Rest for the Weary
“Consistency, not intensity” was my mantra as I walked and walked and walked for the eighteen months during which I dropped 140 pounds without drugs or surgery. I didn’t care how fast I walked. I didn’t care about the weather. I was bound and determined to do my 10,000 steps per day for at least six days per week because I was losing that weight.
My ultimate goal is to lose 176 pounds which will get me back to my plebe/freshman year weight of two hundred pounds (6’6″ tall) at West Point in 1978. In March 2013, I shifted my workout focus away from walking. I have targeted the Army 10 Miler road race in October 2013 to help me zero in on the next phase of my working out. Even though I have not run in the last four or five years, I figured that running ten miles is a reasonable goal since I now weigh considerably less, and my legs are strong from all of the walking.
Yes, sports fans, there is a proverbial however to this story. Running is not walking! I turn fifty-four years old next month. In other words, running would be easier said than done.
I began with some slow paced training runs over short distances, no more than 1.2 miles. The first few runs, albeit at a glacial pace, felt okay. My times for one mile were slower than my Army two-mile run times for record, back in the day. Then one morning, I woke up as stiff as a board. My body had tightened and knotted. The quad muscles in my thighs felt like someone had poured cement into them. My abdominal region burned with pain every time I moved. This old soldier decided to just keep running through the considerable discomfort.
No pain, no gain, right?
This past Sunday night on a run, during the last hundred yards to the finish, my legs seized up so badly that a motorist honked and yelled out the window, “Are you okay? Do you need help?” I’m sure that I appeared quite spastic to anyone who witnessed my strained stride.
For the next two days, I remained in bed, having hit the wall of exhaustion. That fatigue flummoxed me. In my past, I had done 25-mile forced road marches (fast walk-jog) under full combat load against the clock for record; yet, I was in bed after having run fewer than five miles over several days.
I telephoned Ric. I needed guidance and a shot of his a**-chewing motivation. Ric and I served in an infantry battalion together in the Army when we were both spry captains, and he’s now a retired colonel and chaplain. As my former workout buddy, he pushed me beyond my perceived limits back in Korea. Decades hence, he’s been a spiritual adviser, and he remains my workout coach long distance. Ric believes in intensity. I was expecting him to tell me to fight through the pain. Instead, Ric, the former power lifter, surprised me.
First, he recommended that I rest because I had most likely been over-training for months, especially at my age. Second, he told me to cut my distance in half and to run it without a stopwatch, taking my time. He said to run that for five days with two days of rest. Progressively add a quarter of a mile to the distance each week. Train five days, and rest for two. His recommendations essentially reinforced the notion of “Consistency, not intensity.”
When you are beginning a workout program,.be gentle with yourself. Most likely, you got out of shape over the course of years. It takes time for the body transition from an un-athletic lifestyle to a healthy one. If you can’t walk 10,000 steps quite yet, then do 2,000 consistently for five to six days per week until you can move up to 2,500 steps.
Secondly, the body needs rest in order to improve. Push your body, but listen to it. Plan some rest in order to let your muscles repair and your joints heal. Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint.
Consistency, not intensity!
God bless you,