Sunday, December 28, 2008

Is age getting the best of me?

December 28th and I ran in shorts and short sleeves this morning! The trails were a mess so I ran a very hilly road course and my legs felt great, unexpectedly. I keep overthinking this whole age thing. There are some days that remind me that I'm supposedly on the downward slope. This isn't a depressing thing, just the factuality that I started racing in my 20's and I'm now in my 40's. These are the days when I feel a bit more stiff than usual. When my gait seems three inches shorter than it used to and when I don't have that spring up the hills that I remember. I'm not looking for sympathy, trust me. I'm just jotting down my thoughts. I know that this is a bit self consuming and that's the one battle I continuously have with keeping a blog anyways, but maybe there is something of value in here. If not, then you just wasted a minute of your time reading this. (Straz, that's five minutes of your time - I know your reading level.)

I perform a lot of self analysis tests - tests that I have been using for years to compare and evaluate where my present fitness is. I recommend often that my athletes come up with a solid run course and bike course where they themselves can perform such tests. As much as these tests give me an idea of my present fitness AND health (you can have one and not the other), I also know that lab results and tests aren't always accurate in depicting certain information. Trust me, I've been doing this for over twenty years and have studied the analytical as well as the actual.

The main obstacle when evaluating ones form and fitness and health is in not lying to oneself. Lying in general is something that really bothers the hell out of me. I know it bothers most, but I really get overly irritated with it for some reason. It's the main thing I stress constantly to my kids. "we never lie", "be humble" and "always think about yourself in someone elses shoes" are the lessons that I hope become ingrained in them from my constant reminding(nagging). We all have some ability to lie to ourselves. Justifying is a form of this. This is a self-defense mechanism set up so that we don't get ourselves in to much trouble physically. Now I'm not talking about justifying or lying with non-physical things. There is a difference and it has to do with ethics. Convincing lots of people to invest their life savings with you and screwing them out of that money is a bit different than convincing yourself that you gave it your all and did the best race you could, don't you think? OK, I'm getting off topic.

I don't want to lie to myself, telling myself that I'm as fit as I was maybe two or ten years ago and convincing myself that I'm not on that downward slope. If I feel I can't run as fast as I once was able to, I'll deal with it. That brings me to today.

As I was out on my run, feeling good and thinking about the upcoming year and goals (I recently sent all my athletes a specific goal sheet asking them about their realistic goals and their dream or reach goals), I thought about whether I was setting the bar to high or to low. And with all the HR, wattage and time tests that I performed this past year, the one test that puts a smile on my face and proves to me that I can still put out my best times (this is if I had the amount of time I would need to put into training) is the Vermont Ride I did with Baker and Molson in August. After doing this ride since 97 every year, sometimes twice per year, I averaged my fastest time to date and felt strong the whole way there AND back. Reflecting on this gives me a lot of confidence knowing that this coming year is going to be an exciting one and one where I definitely reach!




alan said...

Talk about timely- I did a long run yesterday with a friend and went out and rode with a group today and was surprised that my legs felt good- not as good as they did, but good. Why ?

I assume that I'm getting old, and recovery will be more elusive. I feel like I'm in that trap where I should be honest with myself and admit that I'm getting slower, but I'm not sure I am yet-

I'd rather focus on being smarter, eating better, sleeping more, improving my form.

When I think about the guys in their 50s that can kick my ass- including ones you coach- that's something to shoot for...

Anonymous said...

I started reading this column yesterday and just finished now - good stuff.

The main thing I noticed while approaching 40 isn't so much increased recovery time vs. that I really needed to get serious about stretching. In my 20's to early 30's the only stretching I did was right before races. Now, I get crazy tight if I don't include a little croutching tiger hidden penis (name that movie).


Eric said...

Andy Dick, Old School

Anonymous said...

Damn you and your movie knowledge Eric Hodska.

And Alan, get to bed already! 11:12pm? Isn't that going against your goal of sleeping more?

I'm going to go work on the Red Dragon now, it's not really street legal so let's keep it on the down low.


Eric said...

I'm about to head out to Home Depot. Maybe Bed, Bath and Beyond. I don't know... I don't know if I'll have time.

alan said...

I ran a 5K on New Years Day and there of the top four finishers were old guys in their 40s.

Resolved: no more bitching about how old and slow we are