Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Goals: Gym Visits

With the new year approaching, I have of course been contemplating fitness goals for 2016.  I think we're all aware that I tend to be loquacious and I thought as a favor to us all, I'd break this up into a couple of shorter posts.  See GOALS, part 1 here.
Image source: Jawbone Email

2016 GOALS, part 2 -

Total Number of GYM VISITS: 

I wanted to make this an explicit goal for the year.  Something that I actually measure and track in my daily running log, which by the way, I am still using this year, all the way at the end of the year.  (That's a major accomplishment - never made it past summer months before.)  But I wasn't sure exactly what the goal should be, so here's my thought process:

52 *should * be easy... 150 is clearly too hard. Wait, how many times / how often did I get in there THIS year?  Fun Fact:  I can check that using my LAFitness app...

Check out this pattern:

So it turns out, yes, averaging once a week SHOULD be easy, since it's what I'm already doing.

Tripling that to 3 times a week just strikes me as impossible, setting myself up for failure.  So that's out.

Doubling it, though?  Seems daunting but if I'm committed to increasing my gym visits (translation:  actually DOING strength training and swimming more often), then making the habit stick should be tough but doable for the first 6 weeks, then easier, until I hit my Really Busy last-three-months of the year. And by then, all I have to do is remember that Gym Time is My ME Time, and hit it on the days when I've had a bad day and I'm feeling maybe a little bit stabby.

And, on the advise of The Hubs, amp that goal up by 10%, because if it sounds "doable", it's probably just a little too easy.  So then, 51 * 2 * 110% = 112.2.  Let's call it 110.


Remaining goals for the year are basically tangential... and should be achieved as part of these two larger Mileage and Gym Visits goals.  But for the record,

I am setting a goal of 30 swim sessions (counts as a gym visit)

I would like to incorporate some additional speed work into my running training programs.  The point of the speed work is to get back to running comfortably at an 11:30 pace.  To that end,

I am setting a goal of a Sub-35-minute 5k.  

The last time I set a similar goal, I hit it at the St. Patrick's Day race, so on the off-chance that happens again, I'm upping the ante already to a sub-34 5k.  My PR is 34:32 at an 11:07 pace. (Let's hope I need to refer back to this in 2016 to remember what I said.)

And yes,

I am setting a weight-loss goal for the year:  25 30 pounds.  

I am reticent about declaring this goal.  This may be worthy of a blog post of its own, but it's a post I'd rather not write so I'll keep it short.  My current weight is about 202 and has been steady within a couple of pounds of that number for most of the past year, despite all my activity.  Some of that was beyond my control, but that's over now.

I'm owning it.  I'm clinically obese and losing 25 pounds doesn't get me out of that classification.  But I'm over 40 and weight loss has proven MUCH more difficult since reaching that milestone.  I'm shooting for realistic, attainable goals.

But, again applying The Hubs's "amp it up" rule... let's make it 30 lbs.  According to the CDC, that gets me into the "overweight" category at 172.  I'm going to have to make some diet changes to get there, but I'm gonna #wycwyc the hell out of it.  That's all I have to say about that.

I'm ready to make next week the start of 365 days of Owning It.  As the tag-line says... It's MY life.
I'm going to LIVE it.  
I'm going to RUN it.

Image from SheBlogs

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 Goals - Mileage

I don't LOVE the concept of New Year's Resolutions, but I am a big proponent of GOALS.  With the new year approaching, I have of course been contemplating fitness goals for 2016.  I think we're all aware that I tend to be loquacious and I thought as a favor to us all, I'd break this up into a couple of shorter posts.  I need to do work after all...

Image from Google Image Search

2016 GOALS, first up -


My 2015 goal was 750 miles, a big jump from 2014's goal of 500 (running-only).  I made that larger goal because I wanted to focus on riding my bike more often and the only way I could get that kind of mileage would be from getting on the stationary bike at the gym or on my actual real-life bicycle and hitting the trail.  This would help me in both riding the bike more, and (BONUS!) encourage more gym visits when the weather or my schedule made outdoor biking undesirable.

It worked!  I made big strides in my biking mileage - about 180 miles that I wouldn't otherwise have gotten.  I want the goal for next year to be challenging, require more biking, and get my running game back on track.  Last year I also committed to running only shorter races with the goal of getting faster.  That did happen, and it didn't.  I did run only shorter races - nothing longer than 10K and I did three 10Ks - but my pacing has not been improving.  My workouts have been sporadic and unfocused.  I haven't followed a dedicated training plan or done regular speed-work.  In all honesty, walking both dogs at the same time, while convenient and time-saving, really didn't move my toward that goal of getting back to pre-half-marathons pacing.  All that said, the mileage goal needs to incorporate MORE running, more consistent running, more focused workouts, yadda-yadda-yadda.

More of THIS:

Here's what I'm thinking:  a 20% increase in biking mileage gets me to around 220 bike miles.  Add in a 10% increase in running / walking mileage and I get to something like 880.  That sounds doable. And, on the advice of The Hubs, amp that goal up by 5-10%, because if it sounds "doable", it's probably just a little too easy.  So then, let's call it an even

930 Miles.

I like 930 because it's also my dream pace of 9:30.  (You may not recall, but I do:  my best-ever one-mile pace is 9:50.)

Next up:  a new parameter to measure in 2016.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lies, Damn Lies, No 4

Well Carla has done it again.  I read her post this morning on how she endeavors to instill confidence in her daughter and she asked for comments, saying "what do you believe is one thing adults can do to help preserve girls’ self-esteem?"

I've been meaning to write a blog post.  My last post isn't what I really want on my home page.  This new post was going to be about some small changes I've implemented in my routine recently.  I've also been noodling on a post about 2016 goals (what with the new year looming, who isn't?)

So clearly it was time for a new post.  My attempt at a short comment in response to Carla's question, turned into THIS:

I once tried out for little league baseball.  My brothers were both super athletic and loved it, and one summer I thought maybe I'd give it a shot.  At tryouts (I didn't know then but I do now... there's no being "cut" from the team, you just get put in different leagues or on different teams based on your ability.)(As an adult, I have the language for this - it wasn't "tryouts"; it was a "skills assessment".)

But anyway, at tryouts, the first exercise was fielding the ball.  Kids lined up and one at a time, you went onto the field and some adult (a "coach"? was this The Coach?) hit 10 balls in your general direction for you to catch.  I was terrified of being hit in the face and didn't catch anything that came at me in the air.  Not the pop-ups, sure as hell not the line drive.  I think I actually just squeezed my eyes shut and held out my glove.  Balls 10; CPAGrrrl zero.

Next, he hit 10 ground balls in my general direction.  This I thought I had a chance at.
But I missed all of them.
Every.  Single.  One.
All.  TEN.
  • They went around me, 
  • They came at me faster than I expected, 
  • They went straight between my legs while I flailed with that glove in one hand and reached with my other, bare, hand in desperation.  

I failed.  
Like, really, REALLY failed.  
And in front of our entire neighborhood.
In front of my father and both my brothers. 

The whole process probably took less than 5 minutes but it seemed to go on for hours.  I don't think I'd ever been THAT bad at ANYthing before. I was beyond embarrassed.  More than that - I had a great vocabulary - I could list TEN different words for how I felt.

I was mortified.
I was crushed.
I was humiliated.
I was ashamed.

I tried to hold my head up as I got back in line for the next round, our turn to hit.  The kid in front of me - I can't recall his name but I knew him from the neighborhood (and we were not friends) - he said something, berating me for not even being able to pick up a ground ball.

That was it.  I burst into tears as my father walked up.  I imagine he was saying something cheerful and encouraging.  I also imagine he had no idea what to do with a crying potential-ballplayer.  I imagine how confounded he must have felt.  (Basing this primarily on my own utter confusion any time someone begins crying in a situation where it's the last thing I'd expect.)  I don't know if he asked me if I wanted to leave, or if I said I wanted to or what.  But that's what happened next; I went home.  Baseball tryouts:  OVER.

I've learned to enjoy watching baseball.  But I've never been part of a team sport.  I was on a youth football cheer squad.  But my mom was the coach.  I'm not sure I ever really gave myself credit for that.  (Perhaps I should have.  Perhaps I should still. Perhaps I should.)  In high school, I started tryouts for the volleyball team, but quit before the first cut.  I have never joined in a company softball game.  The physical activities I participate in now are all individual - running, walking, biking, swimming.  I rarely even join a class at my gym.  This stuff isn't "my dad's fault."  Hell, I wouldn't say any of this stuff is even a negative outcome.  But I believe this stuff was influenced by the outcome of that day.  I wish my future choices had been influenced by a moment where I stayed in that line, even though I didn't want to.  I might have found out I was better at hitting the ball.

CPAGrrrl Cheerleader
Maybe I wouldn't have learned to be better at going after a literal ground ball.  Maybe I am simply Not Good At That.  But maybe I would have learned sooner how to go after a metaphorical one.  My father accidentally taught me that day, that it was OK to quit when something was a physical challenge.  And I believe NOW, that was a lesson I would have been better off without.  

I learned at an early age that my brain was a powerful tool muscle, that there are very few academic challenges I can't overcome with some effort.  And those lessons have stuck with me and gotten me through countless struggles.

I learned early to value what my MIND was capable of.
  • Sometimes you need more time, 
  • Sometimes you need to ask the right person for help, 
  • but sooner or later, 
  • ALL problems have an appropriate solution.  (correct? maybe, sometimes there are more than one of those) (and sometimes there are none.)

This GRRRL ENJOYED using her brain for fun and learning.

At the same time, I have walked away from countless physical challenges, saying:

  • "I'd never be able to do that." (says fucking who?) 
  • "I have no upper-body strength." (True, but why was that viewed as a permanent condition?) 
  • "I am not very coordinated." (I imagine that can be remedied or at least improved upon with some practice.) 
  • "I fall down a lot." (OK frankly that's just truth.  I fell down LAST Friday and was limping for 2 days.)

This GRRRL knew the value of long hours practicing, working to learn a new skill.
I think the concept I'm after here is "GRIT."[Thank you, Wikipedia.]  GRIT [thank you, amazing Ted Talk.] can be taught, and I eventually found it in my own way.  I just didn't have it yet, not when it came to "sports-y" things.  I believe GRIT to be the most important thing I can teach my child, the most important thing I learned from my parents, from my upbringing.

It took GRIT to keep going back to school after every obstacle that interrupted forward progress.  I was never ashamed that it took 12 years to finish that degree.  I worked my ass off EVERY MINUTE of those 12 years.
There are moments as a parent when you blow it.  Sometimes you KNOW you blew it - that time you snapped at your son for something small but really it was because your boss made you feel like shit at work that day and you hadn't had a chance to decompress before picking up the kids from school - you know you blew it that minute.  You do what you do - maybe apologize, maybe not, maybe you try to make up for it some way, definitely you try not to DO that again... (Parental GRIT in action.)

But sometimes - and as a parent these are the things that scare the crap out of me - sometimes you don't know you blew it.  My father blew it that day.  I'm sure he didn't realize it.  Certainly at the time, I had no idea anyone besides me was blowing it.  And it's not that he did anything wrong.  But looking back with the clarity of a 40-year-old woman who wishes she'd had more appreciation for what her BODY was capable of, as well as her MIND, I sure wish he'd found a way to make sure I stayed to the end of tryouts.

(and proof they're not real)
No. 4

"I CAN'T DO [this thing]"


Here's the truth:

I don't know how to do [that thing]. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Walk Without a Dog

Today, I took a walk.  I went somewhere I’ve never been before, and walked around for a half-hour or so.  In a new place, one I’ve never visited with The Hubs, or with one or both of the dogs for an adventure, or even on my own or with a girlfriend, I walked.  The path was steep, so I climbed and climbed, slowly and slowly.  I watched my footing, as one does when navigating unfamiliar terrain. 

I did not think about my deep sadness.  I did not ponder grief.  I did not recall watching my dear bully struggle, in pain, and labor for breath.  I did not think about how useless and stupid I felt, watching him in his last moments, unable even to help him die with dignity.  I didn’t brood about how deeply affected my family has been by our big strong dog’s sudden but still somehow drawn-out passing. 

I didn’t mull over how much work I had waiting back at the office, or consider what I should do first upon my return.  I did not make a mental list of tasks and priorities.  I did not plan what’s for dinner or what I’ll do this weekend. 

I wasn’t even avoiding meditating on all these things.

I just watched my footing.  And I walked.