40 Pounds in the Hole

Even though I'd been playing competitive and recreational sports for most of my life, I'd never been as fit as I could be. I'd mostly get my exercise in the context of playing whatever sport I was enjoying at the time and I'd do very little in the way of dedicated training. Youth and an active lifestyle allowed me to get away with this lax attitude, but I always struggled with shin splints, and my performance on the field was never quite what I would have hoped. Then age and inactivity began to catch up with me. A short timeline (and weightline) casts this in stark relief:

  • Late eighties. High school. 6'4", 170 lbs. Incapable of gaining weight, much to the disappointment of my basketball coach.
  • Early nineties. College. Prompt acquisition of "freshman 15". Active lifestyle, including the beginning of a long Ultimate Frisbee career.
  • The rest of the nineties, through 2002. Adult life. Day job. Parenthood. Gradually accrete 40 pounds, topping out at 235! Unfortunately there are no corresponding gains in height. Occasional shin splints are now chronic.

The shin splints were particularly troublesome. In previous Ultimate seasons they'd follow the same arc: I'd take the winter off and they'd feel great. I'd start playing outdoors in April or May and by July they'd hurt enough that I'd take Ibuprofin before every session. The pain/performance curve would start working against me in August, I'd hobble through Regionals in October, and then take the winter off, rebooting the cycle.

But in early 2002 I tried playing a couple indoor games, and my shins flared to July-levels of inflammation almost immediately. Clearly if I was going to keep playing, even recreationally, I was going to have to get myself into better shape.

Also, I was tired of sucking.