Several years ago, I noticed that my good friend Todd had become a little… er… soft around the middle, for lack of a better description. I was trying to encourage him to get in shape, but it wasn’t until my loving wife, Susan, very kindly told him there was no way he could run a 5-mile race that he decided to take up the challenge. He finished that race and we signed up to do a half marathon that fall. By the following summer, we had both registered for our first half Ironman. Each year since then, Todd and I make it our mission to “drag someone off the couch” and get them exercising.
Our plan is simple: we register our “mark” for the Hartford half marathon and shame them into training. All in good fun. One year it was our high school friend, Dan. Last year it was Todd’s two older brothers, David and Bob. We plodded around the 13.1 mile course in about 2 1/2 hours, I think, but we smiled and laughed and enjoyed every minute of it. The greatest part is that everyone we’ve talked into coming outside to play with us has continued to exercise.
This past St. Paddy’s Day weekend, Todd and I went to Virginia Beach to join David for the Shamrock 2012 Yuengling Marathon. I guess David figured we owed him one. We broke no speed records, and we only got medals because they give them to everyone who finishes. David’s son, Keegan, rode his bike alongside his father the whole way around, just as he had done for all of the longer training runs. At the finish, David hugged Keegan with a tear in his eye and thanked him for being part of his achievement. What better gift could a father and son give each other? A great time was had by all.
The point of my story is this: We all exercise for different reasons. For me, there are many. First, I come from a family with a long history of heart disease, so I want to say healthy for myself, my wife and my kids. Second, I want to set a good example for my kids and make exercise a part of their lives. Finally, I enjoy training with my friends. There’s no better way to stay fit than biking through the hills in Old Lyme, running the beach loop in Old Saybrook, or swimming in Lake N’ski at sunrise with close friends and family. It’s good for the heart, the head and the soul.
Not everyone yearns to be on the podium, but there is something important that the 5-minute-milers and the 15-minute-milers have in common. Whether you compete or participate, train or exercise, race or run, you must move well. 5-K or marathon, sprint tri or Ironman, gardening or Bocce, it makes no difference.
Put plainly, good movement minimizes wear-and-tear on joints, muscles and bones and enables us to do whatever it is we want to do physically without breaking. And don’t be too disappointed if you move a little quicker as well.
Good movement. It’s not just for elite athletes.