Chip is my mentor. One day after a canoe race I told him, “I lost the race.”
He said, “Good, now you’ll try harder. Always have something to work for. Don’t ever be satisfied.”
I asked him, “How do you know if you are over training?”
He answered, “When you wake up after having passed out lying face down on the ground.”
“Then what do you do?” I asked.
“Get up and get going again,” as he laughed.
Meet Chip Loring. I took this photo yesterday after paddling nine miles up and down Pushaw stream in under two hours. Big, deep, and powerful paddle strokes reminded me of England’s Big Ben in their clockwork consistency. Chip is a man with a great heart, which is exemplified by him shoveling out five elders during the coldest winter in Maine’s history. Chip has snowshoed with me in Vermont during a trial run for an adventure race, which took twelve grueling hours. The entire race we fought freezing cold temperatures, waist-high snow, and constant elevation change totaling over 7000 feet before my phone froze to the point of not working. Chip moved with the same clockwork consistency as the way he paddles. He laughed and joked, raising spirits constantly everywhere he went. At sixty seven years old, Chip Loring is just getting started.
Chip says many wise things, but one keeps coming: Be constant. “Never stop,” he says, and he begs one to question our fitness goals. Longevity. How many people are walking into box gyms, Crossfit garages, or MMA gyms with the first goal being consistency leading to longevity? Why longevity? Longevity is the ability to be capable for a long span of time. The ability to live to 90, still kicking butt and taking names. Canoe racing provides an excellent example of athletes excelling at ages commonly exceeding sixty. The overall quality of life and longevity of so many canoeists begs consideration.
Barry Dana is another Penobscot Indian, and when partnered with his much tougher wife, Lori, is one of the fastest boat teams in the state. Barry, at fifty five years old, ran a 22 hour 100-miler, and the best part is he just keeps getting faster.
Highly regarded Muay Thai coach Tom Burke once said it’s not about how long you live, it’s the quality of the curve. I’d rather die at 65 in my sleep after living a full life than live to 90 stuck in some group home that looks like a prison and reeks of death, taking pills for pills, for pills. This life isn’t meant to be lived that way and maybe it’s time we start looking at fitness as a way to be a long-term athlete. Training to be 90 running, biking, swimming, paddling, lifting, and living life to the maximum enjoyment is a successful 90 year old athlete. Now imagine our athlete living day-to-day. If you can do these other things than you can shovel snow, walk, get up to go to the bathroom, and other tasks that lead to independent living. I firmly believe that being a lifelong athlete is possible for anybody. Further consideration to come.