Cyclocross racing was my thing in my mid 30’s and early 40’s, while at the time I didn’t quite realize why, I have now come to the realization that it was part of the beginning of my decline. That isn’t completely accurate as the word “decline” is too negative. My speed was going and by focusing on an activity that requires as much skill as it does speed I felt like I could still be competitive. Then we opened a running store and “cross” was out…no more 2 race weekends with full bike cleans. My running was back and with renewed focus…this time on Form. I found myself focused completely on my running efficiency and form as well as that of our customers and my growing coaching clientele. The focus on form slowly began to show that I could run as fast as I had 20 years earlier and that motivated me even more. But alas as I am in my 49th year I realize that the days of PB’s (personal bests) are pretty much gone and I am OK with that. I have discovered new activities that allow me to improve while not actually getting faster.
I discovered Orienteering four years ago as a family activity that was interesting to my two daughters. I spent the first 2 years simply running around with them making sure they were safe and didn’t get too lost. They of course started to get better and went out on their own leaving me time to compete on the longer courses. The learning curve has been steep and I made a lot of mistakes early on (and still do), but the sense of accomplishment in finding the controls is amazing. I continue to improve and enjoy the challenge.
I also rediscovered an old High School love in the last few years and that is Steeplechase. Running seven plus laps around a 400m track while jumping over 28 – 36″ high hurdles and 7 water jumps isn’t everyones cup of tea but it does add a technical element to running that you can improve while not actually getting faster. I have enjoyed sharing training ideas with my 12 year old daughter who truly is a good hurdler and continues to give me pointers. The fact that I can strive for a faster time each outing (only 2 races a year) gives me a little boost of youth.
The point is that without consciously knowing it I have been slowly transitioning from trying to do things fast to just trying to do new things. If you are feeling a little dull…try something new.