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.