One Step At A Time

Making Progress One Step at a Time

Watching the accomplishments that so many achieved today in the Boston Marathon can make the small baby steps that I’ve been making seem so insignificant. And in the eyes of many they may be.

But not for me.

For me personally, the small steps that I’ve made since the beginning of April – which include traveling 14.53 miles and losing 7.5 pounds – are monumental.

Celebrating Progress

As part of this lifestyle transformation, I’ve discovered a number of inspirational people.

One of those people is Roni from Roni’s Weigh who just celebrated her own progress with a yoga pose that quite honestly doesn’t even look possible without special effects. (I’ve looked for a support wire and it isn’t there.)

Congrats Roni!

Seeing this celebration is a reminder that we need to focus on our own goals and accomplishments, and not to minimize them in comparison to others.

One Step At A Time

Just two short weeks ago, I never would have guessed that I would have exercised at all – let alone put 14.53 miles and 7.5 pounds between myself and April 1st!

Sure, I still have many, many more miles and pounds to go but I started.

I took action!

It would be easy to get discouraged when Running Wife heads out for a run and travels farther than I do in a week. Or when she maintains the weight that she worked so hard to lose. But rather than get discouraged, I celebrate her progress with her and she celebrates my progress with me.


Goals are not accomplished instantly – at least not in most cases. But they are accomplished by taking one step at a time and continuing to push yourself farther with each step. And with each step, it is important to take time and celebrate.

With that perspective, both Running Wife and I have a lot to celebrate!

Let’s celebrate together – what progress have you made?

Ouch! That Doesn’t Feel Right

With the pride of completing the first day of interval training fresh on my mind, there were visions of mastering my first 5k in less than two months.

Unfortunately, those visions lasted less than 24 hours.

That Doesn’t Feel Right

The next day as I walked into work, something didn’t feel quite right with my right foot. Initially it was just a little twinge, but the pain increased throughout the day.

I am not sure what exactly happened, but the pain is across the top of my foot right at the base of my toes. Unfortunately, the location means it is difficult to walk as each step has been painful.

Over the last two days I’ve had more of a hobble than a walk – much to the amusement of our kids.

When I shared the news with Running Wife, she asked if I was walking on my toes while on the elliptical as she had experienced something similar.

To be honest, I really couldn’t answer her question. The unexpected difficulty of that first day of interval training meant I was spending more time just hanging onto the elliptical, and I wasn’t giving too much attention to how my feet were positioned!

Slight Setback

The hope was that a day of rest would clear things up and I would be back on track. Unfortunately, things were still painful yesterday and I decided to give it one more day of rest.

On the bright side, I’ve found myself anxious to get back on the elliptical and keep moving forward.

In the past, something like this would be the impetus for excuses and I would be back to sitting on the couch watching the boob tube on a nightly basis. My eating habits would slowly revert back to snacking on crappy food and I would be right back to where I had started.

But this time something is different.

This has been a slight setback in my schedule, but I actually want to get back at it and stay on track for my first 5k. The thought of the next workout is one of anticipation as opposed to dread.

Shift In Mindset

It wasn’t expected to happen so soon, but I have had a shift in mindset – one where exercise excites me and I am mentally committed to treating my body right; both from the perspective of exercising as well as the food that I am eating.

Did I mention I ate a handful of grapes as a snack last night?

It is amazing to experience how one’s mindset can have such an impact on the way that you approach a challenge. With the mindset that I had just a month or two back, this pain in my foot would have derailed all of my plans and that 5k would be nothing but a memory.

Now, it is nothing but a small pebble on my road to success.

First Day Of Interval Training

After the sobering reality between running inside versus running outside, Week 2 began today with the introduction of interval training (according to my personally modified version of #c25k).

Go hard or go home

Wanting to put the embarrassment of yesterday behind me, I committed to doing 3 minutes at my normal pace (a brisk walk to slow jog) and then 30 seconds at a much faster pace (a legit jog). Once the warm-up was complete, it was time to get down to business.

This isn’t so bad.

Through the first few rounds of alternating between walking and jogging, I felt good. The sweat started dripping and I was envisioning new personal bests in terms of distance traveled and my minutes per mile pace.

Hello wall, nice to meet you!

Somewhere around 14 minutes in, the jogging intervals began to feel more intense and the 3 minute walking intervals were spent trying to catch my breath. But I continued to power through knowing that the end result would be so much more rewarding.

There must be sweat in my eyes

When the final buzzer sounded to signal the cool-down phase, I nearly fell off the elliptical and was convinced that the sweat stinging my eyes was causing blurred vision.

Considering the amount of sweat that was dripping off of me and how I was sucking wind, I thought for sure that I had gone at least 3 miles or more. I was expecting to obliterate the 2.6 miles that I had done last week when I had pushed myself a little harder.

2.8 miles?!? A lousy 0.2 extra miles?!?

The effort was far greater than the distance traveled. The introduction of the intervals absolutely wiped me out and the net gain was less than a quarter mile difference. On the bright side though, my minutes per mile pace was nearly one full minute better than my previous best!

And that’s not all

In addition to setting a new personal best on the minutes per mile pace, I also pushed myself to go farther and work harder than I had before – and I did it.

Right now the important thing is to be consistent and begin adopting the exercise as a routine part of my lifestyle. On the drive home from work, I was beginning to make mental deposits into the excuse bank and was looking forward to just relaxing on the couch. Fortunately, I realized that the excuse bank was closed for the day and threw on my shorts and shoes and got to work!

Small steps continue to build on each other, and before long I will be at my goal!

Outside vs. Inside

When starting the journey from couch potato to 5k, the plan was to stay inside and use the elliptical machine until I had a few weeks under my belt and felt a little more comfortable being back in the swing of things.

I should have stuck to the plan!

The False Reality of Inside Exercise

Alright, so I might have only logged 5.1 miles on the elliptical since making my commitment to participate in a 5k but I was feeling pretty good about myself. The two workouts this week had both gone well, and I felt really good after each one.

I was even enjoying a little TV while I exercised, and wasn’t experiencing any pain in my legs or lower back (carrying around this much weight isn’t easy on the body) during or after each workout.

Now, I’ve heard more than a few people tell me – and I’ve read a number of articles that share the same message – that running (or walking) on a treadmill or elliptical is nowhere near the same experience as getting outside on the road, sidewalk, path or whatever and trying to go the same distance. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I even knew that this was true.

However, something about the combination of my wife, RW, asking me to head out into the warm sunshine for a walk and the masterful job I had done during my first two workouts, made me think that I was ready to conquer the world.

The Outside Just Slapped Me in the Face

We laced up our shoes and hit the sidewalk for our walk.

RW asked, “What are you thinking? Do you want to go around the block and come back?”

“Puuuuh-lease! I was thinking we’d walk down to the school and do the loop around the park”, I replied.

She knew. She knew the outside was about to kick my tail.

RW smiled, and we headed off.

She casually mentioned that just the loop around the park was a little more than 1.5 miles and we were looking at at least another 1 to 1.5 miles round trip from our house to the loop.

I nodded my head, in part because I was already feeling winded and didn’t want to huff out a response.

Before the annoyingly smug voice from Run Keeper could even tell me that we had traveled 0.25 miles, my lower back was screaming and both my calves and shins were on fire. This couldn’t be possible. There was something wrong.

I’ve been doing 2.5 miles on the elliptical without any problems other than some sweat dripping in my eyes.

My pace began to slow.

Clearly the loop around the park was off the table.

Jokingly – although deep down I was dead serious – I said to RW that we could walk down to the loop and then she could head home and get the car to come back and pick me up. Ultimately we ended up getting to the main intersection near the park and then we turned back towards home.

Along the way, I resented the young girl and the older man that jogged by us with ease.

1.08 Measly Miles of Humble Pie

I had no reason to resent that young girl and older man, but at that moment when the curving, dipping, and rising sidewalk so readily humbled me within twenty short minutes, it felt wrong that they could be jogging so effortlessly – and with smiles on their faces!

RW commented that when she first started about two years ago, she felt exactly like I do now where even a short distance feels impossible. But now she is like that young girl and older man, running 7-8 miles in the hour that it used to take her to walk about 1-2 miles. As much as I understood that, it was still difficult to see that the success I felt on the elliptical did not translate at all to being outside.

She knew it too, and tried to warn me.

As humbling as today may have been, I also learned a valuable lesson – I cannot only train inside on the elliptical and think that I will be able to finish the 5k.

I need to keep pushing myself to go farther on the elliptical to build up my overall conditioning, but I also need to mix it up and get outside to experience what it is really going to feel like once race day arrives.

As much as it may have hurt my pride to only go 1.08 miles today, I still got out there and walked 1.08 miles today! It wasn’t easy; I was out of breath, sweating and hurt all over but I did it!

And now I know I can do it, I can do 1.08 miles outside in 20 minutes and 13 seconds. Next time I can push myself to go a little farther, or a little faster, or both.

But clearly, outside is much harder than inside!

OMG, I’ve Been Kerrigan’d

A couple of short days ago, I took the first small step towards my goal of running a 5k race with Running Wife in two short months.

And when I woke up the next day?

In Pain

Oh, it hurt!

Okay, I admit that it is a little mean to reference the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, but the way I felt the next morning was like someone had beaten my legs senseless – so it kinda fits.

However, the thing that felt the worst was my feet. It is quite common for me to have pain in my feet, particularly my heels, even when I’m not doing anything at all. My guess is that it may be plantar fasciitis or heel spurs; I say guess because I’ve never bothered to have it checked.

I’m going to share a little secret with you – I don’t like going to doctors.

Fortunately, by the time I was up and moving, things started to loosen up a bit and then the sense of accomplishment began to set in. (After the embarrassment of being so sore after walking for a measly 2.5 miles of course.)

Give me more!

After taking a day of rest, which was thoroughly enjoyed, I jumped back on the horse today and logged another 2.6 miles. In these early stages of transitioning from being sedentary to something resembling normal activity, my goal is to walk every other day and then slowly add in alternating periods of jogging / running and walking.

One thing that has been helping my motivation, and transition, is to reserve my favorite shows on the DVR for my time on the elliptical. It is amazing – and a little sad in a way – that losing yourself in a TV show can completely block out the unpleasantness of exercising!

While I know this is extremely premature, but even after only two days of walking I have also found myself subconsciously making healthier choices when it comes to what I am eating as well.

Last night, while burning the midnight oil on a project (better sleep habits on to do list), I began to get hungry. Typically, I’d grab one junky snack, and then another – and maybe another after that.

But not last night.


Instead I cut up a cucumber!

Now, it wasn’t completely healthy as I did sprinkle a little of my cajun seasoning on the cucumber slices to give them a little kick. But considering the choices that I typically make when it comes to snacks, this was definitely progress!

After all, if I am going to bust my ass walking – and eventually running – I don’t want to waste all of that effort by eating a ton of crap afterwards.

Progress baby!