Thursday, February 07, 2008

Am I Really Fit?

This article from Tom Demerly of Bikesport Michigan really got me thinking about my own fitness.

I can swim farther than 90% of the population could run, I can run more than most people could even ride a bike. I can bike longer than many people have the patience to drive. It's something I enjoy and have committed myself to doing to stay healthy. I have had to build up to that type of fitness gradually. People in my office, family and among my sedintary friends consider me one of the most fit people they know.

Let's say you know someone who has a hard time doing pull-ups. Push-ups are a struggle. If he had to drag a injured person out of a burning car, adrenaline would have to take over. After a long bike ride, even wrestling an 18 pound bicycle into a car is a chore. When moving heavy furniture around the house, he always needs to stop and take breaks sooner than the person carrying the other side of the couch. Would you say that person is fit? Probably not.

Well guess what. That second hypothetic person is actually me. Do runners, cylcists, triathletes and other endurance athletes allow themselves to be too specialized for the sake of crossing the finish line sooner or going farther than they ever have before?

I guess the same can be said of many athletes who specialize in limited areas. Of the powerlifters and other gym rats who live in the free weight section, a very minute few could finish a 5k. Even fewer could even swim 100 meters. Believe me, I have seen them on the next treadmill over for barely 5 minutes, before they wander back to the weights. My favorite is when they try to race. They will look at my speed and run a mile per hour faster for a short time, then leave with their tail between their legs. That is just when I am doing a 40 minute recovery pace run. Of course, my foray over to the bench press would be a total joke, so I better not get all cocky.

It reminds me of a conversation with my friend Madre Hill. He is a former football running back who led the SEC in rushing in 1995 for the Arkansas Razorbacks, held many of their rushing records, and played 4 years in the NFL. He asked me about the distances I go in my races and workouts. I told him about some of the races and some of my typical training days. He went on and on about how he could not fathom doing what I do. It's funny he says that, because I could not fathom the weight training, getting the crap knocked out of me by a 280 lb. defensive lineman or any of the other vigors which make the NFL short career. It shocked me that an athlete of that caliber would find it difficult to do what I do for fun. The only reason I started running cross country was that I was too much of a skinny weakling to play football and I wanted a letter jacket too.

Maybe I need to go to the other side of the gym (away from the cardio stuff) and at least get fit enough to pass President's Fitness Exam.

1 comment:

swimshady said...

Very interesting. I know of some areas of my body that don't get worked in tri training that only some time in the gym could target. I've been procrastinating working on them but I think it's time for me as well. I almost commented on that thread on ST yesterday because for a long time I've thought the same thing that was said in one of the replies, which was that having kids (specifically picking them up and carrying them around) makes you a lot stronger. I've often thought that the past 5 years of carrying around kids has given me additional arm and chest strength which has contributed to my swimming. You’ll get plenty of that soon enough.