Running with Heart Disease – More…

Following are some more thoughts, both practical and philosophical, regarding managing heart problems in preparation for the 2016 Ridge Run. Heart issues are not that uncommon in the Montana running community. There are many friends and acquaintances of mine with heart disease of some form or another. Most are following or have followed the Standard of Care of prescription drugs, surgery and implantable devices. With the intention of presenting some alternative ideas, I wrote the previous post and will continue filling in some details with this one. Hope this helps someone.

Topical Magnesium

The cornerstone of cardiac nutritional support is Magnesium. Besides eating foods high in Magnesium and taking Magnesium supplements, absorbing Magnesium through the skin is another way to get Magnesium into the body.

Most people are familiar with Epson Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) baths. Adding Epson Salts to a bath and doing a soak is heralded as a great way to treat sore joints and muscles. It is a great way to get Magnesium into the body without going through the alimentary canal. Epson Salt crystals also make a great body scrub. Instead of soap, I use Epson Salt for washing. It is a bit abrasive, but is a great exfoliator and has the added side effect of preventing body odor.

Another topical option is Magnesium Lotion which is a Magnesium Brine of Magnesium Chloride. Some mineral springs and saline seas are high in Magnesium Chloride. Not everyone has access to a mineral springs soak, instead apply a Magnesium Lotion or Oil. Try different products. Some products dry out the skin and cause burning and itching. Experiment with some different brands and find what works for you.

The Wisdom or Folly of Doing the Ridge Run with Compromised Health

Does it make sense to do the Ridge Run when one is faced with serious health issues like heart disease? 2016 would be my 20th Ridge Run. I thought I might as well do at least one more and make it an even 20. If I didn’t do it, looking back at this year, I would probably wish that I had.

Later in life, most of our regrets are associated with missed opportunities and not doing things, not so much regretting some of the stupid things we actually did. Although I had some trepidation, I wanted to get in my 20th Ridge Run. 2016 may be my last.

None of us get through life unscathed. Life is a school of experience – a participation sport. You do not get points for sitting on the sidelines avoiding risk. I’m at peace with the notion of death. It is a natural drive of life to preserve life, but it must not come at the expense of living life. Experience wears out the physical form, but builds our spiritual body. It is more important to grow the soul than preserve the physical body. It is just natural human nature to seek comfort avoiding risk, struggle, pain and discomfort. Yet our characters grow when we counteract the gravitation towards comfort and ease.

My experiences have convinced me that our consciousness (or soul or spirit) survives this life, but our bodies don’t. It does not make sense to me that we are just biological robots, an accident of chemistry, and all that we are ceases to exist upon physical death. It makes no sense logically, scientifically or spiritually. My scientific education has NOT convinced me that the academic scientific materialistic model of life can explain everything.

Training Plan for an Off the Couch PR

Jokingly, my goal for 2016 was to set an off the couch PR. It would not be exactly off the couch as I did some training, just not much and hardly any running. Foot troubles are what prevent me from running or hiking much so I biked at bit. Between September and April, I only did a few short runs. Not enough to gain any fitness. Really, not enough to even preserve any running fitness. During the winter months, I downhill skied a couple times a week and come spring I tried to bike an hour or so a couple times a week to acquire some semblance of training.

Knowing how important it is to train on the course, I planned on doing 2 long runs on the course in preparation. As is turned out, I ended up adding a third long training run of the course.

In late June, I did the second half of the course from Bridger Bowl to the M.

In early July I did the first half of the course from Fairy Lake to Bridger Bowl.

My split was so slow on the Ross Pass to Bridger Bowl section; I felt I needed to do that section again to redeem myself. In mid July, I added a third long day going from Ross Pass to Bridger Bowl as fast as I could after having first hiked to Ross Pass from Bridger Bowl.

My other on course training consisted of at least once a week hiking from the M up about half ways towards Baldy and back down. The purpose of this was to condition my quads to the eccentric loading that occurs from going down a steep hill. In my experience, if I do not subject my legs to consistent downhill hiking or running I will get very sore quads when I do. I went up for about 50 minutes and then back down. Minimizing the time on my feet to well under 2 hours during these sessions, kept my foot pain from flaring up too much.

The other training I engaged in focused on building strength without beating up my feet. The corner stone of this training was a general fitness circuit of good old fashion callisthenic type of exercises once or twice a week:

Pull Ups, Push Ups, Side Planks, Leg Lifts and Single Leg Body Weight Quarter Squats, Burpees.

I would do 5 sets of 5.

Race Day

Race day went well for me. Compared to 2015, I was slower on runable sections such as the foot hill trail before Ross Pass. The strength training and hiking paid off as I was a bit faster on the steep uphill hike sections. As it turned out, my overall time for 2016 ended up just a tad faster than 2015. Given that last year, I trained with significant more running, I was surprised. But last year was slow as I took a hard fall and had been experiencing inconsistent performance abilities depending upon whether or not my heart felt like beating correctly or not. Last year I had one good race, the Prickly Pear up in Helena. All the rest, compromised cardiac output limited my performance.

Miraculous Nature of Life

Life is a mysterious concept. It is a paradox of fragility and robustness; never ceasing to amaze. In a few short months, I went from sensing I could die at any moment (the impending sense of doom in stage IV cardiac failure) to completing my 20th Ridge Run slightly faster than the year before. Never under estimate oneself.

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Running with (through, despite) Heart Disease

Eight years ago (2008-9), I experienced three separate incidents of Cardiac Arrest. Not to be confused with a Heart Attack.

Cardiac Arrest is when the heart stops pumping blood.

Heart Attack is from a blockage to the blood flow that feeds the heart (if severe enough, a Heart Attack can lead to Cardiac Arrest).

Oddly, it was body weight compression on the left side of my chest that caused my heart to stop beating. I did not figure out that this was the trigger until the third time it happened. Now I know and no longer even sleep on my left side anymore.

The first time it happened, was while doing some plumbing work and being all scrunched up on the floor with my left arm under my chest. The second time happened when squeezing through a fence; again compressing my left arm into my left side of my chest. The third time it happened was while showing off doing a Half Flag Maneuver on a vertical pole at a play ground. Similar but not exactly like the picture below.

Flag Position that Triggered Cardiac Arrest

Flag Position that Triggered Cardiac Arrest

It was like flipping a switch or pressing a nerve. The third time there was no question what the trigger was. Before blacking out, I had long enough to experience that elation of solving the difficult puzzle of what caused these incidents and then berate myself for my stupidity.

You would think that when your heart stops you have a few minutes to sort things out before the lights go out – kind of like holding your breath till you pass out from lack of oxygen. But no. Once the heart stops beating, blood immediately stops circulating. No oxygen is brought to the cells and no waste products are removed. Unconsciousness comes very quickly as the body just seizes up. Within seconds my extremities were cramping/contracting and my vision was disappearing from the outside in (tunnel vision). Blackout grabs you pretty darn quick; within seconds not minutes.

If the heart doesn’t get quickly defibrillated and restarted, death follows soon after.

Profound Final Thoughts – No

When faced with the immediate prospect of death, I did not have any profound final thoughts like the flash of my entire life before my eyes. My thoughts were more geared toward the practical concerning the immediate situation. The first time it happened was just utter confusion and questioning what was happening. The second time I wondered if and when someone would find my body way out here by this fence. And as I already said, the third episode left me elated at identifying the trigger but feeling stupid for putting myself through this again.

Progressive Heart Problems

My heart abnormalities go back many years before I cardiac arrested. My first symptoms I noticed back in the early 1990’s. They consisted of arrhythmias such as skipped beats, ectopic beats, and bradycardia. It caused concern, so I went to a doctor and had an EKG. The doc said I was in good shape and these type of heart rhythm abnormalities were not serious and are common with people that are in good cardio vascular shape. Perhaps, but looking back, that was probably bad advice. Fast forward 15 years to 2008 and I nearly die thrice.

Medical Industry is Sanctioned Organized Crime

So back to the doctors I go. This time, (2009) for extensive testing and a stress EKG. That is a whole story unto itself. The minute you step into a hospital it is like writing a blank check. The medical industry is like organized crime – a trifecta of cooperative veiled corruption between government, insurance and care providers. You cannot shop around and get competitive price quotes. I could get a price quote if I wanted to partake in medical tourism and go to Costa Rica or India or Mexico. The going rate for going to Costa Rica or India for what I wanted was about $1500 and that includes airfare and lodging! At the time, Mexico was about half that, but I have already been there and have no desire to see that pit again. If I could get the same tests done locally for under $1500, I would stick around and avoid the inconvenience of international travel.

It was impossible to get a written quote or estimate, but I did get a verbal estimate of $330.00 so that sounded good. So I choose the local option. After a lengthy and exhaustive testing process and getting really sick afterwards, probably from some nasty bug floating around the hospital, I really didn’t learn anything and no explanation was given for why pressure on the left side of my chest would trigger cardiac arrest. And more importantly no advice what to do, other than take some drugs and get a defibrillator implanted.

And as it turned out, that quote for $330 dollars was for only one bill. Eventually, I received a total of five separate bills. Each around $330 dollars for a total cost over $1600. Seems every department at the hospital gets to bill you – lab, materials, administration, tech, doctor… And the minimum bill must be around $300. Did they focus or market test that amount or something? It is Criminal.

Self Treatment

The reason I am writing this post is to detail some of the things I did to self treat my heart disease. Time is our most valuable resource. So taking the time to write this is my way of giving something of value to whoever may stumble upon this. If it only helps one person to improve their health, it is worth it. The most popular posts on this Blog happen to be ones that are only tangentially related to the Bridger Ridge Run such as:

https://bridgerridgerun.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/how-to-run-a-3-hour-marathon-a-just-enough-training-approach/

https://bridgerridgerun.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/plantar-fasciitis-prevention-treatment-and-healing-techniques/

https://bridgerridgerun.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/how-to-calibrate-or-check-accuracy-of-a-treadmill/

Back in the early 1990’s after my first concern about heart troubles and upon not getting any helpful direction from my doctor, I did a bit of research and became interested in Chelation Therapy. It is a series of IV treatments approved for treating lead poisoning, but has the side effect of improving vascular and heart health. At the time, the only option was seeing a Doctor up in White Sulphur Springs who has long since retired. It is a low risk treatment with little or no negative side effects so it is a good first line choice for treating heart disease. Just do not expect any insurance company to cover this treatment option.

After my experience with Cardiac Arrest in 2008 I again utilized a series of Chelation Therapy as a treatment option. This time from a local Doctor in Bozeman who has also since retired. In addition to Chelation Therapy, I experimented with mineral supplements. It became apparent, that as long as I was consistent with supplementing with Magnesium my heart arrhythmias were held in check.

Managing Heart Arrhythmias with Magnesium

From 2008 until this year, I consistently supplemented with Magnesium Citrate and or Magnesium Glycinate. For me, 600mgs per day keep the Arrhythmias away. A rule of thumb is 500mg or a half of gram of Magnesium per 100 lbs of body weight per day.

Until this spring, I thought I was managing my heart problems. After my three episodes of cardiac arrest and flirting with death back in 2008 I experienced no symptoms as long as I took my Magnesium. But this Spring, things took a sudden turn for the worse. I spiraled into Class IV Cardiac Failure on the popular NYHA (New York Heart Associate) scale of functional classes.

Keep on Running or Suffer the Consequences

Maybe Bob Hayes is right:

When I stop running, that will be the end of me

In the fall of 2015, I quit running. Feet problems such as bone spurs, made it just too painful to enjoy running anymore.

Bone Spurs, Left Foot Worse

Multiple Painful Bone Spurs

After 6 months of no running I started experiencing angina (chest pain) and more sensitivity to pressure on the left side of my chest. My symptoms progressed through the 4 stages from no symptoms even under exertion to the Class IV level of heart failure of symptoms at rest accompanied with an “Impending Sense of Doom”.

There are many causes of heart disease. Congenital, trauma, infection, stress, metabolic… Specialists told me that my heart problems are electrical or neurological. Perhaps it was triggered by damage from repeated trauma. Over the years I’ve had more blows to the chest resulting in broken ribs than I care to remember. In addition, a decade of competitive freestyle skiing back in my youth long before helmets were common resulted in numerous incidents of head trauma and concussions. Unfortunately, I also suffer from many of the symptoms associated with neurological damage now labeled as CTE Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

4 Months Going from Stage IV Cardiac Failure to finishing my 20th Bridger Ridge Run

An EKG in April 2016 was so scary that the tech performing it was a bit panicked and not sure exactly what to do with me. “Left Ventricle Dysfunction. Advanced Heart Disease immediate threat to life.” Perhaps that Impending Sense of Doom was not without merit!What to do now.

Abnormal EKG April 2016

Abnormal EKG April 2016

Compare to a typical idealized healthy EKG in the picture below.

Sample EKG Normal

Illustration of Normal EKG

The standard of care for heart failure or heart disease is to treat the symptoms with surgery, drugs and use of implanted devices such as pace makers and defibrillators. Or heart transplant as a last resort. Why can’t a damaged heart heal? Your body can heal when it gets a cut, or bruise or broken bone. Why can’t a damaged heart heal? If you provide the right nutrients, it seems logical the body will repair and heal. It is worth a try.

When researching doctors that had success reversing heart failure, the cardiologist Dr Sinatra and his success treating heart disease with nutrition attracted me.

The Awesome Foursome, Magnesium, coQ10, Carnitine, Ribose

Dr Sinatra recommends four nutrients he calls the awesome foursome. It is worth a try and inexpensive compared to the standard of care of traditional medicine. So I gave it a go. Quality food is your best source of nutrition. The best food sources of these four nutrients are organ meats like liver and heart. So I started eating organ meats at least once a week.

Beef Heart

Beef Heart

It is simpler to take supplements and is more controllable so I also supplemented. I was already taking Magnesium and added coQ10, Carnatine and Ribose on a consistent daily basis.

In addition to 600 mg of Magnesium, I added 5 grams of Ribose, 1 gram of Carnatine and 200 mg of coQ10 to my morning nutrients. Within weeks my heart failure symptoms started subsiding. My EKG showed less dysfunction. Below is a vastly improved EKG from August after the Bridge Ridge Run.

EKG August 2016

EKG August 2016

In April, I had real doubts I would do my 20th Ridge Run this summer. I signed up with fear and trepidation. Minimal training and consistent treatment of my heart disease with nutrition resulting in setting what I called my “Off the Couch” PR. My goal was run 4:30 and break my previous off the couch PR set in 2006 and 2007 when I could not train and had to do the Ridge Run in a rigid splint. After doing a 4:15 in the 2016 Ridge Run, I was relieved and satisfied and in awe of the miraculous healing potential of the human body.

More to come…

 

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Quick Thoughts about the Bridger Ridge Run Course Record

The possibility of Jim Walmsley doing the Ridge Run this year inspires the question:

Can Jim break the course record?

Jim is arguably the most talented runner the Ridge Run has seen since 2012 when Mike Wolfe set the course record and Dan Kraft was a close second also under the old record.

Are Course Records for Trail Runs Meaningful?

With variable weather and trail conditions is it even meaningful to keep track of a course record for a trail run over the years? Conditions from one day to another can change significantly making one day fast and another day slow. Variability certainly diminishes the true meaning of course records. But humans like benchmarks and enjoy measuring themselves against standards, so records of performance, even for trail runs, are popular.

In the case of the Ridge Run, the course itself has changed significantly over the years. 2012 (the record year) just happens to be the very last year where the Start location was the same as the original Start location in use since 1985. Beginning in 2013 the Start moved lower down the mountain to accommodate an expansion of the Fairy Lake Campground. This move lengthened the course by 3 minutes for the fastest runners (double that for the slowest) making breaking the course record just that much more difficult.

Is the Course Getting Faster as it gets Worn in or Slower as it gets Longer?

Since its inception in 1985, the Ridge Run course has gone through some significant changes. Overall, it is now about a mile longer than the original. Most of the lengthening taking place between the Start and where the course reconnects with the Foothill Trail after Sacajawea. These changes were from adding switch backs to the route and blocking the shorter faster direct routes. In my estimate, it is now takes about 10 minutes longer (for the fastest runners) to get from the Starting line to the Foothill Trail junction than it did in the early 1990’s. The portion of the course just after Ross Pass also has been ‘switch backified’ adding a few minutes to race times.

From Bridger Bowl to the top of Baldy the course is largely unchanged, but is much more pronounced and visible making route finding less of a problem compared to the race’s early years. You could say this change makes this section faster. Perhaps, but I would suggest that the fastest successful runners did not slow down because of route finding. There were even years from the mid 1990’s to the early 2000’s were the course was marked with orange paint so often that you could always see where the route went.

With each passing year, as the course gets traveled more, it has gotten very worn in. This changes the footing. In some areas, the footing is smoother and faster. But in other areas, footing has gotten worse and slower with wear. In places, it is now extremely slippery with loose dirt and gravel. Wear also exposes fixed rocks underneath. Each year as surrounding dirt gets worn away embedded rocks get more pronounced and trip prone.

Are the Runners getting Faster?

The popularity of trail running and the increasing body of knowledge about training, fueling and racing has resulted in many more talented and faster trail runners than there were in the early days of the Ridge Run. The course has significantly changed and slowed over the years, but the fastest runners keep getting faster. Some day, the Ridge Run course record will be broken. Will it be this year? In another week we will find out. I would enjoy seeing Jim show up and go for it.

 

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Bridger Ridge Run on Twitter

Remember to check Bridger Ridge Run on Twitter:

 

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Run the Ridge for HER!

Central Asia Institute, based right here in Bozeman, has been building schools and providing educational opportunities for girls in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan for twenty years. You have helped CAI through two decades of promoting peace through education in the poor and isolated mountainous communities.

And now, CAI has a new and exciting way for you to connect to our mission and provide education for girls across the globe. HER: Hope. Educate. Rise. is CAI’s new initiative, and it gives you the opportunity to pursue your passion for running and support girls’ education.

We’re excited to announce that HER is partnering up with The Ridge Run this year, and one lucky person will be selected to run in The Bridger Ridge Run for HER.

So, what does it mean Run the Ridge for HER?

It means that you run the race like you usually would, and you also fundraise to support CAI’s program overseas. You can ask for your friends and family to support your run and donate to your fundraising campaign. The best part is ALL of the money you raise goes directly to programs. That’s right – 100% of donations helps build schools, train teachers, and provide material health care in Central Asia.

It means that you’ll be supporting young women like Drukhshan, a girl in Afghanistan, who dreams of becoming a doctor.

It means you’ll support women like Shakeela, who is the only midwife in the valley in Pakistan where she lives.

It means your Run for HER will teach a grown woman to read, send a girl to school for an entire year, or provide a tent school for refugee students.

Whether this will be your first ridge run, or if you’ve been running it for three decades, this is a great opportunity to dedicate your run and your efforts to an important cause.

Thank you for your support of CAI and girls’ education around the world! We’re excited to continue to promote peace through education with you, one step at a time.

If you’re interested in running the Bridger Ridge Run for HER, register for the Bridger Ridge Run lottery May 9 – May 15, and tell us why you want to Run for HER in your essay. The winner will be announced on June 15th.

— Laura Brin & The HER Team

To learn more about the opportunity to Run for HER, check out our website or shoot me an email.

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Uphill Sidewise Shuffle and Backward Walking with Weight Vest as Low Impact Hill Training

When injury or access to mountain trails prevent you from doing hill training you can employ a treadmill, a weight vest and some creativity to garner an effective workout.

A previous post described doing Walking Hill Repeats on a treadmill while wearing a weight vest. In addition to this, try adding Sidewise Shuffle Hill Repeats and Backward Walking Hill Repeats.

My uphill walking pace is 4.5 MPH at 15% grade.

4.5 MPH 15% Incline for Uphill Walking

4.5 MPH 15% Incline for Uphill Walking

 

For uphill sidewise shuffle and backwards uphill walking, cut the speed in half. In my case I use 2.2 MPH.

2.2 MPH 15% Incline for Sidewise Shuffle and Backwards Walking

2.2 MPH 15% Incline for Sidewise Shuffle and Backwards Walking

Side Shuffle and Backward Walking pace may see slow, but try it. You will find side shuffling or walking backwards uphill at 2.2 MPH to be plenty challenging.

Sidewise Shuffle Uphill with Weight Vest

Sidewise Shuffle Uphill with Weight Vest

The Side Shuffle will build hip strength and stability. The Backward Walking will work the quads similar to downhill running.

In my experience, when doing the side shuffle, do not step over or cross over your legs like a karaoke step. That can lead to entanglements especially on a small treadmill.

Backwards Walking Uphill with Weight Vest

Backwards Walking Uphill with Weight Vest

Try these workout techniques if you are located in an area where there is no access to mountain trails or the weather and trail conditions prevent you from getting out. These workouts are also very low impact and can be a great alternative to preserve fitness when you are injured and can’t run.

If you are doing these maneuvers on a club or gym treadmill they may attract a bit of curiosity from others. Don’t be self-conscious, just ignore the attention of others.

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Getting Strong Now

Does being really strong have a positive effect on one’s performance in the Ridge Run? Common sense says yes. Just make sure to understand strength and take into account size or weight when comparing strength between different people. My focus for 2016 is to get stronger.

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Strength is the Ability to Generate Significant Forces

A strong person will be able to exert large forces or move heavy weights relative to their size. Remember, weight is just the force gravity imposes upon a mass. If you have really strong quads, pounding down from Baldy to the M trail head is nothing. If you have weak quads, pounding downhill will leave your legs trashed and sore for days.

Correcting the Definition of a Strength Runner

The running community tends to confuse strength with endurance. Most runners and running coaches wrongly define a strength runner as someone that can endure a steady effort for a prolonged period, but are not necessarily fast or able to generate the high forces needed to accelerate. In actuality, this type of runner lacks strength, but possesses endurance. Endurance and strength are different qualities. You can have both and need to train both.

Here are a couple examples of inspiring endurance athletes that are true strength runners:

Max King, 12th in recent US Olympic Marathon Trails, former World Mountain Running Champ, current Warrior Dash World Champ and countless other accomplishments is undeniably very strong and can be considered a true strength runner. Guess who is Max King in this photo.

Max King at Olympic Marathon Trials Showing Some Strength

Max King at Olympic Marathon Trials Showing Some Strength

Hunter Mcintyre may weigh 200lbs, but can run fast enough to set a course record on a recent XTerra half marathon. He is obviously strong enough to move his large frame (atypical for endurance athletes) fast enough to compete with runners weighing 60 to 70lbs less. He once was a Logger in Montana spending time here as a troubled teen in a hoods in the woods program. Find the time to listen to this fascinating interview of Hunter:  http://www.richroll.com/podcast/hunter-mcintyre/

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Chronic Back Pain Inspires Dietary Changes and Results in Weight Loss

One of my main goals for last year, 2015, was to overcome chronic back pain. One step I took to accomplish this goal was to remove bread (gluten) from my diet. Gratefully, my back pain improved as the year went on. I can’t definitively say eliminating bread from my diet relieved my back pain – as I took other steps such as avoiding long periods of sitting that probably helped. But one thing I can say is that eliminating bread resulted in me losing weight. Not that I needed to lose weight, but my weight dropped to a level that I had not seen since I was a teenager back in middle school 45 years ago! If there is anyone out there that wants to lose some weight, try not eating bread.

Being lighter typically translates to being a faster runner. There is less weight to carry and propel down the path so it makes sense that you have to work less and can go faster. Well this is only the case if your strength remains the same as you lose weight. Speed will improve by increasing your strength to weight ratio. On the other hand, if you get weaker as you get lighter, you are not doing yourself any favors as your strength to weight ratio does not improve..

Recapturing the Strength of Youth

45 years ago, I was a very strong and active youngster. It was common for schools back then to annually conduct standardized fitness tests. The goal for students was obtaining a Presidential Physical Fitness Award. I remember some of my scores such as number of pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups. I figured that since I was as light as I was 45 years ago, I should be able to do the same number of pull-ups. Shockingly, last summer, the number of pull-ups I could muster in a row was only one tenth of the number I could do 45 years ago. In comparison to my former self, I was very weak even though I was exactly the same size. Humbling, but also scary. What happened to me?

Strength or muscle mass decreases with age after 40 and drops off the cliff after age 50; so this should not be that much of a surprise. Nevertheless, I felt I needed to start working on my strength to try and gain some back or at least slow down the loss of strength with age. The goal for the end of the year (2015) was to able to do at least half the number of pull-ups I did 45 years ago. Disappointingly, I did not reach that goal, but I came close. Months later, I still can’t do half what I use to be able to do, but I am working on it.

Progress on the number I can currently do in a row has plateaued, so I have tried doing weighted pull-ups to mix it up. Right now I am doing 5 sets of 5 with 30lbs of added weight. My 1 rep max weight is over 200lbs; 140lbs body weight with 60lbs added.
 

Lower Body (Leg) Strength Workouts at My Old Skiers Retirement Home

Pull-ups are an accurate measure of upper body strength, but the steep terrain of the Ridge Run demands extraordinary leg strength. Back problems prevent me from doing popular lower body strength training like dead lifts or squats. Instead, I ski (downhill) about 4 days a week. There is a place I affectionately call My Old Skiers Retirement Home that is my winter haunt. It is not a destination resort and is located far away from any population areas. During the week, most of the people there are retired old codgers that grew up skiing and still love to ski.

Old Skiers Retirement Home Happy to Have Empty Run for Fast Cruzing

Old Skiers Retirement Home – Happy to Have Empty Run for Fast Cruzing

No high speed quads, no lift lines, no crowds, you can park next to the lifts, the locals are friendly and the place is oozing with challenging terrain.

Old Skiers Retirement Home - Empty Lifts

Old Skiers Retirement Home – Empty Lifts

 

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Old Skiers Retirement Home - Park at Lift

Old Skiers Retirement Home – Park at Lift

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Old Skiers Retirement Home - Feathered Locals

Old Skiers Retirement Home – Feathered Locals

The front side lift takes 10 minutes to get up to the top for 1300 vertical. The long back sides lift takes 10 minutes to get up 1700 vertical. The short back side lift takes 5 minutes to get up 1000 vertical.

Old Skiers Retirement Home - Challenging Terrain

Old Skiers Retirement Home – Challenging Terrain

On average, I can ski about 6000 vertical per hour. It is like doing intervals. Ski hard non-stop down for a few minutes and rest and recover on the chairlift ride up. The short back side lift really gets the legs burning. The terrain is steep and technical and you only get a 5 minute rest on the lift. On the run serviced by the longer lifts, you can zoom down exposing the legs to huge sustained forces that only come with high speeds. Fastest top speed that I have witnessed verified on a GPS device is 85 MPH. There have been some serious accidents over the years and even some fatalities so you have to be fearless or foolish or both to go that fast. Fortunately the slopes are empty during weekdays. It is one thing to crash and wreck yourself, but to hit another skier – unforgivable.

The other winter workout I do is described here. Come Spring, I hope to start doing some trail running. We will see if this experiment in getting stronger pays off in a quality Ridge Run performance this year.

View of Old Skiers Retirement Home from Treadmill

View of Old Skiers Retirement Home from Treadmill

For some ideas on weight workouts for runners, check out the following video of Aston Eaton’s (decathlon world record holder) strength/power workout.

 

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