Busybodies

watch that, and read about this guy.

—-
On Tuesday I asked my body to do something it had never done before: I swam a whole mile straight! Considering the fact that a few months ago, swimming two lengths in a pool was really difficult for me, it was pretty cool that I was able to do that, especially considering I swam .93 miles the day before.

In order to motivate myself on Tuesday (since I really didn’t want to exercise much at all, but I felt like I needed to run more, since Nate and Andrew are beasts and humbled me with their SF Marathon exploits last weekend), I decided I was going to swim then run and do circuit (it’s weird but doesn’t it sometimes make it easier to exercise if you make it more difficult? Something appealing about extremes). So I asked my body to bear with me and swim a mile, then I went back to regen and went out for two laps around the lake. I hit a pretty decent pace, about 3 minutes slower than my 2x lake PR and circuit afterwards was pretty tiring. But it was so nice to push myself more than usual, and find that I had more to push than I’d thought.

At some point during my run I was mentally patting myself on the back and thinking about how cool it was that I was running 6.4 miles after swimming over a mile. I got to thinking about how the human body is pretty amazing. There are people who can do the things like in the video/link above. People can push themselves so far beyond the normal human limits that the feats they accomplish seem barely human at all, the discipline and suffering that goes into what some people do is unthinkable. I thought about how I was being sort of mean to myself, asking my body to do so much more exercise that I have been.

But then I realized that everyone, without exception, asks a lot of their bodies. The question is, what is the difference between the ultramarathoner pushing his/her physical limits and the morbidly obese american filling his/her body full of crap and asking it to function properly for years on end? I think the distinction lies in the fact that one is a conscious pushing, while the other is passive and subconscious. Our bodies seem to give us a lot of grace either way. We can consciously say to our bodies, “Body, I know you don’t want to exercise right now, and I know you really want to just eat junk food all the time, but I’m telling you, it will be better this way”, or we can unconsciously give in to every temptation and desire that we have, which many Americans, including myself, seem to be doing. We can pay now, and willingly, or we can pay later.

Obviously our bodies will deteriorate no matter what we do, but I think it’s interesting to think about. At this point, most of us are young and healthy enough to abuse ourselves, but at what cost in the long run? Our hearts will only beat so many times, and if our arteries aren’t efficient and pliable delivery systems for blood they will beat harder, and most likely less, in the end.

I guess this might just be part of growing up and making tough choices. It is nice and encouraging though, to think about that 100 year old guy who ran a 2:30 half marathon when he was 96 years old. Maybe a lot of it is just being mindful about how we eat and sleep and spend our waking hours. And I think I could expand the analogy to relationships and how we treat people (i.e. about how it’s so much easier to treat people like trash or indifferently, but that there might be hidden costs to ourselves when we do that) but I’ll let you do that yourself haha. But here’s to being better about practicing what I think/write about!

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~ by justinhong on August 5, 2011.

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