I guess the sum of the last 39 years are technically my journey to 40 but it’s really just hit me in the last few months that this is really happening so as far as I’m concerned I’ve got about 3 months left to go before I plummet into The Land of 40 as the best me I can be.
40. Wow. That’s like a big number. Where did that come from? Why didn’t anyone warn me this was going to happen someday? Isn’t 40 considered half way to death? Aren’t I supposed to have all these things accomplished and figured out and DONE by 40? Well I haven’t and I don’t and that’s that so I am pretty much freaking out over this next stage of life. New challenges, new age group… isn’t it time to stop thinking and start doing more???
Whenever I complain to my friends about this impending large, round number, I am met with, “Age is just a state of mind, get over it!” and “Hey, I’m 50/60/70 so 40 is nothing!” and “40 is the best!” I disagree with all that. I’m older now than I’ve ever been and I’ve got nothing to compare it to so how the heck am I supposed to really and truly know that 40 is gonna be okay. I mean, I KNOW I’ll be fine (just older) but how I am going to deal with this whole aging process is another matter…
I prefer to agree with friends who say, “You’re turning 40, Laura??? Really, you don’t look a day over 32!” these are obviously the people who love me. (And it’s good to know I can lie about my age less 8 years- that should come in handy.)
Since this blog is supposed to be about running, health and fitness and not just my existential crises, let’s start there, shall we? Running. 40. Bottom of a new age group. Slower. Harder. More injuries. Lame.
I had a goal to go into 40 accomplishing my 3rd full marathon at SF this weekend but in February, my knee went down and I had to take many months off combined with a lot of physical therapy to get back to running again. I had no choice but to down grade to the half and even though I am 100% not ready, in any way, shape or form to run a half right now, I certainly will on Sunday. Somehow. (And I’m sure it will FEEL like a marathon!) So, I guess on the upside, 40 year olds are really stubborn- at least I’ve got that going for me!
Still healing, I had to adapt my 26.2 goals and that is very much a disappointment because I really want to be the kind of athlete that can bang out full after full and why not let’s go ahead and run an ultra and who doesn’t run 10 miles on a Tuesday just for fun? Me. I don’t do that. I run too much, I get injured. I have to baby my running now that I’m getting older and getting used to the idea that I can’t run as much as I used to makes me sad. Part of me is in total denial about that too- in my mind’s eye, I see a younger Laura running consecutive days, PR-ing all over the place, crossing finish line after finish line after finish line… <sigh> the older I get, incongruously, the bigger I dream.
I’m still going to accomplish my goals. This, I know. Yet, I keep asking myself if I really have to trade miles for youth? Does older really mean I can’t do the same things with my running that I used to? Do I have to just get used to the idea that with 40 comes a slower metabolism, slower speed, slower everything? I don’t really know… I guess I’ll find out come my birthday on November 1st!
I am getting back to running very well, I must admit, and I’m loving every minute of it even though 3 miles is tough for me right now, it’s steadily getting easier… whenever I start a run nowadays, I feel so thankful for the solace and freedom I feel on the road, like I’m back back to my happy place. However, I have to constantly remind myself not to take that feeling for granted and appreciate my ability no matter where I may be in terms of fitness- know it, own it, and do all the right things to keep it going for the next 40 years.
I also realize running isn’t the be all and end all- shocker, I know- and as I approach the big four-zero I feel the urge to try new things in order to push the boundaries of my comfort zone. To that end, I tried a Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga class a couple months ago and failed miserably. I can’t swim plus I am deathly afraid of the water so put me on an unsteady board and ask me to do a warrior 2 pose and PLOP right on into the water I went. For our upcoming wedding anniversary, we are going to do one of those zip line adventure things and even though I am also afraid of heights, there’s no water involved, so I’m gonna do it (screaming the whole time, I’m sure).
I want to push myself now more than ever and do things that scare me in order to prove to myself that, as everyone tells me, age really and truly is just a number. I’ll try SUP again, may even try to take some swimming lessons, won’t die on the zipline, will get back into road cycling, and may even start to plan for my first 50K… all to show myself that I CAN and WILL accomplish my goals, even at 40 and beyond.
I don’t believe in 40, but I do believe in me.
How about you, how do you feel about growing older and how has it affected your outlook on running and life? Do you think you need to change your goals as you age? Do you think running gets easier/harder the older you get? Has this view changed your race plans?