Working on My Fitness

Right Now . . . November 2016

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November has been a crazy-busy month for me, end to end.  Filled with stresses and emotions and too-long ToDo lists . . . but also with love and gratitude and turkey!

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(These gorgeous flowers are from my mom's memorial service last Tuesday.  Aren't they lovely?)

Here's what's happening in my world . . . Right Now:

Watching - I finished watching The Crown last night.  I loved it.  Tom and I watched Love Actually the other night.  Other than that, not much watching going on.

Reading - But . . . I do have plenty of reading happening!  I finished reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (and winner of this year's National Book Award) just yesterday morning.  This is a powerful book -- one I will be thinking about for quite a while.  I also recently finished Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  Again, powerful.  I have two books on library loan through Overdrive -- and I'm going to have to read fast because they're due far too soon (when it rains it pours, it seems): Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh and Hot Milk by Deborah Levy.  (Luckily, they're both on the short side.)  

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Knitting - I have been finding some time to knit a bit.  Not much, but some.  I'm knitting this sweater, and I'm nearing the end (just one more sleeve and the pockets).  On size 11 needles with bulky yarn, this one is clipping right along (so to speak; it's a relative statement).  I'm anxious to try some of these cute little guys -- and I'm still looking forward to knitting up some of these.

Drinking - Tea.   And plain old water-infused-with-oranges.  And wine.  (Natch.)

Humming - This one.  Four Strong Winds was one of my mom's favorites.  (She was from Alberta, you know.)  Erin sang it at the memorial service last week --- quite a bit different than Neil's version, of course.  Seeing that Erin's voice is classically trained.  And Neil's is . . . not.  Anyway.  I've been humming this song ever since.

Needing to - Resume my usual fitness routine.  Because my life has been so upside-down and inside-out lately that too many of my workouts have, well . . . pretty much disappeared.   (I also need to quit eating so much cheese.)  (But let's not talk about that.)

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Delighted by - Shhhhh.  It's kind of under the radar . . . but I'll let you in on a secret.  My knee has improved enough that I am running again.  Just a little.  And very slowly.  But I'm delighted.  (I'm also delighted by the shoelaces in my new running shoes.  Aren't they great?)

Looking forward to - Bringing light and winter comfort into my house during these dark times (seasonal AND political).  (Stay tuned.)

Celebrating - Something that I can't quite blog about yet.  But it's fun.  And I'll tell you as soon as I can.

Planning - A party.  The holidays.  My dad's move.  What to knit next.  Which book to load on my iPod.  Year-end tax stuff.  Pretty much . . . All The Things.

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Grateful for - These four goofballs.  I was so happy to have them all home last week.  I was happy to buy them drinks and take them out for dinner and laugh with them and listen to their banter.  It doesn't get much better!

How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . right now?


 


A Little Throwback Thursday with Some Jumping Up and Down, Too

First, the throwback part.  Let's check out this page from my high school yearbook. . .

Yearbook 1977

See that picture up there?  The one of the girl diving into the pool for the start of a swim race?  Yeah.  That's me.  1977.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a Swimmer.  I took my first swim lessons at age 5, and was pretty much at ease in the pool from that moment on.  Some of my best childhood memories involve swim friends, swim team, and swim meets.

I gotta tell you, though.  Swimming - for regular exercise - is a bit of a hassle.  First, you need to have access to a pool.  Then, there's always a lot of "getting ready" time (before and after a swim).  And, well . . . there's also the matter of those pesky, telltale "goggle marks" on your face (which seem to get worse the older my skin gets).

Anyway.

When I had to stop running and dancing last year, I decided I might as well deal with the hassles and get back to swimming.  

It's been a great decision all around.  I love it.  I'm good at it.  And it's very good exercise, all around.  I generally swim 4 times a week -- with a goal of swimming 10,000 yards per week (just over 5 1/2 miles). (It's still a hassle, though.)

Here's my pool.  (Just imagine it with people in it.)  (Sometimes too many people.)  (Just sayin.)

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One day, last summer, I noticed an adult woman taking a beginning swim lesson in the adjoining pool (a separate poolnot pictured above).  I noticed her, particularly, because you just don't see that many adults learning to swim. She was nervous and hesitant -- but absolutely determined!

Now, swimming is not an easy sport to pick up as an adult.  It takes a lot of coordination to get the pulling and the kicking and breathing (especially the breathing) all working together to propel a person - efficiently - through water.  (After all, humans . . . were meant for land -- not water!)  I am always impressed with - and really in awe of - adults who decide to take on learning-to-swim.  I always try to be as encouraging as I can be when I see a new swimmer.  (I was also a cheerleader in high school. . . )

So I became Miriam's (that's the new swimmer's name) cheerleader.  I tell her how well she's doing and explain that - yes - the breathing is the hardest part.  She tells me I make it look so easy.  I tell her I've been swimming since I was five.  She tells me that she watches me swim to try to figure out the mechanics of breathing.  I tell her she's doing great and that I can see improvement every week.  

It's like that.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed Miriam in the lane next to me.  She told me she had "graduated" from her swim lessons, and was now on her own.  She was practicing in the lap pool, now -- and she told me her goal was to swim one length of the pool without stopping.

She was close.  But she always stood up a few yards before she got to the end of the pool.

I encouraged her.  You're so close, Miriam!  Four more arm strokes and you'll be there!

She took off. 

I watched.

And . . . she made it!  One length; no stopping!

When she grabbed the wall and stood up at the other end of the pool, she turned and looked at me.  I just jumped up and down with my arms in the air.  And so did Miriam.  

It was like she'd just won an Olympic medal!

I swam down to meet her.  You did it! I knew you could!

She was beaming -- just beaming.  Now . . . she told me . . . my goal is TWO lengths without stopping!

I have no doubt! 

 

 

 


Apparently Still a Lemming

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Back in my middle school and early high school years, I was quite a lemming.*

But Mooooooooom . . . EVERYBODY is wearing them.

Oh, c'mon Mom . . . EVERYBODY is going.

Mooooom, I want [my ears pierced] [my hair cut] [my jeans too tight] [to wear incredibly short skirts]. . . just like EVERYBODY.

It's okay, Mom . . . EVERYBODY is doing it.

My Mom (never one to be fooled by lemming tactics) always gave me this line, "If EVERYBODY jumped off a cliff, would you follow?"

Well, DUH.

(Of course.)  (Because lemming.)

And . . . apparently I am STILL a lemming.  Because I hadn't heard about the March Through Time KAL (Knit-A-Long) until Vicki first blogged about signing on.

And then Margene joined.

And Carole.  

And Kim.

So, of course, I looked closer.

March Through Time

And I discovered that this is a rather unique and very cool KAL.  Because knitting (a cowl) AND fitness (walking).  (But not at the same time.)  (Although I saw MANY knitters doing just that at Rhinebeck.) (Ahem.)

Now, I am already a very regular fitness person.  I swim and I spin and I do Pilates and yoga.  I also walk my dogs.

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(Sometimes.)

(But I get lazy about walking them when the weather is not so great.)

So I decided that this KAL might be a great way to motivate myself to walk the dogs daily - and especially when it's rainy or chilly or I'm busy.

Lemming.

But also happy and healthy dogs!

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Big WIN all around!

(Join us.  EVERYBODY is doing it.)

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* I was going to include a video clip of lemmings plunging over a cliff.  But, oh man.  Too horrifying.

 


Working on My Fitness: A Fresh Start

(Okay.  So you may wonder what this photo . . . 

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has to do with fitness.)  (Read on.  It will become clear.)

Way back in January, when I was setting my intentions and goals for the year and thinking about the whole JOURNEY thing, I stated that I wanted to "shake up my fitness routine this year."  At the time, way back in January, I knew this would be a challenge.  Not the fitness part (because that's easy for me) -- but the shaking it up part.  Because I liked what I was already doing:  running, dancing, kickboxing.  But it was beginning to feel a bit . . . automatic.  (And besides, I was noticing a bit more arm-jiggle and knew I needed to add some weight training.  Or something.)  So.  Shake it up.

But how?  Because, as it turned out, I didn't really want to give anything up. . . 

Enter:  LIFE.

First, there was the ankle tendinitis issue.

Then, there was the knee issue that flared up as a result of fixing the ankle tendinitis issue.

That'll do it!

No more running.  No more dancing.  No more kickboxing.

BIG shakeup.  Nothing BUT shakeup, in fact!  I needed to strip everything away (except yoga and spinning) and start from scratch.

I started swimming again.  I got back into Pilates.  I discovered that the elliptical machine can be okay in 30 minute bursts.  I found another good spinning instructor.

And this morning - at 5:45 AM, mind you - I found out that I like Power Yoga.  (I might like it a little more if it were offered a bit later in the morning, but oh well. . . )

And THAT . . . is how the photo of the sun rising over my butterfly garden relates to a blog post about fitness.  Because this morning, after Power Yoga and some time on the elliptical machine, I arrived home in time to SEE the sun rise over my butterfly garden.

Although it has been a disappointing year, fitness-wise, in many respects (I really did love my dance class, y'know, and I was kind of getting into the running thing), it's ending out just fine.  The forced time off - and the resulting "re-thinking" about how to protect myself from further injury - have paid off with a fitness Fresh Start.

I'm finally getting that 'shake-up' I was looking for back in January!  (Still trying to get that arm-jiggle under control, though. . .

 


Gittin' r 'Dun

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There's nothing like a 3-day weekend for . . . gittin' stuff dun!  Here's what I did this weekend:

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1 - Planted my herb garden!  (I think it's safe from frost. ) (Finally.)  (But I still didn't put in the basil.)

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2 - Cleaned up some of the messiest of my garden beds.  (The worst one is yet to come, though.)

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3 - Lent Tom moral support while he cleaned out my ponds and got them running again.  (A really messy job.)  And then cheered HURRAH when Tom got my rain barrel set up again.  (And just in time, too!)

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4 - Pointed and directed as Tom wielded his shovel to move hostas and ferns and daylilies.  (It takes a village.)

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5 - Dealt with this kind of help.  (You should see the hole. . .)

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6 - Finally put away the Christmas china.  (Yeah.  I know.) (I also installed my external hard drive and backed up my lap top.) (In case you were wondering.)

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7 - Got to this point in knitting a sweater.  (This one.)  (Trying to decide if it's time for ribbing.)  (It's not.) (It's also not this color.)

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8 - A bit of work.  (Nearing a deadline.)  (I'm totally in charge of my own schedule.)  (But still.  Deadlines.)

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9 - Ran a bit.  (Without pain.)  (First time.)  (Woo-hoo!)

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10 - Some reading.  (But not enough.)  (And I've finally found a really great book, too.)

How about YOU?  What did you do this past weekend?

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Right Now - April 2015

April . . .  always a mixed bag.  You just never know what April will bring.  Crazy weather, for sure.  But the beginnings of True Spring . . . with added sunlight and generally warming temperatures.  By the end, April kind of looks like this . . . and I'm thrilled.

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Here's what's happening for me . . . RIGHT NOW!

WATCHING . . .  PBS.  Wolf Hall - loved the book; love the series, and Call the Midwife - still charming, although getting a tad routine.  (Where is Chummy???? Did I miss something???  Is she coming back?  Sort of like Sister Mary Cynthia?)  (Just found this. . . she'll be back.)

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KNITTING . . . Plugging away on Romi's Mystery Shawl.  (That's it, up there.  I'm sorry if you didn't want to see a spoiler.  But I blurred it, so it's still kind of . . . mysterious.  Besides, there's only one more clue and then it'll be out there anyway.)  I'm not really sold on that middle stripe thing yet.  At all.  But will have to wait to see how it looks blocked and finished.  When I'm not (constantly) knitting on that (to keep up with the clues), I've cast on for this sweater.  So far, so good.  (But I haven't gotten very far at all.)

LISTENING . . . Kinda been in a John Mayer mood lately . . . 

 

DRINKING . . . More water!  I'm trying to stay a bit more hydrated.

DREADING . . . An upcoming committee commitment that is just . . . well.  Kind of lame.  

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REGRETTING . . . Too much too soon, apparently.  A bit of three-steps-forward-one-step-back, so . . . a return to the ice bag.

PLANNING . . . I am planning my "attack" on the last - and hardest - of my Kon-Mari purge zones: my knitting/sewing room, my boxes of "memorabilia," and photographs.  I think a re-read of certain sections of my Kon-Mari "bible" are in order, but I'm nearly ready to DIG IN!

HUMMING . . . A catchy little Weezer tune.

 

ITCHING TO . . . Sit out on the patio every evening, under my bistro lights, with a glass of wine and something to read.

ORGANIZING . . . All the garden things!

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DELIGHTED BY . . . My drawing class.  Why a drawing class?  Because I really want to take a printmaking class.  And maybe a watercolor class.  And "Drawing I" is a prerequisite. So . . . here I am, dusting off the cobwebs (because the last time I took a drawing class was back in college) and - surprise - having a great time!

NEEDING TO . . . Clear off the kitchen island for Tom's return.  (I tend to set out my "projects" on the island when he's away, but never when he's at home.)

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ENJOYING . . .  A new morning routine that includes meditation, yoga, and regular journaling.  Sure, I have to get out of bed a bit earlier, but totally worth it!

CELEBRATING . . . An end to physical therapy.  Tom's return this weekend.  My dad's birthday.  And Spring!

How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . RIGHT NOW?

 


Friday Mailbag

They say . . . it takes a village . . . 

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Dear Kathy-the-Physical-Therapist,

Thank you for sticking with me a couple of weeks back.  You know.  When I was having a Bad Attitude.  That day when I kind of spoke harshly about your 1-10 pain scale?  And when I sort of screamed at you that, "no one else can independently move their big toe sideways and hold it there, so why should I???"  I'm sort of thinking that maybe you enjoyed getting that NMES zapper-thing out and hooking my foot up to those electrodes.  (I could see the evil glint in your eyes as you dialed up the shocks.) But, you know what?  IT WORKED!  That electro-shock gizmo woke up my lazy adductor hallucis muscle.  I can now move my big toe sideways and hold it there!  My arches are not collapsing.  My peroneal tendon is not doing all the heavy lifting anymore.  And it feels so much better.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (But I'm still not cooperating when it comes to the pain scale.)

Dear Yvonne-the-Sports-Medicine-Running-Specialist,

You sure know how to make a girl feel like a world-class athlete, setting me up on that treadmill and filming me from every angle while I was running and all.  I hope you'll forgive my outburst of laughter when you showed me the first playback on your computer.  Because . . . in super-duper slo-mo, I look like a giant, stomping off to destroy a village.  Fee-fie-foe-fum!  (Really, I couldn't help but giggle.)  I settled down right away, though, and paid attention as you analyzed every aspect of my running style.  I didn't even complain when you made a major adjustment to my "land pattern," and I think I picked up on it pretty quickly, don't you?  And I'll totally work on opening my shoulders a bit more and engaging my core.  I only whimpered when you strongly suggested that, while I was ready to begin running again, I should start  . . . with the Couch-to-5K program.  At the very beginning.  Really?  Are you sure?

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Dear Kathy-my-yoga-instructor,

Thank you for taking the time to give me all the foot stretches and strengthening exercises over the last several weeks.  They really, really helped.   Mostly, though, thank you for suggesting YogaToes.  I love them!  I think YogaToes are the primary reason I now have the world's strongest adductor hallucis muscle.  (Well, that and the electro-shock therapy.)  I will never stop paying attention to my feet again!

Dear Tom,

You'll notice a big improvement in attitude when you get home from Mumbai in May!  My ankle is better.  I'm not whining and complaining and moping around anymore.  I can dance and stand up on the spin bikes and walk the dogs.  I don't have to ice my ankle constantly (although I must admit, it was nice to have that excuse to just sit and read or knit . . . ).  And yesterday, I started the Couch-to-5K program again.  (Yeah.  I know.  They're making me.)  But I feel like myself again.

Dear Self,

Get over it.  Couch-to-5K is a great place to start again!  You're recovering from an injury.  And you're learning a whole new way to run.  Yeah.  It's a step backward.  But it's a HUGE step ahead of where you were yesterday.  (Which was just on the couch . . . )


Friday Mailbag

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Dear Trusty Subaru Outback:

I just want to thank you for your faithful service thus far this winter.  Your all-wheel drive simply cannot be beat!  And I don't know what I'd do without your heated seats.  Even your back-up camera has proven useful as I negotiate the wall of snow at the end of my driveway (especially on garbage pick-up day).  But there's one thing I really want from you . . . that you just can't give me right now.  Yeah.  You know it, baby.  I want to open up your sunroof again!

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Dear Achilles:

I am sorry that I didn't listen to you when you gave me early warning signs of your stress.  And I'm even sorrier that I tried to push you when I knew you were down.  I promise that I'll rest you for a few more days.  I'll apply ice regularly.  I'll keep doing my eccentric heel drops.  I'll even wear shoes in the house (even though it causes my entire being to shrivel just a little).  Is that good enough for you?  Can we move beyond this now?  

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Dear Mark Torregrossa, MLive Chief Meteorologist:

Yeah, I saw your latest post over on MLive.  You said the words "hint of Spring" in your weather forecast.  I heard you.  You said "warming trend."  You mentioned "temperatures above the freezing mark."  I hope you're not just teasing, Mark.  Because I couldn't bear it.

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Dear Mackinac Bridge Drivers:

I don't know how you do it.  The lakes are frozen over up there.  It's windy.  (Really windy.)  The snow is blowing hard.  The bridge is 5 miles long.  (A scary 5 miles in even the best of weather.)  Whenever I think the driving down here is bad, I'm just going to remember y'all . . . driving over that bridge . . . and be happy that I don't have to do it.

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Have a great weekend, everyone!


Friday Mailbag

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 Dear Mr. Frost:

You do create a lovely landscape.  There is something almost magical about watching the sun hit your handiwork on the hills and trees and rooftops of my neighborhood.  Brilliant!  And the patterns you create on my garage windows?  Nothing short of stupendous.  Really.  Each pane is a little miracle.  Still, despite the beauty you create, I have this to say to you:  Hit the road, Jack!  (And don't you come back no more. . .)

 

Dear Ryka Shoe Company:

We've had a long relationship, you and I.  Oh, I know it's been a bit rocky for the last two years -- but for the previous ten years, we were constant companions.  How I loved your old studio dance shoes!  The support was perfect for my every leap and spin.  The quality was excellent, and I could count on getting 6 solid months of wear out of each pair.  And the fit?  Why, Cinderella's glass slipper comes to mind.  Sure, your shoes weren't particularly attractive in a "fashion forward" kind of way, but who cared?  You were so consistently perfect for so long.  But then . . . you changed!  First, your quality slipped.  Odd seams were splitting.  Soles cracked.  Problems you never used to have.  And then, well . . . your standard studio shoes disappeared completely . . . and you replaced them with pretty faces.  Suddenly, you were all about being "on trend," playing with colors and patterns and such -- like you were Nike or something.  I didn't want hot teal shoes that fell apart and made my knees hurt.  I wanted my plain, old, ugly, black studio shoes!  I'll admit it . . . I started looking around.  I had flings with Capezio and New Balance.  Where did it get me?  Metatarsal issues and a flare-up of my Achilles tendinitis.  So I'm back.  But I'm still not happy with you.  At all.

 

Dear Jenny and JoJo:

I know you're used to a walk every morning when I return from the gym.  But really, we can't go right now.  Because the temperature is -15ºF before the wind chill.  Too cold.  Just too friggin' cold.  You'll have to trust me.  STOP LOOKING AT ME WITH THE SAD DOG EYES.  Maybe next week. . . For today, I'll make it up to you by giving you a ride in the car.

 

Dear Garden Buddha:

I haven't forgotten you.  Please continue to hold down the fort until the thaw comes.  

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Happy Friday!  (Stay warm.)

 

 

 


Throwback Thursday: Lessons from the Master

A year ago right now, I started running.  I did it on my own.  I didn't talk to anyone about it; I didn't ask anyone's opinion.  I just . . . decided to do it.  I put the Couch-to-5K app on my phone -- and ran.

Most people we know assume that Tom "finally convinced me." Or they figure we were looking to "spend more time together."

Both of these things are FALSE.

Yes.  Tom is a Runner.  (With a capital R.)  He's been running for nearly all of his life (since he was 13).

Young Tom Running
Here he is in 1975 in Houston at the National Junior Olympics (cross country).

He ran cross country and track in junior high . . . and in high school. . . and even in college.  

He encouraged me to give running a try -- way back in our first years together.  But it wasn't my thing, and he didn't push it.

Ever.

He ran.  I did other things.  End of story.

 

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This is an All-Comers race to open the track season at Boise State. (Which is why he is wearing his high school singlet ... instead of a BSU uniform.)

And as far as our running "together"????  Ha!  It doesn't quite work that way!  Let's put it in perspective, here.  When we line up at the beginning of a 5K (which we may run . . . "together" . . . as in both of us are running), one of us lines up at the 10:00 minute/mile marker.  And the other of us lines up at the 6:00 minute/mile marker.

Which means . . . One of us is crossing the finish line . . . as the other of us is just heading into Mile 3!

So.  Running "together" is out! 

College Tom Running
Running a 10K road race while in college.

When I decided to start running last August, Tom was supportive and encouraging.  Not in a "rah-rah-you-can-do-it" way, and not in a bossy, coach-like way.  He just let me go at it on my own, without any interference or pressure.

And, because I've been watching him run for nearly 35 years, I've picked up a lot of tips and pointers about running along the way.  Some things, I learned from just watching Tom train and work out over the years, and some things, he's explained more recently. 

I call them . . . Lessons from the Master.

Steeplechase Tom
Running the steeplechase - Boise State University, circa 1978.

Here's what I've learned about running from Tom:

  • Do it.  Or Don't.  (Just don't whine about it.)
  • Stretch.  (Always.)
  • Drink a lot of water.  (Before and after.)
  • Wear the right shoes.  (Proper fit; replace often.)
  • Just get out there and run.  (Of course it hurts.  That's how it is.)
  • Recognize that some days you'll just feel like crap.  (Run anyway.)
  • Hills are good for you.  Run them.  (Shorten your stride and don't look at how far you have to go.)
  • Don't overdress.  (You're going to be hot, even when it's cold.)
  • Face oncoming traffic.  (Make sure drivers can see you -- and you can see them.)
  • Take advantage of shade and sprinklers when it's hot.  (And know where the bathrooms are along your route.)
  • Running on consecutive days is Not Fun.  (Build in some rest.)
  • Sometimes you get injured.  (Take time to heal.)
  • Mix it up.  (Different courses, different distances, workouts that are Not Running.)
  • Don't shower until you stop sweating.  (Pointless otherwise.)
  • The trend to running longer distances without regard to time is completely overrated.  (Just run.  Try your best.  Nothing wrong with a 5K.)
  • Fartleks.  (Fun to say.  Good to do.)

I'm still amazed that I'm running.  And probably even more amazed that . . . I kind of like it!  
(I think Tom is pretty surprised, too!)

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