Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Exercise for Olds: year 63 (CrossFit and so on)

I entered my 63y recently. For me this means another look at what I'm doing with the old arthritic body I've got.

I started doing CrossFit in April of 2013. I was 53 when I started so I'm into my 9th year at CrossFit St Paul. There have been some interruptions for injury rehabilitation and COVID shut us down for a few months (I built a home gym), but it's been pretty much continuous. I've been there over a thousand times by now. I was at my peak strength and ability around age 60 -- probably stronger than I had ever been! I ran into some recurrences of lifelong and new back issues after that, but recently my new rehab program has worked pretty well. I'm not far off peak strength now and I think I'm still stronger than I was in my 30s. There are a few lifts where I could still get a new lifetime personal record.

I restarted (did some in early 90s) mountain biking 6-7 years when my oldest son joined a new High School team. I was a parent volunteer then; he stopped but I continued. During COVID I bought a Fat bike and road with friends and lights through the dark winter. A few months ago I added a new full suspension bike (Trek Fuel EX 7). I'm by far the best mountain biker I've ever been. That's a bit of a problem actually. I'll get to that.

I started ice hockey much the same way I started mountain biking. I skated as a volunteer and team manager for Minnesota Special Hockey and then 4-5 years ago I joined a local pickup league on my own. Last year was lost to COVID though.

I've always done road biking and that continues. I've a century ride coming up next week and next month. I do some short 3-5 mile runs with Emily, but not that much on my own now. I swim very little now. I inline skate with my middle son every week or two. I love classic Nordic (cross country) ski but the climate has not been our friend.

The body is mostly holding up. A typical week might look like:

Sunday: CrossFit and family bike ride/Nordic ski, in winter coach special hockey
Monday: CrossFit
Tuesday: Home CrossFit with Emily and #2 (a relative rest day for me)
Wed: Mountain bike (summer) or Fat bike (winter) ride with a friend - can be intense
Thur: Inline skating or Mountain bike with #2 (rest day)
Fri: CrossFit (plus Hockey in winter)
Sat: Road bike ride, Fat bike in winter, sometimes just a rest day

In addition I do my rehab exercises at least 4/week. I've come to love the Romanian Deadlift (RDL). I struggled a few years ago when gyms eliminated the therapeutic back extension machine I was taught to use but my PT signed off on my RDL program and it's worked well.

So far I'm still on the the 30 year plan. In 2014 I figured I'd have to downshift at 65; that sounds about right with another drop at mid-70s and dead at 85.

What's changing? With age I do a better job of relative rest days (2-3 a week of easy activity) but there are still more things I want to do than I have time for. I'm having trouble eating enough to build muscle (also limited by age related stem cell depletion). If/when I retire I will have more time to work on strength development, that's currently hard to fit in. Mountain biking is an odd problem -- it's great exercise, I love doing it -- and I'm getting too good at it. I'm good enough to do trails where a mechanical failure or a personal mistake could lead to serious injury. I should be wearing a full face helmet -- but at my age that's insane. So I have to back off a bit. It's hard to do ...

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