Here’s a topic I never thought would come up in an article for runners. The other day I was feeling a little “moody” (I remember calling it “low energy”). Then the thought came – do men have the equivalent of “menopause”? So, of course I googled it. Having no medical training, don’t believe a word I say, but you could also google it yourself! (or, as all the articles mention, consult your medical professional before doing anything about it….:-) Men go through slightly similar conditions as women – as the body slows down its production of (women) estrogen, and (men) testosterone. For some reason the medical community prefers calling the male hormone “androgen”, so what guys go through is called “andropause”. I will quickly point out that what men “go through” is not at all like what women go through (again, this is just personal observation)! The initial symptoms are similar – moodiness, loss of libido (who, me?), fatigue, weight gain (right!), depression, decreased muscle mass and bone loss. But it stops there. Men can continue fathering children, and nowhere in the material I read did it include “hot flashes”. So, we guys have it easy.
The only mention of a cure (or a way to alleviate the symptoms) was through “exercise, better diet, and a decrease in alcohol consumption”. That’s it. So, it’s easy to see why I witnessed a doubling of effort to keep an intense physical routine going these past 15 years. It does take a chunk out of the day (an hour or 2 here or there, everyday). But I also have experienced a normal flow of energy, and a very rare spate of moodiness. Actually, I don’t think that’s the correct word. I just call it “low energy” – where I don’t feel like doing much of anything. I sat in front of my computer wanting to write this article yesterday, and NOTHING came out. I just sat there, and actually fell asleep staring at the computer screen. At first I attributed it all to my lack of desire to confront this topic, but – no – it was just me “falling asleep at the wheel” from several intense cross-country ski workouts in a row.
What else can one do, besides hours on the road/on the skis/on the bike/on the trail? I can’t say how much I have enjoyed the prospect of “growing mature” (I did NOT say “growing old” – okay?). My only regret so far is that my hair hasn’t started turning white yet. I want that ultimate sign of wisdom. (hmmm, that implies I know I really am NOT wise, but just want the symbol to suggest it might be true!) Turning 50, and then 60, and soon 70 – I’ve waited for these years as a chance to finally do what I really have always wanted to do. I call it following “noble pursuits” – being more involved in community events, being kind to animals, helping old ladies cross the street – you know the schtick…and basically not having to work to earn a living! I’m talking about doing something that really makes a difference… (I know, I know, our everyday work is supposed to be productive AND constructive, but sometimes the routine makes it all seem a bit blah.). (….lapse of time…) Oh dear, I just fell asleep again at the computer. Andropause, my foot! Actually, many medical professionals do not subscribe to the existence of such a phenomenon, so I’m probably off the hook anyway. I’m not about to take supplements since I don’t really think its real (in my case of course), and besides, the downside to supplements are pretty heavy.
I have heard some people in my age bracket who occasionally take stock of their lives, and wonder if their lives have been, what? Worthwhile, productive, did they make a difference, the whole legacy-thing – what am I leaving behind that matters? That has never bothered me much, since I’m too busy gearing up for the next workout (… or falling asleep at the computer!). But now that I bring it all up, yes, I think I should start spending more time/energy on weighing in on the “worthwhile” factor of things as I choose what to do each day. There. Its done, and now I can go take a nap, or go skiing, or any other worthwhile activity!! - David Summerfield
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David Nutter Summerfield
The following blogs were first published in The Windrinker, a running newsletter published in Bozeman, MT (www.Windrinkers.org). There is a constant attempt at viewing the foibles of long distance runners in a humorous light so we don't take ourselves too seriously.