I’ve found myself with a wealth of free time as of late. This is very rare for me and really quite awesome. Now that I have it, I’m going to start checking off some bucket list items.
Item #1, which is quite the hefty one, follows.
In high school I did four sports, focused on track and blackjack in college, and raced for Spartan’s Pro Team post-collegiately. I’ve done a lot athletically and had a moderate amount of success, but at the same time I’ve never put in serious hours attempting to learn more than maybe 3 or 4 different sports, of which running makes up 50% of.
Or spent time finding hobbies. Seriously, I have zero hobbies.
My brother and I used to talk about the possibility that somewhere out there was a perfect sport for us, a sport where we might be able to have the highest rate of success given our attributes. Mind you, this was before Obstacle Racing became a thing.
What if our best sport was something we’d never experienced? How exactly would we go about finding this mythical sport? For example, could we have been body-builders had we not trained aerobically for years as runners? Could we be in the Olympics if we’d discovered an ultra-fringe activity like bobsled or luge at a young age or be in the NFL as a long-snapper or punter? The answer to most of these is probably an emphatic “NO” but in choosing to remain an optimist and entertain fantasies this article was born.
My goal for this new series is pretty straightforward: I aim to try EVERYTHING and document the process, for good or bad, over the coming years. Don’t be fooled by the previous paragraph; I don’t expect to be good at any of these things I’ll be working at. I’m more interested in documenting the process; seeing how quickly I can adjust to each new sporting world and the various obstacles that arise. At the very least, after all is said and done I’ll have picked up some new hobbies.
A brief look at the list I’ve made over the years: (There are 53 items on the full thing)
-Win an MMA Fight
-Bench press 300 and run 4:20 in the mile, same week.
-Play professional basketball overseas
-Set Guiness World Record
-Triple Jump 40 feet
-High-Jump 6 ft
-Open-water Swim Race
-Bike Across the US
Espn has a page on their website that lists difficulty rankings of a wide variety of sports. Comparing that to mine, I picked some of the easiest, but also managed to pick some of the hardest activities. According to their (arbitrary) rankings, the most difficult of mine include boxing, pole vault, ping-pong, and bobsled.
Not all of the items are athletic-related. Some are quite easy, many of them are seemingly impossible, but nonetheless, I want to try each of them out for the minimum amount of time needed to see progress and/or gauge potential.
When I moved out to Hungary this fall I began to tackle them one by one. I made the decision to start with the skills that would give me the fitness base necessary to accomplish any of the more difficult items I go after in the future. For me this meant an emphasis on strength, flexibility, and endurance. If the first couple challenges seem boring, this is the reason for it. Once my fitness begins to enter “acceptable” territory, I’ll be taking on more of the sporting challenges.
What’s the shortest amount of time one can dedicate to an activity in order to achieve maximum gains?
When I took a look back at my time doing obstacle races, I was surprised to see that from my first day off the couch to my first podium finish was right around three months. That seems quite short given the fact that obstacle racing, like cross country, is largely an endurance event, meaning a proper buildup of 6 to 9 months or more is the industry standard. I was able to chop down that amount of time by developing a different, new way to train. So why don’t I apply this to other sports?
In keeping with the aforementioned, and by utilizing the 80/20 rule, which I’m a big fan of, I settled upon a 30-day limit for each new task. Finesse activities like ping-pong or the Rubik’s cube will be completed over 30 back-to-back days, or one consecutive month, followed immediately by testing, whatever that may consist of. For activities like bench press or track repeats that require proper recovery, this means 30 sessions of work with necessary rest days in between, for a total of 90 days maximum. This will then be followed immediately by testing.
I’m an average-sized guy with decent but not exceptional hand-eye coordination and above-average, but not crazy aerobic potential. Also, I can’t throw a football. That final thought seems important given the context of the article.
Stats: 6 ft
Lift weights, on average, how many times per week: 0
Runs per week:
- 3x week- past 45 days.
- Before that, 0-1 times/week for 1.5 years.
- Before that- 30-60 miles per week for 7 years.
Bench Press: 215. I don’t think I ever hit two plates back when I used to lift (2011).
edit: After my first challange, 30 days of burpees, I was able to bump my bench to 270.
5k: 15:50 (about 8 years ago) Currently? Around 18:00 minutes
Vertical jump: 28 inches
Sit-ups, 2 minutes: 51
Push-ups, 2 minutes: 57
That’s about all the random fitness-related standards I can think of off the top of my head.
Two Fridays from now my first challenge finishes. Make sure to come back and check out the results.