Old Habits Die Hard

Old habits die hard, Mick Jagger once said. It has been half a decade since my last sprint hurdles race and I find myself still doing a watered-down iteration of a track & field program, albeit with a focus on middle-distance running and bodily aesthetics. Aside from the two months spent each year taking part in a weekend alumni basketball tournament, I’m pretty much a lone wolf doing criss-crossing through forests of long runs, interval runs, sprints, plyometrics, and weight training.

Back in the day, the prospect of bringing honor to the school kept me going. I ran for the pride, honor, and bragging rights of my beloved track team. I competed for myself because I loved winning and proving that I was faster than the seven other guys in my heat (which rarely happened, but that’s beside the point).

All these pretensions of fighting for something bigger than oneself seem trivial in hindsight. Even more so the vainglorious attempts at winning sprint hurdling gold.

The pace of modern-day city life can be hectic, and at times, disconcerting. Life itself is complicated by an increasingly interconnected world. Hence, I appreciate the part of my day where I can just let loose and disconnect.

When I run (or lift or sprint, for that matter), purpose is broken down to its bare essentials. For instance, running entails getting from Point A to Point B in the shortest possible time. Weight training requires the successful completion of a lift in the most efficient way possible. The gadgets I carry, an old-fashioned Casio watch and a 2nd generation iPod shuffle, are spartan by today’s standards.

Since I train almost always solo, I can go for hours without uttering a single word. My trusty music player gently pipes in old rock songs, modern electro-pop (and yes, the occasional love song) into my ears. The pace of my runs and the intensity of my workouts are dictated by the songs I listen to. Maintaining a leisurely 3k pace? Play Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.” Doing multiple 100m sprints at 85% effort? I fast forward to Churches “Under the Tide.” Pumping myself up for a new PR in the dead lift? Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” might just give an added strength boost.

The routine, at first glance, might seem monotonous. But then again, I find the relative solitude of these physical pursuits comforting. True enough, no medals are won or finisher’s shirts are given at the end of these races against myself. However, one becomes fabulously fit, mentally-upbeat, and a little more self-aware as consequence of these physical exertions.

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