I ate five salads a day as part of my fitness challenge. You won’t believe what happened next.
Week one: At first I am skeptical of the five salads a day thing, but I decide to give it a chance. I cry when I throw away all the honey mustard in the fridge. But within days, my persistent cough starts to go away: I am spending so much time chopping salad vegetables I don’t have time to smoke. With the money I save on cigarettes, I buy a majority stake in Snapchat.
Week two: Once I switch to eating only locally-sourced produce, my senses begin to sharpen. Out in the yard, I smell the freshly-mown grass and regain my childlike sense of wonder and innocence. Unfortunately, I can hear the neighbor’s kid from down the street playing Hot Cross Buns on the recorder so many times in a row it sounds like he is rehearsing for a Phillip Glass opera.
Week three: I develop superpowers. I realize that, under the yellow sun of Earth, I can do things normal humans cannot: run a mile in two minutes, lift a car bare-handed and log out of Facebook. I also score an eight-letter word in Scrabble!
Week four: I leave my material body behind and become a being of pure consciousness. I am plugged directly into the universe and have access to all frequencies of energy in all times. Bonus: My complexion has totally cleared up and I fit into my jeans from college again.
First Time Triathlete Part 2: Swimming
I’m a great swimmer. Always have been. Feels completely natural and easy for me. It was a fulfilling and positive experience last time I put in serious laps in the pool. 25 years ago.
I’m pretty proud of myself that I’ve made a point of getting some of the basic training for my triathlon done before the start of the official 8-week training program. Instead of my usual daily run, this week has been a run, two bike rides, and a swim.
Biking is almost as easy to kick off as a run. For a run, strap on your shoes and go. Additional equipment and ahem, planning and record-keeping, are fun but optional. Biking is almost the same, but with a bit more equipment. Bike, helmet, titanium ass implants (oh, how I wish.)
Swimming requires a bit more planning. A place to swim. Goggles. A few different necessaries that took me until late in week 0 to get together. My race will have a 1.5k swim. Turns out my pool will be 25 yards. A little fun with math later, and it’s clear I’ll need to work my way up to 66 laps. My swim fitness class a little while ago (you know, college YES IT WAS 25 YEARS WHAT’S YOUR POINT) culminated in a swim just about that length. No sweat.
Ok, in hindsight, it’s really obvious where this is going.
Swimming is really really different from running. And honestly, I have no idea what it felt like when I was a beginning runner 12 years ago. I’ve completely forgotten. That memory is buried under literally thousands of miles of pounded pavement. And all those miles came after the last time I swam laps. Which means I probably was trying to swim my very first laps in 2.5 decades like I run now, at a pretty agressive pace, maybe 75% effort.
Protip: don’t do that.
So, it’s humbling to need to stop and gasp and cling to the wall after 5 laps. There’s a learning experience I can chalk up from this training program.
And here’s another: fear. You know what happens when you get really really tired running? You stop, walk a while. Depending on the size of your ego, it’s sorta embarrassing. Maybe you can manage to do it on a pretty quiet part of the course.
You know what happens when you want to stop while you’re swimming? You swim anyway. Because if you don’t, you drown.
And you know how my race will be different from the training I managed to conduct for 125 yards at my best stretch this week? No wall. Open water. Nowhere to gasp and rest and steel my resolve.
I’m not giving up yet. That was my first swim in 25 years. (Crap, I really never thought about how long it had been.) I’m pretty sure I just got my pace very very wrong, and I can fix this by starting out much slower next time. I stole a few moments at the pool with the kids this afternoon, took it slow and got to 6 laps pretty easy, still felt like I had plenty in the tank.
But this will be more of a stretch than I thought.Read more
First Time Triathlete: Part 1
I, as many runners like me, finally reached a certain point. A point where voluntarily running 26.2 miles wasn’t… quite… stoopid… enough.
There are many solutions to this. Some will dream up a costume or run in a full military or civilian service uniform. Those inclined toward becoming being highly caffeinated mountain goats will try ultras. Those who want to trade mind-erasing endurance for speed go for a 5k.
Me, I thought I’d attempt a triathlon. It’s not as bad as you think; I have no illusions about my ability to complete a full Ironman. (MUCH respect to all who have.) Fortunately for me there are many triathlon distances to choose from; I’ll be trying an Olympic length, the Westchester Triathlon in my own home town of Rye NY. Easy, yes? 10k run, 1.5k swim, 40k mile bike. Only I don’t ever, you know, swim or bike.
I have a relationship with this race already. It’s in my own town of Rye NY, which means that I have, for a few years now, been in the middle of a late September Sunday long run, training for one marathon or another, when it was being held on the quiet roads of the town of Rye. It’s possible that I may have mooched off its water stops a time or two.
Marathons are still a challenge. But a familiar one. I’m looking forward to being a raw newbie at this. There are bound to be a few massive mistakes along the way. (Will the first one be thinking I can be ready for this in 8 weeks?? Whee!) Or not. I surely underestimate my studliness (shut up, you.) Either way, I’ll record them here. Hope you enjoy.Read more
Workout Trends Debunked!
We’ve been wondering about a lot of things lately. For instance, why do our fingernails turn black when we make basil pesto? Where did all those ants in the kitchen come from? Why does it rain as soon as we get our car washed?
These are all timeless questions, of course. But today, we’d like to talk about a few exercise-related topics that have had us scratching our heads for some time. So settle down with a plate of cookies, put your feet up and watch us knock these babies down one by one.
Should I get a foam roller?
Foam rollers are these long tubes that are supposed to help you recover after a workout. The ladies above are using them after a race.
As someone who likes to push myself, but then always limps around moaning for days afterward, this sounded attractive to me.
But then I found out that the rolling part is also painful. Really painful. If you don’t dig in there, it doesn’t work.
So is it better to feel a lot of pain up front or spread out a moderate amount of pain over a few days?
That can be answered by another question:
Did you write all your term papers weeks before they were due?
If so, you should get a foam roller.
Click here for some rolling tips.
Compression gear. Should I squeeze my body into that?
Sure. Some studies say it does work, a bit.
But then others say it’s possible that it’s all in your head.
But if it’s all in your head, that’s OK. If you BELIEVE it works, it works.
Do I need that $200 sneaker?
If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for, it’s a shoe that fits. (Still waiting for that, hiking boot makers.) So I have been running in Asics for years. They cost a bit, but they make my feet happy.
And some feel that in running, a comfortable shoe is more important that wearing an expensive shoe.
If you’re new to running, get yourself over to a running shop and talk to the employees about the right shoe for you. You will be shown shoes in a range of prices, which may go up to $200. You could buy that shoe. But you don’t have to.
Find something that is comfortable and works for you, and if they do, it doesn’t matter if they are twenty quid or a hundred and twenty quid. — Roger Kerry, Associate Professor in the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Nottingham
Will you get ripped on the paleo diet?
Yes, but you’ll lose your will to live.
Does Crossfit work?
See above.Read more
How to be a bike commuting genius
Last week, we told you about how one of the keys to staying fit as we get older is to just keep moving.
Today, we’re going to tell you about one of the best ways to integrate fitness into your daily life:
There’s so many benefits that we know you’ve already heard about. We almost feel we don’t need to tell you all of them again.
But we will anyway:
- Get your sweat on. It makes you a multitasking genius, getting to work and getting in your workout at the same time. Gmap’s handy homepage calculator can tell you how many calories you’ve burned on your ride.
- Save money. Less cash spent on gas and car maintenance.
- Save the environment. Bikes are pollution-free.
- Coolness factor: Car drivers envy you as you zip by them. You carry your bike up steps.
We have a few bike commuters in the Gmap Pedometer family. And it hasn’t all been roses cycling through the wilds of Maine, New York and Bangkok.
We’ve learned the hard way (by falling) about crossing railroad tracks perpendicularly and (also by falling) about how many bags of groceries we can carry at once. (None is your hands is a good idea).
During his daily 8KM commute through Bangkok’s streets, Leon has to keep an eye on pushcarts, motorbikes and tuk-tuks in addition to the cars. His serpentine route to work clocks in at about 35 minutes, faster than almost any other method for getting to the office.
Here are a few tips we’ve learned:
- Pick routes where the cars go slowly. Heavy traffic can be your friend.
- Be ever mindful. Of said cars.
- Minimize turns against traffic.
- Be visible. Phrases like “Christmas tree” or “alien spaceship landing” should come to mind when people see you blinking and flashing along. In the daytime, wear a neon safety vest for visibility.
And for tips on staying cool in hot weather, check out this previous post.
Safe riding!Read more