Mile a Day Challenge – Days 15-18

Miles Ran during stretch – 8
Total Miles – 34.8

I was really hoping that running every day would help motivate me to post everyday, and I could get two birds with one stone. Or stride, as it were. But no such luck.

I have noticed that I keep slowly folding in healthier habits to my daily routine however. Currently day 6 of not smoking. I’ve been eating much less, and more healthy. The desire to drink has waned as well. I find myself having one beer and calling it good for the night. Before, I would hardly be done with one before I found another in my hand.

Like I said in the last post, I have started to get a little more adventurous with my distances. Over these past four days, I ran 3 miles twice, whereas I probably ran 3+ miles only a couple times in the first two weeks. Did 3 tonight, plan on doing just a light one tomorrow, and then gear up for 5-8 come Saturday. Feels good. Keep on keeping on.

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Mile a Day Challenge – Days 11-14

Miles Ran during stretch – 9
Total Miles – 26.8

When it comes to staying updated through the weekend, I guess I’m slacking.

Anyhow, another completed week down. Two weeks straight running, and I’ve pulled off a marathon for my efforts. For most of the days, I’ve just been sticking to the single mile, content to keep the streak alive during days where I have zero tolerance for exercising. I’ve started to get a little more ambitious, however, as tonight I pulled off the first 5+ mile run in months.

Knowing I don’t need anything left in the tank during the single miles, I’ve actually been pushing myself at a solid clip. I’ve hovered around 8 minute miles a lot more than I’m used to, with my usual clip coming in around 9 or 9 and a half minute miles.

So, seeing as I was gonna be going for distance over speed for the first time in a while, I set out at a leisurely pace. Got through the halfway point and was feeling great. Being in Seattle, of course there is a sizable hill right near the last stretch of my run. I got through and onto the final straightaway, and was absolutely amazed at the second wind that kicked in. Could definitely feel the difference between this 5 miler, and ones that I’ve done in the past without running as consistently beforehand. It was just easier to get the legs moving.

Feeling great, and ready to make it through 21 days of running consistently.

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Mile a Day challenge – Day 10

Miles Ran Today – 1
Total Miles – 17.8

Yesterday was solid. For the first time in a month (since I started working earlier hours), I finally gave myself enough time to bike in to work. I really enjoy biking, and it’s a great workout. From my particular place of living, it is about a a half hour ride to work, all downhill, about six miles. It’s an easy ride to work, and I like to push the last little stretch of road to see if I can match speed with traffic. I can’t. Still fun to push myself though.

Of course, the flip side to this is that the ride back home is pretty exhausting and takes twice as long. There is a monster hill that I can only bike about a third of the way up in one go, then I have to walk for a bit. Burns my legs so good, and I’m panting from pure exhaustion by the time I get home. It levels out for a bit after the hill, which is nice, and my legs appreciate the difference.

So, I biked to work, then hit up the gym afterwards. Got some good lifts in. Now, while the morning was particularly beautiful, it was starting to crap out by the time I was getting off work. Decided to use the gym and get my mile in on the treadmill before I biked home, in order to warm myself up. It was quite cold otherwise.

So that was bike commuting for about 12 miles, including the nasty hill, weight lifting for forty minutes, and my daily mile. I was pretty wiped by the time I got home.

I didn’t stop there, however. I’ve been wanting to try a recipe for a while, so I kept the momentum and whipped up a pretty fantastic dinner of spinach and feta stuffed chicken breasts. An incredibly easy recipe, but it might be one of my favorite chicken dishes now. Just so freaking good. Doesn’t hurt that I thoroughly enjoy me some spinach and feta.

Another thing that I’ve found myself doing more and more during this challenge is cooking for myself. Not only am I saving money, but I find it very rewarding, and fun too! I’ve tried my hand (for the first time ever!) at chicken teriyaki, breakfast sandwiches (fried egg, english muffin, sausage patty, and cheese), omelettes, and now this spinach and feta chicken. Those are all things I’ve wanted to try to make but never got around to. Not anymore. New found energy from consistent exercise means I’m trying more stuff that I’ve wanted to do. Nice.

Although, gotta say, the omelette turned out pretty meh. I guess I shouldn’t expect too much from a first attempt. Gotta keep at it, as I love me a good omelette.

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Mile a Day challenge – Day 9

Miles Ran Today – 3
Total Miles – 16.8

I’ve decided to drop the “consecutive days ran” thing. It was confusing to see “challenge – day 8″ and then put that I’ve ran for 9 days consecutively. Instead, I’ll just mentally add one to each day and be pleased with myself that way.

Anyhow, it’s amazing how quickly my brain tries to get me to give up on things. Well, damn near everything. I like to think it’s part of my primitive brain thinking “I’ve got shelter, warmth, snacks, and entertainment right here, why would I ever go outside and exert myself?!” Then, as I step outside the door and start those first couple of steps, I get a cacophony of antagonistic thoughts.

“Why are you running? QUIT”
“You don’t even like running!”
“This is bad for you!”
“You’re going to suck this run and it won’t even be worth it. Turn back!”
“UGH this is so hard why even bother.”
“Okay now is a good time to turn around. you’ve done good. Quit now and lets get some taco bell!”

Every day we’re faced with a battle against ourselves. Every day we get to accomplish as much or as little as we’d like. I just wonder why the daily battle is constantly an uphill one. Is it simply an issue of habit? They say that it takes around 30 days for a habit to kick in, so I’m wondering if soon enough my brain will be encouraging me to lace up the running shoes instead of the opposite.

Yesterday was some pretty crap weather. Pouring rain and blustery, and I was still feeling slightly off from the sickness the day before. Once again, I was confident in my ability to rationalize not running for the day. Even stopped by the store on the way home to pick up some snacks and beer to completely give in to the temptation. Once I got home, however, I immediately moved to throw on my running gear, knowing that if I sat down, any chance I had at extending the streak was over.

I’ve got to say that I rather enjoy running in inclement weather. Once you get over the fact that you’re wet, there’s really nothing it can do against you. Running keeps you warm. Besides, if you can get yourself out the door on even the worst of days, the sunny and nice ones are more like a treat, rather than a requirement, when it comes to exercise.

I’m further encouraged in this endeavor by the book I’m currently reading. I’ve always known and been intrigued by the benefits of exercise, as much as my actions tend to say otherwise. The book is called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.  It deals with just how vital exercise is to fully functioning brains, including how exercise increases neuroplasticity and even grows new cells, neurons, and connections. It showcases the efforts of a school in Illinois that revamped their PE class and made it a vital part of getting the most out of their students, including improved test scores and better social skills.

Every single page is littered with information and examples of just how important exercise is. For everyone. Reading it at night helps encourage me to begin each new morning with that in mind, so that I can lean on the information next time I “don’t feel like” doing something.

Seriously, as someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, exercise is the number one tool I have to combat these issues. Meds and therapy help, for sure, but even without those things, I notice the difference exercise instills in calming my mind down. Why I forget this and go months without being active? Well, I think we’ve all been there and asked that same question. But that was then. Today is now. And time to make the best of it.

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Mile a Day challenge – Day 8

Days Ran consecutively – 9
Miles ran today – 1
Total Miles – 13.8

Yesterday was a sick day. Was feeling bleh heading into work, and was feeling much worse as I was getting ready to leave. Knew I was going to skip the run, felt so bad. Funny thing happened on the way to the car. I was at the point in the lot where I could either turn left towards my car, or turn right towards the gym.

Before my brain could even rationalize not exercising, I found myself moving to the right, and eventually walking up to the gym. Shrugging, I figured, why not? Went ahead with some weights and a relaxed mile on the treadmill. The rest of the evening was pretty awful, but some nyquil and 11 hours of sleep does a pretty good job of clearing out a bug.

They say that it’s best to motivate by inspiring oneself, not deriding oneself. Now, that’s something I’ve always struggled with. I’m the harshest critic I know, but only when it comes to me. Sometimes I wish I could give myself the type of tolerance and understanding that I tend to allow for other people.

That got me to thinking though. I’ve responded real well to just a couple weeks of intermittent weight training and consistent exercise. My muscle memory is real, as already I’m seeing some pop to my muscles that I shouldn’t be seeing so quickly. It’s encouraging. I really think my body craves these types of actions.

Out of all my goals, being fit (and weighing less) has been a constant. I’ve always wished I was more in shape or looked better. Now, I’m unrealistically harsh on myself, and where I see a doughy mass of bleh, I know people would bristle to hear me voice it out loud. I know that it’s not rational, but unfortunately, that doesn’t stop the mindset. That’s always been a huge hurdle that knocks me back. My view of myself and the fit version of me that I idealize.

So I think I want to get as fit as possible. Exercise daily. Actually shoot for this goal, and set all others on the backburner. Really make this my focus. I’m not delusional, and I don’t think that all my problems will go away if I lose weight. I can be just as anxious, depressed, and self conscious at 200lbs as I can at 250lbs. It won’t automatically make me happier.

But it is a goal that I’ve always wanted. I enjoy moving my body around. I enjoy lifting weights. I love the feeling of sore muscles. Why shouldn’t I go for this? The amount of dedication it will take will be tough, but I like to think that if I can overcome this hurdle, that every single step of the way will be easier. I could hang my hat on the fact that I took the time and dedicated myself to a singular purpose, something I don’t think I can lay claim to at this point in time.

Every time I’ve stuck with exercise enough to where I’ve seen some positive changes, everything else slowly becomes easier as well. I find it easier to socialize, as the voice in my head saying that “I’m unworthy of their company, am too boring, etc.” fades into the background. I find writing easier, as the critic in me turns off to allow the creative part of me to flourish.

All these things can come from exercise. I choose to finally inspire myself, and in doing so, hopefully the self critique will subside.

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Mile a Day Challenge – Days 4-7

Days Ran consecutively – 8
Miles ran (days 4-7) – 6
Total Miles – 12.8

Luckily for me, I’ve been doing much better at keeping up the daily mile streak than I have been updating this. I can officially say that it’s starting to become a habit. I nearly blew the run off yesterday but I started getting all antsy as the evening wore down. I ended up lacing up the shoes and taking off for the mile while my chicken was marinating (homemade teriyaki – bomb stuff).

I appreciated this because that would have been the perfect time for me to distract myself with the internet or crack open a beer. Instead? I kept the streak alive. A mile is so stupid easy. If you include the time it takes to change and/or shower afterwards, it’s no more than 15-20 minutes and you’ve accomplished some exercise for the day.

That’s one thing I’ve always appreciated about running – even if I’ve been a complete fuck up the rest of the day, if I get a run in, I’ll at least feel like I’ve accomplished something.

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Mile a Day challenge – Day 3

Days Ran consecutively – 4 days
Miles ran today – 2 miles
Total Miles – 6.8 miles

I’m half a day late with this post, but the streak stands. I’m starting to get into a groove. I’m sort of starting to know what they mean when they say to start small, but be consistent. I tend to have that “all or nothing” mentality, and before I’d say crap like “if it’s not at least 3 miles, then what’s the point!?” when I would skip running.

Now? Now, I’m feeling better each day that I step out. I’ve never been confused about how much of an impact consistent exercise has on my health and mental state, and this is helping reinforce that.

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