“A body in motion stays in motion.” – Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton was a genius, but there is no evidence that he was a runner. Nevertheless, his law of physics is key to my theory on running longevity.
When I was a young(er) runner, my running calendar followed a progression of Philadelphia races. I would begin training in late February for the Broad Street Run in May. Once the ten-mile race was behind me, I’d enter a few mid-distance races during the summer and increase mileage to prepare for the Distance Run, a half-marathon, in September. After the half-marathon I’d enter the Marathon Tune-up 30K on the River Drives in October, and then end my running year with the Philly Marathon in November. November to February was goof off time.
It’s inevitable that age will catch up with you. When it caught up with me I found that the longer I laid off of running, the harder it was to get back into shape, so I adjusted my routine. There was a time I couldn’t imagine being a year-around runner, but today I can’t even remember the last time I took more than a week-long break. This is where Newton comes in.
I believe that the key to maintaining youthfulness is Sir Isaac’s theory, “A body in motion stays in motion.” Conversely, “A body at rest stays at rest.” Now read carefully—I’ve found that the most effective way to stay active is to stay active. And stay active for as long as you possibly can. My theory doesn’t apply only to running, it applies to whatever your mode of activity may be–walking, cycling, gardening, taking meals to shut-in, whatever. Never stop!
Consider this: Dr. Jim Fries, a professor of medicine at Stanford University of Medicine, is a pioneer in healthy aging. His theory, Compression of Morbidity, is based upon compressing the duration between points: the point in which a person becomes chronically ill, and the point at which a person dies. That period today is about twenty years. Studies reveal that lifetime disability was four times greater in those who smoked, were obese and did not exercise, compared with those who did not smoke, were lean and exercised. Dr. Fries suggests one way to compress morbidity is to do everything in moderation, except physical activity, which he stresses as the key to delaying the onset of morbidity
Today, I keep my running calendar full all year long. It begins in January with a seven-mile trail race, many years in the snow and ice, and ends with a 10K in December. Everything from mud runs to marathons fill in between. I’ve found joy in racing through the woods with only a few hundred eccentric runners, as opposed to tens of thousands jammed-in on city streets.
When it comes down to it though, you really don’t even need a race. There is nothing ever stopping you from lacing up the running shoes and putting “Your body in motion.”