“I am getting too old for this!” How many times do we hear this saying from our friends or feel like saying it ourselves? It seems that the older we get, the more the age excuse seems to slip out of our mouths. Sure, some of our parts begin to wear a little bit, and getting out of bed in the morning does not happen as fast as it used to, but does it mean that as we age we are condemned to a life of Depends and dentures? I need to be careful when I talk about the aging subject because by most people’s standards I am still a kid, but I am convinced by what I have seen in the exercise world, that getting older just makes us better.
Recently a long time client of mine celebrated his 77th birthday. In order to truly appreciate this guy, let me paint you a picture of him. He started training with me when he was 73 because he knew that he needed to push himself more than he already was. In our training sessions not only does he perform some already challenging exercises like squats, lunges and pushups, but recently we have been practicing a standing long jump and jumping rope. When he sees a person half of his age doing a new or challenging exercise that we currently don’t do, he says to me, “we need to try that!”
At the JFK 50 miler there were two different starting options, one at 5am, and one at 7am. Although most of us chose the 7am start with the 12 hour cut-off, a few brave souls started in the darkness of 5am to give themselves 14 hours to finish. A few of these folks just wanted the extra time, some were struggling with an injury, but many of them were noticeably older than the rest of us! At mile 30, I started to come up upon some of the 5 am starters. I ran into two older gentlemen, 70+, who told me that they walk the race every year. “We finish in just under 14 hours”, one of them said, “but we finish.” I personally, could not imagine walking 50 miles, running 50 miles and being out there for 10+ hours is enough for me! Four more hours of movement sounded ridiculous, especially for someone more than twice my age, but here were two guys that were proving me wrong!
I hope that as I grow older, I can age gracefully like my 77 year old client, and the two gentlemen that I met on the trail that day. There is so much to do in this life, that we truly need all 100 years to experience it all! Although I think we need to accept the fact that we are aging, we should not automatically hang up our running shoes. Just because we can’t run, doesn’t mean we can move! If you are blessed with good health push forward, and if not, adapt the best you can! Strive to make 70 the new 30!