Category Archives: Fitness

Running and other stuff

I finished Saturday’s 10k in 1:23:05. That’s almost four minutes slower than last year, but I had even less training this year.

My feet hurt, but seem to have recovered. So I’m hopeful that I can resume tennis and running, though I’m going to take it slow and see what happens. Next year, my goal is to not be injured at all in the months before the race so I can train properly.

Races are fun. I like competing against myself (I don’t even think about competing with the other runners). I like having people cheer me on when I run by. And I like the general atmosphere of a huge number of people all doing it together.

One thing I might do this year is visit some of the trails in the area to go running in a more natural setting. I really miss the Toledo Metroparks. I could drive a short distance from my apartment and get to a few different parks to go jogging. Here, all the parks like that are at least half an hour away. (We do live within walking distance of a small park, but the non-cement trails are very very short.) Still, it might be nice for some of the longer runs. For the short ones, I’d spend more time in the car than on the trail, and that’s not worth it.

My last set of links to my writing group’s blog was back in December. So if you haven’t been checking that site, you have a lot of catching up to do.

* Why I write short stories
* Quality vs Quantity and Making New Pots
* The state of my current novel draft (Well, its state as of about two months ago. Now, it’s basically done.)
* Prolificity and Monomania
* And a bunch of other stuff. Including, as always, the many wonderful posts by the other members of ARR.

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Races & Runkeeper

Hm. One of the problems with writing blog posts in my head while swimming is they feel “done” and I want to move on to the next one. Anyway.

I’m doing a 10k race on Saturday. Same one as last spring. Last year, I lost about a month of training to a foot pain. This year it was about two and a half months. Despite that, my 4-mile run yesterday was at a pace that would have me finishing the race in about the same time as last year. I just have to not slow down for those last 2.2 miles…

Since I finally have a smartphone with GPS, I downloaded Runkeeper and tried it out. It’s pretty nifty to see the map of where I ran. It even noticed when I was on a parallel path for part of my second loop. Hopefully it’s more accurate than my old pedometer-based app. I like the voice notifications (I set them up for every half mile) too, though they take up a lot of time.

I also like the training programs, though I wish they had one for general fitness. Everything is for specific races. Oh, and there’s one for fat loss, and I’m refusing to use it on general principles. After Saturday’s race, I’m going to start a 5k training program and start working on speed again. We’ll see how mad the app gets at me when I only run twice a week instead of four times.

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Movement

It felt great to swim Monday and do strength training yesterday. I spent all weekend sitting: 10 hours in the car and more hours in various chairs at a writing retreat. Got a lot of work done, but my body isn’t made to sit still.

It did give my foot a nice rest. I haven’t been running or to tennis for a few weeks, waiting for whatever it is to go away. It’s almost gone, but I won’t really know if my foot’s better until I start using it again. Walking first, and if that’s ok, tennis. Then running. Conveniently I already have my annual physical scheduled for a few weeks from now, and should know by then whether my foot will fix itself. (My guess: no.)

I have a feeling I’m going to miss the 10k I’m signed up for in late April, but I’d just like to be outside again. Swimming’s nice but not very scenic. It’s light in the morning–though that will change next week, stupid time change–and I want to enjoy it.

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Fitness Plans

In 2012, I ran my first 10k race. I’d planned to do a triathlon again, but changed my mind in mid-year when I decided it was taking too much time and effort just to schedule the workouts. I also missed the 5k I’d wanted to run in the fall because it was the weekend of World Fantasy. And I never got out of last place in the tennis league.

Still, I kept up my running, swimming, and tennis. I dropped biking for tennis. I also added strength training, though I’ve been slipping on that the past couple months.

For 2013 I’ve got pretty much the same plans as 2012. I’ll be playing less tennis, at least until I decide whether I’m going to stick with sewing class or not. I’m aiming to run 3 days a week (weather permitting) until the 10k at the end of April, and then probably drop down to 2 days again. I’ll swim and do strength training twice a week each, and go to the tennis workouts once a week.

Food wise, I want to eat less red meat and find some good main dish bean recipes, which should be fun.

I’m already signed up for the 10k (hoping to finish faster than last year’s poky 1:19:16), and will consider the triathlon and a fall 5k later in the year. I like having something on the schedule to aim for.

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Couch to 5k apps

I decided to redo the Couch to 5k training plan. I can already run a 5k, but I’m incredibly slow. I thought doing the program again and doing the running intervals at a faster pace might help.

Last time I did C25K, I kept on track with a podcast. Since I’d rather run to my own music instead of someone’s techno selections, this time I looked for apps. I only tried two, because they seemed pretty similar and I don’t feel like the others that exist would be much different.

The Couch to 5k app from Active.com is the first one I tried. It’s the nicer looking of the two. You pick a trainer, which is a bit cutesy for my taste. Each time you’re supposed to walk or jog, the trainer interrupts your music to tell you what to do.

That’s the part I had trouble with: I couldn’t hear the trainer! There’s also a vibration setting, but it didn’t work for me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m playing music through Spotify rather than through the app, but it was kind of a problem. I’ve since discovered that I didn’t have the alerts volume of my iPod all the way up (I don’t allow things to give me audio alerts, so I didn’t even know there was a special volume control just for that). That might help, though I’m skeptical that it’ll help that much, if having the volume set above halfway meant hearing absolutely nothing. (And I just checked, and the cue was a quick “Jog!” which would be easy for me to miss.)

After that I tried the Couch to 5k app from Zen Labs. It works pretty much the same way–you scroll to the workout you want to do, tell it to start, and then do what it tells you. It has the same audio problem, but the music cuts out for a longer time than with the other app, so I use that as my cue (and if there’s no traffic I can sometimes hear the audio). Since I’m either walking or running, it’s pretty clear that I’m supposed to do the other one even without the voice to tell me.

One problem I have with this app is it doesn’t always record that I did the workout. So I have to use my brain to remember what week/day I’m on. I’m ok with that.

Even with the audio issue, this is nicer than using a podcast where someone else has selected the music, or trying to time myself with my watch and staring at my wrist every 10 seconds. Who knows if it’ll actually make me faster. So far I’ve done the running intervals faster than my usual slog, but I’m only on week 3 so they haven’t been very long. I’ll know more in a couple weeks. Part of my problem is I get distracted by whatever I’m thinking about and forget I’m supposed to be pushing myself. The app’s reminders help with that.

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Tennis League Wrap Up

Last week was the final session of tennis league. I came in first! Oh wait, they don’t actually rank us by number of games played, but by percentage of those games that we won (this is the intro league, we don’t play full matches). I actually came in last again. Luckily I play for fun, not to win.

It’s interesting to watch people’s attitudes. Some players get really mad when they make mistakes. I can get a little annoyed with myself, but not to the point of throwing my racket. To be honest I find it a little insulting when people get that mad at themselves for losing a point to me. Like I’m so terrible that they think they should win every point.

The person who won was fun to play. I was worried he’d be one of those guys who just hammer every stroke so all I can do is cower in fear of being hit, with the ball going so fast that by the time I know where it’s going, it’s already gone. But this guy was good not because he hit the ball hard because he rarely mistakes. He could get to every one of my shots, and then send the ball back to any part of my court that he wanted. Because he didn’t have a ridiculous amount of power, I had a chance. I never won a game against him, but I did win a few points.

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Fitness Updates

I’ve been using You Are Your Own Gym for a few months. It’s a bodyweight strength training program–i.e. no trips to an actual gym required. Today I finished the lowest level program and passed the “test” to move to the next level. I haven’t been as consistent as I’d like, since I find strength training mindnumbingly boring. There is no reason it’s any more boring than, say, swimming laps, but it is. Maybe because if I’m swimming laps I can think about something else, but with pushups and squats and such I’m focusing on how many I’ve done. Anyway, the book suggests doing the program 4-5 days a week, and I’m lucky to do it twice. Better than not at all, I suppose.

(I stick with it despite the boredom because a) strength training is really good for me and b) it made me happy to be able to move the washing machine out of the way of the sewer line cleaners all by myself, and I’d like more moments like that.)

Speaking of swimming, I’ve recently finished level 2 of Fitness Swimming. This week I plan to just swim laps, then next week I’ll start the level 3 drills. I’m not sure I’m getting any faster, but I think my stroke has improved. This is another case where the workout schedule calls for 4 or so a week and I’m only doing two.

I’d improve faster if I were only doing one or two of swimming, strength training, tennis, and running, but since that would lead to injury or boredom, I’ll putter along like this for a while.

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No Triathlon

Last year I did a sprint triathlon for the second time (first time in more than a decade). It was fun (really). I’m not doing it this year.

Why?

Because I don’t have time. I’ve dropped my running and swimming to twice a week, which isn’t enough for me to get faster. More importantly, I’ve only been biking for transportation, rather than going on a long ride on the weekend. Also, planning and recording workouts was adding more tasks to my to-do list, and I don’t need that.

I could still do the race. But I already proved to myself that I can finish one. Finishing slower than last year wouldn’t make me happy.

Besides, this fall is gearing up to be busy enough that I don’t want to sacrifice half a weekend.

I’ll keep running, swimming, and biking (a little) (and playing tennis). But at least for this year I’m not worrying about improving my speed.

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10k results and summer plans

A few weeks ago I raced my first 10k. I didn’t finish nearly as fast as I wanted–my time was 1:19:16–but I finished. I’d never run that distance before and lost a month of training to a foot injury. That’s actually a faster pace than most of the 5k’s I’ve done. At least I didn’t get passed by any of the marathoners, whose course joined ours at their 14th mile.

For the next few months, I’ll continue my run/swim/bike/tennis schedule. I’ve been running and swimming three days a week each. The bike club has started up again, and I plan to do the Saturday morning rides most weeks. Tennis classes start up again in June, twice a week.

To get my stamina and my speed up, I’m doing longer weekend runs–an hour for now, in intervals of 10-min runs and 2-min walks, planning on going up to 1.5 hours later. I’ve also shortened the first run of the week to do speed intervals, which makes a rather hellish start to Tuesdays.

In the fall I’m going to do the same triathlon I did last year plus a 5k or two. Next spring I’ll do the 10k again and strive to be faster.

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Why I have blisters today

I joined Fitocracy back in mid-February. Quoting them: “Play Fitocracy to track your fitness activities, earn achievements, beat quests, and compete against your friends.” My emphasis is on tracking my fitness activities–the site gives you nice charts of time or distance or reps–but I’m happy that I’m almost to level 14 and have completed 9 quests.

There’s also groups, for different sports, or anything… There are two writers’ groups that I know of, and a couple health at every size type groups (one nice thing about the site is it’s not focused on dieting/weight loss, although there are groups for that). I joined a bodyweight strength training group. I find strength training dull, but the group follows a book called You Are Your Own Gym, which lays out training plans. It’s a lot more interesting than dumbbell exercises or endless pushups.

Of course I started at the most basic level in the book. I’m in week 6 of 10, and ran into some workouts that require a pull-up bar. (Or a door. But I found that difficult to hold onto.) So last week I bought a bar, and yesterday I put it up, with a lot of help from J on the last three incredibly stubborn screws. Getting them to go in was a workout in itself.

Right now I can’t actually do a pull-up. I can’t even do a negative pull-up–standing on a chair and starting with bent arms and just lowering myself down. I can’t even do those flexed-arm hangs from the junior high school fitness test. My plan is to do a couple assisted pull-ups (feet on a chair and some of my weight on my legs), or at least hang from the bar and move the 1 inch that I can, a few times a day, every day, until I can do one pull-up. It might take a while.

Even hanging from the bar hurts my hands right now.

And that’s why I have blisters on my palms.

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