Fitness advice from super seniors
The National Senior Games, the largest multi-sport senior event in the world, will be held in Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) this year.
This biennial competition features top amateur athletes in 20 Olympic events. The “super seniors” come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some have been training in their sport for decades, while others are returning after a long break. Some have just recently taken up their sport.
They still face the same challenges as you: finding motivation, overcoming setbacks and injuries, and finding the right exercise routine to achieve their goals. Three decorated athletes shared their experiences and lessons learned.
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Philipp Djang, swimming
Djang has set 21 NSG records and won 34 gold medals.
Get up and move every day. Do daily activities that make you tired. Exercise is a habit I have, just like brushing my teeth. Variety is key, so it doesn’t always have to be the same thing.
Find your village. My friends at the gym and pool bring me great joy and happiness. The shared experience of a group can create a social bond that can lead to lifelong friendships.
Understand the different types of pain. Pain comes in many forms and levels. The good pain comes from pushing yourself to the limit. A bad pain, like a sprain, feels much different. Understanding how the mind and body work is important to understand better how they function.
Periodization is a key concept in my training. Periodization is the process of adjusting variables in workouts for better performance and to challenge your body. I change my distance and intensity, for example, by doing short, fast swims in order to improve speed and longer, slower swims in order to concentrate on technique.
Do what you love. Sometimes, I reach my competition goals. If I don’t achieve my goals, it’s okay. It’s not a reason to stop what I love. Do something that makes you happy first.
Vince Obsitnik is running.
Obsitnik, 83, has been running marathons since he was in his 50s. He ran the Boston Marathon in under four hours and also a marathon in Slovakia, where he was a U.S. Ambassador. Ambassador.
Plan your workouts. After I’ve put my training dates in the calendar, that’s all there is to it. No turning back, no matter how tired or unmotivated you may be.
Stretch before and after your workout. I strongly believe in stretching. About 30 years ago, someone introduced me to this, and I continue to follow it. I have nine stretches for both upper and lower bodies. Save the vigorous stretching until after the workout. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
Challenge yourself. Overcoming challenges builds the confidence that anything is achievable if you work hard. I challenge myself by simply running every day and taking part in competitions.
Take control of your health. After five serious health issues, I returned to running. I was in control of my health and actively participated in diagnosis and treatment. I’ve always questioned doctors to make sure we are going in the right direction. In a ten-year-old consultation, the doctors told me I would need a hip replacement. They also said that I wouldn’t be running again. This was not what I wanted to hear. After much research, I decided to have my hip resurfaced and not replaced. I’ve run without hip pain ever since.
Brian Hankerson track
Hankerson is an NSG record holder for several age categories in the long jump and high jump.
I set long-term goals. I make specific goals each year for the different events that I compete in. Then, I create a training plan to help me achieve my goals.
Rest is okay. Recognize the importance of rest and recovery. I’ve learned to distinguish between feeling unmotivated and my body needing to rest.
Enjoy training with others who are better than you. For example, I train with athletes from high schools and colleges and challenge them in the track and long jump pit. It is my goal to be able to compete with these athletes and not just be amazed by them.
When I began my career as a competitive athlete, I suffered from frequent injuries. It was important to get the right training. This meant that I had to train with professionals who were properly educated, licensed, and experienced.
Understand that results take time. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t come quickly. Exercise and training are progress.