Thursday, July 17, 2014

And Now For Phase 2

Last year was all about a diet. This year has been a transition to fitness and a more normal nutrition regimen. The former part is going well, but I haven't quite found my footing with the latter. There's so much contradictory "expert" information out there. It's difficult to sift through it all, but more on that later.

In February I joined a gym. It's not a treadmill and weight machine kind of place. If you've heard of crossfit, this gym falls roughly into that category but without the intense "work 'till you puke" or "bro" characteristics. Everyone works to their own level. That's not to say you aren't pushed. You absolutely are, but encouragement and positivity are the driving forces rather than yelling and peer pressure. Workouts are broken into two parts. The first is strength work. We'll do one movement. It might be squats, or presses; all done at a specific percentage of the max weight you've managed in the past. The second part of the workout is a mix of cardio and strength with a number of movements usually done as quickly as you can (for the cardio aspect). The variations are endless but we might see rounds of pushups, pull ups, burpees, running, etc. All in all, the workout is only 35-45 minutes, but it's both tiring and satisfying and no day is just like any other so it's never boring. I like it. 

A few months ago, I added a new wrinkle. When I was "big", running was literally something I just couldn't do. Anyone who hasn't been as big as I was might feel that to be a "couldn't" isn't the right word. Well... it is. But now that I can do it, I started doing it regularly more as a curiosity. I can't even really say that I like it, but I do like that I can do it, if that makes any sense, and that's enough for now. I started out small. Two miles was pretty my more normal run for a month or so. I did some research into shoes and form that I'll talk about in a later post, but as far as training technique; nope. Clueless. 

Once I figured out that I could run a little, I decided to set a pretty major goal. I work better that way. It's the lack of hard goals that makes the gym workouts I mentioned above a little difficult for me. Sure, I see progress, but it's vague and hard to quantify or work toward in very specific ways. Running is all about metrics, though. Distance, speed, cadence, intervals; it's all measurable and easy to compare from one day to another. I like that. So I ran across a program that prepares people to participate in a half of full marathon. Notice I didn't necessarily say "run a marathon". That part is a little more up to the individual, however running it is what I'm aiming for. It's nicely structured and there are plans for both beginners and veterans. I'm not yet sure if I'll be doing the full or half distance. We'll see how my body holds up as the mileage increases. I'm already struggling a bit with the same knee that I injured January '13 and the doctor still can't seem to find anything wrong with it (I've been horribly disappointed with doctors these last two years). 

In addition to being a goal unto itself, I'm using the marathon training as a motivation to get the diet and nutrition side of my health into a little more order. I could, and will, go into my eating trials and troubles, but suffice to say, I know that the running will be easier and more enjoyable if I my footsteps are dragging along a little less weight. I was pretty steady with my weight for several months after getting off the original diet, but I eventually got a little lazy and have put on about fifteen pounds. I'd like to drop those again and then another ten by the time I run the race Feb. 1, 2015. That's seems like a pretty reasonable goal. We'll see. Of course, figuring out what I should be eating and how much is surprisingly difficult given how contradictory so much of the advice out there is. 

Finally, I am also doing... wait for it... yoga. The gym I mentioned above brought in an instructor to see how much interest there would be in a weekly class. Attendance was good for the first three weeks but it eventually dwindled down to just the instructor an myself by week six, and while I certainly enjoyed the one-on-one instruction, it didn't really make sense for her to keep holding a class for one student. Go figure. So now I've found another place to try. I've only been to three sessions there, so I don't have much of an opinion yet. It's definitely not a fancy hippy joint, so it's got that going for it. The place isn't terribly well air conditioned so I sweat an insane amount during the class. Seriously, it's kind of gross. ;) I had to buy some special equipment just to keep myself from forming a puddle on my yoga mat and slipping all over the place. Still, I quite like it and it helps me with my calf and achilles stiffness (I'm terribly tight in those areas). 

I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep up with all three of these things at the same time, but as I consider the marathon training more of a temporary thing, if something does have to give, I think it will be the gym workouts; at least until after the race. That makes me a little sad as the folks who run the gym are truly wonderful people and that experience has been a tremendous benefit to me. I guess I can console myself with the knowledge that cutting back there won't be permanent.

Well, I think that's it for now. I have a ton of new posts lined up, I've been jotting down ideas for the past few months, but I just couldn't get over the hump of that first post after the long hiatus. Now that's it's done, hopefully I get back into the groove.