Midlife Fitness

I found this in my drafts folder. I wrote it four years ago and it’s a great summary of my late-40s approach to fitness.

Looking back, I had forgotten how many times I recovered from severe injury – three times in my 40s, each one a doozy! That’s about 65 weeks of rehab in the last decade.

Each time, I wondered “is this it?” Each time, I came back, eventually.

Avoid long gaps, rehab your injuries, keep it simple and persist.

Your future self will thank you.

What follows is from Sept 2016…


2016-09-16-12-31-17I finished summer by spending a week riding from Telluride to Moab.

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I was coming off the most severe bike crash of the last five years and a summer of unstructured training. As such, I was pleasantly surprised by my fitness.

My current regime is simple…

  • get out the door twice a day
  • move in nature
  • strength train twice a week

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The crash had me thinking about why orthopedic intervention often fails my friends.

#1 – Many athletes come to their doctor seeking relief so they can make a rapid return to the lifestyle that injured them in the first place.

#2 – How may of us are willing to undergo a sustained plan to strengthen the area that was hurt?

In my case, I landed hard on my left shoulder. Eight weeks after the crash, and six weeks into rehab, things have settled back to normal. By “normal,” I am a pain-free, slightly weaker, version of my prior self.

I find the lack of pain is reducing my motivation to strengthen myself.

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Real taboos are evidenced by what we don’t talk about. As such, the topic of personal hormone supplementation rarely comes up in a group setting.

But I am asked in private and I share…

#1 – it takes a tremendous amount of effort, time and money to safely override Mother Nature. There are numerous examples of large-scale medical harms being caused with good intentions (interesting read linked). Steer clear of elective medication.

#2 – Separate from the risk of screwing up your health, my friends are at a place where judgement at work, and kindness at home, is a priority. Giving yourself the blood chemistry of a teenager greatly increases the likelihood of a massive unforced error.

Whether it’s sleeping pills, hormones or some other additive. Consider phasing it out.

As I age, what I truly value is time with good friends in nature.

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We ended the trip with a nice dinner halfway between Moab and Boulder.

A buddy, in his early 30s, was celebrating his birthday. He’d been listening to the “nearly-50s” all week and asked what all this meant for his racing. Was he wasting his time?

When I was your age, the ONLY thing I cared about was training all day, every day. It cost me a few relationships but I had a blast. You’re doing great and there’s no rush to live like a middle aged man. Just keep your eyes open if things stop working so well.

I then launched into my spiel, which was my article on passion.

The Second Stage of Aging

Barbie Movie NightMy post on The Middle-Aged Athlete was inspired by James Hillman’s book on The Force of Character – author discussing his book below.

The book has nuggets throughout that offer a insight into the experience of “getting old.” The central premise is aging will make us more of what we are. “What we are” being Hillman’s definition of character.

So I asked myself, “What are my central traits?” and, more usefully, “What traits work against the life I’d like to live?

If you’re like me then, at least initially, you’ll come up with a shopping list of admirable traits – things you like about yourself. So far, I haven’t had the courage to verify this list with my wife!

More useful is to reflect on the traits that might lead one’s self into trouble. Quickly, I came up with two…

  • A preference for isolation
  • A tendency for internal over-reaction

Combine those two, magnify them, accept them for another 20, 30 or 40 years and you’ve got one heck of a cranky Old G.

I suffer disproportionately from my negative traits – particularly the internal reactions, hidden from most people. Fortunately, there’s a well-known fix for training one’s mind.

To the traits above, my wife advised that I “should watch my tendency to let myself go.” So true, my love, so true.

As things inevitably unwind, our personal truth comes to the foreground.