Sunday, July 22, 2012

#411: Summer of Changes

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ― Andy WarholThe Philosophy of Andy Warhol

I've been making some changes this summer. New goals. New priorities. New approaches to my own fitness. I've changed because of all the goals I achieved in the past year. And I've made a couple of changes in response to circumstances. 

I started the summer wanting to get faster. A six and a half hour marathon is an achievement to be sure, but it sure is a long time to run. I tried adding some speed drills into my program, and started seeing some results, but somewhere along the way, I strained some muscles in my groin and they are taking a long time to mend. It was frustrating at first, not being able to run or swim without pain, but I took the injury as a challenge. Instead of holding on to my frustration, I decided to discover what I could do. 

Every Wednesday at the Y, a group of seniors gathers to walk on the Legacy trail. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed these less intense sessions, and decided to try walking instead of running. Last Saturday, while the rest of John's Striders were running the Iron Horse Half Marathon course, I joined a group of walkers who planned to cover the first half. The pace was vigorous, the conversation stimulating, and the sweat was real. By the time we finished the 6 miles, I was convinced that power walking is going to be part of my program from now on.

A slightly newer model than mine,
but you get the idea.
My $25 yard sale mountain bike has been standing in the garage for several years now. It's a steel framed beauty, a 1995 Trek 800 Sport. I knew it was a waste for it to just lie there unused, and I remembered how much I enjoyed riding it to work a couple of lifetimes ago. I wondered if the less demanding requirements of cycling would be easier on my sore muscles. After pulling the old girl out of the carport, applying a little soap, a little grease, and some new tires, I discovered that I could ride quite comfortably. I now commute to work on my bike, and the extra hour of cardio every day has helped me to break through a weight plateau where I've been stuck for quite a while. I love riding and working on this machine. Mrs P blanches at all the trips to the bike shop for tools and parts, but when she sees how much I'm saving on gas, it softens the blow a little.

MUCH tougher than she looks!
Just before the marathon, I asked Coach Carrie if she would be my personal trainer and she agreed. Before we started, she asked me what my goals were.

  • To run a 1 hour 10K
  • To build strength in my core and upper body
  • To get my Body Fat down to 20% and my weight to 240
  • To pick her brain about the art of Personal Training
Coach designs each workout with these goals in mind. Since my injury, we've been focusing more on rehab than speed, giving special attention to strengthening the muscles around the hurt ones, and gently stretching to keep my legs from knotting up, (particularly my wood-like hamstrings.) Along the way she is teaching me to use a variety of apparatus like the Swiss ball, the medicine ball, weighted bars, resistance tubes, kettlebells, TRX, and the medicine ball. From time to time, when she is giving me a correction, she'll say, "When you're training someone, you have to look out for this." She is teaching me how to organize workouts and how to help a trainee progress toward their goals. I decided to make myself her apprentice. It was an excellent choice.

I haven't been blogging much, and I don't really know why. This week, my friend Kim came back to Lexington for a visit, and thanked me for inspiring her to get fit. She's stronger, faster, and lighter than she's been in a long time. Kim told me that when she has trouble getting going, she remembers that I'm out there on the road, and it motivates her. Could any writer have a higher honor?

I resolved to be more faithful to FMR. Not to promote myself or to brag. Lord knows, my achievements aren't exactly record-breaking. But reminding people that they have the strength to keep going, to reach their goals, to exceed their hopes - that's my mission in life. I believe that's why God saved me. That's why I need to keep writing: because every now and then, someone is going to find hope in my story, and the courage to believe in themselves. What greater gift could you give to the world?


My friend Charlie is running the Chicago Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon as I'm typing this. Here's wishing him good speed, light legs, and pretty young things to hand him Gatorade along the way. Rockit, brother!

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