Confessions of an (aging) Adrenaline Junky

I ride dirt bikes. Yeah, so do a lot of other people, so what. Well I guess it is not that big of a deal, but my story illustrates my point and the corresponding concepts around training.

So I started riding when I turned forty, eight, almost nine years ago. And I’ve grown to love it. The rush I got the first time I cleared a double (a type of jump) was intense (that was the first time I tried, I wasn’t so lucky the next time). Now we all know dirt biking is a young man’s sport, but I have no intention of giving it up. Nor do I intend to back off the intense (to me) level at which I ride. In fact, I plan to ride harder and longer than ever as I continue to gain the technical skills needed.

So let’s look at the learning curve. Learning, in many cases, comes with trial and error. Riding dirt is no different. When I make a mistake riding, often (and I mean often) I end up with a little “get off” (slang for crashing). Most of the time when I ride, I’ll experience one, if not two (or more) get offs (If I had a little more brains, I might find another hobby).

So, I’m almost fifty. I ride my dirt bike as hard as I can, and I crash regularly. What is my point? (And you thought I’d never get to it, about time!) For those of you still awake, my point is this. I train to ride. In the gym, I design my exercise regimen to support my ability to ride, and to ride hard (adrenaline…mmm.).

One of my clients, who is in his forties, is getting dropped from a helicopter to go skiing (my adrenal glands are salivating). Now I’ve never done that type of skiing, so I had him simulate the different types of moves he will be making down the mountain. We broke those down into components and together we created a program to enhance his ability to ski hard and to have the endurance he will need not to make mistakes from being tired. Out there a mistake could be bad, very bad. (Why does that make me want to do it?). Then we drill away incorporating fast twitch and slow twitch movements and flexibility movements. In addition, because his cardio-respiratory system will need to acclimate to a higher altitude, with less available oxygen, I have him perform some of the exercises breathing only through a straw (this needs to be done ONLY under supervision AND with medical clearance). By the time he gets to the slope, his only worry will be an avalanche. (Mmm….avalanche, I’m getting giddy).

Another client, Bill is 67. He regularly goes to the racetrack for track days. Bill’s top speed at the track is about 160 mph. Even more impressive is his speed in the turns. Estimated at 120mph, Bill regularly drags his knee through the turns (yum).

The number of professional athletes still competing into their forties (and fifties) continues to grow. I saw a report on Martina Navratilova a few years back. I was amazed at the intensity of her workouts. Being the macho weight lifter type I thought, “It’s only tennis after all.” Martina continued to compete professionally until just a few weeks before her fiftieth birthday. I personally adopted her training style (after a little humble pie).

The great NFL wide receiver, Jerry Rice is 45. Olympic swimmer and silver medalist Dara Torres is 41. NHL legend Gordie Howe played all eighty games of his final season at the tender age of 52. In 1997, at the age of 70, he played one game (on contract) with the Detroit Vipers. The list continues to grow. How long does Brett Favre (how do you pronounce that) have left? Arguably playing his best at the age of 39, you think he doesn’t train? And don’t forget Phillies own Jamie Moyer. Moyer, age 45, pitched (and won) the third game of the World Series against Tampa bay

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My point is this, at a time in life when many people believe it is time to back off, I say, “No way!” And you should too. Whether hiking and climbing, white water rafting, tennis and golf, helicopter skiing or whatever, train to play better, harder and more often. Be in shape to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, at a level that makes you happy. That is what quality if life is all about.

Dennis Carroll, Premier Personal Training

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