Melanie and I have made physical fitness a priority in our lives. It is partially for weight control, and both of us have slimmed down nicely, but mostly for quality of life. We want to be able to do whatever we want to do and not feel sore the next day. We like the energy and clear-headedness it gives us.
We started running together a few years ago and I noticed a significant loss of upper body strength and endurance not too long afterwards. This is common in runners because our efficient bodies don’t want to carry around extra weight when they run.
We got ourselves an Iron Gym (documented here) and have added that in to the routine. The tricky part is knowing how much to do. We want to do enough to make a difference but not so much that it dominates our time. We don’t want to be body builders. We just want to be in decent shape.
Enter the military. Each branch has some type of physical fitness test with a minimum acceptable and “maximum” or superior rating. If you want the deets, you can read about each here:
The requirements change depending on age and sex, but if I compare what I’d have to do in each branch, it appears that the Marines have it the toughest. The Navy has it tougher than the Army and it is hard to tell exactly how Air Force fits in. They recently revamped their requirements and, unlike the other branches which have a two minute timer, they use one minute. I can understand why. When we tried following the prescribed routines, we blasted through the first minute and struggled the second. Still, if I were pressed, I would say the Air Force was easiest. The biggest difference between all of them is that the Marines do pull-ups instead of push-ups.
With all of this information on what marks a person as physically fit or not, I figured why not apply it to us. We want to do better than the minimum standard, but realize that achieving the max is at least too time consuming and maybe impossible. An 18:00 three mile run is probably not going to happen.
So what I’ve settled on for now is taking our best 5k time and comparing it to the best Marine time. I apply that percentage to the best results on the other Marine exercises. In the case of push-ups, I use the Navy standard. Here is what I’ve got:
Run 3m 25:00
For training (when it isn’t timed) I think we’ll shoot for:
Pull-ups 30 (loooong way to go)
Run 3m 24:00
We’ll see how that goes… Of course, as I’m typing this I’m eating a Pop Tart.
What do you do for exercise? Let me know what works for you.