Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fitness Defined

    Everyone should develop their own ideas about what constitutes being healthy and/or fit. I'm using this post to present my idea of where I think I need to be for me to consider myself a healthy and fit individual. Right at the moment, I am quite a ways off from where I think I need to be. As a matter of fact, I'm so far from healthy that I probably have one foot in the grave already. Thats why I'm taking the time to write that I can identify and work towards specific goals as they apply to my 3 main fitness goals of strength, speed and endurance.

     1) Strength Standards- I believe a man needs to be able to move heavy objects. In preparation for such an endeavor, I try to keep a minimum amount of strength available by lifting weights and eating foods that promote healthy muscle. For now, I just want to look at the weight lifting aspect. 2+ years ago, when I started lifting, I had no defined goals except to establish a routine and stick to it. That has worked out well for me for the most part, and while I have tweaked the routine from time to time (to add weight or increase reps), I'm not really doing anything different since I started lifting.

     Well, I'm at a point now where I need to define what is acceptable strength and what I need to do to get there. After a quick google search for "Strength Standards", I found this web site and decided that the strength standards for an intermediate to advanced level weight lifter for the 5 different power lifts would be a good place to start. Fortunately, I have been diligent with bench presses since I started lifting, so I'm already at intermediate strength for that one. That means I can mostly just focus on the other 4.

     2) Speed-Q) How fast is too fast? A) It depends on the distance. I have a general goal of doing 12 foot races per year, 2 on each surface (asphalt and trail) of the 6 most popular distances (5k, 4M, 10k, 10M, 1/2 marathon and marathon). I believe fast enough is going to be finishing most events in the top 10% in a given year. Of course the marathon has that golden ring that I have to keep reaching for, the Boston Qualifier. Boston Qualifying would certainly be a nice annual goal to work towards, but with the differences in elevation profiles from one course to another I believe for fitness definition purposes that top 10% is the better parameter.

     3) Endurance. Although running, in and of itself, is a great endurance activity, I prefer the triathlon as a barometer measurement for endurance. I like the way it challenges the whole body in different areas and at different times. I think for my own purposes that an activity that challenges my endurance needs to be more about the challenge of overcoming the distance and less about speed. For me that distance is 70.3, the Half Ironman. I'm no where near ready to try one so this will be like my ultimate life time challenge. In the meantime, a 50 mile ultra marathon would probably make a good substitute.

     So there you have it. My idea of what constitutes "healthy" for me. If I should ever reach each all 3 targets for strength, speed, and endurance in a given year, then I will feel like I've done something. In the meantime...gotta keep on gettin' it.

     [Update: 5-14-12]: A 100 mile century ride is just as good of a  substitute for an endurance activity as the  ultra marathon. The Half Iron is still my lifetime goal, but as an interim activity a century ride works out as well as and possibly better in some ways than an ultra.

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