Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fit to be Old

News of the recent death of Mr. Fitness, Jack LaLanne, came to me via my iPhone. It was news of interest, but life for me that day continued as usual. I worked. I attended a lunch meeting. I participated in a meeting over dinner. I did not exercise beyond the necessary walking to and from my car, and the swivel from my laptop to the writing surface of my desk. I'm a fit man of the 21st Century.

Jack LaLanne, way my senior, opened his first health club in 1936, almost 20 years before my parents even considered having me as their fourth child. His influence on me in particular was a blip, a brief few encounters on a black and white television screen. However, his physique made an indelible impression on my brain.

Fast forward to 2011. Everyone, especially the Baby Boomers, wants to be fit, or at least look it. Fitness clubs abound, and before work, people are in a frenzy running on treadmills and spinning on cycles to nowhere. Meanwhile, I am enjoying my morning coffee, grateful for the comfort it gives me and the mild sweat it causes on my brow. A few calories burned.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to stay in shape. I like to run a four or five mile loop around Lady Bird Lake every now and then. I want to do it more often. I like to participate in fun runs, and I especially like being the first in the family to cross the finish line. "It's not a race," I always tell my kids. "It's a fun run." Then, I strategically use my wisdom to pace myself so I can have the speed in the end to pull out a win! As age gains its advantage, I feel like I am loosing mine in the fun run category. I must stay in shape. If Jack LaLanne could do it, so can I.

I enlisted my youngest son, Matthew, into joining me for a simple training program to add strength and speed to my running. This is the beginning of my training for the 2011 Capital 10K fun run. I pulled the "how to" from browsing through a recent issue of GQ Magazine, while waiting for a haircut.

Day one: I tell Matthew, "This training is not a race. We are running against ourselves to make us stronger and faster." He waxes me on all four quarter-mile sprints. The two-minute rests between sprints was not nearly enough for me to collect my aging thoughts about why I wanted to do this. Yet, on day three, it's me out there on my own, focused like Mr. Fitness to make the exercise fun and productive. I can do this. I can do this until I'm 96. I can do this 'til my legs fall off.

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