Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's Just A Number

...And no, I'm not talking about the number on the scale.

I take care of myself. If I am nothing else, I am determined to be as healthy and physically fit as I can be. I have a varied, weekly workout regime. I take group fitness classes, group weight training classes, I take spin classes, I take yoga and Pilate's classes and I run.

On most any given Tuesday or Thursday night you can find me in a weight sculpting class. And usually, there are two particular ladies in the group with me. I recently learned that these awesome women are in their sixties. Over 60. Not 46. Not 23. Not 34. Over 60.

As I was tossing and turning through another bout of insomnia this morning at 4:00, I started thinking about these ladies and their respective ages. I was thinking, is our age really just a number? I think it is because I think if we lined up 5 60+ year olds and asked them each how they felt physically, we'd get 5 different answers. I was wondering, certainly the way we treat and respect our bodies has something to do with how we feel at our particular age? And if we treat and respect our bodies adequately, can we feel younger and healthier than our said ages? I know that our genes and DNA play a very big role in this analogy. And for those of you with poor genes and a crooked DNA line, I am so very sorry. You have an up hill battle from the start.

I am fortunate to come from good, strong stock. For my entire life, I have heard my mom say she doesn't feel her age. I know for a fact that she can't wrap her mind around the idea that she is 67. And often times, as she and my father are moving furniture, I have to remind her that she's not 40 anymore!

I don't know what I'll feel like in 20 years. But I do know that, despite my level of ability, I will be in a weight sculpting class. I will be participating in spin and yoga classes. And I will be running. I will be the woman some 45 year old is blogging about.

And I might even be rearranging the furniture in my living room.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You Can Go Anywhere You Want, One Footstep At A Time

I like to read. I like to run. I like to read about running. I can't read and run at the same time, however. I would fall. And I avoid injury at all cost.

The more I read about running, the more I realize just how much the "sport" has in common with life in general. Think about it...

1) Don't go out too fast. It's easy to get overly excited about an event in our life, get all caught up in the hype only to miss the journey and be let down at the end when it's over. Same with running. If you go out like a hare and don't police your pace, you will face miles and miles of grim death-marching.

2) Enjoy the fellowship of other runners. In doing short, local races, many of us show up, stretch, do the race, cool down, grab a snack and some water and leave. Why not slow down a bit and enjoy the comrades who relish the sport as much as you do? Similarly, in life, why not slow down JUST A BIT? Instead of getting your latte to go, why not pull up a chair and do some people watching and really enjoy that cuppa joe? Or, how about TWO times around the block with Fido every now and then?

3) Mental toughness is a tremendous asset. I think this is stating the obvious. Many people have said to me "I could never run a marathon". I've made that same statement. But I decided it was something I wanted to attempt and learned quickly that, while it clearly takes training and time and effort, the majority of this sport is really - REALLY - mental. Likewise, think about the mental toughness we must ensue on a day-to-day basis. We have to mentally prepare ourselves for bad news. Many of us have to prepare ourselves mentally for our everyday commute into work because the traffic is so horrible. We have to talk to ourselves and prepare ourselves, mentally, before having a serious conversation with our spouse or children. Mental toughness is a tremendous asset - in running and in life.

4) Youth isn't everything. As we age, our speed fades more quickly than our endurance. Personally, I'm okay with that. I would rather run farther than faster. Many times I have wanted to turn around at mile 22 to the 28 year old now behind me and say "nanny nanny boo boo". And in life, "let's not forget that experience and shrewdness can help offset the ravages of time".

5) Dropping out can be habit-forming, but can also be smart. That wall. Those WALLS! Those points in the race where you are absolutely certain you cannot take another step. The temptation to drop out is overwhelming. The decision to call it quits shouldn't be taken lightly because once you drop out that first time, it gets easier and easier to throw in the towel. However, there are times when you must trust your body and the signals it's sending you. There's something to be said for saving yourself for another day. The key is to knowing what your goals are and why they're important to you. If you can keep that mindset during your darkest moments of racing - and life - your decision to continue will probably be the right one.

When I run, I think. I ponder. I "what if". I plan. I sing. I cry. I smile. I "zone out". I clear my mind. I inhale deeply. I listen. I contemplate. And I've come to the conclusion that these are exactly the things I do in life.

I am healthy, strong and tough. And I will go anywhere I want, one footstep at a time.