Saturday, November 05, 2011
One of the popular fitness goals is to get 10K steps in per day. Make that into a Spark goal, and combine it with streak tracking, and the stupid motivational tricks suck me right in. I have a streak of 112 days of getting 10K steps or more. The streak tracker only reports 29 days, but that's because of a bug that used to chop off that streak when I changed my calories burned projection. (The bug appears to have been fixed, but the streak tracker doesn't let me start tracking an existing streak from when it really started.)
Early on in my SP membership, I watched how far over 10K steps I went. My thinking was that as I got more fit, those step counts should go up. I envisioned getting to where 20K steps in a day was no big deal.
My thinking on that subject has changed.
As I learned to be a runner, I also learned that there is such a thing as too many steps, and that all steps are not created equal. On two days, my step count exceeded 18K. On one of those days, I injured a calf and spent over a week getting it back to normal. That was a day of lots of walking, plus training to run.
Straining my calf drove home the lesson that there is such a thing as too many steps. Getting 10K steps per day in the wake of that injury highlighted the lesson that all steps are not created equal. The first couple of post-injury days, I had a lot of cheap steps pumping the count.
Running steps are a lot more exercise than walking steps. Continual brisk walking steps are more exercise than ambling steps. And the steps around the house just doing household chores are light and very easy. The steps are not created equal.
So, what about the 10K steps per day goal? It's a good goal, but it's not a stretch goal. On a day when I run 3 miles for 4K steps running, it really doesn't matter if I have enough walking steps to make the count hit 10K. I've been active. It will still be fairly easy to hit 10K, as running 3 miles plus a warmup and cooldown is likely to be 6K all by itself, and 4K for the rest of the day isn't that much; but the day would be active enough even if I spent the rest of it in bed reading a book.
The real value of getting the 10K steps is on the off days from running. The difference between 2K steps being totally sedentary and 10K cheap steps is much, much larger than the difference between 10K cheap steps and 15K steps including a 5 mile run. Those 10K cheap steps might not even include anything that I'd count as exercise for the tracker, but they keep me active and burning calories. Maybe it's only 200 or 300 calories a day, and certainly I can't track them accurately; but it's a lot better than *not* burning those calories.
And that's the real value of wearing my pedometer and making an effort to get those 10K steps. It's not in getting the best exercise on good exercise days; it's getting a minimum amount of exercise on days that are mostly rest.
So how am I doing? Today is an enforced day of no running, before an organized race tomorrow morning. The pedometer shows over 18K steps. 9100 or so were a 5.2 mile walk, and the rest were pretty cheap steps. My legs feel fine, which is part of the point of not running today; and it's better to have those cheap steps than not have them.
Much like overeating, getting too little exercise can sneak up on me. Those 10K steps per day, even when they're mostly cheap steps, help prevent that.
Friday, November 04, 2011
Q: What do a Snicker's mini, hand sanitizer, a Nestle Crunch Bar fun size, kleenex, a Big Ring Lifesavers Gummie Sour, two pens, and a tire pressure gauge have in common?
A: They were all part of the advertising that came in my 5K race packet that I picked up this evening. (Willpower being what it is, I looked up the candy in the Nutrition Tracker, determined that it fit in the day, and ate it. I probably should have just pitched the Gummie Sour; it wasn't that good.)
Packet pick up was at the local running store. While I was there, I bought a hat and gloves for running in colder weather than I expect on Sunday morning, and got some pointers about how to manage the post-race wait for results given that I'm driving myself there and have no support team.
On the advice of longer term runners, I ran lightly today and won't run tomorrow before the race on Sunday. Got decent weather for a run at lunch, which I've done before. Picked a short route, and didn't try to run hard. While running, I guessed I might be doing a 7:30 to 7:40 mile. It mapped out to 2.83 miles in 21 mintues, or a 7:25 pace per mile.
The twinges in my right calf did not return after the light run. The race on Sunday is a go. Other runners at work tell me I should be in competition for a medal for my age group, so I suppose I should take my camera just in case I win one. Maybe I can find someone to take a picture if that happens.
But the most important thing is to have fun. If an organized 5K turns out to be a lot of fun, I'll sign up for a 4.4 mile run on Thanksgiving Day. That has to be a better way to express thankfulness for my health than fixing a bigger meal than I should eat.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
When I'm pursuing a goal, making progress is simple. Put enough attention into getting there, and it gets done. Weight loss was like that for me. Track the food, come in within range, and go for the exercise. The weight came off faster than planned, and it was all good.
Maintenance is trickier. Instead of being okay with a bigger deficit, the idea is to balance the calories in with the calories out so that there aren't major gains or losses. I haven't been doing this long enough to claim to have learned it; I'm still feeling my way. And I'm learning some lessons in balance. I hope I'm learning the right lessons.
Yesterday was a cheat day on the diet. I could have come it about 500 calories over max, but I came in about 700 over. I did this by eating my usual evening snack. My reasoning at the time was, the behavior of doing the familiar would help settle me back into tracking and discipline. That seemed more important that the extra calories.
It worked. Today I was back on discipline, with the familiar theme of finding enough to eat to make the minimums. There was cider and donuts after choir rehearsal this evening. I had none. Told people I ate enough last night that I could be good tonight. I ended the day 6 calories above minimum. That's pretty low in the range, but I'm okay with that given yesterday. I think I can manage balance with eating.
I'm also having to seek balance with running. Sunday I unexpectedly had to stop earlier than planned. Monday was a normal day off, and my lower legs had some strange aches. Did some reading, and concluded that this wasn't shin splints; it felt more like the tibialis anterior than like the tibialis posterior that is the problem with shin splints. However, it seemed prudent to takeTuesday off from running. So I did that. Got gorgeous running weather Wednesday noon. Ran 25 minutes, for 3.49 miles, and it felt good.
After the run, my right calf bothered me with twinges in odd places. Don't know whether I rushed the stretching too much, or came back to running too soon after overdoing it last weekend. In either case, the lesson is that I need balance. More is not necessarily better. The plan is to take Thursday off running, do a light run on Friday, and take Saturday off before the 5K on Sunday.
I need to figure out how light to go on Friday. I have all day Thursday to think about that. Then I need to figure out what I'm going to do for exercise on Saturday; probably a long walk that won't be all that cardio intense. If I'm lucky, it might be dry enough to let me mow the lawn. In November. Sigh.
Eventually, I will figure out a good balance of how much I can run. I've been trying to run 4 days a week, because lunch runs are time limited. If it turns out I can only handle 3, so be it. I can always trim calories from the diet if that's what I need to do.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
The bell choir I play in eats out twice a year, if someone is willing to organize the event. Today, for the first time in a couple years, someone was. I figured this would be a cheat day, and I'd be okay. I ate pretty normally for breakfast and lunch, which reserves a lot of calories for dinner.
The restaurant selected is a local Italian place. No nutrition information was on the web, but I could get to the menu in advance. Spent more time looking at it than I would have just in the restaurant, and had access to the SP nutrition tracker while doing so. I eventually settled on haddock marinara as 1) having enough protein, 2) being relatively easy to estimate, and 3) being something I could eat without going very far over.
The haddock was good, and something that I wouldn't make for myself. Absent SP, I might have got the lasagna (that was huge) or the chicken parmigiana (nobody ordered that, but the eggplant parmigiana was huge). And I would have kept eating till it was gone, just like I did with the haddock. Except the haddock, while generous sized, was more protein and less fat than the lasagna or chicken parmigiana.
It turned out that if I hadn't let my friends talk me into having dessert, I would have been within ranges at the end of dinner. Between the tiramisu, which was delicious, and a typical evening snack, I'm about 700 calories over the top of my calorie range for the day. It's a cheat day, but not a major disaster cheat day.
That does highlight how depended I am on computer tracking. If I'd had a smart phone and the ability to track as I ate, I probably would have resisted dessert. But it is what it is. I'm typically low enough in the range that I should average in range for the week.
Tomorrow is a return to normal calorie discipline. I've done a cheate day once before, and I'm pretty sure it will work out. I wouldn't want to do this every day, or even every week, but it was a great being able to do this today.
Monday, October 31, 2011
In 1990, I tried to run a 5K. I was 34 years old, I could walk forever, and it was the Cornhusker State Games. I figured, how hard could it be? Turns out, impossibly hard for the untrained. I ran as far as I could, walked the rest, and could barely walk for a week because my calves hurt so bad. It would be another 15 years before co-workers convinced me to enter the Chase Corporate Challenge, where I have a 7 year history of not being able to run the full 3.5 mile course.
This year, I set out to change that history. I turned myself into a runner who can run for longer than 3.5 miles. The ultimate goal is the 2012 Chase Corporate Challenge, where I have a chance to be the fastest runner from my employer; but along the way, I thought I'd sign up for an organized 5K to see how much fun it is when I'm prepared for it.
Three weeks ago I dropped my registration for a local 5K into the mailbox. After not hearing anything and not seeing my check clear, I sent off an email inquiry this weekend. Today I got email confirmation that my entry was received.
My first organized 5K since the fiasco of the 1990 Cornhusker State Games will be next Saturday, November 6, at 8 AM. It will feel like 9 AM, because that's Daylight Wasting Sunday. My to-do list is getting done. Figure out how to run in colder weather, check. Confirm that the entry was received, check. Figure out where and when to get my packet, check. Enter SP virtual race for that week, check. Left to do: Figure out how to pack to drive myself to and (more importantly) from the race. Plan an appropriate taper of running this week, probably with my last run on Friday instead of Saturday.
The training aspect, plus a heavy week of evening commitments, means today was probably my only gym session to lift weights this week. That's okay. I can maintain my strength on one session a week, though it's hard to make progress on that little. I had a good session today, which helps me to be content with waiting for a week to lift again. The morning TGU/Windmill combos will help my attitude as well.
It's good to have a race to look forward to. That's a bright spot on the Halloween night when I have no trick or treaters as of 9 PM, and I'm close to shutting off lights and going to bed.
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