Octathlon proves challenging [UPDATED]Published 9:37am Monday, December 17, 2012 Updated 11:41am Monday, December 17, 2012
This week, in my never-ending (obsessive) quest to stay healthy, I attempted my version of the “Octathlon”.
Essentially, my goal was to do eight different activities in a seven-day period — hockey, bicycling, swimming, running, bowling, racquetball, basketball and cross country skiing.
Easier said than done, I found.
Playing sports has always been a passion of mine (except those years in my 20s, when sitting on the couch gaining weight apparently was my passion).
Growing up, I had the distinction of being competent at just about every sport, but not great at any of them. I had some coordination, but I was among the shortest in my class until late in high school; I couldn’t run very fast or jump very high, and because I was short, had some confidence issues.
Throughout my life, I have dabbled in each sport I set out to try this week. Hockey was the sport of choice early on — cousin was a good player, Minnesota kid. Basketball followed, which I played competitively until I was a freshman in high school (again, too short and couldn’t jump, so I moved on).
I also tried some cross country skiing and racquetball here and there as a teenager.
In recent years, my efforts competing in the triathlon – swimming, biking and running — obviously got me interested in those sports.
So I thought I’d give trying all of them a shot. Though not quite according to plan, here’s how it went:
Sunday — hockey. This is perhaps the sport I have the least amount of skill in. Not to mention the fact that skating fast requires genetics I do not possess, and the league I have been playing in is filled with guys two decades younger than I. It’s also a sport that I know the least about. I skate. I handle the puck. I pass the puck. I try to steal the puck. All of the strategy is lost on me. But it is fun, and extremely good exercise.
Monday — cycling, basketball. I gave the YMCA’s “spinning” classes a try, where a group pedals together to hip-hop music while the leader tells you things like “turn up your resistance knob a full turn” or “stand up and go as fast as you can.”
It’s a lot of fun, but a lot of work. I grabbed two towels, and needed four or five for all the sweat. You kind of walk funny after you’re done as well.
Before the cycling, I shot some hoops at the Y as well. It’s amazing how your shooting accuracy goes away if you don’t play hoops regularly. I think it took a dozen shots before I actually made one.
Tuesday — swimming. This might be the strongest activity of mine at this point in my life. I would have never thought that, but I have found that swimming is an ideal activity for those of us who want to work out without wrecking knees, ankles and feet. It’s also great for those who want to a workout in the shortest amount of time.
A half hour of swimming wears me out completely.
Wednesday — Running. Jogging is another sport I have had some experience with in recent years. I’m not sure attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon is in the cards anymore, and so my running focus is trying to maintain some speed and endurance.
A four- or five-mile run is ideal for me; long enough to get a good workout in, but short enough not to worry about injury.
Wednesday evening — Bowling. This sport, like golf in the summer, is a lot of fun, but causes a lot of frustration as well. It doesn’t help that, while I’m in a league, I only average about two nights a month, which just isn’t enough for consistency.
I happened to have a good night this week — breaking 200, in fact — but I can go from good to bad in a heartbeat. The amount of exercise involved in bowling is underrated as well. I always feel it in my legs the night after league.
Thursday — racquetball … wait, swimming again. I was planning on starting up my racquetball career Thursday after not having played in a couple years. I went so far as to purchase “court shoes.” But when I got to the Y, I found out I hadn’t brought sweatsocks.
Did I mention that gym bag management is a key element in ensuring you keep up your workouts every day?
Friday — racquetball, confirmed. This is the sport that I am the most rusty in, evidenced by the fact that the grip eroded in my hand as I was playing. Yet, it was perhaps the most fun as well.
It’s competitive, there’s comradery (though the racquetball court room is so dynamic it’s hard to understand what your opponents are saying) and you also work up quite a sweat.
I’m just not particularly good at it yet. I still have to teach my muscles that a good tennis shot is a bad racquetball shot.
Saturday — cross country skiing. We’ll see how this one goes. Cross country skiing also is a lot of fun, but it requires snow, and the expected warm temps and rain might have to delay this one a while.
Overall, the variety is nice, and I genuinely feel better doing all than sticking to one. Scheduling, however, is tricky. I’m not sure I can keep it all up.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org