My Personal Blog

If you're interested in seeing how an old guy trains and runs or walks, take a look at my Old Man Running blog. For now I'm focusing on running for enjoyment.


Matt said...

Crazy! 26.2km. I'm still working on 5k. You're my hero!

Allen said...

I guess, Matt, I'll have to fess up. I ran for 8 years before I ran my first marathon. During the first 7 of those years I just enjoyed myself with no particular goals. I had been running a weekly schedule of 6, 3, 6, 3, 6 (miles) when I decided it was time to start marathon training. I took the last 6 miles (Saturday) and began to increase it to a long run of 15 miles. The other days crept up, too. Over a period of about a year I advanced from 24 miles/week to 45 miles/week and a long run of 20 miles. I then ran the Green Mountain Marathon in Vermont. I felt great at the end of the race. No soreness, no injuries. I was back on the road two days later and ran 1/2 mile.

Anonymous said...

wow allen thats amazing i have a couple questions for you. Do you feel like you have become healthier every sense you have been running? Do you often get sick or really run down to the point where you don't think you could do it?

Allen said...

Hi Anon,

I do feel healthier since I started running almost 37 years ago. I used to get several colds each year. Now, I don't get any colds unless I push myself too hard in training or don't get enough sleep. Running has given me a big boost in my immune system.

If I feel like I can't do a run, I don't. I just try to get more rest, and usually after a couple days of that, I'm ready to go again. I run because I enjoy it. I've always had a good attitude about my running.

Up until I was 71, I felt about the same that I did in my younger years. Not just in running, but in my ability to mow lawns, carry heavy boxes, etc. However, during the past three years I've noticed that my physical strength is going down -- I'm getting old :) When I go to the doctors for a checkup, I walk fast, bound up the stairs, etc. I see people who are younger than me who can hardly walk, use walkers or canes, and go slow. Seeing them helps me appreciate the blessings I've received!

Anonymous said...

so what do you think would be different if you didn't run?

Allen said...

I think the first thing that would be different if I didn't run is that my feet would hurt and I would have a difficult time doing things that kept me on my feet. After I finished college and had a car, I didn't walk as much, and my feet started hurting, especially after doing yard work for a few hours. A specialist told me that the muscles in my feet were week, and that I should do what ever I wanted to strengthen the muscles. I started to run, and have had few problems with my feet since then.

If I didn't run, I think my immune system would be weaker, and that I would get colds, flu, etc. more easily.

From a psychological view, I enjoy running, and if I didn't run, I would miss that enjoyment. I'm a strong advocate of walking, and I think walking would give me most of the benefits of running. As I get older, I may decide to walk and not run. Running puts a lot more stress on ones body than walking.

Anonymous said...

I've been jogging long distance-6.5 miles every other day for two months. It's been done over hills with lower back pain. And, it takes me two hours to do this. On Monday, I ran 7.6 miles in two hours on hills and flat land with no lower back pain. I want to get to jogging ten miles every other day with no consideration of the time. What are your thoughts? And, are flat land jogs known to reduce lower back pain related to jogging over hills?


Allen said...

Hi again, Rickey,

I gave details in my reply to your other post, so here I'll just make one comment. Think in terms of stress. Hills put more stress on your body than does flat land. Stress causes pain and later injury. As I said before, don't do hills more than once a week. Read my hills page for more details.

Before you do much speed work or hills, you need to develop good endurance, and that comes from running LSD.

Vern said...

Hi, Allen-

Nice website! Lots of good content! I just added to the Followers lists here and on your running blog.

Also, as a semi-old man(58), and a new runner in the last several years, I AM "interested in seeing how an old guy trains and runs."
I'm working toward a first marathon, looking at one on May 1, 2010. I'm currently at 30 mi/wk, with a 14 mile long run. Looks like I can pick up some good tips at your sites. My fledgling blog is at


非凡 said...

I'm appreciate your writing skill.Please keep on working hard.^^

Steve in Western Australia said...

Interesting blog and kudos to your efforts to stymie the aging process, or at least slow it. I have a few comments in respect of which I wouldn't mind your views, Allen. I am 56 and have led a fairly healthy life (apart from a period when I was a partner in a financial services firm and bloated out to 95kg at 180cm). I was brought up by a single father who, as a scientist, knew his amino acids, proteins, nutrition etc and fed us on low fat foods etc, my nickname being when young "bones". I abhor junk food and won't eat it. My missus is Italian and cooks Med style plenty of olive oil etc. My latest blood workout give a CRR of 3.7, average in the population being 4.9. All other stuff very low well below thresholds, such as liver function, renal, sugar, etc.

Now, most of my adult life I have worked out solo with weights, I'm not mesomorphic but attained good body style. Never worked on my 'lil 'ol skinny legs. About 6 months ago, I started jogging 5km every (and I mean, every - I am a perfectionist with this sort of stuff) morning, and I have found the following:

Firstly, I have a resting heart rate of 44 (just measured, after a cup of coffee). So low for my age that its not even on the chart. I find that after a run, I can't even get my heart rate over about 100, and if I stop for a second or two, it drops to around 80. Its very low and I am asking you, Allen, if indeed it is too low?

Secondly, I have lost such weight that I am now right in the middle of my BMI. I don't carry any extra fat or weight at all. I feel fit as a pig in shit, so to speak. I cannot see anyone in this big city of mine who appears to be late 50s like me who even remotely looks like me. Allen, am I overdoing it? The only part of me that looks more or less my age is my face.

Thirdly, I have very high arches and superinate according to wear patters on my shoes. I have waited for the arches to flatten out, but they appear not to be. So, I decided to do a bit of body hacking. My left knee has been hurting a bit, and my right foot (the latter like a sprain). I put these symptoms down to bad foot placement, so I have in the last week or so (I run *every* day) consciously placed my feet while running in a pronating manner - pressure on the arch side of my feet. Now, I am doing this almost unconsciously. The incredible thing is, my knee no longer hurts and the sprain in my right foot has much lessened. Any comment on this Allen?

Look forward to your comments mate.

Well done on your discipline too. I, now that I have been running for a half a year, will *never* stop. It is by far the best form of exercise I have ever done and I have done many, from weights to karate.


Allen said...

Hi Steve,

Well, you do have interesting statistics :)

When I ran marathons in my mid 40s, my wakeup heart rate was 44, and it later dropped to 40. I have a friend, Bruce, who just turned 60, and his wakeup HR is in the high 30s to low 40s. He also runs marathoners. So, I would say that your WHR isn't low for a distance runner, but you're only running 5K. I would expect your WHR to be in the 50s.

There is scientific evidence that a low BMI is just as dangerous to longevity as a high BMI. The articles I read said a middle BMI gives the greatest longevity. That would be BMIs from about 22 to maybe 27. What is your BMI? (search for the two words bmi calculator to find calculators that will compute your BMI).

Concerning being a supinator (I am too), you should be wearing neutral shoes rather than correction or motion control shoes. Also, don't use your shoes for more than 400-500 miles. I can't comment on the changes to your foot-strike that you've been making.

You might want to see a good sports doctor who can counsel about your pulse rate, weight, foot-strike, etc. Be sure he/she is a sports doctor, because regular doctors may not understand the effect of running on your body. Check your BMI, and if it's below 22, you might consider gaining a few pounds.

Since I'm not a doctor and can't prescribe treatment, consider my remarks as suggestions for your consideration.

Concerning running every day, be careful. Running damages body cells, and your body needs about 48 hours for recovery. Running the same every day is a path to injury. If you run 5K one day, run or jog or walk 2K the next day. This lighter exercise helps your body recover from the previous day. Also, once a month have a "rest week" in which you exercise about 50-70% of the distance of your other weeks. Cross training such as light cycling and swimming are also good for your "light" days.

I'm really curious about you, Steve, so check back in a few weeks and let us know how it is going for you.

Steve in Western Australia said...

Thanks for the very prompt response. My body mass index is a bit under 24 which is high normal. I have a bit of muscle which weighs more than fat, but there is no way I am underweight nor would I ever let myself become so. Its just not a good look :)

I didn't run today as it was 38C here, tomorrow will be the same, we have had the hottest summer run of temp here in a century. Thank god for the pool (which today had more heads in it than a public pool). However, as for running every day, just my modest 5k, how does that damage cells? I think that we have evolved to run in order to catch and kill prey, in order to survive. Would not ancient man have had to run every day in order to catch prey otherwise he and his kin didn't eat? I do have a day or two off every month, but I find that I am almost obsessed about being able to run like this at my venerable age without being puffed, so having a week off would make me feel fairly guilty. I don't intend on running marathons and so on - looking at the physiques of the average long distance runner they do look a bit undernourished and lacking in upper torso muscle, and in my mind, that is not what our bodies are designed for. I do think the design of our bodies is oriented to short sharp runs, cornering and catching prey up to a few km, not scores of km (the original marathon runner collapsed and died or so legend has it).

I have to say, the main reason I am running is that I want to live as long as I can within design. I can't think of a better overall exercise than pounding the pavement, and I have found it reduces pain in my legs and feet, eliminated arthritis, really strengthens the heart and lungs, improves just about every muscle in the body, and I am certain, will add years to my lifespan (all other things remaining equal).

But I don't think distance running does all of this, in fact, I think it may do the opposite. While there is proof (statistical, taken from population studies) that jogging in later years does add years to the lifespan, I wonder if there is any evidence that distance running in later years may do the opposite? We had a guy here in Aus called Cliff Young who ran over 20000 km in his competitive career, most of it in his older years, he died of cancer at 81 which is slightly less than our average male lifespan in Australia. What do you think is the rationale for distance running as opposed to shorter distances more frequently?

Thanks again for the quick response. I will check in again and let you know how my hacking of my footprint whilst running is going.



Allen said...

Damage to body cells from running is probably a matter of stress more than just distance. In your case, your 5K is an easy distance for you and probably gives a small amount of stress to your body. So you are probably getting minimum damage to your cells. Other people might find 5K a very stressful run and might incur more damage to their cells.

Just as a thought to consider, think of your running in terms of a long run, a medium run, and the remaining runs rest runs. You might bump one run up a bit, say 7-8K, for your long run, bump up another run, say 6K for a medium run, and reduce the other runs to 4K to compensate. Right now, you're running 7X5K or 35K per week. Under this modified plan, you would run 7K+6K+5(4K) for 33K per week. Close to the same that you're doing now. You could go 8K for your long run giving you 34K per week. The principle involved is that it is usually a good idea to not do the same thing every day to avoid your body getting into a "rut" so to speak. You can add more variation to your running by moving the long and medium runs to other days of the week. Another possibility is to do no running (or reduced running) on two of the rest days and do walking, cycling, or swimming as cross training.

In terms of longevity, running will keep your circulation system in better condition, but it won't do much if anything for diseases like cancer, as your example of Cliff Young illustrates. The best you can do to ward off these other diseases is to manage your diet, the quality of water you drink, your sleeping habits, the air you breath, reducing stress, etc. In addition, many diseases are a factor of your genetics, and you can't do much about that.

Your BMI is reasonable, so you're maintaining a healthy weight. How is your cholesterol level and the good/bad ratio?

In my site there is an essay by George Sheehan called "The Basics of Jogging". Read that article to see how you are doing from his perspective. He was active as a doctor and a runner back in the 70s and 80s before the days of GPS and heart rate monitors, and he talks about running from a very different perspective than we have today with our use of technology.

Jeff said...

Been trying to find out great blog about running and I think I found it here. Thanks Allen for such a great content. love this.

Allen said...

You're welcome, Jeff. Glad you're finding the blog useful.

Jeff said...

Yeah, been reading a lot of post lately.. thanks man!

Steve in Western Australia said...

Just a point to start with Allen, I'm going to post this in two (2) sections due to your 4096 character posting limit. Here is section one.

Well Allen here I am again, still running on average 6 days per week over the usual 5km distance, and essentially running not jogging. I have some comments which I would like to make here on your front page and also some observations.

Firstly, the running at my venerable age is a tonic and the first whole body exercise I have ever used. It tones everything from the circulatory system, pulmonary system, muscular-skeletal system down. It is utterly wonderful exercise and the fact that I can do it, and do it well, creates a somewhat euphoric outlook over the entire day. Good for looks too, I am not a gram overweight and practically as tight as a drum.

From a more pragmatic and objective perspective - my pulse rate is still around high thirties, very low forties, after 2 cups of black coffee and 2 cups of green tea about half an hour after rising (I rise typically at 0500 every day). This is extraordinary for any age any gender, let alone a 56 year old man. I ascribe it to a fairly healthy lifestyle (my one vice is I love alcohol and a seconday vice is I do like the occasional joint). Eat well and exercise every day of your life and, providing you don't have terribly short telomeres, you will life long and look younger until the reaper takes you. My exercise now is running.

As far as stress of body cells is concerned, I find that my 56 year old legs ache in any case, but the running on a daily basis, 5km per day, every day except Sunday, actually strengthens the bones and joints and reduces my slight arthritis in both big toes and my left knee. Hips are fine. Calf muscles are bigger and better looking, and my stomach is flat as a tack. I think it also slims the face as the older we get, the fatter the face - my running has slimmed my face and given me a more chiseled look, which isn't bad at my age. I wish it would bring back my hair though :)

Allen, I do not ever find the run easy. It is firstly a battle to overcome the pain and aches in my aged pins, which goes after the first kilometre (warmed up). My legs are the villains. My cardio-pulmonary system finds it easy to run, limitlessly so, breathing is a rhythm, and I don't ever gasp or pant. I can talk as I run and I do not get out of breath. It is just those damn legs, which I need to overcome every day.

I find the running is excellent for posture as well. I have a fear of ending up stooped like a lot of my peers, and the running certainly ensures that is not a possibility. It has also deepened my chest, it is thicker and I breathe better, fewer breaths needed to power the corpus.

I can't ever walk any great distance again, it would be impossible now that I run. I would break into a jog as I would find the impulse to run irrepressible.

Steve in Western Australia said...

Here is part 2 Allen, in order to defeat your posting limitation.

I dispute your contention that running won't do much if anything for diseases like cancer. Our entire mechanism is one which has evolved to move, it is dynamic and stasis = death as far as I am concerned. If one keeps moving through one's lifespan, then the immune system will function as intended which is to say, it will destroy the cancer cells it tags as "non self" without exception. There are only four things (excluding accidents) which ensure pleasant longevity, and they are: genes, food quality, exercise and mental stimulation. We can't do anything about the former, but the remaining three are well within our grasp and therefore, for most people, their own fate is well within their grasp. I am happy to say I have found my exercise for the remainder of my life.

At my age, I often hear of contemporaries and peers dying suddenly, usually due to the corporate lifestyle and sheer damn laziness. Why don't they wake up to themselves and take their own fate in their hands, and learn to overcome their boredom and indolence? Surely at the point of death, whether it be heart attack or cancer or whatever, if they were presented with a choice of going back and running every day for instance, and eating no junk food (going mediterranean) and so on, they would take the opportunity, yet they don't run or jog, they eat shit, they think rubbish and they die early and make distasteful, disgraceful obese double-chinned corpses. Why not make the change now, learn to love the pain and get up early every damn day and run like the wind and live another forty years? To me, its a no-brainer.

You asked about my cholsterol and so on, especially the good/bad ratio. Well, I had my blood assayed in early February (its free here in Australia) and here are the results, which are damn good and improved and due to the combined exercise routine (running) and a good diet (my wife was born in Italy and cooks mediterranean).

Its all in millimoles/litre:

Chol 4.1 (<5.5)
Trig 1.1 (<2.0)
HDLC 1.1 (>0.9 - so called good chol)
LDLC 2.5 (<3.4)
Ratio 3.7 (average in the population is 4.9)

The final figure is my coronary risk ratio. The reference values are the average 4.9, and the lower the CRR below this, the better. Mine is excellent but in 2009 it was 4.4 - the running and eating well has reduced it considerably.

The blood assay covered liver function (all good), electrolytes (good), thyroid, renal and prostate (all good).

I think that, without being too obsessive, if one is interested in living well for a long time, one needs to examine the body and be good friends with the body, rather than treating it as an externality which can suffer interminable abuse (junk food, inactivity, mental torpor etc) without ill effect. I certainly treat my body as a wonder and miracle of engineering, which admittedly won't last forever, but I do intend on servicing it correctly, fueling it well and treating it with
the utmost civility.


Steve in Perth