I knew from Armstrong’s memoir, It’s Not About the Bike, that his VO2 max (the gauge by which the human body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen is measured) is superhuman, his ship-sail lungs uncommonly efficient.
But at age 37? A 2,000-mile, 23-day race, much of it uphill? By next July? I asked him, rather ungraciously, if he wasn’t too old to get back into shape that quickly.
He laughed. And he was off and running. "Look at the Olympics. You have a swimmer like Dara Torres. Even in the 50-meter event [freestyle], the 41-year-old mother proved you can do it. The woman who won the marathon [Constantina Tomescu-Dita, of Romania] was 38. Older athletes are performing very well. Ask serious sports physiologists and they’ll tell you age is a wives’ tale. Athletes at 30, 35 mentally get tired. They’ve done their sport for 20, 25 years and they’re like, I’ve had enough. But there’s no evidence to support that when you’re 38 you’re any slower than when you were 32.
"Ultimately, I’m the guy that gets up. I mean, I get up out of bed a little slow. I mean, I’m not going to lie. I mean, my back gets tired quicker than it used to and I get out of bed a little slower than I used to. But when I’m going, when I’m on the bike—I feel just as good as I did before."
-Vanity Fair interview with Lance Armstrong
Some people don't give Lance Armstrong's comeback any credence, just like Brett Favre returning to football this year.
I just think, good for them. Michael Jordan was ridiculed for coming out of retirement but I don't think it hurt his legacy.
So there's nothing to lose but lots to gain.