Tag Archives: jogging

Thirteen Weeks Way-In

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If you’ve ever seen Mame, then you’re familiar with the joke about Upson Downs.  I think I’m going to rename my life Upson Downs.

I’m still at a weight loss plateau.  I think I’m going on, oh, up to three weeks of a plateau.     I suppose I need to be a bit more vigilant about what I eat, and how, to make sure I haven’t become complacent with that aspect of my lifestyle.  Plus, I have several after-work events coming up in the next couple of weeks, so I should make an extra effort to eat healthy when I can to prepare for those events where it’s not so easy.  (Breaded chicken cutlets and pasta seem to be very popular at these kind of events.)

I should also mix up my exercise.  Case in point:  I didn’t do any yoga last week.  Zip.  Zilch.  I miss it.  I need to do it.

Speaking of mixing up workouts, Sundays have become my de facto day to shake it up.  Yesterday, I ran the trails instead of the treadmill.  I purposefully did interval training.  I have no idea how many miles I ran, but I was on the trails for an hour.  At one point, I really ran.  I mean knees-pumping-feet-pounding-the-ground-sprinting-flying ran.  It only lasted a minute (if that), but it felt great.  As for the treadmill, I averaged about 11:52 per mile.  On Wednesday, I ran 2 miles in 22:57 (or about 11:29 per mile).  Now that I know I can run on the treadmill for a mile or two, I feel like I should mix it up and spend some time doing interval training on the treadmill.  Maybe that will break my plateau.

How was your week?  What are your goals for this week?

What’s That You Say?

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Gym Dandy

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Yesterday was my second day at the gym, and my second time on the treadmill in more than a year.  Last year, I ran maybe a 15:00 minute mile.  Maybe.  For the past couple of months, I’ve been jogging on streets, trails, and tracks, and usually I don’t keep track of how far or how fast I run.  It was just a few weeks ago that I got excited because I ran three laps around the track–and they weren’t even consecutive.

Imagine my surprise at the gym yesterday when I ran a mile in 13:40.  I know that’s not impressive to many (most?  all?) of you, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I only did 1.5 miles on the treadmill before I called it a day.

Which brings up a few questions.  How do people run, like, 5 miles without passing out or sweating to death?  Is it more important to focus on how your body is feeling, or whether you reach a certain distance or speed?  How do you ignore the darn numbers on the treadmill?  (‘Cause when I see it approaching a certain “mile”stone, my mind wants to reach it, then give up for the day.)  How do you fight treadmill tedium?

Nine Weeks Way-In

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I don’t know if I’m sensitive to weight issues these days or what, but this past week I got several comments that left me scratching my head.

To start, remember the server who assumed I was going to eat a giant cheeseburger?  Well, I had lunch at that restaurant again, and she made a point of saying hello and introducing herself to me–even though she was neither my waiter nor my server for the day.  Oops, maybe she overheard me try to joke about her fatty assumptions last time, and maybe she felt bad about it.  Maybe it was just coincidence.

By the weekend, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I hit the two month mark of my new lifestyle, hit (and maintained) a total 15-pound weight loss, and discovered I needed to shop for smaller clothes!  Hubby and I hit the mall.  I’m short (5’2”) and need a short inseam on pants, so I try to shop the petite sections when possible.  I was excited that I’m no longer a size 14/16 (14 on a good day!) and am cruising into 12/14 territory, which means the petite section of a lot of stores is now available to me.  While looking at the suit pants in the petite section of Ann Taylor, the saleswoman sternly reminded me I was in the petite section, as if I’d waddled over there by mistake.  I encountered something similar at Brooks Brothers.  (However, the folks at Banana Republic were friendlier.  I tried on a pair of size 12 jeans there and nearly wet them when they fit!  I even dragged Hubby into the dressing room to see my success.  Okay, I could stand to lose a couple more pounds until they fit perfectly but, d*mnit, I bought them, anyway–I deserved it!)

That night, Hubby and I tried a new hibachi restaurant.  We were seated next to another couple about my age.  The thin wife looked at me after our super-skinny waitress left and said, “I want to eat what she eats–she’s so skinny!”  I polished off the shrimp and veggies on my plate, but only had a few bites each of the rice and noodles.  The wife looked at me again and said, “Wow, you have self-restraint.  I ate everything!”  I didn’t know if this woman was just a chatty Cathy, or if she saw me as something other than a fat slob (which was how I was feeling at Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers) and more as a kindred spirit who tries to live a healthy lifestyle.  Which would be awesome.

Despite the mixed comments, I’m feeling jazzed about my healthy lifestyle.  Yes, fitting into a pair of size 12 jeans helped, but I’m excited that I’ve hit the two month mark and I’m still going strong.  In fact, on Sunday I jogged around the neighborhood and just.  Felt.  Great.  The sky was bright blue and cloudless, there was a slight breeze, the neighbors were all out and smiling, and I discovered an alley still packed with fragrant flowers despite the cool weather.  I wasn’t straining to breathe as I jogged, and I probably jogged at least a mile, upwards to 1.5 mile.  (Not consecutively, but I jogged most of the 2 miles of my neighborhood trek).

For the first time, I felt powerful in my body.  Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers?  They can’t take that feeling away from me.

Eight Weeks Way-In

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I’m eight weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  The past week has felt a bit bumpy.  I made strides in my jogging (sorry, pun intended) by successfully running three entire laps on Friday without passing out, but I couldn’t repeat the performance on my next jog on Sunday.  My weight dipped in the middle of the week, but by today I was right back where I started last Monday.  I have the nagging feeling that I should be doing more strength training, or spending more time on cardio, but it hasn’t really happened.  Maybe I need to find another activity to add to yoga and walking/jogging.  Any suggestions?

The good news is that I still feel good, emotionally and physically, and I’m still eating a pretty healthy diet.  In fact, incorporating fruits and vegetables in every meal and most snacks has almost become second nature to me now.  And once, I thought I spied that elusive creature known as a “muscle” lurking in my calf.  It’s an endangered species, but I’ll let you know if–when–I see it again!

When Pigs Run

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I am not a runner.  Not exactly.  I’ve never really been able to run.  In the past, during brief spurts of fitness, I was able to stick to a routine on a treadmill.  For one brief shining moment (it lasted all of a day), I actually ran a mile on the treadmill.  And.  Never.  Did.  It.  Again.

Time has passed, the weight has returned, and my muscles have all but disappeared.  As part of my new healthy lifestyle, I decided to give jogging a try again.  This time, I don’t have a treadmill, so I’ve been huffing & puffing on streets, trails, and tracks.  Jeez louise, roads are much harder than the treadmill.  At first, I was just walking.  I added about, oh, 20 seconds of jogging to each day’s workout.  Gradually, I increased my time.  I haven’t really been keeping track of how long or how fast I jog.  I don’t even know how long the trails are at the parks.  I was just glad I could jog at all.

Thanks to the recent crappy weather and local flooding, I’ve been spending more time at the track and I can’t help but keep track (sorry, pun intended) of my mileage.  Four laps around the track equals 1 mile.  Two weeks ago, I couldn’t even jog halfway around the track.  Once.  Halfway.  That’s 1/8 of a mile.  For some people, that’s the length of their driveway.  I felt discouraged, thinking I would never be able to get my fat a** all the way around the track and never be able to run a mile.  When pigs fly, I thought–or run.

And run they did.  On Wednesday, I ran a whole lap around the track.  I know that’s not a whole lot, but it was a lot to me!  For the first time, I felt like I could actually do it, and I didn’t feel like death warmed over.  I wasn’t able to repeat my performance on Wednesday, but I was happy I did it at all.  I didn’t get my hopes up that I’d be able to repeat it.

But I did!  This evening, I jogged three laps around the track!  Okay, okay, so they weren’t in a row, but it’s a start!  Here’s what I did:

     Lap 1:  brisk walk
     Lap 2:  jog
     Lap 3:  brisk walk
     Lap 4:  jog
     Lap 5:  brisk walk
     Lap 6:  jog
     Lap 7:  cool-down stroll

That last jogged lap was a challenge.  As I rounded the final curve, I was pumping my fists–as if boxing the air would make my legs keep going.  I guess it worked, because I did it!  It didn’t even bother me that a man twice my age passed me–more than once.

I’m hoping that in my next “run,” I’ll be able to jog four laps for a whole mile.  Okay, so it won’t be all in a row, but it still counts, right?

Seven Weeks Way-In

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I’m seven weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  I’ve lost 12 pounds and I’m officially overweight!  Why am I excited about being overweight?  Because when I started this new lifestyle, my BMI put me in the obese category.  (BMI means “body mass index” and it calculates body fat using your height and weight.)  Less body fat = healthier me = happier me.

I’ve noticed that a few pieces of clothing seem to fit better.  I know it will take more time and pounds to really notice a difference or, miracle of miracles, drop a size or two.  I’m okay with that because I feel better and I’m getting healthier–and that’s what really counts.

Lesson learned, though:  listen to your body!  I told you about how my left knee was acting up over the weekend.  I gave myself 24 hours between workouts and then went for a walk/jog last night.  Not so smart because today my knee aches a bit.  Nothing major, but something I could’ve avoided if I’d just listened to my body and accepted that my body needs a break now and then, even if my mind is saying “run, run, run!”

Last week I aspired to fit more cardio or strength-training into my workouts.  Purely by chance, I happened to stay at a hotel with a fitness room and used their free weights and weight machines.  I used the weights to work my upper body, and my upper body felt good afterwards.  It really just made me want to join a gym even more.  However, the general consensus seems to be that I should wait a little while longer before I join a gym, so I need to figure out a way I can increase my cardio and strength-training at home without any special equipment.  Any suggestions?

Ready, Set, Read!

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Running seems like such a simple thing to do.  Put one foot in front of the other and take off, right?  We did it all the time as kids, right?  Yeah, except for some of us, that was twenty years and (*cough, cough*) pounds ago.  Running as an adult isn’t quite the same, and you really need to prepare before you try to make your Jackie Joyner-Kersee dreams a reality.

I recommend reading a good, basic guide to running, like Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running by Dagny Scott (formerly Dagny Scott Barrios).  Scott is a former editor of “Women’s Sports + Fitness” magazine, as well as a former freelance writer for “Self” and “Runner’s World.”  Scott covers all the basics in the book.  She says all you really need to run is a good pair of running shoes and, for the ladies, a really good sports bra.  I was disappointed that Scott didn’t go into more detail about shoes and other equipment.  As a newbie, I wanted to know what all the fancy cushioning, details, and rigamarole on running shoes is for and whether I really need it.  However, Scott did answer some basic questions that every newbie needs answered, like how you’re supposed to breathe.  (You CAN breathe through your mouth while running–it’s even advised!)

Scott really emphasizes setting goals for yourself and keeping a training log.  She recommends that you have short- and long-term goals, but remember that you’re only human.  Learning to run, and being able to run, takes time.  She offers some example training schedules for everyone from newbies to runners training for marathons.

There’s also discussion about how runners should eat, including important nutrients for your new life as speed racer.  This is followed by a chapter on weight loss which really just reiterates the basic rules we all know, i.e., watch your calorie intake and make wise food choices.  I appreciated the clear and concise chapter on injuries and other ailments that tend to effect runners, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.  Scott devotes several pages (with graphics) of stretching and strength-training exercises for runners.  (Surprise–a lot of ‘em are yoga poses!)

Overall, I thought this was a good book for beginners.  It’s very simple and to the point, and it answers the basic questions.  I’m guessing more experienced runners wouldn’t find much in this book they could use, but us newbies can take a deep breath (through the mouth!) and relax, ‘cause Dagny Scott has us covered.

To Gym Or Not To Gym–That Is The Question

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With the days gradually getting shorter, the temperature gradually getting cooler, and crazy-a$$ weather events going on around me (hello, an earthquake and a hurricane in the same week?!), I’ve started thinking about how to exercise during the long, cold months of winter.  Doing my shuffle-that-I-call-jogging at the local high school track or park isn’t gonna work when it’s snowy out or the high school decides that, ya know, they really want to have a football game during my run.  (How dare they?)

So, I’ve been eyeing local gyms and thinking about joining.  I have belonged to gyms before.  Many, many years ago I belonged to Gold’s Gym, but I wasn’t really committed to fitness at the time, and my membership only served to eat my bank account.  A few years ago I joined Lucille Roberts with a friend but we were both sidetracked by more delicious options on our way to the gym.  (Why did they have to put it next door to Johnny Rockets?)  This time around, I decided to wait awhile and see if I was really committed to this new lifestyle thing before I joined a gym.  I’ve been exercising for six weeks now and, amazingly, I still want to, although I worry that I will reach my typical two month slump in a few weeks and lose interest.

Another concern is cost.  There are a couple of local gyms and fitness centers that have amazing facilities, including indoor tennis courts, pools, rock-climbing walls, saunas, and rooms and rooms of weights and machines.  These gyms also cost at least $70 per month.  If I go every day, then $70 is a good deal–IF I go every day.  There is another gym (which I will call “Average Joe’s”) that gives you a month-to-month membership option of only $25 per month.  I toured Average Joe’s, and they have all the basic stuff I’m looking for, i.e., treadmills and weight machines.  They have a locker room but no sauna or steam room.  In fact, they advertise “free water and coffee” as their fancy  membership benefits!  It’s a clean, well-lit facility, and it’s open all the time.  They have a couple of fitness classes everyday, including “yogalates,” but these are usually offered when I’m stuck at work.

So, what should I do?  Should I hold off for a month or so until the weather really becomes an obstacle, and see if I’m really committed to fitness?  Should I jump in and get into the habit of going to the gym?  Should I go for the fancy-schmancy gyms and their alluring promises of personal trainers, massages, and steam rooms?  Or should I stick to the basics and get a month-to-month membership at Average Joe’s?