Hit 40 and run!

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There is a new wave of runners in my generation. It’s been a few years now that every week there is a new Triathlon or Marathon or whatever running competition coming on and a long lost friend asks for funding with a long and detailed e-mail on all the fantastic uses of those contributions to his performance. Children’s hospitals, earthquake survivals, orphanages in Bolivia. You name it, there is someone running for them.

Very noble actions, of course, I am all in awe of that. What I can’t help but noticing, though, is that no runner is under 35. Call it middle-age crisis (something I know about), an irresistible need to get fit or a Siddharta-like search for the deep meaning of the Universe. It is a fact that today, apparently, once you are about to hit 40 you should shed away laziness, sedentary hobbies (knitting? Come on, it is not by chance that knitting is so popular among pretty girls in their 20s) and embrace the run.

I haven’t been able to satisfy my nerdiness by sourcing down the exact origin of this trend so I am still wondering who came first: the runners or the charities looking at them as potential ambassadors? While I keep searching for an exact answer to my doubts I can’t forget what a friend told me a few years ago. We were at a 30th birthday party and the dance floor was empty, early in the night. People were drinking, chatting, flirting, going to the ladies’ to chat more, reapply makeup and hide from prettier love rivals. But none would hit the dance floor. Suddenly, a bunch of over 60s men and women appeared in the middle of it and started dancing as if there was no tomorrow. They were the father of the birthday girl and his friends. “It’s always the parents dancing first, because they know time their time for having fun is not infinite”, my friend observed with what I then registered as a certain cynicism.

I guess it’s the same for this obsession with marathons. When you hit 40 (and a little before that) you start realising that it’s now or never, you won’t sculpt your body or get rid of the fat in the next decade. So why not teaming it with a good cause to feel more motivated to get out of the bed every morning to jog around the neighbourhood and then fill weekends with trainings and local competitions? (and the good cause makes all the hiding from your family on weekends so much more excusable:-) I even heard that running gives you a sort of high, so I imagine one can qualify it as middle-aged people’s marijuana.

As for myself, I am not immune to the big call of the 40s. I hate sweating and have never been able to run properly so I resumed my childhood passion and I started swimming. Like everyday, just to be sure I go to my rendez-vous with my 40s in a decent shape. I asked for a water-resistant ipod for my birthday. The times they are A-changin’, after all.

7 comments

  1. Welcome back!!!!!

    As for the 40+ marathon kick… I’ve also observed the same. And the whole charity link too… heck my partner got pulled into the game – more for a ceremonial celebrity purposes than anything else.

    Glad swimming works for you! I love it to but get put off by sweating outside the water, sweating in a hot pool or freezing when its too cold in winter. Both side effects of outdoor pools in the Mumbai climate. 😉

    So I’ve been back at a gym for 4 months. UGH!!! I know I should be joining the leagues of fitness freaks to stave off the worst effects of a 40+ body trying to recover from a yucky injury and silly weight gain but… damn its a lot of work!

    1. Hey! I am sooo happy to actually be back. Funny, isn’t it, so this marathon/triathlon/charity thing is big in Asia as well it seems. I swear I can’t but smile everytime I receive a new email to fund some running competition.

      1. It is huge in Asia! Registered runners for the last Mumbai marathon were well over 40,000. That’s a lot of bodies sweating, grunting and running towards supporting their charities of choice!

  2. I was never much of a runner, although I tried in my early 20s. Now I think it would be too hard on the knees (and it takes away suppleness from your hamstrings). But here is the good news, from the height of middle age: I am probably fitter now than I was at 30. Sure, it has come with considerable work on my part, now that I can’t get away with eating whatever I want whenever I want without the scale having a fit. Keep on swimming. You will be fine. (and it’s mighty nice to see you back, writing. Thought of you often).

    1. I am sure as hell that you are fitter now! At the gym all the superfit ladies are in their late 50s and all the softies are in their 30s. Good news is that my future looks so bright and fit!:-)

  3. First and foremost, welcome back!
    I’d like to tell my story, which is a little different. When I was 11 years old, my parents compelled me to join a basketball course at school: I utterly hated it. As often happens, the so-called “course” supposed you already knew all the rules and could play the game with others. If you didn’t, like me, you were the odd one out. Few things make a boy unhappy like being the laughingstock of his mates at sports. So, I quit the course as soon as possible, and never entered a gym by my own will for exactly twenty years. You needn’t tell me it is not a good idea, but so it was.
    Then, one summer, I started to feel a disturbing ache in my shoulder while bringing my suitcase: I ask my doctor, a very sensible man, and he says: “Do you really want to be better? No Aulin, no BS, just enroll at a gym and keep working out. It was 1997: followed the advice, and here I am, 48 years old, and still able – God helping- to keep pace with my 9 years old twins. So, I suppose sometimes is simply a matter of health, and not of mid life crisis (In my town, Venice, they say “furori di Pasqua matta”, more of less “craziness of odd Easter”)…

    1. Ciao Francesco, nice to hear you again! I am happy to see that you started going to the gym before it became a global trend for 40-something, you were a pioneer:-)

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