It’s dark and late. My ears are filled with the crunch of my sprinting feet pounding the road’s gravel surface. This is accompanied by the roar of my rapid attempts at air exchange and the furious barking of every dog within half a mile.
I’m on day two of a new training regimen and I’m labouring through wind sprints on the road that winds through the country subdivision where I live with my wife and two kids. There are no streetlights here, so I’m hurtling through darkness, guided only by the shadowy contrasts that identify, more or less, where the road ends and where the tree-lined ditches begin. My feet are still hitting solid surface and there are no branches in my face so I figure I must be going fairly straight.
This session is my first crack at working my anaerobic glycosis system, whose existence I only learned about yesterday. This system provides energy for about 30 to 45 seconds of intense effort (like a hockey shift, for example.) What I’m doing is sprinting all out for 30 seconds then resting for two minutes. I am to repeat this process six times. Despite the fact that this exercise is almost killing me, I’m not overly concerned about the physical discomfort I’m experiencing.
At the forefront of my mind is the possibility of headlights suddenly appearing ahead or behind me. I know what I’ll do if this happens: scamper into the nearest ditch like a panicked gopher. I’d rather cower unseen in the thistles than face the slack-jawed gawking of a suspicious neighbour gliding past in his SUV, wondering why a seemingly normal adult is parading around in snugly-fitting shorts at 11:30 p.m.
“Just out for a spot of exercise,” I’d offer weakly if a verbal exchange was unavoidable.
This would be met by squint-eyed dubiousness, I’m sure. And I would be permanently stricken from that neighbour’s mental block party invitation list.
This late-night road work is the result of a spur-of-the-moment decision that’s been years in the making. I’m a 43-year-old professional who’s been leading a pretty sedentary lifestyle. Go to the office, go home, feed the kids, put them to bed, putter around the house, poke away at the laptop, watch some TV, stay up too late, go to bed. Once a week during the winter this routine includes a trip to the local rink for about an hour of beer league hockey, about the only real exercise I get.
I’m at the stage in life when many people get more proactive about taking care of their health. But that’s not why I’m out here sprinting in the dark. I’m not trying to bring down my cholesterol, lose weight, improve my physique or achieve any libido-related objectives.
I’m borrowing some of the training methods used by real hockey players in an effort to transform my limp, gelatinous body into a dynamo of beer league awesomeness. I’m going to be Tom Cochrane’s boy in the song Big League. When the puck drops on my season opener (in just three weeks) I’m going to turn some heads.