Running in the 'Meda

Running in the 'Meda

Marty Beene

Welcome to Running in the 'Meda, a blog about fitness here in Alameda (and beyond!). The purpose of today's post is to introduce myself and to write about some of my fitness-related passions.

I'm a lifelong Bay Area resident: born in San Francisco, grew up in San Mateo, earned degrees at both Stanford and Cal, and moved to Alameda 22 years ago. Growing up, I was always playing whatever sport was going on in the world at the time with the other kids in the neighborhood. In high school, I joined the track team and found that I loved running, especially competitive running (even though I was, frankly, not good). I have been an avid runner ever since, but also enjoy cycling and even learned to swim well enough that I can do shorter distance triathlons on occasion.

I started coaching cross-country and track at Alameda High in 2010, and decided to start a business coaching adults (Be The Runner) a couple of years ago. One thing I did to help me in my business was to start educating myself more formally about fitness, primarily through USA Track & Field (USATF) and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). What I learned - especially while pursuing my NASM certifications in senior fitness and fitness nutrition - confirmed a disturbing trend that we all hear and read about occasionally in the media: Our lifestyle is killing us.

A hundred years ago, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and lung disease were barely on the radar in terms of cause of death among Americans. Now, those four afflictions - all of which can usually be avoided by living a healthy lifestyle - make up nearly two thirds of deaths of older Americans. To compound this disturbing trend, the population of "older Americans" is exploding as us Baby Boomers age. This, in turn, makes the prospects bleak for reducing our collective health care costs. Worse yet, nearly every day there is another news item about the prevalence of childhood obesity. Yes, these unhealthy habits of poor diet and sedentary lifestyle seem to be starting earlier and earlier in life.

So that's the bad news. What's the good news? (Is there good news?)

Fortunately, there is good news. Or at least, there is the potential for good news.

The best news is that almost anyone can start a fitness program at any age and reap benefits from it. The definition of a "fitness program" can vary widely depending on a person's age, fitness level and interests, and many other factors. More good news is that changing to a healthier diet doesn't mean suddenly and completely and dramatically changing what you eat. Indeed, most experts (as opposed to fad diet salespeople) agree that gradually replacing foods that are relatively unhealthy with foods that are relatively healthy is the best way to improve your diet habits for the long term.

My intent is to focus this blog mostly on the fitness part of the healthy lifestyle puzzle, with some emphasis on running (because I love it!). I love learning new things about fitness, and will strive to share those with you, as well as to provide critical analysis of new fitness trends that come along. I hope you will enjoy what I share and ask lots of questions so we can improve our lives together.

Won't you join me?


Submitted by Tom (not verified) on Fri, Mar 7, 2014

One hundred years ago leading causes of death were related to infectious diseases and trauma. Due to environmental health advances in provisiong of safe water, safe food and insect (ie: mosquito) vector controls and occupational health legislation coupled with massive immunization programs to prevent infectious morbidity and mortality we live longer lives.

So living a healthy (exercise, diet, balanced mental life) life style helps us live longer lives but sooner or later we all will succumb to cessation of cardiac function.

Submitted by Marty Beene on Mon, Mar 10, 2014

Thanks for that comment, Tom - you are correct, especially that we will all actually die sooner or later. I wonder what our collective state of health would have been a hundred years ago if we had already accomplished the environmental health and other advances you mention. Except maybe here in California, people didn't have quite the access to fresh fruits and vegetables we have today, but most people were more active in general because of jobs that required physical activity (whether strenuous labor or at least moving around to some degree). Regarding living longer, that is probably true, but I think the more important thing is that being as physically fit as possible and eating and living as healthy a lifestyle as possible will probably make our lives happier because we won't likely be as sick or in as much chronic pain as people who don't choose a healthy lifestyle. Thank you again for the comment - I hope you will keep reading my blog and please feel free to post comments and questions.