Friday, September 12, 2014

Glory Days

One thing you will probably learn about me is that I'm a fan of the TV show Biggest Loser. While I know many people have varying opinions about the show, I watch it for the people, because if you get a good, dynamic cast of folks it's an interesting study in how people can change if they want to, and how there are always second chances in life, you just have to be willing to give in to get one.

I'm also friends with a former contestant and have interviewed a couple of others, and they are really neat people who with the help of the show became who they really wanted to be. I am really in awe of these people, because I have battled with my weight my entire adult life, and am currently losing that battle (boo). It's a tough thing.

So anyway, this season's show is titled "Glory Days". The cast is made up of people who had been high-level athletes during their lives -- Olympians, NFL players, college athletes -- but lost their way and are now having to deal with obesity.

During the show when certain people are talking they show them when they were lean and mean and at the height of their careers. During their "glory days" if you will.

You know, whether we you were an athlete or not, everyone has had them. A time when we looked great and felt great, and we all thought that it would last forever.

I had them. I was a good athlete when I was young. I was hardly a "star" but I was pretty good at most of the sports that I tried. Actually, running might have been my best sport...I rarely lost distance races during conditioning and gym class, and a lot of people thought that's probably what I should've done in high school.

I chose a different path, and it was mostly because I totally HATED running! With a passion! I was one of those people that saw running as punishment or a means to an end (like getting in shape for basketball), not something I necessarily wanted to choose to do.

I might have missed out on a good thing, but oh well. Plus, I love running now, so there's that!

But as I watched the show, the term "Glory Days" kept rolling through my mind. I think we put so much emphasis on life when we are at the tops of our games (and we all have a stretch in our lives that we are) that we seem to think stuff is "over" once we pass that stage of our lives. That those days are long gone.

High school and college, or even our early to mid-twenties are supposed to be "the best times of our lives". And for a lot of reasons, they are. But at the same time, why can't I be in one of the "best times of my life" now, at 45? Why can't we have our Glory Days at another time in our lives?

Granted, it's a heck of a lot harder. We all have jobs and families and responsibilities, but we have a greater sense of it all now that we have some age and experience. And knowledge. I know I have TONS more knowledge then I did then.

So that begs the question: in all other walks of life, age, experience and knowledge is an asset, but when we look at our health, fitness or even our general outlook on life, it's a liability.

What gives? Why can't we live our athletic Glory Days now?

I know part of that, at least for me, comes from quantitative measurements. In running, that equals time. Of course there is no way I could ever run the kind of times I could've run at 18, but why should that be the standard?

We're so hard on ourselves. I know I am, and while I have changed my attitudes towards that (read some of my older posts) I'm still a work in progress. But maybe it's time to redefine our Glory Days. Maybe it's time to flip the script.

So many of us are at great points in our lives and we don't realize it. We live in the past too much or think of the future too much. Remember when you would make statements like "man, things will be awesome when I'm really established in my career" or "it's tough having little kids, it'll be nice when they are a bit older and I can breathe again".

Stop right there and think...many of you are there and don't even realize it. You have a great career, you have a nice place, can go on vacation and the kids are grown and you have more time for yourself. You put your head down and grinded away, and now you are out the other side. If you fit that criteria, you are living some serious Glory Days my friend!

Now, how do we take that attitude and shift it to our running or other athletic pursuits? Good question. I think it's all about changing the criteria. Instead of focusing on how we look or what kind of times we put up, it should be about being satisfied with what we do, being happy with the effort we gave and knowing we did our best.

Like for last 5K time is nine (yes, nine) minutes slower than my PR (22:26), which was set in 2001. Should I be pissed about that? Maybe, but what good would that do? In the end, I knew I did my best, so that's all that should matter. Of course, I'm going to work to get better, but the end result shouldn't be the measuring stick.

For most of us, when our kids were growing up and playing sports one of the first questions we would ask them after a practice or a game was whether or not they had fun. Just because we are older doesn't mean we shouldn't ask that question of ourselves.

Our activities should be a diversion from our lives, so they should be fun, otherwise they would be a waste of time to do. That's not to say we shouldn't give everything we had or compete with others has hard as we can, but that should never get in the way of us enjoying what we are doing.

I know a few  runners who are my age -- or older -- who are living their Glory Days, so I know it can be done. They are awesome people who seem to live in the now and they feel like right here, right now is their time. What I like about them is that they know who they are and what they are capable of, and they go for it.

In a sense, isn't that what we all did when we were young? They are doing it now, and so should we!

I hope by the end of this season of Biggest Loser that the people on that show aren't "reliving" their Glory Days of the past, but instead "living" the Glory Days of the present. It's out there, and it's what we all should be aiming to do.

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