Friend, You Must Sprint.

Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 3.44.39 PM

Skipper Parris has been looking pretty trim lately, and when Skipper Armstrong called him into the superintendent’s office to explain himself, Parris attributed his improvement in physique to sprinting. The discussion went something like this:

“I know you guys never let me write for the blog or anything, and that’s fine, but I do pay attention to the whole ‘Be a great man even though you still look like a kid in your 20s” thing anyway. So I figured I could do my part to be a better husband by sprinting.”

“I don’t follow, Parris.”

“Well, it’s like this, Armstrong. I figure that loving my wife and kids takes all the energy I’ve got.”

“Aside from what you spend broom-making.”

“Well, yeah. Anyway, I want to be able to run around with my kids when I have them someday, and I figure my wife would rather have a husband with great abs than the crummy Valentine’s Day chocolates I got her. So I looked into it, and sprinting’s the best way to get rid of fat and stuff.”

“You were about to sound like a commercial there, Parris. Good thing you said ‘and stuff.’”

Well, we’re still not going to let Parris write for the blog on account of his use of phrases like “and stuff,” but we will give him credit for the idea that morphed into this informative post on sprinting and being a good husband.

Because what family shouldn’t look like this?

The Rundown (admittedly something of a pundown)

Sprinting doesn’t quite fit into the normal exercise categories of aerobic and anaerobic. It works like an anaerobic exercise in that it builds muscle instead of focuses on your cardio system, but it also increases endurance and tone instead of bulk. It relies on something called excess post-exercise consumption, or EPOC.

EPOC works like this: you blast a short workout and need to breathe really, really hard to fill in the oxygen gaps you develop. This increases the fat-burning systems in your body and undergirds your energy reserves with more oxygen.

On toning instead of bulking, this is nice because many men simply don’t want to have tree-trunk legs, and exercises like squats and leg presses build bulk. Sprinting, while it can lead to bulking after a while, tends to develop denser muscles in the legs but also spreads the work through other parts of the body, including the stomach and glutes, so no single muscle gets the bulk effect.

Complete Focus

“Be the ball” kind of focus.

Laser focus is increasingly rare in this ADD, mobile-device-addicted world. Sprinting cuts out all that crap. In fact, it cuts out everything, except sprinting.

To get this mental lesson, you actually have to give it everything you’ve got when you sprint. You can’t do this on a treadmill. You simply put your entire body into the run. For 50 meters, you can’t think about anything but running, except wanting to stop, which is part of running. You feel every muscle you use. You feel every breath. And then it’s over.

Skippers need to know what total engagement feels like. They need to understand that they can engage completely. You need to know this. Because you will have off-days, and you will be a jerk, and you will get distracted and behind on something important, even important to your loved ones. Skipper Parris said it like this:

When I go home after a sprint workout, I notice everything a little more. And then after I’ve showered, I feel a little less in touch, and I think maybe I’m not so good at recognizing stuff as I thought I was. But I know what it feels like to feel it, so I try to harder.

Friend, you must “try to harder,” too.