October 19, 2023

 How to run strong past 40 (like Des Linden)

When the overall marathon winner runs 2:00:35, and the first female 2:13, and a couple of American guys finish at 2:08 and under, you don’t get much credit for being a smooth, fast 40-year-old female. But Des Linden also set a record in the Chicago Marathon. She ran 2:27:35 to slice 12 seconds off the previous American masters best of 2:27:47 set by Deena Kastor at Chicago in 2015. 

“Kastor is an icon, so it was fun to feel like I was chasing someone who I admire,” Linden said afterwards. In a podcast, she admitted that she didn’t think she could beat Kastor’s half-marathon best for American masters, 1:09:39.

Of course, masters runners are getting faster at every age and distance, especially the women, it seems. Witness Chicago’s world record performances by Jenny Hitchings (60, 2:49:43) and Jeannie Rice (75, 3:34:32).

How do they do it? The mental aspect is obviously key, including the occasional need for more laughter. Also, there’s no time like the present to adapt your training to your current needs. Linden didn’t appreciate the back tightness she felt late in the marathon. Or even the fact that she was talking about back tightness, just like every other aging individual.

But she’s got a plan for it. “I’m going to have to implement a weightlifting strategy,” she said. In fact, “It’s on the way.” More at Outside Online.

Telomeres tell all: Running boosts lifespan by 12 years

When we read about telomeres or telomerase, the first or second sentence often refers to the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine, which was awarded to 3 early telomere researchers. The clear implication: Telomeres, the structures at the end of chromosomes, are super important.

From there, things get a little foggier. Longer telomeres and more abundant telomerase are generally linked to good cellular health, and we tend to lose both with increased age. But predicting health or longevity from telomere length is no simple task. One recent study found that “estimating disease risks from phenotypically measured telomere length at any given time point is challenging and imprecise.”

Against this, we have emerging data that regular, lifelong exercise increases telomere length. The latest study in this field estimated that 75 minutes a jogging/running per week vs not j/r resulted in “a biological age difference of approximately 12 years in favor of the runners.” I’ll take it!

The authors randomly selected over 4400 subjects from a well known U.S. federal survey tool called NHANES, for National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They then compared those who ran less than 10 minutes/week with those who ran more than 75 minutes/week--the amount recommended (or 150 minutes walking) by U.S. activity guidelines.

Conclusion: The more active runners had longer telomeres that conferred “roughly a 12-year cellular aging advantage associated with jogging/running.” (Note: The paper didn’t measure actual mortality, just “cellular aging.”) The authors state nonetheless that “reduced telomere length has been shown to correlate with increased mortality and the risk of various chronic diseases.” More at International J of Environmental Research & Public Health with free full text.

Can you pass the test: How do you perform on your darkest days?

Bad things happen to good people. I don’t know why. I just know that nasty stuff happens. 

And the greatest test of who we are isn’t the way we perform on our best days. It’s how we perform when we have to struggle back.  

Dave McGillivray, the now-69-year-old, long time race director at the Boston Marathon, recently hit the 5-year mark in his return from triple bypass heart surgery. From the beginning, he has been open about his disease, the need for surgery, and his comeback. This attitude helped inform others about their heart health. It also inspired all of us to be as determined and disciplined as Dave in returning from our own individual challenges, whatever they might be. 

I’ve run 11 marathons since surgery, and I’m still not perfect,” he says. No, perfect isn’t the goal. Showing up is the goal, and then finishing. Next April, McGillivray hopes to finish his 52nd consecutive Boston. More at Twitter/X DMSE.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>> Down with foot pain: 11 causes of foot pain, and how to alleviate them


That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby

NOTE: If you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text version of RLRH for $4/month, you would also have received new articles on:

# Revealed by Strava: How to hit a Boston Marathon qualifying time

# Master your marathon training. Stand strong and fit on the start line

# How is it possible to run 2:00:35 and 2:11:53 in the marathon?

# Is running during pregnancy “selfish,” “psychopathic” and “disgusting?” (Heck, no)

# New consensus: Why body composition testing is rarely necessary for those under 18

# How running in minimalist shoes could strengthen your Achilles tendons

# The diet that helps you recover from injuries

# An inspiring quote for middle of the pack marathon runners from NYC Marathon founder, Fred Lebow

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