The Increment Workout Game

You know there are a few topics on the interwebs with stunningly few blog posts devoted to them.  Vasectomies, for example.  Not a lot out there on them  And at Beemsville, we’re not about to buck that trend…

Moving on to the games we play as we get older to keep ourselves motivated.  Talking workout, exercise, fitness here.  For some people it’s easy:  I’m going to start working out because…  and you list your various health and vanity reasons depending on where you’re at.  The Doc says I’m at increased risk for heart attack/diabetes.  I want to look good in my swimsuit.  I got a reunion coming up.  My friend says I’ll feel better if I’m more active.

But what if you already do a fair amount of working out as part of your routine?  What if you’re among the minority of Americans who are consistently active?  I know, I know, stop the presses and let’s all feel ridiculously proud of ourselves.

That’s when you find yourself playing the increment game.  You find something new, set some goals, do the research, and go for it.  That’s what led yours truly to running a half-marathon even though I’m not much of a natural runner.  I can’t say I particularly enjoyed those ever-lengthening weekend runs (although oddly enough, I did find myself looking forward to them) but I did enjoy the process.

Similarly, a friend from high school who hadn’t worked out in years started running at the beginning of the year.  His goals:  run a couple of 5Ks and work up to a 10K by the end of the year.  He’s on track.  Another friend wanted to see if he could maintain his moderate fitness regimen while on a juice diet (slightly insane).  Other folks I know are training for bike races, Zombie runs(!), and even marathons.

Another approach is to pick a popular workout series and see if you can do it.  You know them – they’re on the infomercials all the time, promising great results and sexy abs.  This is where we’re at in Beemsville currently, both the wife and me attempting to finish our separate programs.

The problems of aging, however, become part of the equation.  You twist an ankle and it takes twice as long to heal.  You go play hoops with the kids and strain a muscle (or like one co-worker, blow out a knee).  You have a medical procedure.  You’re out two weeks and starting from behind again.  One good friend, running that same half-marathon as me, had calf muscle problems the last month of training.  He tried to rest and stretch and run it anyway, and he ended up with torn calf muscles and months of recovery.

Father Time, damn him.  Used to be, this would really get me mad.  I have shoulder problem – broken when I was 13 and it flares ups from time to time.  When it does – no weight-lifting or upper body routines for a week of so.  I’d get angry, knowing that a week to ten days off would cost me any small gains I’d made the lat few months.

Lately, though, I’ve tried a more Zen approach to these little shortfalls.  Just tell myself it’s another increment, another goal on the horizon to work towards.  A step back, a couple steps forward.  Find a new wrinkle in the routine, something else to work towards.  If you can do this and keep active, you’re probably ahead of the vast majority of Americans.  More importantly, though, it keeps you engaged and interested in your own health and well-being, and we could all do with a little more of that in this country.


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