The second thing Sam is going to stop saying…

A reminder: The first thing I am going to stop saying is “if you don’t love it, don’t do it.”

It’s mostly true but when it’s not, it feels coercive. Like not only do I have to do painful physio to make sure I can continue with basic everyday activities like getting out of chairs, I have to like it too? No. It’s work.

But now there’s another thing I’m going to stop saying: It’s never too late. That’s another one. False! I mean it sounds good. But it’s just not true.

Our bodies are aging and there are deadlines. I’ll never have another baby. It’s too late. I’ll never be a teenager in love. Too late. And more relevantly to the blog, I’ll never play soccer or run again. See On not having the bee’s knees and saying goodbye to soccer.

I remember when Susan brought her mother along on on of our canoe camping trips that this argument played a role. Susan’s mom had been saying for years that she wanted to do this and Susan said, come with us while you can. It’s now or maybe never. Some options run out. They don’t last forever.

Think about me and running.

Knee surgeons tell me, in a serious voice, to not even say the word “running.” I miss running, even though it’s not my main thing, and sometimes I miss it so much that I cry.

I think the reason that this slogan has appeal is that it corrects the common misperception that for some activities, you can’t do them if you’re too old. It all depends, not just on age, but on how your body is holding up. No knee issues? It’s okay to start running in your 70s but bad knees take some people out of the game in the 30s.

What’s true?

It’s never too late to start on a fitness routine. That’s true. But what that consists in changes with age, with injury, and with the inevitable ways in which our bodies change as we get older.

So while over on our Facebook page I share many stories about the remarkable accomplishments of centenarians (see this one on the remarkable Ida Keeling), it’s just not true that it’s never too late. For some of us, when it comes to running, it’s too late at 53. That’s me.

But on a cheerier note, here’s Ida Keeling:

2 thoughts on “The second thing Sam is going to stop saying…

  1. Sam thank you for being so honest and vulnerable in your experience of the changes that bring limits. It’s HARD to accept it, partly because there seems to be a polarization between “just give up as you get older” and “there ARE NO LIMITS IT’S ALL ATTITUDE!”

    I have been thinking a lot about the “use it or lose it” aspect of physicality — that yes there are 80 year olds who run marathons but not a lot of 80 year olds who could gear up to run a marathon from not running at all in 18 months the way I did when I was 30. One of the things I’m really noticing in my “work out every day in July” thing is how much my flexibility is increasing with more frequent yoga — and what that means about how much I LOSE when I don’t yoga 3 x a week. It takes a lot more to get close to my heels on the ground in downward dog than it did 10 years ago. These tiny things I notice play out at such a macro level — because I’m paying attention to what’s possible for my body, I know I will never run 5 minute kms again, I will never run another marathon, I will never take up a new sport I could get seriously hurt at (downhill skiing, soccer, axe throwing, crossfit) — but I can sustain and strengthen what IS true for my body. Like your amazing 110 km ride yesterday that you might not have believed was possible 6 months ago.

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