Friday, August 31, 2007

Thirty-One Days

On August 1, I posted my crazy exercise idea for the month. Do something active every single day, for 31 days.

Today, I had to decide between running (what I wanted to do) and mowing the lawn (what would make my weekend better). I went with the lawn. 90 minutes of pushing, pulling, shoving, and purposeful walking later, my Augustathon was complete.

A rough breakdown of days:
  • 4 Lawn-Mowing
  • 8 walks
  • 12 Runs
  • 7 Bodyweight (all included walks as well)
I sort-of expected more runs, but that works out to roughly 3 a week. Considering I was going on zero substantial rest, I think that's a fair amount.

I ran both faster and further than I have in 2 years. I brought my bodyweight routine to 30 pushups and 60 situps, and I'm not sure who was more surprised by that - myself, or my wife. I pushed myself, but avoided injury. I learned a lot about what I'm made of, and why I shouldn't settle for less than something great out of myself.

Thanks to the folks who kept an eye on me, both here and in meatspace. Jess, you thought I was nuts, but in the end you were nothing but encouraging and helpful. Jank and Tea, your words of encouragement and frequent blog visits meant a lot to me. I look forward to staying in touch with both of you.

I'll post soon about what my fitness goals are for September. For now, I'm taking a day or two off!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Economics of being a geek

(this post isn't about running ... though I did get my workouts in yesterday [walk/upper-body] and today [another "faster" treadmill run])

My wife and I used to joke that I had an endless supply of toys I would want to buy in the $200 price range. She buys clothes, shoes, handbags, desk organizers, all kinds of stuff. But she buys it cheap, like "I got this tank top for 3 bucks" cheap. I, on the other hand, will go 6 months without spending any money on myself, and then turn around and declare I need a new video card for the computer, and it's going to cost $200.

What I noticed the other day, though, was that my little wish list had gotten more expensive. I now had an endless list of $3-500 things, and a few that cost more than that. My wish list video card isn't $200 any more, it's $400. My wishlist monitor is $500. I catch myself looking at a used casino-quality poker chip set at $440 and thinking it's affordable. I catch myself pricing 1080p projectors that cost 4x as much as 720p projectors. Etc.


Because I'm a geek. I research all kinds of crap. So when I read about something that costs $200, I can always find someone who can convince me that if I just spend $300, I'll be getting much better of a deal. And I know that if I can afford $200, I can probably afford $300, so ....

It's important to recognize this kind of thing. Because you don't need to be a geek about everything you spend money on. If I took the same approach I take to consumer electronics to, say, fashion, I'd probably be wearing $200 jeans instead of these Levi's I got on sale at Target for $20.

The fact is, sometimes the difference between $20 and $200 is night and day, and it's worth $200 to experience that. It's important to know when to stop that progression, though. It's important to know when to say no.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I am a runner

So, Monday's sabotage didn't end my exercise Augustathon. No sir!

I got home, had a light dinner, relaxed for a half hour, and then went down to the treadmill and ran my usual treadmill workout, at a slightly faster pace than usual. I was challenged but not beaten by the workout, and it was a huge ego boost to run the whole workout at a higher pace than usual.

In related news, my wife picked up some new running shoes and grabbed me a pair of "real" running shorts. I tried not to feel like a fraud as I was gave them a test run. :)

I had another moment of revelation yesterday, though. I was driving my mother to the grocery store, and as I rounded a corner and started to drive down a hill, a runner was running along the side of the road. This woman looked beaten, exhausted, spent, and yet fast, fit, and determined. She was making it up this hill come hell or high water. And instead of thinking, "What is that crazy woman doing?" I though, "You can do it!" I identified with the myriad of complex emotions on her face, her body language, her obvious strength and exhausted stance.

I don't know what kind of runner she was (I suspect her talent far outpaces mine), but I felt in that instant that we shared something. We spoke the same secret language, even if we speak it in vastly different dialects.

I always shy from saying I'm a runner. I say things like, "I'm doing some running to help get in better shape" or "I like to run sometimes."

Bah, to hell with that. I saw it yesterday. I'm a runner.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Yesterday's workout was pretty light -- confined it to walking, as my foot cramped up after just five minutes of warmup and I had to stop and stretch it.

I went to bed last night, and set the alarm for 5:30 so I could get a run in before work and my long Monday. I woke up refreshed and happy, and squinted across the room at the clock.


So, yeah, setting the alarm and actually turning the damn thing on are two different things. Quite a scramble to get both of us ready and out the door before 7 AM.

So, now I have to work out after my long day ... or sneak in a walk (in my work clothes and shoes) after lunch and call it good enough.

On the other hand, my body sure appreciated that extra hour of sleep :).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Feeling strong, feeling weak

This morning I did some walking and upper-body work. I did 30 pushups and 60 situps, along with a 30-minute walk. That's my third "weight" workout this week, and it gives me a great sense of accomplishment. I feel stronger and fitter, knowing I'm doing things I couldn't do a couple months ago. I can see changes in my body makeup, even though my weight loss has slowed considerably this month.

But I'm feeling spent. The heat, the little cold I just fought off, the exercising every day, I feel like it's adding up. I wake up every morning just a little sore. My legs aren't recovering as fast as I want them too. I need more sleep, and I need a couple days off. I already think I will walk instead of running tomorrow, as my legs are a bit sore from chasing little kids around today (our nephew's 9th birthday party, including wiffle ball in the humid upper 90s).

Anyway, I'm going to finish the month out, and then Saturday, the first day after August, I'll be spending 12-14 hours babysitting for a toddler and an infant (with my wife, mind you). After that, I think I'll just rot on Sunday, and let the exercise pick back up on Monday (on Labor Day, how fitting).

How odd is it that I'm planning a two-day break from exercise like it's some kind of vacation? This crazy experiment really has changed my outlook.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wait, Summer again?

After a solid week of sub-80 temps, today we spiked back up into the 80s, where we'll sit for the weekend.

Personally, I'm ready for fall. Autumn is without a doubt my favorite time of year. It starts with my birthday, drifts into football season, and brings with it fresh apples, sweatshirts, cool breezes and the smell of fallen leaves. And even when it turns into winter, I stay happy -- cold slate-gray November skies just mean Thanksgiving is around the corner, the Christmas season after that, and then New Years and the Superbowl.

Let's not talk about February through April.

Anyway, today was warmer than I wanted it to be, so my almost-repeat of last week's 4.5 mile run was cut a bit short. I cut out the 3/4 of a mile with the big hill, and did a good 3.75 instead. It felt great, but I'm glad to be home and cooling down.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lack of willpower

Every Thursday my group at work has "tea time." We brew a pot of tea, and eat snacks. It's a break from the work week, a chance to socialize for half an hour to an hour. A lot of good conversations start at tea time, from learning about people's off-hours lives to finally getting a chance to have a face-to-face conversation about a bug that keeps going back and forth between development and quality engineering.

I am a very social eater. If others are eating, I am eating. I struggle with this every Thursday. I plan around it, play tricks on myself, eat a fruit immediately beforehand, etc. And every Thursday I feel guilty when I eat more than I should have.

Today was no different. I was the only manager representing my immediate team there, so I felt the need to stay there (and not go back to my desk after the first 15 minutes, one of my "tricks" to avoiding pigging out) and be social. Of course, that meant nibbling on jelly beans and cashews and candy-coated peanuts....

As I felt guilty about it later in the evening, I berated myself for having no willpower, for being weak-spirited.

And then I looked at the calendar. 23 days of exercise in a row, as of today.

I have plenty of willpower. I just have to focus it.

Side note: we've been doing a lot of experimentation with cooking at home, to save money and be more healthy. Today we learned we don't really like Sage that much, certainly not as the primary spice in a side dish. Anybody want some leftover white bean salad?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More concrete fitness goals

Inspired by Jank's post on goals (in which he referenced my post on goals, go figure), I put some thought into more aggressively focusing on specific fitness goals for the next year.

Here's an idea I'm kicking around.

What if:

- Over the winter, I work on slowly increasing my base mileage, speed, and strength
- In early spring, I harshly evaluate my fitness with the aim of ...
- Starting a 6-month training schedule for a half-marathon in fall of 2008?

I've never run more than a 10K. The 10K I ran, I ran too hard, and didn't recover well from the resulting vague injuries I suffered.

But in spring of '08 I'll have a good year of running on my legs (this time around), and should be in a good position to determine if I'm okay to push it to the next level or not.

I haven't committed to this idea yet. But it has a certain attraction.

The long term payoff for this plan, of course, would be to run a marathon before I turn 40. But that's crazy talk and I'm going to shut up about it now. The half is a crazy idea, never mind the big one....

A stupid rant

So I went to register for a race today. I figured I would do it online; I mean, who wants to print out an application, write a check (I write maybe one check a quarter, honestly), and put it in a mailbox (I couldn't even tell you how much stamps cost these days, I buy them so infrequently)?

I felt like I was stepping back in time, trying to do this. First off, the interface was terrible. But I'm not here to bitch about bad UI design (even though I could, trust me). What killed me is that the form which allowed you to enter your payment information was not secured! Plaintext http. No SSL. And they wanted me to type in my credit card number.

I do software for a living. I cannot imagine in this day and age that there are third-party websites you can outsource your shopping cart management to which don't use https. I mean, I can't believe there are ones which are still this bad. There are entire companies whose business model seems to be centered around this sort of thing -- gathering registration for races, collecting the money, etc. This isn't a novel problem. We solved this problem a half-decade ago, didn't we?

I was blown away. Here I am telling people how safe it is to use your credit cards online, because everything is secured, blah blah blah. I take it back. It may be 2007, but you still better make sure you're connected via a secured protocol.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


My 3-mile treadmill run today brought me to 21 consecutive exercise days. 3 weeks! It's officially a habit now, right?

Ha! :)

The truth is that I've learned a lot from these 3 weeks. The biggest lesson is that it's not that hard to exercise. I can always find the time. Sometimes I might need to plan ahead, but it's not rocket science.

So what do I want to do? What exercise plan do I want to set into motion going forward?

I'm probably going to register for a race in early October. So what will I do in September?

Monday, August 20, 2007

34 Years Old

I feel old today. I feel out of shape. I know it's nothing, and it'll pass, but this morning I just wanted to stay in bed. No such luxury available -- got up at 5:30, did my upper body workout (that and yesterday's lawn mowing keep my exercise Augustaton steady at 20 days), and dragged myself to work.

Yesterday I promised some thoughts on where I am, where I'm going, and all that. Here are some thoughts.

Keep doing what I'm doing. I feel like I'm in a healthy place as far as my attitude towards eating and fitness goes, so I want to keep things going in that direction. Fine tuning here and there, sure, but overall keep things going. The same is basically true for money -- I'm making better financial decisions than I was a year ago, and I don't feel like I need to make huge changes there.

Feed my joy. I need to remember to seek out the events that make for memorable joyous moments. Stumbling upon them is wonderful, but making opportunities for them to happen is even better. There's nothing wrong with enjoying my toys, my hobbies, my diversions. But at some level I need to remember that the way I use those things should always be directed towards creating opportunities for memorable joy.

Stay open-minded and eager. It's highly probable that big changes are on the way for me ... Jess and I are talking very seriously about starting a family, soon. I must not let my fear of the unknown taint what should be an amazing time in our lives.

So, my apologies if it isn't ground-breaking. There's more I could write, about how maybe I should be doing things differently at work, or some such. But as far as my home life goes, this is where I think I am.

We'll see how I feel in a year....

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Nothing changes on New Year's Day

(did a short but good walk with my wife yesterday for my Augustathon progress -- 18 days down!)

Most people look at New Year's Day as a time to reflect on achievements, compose goals, and set direction for the next 12 months.

I've never really found that easy. For one thing, you've likely just spent some time over-indulging for the holidays. You're quite possibly stressed, having just eaten too much, spending too much, and hanging out with people you don't normally visit.

I've found my birthday to be a better time to do this sort of self-reflection. And so, one day before I turn 34, I set my mind to these kinds of questions. What have I done right and wrong this year? And what do I want to do better next year? What do I want to have true about me when I turn 35, on August 20 2008?

I'll follow up with some thoughts either later today, or more appropriately, tomorrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sneaking out for a quickie at lunch

Friday, I often work from home. I generally work from home one day a week, and in the summer the best day for that is Friday, because the traffic on 495 and 90 is a real bitch at the end of the work week (I actually prefer working from home Tuesday or Wednesday; I tend to get more done, but oh well).

One of the pluses of working from home is being able to sneak in exercise time. So yesterday, I logged out of IM around 11 AM and tied the sneakers on. With temps below 70 and the sun just starting to peek out, it was a rare chance for a beautiful mid-day run.

I started out, as with all my neighborhood runs, with only a rough idea of how long I'd be out. In the end, I made just about all the "make the run longer" choices when they popped up, and I walked back up the porch totally spent but feeling incredibly satisfied.

4.5 miles, which is "not a big deal" for most runners, but is the farthest I've run in over two years. It's just a number, and not that big of one, but it made me feel amazing. Around 3 miles into the run there's this nasty hill, pretty steep but not that long. It's just enough to make you question your sanity before you get to come back down.

Anyway. My legs are complaining now, but man is my soul happy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A day off ... not really

So, yesterday I was feeling beat for some reason. I came home from work and just wanted to take a nap. My wife, who is struggling just as I am to overcome bad habits and replace them with good ones, wanted to get out of the house and get dinner out.

I knew if I went out to eat right then, I'd be in some serious trouble come workout time. I was planning to log into World of Warcraft at 8 in case I was needed in a raid (for you non-geeks out there, pretend I'm saying "I was going to a friend's house, in case a seat opened up at his card game." It doesn't quite mean the same thing, but that's the idea), and I can't really work out immediately after eating.

So I asked my wife to give me 45 minutes. I got changed, grumbling the whole time, and disappeared into the basement.

They weren't the best minutes of exercise I've had this month, but I got them in (walking, to give my joints a little of the "babying" Tea reminded me about yesterday). I came back up, cleaned up, and joined her for dinner at our favorite small-town haunt.

I ate a hamburger and some onion rings, but resisted the siren's call of the place's awesome selection of microbrews. A small victory, really.

But, hey, not long ago I would have skipped the walk, ordered an appetizer, and enjoyed a couple beers as well. So you take what you can get, you know?

I'll be better today, I promise :).

(I have to -- tomorrow is another BBQ!)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A blog post a day

I didn't know when I started my Augustathon exercise experiment that it would also mean I was going to blog (almost) every day, but it seems to be working out that way. I'm glad, though, because writing more regularly (even if it's just glorified diary entries like this) is something I want to do in life.

Yesterday's run was hard, and I'm not sure why. Usually after the first ten minutes, I get into a groove (see my previous post). But last night I just felt slow and awkward the first 20 minutes. My groove finally hit in the final ten, and I considered doing another 5-10 minutes just to enjoy it a bit more, but my knee had been sore earlier in the day and I didn't want to push my luck.

I think I made the right choice -- the knee is fine, so far, today (though it was sore on and off until I went to bed last night).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How exercise taught me patience

I noticed something interesting the other day. I was mentally checking my progress on my Augustahon exercise experiment, and I realized I was just a bit over a third done. And right then, I told myself I knew I could complete it.

How do I know this?

I visualized myself on my treadmill. The clock said 15:00 ... 5 minutes of warmup, plus 10 minutes of a 30 minute run. And at that point, I know I'm a third of the way done, and I can do the rest.

I play all kinds of numbers games with myself, all the time. It's part of being so mathematically inclined. But the 1/3-done game is relatively new, and it certainly came from running such a regimented schedule during the latter part of my C25K program and the runs in the weeks immediately following.

The logic is relatively simple. Imagine you are at home. You need to run somewhere and back. Well, you immediately split that run in half. You know if you ran to someplace, you can obviously run back (I'm not crazy like some of you, running distances we clearly invented cars to traverse ;) ). Now, imagine you are running to your new halfway point. You are 2/3 of the way there ... clearly, you can handle the final 1/3, right?

You're 1/3 of the way done with your run, but in your mind, you've done the hardest part. You know you can do the rest.

Somehow, this stupid math/visualization trick has found its way into my daily routine. A third has magically become this milestone measurement.

After all, the hardest part is done.

(Augustathon update: upper-body workout with a side-order of "walking", immediately upon arrival from work. 25 push-ups, 50 sit-ups, skipped the squats, 25 minutes of walking. Next time, I think I'll go for 30/60 ... or put the squats back in....)

Monday, August 13, 2007

A case of the mondays

The alarm went off at 5:27 AM, and let me tell you, I did not want to hear it. I had gone to bed early-ish, but had not slept well. I felt like I wanted another two hours of shut-eye.

So of course I put on my gym clothes and hit the treadmill for 40 minutes. Because, hey, if you're tired and miserable, you may as well be burning Calories too.

I'm fine now, and quite thrilled to have completed my exercise for the day before breakfast. But at the time, it was a special kind of torture.

Monday is a tough day for me. I drive my wife to work, then I drive to work, have a busy Monday of work, then drive to my mothers' place, pick her up, take her grocery shopping, and then drive back to my wife's work and pick her up. Of course, she has a longer work today than I do, so she's dead on her feet just like I am (shorter work day, but a lot more running around). She usually drives home, and we often stop for dinner on the way back. This means we leave the house before 7 AM, and usually get home around 8. It's a long, tiring day.

That's why I had to get my run in when I did. Because getting on that treadmill at 8 after this day is probably harder than getting on it at 5:30 before it.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Eagerly choking

Yesterday's cookout was a good time -- got to see some friends, and some "friends of friends" (ok, really family of friends) that I don't know that well. My buddy Clint finally broke the news to everyone that he and his wife are going to be parents next year (congrats!), and we got to see the new baby that our friends who hosted the BBQ just had 3 weeks back (congrats again!).

And I smoked a cigar. Well, half of one.

I've never smoked a cigar, but what the hell? I mean, lots of runners smoke, right?

Seriously, though, I know it's not something I'd get into. I knew I would only get so much out of it. But you have to try new things, even stupid things.

You only live once, and I'm sure I've done (and will do) worse things on a whim than smoke a cigar :).

(Augustathon workout today was 1h45m spent doing yardwork, mostly pushing a heavy-ass lawnmower around.)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

August is 1/3 done

And my silly exercise experiment is going strong.

I feel stronger and fitter, even if every day I'm thinking, god, why did I do this, I just want to take a day off and vegetate.

Plenty of time for that in the Winter, right? :)

Yesterday I had every intention of mowing the lawn, but it poured all day. I went to do my upper body workout and my arms and abs reminded me I need more than just a day of rest on that. So I did a 45-minute brisk walk to save my legs for today.

Today, we hopped in the car and went to the state park, where we did a bit less than an hour of running and walking along some really hilly roads through the woods. My legs are a little sore now, which is exactly what I wanted! We saw a tiny little orange salamander (we see them squished a lot, this was the first one we saw alive), a chipmunk, and some birds. Running at the park is, to me, the payoff to staying in shape -- getting to just get out there and enjoy the beauty of New England on my own terms.

This afternoon, we are heading to a BBQ with some friends. Burgers, beers, and probably a few games of cards as the day wears on. Not exactly healthy, but what's the point of living longer if you can't have a little fun with the days you're earning?

Friday, August 10, 2007

The "reality" of it all

So, yesterday I did another treadmill workout after work -- 3 miles of wishing I could get into a groove of running in the morning but knowing my long commute makes that much more difficult than it used to be.

I watched my DVR'd copy of the first episode of LA Ink, the spinoff of Miami Ink. I'm not sure why I enjoy running to Miami Ink -- probably because I see a lot of stories of people who have conquered something big, or are in a period of intense transition in life. They are celebrating, they are taking note, they are doing something to recognize an important event by permanently modifying their bodies.

I don't know that it's something I'd ever do, but I admire the idea behind it.

This first episode of LA Ink, though, tried my patience. We watch as Kat goes to her old friends and tries to convince them to come work for her at her new LA shop.

It was ... painful. You know all her friends are going to say yes. You know they've decided before the TV cameras show up and film the conversation. I mean, come on. "Kat, why are you here with a film crew from the Discovery network?" "Never mind that, just sit and let them fix your makeup before I ask you an important question. Oh, sign this waiver, but don't ask what it's all about."

We're not that dumb.

But then I wonder ... are we approaching a world where having people in everyday situations with a small film crew following them around "for a reality show" is actually approaching normal? Are we getting close to where real reactions happen among people when they deal with a person like that? Or have we been there for some time, in places like LA and NYC? And if so, how can people actually ever be normal?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

That's just, your opinion, man

My job title may no longer refer to me as an engineer, but at my heart I'm still a problem-solver.

Last night, I decided I could afford to buy some new speakers for my living room. But I was smart, and before I pulled the trigger online, I decided to take some measurements. It turns out, they weren't going to fit where I wanted them.

I had trouble visualizing where they would fit, so I did what any good engineer would do -- I built a prototype. I sat down with some paper, made some folds, taped a few things together, and had a flimsy box that would let me see what the speakers I wanted would look like in various locations.

As it turns out, places I thought they would fit, they wouldn't. Places where they did fit, they looked too big. My wife patiently watched as I brainstormed different ideas.

I don't have an answer yet (I may just get smaller speakers), but it was strangely satisfying to perform the analysis.

In other news, the eighth day of my exercise marathon, I did an upper body workout with some walking thrown in to keep the heart moving. It wasn't that aggressive of a workout, and my body is thanking me for that (and the longer night of sleep) right now. So, 5 sets of (5 push ups, 10 sit ups, 5 minutes walking). The Big Lebowski was on the TV, and let me tell you, cracking up laughing is not exactly what you want to do while you're struggling to finish those last few sit ups!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

August is a week old

Seven days, seven workouts. My body is confused. I've gone through periods where I was working out 5-6 days a week, but seven straight days is something I'm not used to. Can I handle 24 more?

I did a treadmill run yesterday, 30 minutes of running with 10 minutes of warmup/cooldown. It felt great and reminded me why I enjoy running, even on a repetitive boring treadmill. My nasty work day disappeared and it was just me saying, "come on, you can do this."

This morning, though, after getting only 5.5 hours of sleep, it doesn't feel so great. I'm tired, and my legs are sore and weak. I probably would be fine if I had slept enough, but I didn't. And now I'm back and work and back facing the problems I made disappear yesterday.

But, hey, at least they disappeared yesterday. And I know they'll disappear tonight when I do whatever workout I decide is best for today (given how my legs feel, likely upper-body).

I do have to be smarter about getting rest.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Going back to the beginning

A little sore from my bodyweight workout, and still able to feel Sunday's run in my legs, I decided yesterday was a recovery day. I walked, instead of running, for 45 minutes.

It reminded me of how I started this whole journey.

All my adult life, I've struggled with my fitness, but it wasn't until 2004 that I decided to make serious strides to do something with it. Things were quiet, at work, and I started going to the gym every day an hour before lunch. At first, all I did was walk. It started me down a road that took me to running a 10-K in April of 2005, wearing sizes I could last fit into a decade back.

Of course, I made mistakes, I got lost on the road, and I lost all that fitness and more. But here I am again, in 2007, making steady strides in the right direction, with even more "wisdumb" of what works and what doesn't.

There was a strange feeling of returning to the beginning as I sweat out those minutes at a brisk walk. A sense of accomplishment and yet acceptance of the fact that this is all a cycle -- that we advance, we fall back, we learn and we forget ... but until the ticker runs out, we still have a chance to do the right thing.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I am not Ironman

Sunday I watched the replay on NBC Sports of the Ironman championship in Hawaii.

I am not a triathlete; I'm barely a runner. But it's impossible to watch this program and not be moved and motivated. The excuses I come up with to justify my lack of exercise seem beyond trivial compared to the hardships these people put up with.

I laughed when they talked about how the elite athletes had finished and now the "everyman" finishers were trickling in. "Everymen" who are fitter, stronger, and more driven than any person I know (in the "real world"). To see a 76-year old nun complete something I'd never dream of starting shows just how much room I have to grow.

I don't know where this world is going to take me. But I know that I'd be throwing away what I'm fortunate enough to have if I didn't push myself just a little harder.

Speaking of pushing, I went for an "easy" run yesterday. I call it easy because I went outside without looking at the time, with no set route, no distance, no pace, and no goal. When I got back, it turns out I had run 3.25 miles, give or take. Not bad.

My muscles are more sore today than yesterday, by the way. I am still not Jason Bourne. I'll check the mirror again tomorrow.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pros and Cons of Jason Bourne

(the movie itself is great; go see it)

The benefit of watching Bourne Ultimatum prior to your workout for the day?
You will want to push yourself to your limits. You will be motivated by the idea of having the kind of strength, efficiency of motion, and endurance that the character displays in the movie.

The drawback of watching Bourne Ultimatum prior to your workout?
You are not Jason Bourne.

My wife was on the treadmill and I decided to do some bodyweight strength training. This is not something I do often, but it's something I hope to integrate into my fitness plan. Forcing myself to exercise every day will make me do these more often, I hope.

So, I did 5 sets of:
- 5 pushups
- 10 squats
- 10 situps

I also did a few crab walks and bear crawls across the basement, which sound and look ridiculous but were damn hard. Through it all I added some walking to cool down, and some stretching. It was really ad-hoc, just trying different things out, getting a feel for it.

This morning, my muscles are still exhausted but not as sore as I was expecting. So that's nice.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The virtual world is abuzz

When I'm not trying to get in shape, I'm doing my best to get fatter by sitting on my behind and playing World of Warcraft. Today everyone's talking about the long-rumored second expansion to the game, which was finally officially announced. Those of you who even know what I'm talking about have already read everything about it.

One thing I keep hearing is that people are distressed that all their hard work is going to be thrown away, when the game "resets" everyone for the climb to level 80. This happened when the first expansion came out, and a lot of people quit.

Here's what I tell them:

I made a decision before I bought WoW, based on my experience with other games.

When I wasn't having fun, I wouldn't play. I wouldn't play in hopes of having fun later, I'd always aim to be having fun at the time.

If that meant progression, fine. If it meant playing 5 alts in rotation, fine. If it meant PvP, fine.

With that kind of attitude, there's no angst over a new expansion coming along and "ruining" what you've accomplished. You were having fun the whole time, so you got your money's worth.
If only real life was always that simple.

Speaking of real life, three miles run today. Progress!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Two down!

I've been linked! And now everyone knows about my crazy idea!

Jank dropped by and wished me luck, and even dropped a link to my meager blog over on his. So if you clicked that link and stumbled onto me, I apologize for not having thrilling race stories or epic trail run photo montages. You'll have to make do with my little public diary.

I shared my ambition for August with my wife, over the phone. There was a fairly long silence, and I said to myself, "maybe this is a mad idea." But she's being supportive, even if she isn't going to tag along every day. I explained my basic idea to her -- I need to exercise, and if I'm not running regularly, I need to find other things to fill in the gaps. Forcing myself to do something active every day will break down the flimsy excuses I use to end up sitting on the couch.

So, the tally so far:

Day 1: Mowing the lawn. This is not as trivial as it sounds; we have almost an acre, and the grass had almost 2 weeks of prime growing on it. In the late day heat, I poured out my day's sweat pushing a heavy mower around. Not a run, but certainly as strenuous as my usual workout.

Day 2: Took my wife out for a sunset walk around the streets of my neighborhood. We took some side roads we've never been down before, and ended up on a lonely dirt road through some woods. Half the mosquitoes in Massachusetts evidently live in those woods, and we ended up running to avoid the swarm. Far from a strenuous workout, but it's a lot more than I would have done today if I didn't have this plan in mind.

(And I would have stayed out an extra 15 minutes if I knew some of you were going to try and keep me honest!)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I've written about my running slump before, and while I have been running semi-regularly, I have yet to get back into an exercise groove. The flimsiest of excuses will stop me from exercising, and I know from personal experience that an active lifestyle is the only way I stay fit.

So, I got inspired by reading about some folks running an Augustathon. These folks are running every day for the month of August, 3 miles a day minimum. Now, that's not what my body is ready for, but I think I'll use August as a way of refocusing my fitness achievements. The fact that my birthday falls in August is a nice way to bring in some extra motivation.

So here's my August pledge. I will exercise every single day this month. My plan is to try a bunch of different things, forcing myself to stay creative to prevent injury and boredom. These are the types of things I will do:
  • 30 minute runs
  • 45 minute walks
  • 60+ minute lawn work
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Push-ups and other bodyweight training
This is a complete spur-of-the-moment idea, and the only way I'll actually see it through is if I post it here and hold myself accountable.

August begins today. Let's see where this crazy idea goes.