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Why We Should Follow in the Footsteps of Ultra-Marathoner Dean Karnazes

Personalities

By Bob Howells

Fifty-three-year-old Dean Karnazes is singular among his fellow-ultramarathoners, which to the rest of us means he’s as far out as Mork. Karnazes has run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days; 350 miles non-stop (in about 81 hours); and a marathon at the South Pole. Now he’s in the news again—a summertime, 12-day jaunt, The New York Times reports, of 326 miles that follow Central Asia’s foregone Silk Road. “…when I first looked at it [the trip agenda], I thought, ‘They’re going to kill me,’” Karnazes tells the Times.

Should we aspire to be anything like this middle-age mileage monster? Turns out that Karno and his runs aren’t all about bragging rights. Past Karnazes ultra-efforts have raised awareness and money for pediatric organ donation. This time none other than the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs asked him to run the Silk Road as a sign of “sports diplomacy.”

“Running’s a great democratizer,” Karnazes tells the Times.

He isn’t entirely masochistic, either, as we learned in our own edited Q&A with him about mortal (and relevant) topics like diet, aging, and rest. Herewith, a few reasons for us to follow in at least some of the rambling Karno’s footsteps.

The Masters Athlete: You’re over 50 now. How many years have you been an ultra athlete? Do you feel you’ve made any concessions to age?

Dean Karnazes: I’ve been doing this now for more than 20 years and still love it as much as ever. I wouldn’t say that I’ve made concessions to my age. It’s more like realizations that some things aren’t what they used to be.

TMA: Tell us about those concessions.

DK: Now that I’m in the “afternoon of my life,” I’ve accepted the fact that I’m just not as fast as I used to be, and that I’ve got to work twice as hard to maintain the same level of fitness.

TMA: What hurts when you roll out of bed in the morning? What do you do to relieve the pain?

DK: I still feel pretty good when I roll out of bed. It takes me a bit longer to get going. Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend coffee is a best friend.

TMA: A lot of middle-aged runners either back off running or give it up altogether, but you just keep running farther. Do you have some joint-saving secrets you can share with us?

 DK: I don’t buy into the adage that you only have so many foot strikes until your joints break down. I see men and women in their 60s, 70s and even 80s at marathons, and they look great. To help preserve my joints, I do lots of cross training to build leg strength. I also train my core and upper body to help maintain proper running posture. Having a strong all-around body is critical for preserving your joints.

 TMA: What about diet?

DK: Extremely regimented. I’ve eliminated all refined and processed foods. Nothing in a package or bag. No wheat, rice, oats or other grains, which can cause inflammation and joint pain. I’ve been eating cold-water fish all my life, principally wild Pacific salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids are very beneficial for joint health.

My idol, Jack LaLanne, said, “If man made it, don’t eat it. And if it tastes good, spit it out.”

I do have one weakness, and I indulge myself. Chocolate covered espresso beans are the bomb!

 TMA: Is it true you only get four hours of sleep a night? No study or coach champions that practice.

DK: Sometimes five (laughter). When I’m feeling lazy.

TMA: You wandered away from fitness for quite a while, then started running again at age 30. What is your advice to people who have been sedentary but are now, in midlife, sensing that they better start getting fit?

DK: It’s never too late. Another one of my idols, Walt Stack, was a smoker and a drinker until age 50. Then he became a remarkable runner, logging more than 60,000 miles in his lifetime. He also had an endearing quote: “I start slow, and taper from there.”

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Heart-rate information, straight from your wrist.

Mio Velo Proves Wrist-Mounted Heart Rate Monitoring Has Come of Age

Technology

by Andrew Tilin

Technology curmudgeons unite—and officially bid farewell to your conventional heart-rate-transmitter strap. Finally, courtesy of Mio’s Velo wrist-mounted heart-rate band (among some others of its ilk), you are now forever liberated from chest-transmitter bondage. No more suffering from cruel chest-strap antics. You know—restricted breathing one day, fighting a saggy fit the next; or the electrodes peel, the battery dies, or the buckles make you feel stupid with every attempt to adjust strap length.

I put up with all of this, you say, and I’m a technology curmudgeon?

Hold that thought.

The Velo is no longer brand-spanking new, but it’s worth celebrating because its success represents a coming-of-age for new heart-rate monitor technology. The Mio is sophisticated, and it represents a good buy. Just so you know, you’re a curmudgeon because early adopters first slipped on wrist-mounted heart-rate transmitters, from Mio and many other companies, three years ago. But, it turns out, you’re certainly a wise curmudgeon.

At its essence, the Mio Velo, which is faceless, is a heart-rate transmitter strap that wears like a watch. Put it on, ask your heart-rate monitoring watch or bike computer to “discover” a heart-rate transmitter in its usual fashion, and after everything connects you experience the familiar. Your heart-rate data pops up on a screen or watch face.

The Velo itself has an LED indicator that changes between steady illumination and flashing modes, and also changes color, to indicate info like battery strength, your level of effort, and whether the device has successfully paired to a smartphone.

The Velo can be further programmed via Mio’s proprietary “Go” fitness-tracking app—software that has become de rigueur in the tracker hardware industry. But for me, fitness apps have begun to gather on my phone like flotsam and jetsam. How many programs does one need to be kept apprised of their recent miles run or ridden? Frankly, I liked the Velo because soon after strapping it on and powering it up, the device went about its work invisibly.

What’s to dislike? The hit on wrist-mounted technology has long been imprecision—that the sensors on the devices’ undersides, which use light to track blood flow optically through your blood vessels, deliver inconsistent and sometimes inaccurate data. Critics claim that chest straps, and their tried and true electromagnetic technology, work better.

I’m not so sure anymore. The Velo, worn snug on my wrist just above my beloved Garmin fenix 3 watch/heart-rate monitor/cycling computer, repeatedly delivered consistent data. (I later reviewed it on my Strava account.)

No doubt, you can find dissenting opinions on the Web, but you might also notice snowballing support for the technology. The optical sensors continue to improve, as do the algorithms that work behind the scenes.

Yes, the technology occasionally disappoints with a hyperbolic reading—especially if the sensors aren’t snugged up against your arm (while riding, per Mio’s recommendation, I wear mine “facing out” on the inside of my wrist). Chest-straps, however, also occasionally (and literally) slip. Or they’re too dry to properly detect heart-rate. Or they conk out, without warning, midway through a workout. The water-resistant Mio recharges via USB, runs about eight hours per charge, and bridges between devices that might only communicate via Bluetooth (like an iPhone) or ANT+ (like many cycling sensors).

One more argument for the Velo, and its less cycling-centric sibling, the Mio Link: They currently list for between $79 and $99, which makes them more affordable than Garmin’s high-end chest-transmitter straps. How about that: Today you can buy comfier, cheaper, and increasingly streamlined transmitter technology.

Nobody will call you funny names for making such a smart purchase.

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Five Reasons to Stay Fit in Middle Age That Might Surprise You

by Bob Howells

Middle-age fitness undoubtedly enhances our daily quality of life, but there are other less-heralded yet excellent reasons for older athletes to become or remain active. Surviving a shark attack or heart attack, to name two. Read on…

1. Survive Shark Attacks

The shark didn’t know who it was messing with.

When Maria Korcsmaros, 52, was wheeled into the emergency room after a Newport Beach shark attack over this past Memorial Day Weekend, she had tooth marks and lacerations from shoulder to pelvis, plus an open chest wound and rib fractures. She had lost a pint of blood. After three hours of surgery, the doctors said that Korcsmarcos survived because she was fit. Read the Los Angeles Times account here.

If Korcsmaros hadn’t been in good shape, she arguably would have never reached the ER. But the personal trainer and triathlete was able to tread water after the attack until she was rescued. Despite the shredded skin and trauma.

“[Her] wounds would have bled a lot, and she was able to tread water and hold her own until help arrived,” an attending E.R. doctor told the Times. “That’s pretty remarkable.”

Not that we want to go around taunting great whites. But if one decides we look tasty, apparently we have a better chance of surviving by entering the fray with a triathlete’s level of fitness.

2. Cope With Heat

Ever notice that your more sedentary friends wilt in the heat quicker than you do? We’re not just talking during exercise; we’re talking about while mowing the lawn, walking the dog, or rocking in the porch swing.

Those workouts of yours have made you more than strong. You’re a trained sweating machine.

Perspiration is one of the body’s most effective cooling mechanisms. Your body dilates blood vessels near the skin to transfer core heat to the skin, and the heated surface dissipates heat and aids in the evaporation of sweat. The entire process renders you cooler. Unfortunately, the process becomes less and less efficient as we age.

However, as longtime elite cycling coach Chris Carmichael points out in this excellent Web post, fitness at any age facilitates the functioning of our natural cooling mechanisms. Heat transfer to the skin happens quicker. Sweat volume amps up.

Acclimation is a big help in the heat, too. But fitness has a way of mimicking acclimation. “Training induces a lot of the characteristics that you typically see in somebody that is actually heat-acclimated,” says Heather Wright, a research officer in the Flight Research Lab at the National Research Council Canada in Ottawa.

Don’t get cocky. You still need to hydrate, dress appropriately, maintain your electrolyte levels, and so on. But being fit gives you a real edge when the temperature soars.

3. Deal With Pain

Anyone who exercises regularly knows about endorphins, that exercise-induced release of feel-good chemicals in the body that temporarily alleviates minor (and sometimes major) discomforts. But this New York Times piece by our friend Gretchen Reynolds cites a study that suggests there may be something more significant going on.

The cited study showed that a group of exercisers was far more tolerant of pain than a control group of non-exercisers. The induced pain was unrelated to exercise, by the way. And the more that the test subjects exercised, the more they could live with the pain. Reynolds implies that the relatively modest study (two-dozen subjects) can’t be called definitive. But scientists think that such results pose hope for people with chronic pain—something that dogs plenty of us in middle age.

4. Survive a First Heart Attack

Heart attack? You’re thinking, I exercise to prevent a heart attack!

Bravo. But whether you’re an exerciser or a sloth, it could happen, and if it does, your chances of surviving afterward are greatly enhanced if you’re of the non-sloth persuasion.

This Johns Hopkins survey, based on the medical records of 2,000 men and women (average age: 62), showed that exercisers were 40 percent less likely to die after a first heart attack than other, less fit subjects. Sadly, one-third of those with lower fitness scores died within a year of their first heart attack. Fitness, in this survey anyway, was defined by the intensity with which the surveyed subjects could exercise.

Considering that about 550,000 Americans a year experience a first heart attack, the numbers suggest that it’s time to get up off the couch.

Study author Dr. Michael Blaha said that this research also bolsters the evidence that regular exercise reduces the risk of a heart attack, as well as death from all causes.

5. Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies are ubiquitous these days, and their taste for human flesh suggests another very strong reason to get in shape. Just because we skew above the average age in the human population is no reason to think we oldsters are automatic zombie fodder. Not if we’re smart. According to the folks at nerdfitness.com, that means first and foremost being hard to catch.  Favor the fast-twitch approach. In other words, work some sprints into your regimen, because those first 40 yards are so may make all the difference. It’s unlikely you and the zombies will be toeing the line for a 10k.

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Five Ways to Make Middle-Age
Fitness Fun

by Bob Howells

I have this reputation for being disciplined.

“You work out every morning?” my friends and family have asked me for years. (Not exactly every morning. But, yes, most.) “How do you do it?”

“You’re amazing,” my wife always tells me before I head out. I humbly accept the praise, then go out the door, frankly shaking my head. For I’m about to have a blast.

Deep into middle age, I stay fit by employing a simple secret:

I make it fun.

My god, if my workouts were the ordeal that many imagine, I probably would never get off the couch. But honestly, my rides and runs themselves are much more akin to play than they are to work. The element of fun, of play, is deeply embedded in all of my workouts. No intervals-or-die masochism in the Bob Howells Middle-Age Fitness Universe.

And yet, I’m plenty aware that for some, a body in motion, fresh breezes, and/or the greeting of some sweet, 6 a.m. light, are not enough. So may I suggest a few more ways to grease the workout gears. Motivation will be a recurring theme here at The Masters Athlete, and what follows is the start of an ever-evolving list of ideas, recommendations, and strategies. Remember: Enjoy yourself.

Listen to Music
As long as I’m bike riding on a path as opposed to trafficked roads, I’m frequently plugged in to my iPhone, listening to music I love. I have some hard-driving playlists, but more often I just shuffle and let the fates decide what I listen to. It’s all good, all uplifting, all invigorating.

Listen to Books and Podcasts
I sadly have little time to read. And I don’t drive much, so I rarely listen to the radio or to podcasts in the car. But again, when I run, work out indoors (treadmill, Spinning bike), or ride my local paths, I alternate listening to music with listening to books, courtesy of Audible, and to my favorite podcasts, courtesy of iTunes. I thoroughly enjoy National Public Radio’s This American Life and Fresh Air. By bike or by foot, I remain one well-informed, well-read dude.

Set Little Challenges
My 10-year-old self used to throw a tennis ball at a strike zone chalked out on a brick wall 60 feet, 6 inches away. For hours. It didn’t get me to the big leagues, but I loved the challenge, and made up mini baseball games that I’d win or lose depending on my accuracy. Or I’d shoot hoops in a sequence around the key and 20 feet from the basket (pre-three-point arc)—and start over when I missed. As a righty, I’d run left-handed drills. Again, some might call some of this stuff discipline. I called it fun.

Today I relive those days, albeit in an evolved manner.

Perhaps I run nearly all-out, for 100 yards, on a stretch of trail. Or spot a rider ahead of me on the road, catch up, and sprint by. No wheelsucking. Just pure Peter Sagan–style prowess. (That’s Peter doing his Bob imitation in the photo above. Heh.) Or I do three push-ups with every burpee instead of one. Ouch! But hey, this is about me vs. me. I’m just playing.

Feed Your Strava
I’ll admit that I’m a latecomer to Strava, and used to wonder why on earth anyone would care about viewing my workouts, or vice-versa. But I’m into it now, and understand the motivational aspect of posting my rides and runs, and giving kudos to my friends. I love seeing what Andrew and Aaron are up to, and enjoy it when they kudo me for a new personal record, even if it’s just that 0.1-mile sprint to the Boneyard (our local dog park).

IMG_4495Use a Fitness Tracker
I’ve recently acquired a spiffy fitness tracker and heart-rate monitor—much more about that in upcoming posts. Therein lays a whole universe of figurative chalk-strike zones and around-the-horn shooting contests. Time my laps, stay within a certain heart-rate zone, review my stats, set mileage goals… and more.

I’m not answering to anyone. Just having fun.

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The Masters Athlete: Geraldine Largay

Celebrating Inchworm

Personalities

by Bob Howells

When Inchworm’s remains were finally found, you can imagine the struggle for words among her friends and family. After all, she had mysteriously vanished in the woods two years prior.

You can just see the listless hugs; hear the awkward whispers:

“She died doing what she loved.”

It’s one of those phrases that, at a time of grief, comes easy and can also ring hollow. But for lack of more apt and succinct homilies, the old saying still serves when someone perishes—unexpectedly, yes, and, I will add, nobly—while pursuing a passion.

Geraldine Largay really did die doing what she loved. She’s the 66-year-old Appalachian Trail hiker who in 2013 lost the trail in the dense woods of Maine, sent a series of heartbreaking and fateful text messages, and ultimately died of exposure and starvation after 26 or so days. Her body was discovered two years later. However, comprehensive details of her disappearance, as compiled by the Maine Warden Service, were only released recently—late May 2016.

You can read the New York Times account of the tragedy here.

I’ve read many stories and hundreds of comments about Geraldine’s death. Most of the written reactions are suitably respectful. People are disturbed and touched by her messages, particularly the most haunting of them all: “When you find my body, please call my husband George and my daughter Kerry,” she wrote. “It will be the greatest kindness for them to know that I am dead and where you found me—no matter how many years from now.”

The second-most common theme among commenters pertains to the very real perils of backcountry travel. Those remarks contain a lot of “tsk-tsking,” as prudent hikers remind us all that we have to take the wilderness seriously. We need to be prepared. We can’t rely solely on cellphones or GPS. We should have old-fashioned topo maps and a compass, and know how to use them. We should have fire-starting materials, and the wherewithal to employ them to signal our location.

No disagreement here.

Then there’s a third strain of commentary, one of quiet disbelief that translates as, “What on earth was a 66-year-old woman doing out there alone?”

That’s what I want to address. The impression that Geraldine was irresponsible, and uncaring for her husband and daughter. That she was somehow a sobering example of hubris run amok.

What was she doing out there, an aging speck of life on that 2,100-mile trail, all alone? As she saw it, Geraldine was living her life completely. And I will only celebrate that.

Hubris? Come on. Her self-adopted trail moniker was Inchworm. She chuckled at her slow pace. But it was a pace that carried her more than 900 miles along that wild and beautiful path. Largay’s husband, by the way, regularly ferried supplies to her. He was obviously onboard for her adventure.

What revelations she must have savored along the way! How many times did her heart soar when she reached the apex of a mountain pass and looked out across a universe cloaked in dense firs and hardwoods? How many times did she sit beside a mountain stream and feel utterly at peace? How many songs of birds did she listen to, while most of us remained insulated inside of our cubicles or cars?

“Look how beautiful it is,” she’d once told her part-time hiking companion, referring to a rising sun piercing the morning mist. She apparently lingered at the sight even as her friend was eager to get moving.

I think that Geraldine Largay is an inspiration to masters athletes. I like to think that I am her, every morning—when I click into my pedals for a solo workout, or lace up my shoes for a trail run. When I beat a well-worn path on my favorite mountain biking route, or hike up to Strawberry Peak and look out at the awesome San Gabriels. Every single ride, run, or hike I take, I marvel at the beauty of the world, and feel gratitude for having the fitness level to do what I do.

I’m only a few years younger than Geraldine. I don’t imagine heading off alone on a long thru-hike, but I have my own versions of hiking the AT, my own goals, my own passions. I fully understand and embrace the impulse that motivated her to take on the Appalachian Trail alone. It’s not that I’m out to prove anything. I don’t think she was either. She had likely already proven all she needed to. She was simply living her life fully.

And so I remain resolved to do the same, and am happy to celebrate Geraldine Largay. I believe she will indeed rest in peace precisely because she was doing what she loved. I’m saddened by Inchworm’s death, and deeply gladdened by her life.

She died doing what she loved.

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Get Your Butt, Truly, Going

01-workout

OPMD* 3: Functional Strength

by Andrew Tilin

Try this icebreaker on your next group run: “Anyone suffering from Dormant Butt Syndrome?”

You might get little more than perplexed looks. But according to Chris Kolba, a longtime physical therapist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, you ought to command people’s attention.

Kolba, who has worked with aging athletes for much of his 20-year career, says an underconditioned derriere often pushes middle-age fitness buffs to the sidelines. Surprisingly, it can be the hale types, including runners, cyclists, walkers, and hikers, who suffer most from the problem. Kolba coined the name, and says the syndrome loosely resembles a car with failing suspension.

“The glutes are your big shock absorbers,” says Kolba. “If they’re weak or undertrained, your ability to diffuse shock is diminished.”

Runners, who upon each stride hit the ground with up to eight times their body weight, sometimes search—and search—for a cure to shin splints. They often have no idea that they’re suffering from Dormant Butt Syndrome.

Your rear also stabilizes almost every move you make. Kolba says that solid glutes help a body stay aligned and reduce foot pronation. Because the glutes extend around your body, they also provide straight-ahead power.

“Rotation and side-to-side muscles activate to help us move forward,” he says.

How are we failing to give our butts enough love? Sitting at our desks all day, as you might guess, doesn’t help. Sleeping eight hours per night in a fetal position can accentuate rear-related problems, too. Striking such a pose, night after night, can shorten your hip flexors, which, along with a weak butt, could trigger low back pain. An active life spent without performing rotational or lateral movements or exercises may also be to blame.

To get your rear in gear, pledge to perform a couple of strength-building exercises up to three times weekly. Check out the following video from  Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center for reference. Your entire body will appreciate the effort.

Seated Bridge at a Glance

Seated bridges unquestionably call upon your glutes.

  • With a barbell of very modest weight set across your lap, sit against a bench-press-style bench with your feet and butt on the floor, and your knees parallel and bent.
  • Keeping the barbell centered and across your hips, rest your shoulders and (extended) arms across the bench and lift from the waist until your hips and knees are roughly in line with one another.
  • Slowly lower until your butt lightly contacts the floor, and repeat.
  • In order to master the movement and technique, start with light weight and perform two to three sets of 12 repetitions.
  • Over time, build to more weight and fewer reps. Kolba says women might want to average a 50-pound barbell; men, 80 pounds.

Lateral Lunge at a Glance

Lateral lunges work the glutes in a way that improves your body’s stability and alignment.

  • Stand with your knees slightly bent, and your feet parallel and positioned a bit wider than your hips.
  • With your arms at your side and holding a modestly weighted kettlebell in your left hand, step your right foot to your right and then perform a lunge with your right leg. As you stride to the right, your right hand slides behind your back and out of the way, while the left hand—holding the kettlebell and drifting right—comes to rest near the front of your right shoe at the deepest part of the lunge. The move is slightly reminiscent of a speed skater’s motion.
  • The knee of your lunging leg should never extend farther from your body than than the toes planted underneath it.
  • Perform six to 10 lunges on one side and then switch to the other. Complete two to three sets, and always maintain good upper-body posture.

*Old Person Move of the Day

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Pride Climbs Cactus to Clouds

by Bob Howells

The hardest day hike in the continental US. Why not?

It wasn’t actually my idea. My buddy Steve’s buddy Chris wanted a way to prove his mettle on his 50th birthday. I was quickly on board. I felt due for a little mettle-proving, even though I outwardly profess to be past my need to prove much of anything. Steve felt the same way. We’re both in our early 60s. Masters athletes, sure. But neither of us competes anymore. We just like to stay fit.

I do work out regularly—bike riding, though rarely more than 20 or 30 miles; trail running plodding; the odd burpee or whatever. I enjoy training. My health numbers are good. But it’s always great to gauge how my morning routine translates to the real world, especially when that real world is one of the world’s most daunting hikes: the Cactus to Clouds Trail from Palm Springs to Mount San Jacinto, California.

Cactus to Clouds has to be the most blogged-about trail in existence, and I read every post and forum comment. I knew that it gains about 8,000 feet in just over eight miles before it levels out…and then you have the option of pushing another five miles and 2,400 feet of gain to the top of Mount San Jacinto, 10,834 feet.

In other words, absurdly steep.IMG_4051

Read More

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Prescription Sports Glasses: You’ll Need Them Sooner Or…Sooner

Gear

by Andrew Tilin

Sometimes the littlest muscles humble you the most.

Take the ciliary muscle—but a twig of protein filaments situated near the front of the eye. We all have four ciliary muscles total, and each pair’s job is to contract or relax in such ways that the eye’s connected, crystalline lens changes shape to optimize near or distant viewing.

In middle age, however, the ciliaries aren’t so frisky. Your vision starts to deteriorate, and there isn’t a barbell or stretching routine known to man that can reinvigorate those tiny muscles. The question is, what’s the best strategy for us masters athletes to overcome compromised vision?

“A lot of people have a whole lot of ways of addressing this,” says Rob Tavakoli, an optician and vice-president of San Diego–based prescription eyewear company SportRx. “What I will say: There’s a fix for everyone.”

Read More

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Online Yoga, Properly Lined Up

Technology

by Andrew Tilin

Once upon a time, on-screen yoga offerings amounted to the simple work of a pioneering TV yoga teacher named Lilias Folan. Folan, on Cincinnati public television and ultimately PBS nationwide, taught then-obscure poses like Downward Dog to an audience of 1970s housewives who were apparently into fringe mind-body pursuits.

Nearly a half-century later, yoga is mainstream because, among many other things, it’s widely accepted for maintaining or regaining bodily health. Aging athletes who choose the right classes or poses can find relief for increasingly tight hips, legs, shoulders… the list goes on. More elastic and elongated muscles mean fewer muscle knots and kinks, potentially less chance for injury, and better posture.

Your 21st-century challenge is finding the on-screen yoga that works best. Today “Lilias Yoga and You” (she’s still teaching) is only one of countless online offerings. Among other choices are yogaglo, doyogawithme, yogatoday, myyogaworks, fightmasteryoga, and, as you might expect, yogadownload. I myself am a yogaglo.com subscriber—largely because the site offers classes designed for cyclists and runners.

But plenty of criteria, from skill level to how much time you can spare for a session, should shape your decisions. Julie Wood, senior director of education and content development at Santa Monica-based YogaWorks and myyogaworks.com, offers some guidance for finding the online studio sessions that you’ll want to frequent.

Underestimate your abilities. If you have limited or no yoga experience, it’s easy to be humbled, or injured, in a challenging online class. Aim low—start with relatively relaxed, beginner- or easy intermediate-level sessions. “There’s no one around to correct your form,” says Wood. “Advancing slowly is one way to ensure that you’re not going to do something wrong or crazy.”

Consider paying for it. Resist the idea that, just because it’s the Internet and free yoga is available, you’re a fool for buying online yoga. Wood’s myyogaworks, for example, runs $15 per month for unlimited online classes. Attending a single, in-studio class can easily cost you over $20. “It’s a little harder to determine what’s good when it’s free,” says Wood. “It may not always be the case, but there could be higher quality behind the paywall.”

Some yoga is better than none. “In my 20s it wouldn’t occur to me to skimp on my two-hour practice,” says Wood, who’s now 47 and a working mom. “But these days I find that it’s not about the length of class so much as it’s about consistency.” Myyogaworks.com offers 90-minute classes. However, the most popular online offerings, says Wood, are a half-hour. “If I can do a bunch of short ones,” she adds, “I get benefits.”

Be sport-specific. Look around for yoga sequences designed to complement your sport(s). Online yoga classes exist specifically for runners, cyclists, basketball players, surfers, and skiers. You can join a meditation session focused on pre-game preparation. “Chances are there’s a program laid out just for you,” says Wood.

You can always rewind. With online yoga sessions, what you lose in teacher face time you gain in class controllability. Unclear on where your hips should face in triangle pose? Pause the video and take your time. “Replay, replay, and replay it,” says Wood. “You’re never at the will of the teacher to move onto the next pose.”

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A Self-Driving (Ahem) Bike!

Technology

by Andrew Tilin

I’ve often wondered how far into old age I’d continue to ride a bike. Now Google (duh, Google) has an answer for me: as long as I can sit up.

The video is under two minutes: Behold the self-driving bike!

Folks, what we have here is true cradle-to-grave cycling technology. Watch to the end (sorry). Happy April.

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Tools and Inspiration for Lifelong Fitness