I listened to the awful way we kill our old in one of Terri Gross's always wonderful interviews while driving home from work today, entitled "A Clearer Map For Aging: 'Elderhood' Shows How Geriatricians Help Seniors Thrive". It got me to thinking.....

It has been a long journey from my Woodsville radish patch, across high Alpennine trails overlooking the Mediterranean, to so efficiently navigating the labyrinthine halls of my Agency's Big Four. I can't say that I've enjoyed it, but I achieved everything I set out to do. As I approach the end of the journey, it is not death that I fear. It is how we force people to die. Dying as a vegetable, incapacitated by dementia and pain killers in some institution leaching away the personal savings I have accumulated for my wife is worse than any other conceivable end. We have laws put in place by people who have no understanding of the biological sciences and evolutionary fact. Instead, they impose some mishmash of views concerning the right way to die that springs from ideas more comparable to Medieval myths than the scientific facts. To compound the crime, they are encouraged along my industries making themselves rich off the sentimental lies we tell ourselves about life after death.

I have chosen the arc of my life every step of the way. I will not relinquish it at the end.

 

Down in my basement gym. It's upper body compound dumbbells today. I alternate dumbbell and barbell workouts for the variety. Compound movements because I don't have time to do isolate arms this morning. Compound movements provide the most bang for the buck/minute. 5 sets, 3 minutes between sets. Chest ups, db bench, reverse rows, db standing press. Skipping legs today: my back's a little sore from Monday's deadlifts.

I don't really call it cross-training. It's all training to me. Everything you do to improve is training. And I like the way it makes me look in a tee shirt. I keep at it because I keep improving. I know this can't go on indefinitely, but, at 64, improving is hugely rewarding. It defies the convention of what 64 is supposed to be. I don't really train like exercise authorities recommend. I go at it every day, resting only on sporadic days when I wake up tired and my body's demanding a rest. I train like I did when I was 24. The only significant difference is that I can't/don't run as fast. I can run much further, but not as fast. The weight I'm lifting now is beginning to approach what I was lifting 40 years ago, also. This is really quite an exploration as I run out my remaining years. I keep thinking....plyometrics and some sprinting...maybe I can match my old running paces.

I lost my focus last week and missed 2 runs and 2 strength work outs. This happens from time to time. I'm 10 weeks out from my 64'th. Physical fitness is the foundation upon which all mental and physical health rests. I cannot honestly claim injury or fitness. It was just loss of will and focus. I don't know why the wheels sometimes just come off. No excuse. I'm 151.7 lb. 16% body fat by impedance measure. This is too high. 

In wonderful Stoic Spartan manner:

"You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,
and deems length of days the least of Nature's gifts
that can endure any kind of toil,
that knows neither wrath nor desire and thinks
the woes and hard labors of Hercules better than
the loves and banquets and downy cushions of Sardanapalus.
What I commend to you, you can give to yourself;
For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue." 

Juvenal 

I lose my identity when I do not train. I flush into the pool of the indulgent lumpen consumers. 

I begin my strength workouts with deadlifts and pull up, 3 sets of the first, 5 of the second. By the time I'm finished with those movements, I am wide awake.

I don't use belts or straps, unlike in my youth. I firmly believe you are only as strong as your weakest link. A belt compresses your core. The increased internal pressure takes load off the back, making the deadlift easier. Likewise, straps relieve hands of the need to grip the bar as tightly. This decreases load on hands and forearms. What good are strong legs without a midsection capable of lifting what the legs did? What good are strong bicep and lats without the grip to move the object they pull?

Holistic training must leave behind no weak spots. Deadlifts and pull up are my most mentally demanding movements. Leading off with them, particularly at 04:15, is particularly difficult for me. My mind rebels against the exertion. This is a weakness. Mind or body, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

I slowed my rep tempo this morning and lost about a third of my reps. Jerking the weight and kipping cheat your muscles of the work. There is a place for plyometric training. But too often, those techniques degenerate to being a means of squeezing out more showy reps for bragging rights. I do not train for others. In the end, the only voice inside your head is your own. It is weakness if you need the deceived opinions of others to prop you up when you are alone inside your head with that one voice.

Mind, body, the link between them: train everything. Train for life.

I passed up my long run for 5 miles in the pollen. While running, my mind wandered, as it almost always does.

From something akin to a tree shrew to bipedalism, to enlarged cranium, to tool use, there is a continuous archeological record of human evolution. Now H. Sapiens sits as Rodin's Thinker, pondering the quantum universe. The senses of sight, smell, and sound that evolved hunting on savannas and the steppe no longer suffice. H. Sapiens extends his ability to conceive and know through abstract mathematical models because nothing in his experience can possibly explain or even be analogous to what he learns of the universe through careful measurement and thought. H. Sapiens as Thinker of abstract models becomes the God his ancestors thought they worship. H. Sapiens has becomes the measure of all things.