I’m never going to run a marathon. I’m never going to do an Ironman. I’m never doing to do an ultra-marathon. I’m never going to ride my bike from Alaska to Patagonia. (Although I’ve thought about it.) I’m never going to free climb a massive big wall. (I’ve never even thought about doing it.)
But the truth is none of these things really matter. If you look at the active community online it’s always stories about the extreme. And athletes are taking more and more risks to satisfy the all-powerful “Like” which for a very small number of people can turn into matching dollars or euros or yen or rupees. Rarely do you see the story about “Bob,” or “Marge.” “Marge is forty-two and walks for half an hour every single morning.” “Marge isn’t fast, doesn’t wear the latest workout fashion and has no idea what her personal best is.” “Marge isn’t on social media and spends most of her free time reading or tutoring students at the local middle school.” In short, Marge isn’t exciting and doesn’t promote a level of commercialism that will satisfy the infinite growth model deployed by most of the active brands. But there sure are a lot of Marges out there. In fact, I just saw two walk by my house, on a 25-degree morning.
Most of us are routine maintenance athletes. We are, don’t kid yourself. Sure, I’m pedaling upwards of 100+ miles a week on my bike, doing yoga three or four days a week and also hiking the same amount. But I’m not setting any records and that is the point. As we age we fall OUT of shape so quickly. If I miss four days on my bike I fall back to where I was the last time I missed four days, no matter how long it is between lapses. It sucks but so does paying taxes. (Those of us who aren’t rich enough or smart enough to find ways out.)
Many of us spend copious amounts of time in front of screens. And in doing so we have become a sedentary species. Gone are the days of hunting and gathering. Now we wait for drones to drop Twinkies on our lap while binging all 172 episodes of Miami Vice. (Nothing wrong with this at all. James Sonny Crockett is my spirit animal.)
These maintenance routes don’t sell clothing. They don’t sell an “active lifestyle.” They don’t sell adventure or extreme risk. They don’t sell anything other than a feeling in those participating in the endeavor. These force us to move. To get up from the damn screen, wedge ourselves into bulging spandex nightmares and get our asses into the wilds, urban or actual.
So don’t knock yourself if all you can manage is a thirty-minute lunch session or a quick walk before dinner. Just do it. Get it done. And for those of you who claim to be so busy. Just stop. We all are. Everyone is. So, if you are having trouble then schedule your maintenance just like you would for your car. I do. It works. I get up at 5 AM and read for at least an hour. Then, it’s yoga baby. These items are on my calendar just like my conference calls, my collaboration meetings, my in-person meetings, my car maintenance, my travel plans, etc. And yes, I’ll stop an “important” thing to do my “exercise” thing. They get equal billing otherwise what you will always find is an excuse. Our culture produces them like, well, Twinkies.