FitOldDog Is Not A Great Athlete But A Persistent One So Attitude Is More Important Than Genes For His Marathons

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Marathons and genetic make up article in Daily Mail

Marathons and genetic make up article in the Mail Online, which really only applies to the front runners, so ignore it and run for heaven’s sake.

As you age you need to become increasingly aware of what is going on within and around your body if you want to stay in the game of life for as long as you can.

This post was prompted by an article forwarded to me by my sister in Spain, and it’s interesting in the nature of its implied underlying assumptions about what motivates most people to undertake marathons. I often receive well-intended links to similar information, including the dangers of Ironman training for my heart, how I might die in a marathon from hyponatremia (low blood sodium) or drown in an endurance swim. In the case of this cited article, I might be encouraged to give up as I don’t appear to have the right genes. I’m stuck? I’ll never get to the front of the pack? Bummer?

One of the rewards of defeating plantar fasciitis.

One of my proudest running moments was to be finisher number 19,981, and I met some great people along the way.

One of my proudest running moments was completing the Boston Marathon in 2009, and it still is. I have been planning for some time to try to qualify again in the next couple of years. I still plan to do that, in spite of the current situation. As a 70-year old, I will need to achieve a qualifying time of 4:25:59 at a suitable marathon elsewhere, and that ain’t easy! In 2009 in Boston, I came in as competitor number 19,981 – boy, my marathon genes must really suck, and I wouldn’t have missed it for all the tea in China (as they say). When I start to doubt myself as a runner, I remember that day and it keeps me going. What writers of articles, such as the one above, seem to fail to understand about endurance sports is the nature of winning for all the ‘also rans.’ For most of us winning is finishing, pulling the whole thing together, enjoying the training adventure, and just being there uninjured.

FitOldDog refilling his water bottle.

As an endurance athlete you have to look after your body and the planet, so keep refilling that water bottle until if falls apart, and preferably at a non-refrigerated water source!

Think about it! If there are 30,000 people in a marathon, and only one man and one woman can win, this indicates that the remaining 29,998 people lose, if winning is being first. Right? Wrong! We may win our age group, if that is important to us, but most of the competitors, as in Ironman races, are there once and once only. In the process they learn what it takes to complete such a grueling event. This translates into their more fully appreciating what it really means to be at the front of the pack, which is where genes may be critical and heart damage is a serious risk. The few skilled athletes in the lead inspire the rest of us following in their footsteps. It’s not about being first, and marathon or Ironman training for most of us is not about training intensity.

FitOldDog at the Boston Marathon 2009.

As you can see, coming in around number 20,000, FitOldDog (in green), is having no easy time of it. What a wonderful race that was. Note: I actually bought the photo and lost it, so I had to use this proof – sorry about that! Hope it doesn’t get me into trouble, but I’ve contacted the company about it.

It’s a matter of training volume and skill for older athletes, a whole different beast. To me, winning such races is about learning to care for my body through increased awareness, which also applies to caring for our planet, and to arrive at both the start and finish lines without any running injuries.

The way to triumph over the horror of the 2013 Boston Marathon is to keep running, and continue to try to qualify for these wonderful events, bombs or no bombs. I suspect that the best response we can make to such tragedies is to work to understand the underlying cause and then fix it, however long it takes.

In the field of body awareness and sports injuries, it is evident that the real problem is almost never where the pain is. I suspect that this is also true of social awareness, but I am no expert in this field.

My plan is to try to compete in the Boston Marathon again one day, and beat the toe tag to it, even though my ‘marathon genes’ are subpar, apparently.

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.