The news likes to present the feel good stories about those who seem to defy time. The 70 year old who qualifies for Kona or the 80 year old who is running an ultra. But the other day I was reminded that for every outlier, how many of us pay a price by not paying attention to declines in our abilities and capabilities due to age.
A former boss of mine who was older than I am but would hike the Inca trail, be competitive in his club Squash tournament against men 30 years younger than him had just bought a full helmet and armour as he was going to ride with his hard core mountain biking daughter. He was in the Kelowna area and had a bad fall on his bike where he literally broke his neck. When he was air ambulanced back to Calgary a week or so after the accident, he could move his arms. He could feel something in his fingers but had no use of them. This is an extreme example of not slowly down, moderating one's approach to account for a little slower reaction time or maybe the body can no longer recover from the pounding associated with certain paces and/or duration and/or frequency.
I do wonder for every "inspirational" story, are false expectations created to a point where one attempts to over come or ignore their limitations and end up in a bad place? I appreciate that this can and does happen at any age but that as we get older, the margin of error is smaller and smaller. That we run one too many races, do one too many long runs or rides. We push ourselves once again but instead of some ice and advil and ready to go again, a serious and lasting issue results. We do so to recapture past glory and fooled by an outlier who seems to be immortal and invincible. That is if an 80 ran run a quick ultra, a 55 year old surely must be able to complete a slow marathon.
I am trying to find inspiration in those who continue just to move, to be active and not necessarily do anything special or epic. There is one training method that suggested if you can do 10 of something, instead of doing 10 and taking 2 or 3 days off or worse, pushing yourself and doing 11 or 12 and risk an injury, do 5 but every day. We seem to admire, lavish praise on the person who does 12 and suffers and is injured but ignore the person who does 5. Just some random thoughts about aging and activity.
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