look for supplements in capsules, which are just simple collagen shells. Stearates are used to form and hold pills together. Has this had an effect on my health? Possibly, possibly not, but I’ve noticed an improvement since switching off them.
  • As I hit the mid-forties, athletically I’m still sharp, not having really slowed down. If I can’t run a race as fast as I did before, either I’m not peaked to run that distance, or the Vegas air/altitude is a factor as most of my best efforts were in Chicago with an easier climate at lower altitude.

One thought on “Forty Five.

  1. MW says:

    Sounds like you have done a lot of soul searching.

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