Lifelong Running, Dr. Dr. Ruth’s Latest Book, Will Get You Moving
In Lifelong Running, Dr. Ruth Heidrich observes that children begin to run as soon as they learn to walk, and “stop running” is a frequent refrain parents and teachers aim at children. Adults fall into sedentary habits, their nature to run stifled by myths about this activity.
Dr. Ruth is a well-known runner who has won numerous gold medals in her 45 years of competing in marathons and triathlons. She aims to reignite your childhood habit of quick movement, and her love of running is infectious. In fact, of the many things to like about this book, Dr. Ruth’s positive outlook, encouragement, and shared experiences top my list. You start out the book running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge with her, and the fun never stops.
Lifelong Running systematically busts 11 common myths about this sport, using science, success stories, and the personal experiences of Dr. Ruth and her collaborator, Martin Rowe. Although grounded in science, this is not a technical book. Dr. Ruth really wants you to get started at whatever level you are at. She describes the necessities of running as proper shoes and socks, and clothes that allow free movement and absorb sweat. Everything else is optional. Her common sense advice short circuits excuses to delay.
You can just go out and enjoy the scenery at a fast pace, feeling yourself getting leaner, fitter, more
energetic, with a healthy heart and strong bones. In fact, the book advocates starting out with short distances, gradually increasing your running distance and pace, and giving your body time to recuperate if the new exercise is causing pain.
Yet Dr. Ruth, a cancer survivor whose 1982 victory over metastatic breast cancer is part of the documentary Forks Over Knives, is quick to let you know that diet is even more important than running to maintaining health. But, she points out, this is not an either/or choice.
The whole foods, plant-based diet she recommends optimally supports athletic performance. She describes how her athletic accomplishments soared after she went from a routine American diet to one based on a wide variety of whole plant foods, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. She thrives on her diet and shares her enjoyable daily food routines with you as well.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with Dr. Ruth and find out more about her ideas and experiences. I wanted to know her opinion of why more people aren’t runners.
“Sadly, it seems that running as an exercise isn’t even on most people’s radar. There are so many myths about running not being appropriate or, worse, that it’s even dangerous. While many physicians recommend their patients get more exercise, I doubt that many would recommend running, unfortunately. This is really sad because running can be done most anywhere, anytime, and inexpensively, too,” Dr. Ruth responded.
In part, she wrote the book to recruit more people who really understand running and can share this knowledge. Dr. Ruth let me know ” I would love it if readers start countering these running myths with facts when they hear any of the misperceptions. Even better, I’d love it if our whole population would do a 180 turn-around on attitudes and everybody start running.”
This turn-around already happened with Martin Rowe her collaborator on Lifelong Running, whose transformation from couch potato to marathon runner was partly inspired by Dr. Ruth’s achievements. She shared “Martin edited two of my other books, became a dedicated runner himself, and found he could add a whole different perspective to running. As he went through what I wrote, he would add his thoughts and experiences, adding wonderful content to make much more interesting reading.”
I asked Dr. Ruth why she thinks it annoys adults so much when children run. She had to mull over that one. “Interesting question – It may be latent envy or perhaps the recognition of the risk of injury from a fall. Actually, when I see kids running, I want to whisper in their ear, “Don’t ever stop!” ”
Dr. Ruth’s participation in the film Forks Over Knives continues to happily ripple through her life. “I’ve been absolutely blown away by the number of total strangers who have come up to me with, “Aren’t you that runner I saw in Forks Over Knives?” From Hawaii to Canada to Florida, the impact that film has had astounds me!”
Dr. Ruth continues to travel, another of her favorite activities. “I’m working on my pet project, “Running ‘Round the World.” Traveling has long been one of my passions as well as getting photos of running in some of the more spectacular venues on this beautiful planet of ours. Some of the most exciting for me so
far, have been running marathons in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, New Zealand, and Japan, running on the Great Wall of China, running around Stonehenge in England, across the bridge over the Nile River in Cairo, running by the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, past Komodo Dragons in Indonesia, the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu in Peru, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and the sand dunes in Namibia. What I haven’t done yet and where I really want to do a run is Antarctica and Easter Island. I really want to show people how running can contribute so much to one’s quality of life, especially as we age.”
Dr. Ruth aims to be a role model for healthy lifestyle choices. “I wish more people would ask me how come you eat so much and don’t gain weight, how come you’re so old and don’t take any medications, and how come you’re still running after 45 years of daily running and lots of marathons. It’s largely a matter of education (really, re-education). What does so much damage are the advertisements we see in newspapers, magazines, and television which usually promote the wrong foods, quick fixes and supplements. It’s really tough to counter that onslaught of promising “quick fixes.””
She observes, “As I’m out and about, I see so much obesity, frailty, and unhappiness. People aren’t being told that with the right diet (what you call The Perfect Formula Diet in your book), that they can eat all they want and keep an ideal weight, that with the right exercise program (lifelong running), they can maintain a strong heart, bones and muscles, and with these two together, they can live long, healthy, and happy lives. ”
If you want to share these benefits, if you want to forge your own experiences running at any age, Lifelong Running is the perfect place to start. It’s certainly got me moving a lot faster!
If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read another interview I did with Dr. Ruth Heidrich.
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Now With Six Kinds of Whole Foods. The book describes a plant-based diet that supports optimal results in running – or any other sport.