Take look around at the next race: what is the average age of those running? It is likely that many – most – are your age or slightly more or slightly less. There are also those who are very young or even those who are much older-assuming you are in the middle of the walk of your life-but statistically these are fewer people. If you came to the conclusion that running is a sport that is more common after a certain age, you would not be wrong. Why is it like this?
There are many reasons why people start running and they are all valid and understandable as well as repeated hundreds of times, including by us: to maintain or regain physical fitness, to seek inner balance, to lose weight, etc.
If one investigates a little more, however, it is easy to see that many of these reasons can be traced back to a common root: scarcity. I see you raising your eyebrow as if to say, “What the hell does that have to do with anything? Also: scarcity of what?” Let me explain: after a certain age, consciously or unconsciously, people who are reflective or striving for constant self-improvement notice that a commodity that seemed as infinite as water on Earth when they were young is beginning to run out: it’s the time.
It is difficult to admit and it is likely that, at least at first, this observation is a remote and not very clear thought and that we confess to ourselves that the reasons are other. But our mind follows paths that are not clear even to ourselves, and yet it gets there, or at least smells before reason that the path to take is precise. And on that road-metaphorically and materially-it takes you there.
At some point in your life something tells you that time is a finite quantity and that it is best to make the most out of what you have. There are signs that convince you that it is time: one among them, the signs of failure that a body that has been neglected for too long is sending you. Aches and pains, lapses, shape changes, metabolism that now acts like a monkey on acid and makes you gain weight even if you only eat an extra breadstick.
The most unpredictable alliance between waning energies, threatened physical fitness, and a mind that understands that time is getting short give rise to the existential revolution you know well: doing something you never thought you’d do, like running, or finally taking care of your body.
Welcome to the age of maturity, that is, that phase of life (I read from the dictionary) “between youth and senility, felt to be the period of greatest consistency and balance.” The other key word in this story is precisely balance: it is difficult to have it when you think you have all the time and energy in the world, and that is during adolescence.
It is the time when you come to terms with the scarcity of one and the other that you stop spending (time and energy) as if they were unlimited capital. This is the time when you are looking for a balance between all these factors. Finding it also means putting them to full use, not wasting an ounce. There is no time to waste, no energy to spend on useless or unproductive activities. Exactly as it should happen with the natural resources of planet Earth, using our existential resources to find the right balance becomes an excellent life program. Other goals that you thought were indispensable years ago suddenly count less and others that you once paid no attention to gain strength: taking care of your body and mind, projecting into the future considering that you do not have infinite time to pursue your goals.
What does this change mean? First, a rescheduling of priorities: from a certain point on, you only do the things that make you feel good or at least you have realized that some things benefit you and some things do not.
You listen to your body (you have put it on mute for decades!), you listen to your inner voice, you eat better, you want to understand and be aware. In some ways you are more selfish but for good reason: you have nothing to waste but you have resources to put to use. Having potential does not mean having unlimited resources but rather using the ones you have in a clever way.
Another very powerful ally
Why do people start running especially at a certain age? For all that has been said so far and for another reason, which is almost a paradox: because when you realize you have less time, you also develop another quality, which apparently seems to work in the opposite direction to the hurry you should be in by now to get everything done as quickly as possible: patience.
Maturing – do you remember? – means “finding balance.” In other words, it means being able to see things from a more distant point of view, partly because of the accumulated experiences. In short, patience is not fueled by the illusion of having infinite time to make decisions but rather by the wisdom with which you can now make judgments and predictions having accumulated experiences, having lived.
With patience you lined up certain considerations, listened to certain signals, and drew conclusions. Now you are at the starting line and looking around, because the race is not over, in fact: it has yet to begin.