(I’m not entirely sure where we’re going with this post. You might find it motivational or philosophical, maybe you won’t. But somewhere in the next couple of hundred words, there may be a metaphor subtly tossed your way.)
A couple of afternoons ago, I had a crick in my neck. You know that weird combination of stiffness and discomfort you sometimes get if you sleep in the wrong position. The annoyance persisted into the evening and it rose to a crescendo the next morning.
I got out of bed, went for an un-inspired jog around the neighborhood – that helped. I fixed a breakfast of chia seed and blueberry oatmeal – that didn’t help. I took a hot shower – that kinda helped.
I was at the point where if I turned my head too far in either direction, sharp pain would ensue (A pain similar to the burning sensation on my neck brought on by a poorly applied cream relaxer back in the early ‘80s).
The time had come for a go-no go decision on whether or not I was going to make the donuts or take advantage of the ton of sick days I’ve accumulated.
Don’t ask me why, but I opted to punch the clock.
Once I arrived at the 9-to-5, A stiff cup-o-Joe washed down an over the counter acetaminophen based pain reliever and I went on with the business of my work day.
Other than moving around with the combined grace of Herman Munster and The Robot from the old Lost in Space TV show, I made it through the day with my discomfort pretty much unnoticed.
Work day finished, I made it home (Trying to avoid too many neck turns and keeping the Seoulmobile in one lane).
Another over the counter pain med, a good night sleep and another feeble run through the neighborhood and things slowly returned to normal.
Where am I going with this?
Is this simply a 51-year old midlifer complaining about the aches and pains of being a 51-year old midlifer?
Or is there a moral to this story?
That moral being that sometimes the best medicine for a little discomfort is to keep moving through it.
Yeah, I could have used a sick day and miserably languished on the Barcalounger in my footsie PJs, caught a round of Hot Topics with Wendy or try a case or two with Judge Judy, with a hot compress on my achy breaky neck, but for whatever reason, I suited up and made the donuts.
And I’m glad I did.
Hey, I’m not try to come across all tough guy, Johnny Work Ethic. I just want to convey that there is something to be said about moving – especially for those of us north of 50.
All of us from time to time have to endure a little discomfort. And when we do, we have to choose the best course of treatment.
Do we sit and suffer or take action and get up and move?
Just keep this rant in mind and do what’s best for you the next time a pain in the neck enters your life (Metaphorical mic dropped!).
How many consecutive fitness related posts does one have to draft before one is considered a fitness blogger? I don’t think this post – my second fitness related post in as many weeks – will put me anywhere near that threshold.
Here’s where the additional thought kicks in (Ironically a thought that entered my noggin in this morning’s predawn hours during a run).
Because I still haven’t conquered those lazy sleep in and do nothing physical demons, I took a couple of days off after having run 30 straight days. This morning was my first real run since completing the Challenge early last week. Surprisingly, I completed a run that was a whisper away from the four mile mark without too many aches and pains. A couple of laps around the roundabout down the street (That’s a traffic circle to you non-southerners) would have gotten me there.
Apparently, my body was positively impacted more by the 30 consecutive days of activity than negatively impacted by the 3 or 4 days of laziness.
I have a buddy who is an avid golfer, and he once told me about a similar experience that occurred with him. He had just come off of a period where he played little to no golf, but when he returned to the course, he played better than ever. I said to him that it must have been good muscle memory.
He bristled at this notion.
He said, correctly, that our muscles don’t experience memories. What they do experience is conditioning. If you perform certain tasks or exercises over a period of time the muscles you use will become conditioned, so even if you stop for a brief period of time, the muscles maintain a certain level of conditioning.
Such was the case this morning.
Running (walking, shuffling and crawling) 30 straight days helped condition my muscles (legs, heart, lungs and whatever other muscles come to the dance during a run) enough that I was able to perform pretty much at the same level after a couple of days off.
This was a refreshing change from those periods where I’d run for a few days and stop. Then when I’d get back into it, I’d pay the price with aches and pains from my head down to my feet, and sadly I wasn’t hot, sticky sweet (Sorry, I felt compelled to shoehorn a Def Leppard reference in that paragraph).
Once again (and for the last time, because wringing out a third post gushing over completing the 30 Runs Challenge would simply be overkill), I’m really pleased with myself that I completed the Challenge, and even though I could take a day or two off and still make it around my neighborhood without medical assistance, I don’t intend to. I’ll see you out there tomorrow morning!
So often on social media, we’re invited to Like this, Pin that, Download this or Follow that. More often than not, I tend to ignore these invitations.
This was not the case with an invitation I received about a month and half or ago. I was invited to participate in the 30 Runs in 30 Days Challenge. This was a Facebook activity where participants were challenged to run, walk or bike at least two miles per day (Longer for bikers) daily for 30 days.
As I said, I – like most of you – receive invitations for various activities on the social media platform(s) of your choice, but unlike joining in the latest social media game or liking a celebrity’s fan page, this actually required some action on my part.
No, the hardest part of the challenge wasn’t knocking out two miles a day (Even though I’m not a daily high-impact cardio kind of guy – not since the days of my old Reebok Pumps, circulation-threatening bicycle shorts and STEP classes). It was being accountable for knocking out those two miles a day.
On a side note, these soon to be 51-year-old joints held up pretty nicely running, walking or a two-mile (sometimes more) hybrid of the two over the past month. Even though the challenge is over, I plan to keep this up. As a result, I dropped a couple of pounds and I’m noticing the old trousers are a pinch looser.
Sorry, I digress.
I didn’t know, nor did I have any personal relationship with any of the couple of hundred or so other participants in the challenge, still I felt a strong sense of responsibility not to let them down by failing to complete what I set out to do.
It’s so easy to say “I’m going to do (FILL IN THE BLANK),” but when you have people who will hold you accountable for completing a task, it becomes a real challenge, and when you complete that task, the satisfaction is much more meaningful.
I know a little something about accountability because I work in a very deadline-driven environment at the ol’ 9 to 5, and in all modesty, on the job, I’m pretty accountable, but in my non-work pursuits my discipline and resolve aren’t as strong (Which is why I still struggle with delivering consistent posts to these pages).
Hopefully completing this challenge will help turn that around.
To my fellow 30 Runs in 30 Days Challenge participants, congratulations, and thanks for keeping me in line these past 30 days!
There’s a stray dog roaming the neighborhood. I got to keep my eyes out for him. Around 5:45 that white Camaro is going to be speeding by. I’d better keep my ears open. The municipality is screwing with the fire hydrants again so there’s likely to be a puddle of mud on that corner near the front of the subdivision.
Above are just a few of the thoughts that most mornings – pardon the pun – run around in my head as I’m running around my neighborhood.
This isn’t the case when I run on the treadmill. On the treadmill, I just stare at the wall on the opposite side of the basement. Don’t get me wrong, there is a thought process to treadmilling (My newly made up word of the day). You have to send some brainwaves down to your legs so they’ll keep pumping and so you won’t go flying off the back off the treadmill like fresh mulch shooting out of a chipper.
You’re listening for cars rolling up behind you. You’re watching out for cracks in the pavement, puddles or anything else that could break your stride – or something more important if you tripped.
You’re thinking, not of an LED display in front of you, but the half mile you have remaining once you turn the corner by that nice house that they just can’t get to sell.
I enjoy working out in my make shift basement health spa, replete with my Denise Austin resistance bands and my vintage “The FIRM” VHS collection, but it’s an entirely different experience when I can get outdoors.
In my basement, the flush of the toilet two flights above washes out the greatest hits of the 80s queued up on my Pandora feed while I’m running up an incline. Outdoors, I hear Bill Conti’s horn section punctuating one of the greatest movie themes Gonna Fly Now as I channel my inner Balboa running up the Philly Art Museum stairs with these 50-year old hinges I call knees creaking their way up the one remaining hill – over by the clubhouse – that stands between me and a nice hearty bowl of oatmeal, flax seeds and blueberries with a splash of almond milk (That I wish was a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit).
Yeah, I was thinking a lot this morning. About 430 words worth that by now you’re probably tired of reading.
I’ll be out there again tomorrow. I doubt I’ll get another blog post out of my run. Maybe I’ll just be thinking about avoiding the mounds of poop left by that aforementioned stray dog.
My grandmother used to swear by her horoscope. I have vivid childhood memories of her reviewing the daily astrological predictions. She wouldn’t stop at her forecast. She’d review the family’s daily prognostication and that of any neighbors who might have happened by for a morning cup of coffee.
Even as a kid, I never took those predictions too seriously. Even though – I must admit – over the years I did continue to check in from time to time on what the stars had in store for me.
Now, since I get most of my daily news digitally, I don’t have get much of a chance to check in on my daily foretelling – at least not in the same manner and format as my grandmother’s daily practice.
Except on Sunday.
The Sunday paper is the only old school printed paper I still read from cover to cover – even though any breaking news I’ve likely been made aware of hours before on my trusty mobile communications device (My views on print vs. digital news distribution and absorption might serve as the topic of a future conversation).
Yes, part of my Sunday paper ritual is a review of the daily horoscope. Please forgive the lengthy set up, but this is why we’re gathered here today.
I’d like to share with you some thoughts on the forecast I received this morning.
Today’s horoscope said (paraphrasing) No one likes the know-it-all until the time comes when no one else seems to know anything.
No, I’m not suggesting that I am that know it all referenced in today’s mystical prediction. It may simply be that I’ve been in situations where things grind to a halt because no one is willing to step up and take action (I might be Viennese Waltzing my way around my editorial policy against matters too close to the 9 to 5, so I think I’ll pump my brakes just a bit).
I found today’s horoscope quite appropriate on the fourth day of a new year. We can’t be afraid to take action – even if it means being branded a know it all. Stepping up and trying to help solve a problem or accomplish a task is often a better alternative than siding with those who favor stagnation, indecision and inaction.
To borrow and paraphrase the Bard, The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.
This isn’t the post I had queued up for the first day of the New Year. That post is a pretty decent one, but it can wait.
Instead, I’d like to tell you how much I enjoyed a truly special New Year’s Eve. It didn’t involve putting on my cool threads and my high-heeled sneakers. There was no cork popping. In fact, I didn’t even watch Dick Clark, um, I mean Ryan Seacrest’s Rocking New Year’s Eve.
I spent New Year’s Eve and several hours into the first day of the year helping someone very close to me go through some things.
Please forgive me for being unable to go too deeply into the specifics. The story of this person and what this person is going through is a personal one and as close as you and I are, it’s not something I can share at this time.
If you’ve been paying attention to these pages, you might have heard me allude to this matter in a previous post.
If last night was indicative of the kind of year the fates will deal me in 2015, I couldn’t be happier.
Because last night and during the wee hours this morning, I was provided me an opportunity to help, an opportunity to care, an opportunity to – for just a few important hours – make a difference.
And if I can be this useful over the upcoming 364 days, it is going to be a great year.
I think it was Gandhi who said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not lobbying for a gold star or a blue ribbon or even a pat on the back.
The only reward is the one I’ve received. That is a warm feeling of usefulness and satisfaction in knowing I was able to help someone make it through the night.
I don’t feel deprived for having missed the ball drop or not sipping a glass or two of the grape at midnight.
I’m celebrating now.
As I said earlier this isn’t the rant I intended to post today. Resting on my hard drive is a rant about some of my 2015 goals. Sadly, none of those goals have anything to do with anyone other than myself.
That’s right. My goals are all about me. After last night, I’m beginning to realize how wrong I’ve been for thinking that way.
I may need to amend those goals to ensure that at least one of my New Year objectives focus on someone other than myself.
What a powerful resolution we all might consider making. Not losing weight, not saving money, not learning macramé, but simply resolving to make a difference – even temporarily – in someone’s life.
Oh, and by the way, just because the previous 400 or so words are taking on a serious tone doesn’t mean I’ll be ignoring my useful light-hearted take on life in the middle ages.
Finally, we did crack open the bubbly, and as I raised my glass, I made a quiet toast in honor of entering a New Year where I can hopefully be of service to others.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been rereading a great book by Charles Duhigg. You may have seen it. It’s called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
Part of Duhigg’s argument is that once we can accept that habits – good and bad – can be changed, it’s easier for us to take responsibility to change the good and improve upon the bad.
As that’s where I am today – a belly full of Thanksgiving and a guilty conscious as a result of falling short of maintaining a good habit and instead taking on a bad one.
I’m talking about what was once a pretty frequent 4 to 6 day a week workout schedule that has sadly slipped to zero to 1 time a week.
We’re all friends here and since we’re all about full disclosure at the Chronicles, I don’t mind turning over a stone or two and letting the creepy crawlies run out.
I have been woefully slacking when it comes to dragging my carcass out of bed for my daily workouts.
It would be too easy to fall back on any variety of excuses. Let’s see, there’s work, a recent (short lived) spat of cold weather, a scratchy throat, sore feet, a gassy stomach, the moon in Aquarius – stop me when you’ve heard enough.
The part that sucks about not working out is how hard it is to get back in the proverbial swing of things – that good habit I spoke of earlier.
Being in the middle ages, on a good day, it takes this 50-year old body an extra minute or two to get warm and loosened up for the task at hand, but when I’ve been inactively perched on the shelf for more than a week having fallen prey to the excuse trap, it becomes even more of challenge to get the blood flowing and the muscles moving.
I like to run, and when I’m consistent, I can run well. When I stop for a few days, nay weeks, I find that I have to start all over again. Those 3 to 4 mile runs divert back to achy 1 mile walks – which ain’t bad, except when I’m consistent, I know I can do better.
As I guy who prefers to focus on solutions rather than harping on problems, I am committed to remedying this tedious situation.
No longer will the joy of sleeping in an extra 90 minutes outweigh the benefits of getting my arse out of bed and in the gym or on the road, because if I don’t I will begin to seriously outweigh my wardrobe.
I don’t like to beat myself up – physically or mentally – after all, I’m the only me I have. But I have to admit, I’ve gone soft on holding myself accountable – nearly as soft as my squishy cream-filled middle.
Thank you for allowing me to vent, and I’ll see you bright and early in the tranquil predawn hours grasping for that last rep in my swank basement gym or huffing and puffing my way in a less than attractive trot through the bucolic streets that surround Casa de McCullough.
That’s it. No deep philosophical take aways or clever quips as we wrap up this post.
It’s simply man in the mirror time, and that man is a little chunky.