Weekly 5K runs

Daylight saving time started in New Zealand last Sunday (29/September) which means, I can no longer wait to run. It is now time to lace-up and run a 5K every weekend.

And that’s what I did last Saturday: I ran a 5K with a bit of nudging from my eight-year-old who also wanted to run and joined me. Like every year, I intend to run a 5K most of the weekends until come March / April when days start getting shorter.

Last Saturday’s run felt effortless overall. We stopped a few times to catch up with our breath. Son was understandably gasping, but I felt okay overall. At no point during the run I felt like I was dying. I will assess after a few more runs — I want to be able to run 5K non-stop in sub 30 minutes — and if I am not huffing and puffing enough, I will add up another kilo-metre or two.

This year I am going to leave the phone at home when I go for runs. In the past, I carried my phone to log the stats and map of my runs. But carrying a phone is clumsy and I want to stay away from my phone at least for the little time I am running. Until I am able to justify a Garmin Forerunner by actually running without it, I want to base the effectiveness of my runs on how I feel and the time elapsed between leaving and returning to my front door.

Wish me good luck!

Old habits. Not new resolutions.

Just a thought that popped up while working out the upper body in the last hour.

But first some context.

Last week and this week, I am finding it very hard to exercise. It is after all holiday season, and I have had excellent exercise compliance so far this year. So why not take a break for Christmas and New Year weeks? The world doesn’t stop, and the sky doesn’t fall if you miss just two weeks, has been my inner monologue!

But somehow that did not feel right. I felt uncomfortable from within about not having to exercise even for a week. That’s probably a nice side effect of keeping the “Exercise 3 times a week” habit for about five years now. So I dragged myself into workout clothes and laced my shoes. Rest everything took care of itself. I worked out three times last week. I am already done with full and upper body workouts this week. And I am looking forward to some squats and swings tomorrow. And repeat it all next week as well.

Again, it wasn’t easy…until I changed into workout clothes and put on my shoes.

I don’t take all the credit though. I am supported by a few great people. Besides the momentum of my exercise habit, the support system of the people I know or follow has helped me not dither in this silly season.

First, my ex-colleague, friend and a champion trainer (for the last five years and counting!) who sends my workouts remotely and checks-in every week. He also occasionally sends some much-needed inspiration:

Holiday exercise inspiration

Second, this retired US Navy SEAL named Jocko Willink. I recently started following Jocko — author of Extreme Ownership, a book that I have in my reading list and Discipline Equals Freedom, a book I borrowed from the library, read and kind of liked it, but I loved the title!— and he tweeted this:

Which lead me to think, I mostly don’t need any grand new year’s resolutions. I just need to continue my boring, but beneficial old year’s habits. I said mostly because I will likely have a few resolutions around my learning goals, but for the most part, I will be better off carrying my old habits into the new year.

I encourage you to consider this idea and think in terms of habits you can start and keep for the years to come, not the resolutions you will set and forget in a few months.

First 5k of 2017

I finally ran the first 5k of this season! I intend to run a 5k every weekend for rest of the spring and summer. I ran about twenty-five 5ks in 2015. But I did not run much in 2016. This year I try to do better again.

My running goal is modest: I just try to run a 5k each weekend. I start running around this time in October when days start getting longer and weather warmer. I stop running around March when days start getting shorter and wetter.

I can probably run a marathon or even a half of it if I train myself. But I find it hard to make time to train for such lofty goals. There are always other things to do. And I am more of a habits person than goals person. I don’t think I can run marathons habitually! So I settle for a 5k. As much as possible, I try to run non-stop and finish within twenty something minutes. That’s as ambitious as my running gets.

Here’s the FitBit map of my last weekend’s run:

First 5k of 2017

First four months of 2016

Since the start of this year, I exercised 50 hours and ran 15 5ks.

Most importantly, I achieved one of the two resolutions for this year. I successfully completed Chaitanya 3.0 project. More details later.

I am not doing very well on the second resolution: getting the perfect abs. I am failing to eat exceptionally well. I ate more junk, sugar and cake than I needed to. I am hoping to get better at eating. I probably will.

Three milestones and two goals

It is raining milestones this week.

Lift-5000  Calm-101   Calm-broken

I hit 100 day streak in meditation. I started meditating this January but failed rather quickly. I say with experience that trying to start meditation with twenty-minute sessions is a sure shot way to stumble. So I started again in May with Calm app. I started with their beginner program and eventually realized ten minutes a day is more manageable. I have been regular since June. If I didn’t forget to look at Lift on that tiring day in July, my streak would have been 50% longer. Anyhow, I don’t wish things were different.

I completed the third level of push up challenge with 37 push ups in a row. I struggled a bit to move past 35 but my trainer gave me some tips to move forward. The challenge is complete but the practice continues.

All these tiny habits added up to 5000 check-ins since I discovered Lift in July 2013. I don’t like this app’s new name, Coach.me. Lift and Lifter sounds cooler than Coach.Me. So I will continue to call it Lift. Had I not read this post titled Two Tips for Deliberate Practice on  Medium back in 2013, I would have missed this app and the Tiny Habits method it advocates. Reading can change life positively.

As I can already squat 32 KGs and do 37 continuous push ups, I felt it would be great to round off this year with rounding off those numbers as well. So I aim to squat 40 KGs and do 50 push ups by end of 2015. It shouldn’t be difficult as I just need to continue the momentum. But it is easy to set goals than to actually do them. So fingers crossed.

Exercise Milestone

I finished exercising this afternoon and checked in to Coach.me to find this interesting milestone.

200th workout milestone

It is indeed 211th check-in as I only started counting after the first eleven.  110 of those were in 2014. The rest 101 are in this year.

This cheered up my otherwise regretful afternoon. I ate well up until lunch and then screwed it up. Between 1.30 p.m and 3.30 p.m., I had a medium-sized cookie, a small Kitkat, a small peanut butter cookie, and a small piece of cake. I did not pay for any of them except cookie. On a perfect day, I should have had only a fruit or two in the afternoon.

I am generally eating well this year but am dropping ball once in a while, like today. It’s time to level up my eating. I know I can do better. I am also afraid that my less than ideal food habits are eating into my exercise gains. It takes a bit more discipline to eat exceptionally well. Nevertheless, I decided to move on and do well tomorrow. There’s a free cake coming my way tomorrow. I will stay clear of it.

I have slowed down with my push-ups progress. I now reached to 35 in a row but stuck there for the past few days. I am trying hard to push through one or two more after 35 but it is proving difficult so far. I will keep trying.

Push ups

99 day pushup streakOne of the skills I hoped to develop this year is to learn how to do push ups.

I totally sucked at push ups last year despite exercising 110 hours. I just couldn’t do even a single push up on my toes. So rather than getting frustrated and angry at myself and jealous at others who can do, I decided to sign up for a beginner level push up plan on Coach.Me plan and stick to it.

The result is impressive. Now I can do 20 push ups in a row on my toes. It took 100 days of practice. But each day I practiced only for about two minutes. That is a great return on my investment.

Someone said, the reward for winning a round of game is the eligibility to play next round. Or something on those lines. So here’s to Level 2. And there is Level 3. Like most of the habits I like to build and keep, there is no end date to this habit.

This reminds me: there are no real quantum leaps or secrets formulas in life. Only baby steps when taken consistently, suddenly look like magic.