Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Exercise Diary: Sweaty Summer

Went to yoga yesterday and the class was packed.  I guess since most of the classes were canceled yesterday on campus due to the holiday, people did most of their sunbathing during the day and decided it was time to go to yoga in the evening.

Worse, because of the holiday there was no public transportation.  So instead of rushing to finish my experiment (yes I still worked) so I could catch the bus, I had to speed walk to the studio only to find that the only empty spots in the classroom were way in the front.  So for the first time I did yoga in the front row and I guess it was okay.

Basically I was wet from before the class started to way after it was over.  I broke into a sweat walking to the studio, I soaked my shirt and my towel during the class, and after we were done it started to rain outside so I was wet again while walking home.

And for some reason I decided to do about 30 squats (got to have a booty to fit into nice shorts right?) while cooking dinner last night and my thighs today were hurting like I had never excised before yesterday.  So much so that I chickened out again today and only did two laps around the pond (2 miles).

I again decided not to bring my visor today and again it was a mistake.  The sun was beaming, and it was very very warm.  Nice breeze, but still very hot.  While running I could feel sweat dripping down my forehead and neck, but it wasn't until after my run while stretching that I realized the low back of my shirt was completely soaked.  So is my bra, and basically my whole upper body.  I think next time I need to bring a change of clothe so I don't walk home wet again.  Gross.

I feel like I've become weaker since I started running outside.  Today was probably because of my sore thighs, but I felt like I was ready to be done barely half way into my first-miler.  That was an ego crusher.  about 0.8 mile I decided to do a little fartlek and ran toward some arbitrary land mark before succumb to a walk.  And that was about 10 minutes of running so I guess I was sort of doing my 10K training maybe.  I did two more run-relatively-fast-then-jogged-for-a-bit-and-walk thing before deciding that 2 miles is good enough for today.

Listened to fast music again, all of them at least a few years old now but familiar and comforting.  I really don't understand, other than for safety reasons maybe, why many races don't allow the runners to wear headphones.  I don't find the music distracting from my running and breathing, rather I think it helped me to focus.  I sort of simultaneously tune into the music and zone out of it.  I could feel my breathing but couldn't hear how excruciating it sounds, which in truth is a discouraging distraction.

My coworker forwarded me an email today about a half-marathon in November.  I was tempted because of the swag, but I just don't think I can make a commitment right now.  And after today's run I really don't think I'm ready either.  While I know that I need a goal so I don't always run the crappy 2 miles when I get myself around that pond, I think a half-marathon (whether it's just finishing or finishing within its time limit) is a bit out of my reach.  It's a good goal theoretically, but I think in truth I would just be afraid of it and do what I always do when I'm afraid: procrastinate.  And that will not be helpful.  So we'll see.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Exercise Diary: So much for that 10K app

First day back at running.  Did 2.5 miles in my new Saucony Kinvara 5 (the awesome blue kind with trippy green shoe laces).  Not a good run but at least I made myself go around the pond 3 times.

Today I also tried the 10K app I recently downloaded.  It's developed by the same people who made the popular C25K app, so I thought it would be really helpful.  For the 10K app they essentially extended their methodology, and employed the same run-walk-run strategy.  And it theoretically made sense.  Since I could run a 5K if I really wanted to, I started from the week 9 program, which was run 10-minute walk 1-minute for about 4 times.

In reality it didn't work quite well.  With the new shoes and my recently opened body I went way to quickly in the first 10 minutes, which actually felt really great, until I got bored/tired around minute 8 and thought, oh no, this is not going to go well.  Although the 10K app is supposed to be compatible with Nike+ and a bunch of music apps like Spotify and Pandora, it didn't work too well with my non-traditional app, and instead of voice signaling my walking break, the music simply dimmed for 2 seconds.  You eventually get used to that, but it could be very confusing at first.  Naturally I missed my first break.

I tried to make it up by walking for about a minute and keep running, but it threw off my whole rhythm.  Plus the sudden stopping to walk really messed up my breathing.  The rest of my run consisted of pain in the diaphragm, irregularity in my heart beat, and a general decline in stamina and speed.

All in all the app didn't do anything to my advantage.

Not sure if I'm going to continue using this program.  I could theoretically do my own run-walk-run routine using landmarks on my route as signals, or I could just run the whole time for a long as I could.

The new shoes felt really good actually.  I had been very unhappy with them since I had a hard time making them fit, but after wearing them for a while and adjusting the lacing they became a natural extension to my feet which is nice.  My feet didn't really hurt that much during today's run, and although the size-9.5 shoes look really big they felt like a really good fit.  I think they are a keeper.

Other thoughts:

  • Up until I went out in my running gear it was cloudy all day.  So although I brought my new visor I decided not to use it.  And I immediately regretted that decision as soon as I stepped out.  The sun peered throughout the cloud and was very bright, and although there was a very nice breeze it was still very hot.  
  • The right side of my forehead and neck sweat more than my left side.  This is no longer a new discovery but it was more prominent today.  I hate the feeling of sweat dripping down my neck and I don't think it is something that can be rescued by a visor.  Would I look really stupid if I run with a towel in one hand?
  • Ran today with a playlist of upbeat music, which I've almost never done before.  I always run with a podcast or an audio book.  But I think the upbeat music works a lot better.  For one I don't really have to pay attention to it.  In fact sometimes I deliberately ignore it.  But the fast beat helps with the mood and my breathing, and is not as distracting from the actual running.  
  • I found it to be quite helpful if I focus a lot on my breathing during the run.  I guess it's kind of like yoga, you have to make sure you are breathing deeply no matter what you are doing.  Although that idea kind of failed toward the end, but I think overall if I focus on the actual running rather than actively trying to ignore it by engaging more in what I'm listening I would feel less tired too early on.

Exercise Diary: Saturday Fun

Went to yoga again today, this time with a new friend.  I told a bunch of people about the yoga studio I joined and while many expressed interested she was the only one who actually wanted to take a class.  We had to work around her schedule a bit but it's kind of touching that she still wants to do it given that she's leaving here in a short while so there won't be a chance of her becoming a regular member.

Which is why I went to a yoga class on Saturday, something I don't think I've ever done, and two days after my last class.

It was a nice class.  We had a substitute instructor which is always nice since new teachers bring their own style and series of poses and their own way of explaining how to do things.  We did a bunch of sun salutations but added in a bunch of balancing poses and side plank variations, which killed me.  But I really like the change in the style that I'm more familiar to.

I again sweated more that I have ever done.  My shirt was soaked all the way through and half way through the class I began to have sweat dripping down from my forehead down my face.  But I think my body is more used to the work now, I no long feel like I've regressed to the beginning of last year with my joints all tensed up and inflexible.

Afterwards for the first time I didn't immediately go back to my apartment and shower.  Instead my friend and I went to a small fair hosted by a bunch of asian societies on campus where they had free food and games.  We replenished all the calories we burned with bubble tea, aloe juice, strawberry mochi, and fruits.  I was way too full for kabob or rich balls, since I was still digesting the chicken I had two hours before my class.  With food we also played the board game go and the toy shuttlecock, and as we were leaving I felt a sense of happiness and slight nostalgia, this overall warm feeling that I haven't had in a long time.  It was very satisfying.  Maybe with the exception of having another round of go with a better player I didn't have the painful feeling of not wanting the whole thing to end, but it brought me back to a fantasy childhood that I could never go back to since it was nothing but a collection of chunky happy moments.  Anyway that combined with the endorphins released from the yoga exercise made my afternoon very very happy.

Things on my mind:

  • Going to New Orleans next weekend for a conference and I'm super excited now.  Feeling slightly guilty since I'm way more excited about the fun things I want to do in the city rather than the conference itself.  But I've never been to New Orleans and it will just be a shame if I miss the culture.  I anticipate being drunk and sleep deprived the whole time I'm there but if that's how i'm going to squeeze work and play in then I guess that'll have to do.
  • My new shoes arrived yesterday.  I'm now not so into Kinvara 5 anymore since the shoes don't seem to fit perfectly.  I returned my size 9 pair for 9.5 since the 9 were way too tight, and now I feel that the 9.5 may be too big.  I haven't run in them yet (will do tomorrow) but now I'm getting a bit tantrum-y because the shoes are being so difficult.  I think this will be the last time I invest a lot of my consciously deciding on what running shoes I'm going to buy.  My Saucony Cohesion cost $38 and I had never tried them on before buying and now I got almost 100 miles on them.  They were by far my most satisfactory purchase.  Go figures.  
  • It's still quite chilly here in New England but New Orleans will be hot hot hot!  Which reminded me again of how fat I still am and cannot really look good in any summer clothes and i hate that.  I really need to be harder on myself about losing weight with both exercise and diet.  I have way too much to lose and not enough will power to lose it all.  I don't think it will happen in time for my trip but I really hope that sometimes before the end of summer I will be able to go out feeling good and confident about how I look in summer clothes.  My birthday is coming up and I just don't want to wasted too many years felling shitty about my body before I get too old.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Exercise Diary: Yoga again

The past month and half has been hellish.  Even since I started TAing I had neither the time nor energy to do anything else.  It's not just the big time commitment that I all of a sudden had, it's also the physical exhaustion after doing all the extra work and the mental exhaustion that also tags along.  I had at least two teaching lab related dream (neither were nightmares but still 2 too much).

So as my actual research work falls behind, naturally my exercise routine also went out of wack.

I can see from my blogging history that I have not written anything for over a month now, but from my Nike record I have been running slightly more regularly.  None of the runs were particularly good, or fast, or anything worth writing anything down.  The only thing about my recent runs is that they are almost exclusively done outdoors, which means beautiful scenery.  I did take many pictures on the road, which also meant that I wasn't fully paying attention to the running.  None of the runs were good either.  They were slow, they were short, and none of them made me feel any better or stronger.  And since I decided to not run the half-marathon (which would be this weekend), I really had no specific milage goals for my runs either.

But TA is almost over (last lab finished this week, still a few more grading and things to be done before I'm finally liberated), and the mental pressure has significantly gone down.  Especially this week I found myself particularly free and eventless in the evenings and I have been sleeping a lot more.  I recently bought a new pair of running shoes (the much raved Saucony Kinvara 5) that will be arriving tomorrow and I'm really excited about it.  And I went to yoga today for the first time since beginning of April.

It's probably the weather, but one of the first things I noticed was that I had never sweated as much in a yoga class as today and that was kind of alarming.  I expected having my butt kicked, and I did, but having sweat dripping from my forehead was not one of my anticipations.  But it wasn't until more than half way through the class that I felt like someone who has had lots of yoga classes for the past year and half.  Toward the end I finally felt that I have properly opened my body and was rewarded with the familiar feeling of energy flowing through my body and actually feeling good after a particular series of moves.  And I hope this will be the beginning of a lot more regularly attended classes.  I made a yoga class date with a friend for Saturday, and I bought another 10-class pass, so yoga is so back on!

And running tomorrow.  I will run tomorrow.  I downloaded a 10K workout app that will give me about 5 weeks of regular running plans, and I will buy the half-marathon app after that.  I don't know if I will be ready to try this year's CHaD half marathon in October, but whether or not I'm actually running it I really need the goal to get real training.  So as summer approaches (finally!), as the spring school term ends, I will finally go back to a more regular exercise schedule, and hopefully, life.