Saturday, July 19, 2008

Baby Steps

July 19, 2008
In addition to my regular workouts of biking and lifting weights and sanchin-ryu karate, I've recently added running... again. You see, for the last two years or so I've added running only to end up with strained calf muscles--or whatever it is. Then I give up.

In fact, it was my frustration with this that led to biking, which I absolutely love. So in that respect, I'm grateful. I often wish I lived in the south so I could bike year-round.

This time (again) I'm determined to build up slowly, treat any strains, coddle my calf muscles, stretch a lot before I run, and hope for the best.

I went running with my wife, Leanne, at the beginning of the week. She's been running pretty regularly for years and her biggest problem is finding the time. Although she lifts weights and studies sanchin-ryu, I think she defines herself as a "runner."

That may be a key to finding some activity that you can stick with. If asked, I'm pretty sure I'd say "biker." I might say weight lifter, but I wouldn't say bodybuilder, because my goals have more to do with fitness than bulk. I've got more bulk than I want as it is.

I was in to the doctor recently discussing my test results (cholesterol was 143, thank you very much) and I commented that I'd added running, and threw in my caveats about injuries, etc. She said, "Why do you want to run?"

I hesitated. It's not an unreasonable question, particularly for someone who's already involved in a dozen hours of activity a week. And no, I'm NOT interested in triathlons. (I can swim and used to a lot, but my sinuses are too finicky to enjoy it much any more). I'm not interested in running a full marathon, though I have somewhat half-assed thoughts of the Disney World Half-Marathon at some point.

I said, "It's the best way to keep the weight down."

That's true. In terms of calories burned per time invested, running is just about the best way to lose weight. Part of the problem though, is that if you're overweight, running puts a lot of strain on joints and tendons and ligaments. The risk of injury is pretty high. Something of a Catch-22.

Anyway, while we were running, me huffing and puffing and, okay, let's call it lumbering rather than running (or perhaps "waddling" if you're a John Bingham fan) and my wife was pacing me, light on her feet, I grumbled something about what a slow-ass I was and how I couldn't go longer than a half mile or three quarters of a mile before I had to stop. She said, "Baby steps, honey. Take baby steps."

Which is true. If I push too hard, I'll just end up lame again and that'll affect my biking, where there's no issue of only being able to go a half mile or three quarters of a mile. 

It's good advice for anyone starting an exercise program--take baby steps. What's your hurry? The point is a lifelong exercise program, not instant physical fitness (which isn't likely past the age of 16 anyway).

Mark Terry


spyscribbler said...

Oh, that's me! I loved to exercise. I noticed the other month, going back through my blog history, that I was TONS more positive and happier when I was exercising.

*sigh* The foot totally got me sidetracked. I need to find an exercise I don't mind doing. There's swimming, but a swim workout takes so LONG compared to others. I just loved TKD so much. I would run, lift weights, do any boring thing in the world to get better for TKD. But lifting weights for lifting weights, or swimming for swimming just doesn't do it for me. It's a chore.

But I somehow have to find the motivation to get back. I miss TKD so much. It's the only pure fun I've ever had in my life that didn't and won't ever become a job.

Mark Terry said...

Maybe you should see if there's a sanchin-ryu class in your area. It's pretty cheap and doesn't have to be as physically demanding as tae kwon do.

Erica Orloff said...

Hi Mark:
I used to go yoga. Then was a walker -- 4 to 8 miles a day . . . but comes summertime, I become a slug. I hate exercising in the heat. Period. I want to read, sleep, do anything BUT exercise. So come summer, my only fitness is sporadic gardening, cleaning the house, and chasing Demon Baby.

I gain 20 pounds every summer, and take them off by Thanksgiving. UGH.


Mark Terry said...

I'm a big walker and always have been, even when I wasn't otherwise exercising. Some of that has to do with having dogs. When Frodo was a puppy we'd take him for a walk and when he was too little to walk the whole route we'd carry him the rest of the way. Of course, not we're paying for that because he insists on his walks.

4-8 miles is a lot, more than I'd usually walk at one time, but walking is great.

As for yoga, the older and stiffer I get, the more it seems like a good idea. My karate instructor's wife is a yoga instructor and he's always incorporating yoga into our warm-ups. One is something called kneeling pigeon or something like that and I"m really struggling with it. He and his wife came up with a modification that really stretches out the hips he's dubbed "pigeon on a stick" although I don't know if it has a "real" name. Definitely helps with stuff hips, which I definitely have.

Erica Orloff said...

Yoga is important to me because I have seen too many older people in my life FALL. One of my best friend's mother fell and was never the same--hit her head when she was in her 80s and began a downward spiral to death. My grandmother broke her hip. My great aunt broke hers. What yoga does . . . one of many . . . is not only give you flexibility but also, importantly, a sense of balance and a rootedness to the earth so you feel very "centered" when you stand and walk. I don't ever want to end up an old lady with a broken hip. I want to be flexible into old, old age.

spyscribbler said...

Ashtanga yoga will stretch you out quick. Baron Baptiste's 3 level set is good: the first one is easy enough, yet the effects are quick.

DH went from being able to touch his mid-calf to being able to touch the floor, in only two or three sessions.

After week of the Level 1 CD, I can palm the floor. And I'm not one of those flexible people. I did yoga religiously every morning, all different styles, for about ten years. Ashtanga yoga is the only one that *really* makes me more flexible, and dramatically so.

I stopped after the foot. Well, dagnabbit, I think it's good enough now to do yoga. You've inspired me!

Aimless Writer said...

Before marriage (27 years ago) exercise was my entertainment. Then I married a couch potato. Oh yes, he told me he liked things like skating, karate and running. But then we got married and he admitted he didn't really like those things so much. He's not really a bad guy, just unmotivated. He's a hunter. Its what he likes, wandering around in the woods chasing deer. Its exercise but only through its season. So, I slacked. Then came kids and there never seemed to be enough time. Through the years I've gone back and forth but I used to bike, then got in a car accident that sidelined that for awhile.
A couple weeks ago my husband was diagnosed with diabetes. Now he eats right and exercises.
I think your right. We have to find something we love like biking, hiking, walking (I love walking) or swimming and then its no longer a chore-its fun. And the baby steps-probably the best advice.
I think I'm going to like this blog. I need the inspiration.