April 20, 2009 - The past weekend's race brought forth complements from amazing to "animal", as well as remarks that I'm a "natural" or that my running acumen can be attributed to genetics. I take issue with each remark, while I nonetheless appreciate the intent of my peers to be gracious and not dismissive.

But such comments are an easy way to avoid further inquiry and analysis. People like to fall back on labels. As so many of my running "buddies" and friends are aging right along with me, the issue is a cold, hard reminder that reflects back at you everyday, and therefore must be confronted.

How does one hold the line as much as possible on aging? I don't know anyone who desires to age, least of all me. I don't sit around wishing for the years that color my history, for I did it well then and I wish to continue to do it well now. Without taking a scholarly stab at the topic, I will answer from my own personal perspective and experience.

I believe that healthy aging must spring from, first of all, complete acceptance. Secondly, in line with the first, is maintaining an upbeat attitude about your place in the cycle of life. Thirdly, a strong will to continue to perform at an optimal level must be present to accomplish anything resembling greatness. The rest is balancing "training" with nutrition and other lifestyle habits.

I was in a wheel chair at age 25 and did not walk for eight months - and told I may never walk again. I guess we can rule out genetics and being a "natural". This, after a rising young running career (look at my Race History at right), could have been crushing, but it served to challenge rather than defeat. I have suffered from degenerative disease and something akin to fibromyalgia for most of the last thirty years, but have beat back the demons by applying sound nutrition, movement, and healthy lifestyle practices. After extensive health researching I published a book in 1988 called Living by Design that laid out the principles I have followed henceforth that have allowed me to optimize my health as best I can and rid myself of much of my malaise.

Much of what I learned from reviewing medical publications such as JAMA and Lancet is completely contrary to the general consensus laid down as sacrosanct by doctors and pharmaceutical companies. This is not the place to pontificate about the arguments in my 400+page tome, but there are some things I will recommend that an aging runner can do to maintain optimum performance, but the burden is upon the athlete to become educated and not look for easy answers in a brief piece such as this.

A long-gone friend of my, Dr. George Sheehan, used to say we each are "an experiment of one". Each of us is unique and must play with all the factors as we attempt to "get it right". If I were to offer free advice on the issue (and that may be all it is worth) I would most of all tell you to spend money on good supplements that optimize your body chemistry to withstand the rigors of the challenging sport you wish to perform well. If there is one nasty fact to aging, it is that one's metabolism becomes less efficient and is not as helpful as it once was in helping you deal with life's stresses. You must supplement to attempt to bring it back to some kind of equilibrium. To keep it simple, go educate yourself on optimal nutrition for athletes at hammernutrition.com. Don't try to rediscover all the answers on your own. These folks have already done it, and have the answers you need. Start there and look for consensus. My performance and general health improved once I started following a disciplined approach in using Hammer products (no, I do not have any vested interest with Hammer). I spend lots of money on Race Caps Supreme, Perpetuem, REM Caps, Anti-Fatigue Caps, Endurolytes, and Lance Armstrong's FRS. It's not cheap, but neither is my high performance engine. Would you put regular gas into a formula one car if you had one to race? Of course not. Better remind yourself what you have under the hood in your race vehicle. You deserve the best, if you want to perform at the optimum.

You are going to die. Look over your left shoulder as you train and you will occasionally catch a glimpse of old age and death gaining on you. They are your main competitors, but also your main advisors. You won't win in the end, but you can best them for much longer if you do the right things now and for as long as you can. Do not give in to complacency and deterioration gracefully. Scream and kick if you must, but fight the good fight. Your body was designed to go further than you might imagine. I am proof and, if you personally know me, whenever I toe the line with you again, I will be reminding you of what is real and what is just myth. Read the header again. We've all got to age, but some of us will never get old becasue we choose not to. WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Larry Creveling
2004 Buckeye Trail 50K
Brecksville, OH