Rediscovering Youthful Abilities: It Starts With Running

Charles Staley

Coach

Mature Athletes, Strength and Conditioning

Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get some real perspective regarding health and training. Please post feedback or questions to Charles directly in the comments below this article.

 

As I entertain a new approach to my training program, I find myself asking this question as a way of clarifying my thinking: 

 

 

What things could I do easily at age 18 that I cannot do easily today at age 56? 

 

A Walking, Grunting Mind-Changer

One of those things would be kicking people in the head (i.e., mobility). Long story for another day. But another is the ability to run/jog/sprint. “Running,” just to use that word as a catch-all, is a “functional” ability, if I dare use that term. Case in point:

 

A few days ago, I was taking my usual morning walk to Starbucks. It was 6:30am and pretty dark. About 100 yards ahead of me, I saw an animal coming down the sidewalk toward me, but I couldn’t quite tell what it was. After it got a bit closer, I saw it wasn’t a dog – it was a javelina. 

 

If you don’t know anything about these wild pigs, they’re dumb as a brick, nearly blind, and terminally pissed off. They’ve got formidable tusks and will rip you a new one if you do anything they consider threatening (such as standing or breathing). In this case, I had enough time to cross the street and avoid being shredded by forty pounds of raw bacon, but had I not seen him in time, who knows?

 

So while developing strength and muscle is still most appealing to me, I’m also looking to improve the things I find more difficult now that I’m in my mid-fifties.

 

A Pleasant Surprise, But Much Work to Do

Despite the fact that I’ve written some of the most caustic anti-jogging articles ever to appear in print, this Saturday night I waited until it got dark (for personal dignity), laced up my shoes, and did a mile pretty much as fast as I could. I had no idea if it would take me fourteen minutes or 24 minutes. I feared the worst, but after covering my pre-measured one-mile route, I glanced down at my stopwatch and saw this:

 

Mile Time

 

To say I was surprised is an understatement. I hadn’t run at all in well over ten years, and even when I was dabbling in it, I never did much. The longest run I ever did was six miles, which was absolute agony.

 

I’m planning to do some type of a run twice a week for the time-being. I’m not looking to be a great runner on any level, I just don’t want to totally suck balls. I’d probably like to get my time down to nine minutes. 

 

As you might have guessed, I don’t have a solid plan for this as of yet, but I’m talking to guys like Andrew Read and Alex Viada, so I’ll keep you posted as I go along.

 

This Week’s Training:

Total Volume: 95,545lb

 

A few things you might notice in this week’s journal, aside from the exciting running episode:

 

I’m doing a few uncharacteristic and unfamiliar exercises. These include roll-outs and calf raises. I’m also planning to do at least one set of some type of squat every day, or at least most days. I’ll have my primary squat day as always, but in addition to that, I’ll do a set of two of goblet squats or just a bodyweight squat-stretch on the other 5-6 days as a way of improving mobility and greasing the groove, as Pavel likes to say.

 

I’m warming up more thoroughly than usual. So, for example, rather than starting flat dumbbell bench presses with 60’s I’m now starting with 40’s. Rather than just banging out sets of 8 on chins, this week I laddered my chins (see below). This more gradual warmup seems to keep my joints happier which is a priority for me at this point.

 

I’m starting my lower-body sessions with a few sets of leg curls. This is a suggestion from John Rusin, for the purpose of warming up my knees in a non-loaded fashion. So far, so good. No knee pain this week at all, despite doing at least one set of squats five out of seven days.

 

Running Through a Tunnel

Training to feel younger will include taking on things that were much easier when you were younger.

 

I’m doing more total training sessions per week than normal. Some of these sessions are simply 1-2 exercises, along with 1-2 mobility/self-care drills. This new pattern is representative of a new way of thinking about training for me. I’m trying to increase my overall activity levels, and I’m also trying to blur the lines between training and not training. 

 

Put another way, my habitual pattern tends to be that I lift four days a week, and when I’m not lifting, I’m pretty much not doing anything physical at all. This doesn’t strike me as optimal when I think about it, so I’m beginning to implement very short mini-workouts during down-time between clients. I’m also doing more walking and cycling.

 

I’ll stop my commentary there since I prefer to keep these as entries short and readable as possible. If you’ve got questions about anything at all, please use the discussion field below. 

 


Monday, November 30, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201lb

Volume: 15,190lb

 

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 115lb × 10

Notes: Left knee pain- medial patella

 

Goblet Squat

  • Set 1: 70lb × 10

Notes: No knee pain

 

Front Squat

  • Set 1: 135lb × 8

Notes: No knee pain 

 

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 135lb × 10
  • Set 2: 185lb × 8
  • Set 3: 185lb × 8

Notes: No knee pain 

 

RDL

  • Set 1: 135lb × 10
  • Set 2: 225lb × 8
  • Set 3: 225lb × 8

 

Hack Squat

  • Set 1: 90lb × 10

Notes: No knee pain 

 

Leg Curl

  • Set 1: 70lb × 10
  • Set 2: 70lb × 10
  • Set 3: 70lb × 10

 

Workout Notes

  • Foam-rolled left IT band

 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.8lb

Volume: 2,950lb

 

Standing Calf Raise

  • Set 1: 75lb × 12
  • Set 2: 75lb × 12
  • Set 3: 75lb × 12

 

Goblet Squat

  • Set 1: 25lb × 10

Notes: No pain

 

Workout Notes

  • Band pull-aparts 2 x 10
  • Band over-and-backs 2 x 10
  • Foam roll left IT band

 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.8lb

Volume:18,880lb

 

Close Grip Bench Press (Pinkies On Rings)

  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 95lb × 10
  • Set 3: 135lb × 10
  • Set 4: 165lb × 10
  • Set 5: 175lb × 10
  • Set 6: 175lb × 10 (Very close to failure)

 

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Set 1: 80lb × 10
  • Set 2: 120lb × 10
  • Set 3: 120lb × 10

 

Seated Row

  • Set 1: 140lb × 10
  • Set 2: 140lb × 10
  • Set 3: 140lb × 10
  • Set 4: 140lb × 10

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 40lb × 10
  • Set 2: 50lb × 10
  • Set 3: 60lb × 10
  • Set 4: 60lb × 10

 

Workout Notes

  • Lying wall slides on tennis balls
  • Hip flexor stretch

 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201lb

Volume: 27,390lb

 

Seated Leg Curl

  • Set 1: 130lb × 10
  • Set 2: 130lb × 10
  • Set 3: 130lb × 10

 

Goblet Squat

  • Set 1: 40lb × 10
  • Set 2: 50lb × 10
  • Set 3: 50lb × 10

Notes: No pain to speak of

 

Trap Bar Deadlift

  • Set 1: 135lb × 10
  • Set 2: 185lb × 10
  • Set 3: 225lb × 10
  • Set 4: 275lb × 10
  • Set 5: 315lb × 10 (Video Below)
  • Set 6: 365lb × 1
  • Set 7: 315lb × 1

Notes: Weird aching hip pain on these. A bit of medial left knee pain, too.

 

 

Safety Squat

  • Set 1: 65lb × 10
  • Set 2: 115lb × 10

Notes: Felt good - no pain to speak of

 

Seated Calf Raise

  • Set 1: 90lb × 10
  • Set 2: 90lb × 10
  • Set 3: 90lb × 10

 

Swings

  • Set 1: 88lb × 25

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 140lb × 8
  • Set 2: 140lb × 8
  • Set 3: 140lb × 8

 

Friday, December 4, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.2lb

Volume: 19,141lb

 

John Rusin Shoulder Warm Up: 

 

 

Military Press

  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 65lb × 10
  • Set 3: 85lb × 10
  • Set 4: 95lb × 10
  • Set 5: 85lb × 7

 

Goblet Squat

  • Set 1: 32lb × 10

Notes: No pain

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80lb × 10
  • Set 2: 120lb × 10
  • Set 3: 160lb × 10
  • Set 4: 170lb × 10
  • Set 5: 170lb × 10
  • Set 6: 140lb × 12

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 1 reps
  • Set 2: 2 reps
  • Set 3: 3 reps
  • Set 4: 4 reps
  • Set 5: 5 reps
  • Set 6: 6 reps

 

EZ Bar Curl

  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 65lb × 10
  • Set 3: 65lb × 10
  • Set 4: 65lb × 10

 

Ab Roller

  • Set 1: 5 reps
  • Set 2: 5 reps
  • Set 3: 5 reps

 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.8lb

 

Running

  • Set 1: 1 mile in 0:10:58

 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.8lb

Volume: 12,354lb

 

Goblet Squat

  • Set 1: 32lb × 10
  • Set 2: 53lb × 10 (Video Below)
  • Set 3: 62lb × 10

Notes: No pain

 

 

TRX Atomic Push-Up

  • Set 1: 10 reps
  • Set 2: 10 reps
  • Set 3: 10 reps (Video Below)

 

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 40lb × 15
  • Set 2: 50lb × 15
  • Set 3: 50lb × 15

 

Standing Calf Raise

  • Set 1: 75lb × 12
  • Set 2: 75lb × 12
  • Set 3: 75lb × 12

 

Workout Notes

  • Mobility: Rusin shoulder warm up

 

More Advice for Aging Athletes:

 

 

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