Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 11: make it

At approximately 12:30 this morning, I went for an approximately 1.5 mi walk with my legal immigrant around Ring Road. The wind from the last two days had finally died down, so it was brisk, yet pleasant.

At 8:30 this morning, I met my faithful gym buddy to begin the second day of my Couch to 5k plan work out schedule.

Today's soundtrack: Afro Celt Soundsystem. Nothing like an electric violin / bagpipes / African chanting to get you in the mood.
Today's visual: A rousing episode of Fresh Prince

Prior to walking for 5 minutes and then alternately jogging for 60 seconds / walking for 90 seconds in a 20 minute time period, I tried out the preventive shin splint stretches. I also did a few other stretches to ward off cramps. Fingers crossed.

Annnd it was a pretty succesful workout! The Couch to 5k program is working pretty well for me, though I may double up and do two weeks per session instead of the 1 week designations the site has. The reason for this is that although I am no longer winded, I'm not sure if my muscles are built up enough yet to take things to the next level. The 60 second time periods of running made my calves burn and my shins ache a little bit. So in this case, I think slow and steady will definitely win the race. Or at least get me to the point where I'll be able to actually participate in the race.

Following my 20 minute run exercise, I did one mile on the elliptical (which I have decided is a hybrid between running & riding a bike). From there, more stretches.

11 days in and I think I'm really getting in the swing of things.

'Til tomorrow!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 10: work it

Today was a relatively painless day.

Met up with Olivia, did 2 miles on the elliptical and 1/2 mile of brisk walking at 2.0 incline on treadmill.

I made sure to stretch both before and after my workout. I didn't feel winded at all, nor did I have an issue with shin splints, so all's good in the hood!

I mixed things up musically this morning and listened to some good old Lady Gaga. Boy Meets World played in the background and the time slid by.

My new kicks are sweet and cushy, although my socks are a little on the large side and irritated me while on the elliptical. Speaking of which - is it just me, or do your feet start to go numb after an extended period of time on those things? I have to keep alternating forward and backward strokes, but I've come to the conclusion that I really just can't spend more than 30 minutes elliptical-ing away. It's very bizarre.

Annnd, here are two exercises that recommends to prevent shin splints. Good stuff:

* Stand with your heels together and toes pointed out. Slowly raise up onto your toes and lower yourself back down. Repeat 10 times.

* Stand with your big toes together and heels apart. Slowly raise up on your toes then lower yourself back down. Repeat 10 times.

Does anyone else know of any other effective stretches?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 9: Hum for a blustery day

Today literally threw a damper on my over-zealous plans of running mad miles.
But, first: I am now the proud owner of these bad boys:
Saucony Grid Cohesion 3, $39.99 @ Dick's Sporting Goods
Much gratitude to the brassy Russian for helping me pick them out!
Back to today:
It was cold. 44 degrees. And wet. Raining on and off and on again. And windy. Oh, so windy! I was immediately reminded of Winnie the Pooh and his references to the weather being blustery. I find this description to be very fitting for the day.
So. Indeed, it was a blustery day. But this didn't stop our heroine from driving to Lloyd's and cinching a few miles under her belt!
First, I walked the Hardscrabble Trail Loop.
Then, I ran half of the West Swamp trail before my shins started acting up in addition to my calves groaning their protest.
I decided to finish Chaypee Trail at a brisk walking pace.
In total, I did 2.6 miles - which isn't great but isn't terrible, either.
I think I may have hit a bit of a wall for now. My body is obviously really unhappy with the amount of stress I'm putting on it.
For tomorrow, I am going to not only a) wear my new kicks, but I will also b) find some good calf stretches and c) do all of my mileage on the elliptical
On Friday, I am going to resumse with the Couch to 5 k plan and on Saturday, I may go back to Lloyd's.
I'm having a relatively easy time keeping on a work out schedule. I also think this blog has become great motivation for me to keep getting my work out on every single damn day. I feel like I have to do some form of exercise every day in order to have something to write about. I would be too disappointed in myself if I opted for a day of rest, though I'm sure I'll end up taking one at some point.
For now, I'm just going to keep on keeping on. I feel really good and [according to the brassy Russian] am starting to look pretty good. That's enough to keep me going :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 8: Oh my achin' shins

Today, I began the Couch to 5 K program, which I mentioned in my last post.

For the first week, I am to do the following:
- Brisk walk for 5 minutes
- Jog for 60 seconds
- Walk for 90 seconds
- Alternate jog/walk until 20 minutes has passed

I decided to do some stretches this morning in order to fend off any pesky cramps and am happy to report they worked.

I was also really pleased with the 20 minute workout. Since I'm not REALLY starting from the couch and have a good week of exercise already under my belt, the jogging and walking combination was not entirely strenuous. At the same time, it wasn't a walk in the park, either. I think it was a good amount of stress.

I must say, it was really nice to watch the time instead of the mileage. Also, Saved by the Bell had an episode about training for a triathalon, which was an epic motivator. Kind of.

But ugh ugh ugh my achin' shins. I don't know if I psychologically put this upon myself, but my shins were angry.

Shin splints (n) - a pain in the lower leg caused by the overuse or misuse of muscles. The pain is sharp when walking/running and ceases when you stop moving. In extreme cases, may lead to stress fractures.

I'm buying new sneakers today. I'm intrigued by these but probably won't buy them because I tried running barefoot on the treadmill today and it felt really awkward. I looked up ways to prevent and treat shin splints, and the website mentioned that shoes only have 500 miles of wear on them before they stop being supportive. The age of my current sneakers coupled with their cheapness makes them a prime suspect in my shin splintage.

Here are the other ways to prevent them:

1) Do not overstride. Keep strides longer in front and shorter in back
2) Walking shoes with flexible soles and low heels
3) Strengthen your calf muscles with exercises/stretches [definitely going to look into these]
4) Walk on softer surfaces
5) Walk / jog every other day until the pain disappears
6) Warm up before going fast
7) Stretch after warm up
8) Slow or stop if you feel pain

Thanks for reading :) See y'all tomorrow for a (hopefully) sunny day of trail running!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 7: Cool Running

Despite having stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish season five of Weeds, I was still able to drag myself from sleep and make it to the gym for 8 a.m.

I started off the day on a positive note - able to run a half mile with relative ease. Soon after that small victory, I was struck with a few issues:

1) My sneakers kind of suck. I have $20 Spaulding sneakers and they aren't very supportive. They've been bothering me for the last 2 days or so, and today they were pretty bad. I think I may have to invest in some better ones with cushioned soles. Any recommendations??

2) Potential shin splintage. Last summer, which was the first time I ever got into running, I began to develop shin splints and had to back off from it. I know that the treadmill isn't great for your joints, so I'm hoping that I'll really enjoy trail running at Lloyd's and remedy this problem.

3) Dehydration. One of my biggest problems is that I get really dehydrated when I'm running. I get tired, sure, but my muscles are less of an issue than my extreme thirst. And it's pretty hard to drink from a metal water bottle when you're running. I always end up knocking my teeth against the metal. This does not feel nice. I'm definitely looking forward to receiving my Klean Kanteen. And I might look into Quench Gum.

4) Side cramps. Sneaky bastards. As soon as I was done with my half mile, I got a moderate cramp in my right side. I worked through it and then ended up going on the elliptical, at which point I got a cramp in the lower right part of my abdomen. What causes them? I hadn't eaten yet today, so I'm not sure what the problem is.

I turned on a tv in better view today and it really was helpful. I mean, why wouldn't you want to focus on Saved By the Bell? Let's be for real. It definitely kept my attention (for the most part) off of the mileage.

The thing that really motivated me? Knowing at the end of the rainbow would be a delicious omelette for breakfast. Aww yeah.

ALSO, just found a sick website called "Cool Running." They have a fitness plan for "Couch to 5k" - which is pretty much what I'm doing. I checked out their work out schedule and I might give it a go!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 6: walkin' away the pounds

After my delightful hike yesterday afternoon, I ended up going to Foxwoods and was, at one point, compared to "a squirrel on crack" - due to being super hyper and wanting to race everyone inside of the casino. I also tackled a large staircase which led me to a Make a Wish banquet, which we considered crashing. And I stuck my hands inside an iceburg that was supposed to simulate the temperature of the water the night the Titanic struck. It happens.

This evening, the gym closed at the same time I came off of passive duty, so my gym buddy Olivia and I decided to go for a walk. I originally thought we would just go around Ring Road twice, but we ended up leaving campus, going down Old Westport, up Lucy Little and around down Chase back to Old Westport. We kept a steady pace the entire time and steady conversation, as well, which definitely made the time fly by.

After we returned to campus, we decided to drive the route we'd just come and figured out that we walked a total of 6.8 miles. It was the perfect loop and I have a feeling that we are going to be walking that route more often - though next time, we'll probably be more prepared and have a flashlight. Once the sun set, it was a bit ghoulish.

We spent our time admiring the houses and I realized how much I miss when I'm driving by places. I mean, I've driven up and down Chase a couple dozen times or more and never really noticed any of the surrounding establishments. It made me feel much more appreciation for the Dartmouth area - a place that I have really grown fond of over the years.

Tomorrow = gym at 8 a.m. (for real this time! 45 minutes, here I come!)
Tuesday = gym
Wednesday = trail running @ Lloyd's
Thursday = gym
Friday = long walk on the beach

I'm trying to keep my work out routines interesting by going new places and alternating the kind of activities I'm doing and who I'm doing them with. So far, so successful.

I'm looking forward to a nice and active week!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 5: take a hike

My fave Russian went on a 40 mile bike ride the other day (and I'm supposed to keep up with her HOW?) and stumbled upon the Lloyd Center for the Environment in South Dartmouth. My girlfriend Addie and I decided to check it out and did two of the trails: West Swamp and Hardscrabble Farm Loop. They were surprisingly low-impact and short, though I still worked up a bit of a sweat. I'm not convinced we went 3.2 miles, but neither of us could figure out how to turn on my pedometer, so womp womp to that.

The scenery was really nice, though. It's only 15 minutes from campus (once summer comes, I definitely plan to bike there) and very foresty/swampy with some pretty views. I think next time I go, I may go by myself and do ALL of the trails, bringing my trusty iPod as a companion. I felt safe there, as the trails are all relatively close to the Visitor's Center, so I think it was great little find that will entertain me through the summer months.

Some of the trails are really really short, so hopefully I will get my pedometer up and running and do a bit of trail running, which would be interesting.

I feel like a huge slacker for not going to the gym yesterday or today, but I think it's really good that I actually DO feel guilty. I plan on going back to the gym tomorrow and really working it, hopefully meeting the under 45 minute goal I set for myself a few days ago.

My spirits are high and I'm feeling good! I'm also really happy to hear about the number of people who are following my blog. Thanks for being supportive, friends! :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 4: take it easy

Much advice about giving my body a rest coupled with the extreme stiffness/achyness I experienced yesterday prompted me to opt for a more low-impact workout for today.
Last night, I ended up going for an approximately 5 mile walk around midnight.

I didn't get to sleep til after 4 a.m. this morning due to some interesting college antics (not my own). Needless to say, I was SO not feeling going to the gym at 8 a.m.

This evening, I plan on doing a double walk around Ring Road (4 miles) just for the sake of keeping my regimen steady. On Saturday, I am going to do a bit of hiking and on Sunday, I shall return to my normal treadmill routine.

Here are a few things that I have purchased that I am pretty excited to receive:

1) A Klean Kanteen 27 oz. poly sport cap bottle. I currently own an Old Navy metal waterbottle with a loop cap, and while it's pretty cute, I'm finding the loop cap to be irritating. I have to stop whatever I'm doing in order to actually take the cap off, then I have to hold onto it while I drink and then finally screw it back on. Not worth the effort. The sport cap is much like a traditional pop top on a plastic bottle.

2) Keen Wear-Around Mary Jane shoes. These shoes are like a hybrid between sneakers and flats, which is perfect for everyday use. I ordered them in all black, though I was totally tempted to go purple. I think they will definitely end up being my favorite shoes because they are both functional and attractive. While I won't be using them for running, knowing that I can walk any distance in them is a strong selling point for me, as I don't really have any shoes that fit this bill.

3) A pedometer. This will be really useful once I start training outdoors (which I plan to do as soon as I can legitimately run at least one mile on the treadmill. I'm not willing to embarass myself in public yet). These bad boys count how many Kms & Miles you traverse and also how many calories you burn while doing so. This is definitely a novelty item, but I think it's fun. I plan on wearing it whenever I go for a walk and especially when I start street-training for the 5k.
PS: Bad news on the 5 k - it looks as though I may not be able to participate in this particular one (despite having already spent $20 to register), as I am going to have to assist with move-in on campus. Never fear, I shall find a new race to run! Maybe even one that is a bit earlier in the season. Maybe more miles, maybe less. We shall see!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 3: not so good but not so bad

I was up at 7 a.m. ready to get my run on - which is an accomplishment in itself.

My body had other ideas for me, though.

Last night, I was really really sore. But I felt better this morning. Until I stepped on the treadmill.

I decided to try a few new things today:
1) Run at a slower pace. The first day, I was running at a speed of 7.0, which made me breathless pretty quickly. The second day, I ran at a speed of 6.0, which was more manageable. Today, I ran at 5.2, and while I didn't run out of breath at all, my calf muscles were screaming.

2) Turn on a tv. The MR gym is full of televisions, but I'd been relying solely on Benny Benassi to keep me motivated. With nothing to focus my eyes on, they ended up latching onto the odometer. I decided to try to watch the screen instead (though I was still blasting techno into my skull). However, the one I turned on was at an awkward angle from my treadmill, so it didn't really work out.

3) Bring a friend! Olivia, a fellow crafter, is joining me in my quest for fitness. She ran circles around me.

I was only able to do a total of 1.2 mi on the treadmill before my muscles told me they'd had enough. I wasn't going to push it, because I realize that going from 0 miles a day to 5 miles a day is a pretty astronomical leap. I vowed to myself that I would do AT LEAST 3.2 a day (to keep it consistent with the 5 k), and so today, I ended up doing the bare minimum, finishing the final 2 miles on the elliptical.

Also, last night I decided to start reading the KISS guide to weight loss. The book told me that I was overweight. I was pretty miffed but also think it might be good motivation. I don't want to be overweight. I don't feel overweight. And I most definitely don't want to look overweight.

So, although today did not meet any of my goals or expectations, I don't think it was a total loss. I still did a 5k, which is enough to satisfy me for the time being.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 2: 45.44

Today, the sun was shining and so was I in my spandex work out gear. I strode across the quad to my private gym in Maple Ridge (hellz yes, RA swipe card).

I started off really amped up and ran for an entire half mile without heart failure. I was pretty proud of myself. Then I realized that my gum from yesterday was still sitting on the treadmill. My bad.

After that, I was pretty tired. I could only manage to run .1 mile increments and around 1.7 miles, I started feeling low and considered doing the 3.2 miles on the elliptical, instead (I'm thinking 5 miles a day is a good way to train).

Here is my internal dialogue:
Outer fatty: Dude. Just do the elliptical. It's so much easier. Your bod is tired.
Inner skinny: Bitch, please. Do you want your thighs to rub together for the rest of your life?

The inner skinny won and it was pretty victorious. I pumped out the rest and attempted to get under 45 minutes, but ended over at 45.44 minutes.

There are a few things that are helping me through this routine right now.
#1: Benny Benassi. Bro spins mad sweet tunes. And by that, I mean that techno is really great work out music.
#2: Those damn motivational posters are really starting to grow on me. Images of "push yourself! harder harder!" while reminding me somewhat of a poster I might see at a birthing site, also prompted me to push myself harder harder (without unleashing a baby from my loins, thankfully).
#3: Knowing that aforementioned brassy Russian can already run 5 miles. Maybe I'll pull a Tanya Harding and handicap her so as to even the score.

Goal for tomorrow: to get under 45 minutes.

Day 1: 47.02

I'm taking this challenge head on.

I am going to over-train so that when I finally meet the challenge, I will be over prepared and it will be easy.

I had a really active weekend, full of bike riding and hiking. I felt good. My spirits were the highest they've been in a long time.

Upon returning to campus yesterday, I decided it was time to tackle the miles.

I ran .3 miles before I was completely breathless. Balls. This is going to be harder than I thought.

I alternately walked and ran (mostly walked) 3.2 miles.

Revelation: chewing gum that has been in your mouth for 4 hours does not keep you hydrated. At all.

As I struggled through the miles, gasping for air like the lame sack of flesh I've become, my eyes focused on construction paper signs someone so lovingly crafted with motivational inspiration: "You can do it!" "Push yourself!" "One more mile!"

More like 2.9 more miles. Not that I'm counting. Not that I'm watching them tick by in slow motion or anything.

Revelation: Motivational posters are not motivational when you want to rip them off the wall.

I become bitter. Stupid stupid out of shape body. Why can't you just be naturally athletic? I know people who can run the Boston Marathon without training. And I have to actually work myself up to 3.2 miles? How is this fair?

It isn't.

Following my torturous run (I finish the 3.2 miles in 47 minutes and 2 seconds), I cap off the session with a 1.8 mile trek on ye old elliptical. Ye old loving, wonderful elliptical that glides my legs so easily and makes that 1.8 miles slip by like butter and ease.

Perhaps I can elliptical my way down the road for 3.2 miles? I could do that without training for sure.

The challenge

So here's the plan: one brassy Russian constantly encourages me to push myself to be better. She thought it would be a great idea for me to set a work out goal for myself. I concurred. Then she said "Okay, let's sign up for a 5 k." We did.

And now begins the training.

I know you're thinking: why do you need to train for a 5 k? It's only 3.2 miles. [most] Anyone can run that without trying.

Well, I most def can't.

Let me give you some backstory on my athletic history.

Cue my childhood memories of tap, ballet, gymnastics, soccer and softball for 9 years.
Once I realized I was miserable at all of the above, I settled comfortably into playing piano, singing and creative writing - all of which are solitary activities and all of which require NO physical effort whatsoever.

Cue college, ripe with new experiences, all you can eat buffets for every meal and a lack of motivation.

Sophomore year, I went to the gym every day and was probably the thinnest and most fit I have ever been in my life. These days, I look upon those ancient photos and find myself being jealous of my own body. How does that work?

Since college started, I've been an exercise binger. I will get in the groove and go to the gym every day and then one day I won't feel like it and the whole thing snowballs until I am again out of shape.

Since sophomore year, I have gained nearly 30 pounds. Disgusting, I know.

Last summer, my boyfriend at the time was hiking the Appalachian Trail, which was great motivation for me to go to the gym every day, eat healthily and occassionally get cracked out and go on 3 am bike rides to God-knows-where.

By the end of the summer, I felt pretty good. Until my muscles went into hibernation, nestled cozily under a bed of the fat that now clings to my bod. No good, body, no good.

Cue the challenge.
Hail the results.