Sunday, May 8, 2011

Does mini-golf count?

I ask the question only because that was the sum of my physical activity yesterday. No, I'm not counting mini-golf as a workout. Maybe it would count if I were an obese man with a heart condition. Or an elderly man. But I'm far from either condition. I am above average in health for a 36 year-old. I have very little fat and I could run 3 miles or bike 50 miles or swim 2,000 yards tomorrow if I wanted to---because I have done all those things in the last 6 months. The problem is, I won't want to do any of that tomorrow. It is so hard to push myself to do more than half of those totals.

But let me stop right here with the forlorn regretfulness. I'm in great shape, and in the last 6 months I have acheived things I never thought I would do. I never thought I'd ride 50 miles on my bicycle in a single day. I never thought I'd swim 2,000 yards in an hour. Indeed, when I swam a 1,650 race in January, that was the most I had ever swam in one setting, and I had no idea I could even do that! I never thought I'd run a 5K race. It just wasn't something I ever wanted to do. But three days before the event I woke up and decided I would try.

So let me look ahead six months from now. What do I see? I will have done a sprint triathlon in June. I will have run another 5K. I will have biked another 40 or 50 miles with friends. I will be swimming 1,500 yards routinely, and my coach will probably have built me up to 2,300 yards in a single practice. Or maybe I'll do more than all this. Who knows? The message I should hold on to is that even if I fail to run a mile every morning, and even if I have to slow to 5 mph climbing a hill on my bicycle, over the longer term I will still be acheiving something great. I will even more of an athlete 6 months from now, and my body will be stronger and faster.

The only area that I actually do need to "worry" about is my gym workouts--the ones that include weight lifting, pull-ups, elastic band exercises, and abdominal crunches. I made great progress in this area in 2009, then I slacked off in 2010, and 2011 is even worse in terms of monthly weight-lifting sums. So, modifying the goals I set for myself about 12 days ago, I plan to:

Simply do some weight-lifting four days in each string of seven.  It matters not what I do on any of those days as long as I do something in the weight-lifting category. If I lift 4 days in a row, I can take 3 days off if I want. In fact, I could take 6 days off as long as I lifted during the first 4 days and last 4 days of a two-week period. That's close where I am right now. I lifted on Days #1-#4, then again on Day #10 and Day #12. To meet my new goal, I'll have to lift on Days #13 and #14. The advantage of this goal is that I will be more regular with my lifting compared to any time since early February of this year. Another advantage is that it has enough flexibility that I can do social activities on many evenings and not feel like I missed out on a workout. The most important advantage is that I think I can fulfil this goal, and sometimes exceed it. Just like the running, biking, and swimming, I need some situations where I burst forth into new territory. I want to set a new personal record in lifting frequency or weight. I am pretty sure I this will happen sometime before the end of the month.

But not tonight. My workout tonight was ordinary. I benched 105 pounds in two sets for a total of 17 reps. I did elastic band exercises for my rotator cuff (not quite healed, but close). I did 2 pull-ups. I did 22.5-pound bicep curls in two sets for a total of 23 reps. I did 8-pound lateral raises for 9 reps...and then time ran out and I had to move on to other things. But hey, this counts as a workout. It counts.

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