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$300 loan.

You know, you look up from the mess on the desk in front of you and you notice that a month has gone by and you haven’t sprained an ankle, torn an Achilles tendon or blown out your knee and that’s a good thing, generally, though you also notice there are cobwebs collecting now on your blog site and the seven readers you once had are now busying themselves filling out March Madness brackets and catching ESPN updates every three minutes on their I-Pod-Phone-Touch thing. So, it appears some catching up is in order….

The ice is out on the Mississippi and the roads and park trails are clear, which is always the signal for me to roll my old Schwinn out of the garage and change the nature of my commute. Sunday, I actually cleaned out the garage and chipped the ice from the floor (don’t ask), which turned out to be a great little functional fitness workout — bending, twisting, lifting, squatting, digging, cursing, lamenting poor foundational structure, etc. Then I climbed on my bike and rode west, past Lake Nokomis along Minnehaha Creek and through several smaller bodies of water that were  too large to describe as puddles. I managed to stay upright and remain more or less dry all the way to Park Avenue and back — a distance of about 5 or 6 miles.

This managed to work my hamstrings and quads in a way they haven’t been worked for a while — I’ve been avoiding the bicycle-that-goes-nowhere machine at the gym for many months, because it tends to leave my left knee barking. But, I’m happy to report that my Sunday ride and my subsequent jaunts over the bridge to and from the office this week have been kind to all of my functioning body parts, as far as I can tell.

Of course, I don’t push myself very hard on my commute (last summer, in fact, a jogger passed me going up the hill from 46th Street to the Intercity Bridge) or when I bicycle for recreation. I’m just not one of those guys who pulls on the skin-tight bike shorts and colorful shirts with the pocket in the back and races automobiles on the parkway. I like to coast.

I feel like I’ve been coasting at the gym in recent weeks, as well.

Same old comfortable routine: 25 minutes on the EDM, a little stretching (maybe) and a half hour on the resistance machinery. I’ve been avoiding the free weights since my last (and first) visit there back in February, but I may get back there for a bit tonight and see what happens. I got a little inspired last week, when I had occasion to drop in on Marty Gallagher’s Web site. He’s a former championship  powerlifter and now trainer who argues passionately in favor of free weights (and lots of them) over the resistance machines. His new book, The Purposeful Primitive, draws on the wisdom of legendary lifters like Paul Anderson (above) and Ed Coan to design a serious cardio and strength-training regimen.

It’s fun to read about guys like Anderson, who had a two-hole golf course set up on his Tennessee farm and liked to squat-lift an 800-pound barbell a few times after putting out, then tee off, chip onto the green, putt out and press 400 pounds a few times at the other green. “Paul combined short, intense workouts … throughout the day, with periods of rest. For example, he would do 10 reps in the squat with 600, rest for about 30 minutes, and then do a second set of 10. After another 30 minutes rest, he would increase the weight to 825 and do three reps, rest again and do two more reps with 845. then he would rest again and conclude by doing half squats with 1200 for two or three reps and quarter squats with 1800. the whole routine took three hours or more. He would sip milk during the rest periods, consuming a gallon or more throughout the course of the day.”

I would do that, of course, but I’m not a big milk drinker.

Thoughts to share?

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