Dealing with Aging - From You

            Are you trying to figure out how to deal with the declining strength and wind that comes with age? Consider the following situation provided by Allen S. (shared with his permission):

            First, last July: “I have been rowing for about 5 years on a Model D and have a lifetime total of over 7 million meters. I'm 69 years old and my max HR is 178 (recorded using a HR monitor during a 2k time trial) and my resting HR is 48. I generally work out in a HR range of 130-152. That range was determined using the Karvonen method. A couple of years ago, I could row for an hour at 152 without difficulty. Now 15 minutes at that rate leaves me exhausted. Scans performed by a physician show that I have no plaque in my arteries and I'm not aware of any medical issues. I suspect that I have ‘overtrained.’ . . . Apparently 152 is too high a rate for me on a regular basis.”

            And now, six months later:

            “It seemed like my rowing efforts in July and August kept going downhill. So, I decided to really back off and not allow my heart rate (HR) to get above 120 while exercising. In September, at a checkup with my doc, I tried to explain my frustration with my workouts, being generally tired, etc. His response was “You’re not an athlete and you’re getting older; what do you expect?” Then he said he thought I was depressed and he wanted to start me on a med for that. I told him that I was indeed depressed but it was because I couldn’t do my workouts at any sort of a reasonable level. He finally agreed to do extra blood work to check things out. Fortunately, those results were normal. I told him I wanted to see a cardiologist just to make sure everything was okay. An echocardiogram and a sleep study both came back normal. After all of that, I was satisfied that I was healthy and had just been pushing too hard for too long.

            “Ironically, about that same time, I read an article about a book by Matt Fitzgerald called “80/20 Running.” What caught my attention was that the book was based on studies by a pretty successful masters rower and PhD by the name of Stephen Seiler. Here is an interesting article by him:

            “I purchased the “80/20 Running” book and was very fascinated. The book points out that most professional athletes train at a low intensity pace about 80% of the time and only train at moderate and high intensities 20% of the time. The book further points out that most amateurs train at something like 50/50 and consistently push too hard. I realize it comes down to how you define “low, moderate and high” intensity. Matt believes that those definitions should be based upon your “lactate threshold” HR and he developed an app to make it simple to figure out what that HR is for each individual. The app is from PEAR Sports. Basically, you use that app to measure your HR at various exercise intensities and it comes up with “lactate threshold” and calculates five exercise zones. After I had a chance to read the book and study my calculated zones, I was indeed in the 50/50 group and probably worse than that.

            “Matt has quite a few exercise plans at the back of his book for runners but they are easily converted to other sports. I took his basic half-marathon plan and converted it to rowing using RowPro. I started working on that plan about 12 weeks ago and it is going very well. It seems unbelievably easy and yet my row rates are steadily improving for the various zones.

            “For the past four years, I have rowed about 2 million meters each year. Then, last year, I struggled to reach 1.2 million meters. I looked back at my monthly totals for this year and they were Jul=81k, Aug=105k, Sep=64k, Oct=61k, Nov=119k, Dec=221k. I started Matt’s plan the first part of November. For the past four years, I have met the 200k level for the Holiday Challenge and I was pretty excited to again reach that goal after a pretty tough summer and fall.”

                                                                                                Allen S.

            Lots of great references here that are worth exploring. And, perhaps most importantly, a great story of persistence, paying attention and adjusting to enhance your experience.