I believe the below quote pretty much sums up where I have been about my running over the last week.
It wasn’t enough to know the who, what, when, and where; you had to understand what it meant. And why it mattered.”Mckeown, Greg. Essentialism (p. 74). Crown. Kindle Edition.
After last week’s 5K time trial, I needed some time before writing about why something as simple as a routine time trial mattered that much to me. I didn’t want to do my usual knee-jerk reaction and then gloss over the “why.”
I needed to process – Why it mattered?
In many ways, I have been dreading facing the moment that happened last week.
Yet, when I look back, I know that I have subconsciously and sometimes consciously avoided this type of run and, yes, races where they would have made me face the reality of how much my times have fallen off over the past couple of years – COVID-19 notwithstanding.
After all, many of us equate our times to our progress or how “good” a runner we are. Therefore, if our times do not meet our expectations, we seek ways to improve those times. However, finding the correct balance between ability, fitness, and reality has always been the sticking point for most of us, well at least for me.
While I like to think that I have a pretty good handle on my ego. At times, I know that I identify with Harold the Runner more than I should. While I don’t have too many delusions of grandeur left and have never been anything special as a runner, I still pride myself on running decently for my age group locally.
That 5K time trial result shot that vision of myself completely to hell once I saw the time I had run.
As a result of all that – do I feel like the stereotypical bumbling old fool, who, despite the evidence before his eyes, wants to believe that he can turn back time to keep running “better times” as he gets older.
Still, it is tough on the ego, and you always have a flicker of hope in the back of your mind that maybe if I train with this plan/device or get that a different pair of running shoes, something will bring back the glory years.
While I might be foolish, stubborn, and the old elevator may not always make it to the top floor, I am not stupid. I knew without much doubt that it was just a question of time before my age caught up to me. I know that I needed to go through this experience (I think most of us do) and get smacked upside of the head with my actual performance, not the one that I had playing in my head. I had to see that slower 5K time.
Yeah, the reality of aging.
Yes, that 5K time trial got rid of all the fuzzy edges of what aging is doing to my running prowess.
Does it mean that I give up and go eat bonbons on the couch?
Oh, Hell no!
What will I do?
Keep running, of course.
Yet doing the same routines and wishful thinking will not get me where I want to go. Although I do believe that I have room to significantly improve the 5K time trial results. But only If I do the work, train properly, and use a little common sense.
What are the things that I need to do?
- Take a long look at my running priorities. I know areas need to be changed due to COVID and other shifting perspectives. This is something that I will be doing over the next few weeks.
- Enjoy the fact that I am still running and able to compete if I chose to. However, I have to stop competing with the runner I was or might have been. This has been one of those ongoing things and something that I will continue to work on.
- Stop making outlandish goals or predictions. Yeah, they sound cool, but they also make me look and sound like an old fool or a pompous arse, who is losing touch with reality completely. I may be an old fool, but I manage to keep one foot, in reality, most of the time.
- Train smarter. Let the injuries heal and do the work to maintain what skills and abilities that I still have for as long as I can.
- Continue to learn more about how the body/mind works, improving my running, and, yes, the aging process. Keeping current with new ideas, theories, and practical aspects that will be useful for me going forward.
- Do the mobility, balance, and strength work that I have mostly avoided throughout my life as a runner. I know, doing those things will not help me regain my lost youth or speed, but they might let me feel better when running in the future.
- The one that I know affects me is eating better. I have a pretty good-sized sweet tooth, chips have always been a comfort food, and my portion control needs to be controlled. Ice cream is its own food group, but I have cut back quite a bit on that already.
None of these are earth-shattering or even new for me, but each year it becomes more apparent that to achieve my primary goal to still be running in 20 years, I have to incorporate them into my lifestyle, not just my running life.
Most of all – I need to do, not try, think, dream or fantasize about doing the work. As Master Yoda says. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.
The reality is that
I am not an old fool who doesn’t accept that he is getting old. I know that I am and see it in the mirror every day. Even so, I sure as hell am not going to run out, buy a fancy car, start doing the bar-hopping routine or pay to have lovely young tarts hang off my arms. That ain’t who I am and doesn’t interest me. Actually, I feel pretty sorry for those old people who think they have to go out and be that person. It usually isn’t them either.
My focus is on living a quiet but healthy life. One where I get to enjoy my family and friends, along with doing way too much running.
To answer the question “Why it mattered?”. The 5K time trial results forced me to look clearly at where I am as an older runner. To stop deluding myself and make me focus more on what I need to do now.
Who knows, now that I am not hiding from myself, maybe I will make it to a few more races or time trials to see where I really am as a runner – now, not who I used to be. However, I believe that there is a lot of room for improvement to the 5K Time Trial results from last week.
Living well is about learning from our mistakes, and I made my share leading up to the time trial. Fortunately, I still have opportunities to make changes, and while the process I will go through to make improvements will most likely be a convoluted one (I know me), it is still a process that I can be successful at.
I also know that I am not the first and will not be the last runner to go through the changes that aging brings to our running and experience difficulty accepting the new normal.
Keep smiling and running, I plan to.