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Have a Little Help From My Friends - The Lunch Hour Athlete

Training Log For: 11/19/09

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Posted by Matthew

My affection for fitness started in my Senior year of high school. Back then I was inexperienced but motivated. I had a cheap weight set that I bought at a Big box store. I'd go out on my back porch, put on some music and try to mimic weight lifting routines I read about in magazines and on the internet. I saw marginal improvements. I gained some strength and added some muscle. It wouldn't be until college that I learned the importance of things like resting, nutrition and cycling specific workouts for maximum benefit. Even when I started to get more serious, I usually worked out alone. I had a few friends that would occasionally meet me at the gym for workouts or random games of racquetball, but even after several years of roller-coaster dedication I never gave much thought to the importance of an exercise partner.

Fast forward to Januray, 2009. Because of a job loss and the involvement of my wife in a serious car accident, we were forced to pack up shop and move from San Diego to Los Angeles. I wouldn't categorize myself as fat at that time, but at barely over 200 pounds, I was chunky. I decided to celebrate my new job and change of environment with some fitness goals. I started running on my lunch hour. I was initially met with sarcasm and jokes that were usually aimed at smelling of sweat the rest of the day or the "let's see how long this lasts" comments. Then my buddy (and co-author) Mike stepped into the picture. Apparently he too was into fitness and like me had relapsed into the poor diet and expanding waste-line damnation called "desk job physique". It's been about 7 months since then (give or take a few weeks) and I can honestly say that without having Mike to motivate me on my "off" days, I probably would have stopped running and fallen back into fast-food lunch hell. Mike also brought his own interesting twist on training, motivating me to take up swimming and all sorts of other crazy exercising ideas. It was Mike's idea to attempt the "Ballona Creek 10k" which is our affectionate naming of a particularly unenjoyable stretch of hill cursed concrete that runs behind our work. In later months we would succeed at running the Ballona Creek 10k 5 days in a row. Not bad for a fat kid who never ran a mile in grade school.

In keeping with the intriguing natural force called "water cooler gossip", somehow Yvonne caught wind of our lunch time antics. While it would take a while for the three of us to exercise together during lunch, it was her completion of the San Diego Rock'n'Roll marathon that prompted Mike and I to seriously consider running our first marathon, the Los Angeles Marathon. Also to Yvonne's credit, she pushed us (or at least me) to swim more than I usually did. No man like's being showed up by a woman... it's not chauvinism, men just don't like knowing someone is better than them. Now I regularly swim 1500 meters or more thanks to Yvonne unknowingly challenging my masculinity. By the way, Yvonne can swim faster than me and it still irks me. They both run faster and swim faster than me, but that's ok, it just adds the much needed competitive element to exercising and training.

Yvonne and Mike, you both have my sincerest gratitude and thanks. 8 months later, and almost 25 pounds lost is the only testimony I need to the importance of having like minded and dedicated friends to nurture motivation and dedication. Sometimes I need to see Mike's 6' 6" frame effortlessly leave me in the dust on a 6 mile run to prevent me from taking a much desired, but unnecessary walking break. Occasionally I need a shorter, female friend who can swim faster and run farther than me to remind me to not get comfortable only running 6 miles or swimming 10 laps. You guys rock!