Saturday, October 4, 2008

Yoga - Day Zero

Ground Zero in restarting this blog effort. I have to confess to being sick for a while, though, and that put me behind a lot of projects. Yet again I'm trying to resurrect this blog now. Yoga won the poll and I've put together a plan today to take that on for a week. I have a yoga DVD and a membership to a local gym with classes, so I'm going to try to use the two in combination.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hill running - Random thoughts

I'm just trying to run up and down a hill and do a pull-up.

It's not that Olympic training hill that was sorta the inspiration for this project.

And it's not like I'm attempting one of the psycho CrossFit workouts here.

I'm just a girl, standing in front of a hill, asking, "Why can't I just go up this darn thing without walking?"

Baby steps, right?

The problem with baby steps is that even if you take them, you're still a baby.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hill running - Day 1

Baby, I'm Back!

Wow, it really has been a long time since I posted here. As a self-diagnosing hypochondriac, let me say I think I have adult attention-deficit disorder.

Ok, vague excuses aside, I'm trying to hold myself to the difficult, excruciating one-week of something-something. Follow my adventures if you care to.

I was reading recently about the effectiveness of running hills - even Olympians do it.

It occurred to me that I live near a very steep hill. It's so steep, that like the infamous Olympic training hill, it has a steps section. It's much smaller, overall, though, so it's not exactly the Olympian task that the article details, which is good, because I'm just a normal person who is very lax about working out. Anyway, I decided that for one week, I'd try to run the hill every day.

Here are some tips to keep in mind getting started on hills.

This first day, I decided to start at the top, because well, that's how I roll. Dessert and easy stuff first. I set my timer and ran down the hill as fast as I could manage. I like running downhill, even though I had to be very careful because of the steepness. It's fun to go fast, though. Even with smallish, quick steps, the impact was pretty solid, however.

At the bottom of the hill, there's a little neighborhood playground. I ran over to it, because a second part of my goal for the week has to do with pull-ups. My upper body is sadly deficient. I can do pushups, but I can't manage even a single pull-up. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz on Oprah, this is not acceptable, so I'm going to try to work on the pullup.

I reached the playground monkey bars, feeling very Olympic. Running downhill will do that to me. If I could somehow tilt the world so I could run everywhere downhill, I'd run all the time, though my knees would probably be shot within the year.

On my little downhill high, full of optimism, I reached for the bars overhead, settled my grip and tried to pull up. Surely I could manage just one?

No. Nada. I did pull myself up from the ground slightly. I tried again, arms quivering, but couldn't pull my chin even level with the bar, let alone above it.

Ok, well, this was the week for hill running, anyway. I set off for the hill, with my mantra "Don't walk".

The steps came first, but I managed to keep pace, barely. The steps are a series of cutbacks and continue on for about one fourth of the hill, cutting a steeper line than the street, which curves far around and meets the steps again at the top. I was breathing hard, and already doing the drunken-master jog of exhaustion at the end of the stairs. After the steps comes the steepest non-step section of the hill. Basically, it seems like the local municipality ran out of money for steps, so they just slapped asphalt on the hill and called it a road. This is deceiving, because it's so sheer that trucks regularly topple over on trying to scale the sheer hairpin turn.

That turn was my goal as I tried to keep my jog going. I just managed it, but it was so tough for me that the mantra went from "Don't walk" to "Don't stop". I walked a section of the hill that was only easy in comparison to the hardest part I'd just finished.

As I turned another sharp corner, I could see the finish line, so I ran for it again, ending up triumphant, if also very sweaty and stumbling. I looked at my watch - 15:35. Not bad, to get so tired in such a short amount of time. I'll see if I can shave that time down as the week progresses.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Be kind, rewind

Yesh, this week was a total wash. I knew keeping a blog would make it hard to make excuses, so I won't waste time with that.
Soooo - do over!

Another week of guitar, then, this time done properly, even if not incredibly musically.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Day 2 - Guitar

I've been practicing. I am pretty horrible, though. I'll perhaps post a video of myself playing to prove it. Not today, though, tomorrow. I want to be at least a little less horrible.
I think the reason that so many kids learn musical instruments when they're young isn't just because their minds are fresh and spongy, it's also because they're innocent enough to be a bit unaware of how crappy they really sound. They get past that stage of totally sucking before they're held back by their own disgust at the sounds they produce. Someone learning to play an instrument is one of the most unmusical, grating sounds possible.
Practice when one is fine-tuning is another matter. I went to a university with a decent musical program and even though I didn't play an instrument, I'd lug my books to the music hall rather than the library to study. I'd find a quiet spot in the audience seats and listen to different performances. Music majors would schedule the stage space for practice sessions. Most of the time they wouldn't even know I was there. I didn't want to get kicked out, so I made sure to stay quiet. It was inspiring to listen to the live music, even if it did occasionally distract me from my assignments.
Right now my guitar playing is the opposite of inspiring. It's downright repelling.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Week 3 - Guitar

Two people voted in last week's poll and I'm going with guitar instead of yoga - for no particular reason.
I have a guitar, actually. It's a nice acoustic named Black Betty. I can't play a single song on it - which is pretty shameful. I had intentions of signing up for a class at a local college and learning guitar that way, but that fell by the wayside.
I'm not signing up for a class just for a week, though. I'm turning to technology. YouTube, specifically.
I successfully completed Lesson 1 yesterday, which was basically about how to hold a pick. That was harder than one might imagine, because I spent a good 40 minutes looking for a guitar pick. So now I'm on Lesson 2.
Even though Danfie looks like he's stuck in a '70s time warp, I like that I can see the notes (I took piano as a kid and I still recognize notes) and I also like the two songs in this beginning lesson, so that's my goal for this week - to learn both songs.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Day 7 - Jogging

New shoes! There was a sale on Saucony, my favorite running shoe brand. Turns out when one jogs regularly, your feet swell a bit, and old shoes end up being tight. It's a good idea to buy running shoes half a size larger. Some people buy a full size larger and wear thick socks for even more padding.
I knocked off my three miles at a slightly slower pace than before, just to be kind to the still recovering big toe. It hung in there and I finished without having to walk.
Well, as the week concludes, I look back and realize that even though I complained about it, jogging is an extremely effective form of exercise. There's also something pure and simple about just lacing up shoes and hitting the road. No gimmicks, just you and the open road.
Or the treadmill, as the case may be. When I jogged before, it was never on a treadmill. Though I hated it at times, I liked how the the machine kept me honest and on pace.
Conclusion: I think I'll keep jogging, but probably not every day. I'll mix it in when I can and get good use out of my shoes.