Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas to Me!

Today I am 193.8 pounds of rolling thunder -- a month ago (forgive me readers for I have neglected you) I was 189.0 pounds of rolling thunder.

It's been a while since we've gotten together to talk about the joys and pitfalls of being a runner, and much has changed during that time. Obviously, there is more rolling thunder of me to go around, which I attribute to the freezing cold and my body's primordial desire to add a fat layer so as not to freeze to death over the winter.

At least that's the tale I tell myself as I struggle to answer why I keep an extra 5 pounds on my frame during the winter months, which sounds a whole lot better than the truth which is the cold and darkness reduce my running time by about 20 percent these days, and I often opt for indoor workouts that require less energy.

Perhaps the biggest change is the fact that I have now given in and purchased running shoes that cost me just short of the national debt. Yes, if paying out the nose for running shoes qualifies one as a "runner" than I should be on the brink of world class.

I've always wanted to go to one of those fancy running shoe stores to have an "expert" fitter look at my gait and watch to see if I was an under or over pronater but the lure of cheaper sporting goods store shoes always drew me in and kept me away.

This time, my mind was made up. I had made the laps at all the big box sales places and had even narrowed my choices down somewhat. But then, there I was at the mall with the running store. And then, there I was in stocking feet walking around a small oval so a stranger could watch me and analyze my steps.

The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by boxes filled with shoes baring all sorts of exotic names. Heck, the names alone made me feel like a runner -- or a cheetah.

My quick trip to the mall went from a mere 30 minutes to more than an hour as I slipped on countless shoes. First the left foot and then the right. Matched pairs. Mixed pairs. How does that feel? My, that toe box feels comfy. Plantar fasciitis would rule me no more.

Finally, it was down to two shoes. Yes, I could run in either of these. And the salesman was kind enough to correct me when I opined that I was a heavy runner. Really, there was no choice. One shoe was truly the most comfy, but then there it was. How about that model, I asked.

There it was. The holy grail of running shoes. The one in the big ad in a runner's magazine.

Why there was a pair in the back that was just my size. The minute those babies hit my feet it was a match made in running heaven. Price tags be damned. I was a runner. These shoes were going home with me.

And yes, they've been a great buy, but I'm still not going to break any land speed records. But oh do my feet and joints feel better. Merry Christmas to me.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Wave Doesn't Give Motorists the Right of Way

Today I am 189.0 pounds of rolling thunder.

Hey, yah, I see you there driving down the street about to make a left turn. Hello, yes, I like that you waved at me. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore the rules of the road and turn on top of a pedestrian crossing the street.

I’ve never classified myself as a runner. I don’t fall into the trap of “I run, therefore I am a runner.” In my mind’s eye I see runners as those super-slim, negative body fat athletes that adorn the pages of running and fitness magazines. Certainly the world’s slowest human does not fall into the category of super slim or negative body fat.

But that doesn’t mean the rules of the road don’t apply to we lowly humans who run, but don’t consider ourselves runners. Over the years I’ve ridden my bicycle for tens of thousands of hours on city streets so I’m pretty familiar with the fact that most motorists are blind to anyone or anything that doesn’t involve a metal cage surrounding its human driver.

I’ve often commented that my community has the two things that are most dangerous to bicyclists (and runners, by extension): Elderly drivers who can’t see you and teen drivers who don’t want to see you. You can now add in texting drivers who are too busy typing with their thumbs to see you.

I’ve been hit twice while out riding my bike, and both times the drivers were at fault. The first was a little clip of my back wheel by a driver who said he didn’t see me and proceeded to make a left turn on top of me. The second was quite a crash. The driver pulled out from a stop sign in front of my bike. With no stop sign I had the right of way, but again the driver said he didn’t see me, which was little consolation when I hit the car’s fender, flipped over my handlebars and landed smack in the middle of the windshield before bouncing onto the street.

So whenever I run or ride these days I consider myself invisible to motorists, who either can’t see me, don’t want to see me, or are too busy to see me. And while it might slow the process down a bit, it keeps me safe (sort of). To me the tradeoff you get from exercise is worth the risk taken to be out in the sunshine and fresh air.

When it comes to running or riding, cars will always win, so I try to error on the side of caution especially when I see that a driver is fixed on looking at oncoming traffic in another direction and not making sure that the intersection is clear of pedestrians coming from their blindside.

But I do have to repeat my little whine for the day. If you’re in a car making a left turn and you see a pedestrian in the walkway or about to cross the road while you’re rushing to beat traffic, a wave doesn’t give you the right of way to make that turn. Remember your driver’s education days, pedestrians always have the right of way.

To my fellow people who run, be safe out there and enjoy the day.

Friday, October 25, 2013

It's Not Always About How Fast You Go

 Today I am 186.8 pounds of rolling thunder.

Sometimes it's amazing how different two siblings can be.

Take for example my two sons. Last weekend we went to the final cross country meet of the high school season. The day was crisp and clear and the track was rolling and wet from showers the evening before the race.

A year ago, we were at the same race and both boys were running. Over the course of four years our older son willed himself to become a runner with respectable times. His form was never textbook, but he was so determined to decrease his time that how he ran the race really never mattered much.

Son No.2 is cut from different cloth. He's out there giving it his all but times don't matter nearly as much. But that's OK. As parents, we're all about the exercise and camaraderie that comes with being involved in a team sport like cross country. Our only rules are you start -- you finish.

So on this fine October day we took our normal places alongside the course and watched as the runners went by. In many ways there is nothing better than watching athletes run around a beautiful course that is adorned by the colorful changing of the leaves.

Son No.2 kept his normal choppy plodding pace around the course. He made it through the finish line at a trot and then headed off to gather up his gear for the ride home.

Sure, his times could be faster. But you know what, he's still well ahead of me, the world's slowest human. But I know we both benefit from being out there moving our bodies.

So the next time you see the world's slowest human plodding along some roadside, give me a wave!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Today I am 188.6 pounds of rolling thunder.

Snow is a word I had hoped not to use for another month or so, but here we are in mid-October and the temperatures have dipped into the low 40s. A check with our friends on Facebook tells me that snow has rolled across eastern Colorado and into western Kansas.

Fortunately, there is no call for snow in my forecast, but the thought of a misty, cold run after work today doesn't sound all that inviting.

Darn it all. Wasn't it just May when the last snowfall swept through the area turning spring back into winter one last time? Winter had overstayed its welcome then and it just might do it again.

If this sounds like the musing of a running wimp, well they are. I'm sort of a cold weather wimp, but I do like to get my run in so it might be time to find the tights and bundle up.

Plus, I've got some motivation. I finally bit the bullet and bought an UP to track my fitness efforts.

For those of you not familiar with the Up from Jawbone, it's a wristband device that tracks your movement and sleep. And, of course, it comes with an app that displays your data, lets you add things like meals and mood, and delivers insights that keep you moving forward.

And, of course, to make the app run I needed a cellphone upgrade. So being a runner, I decided to upgrade the phone as well so I could actually run the app that turns the UP on. Confused? Let's just say it was an excuse to add more gizmos to my already cluttered life.

So after wrestling the UP from its tightly sealed packaging I put it on and started the day off counting steps and calories. o far, 2,272 steps taken and 1,054 calories burned. I'm feeling healthier already, and I'm also sensing pie in my future.

Hopefully, there is an app to shake the wimp from my system and get me back out on the road. How shameful would it be for the world's slowest human not to hit the streets when he's got a new UP to tell him where he's going?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ranidrops Keep Falling on My Head

Today I am 189.2 pounds of rolling thunder.

I've got to tell you, in my next life I'm coming back as a meteorologist or an economist. Both good-paying gigs if you can get them, and both professions based on wild guesses.

I came to this realization about a week ago after my daily run. You see I had come home from work and was prepping for my daily running  ritual, which on this day was to be a four-mile loop with a three-mile time trial (I use that term loosely and with great poetic license).

Anyway, the skies were overcast but not worrisome so I switched on the local weathercast to see what my fate might be if I went out for my run. The local weather guy, let's call him Larry, predicted that storms would be headed into the metro in about two hours.

Perfect, my little romp around the 'hood would only take about an hour. Plenty of time to make the run and get inside before the nastiness hit. But, as they say, the joke was on me.

So I rolled up the warm-up hill without any issues. It takes me about 10 minutes and serves as a good way to get the heart and lungs ready for the rest of the route. The skies were gray and the air a little heavy. But Larry had promised me no rain for two hours. Remember that, it will be on the quiz.

My first timed mile is downhill. And while I'm not at all fast, it's generally the fastest portion of my run. Fresh legs and a steady incline will do that.

I hit the one-mile corner in good time. Not great, but good -- for me, at least. The second mile usually is my do or die. There are four or five hills and a long stop light if you hit it wrong. Normally, hope of doing anything good time-wise dies during this stretch.

On this day, I was doing OK. I made the last hill and hit the corner in so-so time. It was at least well within the window of success. So I made the turn for home, and then disaster struck.

Rain began to trickle down as I headed down the hill into the last mile. First, I could hear the droplets hitting the leaves on top of the heavy canopy of tree limbs. Then it began to spit on me and at long last the skies opened and it began dumping rain down.

I made it to a stoplight where I stood in the deluge as motorists stared at me as if I were naked. Two thoughts passed through my head: please don't let me someone I know and please let someone I know offer me a ride.

As I stood there waiting to restart the clock when the light turned I thought to myself that if there was no lightning and the weather was warm I might as well make the dash to the finish -- rain be damned.

So I said a little prayer and gave a little curse to Larry, and off I went. I made the final light, and of course had to pause again. This time shorter than the last. The rain continued to pour down and I considered ducking under the canopy of a local bank.

What the heck, when you're wet, your wet, right? So I dashed ahead, finished in decent time and the rain slowly let up as I jogged the half mile home -- soaked to the bone. Thanks Larry.

So it is that when you see me in the next life I'll be giving you the daily downpour report or telling you how to invest your 401K. Both are based on guesses. For now, however, if you see the world's slowest human out running, give me a big wave -- and a ride home in the rain.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Enjoy the Mild Weather While You Can

Today I am 190.6 pounds of rolling thunder.

And yes today I'd consider myself rolling thunder as I clicked off 7 miles around one of my usual neighborhood loops.

There's nothing better to me than a day when the temperature drops and the humidity thins after a summer of oppressive heat and moisture. With temperatures in the low 80s today was a welcome relief from the Dog Days of summer's hottest days.

There's a part of me that knows that summer isn't done with us yet, but we'll take these stolen days of mild temperatures and reduced humidity.

I also like this time of summer because my body has gotten back into some sort of running shape, and most days I can leave all my little walking jags behind. I might be the world's slowest human, but there is a certain measure of pride on the line when it comes to walking.

About twice a week I grab a pair of wrist weights and add them to my workout regimen. Now I know there are arguments on both sides of the issue of whether to carry weights when you run, but I suppose I'm old-school enough to enjoy the added burden that a couple of extra pounds can add instead of fearing what they might do to my running form.

If you ever want to try running with weights, it really doesn't take much weight at all. Just grab a couple of bottles of water and run with one (yes, filled) bottle in each hand. The first thing you'll notice is how quickly your arms and shoulders tire from carrying even the lightest weight. The morning after your first run with weights you'll be swearing at me for even suggesting that you try this sadistic act.

Trust me, you'll get over it, and you may even grow to enjoy the pain. OK, maybe you'll grow to tolerate the pain.

Pain or no pain, enjoy the mild days of summer. Soon enough we'll be putting on layers and running through the snow. It's hard to believe that it snowed in May this year, but indeed it did.

So, as always, if you see the world's slowest human out on the road, give me a wave.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sometimes you've got to take the bad with the good

Today I am 190.2 pounds of rolling thunder.

Sometimes my back and I have serious disagreements. Other times, we just hold discussions on how the day is going to go. Usually, the issues are more a matter of discussion than serious disagreement.

So today things are a little balky. I should have seen it coming, but the week of running had gone so well it was hard to imagine things would end this way.

It was a good week of running. I made my usual 5- and 6-mile loops without any walking. In fact, I was able to climb all the hills without so much as one walked step. I was also able to accelerate just a bit on a few of the climbs, which normally does not happen.

But yesterday, the wheels started coming off. I wanted to do a timed 3 miles to see if I had made any progress, but just a few strides into my first hill climb I knew it wasn't to be. The strength in my legs and lungs just was not there.

I walked and ran up the first half-mile hill, stretched and then hit the road. I slogged through a mile in pretty good time, but when I made the turn, I decided to shut things down. This dog would live to fight another day.

But that day won't be today. Balky back and I are in negotiations. Tylenol and other meds are involved. Hopefully it's just a discussion and not a serious disagreement.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Every Dog Has His Day

Today I am 194.0 pounds of rolling thunder.

It's been a long, long time since I've had a day like today while I was out running. Seldom are my lungs, legs and body all in agreement and we can move forward without one or a couple of them disagreeing with the process, which means more walking and less running.

But today something was different. For the first time in forever I was able to scale the three peaks -- OK, large rises -- that are on my 6-mile loop without walking. In fact, except for a couple of very brief stoplight breaks, I was on the move running for all of the loop without taking a walking break.

Maybe it was the cooler weather. The temperature was down about 10 degrees but still warm enough to run without a shirt. And the humidity was normal for this time of year.

Maybe it was the day off I had yesterday from running because I pulled a double shift and worked from 8 a.m. until after midnight. The old fresh legs theory at work, obviously.

Or maybe, I'm finally getting into some sort of running shape. The fact is, my last three runs have been fairly good. I've noticed an increased ability to run up hills and to extend to longer distances. On Sunday I ran a timed 3 miles, and while the time was embarrassingly slow, the promising part is I did it with wrist weights on and didn't have to walk at all.

So I'll take small victories where I can get them!

I'm sure as the world's slowest runner it won't be long and the hills will be calling my name again But for one day, I made the loop without a stop, and I'll take that to the bank.

Good luck my fellow runners. Be safe. Pray for some rain. And give me a wave if you see the world's slowest runner out on the streets.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Running: The Heat is On

Today I am 190.0 pounds of rolling thunder.

The heat is on, and the running has gotten gritty. I have to say, however, I like running in the heat much more than battling the cold. I don't know about the rest of you, but bundling up in layers and then peeling them all off after an hour or so of running in the freezing cold is not my favorite thing.

Another big plus to running in the warm weather is the fact that I seem to be finding my wind again. Last week, I even climbed my arch nemesis big hill without stopping and it felt good.

Now I'm still the same walking and running wimp that has to take periodic walking breaks, but recently I've made my normal circuits with far fewer and far shorter walking breaks. I'll probably never not have to allow for some degree of walking, but it feels great when I can fight up over the bumps I call hills without slowing to a stroll.

The other change in my formula this summer has been to cut out sodas. That's right. No more Cokes, or colas or pop. Man, as a person addicted to that knockout punch of caffeine, this has been a tough one.

But I've noticed some changes. My weight is down (a little) and my endurance is up. I don't feel those tremendous energy swings that I did while on the sauce.

So the heat is on, and the soda is off. Hopefully I'll catch some of you out on the road in the near future. Remember, if you see the world's slowest human out there pounding the pavement, give me a wave as you run on by.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer or not, game on runners

Today I am 193.6 pounds of rolling thunder.

This is the time of year when the air gets thick, the temperatures rise, and my excuses to run less and walk more become increasingly plentiful. If there's an excuse for not running you need rationalized, I'm your guy.

But I also get really mad at myself when I can't run as far or as fast as I should. You'd think a grown person would be able to go more than a half a mile at a time without a brief walk, but there are days when that doesn't happen for me.

So today I had my sights set on running more and walking less. The past week of running has been filled with fits and starts as the heat built back in and my running seemed to be more labored.

Being the world's slowest human, it generally comes as no surprise when people jet past me out on the streets. Real runners. Ladies with jogger strollers. Old men with dogs. You name it, and they pretty much zoom past me at will.

So today when a woman passed me on the opposite side of the street on my usual 4-mile loop it really came as no surprise. Usually I just watch as those young legs race off into the distance while I am powerless to give chase.

Today's passerby was no different. I was making my slow trek over some rollers when she raced by. But for fun and as a challenge to myself I thought I'd try to keep running as long as she was running. And then, she walked. But I kept running. She talked on her cellphone. I kept running.

She topped the hill and started running again, so I figured the game was over. I've acquired a taste for the dust that gets kicked  in your face when you're as slow as I am.

Then she walked again, which gave me an excuse to walk -- which I did. But before long I was running again and she kept walking.

The next thing I knew, I was passing someone. Granted I was the only one who knew we were competing. But yes, I was moving past another human being who was out running. I had broken my own rule and passed someone, and this time she was under 80.

Now this didn't keep me from walking up a few more hills as I extended my loop from 4 to 5 miles after being inspired by this feat. But it did put a little more spring in my step, or was that just the naproxen talking?

Either way, I felt inspired. And when I looked back over my shoulder, my confidence took a turn for the worse as I noticed my running partner had turned off onto another street. I guess the taste of dust isn't as sweet as I had become accustomed to.

More than likely, her cellphone could get better reception on another street.

Anyway, you see the world's slowest human out there on the heated streets, give me a wave.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's Not About the Stuff!

Today I am 193.4 pounds of rolling thunder.

TV financial guru Dave Ramsey says the world will tell you that you need stuff to be a somebody -- don't listen.

The same holds true for being a runner. While everyone around you is talking about special shorts, socks, GU's, sports drinks and GPS watches, the truth is, if you've got a good pair of shoes and the desire to get moving, that's just about all you need to be a runner.

Sometime in the past few weeks Mother Nature has gone from the goddess who brought us a mild, rainy spring to an angry deity that has filled the air with humidity and pollen while spiking temperatures above 90 degrees.

Now, as you know, I'm not a great runner to begin with, but when conditions turn hot, the world's slowest human gets even slower. I walk more and probably log less distance. But you know what? It doesn't take a lot of stuff.

I grab my running shorts and shoes and head out the door as often as I can. Heck, sometimes I even throw on a shirt. My apologies to those of you who are offended by the jiggle of my extra 20 pounds, but at least I'm trying to get things under control. I'm told the weight-loss part will follow, so stay tuned for that.

Running doesn't have to be about the stuff. Not the GPS wrist watches, the special belts filled with water bottles or even the exotic running locations. It's about getting up and moving and being in the moment. It's about embracing the pain of the run and enjoying a cookie or a brownie without guilt when you're done with your exercise, regardless of how fast or slow you might be.

I believe Dave's right on this one -- as he is on so many things. It's not about the stuff, it's about the stuff inside of you that makes you a runner, so get off the couch, get moving and don't listen to others.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Smile -- Even When Your Run Slowly

June 8, 2013

Today I am 194.8 pounds of rolling thunder.

I smiled this week when I rolled through the slowest 3 miles I've ever recorded. I'm sure my time, which was just north of 40 minutes, wasn't the slowest I've ever run, but it's the slowest I've gotten an official time for.

I smiled because it was the first time in weeks that I didn't stop to walk. I rolled up and down the neighborhood hills without taking a walking break. I also hit all five stop lights along the familiar loop at just the right time, so there was no standing or jogging in place, just pure running.

And although my time was really slow -- maintaining my hold on my ranking as the world's slowest human -- it was good to know that I could still get around the course without taking a walking break. Now, would I like to be able to do more? Who wouldn't?

I'm convinced that you lay down muscle memory as a kid, and that helps you in later life. I wasn't a distance runner as a youngster, so I skipped that portion of my training life. At that time I'd rather sprint than jog, and the thought of running mile after mile for no good reason seemed really boring -- really, really boring.

At least that's my excuse for being the world's slowest human. That and an extra 20 pounds that I'd love to loan some other carbohydrate-sucking mammal as I strive to make myself healthier and just a little bit faster.

But for now, being able to do the neighborhood loop without a stop is pretty good. And a couple of days later I did it again -- OK, this time I walked five steps and hit one light on red and had to jog in place. But my time went south of 40, and hopefully I can keep rolling over all the hills.

Who knows, it's been a while since I've seen 35 minutes, but maybe it will be in me at some point. The main thing I hope is that I can keep enjoying my run and limit the amount of walking that I do.

So if you see the world's slowest runner out walking, give me a wave, it will remind me to get my wheels moving again.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Every Day is the Best Day of the Year

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I've told you guys a hundred times, I'm a sucker for inspirational quotes. Even in these days of jaded pessimism, I find it inspiring whenever I get my daily dose of optimism. They are like little Easter eggs of hope that just seem to appear in my email in-basket.

So today is going to be rainy, but that's OK, a run in the rain is better than any day you ever spent piloting a desk or pushing a broom. As long as it's not the kind of rain that chills you to the bone, or is mixed with deadly lightning, there's no reason not to get out and enjoy the day.

I suppose you don't get to be a quotable writer if you have nothing of worth to say. So it is that I differ to Emerson and today's inspirational quote.

Every day is the best day, reminds me of the old Joe Namath quote about not being able to wait until tomorrow because, as he said it, he gets better looking every day.

There are days when we all just want to curl up and read a book or watch TV instead of lacing up our running shoes. There are days when it's easier to say, tomorrow or next week. That's called being human.

While my running ability is questionable at best, I know that my body needs to get out and move. I know that my mind needs the time to ramble and wander, so that I can come back refreshed and ready to tackle the important tasks of the day.

You never know when injury or illness might keep you from running, walking or whatever your chosen form of exercise might be. So you need to make every day the best day of the year. Embrace the little voice that tells you to go out and play in the rain, and shun the devil who sits on your shoulder and tells you it's too wet, or cold, or hot, or whatever.

Every day you can get up and move about is the best day in the year!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Let there be cake!

May 17, 2013

Today I am 193.2 pounds of rolling thunder.

Just in case you missed me, no I haven't fallen off the edge of the Earth, I've just been busy. Don't you hate it when life gets in the way of the things you want to do?

So life finally dealt me a hand where for the first time in weeks I've been able to string six or seven days of running together in a row. What a novel concept.

Anyway, Runner's World magazine keeps sending me these "A better ways to breathe" emails, and I'm pretty sure there's no besting the huff-and-puff style I'm now employing. And I'm fairly certain given my total lack of rhythm that I'm ever going to breathe step, step, step and then breathe again.

They might as well stop and send me "Better ways to eat?" Wait, they send those, too, already. Maybe they could just send me cake. Yeah cake, that would definitely be something better to eat, if not something better for me to eat.

So believe it or not, after a winter and spring filled with snow, the temperature finally tipped 90 this week, so all bets are off. It's time to stop making excuses and get out and run. Yes, it's time once again for the world's slowest human to start pounding the mean streets of suburbia once again.

I haven't found my stride yet this year. It's funny to talk about stride, when most of what I do is move my stubby little legs in a choppy style that looks nothing like the elegant runners you see on TV. Heck, it looks nothing like kids on a playground who truly enjoy running.

But perhaps the thing that troubles me the most is how much I stop to walk. I came late to the distance running game, but you'd think after a few years of consistent running that I wouldn't have to walk on the hills. It really bums me out when I give in to the little voice inside my head that tells me my quads are burning or my lungs don't have anything left, and I slow to a brisk walk.

Well, if golf is a good walk spoiled, then running is a chance for a walk to redeem itself. I say there's nothing better than when your conditioning, energy and focus come together and you're running stronger at mile six than at mile one. Hey, it can happen. Probably the day after Runner's World emails me a piece of cake.

So I say it's time, my motivationally challenged friends to get off your duffs and hit the streets. And if you see the world's slowest human in the process, give me a wave.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lawn Mowing vs. Running: The Winner Is?

April 29, 2013

Today I am 196.2 pounds of rolling thunder.

Forgive me runners, it's been six days since my last blog post.

The weather has been on and off as has my running what with a variety of part-time jobs and full-time parenting to do. So this week I'm reduced to rationalizing.

On Saturday, I ran 3 miles before reporting for duty on the gravy train of sedentary activity known as editing. Sure the money is nice, but the sitting still part is a killer if your ready to get out and run.

So here's where the rationalization starts rearing its ugly head. On Sunday I knew time would be at a premium, so suddenly lawn mowing was going to be my exercise out. You may want to get a pencil out here to follow along.

According to my friends at Fit Day, an hour's worth of mowing burns about 345 calories. Nice. But I had four lawns to mow, so two-and-a-half hours later I was finally done with my chores. So that's a whopping total of 870 calories.

I can see it already, the "World's Slowest Human's Guide to Weight Control through Lawn Care." Between the blog, the book and the speaking tour, I'll never have to spend another day doing honest labor.

So now the cogs are turning on the wheels of progress. If mowing is good for calorie burning, what other stuff can I count as exercise? Hmmmm. How about the walking commute to and from my car. That's about 15 minutes each way.

Fit Day says: 184 calories per hour. So that's 92 calories just walking in from the car.

OK, this can't be right. Fit Day says just sitting at my desk I give back eight calories an hour. And the 23 calories you burn during sex, you'd be better off walking.

It's still hard to beat running or jogging for calories burned and boredom overcome. The folks at Fit Day say for my age, height and weight, I should burn about 460 calories an hour.

So much for the rationalizations. The math just doesn't add up.While lawn mowing makes the neighborhood look better, it doesn't replace getting out and running.

So if you see the world's slowest human pushing a lawnmower, give me a wave, and then guilt me into a run.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Good Is Having a Lucky Horesshoe Anyway?

April 21, 2013

Today I am 192.6 pounds of rolling thunder.

Author Josh Stern connected with me recently on Twitter. You've got to like a guy whose wit and wisdom is encapsulated in a thought like, "In a scam or be scammed world, the best that can be hoped for is to land on top a little more than hitting rock bottom. But what good is having a lucky horseshoe up your butt when the horse is still attached?"

 All this harkens back to the old notion that sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes he eats you.

Yesterday for the first time in a long time, I ate the bear. I hit the streets and only took one walking break along my 5-mile route -- and even that break was two-thirds of the way up the first big hill.

Yep, I managed -- with the help of some stoplight breaks -- to make it up the steep hill, over numerous short climbs and then up the final big hill that is usually the test of my physical and mental fitness.

 I'd like to be able to say that I push this, pull that or stretch something and then the light turns green, and I am able to run without pause. If that were the case, I could bottle and sell the formula to all of us couch to 5K heroes.

But alas, this is not the case.

For all I know this has as much to do with getting back out on the streets as it does having a lucky horseshoe -- horse optional -- located somewhere in my nether-regions.

What I do know is there is something profoundly satisfying in cresting a hill, regardless of how slight the rise, and being able to flow back down on the other side without feeling a winded tightness in my chest or a stride-breaking fatigue in my legs.

The other thing I know is that I'm going to accept the day's run with graciousness and hope. Sometimes it feels like you'll never make a weight goal, or a distance goal and then you surprise yourself. You have to remember these feeling when you fall back, and they will guide you along the path until your next victory, no matter how large or small.

So hopefully today I can run more like I have a spring in my step than a horseshoe, well, you know where.

And if you see the world's slowest human out on the road, give me a wave. I'll be the one without the horse but ready to eat some bear.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Suffer Not Fellow Runners, It's OK To Rest

"The true measure of a runner isn't in time, but rather in the effort it took along the way."

Coach Jenny Hadfield, Ask Coach Jenny blog, Runner's

The other night I was at our son's high school track meet, and it was bitter cold with a strong, biting wind.

I mentioned to the group of parents I was sitting with that I was thinking about skipping my daily run given the lateness of the hour and the raw nature of the day. Most of the group members nodded their heads that I was making the right decision.

Then there was the lone voice of dissonance. One person quipped, "but you've got to do your run."

Damn if that didn't ignite my inner voice -- that little character that stands on you should like in the cartoons and tells you that you know what you have to do. That little voice that reminds you that you skipped the day before because you were too busy to make it out onto the streets.


I was offering up every rationalization in the book to keep the guilt at bay. I'd done a ton of yard work. Yeah, what else you got? Naddah. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

But it was cold and after 7 p.m. when I finally got home from sitting on the cold metal bleachers at the track meet. I paid my dues, I told myself. I had been up moving around and out in the weather for five or six hours.

I also have a rule, if your hearts not in it, give yourself a break and take the day off. So I did.

You know what? The world didn't end. The sun came up the next morning. And I ran really well in a light misty rain the next day. It wasn't a perfect run, but it wasn't the suffer-fest that I would have endured the night before.

So, my fellow runners, I grant you permission to give yourself an unexpected day off, just don't make it too many in a row. And if you see the world's slowest human out on the streets, give me a wave.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

If Your Friend Falls Down, Be Sure To Help Him Up

"If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"
Ecclesiastes 4:10

April 14, 2013

Today I am 198.0 pounds of rolling thunder.

I'm a sucker for anything that will get me down the road better, faster or just less slowly.

Sometimes I feel like Kevin Costner's character from the movie "Tin Cup" when I suck air through my lung exerciser or comb the Internet looking for tips on how to run more and walk less.

I like the pithy little sayings people use to motivate them to get out on the road. Maybe it makes us feel like kindred spirits as we beat feet on the neighborhood streets. Or maybe it speaks to a part of us that knows we'll never be an Olympic champion, but that's OK because the runner is the reward.

Recently this inspiration floated into my in-box to remind me how important the person within is when compared to the world around us.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Funny, isn't it, that the universal themes remain the same no matter how smart or advanced we thing our culture has become.

Yesterday I pounded out six miles on my familiar loop. It was only the second time I've run the route since the snow has thawed, and while my running was better there was still a fair amount of walking involved. The important thing for me was to enjoy the moment, move my legs and feel my body getting stronger.

What lies behind us we cannot change. What lies in front of us we cannot control, nor would we want to manipulate our fate.

What we can control is who we are and how we navigate the challenges or our lives. The truth today is the same as it was in the days when Ecclesiastes was written. The measure of a person is the integrity with which they live their lives.
Kara Goucher

We all fall down in our lives -- physically, socially, mentally and in our humanity. The measure of a true friend is one who picks you up in your darkest hours. Sometimes life surprises you when you learn who your true friends really are. Sometimes you surprise yourself by being the kind of friend who reaches out in a fellow human being's darkest time.

I'd like to think as I run down the road -- either in life or on my daily jog -- that should I fall, a friend would be there to help me up. 

So if you see the world's slowest human out there on the road, pick me up with a little wave.

Here's one parting bit of wisdom I'll leave you with thanks to marathoner Kara Goucher.

"The journey isn't always perfect but always worth taking."

Friday, April 12, 2013

Time to quit slacking off and get running

April 12, 2013

Today I am 196.2 pounds of rolling thunder.

I'm also 196.2 pounds of work and workout avoidance. It's been days since my last blog post, and I'm a post-a-holic. I can't live without writing something, and I can't go too many days without issuing at least one pithy blog post.

But, alas, I've let work and life get in the way of letting you know the sad tales of the world's slowest human.

So after days cold weather combined with bad timing with work, I finally got back out on the road this week. And while I love to run, I hate feeling like I've started my running efforts all over again.

I am by no measure a great runner. I'm not even in the same area code as being an OK runner. I'm sort of like the guy who has golf clubs and considers himself a golfer. I have running shoes and I hit the streets, but you can argue that what I'm doing is actually running, since it seems to be a mix of walking, jogging and a lot of movement in between.

But I do like to go out and get moving. I like the feeling of coasting in after a good hour or so of jogging. I like being able to eat cookies when I want and the occasional handful of chips without much guilt. I like how much better feels when you slip off to a sound sleep after a good, long run.

This week has felt like a do-over. It feels in many ways like I have let my aerobic capacity slip. I've walked more and run less than in about a year. Maybe it's the rainy weather or the timing, but I just don't feel like I've got the same stamina as I did last fall. But that's not going to stop me. I've got running to do and conditioning to achieve.

OK, my fellow slackers. Time to get off the computer and back out on the streets. There are miles to be traveled before I can rest.

If you see me traveling those miles, slowness and all, give me a wave.

PS - If you need a good laugh, check out this blog post: The Secret to my Sex-Cess

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Blasphemy, Pure Unadulterated Blasphemy

April 6, 2013

Today I am 197.4 pounds of rolling thunder.

What a long strange trip this week has been. And somewhere amongst all my comings and goings I did manage to get out on the road and do some running. And somewhere along the line, the days have started to be more spring like and Old Man Winter has loosened his grasp.

As a contract writer, the paydays come pretty sporadically, so I jump at the chance to do some work -- any work. It should come as no surprise then that there are days when I have plenty of time to work out, and then there are the days like Monday when I answered the bell at 8 a.m. and punched out the following morning at 2.

Now I'm not whining. Work is work, and I accept it with a smile. But the first few days of this week running time was crowded out by the need to make some cash.

On Monday, I went to my newest part-time gig for four hours of orientation and new employee meet and greet. That was 8 a.m. to noon. Then it was on to my contract gig as a guinea pig patient for doctors in training -- mark that noon to 5 p.m. for those of you scoring along at home.

And I rounded out the day by working as an online editor from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. Tuesday. Luckily, my day was shortened on Tuesday when I only did two jobs -- from noon until 2 a.m. Wednesday and a return to my day job at 8:30 a.m.

So by 5 p.m., it was all I could do to come home and walk a few miles. Luckily, my day-side gig requires some walking. And to top it all off, I was up at 4:30 a.m. Thursday for a trip to the airport.

Yes, there will be time for sleeping when we're on the other side of the grass, but my body needs to get out and move. Running had somehow taken a backseat to real life. Blasphemy, I say, pure unadulterated blasphemy.

By Thursday afternoon I was back running and again on Friday. I'm still the world's slowest human being, but at least I'm moving. So if you see me out there on the streets flailing away at running, give me a wave and a smile.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

March 29, 2013

Today I am 194.0 pounds of rolling thunder, trying to find grace in my life.

Songster Tom Petty told us years ago that the waiting is the hardest part.

About mid-afternoon yesterday, I got tired of waiting for the mail carrier, so I decided to go out for my daily run. We’ve been waiting about a month for some news about colleges, and April 1 was supposed to be a D-Day of sorts for the announcement.

It was one of the first mild weather days we've had in about two weeks. That early spring snowfall had coated the streets and sidewalks, making running tricky and treacherous, so it became more a labor of love than a fruitful jog.

April 1 was D-Day, but we had it on good authority that the news would come earlier (thanks, Twitter), every day this week I've played a game of hide-and-go-seek with the mailman. To this point, the waiting game has been the hardest part, and March the cruelest month.

 "Every day you see one more card," Tom says in his song. And every day, we waited by the mailbox for a decision that would change all our lives.

The next line in the song goes, "you take it on faith, you take it from the heart," and while everyone remembers "the waiting is the hardest part," perhaps that line about faith says more about how we live our lives than any other.

For countless generations we've all taken our existence and fate on faith. Every day you get to see one more card -- sometimes a couple, if you're lucky. But every day, you put your faith and hope into a belief that things will work out OK. That your kids will grow up safely. That you will grow old gracefully. That you will be surrounded by a world of grace.

I ran six miles for the first time since last fall. It was a mixture of walking and running, but it was a distance I needed to cover, even if it required a mix of walking and jogging. My hope was that I would turn the corner, heading to home and see a large envelope hanging from our mailbox.

I knew from my research that big envelope meant in and small was ... small. The run helped me get my mind off the wait -- at least for a bit. No matter how creaky your body feels, it's always good to get out and move your body.

While I wasn't going to win any speed races, at least I was moving. And so were countless others on a Thursday afternoon.

 As I dropped down the final hill, heading toward home, I my mind drifted back to the decision at hand. I looked around to see if any of the houses on my route had mail sticking out of their boxes.

I turned the corner for home. I spotted my mailbox off in the distance. You take it on faith. You take it from the heart.

The waiting is the hardest part.