Triathlon, longevity and quality of life

It’s hard to deny the ever-growing proof the link that exists between triathlon, longevity and quality of life.

In the early days of the event it was a bit of a novelty for anyone over 60 to enter an Ironman Triathlon let alone finish the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run and cross the finish line.

Well, times have certainly changed.

In Ironman Arizona 2013 the winning time in the 60-64 age-category was 10:27.

Even more startling is the fact that there were nine women in the 60-64 age-group, three in the 65-69 age-group, and an amazing ten finishers in the male 65-69 category with the winner posting a time of 10:44!

In Ironman Florida 2013 there were nine finishers in the 60-64 age-group and another seven in the 65-69 category.

Even more telling is the two 70-74 male finishers who posted times of 13:29:37 and 14:21:10 respectively.

Not only are there more senior taking on the challenge of triathlon, they are posting some remarkably fast times.

So what does this mean in the big scheme of things?

Have you ever had those days that just seem to slip away from you? You had no ambition to do anything. The sun rose, the hours passed, then it was night and another day in your life was gone forever.

Lost and unrecoverable never to be seen again……just gone.

You had the opportunity to shine, to make a difference somewhere, to embrace the gift of life and perhaps reach for the stars–but you didn’t.

Worse yet, as you grow older a wasted day can easily turn into a week, or a month, or the rest of your life…….which will be significantly shorter than it might have been because your sense of purpose has inexorably disappeared.

Many people might imagine themselves doing great things but perhaps as they age the risk of failure leads to complacency and risking nothing seems to be the safer alternative.

If the path of inaction seems like the answer, then why does it so often leave an empty feeling in it’s wake? Why is there a lingering sense of loss when a day passes with nothing accomplished?

Why is there such a fear of failure overshadowing the allure of accomplishing something extraordinary?

“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

There seems to be a direct correlation between living with a sense of purpose, quality of life, and longevity.

Think back to the high school or college days when there was so much going on and so much to learn and do, or those heady times when your career and family gave you something to strive for and look forward too every waking breath.

Then one morning you wake up and all that’s behind you.

It was only about a generation ago when people for the most part would reach retirement age and suddenly lose their sense of purpose. They’ve worked their 30 or 40 years and the kids are all grown up and gone and everything just sort of came to a halt.

It was a very clear signal to the body, spirit, and mind to simply shut things down and an early departure from this world was often the result.

Now take a look at the seniors who have embraced triathlon in their golden years.

They wake up every morning with purpose. They have a goal to strive for. There is no dwelling on should’ve, would’ve, or could’ve.

They simply get out and do it.

They swim, they bike, they run, and most of all they cherish dreams of a distant finish line.

Purpose stimulates their mind, fuels their body, and makes their spirit sing.

There is no risk of failure to ponder, because they became winners the moment they took the first step of their triathlon journey.


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