I’ve got a few friends and coworkers that are self-proclaimed gym rats. Everyone has their reasons for their workouts; some people work out because they have to for their military obligations, some because they like the runners high or running races, and some because they want to look good naked. All of these reasons have some form of end goal, be it continued employment by the government, medals and bragging rights, and well … you know. My reasons are a little different. Several years ago I went from a job that while technical, had me lifting servers and putting them in racks, loading storage room shelves, and walking constantly between the data center, my desk, and another set of buildings where my management sat to a job that largely has me sitting between a couple of desks a couple hundred yards apart and typing all day. Not to say that being an IT Administrator is particularly straining, but I certainly had more activity in my routine running around in the data center. Flying a desk allowed me to get promoted, earn more money, and get to a place where I could earn more leave in order to take the vacations I wanted to on my time — needless to say these most often revolved around the outdoors, hunting and fishing.
I’ve taken some of the aforementioned buddies in the woods with me, mostly on fishing trips, but some of them I trust with a firearm around me and often times the same folks who love Tough Mudders and are routinely “liftin’ bars and crushin’ PRs” find themselves out of their element. Similarly, if you were to ask me to run a half marathon I’d probably be winded within the first kilometer, unable to properly pace myself while breathing like an asthmatic bulldog. My friends often ask me why bother hunting if I don’t always bring something back, usually these are folks who get a ribbon or medal from running a race, a sense of accomplishment, and a bunch of social media “likes” while some of us are sitting on an overstuffed couch brushing Doritos dust from our bellies. After all, every bag of chips is a single serving regardless of whether it’s a “family size” or not. I don’t want to belittle their accomplishments, I know plenty of marathon runners who enjoy what they do, and training for a marathon is intense. However, so is dragging a dead whitetail buck over treetops while hunting the edge of a clearcut before the sun sets because you made the mistake of not bringing any illumination with you.
My current job has me sitting endlessly worrying about outcomes of large scale projects for eight to twelve hours and then I come home from my nearly hour long commute exhausted. Suddenly I’m the guy getting smoked out on the woods and water. I can’t afford to buckle after a 10 mile hike if I want to take up more back country hunting and fishing. I know that if I want to go west I need to work on my cardio, preferably at elevation since I spend most of my time near the coast of the Chesapeake Bay where elevation ranges from 0 ft to something like a massive 40 ft above sea level. I’ve come to recognize that I need to augment my hunting, fishing, and hiking with some other activity.
I’ve turned to rowing for a majority of my exercise, allowing me time to reminisce of my college summers spent in the Western New York finger lakes of Hemlock and Honeoye, fishing and paddling from end to end. It allows me to throw on a podcast and drift off into thought while the whir of the Concept2 puts me into a zen like state. Some people will feel the same way about running, and that’s infinitely more scenic but rowing burns more calories and I can row a 5K in about 24 minutes after work (calorie burn approximately 260) while continuing to keep the plates spinning between cooking dinner and playing with the dogs. Couple that with micro adventures on the weekends, rucking and hiking with the dogs and scouting new public land you’ll see those weekday work outs that you put into the bank account that is your personal fitness really begin to pay dividends. Bonus points, guilt free beer drinking. Although the true goal will be taking my buddies deep into the Rocky Mountains and being of able mind and body to be able to track, kill, and pack out a prize elk. I think the medallions of backstrap on a plate cooked for myself and my wife are better than any challenge coin or medal given from a race won. That said, these are just hobbies. My trophies go the same places as the gold cups and placards, on the mantle and wall.
So what are you training for?