“You’re Never Too Old, It’s Never Too Late”
Many people including my immediate family members asked why I felt the need to run my 11th JFK Ultramarathon after I had completed my 10th consecutive one 3 years ago. At that time, I was inducted into the “500 Club” which means nothing really too important to most people but a milestone to those who enjoy the personal achievement of 50-mile runs. At the time I achieved this goal, but thought I’d put the distance running aside, after all I was 60 years old. Was I getting “too old for this?” So, I didn’t quit fitness but focused on cycling, stretching, and swimming instead. However, I missed the long training runs with my previous running partners. I wanted to “test the limits” to see if I could yet complete another at age 63. Quietly I increased my distances, kept up with my other fitness activities and mentally prepared for the discomfort I would be putting my self through.
Some interesting statistics on ultra-runners include 20% of all ultradistance race finishers in the United States last year were 50 years old and over. There has also been a 50% increase in ultrarunners in the past 5 years. Ultra-marathon runners are typically older than the average runner. It also requires that one may be a “little bit crazy” to undergo such a feat. It takes mental and physical patience. Ultrarunners typically stay in their comfort zone during training and during the actual race day. Many of the training runs occur on trails that are much more pounding forgiveness compared to runs on pavement. This article is not advocating that every over 50-year-old should go out and start training for such an athletic event. Certain people, their body type, level of commitment or cardiac health may have limitations.
However, if your dream is to do an ultra, a 26-mile marathon, 5K, or even a 1-mile walk you must never give up your dream, not even during a pandemic. Most importantly during this time of limited outings and travel consider this is a good time to start a serious wellness through exercise goal.
With this blog, I wanted to share my recent achievement not so much as self- glorification but to inspire and motivate others to take a positive risk in your own life. Believe in yourself that you can make a difference in your mental and physical well-being. Get out there to walk, jog, stretch, or complete your physical therapy program if that’s your immediate goal. Get out of your head, keep that completed goal fresh in your mind. Trust me, by about mile 30 the head games started to get me concerned. Those reoccurring little negative voices I heard, repeating “This is too hard, too painful, I’m sore, I want to quit” Yes, I heard them, but was prepared for them and prepared to shut them out of my mind. More important to me however was a finish. “I started this, I’ll finish, pain and fatigue is temporary!” So, 13 hours later, and many great conversations with runners on the way, it was completed, and I experienced the attainment of my 11th ultra.
Hope my journey inspires you to stay well, participate and try to improve your fitness. 2021 is just around the corner, make it a little better than 2020.
Finally, for those who experienced sickness from the pandemic or lost a friend or family members my positive thoughts and prayers go out to you.