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Old Athletes Keep Me Young

Ready to exercise but full of excuses? Here's inspiration.

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I’ve rowed enough on my erg to get decent times on the standard measure for rowing—the 2k. My best time is 7:43, which I consider good for lightweight 48-year-old guy.

I’m considering competing the U.S. indoor rowing competition—not to win, but for the experience, figuring I might do okay.

I looked up how lightweight men’s performances last year.

My category: lightweight men 40-49 years

In my category, I would have come in tenth.

Not horrible, especially for someone who didn’t row in college or competitively, though I have put nearly 2 million meters on my machine:

I passed 1.9 million meters last week.

I’ve rowed for fitness, not competition. The advice I sought from experienced rowers was only for form, not to bring my times down. Actually, lately I’ve watched videos on lowering 2k times.

But I think I do what everyone does when they’re 48.5 years old in the 40 – 49 age group. I figure younger guys are getting the lower times. I’m pretty close to the next age group.

My category in 1.5 years: lightweight men 50-54 years

So I looked at the next age group, 50 – 54 years. Only one guy competed in it:

Holy cow! He rowed solidly sub-7. It seems age matters less than I thought.

I checked the next age group, also with only one guy competing.

Lightweight men 55-59 years

Holy cow! That guy, maybe a decade older than me, rowed barely above 7:

How much older than me do I have to go where I’d place okay?

I’d like to think that to some extent, I can guess some of these guys’ ability comes from having rowed competitively. Partly something from thirty years ago shouldn’t matter, but some of my ultimate Frisbee skills endure today, so I can’t simply dismiss past training outright.

Anyway, let’s look at the 60 and 65-year-olds.

Lightweight men 60-64 and 65-69 years

Three men rowed in each of these groups. Finally, groups I wouldn’t have come last in, though about fifteen or twenty years older than me:

and

In both groups I would have come in third, pushing a guy maybe two decades my senior back.

The trend continues.

Lightweight men 70-74 and 75-79 years

For the guys 25 years older than me, I’d still come in third, though with a bit more training, I think I could beat the second-place time of 7:37.

Finally when I get to the guys thirty years older than me, I could come in first. Not sure how much of a victory I could count it.

Lightweight men 80-84 and 85-89 years

I could solidly beat the guy competing in his early 80s.

Still, 8:36 is a solid time.

Last month I rowed an 8-minute 2k after another workout, meaning not at my best, so 8:36 I could do probably easily, but that 8-minute row drained me for days. Well, the workout before was a Tabata at full intensity, which probably did most of the draining.

With the 85-year-olds, I’d finish about a minute ahead of the next guy, though forty years behind in another sense.

Do you see what I meant by this post’s title? If guys can perform at this level at nearly double my age, I feel young. I can keep training and keep my form for decades.

Ready for some serious comparison?

Lightweight men 90-94 years

This guy, at least 90 years old, finished in under 11 minutes:

Wow!

I see decades of youthful activity before me.

I’ve motivated myself this way for decades

By the way, I’ve been motivating myself this way for decades. I think it’s kept me active. I hear that people feel and behave how old they think they should, which varies.

Here is a decade-old post, On reading the 2010 New York City Marathon results, where I find similar inspiration.

I wrote about a 91-year-old marathoner in You won’t believe this marathoner about five years ago.

I wrote about an 85-year-old marathoner with a time mere minutes off my best, in my 20s in Redefining possibility: This 85-year-old marathoner runs faster than you.

And for the coup-de-grace, here’s the oldest finisher in last year’s indoor rowing competition, a woman between 95 and 99:

Ready to exercise?

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