While I like competition and have been competitive my whole life (swimming, track, cycling, badminton, triathlons, marathons), I like the feeling of being outdoors engaged in strenuous physical activity (non-competitive – skiing (downhill and cross country), surfing, pickleball, sailing, rock climbing). However, once I start a new activity (skate cross country skiing) and start to engage in that activity more and more I inevitably gravitate to the competitive side of the sport, not so much because I need to win, but because competition motivates me to improve and to get better at the sport, and to train. I enjoy the structured aspect of training.
I also like sport because I want to thwart the aging process as much as possible. It’s not that I hate getting older, but as I age I want to be active and able to move (with all of my medical issues and arthritis, perhaps due to age, genetics, and sports my entire life, I’m not doing a stellar job at this goal). In Friel’s book, Fast After Fifty, I want to continue to eat well and get plenty of exercise, include HIIT. A few years ago my VO2Max was above 60 mL/kg/min. It’s not the number I’m seeking (I’m sure my VO2Max has taken a dramatic nosedive over the past three years due to all of my surgeries sofa lifestyle), but I want to stay physically fit to ward off a falling VO2Max and sarcopenia as much and for as long as possible. Not only will I feel better, but I think I’ll live a much happier and productive life by doing so.
I might be able to continue riding my road bike on my trainer since I won’t need to bring my neck into extension as I would need to do on the road. I think I would get frustrated with an upright bicycle; I wouldn’t be able to generate the same kind of power as I would riding a bicycle in a more bent over position. The ElliptiGo is a possibility and something I need to investigate once I can walk without limping (two days weight bearing on my left foot). I’m pretty sure I’ll be hiking, and likely seek out steep climbs (the Incline in Manitou Springs, CO is a famous outdoor stairmaster from an old funicular), though I need to be careful descending (no running) to protect my back. Roller skis scare me. Falling is inevitable, and falling on pavement does not sound wise. Climbing? Perhaps. My wife thinks it’s too dangerous and I’ve agreed not to do it any longer. But . . . maybe some indoor bouldering would be acceptable.
What am I excited about? Nordic skate skiing. My technique needs a lot of work, but I love it! However, I live in Colorado Springs, the Rocky Mountain front range, and a good two hours from any ski area. I’m on the Board of a local nordic organization that offers skiing on a golf course in Monument, CO (20 minutes away) when snow conditions permit, so I’m hoping for a lot of local snow this winter. I hope to ski a lot this winter, but unlike cycling, it’s not a year-round sport.
Ultimately, how do I stay active as I age, especially with a degenerative spine that eliminates most impact sports? Swim? I don’t hate it, but it’s not my love. And during COVID times, I really don’t to be swimming in public pools ( I gave up my gym membership and now have a workable gym in my garage – but no swimming pool). Also, with my spine the way it is, how much and how hard and heavy should I be lifting weights? Due to an imbalance of using a knee scooter and iWalk, I have some residual radiculopathy running down my right leg following an acute flair-up a couple of weeks ago where I lay on my left side in a fetal position all weekend. I don’t want the pain to increase to the point, or a loss of bladder control, to necessitate more back surgery. Thus, I’m interested in learning what I can and cannot do, and finding exercise that is enjoyable, enduring, and physically taxing.