Hate Exercise? Find a Passion!

I know many people put off exercise because they don’t like the gym, don’t like lifting weights, don’t like running, or don’t want to do anything that has no real purpose other than fitness. Well, the good news is there are a lot of things that you can do that require physical exertion that can be fun!

I recently took up bike riding again. I was an avid cyclist as a teenager, often riding more than 100 miles per week. I stopped riding bicycles when I joined the Marines, and only dabbled with bikes here and there over the past 30 years. Recently, I decided I really wanted to get back into riding bikes, only this time, it was mountain biking and off-road trail riding that interested me. After riding my old Raleigh mountain bike enough that parts were falling off of it, I bought a much nicer Scott Scale 940 mountain bike.

I recently found a series of trails very close to my home that were made specifically for mountain biking. I have been on the trail twice in the past three days, and I look forward to adding this new activity to my weekly fitness routine.

My latest trip to the bike park in video.

This weekend, I will also be kayaking with my wife. This is another activity we both love, and is very physically intensive. The best part about kayaking is it’s one of those activites that can be as demanding or as easy as you like, and it’s also a great upper-body workout.

Sherry and I at Lake Raven a few months ago.

I am fortunate in that I enjoy weightlifting, sometimes enjoy running, always enjoy riding bikes and kayaking, and generally like hiking. But I know not everyone is like me, and while I might love riding bikes, others might not. The point is that there are many activities you can find that will get your heart pumping and help you on your journey to get healthy. I found my happy activities; now, go out and find yours!

Healthy Living Pays Off

Two weeks ago, I completed one of the most gruelling physical tests I’ve endured in my life as a part of my Warrant Officer Candidate School; a 6.2 mile (10km) foot march (aka ruck march) within an hour and 45 minutes with a rucksack weighing 50 lbs (23kg), a helmet weighing 3 lbs (1.36kg), a hydration system (aka Camelback) weighing 4.4 lbs (2kg), and an unslung dummy M4 rifle weighing 7.75 lbs (3.52kg). Altogether, this had me carrying over 65 lbs (29.5kg) for the entire foot march.

Coming into the finish line after 6.2 miles (10km).

The first mile wasn’t bad at all. I’ve done 2, 3.1, and 4 mile versions of this foot march, and none of them were overly challenging. Miles 2 and 3 were also fine, but I did notice a lot of sweating as it was humid out. Mile 4 and 5 had me slowing down a bit, but I was still making good time. Then came mile 6. This is where all the gains I made in the first 5 miles were being cashed in as my pace slowed considerably. Mile 6 is where success or failure happens, and I willed myself to keep pushing despite the exhaustion. My legs didn’t hurt, nor was I winded, but I was exhausted. My energy was gone.

I did have some high-carb gummies to eat, courtesy of my classmate Lauren, but near the end, I was out of snacks and out of energy. What got me through was sheer willpower. In the end, I made it with just over four minutes to spare, and that was enough to pass the event.

Shortly after passing the finish line, I was happy to be successful and finished.

At age 53, this was pretty tough. I’d done road marches in the past when I was younger, and they were never this hard on me. The last 10km foot march I did was in August 2019, and while I was worn out at the end, I don’t recall the last mile being as gruelling as this last one was. However, I will say that my legs felt much better this time than the last 10km foot march I did. I’ve been lifting weights and running longer distances coupled with mountain biking, so that extra strength in my legs helped me with my shuffle-run/fast walk in the first three miles which gave me the cushion I needed for my slow last mile.

My class and I after we all successfully completed the foot march.

I spoke with a few senior Chief Warrant Officers after completing this event, and as they were close to my age (all younger with one exception), they all remarked that they would have difficulty completing the 10km foot march the way I did. That made me feel good, and reinforced all the good habits I’ve undertaken these past 5 years. Good food and good exercise pays off.

My Warrant Officer Candidate School class and I at the placement of our “Class Rock” in the WOCS Rock Garden upon completion of Phase I.