February 14 – A Valentine’s Day Ouchie

[I’m writing this on the morning of February 15. You’ll find out why I didn’t post yesterday evening.]

Cute CalfMore rain today sent me back to the gym for my 5K. My Withings watch doesn’t work so well inside the gym, so I can’t rely on it for measuring my distance. I also can’t keep track of my laps around the gym because I run, jog, and walk, so I lose track (no pun intended) of my place. I have to rely on steps. I know that approximately 2,000 steps are equal to one mile. Actually, for me, it’s just over 1,800 steps, but I err on the long side to be sure.

I walked two laps and then decided to jog a bit. Remember that I’m trying to build up to jogging an entire 5K without stopping. On my fourth lap, I started to jog again, but this time something happened. I assumed that I pulled my calf muscle. There was a lot of pain. And yes, I did stretch before I started. I also stopped and stretched during my walk to see if I could relieve the pain. It didn’t work. I finished my 5K in pain–a lot of pain. By the time I finished, I could barely move. My left calf was a little swollen.

I stopped my walk when I hit 8,000 steps, which put me well over a 5K. I stretched for a few minutes, again in an attempt to relieve some pain, but it didn’t work. I hobbled into the Men’s Locker Room and sat down to check the damage. My left calf was swollen and painful. I massaged it a bit grimacing with each rub. The last time anything like this happened was during high school track. Back then, I had a coach to treat it with an Ace bandage wrap, some Icy Hot, and a bit of stretching.

After a nice Valentine’s Day dinner at The Bistro, I came home, heated up the “corn” pillow, took some Ibuprofen, massaged my calf a bit more, placed the corn pillow on my calf, and eventually fell asleep.

I woke up this morning to perform “cat maintenance” and found that most of the soreness has gone but my calf is still a little stiff. No long term damage, thank goodness. My 5K today will be a slow walk with some wrapping, some Icy Hot, and more Ibuprofen. Until then, keep stretching for your daily 5K.

Melissa walked the mall with no issues. Yay, Melissa.

#5KaDay2017 #5KaDayChallenge

February 13 – The Bagel Shop Bang-up and the Glorious Gym Walk

It was a dark and stormy night.Do some of my 5K post titles remind you of Love American Style show titles? Maybe I shouldn’t ask that. I came home and got ready for my 5K but when I walked outside, it was raining. I uttered an expletive or three and decided to go to the !@#$% gym to do my 5K. Oh, the humanity.

Just before I got to the gym, there was a huge accident in front of the bagel shop where I turn. A firetruck, an ambulance, and a lot of bystanders were looking at the wrecked truck. Bewildered by the truck’s odd positioning, I stopped, got out and took some pictures because no one would believe me if I just told the story.

Stopping by the Bagel Shop on a Rainy EveningA fireman told me that apparently the driver hydroplaned off the road and ended up on the embankment and on top of a Volkswagen Beetle’s hood. How fast was this person going to do that? Ah, Tulsa drivers. They are entertaining, to say the least. And you don’t really want me to say the most about them. It would fill volumes. In fact, I could write a daily blog post about my experiences to and from work or where ever else I go in the course of a day. I’ll only say this. I cuss Tulsa and its drivers from the moment I get in the car until I get to my destination. I try not to but it’s impossible to refrain.

Sorry, this is about the 5K isn’t it? I had to go to the gym, which was packed tonight. I didn’t get started until almost 6:30 PM but I was determined to do it. My Withings watch showed that I had approximately 2,000 steps, so I thought I’d just walk until I hit 10,000. It’s more than a 5K but who cares. It’s my life. I can do what I want.

I stretched. I walked. I jogged. And I ran. Yes, ran at an almost full speed gait around the track. Impressive much, if I do say so myself. I reached 10,000 steps, did a few post walk/jog/run stretches, and then I ventured back onto the treacherous city streets, now fully awash with rain. I made it home safe and sound. I feel like I’ve cheated death again. To heck with surviving a 5K–that’s easy. If I can make it all the way across Tulsa without wanting to commit a road rage crime, it’s a pretty good day.

Melissa walked her 5K at the mall with her mall cronies. That’s OK. I prefer for her to walk at the mall. It’s a fairly safe environment–safe from traffic at least and protected from the weather.

#5KaDay2017 #5KaDayChallenge

Ken’s Twitter: @kenhess

Melissa’s Instagram: redhatrunner

January 26 – Wake Up and Smell the Sushi

When it hurts bad enough that you want to slow down, then you should slow down. Pause and pick it back up. Don’t ever overdo it.

Bernie has nothing to do with this post.Walking and jogging around the neighborhood, as I told you yesterday, has its share of odors. Tonight’s nasal treats were a bit different than most. On one side of the neighborhood, I breathed in the delicate aromas of barbecue, pizza, an upscale Italian restaurant, Sushi, and steak. Yes, quite a menagerie, isn’t it? However, on the other side of the neighborhood, three blocks away, the watery stench of scorched household goods filled the air, from a house fire this morning. It was very tragic. The elderly lady who lived in the house has just lost her husband and now this. I tried to focus on her recuperation and well-being more than I focused on the burned house smell. Her two major losses in a week certainly outweigh my discomfort with the windblown stink of her burned-out home.

My performance wasn’t quite stellar tonight. I wasn’t 100 percent for some reason. I blame the effects of a 3D experience that I had earlier that left me mildly traumatized. It’s OK though, I’ll survive.

Ah, Sushi.My total time was a respectable 41:34 minutes at an average 13:22 pace. Not bad. I’ll take it.

So enough about me because Melissa had an interesting day at the gym for her 5K. She went to the upper level of the gym to the treadmills (Satan’s Hate Machines). She told me that she had this great pace going. 4.3 miles per hour walking and faster when jogging. She was kicking backside and taking names. She got so excited about her accomplishment at 1.56 miles into her 5K that she wanted to check her pace by pressing the button to display it. The design of this particular model isn’t exactly ergonomic, so when she meant to tap the button for displaying her awesome pace, she instead hit the Reset button, which cleared her information. Luckily she remembered the last reading of her distance, so she could pick up and finish.

The same sort of thing happened to me on that same set of treadmills. After my workout, I wanted to check my stats and cleared them instead. Frustrating. And I’m a computer guy, so hitting the wrong button isn’t something I normally do.

It was a good workout day for both of us. Remember to breathe deeply when you workout. Don’t get overtired or exhausted. When it hurts bad enough that you want to slow down, then you should slow down. Pause and pick it back up. Don’t ever overdo it. Avoid injury and overexertion by being smart about your workouts. Tell us how you’re doing.

Follow our shenanigans: Melissa’s Instagram: redhatrunner   Ken’s Twitter: @kenhess


January 25 – Only 11 Months ‘Til Christmas

The only problem that I really have with doing a 5K in the neighborhood is that I have to endure a variety of aromas…

Right around the cornerToday’s 5K was a spectacular success for me. I finished mine in 38:11 minutes in the neighborhood, with an average of 12:19 per mile. I’m very pleased with those results. As I might have written in the past, it’s my goal to be able to jog the entire 3.1 miles. It’s not an easy goal to attain, but I’m working on it.

Melissa walked her 5K at the gym because it was a bit chilly and windy. I (stupidly perhaps) braved the chilly winds.

The only problem that I really have with doing a 5K in the neighborhood is that I have to endure a variety of aromas from restaurant cooking to exhaust fumes to fireplaces and grills. Sometimes the odors are a bit overwhelming. There was a time or two that I thought I would have to stop and turn around and run a different direction because of the smoke and fuel stench. Sometimes fireplaces and grills can smell good, but for some reason, they did not today.

I realized that it’s only 11 months until Christmas, so I need to start getting my lists together and checking them twice. You can never start too early on Christmas. OK, January might be too early, but I’m thinking ahead.

Remember that breathing in a lot of cold air can dry out your mouth, your nose, and your sinuses. Be sure to stay hydrated. I think that I get thirstier in winter than in summer. Keep up the good work and let us know how you’re doing. Tweet me: @kenhess.


January 14 – 5Ks and the Mother of Re-invention

Workout WeirdnessCold, wet, rainy, and gloomy are excellent adjectives to describe today. A better way to describe it is a 19th-Century period piece made into a film depicting the streets of London and its blustery underbelly. OK, so that might be a bit over the top, but it wasn’t a pretty day. Perhaps depressing and wintery are apt descriptive words. I digress.

Considering the weather, Melissa and I went to the gym to perform our 15th 5K of the year. Although the gym is generally pleasant, and not too crowded, there are always some entertaining moments for the curious and casual observer.

For example, today we had to jog and maneuver our way around a guy I referred to as Dolph or Drago, owing in part to his resemblance to actor Dolph Lundgren portraying Drago, the Russian boxer who killed Apollo Creed and fought Rocky in the 1980s. Our ‘Dolph’ was this large, lumbering character who walked only halfway around the track, cutting through the middle and disrupting our cadence to go around him. Annoying but harmless.

There were two ladies, obviously and comically, mother and daughter. I won’t give you a physical description of them, because it would be unflattering for them and for me to do so, but I’m afraid that the apple didn’t make it far enough away from the tree to allow any diversity in that gene pool.

Then there’s the gaggle of random people who invent their own exercises. I love them the most. They’re very entertaining with their contorted stretches and their modified exercises have no enhancing effect on their physical health. But they do them as if their imaginary personal trainers demand it. There was one guy at the YMCA who used to create all kinds of interesting stretches for himself. The more interesting part of him was that he purposely donned one of those stretchy terrycloth headband and wristband sets right out of the 1980s. He was a sight to behold. He also had a rather energetic Roman Chair method that I couldn’t watch without laughing–lots of body bouncing and leg slinging.

OK, so I digressed again. But seriously, if it weren’t for the entertaining part of going to these places, it would make exercising excruciatingly boring…and possibly excruciating in the literal sense.

Melissa and I did our walk two, jog one ‘pattern’ for today’s 5K, which made the time go by much faster than walking by itself does. I think tomorrow that we are mall bound. The mall sometimes offers visual entertainment opportunities, but not with any regularity that the gym delivers. If we see something interesting, you can read about it here.

Keep stretching. Keep walking. Keep your head up. Keep your heal and toe walking style. And keep your eyes and ears open for awesome people watching opportunities.


January 13 – Friday the Awesometeenth

Stay encouraged. Stick with your commitment to do this. It will pay off and then you’ll be so glad that you’ve done it.

Commit. Do. Succeed.Melissa’s schedule and mine finally synced up so that we could do our 5K together and that’s pretty awesome on this most auspicious of days. The cold, rainy day made us decide that our neighborhood was too inhospitable–a word which here means not optimal for walking and jogging a 5K. We chose to go to the gym–the nice, dry, inviting, and quite hospitable gym.

After some stretching, we walked. For some reason unknown to me, my MapMyWalk app announced ten minutes into our walk that we’d travelled our first mile. Not only was this impossible, it was also quite disturbing. I guess not all that disturbing when one considers that GPS-based devices don’t work all that well indoors. Thank goodness for her TomTom fitness band that keeps track of steps via digital display. My Withings Activite Steel also keeps track of steps, but in an analog way. And frankly, without my glasses I can’t read how far I’ve gone with any accuracy. The TomTom also uses GPS, when it can connect to the satellites, but also has an analog tracker as well. So, we were saved by our own failed technology. Irony?

We continued our trek until Melissa had the idea to jog one time around the track that’s somewhere between one-tenth and one-eleventh of a mile in length. We jogged it. One complete lap without stopping. We high-fived for our success. Hey, you take your victories when you have them.

Melissa also decided, in the moment, that we would ‘walk two, jog one’ from then on in order to decrease our pace and to increase our ability to challenge ourselves. I went along. We did it. for the last mile, we jogged one, walked two. If it sounds like we’re progressing really fast, we’re not. You see, Melissa and I have trained before and have walked half marathons, 10Ks, 15Ks, and 5Ks. We’ve previously trained ourselves and we know what we can do and what we can’t.

You need to proceed at your own pace. Don’t let our or anyone else’s training influence you. Everyone is different. We all progress at different rates. For many of you, we’re old and slow, but for some, we’re practically Olympics ready. Don’t get discouraged.

If you need help staying motivated, leave us a comment and we’ll help out by telling you how we started. We’ve dealt with it all: strains, pains, shin splints, sickness, lethargy, success depression, and more. Keep at it. Who cares if it takes you an hour to complete a 5K? You’re doing it. It’s more than most people do.

I watched a show about fitness a few days ago and the average person walks about 1,000 steps per day. That’s a tenth of what they really need to do. So, if you’re walking a 5K, that’s approximately 6,000 steps, which puts you six times above most people. That has to be encouraging. What’s even cooler is that if you use a tracker app of some kind, your miles are cumulative and you get rewards along the way.

I remember when Melissa received her Italy badge, which meant that she’d walked the equivalent of the entire length of Italy. I’m far behind her, but I’m encouraged by her stamina and dedication to this process. Sure, we both slipped last year, but we’re back at it now.

It’s easier not to do it. Trust me. It’s easier not to go to the gym. It’s easier not to walk. Do you think that I love it? I don’t love the thought of it, but I love the way I look and feel after I’m done. I love the way my clothes fit when I’m active. I love it when my ‘normal’ clothes feel too big.

Stay encouraged. Stick with your commitment to do this. It will pay off and then you’ll be so glad that you’ve done it.  Tell us about your struggles, your successes, and your routines. We’d love to hear from you.


January 8 – Pain It Forward

Start slow and ramp up, especially if you aren’t used to training.

WALK IT OFFIt’s the start of a new 5K-a-Day week for Melissa and me and it went very well today. I was sick yesterday afternoon and evening. I had a sudden chill/fever combination with a lot of body aches, but this morning after waking up from close to 16 hours of mostly uninterrupted sleep, I felt pretty well. So well in fact that we went to the gym again for a 3.1 mile stroll on the treadmill. This time I brought my earbuds so that I could focus on something other than my aching shin splints and ankles.

Melissa and I began by stretching our calves and I continued with my seated Yoga pose to stretch those troublesome shin muscles.

I made it over to the treadmill next to her and flipped the channels on the personal TV screen to Cops and started my journey. Reluctant to dive right into a 4.0 mile per hour pace, I decided to take it a bit easy with a 3.5 mile per hour one. I felt good during the first mile so I sped it up to 3.9 miles per hour. Close to the two mile mark, I jogged a bit to try to catch up to Melissa who stays at a fairly constant 4.0 miles per hour gait. Although today, she sped up three or four times to increase her overall pace. She finished about five minutes before I did and headed to the wet sauna.

My time was right at the 50 minute mark, which isn’t super, but it was what I felt I could do considering my weird experience last night and my previous days of leg pain. I think the combination of taking it a little easier on the front side of the 5K helped. I also popped two Ibuprofen before hitting the gym. Ibuprofen helps with the inflammation and with the pain associated with shin splints. I don’t want to rely on it, though, and I feel like I won’t have to after a couple more weeks of decent training.

Sports physicians and trainers don’t like for people to rely on painkillers because masking the pain can also mask injuries that can worsen if left untreated. I’m not condoning the use of any pain medication, but simply reporting on what I do for myself.

Melissa and I have been walking in races and on our own for two years or so and we know our bodies. The reason that I’m having so much trouble with this 5K-a-Day challenge is that we slacked off of our walking routine in the second half of 2016 and I certainly felt it when starting this challenge. I’ve always been athletic and a lifelong runner/walker, but this 5K commitment has left me realizing that gradual training and proper care along the way are essential to success.

The takeaway for today is that no matter how you feel, you have to keep going. There will be days that I don’t feel like completing the 5K. There will be days that Melissa doesn’t feel like doing it, but if one of us stays motivated and pushes the other one, no matter what, we won’t give up. Sure, it would be much easier not to do it, but then we also have a lot to lose by not keeping up with our challenge. Even when I’m sick, I’m going to complete the daily 5K. You’ll read about my complaints and heartaches along the path.

You can send us messages through this blog and ask questions or whatever. Let us know your experiences with your own challenges. You don’t have to wait until January 1 to begin a 5K-a-Day challenge. You can jump in anytime. Start slow and ramp up, especially if you aren’t used to training. Stretch, prepare, and keep your challenge going.

January 6 – Walking It Off

I didn’t feel any hint of shin muscle tightening or pain until about the 1.6 mile mark, which is a big relief over earlier attempts.

Shin Splints IllustratedAfter being in so much pain from shin splints, I scarcely logged two hours of sleep last night. But, I woke up to snow and slick roads to help motivate me to excel (Sarcasm) another day. I came home from work and Melissa and I changed and both went to the gym to do our daily 5K. She hit the treadmill (aka Torture Machine) and I stretched. I did my calf stretches, which felt like my calves were on fire and I assumed my awesome Yoga-esque pose on the floor to further stretch those shin splint muscles. Spoiler alert: It helped. I didn’t feel any hint of shin muscle tightening or pain until about the 1.6 mile mark, which is a big relief over earlier attempts.

I walked/jogged on the .1 mile track around the gym machines area. Yes, .1 miles–so roughly 10 times around is a mile and you can do the math yourself for a 5K (3.1 miles). And you thought NASCAR was boring.

Melissa and repeated the rolling pin routine from the night before on my shin splints. Additionally, I used our heated “corn pillow” to relax my muscles. I logged a very average 15:18 pace, which to me was amazing considering the amount of shin splint pain I was in by the end of the 5K. Not as bad as yesterday, but still pretty bad. I did a few post 5K stretches to help relieve the tightness.

My best advice that I didn’t obey for continuing, but slightly subsiding pain: Take Ibuprofen, stretch more, and use a “muscle rub” ointment.

January 5 – The Home Stretch

So, the moral to this story is to stretch and to respect your body’s limits.

Back to the gym for me today. My legs were so sore that I had terrible pace times. I even jogged quite a bit, but when I walked my shin splints were so bad that my pace was close to 20 minutes per mile. My 5K took me almost an hour to complete. The pain, at times, was almost unbearable. It was probably running on that treadmill the day before that hurt so bad. I won’t do that again.

If you’ve ever had shin splints, they hurt a lot. I have shin splints on the outside of my legs (anterior shin splints) and likely have Compartment Syndrome that can only be fully corrected with surgery.

My solution is to stretch, which I should have done before I started my workout. Calf stretches and flexing in both directions is usually the remedy for that horrible pain. Alas, I didn’t take the five minutes required for injury prevention.

Here are two useful links on shin splints if you experience them:

Runner’s World


The most often cited remedy is to stop running and cross-train. I disagree. If I stop running and walking, I’ll just experience the same problem all over again. I’m not willing to do that. My fix is to take five minutes and perform the proper stretches, which does work. Calf stretches work for medial (not anterior) shin splints, but I do them anyway as an opposite stretch for my calves.

Shin Splint Stretch The stretch I do for my shin splints is odd and I’m sure it isn’t in the book, but I sit on the floor with my legs folded to the side and behind me. A lot of little kids sit this way when they play. I can’t fully explain or illustrate the position, but found out that it is actually a Yoga pose. See the picture to the right. Who knew that I knew a Yoga pose. Impressive.

Don’t get me wrong, that pose is painful to do. It is for me anyway, so if you experience quite a bit of pain, you can raise up a bit to relieve it until your muscles relax. Hold the pose–never bounce when you exercise–it’s not good for you, although you will see people bouncing their exercises. It causes injuries and muscle fatigue. Just don’t do it.

To assist with my pain, Melissa grabbed a marble rolling pin and rolled my outer shin muscles, which was almost as painful as the soreness and pain of the shin splints, but it helped. So, the moral to this story is to stretch and to respect your body’s limits. Pain tells you to stop doing whatever is causing the pain. The old, “No pain, no gain” saying is nonsense.