LGN 53: The Ghost of Fitness Future

Inside: Are you ready for the Wild West?; Olympic Body Types; Gender wars; Progress; Running hiatus


I’m on a running hiatus.  I overdid it last week so I’m giving my shins time to stop barking.   Well, I should be clear and say jogging.  I just want to be able to jog a few miles and get my lower legs used to it.  My calves are still twitchy.  End of a workout, finisher with sled push.  That first push off the line I feel the twitch.  Not that I think I’m going to cramp just then, but I still don’t like it.

The Running Club of the Damned has been decimated.

This is what happens when you don’t listen to your coach, I guess.  It sucks because I finally figured out a way to get my running pace and find music to match it (plus a few beats).  I found a brisk walking pace via the metronome in an iPhone app and play music around 116 bpm.  Struttin’.

So I’m ready to finally find the right tempo to run to.  Just in time to need to take a break.  That’s okay.  I’ll be ready in a few days.  Tough Mudder is a month away.  I’ve decided that 12 miles is too long for me.  After this one I’ll opt for mud/fun races with shorter distances, preferably with no electricity involved.

Anyway, falling asleep the other night I had a burst of memories of all the running advice from my fellow trainees. And Mudderers. Paraphrased, of course.

  • Set your pace.
  • Don’t think about it.
  • Are your shoulders tense?
  • Pump your arms if you have to and breathe.
  • Chest forward, especially when you need to breathe.
  • Long breaths out. Controlled breaths and long exhalations.
  • Find your breathing rhythm.
  • Lift your feet. If your feet are slapping the concrete you’re doing it wrong.
  • Pack the chin and tuck the hips.
  • And last but not least: Get into your discomfort zone.

I did some non- goal oriented eating over the past two days. Dang.  As much progress as I’ve made, I still feel like someone else’s “before” photo sometimes.

Body Types

Anyway, it turns out that jogging is just a lot of work for me.  That whole truck metabolism thing.  I can get better at it but it’s a lot of structural stress.  I’m not trying to run long distances or to rack up tens of miles per week.  Even so it doesn’t take much to add up on me.

I’m not a fatalist and I’m not trying to compete internationally so the following isn’t meant to psych me or you out of our respective goals.

Certain body types are just better for some things than others.

Professional and Olympic competitions are an indicator.  Look at the physiques of gymnasts vs. long distance runners vs. sprinters vs. weightlifting.  In each sport, the competitors seem to have very similar builds.  You don’t see too many 200 lb. 5’7″ dudes doing gymnastic floor routines (even if you assumed a really low body fat percentage).

You don’t see a lot of or any heavyset pro marathon runners.

You don’t see many 5’1″ basketball players.

I guess when you get to Olympic competition you’re dealing with people who have adopted sports that they’re physically adapted to.  And he sticks the landing on the preposition!

I admit that it gives me pause sometimes.  I want to run 5K and would be thrilled if I could get it down to a 10 min/mi pace.  Don’t laugh. That would be awesome for me.  9 min/mi would be even better.  But in the back of my mind I realize that being heavy (more so with muscle these days) and older are hindrances.  Not walls.  But hindrances.

It takes a lot more work and effort for me to propel myself on concrete for 2 miles than it does for a < 120 lb. slim person.

Oh well.  So be it.

Gender Wars

That brings me to something that is controversial.  I’m home sick today trying to sleep off something unpleasant.  Bronchial cough, running nose, headache, light-headedness.  I think it’s compounding the Code Ridiculous levels of soreness from Tuesday night’s training.  You know what that means.  I was laying around all day watching TV and reading blogs/news.

So.  Feminism and sport.  One site had an article claiming that women’s physical performance in the Olympics is catching up with the performance of men.  Fastest times and such.  Commenters went on to say that it’s been social norms that have been keeping women from having the same training intensity as men.

I was confused because I saw a post last week where a guy said that high school male record holders had faster times in running events than female world class record holders.  And that, for example, Olympic women’s field hockey teams sometimes sharpen their games by playing against high school boys’ field hockey teams.

Politics aside, nature has decided that men will be larger and taller, on average, than females.  Men will have considerably more testosterone.  Men will have more muscle and less fat.  Yes, I know that’s ironic coming from me, but you know what I mean.

Men have a physical advantage.  When it comes to sports and activities that favor size, muscle mass and therefore the ability to generate physical power.  This is assuming we’re talking about the best of the best.

If I played tennis against either of the Williams sisters, Serena could crip walk (whatever that is) throughout the entire set while destroying me physically and mentally.  The male ego is a fragile thing.  I’ll admit it.

There’s some niche stuff going on, too.  One of those record holding weightlifters isn’t going to out-sprint or out-distance any of the female runners.  Oh.  I didn’t mean to pick such a stereotypical example.  Give me a pass.  I still have a headache.

I had a point here.  Can’t remember what it was, though.  Like, find what you love and be your best at it.  There will always be someone faster and stronger than you.  There will always be someone slower and weaker than you.  Even if you work your ass off and one day become the fastest and the strongest?  That will only last for a short while and then someone else will come along and dethrone you.

Be your best you.

The Ghost of Fitness Past & Future

I keep having conversations with people talking about their athletic past.  How fast they were.  How strong they were.  I instinctively shift to how strong they could be again.  They take it back to the past.  I want to talk about the future.

Which are you going to be? Awesome in the past or awesome in the future?

I haven’t done maxes until this cycle. I had a goal of benching 100% of my body weight.  I’m hovering around 200 lbs. still.  I have maxed at 105% of my body weight.

How long would it take me to bench 200% of my body weight, which would be about 400 lbs. Is that possible?? Another year? Two years? I have no idea, but I do know that if I stop training I’ll never find out.

How much more passionate would we be about our health if we thought of fitness as a right. A human right that is under assault.  Well, under assault by our own devices, but still.

My mom asked me the other day if I’m still keeping up with my regimen.  Not that she expects me to stop but it’s hard to truly communicate that training is a habit now.   I missed tonight’s training because I feel crappy and my muscles are already twitching a little. It just feels … wrong.

I rode my road-friendly bike to 7-11 today to get Ibuprofen and Nyquil just because I felt like I needed to sweat and move.  Not a smart thing to do considering how woozy I am in the head.  Maybe Safer than driving, though.  And I think it ultimately did me some good to get the blood circulating for a few minutes.  Of course, I bought a bunch of crap and forgot the Ibuprofen and Nyquil.

Also, I’ve got a good thing going.  Justin is the man even though sometimes … sometimes.  Usually during and after Finishers I wish Kathy were there to express my feelings for me.  But I want to take advantage of some quality programs and training and the community while I can.  You never know when your circumstances will change.

I worry about my   job changing venues or whatever.  Things like that.  What if the time comes when I have to or need to move much closer to Baltimore where just about all of my family is?  Suppose I come across some magical opportunity to work on music, art, photography or whatever that requires a lot of travel to tropical paradises or other dimensions and parallel universes?

So I want to get a solid base layer of fitness and soak in the goodness while the gettin’s good.

The Wild Wild West

Speaking of rights.  Do we have the right to be safe?  Or the right to not be murdered?  Is that a right or an expectation?  Oh.  Referring to the Declaration of Independence, Life is one of the inalienable or natural rights.  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

When I rode my bike to 7-11 today I witnessed a few incidents of people being jerks to each other.  Within a ten minute span.  For little to no reason.  This was fresh on the heels of reading about the shooter in Wisconsin.  What a fractious bunch of spoiled a-bones.  So many people act like they’re at the end of their rope every day.

This dude, Page, aside from the culture of hate he was immersed in seemed like your average Joe with average Joe problems.  So now all the talking heads are having the same conversation as every other time.  I’ve heard reports and analyses and theories.

Availability of guns, mental illness, social stress, interpersonal stress, economic stress, white privilege, male privilege, nobody knows.

I even heard a psychiatrist say that we’ll be better off when men get more in touch with their softer side.  [Scratching head]

He suggested therapy, treatment and medication, too.  I am not anti-medication but if you ever read the listed side effects and contraindications on antidepressants and anti-psychotic medications it will positively freak you out.  Some of the side effects include suicidal and psychotic behavior.

Then again we already know that the world is a crazy place.  We put it in the back of our minds, tucked away, but we know that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

We also know that these types of violent events send ripples across the country and the world.  Media saturation spreads ideas the way air travel spreads diseases.  They tend to happen in waves.  I hate to say it but I would not be surprised if there are a few more of these incidents in the next few weeks.

I sometimes have daymares about these kinds of things.  What would I do if I were in the midst of one of these situations.  Would I be brave?  A dead “hero”?  Would I freeze?  I don’t care how strong or fast you are.  You can’t outrun a bullet.


In high school I had a friend who became a skinhead.  Slightly awkward being that I’m black and he was, of course, white.  (Although there are black skinheads.  I think they’re more about the punk and anarchy culture.)  I never understood that.  I rode my bike past his place one day and he was sitting on his porch with his skateboard.  I stopped by to say hello and sat on the porch with him.  He stopped me mid-sentence.  He looked up and down the street and was like, “You should come inside the house.  If anybody sees me with you they’ll beat the crap out of me.”

I did get an education about skinheads.  They partied a lot and drank a lot.  Generally hated blacks, minorities and gays.  They wore Doc Martins back then and the color of the laces signified which aspect of the skinhead world they claimed:  white for white power, red for white pride, yellow for partying, pink for gaybashing.  Something like that.  That’s not right and I don’t know if that shoelace color code even applies anymore.  It was definitely a thing, though.

Who would have thought that they’d be back on the national news radar.  So now I can’t just limit my paranoia to socially awkward people I’ve got to worry specifically about racists, too?  It’s bad enough that a well-intentioned civilian with a concealed weapon could easily see me as the threat or suspicious person in their neighborhood.  Now I have to worry about rampaging lone gunmen with racial and racist issues, too?

Guess I’d better get back to training.   Gotta be able to run, jump, crawl, punch, kick, bite, lift, sprint, climb, fall, roll, slap, chop, squeeze, crush, etc.  Maybe I can talk Justin into setting up that heavy bag.

Oh wow.  I rambled.   I’m not even going to try to pull that one together.

I’ll say one more thing about this fight or flight section.  A female friend read one of these blogs I wrote talking about getting fit with hopes of also being prepared for unexpected troubles and disasters.  She said that she was at the gym and looked over and saw a strong, fit guy and thought, “If anything happened I’d want that guy to have my back.”

Then she thought that if anything happened that guy probably wouldn’t be around to help her.

I thought and wrote, “There may be a day when that guy is the reason you need help.”

I don’t believe in being afraid all the time.  I do believe in being smart.  I mean, as an individual citizen if someone or someones give you the willies or is acting suspiciously toward you listen to your instincts.  You can worry about whether you just socioeconomically/geographically/racially/ethnically profiled later.  Do your reflective introspection in the post game analysis, y’know.

Seriously, though.  There’s got to be a way for us to become more balanced as a society.  We can’t afford to be walking around like overfed oblivious sheep.  Physically docile and mentally distracted.  It’s not working for us.

Whatever you’re doing to get fit, you go with your bad self.  I don’t care if it’s just cutting out one counter-productive sugary drink a day or if it’s training for a marathon or preparing for a weightlifting competition.  Get it.  Let’s do more of it.

I’m with you.

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.


Add Yours
  1. mvhuff

    Wow. You sure pack a lot into your words. I have to admit as a word-lover and grammar nerd, I particularly like this sentence: And he sticks the landing on the preposition!
    But it’s all good. Very thoughtful and thought-provoking.

  2. garyarthuryoung

    Thanks, Mary. Good work on the breaking habits and hitting your training despite the circumstances.

    That’s quality stuff.

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