We Measured Our Dirtbag Fitness Level
Welcome to part II of this post. If you haven’t already done so, you might check out the first Dirtbag Fitness post for a bit of context. Those of you who read Part I will know part II is about a week late. All I can say is, well, it’s a post about dirtbags. What did you expect, something timely?
If you’re just joining the conversation, we were doing a little exploration of the concept of "fitness" as applied to those not actively engaged in the pursuit thereof. Amidst the flurry of "Get Ready for the Season"-style articles showing up in virtually every outdoor magazine since Sept. it seemed a good time to call attention to all the folks out there who do jack squat to "get ready for the season." Usually the same folks who are out there getting first tracks of the season while others are still doing their Swiss Ball training program.
Outside Magazine provided an online fitness quiz that serves as a good backdrop to explore this dichotomy. So I took their quiz. I tried to answer the questions as faithfully as possible. And it occurred to me in taking it that—whether in jest or no—the quiz measures a distinct type of fitness. Trouble was, I couldn’t figure out which kind. So I took the quiz twice. The first time through, I tried to answer as accurately as possible given my circumstances, the second time, I tried to provide the most gut-honest answer I could come up with.
Quiz scoring falls in generalized categories:
<20 – If fitness was a salary, folks would wonder if you had a job
20-40 – Welcome to Average Town
41-60 – No “Sport” class for you, Mr./Mrs. Contender.
>60 – Lance’s riding buddy?
Now, I’m pretty sure the folks at Outside don’t want me re-printing their whole quiz here, and I’m pretty sure you’ve got better things to do than read all of them, so I’ll just offer some highlights.
First, the quiz scores:
Straight-lace version (henceforward referred to as “SL): Final score = 50
Dirtbag style (henceforward “DB”): Final score = 16
Why the variance? Perhaps some example questions will elucidate the vagaries of my personal results. To whit:
2. What’s your fastest 5K this year?
(a) <18 minutes (+3)
(b) 18–20 minutes (+2)
(c) >20 minutes (+1)
(d) What’s a 5K? (-1)
SL: "B" means 2 points for me.
DB: (e) <10 min when I heard there was a brand new pair of Karhu Jak BC’s with 7tm Power Tours for $150 at the local ski swap. Fitness points?: dunno. Dirtbag points: off the charts.
Question #5. Energy bars:
a) Buy them by the case (+2)
b) A la carte (+1)
c) Mooch off of friends (-2)
SL: Answer is A, since I usually acquire them by the case.
DB: But I don’t really pay for those cases of energy bars. If certain folks see fit to hook me up, does this make me more “sporty,” and by default more "fit"? Or is this just glorified “mooching.” I’m confused. It’s probably mooching, on a grand scale. Better give myself a -4.
Question #7. BONUS POINTS! How many sports-specific pairs of shoes are in your closet? (1 point for each, with a point subtracted for each pair not used in the last 6 months).
SL: I do at least 8 different sports at some time or another, all within the last 6 months (hiking, trail running, road running, mountain biking, road biking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding). I’ll give myself a 7, and lump the running together, even if the shoes are different.
DB: This is bogus! Extra points if you have spare bread to be the Emelda Marcos of the outdoor world? I watched my buddy climb a 5.9 in Chacos (oh yeah, forgot to count those in my “straight-laced answer,” make that other score 8). So what about my bro, who climbs 5.9 in his sandals. He deserves way more “fitness points” than the average fair-weather gym monkey who makes a token visit to an unroofed crag a coupla times a year. Dirtbag tally for this category: all kinds of biking happens with the same kicks (+1), all running happens with the same kicks (+1) and snow stuff, one pair of T1s does it all (+1, bringing the total to 3). Oh yeah, climbing. Well, I don’t actually own those, I “borrow” them from a side job that involves doing some climbing. Does that mean I have to subtract 2, like the energy bars? Do I get MORE points because I get paid to do it and get the shoes for free? I’ll just say “3” for this one and call it good.
Question #10. How far can you run in 12 minutes?
SL: approx. 3000m
DB: What am I running from?:
d) TJ’s manager who’s just found me looting the dumpster for discarded cheese
Question 12. BONUS POINTS! How many competitions have you entered in the past three months? (+1 for each; charity "fun runs" don’t count)
DB: People have "fun" competing?
Question #19. You shave your legs because:
(a) you’re a cyclist, swimmer, or triathlete (+1)
(b) your girlfriend made you (-10)
SL: Neither. Guess I’m a zero.
DB: What, no points for NOT shaving legs, and still beating the smooth-legged nancy-boys? Not fair.
21. Your bike is equipped with a:
(a) power meter (+2)
(b) computer (+1)
(c) bell (-1)
SL: I own a bike computer . . . somewhere . . . What the hell, I deserve a point.
DB: A fun-ometer! That’s what I’ve got on my ride. If I’m futzing around with too many gadgets, I’m not having a good time. I ride a bike to smile, not to measure watts. And you know something, Oh Great Maker of Fitness Metrics, my bike smile has more beaming watts than any smooth-legged, bike club, Lance wannabe can stir up in a whole season of twilight-series races. Plus, the fun-ometer makes me ride all the time, which means I’m probably more fit than Mr. Gizmo with the shaven legs. But I’ll still go ahead and take the -1 you think I deserve.
Question 23. BONUS POINTS! How many team sports do you play?
(+1 for each league you belong to; paintball doesn’t count)
DB: Team sports? Leagues? Tell you what, I’ll go ahead and admit right here that there’s a disc golf "club" around here. And maybe I’ve played a couple of games with them; maybe not. But EVEN THOUGH I could lay claim to that tantalizing point you’re dangling out there I won’t, because I just can’t get the word "fitness" to stick to the resin-caked cloak of disc-ing.
Question #24. You exercise because:
(a) you want to win a triathlon (+2)
(b) you want to improve your health (+2)
(c) you want a and b, plus you want to eat more ice cream (+5)
DB: What about (d) – "By accident."?
If you answered “d” to 24, give yourself a pat on the back. You did well. You get it, let’s just hope some of those folks taking the quiz catch on.