Is it still possible to get fit and run a marathon after you’re 50? Here’s how Mr. Miyagi did it

If you are inspired by Lee’s story and want to give it a try, where do you start and how should you go about it?

CNA Lifestyle asked two experts: Dr. Joshua Lee, Associate Consultant, Department of Sport and Exercise, Changi General Hospital, and Ray Luo Ban Chuan, Senior Physiologist, Orthopedics, Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

  • I’m in my fifties and haven’t exercised in a long time – how do I start my routine?

“The general rule is to start low and start slow,” said Dr. Lee, who notes that you need to consider your basic fitness and underlying pre-existing, or undetected, medical conditions.

Luo added, “For those with chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a history of heart disease, consult your doctor before starting marathon training if you are not exercising regularly (three to four times a week) jogging or running very hard during the past six months.”

  • How useful are wearable technologies like fitness trackers or smartwatches, and how much should I rely on them?

There are pros and cons but remember they are not medical devices.

“For those with specific training plans, wearables allow a person to see how a course is going according to their training goals,” said Dr. Lee, adding that there are other benefits such as linking to social apps targeting athletes to add a dimension of motivation and community, and “manipulation There are some aspects “that can break the monotony of marathon training.”

But you need to be aware of the metrics that these wearables provide. “Even with the correct interpretation of the data, there is also an element of inaccuracy when it comes to the wearable sensors’ ability to accurately detect real-time parameters such as heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and running speed,” he said.

Luo added that for optimal training results, training in the correct area consistently and diligently is important when training for a marathon.

“Wearable devices can provide useful information such as average heart rate at a given pace and distance run, stride length, and cadence, which are important in adjusting training programs to prevent injuries and overtraining,” he said. “However, there are also other factors such as weather, work, diet, hydration, rest, recovery and stress levels, which may affect training session performance.”

Hence, over-reliance on devices without awareness of body conditions can be counterproductive.

  • Speaking of wearables, what is the VO2 max on my fitness tracker and how does it work?

VO2 max is an indicator of how fit a person is when exercising in an “all-out” state, Luo said, with measurements taken from our oxygen intake and carbon dioxide expulsion while exerting maximum effort. Using it as an indicator before and after training can be useful for showing our gains and how effective our training regimen is.

“In order to obtain the most accurate readings, exercise testing must be performed in a controlled environment. Wearable devices calculate and predict VO2 max based on heart rate, distance, and speed that may be exaggerated or underestimated,” he noted.

  • I’m Ready to Train for a Marathon – What Should I Think About?

Dr. Lee emphasized that a structured, methodical, and progressive training program is vital to preparing for the high physical demands of a marathon.

“During training or on the day of the event, it is essential that participants know their physical limitations and be alert to any symptoms, especially in previously sedentary middle-aged and older individuals,” he said.

“Chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, heart palpitations and fainting are possible heart-related symptoms that should not be ignored – stop training and discuss symptoms immediately with a doctor for further advice.”

  • At my age, I’m worried about getting infected – how do I avoid it?

Dr. Lee said it’s important to know the difference between “good pain” and “bad pain.” The former is the expected discomfort of leaving the comfort zone, while the latter indicates impending injury.

“Overuse injuries, especially to the lower extremities, are common during the marathon training process, especially in the case of training errors or improper equipment such as running shoes,” he said.

“Repeated overloading during marathon training can lead to injuries to bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the hip, knee, foot, and ankle. Participants should watch out for abnormal aches and pains in the lower extremities and seek medical attention if they persist even after a short period of rest.”

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