Operation: Middle-age

Now I’m the dark side of 35, I find myself looking back more often on my athletic exploits of the past. Mulling over Park Run personal bests of 2015, marathon personal bests, or just general physical well-being. It’s fairly subjective, but I would say that I am approaching middle-age. Assuming I’ll live to at least 70 and anything after that being a bonus, I am in the middle-age region. Not saying I am middle-aged, but it’s not far away. As I am recognising this, the more I am planning to do something about it.

The main bulk of this one-man crusade is pushing my comfort zone, physically and mentally. I’m not sure which one is harder, yet they seem to come hand in hand. That 6am alarm telling me I’ve got to go to the track and run sub 6 minute 30 miles never gets any easier mentally, and that’s before I’m at the track doing it, feeling quite unwell. For me, fitness is a huge part of it, but I understand that the term comfort zone is probably more a mental thing.

All of this, I presume, is part of this stupid human condition. A complex cauldron of fears and feelings. I still feel like I’m 18 and I’m probably as guilty as the rest about struggling to accept the aging process, acting like I’ll live to 100 but still expecting to arrive there in pristine condition.

Back in the summer, I decided to start pushing myself again, like I used to, back in the old days when I felt more motivated to do it. Out went mediocre plodding runs and in came hill sprints, recovery runs, tempo runs and interval sprinting sessions. It had structure and it reignited my interest in being fit and staying motivated. The greater part was, it didn’t come from outside of me. My motivation was myself and the phrases going through my head pushing me on weren’t from songs or books, they were my own.

It has worked too. I ran a personal best over the half marathon distance last Sunday, and comfortably too.

I think everyone has a comfort zone and to permanently dwell within it means a slow death. A famous song says:

Do one thing every day that scares you.

For some it will be the dread of getting up and sprinting around a track. For others, getting on a bus. For many, spending an afternoon with their mother-in-law. But the idea is that pushing yourself, or fearing something can actually make you acutely aware of just being and makes you feel alive.

In recent years, I’ve looked around me at my peers and observed their mindsets, habits, outlooks and general appearances. I’ve seen mates’ beer guts at 27 years old, had conversations about receding hairlines at 31, listened to my friends talk about ‘slowing down’ at 33. I’ve also listened to people twenty years older than myself and paid attention to their advice, life choices, fears and realities. I am planning to grow old gracefully, but be in the best shape mentally and physically as I can while doing it. I’m gathering a dossier if you like, of information to future proof aspects of my own life, having a general plan to keep going for as long as I can, as I am now, on this integer. Living to 100 would be great, provided I can still laugh, go for a walk, and do 20 push ups. This is unrealistic though. There’s a lot to be said about living fast and dying young without the whole fading away business.

One thing that pushes my mental barriers and comfort zones is being alone in the mountains, pitted against nature. More than once I have been in situations that I felt out of my depth, uncomfortable, and stretched to the limit. When things turn on their head like that, and the adrenaline is pumping, the fall out afterwards is massive. The feeling of accomplishment, knowing you’ve survived, and feeling that your comfort zone got a lot bigger. It’s essential to feel like this these days, especially in the face of nature. I’m never going to expand any comfort zones on the sofa watching TV. It’s interesting how our ancestors (who would laugh hysterically at us now) would navigate in the outdoor, in all conditions no problem at all as it was their livelihood, yet it is out of most of our comfort zones.

Let’s do a little experiment. There are no wrong or right answers, so nobody should feel ashamed of sharing anything, but it would be great to gather together what you guys and girls last did that pushed your comfort zone, and what is it in your lives that keep you fresh? Share!

Author: myoutdoorlivingroom

Thirty-something years old. I love running, cycling, photography, nature, being outdoors and wearing shorts all-year-round. Looking for ways and experiences to disconnect from the hum of what we accept as 'living', hopefully inspiring others to do the same! https://www.instagram.com/_br3ath3_/

5 thoughts on “Operation: Middle-age”

  1. For me – I use physical fitness to try to maintain some feeling of energy and health. I’m past the “dark side of 35” as you put it, so I am definitely trying to keep some healthy fitness as part of my life. It does work – I am way more fit and energetic than some of the peers close to my own age.

    After that, I am always looking for ways to keep that “edge” or youthful spirit. At 40 I learned to play guitar and bass, later being part of a band which I enjoyed every much. In the last couple years I started my blog to inspire my creative side a little more. As part of making my blog more professional, I purchased a professional level camera and taught myself a lot of photography techniques – not just point and shoot. I’m talking full Manual Mode with different lenses and in varying conditions, light, and other variables.

    Keeping yourself active will keep the “spark” alive no matter the age. Being healthy is not just physical – it’s mental as much as anything.

    Great post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thanks for your input! It definitely sounds like you had/are having the same thought process as myself. Good to know there’s more than one of us!

      What you touched on when you said ‘spirit’ is an interesting term that I hadn’t considered. It’s a very positive word to use and probably sums up a whole algorithm if you will of attitude, outlook, state of mind and fitness. Young at heart effectively, which has a knock on effect in the choices you make, therefore keeping your spirit, a kind of perpetuality.

      I think what I can learn from you is putting more effort into the mental side of it. Challenging myself all round.

      Thanks again for sharing! Keep on keeping on!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Today I went to the funeral of an 82 year old man I have never met but who has touch my life! An incredible man who lived a long and full life. Hearing his friends and family talk about who he was and his life has made me want to be a better person….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s the stuff! I think we sometimes get preoccupied with what we are going to leave behind when we die, usually material things, like objects and wealth, but they’re just things. Stories and memories can be retold for decades after the source of them is gone. It sounds like a worthwhile catalyst. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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