Saturday, January 14, 2012

Two Runners and a Lesson

It's interesting how things for us distance runners change as we age.The obvious change of course relates to all things physical,we get slower, our recovery takes longer as the years go by. There is another type of change that occurs but is not always discussed.The following will take a look at this other aspect by reading the profiles of two different runners.
The first one is about Jennifer, a masters distance runner who had at one time qualified for the Olympic marathon trials.As she neared the age of 46, it was her goal to qualify one more time. There was a problem though, she was plagued by a persistent, deep musculoskeletal condition in her hip and groin area that made training over half an hour impossible. She had been to several doctors,trainers and health practitioners over a period of several months to find a cure. Jennifer was totally preoccupied with this condition. One couldn't engage in a simple conversation without her bringing this situation up. In speaking with her one day I asked what kind of training had she been doing prior to the injury. It would be an understatement to say it was intense, it was much like what you see prescribed to college athletes, heavy on intervals and fast pace work.When I made some suggestions on modifying her training in order to make accommodations for her age, she dismissed them.Last I heard, she was still injured,still looking for a cure.
The other runner is Brian. Brian was an outstanding runner prior to college as well as in college and after.
While in college he had been nationally ranked in a few events,run a sub-30 minute 10k indoors, and for years, dominated the Buffalo area road racing scene. When I recently spoke with him over the telephone I asked what kind of running and racing he had been doing.Brian by the way, had moved out West. His response to my question was both interesting and insightful. He remarked that he does no racing these days but runs regularly because he loves doing so. He said that he had been approached by an elite masters racing team in his area who'd asked him if he wanted to join their club. He told them he wasn't interested. When I questioned why he said that, he told me that to maintain the kind of racing fitness this club would expect,it wouldn't be worth the time,effort and focus required. "Basically I would be trying to do the type of training I did in college, and for what purpose? To compete in some elite master's races somewhere? My times might be good but nothing like they were in my 20's. I'm married now,have a 3 yr. old son and a great job,my priorities have changed. What's the saying, been there,done that? I had a great time but it's time to move on to new challenges. I know if I stepped up my running just a few days a week,say on the weekends, it wouldn't take long before I could do well in my age group locally but that's not my priority now. There comes a time when you've got to control or forget your ego and not be so concerned about doing things that give you alone satisfaction."
There may also come a time for us when we need to look at our running and racing. Are we being realistic about what we are trying to accomplish? Are we being considerate to family and others close to us? This running life carries with it the potential to be a very selfish,self-serving lifestyle. It needn't be if we are willing to look beyond ourselves.


  1. I used to be more like the first runner in the story, now I'm more like the second. Hopefully that means I learned something along the way :o)

  2. It sure does show you've learned something.
    With the girl above this saying is applicable--"Those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them."
    Part of life involves making adjustments and moving on.

  3. As we age one needs to accept the fact slowing down training and racing is part of the equation. I believe racing can still be fun if you accept the slower times and enjoy the companionship. Our family meets periodically in different part of the country to have fun, train, and race. We love doing our best and just hanging out together and being around other runners.