Skip to main content

Healthy, fit and happy: Pick two

A while back I blogged about the balance we strive to maintain in our ultra endurance lives.  Things seldom fall into place as we would have it.  On most occasions, we shuffle the deck and push forward with the cards we are dealt.

Bicycling pioneer and wheel king Keith Bontrager developed the mantra "light, strong or cheap, pick two."  If you're into bicycle wheels, it's fun to play with the combos - you can have light and strong wheels, but they won't be cheap.  You can have cheap and light wheels, but they won't be strong.  It's a wonderful comparison model that can help you reason through how to design the product.

Our bodies are not that different.  I'll bring forward the "healthy, fit and happy, pick two" scenario for your review and enjoyment.  For on most any given day, you'll find yourself on top of two dimensions, but crashing and burning on the third.  Let's play with it for a second.

Being healthy becomes a near impossibility for a master's age competitor.  Injuries are nagging and sometimes heal slowly, if at all.  I blew out my shoulder in a mountain biking accident and had an anaphylactic reaction to a wasp sting; two ER visits a month apart is not what I had in mind this summer.  And, I've been fighting through a nasty case of plantar fasciitis in my right foot for the past eight months.  It ebbs and tides but never releases me to run free once again.  I received an email from ultra icon Eric Clifton this week and he disclosed he was dinged by PF for 3 years! We may aspire to healthy, but on a 1 to 10 scale, many of us train and race at a 5 or 8.

Fit is elusive.  I'm 6 feet, 1 inch tall and can range from 160 to 175 pounds.  Some of the elite ultrarunners are my height and hit the scales at 145 or 150. I aspire to be lighter, which translates to faster, but it depends how engaged I am in my sport. Many times it comes down to a battle of the attitude - food or fit? At one point this summer I was carved at 5% body fat/160 pounds but then work realities and injuries hit.  So as "fit" increases, so does the risk for injuries and that will pull one down on the healthy dimension.

That leaves happy.  It's a positive, all is well with the world mindset that comes and goes. Take away healthy or fit and watch the happy man dissolve.  There's a verse in the bible that says we shouldn't build our faith on a sand foundation.  I can't help but parallel that to how I build my personal life - that a solid training base and clean diet are the rock solid cornerstones to my existence.  I don't always like this about myself and wish that life could be measured on a more diverse scale, but after 28 years of daily adherence to the endurance sport lifestyle, it's a core part of who I am.

So we march forward, imperfect yet making sense of the world around us.  I'm not completely healthy, not completely fit, and working on being content, but despite it all I'm glad to be facing each day.  Despite our shortcomings, we stay in the game and enjoy what we have to work with. The clay may be lumpy, but we mould it into an interesting work of art.

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Scott Jurek ate vegan, won ultras...then got divorced

(Disclaimer:  I am a Brooks-supported athlete; as part of that relationship, I was provided a complimentary copy of "Eat & Run")

I was recently on a few flights making my way home to Wisconsin and en route was able to plow through Scott Jurek's new book "Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness."

It's a fast, enjoyable read. I've been around the ultra scene for a long time and have known some of the greats, i.e. ultra champ Eric Clifton. So it's always interesting to see how the world looks from another icon's point of view.

My thoughts in no particular order:

1) I've been vegetarian/borderline vegan for 12 years and have always been concerned with protein intake.  Jurek advocates for the protein he naturally induces through his plant-based diet.  Maybe that is enough. Maybe it's not necessary to bang down 100+ grams of protein supplement every day. Good info and good advice.

2) I'm buying on big time to Scot…

Build your low cost gravel and commuter bike

It's the saga of Craigslist. You have a great perfect condition road bicycle to market. You ask a fair price. A few calls come in, most often the caller throws out a low ball offer, maybe 50% of asking price.

You don't need to give the bike away. You may not need the cash.

Consider re-purposing. You already own an excellent commuter and gravel bike. Think your bike is too low end, not good for the purpose?

Wrong. In most cases less expensive bikes are build with heavier parts, which means they are stronger. Heavier wheels = better ability to absorb commuter bumps and gravel roads.

A few simple modifications and you'll be rolling for transportation or logging road expeditions.

Here's my 2011 model Specialized Roubaix. I rode it for several seasons as a serious piece of road equipment. A few buyers offered up a few hundred dollars, so I went in another direction.

1) Added 700 x 28 Continental Gatorskin tires. Gatorskin tires wear like iron and you can trust them in off …

Now this is better...

Hey, I don't want to dole out too many epic photos in one day...but after that fatty shot from the New York City Marathon, I had to dig a bit deeper, and found this:

Check out that attractive specimen (second from right) circa 1986...only a year earlier and Tommy Terrific was looking pretty ripped.

I'll tell you this triathlon training camp was one of the high points of my master competitor career. On the left is Mark Hinson, the best triathlete in the southeast in the mid 19890's...and far right is Frank Kohlenstein, a soccer coach from South Carolina and the dude who got me into ultrarunning...that's tanned and toned Tommy next to David Bailey, one of the greatest men who ever threw a leg over two wheels with an engine.

So, right around the time of this camp, I crewed for Frank at the Western States 100 mile endurance run in California. Hinson ran with Frank through a very tough 20 mile desert section and when he made it to the next check, he pulled me aside and told…