Yeah, yeah, I know I'm not old. I'm not even forty yet (although it's coming quickly). I'm a geriatric social worker by profession, so I do have a clear concept of what "old" actually means. Statistically speaking, I'm probably not halfway through my life yet, but as far as distance running goes, I'm making my way to the crest of the proverbial hill. I certainly hope to be running until the day I die, but I'm too steeped in the realities of old age to actually think that's going to happen. So instead I try to treasure every season, every race, every run.
It's certainly debatable whether we're "born to run," and although I think there's a strong case for it, there's no denying that we're asking an awful lot of all those bones, ligaments, and muscles. When I watched this video, I was breathless as I watched Ida run. Her movements are so beautiful, so graceful, so light. I know how most 97 year old bodies move, and this is something else altogether. And I know how I move on these 38-year old legs after a long, hard training run ... and I'm here to tell you that it looks a lot worse than this. I want to be Ida.
So what's it going to take? There are many different theories about how to age successfully as a runner, and personally I am a big believer in the power of rest. I give myself more off-days today than I used to. When I'm training, I do run hard, but I don't run often - three, maybe four days a week. I cross-train a little, and strength-train a little, but mostly between my runs I'm being gentle, and giving my body a chance to repair itself. And on the subject of bodily repair: I believe in sleep - a lot of sleep. I'm not an early bird, and I'm not a night owl. I'm a whatever-kind-of-bird that sleeps a lot. I probably don't stretch as much as I need to, but I'm trying to develop that discipline, and I'm currently embroiled in a passionate love-hate relationship with my foam roller. I wholeheartedly believe in chiropractic care, although I don't get in to see my provider as often as I should. But more than anything, I believe in love.
Love of the run, love of others, and love of self. Did you see how she respected her body, and didn't push? Did you notice that room full of people there to celebrate Ida's victory, to greet her with hugs and kisses and share in her triumph? There's a woman who knows how to give and receive love. I want to be Ida.
(This post dedicated to my grandmother Emerald who would have turned 90 today. Thanks for showing me how it's done, Grandma!)