Motivation

Standard

So, my partner and I signed up for a 10K race on October 26th. That is not a whole lot of time to go from where I am now (haven’t run more than 5K in months, haven’t run at all for weeks) to being able to finish a 10K in under an hour without puking (that’s my current definition of a successful 10K).

Standing in my way are:

  • a persistent and occasionally productive cough,
  • exercise induced asthma,
  • a sudden onset of autumnal weather,
  • a serious amount of thesis-related stress and anxiety,
  • and a deep, but hopefully temporary, ambivalence to my own sporting achievements.

Normally, when I get in a fitness funk I find that signing up for a race gives me a bit of motivation. You know, a kick up the backside that sets me in motion. I set up a new training schedule on myasics, which you can check out if you want to see what I think I will need to be doing in order to train. I will also be logging my runs on there so you can check it out to keep me honest, if you feel so inclined.

I set it up for three times a week, but I had a bit of trouble because sometimes websites are too damn clever for their own good. For example, since October 26th is not so far away, it wouldn’t let me select that date as the date for the race. The closest I could get was October 29th. Then, I put in a vague estimation of how fast I think I could reasonably run a 10K right now if I had taken a dose of my asthma inhaler and were being pursued by wolves, as well as how fast I wanted to run a 10K on race day. The website thinks I can’t make that much improvement in the allotted time, so my paces and final estimated finishing time are slower than I would like. Harrumph.

Will this be enough training? Will signing up for this race be enough motivation? Will this training help me clear up the cough, reduce the impact of the asthma, and keep a handle on the stress and anxiety? I will tell you as the race draws nigh.

The wheels have been put into motion.

Standard

First off, minutes (and I literally mean minutes) ago, I submitted all the required paperwork to initiate the PhD graduation process. Bam! (Emeril Lagasse style… you’ll just have to imagine that in your head.) There are six parts to this paperwork and I just submitted one and two, which are arguably the easiest ones. Despite being the easiest, they were still a pain in my ass. Honestly, why do they need to see the grades from my masters degree when I also submitted the diploma from my masters degree? Fortunately, it turns out I did have a copy of those grades and didn’t need to contact my old uni to get them.

Next, I have started the double knit scarf (no picture yet because it is only one and a half rows in and doesn’t look like anything) but have learned that fuzzy yarns are not ideal for learning to double knit. They just make it hard to see which loops are knit and which are purl. I originally bought this yarn for a stranded knit-in-the-round hat, which of course only ever has knit stitches so the fuzziness was not an issue. Nevertheless, I shall overcome. Mostly because the fuzzy yarn is what I have to work with but also because I can be very bloody minded when I choose.

Then, I started the wardrobe detox. I took 4 dresses, one skirt, one t-shirt and a pair of trousers to the charity donation box. I feel good, and I vow never to buy cheap crap from H&M again. All but two of the items were H&M and I really should know by now that their stuff doesn’t hang well, doesn’t fit well, doesn’t wash well and doesn’t look good. There is also a pair of sandals that I think might get the boot and some belts and scarves that I haven’t used in a while. I should also go through my jewelry, but that is a little emotionally charged so I am not sure I am ready to do that.

I also swapped out the clearly summer stuff for the clearly winter stuff from the suitcase where I keep my off season clothes. Flip-flops, summer dresses and swimsuits are gone, sweater dresses, sweaters, knit hats and furry coat liners are out. Unfortunately, the winter stuff takes up more space so the drawers are still crammed full, despite the trip to the charity box. Le sigh. I may have to be a bit more ruthless than I originally thought. My partner is out of town this weekend, so I may take the opportunity to lay everything out and have a good look at the big picture without worrying that he will make fun of me for my OCD tendencies.

I am working damn hard

Standard

And it is paying off, for the most part. First, on a non-athletic front, the thesis is going well. The supervisors are confident that it can be published as a trade edition, meaning that it will be a proper book. Hopefully it will become a text book for some classes on complex adaptive systems, philosophy of science, modelling as a modern version of thought experiments, or sustainability science. We’ll see.

 

But on the athletic front, I have done some serious working out every day this week so far! I have carried on with the Spartan 30 day abs/core challenge, which today focused on hips and butt rather than abs. Not only it is important not to do the same thing everyday, it is important to not work the same area, so this was a nice change. I also did a few pushups, pull ups and dips, with weight offset for the pull ups and dips.

I jogged a slow and asthmatic 4K on Tuesday, ran a relatively slow 7.5K yesterday, and did a bit of interval training this morning. Tomorrow will be a no-running day to give me enough rest before my 10K race on Saturday.

And, since I know you are dying to see it, here is my belly. I took this photo in the gym after my morning workout. I feel like it is reassuringly flat, but not particularly muscular, or at least not visibly muscular. I have the rest of this month to change that.

IMAG1239-1

Back on track…

Standard

So, my fitness plans have been pretty well derailed by a lot of stuff, only some of which is no bueno. For example, I have been laid low by the dreaded hay fever, which is triggering my asthma something terrible. Then, I travelled to Austria to see some friends get married, which means I ended up eating a hell of a lot of really rich food and drinking several metric ass-tons of alcohol that I would not normally have consumed. However, I had a great time and kept active while there with some swimming, biking, and hiking. Finally, I finished writing the final content chapter of my thesis (the crowd goes wild!) but had to put in some serious hours to get that done and dusted on time, which left little time or energy for the fitness plans.

 

But all of that is now behind me. I signed up here to receive a workout of the day in an email from Spartan races. They do those obstacle course type things, which I would love to try someday but there are none near me. I also signed up to do their 30 day challenge, which this month is about core and abs. So today’s combined workout was a 2 minute dynamic warmup, 10 minutes running, 1 minute burpees, 5 minutes running, 2 minutes burpees, 5 minutes running, 30 butterfly situps, 30 pushups, and 20 pullups with 20 kilos weight offset. I imagine that I will be feeling that soon enough.

 

Irritatingly, my sports bra managed to malfunction again, fortunately near the end of the running portion of the workout. One of the hooks on the back (and there are many, many hooks) came undone. It didn’t seem to affect my chestal stability too much, but meant I wasn’t totally relaxed for all of the running. Boo.

 

I think the six-pack abs challenge I have going with my colleague will have to end at the end of June rather than at the beginning because I am not prepared. By which I mean, I do not have six pack abs right now.

 

 

 

On another note, I also signed up to do a night time 10K race this weekend. I have never done one of those before, but it could be good fun. It is a Nike sponsored race, which means it costs a bit of money but tends to include a nice t-shirt and to have good facilities. Nike used to do one of my favourite races when I lived in Barcelona, so I am expecting good things.

Then there is the 14K race the week after. I don’t think I will have trouble running the distance, but it will be interesting to see what my time will be.

 

Right. Belly shot tomorrow, and I shall keep you posted on the daily workouts.

 

Oof. So much to do.

Standard

Do you ever get those times in your life, where you feel all the things on your to-do list, all those casual suggestions or offhand promises (“Yeah, we should get together for lunch some time. It’d be great.”), and all of your deadlines come due at once?

This is one of those times for me. I am finishing up the last content chapter on the thesis, so that’s a big deal. Then the six-pack abs challenge is coming to and end sometime in June (I have to find out whether it ends at the beginning of the month or the end…), so that is preying on my mind. Then there is a trip to plan to see some friends get married at the top of a lonely mountain in Austria (What?!? A week away? When did that… but… Eh?) which is a distraction to say the least.  Also, I applied for unemployment benefit, which means I need to start sending out job applications and writing cover letters, which requires non-trivial amounts of time and mental energy.

 

So. Lots on. Here are two somewhat belated belly pics, one which looks a bit spooky because decent bathroom lighting is not apparently worth designing.

IMAG1094IMAG1109

Not terrible. But I think I need three or four solid weeks of serious discipline if I am going to win this six-pack abs challenge. On the plus side, I did your planks yesterday… each of which lasted ONE MINUTE AND FIFTEEN SECONDS! Holy belly button, Batman! I did not think I could plank for so long back when I started this challenge.

Keepin’ on keepin’ on.

Standard

I have been particularly active so far this week, running twice and going to the gym in the morning twice too. I have also been especially good at doing core work on the RSI prevention breaks that my computer enforces, alternating between crunches one day and planks the next. My planks are now up to 1 minute and 10 seconds. Crunches are much easier. I hope to keep it up.

 

Yesterday my partner and I had planned to run 8K after he got home from work, but he called to say that a meeting had run long, making him miss a train, and that I should run on my own. Which I did.

 

I borrowed his GPS device so that I would have some idea of how far I had gone and how fast I was going, which reinforces my desire to get a proper GPS device for myself. I am looking at this all-singing, all-dancing new Polar one, coming soon. Of course, I could just buy the GPS unit that is compatible with the current Polar heart rate monitor/sport watch that I have now… and maybe a flow link to connect the whole business to the web to track data better over the long term… and maybe a new chest strap in small (or extra small) so the bastard thing will fit properly… but the new one is so… shiny!

 

Anyway, using the borrowed GPS device, I found that I actually ran 8.32K, in a reasonably fast time. This means that I am on track for the running plan I created for the 14K race in June. Friday is the next run, also 8K, and then a 12K on Sunday. I think I can do it. I can even do it without purchasing any new gear.

It’s the final countdown….!

Standard

We are on the cusp of a new month, which is important because that month is the final month before the 6 pack abs challenge finishes. That’s right, June is the reckoning!

I am not really too worried about it though, for several reasons.

  • I am doing a reasonable amount of work on developing the core muscles. I can certainly feel the difference when I go running and I can see the benefits in my run times. My slow runs are at the speed that I used to do for my fast runs, and my fast runs are way faster than I ever thought I could do.
  • I am doing a reasonable job of controlling my food, in terms of quantity and quality. This is not to say that I don’t eat any chocolate (that way madness lies), but I am keeping it under control. I eat LOTS of veg every day, and quite often just have fruit (maybe with shredded coconut on top) when I need something sweet.
  • I am making good progress on all my other goals. For example, I just submitted a chapter to the supervisors last week. Hopefully, that was the last difficult chapter to write, so that I can get on with the difficult business of editing soon. Also, just this morning I achieved one of my other mini-fitness goals! 2K on the rowing machine in under 10 minutes (9:49 to be exact).
  • My partner and I signed up for a 14K race in mid June, which means that he will be motivated to train more, which makes it easier for me to train more too. For example, he suggested we go for an 8K run yesterday, when if it had been me alone I might have only done 5.

So there you have it. Here you also have the most recent belly shot, although this one is a week old. New one tomorrow!
IMAG0943

 

Been absent

Standard

Sorry to have disappeared like that. Life gets in the way. In fact, life is getting in the way in a lot of ways right now. A family member has died, so there is international travel associated with that. I was invited to give a presentation, so there is prep work for that. And the research is currently revolving around running some pretty big simulations and then analyzing the seriously massive results. All of that takes time.

 

So, long story short. I have not been running at all this past week. But sometimes a break can be a really good thing. Doing too much for too long, or even the same thing for too long, can lead to serious burnout.

 

Hopefully I will get out there this afternoon and then again on Saturday. Probably not a long or fast run, since springtime is hitting my hay fever hard, but something is better than nothing. I have been able to control the appetite a bit better though, even though the travel means that I don’t always have good options open to me for meals and snacks. We’ll see.

 

Anyway, here is a belly shot. I rather like how it is starting to look.

IMAG0944

Feed the Tree

Standard

Today I bring you the classic belly shot, but this time with a totally unnecessary filter.

IMAG0889-1-1

I am starting to get vertical lines showing on either side, probably because I do a fair bit of core work on the sides. Russian twists with a medicine ball at the gym, side planks, etc. I am still waiting to develop a vertical line down the middle, but that will probably be clearest when I have not just been over-eating for a week.

 

It occurred to me that my cycle might not be the only cause of my appetite increase… I have been doing much more running in the past couple of weeks than I had been doing for the preceding two months or so. When I was training for the marathon (over a year ago!) I was hungry all the time too, especially on the day after my long runs. Nothing was safe! So I will have to keep an eye on that and be prepared with easy snack options.

 

I also want to share a different belly pic, this time showing how my jeans are fitting. IMAG0890-1-1

Seriously! So why don’t I buy smaller jeans? Well, 2 reasons.

  • These are an Amerian size 2, which is almost the smallest size for adults. It is often the smallest size you can get in the shop itself, although a size 0 could be available online. I could order online, or buy kid’s jeans, except for…
  • Whoever sizes clothes sucks ass. I got these size jeans because they were the smallest size that fit my legs. I have reasonably long legs, so kids jeans are right out. I also have athletic legs, which means my thighs and calves are muscular. Too muscular for size 0 jeans, which are apparently not meant for people who stay slim through exercise.

Consequently, I only own 2 pairs of jeans and mostly wear skirts and dresses, which do not present me with the problem of being too tight around my muscly legs. I still have the problem of them being too short if I get the size that fits my waist, but I am willing to deal with that.

Other news? Today is a plank day. So far I have only had one RSI break, so have done one minute and five second forward plank, one minute and five second side plank and also a one minute and five second superman (where I lay on my belly and raise my arms and legs off the ground). More will come later in the day.

Think positive!

Standard

To bring you up to speed on developments since last week:

  • I do have asthma, the doctor did give me an inhaler to use daily, in addition to the one to use just before exercise. All seems to be going reasonably well.
  • I have managed to gain .6 of a kilo. How I did that is a mystery, as all my clothes are hanging off me. Whatever.
  • The gym I normally go to does not have a body fat measuring device, but I can use my same card to access another location that has said device. I may have to go slightly out of my way one day as I head into work. Actually… I could stop by on my way home today…
  • Core exercises are continuing at the office. I try to alternate days I do planks (forward and sides) with days I do crunches and reverse crunches. Today was a crunch day. So far, 40 crunches, 40 reverse crunches. Boo. Yah.
  • I am feeling less hungry now that Aunt Flo has left. Thank god for that because I was about to ruin our weekly budget on a load of junk food.
  • I forgot my phone today, so no belly pic. I will try tomorrow.

And on an unrelated note, my partner and I are thinking of signing up for the Lisbon half marathon in October. That should give me plenty of time to finish this damn thesis and still train for a longer distance than I am currently training for. The course looks lovely (all along the water!) and Lisbon has one of the longest bridges in Europe. Wow.

 

On another unrelated note, I have decided to participate in the #100HappyDays photo challenge. You just have to post one photo every day for 100 days of something that makes you happy. Simples. There is nothing to win, except for a more positive mental outlook, and nothing to lose, but a bit of time. Since I like photo-a-day challenges, I don’t mind losing that tiny bit of time and I am quite interested to see if I can win a sunnier disposition. I started yesterday and can already think of about a billion things to post pictures of.