Blog: The Fitness Zone
Fashions come and go in the sports world. I don't know exactly when the jogging craze took off, but I Googled "Peter Snell 1960" and found a YouTube clip of Snell winning the 800m at the Rome Olympic Games. How inspirational was that?
I was only 12 at the time. In those days, you heard the news of the games over the radio and in the newspaper. Six to 12 months later, a movie of the highlights would arrive.
I remember watching it and running all the way home in the darkness, feeling as if I, too, was an Olympic athlete, instead of a lowly third former at Whangarei Boys' High School.
The philosophy of Arthur Lydiard started to percolate through running circles, but it was James Fixx's 1977 work, The Complete Book of Running, that firmly established the running craze in the United States.
It spread around the world, with the marathon becoming the rite of passage that hobby runners aspired to - never mind if they were suited to it or sufficiently well prepared.
We're in the middle of summer, and events have started to dominate. For me, that means regular races to compete in and events to organise in a steady flow.
It's hard work training over the long months of winter and spring, but the paybacks are vast. There's the long-term benefit of health and fitness, but the big one is the pleasure and exhilaration of racing.
Three weeks ago, I went to Tauranga for the national championship over the half-ironman distance. It's hard to attach the term ‘'enjoyment" to such events, but completing them is very satisfying.
A week later, it was a sprint race in the national series, held at the village of Pegasus, north of Christchurch. That was pure excitement, racing flat out over a short course, and it was one of those rare races where everything clicks and it all seems worthwhile.
Since then, it's been back on the organising front. Tomorrow, it's race 2 in the Nelson Triathlon Club's summer sprint series.
It's wonderful to be on holiday. For a start, there's those 12-hour sleeps.
We're at a small place called Pounawea in the Catlins - the coastline to the east of Invercargill.
We'd imagined a sunny idyll, where we would do a bit of swimming, lying in the sun and so on with daughter and granddaughter - a nice family holiday.
There hasn't been much of that. It's been quite cold and, seemingly as in the rest of the country, there hasn't been much sun.
Apart from the swimming disincentive, I don't mind the weather much. I'm happy to sleep 9pm to 9am while the three females of the group gossip the night away. I can even snatch a post-prandial nap in the early afternoon.
The countdown is on to the Nelson Mail Team Triathlon, with seven weeks to race day on Saturday, March 2.
Although the more experienced triathletes around town are looking forward to some friendly rivalry with their mates, the event is ideally suited to newcomers to the sport.
With two friends, anyone can take on the challenge of a complete short triathlon, knowing there's plenty of support.
In a new initiative this year, a coaching programme was set up with three experienced coaches and a physiotherapist, aimed at easing new triathletes through to the start line in the best shape possible.
Justine and Lou Perkins joined Suzi Hulme to form Team Evolve. They took on the training challenge and as a Christmas present won the draw to get the entire package and their race entry free, in exchange for letting us follow their progress in the next few weeks.
Today I'm in Tauranga - Mt Maunganui, to be precise.
A year ago I did my first half ironman race in Wanaka. The Wanaka race is huge when it comes to Nelson support. It'll be the same this year, even more so, as people have stepped up from the sprint race to half ironman, and from that race to the full distance event.
So as far as having a good time with friends goes, Wanaka will be the place to be in two weeks' time.
I'll be a lot lonelier at the Mt Maunganui half ironman race. A scan through the competitor list doesn't reveal a single person from Nelson - except me.
I chose that race, as I'm in a new age group, 65-69, and I wanted to see how I'd go in the national championship event.
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