The Olympics, Getting Fit & Making Yourself Puke

I’ve been watching some of the 2008 Summer Olympics and I’ve noticed that they have a lot of little segments of the athletes in training. Watching the games has certainly motivated me to get back on the wagon as they say and get back into the gym. That and the fact I’m getting Married September 13th.

I’ve always thought that I’d rather play the sports than watch them and while I’ll never be able to do even a simple somersault on the high bar I’ve been inspired to push myself.

Take a look at the current medal ranking according to the New York Times

COUNTRY
Gold Medal
Silver Medal
Bronze Medal
TOTAL
China flag iconChina
22
8
5
35
United States flag iconUSA
10
9
15
34
South Korea flag iconSouth Korea
6
7
3
16
Australia flag iconAustralia
5
4
7
16
France flag iconFrance
2
7
6
15
Russia flag iconRussia
3
8
3
14
Italy flag iconItaly
6
4
3
13
Germany flag iconGermany
6
2
3
11
Japan flag iconJapan
5
3
3
11
Britain flag iconBritain
2
2
3
7

As adults we rarely have the opportunity to push ourselves athletically. We give ourselves the option to stop when it hurts, to sit down and rest. Even people who participate in evening sports leagues like softball, basketball or volleyball rarely go out of there way to make the game saving play. How many times have you seen the guy in left field dive under the pop fly to make the catch. Do blacktop basketball players run from the baseline to the free throw line to the baseline to the half court line to the baseline in suicide drills after practice? We rarely push ourselves but I think we secretly crave it. We watch the Olympics and others sports to watch other people do it. Is watching a marathon or a cycling race any more exciting that watching golf, probably not. We watch those events because we are impressed with the athletes ability to endure pain and suffer. Is there a secret desire to emulate professional athletes not for the fame, not for the love of the game but for the desire to actually endure something and triumph over it

My wife used to run cross country in high school. When we drive past a park where they had a meet or a place where they used practice she tells me about how horrible it was and how they used to suffer. She would run twice a day and usually racked up over 60 miles a week. Most of her team would vomit after crossing the finish line at races, it was hot, grueling and generally unpleasant. They also won the state championship and when she looks back on the experience as a whole she has fond memories.

I was on the football team in highschool. I never really played in any of the games because I wasn’t really into football. It just seemed like the thing to do for a 6’2″ 200 pound guy to do. We would run hills while carrying our team mates on our backs. We’d go to the weight room after practice. We ran laps with all of our football gear on. It sucked but I was in incredible shape. I stayed on the team not for the love of the game but because I enjoyed being pushed hard. When I’m on the Stair Master and it starts to hurt I get off and shuffle over to a bike. If I’d done that during practice I’d be made fun of by my teammates then chastised, probably with more running, by the coach.

The accountability to perform during practice made football attractive. This same accountability also made it effective at producing the body I wanted. Sometimes we need just a little more motivation than we can muster ourselves. When training alone there is rarely an incentive to turn yourself inside out and find what you can do.

I’m going to throw in the obligatory check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. But tonight go to the gym, lace up your running shoes or hop on your bike and go until it hurts. Head for the big hills and attack them with gold medal determination. When you get to the top and feel like you’re going to puke turn around, go back down and do it again. The object is to push yourself past what you’re used to. For some this may be a brisk walk. Thats OK, the point is to find out what you’re made of.

Make your gold medal a trip to the ice cream shop. You should feel rewarded for your efforts and if you go hard enough it should cancel out a small sugar and fat free frozen yogurt. Don’t give yourself a little indulgence every time you work out, this one is special. You’re not rewarding yourself for exercising, normal exercise should become something that you do on a regular basis because it feels weird not to. Trust me this will happen sooner than later if you stick to it.

This is supposed to make your legs and lungs burn and let you know where your physical limits are. Once again if your doctor doesn’t want you doing this kind of stuff don’t try this. But if you’re generally healthy then go till you feel like your gonna puke. Go like you’re Micheal Phelps, go like your coach is screaming at you, go until you find out what you’re made of.