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The Day I Met Lance Armstrong

The Day I Met Lance Armstrong

Bike Lane

    So there I was at seven thirty in the a.m., perched on my scooter at an intersection waiting to turn. I was sitting at the lights lost in my own thoughts when all of a sudden I became aware of a presence… no, not a poltergeist; a bloke on a mountain bike had pulled up along side me.

    Three feet away.
    Coulda touched him.
    Game face on… waiting for the green signal.
    Like an Olympian waiting for the starters gun.
    Focused.
    Committed.
    And dressed atrociously.
    Didn’t matter… it’s all about function.
    I actually laughed in my helmet, he looked so funny.
    (No, he didn’t hear me).

    Here’s the picture:
    Chubby guy, maybe thirty five years old and twenty kilos (44lbs) overweight.
    Ten year-old bike (at least) accessorised with one of those white and yellow foam helmets from the eighties strapped too tightly around his unshaven cheeks.
    Kind of like a chubby Adam Sandler.

    Some twenty five year-old sneakers providing a home to two lovely brown business socks!
    A sweat-stained grey training-shirt, not quite covering the totality of his ample tummy.
    Some too-small black track pants revealing some pretty significant (and hairy) calves and just a hint of ass-crack.
    Nice.
    Classy.

    All in all, quite the picture.
    So glad I hadn’t eaten.

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    I looked over at him.
    He looked back.
    I gave the obligatory head nod.
    As us hard-core(!) scooter riders do.
    He looked back, smiled and opened his mouth to speak.

    ‘He’s up for a chat’, I thought.

    I lifted up the visor on my helmet.

    “G’day Mate”.
    “G’day.”
    “How’s the scooter go?”
    “Yeh, pretty well.”
    “That’s what I need; a motor.”
    “You’re doing okay.”
    “I’m givin’ it a crack anyway..”
    “In training for something?”
    “Yep, gettin’ married in six weeks.”
    “How’s the progress?”
    “Great, lost six kilos (13lbs) in three weeks so far.”
    “Good for you man, that’s awesome.”

    He certainly was ‘giving it a crack’ and he turned out to be a really nice guy.

    Just then the lights turned green and a large group of cyclists (all on their five thousand dollar road bikes and clad in the obligatory lycra) sped through the intersection heading into the city. Lance Armstrong (my new friend) and I pulled away from the lights and the funniest thing ever happened… Lance decided that he would attach himself to the back of the peloton (bunch of cyclists) and ride with them!!

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    This was amusing for all kinds of reasons… but here are my top five.

    1. He was out of shape and relatively unfit – they were all serious, fit riders.
    2. His bike was worth fifteen bucks (max), weighed fifty pounds, had knobbies (off-road tyres) and a bell.
    3. They were all ‘in uniform’ and he looked like he’d just escaped from a shelter.
    4. His helmet made him look like he was about to be shot out of a cannon.
    5. He wasn’t one bit worried about what anyone thought – I loved that about him.

    So we were off…
    Lance and I followed the pretty boys on their over-priced ‘Giants’ and ‘Cannondales’ down the road.
    His legs pumped like angry little pistons and I laughed so much that my helmet started to fog up.
    Within one minute he had caught the group and I thought he was about to expire.
    I tried to recall my first-aid… “is it five compressions per breath… or four?”
    He looked in pain.

    “C’mon Big Fella”, I yelled through my helmet.

    His work rate increased.
    He was lovin’ the love.
    I decided not to overtake the group (not hard to do considering I was the only one with a motor) and to coach my boy to the next set of lights.
    Such fun.
    Lance and I sat at the back of the pack, I offered more encouragement and his rapidly fatiguing pistons continued to pump.

    About two km’s (just over a mile) into the journey he turns and yells to me “how fast am I going?”
    How funny is that?
    I laughed my guts out.
    Again.
    Only an Aussie bloke who’s near death would still care about… ‘how fast he’s riding’.
    If he was a she… not a chance.

    I looked at my speedo.
    “About forty (25mph).”
    “I’m flying.”
    (more laughs)
    “Yes, you are..”

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    And with those words.. the big man started to ‘hit the wall’.
    His legs began to turn to rubber, his pink cheeks started to turn a lovely shade of grey and the friendly dialogue came to a standstill.

    Lance began to drop off the back of the pack.

    “Champ… don’t let those pretty boys get away.”
    He mustered one final heroic burst, kind of like Sly in the first Rocky movie (the only good one) and momentarily caught the group again… he hung on for a bit and then surrendered to his screaming body.

    He was exhausted but triumphant.
    Strangely, I understood his triumph.
    To anyone else, me and my chubby athlete would have been a bizarre sight, but to us it was a significant moment.

    The ex-fat kid (me) was delighted to invest five minutes into the friendly chubby guy ‘training’ for his wedding day.

    We pulled up at the next set of lights and Lance was breathing like an eighty year-old smoker with emphysema.
    But he was happy.

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    “Thanks Man.”
    “You’re welcome… keep up the great work and have fun on the big day.”
    “I will…”

    We exchanged a few more pleasantries, the lights turned green, we gave the alpha-male nod and I left the exhausted, but happy, groom-to-be to finish his training session.

    I rode away with a big smile on my face.
    He was happy, I was happy… and the ‘real’ cyclists thought we needed help.

    As I continued my journey, I thought about what Lance had taught me:

    1) It’s really easy to connect with people when we want to – especially when we make it about them.
    2) Everyone responds to encouragement.
    3) Most people like some attention and care.
    4) It’s amazing what a little support (even from a stranger) can do to a person’s level of performance.
    5) When we slow down and notice what (and who) is around us, there are lessons to be learned.
    6) Helping a stranger can make me feel better than helping myself.

    Thanks Lance.
    Enjoy your wedding day and your life with Mrs Lance.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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