30 Days of Miles

A look at my experiment in November of running a mile every day examining the weight loss and some of the events that happened during the month.

I started November calling it RuMiDaMo as a play on NaNoWriMo but after a week or so I dropped the name and just shared tweets and Facebook posts about my daily runs. What I expected was a decline in response and interest by my friends, I thought people would start tuning the posts out as they began going “There goes Trick again, going for another run.” What I found though was that while a few would tune me out, others would follow along, celebrating each milestone and victory right there with me. In fact, a handful would be inspired to launch their own month challenges, much like how I was originally inspired by Google’s Matt Cutts.

So, for everyday of November, I ran a mile. I did this using treadmills available to me, I never ran a mile on pavement outside. And I did this for a few reasons:

  1. I had to limit my excuses. If I was going to run outside, then I needed the weather to cooperate and Seattle is not exactly known for ideal running weather.
  2. I had to limit my risk of injury. Treadmills are less exercise than running on pavement because the ground is always perfectly flat. Your foot is never surprised by a rock or a shift in the pavement. And for this month, that was ideal because I was scared of not finishing my 30 days.
  3. I had never run like this before, so I needed to minimize variables. This wasn’t a lab test, but I wanted to do the same thing for 30 days, not find new running routes or test my limits beyond the scope I laid out.

So, for thirty days, I faithfully made my way to a gym either at home, at the office, or in a hotel, and I knocked out a mile run with a warm-up and cool-down period. As much as I maintained the status quo for 30 days, there were a few deviations or changes worth noting:

Longest distance run: 1.5 miles (see below)

The second day of the month I got overambitious and decided to run a mile and a half, which I was able to do. But I paid for it as I slowed down my pace for the next three days to ensure I didn’t overdo it and have to stop early on my challenge. But I know I could do 1.5 miles then, so I had to wonder after 30 days how far I could run. This was really a big thing because it became a constant struggle for the next four weeks to hold myself to my mission of a mile a day. Discovering a new personal best wasn’t worth, at the time, putting the 30 day streak at risk.

Best mile: 10:10 (5.9 mph)

For my final daily run I pushed myself and cranked out a respectable 10:10 mile which ended with me doing 7 mph for the final 1/8th of a mile, compared to my slow and steady 5.5 mph which I use for most of my runs, 7 mph felt blistering and left me gasping for air as I crossed the finish.

Most snafus: 3

In one run I had the following happen: shoelace came untied, accidental stop button trigger, and phone dropped onto treadmill. I had to stop the run three times to rectify these, but I faithfully made sure I hit my mile without issue, padding the distance a little to allow for the time it took the treadmill to come back up to speed.

Starting Weight: 295.4 lbs

Prior to my first run, I weighed in at 295.4 lbs. I wasn’t going into this with the intent goal of burning calories, but I was curious to see what effect it had on weight loss.

Finishing Weight: 284.4 lbs

Despite a work trip which caused me to regain some lost weight, and this month having the holiday of gluttony, my first weigh in after my 30th run put my weight loss at 11 lbs for the month. Not too shabby!

 

So what’s next? People wanted to know if I was going to continue running everyday, or if I was going to run further, etc. And the answer is that I happily took December 1st off of exercising. My plan is to continue to run, though I’ll be running further and thus taking days off to rest and not overwork my muscles. I’ll also be adding in weights again, probably in the form of some kettlebell exercises. But, who knows, we’ll see! I still have a fair bit more weight to lose until I’m happy, so the trek continues.

Now it just has more running in it.

Update: After a weekend of rest, I went for a run yesterday and churned out two miles. The longest I’ve ever done and, honestly, longer than I ever thought I would do. Don’t get me wrong, it was a really difficult run, and I won’t be pushing past that distance for a bit.

Fought and Won

West Wing’s President Bartlet has a quote which rang true for me: “Don’t you ever forget the battles you’ve fought and won.”

I stepped on the scale this morning and was crestfallen to see my weight had risen by a handful of pounds after my recent business trip, despite my daily runs continuing. The gain can be attributed to poor eating which accompanies that sort of trip. Despite nearly 70 lbs of weight lost thus far, the gain of just a handful of pounds feels gut wrenching for me. It feels like I lost the war despite my progress.

It was then that this fantastic quote from West Wing jumped out at me during my lunch break:

Don’t you ever forget the battles you’ve fought and won. – Pres. Bartlet

This quote is from President Bartlet (Martin Sheen), to Leo McGarry (John Spencer), concerning the news of Leo’s history of drug problems about to come to light in the press, during Episode 11 of Season 1. While the situation is vastly different than anything I’ve experienced, it still resonates deeply with me.

I think one of the major problems that people struggle with when it comes to lifestyle changes of all kinds, but especially in health, is that they see it all as one giant battle rather than a war. The complete journey from couch potato to born-again athlete is not a single drawn out battle, it’s a long, entrenched, war.

The difference is that a war is made up of a number of battles, with the winner of the war possibly losing multiple battles. So as soon as someone sees a failure they feel the war is lost, rather than seeing it as just a setback in the war as a whole.

Everybody’s got plans… until they get hit.

I don’t know if that quote should truly be attributed to Mike Tyson or not, but it is, and it’s relevant here. Often people focus on the best case scenario and so when the results deviate they get frustrated, or scared, and throw in the towel. They think they’re knocked out when instead they are just knocked down.

When you get knocked down its time to get back up. No matter how many times you get knocked down you, especially while fighting to lose weight, have to keep fighting.

For all of November I have been fighting a battle everyday by aiming to run a mile everyday. I chose to do it for two primary reasons:

  1. Build the mental fortitude and strength that forces me to run everyday without missing one.
  2. Test myself and see if I was actually capable of doing it.

As of this posting I have just one more mile to run to hit my goal thus succeeding on both counts, winning both battles in this war.

Remember that it was just three months ago when I discovered I could run a mile and so that first point was the main thing holding me back from running more. I needed to learn how to run through pain, tiredness, and learn to ignore my brain when it begs me to stop.

Top photo ‘Apollonius, Boxer at Rest‘ courtesy of profzucker on Flickr. Photo of a boxer provided by the Boston Public Library.

#RuMiDaMo

It was roughly four months ago when I discovered that my fitness level had reached the point where I could run a mile without stopping. That was a major achievement for me, and it represented an achievement so large that I ended up, slacking off, and idling in my life changing and weightless.

Enter November. The month of amateur novel writing, unshaven heathen, and turkeys. And now running a mile every day.

This month I will be hitting the gym and running at least a mile everyday for the entire month. I figure if Dean Karnazes can run a marathon every day for 50 days, I can do some hard-to-find fraction of the work and do a mile a day.

I posted about it largely as a joke, giving it the name “TriRuMiDaMo” (Trick-Runs-a-Mile-Daily-Month) to spoof NaNoWriMo, and after a few people responded that they liked the idea and were going to join in, I have officially renamed it “RuMiDaMo” (Run-a-Mile-Daily-Month.)

This also represents the first time that running has been a major part of my weightloss. Sure I’ve done it some, but never more than 2-3 times a week. So we will see how this impacts my body!

I’ll post back once I finish the month and let you all know how I do!

//Trick

P.S. – Apparently yesterday, Steve over at Nerd Fitness posted about walking everyday. GMTA it seems!

Learning to Run

I’ve never been a runner, even when I was a high school athlete. Now I’m learning to be a runner, and pushing through the pain and mental roadblocks.

I have never been a runner. Literally. Even back in high school when I played Football and rowed on the Crew, I ran as little as possible. In fact I didn’t do wrestling because their workouts required long distance runs.

As far as I know, I never ran a complete mile — until a few weeks ago. On August 14th I churned out a 12 minute mile on the treadmill.

What happened? Did I carbo load? Did I load up on caffeine? No. Nothing special. Just mental. That evening I went to the gym and decided to run. I had run a quarter mile a few weeks before and that night I decided to see how far I could go, expecting a half a mile or maybe three-quarters. So when I churned out a full mile, I was shocked. I had run a mile! And when I told my brother, he said something amazing and uplifting to me:

“You know who runs miles? Athletes. Like you.”

Now I’m certainly not an Olympian. And perhaps even the term “athlete” is still a stretch, but I like the idea of being one and its amazingly motivating as I’m running towards it.

I had tried to do the Couch to 5k Program before when I lived in Orlando, but I fell off a wagon and never started it back up. The Couch to 5k program focuses on training you to run increasingly longer times, starting with running 60 seconds and walking 90 seconds repeating both for 20 minutes. What they’re doing is that they’re training you to endure pain and push further, it trains you to run longer distances and be acclimated to the feelings of pain.

That’s where I had a disconnect with running. Pain. I did not really grasp that running meant working through pain, I sort of believed that if I were a runner – then running wouldn’t hurt.

I don’t know where I turned the corner, or what caused it. But I realized that running is always going to be painful. I mean sure, the better I get, the further and faster I can go before it hurts. Running is about the challenge of it.

Even though it was only a surprising mile run, it hearkens back to the story about Dean Karnazes discovering he could run for hours.

DEAN KARNAZES WAS SLOBBERING DRUNK. IT WAS HIS 30TH BIRTHDAY, and he’d started with beer and moved on to tequila shots at a bar near his home in San Francisco. Now, after midnight, an attractive young woman – not his wife – was hitting on him. This was not the life he’d imagined for himself. He was a corporate hack desperately running the rat race. The company had just bought him a new Lexus. He wanted to vomit. Karnazes resisted the urge and, instead, slipped out the bar’s back door and walked the few blocks to his house. On the back porch, he found an old pair of sneakers. He stripped down to his T-shirt and underwear, laced up the shoes, and started running. It seemed like a good idea at the time. – Wired

I’m still not a long distance runner, and I have no idea how far I’ll end up running, but I’m working on it. I’ve discovered that as long as I’m not exhausted, then I can sit down and run a mile. I might be in pain, I’ll probably have a stitch in my side, but I’m getting there.

It’s fascinating to me as I learn to run, because it feels so odd to do something that is, in many ways – completely new.

You have to walk before you can run. Well, I’ve been walking for 28 years, it’s bloody well time I learned to run.