Monday, November 12, 2012

The habit of fitness

Maintaining my fitness habit

Man, I started this post a week ago and am only now getting back to it. Let's see.

One of my favorite things to go on about to Dan is how "it's easier to maintain a habit than it is to start one." As much as he probably gets tired of it, I say it all the time because I find it to be accurate and broadly applicable. Inertia, depending on the circumstance, can be my best friend or foe. If I have a positive habit started, it is easy for me to continue it. But if I'm stuck in a rut, it is impossible to break it (or rather, easier to continue the habit of being stuck in a rut).

It was only this  last weekend, in my post-10k laziness, that I realized this applied to fitness too. I had started to realize it on Saturday, after a week of not doing anything post-10k due to Hurricane Sandy/having a cold/being lazy. Oh shit, I thought, if it goes until tomorrow it'll have been a week since my 10k, since my last physical activity. And it wasn't until I read Leo Babauta's Zen Habits post that I realized why that freaked me out so much. I had actually formed a fitness habit, and I was terrified to lose it.

[Side note: I used to like Leo a lot more but have grown a little tired of him in the past year (but still read him, apparently), particularly how he keeps monetizing fairly simple ideas with these online courses. But I found this article pretty compelling!]

I realized that maintaining my "fitness habit" has become the key to actually sticking with my healthy habits this time, as opposed to letting them drop after a month of working out. Getting used to coming home after work and going right back out again to run, making quick dinners to refuel me after working out, going to bed at a reasonable hour on Friday so I can run Saturday's all part of my routine now. There's no question whether I'll do it--I just go on autopilot. The minute I give myself room to question is the minute I sit back on the couch.

So this past week, and ongoing through the holiday season, I'm focusing on maintaining my fitness habit. Even when things get crazy and even while I'm traveling--I just want to stick with it so that January 1 isn't an impetus to finally start losing weight, but instead is just another day to keep doing what I do.

Chore chart update
Ha! Hahahaha. I clearly was kidding myself when I thought that November would be the right time to start my chore habit. Between various travel to see our families and (the big one) trying to get my grad school apps done, this was not the best month to start that. The priorities this month are: grad school and fitness (with the always present priority of family + Dan!). For what it's worth, I still think the chore chart is a great idea and will be feasible to try once life calms down a bit. I'm still using it to check things off on the fridge, but I'm on more of a two week cycle (and still lumping the chores into longer sessions) than the weekly do-something-everyday cycle.

Weekly workout summary - November 5, 2012 - November 11, 2012
I haven't done one of these in a while since I hadn't been doing very much! But with my renewed commitment to sticking with it, I figured I'll post what I did this past week. In hopes of gaining some speed, I've started following a free plan from Runner's World Smart Coach to guide my Wednesday speed sessions. I'm not following the whole plan to the T, but it provides a good guide for what to do with "speed work" for an unsure newbie like me.

Monday: 2.5 miles on the treadmill + strength. I threw some speed intervals in there for good measure--mostly just to finish faster. I forgot how effing boring the treadmill is!

Tuesday: 75 minute vinyasa class. This felt soooo good. I hadn't been to yoga in a while, and it felt fantastic to finally get my sweaty stretch on again. I have a class pack with several left that expires around Christmas, so yoga will be a frequent fixture here over the next few weeks!

Wednesday: Rest!

Thursday: First attempt at one of the Smart Coach workouts was only partly successful. It was mile repeats, but I totally failed to check the actual speed I needed to go for the miles before my run. So stupid. So I kind of guessed that it was around 10:40, which was incorrect (10:31 was the goal).

Anyway, the workout was listed as such: "Speedwork Dist: 4 Mi, inc Warm; 2x1600 in 10:31 w/800 jogs; Cool." Let me break that down for you. Total distance = 4 miles, which includes the warm up and cool down. The mildly confusing thing about the Smart Coach workouts is that they don't tell you how much to warm up or cool down for, so you just do the math yourself. This one worked out to be: warm up for .5 miles, run 1 mile in 10:31 (10 minutes and 31 seconds), then jog for .5 miles, then run another mile in 10:31, then jog for .5 miles, then cool down for .5 miles.

I preprogrammed the workout into my RunKeeper app on my phone so that I would hear cues when the intervals were done. Another benefit was that it timed the splits for me. So my interval miles were 10:43 and 10:04. Oh well--I got it half correct anyway! This workout was definitely tough, even though the average pace was only 11 min/mile for the whole thing--I've kept that before on my shorter runs, no problem. Keeping that consistent and fast-for-me pace for the full mile was challenging.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 6.2 miles at 11:52 min/mile average pace. I learned an important lesson from this run: if you feel comfortable, temperature wise, when you go outside, you'll probably feel too warm in about ten minutes. But I made it.
Beautiful day to be on the trail
I don't have any intent to run a longer race until next spring (though I'm toying with the idea of a 5k in January), but I want to keep my weekly long runs in the mix so that I don't have to rebuild my mileage. And because Smart Coach told me to.

Sunday: 35 minutes on the elliptical + strength at the apartment gym. I pretty much had the gym all to myself, so that was an unexpected treat. I actually did lower body strength exercises (squats, hamstring curls, booty stuff, etc.) for the first time in a few weeks, which felt awesome. I have that fun sore but still able to walk feeling today, which I love.

Weekly mileage: 12.8 miles.

Pretty good week of exercise for me! It actually looks a lot like what my ideal exercise week would look like--minus using the treadmill, plus maybe another yoga session. That's what I'm aiming for this week!

Final programming note:
If you happened to stop over here from Shelby's blog re: a slightly inflammatory comment I left over there...hi! I'm not an immature asshole; I promise! I just look like one sometimes when I get riled up post-election. 

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