I love this blog post. Sarah Lavender Smith is a writer and a leading ultramarathoner who is trying to “make peace” with some basic physiological realities of aging (she’s a mere 48 years old, but that’s close enough to 50 to quote here 😉 ). After a particularly good recent workout, she found herself thinking, “I feel like my old self.” (Smith has been running for 20 years.) But then she reflected on what that really means.
I feel like my old self.
I pondered the phrase “my old self” and turned its meaning inside-out. “My old self” is my aging self right now at 48, not the person 10 years ago, and it will be my future self when I’m truly old. I need to reclaim that phrase, to let go of longing for a supposedly better version of myself from years ago, and cheer for this person who’s doing her best for a high-quality workout right here, right now.
No matter how hard I train, I am not going to run as fast as I did years ago. I can get faster than I currently am, but I won’t regain or even get close to those PR times. It’s a matter of physiology. So how can I feel better about this slower and older version of me, the one with the increasingly noticeable age spots on her forehead? The one who can’t believe her babies are 19 and 16?
Smith goes on to offer five tips for increasing “trail-running longevity.” With a little creativity, it’s easy to imagine applying these tips to just about any athletic activity we want to continue (or resume!) as we get older.
As Rich Roll said a few weeks ago, “it’s not about measuring yourself against any other person or what you used to be. You’ve got to train where you’re at.”