“We crossed the line holding hands; a couple of wrinklies proving that life was not yet extinct. Our watches showed five hours and six minutes. As we received the medals our matching red tartan shorts attracted the attention of an official race photographer. The resulting portrait, featured on the cover, captures brilliantly our glowing pride and pleasure at having completed the 2004 Edinburgh Marathon.”
~ Christine Oldfield (Running Shared)
I had picked this book up while browsing through the sports section of a secondhand book expo. The author, Christine Oldfield, started walking as a form of exercise in her forties, ran her first 10km in Dubai at forty one, tackled her first half marathon in Australia at forty seven, and completed her first marathon in Edinburgh in her sixties. She wrote this book for fellow runners (or just about anyone) from “non-sporting backgrounds”, who like herself might not be aware of how to take that first step towards exercise. Christine believes that whether one is closer to seventeen or seventy, a little effort can make a difference to our health and well-being. She started training for her first marathon while approaching her sixtieth birthday, leading her friends and family to believe she must be in the early stages of dementia. For someone who never participated in any sport through school, college, or early adulthood, going head first into the sport of long distance running this late in life seemed unthinkable – to everyone else except herself. Christine’s motto is, “Run a bit, walk a bit, appreciate your surroundings, listen to the birds, cheerily greet people you come across, make them think ‘that’s what I should be doing’.” “Running Shared” chronicles her journey from non-athlete to athlete, but more importantly it serves as a motivational guide to all the things we can achieve if only we set our minds to them.
This blog post is not a book review. It is about drawing inspiration from the lives of others. People we might not even have met, but who inspire us through their journeys in life, and make us sit up and believe that we can do that too. Age should not be a deterrent to trying something new, getting back to old hobbies, perfecting existing skills, or developing new ones. There are so many ways to challenge the mind and body – it could be picking up a new musical instrument, learning a new language, or attempting a new sport. I am currently learning the Russian language, attended a Japan Festival last weekend, and am looking forward to an upcoming Bung Fly session – a gravity-defying workout .(That’s what the advert said. I have no idea what to expect.) Whether it’s marathon running or classical dancing, or playing the doumbek or learning Italian, I have always believed in breaking out of my comfort zone and trying out new things. It doesn’t matter if people ask, “Aren’t you too old for that?” Once you actually get around to doing something, the naysayers will be the first in line to know, “How did you do it?” And who decides what exact age is considered young or old? Elite athletes retire in their thirties, some start their sporting lives in their eighties. (This is true – Marathoner Fauja Singh started long distance running at age eighty nine, and at ninety three ran a full marathon in six hours fifty four minutes.) There is no limit to what one can set out to achieve. So, what goals are you setting for yourself today?