By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
April 7, 2016
There was a pretty funny moment at least weekend’s Tucson Heart and Stroke walk. For all those included, the whole thing was pretty funny for me, but it was especially hilarious considering I donned one of the most ridiculous outfits I could ever imagine wearing for my annual heart run. You see, the family typically puts together a little garage sale to drum up some money for our team, and we had some items that weren’t exactly quite popular. Namely, a giant “Angry Birds” costume. You remember them? Right? the game that millions of people started playing and couldn’t get enough to. It was the kind of game that random people could become good at and enraged hardcore gamers who felt their stranglehold with Black Ops and other random first person shooter games was being threatened. And I just sat back and watched the silliness, never mind the fact all were wrong in this instance and Mega Man was clearly the best character and game series of them all. Anyway, the costume was going to be sent to the St. Vincent de Paul Society and everyone felt that would be a bad idea to donate to them. I mean, seriously, what would they need a bad costume for? Well, my family goaded me into taking the outfit, and I was ultimately goaded into actually running in the thing.
Now, it is not like the costume was heavy or anything, but it ultimately served a major challenge to my running. The arm holes were quite low and I would have to run with my arms in a lower swinging manner. I couldn’t get my darn Camel Pack on in a comfortable manner, so I opted to run without it. Strangely enough, the head piece that kept my head in the “head hole” was uncomfortably contorting my neck in an uncomfortable position. And last but not least, the sun was coming up, and who knows how hot it would get in that darn thing. Unlike in year’s past, I was pretty darn invisible, but this time around, just about everyone wanted a piece of me. Some people took photos with me and would ask me about my motivation, allowing me to quip “I’m angry about Heart Disease!” (I constantly forgot the “stroke” part) Kids were the most intrigued, for I was probably one of the largest people they had yet to see and I was dressed as an Angry Bird, a game they probably played since they were toddlers. Just about every child under the age of 10 seemed to flash a smile at me. So yeah, the attention was pretty nice and rather cool, but I knew this year’s run would be a hard one. First of all, I didn’t start at the front of the line, and thus got caught behind some people. And it was made all the tougher considering the route was changed this year, where people went up the path going east as opposed the path that went the opposite direction. I mention this slight change because going east on 22nd heading toward Alvernon here in Tucson has a slight uphill grade, and is actually tougher to traverse. But I ran it anyway, charging pretty hard in that direction. This year, there were some new faces that were trying their own “Heart Run,” and I kind of made it my own little competition to beat them, and the first three people that were running the full park route were a cinch to overcome. But it was the first guy at the head of the pack that gave me the problem. He was quite the runner, complete with a decent water pouch, compression socks and even his dog (you know you are hardcore when you bring your dog with you!).
It was kind of funny trying to keep up with him, for we played tag a couple times along the near four-mile route. He had to stop to give his dog water, and then I passed him. His wife called him on his phone to ask him something, and then I passed him. Now the guy (his name was Travis) was way faster than me, and still passed me regardless….but all throughout the race I kind of used him as a gauge to what I needed to do. I averaged 8:52 per mile during that run, logging in just under four miles in roughly 35 minutes. I was pretty happy with myself, for I was not used to running such a speed, even for such a short distance. It was also ironic that I actually got to meet the guy when I went searching for my still walking family. He was talking to my aunt while he was walking with is wife, and we instantly recognized each other (I mean, I was running in an Angry Birds costume!). Now Travis was a far superior runner to myself, but he still dropped a couple compliments my way considering it was a little windy and the heat running north on Alvernon was quite treacherous (no shade!!). While he talked about his upcoming 100K race and the history of heart disease in his family, I kind of wondered….will this be me in a few years? Now of course, I have no desire to run a 100K race at the moment, but then again, I never really had the desire to become a vegan….much less run in an Angry Birds costume (trust me, women were involved! hehe). But this little moment in time did speak volumes about myself. If anything, I still love a good challenge and I still need to keep improving.
Right now, I am kind of challenging myself a lot of weird ways. First of all, I have been running…a lot. While my increments are barely a shade over 30 minutes, I have running just about every day and keeping a nice track of the progress. In the span of 18 days, I will have run a good 14 times. Even if you don’t think that is impressive, that is still 45 miles! And then throw in the fact I am getting back to the gym, putting in a couple workouts a week. I even started a couple of challenge groups in the process, looking to make April a very sore and busy month for me. I joined a “Core” challenge group to start working the core, utilizing a lot of sit-ups to help get me in the grove of the movement. Plus this might help with the aggravating problem of my stomach fat. Then for some odd reason, I joined a group that would force me to really work my glutes, for I obviously have a real problem with my flat butt! (haha!). But all seriousness aside, doing these kinds of things will certainly help me not just in the short run, but also the long run. Let me explain.
You see, the best part about that little competition I had with Travis was the fact he too was thinking the same thing. As we talked about 100K races and such, he joked that he got a little peeved when I passed him both times. “I was talking-to my wife on the phone and then saw you pass me again…and I just said Awww honey, can’t this wait.” He ultimately passed me again, but he had to hoof it to catch up with me, even though I was running on fumes at the moment. Either way, this creates a little microcosm of my life right now. I have to find some form of competition to keep my fitness up. The two challenge groups I am in are more or less a side thing, but the little running excursion for myself is something completely different. I eluded to the idea that I was going create a little challenge system for myself down the line, one where I do so much work in the span of a certain number of days and then try to surpass that number when I decided to take on the challenge again. right now, I don’t recommend you try running all the time like I do, but I do recommend you seek out some kind of challenge for yourself. Take my Tuesday workout for example.
Now, the stuff I did on Tuesday was nothing complex, but it was going to be a challenge for me. I had already been through a long workday, and my body was a little drained due to the lack of rest I had had during the day. But that didn’t really stop me, even if I did go light on most of my workouts. Jon wanted me to keep the work simple, doing some hang cleans/front squats to start the day off. I didn’t go heavy, but doing 135 can still wear on you if you have had a long day at work. I moved on to the toughest of the workouts that day…the deadlift. I was only doing 225 pounds, but considering all the lifting I had done at work, my hands were pretty much shot. The only thing I really feared was losing the bar and getting embarrassed in front of all the people at the gym (there isa bit more of a crowd at night!). I will attribute my success to the first two movements to the fact I had some PHOD Bites before the workout, but a lot of it was just pure grit and determination on my part. I finished the workout with some overhead push presses, fully extending the weight over my head each and every time. And then I did my heaviest set of barbell rows to date, doing 155 pounds the process. While most people would call that a night, I was kind of stupid.
Instead of going home and letting my poor pups out of the house, I decided to do a quick run around Reid Park’s short loop (which is just a shade under three miles). I was thinking of blowing off the run, but I decided it would be a crazy idea to test myself, considering all of the leg workouts I had done. Despite the legs not working to my liking, I still churned out 3.36 miles at an 8:56 per mile pace, pretty good! I was pretty darn happy with myself, for their were times n the past where I couldn’t even finish the loop after doing labor intensive leg drills. But that is part of the life I am trying to engage in. This is what it means to challenge yourself sometimes and go through with what is in your mind. Now I honestly felt like not going for a run after Parsons Training, but something just compelled me to do so. So yes, I was pretty happy with the fact I survived a little something I thought was a bad idea. Trust me, when you don’t have your bandanna and your Camel Pack, trying out something crazy like running a few miles after a workout may seem crazy….but that is just the kind of man I am.
So what I am getting at is always seek to challenge yourself, even if the circumstances may seem silly. Trust me, they won’t be if you find out there isa must craziness associated with it. I found it rather funny at the end of the Tucson Heart and Stroke Walk when a couple women came up to me and asked me how I was ablate run in the hot outfit I was wearing. I just didn’t think about it, plus I was trying to catch a much faster runner. They seem rather perplexed someone was supposedly faster than me, frothy were impressed with my stamina I had displayed. I got a big ego boost out of the situation, but I was glad to be someone’s inspiration to do something there were not quite ready for. But that is how life works sometimes. Always do you best….you may never know who is watching!
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.