At lunch yesterday, my aunt asked me if I felt like the grandma of my team. I’m not the oldest here, but I do have a few years on my mid-distance training partners, and many of my competitors. It’s probably why I’ve been thinking recently about what it means to be an older athlete.
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Track culture (like everything?) has a love affair with youth. Even though people on the medal stand range in age, the hype machine (and $$) tends to focus on young phenoms. Because a young star doesn’t just have talent, she has POTENTIAL.
In a sport that exists at the edge of human performance, we are constantly reminded of our fallibility. People lose, records stand, or they are barely broken. But in the world of potential, ability is limitless. It’s only bounded by the imagination.
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Potential’s appeal sneaks into other areas of life. In my imaginary future, I can be perfect. If I don’t hit this year’s resolution, I have the next one, or the one after that.
But an older athlete can no longer comfort herself with the illusion of more time. There is only this day, this week, this year. Which means I no longer deal in potential. That’s not to say I don’t plan. I just don’t delude myself into thinking there is a next time. The question is not only what can I be, but what can I do now, where I am, with what I have.
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Of course, Now is all we ever have. It might not be as sexy, but it’s real, and it’s there for the taking. As they say, What will you do with your one wild and precious moment?
Photo by @cortneywhite_