Last night I couldn’t sleep due to fear. Earlier my son casually asked when I was going to practice the whole course of the Endurance event. Wait, what? I’m suppose to do this whole thing more than once? Isn’t the idea of the challenge a sort of one and done? Yeah, I know Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 8.34.45 AMI want to participate in more events, but we are talking twenty seven and a half miles here.  How often am I suppose to do that? When will I have the time? Oh NOOOOOO! I am struggling to run five miles. What am I thinking? I can’t do this. This is crazy. I’m truly gong to die. There I’ll be, out on the water after biking up the never ending hills, floating slowly down because I overestimated my abilities. I won’t only miss the Eagles kick off, I’ll miss the four o’clock game as well. Wait, what if there are rapids and I can’t control the boat? What if I totally miss Smith Beach? How big is this river anyway? When am I going to eat?  I mean it is obviously going to take me more than seven hours, I get hungry. And I’ve had ten pound babies (well one, my son was only a little over eight), when am I going to pee? And how am I gong to keep my sneakers from getting soaked as I languish in the kayak for hours? Do I just run in wet sneakers? That can’t be good. I think there is definitely going to be chafing. In places I don’t want there to be chafing. And then as I was laying there not sleeping I realized that I was never going to sleep the night before the race. I still have trouble sleeping on Christmas Eve and I’m Santa!!!! It’s just so exciting thinking about how happy my children are going to be. I am going to be over the top with worry and excitement on September 6th, the day before. Yeah, so I will probably be exhausted to boot. 

Finally, I talked myself down. Around midnight or so, after a restless tense sleep and tossing and turning. The alarm went off around five and I turned it off. I was tired. Two nights in a row with no sleep, the reality that I am not super Michelle, and just plain old fear. I want to give up. Look, I’ve come a long way, I’ve developed two new passions in biking and running. I want to get faster, get stronger, go further. I’m not giving that up. But, seriously, I don’t kayak. And regardless of what everyone seems to think, it is not going to be the easy part of the race. I’ve been on the floor with my broom practicing, I know that it works your core and your legs. There is no break. How can I do that for three or more hours?

I want to do this. I don’t want to do this. I am afraid. I really don’t think I am going to be able to practice the course through once, even though I wanted to. Even though it was in the original plan to at least see the course straight through, even in pieces, I just don’t have the time or money to do that. I want to end this post on a really happy, come to wonderful realization that I can do this sort of peaceful joyous space. But I’m not there. So, as I’m counting all the places that this new fitness thing has been hard, the part that is the hardest is getting past my own head. 

Okay, I can do the bike ride. The worst case scenario is that I have to push my bike up a hill. The kayaking is down river, so hopefully I will have enough of a current to help me along, but not so much that I can’t control it. And if that happens, well, maybe I’ll at least get to the Eagles by half time. And if I really have to, I can walk the three miles, but I don’t want to . Because walking the bike up the hill, or walking the three miles is failure to me. 

Breathe, Michelle, breathe.


Eating for Fuel

I continue to struggle with the eating part of this whole lifestyle. It is one thing for a beer drinking s-Mirassou_2008_California_Merlot_750mllug to get her hiney up off the couch, it is quite another to actually put down the beer. On the whole, because I don’t think I could run hung over, or bike or go to the gym or hey get out of bed I don’t drink or I drink sparingly. And there are days when I miss kicking back with an unending flow and some good company. And of course the yummy snacks that come with beer or wine. I love, love, LOVE, good red wine, a wedge of brie, some crusty bread and some cut apples or grapes. A fall night, some good company and I am set to knock back a bottle. That’s only four glasses, by the way.

Unfortunately, that has a way of getting in the way of my other love, love, LOVE which is to push myself to see what I can do. It is an unending wealth of surprises to find out there is a whole host of activities I can enjoy and haven’t tried because I psyched myself out. I just never saw myself that way. So there is a never ending tension between the two. Both competing for my attention, sort of like my children. Right now, the healthier life style continues to win out, but fall is bearing down with more amazing weather, football and daily stress. Let the games begin.

In the meantime, I continue to tweak my diet. I have found some things that work for me, that I find satisfying and aren’t a ridiculous calorie load. I try to balance protein and fat as well as make sure that I am getting fiber. Add to this the need to include omega 3’s, lower salt intake and hey let us not forget those sneaky carbs – complex please not simple. There are times I think you need to be a bloody chemist to make it really work.  I use Myfitnesspal to help me keep track of all of this. It is free and works with the Runkeeper app I use to track my cardio progress. In the beginning, if I walked to the store, I turned on the Runkeeper to add to my calorie count. Now I only track my exercising. I never include weight training at the gym because it is too onerous.

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I have learned that eating vegetables with every meal isn’t as hard as I thought. I put spinach, about two large handfuls in my egg every morning. I eat whole wheat english muffins because they are only 120 calories. This saves me forty calories in bread, if I were to use two pieces of toast. I have recently discovered that grated asiago cheese is only thirty calories per tablespoon. Two tablespoons is almost half of what a quarter cup of shredded mozzarella would be- sounds like a lot, but it is easy to put a quarter cup of cheese without realizing it.  And it has a lot more flavor, so two tablespoons is enough. This is my find of the week.

Snacks are a piece of fruit, or a cup of grapes and an ounce of cheese. I have been eating the mini Babybels but I am not in love with them. I do like an ounce of cut cheese, like sharp cheddar but it has forty more calories. For me, it is worth it. I also will sometimes eat the Cliff bars. These tend to be high in calories around 240, so these are only for the days I plug in a huge calorie burn. Also, I love tortilla chips and salsa. Depending on the brand you can have fifteen chips and a bunch of salsa and still come in around 200 calories.

Lunch is the hardest thing for me. I come to it starving and want something that is really satisfying, like a chicken cheesesteak hoagie with mayo. What I have is tuna, with spinach and tomato on whole wheat bread. I use a lot of spinach and I sometimes add the grated asiago cheese – it’s not just for spaghetti anymore. Lunch is boring and I try to tell myself what a good job I am doing by eating so healthy but I really want something more interesting – maybe pizza.

And dinner is whatever the family is having. My attempt at being vegan taught me that when I eat differently from my family, I am setting myself up for failure. It just doesn’t work for me. I try to stash calories all day so that if I want a beer or glass of wine at the end of the day I can have it. Since I don’t have any in the house, it is easy not to have. And I’m not a big ice cream person so even when the rest of my family is digging into a bowl, it is easy for me to pass on.

Yes, I feel tons better since I have a pretty strict hold on my diet. I don’t feel deprived, I do feel energetic most days. If I want a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine, like when my sister came over unexpectedly, I absolutely have one. However, forcing myself to write it down does help me pause to think. And like everything else in this new life style thing, it wasn’t so easy in the beginning. Just like running and biking and getting my ass out of bed, not eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted was hard. I resisted it, the way my legs resisted running. But after awhile, not too long, cravings passed. And I mean within the moment not after days. I have realized that I can walk away from some thoughts for the moment and leave them be. Sometimes they go away.  And sometimes I just really want a BlueMoon. Oh yum!

Nine Week Check In

Today marks nine weeks since I officially started my attempt at fitness. It seems as though I have been doing it much longer. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing but there it is. In nine weeks, after about three or four weeks of no movement I have lost about eight pounds. That is not exactly earth shattering, but I am less and less concerned about that all of the time. Maybe it is because I can now fit into almost everything in my drawer. In the beginning of the summer I had exactly four pair of shorts, capris, clamdiggers whatever that I rotated through. Now I have an additional four or five pair of shorts I can wear plus one pair of nicer white pants. I haven’t been able to get into these shorts in about two years so I am pretty happy about that. At least I don’t need to buy new clothes right now. I know this isn’t suppose to be about losing weight, but it is nice to be able to fit into your clothes again. Along those lines I have lost a little more than an inch around my waist. I really don’t see it, even though I feel it when I get dressed. Maybe it is because when I lean over I can still rest my gut on my thighs. Not as much, but still there. And here are the before and after pictures. This little activity is called Find the Difference! Can’t? Yeah, that’s how I feel. But I am stronger.


Memorial Day 2014 July 26, 2014I started by running a minute and walking for two. I worked my way up to running two minutes and walking for a minute and then hit a wall. For weeks I couldn’t go further than half a mile, with the occasional mile thrown in. I was getting desperate. But then, after some advice to slow down and a hit on my pride, I was able to do three miles. Today I topped off at five and a half miles in about fifty six minutes. I was able to do five of those miles in about fifty one minutes, which means I am averaging about a ten minute mile. That feels pretty good. And I am not wiped out all day the way I use to be. I have started to have a love/hate relationship with running. I dread going and then I have started to enjoy whole sections. Today, as I was passing the five mile mark I really felt wonderful. My body felt fluid and I felt as though I was flying. That is the first time that happened. 

Biking, which has been something I enjoyed from the beginning, has continued to be a real pleasure and the days I look forward to the most. In fairness, when I first started biking around the neighborhood it was hard. The hills were daunting. I feel much better about the hills and even though I am sometimes out of breath when I come up a steep hill, I am not super tired. I can feel myself getting stronger. And, on a bike, you can actually look down and see the muscles that have developed on your legs. I love that. I think my legs are actually bigger than when I started, but I feel very strong. I know the time is coming when I will only be able to bike on weekends, but that is okay.  I will continue to work on my stamina and speed at the gym and look forward to a time when I can enjoy being outside. 

I have only just started working on the machines at the gym, so there really isn’t much to say here. As much as I resisted going, and I still do, especially with such lovely mornings, there is a certain sense of satisfaction to having completed a circuit. Muscles at rest burn more calories than fat at rest. Period. Also, it is part of the pursuit of being stronger. I want to be able to participate in one of those crazy races where you pull yourself over walls and stuff. I want to be strong. 

Kayaking, well, kayaking is another thing that I have only tried once. I am hoping to go again, but it is definitely the week link as far as the Endurance Challenge is concerned. I think it is going to take at least three hours to complete this part of the challenge. So, not going to make it to kick off for sure!

Over all I feel pretty good. The Challenge is about five and a half weeks away, but more importantly, the shift to back to school mode is only four weeks away. That will be my first big test in holding this all together. Especially since before a race you are suppose to lay back for a few days. I am hoping my passion for my new lifestyle will carry me through. 

On to new goals:

1. I need to work on my core if I am ever going to get through three hours of kayaking, so I need to schedule that work out in.

2. Flexibility needs to become at least part of the routine, so I have to work to find the joy that so many others seem to find in yoga. Or, maybe just find a good stretching routine that works for me. Taking any and all suggestions. I can appreciate yoga, but maybe it just isn’t for me. I don’t feel relaxed at the end. I feel annoyed. Please stop telling me to smile when all I want to do is smack you upside your head for being able to get into that totally unnatural position.

3. Taking a day off. Or more. This continues to be difficult. I am worried about losing my momentum, but I also feel bored and restless when I take a day. The personal satisfaction is missing. I thought I would take a day off every four days. Which means on the fifth day no running, biking or lifting weights. I think kayaking is okay, because I suck at it, so I’m not really working out. But during the winter I thought I would stretch and go for a walk.

4. Stop comparing myself to real athletes. This would seem like a no brainer, but when I am reading along on the Internet and I see the suggested activity for a light day is a five mile jog, I feel a little crest fallen. Really? That’s a light day? Don’t they know how hard I have to work to get to five miles? Geez!

Kayaking and Other Life Adventures

Yesterday, as we were driving to Lake Nockamixon, the ripple effect of this Endurance Challenge began to sink in. I may have tried kayaking at some point with my family on a lark; but chances are, I would have stood in the background while my son and husband went out on the water. Especially since my daughter did not want to go at all. She was much more interested in the playground. This time, however, it was me on the water with my son. 

I was nervous about trying it and a little glad my daughter was so adamant about not going. I am a worrier by nature, so when my son first suggested we go, my mind immediately went to, how do I save them if they fall in? Am I strong enough swimmer? All of the true story articles from every magazine I ever read flooded my mind. I can’t remember any about kayaking deaths. Anyway, while my husband took my daughter for a walk, my son and I went about the business of figuring out how to kayak. 

I’ve read how to articles about kayaking on line, so I knew that I was suppose to use my core muscles, and not my arms. And there was something about turning and being careful not to flip the thing, which of course worried me, but other than that I had zero experience. The nice young man smiled patiently while I made jokes about my lack of experience and told us he would come get us if we blew on the whistle. I wondered how fast he could swim. There weren’t any motor boats that I could see on the dock, like they have on the beach. I really wasn’t worried about me falling in, but my son. Which is a little crazy, since he is a stronger swimmer than I am. But what if he hit his head? 

My first fear of staying in the kayak was overtaken by my fear of hitting someone. There were a lot of people out on the water, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a good idea for the totally inexperienced to share space with so many sail boats, and motor boats. I mean if they are counting on me to avoid a collision they really haven’t thought this through. So, I worried. My son on the other hand kayaked as though he was born to it. He kept calling instructions as though it wasn’t his first time in the water. He wanted to get closer to the sail boats, he wanted to go across the lake and see what was on the other side. I wanted to get away from the other boats, I wanted to go down the lake where there seemed to be clear space. I’m the mom. I won. 

I tried to track my milage with my Runkeeper App, but totally missed the first twenty five minutes or so. When I did finally track it, I only went about a mile in twenty minutes. We did stop a few times to check the time. We had rented the kayaks for an hour. Which by the way, was only fifteen dollars for a single person kayak. That is the cheapest I’ve seen anywhere. Anyway, at that rate, I might finish the Endurance Challenge, but I probably won’t make the Eagles kick off at 1:00pm. 

By the end of the hour, I felt pretty confident maneuvering the kayak. I wasn’t really afraid of bumping into other kayaks anymore since we had bumped into each other a couple of times, mostly so he could check the time on my phone, since I didn’t have my glasses. I even began to enjoy the experience, but I would definitely like to practice some more. 

On the way back I began to think of all the things I have done in the last two months I never would have done if I hadn’t signed up for this challenge. Chances are I would not have gotten on a bike, and if I did, it would have been a one and done. I wouldn’t have biked the Art Museum loop, I would have assumed it was too far for me, let alone do the loop twice. I may have gone to Peace Park, but I wouldn’t have biked it. I wouldn’t have felt the thrill of going down hills or the satisfaction of pushing up hills. I wouldn’t have learned about saddles, bike shorts and how to bike up hills.  I never would have run three miles, let alone five. I wouldn’t have run on a track, because I would have felt too self conscious. I wouldn’t have learned about running form, slowing down and how to pace yourself. I never would have tried biking and then running immediately after. I might have eventually joined a gym, but probably not. But most importantly, the one thing I might have done if I hadn’t decided to do the challenge is give up. I might have given up when things got really hard. Maybe I wouldn’t have, but when I first wasn’t losing any weight and I when I was seeing no progress, I might have walked away. But I didn’t.

It has been an amazing two months and I am really excited to see what else I can do.  

Inflexible Me

I am always surprised when someone tells me I am easy going. Really? And then I remember others can’t hear what is going on in my head, thank goodness. I am pretty inflexible most of the time. As a matter of fact, if a process doesn’t have rules I tend to create them. Such as , “Never stop at the bottom of a hill when running.” I then stick to these ridiculous paradigms as though they were handed down from a deity. It makes up for my lack of organized religion. So I shouldn’t have been surprised, me a person who has never been able to reach her toes, to discover I suck at yoga. It is just my inflexibility in the flesh, so to speak. 

Last week I tried a yoga tape that was suppose to help make you stronger and lose weight (not that I care about that, Yeah right.). Way overestimated both my strength and my yoga ability. I have tried some yoga before, you know, on the Wii. The tree pose, my tree wobbles, the warrior, which I feel like a yogi in and that pretty much explains my ability. So this week I searched the Internet for a very beginner’s yoga. And I found, Yoga for Beginners. That wasn’t too hard. Actually, I read through hundreds of reviews on Amazon, and then decided on this one. I’m really glad I did. So far I have done the one routine, Solar. She moves very slowly, and I can almost keep up. Which isn’t the same as saying I’m doing it well, or even right. But there is a slideshow in the introduction which says, if I need to I can bend my knees. This one sentence gave me permission to try again and not feel like an idiot. And it isn’t easy, there are times when my arms are shaking or I am wobbling and can’t hold a pose. But I am not frustrated. Well, mostly. The other good thing, is the whole routine lasts less than twenty five minutes, so even when it feels hard I push through. It’s going to be over soon. 

There is one pose, the dolphin, which I absolutely cannot do. Looks easy, doesn’t it? And I don’t like the pose because it leaves me staring straight at my thighs. She is walking her legs forward and I just can’t figure the pose out. And I’m wondering when I got old people legs. Seriously, they are not my thighs. But it is towards the end, so I bent my knees and did my best. There was no walking. 


I guess if I think about how hard running was, and still can be, this isn’t any different  As a matter of fact, if I am honest, it can all still feel really hard. Some of it is just a mindset, a belief in myself and determination. A lot of determination. So maybe at some point I’ll be able to lean on my forearms and walk forward so my eyes can really inspect my legs. Not exactly motivating. 

Trying Everyday

Recently, more and more people have been sharing their fitness goals and accomplishments with me. Texts, Facebook messages or posts, and even face to face comments about what they have been doing. I love that!!! I love hearing what others are doing and I feel honored that they reach out and share it with me. It’s funny because I have received two types of feedback, some that is really positive, people say they enjoy reading the blog and watching my progress and others who think it is a little weird and maybe self aggrandizing that I share it.

Thin skinned as I am, the latter has caused me to doubt myself and ponder my reasons for sharing the progress or mess ups, or whatever. Is it self aggrandizing? Is posting my progress from the RunKeeper bragging? Yes, maybe. But knowing that I have made a habit of sharing it has also made me work harder to make five miles. It’s nice feeling as though there is a wave of positive support behind you. People who are already in shape post positive comments and helpful advice. Seasoned bikers and runners who have been where I am and can see past what I see, help keep me on track with their advice and their confidence.

I also truly believe that if I can do this anyone can. Sometimes it is slow and painful, but it can be done.What really just thrills me to no end is when someone says, “I saw your post and decided to go out for a walk.” Or “I’m keeping up with you.”  It makes me feel like I matter. And I feel so much less alone, I have peers who are doing this with me. Maybe not right next to me, but they are out there sweating and trying too. Like me, they are not athletes, not maybe in the best shape, but trying everyday, just like me. So I guess when I am writing, I am writing to them. The people who give me the positive feedback and are rooting for me and the people who are out there sweating along with me. Trying everyday.

And by the way, today I was really close to running five miles for the first time. I can see it now and know that I am going to be able to do it. And yeah, that’s full on bragging.

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First Successful Brick (Almost)


This week I tried to do a brick. Again.  Compared to my last brick, I think I was definitely more successful. I wasn’t thrilled with what I accomplished, since I didn’t meet my goals. These are the goals I think up the night before. You know, when I see myself charging through fields on feet that never get tired, dry, obviously, not the sweat ball I normally become. Cue music and the joy and rapture in myself, the awe in all that see me. Yeah, well, you motivate you and I’ll motivate me. Anyway, the last time I tried this, three weeks ago to the day, I biked twelve miles at Peace Valley Park and had a total fail at running. I ran only one half mile and then puttered out. Since then, I have adjusted my run and been able to run four and half miles, and three miles on demand. Today I biked a little over ten miles and I ran just a little over two. And it was hard. And within about three hours of finishing, I was seriously tired. And then the pain  set in. And I was totally unprepared.

At this point, almost eight weeks into working out, ten miles of biking is basically no big deal. Biking back Valley Green was amazing, but still a little daunting. As I rode from Paper Mill Road towards Valley Green, I couldn’t help but think that it felt very downhill. About twenty minutes into the ride, I became nervous. Because, well, I had to bike back. And if this was all down hill, going back would be all up hill. Even though I love biking,  there are times when I feel tired. There are times when I feel as though it is hard, especially in the beginning of any bike ride. It often takes me time before the joy and even glee takes hold. At the beginning of bike riding, like the beginning of almost any physical activity is the initial shock that this is hard work. And then I remember, as I push through, I like this. No, I love this. And then, it all becomes not hard work but something I love to do. And that is the memory that continues to come through and what keeps me coming back.

But still, in the beginning of this ride, it all seemed too easy. Since I knew I was planning on trying to run after the ride, I was worried about fatigue, so after three and a half miles one way, I turned around. What I thought was that when I crossed Paper Mill there would be another at least mile and a half one way on the other side, so I could round up to ten miles. See, my original plan was to bike at least twelve to fourteen miles and then run one to three. That’s where I unexpectedly met my first real hill. Well hello, Ms. Northwestern Avenue.  I wish I would have taken a picture but I was too busy telling it no. When I first saw it, seven miles into my ride, I was all about not doing that hill. After all, this was my first brick, I should take it easy. But then I just kept going. Slowly, painfully. Not wiggle wagging, yet. I kept going. What the hell was I doing? Why was I doing this? Why? Because I was only just past eight miles and I realized the path back was only a third of a mile at most. If I was ever going to get even close to ten miles, I needed to keep going. No music, no awe, no glee, but at least, at the very least ten miles.  So it was me and the hill. I could see what I thought was the top. I would just get to there and turn around. There was a women running up the hill just ahead of me. She stayed to the left and I stayed to the right. It was a slow, steady, steep incline. I kept switching gears down. lower then I ever needed for hill. I don’t like to switch gears too low when going up hills because it is like biking air. I want to feel the as though I am pushing forward. But for this hill I was two on the left and three on the right, lower than I have ever been. When I got to what I thought was the crest I realized I was only at the top of my vision. There was more of the same behind it. But I was at about eight and a half miles and feeling spent. I turned around. The joy of coming down the hill was tempered only by the knowledge that I hadn’t conquered it.  As I soared down the hill, clicking my gears in what I knew was a futile effort to to gain traction, I came face to face with the runner. She was easily twenty years my senior and pushing along up the hill. I was humbled. Not enough to turn around, I’ll leave that for another day. I still had running to do.

The running was not the hardest run of my life, but I was definitely feeling the tightness in my quads and hips. I brought my water bottle with me and slowly started down the trail. Even though it was the same trail I had biked before, the sensation of going down hill was strong .Biking back had not been difficult at all. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that running it would be harder than I wanted to do.  Also, it was the first time I ran on gravel. Maybe it was because of the bike ride, maybe it was just being tired, but it was hard for me to find my stride. Other runners passed me and I wanted to say, “You know I just biked ten and a half miles!”  Of course that wouldn’t have mattered, I wasn’t going any slower than normal.

I made it to Valley Green and stopped just past it. That was a little over two miles. Not three but more than one. As I started to walk back the pain set in. My right leg felt as though it had an iron stick from hip to ankle. I was really surprised. It wasn’t a localized throbbing but a full leg scream. Thankfully it only lasted for a short time. And then my inner thighs were pulsing. Normally if I run or bike, I feel it in my quads, my hips and sometimes my knees. Up until now my inner thighs had been silent. Certain movements the rest of the day, anything that put pressure on the back of my thighs caused pain. Like getting in and out of cars. About three hours after I crashed and luckily was able to sleep for about an hour. I still felt tired when I woke but at least I was functional.

As I was walking back, a couple of things crossed my mind. First, there is going to be some pain, whether it is when I am running or biking up a hill, or just the aches from tired and pushing myself. I can’t work towards getting healthy without some hurting. I know that sounds obvious, but in the beginning I was very hesitant to take on something that would hurt. And I tried to avoid it by backing away from doing too much.

It also occurred to me that I a may not be able to finish this challenge the way I want, meaning I may not be able to run the whole time, I might have to get off my bike and push it up a hill. Before, this really bothered me, but for some reason yesterday it didn’t seem important. I would go and do the best I could and that would be that. The Challenge is no longer the reason I am doing this, but has become just another part of the journey.

Adding In Some Music

Today I finally tossed together a playlist for running. Taking my son’s advice, I mixed in some slower songs. He feels that if every song is motivational, you begin to concentrate on being motivated for running and then think about the running. He thinks that defeats the purpose of listening to music in the first place. My son likes to get lost in songs when he runs. This seems like good advice to me.  And since some of my favorite songs are on the slower side, I was all for it. I think this advice does work for people who love music and lyrics, and can really well,  get lost in it. 

I put my playlist together with two criteria: songs I love and songs that evoke a moment in time. This means, Van Morrison, Counting Crows and The Black Keys share space with Pink and LMFAO. All together I have just over an hour of music, but I plan to grow that list so it doesn’t get boring. I am collecting suggestions from friends on Facebook. So after popping  my music onto my phone I took it for a test drive.

The first thing I noticed is that RunKeeper is very chatty. In the beginning there was a constant stream of time check ins, distance and pace updates. I didn’t really hear any Alanis, as RunKeeper talked the entire time. Also, the earbuds that come with your phone are not meant for running. The right one kept popping out of my ear. That was really annoying. Not annoying enough to distract me from the heat. Where had the beautiful breezy day gone? The temperature, although not stifling with no humidity was still uncomfortable. After the first quarter mile, I settled in. Aloe Blacc will probably be removed from the list. Although I like the song, I’m the Man did nothing for me while I was running. But The Middle by Jimmy Eat World, really picked me up and helped me push up the first hill.

On the whole I would have to say that it is tough to judge if the music  kept me distracted or made the whole run easier, since I spent so much of the run trying to keep my ear buds in place.  It takes me longer to settle into my runs when I go in the afternoon, and today was no different. I think it is partly the heat of the day and partly I am already tired. I was  running faster during some songs, at one point I was on pace for a seven minute mile, and yes I slowed down, since that was the issue in the beginning. But I know it helped towards the end of my run.

Around forty three minutes as I was closing in on four miles, I was really getting tired. I could feel myself having to push my legs and I was slowing down. Suddenly The Young Giants came on and when the lyrics, “My body tells me no, but I won’t quit cause I want more,” pulsed through my ears I felt renewed, picked up my pace and pushed forward.  The song after that was Party Rock (LMFAO) and I was gleeful because I had passed four miles. I started dance running and goofing around.  I considered trying to do four and a half total miles, but decided four and a quarter was pretty stinking good. Walking and sort of singing,  I enjoyed the end of my run. And then PInk’s Raise Your Glass was playing and I found myself running again. And singing. However, I couldn’t sustain it and was walking again before the end of the song. I walked into my house with Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down and I was feeling like a rock star!

Finding Balance And Yoga Sucks

Yoga sucks!!!! I know, that is practically heresy for many people. And yes, I am sour grapes because I feel like an idiot, clumsy and somehow cluttered in body parts when I attempt the “graceful poses.”  Holy shit, give me a hot, sticky run any day of the week over this!

This morning I invested thirty minutes or so in attempting to rearrange my body into the poses that were suppose to be meant for beginner but challenging enough for an experienced yoga pretzel. When she got to the part where she was hopping on one foot, one leg straight out behind her and her arms “gracefully flowing” from her shoulders, I sat down. I was pouring sweat, which is a good thing, but I can do that with the Seven Minute Workout. Hell, I can sweat standing still, so I’m not so sure that is an indication of anything. Except maybe my fitness level.

Which is why I decided to try yoga in the first place. I have been having trouble taking a day off. In fact last week, I postponed a day off so long I didn’t take one. My reward was feeling really run down and pretty sick. But an addiction needs to be fed and I had become seriously addicted. Which shouldn’t be mistaken for actual fitness. This is still a goal I am working towards. I know this because what I am doing is really not a big deal. I mean it is, compared to what I had been doing – NOTHING.  But seriously, fifty minutes or so of aerobic activity every day isn’t a big deal. It is a start. However, I thought that since I varied my activity between biking and running I didn’t need to take a day. Although one web site, seemed to think that aerobics every day was okay, the majority of sites that I researched recommended a day off. For beginners, the recommendation is to take a day off every third day. If you look at any fitness plan out there, a day off is built into the paradigm. One site I read explained that even if you work different muscle groups every day, your nervous system, which feeds the muscles needs time to recover. In fact, it is in the recovery time when you are building the muscle and getting fit. I knew this at one time, but I guess I just forgot it.

And of course this all depends on what type of athlete you are, I’m a football fan, and the intensity of your training. Which leads to the question, how the hell am I suppose to know? I am not training to play in the pros, and I am not training to even race for time. I want to be stronger and physically fit, not more fit, but actually fit. Whatever that means. I do what I can to work it into my schedule.  And I tend to work as hard as I can during that time. Hard for me. This doesn’t mean that what I do many athletes or teenagers even couldn’t do in their sleep, but this is hard for me. Still.

So this leads me to thinking about rest days. And one of the allowed activities on rest days is yoga. I don’t think the people who decided yoga was a “restful” activity saw this video. Or maybe it is because it is called cardio yoga. Not exactly sure what that means, but I wasn’t jumping up and down, or breathing heavy. I was awkward. Which I hated, because it is another reminder of how far I have to go. Just to be clear, this isn’t a rest day, I just wanted to preview the possible rest day material.

So in conclusion, I hated the yoga. I am still going to try it again. And again. And again. I hated running in the beginning too. I just don’t like workout videos. So once I have the routine memorized, I will do it by myself. And I am going to try the thirty minute routine next time, not the sixty. I have this fantasy of really being able to look behind me the way I could as a child, you know, without turning my whole body. And I am going to take a rest day, although I haven’t decided exactly what that means to me yet. But I feel as though I am starting to flirt with burnout.

By the way, when I feel like giving up, I go back to this video over and over again. If he can do it, I can do it. And yes, I know he is doing yoga.


Joining A Gym

So yesterday when I went for a run around five in the morning it was noticeably darker. And though I tried to tell myself that it must be overcast, the reality is the days are getting shorter. As a lover of autumn, this is normally something I celebrate. However, this year this also means that some of my time outdoors in the morning may be coming to an end. I know I can still go later, since it is summer, but the difference between five and six in the morning is vast. There is something about being awake when most of the world is still sleeping. There is a lovely solitude that is both empowering and sometimes frightening. I am proud that I have mostly overcome my fear to exercise at such a time, especially when I go alone. I honestly don’t know if I will feel as comfortable when dawn in still two hours away.

With this in mind, it is time to join a gym. I am not ready to give up completely on running or biking outside but, as I look forward to the upcoming shorter length of days, I know it is an inevitable conclusion. I know enough about myself to know I need this in place before school starts. I will have to be in the habit of going inside to exercise. I will need to find a way to motivate myself to go at five in the morning, something I already see as a problem. When the alarm goes off at 4:30 I picture myself running outside or biking. I can see the streets I will travel and I know, or think I know, how I will feel at each part of my workout. I know the parts that will bring me joy and the parts that will be difficult. It pulls me out of bed, both the challenge and the anticipation. I just can’t see the gym doing this. I worry that bike riding and running will seem boring. I worry that it will be too hard to motivate myself and all too easy to turn over. How can biking on a stationary bike possibly replace the thrill and the wind of being outside?

But, if I don’t have an alternative, how will I ever be able to continue throughout the winter months? So funny, that I never saw this part coming.