I have never been a fan of exercise – I played basketball during my youth but since my 20s physical activity has been intermittent to say the least and I have been comfortable with that. Oddly a few years ago during my daily train commutes ‘running’ featured at the top of my google search – correct technique, how to start, best footwear etc. I had never been a runner (apart from those mandatory school cross country events) but here I was compelled to find out more. I accepted the general research linking exercise from late 40s/early 50s as being pivotal to enjoying a quality of life into the 70s, 80s and beyond. Research aside, I also quite fancied the idea of angelically striding along the pavement with the wind in my hair and sun on my face.
Coincidentally around this time my husband and daughter became fascinated with our local ‘parkrun’. Parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs open to everyone of all skill levels held in many Australian communities on Saturday mornings. Despite my family’s continued invitations from the beginning, I tagged along on their 5th attendance. This was a great introductory way to begin running. I began with equal parts walking and running and progressed to top secret covert operations – I would inconspicuously seek out a similar aged woman with running prowess to use as my inspirational marker trying to maintain the pace, continue the course without stopping, all the while protecting my anonymity. My family were at different aptitudes so staying together was more frustrating than fun and either way I was not, and still am not, able to maintain conversation along my course.
One particular Saturday morning I was wide awake at 5am, I didn’t fancy waiting around for another 2 hours to rally around for the official starters gun. I chose to independently run the same 5km course – the solitude was liberating, I found my own rhythm and I could focus intently on myself absent the distraction of others. Two years on and I have embedded this sole Saturday morning run into my routine, I think? I have learned to accept that each time I run I will be accompanied by mental sabotage (too tired, too sore, too windy, too hot etc) and I will be called upon to summon my willpower to deny it’s manifestation into physical reality. Over time I have learnt to devise some mental tricks to distract these negative defeatist thoughts and bring me back on track, but it remains a struggle each and every week.
Now I have reached 50, the research still resounds in my mind along with the desire to expand my fitness through activity that will serve me well into my twilight years. I am embarking on adding another two realms to my exercise regime, realms that have interested me over the years but which I have never seriously committed to or pursued. Just this year I commenced weekly yoga at the local Community Centre. I purposely sought out a class that includes guided meditation at the conclusion as a reward for the physical exertion. I have been delighted with the ambiance of this evening class which uses dimmed lighting, controlled temperature, and background relaxation music, an unexpected treat for the senses.
Swimming is the second on my list. I have explored adult beginner squad classes at the closest Council pool but am still contemplating between this formality versus an unstructured personally scripted program. I am seeking fitness over social interaction, however, I suspect trying both options is the smart thing to do. Time spent on evaluating both options will translate into knowing which suits me best and increase my odds of maintaining a life-long commitment. No doubt I will be calling upon those current mental tricks of mine to keep me pursuing those laps in the pool!
The lead up to turning 50 impacted Sharon McAvoy more than she anticipated. Entering this ‘afternoon’ life stage has led to reflections and plans for navigating the ‘evening’ life-stage. In her articles Sharon explores and shares her unique perspectives and plans to take on ageing.
Sharon holds a Bachelor of Business in Accounting and Graduate Diploma in Management. She has worked in finance for many years and presently works full-time in Contract Management and serves on a couple of committees. She balances this with her family life where she is busy with her husband and two children.