Life Is Not a Marathon…Thank God!

Marathoners Need Family Support!We arrived Saturday morning around 5:45 am, parked and were getting our gear together when a man parked beside us, and the first thing I noticed was his bumper sticker:

“Marathoner: 50 states + DC”

He had reason enough to be proud of it, so I asked him the obvious question, “Does this mean you have done a marathon in all 50 states and DC?” And his obvious response was, “Yes, and I liked 16 of them enough that I gave them another shot.”

Wow! If I am counting right, that’s 67 marathons.  I know the time and commitment that I had to put into finishing my first, so I can’t even fathom 67!

It was striking to me what I noticed about him, though.  He didn’t look any more in shape than other active men I know in their late 60’s or 70’s.

He actually didn’t look that great at all!

Although thin, he couldn’t stand erect and had very limited flexibility in his knees.  I also quickly noticed that he showed up completely alone with no one to support him.

This gave me some instant perspective.

Marathons Make Great Fitness Goals…

Completing a marathon is a phenomenal accomplishment, and I am so proud to have finished and met my goal time.  I also am very thankful for my extraordinary wife who supported my goal by keeping the kids alone at times and sacrificing some time together so I could train.

Finishing would have been so empty if my wife and daughters weren’t there to catch me when I crossed the line.

I tell many of my clients that when starting a goal to lose weight or to get in shape that they should sign up for some climactic event like a 5k, 10k, or Sprint Triathlon.  This will push you to train on days when you don’t feel like it, and it will make you push hard on those days when trying to make a certain time.

We really need to realize, though, that as amateurs lifelong fitness should be our ultimate goal and not how many events we can complete.

Great overall fitness will preserve those precious extra years with our loved ones and prevent the diseases that plague people who are careless with their body.

…But Life is Not a Marathon

I know you have heard the mantra, “Life is a marathon, take your time and pace yourself.”

After completing my first marathon, I want to challenge that statement head-on.  I don’t want my life to be anything like a marathon!

I am so proud of completing it, but I never want to put myself through that again.  Excruciating pain, dehydration, cramps, fatigue, blisters and soreness.  Does this sound like anything you want your life to mirror?!

I want my life to be more like a series of short sprints.  All-out effort for a period of time and then a short vacation or a time for reflection.

People that treat life as a marathon, just trudging along, tend to characterize their life as mundane, boring and unrewarding.  The training sessions I enjoy the most are the ones that require bursts of extreme effort and then a minimal rest period to get ready for the next one.

Studies show that this type of training actually makes your heart stronger than longer sub-maximal efforts.  Taking this approach in your fitness regimen can make a great impact in your relationships as well, because you will get maximal gains in your body image and fitness levels in a shorter amount of time.

Workouts That You Can Do For (a better) Life

I know this first-hand after spending last week at the IMG Sports Performance Institute in Bradenton, Florida.  The most elite athletic performance trainers in the world put myself and colleagues through the same workouts they send their professional level athletes through.

One morning, we only performed a total of 6 minutes of maximal efforts, and this marathon-ready athlete left crawling out of the gym.

They also reminded me that your life requires a maximum effort.  Give it all you’ve got and then look back, reflect, make your adjustments, look forward, and go again.

Many of these workouts you can do at home!  Try some of these this week and let me know how it goes.  Make sure you warm your body up well by doing some light multi-joint movements and then get yourself into an intense mindset to attack your body.

Stairs: Use the stairway in your house as built-in equipment for maximum fitness gains.  Your goal is to see how many sets of stairs you can complete in 60 seconds.  Up and back down the stairs counts as one repetition.  After the 60 seconds is complete, rest for 2 minutes, then go again for another 60 seconds.  Do this 5 times.  If you keep the 2-minute rest periods, this workout should only last about 15 minutes.

Upper/Lower Complex: No equipment required.  The challenge of this workout is to see how many rounds of Push Ups & Squats you can complete in 2 minutes.  One round consists of 10 push ups and 20 deep squats.  Once you complete the 10 push ups, go immediately into your 20 squats.  When you have completed the 20 squats, that counts as one round, then go into the next round of push ups.  Continue this for 2 minutes to see how many rounds you can knock out.  After the 2 minutes is up, rest for 2 minutes and repeat.  Do this complex 3 times, and you will have put in a total of around 12 minutes and you will feel it the next morning!

Shoulders/Core:  This one will make you call your masseuse.  Begin by getting into a plank position, elbows on the floor with back and legs straight and firm.  Hold this position for 60 seconds then come to your feet.  Now bend at the waist so that the chest is parallel to the floor and reach your arms straight out laterally so that they are now parallel to the floor, thumbs pointing up.  Make sure to retract your shoulders and hold that position for 60 seconds.  Once completed go back into the plank and begin the set again.  Complete 5 of these sets and you will have pushed yourself a grand total of 10 minutes, but you will have felt like you’ve been there all day.

Remember, the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.  Go hard, give it your best, & never quit on yourself.

This applies in your workouts and in your life.

Coach Nick

What’s the biggest event you’ve ever trained for and how did it impact your life?  Share in the comments!


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  1. […] of changes in your life. Perhaps you just want to do one thing, like lose some weight, be able to run a mile without feeling winded, or show your spouse that you love them each day. Each of these can be […]

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