I have to go from ground zero to square one… and then to square one hundred. In less than nine months!
I should’ve chosen to run a marathon just like everyone else when they hit midlife. Or perhaps get into videogames: pickup The Legend of Zelda where I left it in 1990 and finish the entire series (Wikipedia lists 17 games as of 2016). But instead I’m choosing the most grueling training camp in the world. This I was thinking in the middle of a 14-mile hike in the Santa Monica Mountains last weekend.
There’s plenty of time to wander into futile and vain introspection during a 14-mile hike, and I began thinking of what I had going for me (the pluses) and what I definitely did not have in my favor (the minuses). Then I thought it would be a good idea to write everything down. Set my baseline, my ground zero.
It was easy to come up with the minuses, but very hard to think about the pluses. It’s always the same.
The Pluses +
- Access to nature year-round: I live in Los Angeles, there are countless hiking trails starting five minutes from my house, the beach is 20 minutes away, and winter never comes here.
- Access to resources – nutrition, fitness center, personal trainer, gear and equipment: yep, fortunately I have enough disposable income. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to use “lack of material resources” as an excuse.
- Stable and predictable job: solid 8:00AMs to 6:30PMs as a finance guy, which leaves room for a good hour or two for fitness experiment guy.
- Not much travel: about four one-week trips per year for work and two 10-day trips for fun; that’s it, nothing crazy.
- 20+ years of gym experience: I walked into a gym when I was 16 and never stopped; of course I’ve been doing everything wrong but still count this as a plus. I’m an optimist.
- Willpower and focus: well, we shall see. Everybody has willpower until they lose it.
The Minuses –
- Zero cardio: in my almost three decades of exercising, I’ve never, ever done any cardio because “cardio is for fat people” (that’s idiot me thinking).
- Zero core strength: “core and ab workouts are for fat people” (me thinking again).
- Zero flexibility: my hamstrings, hips, obliques, chest, etc… even my hands and forearms are tighter than Kramer’s jeans. I’ve tried passive stretching exercises several times with unnoticeable results.
- Kyphosis: my worst everyday daymare. I’ve had bad posture (rounded shoulders) since I was a kid. I never tried to correct it and now I’ve come to realize that this is the culprit of many of my issues with lack of flexibility, range of motion, and self confidence. There are various exercises that I cannot perform with proper technique due to my kyphosis: front squats, military presses, other… This sucks big time but I want to believe that I can fix myself. Don’t laugh at me 🙁
- Greek toe, a.k.a. Morton’s toe: my second toe is longer than the big toe. I don’t know if this is indeed a minus but what I do know is that I should be prepared to lose my toenails during the 26-mile night hike.
- Low endurance: since I’ve never trained for endurance, I get cramps if I exercise for more than three hours straight. It happened when I played tennis in my teens, when I realized I had to get to the rim of the Grand Canyon before sunset, and just last weekend on mile 12 of the Big Sycamore Trail.
- Zero range of motion: see kyphosis above. My shoulders refuse to let my arms stay straight above my head. How am I to survive log PT?
- “Healthy eating is for fat people”. I used to drink five cans of Mountain Dew per day and eat fast food all the time. Fortunately I already stopped doing that over a year ago. So, not really a minus.