May 30, 2013 by mybattlebuddyfitness
I was out to brunch with friends a couple of months ago for a birthday celebration when inevitably the topic of age came up. We are all in our late 30s to early 40s, and this particular friend was turning 38. One of the older friends in the group was asked how it felt to be on the other side of 40, and he said that once you hit 40, things change. You get tired more quickly, you can’t drink like you used to, you don’t sleep as well as you used to, you just can’t DO the things you could do when you were younger. And there were nods and agreements all around the table . . . from everyone except myself.
Some context: most of the folks around the table are not regular exercisers. And judging by what was being consumed by the way of food and drink, I would venture to guess that they don’t pay a whole lot of attention to what goes into their systems. Most go up and down from a weight perspective. So I wasn’t surprised to hear them agree that they were feeling older as the years passed. They weren’t doing anything to stop that process.
Me? Well I feel younger in my late 30s than I did in my late 20s. In my 20s, I really wasn’t into working out or taking particularly good care of myself. It would be safe to say that I couldn’t run a mile. I mean, I went to the gym, but I was kind of going through the motions so I could tick the box. I wasn’t super out of shape, and I wasn’t too overweight, but I wasn’t ‘athletic’. Then in my 30s, the switch got flipped. I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment, I think I was tired of seeing my older active friends go out and run marathons. Or maybe it was when I pulled a muscle running the bases at a slow pitch recreational softball game (yes, that actually happened). So one day, I just said, hey, I’ll run the last couple of miles of the Chicago Marathon with my friend Deb. I hadn’t run, well, ever. But I’d be damned if I was going to keep watching everyone else run. So, I started running, a little every day. And by the time the race rolled around, I was ready to run 3 miles with her (between 20 and 23). And then something funny happened . . . when I met her and we ran together for a couple of miles, I lost myself in what I was doing. Before I knew it, we were crossing the finish line 6 miles later.
Since then, I have been varying levels of fitness, but always active. Let me repeat: ALWAYS ACTIVE. Once I got into it, I really never let it go. Sure, I would have weeks here and there when I would slow way down, but those were enough reminders that you can’t let up. After 2 weeks, it was painful to get back into the swing of things, muscles were sore, and I was huffing and puffing on the treadmill. So I have never let it go. Now, I am in probably the best shape of my life. I feel like the Energizer Bunny, I can keep going and going. This past weekend I was in Tahoe, and I could workout in the morning, and go for bike rides or hikes in the afternoon. And I STILL had gas in the tank at the end of the day.
For those of you in your 20s: GO FOR IT! I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to get in shape and take on the world. You have all the time in the world in your 20s to get in shape and really do amazing things. That was my advice to Elisabeth when she was thinking about the Emerald Cup Figure Competition. You are in your athletic prime for a competition like this, you should go for it. And let’s be real, your metabolism is different in your 20s (there is something to be said for age, things do get more challenging the older you get), so might as well reach for the stars. If you are out of shape, today is your day, resolve to get in shape, and from there, take on a challenge. Really push yourself.
For those of you in your 30s and beyond: it is never too late. I am always amazed when I see folks older than I am that are in better shape than I am. It is inspiring. I met a guy on a bus to the start of the Miami Half Marathon that was 75, and when he was 60, he decided to start running marathons. In those 15 years, he had run 60 marathons. When I was hiking on the Camino, I met an ultramarathoner in his late 50s that had won a 72 hour race, beating out two guys half his age.
For all ages: this life, it is a marathon, not a sprint. And it is one that goes on until the end. Once you get active, stay active. Maintaining fitness is so much easier than stopping and starting and stopping and starting. Find something that works for you, and stick with it. And when you get sick of that, then find something new. But never quit.