Elemental Mr. Watson

By: Carmen Troncoso

As I waited to watch an episode of Sherlock Holmes, I realized that as usual I’m late with my blog, the good thing is that I have a few ideas in the back-burner so I might be able to finish it and settle with some pop-corn in front of the TV.

For some reason my blogs revolve around the idea of getting older and trying to do the things that younger runners do. I don’t want to dwell on that topic, so I want to start by mentioning a book that I read (completely random read) titled The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain by Barbara Strauch.  The main topic of the book is whether we are able to grow new “brain cells” like other tissues in the body as we get older. The general consensus up to a few years ago was that we are born with “X” amount of brain cells and that’s it, your brain peaks in your mid 20’s (how depressing is that!), and from then on you start to lose neurons or brain cells non-stop.

Well, the good thing is that I was never privy to that information. So optimistically I always thought that you could maintain (to a degree) your brain function by “exercising” it…the typical ideas; cross-word puzzles, learn a new language or play an instrument, or learn a new hobby, etc.

As it turns out, the good news is that not only can you stop the process of brain cell decline, but you can help reverse it by engaging in any of the activities mentioned above, and guess what else – exercise! On top of that the great news is that running is the best of all the forms of exercise, the one activity that is being researched as being able to increase activity in the “cognitive” side of your brain, and has also been shown to increase the size of the areas of your brain that help you stay sharp and focused well into your 70’s.

So run your little (or not so little) buns off.

What does the above have to do with my running?  Well, it is just another good reason to run as you get older. I suppose consistency has something to do with it. It is not about being active when you are in your 20’s but about being active when you are “middle aged” and into your “twilight years” as well.

This got me thinking about my 3 decades running consistently and how long one can expect to keep making progress, just like your brain can if you exercise it. By using myself as an experiment of one (I might conduct a random inquiry at some point), I think you can look at about 12 years of consistent running (give or take a year out with injury and recovery), before you peak. The good news is that it doesn’t seem to matter at what age you start running, as long as you are smart about it and try to stay on a plan that takes you to a higher level each year.

When I turned 45 I knew that the PR’s were over, unless I ran a distance that I had never done before. I started thinking in terms of “not getting too slow, too fast.” So how long should I expect to get down to the same times that I ran when I first started running? It turns out that it is about the same time…… 12 years.

I just about got to that point, so a new goal will be good right about now…J

I think I’m going to try and run up the BELL CURVE for another couple of years and see what happens…this means I have to run 1 minute faster in a 5K than my last one, and I have 18 months to do it. I like deadlines, I think I can meet this one.

I will keep you posted.

Since my last blog I ran the 10 miler (65:30) and Chuy’s (18:51) they both went according to plan, but now it is time to turn around and start pacing back.

From Sherlock.:

Sherlock: what is it that you do for the government?

Scientist:  if I tell you I will have to kill you

Sherlock:  that is very ambitious of you

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