End of July Progress Report

Well, we’re closing out the 7th month of the Super Awesome Year of the 5K, so it seems time for a proper progress report of the year. And I’ve also been slacking on posting, so it seems like a good time for a progress report so I can feel like less of a slacker.

For those of you keeping score at home, we’re through 7 of the 5Ks, and my time is not getting better. In fact, it seems to be getting worse.

That’s not cool.

But I think I know why. Turns out, I’m not running as much. Woops.

I'm not entirely sure what happened in June.
I’m not entirely sure what happened in June.

It’s difficult to get very frustrated when you can see that you’ve been busy being a no account slacker.

But that’s ok. I have been staying active. My daily number of steps has definitely increased since I started this, though I’m not at my pre-move levels in part due to differences of where I’m working.


And in the past two months, I’ve gotten back into lifting for the first time in 3 years. That’s always a plus.

Of course, the downside is that yoga’s taken a backseat as a result. That’s not good considering yoga’s the most important thing I can do for pain management and the whole “not being in agony every day for no apparent reason” thing.

But again, I’m being fairly active. We’ll have to look at this as a net win, even though I can’t show any measurable gains.

Really, not even weight.

Doing good. Doing good. Hey, what's going on here? What you eating? Put the pizza away. And for God's sake, don't dip it in ranch dressing.
Doing good. Doing good. Hey, what’s going on here? What you eating? Put the pizza away. And for God’s sake, don’t dip it in ranch dressing.

Over the past year, I’ve actually done fairly well. Over the past 6 months, not so much.

I’m optimistic that the lifting and running have been adding muscle, which has been leading to a draw on the scale. But the bags of chips and the numerous pizzas I’ve eaten in the past 10 days beg to differ.

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This will be my bad decision for the weekend

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And of course, the big news is that I’m sporting a more aerodynamic haircut now.

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Bald is beautiful

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I finally gave into genetics, so now I have to be even more careful about keeping my scalp covered or using sunscreen so I don’t become one of those old guys with a spotty head.

Now let’s shift gears away from the more easily measured to just general lifestyle.

  1. Being active does make a difference. It’s a huge energy suck, so that’s a good thing. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
  2. I’m doing much better about making sure I get enough rest. The chief difference is I’m being more militant about getting 8 hours of sleep a night. I wasn’t doing a terrible job before in my average amount of sleep, but I have far fewer bad nights of only 5 hours, etc. The big thing was backing the time I started getting ready for bed.
  3. I’m making more conscious food choices. Still not great (e.g., pizza errday) but better than before. I’m making more of an effort to be sure I’m getting vegetables, and I’m on another Coke purge, so hopefully that can stick for a while.
  4. I’m doing my best to make sure I’m doing SOMETHING. Anything. Just trying to make sure I don’t sit around doing my best impression of a retired walrus.

So as we round the corner for the homestretch, I know that I’m doing well even if I’m doing perfectly. And I have a few things I need to be mindful of.

  1. Get back into yoga. I’m going to pay for this sooner than later if I’m not careful. I cannot explain how much better off I am when I’m regularly doing yoga.
  2. Make better food decisions. This is my Achilles heel. I think running entitles me to Popeye’s. I might deserve a freebie every now and then, but I don’t deserve one for every time I work out.
  3. Keep running. I haven’t been great about running, and my mileage has gone down the last couple of months. I can’t expect my times to improve if I’m not putting in my time on the pavement.

So with that, peace out.




Reviewing Full Zombies, Run! App: Revenge of the Undead

I made my (at least temporary) choice and went with the full version of the Zombies, Run! app. If nothing else, I really like typing Zombies, Run! because of the comma and exclamation point.

Quick Rundown

I started using the Zombies, Run! 5K app at the end of November to help me get my mileage up safely for the Super Awesome Year of the 5K. I’ve done 5Ks before, but I’ve never done a good job of maintaining a running habit, and I have a habit of pushing too hard, too fast. A friend recommended the app, so I gave it a try.

The app went well. It tracks my pace and mileage better than the fitbit (good for counting steps, not good for distance while running). There are stories to listen to. And, most importantly (at least in terms of responsible decisions), it has an exercise plan to slowly ease me into covering a 5K distance. It was an 8-week program that I stretched into 20, ‘cause I’m an overachiever (I also was running 5Ks in the middle, so I had to alter my workout load so I didn’t hurt myself; again, I’m making adult decisions).

Once I was done, I knew it was probably time for a change, so I got the full Zombies, Run! app. The initial version of the app consists of 1 season with 23 episodes, as well as a few episodes of seasons 2 and 3 to act as previews to buy additional seasons. There are also a bunch of additional purchases you can make. As you run in the full version, you pick up supplies during the run (it was really creepy for the first thing that I picked up to be a sports bra; I don’t know how to explain walking back to base with that).


I get to continue my Zombies, Run! story. That may be the chief (and stupidest) reason for buying the app. I like the story. It keeps me mentally engaged while I’m running. Like the Zombies, Run! 5K version, I also get to listen to my music and have my runs tracked. This is the extent of the more of the same benefits.

Where the real difference shows up (at least in terms of the workouts) is the lack of structure. You can take the runs at whatever pace you want. You choose between a 30-minute or 60-minute workout, and you do whatever you need to do. If you’re having a crappy day, you don’t have to push that hard. If you only have 30 minutes to run, you can still get the episode.

Another changeup is the inclusion of zombies chase mode, which means that randomly in the episode you’ll be warned zombies are chasing you and you have to run 20% faster than you had been for a minute. Basically, it’s tempo training with zombies. This was pretty cool. I’m a competitive person, so I didn’t want to lose the supplies I’d gathered, so I started booking. This has a double bonus for me. First, it allows me to pick up the pace. This is something I actually enjoy. I like lengthening my stride. I feel like I’m running much more cleanly when I’m running faster instead of trudging about. Second, knowing this is coming at some point and knowing I don’t want to lose the supplies, I avoid jogging too quickly and burning out. On days where I take on the 60-minute version, I’ll probably turn this feature off so I don’t die and get eaten by the undead. Dreadful way to go.


This version costs more for the same amount of workouts to start. And to get more workouts, you have to pay even more. That kind of blows. There are some little extras that come along with the version, but I hate feeling like I have to keep paying to get everything from the app. Depending on how the 1st season goes, I may just switch to podcasts or books on tape. I’m cheap. This is why I didn’t go with RunKeeper (in addition to the complete lack of zombies).

The full version also isn’t as straightforward as the Zombies, Run! 5K version. In the 5K version, you go episode to episode. In this full version, you have that option, but there are also supply runs, airdrop runs, full-blown interval training, and racing. All of these have different stories (and some have additional costs). It feels a lot like those Goosebumps books as a kid where you made choices that led to potentially different stories. I hate feeling like I didn’t get the full story.

Along these lines (and was mentioned in the Pros), the workouts aren’t as structured. While it’s nice that I can do what I want, it was nice in the 5K version to be basically getting coached a long. I may end up occasionally (or permanently, depending on how season 1 goes) reverting back to the 5K version and just amping up the workouts. Those workouts were structured, so I could always start at the beginning and just run faster, slowly working my way up in distance as I do so. I’m not sure if this will occur or not (luckily, I don’t run that often, and I’ve already shown I can stretch 2 months worth of workouts into 5).

And So It Begins

All in all, I’m not unhappy with my purchase. I think I can make it work. If nothing else, it’s giving me a change of pace as I approach the halfway point of the Super Awesome Year of the 5K.

I’m almost getting comfortable lugging my 190 pounds around for 3-5 miles. Maybe at some point this year, I’ll actually be able to run a full 5K without stopping. I doubt it but just maybe.



The End of the Zombie War (sort of)

It’s the little victories that matter. But sometimes the big victories matter too. Today I ran 8.06km (about 5 miles). And by ran, I mean a traveled that distance while incorporating some running. Either way, that’s a new personal best.

That was the last true workout of my Zombies, Run! app. So at least I’m covering some distance. I’m averaging around a 10-minute mile still, even including planned walking segments. It’s hard to be disappointed even if I still can’t run very far nonstop.

The other victory I’ve had is tamping down on my soda consumption. I’ve cut out caffeinated sodas (with one cheat day).

This is what cheating looks like. It was delicious.

Cutting out caffeine was the main goal, but I that was in and of itself a side goal. Like running the 5Ks for overall wellness, I cut out the caffeine so that I could cut down (and maybe eventually cut out) sodas. They’re bad for you, and in the amount I tend to consume them, they’re extremely bad for you. I’m gonna have diabetes tonight if I’m not careful.

Additionally, cutting down on sodas frees up calories for food, so I’m gaining back about 250 calories each day. That said, I really want a Coke. They’re delicious. Keep your heroin, cocaine, crystal meth. Just give me a stinkin’ Coke. I may have a problem.

So, it’s been a good week. I’m awesome, for this week at least.

But now I have to change things up. Not immensely, but enough that I won’t get bored by things. The workouts were already starting to drag a bit. I’m mulling my options.

Option 1 is to go back through the app but increase the intensity (for instance, when it says run, I would running a lot faster, the way I feel more comfortable). This allows the workouts to be more structured and allows me to track progress from when I started 5 months ago (I can’t believe I’ve actually been at this for 5 months). That said I’m still listening to the same stories and doing the same workouts.

Option 2 is to go for the fully fledged Zombies, Run! app. I was only using the 5K version. The only issue is that I don’t think I’ve got what it takes to justify the full app. I may look into it. I like the stories, so that’s the real plus. There’s also the benefit of structured workouts.

Option 3 is to go for another app like RunKeeper. It would allow for the same structure as the Zombies, Run! app, but it loses the story factor. That said, it probably offers more variability in its workouts.

Option 4 is to fall back on my old standby of just jogging without the phone and its accompanying GPS and music. This is a much more meditative, mindful practice. It forces me to be in sync with my own rhythm and can avoid accidentally picking up the beat of a song that makes me run faster (like I did with Childish Gambino’s Bonfire and Tyler the Creator’s Domo 23). That said, I lose the structure this way. I’ve done ok for a few months like this, but I’ve never been able to fully sustain. I’m hoping to keep this whole running crap up. Maybe at some point I’ll just refer to it as running.

And Option 5 is to blend all of the above. That loses any semblance of consistency, but it gives me variety.

So those are tomorrow decisions. For now, I’m just gearing up for the next race and (hopefully) maintaining my vaguely healthy dietary habits.



Reengaging in the Program

One of the reasons I started the whole blogging thing (well this blog; I didn’t start blogging in general) was to stay mentally engaged in running.

Running feels monotonous. That’s a part of the beauty of it, but it still gets monotonous. And it’s a game of slow progress. You don’t put on a bunch of miles quickly and you don’t improve your pace but a minute a mile in a week. No, you trudge, and you work, and you push. Slow and steady. Monotonous.

Part of my approach these past few months was to do what I could to accept the monotony, but I think I did a bit too much. I’m rethinking that.

There are some little things that could be quick changes, like changing my route, changing my music, and changing my routine. The other part is making sure I’m still mentally engaged in what I’m doing. The last couple of months, I haven’t been. Work and life have been hectic, so running took a mental back burner. I was making time for it in my day but not in my head.

And it was taking a toll. I wasn’t being as mindful when I was running, watching my form, my breathing, etc. I’ve started reading Runner’s World, which has helped. Even though I’m not the pure target audience for them (seriously, the second you mention a 10K or farther, I’ve tuned you out), but the tips still translate.

One of the things I’m mentally latching onto and have been for a little while is to start doing drills to help my form and range of motion. Basically, those little warm-ups we used to do before practice.

I’m hitting the last little bit of my running app, so I’ll be on my own, in terms of what I’m doing. I have Runkeeper also, which I haven’t used, but it looks like it doesn’t have plans that fit well with my needs without having to pay, and I’m stingy.

That said, I can also keep doing my Zombies, Run! app and just repeat runs with more intensity, basically treating the intro workouts as interval training of sorts.

And then of course, I can always go back to how I used to run, without technology following me around (save my slacker tracker, AKA the Fitbit).

Either way, I’ve got my legs used to logging miles, so now it’s time to get back to a point where I don’t feel like a slug as I’m running, so it looks like we’re about to shift the running routine.

This is going to go so terribly.



The Sins of Running

I’d love to pretend I’m original. Lists abound on this topic, but it’s like an acoustic cover of “Hallelujah”: We all think there are too many out there, and we all think ours still merits being forced upon other people.

And so here we are.

It was a fun list to put together. We all have pet peeves, we’ve all seen people do stupid things while running, and we’ve all done stupid things while running.

Be warned, it’s a long list.
1. Doing Something New on Race Day
2. Running Someone Else’s Race.
3. Too Far, Too Fast, Too Soon.
4. Not Changing Things Up.
5. Not Cross Training.
6. Not Sleeping (Well).
7. Eating Like the Guy from Supersize Me.
8. Not Listening to Your Body.
9. Not Having Buddies.
10. Not Getting Out of the Way.
11. Not Paying Attention to the Little Things.
12. Not Being Mindful of Your Surroundings.
13. Not Running (Barring Injury).
14. Running Injured.
15. Thinking Running is the Cure.

1. Doing Something New on Race Day.


We’ll start with the original intent as I was developing this list, which was for race day. And it all boiled down to doing something on race day that you’ve never done before. Whether it’s something mild like using a new pair of socks or something more dangerous like overloading on caffeine, you know you shouldn’t, and yet we all find a way to do it every now and then.

The biggest thing for me is gear. I don’t want to be in the middle of a run and realize my shirt’s not exactly helping me our or feeling like my shoes are about to break my feet in half. I’ll still violate this one for the superhero shirts for each 5K, but at least it won’t be a problem until it warms up a bit more. It also wouldn’t be a problem if I’d practice in them, but while I’m a big enough prat to wear a superhero shirts during a race, I’m not a big enough prat to wear them while I’m ambling through a training run. If anything, I’m buying the runner 5 shirt to wear during training, you know, ‘cause I AM runner 5.

The next thing I have to be careful about is what I eat. I don’t want to eat something that will upset my stomach.

That leads to the time of day business. These two interact. I don’t run at 8 or 9 in the morning. That means I’m not used to running on my breakfast. I’ll let you do some math… Done? Yeah, it’s not a good idea. I just kind of hope that since it doesn’t upset my stomach on a regular day and if I eat early enough, then I won’t pay the price. But yeah, not a good idea.

The other aspect of this time of day business is people react differently to different times of day. If you’re an afternoon/evening runner, your body’s not going to be used to running at sun up. Hopefully, you at least have one session that’s early just to make sure you’ll be ok, but it’s still a gamble.

Temperature is the other time of day part of the equation that factors in. I don’t like running in the cold (I also don’t like running in general, but I REALLY don’t like running in the cold). Let’s take today’s run as an example. When I woke up, it was 41F. When I started my run 4 hours later, it was 37. And misting. By the time I was done, I had collected enough of the moisture in my hair to look like a dewy lawn. Not a good look for me. That said, I know my next 5K will be in the cold again. I can’t just run when it’s comfortable because I’m not getting those conditions for the race.

And my last one in this bit is pace. Now obviously, people go faster on race day, whether they’d like to or not. But you don’t need to run faster than you ever did in training. You probably won’t sustain it, and you could end up hurting yourself.


2. Running Someone Else’s Race.


This segues off the last section, but I thought it was important enough to merit its own. Part of the reason I don’t like to think of running is that you don’t actively try to affect your competition (at least in terms of forcing them into an action, and we’re going to leave out drafting and pretend no one’s a dbag who just gets in the way). You can run your race without regard for your opponent. They run as fast as they can, and you run as fast as you can. Running their pace won’t help you. And if you’re lucky, they’re not really running their own pace and might fade late.

So unlike other sports where you actively try to put your opponent out of position, in running, everyone gets to do their own thing and then see where they chips fall. Yes, there’s strategy. Yes, they’re athleticism. Yes, there’s practice and preparation. But, your final time shouldn’t be impacted by the times of the people around you, whether they’re much better or much worse than you.

So run your own damn race.

I’m a hyper competitive person. I’d like to finish first, but I know I can’t. I’d like to run the whole thing, but I know I can’t do that either. What I can do is run a manageable pace, walk when I need to, and still beat some people who run the whole thing. That’s my race. Maybe as I progress, I’ll be able to run the whole thing, but it’s not worth the risk to push myself when I know it probably won’t help my time and will probably lead me to being in some real pain.


3. Too Far, Too Fast, Too Soon.


Now we’re transitioning to prep and training. And we’ll start where I’ve historically been the worst: trying to run too far, too fast, too soon.

I am a sloth. When I’m not being very conscious about it, I push myself too hard. I don’t just mean while I’m running; I mean in general. I try to push until my body gives out. The problem is eventually it doesn’t just give out for the run; it gives out for days and sometimes weeks.

This is what led me to the Zombies, Run! 5K app. I set a goal to do a 5K every month, and a friend recommended the app. I’d always been curious about the couch to 5K programs, but I just couldn’t make myself do it. The beginnings of them are always so boring.

At least with the app, I can hear a good story. The app also does a good job allowing for individual variability. There are free runs that close every session that allow you to run or walk as much as you would like. This is where I figure out how far I’ve gotten. It’s here that I can see I still have a good way’s to go, but at least I’m trying. I may try the first week’s session after I go through the program all the way through just to see what my progress looks like. The beginning and middle are usually pretty fixed, but there’s always the free run. I’m curious how I’d do.

Now, of course, there’s always a story. When I was getting ready for a mud run a couple of years ago, I had bought new shoes. I knew I’d pretty much ruin a pair, so I moved my running shoes to my mud run shoes, and then bought a new pair as my primary running shoes. And it was those infamous Nike Relentless.

On my first run, my feet and calves got really tired really quickly. So I couldn’t run fast. And so I didn’t get winded. I ran 2 miles nonstop outdoors for the first time in 2 or 3 years. Two days later, I went running with a coworker. They’re a slower jogger than me, so I slowed down to keep pace with them. And I really didn’t get winded easily this time. I ran 2.5 miles nonstop for the first time in 7 years.

The next day I could barely walk.

My foot was in hellish pain when I put weight on it. It took weeks to recover. I got new shoes (the Brooks Glycerin), and I eased my way into them. When I finally replaced the Nikes with the Adidas Energy Boost, I’ve been easing the Adidas in. I didn’t just make a full-blown switch to them. And this leads us to the next section.


4. Not Changing Things Up.


Variety is the spice of life. It’s also how you keep from over/undertraining muscles.

Running is awesome in that the barrier to participate is very low. You need somewhere to run, shoes, and clothes. You don’t even need nice versions of any of these. Just something that will work.

Running is terrible because the barrier to participate is low and sometimes we don’t have a proper filter to make sure people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. If you keep doing the same thing wrong, you’ll hurt yourself. Hell, you can do things right and still hurt yourself because you get too used to something.

One of the best ways to prevent injury is to change things up, including your shoes. Rotating shoes is a good predictor of injury prevention. Basically, you never let your foot get used to one pair, so it keeps adapting to each.

And this is why I’m rotating my shoes for my runs. I switch between my Brooks and my Adidas. They’re very different shoes. The do both absorb impact pretty well compared to most, but they run very differently. The Brooks are a pretty smooth ride and don’t allow me to put my feet in bad positions while running, but they’re heavy and slow me down after a while. The Adidas are lighter and give me more freedom, but that also leaves me more susceptible to letting my foot land wrong and hurting myself.

Another bad habit is running the same routes the same direction. You might loop back and have a net zero balance on elevation, but odds are there’s a tilt in your route or you’re consistently turning one way and not the other. This builds muscle imbalances. Just turn around. You’ll give yourself better balance that way. This is especially true if you run on a track (just get out of the way if you’re going against traffic; we’ll get back to this concept later).

And honestly, you need multiple routes. You’ll get used to the hills, that flat spots, etc. It will become a routine instead of being a challenge. Find a new place to run to at least rotate in some change (or run a new race every month that forces you to do something new). I can’t say that you’d get injured using the same route (provided you go in different directions). I’d just be concerned that you’d get mentally bored and you’d lose interest in what you’re doing. Of course, you can always download the Zombies app and flee for you not-yet-undead life.


5. Not Cross Training.


Running is really good about having you propel yourself forward in a straight line. And that’s about it. You’re not getting a full body workout. Even if your entire body aches, you damn well you didn’t get an upper body workout. You need to put time in with other exercises so you can stay balanced. Plus, with proper planning, that balance can pay dividends on the pavement.

I do yoga, not to help my running, but it does. It gives me more flexibility. It gives me more core strength. And helps me be more cognizant of my breathing. These are all important in running. These are all things that help lessen the toll of runs and help me recover more quickly.

So yeah, running’s good for you, just throw some other stuff in too.


6. Not Sleeping (Well).


Sleep is a weapon. I stole this from Robert Ludlum. But that doesn’t mean it ain’t true.

Sleep is when we recover mentally and physically. You can’t expect to be at your best if you’re treating your body like hourly rate motel.

You have to sleep, and you have to sleep well. Sleep is just like any other part of your training. You track your miles, you track your intake, so why not track your sleep? Why not track how well you’re sleeping?

I’m a Fitbit user. I love the stupid thing. It keeps track of my activity, which is awesome. But more importantly, it tracks my sleep. If I’m out of it, I can usually see why. It lets me know if I haven’t been doing a good job of taking time to rest. And that’s important. If I’m not resting, I typically am not keen to run, and I will almost certainly be binging to try and get energy from somewhere.

So make sleep a priority. Get pillows you like. Make your room comfortable. Get blackout curtains. Block the little lights from your electronics. Stretch before bed. Do whatever it takes. This is important.


7. Eating Like the Guy from Supersize Me.


As much as I like to eat crappy food (and I do love to eat things that will eventually give me a heart attack), even I know you can’t just eat whatever you want. You have to be mindful about what you’re ingesting.

Running doesn’t do much good if you’re taking in an extra 1,000 calories every day (believe me, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds).

I don’t really like to eat a lot of healthy stuff. Why, just today, I used my run to justify Popeye’s for lunch. That said, I had garlic shrimp with carrots and broccoli for dinner. Tomorrow for lunch, it won’t be perfect, but I’ll keep things in moderation and grab a salad.

All this because I know if I can drop weight, running will be a lot easier (and I’m trying to use running to drop weight anyway). My body likes me a lot better when I’m under 180 than it does when I’m over 190 (or 200 like I was a few months ago).

It’s a fight, but I have more energy when I’m not consuming complete garbage all the time, just some of the time.

And you know what you’re supposed to eat. If it’s breaded and/or fried, you should probably limit it to once or twice a week. And eat you some whole grains. Everything has a whole grain option it seems. And let’s not forget about fruits and veggies.


8. Not Listening to Your Body.


If there is one thing you’ll pick up in yoga, it’s to listen to your body. If you find the right teacher, they let you adapt things to meet your needs, whether it’s making something easier or harder. It’s on you to know what you can and can’t do.

It’s the same for running. You know how fast you should go. You know how much sleep you need. You know what food leaves your energized and what food leaves you listless.

You also know the difference between sore and hurt. And the difference between hurt and injured.

My zombie app should take 8 weeks. I’m 12 weeks in, and I still have 3 weeks of training to go. While I’ve had to take different chunks of time off, ultimately, I knew I couldn’t do the 3 sessions a week the app wanted me to do. It would take perfect scheduling and perfect reaction from my body. And my body doesn’t react perfectly. Sometimes my legs are shot. Sometimes I’m just too tired. And so I run 2 times a week instead. It gives me enough time to not be sore at the start of a run, but I don’t feel like I’m losing conditioning in the process.


9. Not Having Buddies.


Everyone needs buddies as a runner. Even if you run alone, you need people to commiserate with. Total isolation doesn’t seem like a legitimate strategy for many reasons.

For a lot of people, having a running buddy is encouraging. They can push each other, and they find it easier to run with someone along for the ride.

For other people, it works to have someone to talk to about running.

And then for masochists like me, it’s more about having people who can call you out if you aren’t running.

Either way, it helps to have running buddies. And if you’re such a cretin that you can’t get real running buddies, there’s no shortage of online communities to belong to. Hell, you’re sort of reading a piece of that universe right now.


10. Not Getting Out of the Way.


Now we’re transitioning to my sins while you’re running that aren’t just for race day.

Stay out of the way. If there are other people around, odds are they need to get around you. Don’t be the jerk who runs dead center in the path. And don’t be the jerks that run 2 or 3 wide and don’t let people around. Fall into a line for 1 second, and you will be infinitely improving people’s perception of you.

And of course, this applies to race day. There’s a logical flow to things. You pass on the left in the U.S. in a car, and people generally expect to pass on the left while running. If you’re going slow, try to move to the right in a race. And if you can’t without impeding others, just find a way to make room for other runners. The next speedwalker who decides to start at the front of a race and not get out of the way of people running is getting kicked, and they won’t catch me because I know they’re not going to be running. You’ve been warned.


11. Not Paying Attention to the Little Things.


This is about breathing and steps. This isn’t so much a problem at the beginning of a run as it is at the end. When you’re tired, you naturally start to lose form. You have to be more proactive about breathing and stepping properly, otherwise you’ll hurt your run at best and injure yourself at worst.

When these two things start to go and I can’t control it, that’s when I know it’s time to walk. It’s time to slow down, get my bearings, and recoup mentally and physically.


12. Not Being Mindful of Your Surroundings.


This can range from inconvenient (like finding dog poop) to dangerous (like finding the front bumper of a vehicle). Running has low barriers to participate because you’re typically out and about with the rest of the world. And they’re not always paying attention to their surroundings either.

I’m still kind of waiting for the day I get hit by a car because of this.

Nevertheless, it’s on you as a runner to pay attention. If you don’t pay attention to where you’re stepping, you could step in something inconvenient (e.g., the aforementioned poop) or you could step in something that twists your ankle. In the winter, ice becomes an issue.

You also have to pay attention to the other people around you, especially if those people are driving cars. Way too many people will turn without looking at who’s about to be in the crosswalk, and way too many people block the crosswalk while trying to pull into traffic.

I did the math. Getting hit by a car never works out for the runner, even if it’s a BMW with good insurance.

Another aspect of this mindfulness is paying attention to the critters. I’ve had too many close encounters with snakes not to be paranoid about that just in general. While running, Florida gave me a unique experience. There’s a lake on campus where I knew there were alligators, but it was also a nice path to run. I’d never seen a gator on a run, but knew it was possible. One day a gator was sunning itself 3 or 4 feet from the sidewalk. It never moved an inch and had I not been walking by that point, I might not have even noticed it. But I did, and it got an extra few feet of clearance.


13. Not Running (Barring Injury).


And now we’re in the final part of the list, and we’re getting big picture ‘cause I’m good like that. Not running is a bad running sin. If you have the ability to and you aren’t getting your cardio somewhere else, what’s your excuse? I just gave you a bunch of ways to make this process not suck. Hell, I’m running. Get your butt out there and run if there isn’t a doctor telling you not to.


14. Running Injured.


And this is the flipside. There are some idiots who run even when they know they shouldn’t. One of them is typing this right now. You’re not doing yourself any favors. You’ll only complicate whatever’s ailing you. This is one of those listen to your body and rest things. Sometimes you just shouldn’t run. It’s not complicated.


15. Thinking Running is the Cure.


A lot of people start running thinking it’s the magic cure they’ve been seeking, whether it’s weight loss, depression, stress, etc. Running won’t solve your problems. You’re better off going in with realistic expectations.

Running can absolutely be a part of the solution, but it’s not the only thing.

If you want to lose weight, that’s a lot of little decisions and is primarily about diet. You can get 500-750 calories in an hour running session. 10 minutes of eating pizza can easily put you over 1,000 calories. Under the right circumstances, I can clear 2,000 calories in 10 minutes. I think you see the problem.

Likewise, mental health issues will not be solved only by running. Therapists exist for a reason. Any of them worth their degree will be ok with you running as long as running doesn’t endanger you. They’ll also help equip you with the tools you need to manage your life better, even if you aren’t able to run.



Wow. That was exhausting. How are you still here? You should have given up 1,000 words ago. Oh well.

I hope this added some value. Feel free to comment and share any running sins you think were missing.


Super Awesome Year of the 5K

hot chocolate

Without further ado, I announce my first 5K of the 2015 something or other. I really should figure out a good title for this. Super Awesome Year of the 5K is all I’ve got. Maybe that will stick. Sort of like Foo Fighters sticking even though Dave Grohl has called it a pretty terrible name.

The larger goal for the year is to stay active. Unfortunately, staying active is too vague of a concept to really strive toward. It’s not measurable on its own. You need other indicators. I can track weight and calories, but that’s not terribly interesting.

This is what leads us to the 5Ks. One of the reasons I set a goal of a 5K per month was to keep myself engaged. I call them a goal, but they’re really an indicator of success toward larger aspirations. Namely avoiding diabetes, a heart attack, and being that person that everyone prays is sitting somewhere else when they waddle onto the plane. In all seriousness, I think my real ambition in life is to fit comfortably in place seats, even crappy economy seats (scratch that, especially in the crappy economy seats).

While the 5Ks are intended to keep me engaged in the larger activity goal, I’m doing other things to help me stay engaged in the 5Ks. The zombie app is an example of this. I could very easily find other couch-to-5K programs that would be free and/or better in terms of preparation, but that misses the point. The zombie app is interesting. It’s funny. And it’s zombies.

Do you have any idea how fun it is to watch people’s faces when you tell them you’re about to go run from zombies completely deadpan? You can see the thoughts slowly roll across their face (He’s a grown man. He can’t be serious… He’s serious. He’s a grown-ass man pretending to run from zombies).

It’s fantastic.

And of course, what you’re reading is another means of staying engaged in the 5K process. This blog serves multiple purposes. I’ve mentioned before that it’s a motivation to have other people know about your goal as a means of accountability. There are also people who want to be kept up to date, so this helps there.

But it serves a purely personal benefit as well. I like writing. This is a chance to practice that skill. I might not put as much time into this type of writing as I would for other endeavors, but this is a chance to practice the skill of putting thoughts into text. It helps.

And I also can screw around some with very basic design.

I’m tracking all of my 5Ks in a handy dandy chart

Look at this awesomeness. It even has a super official title and everything.
Look at this awesomeness. It even has a super official title and everything.

Originally, I was just going to track which race I ran and my time, but I thought I’d have a touch more fun with it. I decided while I was freezing my butt off this morning to add a drawing to it related to each race. Of course, I don’t really have anything to color with, so I got to bother a coworker about stealing crayons (and having an unexpected discussion on what map colors were; guess not everyone called them that as a kid). The last time I took art was in 5th grade, so it’s about what you’d expect.

And so that leads to this momentous announcement: The first 5K will be the Hot Chocolate Classic.


So we’re in the home stretch for the first race. My lower body hates me and it’s literally freezing outside this whole week, but I’m making progress on my running, and I might not die in the first run. Might.



The Hunger

I was forced to apologize to my friends and loved ones earlier this week because I ate all the food. All of it. It was terrible but oh-so-tasty.

The day after I work out, I have no further ambition than eating as much as I can possibly get away with and then eating just a little bit more. I actually gave myself pretty bad indigestion Monday night after going well over 1,000 calories more than what I should have.

One of the things that’s always been difficult for me when I’m working out is trying to manage the sheer amount of food I want to eat. At that point, it actually becomes a motivator to stay active, so at least there’s a fringe benefit of fatty eating all the food. There’s this weird guilt that comes from knowing I’m going to eat all the food, so I should probably at least pretend to be active. So far this week, I’ve managed to do something active after work, whether it was running, yoga, or just bowling.

Now as I start the prep for my 5K per month journey, I was also hoping to get a bit leaner. I’m by no means fat, but I’m carry a bit of extra weight, which I can feel the effects of, especially in my knee. This of course makes it more difficult to stay active. Not a fun game to play.

Once I cross the 180 threshold, it starts to take its toll. And then I hit 200 earlier this year for the first time, so I’m beginning the slow fight to get back under 180.

Can’t say that I’m doing terribly great, but I managed to turn the direction of my weight change and got close to 190, though I’m stalling out now that I’m running again.

Weight loss isn’t my goal, but I do think it’s a part of reaching my goal. The fact is, the 5K per month business isn’t a real goal; it’s just a measurable I’m using to help ensure that I’m staying active and taking care of my body.

And so I run. And I hunger. J’ai faim. Tengo hambre.

I just want more and more and more and more. It’s more of a battle to not overeat when I’m active than it is to actually stay active.

And of course, I’m being careful not to undereat or miss out on eating a balanced meal, but it’s no fun sitting at home in the evening contemplating a second supper. I don’t want to hurt myself, and I’d rather be a bit fat than malnourished.

This hunger has always been the case; I’ve just tried to be smarter about it.

I felt like a champ at 18-19 when I figured out I could eat healthier options without really cutting down the amount of food I ate, and I ended up trimming off 10 pounds of fat in a month or two. I was also lifting most days and running a fair amount. And I was still a teenager. Damn teenagers and their intact metabolisms.

At least I know I’m not the only one who deals with it.

When you look up this type of thing, the most common thing I see is about what foods to eat to help you feel full. Being careful about what I eat helps a little bit. A very little bit. No amount of protein and fiber makes me feel full (in fact, too much fiber has the opposite effect and leaves me feeling drained instead).

In terms of workouts, yoga’s been the best at keeping my appetite under control, which is in line with some research on the matter. Guess it’s partly the mindfulness and partly the lower intensity of yoga compared to weight lifting and running.

At the end of the day, the big thing that works for me is tracking. Even if I don’t always win the day, I’m at least holding myself accountable and seeing where I’m messing up.

I use a Fitbit to monitor my activity, though I don’t treat it as gospel knowing it only guesses. I use myfitnesspal to track my food, and so these two apps give me a good idea of when it’s been a good day and when it’s been a bad day. At least starting to run again has gotten more more good days on the Fitbit.

The following are some articles on the matter.

A pretty comprehensive article: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/weight-loss/eating-help/control-cravings/control-your-post-workout-appetite/

Short article on food choices http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2012/08/12/how-to-deal-with-post-workout-hunger/

And the article that tells you not to beat yourself up so much http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/exercise-and-hunger/bgp-20056155