Is exercise worth it? Be more productive.

Have you ever wanted to perform physical feats that leave others stating, “I could never do that?”  I’m here to tell you its possible, your body is a lump of clay moldable into whatever shape your effort and commitment will allow.

I’ve performed a few such physical feats and yet at one time or another, each one of those activities sounded completely out of reach.  There was a time in high school where I considered running anything more than a mile to be extraordinary.  I once ran to a friend’s house, just to see if I could do it, he lived less than a mile away, and I was there within a few minutes.  My friends, knowing both the location of my residence, and the location of the present gathering seemed stunned by this feat of endurance, or possibly they just thought I was an idiot.

Why waste such physical energy, when you could consume energy created long ago by now dead organisms?  (Don’t worry, today I’m not writing to express my displeasure with motor vehicles.)  At my present stage in life, running a mile is only a noteworthy feat, if I’m trying to run it in less than 5 minutes, which I’ve done twice in the past year!

This explosion of sustained speed and energy output is regarded with amazement by those who are slower than me, but is barely noticed by those who are faster.  Sadly, plenty of individuals reside in the ladder category, allowing me to always feel as if I’m a member of the former.  That however, is the best part, everything is relative to your past experiences and your peers, allowing everyone the possibility of achieving physical notoriety.  Just choose your friends wisely.

In order to transform the unreachable goals into something pedestrian and mundane, you simply have to put in the time.  At some point after college, maybe around age 23 or 24, I decided I’d like to become a cyclist.  All the lycra and shaved legs seemed to suit me just fine.

One of my first rides, took place with a buddy, and we traveled about 12 miles at what I would now consider preposterously slow speeds.  I had no idea when to shift, or what gear to be in, I spent most of the ride pushing very hard to turn the pedals at clock like speed.  My legs burned from the start.

Slowly, I gained knowledge and experience, although not enough of either, leaving me open to rash decisions.  One such decision resulted in another event that features prominently on my athletic resume.

I, along with my brother in law, cycled from Lancaster, PA to Ocean City, MD, our route allowed us to experience 155 miles of countryside.  The ride took a little over 12 hours including our stops and allowed for an interesting roller coaster of emotions and physical pain.  The day started nice with cool temps and sunny skies.  Soon however, we were riding through a thunderstorm, we were soaked, and with no available shelter, we simply tried to ignore the lightening.

Eventually we traveled around Dover, DE and ate everything a McDonalds had to offer.  From this point onward, we received an automobile escort as we enjoyed the shoulder of 4 lane drag strips.  One thoughtful Neanderthal thought we looked thirsty and threw us a cup of liquid, which exploded in the grass, leaving us jealous of the local ant population.  Soon the traffic migration was too much for the roads, allowing us to pass thousands of cars, I would have felt smug, except by that point I felt nothing but pain, in my back, neck, and wrists.  After that, our worries subsided and we plotted past scrubby pines as the lights and towers of Ocean City gradually came into focus.

Compulsive exercise has lead me on some interesting adventures, but most importantly it has improved my productivity in life.  Sure, when first starting out, exercise is an energy sapping chore, your body becomes sore, you want to eat and sleep more, and it’s easy to spend the afternoon on the couch after overdoing the morning session.

After a few weeks, an interesting transition happens.  Suddenly the body begins to recover and adapt, muscle soreness becomes a mild badge of honor, your appetite levels off, and the body craves quality food.  At night, you sleep immediately upon laying down, and maintain this state until morning.  Your daily tasks begin to take on a feeling of ease.  Lawn work is a breath of fresh air, eliciting almost no bodily response, when carrying laundry, you are limited by your ambition and the ability to stack dirty clothes ever higher in the basket, the weight is no longer relevant.  Your child tires long before you, allowing for maximum play and napping time.

Your focus increases as your daily aches and pains subside due to better posture and muscle balance.  Sitting in a chair for long stretches is something you don’t enjoy, not because of discomfort, but rather your body and mind crave movement.

Within the next few weeks I plan to introduce an 8-week training program that I will follow to reboot my fitness level.  I’ve taken most of September and October off to focus on coaching soccer.  Do you have a dream of completing something crazy like a 155-mile bike ride?  Or do you simply want to better enjoy life, while getting a good night sleep?  Start by creating some goals and spending 30 minutes a day being physically active, then join me on an 8-week fitness reboot.

My goals include reducing my bike commute time from 60-65 minutes to 50-55 minutes which would require me to ride 17-19 mph.  Also, next summer, I’d like to run the Harrisburg mile in under 4:30, this past year my time was 4:41.  I’d also like to develop more explosive power, which should increase my speed to improve me mile time.

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