I’m in an interesting spot in fitness right now. I ride my bike more miles in a year than many drive a car (6,000+ this year) and even a slow ride tops 18 mph (29 km/h), yet I am feeling fat, lazy and slow after a month of taking it too easy. The notion occurred to me after a bonk on a century the other day. Now, a hundred miles on a bike is hard. That same hundred at 20 mph is really hard and beating 4-1/2 hours is flat-out tough… Even so, I should have been more than up for it and I bonked out after only 45 miles.
This can be hard to grasp and many might wrongly believe that I’m being too hard on myself. The truth is this: I am not any of those – for 90% of the population. For that upper 10% though, I have been. In other words, I’m talking about my approximation fat, lazy and slow – and therein lies the rub.
What this boils down to is a very delicate balance between enjoying a bike ride like I would a Sunday stroll around the block or being at the top of my game without overdoing it. I like to be fast, there’s no doubt about that, but I also enjoy a nice bike ride with my wife too (who is actually catching up – she did her 34 mile leg of the Assenmacher at just over 17 mph average). To make this harder to diagnose was the fact that I had gotten stronger than many of the guys I normally ride with over the last couple of months – I had a perfect storm of awesome going all at the same time. What I did as a result of that proved to be my undoing… I took my foot off the gas and tried to coast. That worked for a week or two but then I was passed up by the same guys I could put the hurting to only a few short weeks earlier.
So be it.
Starting the very next day after that calamitous bonk – my favorite ride of the entire year, I got back to working a level that I can be happy with again.
Now, for those who have found this post but haven’t been following for long, I have been physically active, non-stop (either running or cycling) for the last thirteen years (maybe fourteen now). I’ve been eating right, or my approximation of that, for years and I am not, in any measure of the word, fat. That doesn’t change the fact that I know when I’m phoning it in and when I can do better… In other words, being fit and losing weight doesn’t have a finish line. It doesn’t have a point where I can spike the football and take it easy. Physical fitness is a constant, a way of life. It always gets faster and better, or it gets worse… I didn’t get in this predicament overnight and it’ll take a few weeks to come back, but the important point I must focus on now is that the very minute I recognized a flaw in my routine, I set about fixing it. I can sleep easy knowing I did what was right today. Where I struggle is when I choose something less.
Being fit hurts, though the dull pain lasts only a short while – especially when compared with the brutal sting of complacency…or worse, of lethargy. As long as I am doing the next right thing at any given moment, I have the ammo needed to fight back that stinking thinking committee that says, “I am not good enough” or, “I am not worthy”. I only get into trouble when the committee in my melon says I’m a slacker and I have to agree. Being fit is all about honesty with oneself. We can claim a gray area, we can obfuscate and manipulate, hoping that pacifies the melon brigade, but it never will. This is depression wearing a different cloak.
There is a bright side though! Once you shed the lying and lethargy, then learn to beat the melon committee, there’s no handhold left for stinking thinking.
The only constant in life is change. As our lives change, we adapt to that change, often with a skill-set the we learned as wee lads and lasses. As we shed those childish skills and come to find a new way of life, happily fit, we develop new ways to adapt and life gets better. Unfortunately, every now and again we choose the old way to cope and that causes problems which must be overcome if we are to grow. This is where I was on Sunday. By Monday I was back on the bike.
Feeling (or worse, being) fat, slow and lazy isn’t a sentence, it’s a call to action.
The question is are you paying attention, because the response counts.