Monday, May 11, 2009

Life Isn't Over After 40 or 101!

More and more in the news you read about how people are living longer. Not only are people living longer, but the quality of life and health of the elderly is better than 10, 20, 30 years ago. A lot can be contributed to the advances in medical science, but I also think there's been a big shift in the mindset and expectations of people as they get older. Or maybe the two (medical advances and mindset changes) are working together to extend our lives. Research shows that the more active you are the healthier you'll be both physically and mentally. I'm speaking in generalities, but for the most part I really think there's a lot of truth in the old saying, "If you don't use it, you'll lose it."

Many moons ago when I was teaching 5th grade, my students dressed in black and gave me a cane for my 30th birthday. I got a big kick out of it. To them (10 and 11-year-olds), I suppose I was old. Funny though, I do know some really "old" 30-year-olds and I know some really "young" 70-year-olds. In part, age is a mindset. In 1997, I ran my first marathon—NYC. I was 32. The oldest person who ran the marathon that year, was 95-years-old! He was over 60 years older than me! I don't remember his exact time, but it was around 5 to 5.5 hrs. I was amazed and inspired!

That first marathon was over 11 years ago, and I'm running better and faster now in my forties, than in my early 30s. In fact I'm in better shape now than when I was in my 20s. Why? Because I take time to be active, eat well, and take care of myself. Life definitely isn't over after 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, or 100!

Simple things like walking can really benefit individuals as they age. A recent study consisted of a group of 60-year-olds and older that were enrolled in a 4-month walking program and a control group of the same ages that was not involved in the walking program. The participants in the walking-program showed marked improvements.
  • Physical function scores increased by 25% for the walking group, but decreased by 8.3% in the other group.
  • The walking group's disability risk decreased by 41%.
  • Peak aerobic capacity increased 19% for the walkers.
  • Peak aerobic capacity declined 9% for the control group.
Through Twitter, I've befriended a really cool guy, Jeff Pickett, who has a great blog appropriately titled, Life Isn't Over at 40 or Any Age. Jeff blogs on a variety of running-related topics, but the coolest part of his blog is his video diary of his training for the upcoming Twin Cities Marathon this fall. Jeff share's his ideas and theories about his training as well as the hardships and successes he incurs while training. The honest sharing of his marathon journey has me hooked and I'm rooting him on in his quest. When you have a chance, check out his blog as well as the sample clip below.


20 comments:

Missy said...

Hell, at 36, I'm in better shape now than I was at 26! If I can keep the trend going...better shape at 46 than 36, now we're talkin.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Missy! I'm right with you! Isn't there another saying, "Things get better with age." LOL!

Jeff P said...

I'm honored by the mention in your much better blog, but thanks just the same for the kind words. I'll try not to disappoint as I continue my ramblings and I'm anxious it will have a happy ending. It's always great to meet other runners, read their input and advice and become stronger at the same time. Keep up the good work and the insightful posts!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jeff! Don't sell yourself short man, you've got a great blog! And, your race definitely will have a great outcome. Your training is right on track and your doing great.

Chic Runner said...

I totally agree with you, sometimes the age excuse just doesn't work! :)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Chic Runner! Just had a Twitter friend tell me that a 70-year-old in his running group still does sub 8-minute miles in 5k and 10Ks! Awesome!

untpawgal02 said...

I don't have an excuse yet... but I'm hoping as I grow in age... I am able to perform better and faster than I am right now as an athlete in my mid 20s!

Ulyana said...

You know, I'm 24, and I am constantly amazed at people who are just slightly older than I am who cannot stop whining how old they are!!! Ridiculous, isn't it?

I know people who literally wrote their entire lives off because they hit 30 or are approaching that number. Why run a marathon - I'm 30, my life is over, I'm running out of time! Why get a degree - I'm 30, life is over, I'm running out of time! ETC.

You are right, it's all a matter of mindset! At least, I refuse to even begin to think that in 2-3 years I'll be old. HA! I'm not planning on getting old at all :)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Untpawgal02! I'm sure you're doing just great now, but you'll be surprised how you'll do even better as the years go by!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Ulyana! You've definitely got the right attitude! I'm 43 and I'm not old. Nor will I be old when I'm 53, or 63, or 73....LOL!!

Jessica Lane said...

Good post. It's so inspiring to see people at that age running marathons. Well, I hope I get in better shape as I age! I need some marathons under my belt!

Oh and I loved the video. I'll be checking in on his blog from time to time as well.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jessica! Thanks!I have no doubt you'll get those marathons done! I'll let Jeff know you'll be checkin in on his progress. Happy Running!

Lorenda said...

Last year I was eating after a marathon and a dude came and sat down at the table with his food, I figured he had just finished. Nope, he had finished about 30 minutes ahead of me. He had recently turned 70 and ran a 3:30 marathon and it was his 70th marathon!
I'm in better shape at age 46 than I was in my 30s and don't plan on getting old anytime soon!

runnerinsight said...

Naturally, our body also ages as we age, but true as it is, a runner is getting better and stronger than ever as he/she ages! Thats the magic of running and us as runners! Kudos to us all!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Lorenda! I know what you mean. As I age the competition is actually getting tougher! There are some fast runners in the 40-44 age group and even faster ones in the 45-50 group. Keeps me on my toes (literally!)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Runnerinsight! Yep, that's the cool thing about running. Anyone can do it and do it at their own level. Then they can set their own goals to shoot for. It's one of the few sports/activities where you can have your own individual goals yet be with a group. Kind of cool, huh?

Running Through Life said...

I think with age comes wisdom. I am turning th big 40 this summer and I feel that I am in the best shape of my life. I am amazed and wish I would have discovered this fountain of youth (running) years earlier.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Running Through Life! You sound like me. But no looking back or regrets. Just keep moving forward and being as healthy and fit as you can be!

NoMeatAthlete said...

Great to hear about people doing their best running as they get older. I started running relatively late and still have some major goals to achieve, so it's very inspiring to hear this!

RunnerDude said...

Hey NoMeatAthlete! You'll make those goals. No doubt!!