Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thoughts on my second run... and other things.

My Workout Plan This Week

Week Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3
1 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

So today is my second run in my (trumpets sounding) "2013 running campaign"!

It's been a few days since my last post.

Normally, I'd like to run at least every other day.  The Couch to 5K program is designed to have runs 3 days a week.  And I *will* get three runs in this week.

But on Tuesday, I woke up to it snowing fairly heavily.  I vastly prefer to run on pavement than a treadmill.

On top of that, my gym is across town (ok... so my town isn't that big) from where I live.  Driving through the snow probably seems like a walk in the park to people living in areas where it snows a lot.  But I live in Arkansas.  We are not prepared.  We don't have enough snow equipment to keep the roads clear.  We don't really know how to drive on it very well even if there was. So, I wasn't really ready to drive across town to go run on a treadmill.

Of course.... you may ask... why not just go run outside in the cold anyway.  What kind of wuss are you?  Well... apparently the kind that isn't strong enough yet to force myself outside in the snow to run.  That's what kind.

So... I didn't run on Tuesday.  And I didn't run on Wednesday either because... I didn't run on Wednesday.  No real good excuse.  Darnit.

But I remember Tuesday.  I wanted to run.  I was cursing my bad fortune that it snowed.  Cursing the track for being covered in ice.   Cursing the roads for being slippery.

But then I had to ask myself, "What about all those other days?  Those days when the road wasn't slippery, and the track was in pristine condition (as if it ever is)?"

The track was there.  It was waiting for me.  It was saying, "Here I am!  Come over here and spend some time with me!"

I wasn't listening.  I had too many other things going on, or so I told myself.

Oh I was a runner.  You betcha.  Of course I'm a runner.  Look at this drawer full of running clothes.  My treasure trove of race jerseys.  "You bet.  I'm a runner baby!"

"When was the last time you ran?"

"Um...., let me think..."

"Right.  Too long ago."

The track didn't let me down.  I let it down.

I took it for granted that the track would always be there, waiting for me.  And then, when one day it wasn't, I blamed it.

Stick with me here.  I know I'm sounding a bit crazy, making the track sound human.  There is a reason.

So, this morning.  I got up early (for me anyway).  6:00 AM and I'm awake, getting my son up for school as he has early classes on Tuesday and Thursday.  It's about time I made running a priority for the day.  So I get my gear on and get ready to run.  it's still pretty cold outside, so I plan to head to the gym and run on treadmill (yes I am still a wuss).

While I'm getting ready, my son walks in the room, visibly shivering.

"Dad, something is wrong with the hot water."

Oh... lovely.

"Damn that hot water heater!  Why does it have to break now?"  I shake my fist, for effect.  The water heater appears not to notice.

Oh wait... you mean that water heater that has worked every single day for years?  The one that is so consistent that you turn on the hot water and don't even really ever think about the possibility of it not working?  That water heater?

"Yep!  That's the one."


Isn't that interesting.  Yet another thing that is so consistent, I've taken it for granted.

It works, and works, and works, and works.  It's there for me every single day.

Oh and I enjoy the hot water.  You better believe I do.  I've had cold showers.  I know how fun they um... aren't.

So I value the hot water.  But I still take it for granted.  It seems like those should be mutually exclusive.

I go and do my run.  I'm only on week 1 of the program, and it's hardly accurate to call it a run.  I'm running a minute, followed by a walk for 90 seconds.  So it's really more of a walk with a low attention span than a run at this point.  Still, I'm moving at least.

I'm walking, then running, then walking.  All the time I'm thinking.  I take so many things for granted.

  • I take for granted that my body is able to run.
  • I take for granted that my I can beat my body into some sort of shape every year, and then let it go, and expect to be able  to do it again next year.
  • I take for granted that everything that is true today, will be true tomorrow.
  • I take for granted that the people who care about me now, will continue to care about me if I take them for granted.
  • I take any fitness level I reach for granted... like I will stay at that level (or even better, improve) without continuing to train.  "I can run 3 miles.  So this time next year I'll be able to run 3 miles too.  Hey that doughnut looks good!"
So many things in my life are so stable.

I am not.  I am a bundle of good intentions.  If you look at all my intentions, I'm a pretty good guy.  When you look at my accomplishments... hmm... 

Not so good.  I'm anything but consistent.  I'm the poster child for having a low attention span.  I get so wrapped up in myself.  I miss the people around me, begging for my attention. 

Is there an answer to this?  I don't know.  I guess the only way to start being more dependable, is to start.  Genius at work here!

And I thought this blog was just going to be about running.

Oh speaking of running.  I did actually do my run.

Isn't amazing how easy it is to do a run, when you aren't really thinking about the run?  On Sunday, I ran my Day 1 circuit, and wow was it hard.  Today... completely different.

So different that I didn't even notice when I missed an audio cue to stop running after my first 1 minute leg.  It told me to start walking.  I didn't hear it.  So I kept running, for an extra minute and a half.

Sunday, I'm staggering to get all 8 legs of running (1 minute intervals) done.  Today, I go for 2 and half minutes, and don't even realize it.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

NOTE: This is my first blog entry.  I don't know if anyone will read it.  I really don't care that much.  But I'm going to use it as "one more tool" to keep me from quitting.  I promise future ones won't be quite so long!  But I will keep posting them to keep myself going.  If I stop posting, please feel free to kick me in the butt!

My Workout Plan This Week

Week Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3
1 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

After a month an a half of telling myself I need to start running again, today I actually did.

Here's the GPS tracking of my run today:

4:25 PM
I leave my house and start on my walk to the track.  Before leaving I start tracking my workout using the trusty Endomondo app on my android phone.

Generally I run on a track that is attached to a local elementary school, and that is where I set off to today.  It was once Bentonville High School and Google map service still shows the field inside the track as "Tiger Stadium", but the school moved to a new location several years ago.  The track and an occasionally maintained football field is all that is left.

The track is about half a mile from my house, so walking to it makes a decent warmup for running.... normally.

8:17 Mark
I reach the school track.  Today, the walk to the track has, in itself, all but squashed my desire to run.  How can this be?  I have made this walk to the track countless times before.  I have run around the track even more countless times.  I know every inch of the well worn asphalt.  I know the places where the track has an uneven crease across it.  I know the places where kids throw rocks onto the track that I have to skip around.  I know the places where parents sit on their folding chairs to watch their kids practice football (though I am convinced they are really there to laugh at the fat guy running around in circles).  I own this track!

Oh wait!  That's right.  I stopped running in September of last year.

Hold on...Why did I do that?

Was I injured?

Hmm... no.

Did I decide to stop?

I don't remember deciding that.

I just.... stopped.

That's weird.  Not the stopping part.  I am really good at that.  I do that a lot.

What is weird is that I usually quit in November.  Why?  I don't know.

Perhaps it is because the weather starts going really bad in November.  Sure, I could put on some sweats and brave the elements.  And it's not like Arkansas winters are usually that cold.  And even if they were, I have a gym membership.  I could always go run on treadmill.

Perhaps it is because my birthday is in early November, and it always reminds me of my mortality.  2012 makes 47 years for me.  Bleh.  OK, so I guess that's a good reason to be feeling old.  But is that really a good excuse to stop?  No.  But that hasn't stopped me up to this point.  Well, OK, maybe it has.

I'm not sure.  But, whatever the reason, November has been my Achilles Heel for years.

You see, I've started and stopped running many times.  Just about every year, I pick myself up and start running.  I build up my endurance.  I get to the point where I can run a 5K at about a 10.5 minute per mile pace.  And then I hit November and let it all fall apart.  I gain back whatever weight I've managed to lose over the course of the year, and end up right back where I started (about 280 pounds) and depressed about it again.

But 2012 was different.  This time I stopped in late September, early October.  I guess that's one way to not fall apart in November.  Do it earlier.  Hmm...

Well OK.  Enough dwelling on my reasons for failure.  It's a new year right?  A new day!

A day when I, once again, suck at running.  And, I excel at quitting.  I want to reverse that.

I'm using the Couch to 5K running plan, again. -

So, today I'm starting at Week 1. That's a bit of a disappointment.  At least last year, I was able to start from a more advanced week.  The problem is, that was actually a mistake.  I messed around way too long trying to find a weekly workout that my body was comfortable with.  By the time I finally found a workout I could consistently do over the course of a week, I could have just started over at week one and been in as good of shape.  Lesson learned... Week 1 it is.  Today, there is no football practice.  That's kind of too bad. Feeling like people are watching, and laughing, at me when I run is oddly motivating.  Today, there are just other runners, and walkers, on the track.  Good.  I feel a kind of solidarity with them.  Well... except for that one guy who is wearing a race jersey.  He's a little "too good".

So I started out.  The week one workout is as follows:
  1. Warm-up Walk for 5 minutes
  2. Run for 60 Seconds
  3. Walk for 90 Seconds
  4. Rinse and Repeat steps 2 and 3, for a total of 20 minutes.
  5. Cool down walk for 5 minutes.
OK where was I?  Oh yeah, I'm still at the 8:17 mark.  By the time I walk from my house to the track, I've already gone half a mile, so I've done far more than the 5 minute warm-up walk.  But I prefer to start my timer once I actually get to the track.  I use a program on my android mobile phone (C25K Pro) to step me through my workout automatically.  Obviously this is not required, but I do highly recommend it.  It helps a great deal.  Also, I do highly recommend Endomondo.  I use it on Android, but it is available on just about every smartphone system.

So this takes me back to the beginning of today's workout.  All I've done is walk to the track and I'm already out of breath.  Well, that's all the more reason to get my butt in gear and get started.  So, I do.

9:38 Mark

I use a fanny pack to carry my phone in while I run.  Surprisingly, I've actually managed to close it around my waist.  That was, by no means, guaranteed.  It barely closed.  I take it off when I get to the track to start the C25KPro app, and then put it back on.  Amazingly, it feels like I've actually gained inches since I left the house.  Is that possible?

Somehow I manage to get the belt back on, and start walking.  I am already feeling a dull ache in my lower back.  My body is letting me know it is not impressed with my running ambitions.

"Deal with it", I tell my lower back.  "I'm not stopping."

And I don't.  I try to use the warm-up time psyching myself up for the run.

16:11 Mark
I start my first running stint.  It actually feels pretty good.  My body seems to remember its stride and I run at a pretty decent pace (for me).  I pass a few people on the track.  I'm jogging.  They are walking.  No matter.  In my mind it is a race and I just owned them.  Ha!  I'm only feeling slightly fatigued when the chipper woman's voice comes over my headphones telling me to "Start Walking".  Hmm... she sounds nice.

SIDE NOTE: This is the first time I've heard this particular computer generated woman's voice.  Since my last running workout, I've upgraded my phone from an HTC Evo 4G to a Samsung Galaxy SIII.  Apparently, the phones have different computer generated voices.  Whatever.  The new girl sounds nice.  That will change.

26:36 Mark
I'm starting my 5th, and in my head, last running phase for the workout.  I know it's the last workout because I'm only supposed to go for 20 minutes.  And each running phase is 1 minute and there are 3 minutes of walking in between each running phase.  So that makes 4 minutes, times 5 is 20.  So I should be good after this right?

I stagger to the end of the running phase, thinking I should be done.

The somehow less pleasant sounding woman in my ears say's "Good Job! Start Walking."

Wait.  That's not right.  She was supposed to say "Great Job! Start your cooldown walk".  The fact that she didn't say that means I know I have another running phase coming.

Oops!  I have forgotten that the walking phase is 1:30, not 3:00.  I always forget this.  I don't know why.  Math is not my strong suit, and it becomes even less so when I'm running.  Perhaps it's the lack of oxygen.

I don't realize this yet.  I'm still clinging to my illusion that my walking phases are 3 minutes long.  OK so I'm having to go another time.  No big deal.  I'm a little tired, but I can do it.  No big deal.  I pull up my big boy pants (no really! I have to pull them up... they are riding down a bit), and prepare to run yet again.

30:16 Mark
I wrap up my 6th running phase and yet again, the rude voice in my ears say's "Good Job!  Start Walking".


OK at this point, I'm convinced the program has gone off the reservation.  I'm no longer dealing with C25KPro.  Now I've got HAL 9000 to deal with.  Any moment now, I expect to be addressed as "Dave".

Alright, fine.  I'll do your extra lap.  But I'm getting annoyed.

32:34 Mark
"Good Job!  Start Walking."

"LOOK, {Expletive omitted}!  I'm done already.  Don't you get it?"

She doesn't.

I'm actually on medication.  I've had a persistent cough for a while and my doctor has prescribed a Z-Pac and prednisone to help deal with it.  I'm not sure if it's relevant, but my mouth has gone extremely dry.  I'm acutely aware of where I left my water bottle sitting on the edge of the track.

I'm not sure I have it in me to go one more run phase, especially when I'm no longer convinced it will be the last.  The only good news is, I'm pretty sure the run phase will end at about the same place my water is (say's the guy with bad math skills).

I resolve that, regardless of what the dominatrix in my head say's, I will be stopping to pick up my water. I'm done!

35:16 Mark
Thank God, she finally say's "Great Job!  Start your cool-down walk".  I slide over to the outside lane to deftly pick up my water from the ground next to the track in mid-stride (I miss).  I turn around to see if anyone noticed my clumsy move.  I see that fit runner, with his race swag shirt on, smirk at me as he runs by.

That's it.  He's got to die!
If only I could catch him...
"Meh," I tell myself.  "Let it go."

Besides, I've got race swag shirts too.  They don't fit as well as they did originally.  But I've got them.  And I'll wear them again one day...

I do my 5 minute cool-down walk, thankful to have remembered to bring water.  When I'm done, I've finally convinced myself I'm not going to fall down and die on the track today.  So I head home, and have pizza for dinner.  Well... small steps...

Workout one... done.