Friday, September 12, 2014

What are you training for? What can you do on demand?

When I talked about making my first 5K run in 18 years or so, I said it was a milestone for me. At first glance, maybe that doesn't make sense if you've been a runner for awhile. Maybe 5K isn't much of a challenge for you; in fact, if you look it up, you'll find that one of the main reasons 5K races are so popular as fund-raisers is that they're considered friendly to "non-runners."

But for me, being able to run 5K wasn't the whole story. What mattered more to me was that I was able to run it without a lot of specific training. It was the fact that my general fitness has reached the level where I can go out and run 5K on demand without getting hurt, without getting worn out--literally running that far for fun.

Training for life, not for an event:
That's the biggest change in my overall health and fitness goals in the last few years. I am not training for some single event anymore. I don't train to be a better football player, and I don't train to get a BJJ blue belt. I can switch that on temporarily any time I want (currently, I'm still working toward a weight goal that will allow me to go skydiving) but the real purpose is to build a body and mind that can be adapted and pressed into action for whatever athletic goal I come up with next. I looked at the people I truly envied for their athleticism, and what I noticed was that most of them were capable of doing whatever they wanted with their athletic skills. If they wanted to learn jiujitsu, they could start today. If they wanted to go skydiving or climb that tree over there, they didn't have to say, "Wouldn't it be great if I could get in shape to do that?" They were in shape . . . they were ready for their next interest to come along, even though they didn't know what it would be.

I mentioned that my fitness coach is on vacation this week. I'll be back in the gym with him tomorrow morning, first thing, but this week he was out of the office. What was he doing? He sent photos of himself riding a Flyboard in the ocean somewhere. This thing:

That is literally just a board with jets on the bottom to cause you to fly up into the air. Wikipedia says "physical strength is not important to perform the subtle control movements, but balance and coordination are important."  Translation: bench presses are not going to get you there without more well-rounded athletic training. And this thing didn't exist before 2011. I couldn't have known about it three years ago, but I also couldn't have ridden it three years ago. Today, I think I could.

What can you do on demand?
So that's where my fitness philosophy is today. Being able to get up in the morning and decide to run 5K on a whim without doing a "Couch to 5K" program or the like, that represents real fitness to me. Fitness, like shooting, is about what I can do on demand. A 5K run is not a high bar for a runner, but today, I can do it when it's time to do it, not "after I lose weight." That's a big first step for me.

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