How the hell did that happen?

December 13, 2010

On Saturday I was at the local Y with Boy.  One of the decisions Dys and I (and mostly Dys) made recently was to pony up the dough for a family membership – because Boy loves to swim, and we don’t have regular access to a pool, and because all of us could afford to be more active.  Well, speaking personally, I’ve made a couple of trips with Boy in tow, and swimming laps is reminding me just how out of shape I have been recently.  Admittedly, though, the weight room and cardio room here beat the holy hell out of what the university offers.  Holy crap.

Anyhow, while on our way out of the combatives room where Boy let out a little stress by whacking some punching bags, we saw a digital scale.  Boy was interested.

Me, I’d weighed in at the doctor’s office earlier in the week.  I’d been reasonably pleased to weigh in at what I thought my weight would be – even though I was wearing a sweatshirt and a coat to boot.  (Have I mentioned that it’s been freekin’ cold?!?)  So I figured I was probably 5 pounds lighter than that, and that was reason to be excited.

But, what the hell.  I was dressed in workout clothes, which is how I usually weigh myself for exercise purposes.  So I stepped on the scale.

After a second or two, it stopped and displayed a number.

I got off the scale and got back on.  Same number.

I made Boy get on the scale and get off.  I got back on.  Same number.

I still maintain that the Y’s scale is a little light.  But the number that it displayed was one pound higher than the weight I always considered my ideal.  What I jokingly referred to in college  as my “fighting weight” – in the days when I’d have to gain weight to get there.

I guess a ton of stress is helpful in some ways, huh?  Heh.  Who cares.  I’ll take it!!

And use it as motivation to get back into the gym.  The numbers on the scale are still happier than the image in the mirror.  Time to move some of those pounds around!

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Penance

August 19, 2010

Since my good-feeling 5k race in mid-July, I’ve run precisely four times.  Including last night.  I have been a suckish bastard.

Now, I’ve done more exercise than that – heavy pack-mule labor at work – several 10+ mile bike rides, both with Boy (somewhat leisurely) and by myself (I pushed myself fairly hard) – climbing the 5-story stairs to the water slides last weekend over and over and over – etc.  But running?  No.  Considering that I’m trying hard to work up to a running goal, that’s not good.

But I have plenty of time.  The half-marathon that is the “end goal” isn’t until April.  I have time to be a fuckup on occasion.  But it’s not helped if I’m doing vacation-eating at the same time – which is precisely what I’ve been doing.

School has started, so I have to get myself re-focused into a different routine again.  I can’t get up and go running in the mornings anymore – the park doesn’t open until 6, and Boy needs to be up and about by 6:30.  I suppose I could get up at 5 or earlier and run around my neighborhood, but there is that slightly increased chance of getting run over or, possibly, shot as a Peeping Tom or something crazy like that.  And if the hills in the park are bad, the hills in my neighborhood are even more nutso.  I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that level of challenge quite yet.

So I’m trying to re-acclimate myself to running after work, or possibly later in the evening.  It’s too bad – early morning workouts are best for me, because I tend to be a morning person.  By afternoon, I’m already feeling kinda run down and looking for reasons to avoid working out (and with a family at home, those reasons usually aren’t hard to find).  If I stop on my way home from work, I’m prolonging my workday.  Once I get home, though, getting me to leave again and go work out or run or whatever is crazy hard.  Even if it is cooler at 8 than at 6.

Yesterday’s run was in a bad time of day for me, and yes it was probably 10 degrees hotter than I’ve been used to with my morning runs.  But that’s still no excuse for me turning in my first over-40-minute time for a 3.5 mile run since June.  The reason is that I’ve been a suckass slacker.  And that part has got to change.

I will now do penance by forcing myself not to suck.  And wow, sometimes that’s hard!


For the record…

July 13, 2010

I was about to clear out my iPod’s timer log this morning when I decided to hold off.  I use my iPod as my stopwatch for my runs, and I hadn’t cleared it for several weeks.  I suddenly thought, “Hmm, maybe I should keep a record of this…

3.5 mile runs

June 23 0:44:14
June 24 0:42:20
June 30 0:41:11
July 2 0:39:49
July 7 0:40:49
July 8 0:40:57
July 12 0:39:27

6 mile runs

June 26 1:08:19
July 3 1:11:24
July 5 1:07:27
July 10 1:07:23

The 3.5 mile times are slow, definitely, but it’s also a seriously hilly 3.5 miles, so I’m comfortable with relative suckitude there.

The six-milers are somewhat deceptive, since I have to cross a highway and there may or may not be a wait involved there.  The six-mile runs essentially start with the hardest part of the 3.5 mile run, and end with a relatively long flat section, a long steady hill, and then another mostly flat (slightly uphill) segment.

Know what else makes a big difference?  The temperature.  It’s a hell of a lot easier to keep going when it’s 70 degrees versus 80…

But there ya go.  My times are now out there for the world to see whether I’m getting any better or just spinning my shoes.


Five

June 28, 2010

Not a bad weekend around ye olde abode.  I started it off by getting up before dawn again on Saturday morning to go for a run.  At the last second, the talk I had with my ex-runner officemate re-entered my brain and I took a right instead of a left.  I parked my car on the other side of the park and instead of running 3.5 miles, I ran five.  My goal was anything under 1:15 – fifteen-minute miles – and I made it in 1:08 and change, having forgotten to start my stopwatch on time to begin with and having to wait for traffic lights to change twice, which I figure evens out in the end.  Close enough, at least.

I was definitely whipped but not completely out of commission, which was nice.  And a good thing, too, since when I got back to my car I realized that my extra door key that I carry while I run had fallen out someplace, so my keys were locked in my car.  I’d left my phone at home, so I had to walk the mile back home from the park and pound on the door until the dog barking at me got Dys  up to let me in.

Oh well.

Afterward, I showered and changed clothes and Dys and I went on a Wal-Mart/grocery run.  While at WM, I picked up a couple of sleeveless Under-Armour type shirts to run in.

In size Large.  Do you know how long it’s been since I bought anything without an X in front of it?  And while I’m still a little more bulgy in a few places than I’d like, they definitely fit.

I also bought a pack of white and black tank-top undershirts in size Large, and those suckers are definitely a little tighter than I’d imagined they’d be.  But still not grotesquely so, and I can still work on that a bit.  Dys asked if I was going for the Eric Northman look, and honestly it hadn’t even crossed my mind, but if it’s even bringing up the concept, then WIN.

Even in the ballpark of this guy is a compliment.

Having survived the five-mile run without serious complications, I think I’m going to succumb to my coworker’s suggestion and plan to enter the local Triple Crown.   A 5k (3.1 miles) on the last Saturday of next February, a 10k (6.2 mi) on the second Saturday in March, and a 10 miler on the last Saturday in March.  I think only the 10-miler is a real concern, and I have nine months to prepare for it.

Time to kick it up a notch, eh?


The Stride

June 22, 2010

One interesting thing about the heat…the local park is a lot more crowded at 6am.  Hell, today I got there just before 6 for my run, and there were two guys there who had clearly just finished and were about to leave.

I’ve been running for, oh, six weeks now – after swearing I’d never do such a thing unless violent death was threatened for myself or my loved ones.  Now, I can’t say I’m exactly a nut about it…I haven’t made the telltale subscription to Runner’s World or created logins for running forums or anything like that…but I’m liking it.

What I’ve found is that I respond much better to a distance-goal than a time-goal.  Running for 45 minutes seems a lot less boring than it was watching the timer count down from 30 minutes on the cross-trainer.  And on the cross-trainer, I not only had my iPod, but also a TV and usually a book to boot.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s still damned hard to drag my ass out of bed at 5:30 in the morning, even on days like today when it has been four…five?…days since I last ran.  Days in which I may or may not have ordered a Large combo cheeseburger at a fast food joint, for example, and relished every last bite of those peppered fries.

But I’m almost to the point of being able to run that full 3.5 miles without stopping to walk.  And these being some significantly hilly miles, I think that’s pretty cool.  In talking to a former-runner coworker on Friday, she encouraged me to think about the local Triple Crown next year – a 5k, 5-mile, and 10-mile package.  She was thoroughly convinced that by the spring I’d be ready to rock.

I told her I’d decide on that when I could run the 5k without stopping.  But I have to admit – as a goal, it’s good motivation.

As is putting on my pants this morning and noticing, wow, these really are pretty loose!


Ego Writing Checks and So Forth

May 18, 2010

I blame MTAE for introducing me to Marie of Cheaper Than Therapy (or introducing her to me, whichever, I don’t remember).  Turns out she’s a funny lady who shares my taste in death metal, tweeting from work, and very sick humor.  But she also has this disgusting running habit.  Ugh.  (We won’t even talk about the beer.)

The thing is, I started having this weird-ass and completely alien-to-me thought – “maybe I could do that whole running thing?  Just once, to say I did it?”

So Marie gets the blame credit for inspiring yesterday’s idiocy.

See, in the morning I got an email saying that the U’s alumni association was having a 5k Fun Run on May 29th.  “5k, hmm?”  I did the math.  Ok, let me stop lying, I looked it up on the ‘net.  3.1 miles.

I thought about it.  For the last several weeks I’ve been doing cardio for 30 minutes at least 3-4 times a week.  On non-weightlifting days, I stretch and then hit it for another 30 minutes.  Admittedly, it wasn’t super strenuous cardio.  But hey.  I’m not a runner – I haven’t run more than mile at once in…hmm, I think ever – but I’m not exactly 100% in Couch-to-5k territory, either.

I walked over to the door of my office manager, who ran a couple of marathons before a knee injury ended all that.  “Hey, you said once that that loop around the park was right at 3 miles, didn’t you?”  “Yeah, 3 exactly.”  Google maps says it’s a little longer than that, but what the hell.

I figured, what’s the best way to see if I can survive a 5k?  How about attempting a 5k?

I’d just taken a bike ride with Boy to the park and then around this very loop on Saturday morning, so the layout was fresh in my mind.  My workout bag was in the car.  All I had to do was change destinations.  I deliberately didn’t think too much about it.  Instead of heading for the gym,  I drove to the park, parked on the far side near the horse stables (instead of the parking lot where most folks stop/end), did the whole changing-my-pants-in-the-car-and-hoping-nobody-drives-up thing, grabbed my cell phone (just in case of freak ankle sprains, etc.) and my iPod, and gave it a shot.

I’d glanced at the Couch to 5k plan.  I didn’t have any delusions about actually running the 5k – not this one, and not the on on the 29th, either.  WAY too short to go from no-running to that sort of endeavor.  I just planned to take it slow, intersperse jogging with walking, and see how it went.  I figured I could stop about halfway (more like 2/3 of the way, as it turned out) at the other parking lot where I knew there was a water fountain.  If things were going well, I could stretch out a bit, get some water, and finish it off.  If it was going badly, well, that was a good place to call Dys and ask for a pickup.  (There were also a few strategic places before that point just in case I was much more wussy than I’d thought.)

Conveniently it was 5:00 on the dot when I left the car.  I turned on the metal (Smash the World, Ma!), walked the first few hundred yards, passed a little old Asian lady in a big straw hat, then picked it up to a jog.

Predictably, the jogging thing didn’t last very long, but that was okay.  The weather was just about perfect for such an attempt – upper 60s and cloudy, not too humid – so I just used the light poles interspersed around the park not as progress meters but as goals.  “Okay, when I get to that pole, I’ll jog some more.  Okay, next pole I’ll walk – no, wait, I can make it one more.”

Not surprisingly, I got passed by a handful of 50-ish guys.  But at least I was smart enough not to take it personally.  My flat feet have never been all that friendly over distance – when I run I sound like a cavalry charge.  As they went by, I tried to watch their stride and see if there was something in their mechanics that I could learn.  I experimented with short, long, side-to-side, height, and all other kinds of motions and ended up just kind of settling into the one that felt best at the time.  I doubt my form was good at all, but it worked.

Also predictably, I got a stitch in my side around the end of the first mile, and my ankles and shins started bothering me a little before that.  Neither was particularly surprising.  My existing cardio routine was all elliptical and stationary bike – neither all that ankle-heavy, compared to heaving my 200-pound ass upward and forward once a second or so.  But it wasn’t anything horrid.  When I made it around to the parking lot, I took a drink of water, took a couple of minutes to stretch out my hamstrings, quads, and calves, took another drink, and kept on going.

Toward the end there I was definitely just moving toward a goal and not exactly having fun, but I wasn’t in anything like the discomfort for which I’d steeled myself.  When the last turn was ahead, I had enough left in the tank to break into an actual run for 100 yards or so before slowing back to a cool-down walk to the car.  Time:  0:53, just inside the hour goal I’d set for myself.  (When I got home, Dys said, “I don’t know what a good time for a 5k is.”  I said, “Probably under 20 minutes.”  But I’ll take it.)  No injury, no serious pain – and honestly, not nearly as much boredom as churning away in the cardio room at the damned gym.  That was a nice surprise.

Of course, I figured I’d pay for it in spades this morning.  But I was wrong.  Yeah, I’m a touch sore, but only my ankles and shins are any more so than after a good workout.  Nothing discouraging.  Rather the opposite, in fact.

So I guess I’m signing up for a 5k at the end of the month.  I’m not exactly going to be competing, but I’ll finish and earn my t-shirt.  It’ll be a nice little goal to work toward.  And after that, well, who knows?  I’ll see how my body treats me and evaluate from there.

Now for this afternoon, when I experiment with deadlifting post-5k.  Heheh.


Channeling

February 8, 2010

No, not the One Power, WoT peoples.  (Or is it?)

The best workouts are, in my experience, heavily fueled by death metal and self-hatred.

Those who know me well (and by now that includes a few of you) realize that the happier I am, the more chatty I am.  Some of you may have noticed the comparative silence from men on Friday.  So, yeah.  It was one of those days in which I woke up in an absolutely savage mood that I call “Puppy-Punting Mode” (for obvious reasons) and it only went downhill from there.

I’d thought about working out on Friday anyway, as my 4th workout of the week, but waking up I knew it was the thing to do.  By the end of the day, I was literally saying to myself in my mind:  “The thing to do is to just go in there and try to stop JUST before I injure myself.  I’m thinking 90% of the way to significant injury.”

In the long run, even though I didn’t end up getting quite that close to injury, it worked.  I bled off a bunch of my aggression after using it for quite a good workout.  I went home not quite myself again, but I crashed out and went to sleep at about 8:15 and slept until 6:45 the next day and that took care of the rest of it.

But I’m a workout behind.

Thursday:

Deadlifts:  1 warmup, 2×10 light weight, 3×10 light-medium weight  (The light weight felt really easy so I went ahead and bumped it up.  A little crazy for my first time back in a while, but it worked out well.)

Dumbbell military press:  1 warmup, 4×10 medium weight (palms in at the bottom, rotating so that the palms are out at the top)
Lateral raises:  2×10 light weight (I SUCK at these, and I HATE them, but I need to do them from time to time.)

Straight-leg raises:  2×25

Cardio:  the usual

Friday:

Since it was a “bonus” workout I could choose what I wanted to do.  I chose an all-bench day.  (Legs were out anyway since I was still a little sore from deadlifting the day before.)

Dumbbell bench press:  1 warmup, 1×10 light-medium weight, 1×10 medium weight, 3×10 medium-heavy weight, 1×10 medium weight, 1×10 light weight

Cable crossovers:  1×15 medium weight, 1×10 medium-heavy weight, 1×15 medium weight

Cardio:  the usual

This was the first time in quite some time that I’d attempted that weight on the dumbbell bench.  Better yet, I think I’d never done a set of 10 at that weight (when using heavier weights I normally only did 6 reps at that weight then went up a couple of sizes and tried 6 at that weight).  I was really feeling good about my ability there.  Channeling the anger was working for me, I think.

I learned that I have room to be more aggressive in my chest workout, at least, and not be too sore afterward.  I’ll be putting that to use later today.

I also learned that my instincts can be very good – both in terms of my workouts and in using such to manage my mood.  I still could have used some happy pills or something, but hey, it was a drastic improvement.

Onward and upward.