Have you ever had an exercise program that just didn’t work because it didn’t feel good, it didn’t accomplish what it was supposed to, or it was something inconvenient you’d have to do for the rest of your life in order to maintain the results? Frequently, the actions we’re told will help us improve turn out to be the very things we avoid because they’re unpleasant, and in some cases even injurious.
My first experience with learning to racewalk typified this. The drills and techniques I practiced led to a disabling hamstring pull. However, my second attempt two years later, using the very same exercises, resulted in great success. How could this be?
On October 26, I successfully racewalked the 39th Marine Corps Marathon. Actually, in my own terms, much more than successfully. On race day, I was certain that I could meet the pace requirement for the first twenty miles, but just barely. To my astonishment, I completed that distance twenty minutes faster than I ever expected. Overall, I finished the race in a very respectable time, and I had lots of energy and no significant pain or injury at the end. To say that I am proud of my achievement would be an understatement, not just because I had such a good race, but because I met all my goals.
How many times do you suppose this question gets asked every single day? For me, it wasn’t only an issue of vanity, that is, whether or not I appeared ironically out of shape in my technical gear, or just looked older because of a protruding belly and rounder face.
For years, doctors and nutritionists had urged me to lose twenty pounds for all the well-documented health reasons. So, because it sounded like a good idea, without any genuine enthusiasm I would follow their suggested meal plans for a while. Then I’d stop because I felt fine, my clothes fit me well enough, and my extra fat kept me warm in the winter. Like most people who perceive no immediate danger, I regularly opted for second helpings and dessert instead of responding concretely to the abstract, eventual threat to my well-being.