The wake up call can be anything from having your kids beat you in a run around the park, to waking up and realizing you’re overweight, unfit, and unhealthy, and not the finely tuned athlete you were 20 years ago.
Two decades of working, bringing up a family and having no time of your own, has left a generation of men feeling unfulfilled, and in a bid to face down mid life crisis they are turning to endurance sports.
According to the Sunday Times newspaper “triathlon is the fastest-growing mass-participation sport “and “endurance sports across the board are bulging at the midriff with middle-aged men with moobs to lose and something to prove”.
A good old-fashioned marathon no longer cuts it. Now, it’s all about Olympic-distance triathlons, 17-hour Ironman challenges, or ultrarunning through the night across deserts.
Indeed it was a sudden realization on the eve of his 40th birthday that made Rich Roll make a decision that would change his life, become an ultraman triathlete, and see him being named as one of Men's Fitness magazine's "25 Fittest Guys in the World".
Speaking to CNN, Rich Says ,”can still remember it, vivid as yesterday. It was the eve of my 40th birthday, and I walked upstairs to take a shower. And I was winded. I mean very winded. As I was trying to catch my breath, I took off my shirt, looked in the mirror and tried to convince myself that I was still that fit guy I had always thought I was.
Somehow, I had been able to skate by on this delusion for all too many years. But the denial had finally caught up to me. I saw my true reflection, and I couldn't lie to myself anymore. I was in the worst shape of my life. I was fat, unhappy and fed up."
The benefits – apart from the obvious health ones – are addictive. First and foremost, though, it’s the buzz that’s irresistible.
“If you’re 40 years old, you don’t want to be the granddad in the nightclub, so you find another kick there are some crazy races out there”.
One of the great things about Triathlon is that, as you get older, you are more likely to have built up the strength endurance, and mental toughness required to tackle that Ironman, you only have to look at the disproportionate number of middle age age groupers to see that.
It also gives you the chance to compete outside of the work place. Modern life can be emasculating and at a time when middle age men need to feel confident and strong, Triathlon gives you the opportunity to prove to yourself you’ve still got what it takes without taking a mistress or spending the kids inheritance on a new corvette!
*Rich Roll is currently participating in Epic 5 Challenge with ultra athlete Jason Lester.
This story was written by Danny Ward (England's Ironman Chef) of (TriSport Epping).