At Hitching Post last weekend, it`s easy to see about 8-10 cross country jumps from the knoll where most spectators gather. It`s also easy to see that many of the riders get tired, especially galloping up and down those steep hills, so tired, in fact, that instead of being able to maintain a galloping position, up off their horses` backs, some ride the course as if sitting on a chair.
Adult amateurs, and some kids as well, aren`t strong enough, or fit enough, to safely and competently ride the cross country phase of an event, because, as the saying goes, “they run out of gas.”
I know that there are 1001 reasons and excuses that we all make about why we aren`t better athletes. We are parents of time absorbing kids. We have full time sedentary jobs. We commute two hours a day to work. We are so tired when we get home at night we have no energy left over. We are old. We are recovering from injury or illness. We just don`t have the time or the energy or the whatever to do any more than we already do.
But that`s not really true, except, insofar as we make it true. What IS true is that we have made inactivity a habit, and the only way to break out of one habit is to create a different habit. I call this “A Very Modest Idea”, because my idea isn`t to join a gym to pump iron, or to need special equipment, or to do sit ups or push ups, or to gallop racehorses, or any of that. No, it`s to start, today, by adding 15 minutes of WALKING to what we normally would do. That`s it, nothing more. You absolutely do have, somewhere in the next 24 hours an available 15 minutes that you would normally have spent sitting, to walk instead.
Walking means that you go for a walk, or climb the stairs in your office building instead of using the elevator, or walk down the corridor at the airport between flights, or walk around your house, or park farther away from where you work, or SOMETHING to get you started on a new routine. Make yourself do this every day for a few weeks, just 15 little minutes out of the 1,440 per day. Then add 5 minutes. Then add 5 more, at some point. See where it goes. Maybe you`ll walk faster, at some point. Or walk up some inclines, or add more minutes, but the point is to do something more physical than you do now.
Sitting is a treacherous habit. It ruins our athletic abilities. It ruins our health. It`s not easy to change a habit. (“Habits begin as cobwebs, and end up as cables.”) So don`t try anything so dramatic that you know there`s no way you`ll keep it up. Fifteen minutes every day, that`s it, for now. Three five minute walks. Five three minute walks. You can do this.