Push-ups, Sit-ups and Sprints

When Herschel Walker was asked at the University of Georgia about his weightlifting routine, he had a curious response. He said he had never lifted a weight in his life. For those of you who do not remember Walker, he was an extremely well muscled and fast running back for the Bulldog football team in the early 80’s.

When he was asked how he got so big and fast, he responded “Push-ups, sit-ups and sprints.” He went on to say when he was a scrawny young kid of about ten, he asked a gym coach how to get bigger, stronger and faster and the coach responded with the same answer as above.

What he did not tell the young Walker is how many. So, while watching TV, Walker would do push-ups or sit-ups during the commercials. He said it got to where he was doing about 1,000 of each routine every day. Then, he would go out and do sprints until he dropped.

Walker may have been the finest high school and college football ever to play a down. When I lived in Atlanta, I saw footage of Walker in high school. It is not an exaggeration to say the majority of times he touched the ball, he scored a touchdown, often playing only 1/2 the game as the score was so lopsided. The Hall of Fame quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, said in a guest sports news appearance, wherever Walker decides to go to college, the team will be an “immediate contender for the national title.” Georgia won the national title in Walker’s freshman year and he won the Heisman Trophy for the best collegiate football player.

Walker’s pro career was successful, but he did not stand out as much as he did in high school and college. I think he came up against equally talented athletes, so the margin was smaller. His positives were his strength and speed, but pro football longevity is predicated on elusiveness as well, which he did not need as much in the amateur levels.

Nonetheless, he was a significant player. He was also very humble and polite. Let me leave you with one telling story. After his career was over, a couple was stuck in their car as it was wrecked and rolled over with smoke coming out of the hood. This large African-American man was jogging by, so he immediately went over, realized the dilemma and ripped the door open helping the couple to safety. Then he ran on once he knew they were OK.

He never said a word to anyone what he had done, until a reporter asked him about his role in helping the couple. He shyly admitted he had helped them. He was called Superman by the couple and press.

Push-ups, sit-ups and sprints. We can always better ourselves. I am not saying do 1,000 of each, but a few each day would not hurt. The key metaphor is we have the power to make ourselves better, be it through physical or mental activity. It can be as easy as doing a few push-ups or sit-ups with each commercial.

Is it thrifty or environmentally friendly

I have mentioned in the past I am both a tree hugger and capitalist. On the latter, I like to spend money wisely. But, it goes hand-in-hand with being environmentally friendly, as conserving resources is both cost effective and good for the environment.

My wife laughs at me as I will eat leftovers for several days. She will usually join in for one more meal, but she will abstain from further meals. It gives me satisfaction to finish food off. This is especially true as we as a country throw so much food away. And, I hate to throw food away.

We are also doing our best to drink filtered tap water. My wife tells folks my husband won’t let me buy plastic bottled water. She likes to tease me about things like this as many spouses do. However, I can assure you my wife won’t do anything unless she agrees with it. She understands this will keep from adding to the floating plastic in the Pacific.

We also live in an area of the city which is a couple of miles away from three shopping areas of various sizes. As I like to walk, I often will become a pedestrian shopper. It saves on gas emissions and gets me some needed exercise. And, since most car accidents occur within a mile from home, it helps me with the odds.

I mention these three things as they are easy things to do to save money and the environment.  I am sure each of us have things we could do that would save on both. What are some of your actions?

So, it is more than OK to be a little thrifty. Of course, my wife threatens me to not to turn into her mother who raised five kids on her father’s salary.

Walking, Water and Weighing

Since we are the most obese country in the world per the World Health Organization, I was seeking some alliteration to serve as a reminder of three things we each could do. Walking, Water and Weighing. Each of these things would not be difficult to do, but could make a difference.

Walking to better health has been discussed for years. As a former jogger with an up and down history of such, I have resorted to walking and hiking. It is far easier on the joints and can accomplish  many of the same benefits – weight loss, cardio-vascular work, better digestion and improved psyche by being outdoors. And, when you miss walking for a few days, it is much easier to pick back up than jogging.

Drinking more water is the one of the best diet techniques around. I am not advocating drinking water all the time, but try to drink at least a couple of glasses a day. In addition to zero calories, drinking water helps flush out your kidneys and lessens the risk of kidney stones. Plus, staying hydrated is beneficial to good health. Lastly, if you are on a budget, drinking water in restaurants and fast food places is a big saver.

Finally, know your numbers, a key one of which is weight. Weighing once a week is good to know your progress and will encourage you to get that extra walk in or avoid more fried food, bread or desserts the next week. Yet, weighing is a metaphor for knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol counts. These are two examples that can be treated with prescription drugs and better regimen.

I recognize these three things are not earth shattering revelations. But, they are three habits that can easily be implemented and will provide some benefit. Please check with your doctor, if you feel you must, and start slow with the walking.

 

 

 

 

Old bodies remind you did your chores

At the age of 57, my body is no longer one that can survive doing various chores without telling me about it. Between helping my sister with my mother’s house and doing work around my house, aches and pains are par for the course.

The last few weeks have ranged from being up on ladders to cleaning out and repairing rain gutters to crawling beneath my house and deck to figure out where water has been getting in and trying to remedy the problem. Coupling these tasks with replacing and adding a few downspout corrugated drains, has meant I have used arms, shoulders, hands, legs, back, stomach, and fanny to maneuver and do the work.

On the upside, working your fanny off actually helps to work your fanny off. I have lost a few pounds along the way, mainly from climbing up and down ladders and toting a wet-dry vacuum to and from the garage to beneath my house. On the downside, it hurts to even type this. I am getting pains and spasms from all over, in places where I did not know I still had muscles. And, that departing fanny will hurt as well as it goes.

Truth be told, I enjoy doing work like this every so often. I enjoy the smell of freshly mowed grass, which I can smell better now with an electric mower. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment, even though with water problems it may or may not accomplish the task at hand. Sitting down to watch a football game is more satisfying after you have toiled some around the house. You feel entitled to watch a game to relax.

Now, calling myself a handyman is a far, far stretch. In fact, my wife likes to do things, as well, and it is harder to stop her than just ask her what do you need. In fact, when I would go out of town while working, it would not be unusual for me to return home to something she changed while I was gone. Sometimes, she would change something and then change it back and I would only know when I saw a debit and credit from Lowes or Home Depot on our bank account. Honey, what is this from Lowes?

But, back to the old body pains. The key to relieving some of these pains is warming up and warming down. Sometimes I forget the warming down part, as I am happy to get ladders and stuff put away. Then there is my friend Advil. I usually take a preventive Advil beforehand and some later. Yet, at age 57, there sometimes is not enough to do the job. So, enjoy working around the house. Let me know what you do to make yourself less sore. What kinds of work do you enjoy?

The bane of my youth – stadium trips, line drills and gassers

People who have participated in high school sports will likely know these terms, even if they referenced them differently. While my children are more artistic and musical than me, I spent my youth on some ball field or gym floor. So, I became well acquainted with training tools known as “stadium trips,” “line drills” and “gassers.”

Stadium trips required concentration, as you did not want to fall (which I did), especially coming down. At the end of practice for cross-country or before a football season might start, we would be required to run up and down the bleachers of the stadium. If you think about most high school fields, the stadiums are fifty or sixty rows high. So, a stadium trip would constitute one run up and one run down. A coach might say do 30 stadium trips and then hit the showers, e.g. This would be a phrase you would learn to love and hate. The hate part is obvious. The love part is you knew practice would be over.

The same could be said for line drills. They usually were done at the end of basketball practice, so you knew it would soon be over. Line drills are, in essence, a series of growing sprints from the baseline (end of the court) to the closest foul line and back, then to half court and back, then to the other foul line and back and finally to the other baseline and back. The key to making good time is to slide into the line and using your hands to set yourself back up and return. It was not uncommon for the coach to make it a contest, where the winner of each line drill would get to leave the court sooner. So, the key would be to win early.

But, nothing was as bad as something we called gassers. I mentioned these before, but when training for cross-country, after running a three-mile practice run, we would rest and then end practice with gassers designed to make you faster. For my foreign readers who are on the metric system, please forgive the reference to yards. We would start with two 880s (twice around the track), then do four 440s, and finish with eight 220s. The 220s would be killers as you would round the turn and feel like someone slapped you as you finished each race. Living in Florida, I vividly recall awakening in the middle of the night to cramps in my legs, with my parents running into the room to see what was all the fuss.

So, remember these survival tips. Pay attention on the downward half of a stadium trip, slide into the lines on line drills, and drink water before and after gassers.

A few preventive health tips

As a former HR consultant and manager of benefit programs for a large company, I have been involved with health prevention and wellness initiatives dating back to 1994. The impact of early detection and intervention is huge for employees, their families and the company who may offer such benefits. In short, we are all train wrecks waiting to happen, so the sooner we can take stock of ourselves, the sooner we can begin some intervention and keep the train on the tracks.

I have written before about this topic, but do yourselves and family a favor and take some action to understand your health. In the US, we are the most obese country in the world and have been for some time. As we age, this obesity will cause us many problems. We are also the most medicated country in the world, which can be good and bad. The bad is we would prefer to take a pill rather than make a lifestyle change. And, note a pill can lose its veracity over time if the problem does not get better managed.

So, here are a few tips, even if you feel healthy:

  • If you do not have healthcare coverage, get it. You are one accident away from needing a “Go Fund Me” page. You may qualify for a subsidy under the ACA.
  • With this, get a primary care physician, preferably one within a larger practice, where the doctors and nurses can see you on Saturday or even Sunday, if something arises.
  • Know your numbers. Blood pressure, BMI, weight, cholesterol, etc.
  • Know your history both familial and geographic. The environment you grew up in can impact you as much as your family genes.
  • If in your 50s, get a colonoscopy – there is no better prevention test out there, as the doctor can fix some things during the test and confirm any future problems.
  • If a woman and in your 40s, or sooner if you have a history, get a mammogram. We ran a mobile mammogram program in the 1990s and tested 11,000 female employees or spouses. The tests found 11 cancers. The testers also showed women how to better do a self-exam.
  • Take your medicines all the way through. People usually stop taking medicine when they feel better
  • Walk, walk, walk more. If you don’t like exercise, walk. After dinner, short errands.
  • If you smoke, find a way to stop. Nothing good comes from smoking. And, for you young folks. it does not look cool. It looks stupid.
  • If you self-medicate with illicit drugs or alcohol, see a counselor or your doctor about stopping. I have not had a drink in eight years, as I was an accident waiting to happen.
  • Do not supersize the fast food and reduce the number of fast food meals. Some of these restaurants, actually have healthier options, so check them out.

There are many more things you could do, but if you do a few of these, you will be better off. Note, I am not a doctor, so please do not construe any of this as medical advice.

 

I just felt like running


In my younger days, I could do my best Forrest Gump impression and go for run. Unlike Forrest, there would not be older men looking out the window saying “That boy sure is a runnin’ fool.” And, I would not be running across country so much that interviewers would ask me why I ran. I would spare them the Forrest answer of “I just felt like running.”

My running post college was around a desire to get a collection of T-shirts, preferably long-sleeved ones, from the various 5K, 8K, 10K and 15K races. I was not into longer races and I was no threat to run a marathon. The road races came in handy as milestones to make me run to practice. “Well I better run a few weeks before, so I do not kill myself in the next race,” was the thought process. Nowadays, I am a walker and hiker. Running causes too much stress on the body, if you don’t have a regular routine, so the slower pace better suits the old bones.

Please note, the walking pace is not that much slower than the jogging pace had become. For some reason, I was a fast boy, but I think the bigger I got, the slow motion knob seemed to be turned on more. A few funny stories that my friends and I encountered illustrate the lack of speed this big, tall guy had even on his best day.

  • A good friend was jogging in a race on this woody 5K trail near where we live. He was one of the few people that was slower than me, only because I was younger. He could probably dust me today. He heard two women come up behind him nearing the end as they said “I think we can catch him.” My friend practically killed himself making sure he finished ahead of these two women.
  • In another race (a 10K), he and I had a small bet that I could finish ahead of him. He had actually goaded me into the race as he knew I was adding too many pounds. After some training, the race day came. I was ahead of him as we neared the last 1K when I heard this “Keith, I am going to catch you!” So, like he did with the two women, I practically killed myself to beat him. What I did not know he was spent when he yelled out, but he did not want me to know, so he hollered out his challenge.
  • Yet, to illustrate how slow I had become, I was running in an 8K race. The crowds got a little thicker as we neared the end. With about 1K to go, I apparently was wearing my suffering on my face, as I saw a little boy point me out to his father and say “Dad, look at him.” From the mouth of babes…..
  • In my younger days, I ran cross-country in high school. But, before you get too impressed, note I was a basketball player whose coach was also the cross-country coach, so I was obligated to be on the team. I have two memories, one funny and one painful. The painful one was running intervals (or gassers), which is running a series of sprints that went something like 2 x 800m, 4 x 400m, 8 x 200m. Living in Florida, in the middle of the night I would cramp up from the dehydration. Ouch.
  • The funny memory is about a fellow basketball player named Gary who had a unique style. He broke the 5K cross-country run into a series of sprints with walking intervals. So, I would pass Gary, then Gary would pass me. This would go on for the whole race until he tired, which usually meant I carried the day due to attrition. Yet, note we both were well back in the pack. So, my speed was indeed relative.

I actually have fond memories of the running. It is exhilarating to expand your lungs and do something. The pleasure of nearing the finish and completing the race is a great moment, even for the slowest of runners. Your only race is to finish and maybe beat a personal best time. I did run a Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta where the number of people is astounding. When the gun shoots to start the race, you stand there for about fifteen minutes until the crowd starts to move.  Just do not fall.

I also ran a 15K race where the namesake created a trust fund after he died to help keep the race going. It was called the Charlie Post Classic. I had the pleasure of finishing third from last in that race which was at Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, SC. Seaside, you learn quickly the difference between running down wind and up wind. On the latter, I was definitely in slo-mo mode. But, yes I did finish and not every one did.

So, if you see this walking fool on the trails, know he is running in his heart. Not much faster, but indeed running. Me and Forrest, Forrest Gump.