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.

#5KaDay2017

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.

#5KaDay2017

January 12 – 5K Chillin’

To my surprise, I’m now able to jog longer, even in the cold and I think that at normal temperatures, I would do a bit better.

Good socks make a big differenceToday’s 5K was mostly a decision of where, as in “Where do I want to do this?” It was cold and windy, but not so cold that I couldn’t stand it for 40 minutes or so. I didn’t really want to make the drive to the gym, which in itself is almost a 5K. And I surely didn’t want to go to the mall at 5:30PM. So, I did my 5K in the neighborhood. Sweat pants, T-shirt, sweatshirt, socks, and running shoes; these are what I chose to wear. Once outside in the wind, I thought, “Oh, this was a mistake. I’ll go around the block, come back, pause my workout, put on a jacket and gloves, and then continue.”

Of course, I didn’t do that. I just pulled my sweatshirt sleeves over my hands and away I went. No real pain today. I did my ‘walk/jog’ thing again. To my surprise, I’m now able to jog longer, even in the cold and I think that at normal temperatures, I would do a bit better.

Melissa did her 5K at the mall, so I’m not going to go in-depth on her workout. She did it. No records broken. Mall.

Yesterday’s 5K was a little better than today’s by about two minutes. The cold makes a big difference. Personally, and I have no scientific proof nor have I done any research, I think that walking, jogging, or running when the temperature is lower makes you work harder. I feel that my breathing is more labored and it takes longer (duh) to warm up to a comfortable pace.

However, the colder temps do give you one thing that warmer ones don’t: the ability to prevent overheating. If your body starts to labor because of heat, you can remove a jacket, but when it’s hot outside, you can’t. You do have to stay just as hydrated though. Breathing in and out in winter’s drier air requires just as much water replacement as midsummer does.

Melissa wants me to share a bit of info with you about socks. Socks, to me, are the ugly stepchild of the workout world. People ignore the importance of good socks. Melissa wore a pair of socks a couple of days ago that had ‘thinned’ over time and she could feel her feet moving inside her shoes because of them. The problem with thin socks and movement inside your shoes, especially when your feet sweat, is that it’s easier to get painful blisters. The friction from that movement causes blistering. And we’ve all had blisters. Few of us want them again.

Wear good socks. Don’t buy the super cheap ones. Buy athletic/performance socks. Yes, they’re a little pricey. I’ve bought Melissa socks that cost $5 per pair (I’ll post the brand, once I find them) and I feel like they’re a bargain at any price. You can also prevent blisters by wearing shoes that fit properly and tying them tightly around your feet.

Blisters, muscles soreness, shin splints, back pain, overheating, and other injuries are not always preventable, but you can minimize their impact on your performance by wearing the right gear, preparing yourself, staying hydrated, and being aware of your body’s messages to you.

#5KaDay2017

January 11 – The Quickening

I focused on how my feet hit the ground. I kept thinking: heel and toe, heel and toe…as I landed each step.

Jan11 PaceMelissa took in midday sun for her 5K challenge walk today. She caught some rays and walked the hellacious hill that’s just a mile south of our house. We usually use that hill as part of our training course, but she added it to her daily 5K. To her credit, she actually walked about 3.5 miles, so I shouldn’t even mention her or her overachieving efforts. But she deserves kudos for making a better effort than I did, so there it is.

I, on the other hand, had to wait until after work to hit the bricks for my daily 5K treat, but it was a great day for me. Almost no pain of any kind. It was very warm–in fact, too warm for what I was wearing, but it was good to sweat a little. The block that’s just across the street from my house is 0.56 miles in size, so I decided to take that on for today’s 5K challenge. Due to my attention surplus disorder, I only made it around that block three-and-a-half times, before veering off onto the block that’s just south of that one.

The block across the street has two level ends and a long hill for the long portion. It’s a rectangle–a classic rectangle. The hill is approximately 20 feet in height difference from the low end to the high end, so I didn’t stick with my ‘level ground’ habit for the other days this week.

My pace was an excellent, as you can see from the picture above of my MapMyWalk app. Today’s pace average was 13:03 minutes per mile and a total time of 40:31 minutes. I’m very happy with this time. I didn’t feel stressed or pushed. I just decided to jog as much as I walked, so if I walked for a particular distance, I also jogged that same distance. It worked.

I focused on how my feet hit the ground. I kept thinking: heel and toe, heel and toe…as I landed each step. Proper form makes you less tired and feels better. It also reduces the likelihood of injuries. To further illustrate the importance of posture and foot positioning during walking and jogging, I’ll leave you with this informative video on the topic.

#5KaDay2017

January 10 – Making the Hesses Great Again

I think a good combination of stretching, lighter eating, and a focus on my pace helped me to get to this level faster than normal.

StrengthMelissa and I walked separately again today. I’m not sure how she did because she knows her performance will end up in this blog, but I’m sure she did well. She walks faster than anyone I know. She’s very difficult for me to keep up with, although my legs are longer. When we’re really in shape and competitive, I have to jog every now and then to keep up with her because she gets so far ahead of me. I just don’t have a very fast walking gait. 4.0 miles per hour is kind of the upper limit for me and I can’t sustain it for long.

My walk tonight was very good. I jogged a bit more and had the usual tightening about a mile or so into the 5K, but nothing so bad that I couldn’t get through it. Tonight’s stats for me were an average pace of 13:58 minutes per mile and a total time of 43:19. I’m quite happy with that. I’d be happy to stay at that pace for a while.

I think a good combination of stretching, lighter eating, and a focus on my pace helped me to get to this level faster than normal.

When you’re walking and jogging, focus on what you’re doing. Think about your pace. Think about how your feet land on the sidewalk, street, or track. Think about your breathing. Keep your head up so that you’re looking forward, because you’ll get more air that way. If you have your head bent over, looking at the ground, you won’t get as much oxygen.

Be sure to share these posts on social media with the hashtag: #5KaDay2017

January 9 – Staggering Results

You have to push yourself just a little bit in order to train.

Watch for ImprovementsI just returned home after a nice walk in my neighborhood and it felt good to return the sidewalks and to the streets for a change. The temperature wasn’t devastatingly cold today, so Melissa and I both went for our walks, but 40 minutes apart. She decided to go ahead and get her walk in because our daughter needs a ride home from school at random times, so we stagger. I guess it’s OK to not walk together once in a while. Neither of us feels compelled to outpace the other. Her pace is usually better than mine, so don’t assume anything.

My stats today were: 48:18 minutes at an average pace of 15:12 minutes per mile. I’m quite happy with that. Only a little tightening and pain today from my shin muscles around the 1.5 mile mark. I walked through it and came out OK. A 15 minute per mile pace is respectable. I did it by staying on level ground–or as level as possible in my neighborhood, which isn’t easy.

Melissa’s pace was off a bit at around 16:48, as best can recall. Seriously, anything below 20 minutes per mile is doing pretty well. That’s just my opinion, though. However, if your pace is much over 20 minutes per mile, you need to adjust something, because that’s a very slow walking pace. That’s more of a leisurely stroll. You have to push yourself just a little bit in order to train. You don’t have to experience excruciating pain, but a little muscle soreness lets you know that you’re working muscles harder than usual, which is the whole point.

I don’t know what your specific goals are for your workouts, but I’ll share mine with you. When I was younger, I was a sprinter. I could outrun just about anyone on two feet. I ran a very fast 100 yard (Yes, yard) dash at 10.2 seconds. I don’t recall my 220 or 440, but they were respectable as well. Now, I know I’ll never get back to my 10.2 second 100 yard dash days, but my goal is to be able to run/jog an entire 5K this year. Additionally, my weight goal is to lose 20 pounds. My current morning weight is 232.6 pounds and I’ll keep you posted of my progress.

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 7 – One Down 51 To Go

During our walk, Melissa reminded me today we’ve completed one full week of 5Ks. Yay!

ONE FULL WEEK OF 5Ks IN THE BOOKS!!!

Mall WalkersToday Melissa and I went to one of the local malls to complete our daily 5K. At roughly 900 steps around the mall’s concourse, it takes approximately seven trips to complete a 5K. I was OK for the first mile, but had to pause for a few minutes to stretch. At close to two miles, the shin and ankle pain was so bad, it was wearing me out to continue, but I did knowing that eventually my shins would loosen up. Today, it wasn’t so much my shins that bothered me, but it was my ankles. Seriously, my ankles now?!

During our walk, Melissa reminded me today we’ve completed one full week of 5Ks. Yay! We celebrated with a high five. Then she also reminded me that we only have 51 more weeks to go. I felt the wind fall from my sails. We continued. I started to fall behind a bit, but kept pushing forward. I think I irritated Melissa a bit by asking, “How far have we gone?” a bit too often.

I wouldn’t have had to ask, but my phone died just as I opened MapMyWalk. But I have on my Withings band so that I can still get “credit” for the 5K. Always have a backup. I think that’s the lesson here.

After the glorious moment when she announced that we were done, we did a few post 5K stretches. And no, I’m not embarrassed to stretch in the mall. We walk before the mall officially opens for business, so there are a few other mall walkers, a few retail folks, and a small gaggle of women sitting around looking at their phones waiting to begin their days in the many nail salons in that mall who can watch me stretch if they want to. I’m sure I’ll end up in someone’s Twitter feed or Instagram postings for it, but at this point in life, who cares–I’m doing something.

My ankles, calves, and shins are sore, but not as bad as they were a few days ago. In all, a good day at the mall. And any day you can go to the mall and come out with the same amount of money you went in with is a very good day indeed.

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

WebMD

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.