My Biggest Hurdle

My biggest hurdle in life, has always been myself.

I’m self-indulgent. Lazy. Prone to procrastinate. A perfectionist, prone to never even start a project (or finish it) if I don’t like the results.

Until last year October, until now, I’ve never had to deal with it directly.

I went to military school from grades 6th-8th. I thrived in the structured environment. Went from a messy room to nearly spotless, from C’s and D’s to straight A’s. Not being accomplished in sport to finding a place on a couple of teams – mostly for my taste for hitting the other side (football, wrestling, lacrosse). During the summer at home, I was a lazy couch potato who played video games most of the day, slept odd hours, ate junk food and whatever I liked. I stayed skinny and in shape because of my youthful metabolism, free energy from youth, and a generous helping of home cooking to counteract the bad food.

In high school, I went to a boarding school for four years (9th-12th). I thrived in the structured environment. I played in a sport almost every semester and was in the gym when I wasn’t playing a sport. At one point, (mostly 9th and 10th grade), I ran 10 miles twice a week. I played rugby. I ran cross country. I ran track. Trying my best to get into West Point, I had a PT schedule my father helped me come up with over the summer and I followed that schedule through my 12th grade year and later through college.

In college, I had to PT twice a week with ROTC, and often had other occasions where I had to ruck or march or run or something else. As the years in college went on, I was required to do less and less, but never less than PT tests and the two days of PT. This sustained me at good enough physical condition  to the end of college. After I was rejected by West Point a second time, due two C’s out of A’s and B’s in my first semester in college, I didn’t have the motivation to really get physically fitter as I once did. I just figured I’d always be in shape and had never made any new goals after I surpassed 100 push ups in two minutes. Pulling my hamstring my last semester of college put me out of the loop for a bit, but in the end, I was able to keep in APFT shape regardless.

At officer basic course, I came in and had to recycle because I wasn’t able to run 5 miles and ruck 12 miles in under 3 hours with a 47lb load. That meant 1.5 years spent in training instead of just 8 months. Because I had to improve my five mile time and my ruck march time. Even then, I had a little structure which helped me out.

What spurs my writing now is round 2, only the consequences are worse and I still don’t have an excuse. I’m at a unit. There’s less structure. I had hernia surgery end of September, couldn’t work out legally until halfway through October, and have found it difficult to force myself to run and workout to get myself back to a basic level of fitness.I’ve never really been good at pushing myself when no one is looking. Sure, during practice or PT session I’d push myself. Sometimes I’d call it hanging on for dear life.

But I’ve found it uncomfortably easy to lie to myself “I’ll do it later…I mean tomorrow. I mean the day after tomorrow”. It’s way easier to lie to myself than force myself to get out and get after it.

Today, I’m back in emergency mode because of an event coming up. I’m simultaneously praying that I don’t have to face the music and that the fire that’s beneath my feet never goes away. I pray that eventually I won’t need fire to my feet to get me to do what I do want to do, when I don’t want to do it.

So what the hell am I doing about this besides whining about it and making a bad situation worse by procrastinating more?

  1. I bet myself that I can’t run a total of 50 miles by the end of March*. (currently at 3/50**)
  2. I bet myself I can’t do more than a total of 2600 sit-ups by the end of March*. (currently at 130/2600)
  3. I bet myself that I can’t do a total of 2600 push ups by the end of March*. (currently at 190/2600)
  4. I bet myself that I can’t do more than 560 pull ups by the end of March*. (currently at 30/520)

I ran the first consecutive two miles in a row (under my own power) for the first time in longer than I care to admit. And completed my normal workout goals for the day.

Still, this isn’t the only thing I want to change about myself.***


*Starting 4 March 2017 (Saturday)

** I really don’t like running.

***I don’t like this post. Didn’t want to write it. Not satisfied with it or writing quality. But here it is. Who knows, I might be back. If only to post everyday a tally of my miles, push-ups, etc…

4 thoughts on “My Biggest Hurdle

  1. I admire your desire to get in better shape. I also respect how important it is to set goals. However that list of short term goals looks like a recipe for disaster. If you persue those goals, you’ll be lucky to avoid injury. That list is a) super ambitious, b) very repetitive in terms of exercise selection, c) very short term. I suggest setting longer, more modest goals. Good luck.

    • If you do the math, my list has me doing about 2 miles a day, 100 push ups a day, 100 sit ups a day, and about 20 pull ups a day.

      I don’t even have to do them all at once.

      The purpose of these goals is to get me off my own ass, where the only goal is numbers, which is an easier framework to start with. To my mind, my body can handle this task without injury. I’m able to do 64 push ups in two minutes, 67 sit ups in two minutes, and two miles in 18:47 (embarrassingly slow to be honest), and 13 pull ups in a row. From my starting point, I’m able to get this list done.

      Make sense?


      • If it makes sense to you, definitely go for it. Risk of injury will have a lot to do with your age, and your starting fitness level. Your current fitness level seems good, so that is to your advantage. In general I advise most folks to follow the 10% rule of working out – increase intensity/duration/distance/volume by no more than about 10% per week. Exception abound, but that guideline will keep most people pretty healthy and avoid injury. Good luck.

        • All the same, I appreciate your input.

          That 10% rule sounds pretty good. But no wonder then, it takes a while to build up muscle, strength, or endurance properly.


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