I've been thinking often of this post by Jill Homer, where she wrestles with health setbacks that have forced her to reassess her goals for the year:
Recently I had an enlightening e-mail conversation with another cyclist about self-defining tenets and the unsettling experience of losing these pieces of our identities. People who identify as athletes are endlessly vulnerable to health setbacks, injuries, changes in circumstance, and aging[.]
Aging: check. I just turned 40. Changes in circumstance: check. My wife and I just became parents for the first time.
Talking with friends and family about this has been difficult. They struggle to understand the reasons I mountain bike in the first place, and why it's so painful to think of losing.
I don't ride or lift or play with kettlebells to make my cardiologist happy. I do not do it because "staying in shape" makes me happy. I ride and work out because riding and working out makes me happy. The workout isn't the means. It's the end.
And for the last few months, I've been agonizing over how to essentially build a lifeboat for that part of me that is a mountain biker, so that I can reclaim him if my life ever allows it. I've thought of this entirely in terms of saying in shape for the next few years, how to preserve my fitness so that I can get back to enjoying that fitness some day.
And that just made me even more sad, because I'm getting my own motivation backward. I should know myself well enough to know that treating fitness as the primary goal isn't going to motivate me. I shouldn't be looking for a way to stay in shape, I should be looking for a challenging workout that fits into my life.
Yes, there's a certain level of practicality required here. But I need to work within my own psychology so that my goal isn't "stay in shape", but rather "continue to be someone who gets outside and works hard."
The general plan is lunchtime workouts, with a smattering of kettlebells, inline skating, running, and maybe some bike intervals.
With the arrival of a new member of the family, the primary focus will be taking care of my child and my wife, and continuing to bring my A game to work every day.
But I also need to take care of myself. And that means continuing to work out consistently and intensely. So, in the spirit of preparedness and opportunity, I'm getting set to take advantage of my lunch break if/when I can. I figure if I can do that a few times a week, I'll avoid totally slacking off on fitness.