Why don't old people run?

I did not expect to become a runner as I commenced my preparation for retirement but this new development, this new interest, has been both exciting and dare I say it not a little challenging. I can see two solid reasons that I began running, and the first is I believe a common occurrence in our troubled times: with the closing of gyms and pools during the Covid lockdowns of 2020 I took to running in the street as one of the few options available to me for exercise. The second reason is perhaps the one that will keep me running long after the ending of the Covid troubles: my granddaughter asked me: "Grandpa, why don't old people run?". An excellent question and a great challenge! And so on this page I will write in some details of of my response to this challenge and in particular my running experiences with the Galloway method of training, a method that will hopefully keep me fit and injury free as I slowly become the "old person" that so worried my granddaughter!

A running program...

As it turns out apart from some experiences at school, which involved desultory participation in sports, I had not been an active runner for some 40 years. And so following the Covid lockdowns of 2020 it should not surprise anybody (although it surprised me!) that when I energetically and recklessly started pounding along on the road, with high speed and long distance being my two best friends, I had my early running career cut short by two painful injuries. This left me with a choice of giving up running completely or staying with running and training both more cautiously and more wisely.

And so here I am with a nice Garmin Forerunner 935 watch, a GymBoss and a goal of becoming a strong runner with a more than decent running base. I had already met the free adaptive Garmin Coach programs and successfully completed a 5K program but a 10K program with Jeff Galloway attracted me as it promised what I was after: success at completing a 10k run, a better chance of avoiding injury as well as the establishment of a non-ego based solid running base. I will write up this 15 week program in real time, as I actually undertake the program, in part to keep my own goals and plans solidly formulated but also so that perhaps others may profit from my own examples, successes and failures.

Week 1...

Setup on the Garmin virtual coaching planwas pretty straightforward and the details I gave of a regular 15K per week running at an overall average of about 8:0 min/km (12.87 min/mile) with an expectation of three runs per week for the plan gave me a 15 week program. I am going for completion rather than time as I confess, Gentle Reader, that my longest run so far has only been 8K (4.97 miles); there will perhaps be opportunities in the coming years for time based runs. But now for the first week:

  1. Benchmark Run: So the direction is to run strongly for five minutes, with a suitable warmup before and cool down after. I took my normal flat route for this one and did not sprint, but certainly pushed things along a little and covered 0.79km (0.49 miles) in the five minutes with a run pace of 6:19 min/km (9.96 min/mile). Pretty good for me although I did have to resist the urge to then go for a longer run. Total workout distance was 1.23km (0.76 miles).
  2. Drill Workout: This was my introduction to both Cadence Drills and Acceleration-Glider Drills and fortunately for me there were two short videos to explain the general idea. I enjoyed the cadence drills and the idea of moving the feet quickly and lightly is a concept that carries over to Yoga. I managed to get my cadence up to about 175spm but more work needed there. My Acceleration-Glider Drills were not very graceful but I get the idea anyway! Total workout distance (this includes a 10 minute warmup and a 10 minute cooldown) was 3.10km (1.92 miles).
  3. Run Walk Run: My first long run with the Jeff Galloway Run Walk Run method and the little GymBoss made the timing all very easy. There was the usual 10 minute warmup and 10 minute cooldown with the main run 4.02km (2.49 miles). The main run I covered in an average of 8.25 min/km (13.27 min/mile) with a run/walk setting of 4:1 min. I suspect that, based on a few twinges from the old injury, I will alter that to 3:1 min for the next long run. It was a great run on a cool Spring morning with a total workout distance of 6.22km (3.86 miles). I chose to run the route that I will use for my eventual 10K 'race', it runs by a busy road and has some hills but it runs on forever and thus sets a path for any future even longer runs.

First week done and so far a cautious thumbs up to Jeff's 10K plan which has taught me a few new skills already and also taught me the value of slowing my running down. Next week's plan has already appeared automagically on my watch and I look forward to week 2 of 15 coming up after a two day break. Total distance covered in the first week was 10.55km (6.55 miles). And in case you think that I am something of a sluggard with this distance, Gentle Reader, I can tell you that I also swam a total of 9.5k (5.90 miles) in 3 pool sessions between my running efforts!

Week 2...

Since I run Monday, Wednesday and Friday I have had 2 days rest from running (admittedly one day is for strength training and swimming) so I am well rested and ready for another week of the 10K program!

  1. Drill Workout: So this drill workout was a mirror image of the first week's drill workout: thus consolidation time. It was a beautiful cool early Spring day and the late afternoon run was very, very nice and my old injury seems to be finally releasing its grip on my stride. There was a 10 minute warmup and a 10 minute cooldown with both Cadence and Acceleration-Glider Drills (3 of each). I spotted a 179spm for the Cadence Drill, very happy with that. The total workout covered 3.28km (2.03 miles) with an average pace of 7.40 min/km (11.90 min/mile). A good, solid effort in marvellous weather and beautiful surroundings!
  2. Drill Workout: A mirror image workout again from the first workout of this week and this time I was running much more comfortably in yet another cool Spring evening with light rain. The Cadence Drill saw a maximum of 181spm and I am definitely feeling much lighter on my feet. Distance covered was a little less with this session as there were some hills: total distance of 3.05km (1.89 miles) with an average pace of 7.46 min/km (12.00 min/mile). A sneak look forward in the schedule reveals that next week there will be extra Cadence and Acceleration-Glider Drills.
  3. Run Walk Run: This is the second of the long runs using the Run Walk Run method and I made a few changes this time. Firstly I altered my GymBoss to give a 3 minute run and 1 minute walk as well as getting rid of vibrate and dropping back to a double beep. Much better! I also incorporated the Acceleration-Glider drills into this run with great success. This run was on a warmer day, but early in the morning so not too hot yet, and the run section was 4.83km (3.0 miles) which I ran/walked at a steady 8.23 min/km (13.24 min/mile). Adding in the 10 minute warmup and cooldown this gave a total of 6.90km (4.28 miles). A nice run with the first few hints in place for the coming Australian summer.

The end of week 2 is here and I can see already that I have made a good choice with Jeff Galloway as my virtual coach. I am running well and I have not aggravated the old injury with this gentle increase of workload. An observation in one of the documents that comes with the coaching plan is that the long runs can never be too slow or have too many walk breaks and I think I have now found the best recipe for that, for myself. Total distance covered this week was 13.23km (8.22 miles) which is elegantly up from last week's 10.55km (6.55 miles) and a total of 9.8km (6.08 miles) in the pool. And now for a couple of days with no running...

Week 3...

So week 3 commences and according to the weather forcasts I will be running through some rain. I should probably get used to this as the east coast of Australia will be experiencing a La Niña weather pattern with cooler weather and more rain over at least the beginning of summer. Hopefully no fires!! Anyway less talking and more running...

  1. Drill Workout: Once again a sequence of 10 minute warmup, Cadence Drills, Acceleration-Glider Drills (this time an increase to 4 of each) and ending with a 10 minute warm down. The Cadence Drills went well although it is sometimes hard to move the legs and feet faster! Peak cadence this time was 185spm and I noticed that this had me running at 5.49 min/km (8.83 min/mile) which is fast for me. Incorporating the Acceleration-Glider Drills into my normal running has meant that these drills are now quite pleasant to do. Total distance for this workout was 3.22km (2 miles) which is pretty standard for the drill workouts. There is a mini-heatwave at the moment but a combination of an early run and my incredible Patagonia Airchaser shirt meant that it did not feel all that bad!
  2. Drill Workout: Great run this morning in the cooler weather that followed the high temperatures we have experienced over the last few days. The drill workouts were the same as day 1 for this week and while the Acceleration-Glider Drills are going along well I ran the Cadence Drills with a marked improvement. Peak cadence was 187spm and briefly on my watch I saw 4.59 min/km (7.38 min/mile); not sustainable in any shape or form but great to see this newest possible burst of speed! Maintained a slow jog for both 10 minute warmup and cooldown so total distance of this workout was 3.43km (2.13 miles). Good to see some solid progress and this only week 3 of 15!
  3. Magic Half-Mile: This was my first experience with a 'Magic Half-Mile' session and I enjoyed it immensely. There was the usual 10 minute warmup and 10 minute cooldown with 10 minutes being a good time interval for this 60 year old man. After the warmup there was a steady Run Walk Run of 2.5km (1.55 miles) run followed by an 800 metre (0.49 mile) harder effort. This harder effort (Magic Half-Mile) was meant to be run hard but not sprinted with the subscript of: 'Push yourself!'. Which I did with the quite pleasing speed of 6.01 min/km (9.67 min/mile). Good news I felt that I could have pushed a little harder here and even better news was that my cadence during this trial was a maximum of 173spm. I look forward to testing myself with a full Magic Mile which I believe may pop up in a couple of weeks. This session 5.24km (3.25 miles).

One deliberate strategy I am utilising in this slower starting running program is to run on as many different surfaces as possible. Previously I would only run on pavements or roads as with these I could get greater speed, this was an ingredient to my eventual injuries. I have some good choices of rough bush tracks, firetrails, grassed sidewalks, pavements and roads and I distribute my running efforts amongst these without worrying about loss of speed. Always something to be learnt from injuries. Total distance for this week was 11.89km (7.38 miles), a little down from last week but a peek forward shows me that the next long run will be 6.44km (4 miles) so distances will start building up again!

Week 4...

It is hard to believe that I am now into week 4 of this 15 week program! I am very happy with this return to running after injury and although I retain an awareness of the injury location it is hampering my running less and less, my stride is becoming a lot more free and without trying I can see my speed and distance slowly increasing. But now for week 4:

  1. Drill Workout: No change in this drill workout from last week so I have concentrated on improvement. The Cadence Drills went very well and I saw a maximum cadence of 187spm, so on the second workout of this week I will see if I can move my legs a little faster and break 190! Courtesy of this increased cadence I saw a best pace of 5.00 min/km (8.04 mins/ml) and I am keen to drop below this. In a small variation I extended the 10 minute cooldown at the end of the workout (by selecting 'Resume' on the watch) giving a total distance for this workout of 4.36km (2.70 miles). I was running easily and it was a beautiful warm but overcast Spring day, so why not...
  2. Drill Workout: Once again the same pattern of a 10 minute warmup, 4 Cadence Drills, 4 Acceleration-Glider Drills and a 10 minute warmdown. It was a cool Spring day but with humidity a littl higher than Winter it was a little bit sweaty at the end. The Cadence Drills went very well in part because I re-read the directions for doing these and ran the first drill as a warmup and then cranked it up after this. My maximum run cadence was 195spm which was exactly what I was aiming for, and this generated a speed that I never seen before: 4.29 min/km (6.90 min/mile). Most satisfactory and a sign that I am definitely moving in the right direction. Again I ran on after the final 10 minute cooldown giving a total distance for this workout of 4.33km (2.69 miles).
  3. Run Walk Run: After the 10 minute warmup the schedule calls for a 6.44km (4 mile) run and finishing with a 10 minute cooldown. It was an unusually cool, rainy day for this run and I actually started out at 1000hrs, normally I run in the early mornings and late evenings. I ran a new course which looks like at its full stretch will go 10K outward and of course the same return, this run and distance has now been filed away for future use! My mission on this run was to keep to just over 8.00 min/km (12.87 min/mile) and I achieved this perfectly with an eventual 8.12 min/km (13.06 min/mile). A great run that left me tired as there is a mind-altering hill in the middle section! Run/Walk ratio remains 3:1 mins and it looks like this will do me for this 10K program. Total workout was 8.70km (5.40 miles). A great run!

To celebrate my success with this program, and also to acknowledge the warmer weather on the way, I made a few online running purchases this week. I have been using a Patagonia AirChaser shirt and while it is not cheap it is a fantastically light shirt and I have enjoyed wearing it so much that I have ordered another one. And while splashing out I have also ordered some nice, but expensive, lightweight running shorts. I think this is both an investment as well as a commitment to my health and running future. Fortunately my shoes are OK, I added my Asics GEL-Nimbus runners to the 'Gear' section of Garmin Connect back in March 1st 2020 (my first run!) and looks like they have done 274.36km (170.47 miles) and should be right for a total of 643.74km (400 miles). Interesting to see how long that takes! For this week the total distance was 17.39km (10.80 miles).

Week 5...

And so a new week of running and the forecast is again for coolish days and scattered showers which is pretty much perfect for running! I think that La Niña will be my running friend for this entire program as will be cooler and wetter for Spring and Summer, great news when you remember that Australia burned last season. But now for the running:

  1. Drill Workout: So the same pattern of a 10 minute warmup, 4 Cadence Drills, 4 Acceleration-Glider Drills and a 10 minute warmdown. Being an old hand at this now I went in with a plan for the Cadence drills and it worked out exactly as I planned: first drill at 175spm, second at 185spm, third at 195spm and go for whatever I could on the fourth run. This was a very satisfactory 200spm with a mind blowing pace (for me) of 4.43 min/km (7.12 min/mile). Excellent!! I extended the cooldown, in part because I was avoiding visitors at home, so the entire workout was 5.03km (3.12 miles). Not sure what my plan will be for the upcoming drill workout now that I have hit the peak goal for steps per minute, I will see on the day.
  2. Drill Workout:A duplicate of the previous drill workout and I am enjoying the chance to not only consolidate but to improve as well.
  3. Magic Half-Mile: This time a 10 minute warmup, 3.22km run, a 'Magic Half-mile' and a 10 minute cooldown.

Week 6...

  1. Drill Workout: Once again the same pattern of a 10 minute warmup, 4 Cadence Drills, 4 Acceleration-Glider Drills and a 10 minute warmdown.
  2. Drill Workout:
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Week 7...

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Week 8...

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Week 9...

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Week 10...

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Week 11...

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Week 12...

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Week 13...

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Week 14...

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Week 15...

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