A couple of years ago, feeling like I was in pretty good shape, I made the proclamation that the 40-year-old version of me could beat the 20-year-old me.
After going through a player-led conditioning workout with the Greenwood football team Wednesday morning, I might need to add some qualifiers to that statement. Having finally caught my breath a couple of hours later, I was able to come up with a couple of takeaways from the experience:
1. If Old Me, now pushing 43, was planning to fight Young Me, he’d better finish the job quickly, because I don’t have the stamina that I once did.
I felt pretty good at the start of Wednesday’s workout — you don’t scare me, burpees — and I was more or less able to keep pace with the young Woodmen (I think) through the first couple of exercises. But by the end, when I was being exposed as the weakest link during relay races, it was becoming abundantly clear that I’ve lost a step or 20. I was gassed.
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Old Me is probably stronger than Young Me, and he’s definitely smarter — but he’d get dusted by Young Me in a footrace of any distance.
I’m super glad they weren’t running multiple 100s back-to-back Wednesday, because that would not have gone well.
2. It’s hard for me to make an accurate comparison given that I’m now 25 years removed from high school, but it’s probably safe for me to say that Young Me could not have played football for the Woodmen. I would have been about 150 pounds in pads as a senior, and these guys would have torn me to shreds the first time I touched the ball.
Old Me could probably take out Young Me, but I don’t think either version would stand a chance against most of the guys I worked out with this week. So I guess I kind of got humbled twice. It’s probably for the best that my high school didn’t have a team.
My only goal going into this workout was to survive, and I accomplished that (I think). But the Woodmen — and I should single out senior defensive lineman Nick Young, since he was running the show — worked me over pretty good. My wife and I do some pretty intense workouts on a regular basis, but we don’t run sprints. So this was a different type of challenging.
Of course, when you’re suddenly measuring yourself against guys who are less than half your age, it brings some perspective. I still feel like I’m in pretty decent middle-aged dad shape, but that’s not the same as being in high school athlete shape.
I also came away with a healthy level of respect for the intensity that the players brought without any coaches around. The Greenwood seniors run the show on Wednesdays, and nobody’s messing around. Any temptation that I might have had to ease up (like far too many of my high school teammates did) was squelched by the realization that I would’ve stuck out even more than I already did. Nobody was loafing — so I couldn’t, either.
As draining as it might have been, I managed to get through it. At 42, I’ll consider that a win.
Now would I do it again? I think I’ll leave that to the young bucks. It’s hard enough keeping up with my better half.