As a kid, Ron Lichty found his attempts at physical activity shut down by asthma diagnosed when he was born. His asthma was bad enough that exercise was uncomfortable and even risky. He dabbled in tennis and cross country skiing in his teens and 20s as he moved from the Midwest to the Rockies to SF.
After moving to San Francisco in his mid-20s, Ron pushed his asthma to attempt running - only to develop knee pain. At 30, Ron became a programmer. Like many others who live a sedentary life style hunched over a computer 8+ hours per day, he developed painful muscle spasms in his back and neck. His response? He signed up for weekly yoga classes. A year later, as he was turning 35, he began walking and hiking regularly. In his early 40s he began a strength training program, thanks to a friend who mentored him as he learned about weight training in their corporate fitness center. Just short of turning 50, his daughter convinced him to accompany her and friends on a 50-mile, week-long backpacking trip through the High Sierra.
In his mid-50s, Ron rediscovered cross country skiing with Team in Training, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s fundraising arm in which they train people for endurance events in exchange for raising money for blood cancer research. Despite not skiing for many years, Ron set a goal of completing a 25-kilometer cross country ski event in Montana. The training consisted of skiing 8 times before the event plus weekly dry land training sessions in which the coaches led participants through cardio and ski-specific weight training activities. Additional “on your own” training sessions were strongly encouraged to help get the participants into shape for the event.
During the 4-month training season, Ron worked on building his endurance capacity, muscular strength and balance (skiing relies on having good balance). He built these skills gradually over time. He had never been an endurance athlete, never even thought of himself as an athlete at all. Ron completed his event, achieving his goal. To his surprise, he found himself moved and motivated to take on a second season, and then another and another. In subsequent years, he completed ever-increasing distances: from 25K to 35K to 40K and finally, a 50K ski race. Ron had become an athlete. His friends realized it well before he did. Recent acquaintances and friends who knew Ron only after he’d become a cross country skier could not believe that he had been an asthmatic, sedentary kid and adult.
Today, Ron still trains at a local fitness center, getting his cardio exercise on stationary bikes and weekly off-street cycle rides and in the pool, doing regular strength workouts, and doing a few minutes of yoga and Feldenkrais daily. The benefits in his life include:
Strength and stamina to hike and ski and swim and cycle with his kids
Ease of movement to play with grand kids
Physical activity that both balances and supports a career in tech
The psychological boost that working out has of taking his mind off the day-to-day stuff
It’s never too late to change from being sedentary to living an active life.
Developing an active lifestyle does not happen overnight. Ron added activities slowly from when he turned 35 on, over the course of his adult life.
Identifying with a cause can help make changes in your own life.
Exercising with friends can help keep you at it.
Setting goals helps to stay motivated throughout the process.
Training for endurance events is not for everyone. Check with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program.
If you have questions about how to start a fitness program, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.