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Adventure Diary Health

A glorious morning on the trails

This morning I took a very long walk–more than two hours, anyway–through the woods and alongside the Chattahoochee River. I took a trail I hadn’t explored before and ended up coming out near a distant apartment complex. There was a map there so I was able to tell that if I walked some more, I would find the abandoned mill I’ve been interested in seeing…but by that point I was pretty tired and I knew I needed to get water soon. So I ended up turning around and heading back the way I came.

The walk back was strangely energizing. It was as if, knowing there was a finite distance left, my body decided to push out a lasting burst of energy. Soon I found myself jogging the forest trail, weaving through the trees, barreling down little creek-cut valleys and back out of them, leaping side to side to avoid obstacles like rocks, roots, and other hikers.

Finally, elated and covered with sweat, I emerged from the pines and took a quick left back to the nearest parking area, where I availed myself of the water fountain with measured abandon.

The walk back from there was a nice cool-down. I stuck to the river path to keep out of the sun, smiling at all the walkers, runners, bikers, and dog walkers who were out enjoying this hot, beautiful day with me. And then, finally, I was done, ready to relax in the air conditioning with a tall glass of water.

Bliss.

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Health

Runnin’

Last Monday I jogged five kilometers without stopping. It was my first time ever doing that, and I was very pleased. I decided to try to run an actual 5K race that weekend, so I didn’t run again until Thursday. I ran a fair distance, but didn’t push myself; I didn’t want to overdo it before the race on Saturday.

The 5K didn’t go as I’d hoped. Part of the problem was the temperature; it was about 15 degrees warmer than I normally like it to be when I run, with no shade for the first 2/3 of the course and barely even a breeze. The terrain was also different from what I’m used to; I run on pavement in my neighborhood, and the Swamp Stomp course was dirt, grass, and gravel. Another problem, I think, was that I started out running too quickly. Having a huge mass of people pass you like you’re standing still can do that to you.

Regardless of what caused it, I ended up walking after barely completing the first half kilometer, and never got back into a good running pace. Mari was with me; fortunately she didn’t mind all the walking we ended up doing.

I was feeling a little dejected about the 5K when I went running Tuesday morning, and that may be why I felt so crappy. I may also have still been recovering from the 5K. Regardless, I felt like throwing up and my legs were dead weight–very sore dead weight. I barely managed to run at all.

Yesterday’s run was much better. I decided not to worry about distance, but instead focus on speed. It had occurred to me when checking my running times for the last week that sometimes I actually walk faster than I run. If I ever want to finish a 5K in under half an hour, I’m going to have to increase my speed. So I focused on that–not too crazy, just faster than I normally run–and went until I was out of juice. I felt really good afterwards, like I had accomplished something.

That brings us to this morning. I again worked on speed at first. I’ve also been thinking about my form, and trying to avoid landing on my heels. This emphasis on the balls of my feet has been making my calves feel the way they did when I first started running–like blocks of wood. My calves gave out long before my cardiovascular system did, which made me feel a little better about myself. I’d been starting to worry that I’d lost all the progress I’d made on heart health, especially given the way I was gasping for breath on Tuesday.

In any case, I ran until my calves simply could not go on. I wasn’t even winded and really wanted to continue. So I walked a little to give my legs a rest, and then ran again. I’m pretty pleased that I didn’t give up after the first run.

Going forward I’m going to focus once again on eating more properly. I’ve really let my eating habits slide the past several weeks, and the scale shows it. I’m all the way up to 251, meaning I’ve pretty much negated everything I did in 2008. I think rather than obsess about the weight, though, I’m going to focus on heart health. That’s what worked last time. I want my heart to be healthy so I can accomplish physical feats like running a 5K in under 30 minutes, rock climbing, doing pull-ups, etc. Maybe if I keep thinking about those things instead of the vague “lose weight” goal, I’ll have success again.

Since races give me tangible goals, I’m going to concentrate on speed and distance. With that in mind, I’m going to quit logging my warmups and cooldowns in RunKeeper and just record when I actually run. That will make it easier for me to see at a glance what I’m currently capable of.

I’m also going to start keeping track of how I feel after each run, through the Notes area on RunKeeper. Hopefully remembering the good running feelings will help me get through the bad days.