My Dreams Are Bigger Than My VO2 Max

That’s supposed to be a take on “my eyes are bigger than my stomach.”  Is it working?  No, you say…?

I get these crazy ideas.  I heard about how USA Track & Field has these “master’s” meets where they do all the events you’d find at a high school, college, or pro track meet, only the athletes are ordinary people over 40.   (Strike that.  Ordinary people over 40 do not compete in track meets.)  So you’ve got these 40+-year-olds competing in everything from the 100m dash, to the javelin, to the triple jump, to the steeplechase.  Doesn’t that sound like tremendous fun?

I’d love to, say, run the 200m.  Even if I took twice as long as my competitors and came in dead (I’d hope not literally?) last.  I think it would make you feel like such a kid again to go compete with a field like that.  Besides, it sounds to me like a much healthier way to deal with a midlife crisis than the more popular alternatives that end in bankruptcy and/or divorce court.  I very much want to join USATF and participate in one of these events one day.  Sadly, I don’t think there are any of these meets held nearby.  Also, I’m not sure that I’m nearly ambitious or competitive enough to ever actually give it a try.  Finally, I have NO idea which event(s) I’d actually pick, but it’s fun to think about it.

On the flip side, I just finished reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.  Most runners have a least heard of this book, but it chronicles the author’s quest to figure out why his foot always hurt when he ran and what he might do about it.  His inquiry lead to an adventure that took him to Mexico’s “deadly Copper Canyons” where he met and observed the Tarahumara Indians, who can literally run for days wearing nothing but handcrafted sandals.  The book also includes a cast of some rather colorful American ultra runners who joined him in a 50-mile race with the Tarahumara in Mexico.  It’s absolutely fascinating.

Tarahumara Sandals

Tarahumara Sandals

So I now also want to run – in addition to a full marathon – a 50+ mile trail race.  In minimalist shoes, no less.

Or at least I really, really did, until I ran four miles Wednesday- sucking wind the whole time – and that seemed, like, Really. Far. to run.

Finally, I go back and forth about whether or not I want to join some of my friends in training for a sprint triathlon.  Initially, I thought the running and swimming parts sounded great, but that I probably wouldn’t do it because I thought I hated biking.  Now that I know that I don’t totally loathe riding a bike (I just suck at it), the triathlon idea has gained some appeal to me.

Anyway, not to sound like a total wimp, but I probably will not attempt most of these feats.  Maybe the triathlon in the next couple of years.  And maybe (MAYBE) a full marathon (in a couple of years, when both of my kiddoes are in school?).  But that is likely my limit.  Then again, never say never, I guess.

At the same time, there are two things that I am at least semi-seriously considering after reading Born to Run: a plant-based diet and transitioning to minimalist shoes.

Let’s start with shoes.  I know there are very good arguments on both sides of this issue.  But something about the barefoot/minimalist shoe side passes a logic test to me.  I mean, Mother Nature isn’t an idiot, you know?  Personally, I have found that I sometimes experience foot pain (in my arches) when I do activities that “require” shoes.  In fact, I used to do aerobics videos in my living room in bare feet, despite the videos’ recommendations, because that didn’t hurt.  I had this pet hypothesis that because I was a gymnast as a kid that my feet were just used to being bare.  Now that I know more about the arguments for barefoot/minimalist shoe running, I’m not sure why shoes bothered me, but I do imagine that I must have had really strong feet.  I’m very much interested to find out how my feet would feel if I transitioned to wearing “less” shoe, especially after just recovering from a non-specific foot injury.  However, you do have to transition from running in regular running shoes to running in minimalist shoes.  I’d need help with that.  I found a place in West Virginia that fits the bill.  I have to see if there’s a resource closer to me.  This isn’t something I’m going to look into immediately, but maybe in the near future.

Okay, on to food!  One thing I know for sure:  Most of us are eating crap.  Guilty as charged!  We’re buying processed convenience foods at the store.  We don’t know where our food comes from anymore.  Even home-cooked meals are likely to be less wholesome than the ones are parents and grandparents cooked due to changes in farming techniques and GMO foods.  It scares the heck out of me.

I’ve actually be reading about the benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets since the mid-90s.  And, again, despite the arguments for animal protein in our diets, the vegan diet passes some logic tests for me.  Our teeth aren’t carnivore teeth.  Our ancestors ate mostly, if not exclusively, plants.  Societies where most nourishment comes from plants have little to no incidence of our “Western” diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.  I even remember from anthropology class that, when people first learned to hunt, the typical scenario was a group of men occasionally brought down a single animal that the whole village would then share.  That is, they’d occasionally feast, but the bulk of their diet was still plant-based.

As I’ve studied this over the years, I’ve made several attempts at adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet.  It just always seemed so complicated.  I mean, aside from people treating you like you’re totally whackadoo, it’s just so much easier to eat what everyone else is eating – i.e., what they’re serving you, what’s most easily found in the grocery stores, what they’re serving at restaurants.

But, I’m working harder at it this time.  I’m not prepared to say that I am giving up meant and dairy.  But I am working hard toward finding enough simple foods and recipes that I enjoy so that I can eat a plant-based diet most days of the week.  Now, getting my family on board with eating more plants is going to be a whole other issue to tackle.  (Fortunately, my girls do very much like their fruits and veggies – in addition to some junky snacks!)

Anyway, I guess it’s good to have dreams even if you don’t plan to make all of them come true.

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