Aches and pains of age making it tougher to play golf, walk

Pat Kenney • Jan 18, 2007 at 12:00 PM

Daddy said I'd hate getting old.

I remember his words like they were yesterday. In fact, it was almost 15 years ago.

Spending a few days with my folks, I'd just returned from walking 18 holes and carrying my bag. To top off the day's activities, I was stretching in my parents living room getting set for a little 5-mile run.

My father looked at me and just shook his head. A man who had been quite an athlete in his younger days, he was then in his middle 70s and no longer even playing golf.

Yard work was his form of exercise, and he had every pine tag standing tall.

Now here I was, going like a house of fire, hauling clubs around the course and then heading off for a run.

His admonition was clear. Enjoy this time while you can because there will come a day when it will all be a distant memory. He knew that while my mind always would be willing, my body would become weak.

My father passed away seven years ago, but his words echo in my mind often. Recently, they came back to haunt me.

Running is no longer a part of my daily routine, replaced now by brisk walking. It was a hard transition, but a necessary one.

All runners go through the same thing. There is a mentality about running that makes it hard to replace.

There's the actual running itself, which provides so many benefits. And there's the mental aspect. You feel so good about being a runner, that alone improves your well being.

I found walking distasteful at first, but by stretching my daily workout to 90 minutes I was able to derive a comfortable compromise.

What stopped my running was the pounding my body was taking. Any number of aches and pains greeted me when I tried to get out of bed in the morning. Walking was much kinder on my joints.

I have friends who marvel at my continuing to walk and carry my clubs on the golf course. At my advanced age they probably think breathing would be a difficult task.

But I still find walking to be an integral part of the game of golf. The challenge of pacing myself around the hills at Warriors Path makes it all worthwhile. Course management is both a physical and mental thing. That makes the journey that much more rewarding.

Now, though, my father's words of warning are growing louder.

This recent cold snap has been good and bad. The severe temperatures keep me off the golf course and off the roads - a much welcomed rest.

But a bad back is really the culprit. In spite of my protests to the contrary, old age is creeping up on me and it's settling in my lower back.

Sitting around the house the past few days I've convinced myself that the weather is to blame for my inactivity. The cold truth is that when I get down in the back, there'll be no swinging of the golf club - or walking for that matter.

Daddy was right, getting old is hell. I just want to put it off a little longer.

Pat Kenney is executive sports editor of the Times-News. E-mail him at pkenney@timesnews.net.

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