Sunday, January 12, 2014


I started to say the new year comes with new plans and new ideas, but really my plans and ideas are constantly evolving. They have no sense of time or calendar.  This is just what I'm doing today. Tomorrow might be a different story entirely. And yet, somehow, everything is still the same.

I joined a gym in November. Having somewhere to go, somewhere with adequate equipment, has given me some success in the "work out at least 5 days a week" goal my company's Vitality program suggested for me. I've had the goal for the better part of a year, and still haven't hit the 3 months time-frame they want. It's a good thing I care more about the results of working out than the points I get for this goal, or I'd have dropped it long ago. Working out 5+ days  a week for 3 months straight is difficult. Something always gets in the way. I get sick (as happened this past week) and don't work out at all. I hurt myself, like the shin splints I experienced this past fall, and cut back or stop workouts in order to heal. I get tired from trying to do too much, and take one too many rest days. Sometimes life gets in the way and prevents me from working out "enough" to qualify. I keep trying though. I like working out to be a habit, whether intense or recovery, still a constant rhythm in the ebb and flow of my life.

I'm at the start of a new training plan for a 10 mile race in late April. I thought I was done running after dealing with shin splints for most of last fall. Turns out I just need to stretch more and not let my calves get that tight. I thought I was done racing, since races get expensive. Turns out I really enjoy the motivation of training for an event on the horizon.

Because I haven't run much at all over the last few months, I'm starting back at square one again. I know there is fitness in my legs that will let me ramp up faster than your average Couch-to-5K, but it's still a challenge to dig that fitness out. I've put on another 15 lbs, only some of which is water weight from my auto-immune disease. This week, my goal is to run a mile, non-stop. I have it on the calendar 4 days. It would be 5, but one of the days I have something other than exercise scheduled in that timeslot.

I'll run more than one non-stop mile each day, because another goal I have is to walk/run 10K steps every day. That's been an off and on goal since I started wearing a pedometer several years ago. Thanks to the Vitality program, I now have a FitBit I wear on my wrist, which lets me know when I've hit 10K. It's a constant reminder of the goal, and I don't even have to remember to wear since I never take it off. I just have to remember to charge it twice a week. For the record, 10K steps translates into just over 6 miles for my stride length. I walk anywhere from 3K-5K in the normal course of the day, and to avoid the shin splint issue I now walk a mile before I start running. That's about 3 miles walking, which leaves at least 3 miles to run. I don’t run on Saturdays, and I don't walk much when I'm not at work, so Sundays require more steps to hit the goal. Today's treadmill session looked like this:

1 @ 3.5 mph (warm up)
1 @ 5.5 mph (hey look! I actually can run a mile straight!)
1 @ 3.7 mph (now I'm loose, let's see if I can walk faster)
.5 @ 5.5 mph (OK, I did it once. I can do it again)
.5 @ 5.7 mph (I started getting bored with the pace, so bumped it up a little)
1.5 @ 3.9 mph (I thought I was almost done, so kept walking)
.5 @ 6 mph (turns out I had a good number of steps left to go, so ramped it up to finish strong and fast)
.2 @ 3.9 mph (to finish out the 10 K)

I also started the P90X3 program today, because I have personal goals that include better strength and fitness than I can get from just running.  I go back and forth between Beach Body programs for this very reason. I want to strengthen and tone the rest of my body, and I need incentive to stretch and move more than my legs. Working just my legs has led to hip flexor strain and piriformis syndrome in the past. Both of these are related to tight hip and lower back muscles. My hope is that P90X3 will move me in more than just the repetitive running motion, will strengthen supporting muscles around the hip and back, and also throws in dynamic stretches for some of the larger muscles like hamstrings.

While everything about the above paragraph is true, running is my go-to exercise, and I'm not as much a fan of videos. Today was the first day of P90X3, and I bailed on the dynamic stretching video about halfway through. This is sad since it's only a half hour long. I blame having already spent and hour and a half on the treadmill, ADD, and the fact that I did the video at home. My 15 year old carpets stink, and adjusting every exercise to make sure I had enough room was frustrating. I did get more stretching in than I normally do after a run though, and this particular video focused on the hip area. It's all good and I have no shame. Just… we'll see how well this particular plan goes.  I tend to dream big, then fail to follow through on things like this. Knowing that does not necessarily mean this time will be different, but I'm hopeful. I'm always hopeful.

Superman and I have also returned to our own yoga class every Saturday. Additionally, the gym has a stretching station I've taken to using whenever I'm there. I don't know why I have no patience for stretching these days. I used to stretch every night before going to bed. Now… not so much.

Right now, I'm feeling pretty ok. My back is stiff and sore, mainly from being sick and coughing a lot earlier in the week. If I weren't medicated I wouldn't have been able to run, as I still have a deep bronchial cough. I have to keep an eye on how I'm feeling, since I am prone to going overboard and hurting myself. As usual, I'm taking on a lot. Most days will consist of a half hour to an hour in the morning, either walk/run or P90X3. What I do in the morning depends on where I get to work out in the evening. If I'm working out at the company gym, I have to get my run in early because there aren't enough treadmills. There is, however, plenty of space to do workout videos. I can both run and lift at my new gym, but the only floor space they have may or may not be in use for classes. This means P90X is best for the morning session.

I actually have a free session with a trainer tomorrow, to show me how to lift with barbells. I've used just about every other piece of equipment at the gym, but never learned how to lift barbells. I spent some time watching YouTube videos, but since the training session is free I figured I'd get some pointers on form and hopefully learn some new exercises. 

Obviously I have a lot going on, workout-wise. I do not mind putting in the work, but I'm also trying to be wary of my ability to obsesses. I really don't want to be the gym rat who works out 3 hours every day. There are quite a few other things I'd like to do with my time. At the same time, I want to be the person who works out every day, who is fit and healthy and strong. There has to be a balance between the two, and I have to find that balance for myself. My approach is to start at the high end and whittle away what isn't working for me. I'll let you all know how that goes. 

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