Don’t Bonk Before Your Time

The theme of my blog has as much to do with enjoying a full and active life as it does about running. Marathoners and endurance athletes train rigorously so they don’t bonk or hit the wall, two terms that are synonymous with debilitating exhaustion. For the aging athlete, it is more important to stay focused on longevity when training.

An earlier post Aging Along the Trails encourages runners to transition to running on soft surfaces to reduce impact on the body and the motivation behind the Untrained Marathon was to train for an endurance race without pounding your body into oblivion.

These topics aren’t easily digested by seemingly immortal young athletes. I likely would have ignored them myself, even as I trained for marathons in my early fifties. But age has a way of sneaking up on us all, and physical decline can sometimes feel exponential. In my own case, I wondered what I could have done over the past several decades that would have reduced the wear and tear on my body so that I could run the next several decades.

I was on the elliptical machine the other day (one of the things I do to spare my legs and joints the jarring impact from running) reading Bicycling Magazine and an article The Official Non-Training Guide grabbed my attention. The story about Traci Brown, a cyclist who won several collegiate cycling championships as a student at the University of Colorado. Traci said she would grind herself into the ground training and consequently burned out and quit cycling after college.

The good news is that Ms. Brown is back in cycling again. She is a speaker and coach and looks back on her experience wondering how things could have been different had she adopted a less-intensive workout routine. She says, “Maybe I wouldn’t have burned out so young.”

Many athletes have similar experiences, whether they compete on a professional, collegiate, amateur or recreational level. A recent article I wrote planned to appear in a fitness magazine later in 2011 is about running longevity, or running for the long haul. My motivation for writing the story was grounded in that familiar question, “What could I have done differently when I was younger that would help me run and be active later in life?”

As life expectancy increases, the focus shifts to quality of life. To a runner, that means running longevity. Read Official Non-Training Guide and browse my blog to find out more about running longevity and diversifying your training routine. Incorporating strengthening exercises, transitioning to run on softer surfaces and maintaining a healthy weight will increase the likelihood of running later in life.

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About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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