Category Archives: general

Let’s Run Away Every Day

Or, How I Stopped Running 5ks and Learned to Love to Run Again

A month ago, two things happened in my life.

First, I started having some problems breathing. I don’t have health insurance and haven’t gone to a doctor because, well, see earlier part of sentence. I have no idea what caused it, although I am attributing it to the allergies that I’ve started being affected by that get worse as I grow older. I have been treating it with common asthma medications – a nasal spray and an inhaler that a friend from an asthmatic family gave to me. I’ve done some productive coughing over the last day, making me feel less like there’s a small elephant sitting on my lungs, so it could just be the springtime allergy season is coming to a close.

breathing2

Oh, the drama of not being able to breathe or whatever.

Maybe it’s related to allergies, or the uber-high humidity in the southern US since late spring started, or the construction dust I inhaled two years ago that seemed to trigger my exercise-induced asthma, or living with smokers for many years of my life. Whatever it is, I’m alleviating the symptoms as I can and toughing it out until something changes for better or worse.

Second, I traded 5ks for 2 miles. I lowered my miles per running workout to save time on workouts, not get discouraged by how I feel at the end of a workout, best utilize my new regular running path, and work on my speed over stamina, especially given that my stamina is affected by the weather. But I also increased the other exercise I was doing from almost none to almost daily, so I’m no longer doing 3 days of workouts a week at max – I’m doing different kinds of workouts all week long, staying consistently fairly active instead of pretty active every other day/every three days.

The short running distances came before the breathing issues, to be honest. After I recovered from my foot injury this spring and had some run-ins with growling, chasing dogs† in my rural neighborhood, I changed my regular running path to the relatively flat road to the left (stopping naturally at the one-mile mark where the flat dives suddenly to a 100-foot incline over a quarter mile, which is a pain in the ass to climb) away from the rolling hills to the right that have been my regular running ground for the last two years.

(†Yes, I’m sad to stop running that way because of fear for my physical safety, but it’s the country, people dump dogs and let their aggressive pets run free and pack up with other dogs. Both our next door neighbors have lost pets to wild dogs. I’d rather run a shorter distance on a shorter path than be bitten. I know what I’m talking about; I was bitten on the face and arm as a kid by my grandma’s dog. The recovery was long, I still have scars, and I was afraid of dogs for decades. For a while, when I went that way, I ran while carrying a large stick. That did make me feel somewhat better when I ran across one dog that crossed a field to bark at and stalk me, as I waved the stick around myself to make myself look bigger, ignored it as much as I dared, and prayed for a pack of cars down the winding country highway to put a scary physical barrier between us. But the stick is heavy, doesn’t improve my time, doesn’t alleviate my paranoia and slight fear, and probably wound’t do that much good.)

A shorter run meant that if something else went wrong with my foot, I would be a mile max away from home. I started just walking on it, adding short sprints of running (20 to 50 to 100 steps) to test my recovery and pain threshold.

I’d also try to get in a short run so that I could be home in time for dinner or cook dinner at a reasonable time when the last of the sun and most tolerable running weather of the day was near the evening meal. A half hour instead of 45 minutes to nearly an hour (depending on how far I went, of course) was preferable, and it’s something I could squeeze in much more easily. Plus, the last mile of my 5k was always my worst, because I was usually pretty dog tired.

One day, I went for a 5k that turned quickly from a run into a walk, and I walked the entire way home. “I’m so out of shape!” I said to myself on my second or third run that week. That was the last 5k I’ve done all at once in a single day.

I have expanded my exercise types according to my spring/summer schedule, the tools at my disposal, and the goals I have set for myself.

My goals are currently to exercise nearly every day (and give myself important rest days) in order to…

  • get limber
  • strengthen my legs
  • burn fat
  • eventually strengthen my upper body
  • avoid injury
  • deal with my anxiety
  • give myself goals for speed, distance, etc.
  • work on my respiratory system strength.

The tools I’ve been using:

TOSfitbitFitbit and a group of friends-of-a-friend who have daily challenges in which I still participate. I was first last Saturday, and I was last yesterday. It’s a lot of fun to get that social encouragement in a small group setting without the anonymity of an online forum and the negativity that a large online forum can engender.

TOSmmr MapMyRun, which tells me how poorly or how well my splits are looking. I run for about two days in a row, then take a rest day or do some other exercise in between.

TOScmCharityMiles, which recently updated its sharing user interface and looks even more amazing than ever as well as being a great tool for generating donations to charities through corporate sponsorship of workouts.

yogastudioYogaStudio, which I got for free several on International Yoga Day (June 21) several years ago. It used to be a one-time fee service, but it recently changed to a subscription service. I have declined to update the app to get access to new classes that a subscription service would provide; I’m such a newb and an infrequent yogi that I’m fine doing the same several classes over and over.

TOSwaterMy knockoff Yeti Cup for replacing diet soda with ice water. I got hooked back on diet soda during my main job’s busy time and at my part-time office job – it’s easy to sit at a desk and drink down soda after soda to keep you going or because you want a sweet taste in your mouth all the time. About 3 weeks ago, I stopped buying the big packs of soda and have switched to filling my cup up with ice and adding water throughout the day instead. At my day job, which is cut down much per week at the moment, I bought a large pack of water to keep in the fridge since the building’s plumbing is so old and the faucet water is therefore a little on the iffy side of potable.

TOSbikeThe exercise bike my friend so generously gave me last year. I have used it a few times while watching movies or TV shows. Frankly, it’s kinda torturous to use indoor equipment, but it gets the heart rate up and works my legs. The only way to get through it is to do it with a video, I have found.

TOS-hikeatparkA local park with a hiking trail. Torrential rains damaged alternate paths several weeks ago, and roping off those sections led me to actually find the correct trail that encircles the park. I’ve gone hiking there alone a few times and with my dogs twice in the last month. They love it, and last time we were there, we ran into a camp of children that descended on them with oohs and ahhs and awwwws. My people-friendly dogs were on cloud nine.

Ok, so what else? Something ridiculous and great I’ve been doing: putting my legs up on a wall.

YES. This is stupid as hell. Yes, it feels great. Yes, it seems to be helping me to ward off injury. It’s a great stretch. Full disclaimer: everyone who sees you doing this will make fun of you if they know you well, unless they’re a workout nut who tries it and also likes it for the benefits it gives you.

Results from so far

My weight loss is slow, but it’s coming along. My legs look better. Although I still feel like I’m drowning when I run sometimes and even like I’m gasping for breath while I’m biking at a fairly normal speed in my air-conditioned house, my times are faster, and I’m getting stronger, even if my body isn’t working quite right.

I’m getting to an age where I can’t neglect regular maintenance anymore – I have to do things for myself to keep active, be fitter, and try to be as healthy as I can be. Until I can work something out about my health insurance situation or live in a country where we have insurance covering everybody and the taxes to pay for it, I’m just going to try my hardest to work toward a better self, remember to take rest days, and never give up trying, even if I sometimes give up blogging.

Follow me on Instagram!

Click on the link to see my fitness Instagram page. It’s not all motivational posts and carefully lit, carefully culled, carefully carefuled images – a lot of it is post-workout selfies, animals lusting after my food, and my lovely lunch choices.

Pin on the Map of Summer 2014

I’ve not updated my blog in a while, so I’m going to do a little check up to see what’s new with me!

1. I’m still eating mostly Paleo. I had some lapses over vacation that undid some of my progress – not a lot, but enough to piss me off to where I doubled down my efforts and have gotten back to near my plateau weight again.

1a. Foods that I’m trying to cut out of my life a little more: starchy sweet potatoes and bananas. I love sweet potatoes, but I’m going to be transitioning back to carrots and sweet peas for lunch, and though I was glad to discover my body could once again handle bananas several years out from my gallbladder surgery, I discovered that my weight started to creep up again when I had so much starch in my life.

2. Running is still off the table for a while as I wait for my body to heal. I did a walk/run two weeks ago, and while it wasn’t as painful as an attempt in March, I decided that I was really pushing my luck. I don’t want to really hurt myself just because I think I’m invincible.

3. I started playing with a hula hoop about a month ago. I am not consistent in using it, but it is a hell of a lot of fun.

4. I also picked back up my copy of the book New Rules of Lifting for Women, which is a good progressive set of strength workouts. I have some of my old printed workout charts in the book still, and they tell me the last time I worked out with the program was April 2011. So it’s been a long time. I don’t have access to a gym anymore, but I do have dumbbells, and the first set of exercises does include dumbbell workouts for alternative exercises. I’ve been doing those. I forgot how much DOMS hurts. I forgot how much squats can suck if you haven’t done them for a long time. But it’s muscle ache, not body pain, so I’m glad to not have hurt myself trying to do too much, too soon. I’m in my 30s, and my body isn’t going to bounce back the way it used to do.

Weight Loss Problems

What a problem to have. I’m still trending downward with weight, and there is less fat to pad my muscles and joints. I spent quite a while lying down on the living room floor last night, hanging out with my sick dog in her kennel with a pillow propped up under my torso. This morning, my legs and rear end are achy and sore where I rested them on the floor for so long.

The new work pants I bought last fall are too loose and look as though they are falling off. I finally safety-pinned the waistband of one pair this morning, tired of showing the world my underwear.

I am beginning to run into variable sizes the next size down. Some pants fit, some don’t. Don’t vanity size it, and label it correctly, please.

I could not finish a restaurant omelet last weekend. Used to be I could eat the whole thing and the side dish, and still want more. I took the remainder home and ate it for dinner.

Even though I am smaller, my life is still not perfect. No one told me that losing weight would solve all my problems, but I inferred that anyway. Turns out I’m still the same person with mostly the same life issues, just with less snoring and more carrots.

My main goal in life is to get to a weight where I will allow myself to start eating pasta regularly again. I miss it! But I know it’s best eaten in moderation instead of for every meal.

More Content

A friend urged me to do more with my blog. I changed layout last week and noticed how often, or rather, how seldom I post.

I have a plan to write new entries 3 times per week. Ambitious, but I think I can do it.

Monday’s posts will cover food: my lower carb diet, vegetarian remembrances, convenience, and cost.

Wednesday’s will cover workouts: routines, injuries, programs, etc.

Friday’s will be more generalized, covering clothing, results, photos, and miscellaneous.

The Treadmill of Sisyphus

I’ve started and restarted a diet and exercise routine more times than I care to count in the last decade. Serious attempts started in 2005, when I used my apartment building’s gym at night with the lights off, the ambient light from the lamp posts by the pool enough to see the exercise bike. I loaded Dane Cook mp3s onto my iPod Nano and counted minutes on the elliptical. I started the Self Challenge, a 3-month diet and exercise program, the next January with some friends who quit after about a month. I stuck with the structured program and lost a little weight. It was enough of a taste of the results of diet and exercise that it stuck with me, and so, once a year or more often, I will stop with the constant barrage of carbohydrates and go back to the gym for a few months.

My food downfall is carbohydrates. I am a fool for pasta, and sometimes, all I want is a bag of chips or another helping of dumpling stew. I was a vegetarian for 8 years, then went back to meat following surgery to remove my gallbladder last year. In the year before my surgery, I lost 16 pounds. After my surgery, I put on 19 pounds. In March of this year, I found that I was having trouble fitting into any of my pants, and so, I started on a diet-only regimen and dropped 15 pounds again. I have been stuck at that plateau for months, torn between the wish to fit into smaller shirts and the siren call of no longer counting every calorie, of having as much processed and bready food as I want without having to be accountable for it.

The only success I have ever had has come about from strict dieting and reduction of carbohydrates. I’m not going the route of keto, paleo, Atkins, or anything – when I try to reduce my carbs, I attempt to do so by getting more protein, by including more vegetables or vegetable-based foods into my diet. I try to choose frozen meals that have more complex carbohydrates, whole wheat instead of plain pasta.

Exercise has been difficult, due to a number of injuries and conditions. I twisted my ankle camping a few years ago, and it still gives me trouble from time to time. I took a walk the other day without my supportive ankle brace, and my ankle ached the entire next day. I injured my knee about 12 years ago, and it is sometimes sore after I walk, whether I use a knee brace or not, and I have to limit how much I use stairs and cannot run (I tried Couch to 5k and quit after two weeks due to knee pain).  I injured muscles in my left shoulder two years ago while screwing around doing pilates, and I’m at the end of a stint of physical rehabilitation for those muscles to build them back up again. I lost range of motion in that shoulder, and wearing older bras without good band support got to be extremely painful to the point where I started wearing longline strapless bustier-style bras. I’ve put off starting a new workout program until my physical therapy was complete.

My current weight is 191 pounds, after three weeks of backtracking and getting down to 188. My starting weight last March was 203. I never want to see that side of 200 again, and I am disappointed in myself that I am up to 191.

My goals always change, but someday, I would like to lose much more weight and get out of the BMI ranges of obesity and overweight. My lifestyle right now is sedentary; I’d like to change that by improving my strength and cardiovascular health, lose weight to reduce my risk of developing diabetes, and stay active and mobile as long as I can.

In the weeks to come, I plan to get some home exercise equipment to match what my physical trainer provides as well as utilize the gym at my office in order to continue to build strength in my weak shoulder. I also plan to start using the New Rules of Lifting for Women workout once again. I also plan to start using my Livestrong.com account to track my food. I bought their app for my iPhone several months ago and used it regularly up until the midsummer.

I hope to use this blog to chronicle my progress on my shoulder, talk about my diet, track my weightlifting progress, and give myself motivation to keep on track with my initiatives.