Aging Athlete: From Burnout to Brilliance: Part 1: Love Your Craft

Athletes decline with age.  Artists improve.” 

Introduction: Becoming an Endurance Artist

Discover a stronger, more enduring passion for training and a new talent for racing – all with less effort and less time training.  In this blog series, I offer tips for your transformation from athlete to artist, based on my decades of experience.  In this first blog: Love Your Craft!

Dancing to the Finish Line

I’m 62 years wise now.  At age 19, as I pursued a degree in Modern Dance.   “Dancing in leotards and tights?  What does that have to do with endurance sports?”


I have translated that arts-approach into decades of ultra running and triathlon.  How about a 500-mile, 99-hour ultra triathlon in 2016, at age 59? “Moving Beyond ALS” was a solo event to raise money and awareness about ALS.  Read more here

Far more rewarding than the glory of so many finish lines: As an endurance artist for over 40 years, my daily journey of discovery and my passionate pursuit of mastery has tempered the human being I am today.  And it keeps getting better!!

Check out the first book ever written about the endurance arts!  Book One of my series “Kaizen-durance Your Aerobic Path to Mastery”

“I just finished reading Book One. Good stuff! It fills a gap that urgently needs filling in the endurance domain–and gave me some practical takeaways to use in my own athletic pursuits.”  – Matt Fitzgerald, Author of more than 20 books and former editor of Triathlete and Competitor magazines

Let’s get started with the topic of this first blog of the series.

Love Your Craft!

Great artists are passionately driven to produce brilliant works of art.  So, what’s at the heart of that passionate drive?  What fuels the masters over a lifetime? 

It is the love of their craft.

people woman art hand
Photo by Gimmeges on
  • Great musicians are motivated each day to practice and improve their technique and hone their unique “voice” – the style and sound that distinguishes each from the others.  Age enhances their virtuosity and versatility.  There are no limits.
  • Great writers sit each day to engage and challenge their word-smithing skills.  Age improves their mastery and the wisdom they reveal.  There are no limits.
  • Great painters are driven each day to the rigor of drawing and painting what they see.  Age empowers their pursuit of excellence.  There are no limits.

“Age enhances. Age improves. Age empowers. There are no limits.”  Can this really be true for endurance sports? 

As endurance artists, we accrue wisdom that empowers highly effective training and inspires brilliant racing.  When we love our craft, we invest deeply.  We embrace each and every training session as a rich opportunity to invest, discover, and improve.  It gets better with age!!

In Book One of the Kaizen-durance series, we explore the wisdom of the master athlete/artist, and how to live it every day. 

What is your craft as an endurance artist? 

The most essential part of your craft is your technique.  It is your ability to craft great swim strokes or running strides with precision, agility, grace and efficiency.   Like the painter, you will complete your greatest race as you craft one perfect stroke or stride at a time.

As an artist, there are no limits to the excellence and mastery you can achieve. 

Here’s how to love your craft:

athlete bike black and white cycle
Photo by Pixabay on
  • Each time you train, uncover something new in your skill. 
  • Summon your curiosity. 
  • Invest your full attention in each moment to maximize the return on your aerobic investment.
  • Like a dancer, focus on the craft of your movement – each and every movement.  Strive for graceful seamless perfection. 
  • Each stride or stroke – whether fast or slow – is essential to our craft and our achievements.
  • Focus on cultivating Kinetic Intelligence – your wisdom as an endurance artist.

For the athlete, the focus is mind over matter.  For the artist, it’s mind IN matter. 

Are There Performance Benefits?

Like athletes, artists also focus on performance.  Here are some of the benefits I experience by pursuing the craft of endurance arts – specifically the art of running:

  • Train less: In 2017 (at age 60), the longest training run before my first 50-mile ultra
    CT Finish
    Cayuga Trails 50 Finish!

    trail run of the season: 16 miles.  I finished the Cayuga Trails 50 strong!  And still rode my bike the 5 miles back home.  As an endurance artist, you can train less when you intensely focus on perfecting your craft during every session, and still enjoy reaching your goals.

  • Recover faster: In 2018, I ran the JFK 50-Mile, slept 90 minutes, drove 3 1/2 hours and ran the  Philadelphia Marathon – with even splits for the first and second halves.  (I ran another marathon 6 days later.)  As an endurance artist, you can recover fast because you use finesse, not force.  And you minimize the risk of injury!
  • Finish strong: Endurance athletes often fade and slow down as the performance progresses.  Artists build to a strong finale.  How?  As endurance artists, we focus on crafting each stride, each stroke perfectly, from start to finish.  This optimizes our grace and efficiency.  And it leads to very effective pacing.  I often run close to even splits for 50-mile ultra runs and finish with grace.

Find Out More

The Kaizen-durance Book Series is your resource for the endurance arts:


Share your experiences as an endurance artist here.


Email me here.  I look forward to hearing from you!

2 thoughts on “Aging Athlete: From Burnout to Brilliance: Part 1: Love Your Craft

  1. Pingback: Aging Athlete From Burnout to Brilliance: Part 2: Sharpen Your Axe – Kaizen-durance®

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