Monday, March 21, 2011

A new perspective on fitness....

I like to pretend that I'm of "above average" fitness. I mean, come on, how many people do you know that can run 10 miles at a time?

Don't answer that yet.

Until a few weeks ago, I thought the answer was "very few, excuse me while I bask in the glory of my fitness." Okay, I'm actually very humble about my running, being of the opinion that I should always be able to go further, faster, have a better stride, etc. Never mind that my average pace on long distance runs rarely breaks a 9-minute mile.

Then I made the enlightening mistake of engaging with an army recruiter who asked me about my fitness level. I responded, between footfalls, "I'd say above average." (I was running 7 miles on a treadmill at the time, and used that as evidence.)

When I got home, I did a quick search of the Army Physical Fitness Test minimum requirements, and set out to compare myself to that standard.

For a woman my age, I would need, TO PASS, run 2 miles in 19:36. Easy-peasy. If I don't mind throwing up at the end, I could very well score a 96 right now, finishing in 16 minutes, and give me a few weeks of working at JUST the two miles and I'd hit 100.

Then I looked at the push-ups and sit-up requirements...

80 situps in 2 minutes is 100 points, and the pass rate is 50. No problem. I used to do 60 inclined sit-ups with a 25 lb weight on my chest, and had the six-pack (well... 4 pack) to prove it. I insist it's still hiding under the fine layer of fat I've accumulated over the last four years, but anyway, let's try some sit-ups, shall we?

For all of minute-1, I felt awesome. I banged out 30 sit-ups with no problem, and was well on my way to passing, and then... The timer went off. Forty-seven sit-ups. That number looks like a 4 followed by a 7. I failed. FAILED.

Not feeling quite so sure of myself anymore, eyes glazed over and face beat-red from effort, I asked Aaron, "How many do I need to do?"

Seventeen. In two minutes. How many can you do?


I did manage to get out 14 push-ups in one minute, with ample rest time in between, but no more than two in a row.

So what does it mean to be fit? I realize the subjectivity of the term, because for someone who can't run a mile and sees me running five, to them, I might be fit. But at the same time, they may bang out 50 push-ups without a second thought, and I see that as fitness. Or for me, I can barely touch my toes, and see fitness as a yogi who can fold themselves into a paper crane.

This is going to be the framework for the next few months of my "fitness journey." Whatever that means. Haven't figured that out yet.

Maybe after dinner. And a nice long run.