Last weekend, I resolved to actively get back on task with the fitness efforts, to undo the damage I did over the winter and resume making actual progress. The very next day, I had a stumble while I was a mile and half into my run and gave myself a moderate ankle sprain – enough to where the pain resulting from the application of even the slightest pressure causing me to have to take the day after off from work.
Through the rest of the week, I’ve been getting around with a funny gait. It’s healed quickly enough to where I’m able to walk normally, but even now I’m still feeling random spasms that tell me that trying to get back to running so soon would be a poor judgement call. Being effectively benched for the week and not being able to practice my better exercise habits, my nutriotional ones have followed in suit.
In other words, I’ve been indulging heavily in food, and have undoubtedly added even more pounds that I’m going to have to make up for. The turn of the new year did very little for me by way of inspiring that sense of change and a fresh start. However, the passing of another birthday has more than made up for it. Even with a bum ankle, there’s no shortage of alternative action I could have taken to keep myself aligned with the long-term goals. It’s very easy to rationalize inaction, and that’s something that I should be much more efficient at managing by this point in life. Especially since I know where I ultimately end up, in this very place I find myself now: feeling like I’ve failed, and angry at myself for having afforded myself weak excuses.
In the time since my last post, I’ve been keeping myself busy mostly with work, personal studies, and getting back in form with my running. Between all the big meals over the holidays and the running days missed because of the cold and my insufficient willpower, my times, stamina, and even the drive to get my route done has noticably suffered. That same night I made my last update, I had a friend comment on my run, asking when I’d be posting photos:
I’ve been meaning to do just that, in addition to the measurement tables I used to post in my old “Measurement Monday” updates. Thing is, I know that there hasn’t been any overall progress since the last time I updated them – I’ve been staganating and fluctuating in the same weight & BMI range. In preparation to get back to doing those updates, I’ve been clocking in more time with the pull-up bar and body weight exercises in addition to my running route. In a couple weeks time, I’ll be back to my pre-winter state and ready to push further, adding regular resistance training into the mix as well as a complete dietary overhaul.
On the writing front, things haven’t been moving along as fast as I’d like due to some extentuating circumstances in the personal life that go beyond the scope of this update. Still, I’m preserving the momentum, and look forward to the results I’m going to start seeing in all areas of life in the coming months.
Updates on a project are not fun to write when there isn’t any progress to report (and, logically, also pointless). During the downtime in July from a prolonged IT band flare-up and, immediately after healing from that, a recovery period for my calves, I packed some weight back on. It’s hard to avoid when you’re couch-bound during a record hot summer, when heat-induced sloth and gluttony start undermining your willpower. As much as I hate losing progress made and having to compensate for results that were already achieved, this last time was particularly upsetting due to how close I was to breaking into a new weight threshold. At the end of June, I was weighing in at 192, and on the cusp of breaking into the the 180’s. By the end of July, I was back on the verge of crossing into the 200’s. After the first week of August, I aggressively set off towards getting myself back on track. Over three weeks of continuous running later – a couple of them my new extended 10 mile route – I got back down to my end-of-June range between 192 and 193 lbs.
This past week, I broke the chain. My run on the 9th earned me an entire set of blisters on my right-foot toes, which was a bit perplexing since I didn’t get any the first time I ran the long route and I hadn’t taken any protective measures that time. Even though new blisters rarely elicit any sensations of pain at this point, the sheer size of it made me hesitant to keep going at full effort and risk unnecessary and serious aggravation.
In addition to the blisters, I also came to realize on Thursday afternoon that I’m dealing, for the first time ever in my life, an inflammation of a different kind of a much more personal nature that’s also been prohibitive to my distance running. Today marks the fifth day that I’ve been on break from my training, resting and recovering with generous applications of ointments and heat/cold treatments in all my afflicted areas. It’s getting close to the end of the day, and I feel like I’ll be back in prime form to resume the running madness of the past few weeks. At the end of June, I was 192 lbs and wearing size 36 pants. Last week, I was at 193 lbs and fitting size 34 pants. This next week will likely end up being damage control for the past five vacation days, and by the start of October I should see myself under the 190 lb mark and in the 180s. Not only will that finally put me under the tolerance threshold I set for myself years ago before I’d allow myself to grow my hair back out, but also in the weight range where my fitness plan expands it’s focus on cardio & weight loss and into more active weight training and muscle growth.
More importantly, the more I’ve been actively working on this aspect of my life and achieving measurable progress, the more inspired I’ve been feeling to actually sit down and write an update. Good stuff is happening, transition is in full swing.
Two days ago, I skipped my usual stretching routine in favor of a more physically engaging warm-up. I bookmarked An Oldtime Strongman’s 15-Minute Morning Routineover at Art of Manliness back when it was posted in May, and decided to finally give it a shot. Since they are indeed “odd” exercises that don’t feel particularly strenuous compared to other workouts, I gave myself the liberty to do more repetitions/time with each exercise than recommended in the article. It was Plate V, exercises “for strong ankles” that really did me in. When I went out on my 6.5 mile run, my legs started sending fatigue pains as soon as I was only 2 residential blocks out on the route.
Yesterday, my calves felt sore and tender. I ended my night with a hot shower and a generous application of Bengay. Today, I woke up expecting them to feel better, only to find them deep in that agonizing “second-day-soreness”. Even in a resting position, my legs feel like they’re locked in a state of full extension. Actually standing up and moving around so uncomfortable that I couldn’t even bring myself to head down the steps to get to the car and head into the office today.
With all the running I do regularly, I never would expected my calves (specifically, my soleusmuscles) to end up as sore as they are from that routine. Yet, I’m now facing the literally painful reality that although I’ve trained my body well enough to run long distances, in all other activities/motions my body is laughably weak. It’s something I’ve acknowledged to myself in the past, and a large reason why I’ve been so cardio-focused and not actively training in muscle-building exercise. Now that I’ve started, I’ve got no choice but to keep going. I’m going to need to learn to become familiar with this burning sensation and still function in spite of it, because I’m going to be feeling it everywhere over the course of the coming weeks.
July so far has been a fairly poor month for me. The day after I wrote my last update, I started feeling a really strong jabbing pain along my right leg (or, in adherence to my little game of learning anatomy as I feel it in my training, my right iliotibialtract). I had a routine morning, but when I went to get up from my chair to take my morning break, I started feeling the sharp pain in my leg. I still went on my lunch-time run, but every other stride felt like I was literally being kicked in the ass, so much to the point I almost buckled at a couple points along the route. I expected it to wear off and heal by the end of two day’s time, but it persisted throughout the past couple weeks. I did test myself a few times and ran my normal long-distance routes, and found that I could push past the pain and discomfort with relative ease. However, all physical training advice comes heavily disclaimed to take it easy and not push your body beyond reasonable limits, so I’ve been avoiding pushing the envelope as I don’t know where the line really lies.
Over the past couple days, I haven’t been feeling the pain in the IT band so much. The left knee still bugs occasionally, and every now and then I’ll feel a tiny jolt in the ankle. For the most part, it feels like I’m ready to get back to full-time training, and it’s about time — I have this bad tendency to give into the lesser version of myself nutritionally when I can’t go running, and I’ve undoubtedly got some lost ground to make up for.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve last posted a complete measurement log update. In the time since that last update, I’ve gotten really bad about even doing the offline logging. Since I use an internet connected smart scale that logs my weight automatically, I’ve been largely deferring to that statistic. Admittedly, it’s been as demotivating as it can be inspiring. Towards the end of June, I found myself back above the 195 lb threshold. I found myself really confused by that, since by my accounts I’d been doing a pretty good job regular physical activity and hadn’t been indulging with food. I considered the possibility that some of that weight gain could be attributed to a slight increase in muscle mass, but it felt too convenient an explanation to buy into. I told myself then that that was a prime example as to why taking measurements regularly was important, to fill in the gaps that body mass weigh-ins can’t fully capture.
This past weekend, I was a bad little piggy. With all the exercise I’d been doing over the past week and a half, going on runs during my lunch break at work and then running my usual route in the evening, I’d been dealing with a slight frequency increase in the random knee/ankle pains in my left leg I’ve become prone to over the recent weeks. With my selection of wearable pants at an absolute minimum because they all fit so big now and the financial inability to go spring for new threads also becoming a big factor, I decided to let myself be completely gluttonous and lazy over the holiday weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised to step on my scale tomorrow and find that I’m once again weighing in at 196-198 lbs.
Shortcomings these past weeks identified, tomorrow is the start of a new week and a day for some serious reorientation. This past week, summer appears to have officially kicked in, and a lot of the laziness and overeating this weekend has been in response to the temperature increase…and the generally awful job I’ve been doing of staying properly hydrated. This week I’m going to make one last week focused exclusively on cardio and “double duty” running days. I bought myself an elastic sport knee brace today to help alleviate the knee pain, and I figure two weeks of this elevated activity should be sufficient to get my body adjusted to a higher performance benchmark. The week after, I’m going to start honing in on (body) weight training exercises to start building the muscle to replace all the fat I’ve been so focused on burning away.
Although I’ve still been dealing with some lingering ankle & knee pain, I’ve been able to get myself back to work on laying down more miles. Since last Thursday, I’ve been steadily running my usual 5 mile route and getting back to my lunch time walks/jogs with my co-worker. She herself has already started to shed some weight. Every day, I hear about the extra mindfulness she practices when it comes to eating and the activity she does on her own personal time; she (half) jokingly calls me her “personal trainer”.
Yesterday towards the end of the work day, I was approached by a woman that works in the same area that I do, but don’t ever interact with since we’re part of different departments. She told me that at one point earlier in the day, she’d been walking behind me and noticed how much weight I’ve lost. Today, I took a change of running clothes with me for the lunch break jaunt. Since my walking buddy strictly power walks, I decided to run ahead to the end of the route and circle back to wherever she was, then finish the rest of the walk by running back and forth and jogging in place. When we got back to the office, I headed upstairs to the locker room to get changed. Along the way, one of the acquaintances I’ve made on the floor above saw me heading in, and said that I looked like I was “bringing sexy back”. I replied with “I’m tryin’…” as we passed each other, and a few feet later turned and added “well, in all honesty, can’t bring back something that was never here to begin with, but it’s still something to work towards.”
While it’s nice to receive unprompted feedback from people that are more or less strangers, I get more satisfaction from hearing and seeing my co-worker’s health improve. I’m not an expert trainer or nutritionist, just a work in progress that’s still very much overweight but happens to run a lot, but even that’s sufficient to get her moving, and despite her slightly older age still try to get to the point where she can drop the extra pounds and keep pace with me.
And while I’m updating:
Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been missing my target “Measurement Monday” window to update the body stat tables and check in. Normally its something I give myself a lot of grief over, but out in real life, I’ve still been keeping up on “the work” and offline logging.
After spraining my ankle on Friday of last week and spending that weekend stuck on the couch and eating Mexican food I ordered in for both days, I was very reluctant to take measurements this past Monday. When days go by without going running, anything I eat feels like it has three times the caloric value than it does. After a whole two days eating Mexican food and staying put on the couch, I was expecting to find myself set back just above the 200 lb mark and remaining trapped in that plateau. Much to my pleasant surprise, the numbers showed that those two rest days did little damage. In hindsight, it was only two burritos each day, one in the morning and one at night, with a little snacking in between.
After I regained my ability to walk on Sunday night, I spent the majority of this past week wanting to go running, but settling for lunch time walks with my co-worker. Thursday evening, I decided to give taking to the streets a shot even though my ankle was still feeling a little wonky, I still managed to keep pace within my average times. Yesterday, I went for another run after doing a quick 15 minute yoga session as warm up. I woke up today feeling a slight soreness in my hamstrings from that, in addition to the knee pain and faint ankle stiffness from last week’s sprain. But when I stepped on my scale, I was pleasantly surprised by a readout out of 195 lbs, a 2.1 lb drop from Monday’s weigh-in.
Along with the excitement at the consistent progress made, in spite of dealing with an injury, there are a few couple of other implications that this morning’s weigh-in brings to the table. One of which I’m already starting to deal with is the fact that I’m starting to run out of clothes that fit. The other, slightly more off in the distance, is that I’m only 5 pounds (2-3 weeks) away from hitting the 190lb mark, the designated target weight at which I’ll allow myself to start growing my hair out again. This means I’m going to have to start dealing with putting time and money into hair care, something I’ve kind of enjoyed not having to deal with the past few years with a buzzed head.