Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coming out of retirement again

For some time now, I’ve identified myself as a “retired runner” and have pretty much acted as one with the exception of an eight week “relapse” last August and September 2011 when I included some treadmill running with my gym training.

That treadmill work was once a week of running intervals (e.g. multiple rounds of 400 meter fast runs with short walking recovery periods) and a couple tests of the one mile distance for time. I wasn’t in running shape when I began but ended being in decent running shape for a hard one mile run.  I definitely wasn’t marathon material and certainly wasn’t in 5k or 10k fun run condition either.

After these intense weekly running gym sessions, I was finally able to run one mile on the treadmill in the decent time (for me) of 6:48. Then, for whatever reason I can’t remember right now, I got sidetracked or – to be kinder to myself - redirected to a different type of anaerobic cardio training and haven’t ran since.

With the weather getting nicer and summer not far away, I’ve had an “itch” to lace up my running shoes and hit the streets – or perhaps the park for a more middle-age man friendly running surface. Thoughts of visiting a high school that has an all-weather track has also entered my cluttered mind, along with the idea of buying a new pair of running shoes and a replacement battery for my currently inoperable heart rate monitor.

I know I’m out of running shape right now but I’ve been there before and know what’s necessary to get back in shape. I also know how to design smart running workouts that include intensity to prepare me for another one mile test.  For some reason, as I sit on my butt being ever so comfortable, the thought of running an outdoor mile in 6:30 seems like a lofty goal but one that motivates me.

Can I do it? Yes I believe I can run a mile in this time. Will I do it before the summer ends? Good question and who knows; certainly not me at this moment.

Last Thursday, I took the first step and bought a new pair of running shoes and then, later than afternoon, went out and ran an easy 10 minute one mile at a local park. It went pretty well and left me feeling energized and motivated. On Saturday, I bought a replacement battery for my heart rate monitor and did a treadmill running workout consisting of 400 meter intervals. My fastest 400 meter run was at a 7:30 mile pace, a far cry from where I need to be if I want to run that 6:30 mile.

So this means that I’m coming out of retirement again.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Middle-age Man Health & Wellness Exam

Since I pay for my own health insurance, I’ve chosen a high-deductible health insurance plan to lower the cost. My monthly premiums are lower and that saves me money but I’m responsible for a greater amount of medical expense before my insurance policy kicks in and that costs me money. I’m gambling that the premium savings will be greater than the out-of-pocket expenses I pay. My annual deductible – the amount that I pay before my insurance pays – is about $5,000.

Thus far, this policy has served me well. It has made me a better consumer of health care, and it has motivated me to have greater ownership of my health and wellness.

As a result of this motivation, I’ve created my own self-administered exam to periodically determine my middle-age man health and wellness. I’ve had fun sharing this exam with other middle-age men; today I’m sharing it with you.

First of all, know that I’m not a medical doctor so take what I say with a grain of salt and a good old-fashioned belly laugh.

This self-exam consists of five questions, all of which you answer yes or no. You need at least four yes answers to pass. Passing the exam means that I have good middle-age man health and wellness and, therefore, I don’t need to go to the doctor.

Again, I’m not a medical doctor so take what I’m sharing with a grain of salt and a good old-fashioned belly laugh. Like me, take ownership of your middle-age man health and wellness and decide if you need to go to the doctor.

So here’s the exam; again answer each question with a yes or no. “It depends” is not an acceptable answer.

First, at the end of the day, do you remember what you had for breakfast?

Second, can you walk up a single-story flight of stairs without being winded at the top?

Third, can you bend over and pick up something off the floor without throwing out your back or ripping the seat of your pants?

Fourth, can you get through a whole day without crapping your pants?

At this point, if you’re jumping with joy because you’ve answered these four questions with a yes answer, good for you because you’ve passed the exam regardless of whether you answer yes to the fifth and final question for a perfect score.

Drum roll please – fifth, can you piss over a six foot fence? Yikes! That’s a tough one.

Many middle-age men I’ve shared this exam with laugh hard at this last question. Some answer yes but most answer no to which I reply to those who answered yes to the first four questions, “No problem, buy a trampoline. Congratulations, you’ve passed the exam and are a middle-age man specimen of good health and wellness.”

So there you have it my cyberspace friends, the Pierini Middle-age Man Health and Wellness Exam.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, May 11, 2012

The things I used to do

As fit as this middle-age man thinks he is, I must confess there’s time I spend reflecting about my fitness performances from yesteryear that I’ll never do again.

These I classify into two categories. The first are those performances I could possibly repeat again but have made “business decisions” they aren’t worth the hard training effort. The second are those fitness performances I likely could not repeat even with my best effort of hard training.

An example of the former is the modest 160 lb. Olympic lift squat snatch that I achieved about three and one-half years ago. That may not be a lot of weight for even a lightweight average Joe Blow Olympic weightlifter but it’s an accomplishment of mine and I’m proud of it. I’m sure that is something I could do again – and perhaps surpass - if I put my mind to it and backed up my mind with some dedicated training and patience.

But I won’t, because I’ve made a “business decision” repeating that performance isn’t worth the training effort required to do so. I’m at peace with my modest accomplishment and have nothing else to prove to myself in that department. Besides, I’ve got a photo to cherish that memory.

An example of the latter is the fastest time I ran the 400 meter distance on a track. My distant memory is that my best time was 56 seconds when I was in the 9th grade. That’s about 42 years ago for those of you who like math.

I’m sure there’s some middle-age man track and field junkie out there who is capable of that feat who would beg to differ with me, and offer me encouragement that is something I could do if I made the training effort. I’ll stand by my assessment, nonetheless, that is a fitness performance I likely could not repeat even with my best training effort.

This reflective exercise of things I’ve done and can and can’t do now is not limited to fitness feats exclusively but also to career, relationships, travels and living on the edge. Take driving a car at 120 miles per hour. Is that something I could do right now if I put forth the effort? You bet it is but it’s not something that’s on my short list of things to do. It’s another one of my “business decisions”.

I must confess; I like sitting in my rocking chair reflecting about the things I used to do.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy birthday Mom!

Some middle-age men have experienced the death of one or both of their parents while others like me are fortunate to still have both their mother and father alive. This I’m enjoying but realize that one day they’ll be gone and I’ll miss them dearly.

But wait a minute; who am I to be so confident to think that I may not go first?

It’s more likely, though, that they’ll get called home to their Creator before me. One thing is certain and that’s all of our life-on-earth clocks are ticking one breath at a time and none of us should take anything for granted.

My Dad is 85-years young and if you ask him, he swears he’ll live to be 100. He shared with me that his father said the same thing so you can say his thinking is learned. His father, my grandfather, never made the century mark but I’m guessing he had fun trying as my Dad is also having fun trying.

Today is my Mom’s birthday and she is now 81 years young. She has developed a joy of going to the gym and exercising – often daily and sometimes at the oddest hours of the day and night – and, as a result is enjoying the fruits of her fitness labor with a current life of good health and wellness.

I’m blessed that today I can and will call and see my Mom and tell her, “Happy Birthday Mom!”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, May 4, 2012

I've been called it

Thus far in my life journey, I’ve worn many hats and have had many friendships and relationships with others. Closer to home, I am and have been a husband, father, son, grandson, great-grandson, brother, brother-in-law, nephew, cousin, and uncle.

Outside of family and home, I am and have been a classmate, college student, friend, soldier, veteran, karateka, fitness buff or dude, and co-worker to name a few. You do know that I’ve also proclaimed myself as the ambassador to middle-age men around the world. This ambassador stuff is serious business and I wear that hat with great honor and upmost responsibility.

This list is not all-inclusive but rather than add to it, I’ll stop while I’m ahead because I might forget where I was going with today’s blogflection.

And where was I going? Glad you asked. It was to list some of the adjectives and other descriptive expressions and terms that I’ve been called by others I’ve known in these friendships and relationships. Some are good and others are not so good. Let’ skip the good ones and focus on the bad ones as that might be a funnier read for you and, besides, good should be a given.

I’ve been called a jerk for starters. I’ve also been described as bad, dumb, mean, cruel, and callous to name a few. Want more? How about aloof, selfish, narcissistic, devious, evil, smart-ass, stupid and insensitive? I could go on and on but you get my point and see the picture that some have painted of me.

If movie ratings were used for the descriptions I’ve been called, I’m the owner of a few G ratings and many X-ratings.

For every day there is a night, for every action there is reaction, for every push there is a pull, for every positive there is a negative, for every yin there is a yang, and so on. That’s certainly also the case with what people have and do say about me.

While being on the receiving end of some of these more unfavorable descriptions, I’ve always had a quick response that I’d be worried if the only thing people had to say about me were good things.

What’s that all about? Is it another instance of a character defect rather than me acknowledging there’s something about me that needs work?

I’ll write about that on another day but for right now I’ll close by saying that if you can think of it, I’ve been called it.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum