50 Thoughts # 6: I’m only 26, in marathon years. But this is what it takes:

Admit it. You’d love to have the experience and wisdom of fifty, but packaged in the body of a twenty something.

Whoa, I discovered it’s actually possible.

Last Wednesday, a month before I turn 50, I stepped on a set of whoop tee do scales at my personal trainer’s. It calculates a whole whack of things — bone and muscle density, water percentage, weight — including health age.

My health age, thanks to marathon running, is 26 and that’s a super-fit 26 year old.

Most runners have a time goal for the marathon. In training for Boston this April, a week after my 50th birthday, I set a goal of being in the best shape of my life — and finishing the marathon happy.

No question, I’ve already achieved goal one. Late for my annual physical last week, I jumped off a streetcar stalled in rush-hour traffic and ran the last four kilometres to my doctor’s office, arrived barely breaking a sweat and registered a heart rate of 68 and low blood pressure. Doctor pronounced me in excellent health.

Proud? Damn right I am. Determined? Even more so.

Certainly, I love the aesthetic benefits of being super fit. In three years of marathon training, I shed about 20 pounds and got rid of sags, saddle bags, chins, cheeks and even thigh bulges I’ve had since I was a kid and I thought would never disappear without plastic surgery (were I so inclined, which I’m not). Running has, as many of my running buddies have told me, literally transformed my body.

I love being strong. Physical challenges don’t daunt me (climb Kilimanjaro, as I did last year? No problem. Run a half marathon right after that? Bring it on). My body is a vehicle that carries me around the city — running, walking, cycling — with sweet joy and little effort.

Best of all, I love the healthy productive decades that being fit will give me to make big dreams come true.

Hitting 50 is about going after the thing you’ve always wanted to do — start that business/dream career/volunteer/ political work that allows the highest expression of your values; commit to deep learning (in books, adventure, psychological horizons); end the negative relationships; grow the positive ones; start the farm/art form to feed the world organic goodness.

As a writer, I feel I’m just hitting my stride. For whatever reason, I’ve explored virtually every genre a writer can, run down the path of poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, journalism, fiction. Now all that experience is coming together as I tackle big projects this year, and I want decades more work time for creative pursuits.

How much would it suck if my body were giving out at this glorious moment?

But what does it take to turn the age calendar backwards?

Here’s a look at this week’s training schedule — a peak week leading into Boston.

Sunday: 35 kilometre long run with about 10 major hills.

Monday: Stretching out those tight leg muscles.

Tuesday: 18 kilometres.

Wednesday: 8 kilometres and a one-hour personal training session with leg-strength training and ab work.

Thursday: 16 kilometres with fast tempo, hills.

Friday: 15 kilometre run.

Saturday: One-hour ab workout (equivalent of 500 sit-ups) and weight training.

Total Kilometres: 92

Total Hours of training: 12 to 14.

I didn’t get there over night. It took me three years to build up from three 6-kilometre runs a week to Boston qualifier. Put another way, it only took three years.

And it’s a true anti-aging formula. No B.S. No snake oil.


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One Response to 50 Thoughts # 6: I’m only 26, in marathon years. But this is what it takes:

  1. James McNally March 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    Bravo, Margaret! My running career began in 2003 and ended about 2008. My wife, though, is still running half-marathons and hoping to run a full one. 50 is still 3 years away for me, but I’d like to be in better shape.

    The biggest hurdle is my body clock, which doesn’t adjust well to morning exercise (or morning anything, for that matter). With a regular 9:30-5:30 job, it gets hard to find time.

    Luckily, I’m in the process of shaping my work environment into something more balanced and healthy for me, so running may soon be part of my life again.

    Good luck with Boston and congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished so far!

    P.S. Tell me more about the screenplay, or maybe I can find out about it in previous blog posts…

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