I have never been this old before

My sons and I often use group text messages for updates, jokes, check-ins, news and whatever else is on anyone’s mind that may be of interest to all four of us. In a recent shout out, my youngest asked how my running regimen was coming along.

On March 1, I started a “running” routine so I could, someday, truly run again. I put the word in quotation marks because the old track guy in me won’t allow me to describe anything as running that involves more time or distance actually walking. I have loved running all my life but participating regularly in my favorite sport tapered off to nothing about 35 years ago.

I thought I had it all figured out about how to get back into the swing of things – I was, after all, certified as a track coach by The Athletics Congress (overseer of amateur track and field at the time) almost 40 years ago and I coached youth for about five years, and I coached myself when I got kicked off the track team in high school. Surely, my experiences would appropriately facilitate my return to the sport with intelligent, well thought-out workouts that would bring me back to running condition. My mind raced with possible responses to my son’s query. The first thought that came to my mind before I typed a response was telling.

“I’ve never been this old before,” I thought.  Behind that thought were many lessons learned from a lot of research between March 1 and March 31. The new workouts revealed new realities. On April 1, various home projects and a new work schedule officially knocked me out of the workout routine that was leading me to improvement, as well as teaching me new lessons, humbling my ego, lowering my goals and the timing thereof, and much more.  Clearly, a lot has changed over the past 35 years, not the least of which is my body, i.e., its size, flexibility and mechanics. While being able to use some of what I knew about the sport and about myself, I was learning a lot because I was in new territory…”I’ve never been this old before.”

Trying something at 30 that you did at 20 is challenge enough but trying at pert-near-65 what you did at 30 is altogether different. And that’s okay.

I want to run because I WANT to RUN, not to compete, not to achieve some conditioning goals, but because…I love running, particularly shorter runs at faster pace, not that I object to the ideas of competing again and getting into better shape. My motivation is that I WANT to RUN. I figure that objective might need some adjustments, too, as I re-start this weekend the running quest, armed with new information, insights and humility.

The March experience achieved some goals, but more so enlightened me that once-flexible muscles are not nearly as much now and that the body doesn’t recover from workouts as quickly as in the younger years.  And that’s okay, too.

Fact is, on any given day none of us have ever been as old before. We age, learn, grow. Conditions change, as do our mindsets and some realities. It doesn’t take a three-decade gap to remind us that today is different than before; we might need to learn something new to fully appreciate and enjoy this day. We may need to be more humble and wiser; we may need to be more patient and more understanding; we may need to be clever and creative. And that is definitely okay.  It’s better than okay; it is what makes each new day a chance to live in newness.

With a new day comes a new chance, empowered by new insights and knowledge. And so it was that when I typed my response to my sons, I concluded with “But learn, adapt and move on.”  Such is life, such is getting older and that is more than okay…that is living.

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