- To be ready to run a marathon at any time. When I first started running about 4 years ago, I achieved this standard in 3 months. I'm not talking about running a Boston qualifying time. I'm simply talking about the ability to smoothly run a marathon without injury in under 4 hours.
- To be able to swim a mile. When I spent a semester at the MIT Stata Center (see my off-blog entry here) back in 2007, I swam nearly every day there. With the friendly encouragement of the lifeguard, (I don't even remember his name except he was a bit on the large side with a somewhat unforgettable Boston Irish accent and demeanor), I achieved the mile mark briefly despite horrible swim mechanics, and the real fear of having to be fished out before being able to count up to 37 laps or whatever it took to surpass the so-called "swimmer's mile".
- A third secret benchmark. Maybe I'll expand on this in a later post, but for now allow me to leave it unclarified.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Back in the groove
Several thousand years ago, the Roman poet Juvenal wrote "orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano" from which we derive that now famous quote about a healthy mind in a healthy body. For a variety of reasons, recently, I confess I have kinda let my body and fitness slide. This has become unacceptable. Not from reasons of vanity: it's not just about the physical, there is a mental cost component as well. Mentally, I've noticed I've slid a bit too. Of course, we all know there is a strictly limited number of hours available in a week. So, one of these reasons is purely a resource limitation. It's easy to crowd out time for physical recovery. I should know as a cyclist who used to train systematically with a powermeter, getting stronger is a feature of recovery, not the actual workout. Spacing the workouts out appropriately is crucial. Trying to recapture my halcyon New Jersey ping pong days of a decade or more ago, I've concluded I've gone a bit overboard. This has crowded out basic fitness. I find ping pong somewhat frantic and mentally challenging. I love a good challenge but it doesn't have that mind clearing, mental relaxation aspect that accompanies a good long run (or a steady bike climb up Mt Lemmon), where endorphins enhance and subtly flavor the rhythms of one's own body: for example, the flow of breathing while teasing up again and again against the anaerobic threshold, the sheer pleasure of the mechanics of footfall blending with a moving center of gravity. It all accelerates and relaxes at the same time, footfall eventually becoming so brief and light it almost blurs into the desert landscape. And before you know it, it's 10 kilometers or 10 miles. And you smile and you smile... Rather than attempting to wax obscurely about that state of body and mind, it is time to get real, and review and renew my basic fitness vows, to ensure that baseline I have promised myself in the past I would make time for and maintain. Simply stated: