Remember your 40s? I certainly do, and although I’m approaching the middle of my fifth decade, I’m feeling just as good as I did a decade ago. I credit this well-being with recognizing I needed to make some lifestyle adjustments as I became more chronologically established in middle age. So here are 11 things I’m doing for my health in my 50s that I wasn’t doing in my 40s…and why. Read More
Legend has it that around about 490 BC, a Greek messenger ran the twenty-six-and- change-mile route from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greeks’ victory at the Battle of Marathon. Now, a couple of millennia later, about half a million people annually pay hefty entrance fees and spend months preparing to run 26.2 miles in marathons the world over.
I don’t necessarily fault them; I’ve run marathons myself, along with a few other ultra-long-distance running events.
But here’s the part of the marathon-origin story that most long-distance runners forget: after he delivered his message, the messenger died.
If only he’d had Skype.
And this fleet-footed Greek was a professional messenger. He routinely did runs of this distance. On the day he did his Marathon run, he had fought in the Battle of Marathon. Talk about an overachiever.
The same unfortunate fate befell Micah True, the long-distance runner who is one of the heroes of Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run. After decades of running distances of up to one hundred miles at a stretch, he died at age fifty-eight while on a routine training run.
It’s unlikely you’ll suffer the Greek messenger’s fate if you decide to run a single marathon and you prepare well for it. But, whatever your buddy at the office, or your Facebook friend Pat, or your son tells you, by no means should you consider long- distance running a viable way to improve your health and longevity, nor should you consider it something to do on a regular basis.
If you are a 120-pound, 8 percent body fat, Nike-sponsored slip of a thing who is obviously genetically suited for such madness (and making good money off it), knock yourself out; it’s your livelihood, and you do what you have to do. Failing that, though, running marathons—or even running long distances frequently—is not an effective way to get fit. It may even be bad for your health.
Here’s why: As guys, we’re highly susceptible to the “more is better” myth. If running two miles three times a week is good for you, we assume that ten miles seven times a week must be great for you. It’s not so. For one thing, the nutritional requirements of training for and completing a marathon—bars, gels, sports drinks, and the like, all of which are variations on straight sugar—are antithetical to good eating habits. A few long-distance athletes, such as Ironman Dave Scott and ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, eat plant-based diets, so it can be done without eating all the processed, sugary crap. But junk is so ubiquitous at these events, and so much a part of the culture of training, that it can be hard to avoid.
What is human growth hormone?
HGH is a hormone and a protein produced in the pituitary gland. Although it has a role in maintaining healthy tissue overall, it is probably best known for assisting in increasing muscle mass and bone density and an ability to promote cell growth and regeneration by activating receptors to initiate the process. Human growth hormone also can boost libido, slow the progression of age-related degenerative diseases, and help support a sense of well-being. Read More
Taking a probiotic supplement is one of the best things you can do for your body. The special microorganisms that we call beneficial bacteria dwell in your gut (intestinal tract) where they help maintain a healthful, balanced environment that is critical for overall health.
Although you can get probiotics from fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchee—and you should enjoy these foods–many men find that taking a high-quality probiotic supplement makes the most sense.
Now, I usually recommend whole foods for better health. So why in this case do I recommend a supplement? Read More
I’ve talked about BPA before, a chemical found mainly in plastics that poses a big threat to your hormones and therefore your masculinity. Recently, information has surfaced about another group of chemicals—also found in plastics and personal health care products, among other places—that may be even worse than BPA and can massively affect your health.
“Phthalates” are even more of an insult to your system than they are to my spell- checker. They belong to the same class of pollutants as BPA, called “endocrine disrupting chemicals” (EDCs). And although phthalates have been studied extensively (and declared “safe,” predictably, by interested parties), the true extent of the dangers they present is only now coming to light. Read More
The marathon (and the Ironman triathlon) have developed a reputation as the true test of athletic fortitude: manhood in 26.2 miles. Buy into this myth too completely, however, and you may end up hurting yourself.
My suggestion? Embrace the 5K.
Why do I love the five-kilometer (3.1-mile) distance so much? Let me count the ways:
#1. Anyone Can Do It
A very unfit person can still walk 5K—or at least work up to walking 5K in a matter of a few weeks. It won’t wreck that unfit person the way a marathon will. And it won’t require an investment of time that’s unavailable to 99 percent of the population (the way an Ironman or a marathon will). The entry point, in other words, is accessible.
#2. It Offers a Challenge to Everyone
An unfit desk-jockey guy with three months of training to his name will be ecstatic to simply finish a 5K. But even the fittest guy you know can keep working on his 5K time, forever. It doesn’t matter who you are—running three miles as fast as you can is exhausting. It’s plenty of workout for one day. If I were a betting man, I’d stake my whole year’s salary that the average guy running a sub-19:30 5K is healthier than the average guy running a sub-four-hour marathon. Get faster at the 5K, and it’s a pretty good bet you’ve gotten healthier all around. Get faster at a marathon and you may well have gotten unhealthier.
#3. You Can Still Have a Life
Even if you make 5K training the center of your exercise life (by running, say, a half-dozen races a year—not a bad way of organizing these things, if you ask me), you don’t have to obsess. You don’t have to put in three hours of junk miles before work. You can make great progress on your 5K time by running just two or three times a week for less than an hour. You’re training for a race that will take under a half hour, after all.
#4. You Can Race Whenever You Want To
Although marathons are getting more and more common (there were over 1,400 marathons in the United States in 2015), you still have to wait around—and possibly travel—to get to one. And unless you’re pathological, you wouldn’t want to do more than a handful in the span of a single year anyway. 5Ks, however, are far more ubiquitous. There are 5Ks to support charities, fun-run 5Ks that families can do together, 5Ks to raise awareness for . . . well . . . just about anything. They happen almost every weekend. And since they won’t break your body down in the same way that a marathon will, you don’t have to wait weeks between races if you don’t want to. You could conservatively race three times in a single month and expect to approach your best times in each one.