Thursday, February 12, 2015

Choosing a Fitness Regime - The Struggle Is Real!

So, one of my biggest struggles (other than trying to not spend too much money) in my pursuit of fitness is deciding between various different fitness regimes and sports. The problem isn't trying to find one that works well and I enjoy. No. The problem is I enjoy too many and am constantly struggling with determining which I would most like to pursue. And while cost is wildly different among the fitness pursuits I enjoy, cost is only one factor.

My current struggle is really a battle between three different regimes/sports: CrossFit, triathlon and ultramarathon running. Yeah, triathlon and running have a lot in common and I think I could do (and am doing) both at the same time. And yes, the strength and high intensity interval training of CrossFit almost certainly provides benefits to both other sports. In fact, I credit that strength training with my luck so far remaining injury free even while ramping up running distances at a much faster pace than the convention 10% rule suggests. But despite some of the overlap, time and money prevent me from pursuing all three at once.


The most expensive and most time consuming seems to be triathlon. The equipment list, especially now that I'm moving to long-course triathlon, feels almost endless: a bike that can cost many thousand dollars plus all the maintenance costs, wetsuit, goggles, trisuit, biking shoes, running shoes, swim coach, pool membership, running clothes, GPS watch and on and on and on. Plus race fees! Ironman branded races are absurdly expensive and why you're likely never to find me competing in one. Alright, you might find me at Ironman Wisconsin someday. Heading back to my alma mater in Madison to ride up Observatory Drive and run down State Street tweaks a heart string that may just call me there one day. And the time commitment is just as huge. Swimming endless laps in the pool, plus time to practice in open water. Running at least decent mileage. And biking and biking and biking. It's a massive commitment.


CrossFit comes in a close second on the cost scale. The monthly fee is nothing to sneeze at. And there's also a large equipment list here, although much less expensive than triathlon. But CrossFit offers two benefits that neither triathlon nor ultramarathon running can match. 1) It's pretty nice getting stronger and the aesthetics that go along with that. Growing up as the skinny kid, this is a huge draw to me. And 2) CrossFit has by far the smallest time commitment. Even if I attended daily, the time in the gym is dwarfed by triathlon training time and even ultramarathon training time.


Ultramarathoning is by far the cheapest of the three. Some shoes, a good pair of shorts and socks and a few other pieces of gear that last forever is really all that's needed. Yeah, the shoes need to be replaced often (I think I bought three pairs in a one month period during my highest training volume.) But good deals can always be found on shoes. The time commitment is still pretty huge. Long weekend runs can take hours. But the commitment is less than triathlon. The running, however, comes with one major drawback...injuries. I suspect with the running volume needed, injuries are almost a foregone conclusion at some point ranging from minor to very severe.

The problem for me is that I love all three. I'd love to be able to do all three at once. That's simply not a reality, though. The cost alone would drive me crazy, much less my wife. And I don't have the time. I do have a quite busy and stressful job...perhaps the reason exercise is so important to me. And spending time with my wife and children is of paramount importance in my life. That means the fitness pursuits must be compromised.

My plan

My plan is to use 2015 to try to decide what really captures me and where I want to focus. I have my first ultra under my belt for the year. And I think I'll run a 50K at the DTR Endurance Challenge in April to round out that experience. And for the next couple months, I'm going to be attending a CrossFit box regularly as long as possible. At some point, likely in April or May, that will come to an end when I turn my training to the Great Floridian Triathlon in October.

That should give me almost a full year of experiences to make some tough choices. And, perhaps, the real solution is just to keep doing what I'm doing and try to fit all three in. Or perhaps it's to focus on one until the interest in that one wanes and be happy I have to others to fall back on.

I think I'll also use this blog to explore these issues, and make it a series of blog posts. I'll explore cost difference in one post, culture difference in another and so on and so forth.

While the struggle is real, its a great problem to have.

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