Let’s start with listing some of my potential excuses for just “giving in” to the aging process:
- Everyone gets old; it can’t be avoided.
- I’ve been pregnant 7 times, during much of which time I was nauseous and exhausted.
- My gastro-intestinal system is quite touchy. This can be both inconvenient and painful.
- My “other pipes” have unpredictably leaky valves.
- I have heart palpitations regularly.
- Knee surgery to repair torn cartilage supposedly predisposes me to arthritis in that joint.
- A ruptured disc in my neck was replaced with bone, leaving me with residual stiffness and frequent aching in my right arm.
- 3 years ago I couldn’t run on account of shooting pain along the side of my leg (probably iliotibial band problems).
- I can’t earn any high school awards or college scholarships for my performances.
I was active in high school and college, dabbling in some sprinting in high school and running a few miles for fun in my college years. While busy with raising our kids, I squeezed in some exercise for the 15 years that someone was a baby. Like 20 minutes 3 times a week. All this to say I wasn’t setting any news worthy records. My life was pretty average.
I find it ironic that now, at age 52, I feel like I am in the best physical condition in my life, for both strength and stamina. And, so far, this keeps improving. How can this be and do I still have more potential waiting to be unlocked? Here are some of my answers to myself:
- I am having fun, which keeps me motivated. That doesn’t mean I’m not working at it, but the goals and related social interactions are rewarding.
- I am fairly consistent. Losing ground due to lack of follow through is very demotivating. I don’t like to feel like that.
- I am working within my current limits, increasing efforts moderately and paying attention to rest needs. This lets my body recover well enough to benefit from training stress and helps avoid injury to less than resilient tissues.
- I am getting coaching that is complimentary to my personal situation, either from someone who knows me well (my husband), other acquaintances who are not concerned with their own agendas or reputations (friends on the Barefoot Runner’s Society forum, those in the local bicycling community, Flowaquatics), or authors with down to earth perspectives (Time Saving Training, Run Less, Run Faster).
- I am running barefoot most of the time, which trains me to run without hurting myself and is more fun.
- I have variations in the training stressors by including biking and swimming. I give myself credit for heavy duty yard work and dancing, too. Besides giving me more well rounded physical strength, it avoids mental burnout and boredom.
- I have strategies for dealing with weather variations, including minimalist footwear and a spinning bike in the basement.
- Training and racing has brought me into contact with enough people who are my age or older AND are faster and stronger than me. This shows me that my age is still not a significantly limiting factor.
- As I have built a stronger fitness foundation the last 3 years, it has been easier to reach new goals. Some of this may be mental, since I have seen previous progress. I’m also enjoying the process more now and it is simply fun to be faster.
- Along the same lines, I now know it is possible to get faster and stronger. When I was not able to put as much time and effort into exercise, it was like I was always stuck at the same level. I didn’t really understand how to get out of that rut, but now I know.
At some point, I realize, I really will max out. My efforts to achieve better times and distances my only yield maintenance of sorts. I may find I don’t want to dedicate more time to the training process. However, I see no point in just unnecessarily plodding along and running “like an old lady.” I haven’t maxed out yet, and apparently neither have the “old ladies” that are beating me.