Day 5.

15 Mar

Today was pretty similar to Day 4. I did the treadmill again, and I noticed a little bit more foot pain at the beginning. Partway through the workout, I paused the treadmill and the app and retied my left shoe, and it went down some, so I think my shoe was just tied a little too tight. I’m also hoping that doing some leg and ankle strengthening exercises will help keep my foot position more stable.

I’m headed back to Baltimore tonight, so I’ll be trying some new things. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to see if I can hit the new YMCA in Perry Hall with my mom to do the elliptical and some strength training exercises, moving toward my goal of consistently adding in a fourth day of working out. Also, apparently it’s going to thunderstorm all day, so working out in a gym has some appeal. Then Saturday is supposed to be gorgeous out, with the sun coming up a little after 7:00, so I’ll probably sleep in a bit and then head to Honeygo Run Regional Park, which is just down the road from my family’s house. They have a path that goes around the park, but also some trails in the woods surrounding the park, so that might be a neat way to add some more variety to the workout.

Looking ahead, there are two other occasions when I know I will be out of town between now and May. Next Monday (the 26th), the Director of Admissions here and I are headed to Chicago to meet with Admissions staff from all of the other ELCA seminaries. I looked up running courses around the seminary, and found one that starts and ends on campus, and is just about the length of course I’m looking for. I emailed the Director of Admissions at the seminary to ask if it was safe and if he would recommend it, and he said it’s a great course, as it goes all around the Hyde Park area. If it’s good enough for President Obama, it’s good enough for me. Then in April, I’ll be in Minneapolis for a few days. I checked out running/jogging routes there, and it looks like most of them are a little further out (I’m staying right in the middle of the city), and despite it being the midwest, many of them describe the hills on the routes as “hard.” So, I’m staying in a pretty swanky hotel with a fitness center that has some good reviews, so I’ll probably stick to the treadmill. I know I need to have a plan for working out when my routine changes, because I would be inclined to just sleep in and try to “catch up” when I got home. Right, that would definitely happen…

Oh, and Susie came along to work out this morning as well! I really appreciate her being there — no judgment for the fact that my jogging speed is the same as her walking speed (mostly due to the much longer strides she can take!), good snippets of conversation as we walk, not being the only one cursing under her breath when Billie (one of the built-in trainers in the C25K app…akin to Jillian Michaels) tells us to start jogging — it’s a win-win!


Living Well

13 Mar

So, I want to talk a little bit about the core reason why I’m doing this C25K program. I am lucky enough to receive excellent health benefits, paid for by my employer, through Portico (formerly the Board of Pensions). Portico provides health and retirement benefits for rostered leaders, their families, and other staff in the ELCA. Portico uses the Mayo Clinic EmbodyHealth program to help leaders in the ELCA think about their wellness. Members are invited to take a health assessment, administered by the Mayo Clinic, which can help them evaluate their own health and the areas where they can improve — and as a bonus, if a certain percentage of the employees in your institution (synod, seminary, etc.) take the health assessment, your institution receives a discount, benefitting everyone. One of the greatest aspects of the EmbodyHealth program is the availability of wellness coaching — one-on-one phone conversations with Mayo Clinic staff who offer suggestions on how to improve your health, and assist you in setting goals to live a healthier lifestyle.

When I had my initial conversation with John, my wellness coach, we talked about why I wanted to do this coaching. Part of it is just because I know I need to be healthier, and I might as well take advantage of the resources I have now. But the overwhelming reason for me is that I want to be a better leader. When I’m not living a healthy lifestyle, it means I am more prone to get sick. When I get sick, it means I can’t do my job to the fullest — and believe me, I do not go to work every day just to check things off my to-do list. I go to work every day because this is the ministry to which God has called me at this time in my life, and I want to serve God’s people to the best of my ability.

It also means I am not leading by example. As someone who is passionate about youth and young adult ministry, I want to encourage young people to live healthy lifestyles — to eat right, get plenty of exercise, and make good choices about their overall wellness. How can I have any clout with young people, who can sniff out inauthenticity in a second, if I’m living an unhealthy lifestyle?

In the end, I want to be the best rostered leader I can be for as long as I can be. I want to be a good steward of the life that God has given me so I can continue to answer God’s call. I’m at the perfect point in my life to be developing this new lifestyle — I’m young, I don’t have a family that has adapted to my habits, and I have a semi-regular schedule that permits the kinds of changes I need to make. To not take advantage of this program at this time would be irresponsible and poor stewardship.

So, my goals? The initial goal I set with my coach a few weeks back was to plan my meals for the weeknights. When I get home for work and I don’t have a recipe in mind or any cohesive ingredients, it’s easy to default to fast food or takeout or some combination of snacks that don’t constitute a meal. I’ve been doing this for the past two weeks, and it is working fabulously. I choose healthy recipes, plan out my trips to the grocery store (which also ends up saving me money), and make really delicious dinners when I get home. Then I have leftovers (a lot of leftovers…I’m working on scaling back recipes) to eat for lunch, which also makes for healthier meals than what the Refectory is normally offering.

Since that has been going so well, I made an additional goal during my coaching follow-up tonight: to add a fourth workout to my current routine, most likely centered around strength training (thanks to a great suggestion from my friend Anna-Maria!), but possibly including more cardio. Something to add in more activity during the week. When John asked me how confident I was, on a scale of 1-10, that I could succeed at this goal between now and our next conversation, I was able to tell him that I was at a 9 or 10. When he asked why, I told him it was because of the support I’ve gotten from family and friends as I’ve started this journey toward wellness. The comments I get here, on facebook, and in person have made such a difference. They keep me accountable and are so incredibly encouraging. I owe a huge “thank you” to those who have helped me start this program and have offered such awesome support. It’s much bigger than being able to complete a 5K in May — it’s about living a healthy lifestyle and being a good steward of my wellness. Thank you — it means more than you know!

Day 4.

13 Mar

Caitlin was right about it being super dark in the mornings. This Daylight Saving Time thing is really throwing me off! Last week, when I stepped of my front porch at 6:15, the sun was rising, and when I left at 5:55 later in the week, it was light enough to walk the battlefield by the time we got to the Middle Street/Confederate Avenue intersection. This morning, when I was walking back at 6:50, it was still dark out!

I had planned to do Week 2, Day 1 yesterday, and had hoped I could do my workout at the local middle school track — a flatter surface, still with lots of give, and plenty of visibility, provided by the big lights around the track. Well, when I pulled up at 6:00, the lights were out and no one was around. I don’t normally like to skulk around schoolyards in the dark, so I came back and went back to bed. This morning, I really wanted to walk the battlefield again, but it’s not lit AT ALL back there, so that’s a definite no-go. So, I resorted to my last option: the YWCA.

I actually love the Y, and it’s incredibly convenient since it’s located on campus. Students, faculty, and staff of the seminary get a one-year, all-inclusive pass for just $30, so that’s a deal that’s hard to beat. The facility is kept up nicely, there’s a variety of machines (both cardio and strength), they have lots of classes, plus an indoor pool, racquetball courts, and basketball courts. But I have a long history of hating treadmills. The last time I remember working out on a treadmill, it was when we had one in our basement at the old house, and I vividly recall getting off the treadmill and watching the new episode of The Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie. In 2004.

I’m much more of an elliptical person, but I figured I’d give the treadmill a go this morning. And it was WAY better than I expected. Though it was harder to keep track of my distance (the C25K app estimated that I went .82 miles, but the treadmill said 1.40), it was much easier to be consistent with the jogging. I jogged for every jogging interval (as opposed to other workouts, when I’ve partially walked some), and was able to keep my pace steady, since I was controlling the speed.

Also: markedly less foot pain. I still had some, since I know that my foot is trying to roll out, but it didn’t come in until at least halfway through the workout, and it was never as “intense” as it has been, nor did I feel any shooting pains up my leg. And as an added bonus, there was lots of sweating. Strange, I know, but the whole first week of the program, I worked out in such cold weather that I never broke much of a sweat. On the treadmill, I had a short sleeved shirt on (as opposed to the three layers I’ve been wearing) and really worked up a sweat. I know this isn’t accurate, but it just felt like more of a workout than last week did.

Ultimately, I want to get back outside to train for this 5K, but since it’s going to be dark at the time I want to work out for the next month or so, I think I’ll stick to the Y for a while. This will also help me work on foot position, and seeing how I’m progressing in terms of being able to up the speed. Hopefully that will help me get to a place where, once it’s light outside again, I can be more consistent with walking and jogging, since I’m more familiar with what those normal paces feel like.

Again, thanks for all of your support, both here and on facebook. It really does mean a lot, and is critical in helping me develop the discipline I need to make it to this 5K, and to just be healthier in general!

Day 3.

10 Mar

If so many of my friends didn’t know about my C25K plan, and weren’t so supportive, I probably would be giving up right about now. Partway through my workout today, I decided to turn around and try completing it on the sidewalks through campus.

Big. mistake.

I could feel a definite difference through both of my feet, especially as I tried to jog. There definitely wasn’t as much give as there is on the asphalt, and it was incredibly uncomfortable. I’m thinking about trying to treadmill sometime next week, since it’s totally flat, but I’m not sure about the amount of give it will have in terms of asphalt versus sidewalk. I’m also going to give Gettysburg High School a call and find out if their outdoor track is open to the public. It’s not ideal to drive all the way out there to work out, but might be worth a try as I experiment with what works and what doesn’t.

And this is where the lack of discipline comes in. In the past, if I had had discomfort like this for three workouts in a row, I would have just given up. I think I’ve operated with some kind of underlying belief that the phrase “no pain, no gain” is nothing but a cliche. And while I don’t think workouts should be painful, I’m understanding what that cliche is getting at: if you give up as soon as something feels new or different or uncomfortable, you’re not going to get anywhere. This is why I haven’t ever made any significant progress in terms of personal fitness in the past, and what is going to make this process harder.

But, luckily, I have an awesome support system, and I’m teaching myself discipline, so I’m encouraged. If, after next week, my foot is still hurting on a consistent basis, I might make an appointment with a foot and ankle specialist in town to see if that helps. I also know I need to get better about staying hydrated on a regular basis, so I’ll have to find a way to remember to drink more water. My grandma sets an alarm, and maybe that’s not such a ridiculous idea!

Day 2.

7 Mar

Today’s workout was great, partly because of the workout itself, but mostly because I was joined by my friend Susie! Susie and I work together, and she’s really fabulous. She has been one of the main factors in making the transition from student to staff a smooth one, and outside of work, we always have a great time together. She showed up at 5:50 this morning, and we were off. I noticed that I was less likely to walk through some of the jogging parts with Susie there — only once did I stop partway through a jog and walk. It was also nice to just have someone there who is really supportive and has absolutely no judgment about whether I walk, jog, or sit down in the middle of the road and cry. Luckily, I didn’t do the latter today, but it’s only week one.

It’s also really great to have someone along for the workout who will throw her hands up in the air in disbelief at the car that’s driving on the side of the road lined with parking spaces until the driver realizes there are people on the road and casually drifts back to the side on which you are supposed to drive. Thank God that this weekend, as Susie reminded me, is Daylight Savings Time. I’m not looking forward to losing an hour of sleep, but I’ll be glad to do my workouts in a little more light. [ETA: It was brought to my attention that it will actually be darker when I start my workouts for now, but as daylight gets longer, it should even out. I blame the lack of coffee and the endorphin rush on this oversight.]

I still experienced the pain in my left foot as I worked out today, though I tried to stay closer to the middle of the road so it wouldn’t naturally slope off to the left with the road. I really love the route I’ve gone these first two times, but I’m wondering if I need to find a route that uses primarily sidewalks (an option offered by my friend Caitlin, who is one of the most serious runners I know!), just to see if that improves the tendency to roll. If not, then I just have to think more about my foot position, but breaking a 25-year habit will be a hard one.

Well, since Susie and I got an early start, I’m going to take a shower and a nap before work. I could get used to this schedule.

Day 1.

5 Mar

The Couch-to-5k app tells you that the first day is the hardest, and I hope they mean it. I felt like I had a lot working against me before I even hit the “Start” button. First of all, when I woke up, the smell of dead skunk was so overwhelming, I considered checking under the bed. Then I couldn’t find one of articles of clothing I wanted to wear.  After settling for something different and lacing up my new shoes (admittedly, one of the things I had most been looking forward to), I stepped out my front door and saw this:

Frost? Really? This season has been entirely unable to make up its mind, and it figures that last night would bring a thin layer of snow to greet me this morning.

But, knowing that the first workout is always the hardest, I went for it. Honestly, the whole thing didn’t feel as awesome as I had hoped. The walking part was fine, but I think I got a little overzealous with the jogging, and I essentially started out sprinting for the first jogging session. Not my brightest move. My body isn’t used to working out outdoors, so my lungs got very cold very fast and I had to walk through some of the jogging portions.

Ultimately, the thing that bothered me most was my left foot. I’ve always known that I tend to roll my feet to the outside edge when walking, and the woman at Appalachian Running Company confirmed that when she watched me walk and jog the other day. I think my left foot kept trying to roll to the outside, but because I have a solid pair of shoes, they weren’t going over so easy. My left foot was at a very low grade but constant pain starting at about the six minute mark until I started my cool down. I was being much more conscious about my foot position, and I know this will take some getting used to, but I would rather correct it now than have it be a problem later.

I’m definitely looking forward to it starting to get lighter earlier. By 7:00, when I was getting to the intersection of Confederate Avenue and Middle Street, it was already very busy with cars, and a garbage truck was making its rounds on Confederate, having little concern for the few of us who were out. Ideally, I’d like to be finished by 6:30 — I’m liking this idea of blogging right after I finish a workout, but right now I’m cutting it a little close to showering and getting ready for work.

Thanks so much for all the support I’ve already received. Knowing that others are keeping up with my progress is definitely going to be a source of motivation when my discipline begins to wane. To those who have said they were thinking about doing something like this: do it. If I can start it, then you definitely can!


4 Mar

I have never been a very disciplined person. I have never been able to just clean my room (or now, my apartment) in one fell swoop. When I was in middle and high school, I couldn’t manage to practice my flute on a regular basis. When I started taking medication to control my anxiety and depression, I had to get a pill organizer just so I could remember to take one little pill a day.

As a result, Lent is always an interesting time for me. Growing up, I would abandon things like candy, soda, or one odd year, ketchup, for the Lenten season. My junior year of college, I gave up facebook, which, if you know me, was a huge sacrifice. But it didn’t take much to be disciplined, because my mom changed my password and I couldn’t have checked it if I had wanted to. Last year I gave up meat, and while I committed fully to the practice, I didn’t incorporate a spiritual aspect like I had planned.

This year, I hadn’t even thought about a Lenten discipline until the morning of Ash Wednesday. I spent the entire day thinking about what I would add or release for the next six weeks, but I kept coming up blank. Then, I was sitting on my couch that evening (as I do pretty much every evening after work…and for a good part of the weekends), and I realized that I wanted to better understand myself as a created being of God through the stewardship of the body that God gave me. There are lots of reasons for this, reasons I’ll probably get into as I (hopefully) blog my way through the next few weeks, but suffice it to say it is an area in which I have always had a lack of discipline.

So, starting tomorrow morning, I will begin the journey from my couch (well, more like my bed, since I’m leaving my apartment at 6:15 a.m.) to a 5k. I figured I’m a great candidate for the Couch-to-5k program, as I have no history of being a runner or even working out on a regular basis for an extended period of time. The iPhone app and some fantastic friends will serve as my accountability, and on May 12th, we will don our running shoes and paper numbers and participate in the Dillsburg Pickle Chase.

My cousin Allison told me it would be “cool to document my experience,” so I’m going to give it a go. I’m hoping to blog twice a week about how my training is going, and if I can remember, I’ll be instagramming once per run. My instagram photos usually go right to my facebook and/or twitter feeds, so you can follow there if you’re so inclined.

I’m really excited about this new venture. I have brand new running shoes and breathable socks (MANY thanks to Lindsay, Kelly, Erik, and Mark for chiming in on the twitter conversation about buying shoes, and to Dana for accompanying me on my big shoe-buying adventure and providing such excellent advice!), I’ve loaded get-me-pumped music onto my phone, and I have a great network of support behind me.

I can do this.