Running up life’s down escalator

Have you ever seen anyone try to run up the down escalator? Perhaps you’ve done it yourself? I have. It’s fun. Probably a juvenile thing to do for someone in their mid 40’s, but I am young at heart after all.

Why would I bring this up? Well, a good friend of mine and I were talking today during our long run in the amazing sunshine. We were talking about running and training and life and where we both were with our fitness last year, compared to this year. Last year I was training for Ultraman and I was getting so fast and so strong. Steve was training to run the full marathon at the Woody’s Marathon on May long weekend. He won his age group and I placed sixth at Ultraman, so all in all, a great season. This year is very different. We have both struggled with injuries, life interruptions, work and all sorts of stuff. Through it all though, we always come back to training, back to running and staying fit.

Why? Well, here’s the thing, life is like that down escalator. Like it or not, we are all getting older, and for the most part – our escalator is going down and when it reaches the bottom, that’s the end of the ride. After we reach 25 or 30 years old, the natural inclination for our body is to slow down as our body becomes less efficient. Here’s a fact: Every day, you are either getting stronger or weaker. There are no other options. The human body does not stand still, it is always adapting. So like the escalator, if you just stand there, you will start heading downhill.

You have to turn around and start walking up that down escalator if you want to stay where you are, life longer and enjoy the ride. And if you want to make any progress and improve, well then, you had better run. There is a saying, “Every morning in Africa, the sun rises over the Serengetti. Every morning in Africa, a gazelle awakens. Every morning in Africa, a lion awakens. The gazelle knows it must outrun the fastest lion in the Serengetti if it is to live to see another sunrise. The lion knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle in the Serengetti if it is to eat in order to live and see another sunrise.” The moral of the story is this whether you’re a gazelle or a lion, when that sun comes up, you better be running.

Elite and Olympic class athletes ‘sprint the escalator’ and spend their days being one step from the very top, hoping to arrive at competition time right at the last step of the top without stuttering or stopping and coasting back down.

It’s sort of sad in a way, to think that all of my hard work from last year’s race preparation is gone. But the thing is, it isn’t ‘gone’, it’s dormant. This year I have had an infected root canal, three sprained ribs, and a work schedule that just doesn’t allow for much else, but I know one thing, all I have to do is get my training back on track and I will spring back to life. That’s part of the fun, the challenge of being fit.

Being fit means getting outside and enjoying the warm spring sunshine, the smells the sights and the friendships formed out on the road. Running and riding outside is so wonderful as it affords one the chance to see roads less traveled at a more human speed. Today we ran out to Birchcliff and looked at all the beautiful homes and the frozen lake in the distance. We saw the robins hopping around getting ready for summer and noticed the beauty of dormant life returning to growth. The days are getting longer and in spite of all of life’s challenges, we are still out there running. Breathing. Laughing. Denying the down escalator.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake. He can be reached at 403-887-7667 or check out for more information.