Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

" What our instincts and athletes and sports psychologists tell us is that sports and athletics will show us how to satisfy the main urges of this generation: to possess one’s experience rather than to be possessed by it, to live one’s own life rather than be lived by it—in fine, to become all you are. Up until now that has always meant your brain. No more.”" - Dr. George Sheehan

This is it. The zenith. The top of the heap, the last letter of the alphabet and the completion of “a marathon of fitness articles.” Twenty-six letters, twenty-six thoughts, twenty-six hooks to encourage folks to explore the advantages, addictions, and adages of fitness. So this needs to be the apogee, the apex, the pinnacle, the zenith as it were, of FT HPNZ. Ain’t happenin’. There are peak experiences, and peaking in the sport, and piquing curiosities, but there is not scaling the heights and attaining perfection in the genre. It is still a process. We are never to a place that we can sit back and munch bonbons as the rest of the world marches on…FT HPNZ because the “price of a waistline is eternal vigilance” or some such adulterated plagiarism. We will explore some of the “Z”s endemic to fitness, but please to understand that this is a “you’re never there”; it is always a process and always a measure of progress, and eternally your solo mission. Sorry about that, but the fun is in the journey, so just keep truckin’.

I used to say if I could run a consistent seven minute mile, I would be happy. If I could get down to 120 pounds I’d be content. If I just had a bachelor’s degree…and so on and so forth ad nauseam. I don’t think we ever reach our desires, our dreams, nor our potential. But the journey is what it’s all about, and we just as well feel good doing it, so FT on folks, the next series will be numbers. (Now there’s a concept, this could go on forever!)
So let’s look at some “Z” words as they relate to fitness.

Zone. When you get in the zone in running you are at a place where you are comfortable, but not relaxed. It’s still work, but tolerable. Something you can do for a long period of time and that will produce positive results; i.e. fat burning, strength enhancing and endurance building. A good place to be. Everything is working right; you’re free of spirit, not a care in the world. You are one with the universe. That mystical place where you run effortlessly, smoothly, and seemingly forever…it just works.

Zoom. That surprising burst you pull out at the end of a race to sprint past your age group rival. The feeling that the heart and lungs and quads and spirit don’t belong to you but some running God…you’re Mercury flying those last precious yards to the tape; a feeling you relive a thousand times in your head and it feels good every time. Ah, speed. I wonder what it would be like to have that talent. To run like that every time, to always have that latent power at your beck and call? Probably not good enough, I’d probably want to be faster yet, and maybe also have long eyelashes, who knows. And, think of the pressure that would accompany that kind of excellence! The win would be expected
every time, no positive surprises.

Zany. What I have been accused of with some of my psychedelic running outfits. But hey, I like to think of them as slow-moving-vehicle uniforms; I need for people to be aware of me so I don’t get run over. So what they require audible lipstick; a man once attended a costume race dressed as me and won first prize. Now that’s some kind of fame. (I always thought I should have gotten a cut.)

Zippy. What I really wish all of my winter running stuff was, when my shoe comes untied on a cold swoop down the canyon I want to be able to unzip even gloves for quick re-entry. Must talk to Asics.

Zeal. No problem with this one, most fitness buffs (is that redundant?) have inordinate amounts of zeal about their chosen sport, and more power to them/us. It’s the way sports and fitness are perpetuated and certainly more entertaining than a boring, “Well I guess I’ll go drag my derriere through the park again.” Or, “Shoot, time to play tennis with the girls, I’d so rather read Elle’.

ZPD. Borrowed from the education people, in teaching our children to read, a philosophy I was taught in the 1980’s…the Zone of Proximal Development which means simply, assessing where you are, and pushing just beyond that to promote growth. Then when comfortable with that level, push the limit again to ensure growth and development at a rate the body and the mind can handle with out injury or burnout.

Zeitgeist. The spirit of the time; the taste and outlook characteristic of a period or generation. Readiness. This one borrowed from a counseling degree, the belief that there is a time and place, a preordained aligning of the stars for a particular event to take place. Happens in fitness all the time. Do all the prescribed workouts, eat right, get rest, drink water, and one day it comes together like learning to ride a bike. You wonder why you thought it was so hard! Readiness.

Zoo. This is it. What the starting line of a race looks like. A zoo. A pot pourri of people, running garb, form, style, pace, stride, and performance. A herd of running animals eager for the starting gun, making bad jokes, bouncing in place, retying shoes, surreptitiously assessing a speedy looking participant’s age group. An ‘A’ to ‘Z’ representation of FT HPNZ before the gun goes off. Potential speed and endurance waiting to be unleashed. A force.

Zero: The number of excuses acceptable for not getting in shape. JFDI. Just Focus and Do It. It’s your life, take charge. Yeah, that’s more like it. Zero excuses, zero rationales, zero tolerance, zero abdication. Z is for Zenith, shoot for the top.

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