It's Hard Getting Old!!
I am near the ripe old age of 50 and have to admit that over the past ten years, I've really done nothing in terms of physical fitness. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be in the shape I was in about 20 some years ago, but a demanding job leaves me with very little time for exercise. Add to that, my love of eating, and yo have a mixture of things that lead to nothing good.
It's not that I'm "fat" by any means but I could definitely afford to lose a good 10 - 15 pounds. Every once in awhile, over the summer, I'd find some spare time on the weekends and go out and run maybe two miles. It always feels good when I'm done but then it would be at least another week or two before I went out and did it again. The desire was always there but there was always something more important to be done, so exercising took a back seat.
To make things worse, I'm in a family of runners. My lovely wife of 22 years runs all the time. In the past year and a half, she completed 3 different half marathons and is talking about doing a full marathon. Four of my children all ran on track teams. Most of them are sprinters and a few even have won All-State recognition for some of their events (as a matter of fact, my daughter's 4x400M relay team were just crowned County Champions last night). All the more, my being out of shape only gets escalated more and more each night at the dinner table as I sit down to dine with all these athletes.
I know I sound like I'm making excuses, but time is definitely not something I have alot of. I work for a global company and am probably in the office a good nine hours a day, not counting starting my day on conference calls at 7:30 AM from home. There are also severallate night phone calls with China, and in between all that, I try to squeeze in as much tme as possible to attend all my kids events and activities. So you can see, grabbing an hour out of my day to workout isn't all that easy.
The Push I Needed
At my office, there is a group of very active collegues who have always participated together in 5K runs and other such activities. Towards the end of November, they started a competition where anyone that signed up needed to start logging miles, whether walking, running, rowing, or biking. Each week, every participant sends that weeks long to the coordinator and he keeps track of everyone's mileage. This would go on throughout the winter, ending in March. The person with the lowest mile totals each month needs to pay $5 into a pot that would go towards paying for drinks at a competition ending luncheon that would take place in March. Each week, the people with the three lowest total amount of miles would get an email notification, simply letting them know they are near the bottom for that week. All results are being kept confidential by the coordinator until the very end.
Well this is exactly the push I needed. I told them I didn't care if it was me having to pay $5 each month, as long as it got me starting to exercise. So I signed up and started walking!! The very first week, unfortunately, I needed to go on a business trip the first week of December to Hong Kong. (see Festival of Lights - Hong Kong).
Needless to say, there wasn't alot of free time in the 5 days that I was there. One night, I got back from a late dinner meeting.
Getting Into a Routine
After returning from Hong Kong, I spent the month of December doing a pretty good job of dedicating myself to walking on an almost daily basis. My work schedule had not changes so I was forced to work around it. What this meant was the need to walk at around 11:30 or midnight each night. That didn't bother me although it was tough knowing that I had plenty of work email to get to and other things to take care of. So, every night, I'd bundle up, grab my flashlight, and go out for a walk through my neighborhood. First off, my neighborhood is pitch black at night. There were very few cars that would pass by so from that standpoint, it wasn't bad. I also found it very peaceful walking late at night outside under the stars. And for the month of December, all the houses were lit up with Christmas lights, which made things even more unique.
Throughout the month of December, I logged roughly 53 miles. Since I had alot of vacation to take over the holidays, I did change my routine to takig walks during the day since I did have alittle more free time. I still had to log a few late night walks when for one reason or another, the daytime walk didn't work out.
Lunchtimes at Work
I'm very fortunate to work at a location that has a huge campus as part of its property. Typically, I have meetings scheduled right through lunch so usually never get a chance to actually take a lunch break. Well this competition got me rethinking all that. Now, whenever possible, I go outside and walk during my lunches. The weather has been unseasonably mild up to this point so I'm taking every advantage possible to get outside as often as possible. I can't always control when meetings will or won't be over the lunch period, but I've done a pretty good job finding time somewhere in the work day to get away from my desk and go outside for a walk. On a typical day, I'll walk about 3 miles around the facilities.
Our building itself is also a massice facility. Lots of people walk inside during lunch. The facilities people have actually created maps containing distances for walking certain patterns inside the building. I haven't reverted to inside walking yet because the weather hasn't been bad p until not. Very recently, it is starting to get cold outside, so maybe my days of indoor walking will start sometime soon.
Every day is different but if for some reason, I'm booked back-to-back with meetings all day, I still have my late night walks back home that can pick up the slack.
Tell us which person you are.
Given my preference, I would:
The Ever Dreaded Treadmill
If there is one thing I really can't stand is a treadmill. I've worked out on treadmills many times in the past and in the back of my mind is the thought that I won't be able to avoid it all winter. With the arrival of bitter cold weather, I realize I'm going to have to get started sooner or later on the treadmill to log my miles. As I've stated above, an unseasonably warm winter up to and through the middle of January has allowed me to continue to walk outside.
Last weekend, we did hit a cold stretch though so I did break down and set up the treadmill in the basement. I put it directly in front of a large screen TV as it was NFL playoff time. I'm a huge sports fan and and big football fan (see Eagles and NFL Playoff Review). Fortunately during the divisional championship games, they had games scheduled at night. While watching the games, I walked on the treadmill. The boringness of a treadmill was removed by my ability to focus on these NFL football games. Two nights in a row I was able to do this. I avoided the cold weather, and killed two birds with one stone as I walked while enjoying one of my favorite past times, the NFL.
I realize the soon the NFL playoffs will be over but the cold weather will remain. This means I'll have to find other ways to entertain myself on that treadmill as the temperatures here in the northeast plummet to the low single digits.
Starting to Feel Good
All the walking had me starting to feel good in multiple ways. First off, I was feeling much better physically and that is always a good thing. I was also feeling much better mentally as exercise is also very good for the mind. After almost two full months of walking, I an't really say I've lost much weight, maybe 4 or 5 pounds tops. I keep saying I'm going to supplement the walking with situps, which I still desparately need to do. Maybe starting next week on the situps.
My strategy is to continue to walk through the winter and as the wether breaks for the spring, I will switch over from walking to running. I have always hated running but like everything else, I always feel good about it afterwards. Besides, I'd like to enter a few 5K's with my family come teh springtime!! Yes, this was all part of the master plan!!!
Ok, this exercise thing now seems to me to be spiraling out of control. A group of friends from my town, all roughly the same age as I, get together every Monday night and play pickup basketball at a local church. They invited me many times but Monday nights always were filled with something on my calendar. Add that to the fact that I knew that I would die trying to run up and down the court in a real game of basketball, and you can see why I nver participated.
Well very recently, the guy who coorindates this basketball playing added me to his email list. Each weeks, he emails everyone in the group and ask for a response of who all plans to play on a particular Monday night. So week two of getting his emails, I had nothing on my calendar, I'm feeling good about the exercise, and ecstatic about the possibility of playing basketball again, so I responded the I was "IN"!!!
It had been about ten years since the last time I played any serious basketball. Back then, I used to coordinate the pickup basketball very similar to what's going on now. We had about 20+ guys that would show up each Monday night and we'd run for a good hour and a hlaf to two hours. So here I was, ten years later, ready to do that again.
I was not stupid going into this basketball playing. I realized that I really needed to take it easy because I'm not that young anymore and my body still had a long way to go before being able to feel comfortable playing basketball. I did plenty of stretching beforehand. So the night stared out pretty good. We had 9 guys so played on all night with 1 guy rotating in. I took it as easy as I could. Yes, I was hurting towards the end but it was a good hurting. It felt great getting ot and running up and down the court. I already knew I would be sore the next day but again, this would be a good soreness. Sure, there were many times when I stayed on my end of the floor and waited for everyone to come back, me gasping for breath.
So all was well up until the very end of the night!! I was backing up and a much smaller guy boxed me out by hitting me pretty low in the back. My back bent backwards and I could immediately feel something pull in my back!! It was painful to say the least. I called timeout and walked around alittle trying to stretch my back as much as possible. I continued for maybe another 5 minutes, but knew something was not right. The game ended and we all left.
Before going to play, i realized that I would be hurting on Tuesday morning. The hurt I anticipated had nothing to do with my back though!! So yes, all that hurting that I did anticipate was there, soreness in alot of places, my feet were hurting, my arms and shoulders, ... but my back was just excruciating. i could hardly sleep that night.
The next morning, it took me literally 20 minutes to get ot of bed. I made my way into the bathroom, walking crouched over like a 0 year old man, and needed to sit on the toilet sit just to catch my breathe and try to relieve the pain. I was in just unbelievable pain. This level of heat came over me that made me break out into a deep sweat. I thought to myself, this is not good!!!
I'm no stranger to back pains. Typically, once a year, I'll throw ot my back doing something as simple as sneezing or picking something up the wrong way. This pain however was much worse than that. Needless to say, I wasn't able to go into work. I spent the next three days layed up at home, popping Advil's like they were candy, and barely making it from one room into another.
I kept saying to myself, I can't afford to be out of commission like this. I missed my son basketball game and m daughter's county championship track meet, which she took the gold in her 4x400M relay and her team won the overall county championship. Yes, that's right, and I missed it because it takes me about 5 minutes to get up off the couch!!!
The entire time I'm laying here incapacitated, I'm thinking why me? Why me? I was thinking to myself, if it wasn't for this fitness bug that I caught, my life would be fine. i wouldn't be laying here in pain, missing out on life. Instead of all the walking which lead me to the basketball, had I just came home everynight, sat my fat butt down on the couch, ate a bag of Twinkies and some ice cream, then all would still be well in the world. Does all this fitness stuff make sense? i don't know. One minute I was feeling really good about myself, and the next, I'm layed up asking myself why?
Well being laid up did give me the opportunity to write this hub, so at least something good came out of it. And no, don't worry, as much as I'd like to come home each day and flop on te couch eating junk food until all hours of the night, I am anxiously looking forward to get back out there walking again, and also planning to get back on that basketball court. It may be several weeks before I'm able to play basketball, but I'm thinking about starting walking again ASAP.
I'm just going to chalk all this up to age!! As the title says, "It's Hard to Get Old!!!"