40 IS THE PERFECT AGE. Renee Moilanen, in her article for the Daily Breeze* “40 Is the Perfect Age to Prove Our Mettle” indirectly issues a challenge that likely many who are approaching 40 years of age are eager to accept and meet.
She presents statistics that support her theory that 40-somethings are willing to be tested to the limits of physical endurance to prove they still have what it takes. Moilanen reports, “Last year, the 40-plus crowd comprised the largest percentage of all marathon runners, making up nearly half the total. And 40 is the median age for male marathon runners — a number that hasn’t changed since 2005 — with the median age for women creeping closer to 40 each year, according to Running USA.”
“The 40-44 age bracket makes up the largest block in USA Triathlon, representing nearly one-third of the members. The average age of Iron Man competitors is even higher at 43.”
The article is a cheerleading piece that points out why people in this age group are well-equipped to take on endurance sports like marathon running and triathlons. They have learned to survive and bounce back from failure, can multitask, and already have adopted disciplined lifestyles. If you are well into your fourth decade (30’s) or made it into your fifth (40’s), this kind of writing can be inspiring. “Go get ‘em”, she seems to be saying, and “just do it” because life happens and you’ve shown you can handle it. Make the best of now.
There is a need for “master’s division” runners to adjust expectations, the author admits, because slower times are to be expected. She explains “we’re not trying to win these competitions or impress anyone. We do it to prove to ourselves that our bodies can still keep up with our brains, which don’t feel a day over 20.”
Earned Runs agrees that the 40’s are a great time to show you’re STILL ‘in the game’, or that you’re willing to GET in the game of running races. But that ‘game’ doesn’t need to be a mind-blowing and potentially joint-blowing experience. Many who have survived decades of running and are now into their sixth and seventh decades (50-60’s) are thankful for still being able to run at all!
Regardless of current age, most runners know age-group peers who have had to give up a favorite sport activity, like running, because they weren’t aware of or conscientious about safe training.
This lovely article encourages 40-ish runners who take on the more demanding feats of endurance (marathons and triathlons), BUT what about shorter distance competitions? Or walking competitions? A 5K or 10K running or walking race may represent “extreme” endurance tests to some in this age group who have not ever lined up at a race “start”. Training for a half marathon is a huge undertaking for someone who has never considered spending 2-3 hours on a weekend morning involved in a long run session.
In all age groups, attention must be paid to keeping body parts and tissues healthy, and preserving maximal function well into the future. If you truthfully wish to prove something to yourself, not others, search broadly for challenges that test your discipline and improve your knowledge of safe training practices.
As time ticks on, it will be a huge accomplishment to remain injury free, enjoying your sport.
*The Daily Breeze, is a publication from the South Bay area city of Redondo Beach, California in greater Los Angeles.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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