Wednesday, March 23, 2016

That extra scoop of coal

Had a really good run today, though it was a struggle getting there.  By 6pm or so today I was suddenly famished, and desperately wanted crispy chicken pad thai for dinner.  So before I left work today I sat and debated with myself for a long time as to what to do.  In the end I decided to go to the gym, run my 5K, and have thai takeout as a reward afterwards to balance out the calorie intake/output.

I was originally going to just run 25 minutes non-stop, and then do a 4-minute run/1-minute walk thing until I get to 40 minutes, which usually equates a 5K more or less.  But luckily, I caught half an episode of Castle that just happened to be playing on the treadmill I picked.  It was a season finale, during which Beckett was fighting some bad guy on the rooftop of a building that ended with the bad guy getting away and left Beckett hanging by the edge of the building and had to be saved by Ryan.  The actual fighting part happened about 20 minutes into my run, and even though I kind of knew what happened, having seen the episode before, I was nonetheless engrossed in the plot and I almost jilted when Beckett was ambushed at one point.  The episode cut to commercial right after Beckett rolled to the edge of the building and was hanging by her fingers, and I could feel my heart pumping faster because of the suspense.

And that's when it happened.  Just minutes before I started to breathe really heavily and audibly as I usually do around minute 20 and had to really put an effort and focus on my breathing and running, but as I watched the show and I got excited by the plot I found myself breathing normally again, as in, no loud, forceful breaths to artificially pump my heart faster to accommodate the demand of my body.  Watching the show seemed to give me an extra shot of adrenaline without me having to do any extra work.  The effect was not long lasting though, half way through the commercial break I found myself having to breathe really hard again.  I managed to keep running until I did 31 minutes, and ended up running the fastest mile, km, and 5K according to my Nike, earning a pre-recorded congratulatory message from Paula Radcliffe, which was kinda nice.  The data is false, by the way.  Nike has a tendency of overestimating my distance and I don't always recalibrate afterwards.  So now I have a 32-minute 5K record that's not real that I will have to beat later on.  Oh well, none of that really matters that much.

But that kind of got me thinking.  I used to be really afraid of watching anything suspenseful while running on the treadmill because I didn't want the plot of the show interfere with my breathing.  But now it seems that having my heart beat faster is actually a good thing and I might need to do it more often.  I also found that during the first 10 minutes or so I really need to concentrate on whatever I'm listening to keep myself from being bored, but this distraction is less necessary beyond the 10-minute mark, as running then requires more conscious effort.  Now it seems that around 20-minutes I need something exciting again to give my heart an extra push.  I'm not sure this is completely good for me, as people usually talk about increasing their lung capacity instead of heart rate when exercise, but before the capacity of my lungs are properly expanded I'll have to settle with faster heart pumping.

Afterwards as I was walking home I asked myself if I still wanted pad thai, and as usual my appetite gets curbed after exercising and my desire for thai food and fried chicken was not as intense as before.  But I still like the idea of very savory food and I couldn't think of any good alternative that I could make at home that would be comparable.  I set my mind on the salty ramen noodle in the end, as I was feeling for something soup-y, but I still could not abandon the idea of pad thai.  I literally was at a crossroad, having one way leading home and the other leading to the thai restaurant.  I ended up sitting on a very cold bench and played 2048 for 3 minutes before my butt got really cold and I just told myself to go home and have ramen and save the $13 I didn't really feel like spending anyway.  In the end it was a very successful day with eating, exercising, and money spending.

I've also start to take more walks.  On Monday I walked around the nearby pond twice (roughly 2 miles) because I didn't want to go running but I felt the need to exercise.  Today I walked around the pond once, since I really need the time to think about the outline of a review I needed to write and I was too full from lunch to sit in front of my desk comfortably.  I still haven't come up with a good outline but I did stop feeling bloated.  As spring hesitantly approaches there are more runners coming out.  On my walk today I saw 2 guys and a girls jogging (separately), and a group of young kids doing some sort of track workout.  I started mile 2 and all of a sudden decided that I didn't want to walk anymore but would like to go back and start making a tentative outline and assemble a reading list, so I literally stopped abruptly, turned around, and walked back to my office.  As I turned around I saw the group of young kids running their third and they must have thought that I was most weird.  Oh well.

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