• Margaret Webb

    The hardware haul from author Margaret Webb’s quest to get faster, stronger and fitter after 50

#2 Make a workout a habit, and it’s tough to break.

Same time, same place, same thing: Hello Tuesday morning running group! Yeah, sometimes it’s the first chilly damp day of fall, but there’s the crowd of friends waiting on the bridge, the trail along the river, the sun scratching its way over Lake Ontario (or clawing through fog, rain, snow but always with beautiful long nails of light) and 13 kilometres that makes the rest of the day always right.

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#1 Ask, What Does My Body Want Today?

For the next 30 days, I am living the fitness tips I’ve learned on my journey to be #OlderFasterStronger, to get ready for the launch of my book on Oct 14. Join me for that celebration!

So thing #1 is, Listen to My Body. That always struck me as frustratingly new agey vague — until I heard it from the fastest 85-year-old marathoner on the planet. World-record holder BJ McHugh does not run according to any pace, Garmin, heart-rate monitor or other external cue but rather by how she feels. I suspect she doesn’t spend much time standing around on the scales either as she’s learned to listen to her cravings for good stuff that helps her body purr along, by many measures, with the fitness of a very fit 20 year old.

But when I wake up on this glorious sunny fall day, my body announces that she wants the impossible: To be 15 and back on the farm I grew up on, moving, hefting straw bales onto a wagon, riding my horse, hauling baskets of tomatoes from my mother’s garden.

Great, my body’s a real jokester. So maybe listening to my body involves some translation.

Clearly, she wants strength-training, a bath of fall sunshine, playful joy and a little utility. So rather than going to the gym or yoga studio, I will literally run my errands during work breaks through the day then take my strength-training outside to an urban park with a stunning view of a valley and downtown. Guided by Christine Felstead’s Yoga For Runners book, I can do a strength-building yoga routine, supplemented with some chin ups and push ups using the kids’ playground equipment.

Kids will laugh at me. It will be fun. Oops, I’ve given away another tip.

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#OlderFasterStronger

Think you can out run a 75 year old? How about a 95 year old? Check out this Older Faster Stronger video trailer (available to order now – nudge nudge), featuring the fastest 75+ women on the planet. Feel free to inspire/prod your pals off the couch by posting the video on your social media sites. My goal is to get these super senior athletes on Ellen or Oprah. Please help!

#OlderFasterStronger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2etE3oDy9RQ

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Yoga for Runners by Christine Felstead

This incredibly handy book let’s you take Felstead’s Yoga for Runners practice anywhere you can take a book – the park, the cottage deck, the beach.

I got hooked on yoga to help me build strength and flexibility for marathon running, but don’t always have the time to get to a studio for the two or three sessions a week I crave. Felstead came to the rescue with her DVD series that took me from novice to intermediate, but saying Namaste to the TV screen wears after awhile.

Now I’m doing sun salutations to the actual sun, thanks to this 200 page book. Felstead packs the last half with yoga sequences (including pictures) of poses you can do post run, to heal hot spot, for tune up, build strength and stamina, or do body part specific tune ups.

Pictures and words illustrate how to do each pose, as well as the benefits.

The first half of the book explains the great benefits of yoga for both running and general health, in easy, precise and pragmatic language.

And the best part of the book? You can take it — and yoga — anywhere. Now I do sun salutations to the actual sun by flipping the book open to a sequence and letting Felstead’s expert advice guide me.

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4:09:43 by Hal Hidgon

The overwhelming sentiment of this year’s Boston Marathon, the first running since the home-grown terrorist attack in 2013, was let’s get the anniversary over, let’s get back to Boston being Boston.

Not so fast, Hal Higdon might say. His terrific book, 4:09:43: Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners, does much more than take readers inside the experience of running Boston the year of the bombings. He recounts its rich history, the physical challenges of the course and the many legends who have contributed to making Boston the most storied marathon on the planet. But he makes this point most emphatically: the thousands of individual stories that played out in 2013 will be part the larger Boston story, forever.

Higdon shares tales of bravery, extreme acts of kindness between strangers and the thwarted ambition of runners turned back mere blocks from the finish line. Their frustration turned to survivor guilt then a determination to return, not with anger but to run with higher purpose, whether in memory of fans who were injured or killed, with greater zeal than ever to raise money for charity, to give back to the race that has inspired so many runners to reach personal bests or to love more, because that, they discovered, is the way to overcome hate.

Given the amazing potential of that legacy, we would do well to spend some time with the stories in 4:09:43 and not to rush back to Boston as usual.

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2014 Boston: How Do We Make Sense of Our Marathon?

Over its 42.2 kilometres, a marathon is a story. As I prepared to run in Boston a year after the devastating bombing of 2013 – the biggest celebration of running ever, as so many described it – I turned to sports psychologists to help me make sense of my journey.

After months of training for the extreme test of endurance, a runner should expect “capital E emotion” on a regular race day, let alone this particular marathon, Dr. Kate Hays warned me.

See story:

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2014 Boston in Pictures: Older, Faster, #Boston Stronger

Rather than running Boston 2014 hard, my goal was to soak up this greatest celebration of running ever, by speaking to as many people as possible, hearing their stories and reveling in the joyous atmosphere. It was my slowest marathon ever but my finest.

Below, John Young spoke at the Expo. Canadian born, he now teaches high school in Salem Ma and, last year, attempted to become the first little person to cross the Boston finish line — alas the bombs nixed that.  He started marathoning and doing triathlons when his son, who also has dwarfism, told him, “Dad, I always finish last.” John wanted to show his son that “winning is about trying hard, not finishing first.”

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Older Faster Stronger: More speed, less distance?

The fastest 60-year-old woman in the world, Torontonian Karla Del Grande, once thought, like the vast majority of us, that running means distance running. Then, at 50, while trying to boost her speed for a half-marathon, she hit the track for interval training and rediscovered her love of speed.

She ditched the long run, took up sprinting and now considers herself fitter, stronger and more powerful than she’s ever been in her life, including when she did high-school track.

Here’s how she replaced distance with speed and thrived: 

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