Forty ain't ALL Geritol...
but it's tending in that direction

June 20, 2000 (www.slowtwitch.com)

I know some of you are going to say "PLEASE, Molina! You can’t whine about getting old. You’ve got no idea how the rest of us old geezers feel." But you’re wrong.

I’ve been absolutely struggling for six months to get into some reasonable shape for my fortieth year, and it’s been a hell of a lot harder than I anticipated. At one point last year I did a 38km trail run and was beginning to feel like I might have a chance to go fast again. I was thinking that I could just wait until after the New Year and then go on the "Dave Scott six weeks to Ironman-ready" program. The part of that program I kept trying to avoid acknowledging was the "basic maintenance" phase of 12-15 hours per week for the three months prior to commencing the six-week program.

That’s the amount of work I have come to accept is absolutely necessary for me to be able to step it up and get fit. Both my wife and I have a terrible time accepting it. She has a problem because that amount of training means I work less, socialize less, look after the kids less and sleep more. I have a problem with it because she has a problem with it. And perhaps because I can never fit everything in, so I’m always feeling just a little bit guilty about all of this self-indulgent exercise.

It’s hard to feel completely good about it when you know there’s no end to it. At one point in ‘95 I thought I might find a happy medium: a maintenance level of 3-4 hours per week. That amount seems like a reasonable sum in order to stay fit and keep the weight off. Doesn’t it? When I first retired from being a pro I had a stress fracture in my pelvis and a broken toe. It was pretty easy to not work out. But nine months later I was beginning to exercise more and more, like a junkie, not quite kicking the habit. Seeing a shrink for a few sessions convinced me I might need a bit more time to move on to a different lifestyle.

Seeing my old training buddies go through the same thing convinced me it would take even more time. Four years later I have given up on the idea of being ultimately happy with less, but less it is.

I do need a basic level of exercise completely unrelated to health and fitness. It’s more driven by endorphins, self-esteem and vanity. Pride and vanity are strong in me. They help me get out of bed and out the door to exercise at 5:30 nearly every morning. They also help me try to accomplish everything else I want and need for my family. If I wasn’t so damn proud of them, and didn’t want so much for them, I’m absolutely certain I wouldn’t work half as hard as a father and husband. So the alarm goes at 5:30, but I’m often awake just before that.

A typical day, nine months of the year, goes like this:

5:30 a.m.: Coffee and read the paper. Stretch.
6:00 a.m.: Run 50-90 minutes. Mostly big hills, unless I’m running with a group at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays during the summer. (90 minutes in the Port Hills!!!)
7:30 a.m.: Eat with kids, help them get ready for school.
8:30 a.m.: Either take the kids to school and then drive to work or bike to work (20 minutes).

9:15 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Work as gym manager/swim coach/triathlete and multisport coach via e-mail and phone. But! (And you knew there would be one...) I only have 14 set-in-concrete hours per week so am very flexible with the rest of the day with plenty of time to work out! I lift weights every day and hit every body part twice per week. Normal weight sessions are 30 minutes. They are very, very hard sessions. Sometimes I lift with the elite swimmers I have for dry-land training three times per week

4:30-5:30 p.m.: This is mostly upper-body work for swimming with a lot of rotator cuff work and flexibility. I swim 2-4 times-per-week—approximately 3,000 meters—mostly easy, but I’ll jump in with the kids’ swim squad now and then. I paddle my kayak 1-3 times per week for 40 minutes to an hour. I sometimes ride once during the week: 90-180 minutes, often on my mountain bike.

During the day I also set aside 20 minutes for reading up on what’s going on in the world of training, research or nutrition. That’s also a chance to tank up on more caffeine. I also get out to pick up the kids from school 1-2 times per week before heading back by 4 p.m.

6 p.m.: Arrive home (except for 1-2 days per week when I work a little longer at the gym). Normal family stuff: dinner, homework, get kids to bed, read a story.

7 p.m. - ? Finish coaching work via e-mail—unless ER or the Tour de France is on TV, or my wife lines up a social engagement for me that I can’t squirm out of. If I haven’t run that day I might run at 8 p.m. I do that about once per week.

10:30 p.m.: Lights out.

Saturday is my morning, Sunday is my wife’s, so the weekend usually goes something like this:

Saturday: Normally a one-hour run followed by a quick bite and then a 2-3 hour ride with a group, steady to hard. When training for something, I do a 6 a.m. swim with the swim squad, 4-6km, then do the group ride and then run 45 minutes, or do a short running race.

Sunday: At 7 a.m., run for an hour before my wife gets to start "her" day. I’ve been taking my seven-year-old son Miguel to a kids group golf lesson on Sundays before going to the pool to take them for a swim. That’s been a blast. Now my four-year-old girl Tandi has joined in the golf, so we are going to have to find some time for golf very soon.

So there’s my "base level" routine: 6-8 runs, five weights, 2-4 swims, 2-3 kayaks and two rides. Then I am ready to step it up. All that consists of is working less and getting in one more swim and 2-3 more rides of 2-3 hours each! In other words, another 10 hours per week. Obviously a lot like other people training for Ironmans. And now I do it for money, too! God help me when I can’t do this any more... I might have to try to get good at something else.