There is wisdom that comes with age.
I now know this to be true more than ever, as recently I’ve had the privilege of having some Masters Athletes come to me as patients in my clinic. I’ve treated plenty of Masters (senior) Athletes before, but these two in particular have taught me a lot about sport, life balance and happiness.
One, a man of 65 years, the other a woman aged 64. She is very excited to be turning 65 soon, as it will take her into the next age category in her races and make her the “spring chicken” in her sport of Race Walking. Both of them may be at retirement age, but he still owns an electrical business and she is a primary school teacher. Neither of them is showing signs of slowing down and they both have bodies of very fit looking 30 year olds. Incredible.
The other thing that is most striking about their appearance is their smiles. Rarely do you see them without one and their language is always positive and optimistic.
He was a casual runner up to the age of 40 then gave it away due to various reasons. At the age of 60 he decided to take it up again and now races several times per week in distances from 200m to Half Marathons. This guy loves his running and also swims 10-12kms per week (in the ocean… yes, even this time of year) and rides around 100kms each week too. He came to me with a mild hamstring injury and has been one of the most dedicated and diligent patients I’ve seen in a long time. He is committed to doing whatever it takes to keep himself performing at his best. A lesson for all of us here…
She has been into athletics all her life and has run competitively, cycled and done Triathlons for many years. In fact, that last Triathlon series she entered, she won. Every race.
Now having chosen Race Walking as her sport, she regularly leaves people less than half her age in her dust. Humble to a fault, it is very difficult to find out from her exactly how good she actually is. After speaking to a fellow competitor of hers, it turns out she finished in the top 10% (of all competitors) in the Sydney Centerpoint Tower Climb and holds several current world titles in Race Walking.
Speaking to her about her racing, it would seem she just dabbles in the odd bit of racing on the weekends and enjoys the social aspect of the sport. The truth is simply far more impressive.
Clearly these two people have figured something out about life. They know the value of taking care of your body, but not in the conventional – ok, I’m getting older, must take it easy now – kind of way. No, they know that our bodies are designed to move and be pushed and challenged and that hard work and effort is more than ok. They are excited by all the possibilities and opportunities that life continues to dish up to them and they take them all with the energy of someone decades their junior.
I often laugh when they ask me questions about other people their age and the sort of problems they have. It is as though they can’t even conceive what life would be like for someone their age who is not an athlete.
I take many lessons away from the time I spend with my patients and these two in particular have taught me how beautiful and rewarding life can be when you focus on the things that make you happy.
Run long… for the rest of your life.