I recall feeling physically great just a few years ago, in my late thirties, despite what everyone told me to expect. As a full time employee, a homeowner, a parent, and an adult, “they” said that I should have given up fifteen years ago. And for another fifteen I wondered “When will I hit peak?”
I’ve had many
injuries first-hand learning experiences over the years. Despite set-backs, it was all uphill until the age of 38 when I severely strained a long-injured hip. Although my strength and endurance are nearly the same, my speed is down. Heading into year 41, I have no doubts about whether or not I’m past my prime.
The greatest differences are not in performance – the extreme and challenging feats, but rather in the mundane. I stand at an odd place. Activities of daily living are more of a struggle than a heavy set of squats. I can -barely- balance on my left leg and reach a sock around my right foot. Sometimes I hop and partially fall into the bathroom sink, but that. sock. is. going. ON. Without sitting down to do it.
I dead lift well over 500 lbs and carry over 400, but sleeping sometimes comes hard. I often awaken from a shot of pain when rolling in bed. I chin-up with well over 100, but cannot stand tall immediately after sitting for a while. I don’t know whether to orient my head with the torso or the ground, because both feel wrong. I can complete side, front, and back flips, but cannot walk without a limp for the first few steps out of the car.
This is growing up: feeling the narrowing window of training that exists between “Still warming up” on one end and “Tired” on the other. You never really feel 100%. It often hurts to go hard.
Sooner or later, the body tells the truth. Mine has bore 40 years of impact and strain on bone, muscles, and joint. It’s been a good run, of approximately 24 years of heavy resistance training, 20 of basketball, 15 of baseball, and 10 years of taking hits while mountain biking.
It’s not so easy to give it up. When it’s your job and point of pride and reputation. Looking ahead I see the Monty Python knight, lost all his body segments, still trying to GO. It’s merely a flesh wound.
“He needs a new hobby.”
Well, sure. I’ve already made a gradual transition to gardening. Except, instead of planting and growing flowers and vegetables, I sow with training knowledge, nurture with inspiration, and up pops strength, speed, and size. Rather than dirt, I work with load, distance and duration, growing functional movement, confidence, and grit that lasts well beyond most athletic careers.
At my stage of the game, there is relatively little to benefit from intense training. I accumulate some sweat, gainz, a little more wear on the joints, then feel great for a few hours. But training with others changes at least two people in more ways than one. I gladly pass forward what I know and love to do. I haven’t yet worn out my iron thumb. Hopefully it will see me through to graceful aging.
So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength”…