By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
October 4, 2015
This past week I have been watching a lot of movies. Call it boredom, call it a need to actually make use of my relatively decent DVD collection or just call it wasting time. Whatever the case, it was dutifully needed during this week. I feel a little caged up right now, and watching some movies I haven’t seen in a while was quite soothing, especially now that the heat is starting to subside a bit and watching movies during the daytime is actually feasible and enjoyable as opposed to despicable, sweaty misery. Needless to say, my inane ability to judge and critique movies as they are unfolding right before me is nearly at a critical mass. Most movies would need to be pretty deep and subtle for me to really get and enjoy, and that is a bit of an issue as the movies we see in the cinema are more simplistic than ever. Sometimes the subtlety is non-existent and is actually right on the surface, so I am not always asking for dense and hard to understand context. But I still prefer the harder stuff. That’s just the way I am.
Anyway, once again I have been watching some of my sci-fi collection, which ranges in some very mainstream stuff to some rather bizarre and baffling. The post-apocalypse seemed to be the real catcher for me this past week, mainly because it is such a played out subject which one has a quite the multitude of subjects to look at. I watched the Road Warrior Trilogy (I do not consider Fury Road a part of the legitimate canon) and got really into the adventures of Mad Max, especially in Beyond Thunderdome, which for some reason I cannot look away from that movie despite it being penned as the runaway train of the series, a mish-mash of bad ideas with little coherency and poorly drawn characters (plus a Deus Ex Machina ending that is sort of random, and leads to too much hope for the series even though Max is most likely walking to his certain doom). I wrote about Beyond Thunderdome before in this blog, speculating my long journey toward good health will be treacherous and long, much like Max’s road to New Sydney. I watched a couple other movies like The Signal and Snowpiercer just for the kick of it, and it made me wonder one thing, especially in regards to Snowpiercer….how do people in bizarre post-apocalyptic wastelands stay so fit? Let’s start with Snowpiercer, where all of humanity is confined to a train due to the fact we have frozen the world over to try and stop global warming. While the extreme poor in the back of the train are predictably sick and lean, none of the upper classes look like they have given in to the scourges of excess and confinement at all. In fact, they all seem to be pretty fit and healthy. How can they possibly do that when the majority of your time will be sitting down and logging around, getting high off a drug that is literally the leftover waste of your moving contraption (a.k.a. poop and other stuff). Then you got the Road Warrior of course, where everyone looks' like they have extensively hit the gym and have been buffing up quite profusely. How does this happen, especially when they seem to be doing nothing but scavenging? Would they be carrying around a Bowflex or something? I mean, in Fury Road you see a guy playing a guitar behind some giant speakers on a moving car, but you don't see that car that has a treadmill and weight rack on the back, complete with a buffed up dude ready to talk supplements and macros with you. I also get a little aggravated with shows like The Walking dead, where everyone still looks lean and fit and ready to go due some Spartan Race. I guess I am a nitpicker. The only realistic depiction of post-apocalypse fitness was probably from Turbo Kid, and that was because you needed to be fit enough to ride a bike everywhere you needed to go (and this proved to be the most self aware of all of the aforementioned movies).
Fitness in general is something I seem to be snitching in a lot of popular culture, and I’m talking the misrepresentation of it. No matter how waif-like a woman may be, she was no problem beating the absolute snot out of any henchman twice her size. Or how about the skinny armed nerd who can somehow hang on to a bar with the brunt of his body weight against him, and still hold on for a good five minutes? It’s these representations that I am noticing more and more, especially cop chases on foot. Did that cop really just hustle at a full sprint for nearly two miles and not have a heavy pant? I recently watched a terrible movie called Takers while giving plasma one day and watched this ridiculous chase scene unfold through downtown Los Angeles, where the bad guy scales walls, does parkour and runs without ever stopping, and you have two fairly out of shape looking cops hot on the trail. It was absolutely ludicrous but I guess suspension of disbelief starts at the fact Hayden Christensen and Chris Brown are supposed to be tough, highly experienced criminals. I always like the running scenes, because this I know for a fact is the most poorly portrayed aspect of all film tropes. The only time I saw realistic chase was on Dexter, where his extremely fit sister Debra chases down a kid, much to the surprise of her extremely fat partner! Gotta love it! Heck, speaking of chase scenes, some old memories about my lack of fitness were recalled this past week, which was ultimately the most hilarious chase scene in my personal life. Before I joined Parsons Training, I was really darn heavy. Anyway, my dog Rusty ran out of my parent’s yard and started exploring their neighborhood. I tried giving chase, but was completely out of gas after maybe a couple minutes. I resorted to yelling at Rusty, who just took it as a cue to keep running further away, knowing his father could never catch him in a million years. Fortunately my father was coming home from something, and with the help of him driving his jeep, he was able to cut off Rusty at the little school next to his house and allow me to finally catch up with him. I’ll admit, that still ranks as one of the more embarrassing stories yet.
I still think about those days when I go on my little runs, wondering how I ever decided to go through this running thing. This past week has been something of a revelation for me, for after weeks of struggling with the concept of even getting out of the house, I am still maintaining a pretty decent pace and distance. Here I was worried about ultimate failure when I made a minute change in the running regimen that allowed me to get a little bit of my confidence back. Up until this point, I’ve been trying to stack too much stuff into one day. Since I have so little time to myself these days due to work, I tried getting my distance up on the same days I did my working out. Now I have written about how cool a two-a-day is, and I have pretty much proven to myself without a doubt that I can manage this a couple times a week. But I was always tapping out quickly on the running, and then I would get extremely lazy the next day. It was problematic for me, because I wanted to increase my time and my distance, but I just wasn’t doing that. But something unexpected this week allowed me to change my mind. Much like the decision to get a dog changed my life forever, the decision to skip a two-a-day workout was not something I planned.
You see, I had a really rough work weekend, and make matters worse, I tried a Ragnar training day on Saturday, which just made things worse for me. I was so tired and my legs were so blasted this past Tuesday that I accidentally fell asleep late in the afternoon and kind of missed my running window. I just shrugged it off and opted to run the next night. I was going to run for only an hour, just enough to try and get my distance a little better. Considering how poorly I had been running as of late, I had low expectations for my effort. My run on Wednesday started out kind of slow, and that was to be expected as my body reacted adversely to the idea of having a full day of rest. But after the first couple of slow miles, I suddenly started picking up the pace, moving faster than I had done in quite some time. In the middle portion of my run, I was averaging close to nine minutes per mile. I turned a 10:30 per minute pace into a 9:46 per minute pace by the time it was said and done. Needless to say, I felt really good, and I wasn’t even that sore the next day. Since I was still feeling a little residual pain from the running on Wednesday, I opted to not run on Thursday. It was for good reason, especially since I was pretty beaten up after Thursday’s workout, which witnessed me doing 50 bench presses, 50 squat-push-presses, 50 curls and 50 reverse grip barbell rows. Doing all of that is a lot harder than you would think, so I just decide to kick back the rest of the day, watching the Mad Max Trilogy instead (with a break to walk the pups of course…..no movie gets in the way of my dog’s fitness!)
I will admit, I was pretty weary about Friday night’s run. Would I be able to maintain a similar speed. Would my body hold up? Will I just be killing myself for work the next day? Well, I maintained a pretty good pace for the run, topping out at 9:49 average per mile, only a few seconds worse than what I did on Wednesday. And here was the best part. I didn’t wake up the next morning extremely sore or dead tired. I had pretty good energy level the next day at work and my body didn’t get too beat up during the day. In fact, by the time I got home, I probably could have run a few miles if I wanted to. But this revelation finally brings something to the forefront for me. As much as I love two-a-days and as much as they look cool on my Facebook account, they were not doing much for me in regards my fitness. In fact this paradigm may have been holding me back and making me weaker by overworking my body and killing my glycogen stores quicker than I could replenish them. Perhaps that lack of desire to run most of the time was just a simple psychological problem I had created by weakening and tiring out my body?
Well, not time to really think about it now that I seem more than capable of running the distances I need to run at Ragnar Las Vegas. All that is left is building a little extra stamina along the way, which is what I will be doing for the next month as the race is barely a month away. Now I still intends take it easy when I am out there, for I don’t know how beat up my body may be by then, but who knows. I thought I was running slower during the middle portions of both my runs this week, and turns out I was going much faster. Maybe I was thinking about the imaginary apocalypse trying to chase me down, whether it be zombies or mutant motorcycles thug. Either way, I feel I am more than prepared to outrun both of those gangs….just as long as I have my camel pack on me!
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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.