Thursday, July 28, 2011

Make the time!

For the last couple of days I've been thinking about the normal excuse that many people have that they just don't have time to work out on a regular basis. Although, I think this excuse is losing momentum, there are still enough people out there who use it to get me to thinking in terms of time commitments to working out vs. longevity. I'm not sure that I'll be able to clearly explain where my brain is coming from on this, but bear with me while I try!

I found a citing that said that men (numbers are just slightly different for women) over 50 who exercise even moderately can add an average of 1.3 years to their life. If we think of this in terms of hours that is 11,376 hours that you have added to your life span by adding some kind of cardiovascular exercising to your day. Even if you deduct 8 hours every day for sleeping over that 474 days (1.3 years) you have still gained 7,584 hours of waking life!

If you exercise 1 hour a day for 5 days a week that is a mere 260 hours of exercise a year. Think about it, you would have to NOT exercise for  29+ YEARS (7,584 hours ÷ 260 hours/year) to make up for the amount of time you would gain in longevity from actually stepping up to the plate and logging those miles on the street, in the gym, or wherever you choose to be physically active. To my mind, it's a pretty staggering thought. (I hope my explanation here makes sense!)

The even better news? Research suggests that if you are more than just moderately active, the numbers jump to 3.7 years of additional lifespan... or in other words, an additional 9,920 hours of waking life! Hmm...

Yesterday's Run
7.67 Miles
5.1 mph
11:44 Pace

Sleeping on the job

Wow! Sorry guys, I didn't realize it had been  over a week since my last post! Last weeks' runs were all really good, and this week started out pretty good as well. Plus, no bouts of hypothermia, so that's like a bonus right there!

Monday's Run (long run)
12.63 Miles
5.0 mph
11:53 Pace

Friday's Run
7.0 Miles
5.2 mph
11:27 Pace

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sometimes the small stuff is important!

 I just love reaching goals... no matter how small they are. In fact, I would strongly recommend setting small goals that are fairly easily attainable. You'll be surprised at how many of these goals you will meet just in the course of your daily life. If you set some smaller, bite-sized goals, they will come zipping at you at a pretty steady pace and before you know it, without even realizing it, your bigger goals will just fall into place.

As you all know, last week, I met my own goal of running 7 miles in less than 80 minutes. I am happy to announce that yet another goal has come to pass this week - that of losing 80 pounds. Yes, I still have a ways to go, but a few years ago I would have never dreamed of being able to lose even this much weight. Fortunately, I have changed my way of thinking. I scaled back my goals so I wasn't thinking of losing 80 lbs as the main objective. In fact, my first objectives were pretty humble... to be able to walk 20 minutes without my legs feeling like they are going to fall off and to make sure that my weight showed downward progression more days than it showed upward progression.

And all along I have continued to set small goals in both my running and my weight loss. Those small goals keep coming fast enough that they really motivate me and inspire me to go further. It's strange to me now, but motivational speakers, weight loss experts and fitness trainers all say this like it's some kind of mantra, yet for some reason it never really sunk in. In the past, for every pound I lost, I looked at it as 1 lb out of 80 instead of just looking at that single pound as an achievement in and of itself, worthy of celebrating (don't go crazy, it's not a shopping spree/Caribbean vacation worthy celebration - no, usually it just consists in sharing my news with someone and basking in the achievement for just a few minutes). Now, I prefer to look at the small goals achieved and (almost) completely ignore the big goals. What's the old saying? Mind the small stuff and the big stuff will take care of itself... I don't know why it's taken me so long to really understand this... but I have to say I'm thankful that I have.

Today's Run
7.67 Miles
5.1 mph
11:45 Pace

Monday, July 18, 2011


Today was long run day. I am happy to report that I did not have any repeat of last week. In fact, nothing of the sort. I had a really good run, very conscientiously cooled down afterward and was able to happily go on with the rest of my day. Yea!
I've been thinking a lot lately about how ubiquitous running really is. It seems like most people who I talk to who find out I'm a runner tell me how they too were a runner at one time or another in their lives. I think that running can really be boiled down to some pretty primary elements and that's part of its universal appeal.

For starters, it seems most of us move with our feet to one degree or another every day (unless you are physically unable to and then often feet are replaced with wheels). Running (or even walking) propels you forward. It is like the physical manifestation of achieving some goal whether that be to run a distance, walk to the store, or even walk around while shopping inside the store to seek out those things we need. We all have goals in our lives (no matter how small) each day and in order to achieve these goals we walk or run.

We have it innate within ourselves to walk or run. We have had the need to traverse distances since the beginning of the human race. Whether we are seeking shelter or food or going to see our neighbors or even just engaging in recreation, doing activity that involves forward progression with our feet is inherent. Even if you go everywhere in your car (God, forbid), you have to actually get to the car first... on your feet.

Then there is the ease with which most of us walk or run. Aside from a good pair of shoes, running (at least for short distances) really doesn't require any special equipment. You throw on your shoes and head out the door... and whammy, you're getting aerobic activity, burning calories, and building muscle. There are no complicated rules and it doesn't even really require that you find anyone else to go with you. Granted, it can be a lot more fun with a running (or walking) partner, but it's not required.

Finally, there is an appeal in covering a distance as some kind of an achievement. Think about it... if you're a runner what is the first thing that ANYONE asks you when you tell them about your running. It is invariably "how far do you run?" Running (or walking) is very easily quantifiable. You can know almost immediately these days, through the aid of GPS or MapMyRun, exactly how far you've gone. You can tell people that distance and they can immediately understand what you're talking about. Think about it... when your talk about something like basketball, I would venture to guess that many (most?) of us don't know what a "Pick & Roll" is, why it's important in the game or even how to recognize one if we saw it. That is never the case with running.

Is there really a point to all my ramblings here? Well, probably not, except to say that running (or walking) due to its universal nature is really something we can all partake in. For many people getting out and pounding miles and miles of pavement every single day might not be their idea of fun, but that doesn't mean that they can't do it... at least in some form. To this end I would encourage everyone to get out there and move their feet. It doesn't have to be far and it doesn't have to be pretty, but I promise when you're done and you've achieved some quantifiable result that you hadn't achieved before (whether you express it in terms of minutes or miles), you have some result that you can share with others who will understand exactly what you are talking about... and they will be proud of you... and, more importantly, YOU will be proud of you.

Today's run
12.45 Miles
5.0 mph
12:02 pace

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jonny Corndawg offers some advice

Don't know exactly how my DH stumbled upon Jonny Corndawg, but he's become a common name around our house of late. He's kind of folksy and quirky and that goes over well around here. Anyway, I like this song and thought it was appropriate for my running blog. Hope you enjoy.

The other thing that got me thinking about Jonny Corndawg as well is the fact that he ran a marathon earlier this year. There is a short (15 minute) documentary following him on a show tour of his that ended in Big Sur, CA where he also ran his marathon. He sings the "Exercise" song in this documentary as well. I won't embed the documentary, but you can find it here. It's kind of fun to watch him go through his training and pondering why anyone in their right mind would run a marathon.

Today's Run was really great. I met a new personal goal: 7 mile in less than 80 minutes. Here's how it broke down...

7.0 Miles
5.3 mph
11:24 mile

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I'm happy to announce, after Monday's little "mini-crisis," that today I had one of my best runs... ever! I must confess to having been more than a little nervous about setting out today. I didn't know if my body was up to a run... plus, I had actually psyched myself out a little bit - fearing that I might have a repeat of Monday without the benefit of my DH being around. Fortunately, I took the ol' "get back on the horse" attitude, knowing that if I didn't run today, I would just sit around and think about it.

As a precaution, I did send my DH an email both before and after my run to let him know when I was finished and that I had made it without passing out.

I made sure I was well cooled down today before I stopped moving... and no more refrigerated beverages immediately after my run (no matter how refreshing they might sound)! LOL!

Anyway, here are today's numbers. Yea, me!
7.0 Miles
5.2 mph

That's an 11:30 pace for those of you keeping track... pretty much an unheard pace for me!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My cautionary tale

This quick little winter interlude is just a quick reminder that hypothermia, especially for those of you who engage in intense workouts is NOT just a danger in the cooler months. No, when you workout vigorously you can fall subject to it at any time of year. I discovered that the hard way yesterday.

I did my long run, and was feeling pretty good throughout the entire 2½ hours, but was tired enough by the end of it that I really didn't think to cool down properly. I stopped running and then didn't walk at all. Then, to make matters worse I thought that some nice cold Gatorade sounded really refreshing, so I downed about 1/3 of a big bottle of that. By the time I got to the laundry room to do my normal post-run strip down I was starting to have blackness swimming before my eyes. My balance was really off and then within just a few minutes I started having the worst abdominal cramps I have had in decades. I couldn't gain control of any part of my body and I was SCARED.

Fortunately for my, my DH had stayed home from work sick yesterday. So after I realized that I wasn't going to be able to move from my current location (by this time on the toilet), I yelled at him at the top of my lungs. He came racing down to me and the minute he touched me he said my body was freezing. He immediately wrapped me in blankets and threw a skullcap on my head. It took me about another 20-30 minutes before I was able to stop my vision from fading in and out and for the cramps to subside enough to move. It was at this point that my body temperature was up enough for me to actually start shivering again (one of the symptoms of more serious hypothermia is that your body ceases to shiver in response to the cold). After another few minutes my DH was finally able to get me up to the warm shower and after about 30 minutes in there I was feeling significantly better. I spent another 30 minutes in bed with the electric blanket on and by that point was finally feeling well enough to get out of bed and do some light activity. However, I felt a little light headed & woozy for the rest of the day, not to mention that my digestive tract remained slightly off kilter until well after I went to bed in the evening.

Now, I share this horror story with all of you as warning to not take hypothermia too lightly, no matter what the season. Even if it seems like it's hot outside, your body still cools rapidly at the end of a strenuous workout and can even cool to the point of some degree of hypothermia. Come to find out, more people actually die of hypothermia in the summer than in the winter, so please do as I say and not as I do...
  1. Don't forget to cool down properly... bring your body temperature down slowly by continuing to move even after you've finished your workout... this will help to avoid your body's urge to overcompensate for the fact that it has been overheated during the workout
  2. No matter how refreshing it sounds, resist the urge to drink cold beverages immediately after your workout. Instead, drink room temperature to lukewarm water or sports drink in slow sips. Do not drink too much at once or this could cause nausea
  3. Make sure to remain well hydrated & fueled both before and during the workout. 
  4. If you or someone you are exercising with begin to experience any of the symptoms of hypothermia (faintness, dizziness, shivering, disorientation, lethargy, clumsiness, stumbling), quickly take steps to warm their body up with by drying them first then covering them in blankets, hats, jackets, or whatever is available. Warm body core first and then move to warm the extremities (arms & legs)
  5. Lie down to keep from fainting 
  6. Seek medical treatment
I am happy to report that I am feeling significantly better today, but it was a hard won lesson that I wouldn't wish on my enemies. Heather suffered a similar experience during the Portland Half Marathon last fall, so she and I compared notes and both agreed that it was one of the worst experiences either one of us has ever had, but unfortunately it seems to be an often experienced initiation rite of running. However, please as I always advocate, pay attention to your body and what it's telling you. Hopefully not everyone out there will feel the need to go through this miserable rite of passage that is really best avoided in the first place.

Yesterday's Run
12.15 Miles
4.9 mph

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cross training, indeed!

I spent a couple days of the holiday weekend at my folks' mountain cabin with my DH, parents and my brother.

Anyway, my brother and dad talked me in to going on a hike with them on Saturday and since I really needed to get a little exercise/cross training in, I decided this would be a great opportunity. We decided to tackle a hike rated as "difficult" on the USDA Forest Service site. Not sure what exactly classifies something as 'difficult' according to the government, but their assessment was right on target.

There are a LOT more switchbacks than what are shown on this map!
Now, I have to tell you that I went into this with my eyes wide open as my brother has done this hike previously and warned me that it is brutal, but still the reality is sometime so much different than what you have built up in your mind. This hike as it turns out is 2,200 feet of elevation gain spread out over 2.8 miles - this equates to a 15.3% grade... an incline you would never dream of taking a motor vehicle up or worse, down... even if it were paved!

Fortunately, the trail was really beautiful. Lots of shade not to mention the fact that all the Rhodies were in bloom as was the Bear Grass and some other plants which me, not being a green thumb of any sort couldn't identify. We even ran into snow about 2/3 of the way up the trail.

It took us almost three hours to reach the end of the trail (it's the nominal summit - the real summit is another mile & 500 feet of elevation of bush whacking so we opted out) which is a precipice at 4100 ft. that used to house a forest service lookout post and has a nearly 360º view that overlooks the North Fork of the Santiam River Valley as well as offers a great view of Mt. Jefferson and surrounding peaks. Despite it being a little hazy we could also make out some of the mountains of the Coast Range such as Mary's Peak. All in all a wonderful view and worth the hike.

Dad & Me with Mt. Jefferson in the background
I think one of the mistakes that many people (us included) make is that we don't really take the return trip into account when we're making our way up the slope. You just think about how after 3 hours of uphill, you'll finally be able to go downhill. But what you forget is that downhill, especially steep downhill, can really take a toll on your body physically. Yes, you don't have the cardio-vascular workout that the uphill presents (all three of us were soaked w/ sweat by the time we reached the top), but you use an entirely different set of muscles that don't get exercised as regularly (let's face it, most of us who run focus on the difficulties of running uphill, not down). For my dad, as hard as the uphill was, the downhill was worse because he was completely spent by the end, but it still requires a steady foot to not hurt yourself while traversing uneven trails or even worse, a couple decent size rock fields. For my brother and I, although we fared better, we were still pretty drained when we got down off the mountain and here it is two days later and I'm still feeling it in muscles that I don't normally feel.
Kent (my brother, aka Heather's husband) & Me
Still, it was a really enjoyable day and a great way to get in a bit of cross training that I don't normally have the chance at.

Here's hoping everyone has had a happy and safe Independence Day!

The dog ate my homework

And if you believe that, I might have a bridge to sell you as well!

Actually, I really don't have any excuse for my lack of posts last week except for the fact that BOTH Wednesday's and Friday's runs kind of sucked eggs... to put it bluntly. I made it through my run both days, but that's about the only positive thing that can be said for either day. The only thing I can even guess at is that the temperature has been increasing over the last week or so and the humidity was pretty gross last week as well.

I read in the copy of Runner's World that I received just yesterday that you should decrease your pace by a full minute per mile for any humidity over 60%. Wow! That might explain the week. The humidity has been running near 80% here all week. So I guess the lesson to be learned is that if you don't voluntarily slow your pace down, your body will involuntarily do it for you resulting in said crappy run! LOL!

Anyway, for those of you keeping track (including me), here are the numbers:

Friday's Run
7.0 Miles
4.8 mph

Wednesday's Run
7.13 Miles
4.8 mph