The Unused Potential of Years Past

I’m 44 years old and I run almost every day. It’s a cliché but I really am in the best shape of my life. Between my running and my light weight lifting on alternating days I’m lean, my resting heart rate is hovering around 55-60 BPM, and my VO2 max is in the low 50s.

This routine, which I’ve been maintaining for over a year, allows me to eat and drink pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want. I mentioned this ability when I first discovered it to my mountain-biking brother-in-law, to which he replied with slight disgust, “Oh yeah, I know all about you runners and your metabolism.” Donuts. Two Double Doubles from In-N-Out. An entire package of salted caramel chocolate truffles. An entire package of mango slices. A bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans. A large carton of Junior Mints. A bottle of red wine after work one night. An entire 6-pack of IPAs the next night. A bag of plantain chips and half a block of Oscar Wilde Irish cheddar goes perfect with that 6-pack.

Half the week I treat my body like Doc Brown treats the Mr. Fusion machine on the back of his DeLorean at the end of Back To The Future.

I’m not recommending you adopt this lifestyle. It’s probably a really stupid idea. I’m just trying to explain that I’m extremely disciplined but I also have addictions.

So far this year I’ve run 1,163 miles towards my goal of 2,000 by the end of the year while eating like an insane person. If this is what I’m capable of at 44, what could I have accomplished 10 years ago? Twenty years ago?

Don’t misconstrue my wonder for regret. I was having a great time beginning my career as a ‘professional’ graphic designer in New York City 20 years ago and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I had a rent-controlled apartment in the East Village. I went out all the time to the endless bars and restaurants below 14th Street. Dive bars, rooftop bars, swank hotel bars like the SoHo Grand and penthouse bar at Hotel Gansevoort over the in Meatpacking District. I was smoking cigarettes inside bars and going home smelling like my empty pack. Eating endless slices of pizza at Stromboli. 4AM munchies at 7A. 11AM brunches at Yuca Bar (I know I’m in my 40s now because I despise brunch like a vampire does the sun). Spitzer’s Corner. Niagra. Lakeside Lounge. Balthazar. Arepas at Caracas across the street.

In an alternate dimension there’s a 25 year old version of me that looks like Brad Pitt from Fight Club. Oh well, he’s not having as much fun as the one drinking beers and shooting pool in the back of Ace Bar.

Anyway, you get the point. Fitness was not on my to-do list 20 years ago. I didn’t have a fucking to-do list 20 years ago. My career, my salary, and my design expertise were ascending.

But lives, like Newton’s third law of physics, follow the same trajectory. What goes up must come down. I’m not naive enough to think I can reverse physics but I know I can at least alter the velocity of my descent.

At least for a little while.