Sunday, July 19, 2015

It Gets Tougher Every Year

As an aging endurance athlete, I receive a wide variety of comments everyday regarding my lifestyle.  And as a male in the construction industry, I've come to expect most of those comments to be somewhat less than uplifting.  It's mostly good-natured ribbing from friends, but jabs like "Are you crazy?", "Running is so stupid!", and "You need to eat a sandwich!" are pretty typical.  It's okay, I use most of them as mental fuel during workouts.   But I also get number of positive and encouraging comments as well.  Those mean the most, and I'm always appreciative.  But whether folks are trying to discourage, motivate, or simply making a simple observation about my training regimen, one thing's for sure ... most probably have no idea just how hard it is to maintain year after year.  And I've noticed lately, that it's becoming harder than ever.

Several physical changes take place as we age, but the thing that really seems to affect my conditioning more than anything is a slower metabolism. I just really fight keeping weight off. However, most dietitians maintain that our actual metabolism stays fairly constant throughout our lives, and it's other contributing factors that result in a perceived slowing down process.  For example, most of us become less active and don't burn as much of our "fuel" on a daily basis with each passing year.  Plus as we age, our muscle mass decreases a little as our body fat percentage increases.  Most experts estimate that we lose about 10% of our muscle mass per decade.  This results in an apparent slowing of the metabolism.  But whether "perceived" or not, I can tell you that it's a WHOLE lot tougher for me to lose weight with each passing calendar year.  Like I was sharing with my friend, Paul today - in the past it was no problem at all to drop ten pounds within a couple of weeks, but now, even a pound here or there seems to be a struggle.

Another challenge of staying fit as I age, is there are fewer and fewer "challenges".  A lot of days, I really struggle with a "been there, done that" attitude.  I've raced a lot over the past few years, and there just seem to be less "first times" for everything.  And as a result, my motivation is often challenged. Plus, I'm very competitive with myself.   And it's always important for me to do my best.  In the past, when I've done "my best", it's resulted in faster and faster times on the clock.  But in the many of the distances, 5K, 10K, half, etc, I'm afraid my fastest times might be behind me.  I'm not throwing in the towel just yet, mind you.  But I'm 46.  And realistically I know that there will most likely be very few PR's in the future.  I've never necessarily let a race time define me or my performance, but it's often an indicator of where I'm at physically.  So the challenge in the future will be finding other ways to measure my personal success besides the clock.

However, there are a few advantages to being an aging and experienced athlete.  The main benefit is I know what my body responds to, and what I need to avoid to prevent injury.  Mostly from trial and error, I've learned there are certain steps that I have to take for a peak performance.  This is key in time and workout efficiency.  I feel like I can train with a little more focus, with less wasted energy.  Plus, I feel like I know what to expect.  When there's a certain ache or pain, I've probably experienced it before and know how to most effectively remedy it.

Even though youth is not necessarily of friend mine any longer, I can tell you wholeheartedly ... I have no intention of slowing down.  Honestly, at times it can be a little frustrating that it takes twice the effort to produce the same results, but I fully embrace the challenge.  And even if my pace continue to slow, or I fall further back in my age group, it doesn't matter.  With each new gray hair, I know that I'm reaping the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.  And hopefully with continued good health, I'll feel great for many years to come.
... Be Great Today!

8 comments:

  1. After my injury issues I'm already thinking the same way. No more PR seeking...my goal is just staying healthy! But having said that, 46 is not old. Don't let the grandkids fool ya, haha. I mean, my husband is 40, and we still think of ourselves as young. I realize that as I type this he's fallen asleep over the Sunday paper on the sofa, but...yeah, he's still young. And so are you. Or at least, middle-aged. Not old.

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    1. Yeah, I actually still feel pretty young most days (but mostly that's probably just lingering immaturity)

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  2. It's hard to accept the inevitability of ageing. I decided a few years back that there would be no more PBs in my future and although I wasn't particularly gracious about it, I did accept it. And this year I've run two PBs. So you can never know what's ahead. You might surprise yourself.

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    1. No doubt Char, you've had a great year, and don't think for a second that I'm easing up

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  3. That Paul dude is an idiot. Don't listen to anything he says. He drinks too much beer and eats too much pizza. Just laugh at him when you see him finishing his death march.

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    1. All this is true, but he seems like a pretty good guy

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  4. You're doing an awesome job at staying in shape an meeting and exceeding your athletic goals! You are so not "old"!!!!

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    1. Awe thanks Melissa, that just made my day - but most days my aching bones would disagree, ha.

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