Tony Horton, the creator of the P90X videos is famous for saying, “Aging is for idiots!” I’m not so sure about that considering we all age, but he’s a good friend of mine and I can tell you that at 57, he pulls himself around a peg board better than most 20 year olds. Another ripped friend and colleague over 50 is the Primal Blueprint author and Paleo expert Mark Sisson. He plays Ultimate Frisbee like any other young buck. Laird Hamilton in the water, Ned Overend on the mountain bike, Gunhild Swanson on the run, the list goes on and on. They are all over 50 if not over 70 and the outliers of the world of fitness over 50.
These are the folks who defy the general theories of fitness and aging. I just heard it the other day, “wait until you hit 55, Ted. Then come talk to me.” I immediately thought of my friend Rami who is 52, is nationally ranked in the 800 meter race for masters. And he just finished running Hood to Coast with me, a 198mile relay race. We each ran an average of 18 miles, broken up into 3 legs, over the 25hrs 57mins. His average pace, a cool 6min 57secs per mile. Smooooookin!!!
We know these people are outliers in their game. They’ve been at it for years. Laird is famous for telling the story about how he’s ridden thousands of 2 foot waves, then thousands of 5 foot waves and his big wave accomplishments are simply a natural progression. My guess is that all the aforementioned athletes would agree. I know Tony has been at it for 20 plus years, Mark was an Olympic level marathoner, Rami, on the other hand, though a great athlete, only took up running in the last 5 years.
I met a man named Wayne once at an early morning swim. He was an older Asian gentleman. I was so inspired by his presence, I was compelled to ask his age. “Guess,” he said. “70,” I replied. He retorted, “79!” My inspiration! I told him I wanted to be like him when I grew up. He told me to keep on doing what I was doing and not to stop. He said that I might slow down eventually, but at that point who cares?! You’re still doing triathlons and you’re bound to win your age group because you’re probably 1 of 3 people at that point.
If you feel like your time has past and the days of true competition are over, think again. There is a wealth of knowledge and science coming out promoting training for the future. Those Baby Boomers can still compete! Here are some resources I’ve found along the way. Joel Friel’s new book Faster After 50; Margaret Webb’s Older, Faster, Stronger; and Bill Gifford’s Spring Chicken, just to name a few.
If you’re over 50 and you’re feeling down because you haven’t quite caught the fitness bug, don’t fear. It’s never too late to start. Simply pick up a copy of Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and you’ll be on your way! It’s a great book co-written with his doctor. He was an attorney in his early 70’s and about to retire. His doctor told him he was going to die if he didn’t change his lifestyle. Not only did he change it, but he started working out 6 days a week and now is on the best seller lists with subsequent books and travels around on speaking tours teaching people how to be fit and feel young. It’s never too late to start, but start you must. It will make you feel a whole lot better. Of course, if you have any questions, ping me on twitter @teddymcdonald. I’m always happy to steer you in the right direction.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/JulieKertesz