Sex and The Aging Runner

Two weeks ago, I raced in the Downtown Dash, a 10K run in Burlington.  This wasn’t an A-race, one that was a “big” goal, but it was one that I wanted to run well.  After all, it was the 10K Championship Race for the Ontario Masters Association and a solid finish would give me bragging rights for the next year.

I ran well – 44:04 – but not as well as I hope; I was wanting to finish under 43 minutes.  The guys that I train with know that I have it in me and so do I but, when it came time to perform, I just couldn’t go as hard as I wanted to.

It took a week for me to fully analyze why I ran the way I did.  Mostly, I think it is because I still don’t have the gunshot instinct and am still hesistant to go all out.   I can push hard in a 5K because it’s only 21 minutes but a 10K….that’s totally different.

When I got home, I started to over-analyze the reasons for my finish time.  I have done the track work, the tempos, the long runs and the mileage; my paces are on target.  Could it be that I’m just getting too old to see any improvement?

Many of the big running magazines have recently focussed on Masters running.  Yes, in general, Masters’ times have improved in the past twenty years but many writers also paint a depressing picture of how much slower we get as we age.  I couldn’t help but think of the many articles that I’ve read that emphasize this.

When I opened up to Coach Kevin, he fired right back at me.  “If you think you’re over the hill, then you might as well be.”  I was immediately put back in my spot.  He continued, stating that older runners can still get faster; it’s just harder. 

Suddenly things made sense.  I couldn’t help but compare Kevin’s statement to parenting.   I was older (36) when I had my first child and my second was born five years later. There are days when I really notice how much tougher it can be with the second; I have to focus and work more to be a patient mom.   For me, running is the same.  I have to focus and work harder to achieve what I want.

I mentionned this to 45 year old Darryl, who also ran the Downtown Dash and walked away with the same sentiments that I did.  He immediately agreed, commenting that running is much harder for him now than when he was in high school.  Basically, he has to “rely on his brain more, and train smarter.”

As we get older, we naturally can’t perform the way we use to.  Our vision and other senses, our metabolism, our bodies, and even our brains…they naturally want to slow down.  But the desire to achieve and the drive to go after our goals keeps us fighting that aging process.  For me, that same ambition pushes me back to my training and finds me pushing myself that much more so that I can toe the line and continue to chase my dreams.

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