Overall, my fitness routine is going well. I’m pleased with my progress. Right now I’m in the middle of week 4, and I want to get caught up on the updates, so I’m going to report on weeks 3 and 4.
Update: This post was already written and scheduled to be posted on Friday. Tonight, Thursday August 2nd, 26 days after starting my nightly runs, I ran half a mile straight. That’s a pretty big milestone for me, and is the furthest I have ever run. Even in my younger days throughout elementary, middle, and high school I wasn’t good at running. When I started Rethinking Fitness I could barely run one tenth of a mile, and tonight I made a half mile. Now, back to the regularly scheduled post…
If you’ll recall at the end of week 2 my calves, thighs, and knees were hurting. My knees were the real trouble spot. They got really sore when I ran, and were even a little bit sore while walking during my day. In week 3 I decided to listen to my body and take a break from running.
I took 4 or 5 days off from running during week 3. One of those days we went on a leisurely bike ride – not much cardio, but at least it was some movement. One of the days we went roller skating and I was able to get some cardio during the speed skating session. I actually noticed a difference while I was skating as I was able to skate much longer without getting out of breath.
A couple of the days I took off completely and didn’t do any running or other cardio at all. I know from reading that I’ve done that running can be hard on the knees and I really wanted to give them some time to return to normal.
About the same time, during week 3 I added squats to my fitness routine. I wanted to add some strength to my legs and give my joints a chance to stretch and move. These are simple squats, bend at the knees to squat down and then stand back up. I keep my arms straight out in front and perpendicular to my body, as that’s how I’ve seen it done somewhere, but I’m not sure if that makes a difference or not. I’ve been less stringent with the number of sets of squats, but I do at least one set per day, typically in the morning.
The combination of the break and the squats seems to have helped. I started my run again at the beginning of week 4 and my legs and knees didn’t hurt. In fact, I’m now back at the point where I’m getting winded before my leg muscles get sore. I feel like that’s the place to be, as the point of running is really to develop my cardio.
At the beginning of week 4 and after my break from running for a few days, I found myself able to run a much farther initial distance. I nearly doubled the length of my run for the first leg, so that was a huge improvement.
Pushups and Situps
You may recall that in week 2 I upped my situps and pushups to 11 per set. That continued in week 3. In week 4 I was feeling really good and upped it to 15 per set. 15 pushups actually came pretty easy. 15 situps still takes a bit of effort. I’m also still doing elbow planks in the morning instead of situps and holding it for 15 to 20 seconds.
I don’t plan days off in my fitness routine. I want to increase my daily fitness level, and to do that I want to increase my daily activity. I’m not trying to be a power lifter or track and field star, I just want to feel better. With that in mind I aim for daily exercise.
In reality that doesn’t always happen, and I typically miss about one day per week. That’s fine, I just consider that a day off. Some days I won’t get all my pushups and situps in, other days, or maybe those same days, I won’t get my run/walk in. No biggie as long as I get back into it. Even the four days off of running wasn’t a big deal, as I knew my body needed the rest.
I try to listen to my body and do what it’s telling me. I also do whatever fits in my schedule. If my day has me at the beach all day or otherwise occupied, the exercise may not fit in. The benefit of practicing simple exercises like the ones I’ve chosen is that it’s not hard to fit them in on most days. But the days I can’t I just don’t.
My muscles and joints feel like they are getting broken in now, like a new set of shoes. My movements are more fluid and my running and in my situps and pushups. Initially my movements were very sloppy and now I feel like my form is much improved.
When I started my leg mucsles were sore when running, and that has gone away. My shoulders were stiff and would creak and pop when doing pushups and that has lessened. Overall I’m feeling pretty good.
Benefits in Everyday Life
After 4 weeks of Rethinking Fitness I have noticed some improvements in everyday life. Climbing the single flight of stairs at work seems easier. I’m no longer winded at all when I reach the top.
I can really play with my daughter at the playground. I mentioned this in the last post, but it’s such a huge benefit that I must mention it again. I can swing on the monkey bars and climb up and slide down the fireman’s pole. Prior to my fitness routine, my arms would feel like they were being yanked from the sockets every time I would try to swing on the monkey bars. Now I can make it across without any pain. It’s still not as easy as I hope to make it; I eventually want to make it across those monkey bars like I’m walking across, but it’s much improved from where I started.
The pushups, planks, and squats in the morning really wake me up. I’m usually a bit sleep when I roll into the office at 6:30am. Sometimes I would even close my eyes for a couple minutes while the computer boots up. Now I do my exercise while my computer boots and it wakes me up and gets the blood flowing. I remember seeing somewhere about some companies leading exercises at the beginning of the work day. Now I can see the benefit of that.
I’m also generally feeling a little bit better. I was feeling kind of sloth like before, just a bit sluggish overall. Now I feel less sluggish and have a little bit more energy. It’s not a dramatic change, but it’s enough to notice.
How is everyone else doing? I know a few of you are joining me in various forms of exercise and I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.