Can a 54 year old perform like his 20 year old body did?

by | Apr 27, 2012 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

As a teenager and through my 20’s I was a runner. Being a runner was not a significant accomplishment for me. I had natural ability and I loved to run. For fun, I would run through miles of rural Pennsylvania forests and back roads. I loved the feeling that I got after running a mile or so and I enjoyed that “runners’ high” for as many miles as possible. Although I did not enjoy it as much, I continued to run on the streets in Pasadena, CA ¬†while living there in the 1980’s. However, in the mid-80’s while running down the hill to the Rose Bowl, I injured my knees and quit running. I thought my running days were over. Before the injury, I regularly ran at a 6 minute/mile pace.

About two years ago I started running again with Adjua, the Whitworth University student who lives with Nancy and me. We started slowly, barely able to finish a mile. That fall with beginning of a new academic year, Adjua stopped running, but I continued. I have been slowly gaining speed and adding distance. Many weeks I improve from the previous week. This week I ran a five mile loop in under 36 minutes. I have my sights on completing that loop in 35 minutes, a 7 minute/mile pace.

As I was running this week, I experienced a small “runners’ high.” I remembered what it was like to be able to run solely for its enjoyment. That caused me to wonder if I could recover the physical ability that I had several decades ago. Then I realized, I had already come a long way. Slowly, step by step, week by week, I have rebuilt much of the conditioning that I need to again call myself a runner.

Great accomplishments are often like my return to “runner” conditioning. They aren’t completed in a short period of time. Rather, consistent effort in the same direction over a long period of time is usually required for the most significant and rewarding results.


  1. sandra Fritz

    On Saturday I took a class in machine quilting. Very difficult – takes a lot of concentration and coordination. The instructor said one needs to practice for about 300 hours before one becomes proficient in it. I want to be able to do it, but do I want to spend that much time? Hmmmm ..

  2. Chuck Livermore

    Wow, almost hitting 7-minute miles again. Impressive. I have recently started running (or jogging) again, but I am lucky to break 10 minutes per mile at this point. I remember being able to do a 10K under 40, but that was many years (and quite a few pounds) ago. You have inspired me, Greg. I probably will never break a 7-minute mile again, but maybe a few months from now perhaps I could break 8.


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