February 23, 24, and 25 – Three Days of Neglected 5K Posts

The past three days of 5Ks have all looked pretty much the same.

NeglectedI know I haven’t posted in three days but sometimes there’s just not enough difference between days to post for a single day. That’s one reason why I’m moving toward posting once a week. The other is that I don’t want to clog your feeds with my daily posts. I think you get the idea by now that I’m walking a 5K per day. You should join in. Remember that you can start at any time; it doesn’t have to be January 1.

The past three days of 5Ks have all looked pretty much the same. The only minor exception would be the 24th. Yow, it was windy and cold. I debated going to the gym vs. walking the neighborhood but I chose the neighborhood.

Melissa, wisely, has chosen to stick to the mall with few exceptions. No cars to dodge, no dogs to be afraid of, no broken beer and whiskey bottles to wade through on the sidewalks, and no weirdos to avoid.

The 24th was so windy and so cold that my face was numb by the time I got home. I was also out of breath. There was one windy stretch when I walked to the West that almost stopped me in my tracks. I was thankful for that one to end. I guess I’m thankful when they all end. I guess 3.1 miles isn’t enough to induce those euphoric endorphins because I’m always glad to have it over with.

So, from February 26th onward, I’ll be posting once a week. Keep stretching and let us know how you’re doing.

Ken’s Twitter and Instagram: @kenhess

Melissa’s Instagram: redhatrunner


February 12 – The Long and Windy Road

It’s perfectly fine to stop during your workout, pause your tracking app, and do some needed stretching.

Lake VictoriaWe couldn’t avoid it any longer. Melissa and I had to walk six miles today to pick up on our training for the Aquarium half marathon on April 1. We chose to do our training walk today because it was going to be cooler. I don’t think we anticipated the wind speed. At times the walk was pretty tough. Part of our six miles included the 3.1 (5K) mile walk around LaFortune Park. The park includes numerous hills, the last of which was painfully windy and right in our faces. The wind was chilly and strong, which made it difficult to maintain a decent pace. A few big gusts took us by surprise and left us gasping for breath.

Seriously, I think too much air right in your face is why people tell you that you shouldn’t blow into a dog’s face. Funny thing is that as soon as a dog gets into a car, he sticks his head out the window and faces the wind. It makes no sense to me but they’re dogs. The point is that I don’t like a strong wind in my face.

How much wind is that doggie in?By the time we returned home, I had reached 12,567 steps from that experience and another six miles added to my walk repertoire. Yesterday, I earned my Lake Victoria Badge from my Withings app. Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake and if you walked around it, you would travel 870 miles, like I have since November 2015 (I think). My Withings app is linked to my Withings Activite watch that I’ve written about before.

A bit of good stretching before and once during a restroom break did wonders for keeping any pain at bay. That’s today’s tidbit of advice. It’s perfectly fine to stop during your workout, pause your tracking app, and do some needed stretching. You now have permission to stop and do it. Stopping won’t hurt your time and it will help avoid injury and fatigue. Don’t be embarrassed. People who workout know what you’re doing and why.

#5KaDay2017 #5KaDayChallenge

February 1 – A Groundhog Day Eve 5K

I’m not a huge fan of February because I’m not really sure how to pronounce February.

FebruaryYesterday I lamented that January had 31 days, meaning that I wished that my first month of 5Ks had been shorter by, I don’t know…maybe a day, I guess. Melissa replied, “There are 365 days in a year, so what does it matter?” True, but the point is that a shorter month would mean that we’d surpassed a milestone–a whole month of 5Ks. It doesn’t matter now, of course, but it mattered a couple of days ago.

Today is February 1st. I’m not a huge fan of February because I’m not really sure how to pronounce February. There are two competing pronunciations and I’ve always favored the Feb-yoo-ary version, while Melissa favors, Feb-roo-ary. I can’t bring myself to say it that way, although it’s probably the more correct one. I mean, come on, when it’s followed by March, April, May, June, and July, why does February have to be so difficult? February is the Wednesday of months. It’s annoying and weird.

Melissa and I walked together today in the chilly wind. When the wind hit us in the face, it was pretty rough to take. I’m not a fan of the wind, especially cold wind. It was literally breathtaking and not in a good way. We finally finished up and put another 5K into the history book or blog.

Our time was somewhere between competitive and love walk, which means that we weren’t hurried or trying to be competitive. In plain English, it was close to an hour for the 5K walk today. Such is life.

Remember to keep walking. Don’t let the weather or any other issues keep you from that daily 5K. It does get easier. To me, the 5K isn’t so much of a physical challenge anymore but has become more of a time challenge. I know that as soon as I hit the door, I can’t sit down and relax. I have to change clothes, get motivated, stretch, and then hit the bricks.

#5KaDay2017 #5KaDayChallenge

Twitter: @kenhess

Instagram: redhatrunner

January 22 – Hitting the Mall

The mall is warm, dry, flat, and relatively free of people at 9:00AM on a Sunday.

I'm going to the MallRainy days and Sundays always get me down. Today is both. No chance of an outside walk today because of all the liquid sunshine and wind. It’s still too early, even as I’m writing this, to go to our gym that doesn’t open until 12:00 noon. We opted for the mall. The bigger, nicer mall. It isn’t carpeted like the smaller, less desirable mall, but it’s just over 0.5 miles around the inside “track”, so off we went. The mall is warm, dry, flat, and relatively free of people at 9:00AM on a Sunday. A few mall walkers, a few vendors, and a dozen or so cleaning people are the only folks you see, which is a good thing. The other mall has a lot of, how shall I put this,…mall groupies who just kind of hang out because they have nothing else to do.

Both malls have throngs of people who come in everyday and just ‘hang out’ because they have nothing else to do and nowhere to go. It’s a great place to people watch. Some of these folks walk around all day long, go into every store, touch everything, get a free piece of chocolate multiple times at See’s Candies, go play with the Apple gadgets, go mess with the Microsoft Store stuff, check out every kiosk, and take up space without purchase at the food court.

That is to say, it’s a mall.

And another funny thing I noticed. They still have Dippin’ Dots kiosk stores. The Ice Cream of the Future. I remember when Dippin’ Dots first hit malls in the 1980s. It was “The Ice Cream of the Future” back then. 29 years later, you’d think that this would be the future referred to in the slogan and that they could just call it Ice Cream or something equally as clever. The company went bankrupt in 2011 and it was then purchased by Chaparral Energy founders, who have filed for bankruptcy in May 2016. Some people just make increasingly poor decisions.

I digress.

Our 5K was a fast-paced one. We’re not sure how fast-paced because GPS thingies don’t work well inside the mall. Melissa’s TomTom wouldn’t measure her pace and neither would my MapMyWalk app. We heard the first mile announcement go off after about 11 minutes, to which Melissa commented, “There’s no way we’re at an 11 minute pace.” I reluctantly agreed that it had to be wrong. I was bummed because the app also read that the mall was an astonishing 0.84 miles in size. I think realistically it’s about 0.5 miles. Good try MapMyWalk, but the TomTom wins again.

Because of the chilly outside rain, I think that I might have been a little overdressed with my T-shirt under my thick North Face hoodie. I was a little winded after the first mile-and-a-half. I almost stopped a couple of times, but didn’t, and just kept on going. Eventually, everything kind of evened out and I was back to normal. Just over five times around finished up our 22nd 5K. Thank goodness!

We then went for a nutritious breakfast at FirstWatch, where I actually drank some coffee (a rarity for me). It just seemed like the thing to do.

Here’s today’s bit of advice. If you feel light-headed, weak, or like you need to stop during your workouts, don’t push through it; stop and allow yourself to rest for a few minutes. You’re not beating the clock here. This is a long-term commitment and there’s no medal or fanfare at the end–only the promise of better health. Don’t overdo it. And yes, I need to heed my own advice.


January 20 – Love Walk

…you have to take some time to recover, to let your muscles rest, and to allow yourself some time to repair.

RestToday, Melissa and I finally synchronized our schedules enough to have a walk together. We started out at an almost unheard of 5:15PM. I was thrilled that we had a chance to share one of the week’s 5Ks. She informed me early on, within the first 50 steps, that we are going to take it slow today and that this is going to be our recovery walk. We’ve both pushed it pretty hard this week and as she told me so many times before that, when training you usually take two days off for rest. Well, in a 5K-a-Day challenge, there is no day off or day of rest. Our compensation for that is a recovery walk, or as we like to call it, a love walk.

I think I might have described it before to you, but a love walk is a slow stroll (Think 20 minutes per mile here). It’s a walk where we can talk about the day’s events, world news, and kid things. Well, today being what it is, the conversation turned to politics.

We generally agree on things political, although I have a bit more of a conservative bent to my beliefs than she does. That said, I’m not a fan of the new Presidency, while Melissa takes a kinder, gentler “Let’s see what happens” approach to it. Of course I haven’t been a fan of any Presidency for a while now, but that’s another story.

Our walk today was a pleasant one. It was the perfect temperature with little wind and no obstacles such as pain or giant hills to impede us.

RestThe truth is that you have to take some time to recover, to let your muscles rest, and to allow yourself some time to repair. For a daily challenge like this, there’s no rest day, but do what we did and take it easy for a day or two here and there. A slow walk or two isn’t going to hurt your training nor is anyone going to criticize you for it. No judgements. Heck, you’re doing more than 99 percent of the population, if you’re doing this 5K challenge with us.

Remember to stretch, to get plenty of sleep, and to take a slow day every three to four days to rejuvenate. It will do you good and will keep you walking. Remember, it’s a long-term commitment and not a fad. Do what’s right for your health and your mental well-being. Let us know how you’re doing on your challenges.


January 19 – Weathering Heights

Oklahoma Weather RockMy mother told me that my grandfather used to say of the weather in Oklahoma, that only “fools or foreigners” would dare to predict it. Today was good evidence of that. This morning our favorite weatherman predicted that the high would be near 60 and the foggy, cloudy stuff would clear by noon. He was wrong. Very wrong. It was a chillier 51, when I embarked on my 5K and it was still damp, cloudy, a little breezy, and mildly unpleasant at 5:30. Mildly unpleasant is pretty standard this time of year. What’s funny about the weather here is that people will always say, “It could be a lot worse.” True. Very true. And I’m pretty sure there’s always a 20 percent chance of a tornado.

Enough about the weather for now. Today’s 5K went fast. I focused on every step and paid close attention to my pace. My total time was 41:53 minutes and an average pace of 13:31 minutes per mile. My best pace was 7:57 minutes per mile.

The best part of walking/jogging a 5K when it’s cooler outside is that it’s natural to quicken your pace to try to keep warm. Either that or to shorten the time spent on the 5K. Both are very motivating.

Part of my focus was on my heal and toe steps, my attention to my speed, and pushing myself to jog just a little farther than usual. Part of my goal, if I haven’t mentioned it before, is to eventually train myself so that I can jog all or most of the way.

Melissa has decided that we’re probably only going to participate in half marathons this year, so we begin our training this weekend for the first one that occurs on April 1. She has designed our training schedule to begin with a 4 mile walk this weekend, that will also count as our daily 5K. I think her plan is to increase our distance by one mile each Saturday and then rest for a Saturday or two before the race. Except for our daily 5K, that is.

Heavener Runestone
Heavener Runestone [Paraphrased Interpretation] Weather sucks here. We’re leaving.
A half marathon takes us approximately 3.25 hours to complete, which is quite a commitment. The cool part is that we can eat anything we want afterward. The weird thing is that after walking 13.1 miles, you don’t feel much like eating, so it has that added effect.

Half marathons also require some planning. We have to take Ibuprofen before the race and keep some with us just in case of pain. We also have to carry tissue and sometimes a little snack. After about the sixth mile, I get really hungry. Some of our better supported races, people will kindly setup beer stations, candy stations, or other snack and refreshment pauses for us. There are also the standard water or Nuun stations sponsored by the race coordinators. I almost always choose Nuun over water at the stations.

We have an extremely great group of people who support us as volunteers from the community, including Police Officers who keep us safe during the races.

Let us know if you’re running any 5Ks, 10Ks, Half Marathons, or other races this year. We’d love to have you write up a guest post. If you’re taking part in the 5K-a-Day Challenge, let us know and let us know if you want to write a guest post.



January 17 – A Series of Unremarkable Events

SnoozerIt was a dark and stormy night. Nope, sorry. Let me try that again. Call me Ishmael. OK, again, sorry. That’s not it either. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. Really sorry about that one. OK, one more time. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. Yes, that’s it. Much better. Starting fresh.

The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. Melissa walked earlier in the day, whilst I chose the evening. Her pace quickened in the midday sun like soft rainforest droplets that dare touch the ground from the high canopy above. My own footfalls pounded the concrete like the labored lub-dub of a heart given way to too many years of pain. Our rhythms matched one to another while yet in two separate timescapes.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It sounds like some 19th-century novel preparing you for some impending dastardly deed by a shadowy figure. The truth is that nothing happened here today.

Melissa walked her uneventful 5K in an unremarkable time without a single exciting thing happening to her. I, too, completed my 5K in unimpressive fashion, in almost zero wind, and in fairly pleasant temperatures. I jogged a bit, walked a lot, and I finished in an average amount of time, which was 43:06 minutes. My average pace was a very average 13:54. Neither of us saw, heard, or experienced anything noteworthy today. Hey, every day can’t be like July 4th, right?

Although I have no story to tell about my walk, I do however have a short story to tell.

This evening I was supposed to attend an IT people gathering at the local Dead Armadillo Brewery near downtown. I did not go. By the time I made it home, changed, spoke briefly to Melissa; I was out the door and onto my daily 5K excursion. I finished at 6:30, which to me was too late to clean up, go to the place, consume overly hopped beers, complain about the overly hopped beers, and then return home at a reasonable hour. Some of us have to work tomorrow, you know.


January 16 – ML5K Day

I have to be honest and tell you that some days it’s quite difficult to face a 5K.

MLKJrA nice, warm MLK Day is quite rare here, so I’m glad that the parade participants and attendees enjoyed a non-freezing, non-precipitating weather day. I’ve seen MLK Day be far less than pleasant with sleet, cold rain, wind, and even snow. The faithful still show up.

For Melissa and me, the day called us outdoors too. We walked our neighborhood, albeit slowly, but we did it. Again, there’s no competition for time–just completing the 5K is the goal.

I have to be honest and tell you that some days it’s quite difficult to face a 5K. I think, “We can’t miss one and it’s only 45 minutes or so. I have this and I have to do this.”

Don’t give up. If you skip a day, then it will be easier to skip another and another, until you’re no longer participating in any kind of challenge at all. Make a commitment and stick to it. I’m always glad when we’re finished and I’m always glad we did it. Another day’s 5K in the books.

Melissa and I both observed that walking in the neighborhood seems easier and quicker than walking on the gym’s track or on the treadmill. It’s no faster or different in time, but it feels different. It feels better to be outside. A few days ago, when I did my 5K in 30-ish degree weather, it was still better than being inside on that track or on the devil’s conveyor belt (treadmill).

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day, I’ll tell you a little story. A few years ago, Melissa, our three kids, and I went to Memphis, Tennessee for a short vacation. We visited their impressive Zoo and some place that had an outside scale model of the Mississippi River. We walked all around the old downtown area, the Beale Street area, rode a Trolley car, went to the Peabody Hotel (The duck place–look it up), and had some awesome food and drink.

We wandered around and turned a corner only to see the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered on April 4, 1968. To say that it was a shock to my system is an understatement. I never thought I’d see it in real life. Melissa and I both kind of gasped at the sight of it and had kind of a long, silent moment of being stunned at standing within a few yards of the motel. I have to say that you don’t really know how you’re going to react to something like that until you see it for yourself.


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 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.