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Running the race…

January 20th, 2011 2 comments

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead – Philippians 3:13

Running and I have a very mixed relationship.  When I was a kid I wasn’t very fast, my Dad made the comment that I spent too much time running in one place.  Which is probably a fair assessment of my form and technique at age 10.  When I got to middle school and high school I dreaded the running segment of P.E. class, though I eventually learned to run, I never got any real training on form or technique.  Running to me was just put in the time, and I hated it.  I preferred riding my bicycle, and through high-school that was my preferred way to work out aerobically.  When I started college I kept in shape playing basketball with friends, walking the golf course, riding a bike to and from work.  In my senior year I bought a car, and slowly stopped being active.

After joining the Navy, I started getting more an more sedentary, when it came time for the semi-annual fitness test, I’d go out and run a few times then pass the test, I wasn’t looking to improve my times and it slowly started to show.  My waist-line grew and my run times lengthened, and I started to panic during the training that I wouldn’t ever be fast enough.  My knees hurt from pounding on steel decks and steel ladders, and when I started post-graduate school in Monterey I was close to getting discharged or failing to meet physical standards.

Monterey was a time to get back in shape.  First thing I did was rest, get my knees to stop aching at any opportunity.  Then I started a mandatory step aerobics class and that strengthened my knees, we also got one of imagethose Health-Rider that Covert Bailey was hawking back in the mid-nineties on late-night infomercials.  I passed the next fitness test, but wasn’t confident in my running technique and my knees ached terribly after the test.  So I knew I need to learn how to run. 

About that time, Oprah (don’t judge, a good husband has interests in what his wife is interested in!) was showing how she finally got into shape the right way, with good diet and lots of exercise.  So using that as a method I started  a 30 day walk to run plan (what has become known as a Couch to 5k plan) and enlisted a good friend to hit it with me three times a week.  imageSo for the next month, we worked the program running along Monterey Bay which if you have the means I highly recommend you do that.  And thirty days later I was running 30 minutes without stopping, and easily passed the next few fitness tests. 

I hit department head school in probably the best shape of my Navy career.  My next command was in Ingleside and our ship started a physical fitness program where non-duty personnel mustered at the gym and so my fitness stayed about the same, but it was still the cloud of my past readiness test failures that hung over my head as a cloud, I didn’t work out because I wanted to improve I worked out because I didn’t want to fail.

I separated from the Navy in 1999 and moved to Plano. Without the specter of the readiness test hanging over my head, I vowed to never worry about running again. I stayed in a semblance of shape, playing softball and sports with my church.  Then one night, playing volleyball in the gym, I stepped wrong and severely twisted my knee.  I thought I’d require surgery but through an intensive treatment with a chiropractor I was able to align my knee and strengthen the support muscles enough to not require treatment.

[Sponge Bob Announcer Voice] 8 years later

I woke up out of depression and issues to a body I didn’t recognize.  Three-hundred and forty-two pounds on my frame suddenly seemed alien to me, though I’d been there the whole time it slowly grew. Pushing my waistline out, and raising the edge of my shirts up.  With the prompting of my wife, I started on Weight Watchers with her. I also knew, that I needed to exercise, and that I’d gotten in shape before with running.  I decided that would be my first choice in starting on the long road back into shape.

The tools have changed since the mid-nineties, I had gotten my first iPhone about a year earlier and had taken a very short walk to test it, then let it lay dormant in my app-stack for a good long while.  In my social media feeds I asked questions from people that I’d seen were runners, and asked them their advice, read about couch to 5k programs and remembered my success with the walk-to-run program back in Monterey.  I had my starting place.

image RunKeeper has been my consistent companion, logging in all my walks, I took it slower than back in Monterey. Listening to my body, if I hurt I rested, if I felt it was too hard to do the next week, I’d go back and do the same week again.  I wasn’t in a hurry, but I wanted to learn how to run correctly.  I signed up to participate in a 5k for the Corporate Challenge my company competes in each year.  So I had a plan and a goal to complete a 5k.  My first walk/run was April 13, 2010 in a loop around my office building. My speed wasn’t very fast, (3 mph) but I did all of the intervals.  Three days later I did day 2 on a treadmill, and logged the time in RunKeeper a little bit further, a little bit faster.  Same with the third day, I gained confidence that I could work the program.

image The next week, I posted a picture of myself after the work out on facebook.  I captioned the photo “before” which really was a step of faith that an “after” was going to follow at some point. My head and heart were in the game, and the long slow race was begun. I haven’t completed an entire C25K plan, and I’m currently running with a friend that’s given me a different plan.  I ran the first 5k in September, and at that point I had progressed to running more than walking, and started categorizing all my run-training (regardless of intervals) as runs.  I changed my description on dailymile from “Walker” to “Runner”, and have slowly replaced my walking routines with almost all run training.  Using walking and running I’m about to go over 300 miles in total training mileage, and I feel so much more confident about my training and my life. 

image I completed a second 5k a couple weeks ago, didn’t train or it, just went and ran it, 5 minutes of running 2 minutes of walking.  Bested my previoius time by a minute, and now I’m training for race number three.  I have some goals for this race, but regardless it won’t be my last.  I never have called myself a Runner, but I’m slowly changing into one. All it takes is a little bit each day, slow progress each week.  If I can do it, anyone can do it, including you.

iPhone apps that keep me on track!

January 13th, 2011 Comments off

Photo Jan 11, 4 06 11 PMHit my mini-goal of 4 pounds today, moving to next mini goal of 8.  Will try to hit that by Valentine’s Day.  I’m trying to put a blog up regularly to keep my writing skills finely tuned should I ever need to write a novel, or a short story.  Because, you should never start a sentence with because, nor do you know when you might by held hostage until a good work of fiction is done!  There, paragraph down and haven’t even mentioned the subject I want to write about. Take that! productivity!

Hey, look at my iphone, look at my Mii, now back to my iPhone, and back to Mii.  Sadly you aren’t Mii. right… on topic!

Ahem.

This is a special page of iPhone apps that I use regularly.  My essentials are along the home row and I use them everyday.  The others are used less often but still good resources to tracking my diet, hydration and exercise.  This post I’ll just highlight the essentials.

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Lose It!: This is my main app to keep me honest.  It is my food diary so I’ll open it at least 4-6 times a day to record my meals and snacks.  The simple functions are easy, a comprehensive food database that include many brand name foods along with a good sampling of many restaurants and even fast food joints.  The database made it easy to start off and as I went I added foods that weren’t in the database.  Once a food is added, you can use it again and again.  The Lose It! plan for losing weight is to figure out your basic metabolism by using your height and weight, adding to that an activity level score to get a baseline for how many calories should keep you at your present weight.  Then you pick a planned amount of weight to lose in half pound increments.  The math works out that if you want to lose 2 pounds a week (7000 calories) your calorie goal will be 1000 calories less a day.  Everybody is different so there might be slight adjustment per person, but that is the basics.  The application is joined by a top-notch web application that syncs with your on phone log and gives you a plethora or reports to obsess over.  Recently, the site has added an awesome social networking layer so you can meet other losers and encourage one another. It’s a free app, and worth every penny!

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RunKeeper Pro! (RunKeeper Free):  This, like Lose It! was on my phone for about a year before I started using it regularly.  Since I’ve used it regularly, it has been three-four times a week app.  It’s core is a GPS tracking application that tracks your route live while you run, along with speed, elevation and all the other stuff that comes with GPS location services.  Much like Lose It!, RunKeeper syncs your runs that you enter on the iPhone with it’s website which provides additional tools to look at your history.  You can enter manual entries from the gym when your on stationary machines.  RunKeeper has a free app, but to get the most from the application, it’s a good investment to get the Pro version ($9.99).  Right now RunKeeper is running a promotion, you can download RunKeeper Pro for free through January.  Even if your not ready to start walking or running immediately it’s a good idea to grab the Pro app now, to avoid the normal fee.  RunKeeper has some additional add-ons, an Elite account ($9.95) will get you additional reports and the ability to track your runs live which is a neat feature when you’re running a race, or a long run to keep your loved ones informed on your location.  They also have Fitness Classes (different fee for each) that downloads a schedule and run intervals to help you train for a fitness goal.  They just pushed out active heart-rate monitoring this past week, or with select Polar devices you can upload your HRM data to the web-site post-run.   Great application, continuing to deliver new features and a good social networking layer to collect Street Teams to keep you motivated.

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Water (Water Your Body): this is currently a $0.99 app (limited promotion, that’s been running since November), and it’s a really nifty application to help ensure your drinking enough water.  It also has some in application awards and badges to encourage you to hydrate.  The app has a reminder badge on the icon to remind you (after you log your first drink of the day, how many more drinks you need to take to reach your goal.  No social networking layer with this application, but it doesn’t need it, it does the one thing it advertises very well.  Good visual representation of the water your drinking, and has a load of factoids about water that was interesting to read through.  There is a free application with advertising by Brita floating around, so if the buck gives you pause, grab the free one.

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True Weight: Another $0.99 cent application and I think this is only really required if you weigh yourself everyday.  A weekly weigh-in over time will show you the progress from sticking to your plan and meeting your goals.  However, if you’re like me and impatient and want to see the numbers everyday, then give your mind and worries a break and lay down the buck for this app.  Our bodies are wonderful machines, but we take in and push out over 14 pounds of “stuff” a day, so our weight is bound to fluctuate day to day.  By recording your weight in this application everyday, it calculates a moving average.  This is great if you’ve noticed a one day jump of a pound and start to worry, and realize it’s still a half pound below your average.  Good for piece of mind for the scale OCD types like me.  Nice graphical interface, and a 1 to 3 month chart keeps me motivated to stay on track.  You can even use the graphs as an instant brag page to friends over coffee.  What’s not to like about bragging.

So there is my essential iPhone app review for weight loss.  You can get in the game for $2 through the month of January, or wait until February and shell out 11.99.  Either way, it’s a bargain for how you’ll feel after shedding that holiday excess (or in my case … YEARS of holiday excess).

Trends … Trends … Trends

October 26th, 2010 2 comments

Alternative title, garbage in – garbage out.  Or — Hey lookie, I think this might need to be adjusted.

Using LoseIt.com the over the last three months has enabled me to start spotting trends.  In my last diet number geek post, I lamented that might weight loss had hit a plateau and while still losing I wasn’t losing as quickly as I had.  I had changed systems from WeightWatchers to LoseIt, and had gone astray. The next three charts (from loseit.com) makes my point.

Read more…

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