Saturday, September 24, 2011

Let them eat cake!

As hard as it is to believe, I have been jogging three times a week for 5 weeks now! Last Friday, the 23, I ran for 20 minutes straight! I was tired, to be sure, but I did successfully go that whole time without stopping.

Throughout the last couple of weeks I have considered posting an update on how it is going, and on things that I changed and tweaked through the time, but life always got busy, and then I decided I was so close to 5 weeks, I would post about all of it when I hit this mark.

First off, I learned some valuable things about running music. I found that it was not enough to choose songs that have a good beat, and fit the length that I need, but they also need to not be repetitive. One song that I tried, I really felt like I was having to run for longer because the song happened to be one that repeats the same lyrics over and over again. Songs with different verses work much better, because I don't notice the time passing as much. I did also learn how to set up a song on itunes to start or stop at a different time than the song's length and this became extremely valuable since there were only so many songs of the exact length I needed.

The first time I ran, I ran with nothing but my ipod. Blake was not pleased... and he had a good point (and I know my parents probably aren't happy to hear this either :-D), since if something did happen on that run, I would have had no way to contact him. Also, I was stressing the whole time about him deciding to leave early, and locking me out, and how could I get back in the house, etc. However, I hate having anything in my hands when I run (or walk... or basically ever... I really like my hands free). But while I researched and looked for a solution to this, I did my next couple of runs with my phone in my hand, and explicit instructions to Blake to not lock me out.

I ended up buying this:

It is called a shadow pack, and is made for runners, and had really good reviews. Honestly, I barely feel it when I run, and I can fit my cell phone and my keys in it. I now use an app on my cell phone called my tracks that says how far I have run, and records my average speed and my elevation. I really enjoy looking at it and seeing my progress.

I might have mentioned earlier that I also decided that I should buy new shoes since my old shoes had holes in both of the toes. This was a huge decision for me because I wanted to choose good shoes that would last. So I dived into the world of running shoes. As I searched, I learned more about barefoot/minimalist running. Basically, the philosophy is that our legs were designed for running in a way that is superior to all of the advances in shoe technology, but we have to train ourselves to run this way. Without knowing tons about it, the main difference is that we tend to run in a way that our heel strikes first when we wear typical running shoes, and the shoes are designed to cushion that impact and even draw our heel down. But when they study people who run barefooted, the mid-foot hits first. This makes the calves and ankles work harder to absorb the impact, but they do so very well, acting as a spring.

There are, of course, people who actually run barefooted, but I knew I would feel way too weird to do that. There are also shoes that have toe spots that are as close to running barefoot while wearing shoes to protect you:

However good reviews these received... they were also way too weird for me. I instead went for minimalist shoes. They are designed to make your feet/legs work the same way that they would if you were barefooted, but with slight padding, and no seperate toes. These are the shoes that I picked:

As promised, the first couple times that I wore these my calves were killing me for the next few days! They were not used to having to work so hard. But, I did feel much better running in these shoes. Actually it was interesting because the first time I ran in them, I liked them so much I ran faster and harder, and wore myself out thoroughly before I finished my run (I was running very slowly by the end). But I am happy to say that my feet have adjusted, and now my calves aren't especially more sore than other parts.

I have found a route that I love, and I find that my morning run is really nice for a variety of reasons. One is that the way that the timing is currently working, I leave the house while it is still dark and watch the sky gradually lighten during the 20-30 minutes I am gone. I see rabbits and birds in the morning and very few people. I feel much more awake the days that I run, and the mornings go smoother because of our almost military level operations the night before (lunches ready, clothes picked out, car loaded etc.). It is getting to the point that I miss having everything ready on my non-running mornings, and it might become a regular routine to do that every night.

A nice side effect of running too is that I have so much more endurance during tennis too. We haven't tried a bike ride since, but I have a feeling that I will do better during the ride because of my increased stamina as well.

I haven't really noticed a difference in my weight yet... but that was never my goal to begin with anyways, I just wanted to be able to run without feeling exhausted, and even though I am only 5 weeks through the program, I feel that that portion is successful.

The program trains to running a 5k, but for our timing in the morning, my goal will be to do a half mile walk and then a two mile run, and try to gradually decrease my time during that run. Maybe if my time gets good enough, it will be increased to three miles in the morning, but not for now.

Knowing that goals are important to keep something up, even as we make my cake tonight, my next reward after another 5 weeks of three days a week running will be a pound of See's candy.

p.s. lol...I guess the shoe pictures turned out really big... but I don't feel like fixing them... sorry!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

New school year and new fitness plan

Two weeks ago I started a couch to 5k fitness plan. Each week, it outlines the breakdown of a 25 minute run. At the beginning the runs are shorter and the walks are longer, and gradually it is more and more running until it just starts with a 5 minute warmup, and then a 20 minute run straight.

If I can make it through 5 weeks of running three times a week, Blake and I will celebrate with a cake. If I can make it another 5 after that, we will get a pound of see's candy. I know, it seems totally counter productive to an exercise goal that the rewards are desserts. However, we both have a sweet tooth, and it isn't unheard of for us to just buy ourselves these kind of treats without any special occasion or incentive at all. This way, we don't get these treats until I make these fitness goals. A dessert week every 5 weeks isn't too bad. (If you are wondering why our desserts is all on me, it is because Blake already works out 5 days a week).

My reasoning for choosing this particular work out is because of my chosen sport in high school- cross country. I ran for two years, and though I was never the best at my school, I am proud of the fact that I ran 3 miles in the races and frequently ran 5-6 in the practices. Recently on walks, Blake and I would jog a little on the walk... and I would be beat! Out of breath, totally exhausted. This is a far stretch from my high school cross country days. So, of my own volition, I decided that it was time to get myself back to at least being able to run for 20 minutes. Also, it has been fun for me to design my running mixes on my ipod, setting up musical cues with faster songs for my running intervals and slower songs for my walking intervals so I don't have to deal with a timer.

Part of my goal of typing this and putting the ticker on my blog is to keep me going, and keep me accountable to more people. I figure the more public I make this commitment, the more likely I am to make it a habit even as the school year begins, and it gets harder to get up in the morning. Fingers crossed I stick with it.

Next week will be the start of my 6th year teaching. I do get to stay with my fourth grade level another year, however I will have 6 more students than I did last year. That doesn't sound like much, but when I consider that that is 6 more of every report, paper, and test that will need to be graded, I get a bit nervous. My room is almost all set up, and I think by tomorrow, it will be all ready.

I am really excited about my theme for the class this year. In the past, I generally avoided classroom themes, but I thought it would be fun to unite my classroom with some consistent color choices and thematic decorations this year. So, I went with music. Most of my decorations, borders, and desk plates are black and white, and then I have added different musical notes to them. My class verse for the year is focusing on living in harmony with each other, and I will be reinforcing this theme with teaching the kids that the point of harmony is not to sing the same note (all be the same) but to sing different notes that work well together (emphasizing their need to be able to work together).

As an extra touch, I plan on showing this video as a demonstration of what harmony (in music) is:

I am hopeful for both my new fitness plan and my new school year!