Wiljan Vloet - Logo

donderdag 8 oktober 2015


This morning at half past seven I came back from running.  I had finished 4.5 kilometres and I was completely exhausted. The last few hundred metres I had trouble with keeping on moving. But I was determined to finish and the last piece I ran purely on character, because yesterday I celebrated another birthday.
This was a very good reason to me to start the first day of my 53th year of life with finishing the 4.5 kilometres.

Since my return from Greece in September 2014 I started running again. In the past this used to be a regular feature in my sport activities and running 10-15 km a few times a week wasn’t a problem. But that was at least 12 years ago. For years I wasn’t able to run at all because my knees would be killing be even after all the surgeries I have undergone.
The reason to start running again was and is simple: my condition is very moderate. Thereby I have got to admit that my weight also plays a role. Running is a sport that I can practise next to all my irregular work appointments.  Wherever I am on the world, I just need to step out of the front door.
I started building up my running from September on. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I started at 6.45 a.m. A perfect time of the day when the park behind my home is still relatively quiet. I started with 400 metres (and that first day I truly wasn’t able to walk any further) and extended my training every time. Every running day I had to get a little bit further than the day before. After the first few times my knees were filled with fluid and I almost couldn’t walk up the stairs decently. But I continued and in the end I ran 7 kilometres three times a week in May 2015. I might not have been the fastest, and I got overtaken occasionally, but I thought my pace was quite fast. In June, July and August I didn’t run. That was my summer break. I felt I deserved that.

So this week I’ve started again. 4.5 kilometres after 3 mornings! But right now I’m sitting behind my laptop, and I think getting up will be a challenge. What attrition! I feel old!
I don’t have any problem with aging in general. What I do have a problem with the slight physical defects I’m starting to notice. An example is that I can’t go through life without my lenses anymore. And after a night out I need at least a few days to recover.

Behind my laptop I am thinking about the concept of aging. “What does it actually mean to age?” and “what is one supposed to be doing?”.
Last week I read in the paper that the Russian actor Ivan Krasko (who doesn’t know him?) married the 24-year-old Natalia Shevel. The actor, who played in over seventy Russian movies, is only 84 years young.
Would this originate from the same feeling as many of the people my age have that makes them buy motorcycles and tour around every weekend? I personally don’t recognize that feeling, but maybe that is because I think I’m not yet old enough to start riding a motorcycle.
And yes, when are you “old”? Buffon is playing his twentieth season as a professional soccer player and recently played his 150th international match. He continues because he still feels great. He doesn’t care about his age. He only cares about his mental and physical health. As long as those are intact, he keeps on going.

In the Dutch national team there is nobody with this age. We also don’t have someone who played 150 international matches. I heard people saying at the last two international matches that some players of the Dutch squad are too old to be playing in our national team. Was this based on their age? Or was it based on their performance?

I think that every single person experience aging in a different way. At this moment after my morning run I feel lousy about the fact that I got older. In the past I could run for 15 kilometres, ride my bike to school, and train at the local soccer club at night, without any issues. Now I’m exhausted after 4.5 kilometres. Even though I’m impressed that I’m still doing it, I am bothered by the amount of power and energy it takes and how long I need to fully recover.
At other moments in life I don’t mind that I’ve aged. In my day-to-day life I have more life experience, I know better what awaits me, and how to handle certain situations. Also in my functioning in society I’m happy with the experience I have gained in the last 32 years as a unit leader of a boarding school for youngsters with multiple behaviour problems at the age of 14 till 18.
Many years of training and coaching in youth soccer as well as senior soccer have made me a better trainer than I was in the beginning. I’ve achieved successes early on as a trainer. In what place in the league would I be with my experience if I would be working in the soccer business right now?

So aging has positive and negative sides. It’s all about which activity you’re doing and the outcome of that activity. The activity and the result determine the feeling of aging and if this feeling is positive or negative.
I think everyone experiences getting older differently. This is something very personal. Environment factors have a huge influence on the feeling of getting older. I am convinced of that the longer you’re active with all sorts of people of different ages; you will be feeling old less rapidly.
“Being too old for something” gives us a negative idea. Why would you be too old for something? Ivan Krasko still wants to start a family with his bride Natalia. It is about how fit you feel on a mental and physical level. That determines whether you’re too old for something or not.

Mentally I’m fine running that 4.5 kilometres and with my training schedule I will be back at the 7 kilometres in a few months. With my perseverance and willpower I hope to achieve this. Physically the 4.5 kilometres is my absolute max right now. But I know that if I drink a few less glasses of wine this weekend, I will be capable of reaching the 4.7 kilometres next week. And that isn’t bad for a 53 year old man who is still a little on the heavy side.

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