Old athletes keep me young

November 20, 2019 by Joshua
in Fitness

Concept2 Rower

I’ve rowed enough on my erg to get decent times on the standard measure for rowing—the 2k. My best time is 7:43, which I consider good for lightweight 48-year-old guy.

I’m considering competing the U.S. indoor rowing competition—not to win, but for the experience, figuring I might do okay.

I looked up how lightweight men’s performances last year.

My category: lightweight men 40-49 years

In my category, I would have come in tenth.

Not horrible, especially for someone who didn’t row in college or competitively, though I have put nearly 2 million meters on my machine:

I passed 1.9 million meters last week.

I’ve rowed for fitness, not competition. The advice I sought from experienced rowers was only for form, not to bring my times down. Actually, lately I’ve watched videos on lowering 2k times.

But I think I do what everyone does when they’re 48.5 years old in the 40 – 49 age group. I figure younger guys are getting the lower times. I’m pretty close to the next age group.

My category in 1.5 years: lightweight men 50-54 years

So I looked at the next age group, 50 – 54 years. Only one guy competed in it:

Holy cow! He rowed solidly sub-7. It seems age matters less than I thought.

I checked the next age group, also with only one guy competing.

Lightweight men 55-59 years

Holy cow! That guy, maybe a decade older than me, rowed barely above 7:

How much older than me do I have to go where I’d place okay?

I’d like to think that to some extent, I can guess some of these guys’ ability comes from having rowed competitively. Partly something from thirty years ago shouldn’t matter, but some of my ultimate Frisbee skills endure today, so I can’t simply dismiss past training outright.

Anyway, let’s look at the 60 and 65-year-olds.

Lightweight men 60-64 and 65-69 years

Three men rowed in each of these groups. Finally, groups I wouldn’t have come last in, though about fifteen or twenty years older than me:


In both groups I would have come in third, pushing a guy maybe two decades my senior back.

The trend continues.

Lightweight men 70-74 and 75-79 years

For the guys 25 years older than me, I’d still come in third, though with a bit more training, I think I could beat the second-place time of 7:37.

Finally when I get to the guys thirty years older than me, I could come in first. Not sure how much of a victory I could count it.

Lightweight men 80-84 and 85-89 years

I could solidly beat the guy competing in his early 80s.

Still, 8:36 is a solid time.

Last month I rowed an 8-minute 2k after another workout, meaning not at my best, so 8:36 I could do probably easily, but that 8-minute row drained me for days. Well, the workout before was a Tabata at full intensity, which probably did most of the draining.

With the 85-year-olds, I’d finish about a minute ahead of the next guy, though forty years behind in another sense.

Do you see what I meant by this post’s title? If guys can perform at this level at nearly double my age, I feel young. I can keep training and keep my form for decades.

Ready for some serious comparison?

Lightweight men 90-94 years

This guy, at least 90 years old, finished in under 11 minutes:


I see decades of youthful activity before me.

I’ve motivated myself this way for decades

By the way, I’ve been motivating myself this way for decades. I think it’s kept me active. I hear that people feel and behave how old they think they should, which varies.

Here is a decade-old post, On reading the 2010 New York City Marathon results, where I find similar inspiration.

I wrote about a 91-year-old marathoner in You won’t believe this marathoner about five years ago.

I wrote about an 85-year-old marathoner with a time mere minutes off my best, in my 20s in Redefining possibility: This 85-year-old marathoner runs faster than you.

And for the coup-de-grace, here’s the oldest finisher in last year’s indoor rowing competition, a woman between 95 and 99:

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