Time Flies, Kid—Hang On to Your Hat
At 66 years old I’m no longer a pile of rocks; more like a pillar of salt. I’ve received considerable e-mail from guys who are relieved they’re not alone. They know better, but none is eager to acknowledge the bold truth, the bare facts, the revolting predicament: the reality of—gag—old age (OA).
See what I mean? Did you feel that? I said it, OA, and ya’ll cringed. More than one not-so-young bomber flipped the page. “Later! I’m outta here.” All these years invested in muscle and might, iron, steel and discipline, and we fold like beach chairs as the sun goes down.
Excuse me. I, in this day of social correctness and sensitivity, should have applied the more appropriate and graceful terminology, gathering of years (GY).
Gee, why? Prevent mass hysteria.
Do you suppose we built a robust outer shell and not one of us has developed inner strength, courage or mettle—spirit, heart and soul? No way. I like older. Older lasts a long time, forever, in fact. Once you’re older, young is silly. I was young once but abandoned it for something more substantial and worthy: oldness. Young is ephemeral, passing, untested, vacant, thin, without density or mass. Old is deeply rooted and thick-walled, established, profound and unyielding. It’s masterful.
I can’t resist mocking myself, my tarnished conversations and the fact that I’m 66 and nibble at the edges of cracker-size workouts. I wonder how long this will go on, like I’m gonna get better; like I’m in a short recovery period and with a few nights’ sleep, some soup and a couple of aspirin, I’ll be my old self again—younger and stronger—and charging around the gym, a bull in a china shop. Warm up, don’t forget cardio, keep a log, practice intelligent periodization, don’t overtrain—but how can I help myself, compulsive whack job that I am?—eat right, and rest lots. If only there were eight days in a week. Push that iron, lift that steel, eat that tuna, and drink that water. That’s my bench; I’m using that bar.
Have you noticed? The older we get, the more closely we approach the same abilities and capacities. Soon we’ll be sharing similar instinctive training systems: breathe in, breathe out—good. Again. Breathe in, breathe out—good. Again.
Talk about insecurity: I went to the gym last Friday, did six dandy sets of cable work—rope tucks and crossovers—and had to sit slump-shouldered for 10 minutes on the nearest bench. Fatigue climbed over me like an onslaught of slugs. I dragged myself across the floor, out the door, down the steps and into my truck. I’ve never before walked out on a workout. People pointed, they gasped, they whispered, they stared, they dialed 411. Hello, information? Where’s he going?
What’s that all about? It must not become a precedent. No way. I’ve trained twice since then, and all systems are go. I’m a rocket ship. The warming days, the lengthening days, the hopeful days bring with them an expectation of sudden renewal. We need to modulate our training to suit the season of the year and the season of our lives. As we eased out of fall and into winter bareness, so should we ease into the spring and summer abundance.
Stop, look, listen. Pause and take note. Put your ear to the ground and sense the earth’s rumbling. Lift your moistened finger to the air and determine the wind’s direction. String your bow and choose your arrow; know your target and aim with care. I’m a stealthy archer. Pull steadily, release gently, don’t shoot to kill, shoot to live. Retrieve your arrow and do it again.
Where am I going with this? Nowhere. I was going to compare isolated left-right nanocell training with amplified molecular stimulus exercise, but no such things exist—yet. I guess I’ll have to go back to the basics. By the way, this is my last pass at the aging thing; have to get it out of my system. From now on it’s strength and health, and bombing and blasting. I’m a bomber.
Try this upon entering the gym when you haven’t a clue why you’re there or what to do: Stand or sit someplace quiet and out of the way. Close your eyes, relax, and count backward from 10 to one. If that confuses you, go home immediately. If not, go on to step two, which includes determining which muscle group or groups need attention. Sometimes I wiggle and shake my body to arouse meaningful muscle sensations to guide me in my selection. Apply the technique covertly. It’s dumb—embarrassing if observed—but works.