Weight training and I just don’t mix. Oh, I used to do it quite a bit back in the old days when I was younger and faster. Even this year I did pushups pretty religiously as part of my “jail house” workout. The way I figured it, my arms were moving just as much as my legs – I ought to make them strong, too.
My new reluctance to lift weights and do pushups didn’t come because of some scientific evidence I read in a medical journal or something found in one of the ubiquitous Runner’s World stories about being fit that seem to be recycled from month to month. The reason is because of an interview I read a few months ago with Lance Armstrong.
Armstrong, as most people know, is a bit of a runner these days. He should be in the final days of his taper before Sunday’s New York City Marathon, but had a little bit of success as a cyclist for a few years before retiring from the sport after the 2005 Tour de France.
So what did Armstrong reveal in the interview that made me turn my dumbbells into some odd-looking furniture?
He said he didn’t lift weights.
Of course that might have changed these days. Armstrong looks pretty fit and strong on the cover of a few magazines from the past couple of months. But when he was winning the seven Tour de France races in a row, Armstrong said he never touched a weight or even thought about doing a pushup. Pushups equal muscle and muscle equals weight and weight equals slow.
Slow is no good.
Here’s the quote from the November 2006 issue of Runner’s World… wait didn’t I just make fun of that magazine? Well… never mind. Here’s Lance:
“When I rode I couldn’t do a pushup, because immediately I would have put on muscle. But I decided I don’t want to do that anymore. I’d rather have a full-body workout. So I’ve definitely put on weight, a lot of upper-body muscle weight.”
In the same interview, Armstrong reveals his taste for beer, wine and margaritas (Hey! Me too!) as well as a competitive cyclist’s penchant for big eating and for starving themselves.
“It sucks,” he said.
So that’s why I stopped lifting weights. Honestly, I can’t tell a difference between now and then in terms of my fitness although these days I don’t have pipes for arms. I have pipe cleaners.
As far as cross-training goes, I try to walk places instead of driving. When I was younger and poorer I walked and rode my bike everywhere. Something as simple as that definitely made a difference in my training and fitness. I also do sit-ups like crazy and have noticed a big difference since I started doing my sit-ups and crunches on a big fitness ball I bought in the summer.
My stretching is still sporadic and not very intense, though I think I make up for that with the weekly ART sessions. I kind of enjoy doing a basic yoga routine when I can – I have my own mat and strap and everything -- but lately I have been inconsistent with that, too.
Now that I’m starting the taper, I suppose I’ll be more consistent with the yoga.
Did I mention the taper? Yeah, I started it today. After beating myself up on Monday and running hard for too long on Tuesday, I ran just 10 miles in 64:30 on Wednesday. I did the entire run on the grass at Baker Field, which is where I plan on doing all of my runs for the next 10 days to lessen the pounding and wear and tear on my legs. I also didn’t think I was going as fast as the time indicates, but there’s nothing I can do about that.
Either I’m faster or the loops are shorter.
On CNN this week, I saw photos of Castro wearing Adidas gear. Nike may have some questionable labor issues in third-world countries, but at least a brutal dictator isn’t strolling around wearing Air Jordans.
Stefano Baldini is the defending Olympic and World Championship champ and is running the New York City Marathon this Sunday. Here’s an interview with Baldini on the Men’s Racing site where he discusses his training with Exton, Pa’s Duncan Larkin.
Here are the songs that made it from beginning to end on my iPod during today’s easy 10-miler:
Please – U2
Touch the Sky – Kanye West
3 MC’s & 1 DJ (Live video version) – Beastie Boys
Starve – Rollins Band
Piss-Bottle Man – Mike Watt
The Wait – Metallica
Loretta’s Scars – Pavement
Debaser – Pixies
I Got You – Split Enz
Jerry Was a Race Car Driver – Primus
What’s My Name – DMX
Pretty in Pink – Social Distortion
Numb/Encore – Jay-Z/Linkin Park
You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar… - Queens of the Stoneage
One-Armed Scissor – At the Drive-In
Androgynous Mind – Sonic Youth