Back to Basics

Day 1 – I realized over the weekend that I was almost 130 miles away from my goal of doubling my 2012 bike mileage so this morning after the school drop off, I rode my bike on my trainer to close the gap. I rode 12 miles and did it pretty easily even though I have not ridden my bike in weeks. Apparently it is just like riding a bike as long as you are doing some form of cardio.


After the ride, Jack and I went on our hiking trail. It was a nice day and we encountered a few others with the same idea. On our way to the woods, I ran the quarter mile down hill and also did some running along the trail. At one point in the not too distant past, it was all I could do just to hike down and back up the trail so I really have made progress.  I spent some time thinking about my friend’s mom and the one year anniversary of my brother’s death which is coming up this week. Walking always centers me and brings my spirituality to the surface.
Day 2 – I took the boys to school and made a quick trip to my favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s. Matt was working from home so we could go to the funeral later in the morning. Since we were going to be gone a long time that day, I made the decision to take Jack for a walk in the woods before getting ready. I also made the decision on this walk to focus on my bike and these long walks for a bit, since getting any exercise at all during this season is difficult for me. I have never been diagnosed but I suspect that I suffer from some form of seasonal depression. I am more likely get out and do things that I really love. I will continue to do some running, but it is much easier to get on my bike in the house during the cold weather than go out for a run that I am still struggling with. I have not quit running and still plan to do it, but I will walk and bike regularly through the cold dark days.
Day 3 – I volunteered in the kindergarten class today and went my my quarterly hair cut. When I got home, I took Jack for a short walk.
Day 4 – This  morning I met up with a friend and that headed home for a walk in the woods before getting the boys.
Day 5 – Even though my twelve miles of riding earlier in the week was pretty effortless, I did pay for the lack of biking with a sore rear for a few days. Today I got back on my bike and rode another twelve miles. I will make it to my goal by the end of the year. After today’s ride, I have 102 miles to go.
After the ride, Jack and I did our hike. The walk in the woods that I regularly do, used to take nearly an hour one way several years ago and has since been cut in half. It is a true measure of my fitness progress over the years. I still have a long way to go, but I have come a long way. I have made it a habit not to try to get the closest parking spaces. Instead, I park farther away from entrances to avoid the crowd of traffic and to get a longer walk in.
Day 6  and Day 7 – We had a busy weekend filled with activities for the kids and get-togethers with friends so I did not get any formal workouts in. I did some laundry and cleaning which counts as activity in my book. I also ran some errands which I typically avoid on a weekend. I had planned to do a hike by put the cold weather was a deterrent.  I am doing well staying away from holiday treats so we will see how the year ends up.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I have much to be thankful for and hope that you do as well.

Week Five and the Dangerous Squireel

Day – 1 Today is Monday and I did not plan to run but managed to get in a hike with my dog. We went in the woods for about 45 minutes. We both enjoy these nature walks.

Day – 2 This is the first day that I have kept track of my time and pace for a couple of weeks. I was stunned that I had cut almost a minute off my time per mile. The fastest that I have run so far was just over a 13.2 minute mile. Today I ran 12.2 minute miles. I am running much more of the time and I pushed myself harder than I have recently. I am running 3 to 4 times per walk at least in the beginning of the run. By the end, I am walking more, but I am still going the same route and doing 2.25 miles. I also walked about 1.5 miles with the two younger boys in the afternoon while the oldest swam for an hour. Then we went to the park.

Day – 3 I was supposed to volunteer at school today but had a sick child at home. He was sick in the night and had a slight fever, but I believe it was a reaction to having two teeth pulled yesterday afternoon. My middle son has inherited my overcrowded mouth and will possibly have more baby teeth pulled prior to some orthodontic work in the future.

Day – 4 I started my run out by running 5 blocks! That seemed like a huge accomplishment. Our neighborhood is called Hillandale so there are quite a few uphill portions that I am not running yet . I ran most of the flat and downhill parts and walked when I was going uphill. There is a big hill toward the end that I ran part of. One day I will be able to run the entire way. I am not sure that I will manage it at the end of six weeks, but we shall see.

I always seem to do a hike with the dog on the same days that I run and today was no exception. I feel sorry for his sad face when he sees me go out without him. He sees the sneakers and knows that I am off to stretch my legs. Today was probably the scariest and funniest hike I will ever take.

Often when I hike in the woods, I worry about coming into contact with the wildlife. We have seen deer, fox, copperhead snakes and various other critters down there. Today, a squirrel jumped from a tree onto my back, down to my leg and took off running in one direction while I took off in the other. Wen I could breath normally again, I realized it really was funny, but I hope it never happens again.

Day – 5 and 6 I am combining these two days because I did no exercise to speak of. I must admit, I have not been stretching as regularly as I did initially and my goal is to return to that habit.

Day – 7 I set my alarm for 6:30 am so that I could get my run in before taking my son and his friend to the pool and then going to church. At this point I am running most of the flat/downhill portions and even short distances uphill. I started out by running four blocks, walking half a block and then running four more before walking just over a block uphill. I encountered two deer on my run, but luckily no squirrels! It was a beautiful fall am but I felt a little of the burning throat again that I did a couple of weeks ago. When I got home I felt like I just couldn’t clear my throat. It eventually went away. I did a little stretching and used the foam roller, but probably not enough. I plan to stretch more in week six and do some biking.

Running Week Four

Day – 1 This morning I woke up sick with full on sneezing, runny nose and body aches. I think this was the cause of my burning throat on Saturday. I took the dog for a short walk, but stayed close to home today. I plan to run tomorrow.

Day – 2 I am still not feeling great but I went for my run. I am running two to three times as much as I am walking but wonder sometimes if I will ever really be able to run the entire way. I push the negative voice down and run again. I can do this. I am a runner. I feel great. Sneeze, cough, sniffle, ache. Nate had swimming and at the last minute, I had to find a replacement babysitter for the second of three back to school nights, but I got it all done.

Day – 3 Today I have promised to help out at the elementary school and I spent three hours there in the morning and another hour in the afternoon which left a bit of time for food shopping and little else. Will had swimming and all three boys had piano. Matt is in NYC for work for the week and I am still bone tired.

Day – 4 I planned to run again, but that was foiled when Henry woke up with a croupy cough. After dropping the older two at school, we went to the pediatrician’s. He wasn’t wheezing and his ears and throat were clear so as long as his cough is better and he doesn’t have a fever he can go to school tomorrow. By the end of the day he’s was running circles around me and I was the only one who slept during our nap. Nate had swimming after school, so the other two scootered around the pond and I got a 1.5 mile walk in and then we headed to the playground to enjoy the lovely fall afternoon.

Day – 5 Henry was well enough to return to school so I was able to accomplish some chores around the house and go out for my run. I am able to run for longer periods but that seed of doubt always picks at me and questions why I am running and if I really can do it. I push it back and tell myself. I am a runner. I can do this. Again and again. Running. Walking. Running. Walking. For Two point two five miles.

Day – 6 Saturday. I got to sleep in a little and had a leisurely morning. I am feeling better but wonder how I will get my third run in this week. My friend is visiting from NY, the boys have Faith Formation on Sunday, we have dinner group tonight, Nate has early swimming tomorrow and there is church. Somehow I will get it done. I promise.

Day – 7 Last night was a very restless night. Matt was snoring quite a bit and I tossed and turned and woke quite a bit from the rich food and drink at dinner group. The alarm went off just after seven and I roused to get Nate ready for swimming. After he was picked up, I got ready for my run. I started out running 2 to 3 blocks and then walking a block. Will I ever be able to run a mile, that little voice asks. Yes I will, I insist and run again. When I am forced to walk, the little voice mocks me so I shut it up by running. I stretch my legs and force myself to take slow deep breaths through my nose. As I release the breaths, I tell myself I can do this. When I get home I am breathing hard and sweating hard. I did it. I ran three times this week and I will keep on running. My body will prove to my mind that it is possible. I have done this for four weeks and I can’t imagine not running at least three times every week.

Running Week Three

Day 1 – well I am still at it, but today I did some stretching and little else.

Day 2 – today was a run day but I also fit in three short walks. One to walk the dog and two walking my kids to the bus and back. The boys ride scooters so I pulled the wagon first filled with backpacks to the bus and then with scooters and helmets back home.

I opted to not keep track of my pace but did my usual 2.25 miles. I am still using the electric poles to do intervals but today ran two lengths for every length walking. After the first mile, I had to take some longer walking breaks but still managed to run at least two lengths at a time. The last couple of times I have really been focusing on posture and form and try to engage my whole body instead of just legs.

Day 3 – I did some minimal walking but didn’t get to exercise much as I spent a great deal of time at my kids’ school and had lunch with a group of friends. All of us sent our youngest child off to kindergarten this year and we were comparing notes on our school year and lives.

Day 4 – why did I think running was a good idea? I dreaded my run today but prepared for it by stretching and using the foam roller. I am now running about two lengths and occasionally three (between the electric poles) to every one walking. I am focusing on posture, foot placement and breathing. My right leg is always shorter when I go to the chiropractor so I focused on stretching that leg out and letting the left leg follow. Each time I stopped to walk I didn’t think I could run again, but I did. I run until my heart rate and breathing are up before walking. I kept track of my pace today and I am a bit faster at 13.19 minutes per mile. I am pleased with my progress and plan to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

As a cool down, I took my dog for a two mile hike. We barely made it home before a torrential rain came through.

Day 5 – there was no walk today as I was back at the school and then running errands to prepare for a 10th birthday party for my son. It is 1:10 am at the moment so I hope I have the energy for my am run. At least the heat wave broke. No more 90 degree days until next summer I hope!

Day 6 – It is Saturday morning and I am hosting a small birthday party for my son later in the day, but I got up and went for my run. The weather has turned much cooler and it was 60 instead of the 90 it was earlier in the week. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day for a run. I started out running a bit more than walking but at some point my throat started burning and I felt like what I can only describe as a “stitch” in the back of my throat. I could still take deep breaths and my lungs seemed clear, but this phenomenon used to happen to me regularly when I tried to run. I am not sure what caused it. Is it pollen, leaf mold or just the difference in air temperature? Regardless, I did my 2.25 miles but I wasn’t monitoring my pace. I just ran. Thirty minutes later, I got home and ran around for he next ten hours or so. It was a great way to start a very hectic day.

Day 7 – Today, I am not running, but I am riding my two-wheeled love on my trainer in the basement. I haven’t ridden my bike in two months, but I have wanted to add it to the cross training mix since I started running. I was afraid that I would really be sore and didn’t want to set back my running so I waited for a few weeks. I am not planning to run again until Tuesday which is two days away, so I decided that today is a good day to get back in the saddle. I am more than half-way to my goal of doubling last year’s mileage on my bike. I have just 125 miles to go until December 31 and since I usually bike at least 10 miles at a time, as long as I bike at least once a week, I should be able to accomplish my New Year’s Fitness Goal. I. Can. Do. This.

Journey to Fitness

My Running Journey

Week ONE
Day 1 – a few weeks ago, I made a promise to myself to start running to get fit as soon as my kids started school. It will serve a dual purpose by distracting me from my empty house as well as increasing my fitness. I could easily have broken that promise to myself, but I made that commitment to my sister who is getting ready to run her first half marathon and other friends and family members. I didn’t want to feel like a loser by not following through, so as soon as I got home from that first drop off, I put on my sneakers, stretched for 15 minutes and headed out the door.

I ran the first block, walked the next, then stopped to catch up with a neighbor for a few minutes. After that, I ran a block and walked a block for about a mile. I ended up walking most of the rest of the time with occasional running. I did a total of 2 1/4 miles at a pace of 14 minutes per mile. It may not be the greatest, but it is a start and I am proud of my effort. I have never been a runner ever so It feels monumental to take it up at age 45. I would like to see that pace drop to ten minute miles in the future but my near future goal is to run the entire time.

After my run, I met a friend at Starbucks and then came home to stretch. I then took the dog for a three mile hike/walk at a pace of 17 minutes per mile. The hike is on a somewhat rocky path down to a creek and then back again. It is peaceful for both of us. I don’t know if I was tired from the run, but after tripping the second time, we headed home.

Before bed on day one, I stretched again to ease some of the aches I felt. I also ate some fresh pineapple for its’ natural anti-inflammatory properties. Today was a good first day.

Day 2 – today I took the dog on a four mile walk through my neighborhood. He was on leash and has to sniff every tree he passes and I spoke to my sister through much of it, but we still managed a pace of 17 minutes a mile. Before the walk, I stretched for almost 30 minutes. I follow the stretches of Bob Anderson in a book called Stretching that I have had for years. My shins and thighs are a little sore today but I feel pretty good.

On the advice of my sister, I also used a foam roller on my legs and thighs. It is like a shorter, fatter, denser pool noodle and massages and stretches muscles. I laid on it and used my body weight to move the roller up and down my thighs and calves. In some spots it felt like pure torture, but the effect was positive afterward and some of those tight muscles felt looser.

Day 3 – I almost talked myself out of my run today because it was drizzly and my legs felt leaden even walking. Instead I somehow mustered up the enthusiasm and did my pre-run stretching and spent a few minutes using the foam roller on my thighs and headed out the door. I followed the same path as Monday, but noticed the running was easier even though I felt slower. I was able to keep up my run a block, walk a block for longer today and continued some running in between walking until I got home. I went 2 1/4 miles again but today my pace was 13.5 minutes per mile so there was measured improvement!

I am using a free app on my android phone called Endomondo which tracks my time, distance, shows my path, allows me to choose my exercise and more. I like being able to monitor my progress. Once I got home I stretched immediately and used the foam roller again. I feel pretty good and once I finally got out the door I actually looked forward to the run.

Day 4 – today was a no run day so I made plans with my friend in Pennsylvania to talk on the phone while we both walked. I also had my dog and my neighbor’s dog so my pace was much slower. I did my hike and went 2 1/2 miles at a pace of only 20 minutes per mile. It has rained a lot the past couple of days so I was a little worried about slipping.

I also stretched and used the foam roller on my legs. I noticed that I have a blister on my big toe so I need to invest in good shoes and socks if I plan to keep this up. I do. I am less sore today than yesterday and all this exercise is helping me sleep really well. I can even fall asleep after the boys wake me up so that has been an immediate benefit.

I had my pace evaluated this afternoon at a running store and bought a pair of stability shoes to support my right ankle and a good pair of compression socks. I learned that running shoes should be a half size bigger than regular shoes to give your feet room.

Day 5 – I stretched and used the foam roller today, but took a break from long walks or runs to let my blister heal.

Day 6 – I stretched and ran/walked my 2.25 mile loop at a pace of 13.25 minutes per mile. I felt good and like the new shoes.

Day 7 – The boys and I hiked through the woods to the grocery store. We went just about four miles at a pace of 24 minutes miles. We took our time and had to climb over big rocks for part of it. The boys took off running for a good bit of the hike. I hope that means my path to fitness is setting an example for them. It has been a good week. The running isn’t easy, but I can do it and I look forward to improving.