Slow and Older: Could It Be Better?

“Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” ~Dara Torres

I included a Dara Torres’ quote in my book, You Still Got It, Girl, The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women for good reason. Though she was in her forties when she competed in her last (to date) Olympics, she had wisdom of age and patience gained through years of living in that body.

This was her secret mantra as she swam. Calming and centering, it took her back to fundamentals. So many athletes know this secret. You have to go slow, well before you can go fast.

I see Frank Shorter (Munich Olympics marathon winner) almost daily at Rallysport in Boulder. He shared with me that his success and many other runners come not from grueling hard intensity but from building a base on which to add speed. He commented on overheard conversations between trainers and clients that suggested all they need is to do intervals for 4 minutes. What Frank recognizes is the average person does not enjoy exercise at 110% intensity. The people I see, he said, would not continue to do that for long before dropping out.

Whether we’re truly talking about a race involving speed or about racing to better results faster, so many times our human nature is to jump into a class, a boot camp, or what we think will give us without doing the foundational homework first. The fundamentals, Shorter, Torres, Jordan, and Tiger Woods at his peak, all knew were what took 80% of their time.

There are a lot of adults over 50 who are proving there aren’t age limits. You may have knee or hip issues but that can happen at 20 or 40. It’s not because of old age alone. If you’ve given up or settled into thinking that if you weight more or are more fat that it’s natural? You’re just letting yourself off the hook.

There’s no reason the percent body fat has to increase with age. Except that we eat more or the things that add weight and fat and move less. And I don’t mean exercise. Yes, I believe exercise is necessary. It is in order to gain strength, stamina, endurance for the rest of your life, it’s not a substitute for living.


How can you put what works so well for the best of the best into action:

  1. Spend the majority of your time tweaking the things you do daily better. It’s less about the 30-60 minutes you exercise “at the gym” and more about the other 14 hours a day that you’re awake and how you use that. A desk job is not dooming you. How you think about that desk job might be.
  2. Focus on food. You make 200 food decisions a day. A “snack” full of sugar, or artificial anything, is not in your best interest. Plan ahead. You are still swimming upstream. There will be 8 snacks available that don’t fit health and 1-2 that do. They’re harder to find and less convenient but worth it.
  3. Spend time prioritizing tasks. If you only had 10 minutes to exercise, do you know what you would do? For weight training? For cardio? For core? Most of us DO have 10 minutes but we’re not prepared to use it when it opens up. So we convince ourselves that it’s not even going to matter because we need so much more. Seventy minutes a week though matters. You would tell a child that reading 10 minutes a day is better than nothing. Calling your mom for 10 minutes a day is not nothing to her.
  4. Know what category to choose. If you have time do you choose yoga, resistance, cardio? Knowing what gives you the most return on short AND long term results, you’ll choose better. If you’re due for resistance training, do that. If you are working through an injury do your stretches and strengtheners that will balance your body again. Know what matters most for you right now.

Fundamentals matter most. Before fancy, before classes and variety, make the most of how you move. Fitness is simple if you focus on what matters most.

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Circumference outside of both arms, at the armpit

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Halfway btwn shoulder & elbow, arm extended.

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Right Thigh
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