Lessons from the Pavement, Part V: Got keys?.!

Watching Friends is one of my guilty pleasures.  Not only do I have a fondness for each of their characters and their various quirks, but I love the situations in which they often find themselves, and their regular “this is life” exchanges of dialogue.  I remember one episode somewhat early in the show (I may be a fan of the show, but couldn’t tell you what events happened in what season or episode) when the crew is rushing out of Monica’s apartment to see something outside or on the roof, and Monica yells, “Got keys?”, which Rachel interprets as “Got keys.”  This morning, I had a particular connection with this episode.

Since last night it’s been on my mind that today would be day 1 of week 3 on the “Active” get-yourself-ready-for-a-5k plan, which means that instead of my intervals of 1-minute intervals of running and 2-minute intervals of walking, that I’d be stepping up the pace just a bit, and running 2-minute intervals.  Now to some (or many) this may not sound like a big deal, nor a big shift in pace, but in my “I’m not a runner” mindset an additional 60 seconds is a lot!  I have been determined to get up, get ready, and continue following the plan as best I can.  I woke up with an “I can do this” attitude, got dressed for the jaunt, got everything together, and set out with a ready spirit.  The moment I pulled the front door shut behind me I knew it!  I was on one side of the locked door and my keys were on the other.  Then the question was, “do I try to break in to my apartment now or wait til I get back?”  I waited, or rather, I walked and ran.

The push for the additional running time was definitely that – a push.  My body didn’t feel as graceful, and I think I paid less attention to the passing views than I did to my legs, my every intake of oxygen, and my time — frequent glances at the stopwatch, hawk-eyeing those seconds, and waiting for the two minutes to finish.   In trying to extend my route a little (to match the increase in time) I snaked my way to a yet-undiscovered-by-me park, a few extra twists and turns, but eventually ended up on my path.  The scenic route added an additional 15 minutes to my outing, but by the time I was cooling down with a walk, I didn’t mind one bit.

Once the workout was complete and I was back home, I set to breaking into my apartment.  I had eliminated the inaccessible or “too difficult to use” entry points and narrowed down to one of two remaining options.  Fortunately, a neighbor was home, so she helped provide the tools necessary — long fingernails, and a Ralph’s Club Card.  I pried, prodded, and poked — trying to convince the Club Card to do its work, while also trying to persuade Misty (my cat) to lend a helping paw from the inside — until finally I made my way in.  Victoriously, I climbed in, put things back in place, returned tools, and applauded myself, not only for completing my workout, but for the additional feat of successfully making my way indoors — without my keys.

Lesson for next time – be prepared with the following:

  • can-do attitude
  • comfortable workout clothes
  • invigorating music mix
  • sunglasses
  • chapstick
  • and…KEYS!

    Lessons from the Pavement, Part IV: Oh The Places They’ll Go

    Awhile back a friend told me about “Meetup” – if you haven’t heard of it, I encourage you to check it out.  Being the lover of social gatherings, community activities, and pursuing different interests I browsed through Meetup upon Meetup to find the right one.  I came across one called “Healthy Streets”, which invites individuals to join various pedestrian adventures through the streets of local cities.

    On my first meetup outing I learned that our organizer has been without a car for a couple of years now.  While talking about her experience of transitioning from depending on the four wheels of her car to getting around by foot, bike, bus, train, and rental car she said something that stuck with me, “I see the communities around me so differently now that I travel without a car — being on foot really changes my perspective.”  As I have been incorporating spurts of walking and jogging into my exercise regimen I have to agree.

    I’ve been exploring different paths throughout the neighborhood, and as I’ve been doing so, I’ve been learning just how far and how quickly my feet can take me to the places I like to go.  7 minutes to the In N Out, 12 minutes to the nearby market and deli, 15 minutes to Smart N Final, 20 minutes to Target…with this new knowledge it’s as though the city is shrinking before my strides.  On the way home last night my husband noticed that from our most-used freeway interchange to our home exit it is a little less than 3 miles.  Now fear not, I am not planning to run on the freeway, however, in my head I was thinking, “I could totally do that”!  The loop around the Rose Bowl is just a little more than 3 miles, so if I was to walk the distance from our freeway interchange to home, I know I could do so in less than an hour (again not that I’m thinking of doing it) – neighborhood now made smaller, perspective changed, confidence boosted.  So in the words of the great Dr. Seuss

    “Congratulations!  Today is your day.  You’re off to Great Places!  You’re off and away!  You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy [or gal] who’ll decide where to go…Oh! The Places You’ll Go!  You’ll be on your way up!  You’ll be seeing great sights!  You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.”

    Lessons from the Pavement, Part III: To Thine Own Self Be True

    I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this…I’m NOT a runner!  For me to get myself in exercise mode, put on those workout clothes, strap on the Nano, grab the stopwatch, and step outside and run — even in intervals — and to do this voluntarily — well I know this is big — for me.  It is not easy, it is not always fun, but I am doing it, and I am doing it for myself.

    At this point in time, I am not really caring about how fast I run, not caring about how graceful I look (or don’t – as long as my limbs and extremities stay safe), just caring that I am doing it, and that I am (for the most part) maintaining a positive attitude.  That inner voice continues loud and clear, “You can do this.  You are doing this.  Keep going.  Find your pace.  Keep your pace.  Thirty more seconds.  You can do this.”  So even when I don’t feel the same level of energy as the day before, or the crest of the mountainous hill seems impossible to reach, I continue.

    Today was definitely one of those days when I needed to listen closely to the inner voice, because otherwise the temptation to stop the music, stop the stopwatch, and stop running was too great.  As I was mentally applauding myself for completing another interval of running (while also recovering my breath), “ZHOOM” a blur of blue and white sailed past me…a fellow runner, but not just any runner, a pro-looking runner.  This guy had the running shorts, the bottle strapped to the back, the runner’s look — everything — and not to mention the fact that he just SAILED right past me.  Admittedly, lots of thoughts came to mind, “He’s cool because he has cool shorts.  Look how graceful he looks.  What great form he has!  I’ll never run like that [whine]!”  Then I had to stop myself.  Sure, maybe all those things were true – you know, the shorts, the look, the form, the speed, but were those my reasons for being out here? NO!  Back to the encouraging voice, “Look at you – you’re doing it.  You’re running — something you never thought you’d be doing, and you’re doing it!  Right now it doesn’t matter how fast you’re going, what you look like while doing it [thinking about Phoebe’s famous running form in Friends], or what you’re wearing — what matters is that you’re out here, you’re doing it, and you’re doing it your way!  Keep it up.  You can do this.”  I love that voice!  I love the reminder – and Shakespeare, thanks for the words from “Hamlet”.  [BTW – for more about this speech, check out this blog]

    “This above all: to thine own self be true,  And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.  Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!”

    Lessons from the Pavement, Part II: What a Tangled Web We Weave

    I have never claimed to be Ginger Rogers, my mother did not give me the middle name “Grace”, and it is not uncommon for me to stub my toes on the corners of the bed or the sofa.  HOWEVER, I do have the coordination skills necessary to ride a bike, walk and chew gum at the same time, AND jog.  Yet on my walk and jog days of my 8-week plan, I find that that the iPod headphone wires take on a life of their own and either threaten to ensnare my arm, unplug from the Nano and run away, or choke me — the nerve!

    I don’t go to the gym a lot, but I know I see lots of mp3 listening gadgets and lots of headphone cords.  I got to wondering – how do people do it?  How do they jog, lift weights, or do the ellipticals without those silly cords getting in the way?  I know I’m not the most graceful, but like I said, I’m not wholly without coordination either.

    I tried shifting my headphones to come around from the back, tried wrapping the cords a little bit, tried giving myself more slack — nothing was working.  I started thinking about wireless headphones (don’t even know if they exist, but imagine they must), but really didn’t want to go down that road — “there HAS to be a fix”!

    Perhaps this is the image I saw and just imagined how the cords run -- as I look now it seems as though cords run behind her back, but who knows -- I was inspired! -iSkin Duoband

    Honestly can’t remember what I was looking at or where I saw it — magazine article, something online, a scene somewhere — but I came across an image of a woman in her sporty clothes, with her mp3 player on her arm (much like mine with my iSkin duoband), and her headphone cords tucked into her shirt sleeve!  So, I tried it.  Today, I did everything as normal, but with one change; I plugged in my Nano, fed the cords up through my arm sleeve, brought the earpieces out through the neck hole, and tucked most of the cord back into my shirt.  The solution isn’t perfect — at times when I turn my head or run, I still feel a little tug, but nothing like before — there is definitely a lot more freedom in running, and I feel like some semblance of grace and dignity has been restored.

    To all the experienced fast-moving athletes out there — if you have other ideas or suggestions, please share them!  To fellow novice sportspersons out there, if your cords are giving you trouble, show them who’s boss, and try this out — let me know how it works for you.

    Lessons from the Pavement, Part I: An Earful of Melody

    The quest continues!  I am following the “Active” plan, I am walking, I am jogging, and I am resting.  I am following some of my loves — making healthy choices, taking up an activity that leaves me feeling strong, and soaking up a bit of Southern California sunshine.  Yes, this does also mean that I’m doing some of my “unloves” — exercising, getting sweaty, and…running.  But in the end, it’s worth it.

    A woman once said to me (and a roomful of other folks), “I know how much we all hate exercise, but really…does any one of you walk away from a workout saying, ‘Gosh, I really wish I didn’t do that – I really feel terrible now,'” and admittedly, none of us could say or think that we do.  As much as I hate the idea of exercise, if I find ways of making it fun (and I am), and I remind myself of what I get out of it (still waiting for my flair), I do enjoy it.

    As I complete day after day of the 8-week plan, I am finding that the running part of my routine is getting easier – my legs seem to move with more assurance, I’m not having to spend as energy motivating myself to run those next thirty seconds, and I’m not gasping at the end of my running stint.  One thing I have noticed, however, is that I am still very aware of my time.  I have started my routine listening to the 45-minute Nike recording of rhythms and beats, but it seems that I’m paying more attention to the seconds and minutes of the stopwatch rather than the beats and rhythms of the iPod.  This is okay, but I really want to feel more absorbed in the music, so that I can casually glance down at that stopwatch and, “Surprise!” realize that the interval of running has just finished.

    So, I did some dialing around through my Nano playlists and picked one that “sang out” to me.  Even though the beats and rhythms of the Nike track are probably better pace-setters than the new selections, I realized that it didn’t matter.  What matters is if the music moves ME — although upbeat is better, if the song really lifts my spirit, gets my insides humming, and my heart beaming — then it will also get my feet moving.  After hitting on just the right selection of music, I had a little note of Mary Poppins go through my mind — “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, the medicine go dooown, the medicine go down…”  only now it was, “just an earful of melody makes the timing count down, the timing count dooown, the timing count down…”  I got what I wished for — the seconds seemed to fly that much faster, my smile was brighter, and my steps felt lighter.  Not only did I get to feel good about exercising, but I also felt good about spending some really good “me time”, and getting myself pumped up for the rest of a beautiful day.

    For those of you looking for the right mix of songs in your own music collection, browse through and think about those upbeat songs that make you feel happy.  Those ones that brighten your mood and sing to your soul – those are the songs you want to include.  Now if you’re really desperate for a mix and need one now, iTunes has many iMixes that can be great sources of motivating music — I looked through their iMixes for anything to do with running, and here’s a cool one that I found.  Once I put up the one that has most inspired/motivated me, I’ll share that too.

    Until then, lesson learned — if I want to keep my feet light, I must keep my heart full.