Tuesday, August 26, 2014

And fifty cents

One week ago today, I was six months shy of my 60th birthday – the day I became 59 years and 50 cents.  Most people wouldn’t blink an eye about this but this middle-aged man did.  

There’s something about a decade rite of passage that catches my attention in the fitness, health and wellness arena.

I remember ten years ago when I within striking distance of turning age 50.  I was pretty fit at this point in my life or so I thought and sought to validate this with an objective test.  So I chose to self-administer the U.S. Marine Physical Fitness Test on my 50th birthday.  My goal was to score 250 points; a perfect score is 300 points. 

I began the 2005 New Year by training for about six weeks for this test which consisted of pull-ups, Marine abdominal crunches and a timed three-mile run.  To get a perfect score of 300 points, I needed to complete 20 pullups, 100 Marine abdominal crunches and run the three-mile distance in 18 minutes flat.

I took the test on the eve of my 50th birthday – can’t remember why a day early – and completed 17 pullups (85 points), 73 Marine abdominal crunches (73 points), and ran the three-mile distance in 21:30 (79 points) for a total of 237 points.  I missed my 250 point goal by 13 points but was still proud of my effort.  Then I went back to my normal way of training.

The following year, again I began training about six weeks before my birthday and took the test one day after my 51st birthday.  This time I completed 16 pullups (80 points), 73 Marine abdominal crunches (73 points), and ran the three-mile distance in 20:16 (86 points) for a total of 239 points.  Two points better was nice but I still failed to achieve the 250 point goal of my 50th birthday.  Again, then I went back to my normal way of training.

Third time efforts are sometimes the charm and this was my case when I took the test one year later for a third time on my 52nd birthday.  This time I completed 18 pullups (90 points), 77 Marine abdominal crunches (77 points) and ran the three-mile distance in 19:32 (90 points) for a total of 257 points.  I finally got my 250 points that I wanted for my 50th birthday two years earlier.

That was the last time I took the test.

In an act of full disclosure, I must share that all three-mile runs need an asterisk next to the times as they were done on the treadmill at one percent incline which I’ve been told approximates road running.    I’ll take the asterisk with no resistance given.

So fast forward to the present, here I am within six months of striking distance of a new decade in my middle-aged man life.  Honestly, I’m not as fit as I was ten years ago for whatever reason, one of which is that I haven’t trained with the intensity that I did then.

How fit does a middle-aged man need to be?   When compared to my peers, quite frankly it doesn’t take much to excel and be in the 90 percentile plus of my 59-year-old brethren.  When compared to what’s needed to live a good and honest life, I have all the fitness needed and honestly could get by with even less than what I have.

But why should I compare my present fitness to the lowest common denominator? 

While I don’t have to aspire to be the best in the whole-wide world, because all that will really do is give me a big head and bragging rights, there’s nothing wrong with setting my bar a little higher than where it has been lately and maybe that’s what I’ll do.  Set a goal, train hard for it for the next six months and then test to see where I’m at and how I do.  And in the process, I’ll take my fitness to a higher level and maybe within striking distance of where I was ten years ago.

So here I am today pondering what that fitness training and 60th birthday test will be, one week after turning 59 years and 50 cents.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum