Thursday, May 5, 2011

Post 100! The First Principle, Hero of the Month

If you're a devoted reader you may have noticed that I haven't posted anything new in about 6 weeks.  The reasons are entirely personal - new job, marital separation, moving - and something in my schedule had to give way.  I don't know when or if I'll return to a 2-3 posts/week schedule, but I'll try to post as often as I can for now.

Another thing that stopped me from posting was the fact that this is the 100th entry for this blog.  I've been thinking about that milestone for a while now, and wanted to do something significant to mark it.

The problem is that I didn't have anything special to say or do.  I mean, there are topics I've been wanting to address, but nothing really special - nothing to warrant an anniversary, if you know what I mean.  I can't just post something about a recent study about salt and heart disease for my 100th post!  Or my current workout (circuits of chinups, one arm pushups, and one legged squats - surprisingly effective).  Since I couldn't think of anything momentous to cover, I wound up not writing anything at all.

Driving in this morning I realized that I could write a post about procrastination, as long as I didn't keep putting it off.  You see, the exact same psychological factors that have been keeping me from writing this post are the ones that keep many people from exercising or changing their diet.  It's all too easy for someone to want to start going to the gym or changing their eating pattern, yet get caught up in the search for the "perfect" workout or meal plan.  People read blogs, research articles, and watch videos, all from the comfort of their couch, bag of Doritos on the side table, planning their lifestyle change.

Which brings me to my friend Kathy (because apparently I have to mention Kathy at least once every 5 or so posts).  Kathy has never really been out of shape - she's never been fat or anything close to it - but a few years ago she hit a point where her youngest daughter was out of the constant-care stage (I just mean that while infants need almost constant attention, at a certain age kids are in school a lot and you don't need to spend every minute taking care of them) and she hadn't been in a structured exercise program in a while.  I'm not sure why, but she decided to take up running.

Now if Kathy were more like me she would have gone to the library and checked out half a dozen books on running, started reading a couple dozen running blogs, and logged 10-20 hours a week on YouTube watching running videos.  Instead, because she's not insane like I am, Kathy put on a pair of running shoes and a skirt and started running.

And loving it.

Within a fairly short period of time I was reading Facebook posts about the joys of the endorphin rush that accompany a 10 mile run (I get tired driving that far).  A little while later Kathy was running short races locally, and she's been turning her attention to marathons - she finished the Boston Marathon a little while ago. 

The point isn't that she's ignored training theory - she's reading a lot about running now, and putting a lot of thought into her training program, for example.  The point is that at the beginning she didn't spend six months reading and picking the perfect shoes; she put the shoes on and tried it.  Instead of possibly killing half a year prepping for something that she might not have enjoyed she just... ran. 

You know I'm no fan of running, and I have qualms about the long term health implications of marathons, but it's hard to be around Kathy and think that it's done anything but good for her health (not that she seemed unhealthy before or anything). 

I write about ways to tailor your training to very specific goals, maximizing efficiency, and stuff like that.  But designing the ultimate training program will get you far less benefit than actually doing something, even if that something isn't perfect.

The first principle of training isn't specificity of adaption, or recovery, or movement prep - it's getting off the couch.  If you're significantly overweight you might want to do something a little less taxing on your joints than jogging, but lots of chubby people have run themselves into shape anyway.  If you're out of shape - go sign up for a martial arts class.  Will the conditioning you get there be perfect?  Probably not.  Will it be significantly better than channel surfing with an occasional brushing movement to get the crumbs off your belly?  You betcha.

So in honor of Kathy, who embodies the spirit of Nike commercials everywhere, get off your ass and just do something today.  And let it be known that Kathy is my Hero of the Month.  For May.


  1. Yay, I like the Month of May!

    Thanks Joe.

    Ignorance was definately bliss for me.
    I thought all I needed was sneakers.
    After nearly 4 years of training, reading, learning, GUs, gear, racing, varied programs, varied timing devices, treadmills, and everyone's 2 cents.
    It turns out, all I needed was sneakers.

    Anyone can by sneakers or sign up for a class, just don't think so hard about.
    Make a change and live your life as you want to:)

  2. Nice post Joe. Missed you for a while.
    You must have had a lot of stress lately, job and marriage.

    Ditto on the joining a martial arts program. You'll be surprised which parts of your body can get sore from training. I was really self-conscious when I started Taekwondo at age 28... all of the students were half my age. But I had to get over it, suck it up, and do it. And here I am still doing it 3 knee surgeries and six years later.

    Keep it up.