How do you get injured in your sleep? Getting older is a tough road.

My alarm starts buzzing at the normal time, 4:15 AM, on a Tuesday morning. I turn off the alarm and sit up in the bed. I slide my feet out from under the covers, to stand up, and immediately fall back into bed with a back spasm. I have pain in my back, my neck, and shoulders. Apparently, I slept wrong. This isn’t the first time I have awaken to an injury. How do you get injured in your sleep?

This wasn’t always my routine. I have preferred to sleep late and workout later. After years of training with other triathletes, and a slight nudge from my wife, I was finally convinced to workout early. This has made a significant difference in my fitness. Over the last three months, I have become faster and have the best endurance I have ever had. I now look forward to these workouts. As I get older, I find I am more tired in the afternoons. Moving to an early morning workout has brought a level of consistency I have never known. That doesn’t mean I am happy when the alarm goes off at 4:15 AM.

Being old is a relative term. When you are a teenager, or in your twenties, you think anything over thirty is old. A majority of people feel a slight sting when they reach the big 4-0. The black balloons come out when you move over the hill at fifty. At sixty and beyond, where can I get my discounts and who stepped on my lawn?

With advances in technology and medicine, age doesn’t pack the same punch as early as it once did. We now see people living longer and being more active into their golden years. Take the Iron Nun for example. She is still doing triathlons at eighty-eight years old and has completed forty-five Ironman distance events. She did her first triathlon at age fifty-two and her first Ironman at fifty-five.

Speaking of athletes, and I use that term loosely when referring to myself, age does play a big role in that arena. No matter how athletic you are, strength, speed, and resistance to injury start to decline as you get older. In the athletic world, getting old can start as early as the mid-thirties. I had to buy more ice packs so my wife and I would stop fighting over who is first in line for the ice. Our main training focus is now centered on injury prevention instead of performance.

It may seem as if I am all bent out of shape about getting older, but that is not the case. If I look past the slowdown and injuries, I see a lot more happiness as I get older. I smile, laugh, and sometimes want to cry, when I look at the mistakes I have made in life. Those mistakes have made me who I am and are shaping the way I will live the rest of my life.

I still do hard workouts that are focused on training, but most of my workouts have turned social. I find that my running and cycling friends prefer to chat during the workout and finish up with coffee. These are some of the best moments of my week.

When we get close to fifty we start to ask ourselves those tough questions. Am I spending enough time with my family and friends? Is this the career to take me into retirement? Am I taking care of my health?

I may not have done all the things I wanted to do, but I am confident I can still do the things I am planning to do.