Getting into Shape is a Gradual Business

Nov. 26th, 2020 — The first time I saw about “Thanksgiving” holiday was when I was in high school in Japan (remember; we do NOT have Thanksgiving in Japan!), watching the movie; “ROCKY”. It is the day you throw an oven-cooked turkey out in the alley for neighbor’s dogs (keeping one leg to eat) and go skating with your girlfriend, right? (Incidentally, the first time many Japanese kids heard about Halloween was when they watched “E.T.”…). At any rate, a few days after Rocky had his first date with Adrian, the opportunity to fight with the world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed, got thrown onto his laps. Now he’s got to get in shape!! So he got up at 4:30AM, drank some raw eggs, went out for the early morning “run”. If you look at most of boxing champions, they all run — and run quite a lot as a matter of fact. I remember watching Mohammed Ali’s documentary called “The Greatest” years ago. The movie starts with Ali running in the dusk…. I remember watching a documentary of Youkou Gushiken, the first Japanese to obtain the light flyweight world boxing champion title (in 1976). It says he ran 5-miles everyday during the preparation period. They (boxers) know, without stamina and endurance in their legs, they cannot “go the distance”. Remember, the Disney movie, “Miracle”, the story of 1980 USA Olympic ice hockey team? In that movie, Coach Herb Brooks says: “Legs feed the wolves…”. What he meant is; their legs — enduring legs — are what makes it possible to compete.

As a young aspiring runner in high school, after watching ROCKY, I had to get grey sweat hoodie and sweat pants; I did not get up at 4:30 but I would be up, in those sweats, by 6AM heading out for my run. No, I did not drink raw eggs — being a Japanese, I do love raw eggs but on hot steamed rice with soy sauce; I do not “drink” raw eggs!! I did get a pair of Converse All Star shoes but not for my runs!! Always very picky with running shoes even before I met Arthur Lydiard!! Nevertheless, Spirit of Rocky always ran deep inside through my running life. When I went to Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA, “Rocky IV” came out. You may remember Rocky running through snowy mountains in Russia; I remember many times, listening to “Training Montage” from Rocky IV soundtrack before I went out for my long run through snowy wheat field in the Eastern part of Washington State. And now I’m old…. But I love the scene where retired Rocky runs with his little dog, Punchy, in the snow in “Rocky Balboa”…. Perfectly fitting with running in Minnesota!! (but I do not run with my little dog, Foxy).

So as Thanksgiving comes, I can’t help but think of “Rocky” once again. But think about it — it was right after Thanksgiving when Rocky started working out to get in shape. Remember that first run through the city of Philadelphia in early morning…(love that scene and the background music!!). Rocky is walking up the steps of the museum, suffering with a stitch…. And by Christmas, he was sprinting up the steps. Only 4 weeks!! (I put together a fun video clip HERE). I remember, when I went to Australia as a Rotary exchange student in 1978, along with “Run — the Lydiard Way”, I picked up a paperback “Rocky”. Naturally it was easier to read (in English) because I’ve seen the movie several times and I knew the story!! One line in the book version of “Rocky” that I memorized: “…getting into shape is a gradual business…”. Underlining message here is; even if you have to walk up the steps at first, keep at it. Gradually you’ll get fitter and soon you’ll be sprinting up the steps!! Practically, to achieve that in 4 weeks (from Thanksgiving to Christmas) is a bit too “Hollywoody”. But, as Lydiard had always said: “You keep within your limitations, you’ll continue to improve…”. Lydiard also said that running is one of the most rewarding activities; you keep within yourself and you keep at it; and you’ll get marked improvement quite rapidly. I just finished this month’s newsletter and I talked about the Power of Human Adaptation. With reasonable amount of “stress” (=workout) coupled with adequate recovery, our body will adapt to that stress and get stronger and stronger. When I was putting together this little video clip, I chuckled watching Rocky walking up the steps, holding the side of his stomach (stitch). We all experienced this at one point, right? Every one of us!! But sooner or later, we were running freely. That is the Power of Human Adaptation!!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!! And here’s thanking all doctors and nurses around the world who have been working, risking their own lives, saving others’ lives; and scientists who have been working day and night to solve the corona virus problem!! THANK-YOU!! And be safe!! — Nobby Hashizume