Fitness

Spotlight on September

For our second month of the Life Reboot project, the roller coaster continues twisting and looping. There are good points and bad points, but I’m glad that the trend is headed for steady improvement overall.

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To sleep, perchance to be productive

Thirty days into our Life Reboot project, and it’s time for the first check-in. When I embarked on this revised version of the project, I was hoping it could serve as an engine to bring me closer to various long-term personal goals. Has that been the case? It’s too early to tell; even so, some readjustments might already be needed.

But first, our point-by-point evaluation:

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Before Sunrise

The university nearby has an open track frequented by the runners, joggers, and walkers in our area. I’ve run there often myself, but having an occasional audience of curious (and sometimes, rude) students aggravates my anxiety.

I’ve found a solution, though.

5 AM runs sound brutal on paper, but there’s no denying the loveliness of cool, crisp air and a slowly brightening sky. I’m restarting C25K, and I enjoyed the “trial run” (for the program and the early morning schedule) last Friday.

Here’s to running some races in 2016!

Running By Myself: Couch to 5K Week 1 Day 2

Most people in my neighborhood equate a good fitness regimen with waking up bright and early. Peering out the window at 6 or 6:30 AM, it isn’t rare to see people dressed in singlets and shorts walking back home from the nearby track. Such early starts make sense, though: many of these people are in their thirties, forties, or older, and a good number of them likely have jobs and other responsibilities slated for the rest of the day.

Recently my dad has been trying to establish a healthier lifestyle for himself, and he’s been inviting me to join him on his walks. What ends up happening is that he walks out the door at 6 in the morning and I wake up just in time to welcome him back at around 7 or so. He often ribs me for this over breakfast, but that’s okay; I think having something to be smug about helps keep him on track. 🙂 I draw the line when he starts insinuating that my inability to work out in the early hours is a major flaw in my fitness routine, though. Just because I’m not sweating before the sun rises doesn’t mean my routine is any worse than anyone else’s.

An early-morning routine has never worked for me. Mostly this is because I don’t always sleep as early as that schedule requires; if I want to get enough sleep and still be up for a workout at 5 in the morning, I’ve got to be snoozing by 9 PM, and this almost never happens. Instead, I work out in the late morning, afternoon, or evening. On the days I’ve alloted for strength training, I do bodyweight exercises before I head out for lunch — and as for cardio, I run in the late afternoon or evening, before I buckle down on the work I need to do for the next day.

This makes for some great moments, like those times when I’ve got the glare of a coming sunset in my eyes and a cool breeze messing up my hair:

Because the regular crowd are usually done by morning, I often have the track to myself. The silence is one of my favorite parts of an afternoon run: there’s something soothing about hearing the steady rhythm of your own feet on the track and feeling as though you’re moving through a world that’s content to stay still and let you pass.

A lot of people have compared running to meditation, or found strong connections between the two. When I’m out running at five in the afternoon, chasing after the deepening orange glow on the horizon, that’s when these ideas click for me. Running can be an energizing way to kick off the day, and sometimes it does that for me when my schedule permits. But a run can also be a comforting, calming thing — a balm for a bad day, or a gentle close to a good one. I’m thankful to have experienced that side of running so early in the program, and I’m looking forward to the days ahead.

“Underwear Collected”: Couch to 5K Week 1 Day 1

I started the Couch to 5K running program today. I’m using the C25K app in tandem with the excellent Zombies, Run! (which really only means I have both apps open at the same time during a run), and so far the combination of music and continuous item collection has helped keep me motivated.

Gamification as a fitness approach appeals to my nerd brain and to my neurotic, anxious, track-everything self, so Zombies, Run! seems to be a good way to harness my mental and psychological quirks and use them to further — instead of hamper — my health goals. There will always be another item to collect or another building to repair if I want to survive the zombie apocalypse, and those are helpful goals to hold onto on those days when I don’t feel like sticking to routine.

I’ve asked several friends, both offline and from various online communities, for advice on establishing a running habit. One of the first tips most of them gave involved mindset: Find the right motivation, something that will help you gain discipline instead of fizzling out. In my case, “losing weight” or identifying a specific number on the scale to aim for aren’t good approaches, because that will only keep me fixated on the weight rather than the overall fitness/health aspect of things. So my sustainable goal/motivation is to improve my cardiovascular fitness. This means my benchmarks will involve things like pace, endurance, and overall strength as opposed to how much I weigh per week.

Aside from this, I’ve also started an Instagram account, where I post photos of things/people I encounter during my runs. Hopefully this will be another non-weight-related way to get enthused about going out for a run. I want running to be something more than just an activity I “have to do,” and making it a project of discovery and exploration seems to be a good way to go about that. Zombies and supplies aren’t the only things I’ll be running into, after all.

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Today’s run was an okay start for the whole program. I haven’t had the chance to replace my busted earphones yet, so I made do by using my phone speakers and just setting the volume to acceptable levels. Thankfully there was no one around while I was running, so no stares for the girl whose phone issues intermittent notifications that she’s just picked up a mobile phone or a pair of underwear.

Shin splints and ankle pain had been issues on my previous recent attempts at jogging, mostly because my shoes felt too loose and my feet kept twisting to compensate. It turns out that thicker socks solve this problem completely, so now I just need to buy more pairs of quality socks to stay injury-free throughout the program.

My glasses had also snapped from last week’s aikido class, and I’ve yet to get replacement frames or contacts, so I was also running almost-blind today. Not much of an issue, though, because there was little foot and vehicle traffic along the roads I ran today. It’s a bit troublesome to run when you have barely any idea what you’re headed towards, but luckily my vision isn’t so far gone that I can’t spot lampposts from a few meters away. I used those as landmarks throughout my run, and I got home okay.

It’s easy to be discouraged by a first run done under such sub-optimal conditions. Now that I’ve actually finished the run, though, I’m feeling oddly motivated instead: if I can do the W1D1 workout while nearly blind, and while straining to hear both my music and Zombies, Run! commentary through crappy phone speakers, then certainly I can get out of the house and keep running in better or worse conditions.