I’ve never been a complainer, believe that personal power and accountability are cornerstones to good health, and understand that challenges and adversity are simply part of life. Nobody gets to ride for free, and even though some may appear charmed or like they have it easy, adversity doesn’t always exist above the water line. We all face challenges and have to deal with adversity from time to time. In my opinion, how people deal with adversity is a key differentiator when it comes to overall health and happiness.
A little tip to those of you in your teens, twenties, or early thirties. No matter how nutritious and balanced your diet, or how effective your training routine, it’s a fact that the the older you get the more aches and pains you’ll have the pleasure of dealing with on a daily basis. Since I’ve been in my 40’s it seems like I’ve always had some ache, throb, stab, tingle or twinge to deal with, and it seems that more recently my average has increased to two or three things I’m dealing with at any given time. Sore knee, strained shoulder, tired arches, the list goes on. So, is my point middle-age sucks? No. On the contrary, I think this is a great age, and one that can be the most active and rewarding in your life. The challenge is that the natural adversity that comes with middle age in the form of sore, tired and hurting, creates a real barrier to good health for many.
In a sense the somewhat constant undercurrent of stiff, tired and sore creates a very legitimate set of excuses to move your body less. To say “no thank you” to running in the park with your kids, to working out, to dancing at the club with your significant other. I believe how you deal with this dilemma in your late twenties and early thirties sets the tone to your health and fitness for the rest of your life. If you give in and let the aches and pains dictate your mobility, you’re giving up a lot. You can feel sorry for your self and play into this sedentary tractor beam, but I think that’s just an incredibly easy and convenient excuse. After my knee surgery, when I was cleared to snow ski, I was taking my first few runs of the season at Mammoth Mountain. My leg didn’t feel very good and I was getting really frustrated and disheartened. Not terrible acute pain that needed attention, but enough to weigh on my mind most of the day. At my lowest moment, when thoughts like, “Man, am I going to become one of those people that just takes it easy on the mellow runs for the rest of my life?” were going through my mind, a person with one leg blew past me, cut through the trees and shot down an expert run. I had no excuse to do anything but enjoy my day of skiing. It was just what I needed. Personal accountability, passion and determination can overcome any challenge.
Taking on the aches and pains that come with aging doesn’t mean things will be easy, or that you’ll be able to do things the exact way you always have. It may require a little extra drive along with some adapting and creativity. So if you like running and you’re having issues with your knees, you may have to find another way to get your cardio fix. The important thing is that you get your cardio fix, not how you get it.
I’m relatively new to the “Middle Age Man” thing, and it’s definitely a learning experience. Thus, I don’t have this mastered, and frankly I have some things to work through. My right knee (the one where I had meniscus surgery in October) still feels like it needs healing/strengthening, my left (formerly referred to as “good”) knee has actually felt a bit strained recently, and I tweaked my right shoulder during weight training last week. I’ve basically felt a bit old, tired and injured. I’ve seen my doctor to ensure I don’t do anything that can cause a more significant injury, I’m resting what needs to be rested (remember RICE), and I’m finding ways to keep training and moving. Broken, but not beaten.
Find your way, don’t give up and just do it.
Small steps add up!