Whether you think you can, whether you think you can't


Denise and I were watching the US Open Tennis men's final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic when we heard commentator Leif Shiras quote Henry Ford.


(As many people are aware, Ford was, amongst other things, well-known as an anti-semitic writer, not that that is relevant to this article or necessarily to Leif Shiras's quoting of him.) Ford's racism, however, didn't stop him from also having some interesting things to say, amongst which was this "Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't - you're right!". Denise and I looked at each other with a great feeling of recognition about what we had just heard, as we both immediately felt that that sentence summed up an important truth about being a Silver Grey athlete. The knowledge that it is entirely possible, through physical training, to maintain fitness and strength to successfully pursue your sport, and to continue with it right up to the age that you choose, is an essential ingredient in being able to do so.


If you think that it is possible do it, then you will want to do it; and if you want to do it, you will do it. But if you doubt that it is a possibility, if you doubt that it is achievable, then you make it harder.


As it is, putting in the work in the gym, or wherever else or however else you choose to do it, is a hard enough option. So putting obstacles in your own way yourself makes no sense.


Also it's not a short-term option. Each training session is just one link in a fairly lengthy chain. You can't simply make an appointment with a physician and have an operation or get a few injections that will turn you into someone who, at 65 like John Kirkham, or at 56 like Hilary Walker, can continue to enjoy their surfing and ultra-running. You have to work at it yourself, because your investment of time and effort in training your body is the only way you will maintain - and even at whatever age improve - your physical capabilities. And if you doubt that the work will bring you the desired result, then inevitably a lack of motivation will follow, a reduction of the intensity and probably frequency of training, a lessening of the results you are seeking and then a downward slide into the usual degeneration of age.


On the other hand, putting the work in is an exciting option, and one that does bring results. Not solely on a physical level, but also for the maintenance of brain capability, as research has shown and that we have reported on in several articles on this site.


To reinforce your belief in the effectiveness of training you need to see examples of other people doing what you are aiming at doing, examples at all levels of performance whether it is people competing at world level like the runner Martin Rees (on whose career we intend to report), turned 60 this year and still putting in world class performances, or the Silver Grey equivalent of fun runners, continuing with their sport because they love it and don't want to stop.


And where do you see these examples that will motivate you to continue? Not too many places, but you do see and hear about them here, on the Silver Grey Sports Club web-site, and our site will continue to bring you news and stories about people and events that inspire us, and will hopefully inspire you.


So think about it and make the choice. Are you right that you can, or right that you can't?

You can see more of the videos we've made with the Silver Grey athletes we've met and read more about them HERE, and read more interesting stories and articles from around the web in The Pinboard