This article was originally published on Better After 50.
I'm signed up for the New York Half Marathon on March 17 and for the first time, I'm 80% sure I'm not going to run it. Not because I'm injured, not because I'm not trained (that wouldn't stop me), not because my two regular running buddies opted out this year (although that has a huge impact). I'm 80% NOT running because my body is giving me some post-50 feedback that I've tried to ignore but can't any longer.
Last year, I ran the New York half with a foot that ached from plantar fasciitis from all my training. Running on the hard road and frozen pavement of the West Side Highway was brutal and I barely made it to the finish line. But, the truth is, I'm a sucker for a medal and when I bowed my head to receive my beautiful bling, my aches and pains subsided for a brief moment. However, my ultimate souvenir from that day was a worse case of plantar. No surprise.
The rest of that spring and summer I stopped running. I tried every remedy to cure my aching foot and eventually, come November, my foot was miraculously pain-free. A feeling of liberation comes with being pain-free and that's when I began to get real about staying healthy.
My story of body breakdowns, aches, pains and fatigue are not new to any midlifers. As the years go by, it's an inevitable reality. But, even though this reality is evident, acceptance is not something that I have embraced.
And, while I'm on the topic of body/aging acceptance, how do I deal with my external body shifts? What's that extra stuff around my waist? I'm know that six months ago, it wasn't there. Hey, my weight has remained relatively constant over these past 10 years -- plus or minus three pounds -- but now I have this overhang around my sides? Give up running and head to Pilates perhaps, more side crunches at the gym or -- heaven forbid -- give up chocolate? What's the new game plan?
Since all of these shifting (ha ha) realities are inevitable the challenge I have is to believe in my new reality and embrace this next stage. I want to be able to say the following and mean it:
"I am Better After 50. I am lucky to be healthy and fit and I am working on new ways to stay healthy and to be kind and not critical of my body. I want to make changes without feeling like I've given-in and given-up -- it's not about feeling older, it's about feeling better."
I can -- and will -- modify my activities and make choices so my body doesn't break down, and still be plenty active. Less running, faster walking and more spin classes to keep my serotonin surging. A fashion update that isn't frumpy but embraces the softer me -- generous hipster cool tops and sweaters and a final purge to the crop tops.
And as far as the medal goes... well, I'm working on that. For sure, I'll miss the bling after the run, but I'm thinking that maybe I'll give myself a BA50 medal every year for staying within my newly defined boundaries and for having a great attitude.