Why I care about being able to jog for exercise

This week, I was happy as a pig in a sty that I was able to run most of a 4 mile loop at lunch. Some people might think that is an odd position to be happy about, but it really is a big difference.

I have battled with plantar fasciitis for over 2 years. It has limited me to moderate walking, and lately bicycling for my exercise. While walking is rather pedestrian (ha ha), cycling is actually a pretty good workout. But it isn’t a “great” workout.

The reason why is pretty easy to figure out with my handy – dandy heart rate monitor.

Walking, 4 miles per hour pace, I burn about 560 calories in an hour. My heart rate rarely rises above 80 BPM. This is fairly moderate exertion by any measure (heightened by the beta blocker I take)

Cycling, 19 miles per hour pace, I burn about 1,100 calories per hour. Much better, and certainly a better workout. The monitor tells me that I average around a heart rate of 120 BPM.  A pretty good aerobic workout, but again, it is affected by the medication I take.

Running. 6 mile per hour pace (very slow for me, but when I am in shape I can d0 8 minute miles easily). I burn about the same calories per distance as walking, but I go further in the same time.  I burn about 900 calories in an hour. But the real benefit is my heart rate.  I can overcome the beta blocker, and keep my heart rate between 130 – 145 BPM, a pretty good aerobic workout by any measure.

So, of the three primary avenues for me to exercise, running is clearly the winner in the aerobic sense, and pretty good burning of calories.  Cycling’s benefit is that I can keep up a 19 mph pace for 2 – 3 hours, and burn a shedload of calories. Something that I enjoy.

But running has one other major benefit, the fact that when I am traveling, I can pretty much run ANYWHERE. If I get up early enough, I can do 5, 6, or even 7 miles before a day of work.  All I need are shorts and shoes, and I am good to go!

BTW: Having a smartphone with a GPS and a bluetooth heart rate monitor makes tracking my progress easy, and VERY satisfying.

Exercising in the heat

Living in Arizona, it can sure be tough to get out and pound the pavement when the temps climb into triple digits. Many people recede to the gym, and work out in air conditioned comfort, but I have always hated the gym (variety of reasons). So I lace up my shoes at lunch and go for a run, or I ride my bicycle in to the off (always good for a 106F+ ride home).

People in the office look at me like I am from Mars.

But it can be done safely. There are precautions that you take, and symptoms that you look for while on your outdoor fitness excursions:

  • Pre-load with fluids. If you are going to run at lunch, drink 2 – 3 12oz glasses of water in the hour before you head out. Your body will need it.
  • Bring fluids with you. I go through about 16 oz for each 3-4 miles I run. If you begin to cramp, drink.
  • Put some electrolyte supplements in your water. In the summer I use Accelerade, a protein/carb mix that really does help recovery.
  • Don’t “start” cold turkey. The key is to acclimatize yourself. Start in early spring, and keep at it as the temps rise. You will not “shock” your system, and it will become more enjoyable (plus exercising regularly is a great stress reliever)
  • If you cramp, become dizzy, disoriented or “dazed” STOP.  Call for help.  The difference between a comfortable albeit it hot run, and heat stroke can happen quickly.  Carry a phone.

It isn’t for everyone, but if you prepare, and ease yourself into it, you can keep your outdoor fitness going, even in the baking Arizona sun. Use common sense, and don’t push too hard.

Fitness Update (was how I am trying to not be a “People of Walmart”)

Been a while since I updated. I started this quest about 2 months ago (actually April 9th, I started weighing myself daily), and I was 232#’s. I began counting calories, and tracking everything I ate, as well as trying to be more diligent about exercising.

In early May, I got back on the bicycle (first ride in 6 months or so, I was rusty and SORE afterwards), and have been getting more diligent about hitting the streets.

The weight has been inching down. Not as fast as I would like to see, but a pretty consistent 2+ pounds a week.  There have been some setbacks. My birthday dinner, and our anniversary dinner were good splurges, but they did slow the rate of decline. Additionally when I started getting more serious and regular about cycling, I suspect that I was trading adipose fat tissue for muscle tissue. My legs are coming back, and it feels great to ride for 25 – 30 miles at a stretch.

Today, I am at 214#’s, spitting distance to 20#’s off, and I feel pretty good.  I think I might be able to start jogging at lunch time again, something my feet and my weight have prevented me from doing.

The goal is to get to ~ 190#. That is a pretty comfortable weigh for my frame.  At this rate, by the end of summer, I should be able to get there.

Diet and fitness update

Last week was a challenge. With the holiday (grilled some yummy steaks), and our anniversary (tried another local Mexican place that is now our favorite), and two days of training a new sales engineer put a crimp on the diet. But all told, I came out of the week down a pound, and once the over abundance of salt worked its way out, my blood pressure recovered nicely.

This weekend, I got into the spandex, on the bike, and put almost 54 miles on. It is getting challenging, as even leaving at 7:00AM, it is already 85F, and rising to mid 90’s before I get back at 9:00AM. Next week, I will need to pull the Camelback out of its hidey-hole, and load it up.  The water bottles are no longer enough to keep me hydrated.

I am down to 215#, 25#’s to go to get to my target of 190.

(This afternoon, it is almost 112F.  It is safe to say that the ice broke on the Salt River.)