While walking four laps around the track (a mile) the other day, I did 204 push-ups. And none of the easy variety. My nose almost grazed the asphalt on each rep. This is mostly good, but a little bit bad.
Good in the sense that I’m building a stronger core.
Good that I’m 67 years old and still going strong.
Good that I keep improving. Last year I could only do half as many push-ups in the same distance.
Which brings us to the little bit bad.
When is enough enough? When can I say, “Self, 204 is a great achievement. Congratulations. You have biceps to die for. Now it’s time to move on.”
This Aspie has a problem with that.
When I was a 42-miles-a-week runner, each 10-kilometer race came with the added stress of setting a personal best. If I came up even a few seconds short, I moped for the rest of the day.
Back in the ’90s I taught myself to juggle. In just a few months I progressed to three rings, three clubs, four balls and my best stunt— a golf ball, a basketball and an eight-pound bowling ball.
I got good enough to hire myself out to elementary schools, charging $200 a day to teach basic juggling to PE classes.
I became obsessed with learning new variations to three-ball juggling and keeping two aloft with one hand. A practice session couldn’t end until I did every trick 20 consecutive times without a drop. Sometimes I’d be at it for an hour until I finally nailed the behind-the-back bit.
The gig gradually fizzled out as principals cared less and less about juggling and more and more about preparing students to take standardized tests.
But I maintained the nightly practice ritual for years until I cut myself juggling steak knives and finally decided to find a more finger-friendly hobby.
These days, I rarely run unless my morning weigh-in is unsatisfactory and I must punish myself with a trot.
I save my serious physical fitness time to strength work, and do a series of exercises with the goal of becoming a more bulked-up individual. Squats. Curls. Bench-presses. Leg lifts. Lunges. Planks. And, yes, push-ups.
I can’t do a ton at one time — maybe 20 — but I pile up impressive numbers over the long haul with bursts of six or eight.
My mentality should be, “Hey, let’s enjoy the pretty afternoon with a nice walk and a few push-ups on the side. For God’s sake, don’t count. Just have fun with it.”
Instead, it’s “Hey, 204 push-ups in a mile isn’t bad, but I can do better. If I cut back on rest, I can crank out at least 220 and maybe more. I can have fun in the next life. Let’s hurry up and get muscle-bound.”
When is enough enough?
When will I say, “Hey, biceps, quit running my life.”
Probably never. But that’s OK. It’s only a little bit bad.
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