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A surge forward in fitness

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Over the last several years, Scott Baumer has melted off the pounds with a disciplined exercise regimen that includes competitive cycling. Pilates has helped him take his fitness to the next level. 

Blog by Scott [Competitive cyclist, Pilates newcomer, native Hoosier]

In Spring 2004, the end of my first year at the University of Southern Indiana, I weighed 190 pounds at 5’10.” I hardly made an effort to exercise and ate without regard for calories or fat.

When I returned home to Indianapolis that summer, I was frustrated by the way I looked and completely lacked self-confidence. So I decided to lose weight the old-fashioned way: by changing my diet and exercising daily. I had a summer job at a golf course, which helped me to stay active. I also avoided fried foods, focused on portion control and went to the gym for an hour of cardio seven days a week. By the end of the summer, I was down to 165 pounds.

Four summers later -- at the urging of my then-girlfriend and her dad -- I decided to start cycling. I started riding by myself or with my girlfriend and eventually joined a local cycling group. I ended up riding nearly 2,800 miles in 2009. By 2010, I was riding 5,000 miles per year. Along the way, my weight kept falling, and I settled in around 155 pounds.

By mid-summer 2011, I entered my first race (a criterium in Eagle Creek Park) and was instantly hooked. The following year, I decided to give racing my all. I hired a coach in and began training to improve my fitness and power. By the end of 2012, I had raced 65 times and covered 8,000 miles, upgrading my cycling competitiveness level by several degrees.

While my training regimen was intense, I was focused solely on logging miles on the bicycle and  neglected all other aspects of my body. To further improve, I knew I would have to put more effort into strengthening the rest of my body, especially my core and flexibility. This would help to improve my  position on the bike and give me additional power. With this plan, I decided to try Pilates at Invoke.

My first trip to Pilates was eye-opening -- or perhaps demoralizing is a better way to put it. I considered myself to be in great shape, but that perception changed in my first hour of Pilates. I could barely do half of the exercises. Who would have thought lifting 3 pound weights would be so challenging?

But after getting over the initial shock of how tough this workout was, I embraced it as part of my routine. Adding Pilates to my weekly training has strengthened my entire body, and I'm confident it will improve my results this race season. I welcome and hope to learn from the physical challenge.

It’s good for all of us to push beyond our limits and try new things to stay healthy. After almost a decade-long fitness journey, I’m glad to have discovered Pilates to give me the extra push I need to take my cycling -- and overall wellness -- to the next level. Baumer is an accountant and new homeowner in Indianapolis.


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The key ingredient for a first marathon? Pure determination.

RobertScheer

Is running a marathon -- or a race of any distance -- on your goals list for 2013? Bob Scheer talks about how, at 43 and with little running experience, he made it through his first 26.2 miler.

Blog by Bob [Photojournalist, wine columnist, cyclist and newbie runner]

I laughed to myself as I walked into a local running store last September. I’d just had coffee with Scott Spitz, a friend who has run marathons in 2:25 and regularly wins local trail races.

During the coffee, I'd explained to my skeptical friend that at 43, I was going to run my first marathon  -- the 26.2-mile Monumental -- in early November after only seven weeks of training. He just shook his head and said, “I think you’re nuts, dude.”

Undeterred, I started training on Sept. 10.

Running a marathon has long been on my bucket list. I’d walked that distance a number of times, including the LA Marathon in 1998, but I felt like a fraud. I knew I needed to run one.

There was a big challenge, though: I wasn’t a runner. Though I’ve been a long-time fitness cyclist and have done plenty of tough karate training, I’d always told myself I hated running and convinced myself that I could never do it because of a couple of minor knee surgeries.

My first training run seemed to validate that hypothesis. I almost quit after three miles, at which point my legs felt like they’d been repeatedly whacked with a pole.

Still, I wasn’t about to give up. For me, this was a battle that was more mental than physical.

Propelling that belief was a philosophy by legendary boxer Bernard Hopkins to which I’ve long subscribed. Throughout life, Hopkins says, we need to make regular deposits in our body’s “bank” by doing things such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, sleeping well, avoiding tobacco and cultivating friendships and positive thought. The more deposits we put in, as we age, the more withdrawals we get to take. These withdrawals help us stave off illness, live longer, and pull off stunts like marathons.

With this in mind, I believed that I could run the 26.2 miles. And I proceeded to persist through the initial days of painful training.

Once my legs adjusted to the first two weeks of pounding, I settled into a routine, guided by runner friends who gave me tips. Each week, I cycled two days and ran three, incrementally increasing distance on my long runs.

I had to nurse a pulled calf along the way, and by race day, I’d only logged 100 miles, spread over 16 training runs, the longest being 12 miles.

Marathon morning was chilly, 35 degrees, but the communal experience was thrilling. I started out slow, with lots of people passing me during the first five miles. About eight miles in, my legs felt fresh, and I realized I was having a blast. Until about mile 20, I slapped every hand I saw, sent Facebook updates, played air drums to my iPhone play mix, and paused to chat with buddies I saw on the route.

Then at mile 21, the hail came, followed by icy rain.

Four miles from the end, I knew I’d run out of fuel when I had to ask a stunned 8-year-old at the side of the road to open an energy gel for me. My ice-covered fingers had stopped moving.

I plodded across the line just shy of five hours, running only on stubbornness and the promise of greeting a few friends who came downtown to cheer for me at the finish. I didn’t run fast, but I ran nearly all the course.

That first post-marathon night, I woke up every two hours in pain and famished. The next day wasn’t much easier. Still, I caught myself thinking, “I’d do that again.”

And I did. In December, I ran my first half-marathon, clocking in just over two hours.

While difficult, the experience showed me the power of positive thinking and iron-clad determination. And it’s made me wonder what I can pull off in 2013.

Scheer is a photographer and wine columnist for The Indianapolis Star.


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