Thursday, February 17, 2011

Running and Growing Old Gracefully

I'm convinced the person who coined the phrase, "growing old gracefully" had to have been a man. A man doesn't worry about how to get their eyeliner straight on a droopy eyelid. The gray at a man's temples is "distinguished." Men's wrinkles give them character. Women's wrinkles are just wrinkles.

I'm feeling frustrated with my advanced age again. I've been back to my new running routine for the last couple of weeks and doing pretty well. I've run my own race, not trying to keep up with my friend. My knee's been feeling good. I've increased my distance. Last Friday I actually ran 3 miles straight (although at the pace I was going, calling it "running" may be a stretch)! A 5K was totally in my grasp.

And then on Saturday, as I got to about the one mile mark, I felt a pull in my right calf. I was able to run through it and make it to 2.5 miles, but the leg was sore the rest of the weekend. On Monday, I decided to be smart about it and baby it along a little. I rode a bike and lifted weights instead of running. At the same time, two of my friends (two of my YOUNGER friends) ran on treadmills across the room. As we left the gym for the day, I couldn't stop my curiosity and asked them, "How far did you guys run today?"

They tried to be very nonchalant about it and gloss over it for my sake, but the facts spoke for themselves. They'd gone 4.3 miles. 4.3 MILES! I got in my vehicle and actually chanted out loud, "Run your own race. Run your own race. Run your own race!"

And then on Monday night, I noticed my ankle and area around my heel were swelling up. There was no pain, but it was definitely not normal. Great, I thought, now I'm retaining fluid! Am I really that old?! The swelling kept getting worse and by Wednesday I thought it bad enough to ask my medical professional friend about it. His diagnosis? Not a pulled calf muscle, but a strained Achilles tendon. Grrr. "What is my problem?!" I whined to him. He tried to be gentle as he suggested the body breaks down more often the longer it's been used. "Even professional athletes who are in great shape have this happen as they get older," he reminded me. He was trying to assure me it had nothing to do with my fitness level, but all I heard was, "You're gettin' old, Tam."


My mother and a friend of mine have suggested this running gig may not be a good idea for me. To be honest, I'm not enjoying it that much, but have this intense desire to reach my goal of a 10K. Am I trying to prove I'm not old? Am I thinking that keeping up with the whippersnappers will make me young? (Oh brother, using the word whippersnapper in the first place just aged me thirty years.) Am I fighting the natural progression my body wants to take? Does pushing myself in this area mean I'm NOT growing old gracefully?

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I know I'm learning a lot about humility. God continually reminds me to run my own race, which I'm finding is a good LIFE lesson. Learning to ignore the pace of others and concentrate on my own journey will stop the comparison games. That's got to be a key component in growing old gracefully, right?

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Isaiah 46:4

I have to finish this race. I have to complete my goal. Don't worry, Mom, I'll be smart about it. I'll baby my injuries and take it slow. I'll rely on God's promise to sustain me and hopefully learn the art of gracious aging.


Marsha Young said...

It could be that "aging gracefully" is another one of those pesky oxymorons that no one thought to tell us about.

OR it could just be another one of those run-of-the-mill challenges in life, that we don't want to think about. :)

Either way - I love the old cliche, growing older is inevitable, growing up is optional.

have a good one - Marsha

D.J. Hughes said...

Wow. We must be on the same track this week.

I've been wanting to get back on my treadmill since Christmas, but I've had this pesky cough and cold. Then I had this trip. Then one kid after another stayed home from school sick.

I know. I know. Excuses. Excuses.

I admire that you are at least exercising WITH injuries! You go girl!