I was thinking about the concept of impermanence while running up a long, hilly country road the day after the heat wave broke in July. I noticed how more challenging the hills seemed compared to a few years ago. I couldn’t get up the bigger hills without taking walking breaks. It was my first time out on these hills this year and I felt it – a reminder that nothing is permanent. Unfortunately, the gains we make when we train are temporary. We cannot bank exercise. To maintain a desired level of fitness, we first have to achieve it. Then comes the real work, the ongoing effort.
Permanence, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “the state or quality of lasting or remaining unchanged indefinitely.” We can become stronger, faster or leaner, but any physiological improvements are temporary unless we persist, as well as overcome natural adaptation. We must change our exercise routine in order to continue progressing. There are many factors at play – some within our control and some beyond our control – and we need to figure out how to best address them. For example, we age. That’s a fact we can’t deny. If we want to continue running on hills as we age, we may have to devise new ways to train. The methods that worked for us when we were younger may not work now. We can strive to maintain our physical and mental capabilities over time by applying different strategies, or we can modify our goals and expectations. [Read more…]