Where will you be with your running in thirty years?
Ever since I graduated from college in 2009, I have been living life in constant denial about the idea of planning for the future.
Prime example: My AmeriCorps term is up at the end of July. What am I doing next, you ask? Am I researching graduate schools? Am I applying for jobs, updating my resume, crafting slickly targeted cover letters? Am I doing any life planning more extensive than occasionally typing inane search terms into job engines, or even worse, turning to Google for the answers to life’s more perplexing questions?
Nope, haven’t done any of those responsible things. There’s a reason this blog is named Sweaty KID and not Sweaty Adult. (Which reminds me, Dad, wanna do my taxes again this year?)
That said, I’ve watched enough Sopranos to know that there are career options out there for people like me.
#1. Join the mafia:
Anyway, back to the main point of this point: Looking ahead to the future.
Between my upcoming March birthday and the injury parade this winter, I’ve started thinking that even if I can’t sort out my “real life” future, I can at least think ahead for my running future.
I figure this next decade-and-a-half will be the time to pursue the very best running and racing performances I’m capable of laying down, due mostly to the ease of youth.
On the one hand, I want to take advantage of this by pushing my body to it’s limits.
On the other hand, I don’t want to have to stop running early on in life due to accumulating so many chronic injuries that it isn’t even fun or satisfying anymore.
My perpetually stiff knees and left ankle already create a sweet symphony akin to that of milk poured over a fresh bowl of Rice Krispies every time I bend or stand up. And this bursitis/neuroma thing in my left foot hasn’t budged since it flared up in October, metatarsal inserts aside. I’m starting to wonder if these pains may simply be permanent fixtures in my life.
On that note, I’ve put myself back on the Usually Four but Occasionally Five Days of Running Per Week plan. It’s exactly as fancy as it sounds. The two or three days off are for cross training (mostly rowing), which chops my running mileage down from the 70-80 range to the 48-56 range.
And guess what, fellow Possessors of Common Sense! Already, some of the aches and pains that have been cropping up all winter are magically going away! I only need two ice packs right now instead of four.
These days, I’m acutely aware of the reality that most of my energy and recent PR success is the product of youth and good health. According to millions of older and wiser people across the centuries, it won’t always be this way. If it turns out that I’m not immortal, I’ll start to slow down eventually, get more injuries, and maybe not even want to run as much.
And that’s fine. But in 20, 30, or 40 years, I still want the option of running.
I have many acquaintances, friends and family members who don’t run much anymore due to chronic aches and pains that might have been the result of overdoing it a few decades back. Genetics-wise, I’m starting to suspect I might be headed for that same vortex of frustration.
Do you know of any strategies for avoiding this, or are we all just doomed? Obviously, I’m taking the “reduce my mileage” strategy, because if the higher mileage is throwing consistent injury curveballs my way now, it sure as heck won’t be doing me any favors in ten or twenty years. And yes, despite my cavalier attitude about these things, I’ve been strength training again regularly for a few months now.
Lower mileage, plenty of cross training, and targeted strength training… What else should I include in my “In it for the long haul”/”Multiple Decades of Running Enjoyment” Plan?
Where will you be with your running in ten years? 20? 30? Do you think you’ll still be a runner? I’m realizing that life is too unpredictable to make any vehement claims in one direction or the other, but running has been a constant theme for me in the past decade, so I can only suspect that it will remain so into the next.
Do you know of any great running blogs written by older runners? Most of the running blogs I read are from people in my general age cohort. I would be interested to expand my stalking and read about the insights and experiences of those who have been running for several decades (into their 50’s and 60’s).