Friday, January 14, 2011

new milestones, new motivation and new shoes

So... it's been a while. A long while, I guess. You may have surmised from my lack of blog posts that my big plans to "train for a marathon" went out the window at the first sign of difficulty. But you would have surmised wrongly! (Is that something one can do? Surmise wrongly? Well, you know what I mean).

So, I'm not going to lie: December was a rough month. What with the dwindling sunlight, the dropping temperatures, the increased workload and the traveling to Indiana, there wasn't a ton of time to do much walking, jogging or anything else. I managed to squeeze in a couple of walks here and there, but my training schedule went pretty much out the window. Still, I have to give myself a bit of a pat on the back for doing what little I did - especially in such desolate and frigid conditions as those found in beautiful Columbia City, IN.

Anyway, now that I'm back to the Central Valley things are a little bit easier. Although I missed a month on my training schedule where I was supposed to ramp up the proportion of running-to-walking on my 30 minute routines, I've found it has been surprisingly easy to pick up where I left off. So far, I've gotten back into "shape" to be able to handle alternating one minute jogging, one minute walking intervals for 35 minutes. The good news is that, with each session, I am increasing (unconsciously!) the distance I am covering during the same overall duration of the "workout". Yesterday, I went 2.8 miles (4.5 km - almost a 5K!) in 35 minutes, which I was particularly proud of. According to this dataset, that's about the middle of the pack (46th percentile, or z of +0.09 for you stats geeks!)

Of course, everyone in that dataset went the whole 5K while I just went 90% of it. BUT STILL. I am pretty pleased with my progress, considering that when I started this whole venture, I literally had to lie down for a good half hour after barely walking a mile (at a slow pace, mind you!).

Anyway, I guess these healthy trainer-types know what they're doing. The steady incremental changes in the magnitude of my exercising seems really to do the trick! The visible changes in my ability have really been motivating for me. I can't wait to see what the next couple of months have in store.

Another thing that has been particularly motivating for me have been my new favorite app of all time: "RunKeeper Pro", without which I would have to constantly worrying about how many seconds had passed since the last time I switched from running to walking (or vice versa). I don't get any kickbacks from the company for saying this, so you know it's valid (although, if the makers of RunKeeper are listening, I am open to endorsement deals).

Finally, I placed my order for good running shoes, as everyone (but especially bro Seth and friend Jim) strongly recommended. They were indeed pricey but I am looking forward to taking them out and seeing how they help (or not).

Alright, so that's it for now. Thanks for listening and cheering me on (or waiting for me to crash and burn!), the peer pressure helps!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Reflections on weeks 2 and 3: tougher than it looks

So, I am well into Week 3 and thought it'd be time for an update. Basically, weeks 2 and 3 consisted of me trying to increase my activity overall from "lump" to "slightly more mobile lump". According to my training schedule, I walked 20 minutes three times a week for the first week, 25 the next week, and 30 this week. I think a good indication of the state of my aforementioned (and frighteningly abysmal) baseline is that it was tough to keep to this schedule. But stick to it I did!

One thing I am realizing is that there seem to be two components to the whole "get in shape" thing. There's a mental component, emphasized relentlessly by fitness gurus and the like, constantly badgering us with their exhortations to prepare our attitudes and our mindsets and our ways of life for the commitment we have to make to staying healthy by exercising regularly.

And then there's the actual "staying healthy by exercising regularly" part.

I'm fairly confident I've got the mental part down. I feel fully committed and can envision myself in ever-increasing detail crossing the finish line of a marathon (latest addition to the motivational dream: confetti!). But the physical part has been more problematic.

Stretching seems to be hurdle number one. I did all my homework and came up with ten stretches to do before walking. They seem ok, but take forever. Adding 10 minutes to the 30 or so I already have scheduled for walking seems like it takes a huge chunk out of my day, so it's not exactly the most reinforcing behavior to engage in. Another issue with stretching is that I am hardly flexible - I don't think I ever was, let alone after haven't having done it in two decades. So, stretching doesn't really seem to have any visible or immediate rewards, making it even less reinforcing to engage in (paging Dr. Skinner!).

Hurdle number two seems to be the resistance of my traitorous muscles. They just don't want to do this whole exercising thing, and are intent on making the entire process difficult by conducting a brutal guerrilla war of attrition on the authoritarian brain controlling them. I am hoping that the well-organized Popular Liberation Front of Back Muscles and the break-away province of what is apparently called the Extensor Digitorum Longalis can be brought to the negotiating table soon. This would facilitate further progress toward a unified Lorin and dispense with any further need for this terrible extended metaphor.

On the plus side of things, my inner (or perhaps somewhat too outward) geek has been very fulfilled by the apparently extensive set of gadgets, apps and websites out there for aspiring runners to utilize. (Special thanks to Laurel for pointing me in the direction of I am especially looking forward to using any Android-based smartphone I may or may not happen to receive for Hanumas from my loving wife (hint! hint!) to automatically log my distance traveled, pace, heart rate, etc. Anybody out there have any recommendations for their favorite data-gathering gadgets or apps? Let me know!

Alright that's it for now...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Week 2, session 1

Just FYI to those of you following my misadventures, I wrote the last entry last week but posted it yesterday (when will this semester end?). Anyway, I'm trying to be good about keeping up, so here's the latest entry.

First session from week 2
Miles: 1.77
Time: 24 minutes
Avg MPH: 4.43

Estimated marathon completion time: 5.92 hours

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

do or do not. there is no try. (unless you're really tired)

Let me just start by saying I am a fundamentally lazy man. The last time I physically exerted myself for a period of more than - oh let's say: 45 minutes? - straight was 1989, when I successfully maintained the illusion of exercise under the aegis of the least physically challenging sport I could find in high school - fencing (epee, thank you very much). What that means is there's twenty one years of accumulated mcdonalds, taco bell, bad posture, television viewing and xbox/wii/playstation-induced muscle atrophy that help to shape my physical condition into the prototype of modern suburban manhood that it is.

I dont say this to be disparaging, or self-effacing, or derisive. i say it to establish what we in the business of science call a baseline. I am about to embark on a longitudinal experiment of dubious empirical value but of significant personal value. It's always been something I've wanted to do - been on my bucketlist, as it were.. but honestly, it never occurred to me that I would realistically be able to attain the goal. I am still not sure if I can or will. but I am going to try (in your face, Yoda!).

Several events in the last few weeks have led me to this decision. First, I saw this video of a guy who put his mind to it, and did it. Of particular note in his very moving, emotionally resonant and ultimately triumphant story of personal motivation was the fact that he was way fatter than I am when he started. If *that* super-sized venti tub of lard can do it, well then by golly, *this* grande tub of lard can do it too!

Then I heard about several personal acquaintances (students, friends, my sister-in-law) who were able to do it. Then my friend Martin said he ran the clovis marathon this past weekend and he encouraged me to go for it. He seems to think it is reasonable to run one after training for a year. I am not sure he has an accurate picture of my baseline, but I like his enthusiasm.

So, here's what I am going to do. It's a multipronged approach. I am committing to putting in the effort of a year's worth of training for a marathon. I am starting this blog and publicizing it widely so I have the benefit of peer pressure to keep me to it. I am making a schedule for the next 52 weeks.. It will start slow (as in "day 1: walk around the block. now rest for a couple of days"). It will build slow, but peak with me running the Clovis marathon in 2011. If I follow it and end up running less than a marathon but more than, say, 10 miles, I will be more than happy with the result. I will also try not to think of the fate of Phidippides.

here we go!
I will make occasional blog posts to keep you all up-to-date with the latest part of my body that hurts.