Sunday, July 7, 2013

Turning 51

Some windsurfers make 51 knots on a speed board, but this article is not about it! It is about something much less glamorous and even less glorious; it's about turning 51 years of age!

Ten years ago I was admiring people who windsurf at the age of 70 and more (I still do!), but when I crossed over 50 last year, some things really changed. My body started to call (quite loud) for an extra attention. I suppose, at some point everyone comes to the conclusion that he or she is not so young as before, and that some things that were easy, or hard but enjoyable, now become... well, not so enjoyable anymore.

For some lucky ones, that point is somewhere far away in the future. Some unlucky ones stumble upon it too early (actually, it's always too early, isn't it?). I am not talking about serious health issues, although with age you should consider what impact sport might have on your body, and do you carry some genetic risks that you should consider before you continue to be wild and young at heart.

So, with time, in spite of your mental attitude, you may experience some wear and tear of the material. Your sails and boards are not the only ones that suffer from this. Unfortunately, you cannot change your body as easily as you can change the old sail. Fortunately, the body itself has the way to regenerate and prolong its service, but you have to be careful with it and give it what it wants.

What I have noticed is this:
  • I’ve become more sensitive on general fitness level (for example, if I spend some dull and sedentary two months, I need much more time to come back into windsurf mode)
  • I’ve become more sensitive to skipping warming up exercises (before it was not so much important; now if I don't do them before windsurfing, I'll pay latter for sure)
  • I need more rest after windsurfing than it was a case couple of years before
  • I need to put more effort to achieve the same performance level (e.g. in speed)
  • I lose interest as there is less enjoyment as body discomfort increases

My genetic material is clearly making me potential victim of heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes (quite often in my family). Until now, I managed to stay away from all this (thanks to nutrition, non-smoking, meditation and exercising - among other things, also to windsurfing). But, this winter I had thorough medical checkout induced by some minor problems. Doctors found that I am ok for now (literary, they examined every single organ in my body), but I was not satisfied with my general condition. On the level of everyday functioning, everything is fine. But if I want to continue to be a sportsman, as I have been whole my life, I have to do something. And that something has to be somewhat different than I was doing before, because... well, 51.

I did write before about zone training in general, and I did mention John Douillard's book "Body, Mind and Sport". I also mentioned some specific training procedures, but I never wrote about details. I decided to do it now.

Namely, I am embarrassed to admit that while I am acquainted with these methods of training, I abandoned them, in spite of obvious advantages, due to unknown reasons. Maybe I was just lazy. I intend to correct this mistake because I have at least 51 reasons to start again!

And, I decided to share this path with readers of this web site. I will not preach about this from some high place of achievement. I will do this from scratch, from zero. It is true that I have the advantage as I did this training 15 years ago. I suppose, some things will be easier for me, but it is not necessarily so.

My goal is this: to stay away from western synthetic medicine as long as possible; improve cardio and respiratory efficiency; prolong enjoyable hours, days and years with the wind.

Your goal may be the same, or somewhat different (I firmly believe that this kind of training can improve your performance as well, if you are so inclined). Maybe you will just want to inform yourself about some interesting methods of exercising, breathing techniques and zone training. Or you would try some of it. Whatever you do with it, it is fine. I imagine things I will write about could be useful to middle-aged windsurfers (40 to 60 and more), but I also believe, everyone could benefit from it.

One more important point: if you have any heath condition (especially related to the heart), consult your physician regarding anything you do.

My plan is to share with you most of the exercises I will do, starting from some basic concepts about the zone training. I will write as time permits, but I will try to do it without longish periods between the posts.

I hope that in couple of months, I will be able to say that I’ve changed the way I am doing sport. Hope some of you will join me in this adventure so we can share the experience.

Next article from the same series: The Rhythm of the Heart

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