Every man’s favorite stories are of them in their prime. They re-tell them like they were yesterday. Ask them to compete and they will tell you that their best days are behind them. Or are they? The records of World Masters Athletes will show you that at 50 years old the body is willing to compete with the world’s best.
The more competitive the man, the more elaborate their stories become. With each re-enactment, another layer of ‘magic dust’ is applied to the details to gain a laugh.
They were once fierce combatants on the field but now they are resigned to armchair critics or keyboard warriors.
Competition is a double-edged sword. It drives motivation and effort when you taste victory, but when you chew on defeat one too many times it’s easy to give up. The resilience they once had has eroded away.
Age is a convenient barrier to hide behind. This is built on a lie. A limiting belief that our health steadily declines once it peaks in our 20s and 30s. (Dark line in chart below)
The light line in the graph above demonstrates that improvement is possible at any age. It’s never too late to change your trajectory. Your health is not determined by your age, it’s determined by your decisions.
Competitive sport is a fascinating experiment to discover what is possible when poor lifestyle choices and sedentary behavior are removed from the equation.
The 100m sprint is an ideal experiment. At the age of 22, Usain Bolt ran 100m in 9.58 seconds. If the common perception of our health were true we should see a sudden drop 100m times of World Masters Athletes.
Listed below are the 100m world record times by age and the percentage drop in time-related to Usain Bolt’s world record:
- 35 years old: 9:96 (-4%)
- 40 years old: 9:93 (-4%)
- 45 years old: 10:72 (-12%)
- 50 years old: 10:88 (-14%)
- 55 years old: 11:30 (-18%)
- 60 years old: 11:70 (-22%)
- 65 years old: 12:37 (-29%)
- 70 years old: 12:77 (-33%)
- 75 years old: 13:49 (-40%)
- 80 years old: 14:35 (-50%)
- 85 years old: 15:19 (-58%)
When the mind is willing the body is ready to compete. Peak performance does not decline in a linear fashion. It is gradual. Followed by a rapid drop off late in life.
The research into the health of master’s athletes reflects the aim that many of us gave: maximize the ‘healthspan’ by reaching a peak and then maintain our health, physical and cognitive capacities for as long as we can, compressing ill health into as short a period as possible.
It’s never too late to become an athlete.
How to achieve this is explored in my book. You can download a free chapter sample here at www.executiveathlete.co