“RUN BY” DATE…
When I was younger I religiously followed the expiration dates on food.
If the “use by” date on the milk carton read Tuesday, then it was absolutely drunk by Tuesday. Otherwise it was slam dunked into the trash like I was discarding level 5 biohazardous material.
In my mind, the bacteria in food was anxiously waiting for the expiration date clock to strike midnight, so they could transform what was once delectable grub into a pile of non-edible evil.
Now in the intervening years I’ve learned that expiration dates on food/drinks are not absolutes and in fact can be rather arbitrary. If you want to learn more, check out this informative (and very entertaining) video segment by John Oliver.
So what the hell does this have to do with running?
I mean other than advising anyone against chugging a half gallon of sour milk and then going to run some hardcore fartleks. NOTE: Bad things/hilarity would probably ensue.
The reason I bring this up? Stay with me and all will be clear in time.
Last week I went to the podiatrist (yet again) to deal with an ongoing issue with my orthotics.
As you know, I have some funky feet. You can check out past posts about it if you’d like.
Basically I’ve got some bone spurs on my right foot and the start of arthritis in my right big toe (along with a few other foot related issues).
While I was at the podiatrist they took x-rays of my right foot, to compare them against my x-rays from last year.
The doc showed me the “inner me” of my tootsie (that’s “silly speak” for my x-ray).
The good news: the bone spurs had only increased a little in size and as a whole, the foot was in good shape (relatively speaking).
The bad news: my foot won’t really get any better than it is right now. Our goal is to maintain things and slow down any signs of deterioration.
I made a crack saying that’s fine as long as I’m able to keep running marathons when I’m 80.
The doctor was oddly silent.
He looked at me and quoted another doctor who advised against anyone over 40 running due to the added stress you put on your joints.
I reminded him that I didn’t start really running until I was 40 and that the only doctor I believe without question is Dr. Seuss (bring on the green eggs and ham).
He also asked if I’ve considered taking up cycling.
I replied, “Perhaps… if it’s part of a triathlon.”
What he basically said without saying it is, in his opinion, that I might not be pounding the pavement when I’m old and gray.
So, my running days most likely have an expiration date on them.
Now this doesn’t mean I’ll have to hang up my stinky running shoes tomorrow… or next week… or even next year. But someday.
And perhaps a little sooner than I might like.
It kind of hit me in the gut. I left the office feeling more than a little dejected.
But as I thought about it more and more, I’ve been able to put it in perspective.
Everyone at times has to give up things they love.
Professional athletes have to retire due to injuries or just because they’ve passed their prime.
My brother (a natural athlete and a much better one than I) really can’t run anymore due to hip replacement surgery… btw, he’s taken up mountain bike riding and loves it.
I’ve also got friends who have had to give up sweets, or fried food or alcohol (that blows).
But that’s life. Sometimes we have no choice but to let something go.
So when the day does come… 30 years from now, 20 years, 10 years, maybe 5 years even… where I have no choice but to give up distance running, then I will. I won’t like it.
But I will.
That said, I want to keep moving, whether it’s cycling, swimming, rowing, paddling or just plain walking.
I want to keep moving.
While I still can run marathons and half marathons, it means that I’m going to enjoy the ever-loving hell out of it that much more.
And who knows, maybe I’ll prove my podiatrist wrong and be able to celebrate my geezerness by continually clomping along slowly for 26.2 miles. Or if the tech can hurry up and get invented, maybe I’ll get some bionic leg upgrades (Na na na na na na na na na na).
Perhaps the best way I can sum up my feelings on the matter is to quote a motivational sign I saw on the course of the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon that I ran two weeks ago.
“There will come a day when I won’t be able to run this… but today is not that day.”