100 pushups seems a long long long way away

I just struggled through my pushup routine. Over the past few weeks of preparations for my 5k run, I have completely neglected all of the muscles in my upper body and today it showed. However, I’m preparing to turn that around.

A few months ago I had printed off Steve Speirs’ Hundred Pushups Training Program and started working on the routine. I got through the first few weeks of the program without too much trouble, but near the end of the third week I began to realize my weaknesses.

I’ve never been able to do much more than 40 pushups in a row, so the task of working up to 100 pushups is quite daunting and maybe unrealistic for me. However, I’m confident that if I stick to the routine and work at it consistently I will succeed.

I’ve never been able to do much more than 40 pushups in a row, so the task of working up to 100 pushups is quite daunting and maybe unrealistic for me. However, I’m confident that if I stick to the routine and work at it consistently I will succeed.

The program is built around making small improvement and gradually adding more and more pushups into the workout until the body is capable of completing 100 consecutively.

Routine and stick-to-it-ness are not my strong points. However, this is the sort of goal where the very act of striving after it will develop other good habits along the way.

Success or failure in the end is not what is most important in working towards the 100 pushup goal. Whether I succeed or not, the training along the way will greatly benefit my body, mind, and will.

My body will get stronger. Just going through the motions will ensure that. Also, my mind and will power will be developed and strengthened in the process. My hope is that I will be able to apply the mental skills that I develop in this training to other areas in my life.

Learning to make gradual improvements in small increments over a long enough time line will inevitably lead to radical changes in my life. I can’t ask for a better educational experience that that.

5k Run: Weakness Accomplishes Nothing

So, I ended up doing much better than I expected in my 5k run on Thursday. I was so nervous going into it. I’m not sure why, but I think it was because I haven’t engaged in any competition at all this year, and also because I was convinced that I would embarrass myself in front of my co-workers, who were all expecting fantastic times.

As it turned out, I came in first at my company, and 20th out of 150 some men. It was quite a shock to me, but in the process I learned a lot about myself and my body.
Running a race is not like other sports. It’s almost impossible to size up the competition. In basketball you can make assumptions based on height, in wrestling, based on build. But good runners come in all shapes and sizes, and when you’re lined up with 300 other people, there’s no telling a head of time where you stand.

And once you start it doesn’t matter. Once the gun goes off, it’s not a competition against anyone except yourself. It’s a contest between your body which is telling you to slow down and your mind which is saying, “Speed up!” Or at least it should. It seemed like half the time my mind was working against me as well.

This went on through out the whole race. I could look at people up ahead and tell myself that I was going to try to keep pace with them and try to catch up. However, the only time I was really able to gain any ground was when–instead of looking at other around me–I pushed aside my own negative thoughts and pushed aside the discomforts of running for the sake of a faster stride that I was able to gain any ground.

Throughout the race, I knew that I would have to overlook my own shortcomings if I was to succeed. I learned at the one mile marker that my weaknesses were not going to help me at all during the next two miles. Weaknesses were of no use. They would accomplish nothing. Only my strengths would be of use in trying to finish this race.

I have many weaknesses and shortcomings. These have no benefit in any circumstance. However, understanding my weaknesses is one of the first steps to take to corner and nurture my strengths. And that was how the second mile went. I found my pace and my stride. I focused on the energy moving me forward and not on the fatigue that would only slow me down. With this I was able to hold my position and even gain ground on the pack ahead.

In the third mile, my weaknesses were apparent. I had been sweating profusely throughout the second mile, and now my arms were becoming heavy. I would have thought that swinging them at my sides in the nearly frictionless air would be the easiest movement. My back also was becoming tired. I didn’t even know that my back was an active participant in this run. My legs kept going even though breathing became more of a challenge.

The most difficult part of the end of this race was not knowing where the finish line was. The first two miles were clearly marked, but the final stretch had many twists and turns, cutting back and across the path. In addition to that, a 5k is 3.2 miles, and each mile became increasingly difficult so I had an impossible time judging how close I was to the finish.

Many times, tasks and challenges are like that. It gets more difficult when the end of a task or challenge is near, and it’s most difficult when the end is not in site. This was no different. I wanted to keep up my pace and run steadily to the end, but with no end in sight, doubts crept in, voices saying, “You can’t do it, the finish line is still far off, you’ll have to slow down if you plan to finish.”

But, just as I was getting ready to give in and slow down, I rounded the final corner, and out of nowhere, the finish line was in front of me. The excitement of seeing the finish line gave me an extra boost of strength that I used to transition from a run to sprint. I felt light, like I was just starting out…for the first 20 yards.

Then the previous three miles shouted: “Slow down!” But I didn’t listen, and I ran as hard as I could across the finish line, passing one unsuspecting competitor as I finished.

I finished exhausted. But that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. If I had anything left in me after I finished I would have been disappointed that I didn’t use it on the course.

At the end of the race, I knew my weaknesses played no part in my success. Only my strengths mattered. I’m now going to be looking for other ways to apply this thinking. I can, I think, be aware of my weaknesses without letting them interfere with my strengths or goals.

The challenge will be to figure out how.

Learning to run

Yesterday, I mentioned that I am preparing for a 5k race. I use the word preparing loosely. I have only run three times in the past several weeks. However, I have been gradually ramping up my time and intensity with each successive attempt. On my first outing, I ran 15 minutes, on the second 18, and last night I went a full 20.

The race is on October 8th so I think I’ll still be able to fit in a few more runs and work my way up to 30 minutes. I think I should be able to finish the race in that amount of time, even at the slower pace at which I train. Hopefully, with the adrenalin the competition stirs up, my ego (which will do anything to beat out my slower co-workers), and the training I’ve completed, I’ll be able to make a good showing at the race.

I don’t consider myself a runner. Since college, I haven’t chosen running as a preferred method of exercise. In high school and college I ran regularly, not for it’s own sake, but either as conditioning for a sport or in the context of a game. Actually, since the beginning of this year, exercise has not been a high priority, but to a small extent, I’m trying to change that to get in shape and maintain my good health.

Using the Internet as resource number one, I’ve been able to find an overwhelming resource of ways to get started and develop. However, this really isn’t something that I need more information on or to be educated in. Probably all the searching was really just an attempt at avoiding the real work.

Running is just something I need to do: set aside 30 minutes to workout, and then enjoy or endure the pain or the high, and, every time, the sweat. It’s really about finding out what works and doing it. Hopefully there is more pain than high, or I may become addicted.