Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mind Over Muscle: Part 3

This is a repost of my very first blog post 9 years ago. I was not only moving better then (my hip arthritis would not set in for another 3 years) I think I was writing better too. At any rate, the theme for this post is finding a modality of movement that agrees with you, that you like and that you can continue to practice consistently over time simply because you find it intrinsically worthwhile. My friend coach Jason C. Brown would observe that any movement you find worth doing will likely have the characteristic of play. If it isn't fun on some level, it won't be worth doing.

"Start slow and taper off." Walt Stack
Here we go. A little about me. To quote my favorite mystery author and politician, Kinky Friedman,"I'm too young for medicare and too old for the ladies to care." Even so, I love the fact that in many ways I am stronger and more fit now than I was in college 31 years ago. (Dear God where did the time go?) ( 40 years now! -Randy) I have been involved in several sports since my college days: Powerlifting, running, cycling, biathlon, triathlon, Olympic Weightlifting, Kettlebell Sport. Although each of these sports is a very different sport from the next, I took up each of them out of sheer curiosity. I had no idea if I would be any good at any of them, but at the time I took each activity up, I liked the idea of being a beginner again and looked forward to the challenge and the joys (and even the frustrations) of getting better. (Recently this hopping about from interest to interest has been termed "multipotentiation")  And each new sport meant all new gear too. I love new gear!

I am not a great athlete. I was a fat kid and I've lapsed into being a fat adult more than once. I've smoked for years and quit several times. In short, I'm a "recovering nicotine addict" with a weight problem both conditions currently in remission. I know how difficult it is to shut the pie hole and crumple up the pack. But if I can do it, anyone can. Really.

When I train regularly, I can get into the top 10 percent of local events most of the time. Sometimes I place. Most times I don't. But how good I am relative to others is not the point. It's not the only game in town and arguably it's not even the best game in town. The point is, as Teddy Roosevelt argued, is to get out there and give it a shot.

One of the best parts about being a Master's age athlete is the pressure is off, for the most part. Winning and records in the "Open" divisions, the records that really count, are going to be taken care of by the youngsters. We Masters, on the other hand, get to focus on the good stuff: the often humbling reality of our present capacities when compared to our glory days, the constraints of training conservatively to avoid injuries that, once sustained, never seem to quite heal anymore and then, once in a while, the joy of surprising ourselves with a new PR. Don't get me wrong...I love winning. But it's not the main reason I compete.

These days competing is as much about the post meet activities as anything else. It's about the fish stories, the big ones that did (or didn't) get away. It's sharing beers and meat and aches and pains with friends, family and fellow competitors. These are the extraordinary times. No one who gets on the weightlifting platform is ordinary; not for that moment, not during the post meet festivities and not until perhaps the next morning when the Advil's siren song is drowned out only by the moans and the groans and the creaky joints. I did say this was the good stuff, didn't I?

Life is too short to treat oneself like a hamster on a wheel even if (maybe especially if) it is in an air-conditioned health club...it's much more fun and satisfying to find a sport (or two or three) and practice and compete! If you take me up on this remember it's not about the winning. It's about the day-in day-out journey towards mastery and self improvement. It's about the friends you will make and the places you will visit along the way. If you take that journey, you'll end up winning in more ways than one. No matter how old you are.