The problem with the idea of the midlife "crisis" is that it's more a period of change and not all crisis. And it's somewhat, but not all, about mortality. At that age, in your 40s, you've often had enough time to establish a career, and for many, realize it's not what you thought it would be. It has nothing to do with mortality; if you started your career earlier or later, you'd be reaching that point earlier or later. Also, you've reached a point of wisdom to realize, yes, exercise is good, maintaining your health is good, all these articles you've been reading about it for years are right, and so forth and so on. You might have a new family, which changes things at any age. And finally, speaking of kids, I do think there's something about the 40s being the new 20s, the 60s being the new 40s, and so forth. I could go on and on about many things that cause change, but don't have anything to do with death or even old age.
If you knew me, for example it would be clear that I am in fact in crisis in many ways, and have been in recent years, in the ways that the author suggests. But that's not what motivated me to do a triathlon. It has nothing to do with some need to prove myself or anything like that. It was all about being prodded by friends to join them, and it was something I had always been interested in. I've always been a little athletic. It could have happened in my 20s or 30s but didn't. Why my 40s? I'm not sure. I guess I've just reached a point where there are many things like triathlon I've been wanting to do for years, and am now getting around to it. When you reach that age there are things that accumulate like that.
I think midlife change is very real, and often comes as a crisis, but I think that focusing on the mortality issues that do arise is really missing many, if not most, of the other factors involved.
In the case of athleticism, it stigmatizes exercising and wellness. So you're doing a triathlon or a marathon in your 40s? Now this is a bad thing? Can those of us in our 40s get a break? It's another form of ageism in many regards.
...extreme fitness is less about being young again and more
about building yourself up for the years ahead. In other
words, getting better at getting older.
I actually think Baby Boomer generation deserves a lot of credit for pushing the boundaries, and our generation is following up in our own way. I can’t wait to see what the millennials do with this time in their lives.
Maybe finally have a down payment for a house!
It doesn't stigmatise anything nor point to individual people. It merely refers to a data point where absolute masses in their mid-life have started running or training heavily which did not happen before.
I can validate for my own part with dozens and dozens of my middle-aged peers posting about how next month they're doing their 5K, 10K, 20K, marathon, or whatnot. That sort of flocking most certainly didn't happen ten years ago.
I think that in another 10-15 years the craze has faded and replaced by something else. There will always be people who really do enjoy what they do and it's these people who'd run or train regardless of the passing fashions. But it's often the general mass of people who do things because others do those things.
Entering mid-life provokes a lot of thoughts and emotions to be processed and become acquainted with, and people need to face these in order to lead a balanced life into older age. It has seemed for years that the masses are now doing it by starting with heavy physical training. Which itself is fine but it means that it's not about the running craze itself. It's a fashionable way to live your mid-life and as such I can tell you it does not last forever.
Maybe the next generation's way-of-mid-life is finally giving yourself some rest after all the hard work and doing absolutely nothing.
I think the focal point of the criticism about middle-aged 40K runners is the way that heavy training is praised as if it was somehow a unique discovery or near-enlightening experience that everyone should try. No, people have been training before. No, people have entered mid-life before. Those just happened to meet, for a passing moment, this decade.
When your back or whatever hurts and when you have high blood pressure and what not, doctor tells you to do move more. Many people started those runs after healths problems started and sport really helps. The competitions and trying limits is really treating it the way the same people approached school, work, hobbies and pretty much everything in their life before.
Those 10k, 20k and marathons are achievements available to middle aged people. (5k easily reachable) We can run, we cant lift as much we cant effectively start sports that require flexibility or agility. In a lot of senses, these people are not doing anything different then their done whole their life wherever it was possible, except that they adjusted choice of activity to aging bodies needs.
I'm almost 43. I've just starting playing beach volleyball in a social league - after hardly ever playing any team sport ever. Will I ever be able to mix it with those in their 20's or early 30's? Hell no. Am I having a lot of fun and keeping fit? Absolutely.
I see what you mean, but to be fair the term "crisis" does mean just that: a turning point.
Most importantly, the massive amount of information on hand, connectivity of the internet, and some creative organizers have allowed people to do what many have always wanted!
Why is athleticism not looked on for a 20 year old, but is for a 40 year old?
When a woman returns to work after a decade and a half off because of kids, is she going through a midlife crisis, assuming working wasn't needed to survive?
A crisis implies an impending sense of doom or mortality. It implies socially unapproved behavior.
A 50 year old man buying a Corvette to hit on 20 year olds.
Extreme athleticism is hardly risky behavior unless you believe live should be without any risk and limited to strolls in park.
Sometimes life just gets in the way for a decade or two.
Does a 50 year old who buys a truck for hunting or fishing have a crisis? Hunting and fishing can be a lot cheaper than flying all over the world on vacations.
A 40 year old is easily young enough to handle an R1, so why not buy one? If he can handle ultra-marathons, go for it.
My father did triathlons until 60. Guess what? He loved them. It was a great way to pass the time.
As you get older, you find you may have automated a lot of your life away, or at least simplified it. You might also not be fighting to climb the ladder, but instead discovered where you are happy.
You might find your day to day too cerebral, with the rest of your body semi neglected. If you have achieved a lot "mentally", why not see what you can do physically?
At age 46 he has osteo-arthritis in his hips and knees. Now: no more intensive sports. Weights are still in, but cardio is limited. He can hear/feel grinding when he walks; even 1-2 km can present a problem. He hasn't given up, though: his big project now is to try to regain the lost cartilage. Consulted doctors, did huge amounts of research, and became an expert in the field of regenerative medicine. His blog details the cutting edge treatments he's administering himself (including purchasing an ultrasound scanner and injecting drugs directly into the joints): https://myjourney2curearthritis.wordpress.com/
In a separate conversation, my doctor friend confirmed that the cartilage in joints wears out inevitably, especially with prolonged and repetitive use (cycling, running). There's very limited blood supply to cartilage and bone, so the body has no way of regenerating what's lost.
There has to be an equilibrium sought in the pursuit of fitness and the resulting wear to the body. To paraphrase James Hilton, moderation in everything, including moderation itself.
Compare that to Phil Heath, the current mr Olympia winner for 8 times in row( I think, could be 7). He is using mostly machines and so far( he is pretty old at this point) hasn't had any major injuries. So my point is that although machines are proven to not increase functional strength( due to the isolation of the joints), at some point weightlifting can be detrimental. I don't know if the person you are talking about took it very far or not but it certainly sounds like the type of person that would.
If only we had kids at 23 when we were most fertile. They'd be 16 now and we would have had a lifetime to live in wealth and freedom. (I'm exaggerating of course, kids are great but man, I would have been able to handle those sleepless nights better when I was 23 ;))
Pair of good nike swim shorts + goggles cost like ~100
Decent road bike around ~1500
Good running shoes ~150
My gym membership with pool is ~65/month
Sure thats expensive but is its not for super wealthy you need to be well established expensive.
To the time required for exercise has to be added all the preparing of kit, travelling to pool etc I was up at 05:45 today and have just been able to start breakfast at 07:30. Oftentimes I wonder if it's worth it.
I may be entering a third phase with another job transition which came with a move to a new location with world-class diving opportunities and readily accessible pools with lap lanes, despite working about as many hours as I did at my last job where exercise was next to non-existent simply because of commute time.
It's not a cheap sport by any stretch.
Having said that, for sprints in certain locales at certain times of year the wetsuit is purely optional, because the time gained from the wetsuit in the water is about equal to the time lost removing it in transition. For all longer distances it would be slower to race without one, though.
Coming from tri suits I was pleasantly surprised to find surf suits to be cheap.
Seriously, the marathon was originally a race done to copy the feat of an ancient Greek soldier who ran in what, sandals?
Pool or pond membership you have to pay for. Mine is $30/m.
Everything else is fashion or comfort. Like you say, you just need the basics.
Anyone who says this is a rich man's sport clearly doesn't want to do it.
Also worth noting that, as the story goes, the Marathon runner died upon delivering his message.
Not a fan of running, but I am picking up way more BJJ classes than expected at my advanced age (46). Another factor that might help (aside from more free time, money, and the psychological factors in the article) is the fact that once you hit middle age, sporting behavior "is what it is". No-one expects that you're going to tear it up and compete with people in their 20s.
I have found it way easier to maintain a focus on intrinsic achievements ("today I will do X because I want to and it's my goal") than extrinsic factors ("what people will think of me", "what I will look like") once Old Fart status is achieved.
If you remove the claims of how extreme this is, all this really says is that older Americans adopt exercise as a hobby they enjoy with seriousness. This is... not a crisis.
Things start to look rough for the highest quintile and especially the top 2 'tertiles of the top quintile' (I know, a weird subdivision here). But we're talking about 24 miles in a week and maybe 5+ sessions... pretty far removed from evidence that you shouldn't ever run more than 5K.
I don't have a horse in this race but there's a lot of broscience drifting around this area with the general message being that any kind of slow distance training will turn you into a pencil-necked dweeb with bad health and a shocking hormone profile.
As for your last sentence...no one here said anything about that. No one even said it would cause "bad health" to run a full marathon. However, when you run long distances, it has tremendous effects on parts of your body that are prone to injury and strain. Women long distance runners even have fertility problems. The human body was not meant to run long distances as the person I was replying to suggested. It's not "healthy" when contrasted with lower distances. Running itself is good.
I know that many people will say... but but there were old people and the stats are very skewed by infant mortality, but the fact is that mortality was high in every cohort when compared with now which made living into late middle age unusual.
Anyone can complete a marathon. But completing it in a good time is hard.
Hasn't this been debunked?
This was a fact (AFAIK) that I was aware of before as well. A quick Googling provides large amounts of resources suggesting it's true.
Article in Nature: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123163757.h...
And, again, many more from a quick Googling.
Edit: Ok found where I read it
A good trainer is basically there to evaluate and fix problems. Programs are pretty much the same for each particular goal, available for free on the internet. Want to ‘get in shape’? Great. Get your HR above 120 for an hour every day. Doesn’t matter how. Snatch stuck at body weight and you want to get to 1.5? Okay, go see a trainer.
But you need one anyway. Source: human.
Most people do absolutely nothing of value in the gym. They’d be healthier using the time to get more sleep. Enter the trainer. Something about a human telling you what to do is comforting and allows you to put your brain away and just do it. People that train with a trainer will see results. People that don’t, might. A trainer is required to be the best in any sport. Lots of people that are pretty good don’t use one. But if you’re at the bottom of the pile in where you want to be, get a trainer.
I switched to doing BJJ instead and I am addicted because I have training, discipline and a social aspect.
I never got any of that pounding on the treadmill or struggling to lift 16kg dumb bells
I think that's what was meant by "Most people do absolutely nothing of value in the gym."
There's a little bit more to it than that. I retained training services for the first few years I did triathlon simply because I didn't know anything about it. (What are these heart-rate training zones? What strength exercises are useful to triathlon? What are base/build/peak/transition stages? What are the correct biomechanics for strength exercise? etc., etc.) In the end I ended up reading a lot of books and pieced enough together that I construct my own training plans and do my own strength training - correctly - now.
At my first triathlon it was quite apparent that 80% of the participants hadn't done any of this. These days I'll see someone "pounding on the treadmill [or pavement]" or flailing through the water or riding their bike with a seat that's way too low or doing basic strength exercises incorrectly and realize that - indeed - all that time spent exercising is mostly wasted:
a) Pounding on the treadmill/pavement - usually too low a stride rate and/or incorrect running mechanics will lead to joint problems / repetitive stress injury in short order;
b) Flailing through the water - hello shoulder surgery! Form is 10x as important as strength in the water. I've seen guys with well-developed lats struggle at 100 yards and skinny kids zip right by me.
c) Riding bike with seat too low will eventually lead to knee and possibly back problems. Get a bike fit.
d) Strength exercise is useless unless you are correctly activating the right muscles in the correct order. Worst I've ever seen: GHD machine being used with hip flexion range of 45 to -15 degrees. Ouch.
It is possible to get value out of a gym membership but mechanics are really important.