Since mid March I’ve been running between 4 to 6 times a week. The only breaks I took were for a colonoscopy (are you over 45? Get one…), a bout with Covid (yuck), and some family scheduling issues that led to a week-long break. Other than that I’ve been lacing them up most evenings and heading outside for a run. Nine-ish months in, what has been the effect?
It’s been really good. The Apple Health app is showing all kinds of good…
- I’ve dropped about 22 lbs (just shy of 10kg)
- Blood Sugar improved alot (based on Dr. visit in October)
- Glucose levels dropped a lot. I was just barely inside the normal range, now I’m smack in the middle.
- A1C dropped from elevated back into the normal range.
- VO2Max is way up
- Walking heart rate is down
- Resting heart rate is down
- BP is down (I measure that with a different device)
- I’m finally sleeping better
- Sleep didn’t improve for me for the first 7 months, but now I am resting better.
- What about scary ol' cholesterol?
- Look…uh…I have this genetic thing from my maternal grand-mother where…I…sorta…always have good cholesterol numbers. Like pretty much no matter what I do…sorry. So, it’s fine.
What other changes have I made? Several. But first understand I did not set out to make these changes. The first goal was simply to run as often as I could and slowly build up distance by 10% a week. In the past, when I’ve read about people who run a lot and are generally healthy, I found all the stuff they did so daunting that I was discouraged from even starting. So keep in mind this all came together gradually and they were easy changes to make. So here’s the changes:
- Shoot for daily sodium intake to be below 2000mg a day. I’m almost always under.
- This means I read a lot of labels and look up restaurant food content.
- Shoot for daily added sugar of less than 36g a day.
- Again, just reading lots of labels. This wasn’t nearly as hard
- Alcohol intake dropped from around 4-5 drinks a week to 1 drink a week.
- Wasn’t that hard. I like a good buzz as much as the next person but it seems pretty clear now that no amount of alcohol is good for you.
- Drink about two liters of water a day.
- This is right for me. Some youtubers say to drink more, but I can’t live life having to head to the bathroom all day.
- Drinking this in the first ten hours after waking up means I rarely have to get up overnight.
- Take a daily supplement
- Supplements can help after things have generally improved healthwise. Not something I started until about month seven.
- More potassium
- Bananas, non-fried potatoes, chia seeds.
- Weight training 3 times a week. 2 days upper body, 1 day lower body
- It’s hard to mix in the lower body stuff on a non-run day. One is better than none.
- This is very recent. As in like the last two weeks.
Again, I didn’t do all that at once. These things were added overtime. All of the changes have added up to some real net positives. The main one being:
Compared with non-runners, runners had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit. In dose-response analyses, the mortality benefits in runners were similar across quintiles of running time, distance, frequency, amount, and speed, compared with non-runners.
The only real drawbacks have been, I spend about 4 hours a week just running (which isn’t nothing) and…none of my pants fit anymore. I’m always having to wear a belt.
But mainly, I just feel great. I’m up to running a 10km and once I get beyond the first couple of kms or so, I almost always feel fine. It feels good to feel good. I had some knee pain at first. My left knee has always given me a little bit of trouble. I started wearing a compression wrap on my left knee. I would sometimes take an anti-inflammatory to keep the pain away, but that’s something one should keep up. If you’re running is causing you to take regular pain medication, then something needs to change (short distance, slower pace). About five months in I bought a REVIX Ice pack and put that on my left knee for 15 minutes after each run. Total game changer. Knee pain gone. No more anti-inflammatories. Now, 9 months in and 22 lbs lighter I don’t even need the knee brace that much.
Lastly, running just feels fun now. Even when I’m feeling some fatigue heading up a hill, I’m enjoying what I’m doing. The plan is to keep this as part of my life for as long as I’m able, and if I do I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to for longer :). And now that 10Ks aren’t a big deal, maybe it’s time to think about a half-marathon?