May 7th, 2017


LJI:17 the rent I pay

The truth is that we’re all getting older.  Whether you are in the suspended animation of youth or have the over-40 aches I do, it all comes from the same place, our bodies are technical marvels that wear down over time.  The desire to keep us young forever has inspired researchers for years.  More and more studies are coming to similar conclusions.

Bodies are meant to move, through all of their possible range of motions.  Movement is medicine.  But throughout history we’ve created ideas and machines that in their drive to simplify tasks take our movement out of the equation.  That’s a wonder and a time-saver and a joy and it might be driving us to a future where we all become the people from Wall-E in the auto-loungers.

Human bodies are amazing.  Friday night I stayed up way past my bedtime to watch ‘Breaking2’, the Nike sponsored attempt to “science the shit” out of running a sub-two hour marathon.  Eliud Kipchoge finished in 2:00:25.  At the final straightaway to the finish, after having maintained an already blistering pace, he sprinted to the finish line.  Sprinted!  That time is faster than any person has run that distance in recorded history, and after the finish he smiled, and high-fived the spectators who were there, and thanked his pacers (most of them world-class athletes in their own right who gave up spring racing to be there and assist).  He did something that no one else has ever done.  There are limits to what the human body can do, but one of them was smashed.

I’m not going to run a two hour marathon.  I’m unlikely to even run a four hour marathon.  Like many distance runners, I’ve daydreamed about qualifying for Boston and have a plan.  Get 15 minutes faster than my current personal best, and maintain that for 15 years so I can qualify when I’m 60 – heh.

But to do that, to do anything really, I have to move.  After my husband threw his back out this spring it became obvious that we also have to move smartly.  So I am figuring out how to re-build my body from the ground up, or more accurately from the hips out.  If I kept running but did nothing else I’d have a few years left before the tightness in my right hip and glute and the plantar fasciitis in my right foot meant I was done.  But if I get smart, I can still run when I’m 60, or even 80.

So I’ve started a proscribed set of stretches that take about 25 minutes every morning, with additional stretches that should happen in the evening.  Every few weeks I feel out what’s working and what isn’t and add more things as needed.  I am waiting for the day something feels fixed enough that I can remove a stretch but that hasn’t happened yet.  Yoga class once a week is a necessity and more than one would be better.  I need to warm up before a run, and stretch out after.  Sitting up straight, especially at my desk (and I was slumped as I started typing that sentence) is vital since it’s where I spend the majority of my time.  I want to realign my skeletal system to make good posture the default and to do that I need to stretch and strengthen some muscles that have been dormant for a long time.

All of this hurts a little and is time consuming.  Changing habits is never easy, I find myself still skipping things I know I should be doing, thinking that I’ll get to it tomorrow.  But I’ve only got one body, and this is the time and effort I need to put in now to get the results I want: to still be moving with as few restrictions as possible in twenty years and beyond.  I’ll continue to marvel and take inspiration from the athletes who spend their lives perfecting their bodies for a single activity, and remind myself that living is an athletic feat too.

***This is my entry for LJ Idol week 17.  There were four different topics handed out at random this week, you can collect them all!  My favorite quote from Kipchoge in the pre-recorded stuff Nike created so we didn't just watch men run in a large circle for two hours: "Running is thinking.  You need to focus fully and think positively."  He is completely amazing.***