Matching Fitness Expectations With Your Age (or, I'm Not Going to TakeThis Getting Older Thing Laying Down!)

Just a short personal post on getting a little bit older and not being too happy about it...

The other day while I was out for my run, I became frustrated yet again that my average pace the past year or so has been slower than it used to be. I've also been getting increasingly frustrated with the fact that I seem to get sore and unable to run more than four miles in one go; it especially galls me when I remember than as recently as 2013 I was running six to nine miles each time I went out.  Now before you think me an ungrateful complainer, let me acknowledge right off the bat that I realize I should be thankful that I'm physically able to do what I am doing. I am very thankful that I am healthy enough to be able to run on a regular basis.  My frustrations stem more from the fact that lately I have not been able to force my body to do what I want it to do, especially since I was able to not that long ago.

Really, what I'm struggling with is that scourge we all have to deal with which is starting to push back against me with equal force. I am of course talking about AGE.  I turned 35 this past February and while I certainly wouldn't classify myself as old, I am finally (reluctantly) coming to terms with the fact that I am not young any more, either.  I'm in great physical health but the aches and pains last a bit longer and the minor injuries I accrue throughout everyday life take a bit longer to heal than they used to.  I remember in my early 20s going to play hours of pickup basketball when I had the flu, a sprained knee or ankle, a stiff back, you name it.  Like anyone at that age, I bounced back quickly and felt indestructible.  I still felt that way around the time I turned 30, especially after I'd gotten back into shape at that age. However, over the last five years I've definitely begun to notice the shift.  Most recently, I've been suffering from a sore hamstring and glute in my right leg that has been nagging for weeks.  I have no problem running through it, but no amount of stretching or rest seems to speed up my recovery. Five years ago it would have been as good as new in a few days.  I kept complaining about it until my wife once again reminded me that I'm a little older now than I was then.  I certainly haven't been accepting of it and I still complain about it a lot. It has taken my wife gently reminding me that I really am getting older to make me gradually realize that this is really happening and that I am going to have to learn to live with it. But just because I accept it doesn't mean I have to like it or be limited by it, right?

The challenge for me now is to temper my fitness expectations by taking the age factor into consideration.  Maybe it's okay to not be as fast or spry or flexible as I was at 30 or 25 or 17.  Maybe it's no big deal that I heal a little slower from aches and pains.  Short of finding the fountain of youth, there's nothing that can be done to reverse the march of time and its effects on the body.  That being said, I am slowly coming to grips with it and realizing that it's perhaps okay to be a little slower, or only run 4 miles instead of 6. It doesn't mean I will never be able to physically do the things that I was easily doing a few years (or more) back; it just means that it's going to take me a bit more time and effort to get there again. Luckily, I like a challenge..and I will get back there!