I’m the type of person that needs a reason to exercise. “Being fit” or “being thin” just doesn’t do it for me. But if I’m planning to bike across the English countryside or climb a fourteener or I have a half marathon I need to train for… So, yeah, I signed up for another half marathon in October. I was hoping for one in November so that during the last few, toughest weeks of training it would be cool weather. But no dice. So instead I’m just praying we don’t have a wicked hot September.
I went to a wedding with several girlfriends and as we laughed and nibbled stuffed crepes and chatted about hot much we love Kate Middleton’s fashion style during the cocktail hour, one mentioned some of our guy friends that are going to do Insanity (which, if you don’t know, is a 60-day workout program with videos). Several of us have done Insanity (including me, but I couldn’t do more than a week because my neighbors were complaining about the noise. Yay, creaky 1940s buildings) but didn’t want to do it again.
So instead we talked about a sixty-day health challenge of some other kind – whether fitness- or nutrition-related, mirroring the guys. I don’t know if any of the others decided to go for it (because I haven’t seen them since then) but I decided to give it a shot.
When training for the Bolder Boulder, I hurt. A bit was shin splints but there were other things like my ankles being sore, hips hurting, knees hurting, etc. I figured one of the things to try would be building overall strength. I was running, but that’s all the exercise I was doing. Maybe adding some strength training for my legs, core, and even arms would help build up the muscles so that they wouldn’t hurt. And I tell people all the time that I have the upper-body strength of a seven-year-old; I had some impressive guns back when I did cymbals in the marching band, but now not so much. I aspire to one day be able to do my first pull-up.
First things first, my legs. To start, I wanted to give barefoot running a shot. Not actually barefoot, nor with the toe-glove shoes, nor do I plan to actually run an entire race this way, but many many folks out there say that running in non-cushioned shoes helps build up the muscles in your feet as well as improve form and eliminate heel strike. Luckily I got a pair of Merrells last summer for my explorations that were actually meant as barefoot running shoes but worked great as walking and biking shoes and are still in excellent shape.
So, building up very very very slowly (as everyone advises), starting the mornings out with a 5-8 minute run. You do notice. And it does hurt.
Since I don’t want to pay for a gym membership and the only weights I own (or have room for) are a pair of 5-pound dumbbells, when I come home I turn to Pinterest. (If you’re not on Pinterest, don’t worry about it. It’s nice for some things, but I find the temptation to do a lot of aspirational pinning without actually decided to do things. I try to only pin things I really think I will do, because otherwise it’s information overload!) But I have gathered a few workout pins recently, and I like to switch up what exercises I do each day. I’ll do arms one day, abs the next, chair workout out at the picnic benches outside, then go back and pick another.
Ouchie. My muscles aren’t used to being pushed this way. I did the chair workout then still had to do my nine-minute bike ride to work – two-thirds of which is uphill. That. was. tough. And my abs hurt when I coughed. And my shoulders ache as I type this. I hope to get to the point where I can double up, like do arms AND legs one day then legs AND abs the next. All with the running, too.
I’ve been getting up at 6:00 to do this (I love early-morning summer sunshine!!!). It’s awesome to go out while it’s still cool and the sun is up but low. Doing exercises outside in the park is way awesome in the early morning — and my wifi reaches to the picnic tables so I can double-check what my next exercise will be. I would strongly recommend going outside to do your training instead of your living room if you are able. It’s fantastic.
And it gets your blood pumping even more to try to get everything done before the sprinklers come on (and plan your escape in case they come on early).
Oh, the other part of my sixty-day challenge to myself: no sweets except for those I make myself from scratch. The idea being that it’s harder for me to snack on every little sweet thing available to me, and also to try to eat more whole foods. On Wednesday I successfully resisted the doughnuts at work. Not just any doughnuts, but sprinkle cake doughnuts — my favorite.
I’ve found that frozen grapes really are as good as I’ve heard people claiming for years. They’re no sprinkle cake doughnut, but still. 🙂