We don’t go outside and play enough. We don’t exercise enough either. This summer, I am trying to get outside and play more. Last fall and this spring my exercise routine was a failure. This May, I had my first DNF (did not finish) in a race shorter than marathon distance. Three miles in and my back was hurting badly enough that I thought the finish was just not worth the pain.
Failures force us to reevaluate. My downward spiral began after I broke my foot playing basketball with my grand daughter. I was wearing old running shoes and playing on a rock landscape patio. When I landed a bone in my foot cracked. That summer, after a few weeks, I could walk. I could not run. Then after my foot healed I got right back into running. The rest of my body was in constant rebellion. Either my back hurt, or something else was aching. My plan did not work, because it was not a good plan.
My plan was simply to work on getting back into shape. That was the problem with the plan. It was work. The plan did not include time to just play. This was a discovery, not some sort of analytical thought. The county did some sort of surfacing on the rail trail near my house. I had been using my hybrid bike, and it did not handle the loose surface well. The next time I rode, I used my mountain bike. It handled the loose trail well. I decided to veer off the trail into a county park, The park has some seldom used hiking trails. I decided to take my bike on them.
That is where I made an interesting discovery. It was fun. I was having a blast. My back didn’t hurt. Riding what amounted to a single track trail was great. The trails ended and I had a choice of riding across the parking lot back to the main trail, or use the grass trails. I chose the grass trails. Riding across grass was definitely harder. It was also more fun.
Our bodies change as we age. It was not a great idea to go jumping around chasing a basketball with old running shoes on a landscaped surface. We have limitations. The advanced mountain bike trails are probably not a good idea for me right now. We need some degree of caution. That should not mean that we can’t have fun. Yes, aging limits us. No, it should never stop us.
Play has become part of my routine again. It is understood that to run another marathon, at my age, takes work. There will be lifting weights in the gym. There will be repeats on a treadmill. The work that we put in makes the play more enjoyable. Playing makes the work worthwhile. Balance makes them both better.