God has been very good to me. I am 81 years old and in excellent health, enjoying three children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandson. While my professional life involved education at the secondary and collegiate levels, I have competed in a variety of sports all my life, so it follows that fitness has been part of my lifestyle.
Track and field have always been a strong interest, particularly in field events. I participated in college at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I competed in numerous events such as the pole vault, high jump, long jump and ran the 400 meters. For several years, I held our college record in the pole vault, and javelin. Javelin was a new event new to me at the time because it was a field event that Michigan high schools do not have. All my life, I have enjoyed outdoor recreation with wildlife photography as a continuing hobby. I still enjoy hiking in the woods, kayaking, and just being outdoors. The little boy in me feels a bit of euphoria when I am jogging or hiking, or when I have finished my mile on the treadmill in a shorter time than ever before. I simply am happier and respect myself more if I work at staying fit.
However in 1999, about a year and a half after I retired, I was diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, it was corrected with surgery, but the result was a body badly in need of reconditioning. Recognizing this, my wife and I both joined the Evergreen Commons Senior Center in Holland, Michigan with a primary motive to have the excellent fitness center program and equipment available to us. This was my first exposure to the TRUE treadmills that have been a regular part of my workout routine from the beginning. The trainer in charge of the fitness center knew my cancer history and came to me one day suggesting I consider the Senior Olympics. I remember saying something to the effect that “Thanks, but I don’t need those old man macho games.” However, my best friend and wife for the past 61 years who was standing beside me (and works out with me) said quietly, “Yes you do, you won’t work out consistently unless you have some sort of goal. This will provide that for you.” As usual, my best friend had it right.
So, welcome to the Michigan Senior Olympics! I wondered what I should do, and in view of many other life interests, decided to select an event in track and field. I decided on the javelin because I had enjoyed it and could find places to practice without a lot of specialized equipment. Interestingly, this decision changed the way I viewed working out, as my wife knew it would. In the summer of 2000, I entered the annual state competition and won. That qualified me for the bi-annual national competition the following year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which I also won. Several years later, I had won the Michigan Senior Olympic competition 13 times and hold the state record in the four different age categories. (We are allowed to compete within five-year age categories, i.e. 60-64…80-84, and so on). I have won the National Games six times and held the national record for a couple of years for my age group. In 2005 I participated in the World Masters Games in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for the age bracket 70-74, and was fortunate enough to win there as well.
A serious attempt at a healthy lifestyle has and does provide many benefits for us. This explains, in part, why my wife and I often frequent the Evergreen Commons fitness room. The treadmill is the foundation of my workout. It is always the first exercise for me after some stretching. As you get older, you become a bit stiffer, and the ligaments tend to shorten a bit. The treadmill is not only a cardio and strengthening exercise but also a way to loosen up, lessening the chance of pulling muscles as I move onto other equipment. I usually go a mile at a base pace of 4.1-4.5 with an incline of 4.5-5.5, and include some short jogging intervals at a setting of about 7. I do not use the TRUE treadmill every day. The center is a few miles away and I have found that I cannot workout hard every day. Some of the current fitness thinking indicates better results with a heavy day followed by a lighter day. So, the heavy day for me is at the fitness center followed by a lighter day with weights, ab crunches, walking, and so on around the home.
When I think about what I like about the TRUE treadmill, a number of things come to mind. First, the belt is not slippery (I have found some that are more so). I like the feel. The platform is firm, yet soft enough on mature knees that it doesn’t unduly jar me—something important since I tend to run a bit more heavily than I did when I was younger. I like the easily understood console and the variety of workout programs one can choose from; although I usually just push start, set the speed and incline and am underway. I use the lighted-track progress indicator to inform me when it is time to jog and also will often watch it to get one more dot lit before I slow back to a walk pace—a little thing, but helpful. And I always check the workout summary to get some indication about maintaining the effort.