Learning Every Minute

Last Friday I decided to try my first brick. I was introduced to this practice by a friend, who asked if I had done my first brick yet, and of course, I had no idea what she was talking about. So I googled feverishly. A brick is stacking two disciplines during a single workout session. So you might bike for ten miles and then try to run for a mile. Of course you should only choose distances you know you can do. I thought I would bike for twelve miles, which I know I can do, and then run for a mile. Yeah, a little shakier on that last one. I had previously run for a mile, but had also had a lot of trouble with it as well. This of course, didn’t stop me at all from planning to run a mile after biking twelve.

Was I successful? Well, sort of. I did bike a little more than thirteen miles around beautiful Lake Galena at Peace Valley Nature Center. If you enjoy biking and are looking for an interesting ride, I highly recommend it. There aren’t many hard hills, one fairly steep one for a beginner like me, but it is short enough to not be a real bother. I did it twice and was surprised the second time by how short it actually was. Also, at the top there is a beautiful meadow of wildflowers and then you have the joy of coming down the hill. The constantly changing scenery is part of the fun of biking through Peace Valley. Sometimes you are biking by the lake, sometimes you are cruising past a meadow, and sometimes you are enjoying the cover of trees and feeling as though you found an enchanted forest. There is plenty that is out in the open sun, which I don’t really notice when I bike since I create my own breeze. This is one of the reasons I love biking.

Lake Galena 2 Lake Galena bike trail

And then there was another learning moment. My friend who was biking with me taught me how to really use and understand my gears. HOLY SHIT!!!!  Seriously? For the past almost five weeks I have kept my gears exactly where they were when I first got on the bike. This means I have kept the left gear on two and the right either at four or five. I have thought about them, but wasn’t sure exactly which direction meant what, so I just left them where they were. When I hit a hill, I simply compensated by pedaling harder. I never really figured gears out and never really had the time or inclination to try. Let’s just say, knowing how to work the gears on your bike opens up a whole new world. Suddenly I am itching to take on hills. Wow, what a difference.

So,  feeling very successful I was ready to try running. Somewhere I read that brick stands for bike, run, ick. The ick is about the way your legs feel when you try to run. My legs felt like big balloons I was pushing through hot thick soup. Ick indeed. I made a half mile before I had to stop. I continued to walk run for another mile and a half, but needless to say, I was feeling pretty downhearted. The same terrain that I had so joyfully biked, now seemed so much hotter and hillier. How had that happened? I felt as though I was melting. What happened to the shade? The flat ground? It was like I was warped into hell.

I have to say that I was starting to feel as though I would never ever be able to really run. The act that so many people seemed able to do so easily, was just a genetic impossibility for me. So last Saturday, when I was at a party, I shared this with two of my family members. “You run too fast.” Came back both replies. Well, that and my sister said, “You give up too easy. You have to push through that feeling or you will never get anywhere.” Since I have been feeling pretty good about myself and my workouts, that one hurt. But I heard her. At least my pride did.

So this morning, with their words in my head, and after quite a bit of online reading about beginning runners, I took to the track. And I ran, s-l-o-w-l-y! At first, my legs were still stiff, and I thought it was hopeless. But then, they loosened up. I sang Happy Birthday to myself to make sure I could “hold a conversation” and I just kept running. I made a little over three miles. I was at about two and a half miles before I really wanted to stop. “You give up to easy.” Yeah, I don’t think so. I pushed forward and made it a little past three miles. And guess what! I didn’t feel as though I was going to die!!! As a matter of fact, about a little past the first mile I was a little bored. I am so accustomed to pushing myself and feeling as though I am going to keel over, that just chugging around the track actually left me a lot of room to think. How bizarre. And as I previously stated, tracks are kind of boring.

So, tomorrow is another bike day. I am excited to try the hills around my neighborhood with some new gear changing power. And I am cautiously optimistic that I can run, really run, on Wednesday.

Running: Not an Afternoon Delight


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“Hot, sticky shitty run.” was my Facebook status yesterday. I ran around five in the afternoon, and the temperature was about eighty four degrees. It seems like a dumb time to run, but due to scheduling issues I am running or biking in the afternoons this week. Also, as I told myself over and over again, by the time I get to the running leg of the challenge it will most likely already be hot. I wanted to see how I would do. I thought for my first afternoon run I would run around the middle school track, it is flat and I can track my progress by counting rotations.

So obviously it was not a great experience. First, I twisted my ankle a teeny amount when I was walking in the door. I don’t know exactly how, but since it wasn’t killing me, I went anyway. Second, I was starving. Okay, I am always some form of starving, but I really was hungry. And here is one of the ways I set myself up for failure. I grabbed a small piece of cheese, and figured that would hold me. I wasn’t hungry the whole time but I felt sluggish.

When I got to the track, Iron Man was already there. Iron Man, a twenty or thirty something year old physical specimen, was doing laps, running up and down the bleachers, and pausing from time to time to do push ups and mountain climbers. At first, I envied his fitness, a couple of times around the track and I just envied the fact that he could run without a shirt. I was sweating rivers and let’s face it, I’m never going to one of those girls that chugs around the track in a running bra.

Running around a track sucks. Look, even the picture is boring.

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And the run was so much harder. Whenever I run, my thighs and hips feel tight in the beginning, the first long run is always hard and I know I will have to be about twenty minutes into my workout before I really feel as though I can do it without dying.Some mornings are easier but most start the same way.  I am accustomed to waiting that part out. This run never got easier. I did not do a mile. I did keep up with four minutes on and two minutes off for the about forty five minutes, well forty two to be exact. I just couldn’t get started. I tried at first to run around the track four times, figuring that would be about a mile, but after two was done. I then tried walking around the track and running twice around. Then I thought maybe I was putting too much time in between running and that was why my hips and quads weren’t getting loose, so I ran twice around and put a two minute walk time in. This worked out to be about twice around the track. But my thighs and hips stayed tight. Maybe I was getting dehydrated, maybe I didn’t warm up enough, maybe the piece of cheese just wasn’t enough. Maybe, maybe, maybe….

By the last fifteen minutes or so, my ankle throbbed, my whole right leg ached, and it felt as though my thighs and hips were just one tight bunch. I even looked at them to see if they had suddenly transformed into some type of muscle madness like you see on those protein shake bottles. Nope! Whatever muscles were there, were safely tucked under layers and I mean LAYERS of thigh squish.

So how do I change that for next time? I am thinking of running around the neighborhood later this afternoon, and I mean later, like when the heat starts to recede. I chose the track because I thought it would be empty, and basically except for Iron Man it was. But I will take the hills over the boring flat I think. And I will go after dinner, if need be. The reason I run in the morning is because that is when I can fit it in. Let’s face it, the hardest part, okay one of the hardest parts of getting back in shape is the time aspect. Most people my age have full lives, and can’t just take an hour out to exercise. So it has to be created out of nothing. For me that nothing was five in the morning. When I don’t go that early, something is getting pushed aside. Also, the later in the day it gets, the more apt I am to push it aside. Maybe, if it isn’t raining, I will bike tonight instead.

Goal Setting

It struck me last night that I have been working at this for almost four weeks and I still can’t really run a mile straight. I have on a track but not just out running.  Even as I have upped my time for running,from one minute to a minute and a half to two minutes,  I don’t feel as though I am getting closer.  I am worried. So I have to do something about this. Obviously my half assed plan of building up running time might take too long to ever run a mile, let alone three. So I thought instead of tracking time I would track distance and increase that. Seemed like a good plan. I have read that you start with half a mile and work your way up. That was the plan for this morning, run half a mile, walk for two minutes, run half a mile, walk for two minutes.

But that didn’t happen. For some reason, as I lay in bed not wanting to leave I decided to run a full mile and walk for two minutes and then run another mile. Why the ridiculous plan? Because that was the way I did it on the track. So I walked for a quarter of a mile and ran. And ran and ran and ran. Up the damn hill and down the hill and up the damn hill again. Ten minutes later I had run a mile. Without blowing chunks! I actually lied to myself half way through and told myself I would stop at three quarters of a mile, just finish going around the block but then when I got there I was so close I just kept running. Plus it was down hill. I tried to remember everything about breathing so I didn’t get a stitch in my side and Runkeeper kept telling me how far I was going and how long it was taking me – my ass is slow, and I tried to keep my back straight and my head up. I’m pretty sure I sounded like something from a bad movie, pulling breaths in and pushing them out with a pathetic damsel in distress sounding “heh, heh” coming from me. This is why I run as early as I can. It ain’t pretty.

I then walked for two minutes. And then did I do it again? HELL NO!!!! But I did increase my time from running two minutes and walking for ninety seconds to running four minutes and walking  between two and two and half minutes. This changed as to whether I ended on a hill – which I always finish. But if I ended on level ground I found I was able to go much more quickly. And I didn’t really mind just running around the block. It helps me to track distance, around the block about two and a half times is a mile. For my cool down, I ran for two minutes and walked for one. This is better than what I was doing last week. So I am going to try to stay with this.

As for goals, they are now pretty easy to set up. Next week I am going to try to stretch out the mile to a mile and a quarter, or a mile and a tenth. I am going to up my time to five minutes running. The end result of this is that I ran/walked for a little over four and a half miles this morning so I am increasing. The bike is an easy goal setter. I am up to biking ten miles on the bike. Next week I would like to up that to eleven miles, and so on and so on.

Here’s a question: Should I up goals in both activities every week? Or should I up one activity at a time? Does anyone have any advice on this?

Finally on Friday I am hoping to do my first brick. I plan to bike for about thirteen miles and then run a mile immediately following. I am, for some reason, super excited about this. Hopefully it won’t rain.

FOOD!!!!!

I love to eat!!! And I love to eat just about all kinds of food. My favorite is something someone else (preferably someone who can cook) is making and then cleaning up after.  Fried food, grilled food, well anything really but boiled. Food isn’t meant to be boiled. That’s just wrong. Trust me, there is always a better way. Well, except for maybe pasta. This love of eating can be a very bad combination for someone who is trying to work out so hard. Someone like me for instance.  I have read that people sometimes gain weight when preparing for an event. I know, it’s probably muscle, but I am trying to be realistic. Let’s face it, I am a chubba wubba staring football season in the face. (THANK GOD!!!!!)

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This abstinence I’ve been practicing will have a real challenge when the Eagles are on and I start thinking…hmmmm, beer! nachos, beer bread and garlic dip! So, when I was walking around starving yesterday, all day, I was grouchy and worried and HUNGRY!!!!  No matter what I ate  yesterday, I just continued to feel hunger. And yes, I drank water.

I only remember one other time feeling that way. The time we first did the Art Museum Loop on our bikes. We went first thing in the morning and did about 9.5 miles. Yesterday I did a little over ten and had the same experience. But I have done ten or longer and not spent the day hungry. So, WHAT???? The hunger carried over to this morning, which caused me to eat a banana before I went out running (costing me around 100 calories before I was even out of bed twenty minutes!) but even so, my run felt sluggish and harder then I would have liked. It took me much longer to feel a rhythm and at no point did I feel as though I was ready to push past my goal of running for two minutes straight. Okay, I did do one four and half minute stretch, but I felt deeply sorry for myself the whole way. Instead of thinking “Just get to the stop sign, just get to the stop sign.” the litany in my head was, “wtf! wtf!” only I don’t think in letters. It felt as though my legs were huge tree trunks I was trying to force forward. On hills I practically walked while panting and called it a jog. I also committed the heinous sin of stopping at the bottom of a hill, before I reached the top with two seconds left before I hit the two minute mark. But since I was pretty sure I was going to decorate my neighbor’s yard, I thought maybe I should keep it to one spot instead of, you know, a continuous spray. But I didn’t. 

It did give me something to think about while I was slowly dying out there in the heat.  Why the change? What could possibly make one day so much harder then the day before. Thursday’s run was awesome!!!! I felt like a rock star. So what happened? This is what I think. I have been trying to vary my diet with healthy, or at least mostly healthy food. I have also been trying to really up the Omega 3’s in my diet. One way I do this is by adding flax seed to oatmeal. Yesterday, that is what I had for breakfast. Since I have two packets that means eight grams of protein. And no real fat. Compare this with my other go to breakfasts: an egg with spinach and cheese on an english muffin or peanut butter and banana on whole wheat bread. The first has upwards of twenty three grams of protein and the peanut butter and banana have at least sixteen grams of protein. Also, they both have some fat in them.  I’m not a dietician but I think this is the big difference. In fact, as I write this, I have just finished my egg, spinach and cheese and I already feel better. 

So even though I did go further then I went before by two hundredths of a mile (yeah, I’m counting that!) and amazingly I did it one minute faster, I wasn’t feeling great. Although, thinking about it now, even though I felt as though I was going to die, I guess I didn’t.

Solving Saddle Issues Slowly

Yesterday I took my seat back to REI. Funny story, my husband and I have been members of REI since 1992!!! If you knew us back then, you would be even more astounded. The closest thing to outdoorsy we were then was drinking on a deck or fishing in the river. Well, we did go camping a few times, but we always rolled in a keg or two. Which is how we became members. We needed a tent, so we stopped at REI. When we first walked in we saw this huge beautiful tent that held not only two cots but also a little table. We both assumed it was way too expensive. The nice man showed us around talking about how this tent could withstand this extreme cold and that tent could be hung on the side of a mountain. Really? So finally, we just asked, “What about that tent?” It was way across the store.

“Oh, you don’t want that tent. That’s just like a party tent.”

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!!! And it was only $99! SOLD!!! Our first shared property. Oh and by the way, a few years later when we were camping in the Keys our “party tent” was the only one still standing when a huge windy rainstorm went through!

Our Party tent, camping in the Keys.

Our Party tent, camping in the Keys.

Flash forward twenty two years later and I am actually trying to buy something athletic, and speak intelligently about it. There is no party tent equivalent for bike saddles.  And apparently there is no way of knowing whether a bike seat will fit you until you ride it.  REI suggests that you ride it for a couple of weeks before returning it. I don’t know if it is just for members but I have 365 days to return the seat. The membership is a lifetime membership and only costs $20 so well worth it. Anyway, the man at the bike shop in REI – and I wish I would have gotten his name – was knowledgeable and easy to talk to. Considering I was there to discuss how to find the right bike seat for a woman, I was hoping to speak with a woman. Not to be sexist, I just wanted someone who had similar parts. He suggested I move the seat forward and down by about a centimeter and then ride for about a week. He also said, it shouldn’t hurt, but it may take some getting use to. He said it could take up to three weeks to become use to riding on a new seat.

So this morning, with my newly positioned seat and my bike shorts only and the Hoo Ha Cream I was off biking. Here’s the thing about the cream, it is like putting on IcyHot in reverse, so it gets really warm first and then cool. And then I forgot about it, so I highly recommend it. And my ride was incredibly more comfortable, but not quite there yet. I am planning on moving my seat forward again, and maybe up a little. My butt felt the pressure of the seat, but after ten miles although it wasn’t comfortable it didn’t hurt. And it doesn’t hurt now, which I think is a big deal. So I will try again. I will say that I wished it was more cushioned since my butt is far from boney and it felt like my bones were drilling into the seat. The seat I am using, by the way is a Respiro Moderate.  It is not the cheapest, but it is not the most expensive either. And I really want it to work.

This weekend I am going to try for 24 miles, if I can find a time to fit it in. That would be the Art Museum Loop three times. I think I can do it, and I think I will know for sure by then about this seat.

Little Victories

Today I finally broke past the four mile mark on my run/walk. it took me about fifty minutes. This is good because that is the same amount of time it has taken me to do about 3.88 miles so little victories. This morning’s run was hard but it felt great. I stuck to the two minutes running ninety seconds off and it didn’t seem easier but more doable, if that makes any sense. I pushed myself to keep running and had one longer run of just over four minutes. Sadly, it takes me about that long to go a quarter mile, so although I am running for longer times I don’t feel as though I am covering more ground. It also didn’t rain, so I was stuck with the humidity. UGGG!!!! I am not a summer person. I was a disgusting sweat ball this morning. And even though the scale reported two pounds lighter, I’m pretty sure it’s all the sweat in my shirt so I’m not particularly excited about that. Gleefully tomorrow is going to be a lovely sixty six degrees in the morning. AAAAAHHH.

As I talk more and more with people about this, and yes I have been droning on boring everyone with it, I am constantly intrigued by other “Journey to Fitness” stories. For instance, my sister did the Philly Run which is ten miles for four years!!!! Ten miles!!! Holy Shit! I can barely cover a quarter mile and she ran for ten. That feels impossible for me. But it also started me wondering about how we move in and out of fitness routines. She said she hadn’t done it in years and now doesn’t think she could run a mile. When I was in my twenties I was incredibly fit. I walked both ways to work which was about fifty minutes each way and I worked out five days a week with weights. In addition to that I had this crazy diet plan where I counted fat and only ate 13 grams of fat per day. I have no idea where I got the plan or the number. Being young and poor helped a lot. I only had so much money and was not going to over spend on food when I knew that the weekend was coming and I would be dancing and drinking three out of four nights. Remember when the weekend started on Thirsty Thursday and continued straight through till Sunday? As I moved into my late twenties and early thirties I started going more to local bars and less to dance clubs. Dancing was replaced with shuffleboard, darts, and watching sports on television. But I still had time to work out and I still walked every day, but now only for about an hour. I was never a runner or a bike rider. So not as fit, but still trim and mostly fit.

And then, somehow it all slipped away.  Intermittent attempts at returning to fitness were met with the realization that this would be hard work. I don’t love hard physical work. And I am an impatient person, so hard work with no immediate turn around often made me discouraged and sad.  The fact that I have been doing this for a little over three weeks  is also a little victory. As I have stated before, I haven’t lost an ounce – today notwithstanding, I truly expect I am two cups of water away from my original weight. But weight loss wasn’t the real goal, just a piece of a larger picture: to become strong. That was the goal. and I can see that I am getting stronger and building up more stamina. So I guess I am seeing results and they have been fairly fast.

I like to believe sometimes that nobody reads this and I am talking to myself – which I think is mostly true. And sometimes I like to believe that I am speaking to a large crowd who are dying to talk back to me. Today I am thinking about both. The first because I probably bored you to sleep with my self obsessed reflections and the second because I would really like to hear other stories. If you are a regular runner or biker or whatever, how did you get there? Were you just always this person? Do you remember a time when what you do now would have seemed impossible? If you use to be someone who was more active, what changed? Do you miss it? If you have been thinking about trying again, what is stopping you or motivating you? If you have just started, like me, what has it been like for you?

Biking Woes

Yesterday my family showed full support and indulgence in my new attempt at health by decking out my bike with a water bottle holder, mirror and new saddle. All birthday presents I was thrilled to have. And even though I overslept this morning and didn’t get out on the bike until six, I was so excited to finally bike without being mauled by the horn of the seat. Bike shorts on, which I have been wearing wrong by the way, regular shorts on top – because really I didn’t think I could take to public in black lycra, especially at that late hour and of course new seat. Off I went. Except it wasn’t bliss. It was still pain. Wiggle the butt up, and yeah, okay, that’s better, except I kept sliding down. Stand up, move to the left, move to the right. No, still not a comfortable ride for my female sexed parts. Five miles later I was sad and annoyed. Was I doing something wrong? I stopped back at my house, stripped off my top layer of shorts and tried again. People will just have to deal with me in lycra.  And, it was more comfortable but the pressure from the front of the seat was noticeable. And I had only biked a little bit more than a mile maybe. For any real distance, I didn’t see how I was going to make it. The discomfort was annoying.

I have read that when a seat fits right you don’t think about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about this seat. So, of course, this morning, after my failed work out attempt, I came right to the computer to research bike seats and women – again! First, I am not suppose to wear underwear with my bike shorts. This embarrasses me because it seems immodest and at heart I am a true child, but I am willing to try anything. Second, there is a cream that will apparently help with this. I purchased Hoo Ha Ride Glide from Amazon. I kid you not, that is the real name of the cream, so if you had any doubt as to where my discomfort was before, now it seems pretty obvious. (Because what? Vaginal Ride Glide seemed too inappropriate?) And this is serious!!! There are some real problems that can develop from women and cycling. This is an area that you do not want to lose feeling. And I am going to return the saddle for a new one.

This makes me very sad, because it was a birthday present. But I can’t see buying a saddle that is uncomfortable. And I am not holding out for nirvana here. Check out REI and you will see that bike saddles can get really expensive although Amazon has them cheaper. I just want one that I can ride for about two hours – or hopefully more someday – and still think sex is a good idea (come on, when a word like Hoo Ha Cream is already out there…). Hopefully, a seat for under a $100.

Sorting out my saddle issues will give my body some healing time. So tomorrow I am running, bright and early because six really does seem very late. And I am hoping it will rain. Because running in the rain is a truly wonderful experience.

Three Weeks In

Today marks three weeks that I have been steadily working towards the Pocono Endurance Challenge. In the past three weeks I have run/walked or biked an average of six out of every seven days. I haven’t lost a pound, but I have lost half an inch. Since this is suppose to be about getting stronger, I am trying not to focus on the weight. Although, I admit, it is a little disheartening. This week I mapped out an eating plan that I am trying to stick with. It does include counting calories, but it also focuses on eating more fruits veggies and lean proteins. One of my goals this summer is to return to plant based eating. Slowly and with no fanfare. So even though this isn’t about being skinny, I know that losing the extra weight I carry would help me be healthier. And, total transparency, I hate being fat. It really depresses the hell our of me and assaults my self esteem daily.

On to the highs! I started three weeks ago working towards running a minute and walking two. It was hard. As of Sunday, and man I was exhausted Sunday, I am up to running two minutes and walking for ninety seconds in between. I have also been able to run a mile full out on flat ground. My longest running time around my neighborhood, which is pretty hilly is about four minutes straight. This week, I plan to continue with running the two minutes and walking for ninety seconds and try to put in one longer run. This normally comes around a hill. I have a rule that I never stop running at the top or the bottom of a hill. I stick to it almost religiously, although there have been times this has made me want to throw up. Next week I am hoping to expand that to two and a half minutes and walking ninety seconds. Or running two minutes and walking for a minute. I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go. But I am really hoping to participate in the Mother’s Day run next year.

We started by biking five miles, and then moved that to around six on our neighborhood runs. We biked seventeen and a half miles this past Sunday and this morning I did about ten in under an hour. Unless the biking is totally up steep hills I feel very comfortable with this part. In fact I love, love, love, love biking. I can’t get enough of it. Saddle sores aside, and those puppies hurt like hell in places that were just never meant to feel that way, I just can’t get enough of biking. After Sunday’s longer ride I felt great initially, in a few hours I was really tired. But it was a lovely relaxed full body tired. I can’t wait to do that again. I really want to push myself in this, especially when the Endurance Challenge is over. I think that I would like to find more bike riding events. For now, I need to get my family’s bikes in riding shape so we can do more family outings. But I also plan to take on some new trails alone. There is something so spiritual and therapeutic about biking in nature.

Preparing for the rowing has continued to elude me. Although I have, just last week, started to work out on the Total Gym, I feel very lost in this area. I would really like to take a class, which is expensive. There is one near me, in Manayunk, but it is $100 per person. I don’t know how else to make sure I know what I am doing. And it would give me a sense of how to train. I know I will have to join a gym eventually, but I am holding off on that. So far this challenge has cost me money in gear, and entry fees. There will also be the gas fees going several times this summer and the expense of staying over the weekend of the race. This wasn’t meant to be hard on the budget. So, when I think about where and when to spend money, I try to keep it to parts that I think are really necessary for the long term, such as stuff for my bike and my backside and not small parts that I may never use again. Reality: even if I decide that I love, love, love, canoeing, the chance that I will get to indulge in that hobby in the upcoming future is slim to none.

And that’s it. Three weeks in, same weight but pushing further and doing more. And, I will say it is getting easier. At least that is the way it felt this morning, but by the end of the week, who knows? One thing I have learned in the past three weeks is that there are highs and lows and they can come out of nowhere. Just when I think that I will never get  past a certain point, I push through. And sometimes, just when I start thinking I can definitely do this, it gets really hard. It is a hilly journey, sort of like my neighborhood. But I am loving it.

Babbling Stream of Thought Or Maybe A Slow Drip

IMG_0395Today I didn’t wake up to work out. It was sort of planned, although I am still not positive that I won’t go at some point. Most plans build in one day off a week and I have read that a day off is important. From the way my legs feel, I totally understand that.I have gone eight days straight which, yesterday, felt hard. The problem is that mentally I hate to take a day off. It not only feels that I let myself down, inside I am afraid that I am setting up a trend. As much as I have been enjoying this, working out doesn’t come as naturally to me as it did in my twenties. Honestly, I sometimes think the joy is something I add retrospectively in the thrill of “I did it.” So when I don’t go, it feels as though I could start a habit of not going. In the past three weeks I have tried to build it into the routine, so maybe Saturday plan not to go. The day is normally inspired by a life event that may cause me to be out later and drinking. I am at an age where that rarely comes around more than once a week, if that. This morning I woke and my legs just ached, so after wrestling with it for about ten minutes, I decided to stay home. And I am already missing it. I stayed in bed until a little before six and now I feel as though I am already behind. And I worry that I made the wrong decision, or I chose it based more on just being tired than an actual day of rest. Truly, I plan to fit in a strength workout today, but I don’t think that counts.

It is the aerobic work outs that build endurance and that tend to make me feel calmer. Although, I have noticed lately, aerobics don’t always put me in a great mood as they did in the beginning. Biking almost always does, but running not so much. Mostly the only thoughts that go through my head go something like this, “Just make it to the stop sign, just make it to the stop sign.” If I am running, it is to the rhythm of my feet but when I bike it just repeats over and over. So here is the weird part I have sort of been avoiding. I have also found that bothersome memories keep coming up. Things I haven’t thought of in years, pop out of nowhere. And the emotions attached tend to be just as strong and as raw. It sort of reminds me of a body detox, which I have never done. Supposedly, when people detox their breath smells bad, they break out, they get congested, and they become emotional. Well, I think if I went any real time without food I would become incredibly emotional.

And, since I am babbling, I have found that even though, like this morning, I sometimes have to really push myself out of bed, this has become the focal point of my whole day. As the day wears on, even when I don’t come back in a good mood, I can’t wait for the early morning time when I get to go again. There are days when everything else feels like clutter in between the time I go biking or running in the morning. And there are days, like yesterday, where I was so bone tired all day that I just want to go to bed so that when I do go out I will be able to put in a good effort. This worries me. I don’t want this to be a passing fad, but a life style. Which, like going vegan, will be hard if my family doesn’t adopt it in some manner. I finally gave up the vegan lifestyle because I felt as though it was driving a wedge between my family and myself.  I don’t want to give this up. I really want this, and not just for the Endurance Race. I want this because….. I have no idea.

Digging into the Supports

Although it has been on my mind, it is something I haven’t really taken the time to make happen. I am talking about the supporting pieces to this new lifestyle, such as stretching, strength training and eating well. Originally, I thought of these as the peripherals, but since that means minor or not as important, I realized I had to change the term.

This is new to me, parts that are just part of the program for other athletes,aren’t always even in my awareness.(Hey I called myself an athlete!!! Might be a little premature.)  Take stretching for instance. I know it is something I need to do, but I constantly forget or run out of time. Until I have a moment like today, where I can barely move my neck without fear of pain. Did it come from biking nine and a half miles yesterday? Or did it come from running this morning? (Yeah, I did two miles!!! Not back to back, but two miles!!!) Either way, even I know that I am suppose to stretch. I just forget, or run out of time. So I am dedicating part of every day to stretching. Maybe even yoga.

Of course, being me, the first thing I do is Google it. Well guess what! I am not suppose to be stretching, stretching is bad. At least not the stretching that I remember, static stretching. There is now dynamic stretching, a way to warm up your muscles before they work. Stretching when your muscles are cold can apparently cause injuries.

So when can you stretch? You are supposed to do dynamic stretching before the run. Here is a video I found on Runners World site. So on Wednesday, when I run again, I am going to try these. Of course this means getting up earlier, because otherwise I don’t know how I will fit it all in.

For biking, there is also debate on the stretching question. Dynamic stretching is recommended before – such as taking your legs through the same range of motion you will use on a bike. After biking, I found eight stretches on the site BikeRadar, (scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page) however, I don’t know when I will find the time to do them. The last one recommends staying in the pose for five to ten minutes; but on the whole 20 to 60 seconds per stretch seems the norm. The longer time is for improved flexibility, which is what I really want. But eight stretches at sixty seconds apiece, two to for times for each stretch leads to an average of twenty- four minutes. That seems like a lot of time, that I don’t have. So I found another site that only has four stretches on it. I think that I will use these four during the workweek and the eight for when I try to do the longer rides on the weekends. Here is a link to the four videos. Also, I read that it is recommended to stretch after you shower from your workout, when warm water will have helped to loosen your muscles. We’ll see how this all goes tomorrow.