Last week I rode my bike around Miramar Lake, a local lake here in San Diego with a path that circles around it for almost 5 miles. It's not a very challenging course, as it's pretty flat, but it was the best place for my Wednesday bike ride. My husband, J, was out of town last week, and I don't like to ride far when he's away. I felt safer here; if something happened, like I blew a tire and couldn't fix it on my own, I could easily walk it back to my car. By the way, I have learned how to change my bike tire, but luckily haven't had a flat (yet) so have never done it on my own.
I did three laps around the lake, plus a little extra to make it an even 15 miles. Keeping the bike in a high gear and going into a headwind gave this flat-ish course more of a challenge for me. It was fun, and I was happy to be biking. I recently had an epiphany that I am LOVING the bike! I am getting stronger and stronger on the hills, and lately have been going up hills nonstop that just a few months ago I needed to stop in the middle of and rest.
Anyhow, this lake is very popular for people exercising. Every time I've been here (and I have been here dozens and dozens of times over the years) it is packed. On weekends it's hard to find a parking spot. Even this week, on a Wednesday morning, there were tons of people there. There are people running, biking, walking, and roller blading. There are seniors running and families walking with young kids, often with a child wobbly on their first bike. I love it.
One reason I love going to the lake is that everyone is there to get fit. It's not a place you just happen upon. You have to drive to the lake. You have to get up in the morning and say to yourself "I'm going to Miramar Lake today to bike/walk/run/skate". You have to make an effort to get there. Hence, everyone is purposefully there to get fit, to walk around the 5 mile lake, or even to walk a mile in and then turn around and walk back the other way. Whether it's someone who is running the lake 5 times in preparation for a marathon, or a pair of friends strolling slowly around catching up with each other in the sunshine and fresh air, no one is there to be a couch potato.
I got to wondering, on my second lap around the lake, what people were training for. It was obvious that many of the people were training for a race, perhaps a half marathon, marathon or triathlon, because they were wearing race shirts from previous such races (I always smile when I pass someone wearing a t-shirt from a race that I myself did!) But I also know that not everyone races. Why, then, would people be out there running or biking or whatever if not in preparation for a race? (I am addicted to training for races, it's what motivates me to to get out there daily, so I come from a different mentality).
It hit me.......those people were training for their lives! Just because some people don't race doesn't mean that they aren't in training. People want to lose weight, control diabetes, gain muscle mass, add bone density, lower their blood pressure...the list of health benefits goes on and on. And I am sure that many of the people out there on the lake, and in fact many people that I see biking and running and swimming on a daily basis are doing so for the sole purpose of bettering their health, with not a competitive bone in their body (indeed, there is a woman I see twice a week at the pool...she gets there at 5:30 in the morning as I do, and she told me that she doesn't do triathlons or swim races, she swims solely for her health and for fun).
I seriously tip my hat to those people who exercise just for their health. I am addicted to swimming, biking and running, and love to sign up for races as a way to not only keep up my own motivation but as a way to measure my progress. But you don't need to train for a triathlon or a half marathon (or even a 5k) to get out there and exercise. All you need to do is move your body. I see people out there doing it all the time....training for their lives.