I have a confession to make: I”m cheap. I go to McDonald”s for lunch. No, it”s not just because I order two side salads every day at 40 calories each. It”s because each side salad costs a buck. I buy my suits at Value City . You won”t find many TV news anchors shopping at Value City , but I”ve never paid more than $200 for a suit there and most are closer to a $100. I still play cassette tapes in my car. I can count the number of CD”s I”ve purchased on one hand. I don”t have an iPod. I just got my first cell phone. And I just realized the same tri-shorts I”ve been wearing for years have worn through in the rear end to the point where you can see right through. Oops. Sorry to those of you who were behind me.
So when it came to the prospect of dropping thousands of dollars on a brand new triathlon bike, you know what my position has been. After all, for years I rode a Trek 1000 that didn”t even cost me 500 dollars. Then I splurged on a used, 1993 Softride. It looked good but it weighed almost as much as me. But when I walked into my favorite local bike shop last year on an unrelated matter, I made the mistake of picking up a carbon fiber tri-bike. I couldn”t believe it. My running shoes weigh more. Still, the idea of spending an amount of money on a bike that”s roughly half the assessed value of my car was intimidating. I decided to justify it by earning it. I decided to save the money I was about to spend on having my house trim painted, and do it myself. That”s what cheap people do to make themselves feel better about big ticket purchases. And for Christmas, Santa Claus dropped off a Quintana Roo Carbon Fiber Caliente that”s sweeter than anything else in his sleigh this year. In my first trip on board my new ride, I wiped out before I even got out of the subdivision. Never crashed in my life, but I ripped up the bike and myself.
That”s not the point this month. The message I want to convey is: Don”t be a Scrooge with the fitness facet of your life. We invest so many hours per week on our health. Why not enhance the investment with tools to make it more enjoyable?
Another example: I don”t know about you, but swimming is boring to me. And I swam competitively for years as a kid. People tell me they don”t run because they think it”s boring. At least when I run, I can watch life go by, listen to music, or I can watch TV if I”m on a treadmill. But the bottom of the pool is downright boring.
So I recently invested in one of those special waterproof, tiny FM radios you can clip to your goggle band. What a difference. It”s unreal. Time goes by faster. I wish I could rig a way to use one in my next triathlon. There are even nicer ones out there. But remember, I”m cheap. It”s amazing the difference you can make by spending a little money.
In training for my first Ironman, I was having serious issues at the 2-hour mark of my long rides. My back ached, as well as other parts of my body. And that”s bad, because I knew I would have to spend 6 or 7 hours on the bike in the Ironman. People kept telling me to spend the money on a bike fitting. I grudgingly scheduled one with Nancy McElwain, who also writes a column in this publication. After a comprehensive session, in the end she only made a couple of slight adjustments. I drove away wondering how that $100 I”d just spent would pay off. Next time on the bike, and every ride since, no matter how long the ride, I”ve never experienced any of the aches or pains I had before. I can ride all day if my legs hold out.
I could go on and on. After dealing with a horrific bout of plantar fascitis for years, including therapy and special socks and shoe inserts, I went out and dropped more money than I usually spend on new running shoes. It”s gone. Just like that.
Call me Scrooge in rehab. If I”m going to spend anywhere from an hour, to several hours a day in training, I”m going to do it right. I”m not advocating wild spending sprees. But if you walk, run, bike, swim, lift, whatever — take another look at the items out there that may make you faster, or fitter, or may just help the whole experience be more enjoyable.
John Boel is a 41-time Emmy winning news anchor at WLKY-TV. He”s married, with two daughters, and is an avid runner and triathlete.