I thought that by the time that I was 45 that I would settle into a normal, age appropriate fitness routine for middle age. For a couple of years when my kids were very young and I was consistently sleep deprived and working 50 hours a week, I only exercised 30 minutes a day. My sane friends, not to mention my wife, approved of this mild routine. However, at 45 I am back at it an hour a day (much more in triathlon season) six to seven days a week.
I look at my race numbers from triathlons-all 107 of them dating back to the first term of the Clinton administration and think why do I still get up at 4:30 AM and drive 50 miles to do them? At 40 when most people take up golf, I started jiu-jitsu where you get to choke, head lock, and trip people. It is a very good workout, but the average age of the people who train alongside me were born in the mid 1980’s. My family takes Tae Kwon Do and all of us take the basic class together. However, when my son wanted to do the advanced sparring class, I participated with him. Besides the instructor, I am the only one in there who can legally order a beer. The class is intense-double kicking, running, jumping, and sparring. I can hold my own, but the 16 year-olds look at me funny after class when I stretch for 20 minutes and ice down. Throw in boxing, strength training, swimming, biking, running, hiking, and roller blading and you have my menu of workouts.
My exercise activities are all satisfying, but unlike at 25 where there is no preparation work, one must prepare carefully and consistently to avoid injury. Yoga, stretching, massage therapy, ice packs, heating pads, hot showers, cold showers, and off days are all part of the routine. Morning stretch routines, good nutrition, and ample sleep are also pertinent now. I simultaneously laugh and cringe when I watch old videos of myself playing goalie in ice hockey from my teenage years, effortlessly gliding and moving my body in contorted positions that would now surely send me to the emergency room if I tried to replicate them.
What to do? Conform to most of my peer group at my age and take up age appropriate activities and spend more time sitting on my porch with scotch in hand? Take all the money spent on triathlons and jiu-jitsu lessons and buy a fancy convertible? This sounds logical, but not fulfilling. I smile inside when I read about 80 year olds finishing the Ironman triathlon or people born in the first half of the 20th century rolling on the jiu-jitsu mat. For some reason, getting up at 5:30 AM to ride for an hour to start my day is still very rewarding, cranking away at the pedals on the bike which like its owner is a bit rusted and worn out, but still in decent working condition. Some dinosaurs still want to play.