Gillispie: Battling competitiveness with being in shape


Like Simon and Garfunkel once sang, “I am older than I once was, and younger than I’ll be, but it’s not unusual.”

As I prepare to turn another year older this week, I keep battling how to keep myself youthful. Or at least attempt to do so. Or at least attempt to feel youthful at times, especially physically.

Time doesn’t make it easy to exercise or be in shape like I was many years ago. I’ve been out of college 20 years come December, and I know I’ll never reach that type of physical fitness again, but it would be nice to resemble something similar or at least comparable given my age.

As a former college runner – at a small school in Kansas – and athlete, it’s tough to see yourself gain weight and be out of shape. Obviously, I’ve let it happen but it’s frustrating and a bit depressing to see some days. I try to stay positive but it’s not always easy.

I used to be able to run and jump and do whatever without any hesitation. I made it through high school and college without any injuries for eight years while running cross country and track.

But now, leg soreness or back tightness or a hamstring that wants to act up have all become part of the struggles. I know, it’s time telling me to maybe stretch more or reminding me that I shouldn’t have gotten so out of shape.

Yet, I’m determined to beat it. I want to get back in shape and feel better about myself. One reason is a hiking trip I have planned with friends this summer in Utah. I want to survive it and not slow everyone else down.

A second reason, I simply want to feel better about myself and feel better when I do go running. And a final reason, I’m still too competitive to give up on maybe racing some 5Ks again one day.

I am proud to say I’ve gotten back into running a couple times a week – hopefully more now that spring sports are done and I have more time in the evenings. I must admit, it feels good and I’ve felt some small results. I’m not as sore or tired and I am already running faster than I was a few weeks ago.

Those small runs will help get me in shape, but they aren’t helping too much to scratch the itch to compete. That’s when I go to something that’s become part of me since 2008.

It was fortunate timing or some power above that made it possible, but I happen to stumble into an ultimate frisbee game in my hometown in the fall of 2008. Baker University had an ultimate frisbee club and I was told I should come play one night during one of their club nights.

I had played briefly before but without many rules. I quickly learned the basics and I knew love was found – four years after I graduated from the same university. For the next several years, I played on some tournament teams and in a couple summer leagues.

While moving around the Midwest, I played on a couple more summer leagues, but finding time for it was tough. Plus, I didn’t know anyone so it wasn’t quite as fun.

Once I moved back to the KC area nearly three years ago, I rekindled my ultimate passion and began playing in leagues through KC Ultimate. I had a couple friends who were still playing, and that’s helped the transition back into the sport.

While it’s just fun leagues that aren’t taken too seriously – most of the time – it is still competitive and not taken lightly by players like me that aren’t involved in club teams. This has helped fill that competitive void left by running, and it’s slightly easier than training for a race.

Yet, the running I’m doing now is helping make ultimate frisbee easier. Let’s just say, I definitely feel better about myself but I’ve got a long ways to go.

I know I won’t become the skinny, incredibly fit athlete I once was, but if I can become a more fit, maybe wiser and smarter individual than I once was, I’ll be happy.

Like the verse of the previously mentioned song ends, “After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same, after changes we are more or less the same.”