When I was in high school, one of the gym class options was “Lifetime Activities.” Lifetime Activities was marketed as a class that would introduce students to a range of activities that we could enjoy over the course of our whole lifetime: golf, tennis, badminton and archery. Yes, archery. Don’t you know lots of silver foxes out there doing archery? My friends and I thought of it as the gym class that wouldn’t get us sweaty and ruin our hair or makeup, so promptly signed up. Because, while we all played on sports teams and may have been Sporty Spices after school, we weren’t about to let a gym class interfere with a good blow dry or meticulously applied blue eye liner during the school day.
It was the 80’s, after all.
A few decades later, it is National Running Day and I ‘m psyched to see that running has become a lifetime activity for a lot of people. Certainly more so than badminton. Who plays badminton, by the way? The only badminton players I can think of are the Chinese cheaters in the 2012 Olympics. I think I’ve seen more people playing bocce in my ‘hood (that would be 1 person) than badminton (zero people). Just Sayin.’
I met an older gentleman at the last 5K I ran – he didn’t share his age, but he placed in the over-70 category, so I know his decade. He came up to me because I was wearing a Boston Strong headband and he wanted to know if I had any information on qualifying for the Boston. He just ran his first (!) marathon last year in Florida and loved it but wasn’t thrilled with his time. He now has a goal of getting a BQ time in the next marathon he runs so he can run Boston someday. So very cool, and I hope he makes it. (He’ll need a 4:40, BTW). I was so happy to see him medal in the 5K.
Then, of course, there is Harriette Thompson, who, at 91, just set a record for her age group at the San Diego Marathon. Harriette started running marathons when she was 76 and has run one per year ever since. (I officially feel like a lazy sloth.) A cancer survivor, she is currently battling cancer again and underwent radiation therapy on her legs shortly before the race. (I officially feel weak of mind and body too. Did I really complain about the heat on my long run the other day? For shame.)
When asked for some words of wisdom by a reporter, Harriette responded, “I guess I could say it’s never too late.” Wise words indeed from the second oldest marathon finisher ever in US history.
So there you have it. Running: The New Lifetime Activity. Start anytime you like and no need to stop until your body forces you to. No fancy equipment, no special techniques. Just you and your sneaks. Truly an activity that can follow you wherever you go. For A Lifetime.
Colby and I talk about running races together when we’re older – chicabands placed firmly against our perma-sets, compression hose on our legs, big wrap-arounds covering our crow’s feet. I love seeing and meeting older runners who are paving the way for us to tear up the courses in a few decades. I don’t ever want to give up running and am grateful for every older runner who inspires me to believe that I never have to.
Plus, we’re planning on it being a heck of a lot easier to place in our age group once we hit 70.