Blog-o! Notes from

Tue, 14 Sep 2010

I've always been a walker. Lots of people are, and I don't have anything new to say about walking, apart from that I like to do it. I like the pace, I like looking at things as I walk, I like the scale of walking.

I don't like to run. Well, I like some things about it: I like that it's good exercise, that it's pretty easy to do (logistically if not athletically), that it generates lots of geeky data. But I don't like actually doing it. And it turns out I don't have the self-discipline to sustain a habit which I don't enjoy, even though it's good for me.

Fortunately, I like walking. And walking is good for me too. I suppose aerobically it's not as good as running, but biomechanically it's almost certainly better. And mentally it's beyond compare. So I'm going to stop berating myself for not running, and start walking. (It's part of a grander intention to stop berating myself for not being what I'm not – ambitious, tireless – and start working with what I am – smart, affable, orderly.)

My grander plan is to walk a half-marathon. I haven't decided which one yet – probably in the spring. I figure it's do-able; I'm pretty sure I walked 21K in a day back when I was touring Europe (13 years ago – shut up!) I suppose I could set myself some kind of time goal, but see above re: ambitious, not.

I'm going to walk 5K on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10K on Sunday mornings. I'll kill two birds with one stone by listening to audiobooks (or really awesome music) while I'm walking.

It's going to be great! This is the best plan ever.

[Posted at 10:40 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 24 Feb 2009

Well. Didn't take long for that train to come off the tracks. I haven't gone running since last time I posted, which was about a century ago. First I got sick, then once I was better it was all icy and cold, and then I just couldn't carve out a good time. Augh.

Ah well. Reset. Try again. And again and again and again.

[Posted at 22:52 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 01 Feb 2009

I did another 3K in 2-and-1s this morning. It was two degrees above, so mild I had to unzip my jacket to cool off, and sunny! I don't know what we have done to earn this nice day, and on a weekend to boot. (This is an anomaly, though, this afternoon it's going back to ball-freezing cold. But at least it's not January any more!)

It was a pretty rough run; two minutes seemed really long and difficult. I had a long day yesterday, though, and went to bed late and was awoken at 2 am to find a lost sippy cup. All these things make for harder runs.

Next week I'm going to forge ahead with 3.25 K in 3-and-1s and see how it goes. I realized this morning that I've already screwed myself with my schedule: I was planning to run on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, but then I forgot and offered to help in Delphine's classroom on Tuesdays. So maybe I'll run on Tuesday evenings. That way I'd get one afternoon run, one evening run and one morning run a week, which would provide some welcome variety.

Also I'm not going to blog every single run. It's just not that interesting. I'll try and check in every week, to keep me honest.

[Posted at 11:30 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 29 Jan 2009

Since my last run on Tuesday the weather has taken a turn for the snowier. We got 15 or 20 cm of snow yesterday. Most people have shovelled, but today's run was more adventuresome than usual as I tried to figure out how to get over and through all the slush.

I did 3K in 2-and-1s. There were a couple of times I was really glad to get that walking break, and one time in a very snowy block I just ignored the "start running" beep and took an extra few seconds of walking, but otherwise it was a good run. It was -8°C, but I was warm enough in my usual gear, until I stopped to chat with a neighbour at the end.

Now I've gone and woken up Cordelia. Hopefully she will go back to sleep because I still want to have my afternoon reading break, and I have to stretch, and empty and load the dishwasher. And do laundry. God my life is lame sometimes.

[Posted at 14:19 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 27 Jan 2009

Kat has inspired me to get my running shoes back on; she is training for an as-yet-unspecified 5K, so we're going to egg each other on. She runs on the treadmill at her condo and I like to run outside (because I don't have a treadmill and I'm too poor to join a gym, and because running on a treadmill is boring) so we probably won't actually run together until spring. But we'll talk about running!

We talked about running last night before choir, and as Kat wisely pointed out, if you want to do something you should do it as soon as possible after you've determined to do it, so I ran this afternoon after I dropped Delphine off at school. Since Blake is "working" from "home", he can make sure Cordelia doesn't catch fire or something while she's napping, and so I can leave the house in the afternoon. Plus it was sunny and warm (only -5!) - too good to pass up.

I did 3K in 1-and-1s. 1-and-1s is pretty lame, but I haven't been out for a long time, and it's cold and when I run in the cold my lungs get wheezy and I get that coppery taste in my mouth, so I thought I would go easy on myself. And it was a pretty easy run. There were times when the one minute of running seemed too short, and only one time when I was really glad of the break, so next time I will do 2-and-1s.

My plan is to run three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekend. I'll do 3K for the next two runs and then up the distance a little bit and also increase intensity to 3-and-1s. I just hope it doesn't stay so cold for weeks and weeks. I don't know if I can motivate myself to run when it's horribly cold.

I went for a couple of runs over the winter, before it got so cold. I tried something new: listening to music instead of timing my intervals. (I have to choose because I time intervals by the beeping of my watch and if I'm listening to music I can't hear the beeps. I'm sure there is some technological solution to this problem.) Listening to music is fun, but I missed the satisfaction of being able to measure and manage the ratio of running to walking. (I'm a geek.) Plus it's kind of nice to have time to just let the thoughts roll through my head. Apparently that kind of unstructured daydreaming time is very important. So I'm going to stick with timing intervals.

And now I should go stretch.

[Posted at 14:21 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 23 Feb 2007

So yeah, running. I haven't been. For a while there we were in a crazy deep freeze the likes of which I moved out of the prairies to avoid, and then I hurt my back, and... oh, I don't know, there's always something that comes up. Dishes! Dishes are the last straw for me, it seems; I can manage to do the housekeeping and look after the kids and go to choir and run and read and stuff when I have a dishwasher, but when I have to do dishes by hand it all goes to hell. How do we generate so many dirty dishes?

I did do a tortuous and pathetic 3K last weekend, which is better than the nothing I have done since.

But I think I'm okay with a winter lull. I would like, ideally, to run through December, just to counteract the holiday madness both psychologically and healthwise, but I don't think I would be too devastated if I took a break from running every January and February. It's hibernation time. That's long enough, though. Once March comes I will set a schedule and work towards running 5K straight through without a walking break.

[Posted at 19:29 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 26 Dec 2006

Today I ran for the first time in a month and a half. I signed up for the Resolution Run 5K on December 31 in an attempt to motivate myself to keep running through the winter, but I didn't count on the move joining forces with the cold weather to put me off lacing up my sneakers.

So between cleaning and packing and moving and unpacking and being busy and exhausted, I haven't been running. It seems there are things I give up on when I am very busy, and things I don't; the things I give up on are exercise, reading, baking and cooking complicated meals. The things I don't give up on are watching TV, sleeping, flossing, going to choir practice and seeing friends. And eating — I hear there are people who get so busy they forget to eat, but that's never been an issue for me.

I did, finally, go for a run today. After the collosal binge that is Christmas Day I was desperate to do something healthy, and I thought I should test the waters to see how well I can expect to do at the Resolution Run on the 31st. I did 2K today, and I didn't die; I made it through the first ten minutes okay, although I started too fast and almost wore myself out. I had to take a walk break in the second ten minutes, but only for half a block. I think I should be fine in the Run if I do five and ones or seven and ones.

Now that we are getting settled in and it's no longer imperative to spend every spare moment unpacking, I am going to try and go out for two 2Ks and one 5K every week.

[Posted at 20:52 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 18 Oct 2006

On Saturday I did a surprisingly easy 5K of ten and ones — surprising because I ran exactly no times the week before. I guess some rest is what the doctor ordered.

Last night I went out in the drizzle and did another 2.5K of ten and ones, and I thought about why I like running outside rather than in a treadmill: every time you go out, it's a new run, even if you are running the same old route. Running in rain is different from running in sun, is different from running in snow is different from running three days after it snows. Running uphill is different from running downhill, running on gravel is different from running on pavement is different from running on asphalt.

When you run on a treadmill the best you can hope for is that the Seinfeld repeat is one you haven't seen lately.

[Posted at 14:31 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 05 Oct 2006

I just got back from a 2.3K run of eight and ones. It was hard; I am still a little wheezy and having trouble catching my breath. But I am quite pleased with myself for doing it; it was already 8:30 by the time I went out, and I really wanted to stay home and sit on the couch. We have our condo on the market (anyone want a condo?) and I have spent the last week cleaning and tidying like a fool instead of running and sleeping and doing other sensible things.

I haven't been keeping up with the homework for the Learn To Run clinic; you are supposed to run three times a week but I have only gone once this week and it's already Thursday (clinic meets on Saturday). This week we are doing 4.75K of nine and ones and I am going to be suffering. Hopefully, though, now that the condo is clean and tidy I will be able to get back to three runs a week.

And hey, back in June when I started all this foolishness I wouldn't even have been able to think of running for eight minutes without stopping. So that's something.

[Posted at 21:15 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 24 Sep 2006

I feel strangely deflated now that my first run is behind me, although I have another month to go in my running clinic to give me something to work on. (We are doing eight and ones next weekend; how I am going to go from five and twos to eight and ones I do not know).

I think I will sign up for a 5K sometime this winter or early spring to keep me honest over the winter and give me something to aim for: I would like to improve my time by running for a larger proportion of the time. I will need some kind of external incentive because I can really see myself forgetting about running altogether in the chilly winter evenings. Although I bet Michelle wouldn't let me.

In the summer of '07 I will do two or three 5Ks, then maybe another over the winter (if I feel like I need it to keep my momentum up). Then in '08 I'd like to do the Sporting Life 10K (because it's mainly downhill!) and the 10K in the zoo (because the zoo is cool). Maybe by '09 I'll be ready for a half-marathon, or maybe I will do a couple more 10Ks, and do a half-marathon in '10... we'll see.

Of course this could be derailed by unforseen circumstances, but so could any plan; no reason not to make it!

[Posted at 21:11 by Amy Brown] link

I did it, I finished my first run! I did the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5K in 42 minutes, doing intervals of two minutes of walking and five minutes of running. It was a good pace, fairly challenging but not so hard that I felt like I wasn't going to make it.

It was cool to run in a real race, although there was a marked difference between the 5K and the "real" races; we had little kids, people with special needs, people who clearly intended to amble the route (not that there's anything wrong with a nice amble, but I'm not sure I'd choose Lakeshore for it). There was even a woman enjoying a nice, bracing cigarette before the race began! But hey, it was a good start and I'm really glad I did it.

[Posted at 21:03 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 21 Sep 2006

Five and ones have been kicking my ass lately and I don't know why; the first couple of times were fine but ever since then I have had that cruddy bronchitis feeling in my chest every time I run.

For some reason I have been a complete slacker this week. I ran on Sunday, and I was going to run on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Then I didn't run on Tuesday because I was deathly tired and felt kind of sick; so I planned to run on Wednesday and Friday, and skip Saturday to rest up for my 5K on Sunday. But on Wednesday we went to see a house in the evening; the house was crap so I was grumpy and just felt like sitting on the couch eating, so that's what I did.

So now it's Thursday and I just got back from a rather half-hearted 2.2K run, complete with that bronchitis feeling, but hey, at least I ran. I will run 2K on Saturday and go to bed early so I am nice and fresh for the 5K on Sunday.

I have to say, if this were a 5K run instead of a 5K run/walk I would totally not be ready. I have never run 5K; I have never even run 4K -- we supposedly did a 4K run in the clinic last week, but really everyone stopped running after 3.5K and walked the rest of the way. Fortunately it is a run/walk, so I will do five and twos and do my damnedest to keep up that pace for the full 5K. And next time I do a 5K I will do it at ten and ones, so there.

[Posted at 21:29 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 13 Sep 2006

This post started as a response to Jillian's comment in my last post; my response started getting really long so I figured I would post it instead.

Here's what Jill said:

Fives and ones. I am in awe. I'm still doing twos and ones. Although perhaps that's because I live in the boonies and drive everywhere.

Someday I'll get an interval timer so I don't have to look at my watch every three steps. That might speed me up a little.

Hey, two and ones are better than, say, the none and nones I was doing before this! I have been increasing my running time every week or so fairly religiously. I talked with Blake about it and he agreed that there's no point in waiting until one time becomes "easy" before moving up. I mean, I guess it gets easier but never what I would call easy. But then somehow the next step up isn't all that much harder, and lo and behold here I am at five and ones without ever feeling that I have over-exerted myself. It's kind of weird, really.

Having a good timer must help a lot. I am going to buy myself one of those cute little pink and purple Timex running watches as a reward for completing the 5K, I think (with my Running Room clinic coupon). Right now I am using a hundred-year-old watch borrowed from Blake which only does one interval per set, so if I want to do five and ones I set it for six minutes, watch it obsessively for the first minute while I walk, and then run until it beeps. It does the trick for now, but it is neither pink and purple nor cute.

Some opportunistic bacteria have taken advantage of my allergically stuffed-up sinuses and set up residence there so now I have added sore teeth and joint pain and general all-over misery to my existing repertoire of sneezing and stuffiness, ironically just in time for the ragweed pollen count to go down. What this has to do with running is that I skipped my run last night, which wouldn't be so bad except I skipped my run on Sunday too, due to being lazy and full after a big family dinner. So now I have skipped two runs in a row and I am beginning to get annoyed with myself. I should really have gone out on Sunday; perhaps even eaten less so I wouldn't have been so lethargic! Now there's an idea.

I was having a look at the map for the marathon I am not running on the 24th. Notice how the 5K isn't even shown on the map? That's because the resolution of the map isn't high enough to show the itty-bitty 5K route. Damn, marathons are long! I know, news at eleven, but look at that thing! These people are running all the way out to the Beaches, oh, but that's not far enough so on the way, let's run all the way down Leslie Spit and back, and oh hey, that's still not far enough, we have to double back all the way through downtown, past Roncesvalles, past High Park, to.. I don't even know where that is! Etobicoke? Someplace I never go! AND THEN BACK DOWNTOWN!

Marathons are long, dude.

[Posted at 09:28 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 11 Sep 2006

Still running... I am up to five minutes of running and one minute of walking, and it's easier than I thought it would be. My friend Michelle said that, physically, it never got harder for her than one and ones, which is heartening. And I have to say I agree, so far. Running five minutes isn't particularly harder than running four minutes, which wasn't much worse than running three minutes... In fact, I rather enjoy five and ones because five minutes is long enough to really get into the running part. With shorter intervals I found I spent a lot of time wondering if it was almost time to stop running yet, but you can't really do that for five minutes, so instead you think about other things, houses and school and work and life, and then when the beeper beeps telling you to walk it comes as a pleasant surprise rather than something you have been obsessing about for the last minute and a half.

The 5K run (I hate to call it a "race" since I am not running for speed, just completion) that I signed up for is on the 24th. So far the farthest I have run is 3.75 K, but I am not too worried about going 5K. I will try and run it (with walking breaks) and if I can't manage it I will walk it in. No harm done.

The Learn To Run clinic I am taking is getting a little lamer; there was one really cool girl who dropped out two weeks ago, and now the only people I want to talk to are really fast, so I am stuck at the back running with boring, annoying people who act like they are doing me a favour running slow with me. I think it's actually harder to run with someone boring than to just go by myself. To add insult to injury, the instructor seems to think that I need lots of encouragement and chivvying along; "How are you doing? Are you okay? You can walk if it's too hard." Just because I am fat doesn't mean I am out of shape, lady, I walk more in a day than most of you do in a week; I think everyone in the clinic drives there except me. Ah well, I didn't get into this to make friends.

[Posted at 09:50 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 18 Aug 2006

I went running last night with my friend Michelle, my real-life inspiration for all this perspiration. It was the first time I have been running with someone else, apart from the clinic. It was easier than running alone; the time goes a little faster. We chatted about this and that and she gave me some hard won running tips. (Breathing is good!) She is training for a half-marathon which means she runs for, like, multiple hours at a time, and is doing hill training and real athletic things like that. That's so cool!

Since I was running with company (company, moreover, with a fancy interval-timing watch) I decided to try three-and-ones for the first time. The first set was fairly hard but we slowed down a little and the rest were quite doable, if a smidgen on the long side.

Running with someone was fun, but running alone is nice, too — it's good to have some time alone with myself. I think it will be less pleasant as I increase my running time; I imagine it will be harder work and I will find it more difficult to keep my mind off the pain, or maybe the boredom. Perhaps that is when I will treat myself to an iPod.

I'm back in a Learn To Run clinic again; last Saturday was the first meeting. Obviously, since I attended the first two weeks of the last clinic before my injured knee forced me to drop out, it was all familiar material. The run portion was a cakewalk for me since it was two minutes walking, one minute running, although we were running a little faster than I have been. I hit it off with another girl and we ran quite far behind everyone else. She was embarrassed but I didn't care; better to run slow and keep running than to run fast, save face, and hurt yourself.

[Posted at 13:29 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 03 Aug 2006

I'm into two and ones, two minutes of running and one minute of walking. I've been for two runs at that pace and they have been hard but not impossible. I had to consciously slow myself down so that I would be able to get through the two minutes a couple of times, and some of those one minute breaks seemed pretty short, but I've managed. I think I will do another couple of runs at this pace before I move to three-and-ones; so far I have only done two-and-one in the blistering heat and humidity, so I am curious to see how they are in reasonable weather.

Also next weekend my Learn To Run clinic (second attempt) begins; they will start back at one-and-twos so I will be in great shape for that.

I continue to shock myself with how motivated I am to run, but I know why. I usually exercise because I knew I should exercise, because it's Good For Me. I don't know what the human aversion is to doing things just because they're Good For You, but it definitely exists: I hated to exercise and would create all kinds of excuses not to do it.

But running has managed to elude being categorized as exercise in my brain; somehow it seems to have slipped into some kind of Hobbies and Activities category. I run for the sake of running, not for the exercise or because it's good for me or to lower my cholesterol or lose weight. I run so that I can run more, so that I get better at it, so that I can do a 5K in September.

So much so, in fact, that when I noticed my shorts were getting a little looser it took me a while to think that, yeah, it's probably because of the running. I actually thought, surely twenty minutes of running three times a week wouldn't make that much difference. But I haven't changed anything else, so that must be it. (Unless I do have some wasting disease, which was my first thought.)

[Posted at 22:03 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 16 Jul 2006

Tonight I did my first one-and-one — one minute of running for each minute of walking — since my knee injury healed. (Previously I was doing two minute of walking to every minute of running, so on average you could hardly call it "running" at all.) It went pretty well, considering it was thirty-two degrees with a Humidex of thirty-nine. My knee was hurting a little bit, but I babied it and I'll ice it tonight if I remember.

I noticed I'm not getting terribly out of breath on these runs, probably because I am running really slow. I breath fast, but it's not that desperate, panting, bile-taste-at-the-back-of-my-throat breathing I remember so well from phys ed. Ahh, phys ed.

Incidentally, my friend Michelle, who was my real-life inspiration to start running, is training for her first half-marathon, and is documenting the whole gory process on her running blog. Michelle is in my choir, and we got to be friends because she laughs at my smartass comments. (Laughing at my jokes is a very short path to my heart.)

When I found out she runs I was a little surprised, because I always thought runners were kind of... different. Athletic. Jockish. That runners were perhaps some entirely different species that I could never fully relate to. Since I was pretty sure that Michelle is my kind of people, I had to reconsider my perspective on runners, which made it possible for me to seriously consider running myself. And here I am, with Michelle cheering me on.

[Posted at 20:47 by Amy Brown] link