Sunday, October 5, 2008

How your body is like a fish bowl

Roger Craig was a brilliant, durable runner when he earned four Pro Bowl nominations and helped the 49ers win three Super Bowls in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

[If you're not familiar with Roger, spend a minute watching this video. He was an amazing back.]

During his playing days, his workouts were legendary. As described in this article, evidently, they still are.

Craig, 48, looks like he could spell current 49ers standout Frank Gore on a few carries Sunday afternoon at Candlestick Park against the New England Patriots. Instead, he will run in the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon through San Jose's streets earlier in the morning.

At an age when many of his NFL peers are more likely to be thinking about knee and hip replacement surgeries, Craig somehow hasn't slowed down despite all the punishment he absorbed. He's an avid distance runner with six marathons on his resume.

"I know that I'm fortunate to be able to do these things now, because I took a pounding," Craig said.. "But I also took care of my body for that pounding. I've never stopped working out."

That durability didn't just happen by accident. Craig worked hard to achieve it. His offseason training regimen included a hilly, 41/2-mile trail run in San Carlos.

When Craig retired, he was determined to maintain his fitness. He had watched many ex-NFL players slide into obesity and battle conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

"Your body is like a fish bowl," said Craig, a director of business development for Palo Alto software company Tibco. "If you don't filter it, you know what happens to the fish. They float to the top as the water gets murky. Athletes spend years toning our bodies. It's all we know. So your body goes through a shock if you stop doing those things."

He now weighs 205 pounds, about 15 less than his playing weight. He averages between 35 and 40 miles a week.