The Training Corner

Mountain Grit: Training for the Long Haul

Q: Hi Pat! When does the pursuit of good health become an obsession? Ok, I get it. I need to take care of myself. But tracking every breath I take, every morsel I eat, every step I take, and every minute of quality zzzz’s is not for me. NO, I’m not looking for a quick fix, but I can’t be pre-occupied with this stuff every minute of every hour. I just want to work these things into my typical day and week.

I am 55, a retired surgical nurse, and entering Act III of life with enthusiasm. Although I miss the camaraderie of nursing, I feel blessed to have more time to pursue my love of pottery, with plans to build a small business. My husband and I raised four kids, and are now embarking on the grandchildren adventure! We plan to play more golf, and to take more hike and bike trips.

I have never been athletic, never played a team sport, and really do not like exercise. So I’ve dabbled in yoga, Pilates, barre, boot camps, etc. over the years. They all had their benefits, but ….

As for my health, I know everything not to do, based on my nursing background. I am also a breast cancer survivor of 15 years. That experience turned my ship around as far as food, drink, and keeping my weight in check at 5’5”, 125 lbs. My Primary Care Doc keeps an annual tab on my vital markers, and did put me on a lowdose BP MED about 10 years ago. It seems to be working without any noticeable side effects.

Recently, I had a wake-up call. When I picked up my 30 lb grandson, and carried him up one flight of stairs, it took me 30 secs to stop sucking wind. I am not fit, and I know it. Without becoming totally obsessed with exercise, do you have any practical tips that will boost my stamina, my energy and strength, so that I can bike, hike, golf [walk and carry], and be the active and fit grandparent I want to be for decades to come?

Pat, I am not a couch potato. I just have other priorities on my daily radar. Do you get where I am coming from?

Christy, 55

A: Hi Christy. I sure do get where you are coming from. Congrats on beating CA, and keeping your food, drink and weight in check. Obsession is not necessary, nor is it healthy. It’s a matter of establishing a routine [not a rut] that works for you. You have a lot in your plus column. You have purpose, meaning and relevance in your daily life, and are looking ahead with optimism. You are keen to golf, bike and hike more, and to be an active, engaged grandparent. This is a Hardiness mindset.

Here is a start:

1. Replace the word exercise with training. Exercise is purposeful, but often perceived as a daily dose of cod liver oil. We train to enhance and expand our freedom to GO, our means to get up and get after it every day. We train so we CAN …. live, work, labor, care-give, play and compete in our environments of choice with competence and confidence for decades to come.

• Training is a journey, a process, full of peaks and valleys, twists and turns. We can ramp up or dampen down, but we don’t stop. Training is maintenance of a vintage vehicle, daily attention that repairs, restores and rebuilds resilient, durable and robust systems for the long haul. This attitude is a positivity pump, not a negativity hump.

• In the last 50 years, movement [work] has been engineered out of our daily lives, and convenience, comfort, and screens have been engineered in. Unless we regularly perform manual work, and play often, training is the optimal way to slow the pace at which we age. It can even become the highpoint of your day. So …

2. Reclaim the BASICS first.

a. Stoke your cardio--metabolic health.

• Walk BRISKLY for 30:00 per day. Include hills.

• Designate a set time, preferably in the morning, but definitely before noon. Got a dog?

• Limit and break up long stretches of sitting and screen time.

• Be active on your feet throughout the day; shoot for 8-10K steps /day.

b. KEEP your freedom to GO. Train to get and stay supple, stable, speedy, strong, powerful and agile.

• Set aside TWO X 1-hour Whole-Body Functional Training sessions/week, say M+Th @ 0900.

• Train online at home, or at a local facility in a small or large group, under the tutelage of a great coach. Groups facilitate camaraderie and inspiration. It’s just finding the right fit for you.

• Once your pattern is established, you can TWEAK your week based on hiking, biking trips and golf season.

In summary, Christy, sometimes we do need to suck it up, in order to spring forward. I like your re-wirement spirit. You CAN prioritize investing in your movement longevity now, and change the way and the pace at which you age. Oh yeah, and about those grandchildren ….. you can inspire them to be just like you, when they are 55+++.

Want to up your game, feel better and move better for longer, contact Pat through or See previous editions of Mountain Grit for more training tips from Pat.

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