Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Slowest Triathlete That Day

I watched as she reached deep inside to summon one last bit of energy as she drove her body across the finish line. Her face was red, her breath coming in gasps, each running step seemed painful, but she crossed the line that hot August day. She was not the first across the finish line that day, in fact the first across that line had been finished for nearly an hour and a half. The first place winner did the entire sprint triathlon in less time than it took her to do the bike leg. He was joined by his kids as he breezed across the finish line, they each took one of his hands and he jogged to the finish with them. She was joined by her grandkids as she struggled to get to the end of the event.

She, the last place finisher (though first in her age group) impressed me much more that day than that first place guy did. He competes as a pro and this year took 2nd in the ITU Cross World Championships and 3rd in the Xterra USA Series. She finished a sprint triathlon, something she had never done before.

He went into that day knowing he would finish, and odds are he knew he was going to take first place.
She went in not knowing if she could complete the course.

He jogged easily across the finish line.
She needed every ounce of energy she had left to get there.

What he has accomplished as an athlete is amazing and inspirational.
What she accomplished that day inspires me more though.

It is astounding to me that some people have the talent, the drive, and the athletic background that lead them to just leave me in the dust on a race like that. I am impressed and inspired by those people. The people that really blow my mind, however, are the ones who at age sixty decided to tear themselves free of the sedentary lifestyle they had been leading, the ones who decided that they would overcome their obesity, to get rid of the cigarettes, to throw out the junk food and change the way they were living their lives.

I've met quite a few like her now. At the same event I was talking to a man who had started training for a triathlon after his doctor told him to change his lifestyle unless he wanted to die in the next six months. Now he competes in triathlons regularly. My brother lost 130 pounds and now bikes everywhere and has completely overhauled his diet. These are the ones that make me proud, these are the ones that inspire me.

This is the reason I want to be a personal trainer. As much as I would enjoy training an athlete to higher levels of achievement, what I really want is to take those who don't think they can do it and show them they can. I want to take people who cannot walk a mile and teach them that they can run a 5K. I want to inspire them, and be inspired by them.

So now, I'm going to get back to studying the muscles that act on the shoulder.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Oh No, It's a Year End Reminiscing List.

2012 is wrapping up soon, so I thought I'd go back over my year and blah, blah, blah. . .

On to the list.

Cool things that happened to me this year.

10. I ran my first trail race (race report here) with my wife, stepdaughter, and dog. It was also my first race longer than 5K.

9. Watched my (at the time) 4 year old daughter run over a mile completely barefoot on the road.

8. Overcame my fear and self doubt, trained for and completed my second sprint triathlon, beating my previous time on the same course by almost four minutes.

7. Went even more nearly barefoot with Xeroshoes huaraches.

6. Didn't PR, but had great fun trying.

5. Watched my daughter run her first one mile race, and her second and third half mile races.

4.Ran my slowest 5K ever. If you haven't clicked any of those links, you should really click this one.

3. Took charge of my thinking again.

2. Started a revolutionary new workout program.

1. Swam, biked, ran, loved my wife, loved my girls, loved my life.

Am I Just Too Old?

I was studying my personal trainer manual and I came across a statement I had seen many times before. In a nutshell, once a person is in their thirties, athletic potential declines.

Yeah, I was feeling pretty old right there.
I started running at age 35.

Dang it.

I was never sedentary, in fact I was far from it. I walked and rode bikes to class in college, and I've been around martial arts my whole life. I was a pretty active person, I just never really thought about pushing myself and seeing just how far I could go until I started running, which was after my peak potential had passed.

So I turned to Google. Looking for inspiration, it seemed that most athletes my age and older were ones who were at or near the elite level during their peak years. That didn't really do much to inspire me. I mean, Diana Nyad is amazing, but I needed someone that became very athletic after their "prime years". Then there are people like Cheryl Ragsdale who are inspirational and started later in life, but I was still not really feeling consoled.

I started lamenting the fact that I had not started earlier in life. I started thinking about my stint on the high school track team, and found myself frustrated about that all over again.

So then what is a "past their peak" athlete to do?

The same thing every other athlete does.

Every single person has limitations. For one person it may be that they started late, another may have had their legs paralyzed, one may have Down's Syndrome while another has Asperger's. There may be an athlete who has the disadvantage of having been born in the poorest part of the world, while another's disadvantage is that they were born so rich they never developed the motivation to work for something until they had a mid life crisis.

The point is, to not lament what kind of athlete I might have been if I had developed this passion younger in life, but to be the best I can be right now.

Every person has his or her challenges, and every day has its challenges. It is possible that this March I will have to run the best trail race I can with a pulled hamstring, or in August I will have to race the best triathlon I can with a sore ankle, or that I will have to miss these events entirely.

The key for me is to focus on the present. After all, it is the only moment that is real. The past is just a memory and the future is imagination.

So the goal for today is to do the best tempo run I can today, the best I can do with only two years under my belt and me being past my prime, the best I can with a slightly sore foot and a cold.

The best I have right now.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Trail Race Training.

My eyes are set on the Fall Creek Falls Trail Race again this February. Last year this was my first race longer than a 5K and my first trail race. The website calls it a 12 mile race, but the race director sent out an email saying that it was indeed a true half marathon.

Just in case it was a little short of a half marathon, I ran off onto a fire road for a little while to make sure and get my distance in.

No really, I did it on purpose. Seriously.

Well, it was so much fun last time that my family and I are training for it again. This time I am utilizing a secret weapon that a lot of runners seem not to think about.

Strength Training!

That's right, along with lots of running I am doing  goblet squats, one leg deadlifts, one legged squats, lunges and what not. Sometimes body weight, sometimes with kettlebells and sometimes with my daughter on my back as well.

This should help me conquer those killer hills.

Or as my family and I like to say, "There is no hill!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Revolutionary New Workout!

It is a revolution in fitness!
It can get you through a holiday slump!
It can get you started on a fitness program regardless of your current activity level!

It is the Just Get Up And Do Something Already program.

It is really simple, as soon as you are finished reading this, just get up and do something already.
It can be 10 wall pushups and 10 squats, a one mile walk, a ten mile run, a Crossfit WOD, or anything else.

The key is to just get up and do something already.

If you are overweight and low on energy, just get up and do something already. If you've worked out in the past but lost the habit, just get up and do something already. If you have a fitness program but can't do what you planned because of weather or schedules or whatever, just get up and do something already.

It's that simple, something is better than nothing, so just get up and do something already.

Now- - -GO!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Heart Attacks and Tragedies

I don't preach much here unless I am preaching about being fit.

Open heart surgery is a wonderful lifesaving tool to have. My uncle is still alive thanks to heart surgery. I am grateful that we have that option. For the most part, however, it could be avoided. It takes work, dedication to a healthy lifestyle, and development of healthy eating habits. It requires a lifestyle of health and fitness. It means taking the time daily to exercise and plan healthy meals, for some it would require a big investment of time to change from the way they are living to a new way of living.

My brother is a good example. He weighed 310 pounds. He sold his car, bought a bike and made other lifestyle changes. he now weighs 180 pounds. That would be like carrying my daughter and two of her friends around on my back, then putting them down. His lifestyle now requires more physical work on a day to day basis, but it has become ingrained in his daily pattern and is normal for him. Now, aside from all the other benefits of being healthy, he no longer has the shadow of open heart surgery looming ahead of him.

This insanity, this tragedy, another tragedy.

People are talking about school security measures. Lockdowns, armed guards, armed teachers, etc.

Being able to stop an armed intruder from walking into a school, or being able to stop one that has walked into a school is important. Being able to protect innocents from this broken individual is important.

What can we do to avoid it. In the United States, it is so hard to get mental help for a child or young adult unless they have already done something heinous. When a young man I know was threatening his pregnant mother, the police wouldn't take him because he hadn't actually broken any laws, mental health crisis people wouldn't take him in for the night because he was too belligerent, his parents were told to call the police whenever he did anything, the police said there was nothing they could do.
One officer said of the 17 year old, "He's not too big for a spanking you know."

The recommended course of action from law enforcement was to spank a 17 year old who was in a crazy enough state of mind that his pregnant mother had locked herself in a car.

Recommendations from the health care professionals were, "We can't do anything until he gets arrested, so call the police."

Something needs to change about the way we approach mental health in the United States. For those concerned about taxpayer costs of mental health care for the poor, there are some people in Connecticut you need to talk to.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I'm Sorry, E. A. Poe, I'm Really Sorry.

This morning, the road was cool and wet, while the bed was warm and snuggly.
I got up in plenty of time to go do my run, but since I'm only doing three runs per week right now I decided to put this on off until Friday when it will be over 50 degrees F in the morning. Instead I snuggled up next to my wife.

Once we were all awake around 6:00 she got on the bike trainer and I got out the kettlebells.

So, with all apologies to Edgar Allen Poe:

Feel the Iron of the bells
Kettle Bells
What a world of agony their heaviness foretells
How I pant and grunt and groan
And my muscles start to moan
While my wife is doing crunches
I'm swinging it in bunches
And I feel it in my bones
Keeping time, time, time
In a sort of Runic rhyme
To the strengthening and tone that so definitely wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells
Bells, bells, bells
From the swinging and the swinging of the bells.

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