I have this reputation for being disciplined.
“You work out every morning?” my friends and family have asked me for years. (Not exactly every morning. But, yes, most.) “How do you do it?”
“You’re amazing,” my wife always tells me before I head out. I humbly accept the praise, then go out the door, frankly shaking my head. For I’m about to have a blast.
Deep into middle age, I stay fit by employing a simple secret:
I make it fun.
My god, if my workouts were the ordeal that many imagine, I probably would never get off the couch. But honestly, my rides and runs themselves are much more akin to play than they are to work. The element of fun, of play, is deeply embedded in all of my workouts. No intervals-or-die masochism in the Bob Howells Middle-Age Fitness Universe.
And yet, I’m plenty aware that for some, a body in motion, fresh breezes, and/or the greeting of some sweet, 6 a.m. light, are not enough. So may I suggest a few more ways to grease the workout gears. Motivation will be a recurring theme here at The Masters Athlete, and what follows is the start of an ever-evolving list of ideas, recommendations, and strategies. Remember: Enjoy yourself.
Listen to Music
As long as I’m bike riding on a path as opposed to trafficked roads, I’m frequently plugged in to my iPhone, listening to music I love. I have some hard-driving playlists, but more often I just shuffle and let the fates decide what I listen to. It’s all good, all uplifting, all invigorating.
Listen to Books and Podcasts
I sadly have little time to read. And I don’t drive much, so I rarely listen to the radio or to podcasts in the car. But again, when I run, work out indoors (treadmill, Spinning bike), or ride my local paths, I alternate listening to music with listening to books, courtesy of Audible, and to my favorite podcasts, courtesy of iTunes. I thoroughly enjoy National Public Radio’s This American Life and Fresh Air. By bike or by foot, I remain one well-informed, well-read dude.
Set Little Challenges
My 10-year-old self used to throw a tennis ball at a strike zone chalked out on a brick wall 60 feet, 6 inches away. For hours. It didn’t get me to the big leagues, but I loved the challenge, and made up mini baseball games that I’d win or lose depending on my accuracy. Or I’d shoot hoops in a sequence around the key and 20 feet from the basket (pre-three-point arc)—and start over when I missed. As a righty, I’d run left-handed drills. Again, some might call some of this stuff discipline. I called it fun.
Today I relive those days, albeit in an evolved manner.
Perhaps I run nearly all-out, for 100 yards, on a stretch of trail. Or spot a rider ahead of me on the road, catch up, and sprint by. No wheelsucking. Just pure Peter Sagan–style prowess. (That’s Peter doing his Bob imitation in the photo above. Heh.) Or I do three push-ups with every burpee instead of one. Ouch! But hey, this is about me vs. me. I’m just playing.
Feed Your Strava
I’ll admit that I’m a latecomer to Strava, and used to wonder why on earth anyone would care about viewing my workouts, or vice-versa. But I’m into it now, and understand the motivational aspect of posting my rides and runs, and giving kudos to my friends. I love seeing what Andrew and Aaron are up to, and enjoy it when they kudo me for a new personal record, even if it’s just that 0.1-mile sprint to the Boneyard (our local dog park).
Use a Fitness Tracker
I’ve recently acquired a spiffy fitness tracker and heart-rate monitor—much more about that in upcoming posts. Therein lays a whole universe of figurative chalk-strike zones and around-the-horn shooting contests. Time my laps, stay within a certain heart-rate zone, review my stats, set mileage goals… and more.
I’m not answering to anyone. Just having fun.