While doing research for one of the articles in the Change magazine, I had some questions about the changes our bodies go through in time. So I turned to someone who has plenty of experience when it comes to pyshical change and crisis, 77-year-old runner Allen Leigh. He was kind enough to answer my questions.
- You’ve been running for about 40 years, do you realize any differences in your body now while running?
As I’ve gotten older, my endurance for long distance and speed have gone down. I used to run 7 minute miles for Long Slow Distance and not take walking breaks. Now I’m running about 14 minute miles with frequent walking breaks. I started running due to pain in my feet. It soon became a way of life, and running is still a way of life.
- You are very involved in social media and you try to promote running. How do you think running affects human body and life?
Better health, weight loss, and most importantly, enjoyment of running and being outdoors. I use social media because it is popular amoung younger people, and I hope my FB and Twitter posts will help people find my blogs.
- You said you listen to your body while running. How does one learn todo that and develop a relationship with their bodies?
That’s a good question. I started running in the mid 1970s, and I had no choice but to listen to my body. Now, we have GPS, heart monitors, running partners, races that are more social events than running events, and many runners today don’t listen to their bodies.
I just naturally listened to my body. If I got tired, I stopped to walk or to rest. If I felt sore, I took a day off to recover. These things were natural to me. Many runners today do just the opposite. If they get tired, they push harder. If they feel sore, they try to run through the soreness. They don’t listen to their bodies, because they have technology to tell them what to do.
- In a former interview you said you never doubted that you would regain your strenght after a car accident. How do you think mental health is related to psychical health?
Scientists are learning that our mind has a big influence over our bodies. The placebo effect is an example of this. Scientists are learning that placebos can be just as effective as medicine in controlling pain. Running to me is a way of life, and that is the biggest factor in my recovery after my auto accident. Twice, my family was called in because the doctors didn’t think I would make it through the night. Even after I left the ICU and was in therapy for 10 days, new nurses would come in and say, “So, you’re the runner I’ve heard about.”
- Why do you think the general public fears getting old? Did you ever felt that fear? If so how did you get over it?
I’ve never feared getting old. I fear the act of dying, but I don’t fear death. My beliefs as a Mormon tell me I will continue to exist after I die and leave this mortal world. Getting old and retiring have been the highlights of my life. Wonderful times. Each week has 6 Saturdays and one Sunday, so to speak. I’ve had a good life and look forward to each new day.
- You believe in Mormonism. Mormons are known not to use caffeine, and follow a rich vegetable diet. How do you think a person’s religion takes part in a person’s health?
Many religions have health codes that directly affect a person’s health. In the case of Mormonism, we consider our bodies sacred, literally temples of God, and we consider our health a sacred thing. We believe we’re here for sacred purposes, and we believe in life after death. Our health is a big factor in how well we enjoy life in mortality and how well we do God’s will while we’re here.
- You wrote and article named “Saving The Youth” in one of your blogs. How do you think youth now is different from your generation?
In general, youth today are more self-centered than they were a few decades ago. Youth today want things now. They have less patience in waiting for things to happen. Technology is partly to “blame” for this. Technology allows people to have almost instant gratification. From a more positive viewpoint, youth today are more capable of handling change in their lives. They are more used to technology and using technology to help them achieve goals.