Fit After 40
By Leah Fisher Nyfeler
ust the other morning, I was having coffee with a friend, Shannon. We were discussing her recent injury, which had involved recovery time in a boot to heal a fracture sustained during a 100K. The two of us were commiserating, as I had recently spent some time in a boot myself, and Shannon laughingly related the story of how her doctor pointed out that her recovery time would be relatively short; when she reacted incredulously, he responded, “Well, it’s not like you are older and have 50-year-old bones, which take MUCH longer to heal.” The reason she was laughing? Shannon was just a few weeks shy of 50. I just turned 50 myself. Running has kept me feeling young and it’s helped me to embrace new milestones (hey, it’s a new age group! And I’m the YOUNG one in my new age group!). It’s so much fun to hang out with people of all ages, united simply by the fact that we all have a blast running on roads and trails. You concentrate on what you all have in common, not on what makes you different, so it doesn’t matter if the person running next to me is 20 or 70; we’re running the same pace. Everybody talks about the same stuff, especially the more specialized your running group becomes (GI issues,
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bad toe nails, chafing, favorite socks). Make the group a bunch of trail-loving ultra runners, and Shakespeare comes to mind: “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” But my body has played some numbers on me past the age of 45. Have I treated it any differently? No, not really. Well…I did pile on all that long distance as I got ready for my ultra marathons… and I did do that Ironman…so I guess, yes, the truth is, I really have treated it differently. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve demanded more in endurance from myself as an athlete while I’ve cut back on intensity and speed. I’ve been slower but I’ve pushed myself to be stronger. And since I’ve demanded more, it seems I’ve paid more of a price. I’ve had a bout of some weird fatigue, a partially torn hamstring (my doctor said that it’s a very common injury for women over 40), Achilles inflammation and plantar fasciitis, and (here’s the big one) a broken ankle, all in the last three years. Recovery from injuries has been an interesting process, one that I’ve seen mirrored in many of my friends. As I’ve talked to people, I’ve found that Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief apply well to the process.