30 April, 2007

Warning: all about exercise

[Blogger spell-check screwed up my paragraphs again. Sorry if this is choppy-looking.]

Living in Saigon can be tough if you're used to getting your cardio exercise done outdoors. Gyms were not overly pricey but they're just not as good as strapping on your headphones and jogging out of your own front door, but it was way too hot for that. You could, as Kim proved daily, just go for a jog before the sun came up, but I, well, insert sarcastic laughing here. So it was with great joy and a little trepidation that I returned to Vermont, land of miles and miles of dirt roads winding
through oxygen-rich forests and dappled shady patches. Joy, right? Well, mostly. I still deal with a little bit of fear andenervation before my workout, but that's some sort of wacky head thing that I think I can kill with enough talking to myself in a kind and gentle way, variations on "You don't have to run a marathon. Every step is a
good step. Walk away from theinternet and put on your sneakers." And so on.

So I've been doing these four-mile walks on a handy loop that takes me from the house, up to the "four corners," down to another intersection, and back up to the top of our road. I usually wear myiPod because it just feels so much faster to listen to something (I do enjoy bird sounds and whatnot, but I'm a true product of my generation. I need to learn something, sing along to something, or listen to a story while I'm walking. Give mepodcasts and watch me walk for hours.)

In the interest of my heart, lungs, favorite jeans, etc, I've been increasing the cardiovascularly-challenging parts of my days, so that I can already be at least almost in shape before I go to camp, where the real weight-loss action takes place. Doubly good. To help me along, I downloaded a podcast from prevention magazine. It's a walking workout that talks you through three minutes of moderately paced music and then a one-minute "speed burst" at a higher BPM, and does this four times for a total of 16 minutes. The beginner's
level felt good the first day, and the next day I found myself ready to repeat the workout as soon as it was over. See, jogging is okay. It scares me, but I know that if I try very very hard for many many days it does start to get a little tiny bit easier. I'm not being a wimp, I think. I just honestly hate it. Sure, you can point out those times where I was running along,wind in my face and grinning, saying "I love this!" but I only love it when I'm there, already trained, already past the hard part. And I've been mentally gathering those little tidbits from health magazines that pronounce a good speed-walking session just as good for you as jogging, and better for the joints, so I say huzzah to that.

Anyway, I figured the beginner level to be good for a warmup, so I went ahead and downloaded the advanced level and tried it out for the last 16 minutes of my walk on Saturday. The "moderate" three minutes felt great and really got my heart beating and my forehead hot, but the higher-intensity minute was just way too fast for walking.
Instant shin-splint feeling. So, I decided to run it. Since it's only a minute, I know that no matter how much the running sucks it'll be over soon. So I'm doing that, walking fast for three minutes, and running (faster than I jog) for one minute, and all of a sudden those mythical endorphins kick in and it's like someone just cast me in an insanely happy commercial for Prozac or something. I'm grinning, the wind is in my face, I'm loving it. Hooray!

I just did it again this morning (Monday). I left the house and it was rainy and cold, but as I got past my 1st beginner's set and started it over for the second time (I needed a long warm up today), the sun broke out and the skies showed a little bit of blue. I used the middle mile for a stretching, cooling down part (listening to This American Life) and then when I hit the intersection of Max Gray and Calais Rd (I
think) I put on the advanced level, and kicked ass all the way home.

I've been true to my 5 yoga-pushups a day, but find that I can eek out more now, so I stop at somewhere around 10 or 11. It's funny how when you've got your whole day free to structure as you please (including getting work done and doing chores, of course) it becomes so much easier to find a fitness schedule that actually works. And by posting this, it wort of guarantees that I'll keep doing it. You know, don't want to look like a chump in front of all 6 of you who read this. (It's quality, not quantity, and I love you all).


Karen said...

Man, I still cannot do even one of those yoga push-ups without collapsing in a panting, shaking heap. But I do do Yogamazing's Basic Yoga podcast every morning, and one of these days I'm going to tackle their more advanced workouts. But it's kind of, well, amazing what even just downward dogs will do for ya after a couple of day.. You saw those triceps -- you know what I'm talkin' about!

Your walk/jog sounds divine. I'm totally jealous.

Rebekah Weinstein said...

Hey, those high intensity intervals that you are doing (3 mins walking, 1 min fast running) is hands-down one of the best cardio exercises that I have gotten results from....Seriously, i noticed more changes in my body from that kind of workout than from regular steady level cardio for a longer period of time :) Go girl!

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