OK, this might be for another world and time, other than our own. But, it’s my fantasy and I think it should be the goal, the ideal of our community. If you believe, you have to speak because you have something to say.
I have become what can be honestly described as…(gasp) an older athlete. I’m not sure when it happened. But, one day I got in the car, turned on the radio, and out came crap! I used to like the music, immensely. But one day, it all changed. My hair went grey and sparse on the top. It began growing out my ears and nose. Even my eye brows need to be mowed regularly. My glasses got thicker, and my race times got slower. And staying up to 11 o’clock took more endurance than I spend for a half marathon.
This might be a job description for older athletes. Nevertheless, it would be good for all to see older athletes give back to the communities that have raised them. When was the last time you shared your story? Your story of exercise and healthy living, how you started running? It could make the difference to someone else. We are all re-newed through the races, and by being with others. The older athletes would keep in circulation, and the younger athletes would do better by not repeating the same mistakes.
The best lessons are not taught, but shared. The old guard should model an athletes life of playing by the rules, obeying sound exercise training doctrine, and being humble, helpful and able to teach other runners. They should be available to develop relationships, encourage and advise those coming up, still developing. They would encourage self-control, to use common sense, and what’s sensible and practical. They could show the younger ones who are willing to learn how to retain the right priorities, namely, balance in juggling home, training, employees, and self. Time and time again, we see the athlete is least capable of balancing self, and therefore in need of guidance. Last, Master athletes would encourage telling the truth. All athletes should seek out those who they can learn from, teach them to understand and appreciate what they are doing, the laws of training, and the rules of the road.
We older runners could encourage others already exercising and then encourage others to start an exercise program; put an idea in their heart. Older athletes would be taking responsibility for the sport by helping others, teach, train, and reach out. When you discovered exercise, you were also given a new story to tell. You’ve got a story to tell. It won’t fix others. People can only do that for themselves. But your story does set a standard that was achieved. Older athletes could support related causes and opportunities in our sport. And, Lord knows, we all have opportunities. Just look around at all those at White Rock Lake or at the races that need a little guidance. It is through the older athletes that the training/racing gospel reaches out to the unwitting. Many people don’t know about training, diet, and training opportunities. They don’t know about the good races and race directors. We know the courses and can tell others the finish line they can not see. We know pain is temporary and your finish time is eternal. We know the underlings will have greater PR’s. But they know none of this. We know we will live after our race. They only think they will die. It’s easier for us who know to encourage others. When we accomplish what we can, we are rewarded spiritually. Stories combine in relation to greater feats and greater stories. Our running community can suffer, or at the very least, not reach its potential. Only you can tell your story. It’s a way of bringing the world to the sport, and vice versa. If you believe this, tell someone else, and pay their entry fee.