Old Man

Old man take a look at my life
I’m a lot like you
I need someone to love me
the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes
and you can tell that’s true.

Neil Young’s song is about a young man reaching maturity and maybe realising his responsibilities. It’s one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite singer/songwriters. A simple song featuring just voice and acoustic guitar, no lavish production. Getting older is just like that that, no shits and giggles, just time passages.

18 is considered the age of majority in Great Britain. You can vote and legally (!) go into a pub. In fact you become an adult and are able to make all those legal decisions without your parents consent and a great excuse for a bloody good p*ss up. It used to be 21 but now it’s merely another excuse to ‘get on it’ and away from the im/er indoors for a night out. Life begins at 40 mainly because you’re in that mid-life crisis and you still think you’re 18. 50 you want to be in by 9 o’clock because that nice David Attenborough is on the telly box. I’m 57 and dress like an 8 year old and act like a 12 year old so much of that doesn’t apply.

Why write this depressing drivel about getting old I hear you mutter? Some things do improve with age. Wine, cheese, comedy. I find Porridge and Tommy Cooper funnier even now than Mrs. Brown’s Boys or Michael McIntyre and don’t get me started on music. The Jam, The Clash, and even Duran Duran stir the blood more than most 2020s musicians whom I couldn’t even recall. What would Neil Young say?

This is all because Tom Brady has won his seventh Superbowl ring at the tender age of 43. Sports men/women just don’t play at the top level at that age. Vision and reactions aren’t as sharp. The fitness and the ability to recover quickly goes as does the hunger for success but as for runners no way, Pedro.

When I was 43 I was at my best as a runner. Runners, distance runners, runners like us, don’t reach our best until we’re in our forties and beyond. Running and the training involved is hard work and your average teenager to twenty something isn’t awfully keen on putting in the sort of shift required. Instant gratification with little effort or, especially, sweat is the way and a plethora of video games and television channels can’t help.

At Burnham-on-Sea Harriers we’re blessed to have some real age related inspiration. Super Sue Nicholls has to be top of the list. She took up running late in years and has certainly made up for lost time. She has ran all the World Marathon Majors, London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo and is consistently winning awards in local races. Ian Booth, a high quality road and mountain cyclist, climber, hiker, rambler and leader, and now turned runner offer so much knowledge that you would be a fool to ignore. We’re so lucky to have this kind of experience to call on, especially when new runners are about to tackle their first really big challenge like a half or full marathon.

Of course there’s a pay off. Waning performance but increasing experience, and it’s that racing/running savvy that can pay dividends. Knowing where and when to push on . Take it easy up a hill climb and then fly down the descent the other side. Where it’s flat and can pick up the pace. Knowing exactly where the finish line is an advantage.

As for me, myself. I’ve had my moments and can offer some of my experience and advice. And now, it’s not a time to despair, keep ticking over, keep doing the right things like cross training, like running for fun, like stretching, like nutrition and getting out with a buddy and encouraging each other, watching YouTube videos of Joe Wicks or some crazy ultra runner. Everything helps to fire motivation and it can come from anywhere and when you least expect it.

Ultimately, its all about fun and getting what you want out of it. Some want fast times and rise through the ranks, others prefer the social aspect and running with likewise, run to hopefully make loved ones proud and some are just looking forward to the journey and where they may end up. Whatever, enjoy and embrace every run. My Old Man watched the London Marathon and the local half marathon and I hope he would have been proud of my achievements as my son and wife are.

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