Saturday, May 3, 2008

Was Exercising Ever So Easy?

Pictured with me is my cousin Cheri; she is the cute one on the left. My best guess is that the photo was taken some time in 1957 or 1958. Those were the days when exercising was easy, you just hopped on your tricycle or the nearest swing.

Physical education was never my favorite class regardless of the grade level. During high school, the physical education curriculum consisted of basket ball or flag foot ball depending upon the season of the year. If the spring monsoons ended early and the field dried out, we might get a couple of weeks of softball before the end of the school year. In retrospect, the limited variety in physical education was no surprise because both instructors also coached both the football and basket ball teams and these sports were a big deal back then. Yep, Mr. C and Mr. H must have spent maybe five minutes on their weekly lesson plans; all that was required was adequate inflation of the appropriate ball.

I suppose it should also have not come as a surprise when much of the class flunked the President’s Physical Test on an annual basis! The idea of a national fitness test was first put forth by President John Kennedy in the 1960s. Despite our school’s failure rate, Mr. C and Mr. H, our intrepid PE instructors, continued to drill us on the fundamentals of their chosen sports!

Fast forward to 1981, I had completed college and had been settled into my career as a forester for four years. At this point I decided that maybe it was time to think seriously about physical fitness. With this goal in mind, I joined the local YMCA and signed up for an early morning aerobics class. For nearly a month, it was an hour of nearly endless physical pain and suffering! It was also at this point that I became interested in running, but my pace was so slow, I was more of a “plodder” than a runner.

As a wannabe runner, I quickly developed a new circle of friends who were competitive runners. They would often invite me along on their daily training runs despite the fact that I clearly was not in their league and frequently slowed their pace. With the completion of the Salmon Run, a 10K run that challenged you with some of the better hills Astoria had to offer, I was finally hooked! Over the course of the next eighteen months, I participated in about a dozen 10K fun runs in preparation for the ultimate goal, a marathon.

The folks pictured below joined me for my 30th birthday fun run; it was a grueling 2K!

Logic dictates that before one attempts a marathon you need lots of training and perhaps completion of a half-marathon. To that end, a friend and I signed up for the Puget Island Half Marathon which used to be held annually in February. The course began and ended in Cathlamet, Washington while winding it’s way around the narrow county roads of Puget Island. As my memory recalls, it had to be one of the flattest courses known to man. With limited training, I forged ahead and nearly died somewhere between mile eleven and twelve. It was also during this race that I sustained a stress fracture in my left foot, thus ending forever my running career!

In the succeeding years, I have attempted to maintain a reasonable level of fitness by riding a bike or walking on a tread mill. The effort and expense of fitness has increased greatly for me since the 1950s. Now a proper workout requires the appropriate workout shoes complete with custom orthotic supports. A heart rate monitor is also a given; how else can you know if your heart rate is with in the target zone. Finally, would a workout be complete without a fully loaded MP3 player?

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