Sunday, August 11, 2013

Running for a change

I've mentioned several times on the blog over the last year or so that I'm trying to lose weight and get into better shape. Now, for the most part, I think I've succeeded. I'm down 65 pounds since February of 2012, which is great and I'm proud of that. Granted, I'm also a touch frustrated that I've been about the same weight since Christmas since the goal was to lose 80 pounds. But I've learned not to complain about that too much as I get lectures when I do.

There's no magic to's the same way you always do these things. Move more, eat less and better. Stick to it, but don't beat yourself up too much when you slip. But do beat yourself up a bit to make sure you don't get into the habit of slipping up, if you know what I mean.

The eating has been the harder part. The routine of going to gym is pretty straightforward. I've been going five days a week this summer, what with Cathy back in Newfoundland, I find myself with extra time on my hands. However, the gym I go to has a "fitness challenge" ever year. You can either walk or run 1 km, 5 km or 10 km. Last year, I laughed at the idea. This year, feeling particularly masochistic, I decided to try the 5 km run.

A couple of things worth noting here. I am not a runner. I've never seen the appeal. Even at the gym, I rarely use the treadmill, preferring the elliptical when I have to get my cardio. And as has been pointed out to me, these are very different things. I just don't see the point. Eight months of the year it's too cold to go running, and the rest of the time you're running to escape the mosquitoes. Although one of the members told me on Saturday that with the right gear, you could easily go running in the winter. Why, she did it once when it was -32C.

Lovely woman. Obviously quite mad, but lovely all the same.

No, the runner in my family is my dad. There was a time there, back in his late 40s and early 50s, when dad would get up, go to work as a letter carrier, walk probably 10 km or more a day, come home, take the dog for a walk, come back home, run for 10 km, take the dog for another walk and then relax for a bit.

Lovely man. Obviously quite mad, but lovely all the same.

The thing being, I've known a few people into running. Most of them are quite mad. I may have my quirks (If you're in Newfoundland you can undoubtably hear a laughing noise from Mount Peak right now, where Cathy is summering), but quite mad is probably not one of them.

Still, in a fit of momentary insanity I decided to give it a try. Two years ago there would have been uncertainty if I could walk 5k without some damage. Even last year, I was down about 45 pounds, which still put me nicely overweight, so I could have walked it, but there was no way I was going to run it. But now I was curious, which is always a dangerous thing.

So I show up at Sylvia Grinnell Park on a cool, dreary, slightly windy day. Which is a good thing as the mosquitoes are slightly less carnivorous. The 10k run actually had prizes, but I wasn't kidding myself. They would have found my body in a ditch. I checked with friends who run (lovely people. All quite mad) and they told me 35-40 minutes was a decent time for a first time runner at 5k. So I was aiming for a little below that.

The run wasn't too bad, actually. I wasn't setting any speed records and there was a few moments where I was concerned that those running the 10k might finish before I got my five in. So that spurred me on a bit. But I managed to finish the race in about 32 minutes, which I'm pleased with. I don't have the exact time or where I place because, well, this isn't exactly a professional road race. But I'll take 32 minutes. I'll have to try and top that next year.

Oh yes, let's not be crazy here. I know I can do it, which is cool and all, but I'm not going to take it up or anything. I'm still not convinced that it's actually bad for your body. The aches and pains today were not unexpected. I used different muscles than normal, after all. My left knee deciding it was going to work sporadically throughout the day was an unpleasant surprise, however. Also, according to my FitBit, I burn more calories on the elliptical in 30 minutes than I do running for 30 minutes. Some clever person might come along and explain how that's not true, but it's what my gizmo is telling me, so I'm choosing to believe it for the moment.

No, the only running I see myself doing in the future is trying to get away from the mosquitoes, but it was an interesting experiment...

Last Five
1. President of what? - Death Cab for Cutie
2. Gardening at night - REM
3. Radio fly - Joel Plaskett Emergency*
4. Stories - Katie Baggs
5. Knickerbocker lin/Drowsy Maggie - The Flash Girls


John, Perth AU said...

(Aww, the Bastard thinks I'm clever!)

Where do you wear your fitbit? If it's on your arm, maybe your arm moves more on the elliptical than when you are running, depending on your stance. It's just an accelerometer in a sleek package, after all. I doubt it can take into account factors like air and road friction, temperature maintenance, and mosquito collisions.

As you're experiencing, measuring the human body is hard. It's just too varied. I'll bet fitbit went through some kind a calibration development, but none of their testers moved like you. What you get is an approximation.

Though I don't own one, I'll also bet that fitbit has some disclaimer in their documentation against comparing fitbit results with other people, or even with the same person doing different things, No matter how they sell it, it's utility and accuracy is actually quite limited.

Matt, Kara, Hunter and Cavan said...

Dude, don't do it. I tried running and look where it got me... broken ankle and most of my summer plans ruined.