Thursday, December 27, 2012

Am I Just Too Old?

I was studying my personal trainer manual and I came across a statement I had seen many times before. In a nutshell, once a person is in their thirties, athletic potential declines.

Yeah, I was feeling pretty old right there.
I started running at age 35.

Dang it.

I was never sedentary, in fact I was far from it. I walked and rode bikes to class in college, and I've been around martial arts my whole life. I was a pretty active person, I just never really thought about pushing myself and seeing just how far I could go until I started running, which was after my peak potential had passed.

So I turned to Google. Looking for inspiration, it seemed that most athletes my age and older were ones who were at or near the elite level during their peak years. That didn't really do much to inspire me. I mean, Diana Nyad is amazing, but I needed someone that became very athletic after their "prime years". Then there are people like Cheryl Ragsdale who are inspirational and started later in life, but I was still not really feeling consoled.

I started lamenting the fact that I had not started earlier in life. I started thinking about my stint on the high school track team, and found myself frustrated about that all over again.

So then what is a "past their peak" athlete to do?

The same thing every other athlete does.

Every single person has limitations. For one person it may be that they started late, another may have had their legs paralyzed, one may have Down's Syndrome while another has Asperger's. There may be an athlete who has the disadvantage of having been born in the poorest part of the world, while another's disadvantage is that they were born so rich they never developed the motivation to work for something until they had a mid life crisis.

The point is, to not lament what kind of athlete I might have been if I had developed this passion younger in life, but to be the best I can be right now.

Every person has his or her challenges, and every day has its challenges. It is possible that this March I will have to run the best trail race I can with a pulled hamstring, or in August I will have to race the best triathlon I can with a sore ankle, or that I will have to miss these events entirely.

The key for me is to focus on the present. After all, it is the only moment that is real. The past is just a memory and the future is imagination.

So the goal for today is to do the best tempo run I can today, the best I can do with only two years under my belt and me being past my prime, the best I can with a slightly sore foot and a cold.

The best I have right now.