Because I’m in earshot of 70 years old (3 years away), and I just got Nordic Skis and have been out on them ten times in the six weeks I’ve had them, I’m concerned about the future. Nordic skiing makes me happy. It always has, but I have not always lived where I could easily find snow and I have — for the biggest part of a decade — been dealing with debilitating arthritis in my hips.
There’s nothing else I really want to do, honestly. As time has peeled away aspirations and goals, I stand here with only a couple of things that matter to me. I want to be able to *langlauf. I want to be able to hike in the mountains (because there is not always snow). I want to be able to do these things for a long time.
I already know what bad stuff can happen. I had my first hip surgery when I was 54. My second in 2018, at 66.
How does this happen? I always loved those things. Why did so much get in the way? Why didn’t I see as clearly long ago? No idea. But what matters is doing whatever I can to be able to keep going.
I did some research — tried to do some research — on how best to keep going as long as possible. The short answer is weight training. The long answer? Well, it’s long, OK?
I found a lot of articles written by young people about old athletes. There was no escaping that the whole idea of a geriatric runner or something else is kind of a freak show. This is strange, because I know people who are still running, hiking, and skiing well into their 70s. They don’t see themselves as a freak show and neither do I. It seems that some of the younger people looking at us have forgotten (or don’t know?) that it’s FUN to ski, it’s fun to race, it’s fun to hike. Sure, maybe not for everyone, but who would expect it to be? In all my years hiking, I was most often completely alone (in an urban wilderness park).
One article I read was a review of a photo book with an interview — Racing Age by Angela Jimenez. In this book, a former college decathlete documents several elderly track and field competitors. Jimenez goal is to blast the stereotypes of old folks, stereotypes that old folks — that is to say we are,
“…sick or vulnerable or kind of cute—I had seen those jokey greeting cards of a grandmother lifting a barbell or something—and I felt, as someone who was just starting to think about age myself, a sense of rebellion against that,” says Jimenez. “That’s something I’m always interested in doing with photography—countering visual stereotypes and thinking about how is a group of people being depicted in a simplistic way and what could I do to explore that.”https://www.outsideonline.com/2153626/these-80-year-old-athletes-will-blow-your-mind
The photos included in the article are great. The photographer seems like an intriguing person. These athletes are completely engaged in their sports as any real athlete would be.
The sub-heading of the article says,
“The new photography book ‘Racing Age reminds us that it’s a whole lot of fun to be a competitive athlete for life.”
For me, that’s the whole thing. I don’t want to compete, I just want to play.
*Langlauf — German for Nordic skiing