Aging And Athletic CapacityThe adage “you are only as old as you feel” .
In humans, the age-related decrease in exercise ability is explained by changes in the function of several body systems. This lost muscle mass tends to be replaced by fat. The transfer of electrical impulses along nerves is slowed, contributing to a decrease in agility and speed. There also is a progressive decrease in maximum aerobic capacity (VO2max), due to a decline in the maximum exercise heart rate and a reduction in the capacity to deliver oxygen to the working muscles.
We also tend to be less tolerant of the heat, partly because of the decline in cardiovascular function. This means that the elderly have to be more careful when exercising in hot conditions.
Running isn’t my cure-all for anxiety—I didn’t ditch my weekly therapy sessions to hit the pavement instead. But it is a tool I discovered during recovery, and signing up for a race holds me accountable to use that tool on a regular basis.
Running helps me get to know my thoughts: I treat my runs as opportunities to begin a new inner dialogue—one that sounds like: You’ve got this. You’re doing a really good job. You’re really strong.
Completing a training run gives me a sense of achievement.
Preparing for a race requires a ton of discipline and organization. In the months leading up to a half-marathon, the whole thing is way less overwhelming when I focus on smaller goals, like my weekly runs. So rather than approach the race as one, large, looming 13.1 mile stretch, I head out the door five days a week and focus on the task at hand (or foot)—finish this mile, sprint to the end of the street, make it up this hill—instead of stressing about the larger end goal.
Sure, I print out a pretty detailed training schedule, but I also make up my own rules as I go. If I need to rest, I rest. Arguably more important than discipline, I’ve learned to have compassion for myself and my anxiety. Some days, rest itself is the achievement.
Concentrating on my breathing is a form of meditation.Studies show that combining running and meditation can help combat mood disorders, and I’ve found that paying attention to what’s actually going on in my body grounds me in the present moment.
Running has taught me to listen to my body but not panic at the first signs of discomfort. When my heart rate spikes, I slow down. When I feel myself losing control of my breath, I slow down. When my mind begins to race faster than my feet, I slow down.