Getting together with Senior Games athletes reminds me of that scene in the movie Jaws when the fisherman are proudly comparing shark scars accrued over years of brutal battles with these toothy foes. See the pic attached from the 2013 National Senior Games in Cleveland, showing that omnipresent knee wrap on 82 year old triathlon competitor Dorothy Sinson as she?s inked prior to donning her wet suit. Well, I?m right in there with the best of ?em, as I heal a chronic right hamstring injury, precipitated by a hammy tear while sprinting on the track back in 2008. It didn?t stop me from qualifying for the 2015 triathlon this summer, but it made for a real special time while I was running.
By nature, I’m a realistic optimist who’s always striving to find the lesson in everything that happens throughout the life journey. Injuries are a piece of every athlete?s life. So, the painful hammy was a wake-up call in many respects.
I need to stretch more. Yep, I’m one of those athletes who often cuts short my stretching pre and post workout. No more! Instead of blowing it off, I now have a holy respect for all things STRETTTCCHHH.
If you’re over 50, trust me, a physical therapist is in your future. My guy, Al Brodnick, has taken care of me through the years. He’s gotten me through: a fractured ankle in 2006 (a large person literally stepped on my ankle while I was filming my Discovery Health TV show The National Body Challenge); a fractured metatarsal in my right foot (I’ll never listen to anyone again tell me to wear neutral shoes-I’m sticking with my full on supportive Asics) that, with Al’s help, I healed and went onto run the 2012 Boston marathon; and, now my hammy. See the pic of Al working his magic at the PT office while I grin and bear it!
I have a whole new awareness and respect for the wondrous things my body can do. As a Senior Games athlete, I’m so happy to wake up (at all?) and then feel such gratitude for the marvelous things my body is capable of doing. Blessed with a tall and muscular frame, I revel in the strength I have to thoroughly enjoy my romps in the gym, and while running, biking and swimming. I’m also very aware that if I don’t keep up even basic training, my muscle mass will rapidly decline. So you know what I did? I had my gym trainer take this photo of me performing curls off the wall early one morning as the sun was streaming into our workout area. I keep it around to remind me that taking care of myself as I age is a front and center priority. It only ramps up more as I think about my training for the 2015 games.
I’m now a more mindful athlete. I’m more aware of my body and its strengths and limitations. During training, instead of pushing the macho button, I’m being more careful about protecting myself, not pushing too hard and forcing injuries to happen. I listen to my mind as well as my body. My mind may want to go 100 MPH but my body is 50+ and I’m heeding warning signs, and now matching mind to body for great performance. And guess what I’ve found, and research has supported, the fact that you don’t have to kill yourself to achieve great performance! You just have to pace yourself, get the appropriate amount of recovery time, sleep and nutrition, and you’ll do just fine.
I’m very happy to report that patience, persistence and lots of stretching have paid off. My hammy is so much improved that I’ll be starting up with my running again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some strettcccching to do.