Be LESS Than You Can Be!

In my previous pontification titled "My Fitness Philosophy", I listed as item #3, "Take It Easy".

In the past, I have referred to that as "Be Less Than You Can Be", a take off on the Army slogan "Be All That You Can Be".

What I mean by that is, let's say I can run 3 miles at a certain pace, not flat out so I'm totally bonked at the end but it's a hard exertion. Well, to be less than I can be, I will run much slower, sometimes I even like to walk for a few steps just to make sure my jogging is just barely above a walk.

What happens with this is that I will warm up during the "run" and feel pretty good wanting to run harder. When I catch myself doing this, I will pull back to my "less than I can be" jalk (jog-walk), ralk (run-walk), wun(walk-run) or wog(walk-jog).(see if you can say it 5 times fast).

Of course, as I do this day after day for a couple of weeks, I will be getting fitter and even more so wanting go harder. The theory is (I say theory because I find this hard to adhere to) that I don't give myself permission to ramp up until I am absolutely bored out of my skull with this regimen.

What's the point?

Avoiding beginner's burnout.

Keep in mind I'm addressing the over 50 crowd that is just starting or just getting back into exercising.

Even as a younger man, when I started running, I would run as hard as I could every day for several weeks and then one morning I just couldn't face it!

I think what happens is that your subconscious mind begins to associate the activity with pain, unpleasantness, something negative.

Conversely, if you can build up to a point where the endorphins, the brain chemicals that make you feel good, kick in, you will have what's called in the study of addictions, "euphoric recall", a positive association that makes you want to come back for more and forget about how much it hurt while you were doing it.

Herein lies the link to my overall emphasis on the fun part of fitness.

If you can keep it fun, you'll keep doing it.

Ultimately, "Be Less Than You Can Be" does become "Be All That You Can Be" and it does become fun to go all out with appropriate recovery and crosstraining. The "fun" can come from working hard and beating your last best effort.

Even professional athletes can become burned out when they forget the fun of their sport. It happens!

I bring this up because I was skiing at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, MA yesterday with Mrs. MTBMan1 and her sister. The sister suggested going down a couple of black diamond trails and my wife demurred. Ultimately, so did I, even though I had done one of them last weekend (partly out of control) and they had groomed the bumps out of the other. While it was steep, it was wide and looked relatively smooth. Mmm, tempting.

So I knew I could do them and probably stay in control if I was careful but I remembered my filosofy and thought, hey, why white knuckle it? I'm here to have fun and I'm still having fun on the greens and blues and I can still get OOC (out-of-control) on those blues and greens if I don't pay attention. So why not wait until I'm bored out of my skull to move on up?

What about the adventure of risk? Sure, that's a consideration. Living is a risky business and you always have to weigh the pros and cons of whatever you do including getting out of bed in the morning!

For me, I would paraphrase the "cowards" dictum "He who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day" to "He who skis and backs down from doing Lucifer's Leap or Black Hole, may live to ski another day!" :-)

There is much more to this but I'll get into it another time.

In the meantime, in a line from a famous Zen story, "We have had enough discussion, so let's have a cup of tea!"

Here is my cup of tea, some pics from the day at Butternut:

This, I believe, is looking up "Nut Hatch", a very pleasant beginner's run

Turned around, looking DOWN Nut Hatch

This is looking UP "Chute", a black diamond, from it's exit on Nut Hatch.
It was closed today because of conditions.

Here's another view from Nut Hatch

This is the entrance to "Apple Jack", a favorite of mine

Looking up Apple Jack

Another view from Apple Jack

Top of "Freewheeler", another fave!

Further down Freewheeler:

Looking back up at Freewheeler. Where is everybody?

Stopped on the lift. Here are some skiers on "Crosstown":

Boarder entering Nuthatch

Skier on Nuthatch

It was "Parrot Head" day at Butternut. Prizes and games! But aren't those flamingos?

Trying to avoid my characteristic "squint"!

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  1. Melinda Says:

    Great post, Gary. Thanks for reminding me about euphoric recall!

  2. MTB Man Says:

    You're welcome, Melinda. It was fun to write. Thanks for reading and commenting!