The Aging Athlete: A Five-Year Retrospective

A crossfit athletes reflection on the last five years of training.
November 30, 2023
The Aging Athlete:  A Five-Year Retrospective

By Kirk Roy

November 26, 2023

As I turned 50 this year, I thought a lot more about aging and what that might mean for the future.  I also had the opportunity to reflect on my fitness journey.  It was an interesting juxtaposition – looking forward assuming my wellness would surely decline but also looking back on the real increase in fitness and capability I had just experienced.

When I first walked into All Level CrossFit at age 45, I was someone who knew I felt better when I moved more often, but my self-directed activities (running and rock climbing) hadn’t been motivating me into action and I seemed to be getting a few mild, nagging injuries.

My introduction to the CrossFit methodology had me moving in different ways, managing different loads and experiencing vastly different stimuli than I was used to.  I observed that while I could run slowly for long distances and pull on rock holds, I couldn’t run that fast, I couldn’t lift a barbell over my head, and I couldn’t coordinate my body for a dynamic lift.  I was just not that strong, powerful, coordinated or well-conditioned…compared to what I could be.

How did I find out how capable I could be?  One step at a time!  Reviewing the recorded outcomes of each of my training sessions over these many months, I can see a clear progression.  Weights lifted increased, running times dropped (thanks Run Club!), work capacity and ability to sustain power improved.

And new skills, they keep coming…muscle ups, double unders, handstand push-ups and walking on my damn hands!!!

No session was perfect.  Some felt bad, some felt good.  Some (very early) mornings, I had to remind myself why I was doing this.  Every once in a while, it would feel like the stars aligned and my output was better than normal.  Nothing was instantaneous or linear but the progress was undeniable.  The digital diary of the last five years of hard work whispered one thing: You are a more capable human at age 50 than you were at age 45.

And there it is.  The proof that, while effects of aging are real, being active with a well-structured and challenging program that you actually want to stick with is a stronger determinant of my wellness and fitness than my age.

So how does this all happen at a CrossFit Affiliate?

All of that, done consistently, accumulates to the growth and milestones that I have experienced over the last five years and fully expect to see for the next ten.

Consistency build capability.  Confidence comes from the experience of seeing yourself addressing challenges and accomplishing new things.

Revised Goal: Kick ass into my 90s.  See you there!!!

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