Inside: A culture of fitness – old school & new school; What am I training for?; The kids are alright; Body image issues — it isn’t just for women; Liquid calories; A question for the runners out there
When’s the last time you ran? I mean, all out run as as fast as you can. Or run at all.
When’s the last time you tried to jump over something? Climb something?
I’m turning into some kind of fitness convert/snob because it saddens me to see friends and family whose fitness priority is relatively low. I’m probably going to take some heat for this, but whatever. Join me.
If you could rate these things, physical activity for a lot of my loved ones (especially if it’s outdoors) ranks pretty far below epicurean eating and drinking, TV, online-ing, sleeping. Or working, raising children, saving lives, curing incurable diseases. You know. Stuff.
I know some people who hate exercise. Mainly because “exercise” has a narrow definition for them, but also because they plain don’t like the physical exertion, discomfort, fatigue, sweating, etc.
Everybody’s somewhere. It’s all gravy. I just like being around people who also want to move and don’t mind getting dirty to do it and it’s kind of hard to find outside of the gym due to schedules, logistics and what not. I get restless sitting during movies and shows these days, too. That’s new. I stand, walk and pace during meetings (conference calls).
Time and a place for everything, I guess.
Moving is Contagious
Last year on vacation at Massanutten I went for a walk with two of the nephews. Well, I had intended to go to the gym to get a workout in, but — it turned into a walk. Hot, humid morning, lots of bugs. We walked around for a while, taking photos. In the home stretch within sight of our condo I stopped and told the nephews that we needed to get some exercise.
I said, Let’s jump from here to the cars.
One of them said, Why?
The other looked at me like he was in no mood. Tired, thirsty, a little headachey. They were both looking at me like, I’m not doing that. You’re ridiculous.
I started jumping and shouting a la MarioKart 64, “I’m-a gonna weeeeen!!”
They out-jumped me, of course, laughing the whole time. I did not weeeeen the race to the cars. But they reached the cars and then sprinted up the considerable stairs to the front door. Excellent.
There are times when we, the nominal grown ups in the family, have to order the kids to put down electronics, turn off the TV and go outside.
Once you get past a whiny, But there’s nothing to do outside!
Or on a hike when you tell them to enjoy nature and the scenery and they say, Everything looks the same.
Despite all of the gadgets and electronics and distractions (said the guy who’s sitting inside writing a blog on a perfectly sunny Memorial Day Weekend), it doesn’t take much for kids to take to the idea of playing.
Moving = fun.
Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.
The adults, however…
To a lot of adults, recreational physical activity is a luxury. Or physical pain.
If I asked my family when’s the last time they ran, the answer might be decades ago. And I literally mean decades. Twenty or thirty years ago. There are physical and medical reasons for that, but it’s also part of the working class culture. Exercise is for the Privileged.
If you’ve been cleaning someone’s house for 8 hours and riding the bus to get there for 2 hours and you have 7 kids at home and schoolwork and have to prepare dinner, physical exercise isn’t really the top priority. If you’re working, raising kids, watching your siblings’ children, grocery shopping, cooking, running errands, paying bills, doing laundry — that’s your life.
If you take the bus to and from work and you work in a steel plant doing hard physical labor in extreme conditions and you have a house to maintain and upkeep, yardwork to do, gardening and so on — your schedule is maxed out.
As the years and decades roll on, you work hard, raise kids, baby sit, relax by cooking and eating together, playing cards, playing board games, an occasional family game of badminton, croquet, tossing a ball around, etc. You’ll take an occasional walk.
I remember when I was a kid in Turner Station, my grandmother would walk to a relative’s house and she would find a big stick in case she needed to ward off a stray dog. My grandfather used to go with his brother up to Amish country to pick fruits and vegetables on the weekends.
You’ll notice, however, that none of that includes an early morning 5 mile run down a well-maintained, well-lit paved trail. It doesn’t include a gym membership and aerobic class. It definitely doesn’t include a personal trainer/coach. It doesn’t include commuting to a fitness class of some sort a few times a week. It doesn’t include a pricey recreational bicycle and driving a distance to parks to ride them.
It absolutely does NOT include paying hundreds of dollars (plus many other costs) to do a mud run or other manufactured endurance event. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you have to admit that it’s a very elaborate, first world solution to the notion of going outside to play and get your move on.
My point is, many of us are so lucky and we are privileged (which is fast becoming a politically correct term that I’m already tired of hearing but isn’t without merit) to have the opportunity to focus on our physical health and fitness. I mean, I sit on my butt for at least 8 hours a day in front of a computer (and commuting), make a good salary and then invest some of that salary to try to counteract the effects of sitting on my butt for 8 hours a day. Irony.
Were you ever athletic?
Then at some point, I changed mental gears.
- I didn’t just want to un-fatten, I wanted to be better at things.
- I don’t just want to not drop dead, I want to be able to be physically active for hours.
- I don’t just want to look good naked, I want to be able to run and sprint and go all out.
- I don’t just want to be able to move without injuring myself, I also don’t want to be the slowest — I want to at least keep up with the pack.
There are times — on the days when I’m mentally drained — when the workout is intense and part of my brain is trying to rationalize ways that I could be fit without all of the workout pain. There are exercises that I do not like and that’s an understatement. But what they do for you is so good. They work the hell out of these muscles while stretching those muscles and strongly engaging your core and increasing your heart rate.
UA’s use of the word “intense” is on the real. The “athlete” in Underground Athlete is no joke.
When I was most athletic
At the end of high school and early college days (it was only 20 minutes from home) I used to play soccer on the courts a lot. A LOT. Not that I was good at it. I just loved playing and hanging out with friends for hours just about every day. Plus riding my bike around the various neighborhoods. I was doing Isshin Ryu karate twice a week. I’d occasionally jog (man I was so slow) around the loop at UMBC. And I discovered mountain biking thanks to Eric B. (no thanks to Rakim).
I was lean and had a mean six pack. I used to jump over an 8 ft. fence like nothin’.
I’ve repeated this story a few times but there are some new folks reading and it’s relevant, especially as I’m in the throes of physical transformation from fat to fit:
One time I was jogging around UMBC and I had my shirt front up over my neck. Two women were walking across the street and saw me. They looked. And looked. And looked. I thought, “What is their problem? Is this a race thing?”
I was offended that they were staring. I didn’t realize that it was because I was hawt.
Oh wow. I just had a semi-repressed memory thing. Our Isshin Ryu teacher was also a photography student. One of his assignments was to do a photo shoot of the human form (a group of people in tights in various poses or something like that) and he asked if I would be in the photos. I was like, “Uh. Dude. No. I don’t want people, like … seeing my body.”
Talk about body image issues.
Nephews #2 and #3 were at Tough Mudder the other week, as I’ve mentioned. One of them asked me, “Uncle Gary, do you have a six pack?”
I said, “No. I’ve kind of got a two pack and a pony keg.”
Ha haaaa. Working on it, though. My weight isn’t dropping. I’m still hovering slightly above 200 lbs. and yet my belt is steadily tightening. Quiet, subtle progress.
Occasionally, though, I forget that the strength training (and conditioning) is just that. Training. The workouts should not be my end-all and be-all. Training is not the goal. It can be, of course. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But what are you training for?
I haven’t mountain biked in a long time for a number of reasons. I’m sore as hell today, by the way. JL was right. I didn’t feel it right after the Finisher on Thursday evening, but now my butt hurts. Those lunges are glute slayers. Anyway, the gym is hosting a Mike Mahler workshop so I have a Saturday morning off.
This weekend I’m back on the trails. Need to do some biking, some hiking/jogging. Time to do what I train for.
Or as Sara says, “We’re getting strong for life.”
Now, where are those adult monkey bars?
What are some good resources for beginning runners? I want to work my way up to five miles. I planned to jog after workouts from UA to Rt. 50 and back (.4 miles) for week 1. Week 2, do that twice maybe (.8 miles)? Then to PJ Skidoo’s and back (1.2 miles).
Running is hard after a finisher. But then again, running is hard after you’ve been running for a while. And running is hard after you’ve been running for a while and going through/over/under obstacles, so it’s good preparation.
Then… there are some parks back there off of Draper Rd. and Stafford. I’m hoping that there are some trails in Ranger Rd Park around the stream that winds through there (right behind Skidoo’s).
Any suggestions as to how to smartly ramp up? My Achilles are still just a little sore from … something. My right shin gets sore quickly. (The front of my shin bones are a little bumpy. Is that normal?)
Oh snap! Now that there’s photographic evidence of these highly evolved, time traveling bears I’ve got to get this tightness and cramp-prone-ness out of my calves.
And you thought I was making it up.
Bonus: Liquid Calories
I’m addicted to my home made iced mochas. That’s my one source of liquid calories. Need to either quit it or make it a protein drink. If you like sweet drinks (I’ve always been a fruit juice person) I have something that may help you.
- Liquid stevia. Make sure it’s liquid and not powdered or granulated.
- Unsweetened cranberry and/or pomegranate juice. Or freshly squeezed lemons.
- Ice water or plain seltzer water. Diet soda if you’re into that sort of thing.
- If you want to get fancy you can use frozen strawberries, blueberries, peaches or mangos instead of ice cubes to chill your water. (I’m still coveting Melissa’s blender.)
(Note, powdered anything will cause carbonated beverages to erupt like Krakatoa, but liquids will not. That’s why I prefer the liquid stevia. There’s also liquid Splenda available but artificial sweeteners are not without controversy.)
If you have a real sweet tooth, it may not quite work out for you. A little Stevia goes a long way but then starts to taste like not-sugar. I guess you can say the same about Splenda et al, too.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone. Much gratitude to the fallen.