Be Running up that Road, Be Running up that Hill

Yes I did, I got out and went for a jog today.  I had some walking stints in there, but there was running too.  It’s been months since I hit the pavement.

Even on the weekends time is at a premium, so I decided to go out for a jog today instead of going to the gym.  Going to the gym would have taken twice as long with having to drive there and back, and battle the Squirrel Hill crowds for parking.

Like so many houses in Greenfield, when you step out of my house every direction is uphill. Every. Direction.  It’s not an excuse for never running, but knowing you’re going to have to battle hills is a demotivator.  I chose to run in the nearby cemetery.  Greenfield sidewalks are cracked and bad, and stop signs are apparently optional.  Running in the cemetery is safer, quieter, and the view is pretty.  I even saw Bob O’Connor’s grave.  I worry that running in a cemetery might be considered disrespectful, but the only other people in the cemetery were other runners.

Marathon and 1/2 Marathon entry statistics show that most people get hit with the running bug in their 30s.  I started a little early, and started running around age 20.  I was spending the summer abroad in Germany, and eating schnitzel and fluffy pastries nonstop.  There was no way I was going to cut back on those delicious treats, so I decided to pick up running.  My first goal was to run 2 blocks without running.  Then I worked up to 20 minutes of running.  Then I worked up to a 5k, then a 10k, then a marathon, then another marathon, and then I burned out.  I’ve hardly run at all since the summer of 2005.

Lookin' pretty good for mile 25 of the LA marathon.

When I talk about those races, I feel like Uncle Rico, refusing to give up the glory of his high school football days.  Those races were nearly eight years ago, do I still get to bask in the glory of those accomplishments?

It’s a great feeling to have finished a marathon, but I never want to do it again.  I don’t have a runner’s body.  Running doesn’t come easily to me.  In both races, I finished in about 5 and a quarter hours.  The fastest mile I’ve ever run in my life was 8 minutes, 30 seconds.  I’m not built for running, but even with my waddling, akward gait,  I loved to run– I loved how I got these excited bursts of energy out on a run, and how it made me feel fast and sleek, and that quick burning feeling in your lungs during the first few steps on a cold winter’s run.

Running is easy to do when you do it all the time, but it’s hard when you first start.  When I burned out in 2005, I “re-set,” and starting up with running again felt almost like I’d never run to begin with.   I’ve kept a small amount of the endurance– if I run at a very slow pace (we’re talking 15 min miles) and on level ground, I can run for 30 minutes plus.  I couldn’t do that when I first started…but that’s hardly an accomplishment next to “real” runners.

In those years of running, I developed a nasty case of Runners Knee in my right knee.  Instead of stretching and treating it, I tried to ignore it, hoping it would go away with “rest.” Sitting in a desk chair for 10+ hours a day certainly did not help it.  I’ve used it as an excuse to not get out and exercise more.  I have to address it directly if I ever want it to resolve, and ever want to resume running regularly.


seeking motivation

I was an exercise nut in law school– I was a srs bzness runner and consistently went to the gym.  Since the summer of the bar exam, all of that has steadily gone downhill.  I’m guilty of making excuses left and right. I don’t want to work out in the morning because I’m tired and want to sleep, I don’t want to work out in the evening because I’m tired and want to relax, I don’t want to work out in the middle of the day, because it’s too much of a hassle to re-do my hair and makeup in the middle of the day, and my gym isn’t convenient to my office anyway.  I’ve looked for all kinds of external motivators. I’ve tried setting big goals, small goals, promising myself rewards if I do XYZ, and none of it has worked from me.

It is time to stop with the excuses.  It’s time to stop fooling myself that something external will “get” me to exercise.  I need to just do it.  I need to say “now is the time for exercise,” and get off my backside, and do it.

I’ve had a subscription to Self magazine for the last few years, so I have a good stack of ideas for at home workouts for when I can’t go to the gym. (Note: Self’s website has a ton of resources as well). I don’t like working out at home. I feel strange and goofy. But I need to stop saying “I don’t like this” and “I don’t like that” and just work out already.  I’ll stupidly tell myself that I should only do cardio and not bother with weights or toning, since it’s only worth doing weights and toning if you do those consistently, and since I don’t workout consistently it’s not worth it…but that’s all rubbish.  I’m not a competitive athlete.  Any exercise I do is worth it.  I just need to do something.

Today I did the “Work Out Anywhere” routine.  Sometimes Self’s routines require a lot more muscle strength than I have, but this one was fine. I’m sure my form was terrible, but I got through the workout without wanting to die.  I broke a good sweat, and had to take mini-breaks here and there, and I will probably be sore tomorrow. That is to be expected when you’ve been a complete lazybones for the last five years.

When I go to the gym, I often opt for the elliptical or walking on the treadmill because even though I may sweat, it’s easy exercise.  Easy exercise is better than no exercise, but I do think it’s a good idea for me to go for more variety than just the same old thing. I do have 5 lb dumbells, a swiss ball, and a small medicine ball, and I need to put these to use for real.  I keep meaning to try some group exercise classes at my gym, but I keep making excuses about time, or feeling lazy, etc etc etc.  It is time for the excuses to stop.


A belated Gut Yontiff to yinz

Yesterday was Yom Kippur.  Last year was the first time my entire life I flat-out didn’t go to Yom Kippur services (Baby Beez was a month old, and I was in no shape to be attending shul).  This year we went to the family-oriented telling/puppet show of the Jonah story.  It was fantastic and fun.  I wish I had pictures of these amazing huge puppets, but it would be inappropriate to take photos during a service (even a family oriented one).  We also stayed for the Children’s Service, during which Rachel didn’t fuss, but still made every possible noise and squeak and word she was capable of making.  After all the services, we went to a friends house for a fantastic break the fast celebration.

We didn’t have to be at the synagogue until 2:30 pm, so yesterday morning I rented a boat from Kayak Pittsburgh and had a kayaking workout.  The morning weather was warm but crisp, the leaves are starting to turn colors, and the sun was shining bright.  It was a perfect fall morning.  I listened to an episode of This American Life as I paddled from the Roberto Clemente Bridge up to Washington’s Landing, and back.


Shipwreck on the Allegheny.

A bunch of rowing teams were out practicing. The rowers were followed by a speedboat, carrying someone with a bullhorn yelling at them to ROW HARDER ROW HARDER.  It’s a good thing no one was yelling at me to paddle harder, I would cry big tears.


Biggest Loser contest…

So at work we’re having a (voluntary) Biggest Loser contest. Well, technically, it’s a “Largest Loser” contest, probably because Biggest Loser is trademarked, and it would be unbecoming for a law firm to pilfer intellectual property.  Since I still haven’t gotten around to losing the baby weight, I signed up.  Lucky for me, most of the participants are skinny minnies.  The more weight you have, the more weight you can lose.

Since today was the starting weigh-in, I chose to spend last night stuffing my face with pasta, watching TV, and generally feeling gluttonous.

So today I started my first day of dieting with the alarm going off at 5:10 (so I could get to the gym before work), and I promptly turned it off and went back to sleep.  I also slept through my normal alarm at 6:00, and didn’t bother to roll out of bed until 6:30.

My first dieting accomplishment was that I packed my lunch, and only ate things that I packed.  I have a habit of packing a perfectly good lunch, but then thanks to the Au Bon Pain downstairs, I decide I need an Asiago Bagel and some soup, and end up eating a second lunch.  I feel like I don’t have the time or the discipline to follow Weight Watchers or log all my food right now.  But since I can do a decent job of packing a healthy lunch and snacks, I’m going to focus on continuing to pack good things, and then actually eat those things and not buy extra junk food.  Also, when I hit the 3:00 slump, instead of seeking out a Hershey Bar or M&M’s, I had tea and a granola bar, not as tasty, but I survived.

This weekend I’m going to need to do some serious grocery shopping. We’ve got lots of canned beans and baby carrots in the house, but not much fruit or much else that is tasty for lunch.  I’m also going to make an extra effort to get to the gym– Ideally I’d like to get there 5 days a week, but I think a 4 day a week goal is more realistic.  As long as I’m motivated, I can get there both days on the weekend, so I’ll just have to make it there twice more during the week.  This will also be a good time to schedule those personal trainer appointments I’ve been meaning to schedule.