Run Diary Part I

I used to be a runner. I use that term rather loosely. Probably a more apt description would be that I used to be a person who ran a little bit. I never really got all that fit, but after several months, was able to run a mile in a blazing 10 minutes. I ran my first and last 5 K race at age 28, then a few months later, quit running. At that time I quit, I was getting arthritis; I was tired and everything hurt. Running just wasn’t fitting in with this, and the demands of a family with small kids. So I quit. I tried other things over the years. Finally a few years ago, I settled on biking, which helped me become fit, and was  enjoyable, but still was not running.

Lately, now some 30 years later, like a fickle mistress, the running bug has bitten again.  Yes, I said 30 years. I should be thinking about applying for Medicare, not running.

I ran the idea up a few flagpoles, but no one saluted. My bike guru said, “well, you do have that arthritis, just sayin…” My husband hemmed and hawed and didn’t want to come right out and say no, because after all he’s my husband. The girls at work said “‘Do you REALLY think that’s a good idea?” And so it went from everyone I asked. So, naturally, I gave it a try.

This is NOT my arm.

To be continued.

© Huffygirl 2012

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It's the Janucisers! (Image courtesy of Google)

I’m looking out over the cardio room at my gym. Evey treadmill is in use. Some folks are lurking behind the users, trying to see how much time they have left on their workout, like exercise vultures moving in for the kill. Over in the weight room, folks are huffing and puffing away, lifting way more weight than their paunchy frames can bear. Every bench in free weights is taken. Towels are draped over the bars and water bottles line the aisles. Back down in the locker room, all the good lockers are in use. Towels spill out of the used towel bin. The showers are running non-stop and folks pose before their locker, hurriedly  stripping off sweaty clothes.

So what’s going on here – is it the eve of the exercise apocalypse? Exergedeon? No. It’s just the season of the Janucisers. They show up every year around this time. Like beavers late to the dam party, they appear in droves beginning January first. They work feverishly throughout the month. They’re still in pretty good force in February. But by mid month you can get a treadmill without lurking behind its user. By the end of the month there’s no trouble getting a locker. And by mid to late March –  the Janucisers are gone. No strangers monopolizing your favorite bench.  No more having to use the broken lockers. The gym has been turned back to – the regulars.

Committment to regular exercise seems to be a regular new year’s resolution for many. Why is this one so hard to keep? I don’t always enjoy exercise, but when I started biking the spring of 2008 and

Huffygirl after 30 miles along Lake Shore Drive.

discovered how out of shape I was (even though I had been an avid walker and lifter for years) I never, ever wanted to go back to that point. It’s much easier to maintain fitness than to start anew every January 1.

What do you do for exercise? What helps you keep your committment so you don’t have to be a Januciser?

Target Heart Rate Diaries:Part 1

I’ve been a moderate exerciser for years. At least I think I’m a moderate exerciser. I don’t really know because I never check my heart rate when exercising. I thought that was for fanatics, people training for elite events like marathons, and men. Probably because the only people I knew who monitored their heart rate were at least two out of three of the above. At first I was a walker – I’d walk anywhere from 30-60 minutes, three to four days a week, on a treadmill, at a fairly slow pace of an 18-20 minute mile. I’d vary the workout with some incline on the treadmill to try to get more exercise. This was pretty easy exercise for me. I could carry on a conversation and had no trouble keeping this pace for an hour or more. Trouble was, this exercise was maintaining my current level of unfitness and weight, but not improving anything. I thought I was pretty fit from all that walking, until I switched to biking. At first I used a stationary bike at my gym. It had a program that randomly varied the intensity of the workout. I was amazed at how hard this exercise was for me – I could barely keep up on the simplest program and had to stop and rest frequently. Then I started biking outside on my Huffy. I struggled to keep my speed at 10 mph, which for average bikers, is pretty slow. If I biked a moderate hill, I had to stop at the top and recover. How could I be so unfit after all that walking I had done for years? I blamed my bike which was heavy, had wide tires not meant for speed, and was not quite the right fit for me.

I kept plugging away at my biking and began to improve. By the end of the first summer, I had improved my speed, and could take moderate hills without stopping to rest, but was still a pretty slow biker. The following spring I got a new bike that was a better fit, had thin road tires, and was 15 pounds lighter than the Huffy. That helped, but still not the answer. By the end of that summer, after biking 1,100 miles, I had improved a little in speed and endurance but was still not where I ought to be. I was still pretty slow and could not keep up with average bikers. When I rode with friends they would graciously slow to my pace, but I was working hard and they were hardly working. Why was I still fairly unfit after all that riding?

So one day this past winter I was talking to my very fit husband about why I wasn’t getting more fit, and he casually mentioned “…and of course you’re checking your heart rate…” Wait – what? I never check my heart rate. He should know that – we bike together all the time. When we get ready to bike I’m always waiting for him while he’s putting on his heart rate monitor. I’m checking my email, checking my messages, checking everything except my heart rate. Why should I do that – that’s for, well, you know.

Well, my irrational and sexist thinking regarding heart rate finally came back to bite me. That same week two others (one of them a woman) made unsolicited comments to me about “…of course you’re checking your heart rate..” so I decided it was a sign. Time to start caring about my target heart rate and see if it really could be the answer to my lack of exercise progress.