Swimming, cycling, running …the challenges of a triathlon. Diabetic or not, women of 50 should be passionate about tackling extreme physical challenges.
Four triathlons, six half-marathons and ten long-distance swims, not to mention several 100 km plus cycle races… it sounds like the fitness regime of a super-fit twenty-something. lnstead, this is a list of the sporting challenges that people in their sixth decade put themselves upto, specially if you have a condition like diabetes.
Everywhere, 50-plus women are climbing mountains, swimming seas and eating up miles as they run, walk or hike. So what’s going on?
lt starts with the “strong women” fitness workouts designed to strengthen muscles and bones post-menopause. After that it seems this generation wants to prove to themselves and the world that age is no barrier to, well, almost any physical challenge.
Many, until they reach their late forties, never consider tackling a triathlon or a hilly, long-distance cycle ride. Pre-children, you did the occasional aerobics class, but once the children arrive you are holding coats on the sidelines, applauding success and consoling failure with hugs and hot chocolate. Once the children leave home there is once again free time, staying a size 10 is harder and you are puffing every time you walk upstairs.
Start by swimming at the local pool, where you will make close friends and maybe even join the Masters (the oldies) swimming group on a Saturday morning.
This can lead to memberships in other clubs and this encouragement finds you entering your first triathlon at 50. No matter that the first time you went out cycling with the club someone had to come looking for you as they might think you’ve given up and gone home! Complete the course, even if you had to walk a bit (a lot) in the final run.
You got a prize – best newcomer (female) in the 40-50 age category in our club. OK, so you are the only newcomer in that category, but you won a swimming bag!
lt feels like you are reclaiming your body and feeling fit means new confidence, plus you loose a stone and drop a dress size. You’ll catch the bug. Next year you can take part in a 100 km bike race around the countryside. In summer you swim two miles with your wild swimming group.
You may never grace the winners’ podium, you may not even show great improvement, but while your sporting endeavours mean enduring some humiliation, like coming last, there’s also a great sense of achievement that comes with every event that you finish.
Training for a triathalon also gives your life structure, which is particularly comforting when you’re adjusting to an empty nest. Then there’s the undeniable adrenaline buzz that a bit of physical fear generates. Above all, it’s a validation of life and a strike against mortality. You simply don’t want to “go gentle into that good night” when you hit your fifties.
When you have a health check-up and your GP informs you that that your BMI and blood pressure are way too high. “Speed up, don’t slow down,” is excellent advice. Your later tests will reveal you have the blood pressure of a 25-year old.
Ultimately, though, you do it for the laughter and the camaraderie. A cup of tea from a flask tastes fabulous after a mountainous bike ride. Yes, your old bones and joints ache a bit but you never imagined you could run 10,000 steps a couple of times a week and not die. You firmly intend to be tottering around trail runs in your eighties, or jumping into the sea with a whoop in your nineties. You know lots of other women of your generation will be doing the same!
E230 – Diabetes at Fifty Plus and Fearless – www.diabetic.today