The running graph

Optimism for over the hill runners

The running graph

You’re born, you run, you die.

Somewhere in the middle there’s a peak when it all comes together: age, training, body, everything adding up to the perfect run where you hit the hills and can run for hours. God, I miss it!

I will never run that well again. I am over the hill, as it were.

So what’s to do? I’ve never been one for analysis. I don’t record my times and speed, I do different trails all the time, always off-road. It’s difficult to compare times when the track’s washed away or the dog’s decided to avoid the zigzag and go cross-country for a change. But even so, it is hard not to consider that once I ran Te Mata Peak, fast and furious, without falling over. Obviously the sensible thing, as we age, is to continue to run, consistently, patiently, accepting the fact that as you slide from “peak you”, every run will be that little bit less. “Good for your age” people will say, but it will be a challenge just to stay on the path of steady decline. Look, I’ve drawn it for you:

Running ability age to speed.png

Isn’t that depressing?

So here’s my new theory, and I came up with it on the first run after Christmas. Christmas is not a time for running. We had a house full of festive cheer for weeks, with big dinners that started with the kids trying out their new cocktail recipes, through the splendid wine we’ve earned during the year (working festivals, it’s a good gig), ending with gifts of cognac or limoncello straight from the freezer.

I didn’t run for three weeks and now I have fallen. This was no steady decline, I have plummeted to gasping depths.

So I re-designed the graph. Now it looks like this:

Runnung ability as we age.png

I accept the plunges. They are a terrific and important part of life. There will be other Christmases. Catherine & Val are coming on holiday and we will eat and drink too much, again. I will pull a calf, twist an ankle, get too busy. I’ll sit on my bum over winter and look up at the peak though the rain and not move from beside the fire.  I will fall. But it wont be a catastrophe. There can be hundreds of mini peaks still to celebrate and downhill looks quite a ride. Notice the aim is to die running just when returning to the falling over a lot stage, which might be a contributing factor (still, at 103, way to go!). The sharp peak at the end probably shouldn’t be in the graph but I think it counts. It’s where the kids put me in a box and run up the Peak to scatter my ashes. They’ll be in their 70s, but I’m assuming they’ll still be fast and furious.

Author: Cristina Sanders Blog

Novelist, trail runner, book reviewer and blogger.

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