I have just spent a wonderful weekend learning the ropes of endurance riding. We were down in Allegany State park, where we usually horse camp. The woman teaching me is 68 years old, she just recently stopped competing, as much because of her horse as anything. For those that don’t know, endurance riding has some similarities to trail riding, much of it in our area uses the same trails for both, but for endurance you ride them as fast as possible, and the distances are from 25-100 miles. The one I am preparing for will be 35 miles, a bit longer than the usual “short ride”.
Did I have a reason for telling you this? Two, actually. First, it is simply more encouragement that staying active is the key to a healthy later life. Ainsly, the woman who was teaching me hauled her own horse down, set up camp, rode the two days and packed up horse and camp to go home. At 68. When most people are saying “I’m too old for that.” I’m not saying she wasn’t sore and stiff at times. But the point is that she could do what she wanted.
The second point is that when you are active, you can do more, with less effort. Ainsly and I did things when we got back to camp, rather than needing a nap. I won’t say who needed the nap, but it was the one who hates exercise. Also, we could see what we were doing as fun, rather than a chore. Let’s face it, everything active requires effort(Thank you Captain Obvious). Unless you want to be a spectator to life, you have to keep yourself in good enough shape to do those things you love. If you want to bicycle in the summer, you have to exercise in the winter. If you want to hike on the weekends, you have to do workouts during the week. You have to set that as a routine when you are young, as it isn’t as necessary then, but you need the habit established for when you get older.
Oh, and I had a third point too. Surprise! Seriously, doing one activity leads to another. I wouldn’t have gotten into weight lifting if it wasn’t for Karate. I wouldn’t have thought about endurance riding if the desire for more challenges wasn’t awakened by karate and weight lifting. My friend Marlene is always talking about instant Karma, that everything you do impacts others. The same is true inside your own life. Positive steps create positive steps. Whatever road you are on is the one you will keep going on. Fitness and exercise leads to more fitness and exercise. Bad choices lead to more bad choices. Just take one baby step at a time in the direction you’d like to go, and see where it gets you.
I was officially challenged by both the Fitjerk and Lou Schuler to lift heavier. While it is easy to blow off the Fitjerk, (how could you not want to with a handle like that?) Lou wrote the book(s) on lifting. So applied my little brain to getting around some of the physical and logistical problems I have had with getting to heavier weights. The logistical problems are (were?) my equipment. The physical is my wrists and my fear of hurting something that would take me out of the game. Since mid-winter, my right wrist has been bothering me when I bend my hand back. I think I did something to it learning to cross country ski.
I originally started doing front squats, realized that was a non-starter, and switched to back ones. I had been snuggling up under the bar from behind, but that was bending my wrists as I replaced the weight. Now I come under from the front. My only fear with that is if I over balance, the weight will roll forward onto my head. I do take some of the weight off to do cleans, my upper body just isn’t there yet. I’m pretty stoked, I went from 58 to 72 lbs already. I know, I should be lifting more weight with my lower body, but I am trying to get my upper body, especially my wrists, up to speed. I need to be able to manhandle these weights around to some extent, so I can’t be doing lower body lifts that my upper body can’t handle.
Here is my pullup bar with straps for doing hanging leg raises and a little help with those wicked wipers.
The bad news is my weight set, while stating on the box it is a “hundred pound set”, is not. I have (4)10, (6)5 and (4)2.5. The bar weighs 12 lbs. Now, I’m no math wiz, but I get 92 every time I add that up. Depending on how dedicated I am this summer, that might last me till August at the rate I am increasing at now. I’ve already made up my mind that I will join a gym this fall. I have been lusting after a squat rack anyway, and the very kind emails that Lou has sent me have made me realize how much better it would be to have some kind of training program.
Just to put it in writing, my current goals are:
1. To do a handstand pushup-no feet on the wall
2. To bench press my own weight
3. To do 20 swiss ball pushups with my feet up on the higher part of my Bowflex – so my feet are slightly higher than my body.
4. I just added this one after seeing Charlotte’s blog- the scorpion yoga pose.
It will be slightly harder to achieve these now that warm weather is here, bringing back all my other activities that were put on hold for the winter. I have every confidence that I will need to write a new list by next fall.