It happened again last night. I ran into a buddy and the conversation drifted to fitness and training pursuits. It was encouraging to hear about some of the things he’d integrated into his life on the health and wellness front… and then it happened. He said “it.”
“At our age…”
Ugggh. You know what comes next: references to slowing down, lower expectations, etc. We both happen to be in our early 50’s but that’s not really the point. I’ve heard the same thing in reference to the 40’s (and other decades). Why do we do that?!?
Granted – for EVERY decade of life, there are specific developments or changes of which an awareness is valuable. Balance and strength do “generally” (we’ll come back to that word shortly) soften as we age. Our vision and hearing commonly change over time as well. And yes, it may take more time to recover and heal from injuries with each passing decade. An understanding of these changes is certainly beneficial knowledge to have in our toolboxes. It’s obviously wise to take the many variables into account as we (all) move forward. However, there’s a BIG difference between “tuning into” (and adjusting for) the variables and leaning on them as a built in “excuse.”
In our teens, we face various growth spurts and seemingly random hormone spikes. In our twenties and thirties, many of us are working longer hours and/or raising a family, resulting in less time (and less sleep!). In our forties, we’re often carrying extra weight (brought on by the previous decades of reduced activity levels). Then there are the 50’s, 60’s and beyond, as noted above. For every decade, there’s a built in excuse. But I don’t ever remember hearing anyone in the first 3+ decades using “at our age” as an excuse. That one seems to be reserved for those of us the 40+ crowd.
Seriously folks. Let’s stop. We’re better than that. Yes – things change and we need to make adjustments. As I’m prepping for the next marathon, I’ll shift my intervals and tempo run schedule to build in an extra day of recovery. I’ll need to integrate some additional strength training and adjust some other strategies. But the extra years also bring extra wisdom (right?!?). It’s my hope that additional wisdom applied to enhanced training, fueling plans and nutrition will make up the difference. Lifetime PR of 2:47? That should still be within range here at 51 IF that wisdom is appropriately utilized.
The point isn’t specific to race times – it’s eliminating the habit of letting ourselves off the hook with a built-in excuse. The research is clear: the “average” person in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or 70’s does slow considerably from the previous decade. But you’re not average – and the data is also clear that the individual who controls the things she/he can (weight, activity levels, intensity of training, strength training, recovery, nutrition and sleep, among others) experiences a MUCH smaller drop-off from year to year and decade to decade. It exists, but it’s much (much!) smaller on an individual level than on average. If you’ve been a part of the wellness coach certification, then you’re already tuned into this (right?). Application is another thing altogether.
So yes – we change. Fortunately the majority of those changes are up to us. Are we looking at “our age” as an excuse? or an opportunity?