Chapter 5: Conclusion
My running club has members aged from 17 to well over 80 years old. Remarkably, because we share a common interest, there are strong friendships across the years. We have formed deep and lasting friendships that enrich all our lives. Running transcends all ages.
For young people, it is a gateway to sports of all kinds. It is an affordable, accessible and safe way to embark on a life of healthy exercise.
There is nothing inevitable about the deterioration in performance that comes as we get older. With smart training, you can offset or reverse the effects of ageing, and continue to grow and improve as a runner. Some of my running friends are running marathons well into their seventies. I hope that I too will have the courage, wisdom and good fortune to go on enjoying running as long as I’m still breathing.
As we get older, running helps to reduce the impact of age on our fitness, strength, mobility and independence. It can thereby give us many extra years of good quality of life. George Sheehan, the philosopher of running, wrote this a few years before he died:
“The unfit youth or young adult or even middle aged person can still be independent and enjoy life. The aging cannot. The normal loss of physical powers that occurs with inactivity makes fitness a necessity. …
In time, regardless of how we play, we will all depart. What we must avoid is having our actual leaving precede that departure – to die in effect before we die in truth, to live out our years in a joyless, dependent existence, our body and mind and soul already waiting for us on the other side of the divide.”