by Jukka Valkonen October 11, 2017

BodyHealth Team Member Jukka Valkonen - Team USA elite multi-sport athlete

When I turned 49 I was really excited. Not because I’d be racing in the 50-54 AG later, but that 50 was next. I’m 50 now, and it’s not the number. Instead, it’s more about where I’m in life. My kids are maturing, I’ve achieved much professionally, my wife and I are still in love with one another, and I love staying in shape, doing sports, and competing.

I do my best to remind Younglings and Young Jedis, that they aren’t the sport they play, i.e., “triathlete,” “runner,” “swimmer,” etc. There are no such humans. Instead, we are all human beings who choose to compete in some sport.

With that, our performances are not reflections of who we are. That said, a Master Jedi’s athletic performance and accomplishments are not reflections of who they are.

Many of us fear being judged. “I’m not as fast as I used to be.” “I’m not as strong as I used to be.” OK, fine, but that doesn’t change who we are as human beings. Unfortunately, the sports marketing industry hasn’t caught onto appealing to the Baby Boomers and Masters Age athletes. Models, gear, etc., are all focused on young people.

Just look at the leading triathlon magazine. When was the last time ads in it had awesome looking athletes in their 50, 60, etc? The marketer will say, “Not our target audience.” Really brah? If the median household income of an Ironman competitor is over $240K, do you think the 27 yo kid working his/her first job with $100K in student debt is pulling that down?

It doesn’t take a data scientist to see which are the largest AGs in many races that have high fees, and high destination costs associated with them, e.g. Ironman races. If I was working at a sporting company or sports marketing, I would be planning a hard pivot to target the Boomers and Masters AG.

Gear and marketing aside, we will also see shifts with sports medicine and general medicine – catering to the needs of active lifestyle Masters aged athletes.

We aren’t our parents or grandparents. Neither is the technology available to us. Joint surgery is just a quick fix with an upgrade. Not a downgrade. Cardiac needs like atrial fibrillation and other dysrhythmias also demand quick assessment and treatment options that make sense to the athlete. Just because the heart may do some flutters, blips, and flips, doesn’t mean the athlete is now retired.

Shared decision-making between the athlete and her medical provider will be similar to how the athlete works with her trainer or coach. Look at the data, understand what’s going on, consider the options, make a decision, monitor, and refine.

We started aging the moment we were born. There is no acceleration of it after 50. Those of us who are 50+ are pioneers in masters aged medicine and sports. Never will we see such a huge denominator of masters aged athletes contributing data to how we do it, and what’s going on with us. Over the next 10 years we will see significant changes.

Personally, I’m stoked to be part of the journey. Every day you open your eyes is a gift. Make it a super wonderful day and get rad.

Jukka Valkonen
Jukka Valkonen


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