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A Scientist Runs And Teaches Us More Than The Science Of Running

June 15, 2024 4 min read 3 Comments

A Scientist Runs And Teaches Us More Than The Science Of Running

Say Hello Kitty. She is a scientist and has some tips for exercise. It's worth a read.

 

By Ray Glier

                        “One cannot fill a cup that is already full”.

Dr. Kitty Consolo, 67, will not indulge the competitive juices that once landed her deals with shoe companies Nike, adidas, and Saucony. She has exercise-induced asthma and is susceptible to a myriad of allergies, but the main reason Kitty will not run nationally any longer is a contentment with local 5ks.

It’s ok with Consolo to run for the sake of running, for the spiritual force, and seeing the run as a calming influence in familiar surroundings. She is a good runner, but it is up to her, not others, to make conclusions about what to do with that skill.

“I am really happy to live where I live, that it really feels like home,” said Kitty, who lives in east central Ohio farm country. “After all these years of traveling, whether for races, or other reasons, I am so glad to be home and stay close to home.

“I even looked into getting a camper van, which would have all the food I need, and the environment I need, and then I realized I don't have anywhere I want to go. It's nice to be content.”

There is a multiformity among Geezer Jocks, a patternless behavior to our fitness pursuits, and it is driving participation in fitness activities in older folks around the U.S. We do it our way.

The National Senior Games, USATF Masters Track & Field, Pickleball tournaments, and Masters Swimming, among other events, have attracted the ambitious. Many others, like Kitty, want/need only what is within an easy drive.

The "locals" are very much part of the Geezer Jock surge.

You might align with Kitty in other ways than your homebound roots. She had to overcome various afflictions to stay active. In that regard, Dr. Consolo has some worthwhile science for all of us at the end of this story.

Kitty’s is another of those stories you can learn from in three minutes.

**

Consolo is an associate professor of health sciences at Ohio University in Zanesville. She lives 40 miles from campus and conducts her classes via Zoom. A crowded classroom and bustling campus is not ideal because she has food allergies and is susceptible to illness through airborne carcinogens. Airplanes are out of the question and hotels, too. Home is safe.

But she still runs. And she’s still quite competitive.

On April 27th in the CASA Teddy Bear Trot in Dublin, Ohio, Consolo was first in the W60-69 5k with a 28:27.

On May 11 in the Wings of Wellness 5K Fun Run in Coshocton, Ohio she was first in W60-69 with a 27:51.

The 27:51 would rank Kitty second in the U.S. so far this outdoor season for the 5000 meters (W65-69), which is the track equivalent to her road 5k. Consolo would rank 23rd in the world, according to mastersrankings.com.

“Wow, I had no idea,” Consolo said about how competitive she still is in the U.S. “Nice to know.”

Way back when, in the 1970s and 1980s, and 1990s, it was not so surprising to find her competitive with the best. Kitty had a national profile. She won the Cleveland Marathon in 1982 and 1985.

In college, Consolo ran on the Wake Forest men’s cross country team. When a women’s team was formed, she was named Wake Forest University’s “Most Valuable Runner.” In 1978 she won the Charleston Distance Run, a 15-miler, which drew national competition. Nike sponsored her.

Deals with adidas and Saucony followed. She participated in the first U.S. Women’s Olympics trials in 1984.

All along, Consolo had a dogged running partner, which was asthma. She didn’t discover it until she went on a run in 1998 with Dr. Michael Waickman, an immunologist, who said, “You have exercise-induced asthma.”

She told him, “I can’t have asthma and run.”

“Oh yeah, you’re wheezing,” Waickman said.

“I was thinking all along that’s what you did when you ran, you breathed hard,” Consolo said.

She has been in the care of Waickman for 26 years who treats her asthma with supplements, breathing machines, and counsel. He also helps with drops under her tongue for her allergies. Kitty has a nebulizer that steams medicine into her lungs and does a 40-minute breathing treatment before she runs and another after she runs. She also has a support team at races for safety. Exercise-induced asthma for a 67-year old is not something to take lightly.

Consolo wears an N95 mask when she goes inside anywhere. Her house has no carpet and a special filter for her furnace filters air.

Kitty said her immune system was compromised shortly after birth and she didn’t receive the boost from her mother’s breast milk.

Here’s more uplifting insight in her story.

Said Consolo:

“It's kind of interesting that under certain conditions, running can make the asthma worse, like if it’s really cold, or there is a lot of pollen in the air, but the epinephrine your body produces by the exercise counters the inflammation,” Dr. Consolo said. “So it kind of strengthens your respiratory muscles, so that you can actually breathe better than when you're not running. You have more lung capacity.”

And then there is this:

“There are several new studies that show that if you can manage to do aerobic exercise, 40 minutes, five days a week, you actually boost your immune system. Running helps prevent Immunosenescence. My immune system is really robust because of regular exercise. And then you also make more red blood cells and capillaries, so you're more likely to survive a heart attack.”

This is science from a scientist. Kitty holds a doctorate in Exercise Physiology from Kent State University. At Ohio University (Zanesville) she teaches courses such as Healthy Lifestyle Choices, Intro to Public Health, and Human Biology.

The story you just read is a course, free of charge, for all you Geezer Jocks managing your health and well-being through exercise.


3 Responses

Howard Booth
Howard Booth

June 19, 2024

Inspiring article. A major key to quality of life in later years is finding joy close to home and staying active with those nearby friends. As a retired EMU Physiology Professor and Men80-84 elite pole vaulter I totally agree with her philosophy. Kudos!!

Andy Steinfeldt
Andy Steinfeldt

June 16, 2024

Another inspiring story Ray! Kudos to you for uncovering them and making them so deservedly compelling!

Carole Stanford
Carole Stanford

June 15, 2024

Great story great insight! I know my immune system is better when I train. It was great have it confirmed by someone who just inspired or crazy enough to run a 5k for fun. What ab inspiration.

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