Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Over 50, change

I updated the blurb for this blog, it talked about me being in my 40's with a young family... and a busy career. Now I'm in my 50's and have teenagers...and a busy career.   So what's different about being in your 50's after nearly a decade of distance run/swim/cycling? 

I find it hard to actually imagine myself 10 years ago.  Did I feel any better running...probably not.  Did I get less/more injuries...who can say.  If I read what we've written here over the years it seems to be a constant progression of one injury after another with stubbornness being the key to keeping going.  And the range of glitches, injuries, lumps, bumps and bruises is quite extensive, these days I don't even remember when I get an ache if I've had that particular one before...maybe...or was it on the other side? 

I've speculated that there seems to be something in play where the pain of one injury doesn't fully go away until you've got something else to replace it, the knee that ached for three solid weeks leading you to believe you would need reconstructive surgery and NEVERRUNAGAIN suddenly isn't there because the shoulder is playing up...and...let me check...yes, had that before.  Funny that, be interesting to know how it works for other long time endurance people. 

I've also read that those who do long distance, lots of it, get some sort of abnormal response to pain, they get pain, but it has less impact.  That makes some sort of sense, I would suspect that a first time marathoner probably doesn't have more pain than one who has done plenty of the things, but perhaps feels it differently.  I write that with a kind of weird dispassion, acknowledging that marathons hurt (yes they do) but like having a baby, afterwards the pain has no meaning so quick, sign up for the next one.

And relating to the pain topic, what is it with taking some days off and EVERYTHING suddenly falls apart, the joints creak, the muscles ache, the brain says "a marathon, I can't manage 100 meters!".  I have to acknowledge that I'm aware my body is different, for example I can strength train and I seem to lose any benefits really quickly, and I'm stiff in a way I wasn't to before, my speed goes down and down and down and I also 'feel' somehow more fragile for no real good reason.   

But it's not just me changing.  The environment has changed too. A major change is how much information is out there about all sorts of things now.  Writing back at the start of this blog, it was a major effort finding out what you wanted to know, especially relating to things like being a more mature athlete, figuring out were you going to wreck yourself if you didn't listen to the naysayers, or how to fix pesky injuries without drastic intervention. Now a google search will go straight to hundreds of good articles on running being good for knees, older people being the fastest growing long distance athlete group, strength training for this injury or that, and rebuttals of the horror stories about the propensity for people to drop dead in events (rare, rare and super rare). 

Another thing that has changed is how used we have gotten to tech, we have motivation in a gadget.  My Nike band thingy with the foot pod that counted steps and I could plug it into my pc to upload and that was all it did?   The first GPS that I adored but it was kind-of a pain now that I look back.  Now the glorious Garmin will tell me what altitude I'm at, my heart rate in coloured graphs as it happens without pesky chest straps, and flags that one of the kids has sent a skype message saying where's breakfast.

And then not different...fundamentally training it still takes effort.  You can put on the specially designed technical fabric sports gear but the effort is in walking out the door when you feel like the Michelin tyre woman.  It takes effort to put one specially prescribed advanced cushioning and support shoe in front of another.  It takes effort to get through that first half hour till you feel like your body remembers how to run (yes, the first few km still LIE to you).  It takes effort to decide what aches and pains and grumbles to ignore and what to take seriously before you start enjoying yourself. 

Most especially not-different though is getting past that half hour and the fun kicks in.  Running in the hills with younger daughter, new lambs all around in the sunshine on Sunday comes to mind.  And ahhh...coming home after a satisfying effort exploring a beautiful place, food never tastes better than when earned, and best of all, being in my 50's and still able to see what is on the other side of a mountain, or explore somewhere new with the teens without even thinking about it.

Wonder what the 60's will be like?