The Training Corner

Mountain Grit: Training for the Long Haul

Q: Hi Pat! Sam, here. I have been reading Mountain Grit since you started with the LPL. I appreciate your ‘real people’ common sense approach to this aging thing. Your 7S Buckets resonated with me, and I would like to report that I am doing my darndest to keep them ALL full and robust.

A bit of Hx here …. I’m on my second pacemaker, five years into it, now. I had Afib about 20 years ago, passed out on the golf course, miraculously survived, and have been living a very active life since, thanks to that incredible little device. I never miss a pacemaker check-up and see my cardiologist regularly for blood work. He says, “Keep doing what you are doing; there is no need to slow down unless something shakes your confidence.” So I DH ski on bluebird days, XC-ski on colder days, hike [my son calls me a mountain goat], fly fish and play golf with my three longtime friends. The pacemaker forced me to carry my golf bag on the right shoulder, versus the double-strap. NBD! No cart for me, for now. Refinishing old furniture is my favorite hobby, but it is not unusual to find me wedged under a sink doing repairs or firing-up the chainsaw to clear deadwood from a neighbor’s property. I still swing the axe, and stack the wood, too. NO formal training on that day. I am extremely active in my local community and church group, too.

Twenty years ago, I was a big fat health mess, a walking timebomb according to my GP. He said, “Sam, clean up the diet, get your _ss in gear, and knock off the booze. You need to drop 25 pounds. You are headed for diabetes, with all of its nasty baggage.” Needless to say, I didn’t listen. I just took more MEDS. Hence my trip to the ER and cardiac surgery. That’s when I turned my ship around. I started walking twice a day for 10:00, and gradually progressed to 30:00 twice a day. Today, based on training and other physical work or play, I still walk briskly for 30:00. As for the food, it’s kind of funny how I reverted back to eating as a young man working the job site; breakfast at home, a packed lunch, no soda, sweets only on special occasions, and no snacks, especially after dinner. Oh, and none of that food where the ingredients read like chemical waste. I love my elk, bison and trout, but in smaller portions, with heaps of colorful veggies. Kelly, from your last column, described her eating style as a Montana version of Mediterranean-Paleo. Well, that style did the trick for me. In a year’s time, I hit 170 lbs, my wedding day weight. I still hover around 6’ and am adamant about standing up straight ‘til it’s over. As for the booze, I quit for 3 months, then gradually evolved towards two drinks MAX on special occasions. Has it always been easy? NO way, especially when I lost my wife to cancer about 10 years ago. That was rough, but my faith, family and friends were there for me, and still are.

The second pacemaker stoked my curiosity about getting more good mileage out of this aging body. So, I enrolled in some Cardiac Rehab sessions, and picked up a slew of practical tips to boost my Hardiness Pillars. That led me to hiring a Coach. She took me to another whole level. Now, I just check in with her about once a month. I just can’t get away from that woman. She knows all my friends, and I keep running into her on the slopes and the golf course, a good thing, I guess.

So Pat, after this long-winded intro, my question is …. of your 7S Buckets, which one is the most important? Or is there just one?

Sam, 84 [not going down easy]

A: Hello Sam! You are an inspiration! You remind me so much of my Dad, two pacemakers in and getting up and after it every day. That is a full Spirit Bucket. Absolutely, keep doing what you are doing, living your life with purpose, meaning and relevance.

You took charge of your health 20 years ago, and have been maintaining your vehicle since, collaborating with your cardiologist, and hitting new benchmarks with your Coach. You know firsthand how MEDS treat symptoms and delay disability and death. You also learned that you can restore health and well-being by nurturing your Hardiness Pillars and 7S Buckets.

Most important Buckets? ALL of them, with #1 as the driving force. Strive to keep what you’ve earned, but be on the lookout for subtle slips and slides. You and your Coach can keep a vigilant eye. Layer on degrees of robustness as needed for your activities or seasons, and when Murphy strikes, fight hard to regain what was lost.

Think movement longevity, FREEDOM to defy and deny the slide, to ramp up your ride, and the rides of all those lives you touch.

#1✓ Spirit is buy-in, belief that we CAN change the way and the pace at which we age.

#2 ✓ Suppleness & Stability is freedom to MOVE, to transition from position to position in all planes.

#3 ✓ Gait Speed with sprint-like mechanics is freedom to GO anywhere, at any time, and stay UP.

#4 ✓ Strength & Power [force fast] is ROBUSTNESS, freedom to WORK and PLAY IN and OUTdoors.

#5 ✓ Skill, with AGILITY as the kingpin, is freedom to PLAY and to compete, to read, react and to stay UP.

#6 ✓ Stamina is the freedom to GO all day long.

#7 ✓ Specifics & Specificity is owning your Pillars and Buckets, with your medical team and Coach.

Sam, you are raising the bar for mindsets and attitudes towards aging better for longer. If we Dare to Be 100, [Walter Bortz MD], to live long and to die short, we need to change the way we live. Keep knocking it out of the park, Sam.

Want to age better for longer, contact Pat through See previous editions of Mountain Grit for more training tips from Pat.

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