"It was many years later after I had long since left home, and found endurance sports, that my father came to me, after a long triathlon, and told me how proud he was, that someone in his family, his son, could accomplish such a thing. At that moment I thought, how awesome, I’m finally better at something than my brother! I had finally found my place, I was the family endurance athlete. For several reasons this was the happiest moment of my athletic career. By sheer coincidence my Mum was able to capture the moment in a photograph. That photo has hung in my home since that day. Often times I wonder if that is the very reason I keep pushing to longer distances, and harder challenges. I am the family endurance athlete."
Why I wrote the book
"Sifu, you should write a book called The Aging Athlete. It's a new field of study in orthopedics." Dr. Bill Gallivan, 4th-generation orthopedic surgeon, former college rugby player and current martial artist, and father of 4.
My quest began with a question to a very large aging athlete. This exceptionally fit offensive and defensive lineman from Gary, Indiana was the 4th pick in the 1966 NFL draft. "When you go to the reunions with the retired players from your era, how many of them are still in shape?"
"Less than 10 percent." Randy Beisler, then age 64, after a workout in Northern California, 2009
Randy Beisler back in the 1960s
Randy Beisler, no. 65, with his line that broke the NFL No-Sacks record in 1970.
Guess how many of the others in the photo are still fit?
Yes, there are orthopedic problems and brain-trauma problems that affect a number of aging athletes, but the interviews with still-fit athletes from ages 40 to 100 reveal experiences of inspiration and motivation--AND HABIT--that take over when the days of drill-sergeant coaches leave off.
Why do most turn to sedentary lifestyles--like pizza, beer, and TV or becoming business workaholics--while others continue to work physical activity into their aging years?
Some may think the title a bit off-putting. The topic is relevant and we are all aging. This is not a rebuff toward all of us who are gaining in years but rather a praise of the lengthiest part of life and living. If youth is wasted on the young, what do adults get? They get about 6 to 8 decades to sort things out--and even thrive!
A trip to the DMV, two years before turning 50, had me putting down 'gray' under hair color for the driver's license renewal. They didn't have a category called 'graying.' I've embraced the aging process and am happy most of the time. (Being young, and having to take college final exams over again and dealing with plenty of pressure and nonsense, doesn't seem like a thrill at this point.) A biochemical and spiritual high greets me most every day due to a daily outdoor fitness program. It's invigorating and it sets up some of the best sleep imaginable.
Aging isn't always easy. Despite daily fitness, healthful diet and rest, there is a tendency for the body to take more time to heal properly as we age. Years of sitting have taken their toll. Wouldn't it be better for all of us to learn about aging--and embrace it and adapt--than to deny it and fear it?
The Most Famous Aging Athlete
He may have given all he had physically--including abusing his body--hasn't kept fit, but still has done a bundle since losing portions of his physical and mental wellness. Of his condition, he has said he doesn't feel sorry for himself and doesn't want others to feel sorry for him either.
Allen and Bruce Jenner, 1976 Decathlon Olympic Champion, shown during
an entertaining 1980 game with Meadowlark Lemon's Bucketeers.
It could be said that at the time of this book’s publication, Billy is “the most famous living Native American on the planet.”
He certainly put in the miles on the paths and tracks to win races; now he puts on flight miles and automobile miles to get to where his message and wisdom are needed.
Born June 30, 1938, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. Native American Runner, Author, and Public Speaker. Oglala Lakota Tribal given name: Makata Taka Hela which means “Respects The Earth,”