Age is (only?) a number.

I am on a mission to get all the parents out of the chairs.  We have a lot of adult students at the karate school.  But, unfortunately, there are many parents who watch their kids take class, but never get out of the chairs.  I spend a lot of time encouraging, cajoling, and harassing these people to get out onto the floor and work out. A common excuse I hear is “I’m too old”.  (This from people much younger than me!)

I’ve been running for about 20 years, and did quite a bit of racing in my mid 30’s.  Especially at trail races, I was one of the younger runners.  The first time I ran the Nipmuc Trail Marathon, there were about 100 runners, and only a handfull of them were under 30. I never occurred to me that older people would stop running. This winter I read an article in the local paper about a group of men in there 70s and 80s who were still running. They call themselves The Geezers.I chased some of these guys at races back in my racing days:  I want to still be running  that strong in 20 or 30 more years.

Much research has been done showing the benefits of exercise on healthy aging. Even people who were not active all their lives can benefit from activity taken up in later years.

Dara Torres swam in 5 Olympic games.  At her last games she was 41 years old, most of her teammates were half her age.  And compared to many other great athletes, Torres is just a youngster!  Merlene Ottey ran in 7 Olympic games.  In 2010, at the age of 51 she competed at the European Athletic Championships and ran 100 meters in 11.5 seconds.  WOW!

Jhoon Rhee brought Tae Kwon Do to the US, and was inducted into the TKD Hall of Fame in 2007.  He is 81 years old now.  I saw him on TV a few years ago at a martial arts award ceremony.  At a challenge from the emcee, he dropped to the floor of the stage (wearing a suit) and did 100 pushups.  Keiko Fukuda died recently at the age of 99.  She was a 10th degree black belt in Judo, and taught classes into her 90’s.

Jack Lalanne died at the age of 96.  He spent his life encouraging people to live healthy lifestyles, eating well, and working out.  He worked out regularly up until his death.

We have a team of local heros in Central MA.  Team Hoyt is made up of a father and son, ages 41 and 71.  They compete together, father pushing son in a wheelchair at races and triathlons.  At the Charlton Road Race a couple of years ago, I chased them up Masonic Hill.  Never caught them!

The longest distance I’ve ever raced is marathon.  At the trail marathon I met many people running their shortest race of the season.  Lots of them were ultrarunners.  One of the greatest ultras is the Leadville 100 miler.  In 1993, the winner was a 52 year old Tarahumara Runner named Victoriano Churro.  His teammate, Cerrilob, 42, came in second.  The oldest runner ever to finish Leadville was 70 year old Charles Williams in 1999.

So, I tell the chair people they are never too old to work out.  As a matter of fact, if they don’t get out of the chairs now, by the time they are my age, they might not be able to get out of the chair!  So go work out, especially outside.

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