Out There: Excitement Is Ageless

I try to approach running with the same childlike exuberance as my 5-year-old niece Jae, grinning every time I lace up my running shoes.

Maybe we can’t avoid growing old…but every now and then it’s fun to avoid growing up.

Last week, in spite of my flu shot, obsessive hand-washing, and high vitamin consumption, the unthinkable happened: I got sidelined the evilest flu in the history of flus. For five days, I became intimately familiar with my toilet and bathroom floor, alternating between sleeping and throwing up any food I had ever consumed in my life (I truly believe I saw Koala Yummies and Crystal Pepsi from the 1990s).

On the 6th day, I awoke, cautiously optimistic that I was out of the woods. When I went to sit up, something horrendous happened:

I couldn’t move.

Every single bone, muscle, and nerve in my lower back hurt. When I moved my legs, sharp pain radiated down my hips. Quickly, I went to my doctor, who ruled out major disease and referred me to a chiropractor. After a quick look at my X-rays, the chiropractor told me I was out of alignment and then uttered the words every woman dreads:

“It’s actually pretty normal as people age.”

Age? AGE? I tried to contain my rage. I only turned 29 weeks ago, thankyouverymuch. “Age,” my ass.

More from Susan Lacke: Don’t Make Assumptions

I admit, I do some sorta grown-up things. I pay my bills on time, eat my vegetables, and always meet my deadlines (though my handlers at Competitor know I often procrastinate until the very last minute). I went mattress shopping with my partner, Neil, the other day and didn’t crack a single inappropriate joke in front of the salesperson. Heck, I even wore white pants yesterday without getting a single stain on them! If that doesn’t scream “maturity,” I don’t know what does.

I can’t fight aging. I can, however, stay forever young. All I have to do is look at my 5-year-old niece, Jae, and I know she and I share a secret weapon.

You see, when Jae runs around the park, she isn’t self-conscious of whether she’s breathing heavily, and she certainly doesn’t care how many calories she’s burned. She doesn’t wear a heart-rate monitor, and you won’t hear her utter the words “lactate threshold” or  “chip time.”

No, she just runs with a big grin on her face, hair billowing in the wind she’s created.

When she gets a new pair of shoes, she’ll excitedly walk up to strangers in the supermarket and tell them all about her shoes, demonstrating the blinky-lights in the sole with a firm stomp.

After she’s run for a while, she’ll get tired, stop, and sit down. She may ask for a banana. Sometimes a piece of chocolate. After she’s refuled, she gets right back up and starts running again.

You see, Jae runs solely for the joy of it.

I refuse to view running as a chore. I approach it with the same childlike exuberance as Jae, grinning every time I lace up my running shoes. If they had blinky-lights in the sole, you can bet I’d show them off to you in the grocery store, too.

Put away the heart-rate monitor today. Don’t worry about the calories you need to burn. And if you see an earthworm crossing the sidewalk in front of you, take a second to stop, watch it wiggle for a second, and then help it along to the grass. Run for the joy of it, feel the wind in your hair, and smile.

Maybe we can’t avoid growing old…but every now and then it’s fun to avoid growing up.


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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