The Cowboy-up Workout

No, I do not wear cowboy boots and a six-shooter during my workouts. These are merely props to demonstrate my euphemism. Besides, they look cool next to the iron. Right?

Today I am back in motivational mode. Actually, I’m a fan of saying I can’t motivate you to do anything. Only YOU can motivate yourself. However, I can inspire you to motivate yourself. I’ll share what “Cowboy-up” means to me. The idea to post this article was inspired by a bicycle ride that I participated in two weeks ago. You see, this particular ride was fairly tough… 156 miles on the C&O Canal Towpath spread out over three days. The amazing thing about this ride was the team of riders. You see, all of us riding are either hemophiliacs, hemophiliac parents, or advocates of some kind. And, (except for my buddy Barry, Kim, and maybe me) none of these riders are very experienced or had much training under their belts… Yet everyone of us not only participated, but also forced our way past pain, internal bleeds, and muscle failure to complete the entire adventure. My buddy Matt came to the ride with a knee bleed. Andy came with an ankle bleed. I had a separated shoulder. I’m fairly certain you get the point, but suffice it to say that you would be hard pressed to meet a tougher and more determined group of humans than my easy bleeding friends!

Before we get into this subject, I must start with a disclaimer—Actually two of them. First let me tell you that if you came here to whine or expecting me to let you cry on my shoulder, then you came to the wrong rodeo. I’m going to get a little ugly in this one, so you might wanna seek out a bleeding-heart pansy blog if you need someone to baby you and tell you that you do not need to work hard, push yourself, or Cowboy-up.

My second disclaimer is my standard one I give before recommending working out or fitness to anyone:

WARNING: Working out and exercise can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain!

Now, to quote Albus Dumbledore, “Let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”

Start by telling me (honestly), Are you planning to just pony-up and maybe complete your fitness goals, or are you going to cowboy-up and break past the barriers? Me … I’m a cowboy.

This article is not designed to teach you proper technique, or even discuss what exercises you need to do. You can find that somewhere else. I wrote today’s post for one reason; to push those of you who want deep-down hardcore inspiration!

Back in 2005 I ran the New Orleans marathon. That by itself isn’t that big of a deal. Tons of people run marathons every season. What you might find a little inspirational is the fact that at the time, I had been HIV+ for around 20 years. Also, I’m a hemophiliac and my left knee and right ankle (my “target joints”) do not have much cartilage left in them because of bleeds from my childhood (blood wreaks havoc on joints). Also (prepare for a few more “also’s” people) I have peripheral neuropathy; which is nerve damage in my feet that makes me feel like my toes and sometimes feet are being stabbed with each step. On top of all that (okay no more also’s), during my training I had burst the sheath of my Achille’s tendon. For those of you who don’t know, that is bad… Especially for a runner. When my injury came, many of my friends and family said, “Well… You gave it a good go. And, you proved that you are capable. But, you really shouldn’t run this race now.” You guys have all been around people at some point in your life who have said the same thing about something similar. Well, I filed that horseshit right where it belonged; in the ignore pile. I followed advice on healing, climbed back in my running shoes, and then did my thing, finishing the marathon.

Two years ago, I damaged my plantar fascia in the middle of the Army ten-miler. Do you think I quit? Nope. I hunkered down and ran my run. Not only did I finish, but I also ran a PR (personal record) and finished in 82 minutes! Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not recommending that you guys run or workout through injuries. I’m simply saying that I have and do. Frown if you like, but I choose to live my life. As a matter-of-fact, I’ve always lived my life. As a small child I had no illusions. Back then, easy bleeders (hemophiliacs) did not live as long as clotters (normal folk). I didn’t worry about it and got on with living. Same thing when I found out I was HIV+ and my doctor told me I had fewer than two years to live. Ask anyone around me and they will confirm… I’m not only a survivor, I’m a liver (I know that last word looks like an organ in your body, that’s because I think I just made the word up) too.

The last thing I will tell you might be a bit shocking for some. Every workout that I do… Every single one. I experience pains, troubles, and issues that most mortal men and women would cry about. My peripheral neuropathy has brought me to my cartilage-free knees in the middle of a workout. Before, during, and/or after almost every workout I am dealing with diarrhea. Actually, I can’t remember a four-day period without diarrhea in the last fifteen years. My body itches (everywhere). My eyes burn. I deal with and have aches that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies (if I had any).

Did I tell you all of that to get sympathy or make you guys and gals feel bad for me? HELL NO! I told you because the next time your punk ass is whining about how tough workouts are, I want you to think about me and thousands like me who have it tougher and workout regardless. Speaking of which, my buddy, Barry, has peripheral neuropathy too. His feet hurt so bad a few years ago that he couldn’t get into his bike shoes, let alone ride. Did he throw in the towel? Nope. He’s a cowboy, like me. He cut the ends off of his bike shoes, let his toes pop out, and then saddled-up. How many of you would be willing to do that? BTW – I should mention that Barry, a severe bleeder, has had a couple of knee replacements among other things. Despite (or maybe “to spite”) these issues, he rode across America on his bicycle… Twice! How many of you could do that even without having a bleeding disorder? Cowboy-up!!!

You know what to do. You know how to do it. Now … Do it!

I’ll leave you with my favorite fitness quote:

“If you like exercise, you’re doing it wrong.”
—Arthur Jones

 

Your faithful friend and potential inspiration,
Rip

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About Vaughn Ripley

Vaughn is a happily married daddy, author, and CIO. He is an HIV+ hemophiliac, and is one of the longest surviving HIV+ people in the universe.
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Read his personal blog: HIVLongevity.com
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Comments

  1. Love this! “You know what to do. You know how to do it. Now … Do it!” Motivating post!

    • Hi Niki!

      I love popping in to see if anyone has chimed in and finding your kind and inspirational comments. You rock! I strive hard to inspire and motivate, and you help keep me on my toes.

      Have a great day, and wonderful week!!!

      -V

  2. Can you be anymore of a go-getter? OK, sure but what a great post. Running a marathon with hardly no cartilige and you just keep going with more and more injuries and just “cowboyup”……you are one heck of an inspiration to dozens. Very impressed! Congrats on all of your mega success…..your determination has taken you to awesome places. = )

    Irish of Dedicated 2 Life

  3. I am so happy to have finally met you and had the opportunity to ride with such a huge inspiration to so many people. I can’t agree with you more that people need to Coyboy Up and live life to the fullest! Don’t let the bumps in the road bring you down… Instead view them as challenges to overcome and make yourself a stronger person.

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