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The Powerful Example Of A Guy

May 18, 2024 4 min read 5 Comments

The Powerful Example Of A Guy

Guy Dirkin, 71, is No. 1 in the world in the discus (M70-74). Read below for four minutes how Dirkin, a non-aerobic minded guy, approaches his sport ....one fast-twitch muscle fiber at a time.

 

“Because I think I’m making progress.”___world-class cellist Pablo Casals on why he practiced at 80.

By Ray Glier

Many people believe the provisioning for old age starts with genetics. Guy Dirkin, 71, is certain it doesn’t have to be so elementary. We can all break that blood promise, and that we can be better off because of our own habits, not those of someone who came before us.

Like Casals, it takes some practice.

Geezer Jock is paying attention to this Guy because he practices at fitness. He also happens to be a sports scientist and a world-class masters athlete.

Dirkin is upside down from some other 71-year old freaks roaming the planet. While the others run and jump easily, he said he finds cardiovascular exercise laborious, even though his father was a world-class runner.

What’s more, Dirkin may look smooth for his age, but he nearly died twice, once in his early 40s from myocarditis and again at 58 from atrial fibrillation that ambushed his heart rate and took it to a catastrophic 40/20. Guy said he was well aware, on the flat of his back, he was on the verge of permanently going to sleep.

“Oh sh*t,” he said to himself. “I’m one of those statistics.”

Dirkin was fragile. Does that sound like someone touched on the way out of the womb and given superpowers? It sounds instead like you and me.

But Guy does what he can. He practices.

In Sweden this summer, Dirkin will go for his third gold medal in the discus in a World Masters Athletics championship. Three is also the number of degrees he has studying sport science and human performance (see guydirkin.com).

**

Dirkin insists older people can “recruit neurologically”, that is, build on what they have. Guy has been “recruiting” his fast-twitch muscle fibers for years as a Masters athlete and currently ranks No. 1 in the world in the discus (M70-74). He didn’t get there lifting an ungodly amount of weight. Dirkin got there with “speed”, which is not running fast, but maximizing those dwindling fast-twitch muscle fibers.

“It’s like a pyramid,” said Dirkin, who lives in Clermont, Fla. “Athletes over 65 must have a reasonable level of general fitness.

“That fitness has to be worked on first before introducing ballistic activity, plyometric sprinting, jumping, and lifting heavy weights quickly. You want to recruit fast-twitch fibers for events up to 800 meters, but don’t try it unless you have built the base first.”

What is essential, Dirkin says, is remaining curious about what that speed and sharp physical fitness can do for you as you age. How much better an athlete can you be with some work? Like the cellist Casals, Guy is having a blast with discovery.

“I almost feel as if I’m in a renaissance, like I’m back in graduate school, which I really enjoyed,” Guy said. “I had a colleague tell me recently ‘I’m too old to change’. I would hate to have to say something like that.”

And then Dirkin says the impossible, the raucous, the preposterous.

“Ageing is an opportunity.”

**

It takes intrinsic motivation to challenge your genes with exercise. In other words, it has to be fun and exciting.

“Masters athletes wouldn’t be doing it this long if they didn’t enjoy the activity,” Dirkin said.

Guy had that gear to have fun at work as a youngster after he first skipped flat rocks across the water in Great Britain, his home country. It was about the time he started hefting weights at 12-13-14 years old. “The pump”, insisted weightlifters, was better than sex, but Guy soon had other motives than body building. The skipping of rocks revealed a natural throwing motion for the discus and the weights developed him into a track & field prodigy in England.

Dirkin still has fun with the discus, these 55 years on, and certainly muses about “What if?” he had stuck with sport and not gone so deeply into academics.

So he is on a “redemption tour” in Masters track because his path to a possible Olympics as a thrower was interrupted by the attraction of science. He detoured from competition to academics at the University of Illinois where he earned a Masters and Ph.D.

What piqued his interest early in his professional career was how obesity drives costs in the healthcare system worldwide. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry and tried to apply his science to help the overweight person who has to drive to the mailbox. Dirkin has collaborated with scientists in Great Britain and the U.S. on aerobic health.

That’s ironic for a Guy who does not like the aerobics of running and “getting in shape.” Dirkin had to adopt the Run-Walk-Run training of Jeff Galloway, who is related by marriage, to take on a simple 5k.

So to the Geezer Jocks who insist they are “not built for this”, you can pop the hood any time and tinker with your genetics. Take it from a Guy who has practiced the science of practicing.

Please support Geezer Jock™. Buy a tee-shirt or visor. And please share this story on Guy.
 


5 Responses

Gary S
Gary S

May 25, 2024

I think this guy’s on to something.
Overtraining is overrated.
If I wasn’t in Seattle, I’d ask him to be my coach.

Mike lavigna
Mike lavigna

May 25, 2024

Very inspirational but at this season of my life unfortunately it’s not very motivational. The last two days I just was able to manage walking 8 tenths of a mile and I’m going to build on that. Enjoy this season you’re in, it won’t last forever. Mike

Ray Glier
Ray Glier

May 20, 2024

Imagine that. A veteran and accomplished thrower like Malin learning from another thrower. Geezer Jocks are an impressive crew.

James M Malin
James M Malin

May 20, 2024

Had the pleasure of having a conversation with Guy at the Outdoor Championships in Ames, IA in 2021. I knew he was the “Oracle” of throws movement, and I listened carefully! One of those guy you don’t want to interrupt!

Florence L Meiler
Florence L Meiler

May 18, 2024

What a fantastic story. Just like my motto says: Never Too Late??? Flo Meiler

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