In the early 1970s I got interested in long-distance running. The doctrine then was LSD, or long, slow
distance. I got up to running a routine of four miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and eight miles
on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Some Saturdays I ran more, up to ten or twelve miles.
I was never a fast runner, and could only run at an eight-minute pace. So my long days of eight miles was a sixty-four minute run.
I ran in some races, but there wasn’t much point because I was fairly slow.
Over the years some knee injuries (football and a karate class) gave me arthritis and I backed off the running. I would run about three miles. My weight climbed but at least my knees weren’t sore. Eventually in the early years of 2000 I was walking three miles. Eventually even that made my knees hurt.
After getting some new artificial knees, I thought about getting back into the running scene. Only when I was running the four-eight mile routines was I able to keep my weight around the ideal. When I went below that, my weight climbed. Should I go back to LSD?
I have learned a couple of things I’d like to share. As we age, our growth hormone declines. In men, testosterone declines, so it is harder to make or to maintain muscle, and shockingly easy to lose it. For example, after my bilateral knee replacement, I didn’t lift weights or do chinups for a couple of months. WhenI got back into it, I could only do one chinup! I had been bench pressing 170 pounds, and after the break I could only bench 135.
I do not have the actual figures, but aging scientists tell us that by age 60 I have about 10% of the growth hormone that I had at age 20. Ten percent! No wonder I don’t feel so hot!
So what is a boy to do? I could take injections of very expensive growth hormone. I could take supplements of supposed growth hormone precursors. I don’t want the shots and I tried the supplements and I don’t think they work at all.
But thanks to old Mother Nature, there is another option. While LSD (long, slow distance) doesn’t raise growth hormone, HIIT does! That is, interval training, high intensity interval training.
It is the intensity, not the total time, that seems to be the most important. I do HIIT workouts three times a week and I have found my weight is steadily declining. I was around 185 when I started this HIIT program, and now I am 175 only three months later.
The program is this: run or bike at a warmup pace for a couple of minutes. Then sprint at maximum effort for about thirty seconds. You have to feel as if you couldn’t go any faster. It feels pretty bad but after all, you can stand it for thirty seconds, can’t you?
Now jog or bike at a recovery pace for a minute. On my stationary bike, I raise the resistance to maximum (a setting of ten on my bike) and pedal about 90 – 100 rpm. When I run, I just sprint at my maximum for thirty seconds. Then when I recover, I drop the resistance on the bike to eight and pedal a 50 rpm cadence. So recover for a minute.
HIIT it again, thirty seconds of maximum effort.
Recovery for a minute.
Repeat this eight to ten times.
I find I can only do this on an every other day basis, at the most. So don’t overdo it. I suggest you get a physical from your MD and then HIIT it twice a week. When you get stronger, go up to three times a week. If you want to exercise on other days, that is fine, but not intense exercise. Work in your yard, go for a walk, or do some weightlifting. I ride a (real) bike twelve miles along a trail near my house.
Take a HIIT, not LSD!