Monday, February 1, 2016

Maturing As An Older Female Athlete and How Its Impacted My Fitness Goals

I've often thought about writing on this topic, but didn't quite know the angle I wanted to take.  Still don't but figured with some extra time on my hands to day, I'd start somewhere.
Once I entered high school, I was active really on as a teenager wants to be:  Cheerleading or Dance Team (for me).
Then after graduation my fitness centered around being a gym rat mostly.  I went through the mid-80s things of aerobics, complete with butt crack/thong one pieces and shiny tights with leg warmers.
Then again in the 90s, more gym rat stuff, with Step classes in there when that took off.
So basically what I am saying is that for the better part of my life I have been active and interested in fitness.
For the simple fact of how it made me look.
Then when I started running in the late 2000's it was for other reasons. And also, part 2...
Anyway, when I first started running, it was for that reason as help me get whatever was wrong with me under control.
Then after that first half marathon in 2006, and that first marathon in January 2007, it became about something more which I won't rehash now.  But while it made me thinner, and more driven...and faster, it was all for unhealthy reasons.
Mid 2012 after moving to Nebraska, running had to take a backseat, and then it became just unattractive to me due to my situation there etc. etc.  However I was in the middle of full on coupled with everything else I was trying desperately to hang on to my former self I suppose.  But I found myself right back (physically) where I started in 2004/5 to be honest.
Out of shape (for me) and wondering what the heck was going on inside my body.
I've struggled with finding the balance since moving back to Texas mid-2014.  I've got my love of running back finally, but I have still been struggling with the pre-meno/menopause thing. 
Somewhere along the way my mindset has shifted a bit though.  Its nothing to me now to be 'faster' or to PR.  I prefer shorter distances these days, with my new fav distance being the 10 miler.
My goal now is to keep my heart healthy, reduce my bodyfat % (again for health reasons, not vanity), and to keep my muscles strong and doing what they were meant to do:  protect my insides and keep me moving right on in to old age.
Now for the reason why this has been on my mind a lot lately.  Facebook.  Instagram. 
Isn't that always the case these days?
I just keep my mouth shut though.  All this emphasis on running more miles than everyone.  Running faster than anyone.  Running more races than everyone.
Most I don't really pay that much attention to, but it does have its triggers.  I've unfollowed a LOT of the Insta's because its just seem so time consuming and effort that I wonder what they are missing out on with all that running?
Then there are the few that I know personally that have had health issues from the excessive amounts of stress they put their bodies through (adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues..etc), but yet are right back at it thinking they are immune to further damage.  Or worse, that they are healed.
Anyway, I guess I just wish they'd cool their jets.  The impact on them being younger has yet to surface, but I bet it will for most.  Others it never will of course.  But some are just either predisposed to the complications or will run themselves into the ground so much that its inevitable.
I wonder:  this is not your job.  you are not going to win.  no one else really cares.  why are you doing this exactly?
While I am still very much an athlete and work out my body 5-6 times a week, its not for hours at a time.  My body is much better off with a healthy balance of rest, relaxation, fun, food, friends, and family.
Of course I still want to look good, as in healthy, but I have a 50+ body of a woman who has come to the realization that what is on the outside is NOT a reflection whatsoever of what is going on in the inside.
My body, mind, and soul are all in alignment for the first time of my entire life.  Changing my approach to how I exercise and how I eat has grown to be more mature as well.
What an accomplishment.  Go me!  And go you!!!


Judith said...

I'm glad you posted this. I turn 46 this week, and I get triggered some by seeing All The Miles and All the Speed I see other, younger runners posting. I feel lame and old, and that shouldn't be what running is about, so I unfollow those people. I want to run for a very long time and stay healthy -- it's not a competition! Thanks for this post.

Junie B said...

Judith, my prime was around 45-46 but again I was doing some pretty unhealthy things because of an unhealthy relationship. So yeah I was thinner, and I was faster, but at what cost you know? Now I just want to be able to run as fast as my 2 year old great-nephew so I can still catch him when he thinks its funny to run away from Tia June :O) <3

As older females we have SO many other issues to contend with (if you haven't had pre-meno hit, you'll know what I mean soon enough), to have to 'worry' about keeping up is just crazy. Just do you!