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My Training at 31

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Kurtis Bednarcyk, CFSC

On Thursday of this week, I’ll officially be IN my 30s! Let me be clear right off the bat, age is merely a number and has little bearing on who an individual is, but as I enter the home stretch of my 31st round trip I can say with certainty that Father Time stops for no one!

Thirty-one is by no means “old,” the majority of my trainees have beat me here - some by several decades(!) - many of whom continue to inspire me both within the gym’s walls and outside of it. But since I first unracked a barbell at age 13, I’ve grabbed a kettlebell handle or pull-up bar, or at least spent the better part of the day attached to a shovel or wheelbarrow, on perhaps a third of the days of my life, that's over 2300 times I’ve nudged the pedal down on this here meat wagon - speeds and terrains, victories and defeats a plenty. Some would call that “experience.”

Time is a funny thing; you often don’t feel your life changing all that much from day to day, but when you look back even a couple years, it’s almost like you’re a whole new person. We’ll skip past the quiddity today as I didn’t bring the magic brownies with me, but this concept seems relevant to training, too. I’ve experimented over the years with all kinds of training programs and methodologies, with my “performance” at times sitting near the top of my list of priorities, and at other times taking a back seat to whatever else I may have had going on. It has generally seemed to make sense at the time, but that variable plots pretty spontaneously over 18 years. I imagine this to be true for anyone, whether the timeline is one year or 50.

In this moment at 31 minus two days, I hesitate to say performance “doesn’t matter” to me - it’s fun to get better at things and everything matters - but what prompted me to write this today is the coming to the realization that performance is no longer a priority at all; moving my body and various other heavy things is just a part of my life which I truly enjoy, The performance - however one may choose to define it - is simply a side effect.

I hit my last barbell “PR” - a clean that must have been aided by some higher power - nearly 4 years ago, and that person would most certainly outrun and outjump the man in the mirror. But despite a pretty obvious decline in absolute strength displayed in a linear path, I continue to swing heavier kettlebells for more reps, hold longer handstands, and tumble more efficiently as recently as yesterday - not because I have a dedicated routine (far from it!), but because I find myself wanting to do those things more often than I want to work on jerks or deadlifts. If history repeats itself, I’ll probably enjoy some new things at 32...35...perhaps at 60 I’ll decide to give the trapeze a go. Possibilities are endless over the long haul, and that’s honestly the best part!

The average week these days, on top of a “moderately active” profession, consists of 2-3 strength sessions, in which I usually lift heavy kettlebells and practice some bodyweight calisthenics, and 2-3 days of “other:” hiking, mountain biking, climbing trees, or monkeying around on the playground. Some days are, of course, strength and other. I do some sort of stretching or ground work frequently and for short duration; 1-2x per day for 5-15 minutes at a time. Paramount to any specifics with regard to movement, I always look forward to the activity and feel better afterward. More often than not I enjoy the effort as well - but as everyone knows, sometimes training will kick ya in the teeth. That’s an inevitable truth which I accept.

After all these years, the dietary approach is similar to the exercise. I won’t harp too much on this; eating various proteins, vegetables, and things that leave one feeling healthy is just part of what I do. Certainly not all the time, and indiscretions wax and wane. Sexy? No. But sustainable!

Depending on whom you “follow,” today’s fitness culture can be incredibly inspiring or astonishingly discouraging - you may be compelled to try a 90-day challenge or solemnly compare your numbers or abilities to those of the social media superstars. And that’s okay; you’ll have to walk your own path. But if you take anything from this article by a grizzled old veteran: always experiment with moving well and moving often, eat in a sustainable manner, and most importantly, enjoy the ride. Father Time stops for no one, so you might as well have fun while you try to keep up. I used to yearn for PRs and the ability to stop after one piece of cake. Now all I really wish for my birthday is to see you at the gym, 18 years from now!


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