Sunday, September 12, 2010

Progress, and Man Nipples

Days until Marathon: 231
Weight: 257.1 pounds
Distance: 5.51 miles (Walton Trail)
Total miles-to-date: 202

You have heard the famous saying that, "A watched pot never boils." But you may not have heard the slightly less famous saying that, "A watched scale rarely demonstrates the dramatic nature of weight loss or gain." I think the same person said both of them, but for some reason, the first one caught on better.

With that in mind, it has been 125 days since my last post. In that time, I have run 190 miles, and lost 15 pounds.

I was getting sort of discouraged about my weight lately, until typing that last line. 15 pounds is actually a lot, but 15 pounds in 125 days averages out to only .12 pounds per day. Plus, in all reality, my weight has been doing the cha cha around those numbers for the last 4 months.

It's really hard to get an idea of how "less fat" you are by watching the scale fluctuate every morning. Some days you're down a few pounds, and you're like, "Sweet! I should celebrate with some doughnuts!" Other days you're up a few pounds, and you're like, "Damnit. I might as well drown my sorrows with some doughnuts." Either way, you lose track of what "works" and what doesn't, and you start to feel as if there isn't really any point to it all.

Seeing it written as "15 pounds," while it could be better, is a nice reinforcer for the benefits of the last 200 miles.

Speaking of those 200 miles, I've learned 2 very important things about running:
  1. Form is everything
  2. Man nipples are not only completely useless, they are also a terrific deterrent to running for an extended amount of time
First a comment about form. I think I've finally found a comfort zone in the way I run. It's not very fast, and it sure ain't pretty, but I can maintain it for at least 6 miles at a time.

For me, whenever I start to wear down in a run, I remind myself of these three things: short strides, stand up straight, and keep it springy. Not real exciting, but it seems to keep me going.

Unfortunately, those techniques are probably way off base, and will eventually result in complete and total muscular failure in the middle of some high profile event in front of my children. However, if you're a running coach, please don't email me to tell me it's all wrong. Let me live in my deluded little dream world for now. It's warm in there.

As for man nipples, WHAT THE HECK?

As if all of the other running discomfort wasn't enough? We have to have these two things on our chest to make us feel even less macho? It only takes about 5 miles before it feels like someone is taking a metal file to each one.

I've tried bandaids, but it only takes one episode of my children seeing me "prepare" my nipples, before someone calls a government office to file a report. Besides, ripping out chest hair at the end of every run isn't my favorite way of celebrating my achievement.

My next move is to simply cut out the offending fabric on each side of my running shirt. That will eliminate the friction, and have the added benefit of improved ventilation. The shirt will look ridiculous to non-runners, but I think "our people" in the running world will surely understand.

If you have any other nipple saving techniques, I'd love to hear about them.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Off" Days

Days until Marathon: 356
Weight: 272.1 pounds
Distance: 2.4 miles (treadmill jog/walk)
Total miles: 12.0

Fat people walk a (heavy duty) tight rope when on a work out or diet plan. Just the slightest breeze or distraction can send us toppling head over heels down onto the huge pile of fat people that fell off before us.

Of course, falling off the healthy lifestyle high-wire now and then is okay. We all have temptations, weaknesses, meat lovers pizzas, etc. Most folks that fall, just brush themselves off, slap themselves on the back of the hand for screwing up, and step back out onto the thin line of righteous healthism.

The problem with overweight people is that most of us have fallen off so many times, we're getting used to it.

When you're standing at the edge of the high board at the neighborhood pool for the first time, staring down into the icy blue water below, your body has a MULTITUDE of natural mechanisms that help you to NOT jump off. As I am not (yet) an endocrinologist, I can't tell you what those are in scientific terms, but I'm pretty sure that "crapping your pants in fear" is one of them. Your instincts help you avoid things that you're not supposed to do. They scream into your subconscious, "You're not a bird. You're not a fish. Now quit fooling around, and climb down off that thing before you hurt yourself."

If you are able to push through those warnings, things change. You adapt. After 4 or 5 leaps into the pool from 3 meters up, it starts to become old hat. No big deal. Even a little boring. Pretty soon, those natural mechanisms that kept us from doing it, don't seem to be affecting us at all anymore. It even gets to the point where falling into the water is easier than standing on the board in front of everyone.

Same is true for those of us that are "big boned." When it comes to working out and eating right, we've screwed up so many times, our psychological systems have adapted. We've actually gotten good at failing. It just comes naturally.

This past weekend, I fell of the health wagon, and I fell hard. On my face. Into a pile of broken glass. And snakes. And Indian food. Then I fell off again the following night with a deep dish grease pie from the Hut. Two "off" days in a row where I wasn't scheduled to run, and I crashed and burned.

Of course, each night, after I had sinned, I felt terrible. But why couldn't I sense that BEFORE I dove head first into that enormous heap of Malai Kofta? Why didn't the alarms go off as I picked up my FIFTH slice of sausage and ham pizza with extra cholesterol?

Somehow, I need to find a way to re-instill those instincts. Something to "scare me straight."

Perhaps training for a marathon is part of that. No more 3 meter board for me. I'm going for the 26.2 mile platform, now. I've now publicly committed myself to running it. There is no way out. When May 1, 2011 rolls around, I WILL be in that crowd of runners at the starting line, whether I'm in shape or not.

If that isn't terrifying enough to get me back on track, then I'm in bigger trouble than I thought.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (Knees and Toes)

Days until Marathon: 359
Weight: 272.3 pounds
Distance: 2.4 miles (jog/walk)
Total miles: 9.6

It can't be that hard, right?

One foot in front of the other. Left, right, left, right. So on, and so on.

Walking is so easy that a one year old can do it. Running is so easy, it's the natural state of a toddler. As human beings, our evolutionary ancestors have been walking on land for oh, I don't know, ABOUT 500 MILLION YEARS. Most of that time has been spent RUNNING from something trying to eat them.

So why do I feel like an injured, three-legged, newborn giraffe every morning when I run?

I've actually LOST one of the basic skills of animal survival--being able to run away from a predator. So, how do I relearn an instinct?

When you sit in front of a computer for 8-10 hours a day, you don't spend much time thinking about head tilt, torso position, and stride length. So when my morning run felt like my lugnuts were loose, I did a little research on running form.

Turns out, according to RunnersWorld, I have 29 separate body parts that need attention at all times during my run: Head, eyes, neck, back, chin, shoulders, ears, arms, hands, legs, fists, fingers, palms, waist, lower-chest, elbows, forearms, torso, lungs, hips, pelvis, knees, feet, lower leg (below the knee), ankles, heels, midfoot, toes, and calves.

Who would of thought that, after all this time, my EARS were the problem?

So now I have a running technique strategy that will help me fulfill my goal to glide gracefully across the finish line of the full marathon in 51 weeks:
  1. Look at the horizon.
  2. Relax my shoulders.
  3. Relax my fists. Imagine myself trying to carry a potato chip in each hand without crushing it.
  4. Elbows at 90 degrees.
  5. Stretch my back straight and tall.
  6. Run with a potato chip in each hand.
  7. Short stride, under my torso.
  8. Potato chips...
  9. Pelvis is a bowl of marbles. Don't spill the marbles.
  10. Ankle flexed.
  11. Cheetos...Cool Ranch Doritos...Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles...
  12. Run springy and quiet.

In all seriousness, the article from RunnersWorld is pretty good. Great tips in easy to understand terms.

Next time I run, I'll be focussing on stride length...and potato chips. I'll provide a progress update on that front next blog.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

To Share, or Not to Share

Days until Marathon: 361
Weight: 273 pounds
Distance: 2.4 miles (jog/walk)
Total miles: 7.2

Every fat person has hefty goals (pun intended). Those goals always involve eating better, exercising, and losing a MASSIVE amount of weight.

No fat person ever sets a goal of losing 5-10 pounds.

Instead, we concoct a beautiful dream of someday walking around shirtless in the hot summer sun as we mow the yard. Proudly displaying our newly unpacked six-pack to all the neighbors and passersby.

Well, that's my dream anyway...

Unfortunately, I'm about 80 pounds away from even thinking about doing anything resembling "shirtless." I don't even shower shirtless anymore. Laundry and hygiene at the same time is multitasking in my book. Plus, I need a support bra just to start the mower without seriously injuring myself.

Fat people set mostly unreachable goals about every 20 minutes or so (heck, I've set a few since I started typing). Typically, in the excitement of the moment, we even take one or two steps toward achieving them: we eat a light lunch, we walk on the treadmill, we read up on the "all new" cabbage diet, etc. Shortly thereafter, however, we cave to uncontrollable depression/weakness/Pringles, and start over. This process tends to take about an hour, from start to finish, and occurs several times a day.

Big goals are the downfall of big people.

Often times, we husky-folk keep our fantasies of weight-loss to ourselves. Maybe we are shy. Maybe we are afraid that we'll fail and look silly to those we've told. Maybe we would like it to be a big surprise when we show up to work one day, 80 pounds lighter, and people shower us with compliments about how attractive we are...or maybe that's just me. At any rate, our silence tends to take the sting out of the impending failure. It also allows us to fail MUCH more easily.

Sometimes, we portly-people like to declare our intentions to a select few. Maybe we share it in order to bolster our courage. Maybe we are looking for a partner to support us along the journey. Maybe we need a confidant to grab an extra large pizza with when nobody else is around to ask us, "are you sure you want to be eating that?" Given a day or two, after the initial goal setting rush wears off, we stop talking about it, and it fades away. Weeks later, someone will ask, "how's the diet comin'?" and we'll respond, "oh fine," then kick ourselves for ever coming up with that stupid goal.

This time, I'm trying something new. I'm taking the goal sharing idea to a whole new level. I'm not just telling a few people around me, or just my friends and family. I'M TELLING THE WHOLE FRICKIN' WORLD.

I'm posting my run summaries on Facebook. My calorie intake is on my cubicle wall. I'm writing a blog, for crying out loud. I tell every person that I meet that I'M GOING TO RUN A MARATHON. I am forcing myself to think about and confront my goal every moment of every day, because I see it and hear it and feel it EVERYWHERE.

So, in 361 days, I will either be able to celebrate my accomplishment with a LOT of people, or I will experience a failure of epic proportions in front of every person I've ever come in contact with my entire life.

There's no half way, and for now, that's keeping me going.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Getting off my Lard Ass: Day 1

Days until Marathon: 366
Weight: 273 pounds
Distance: 2.2 miles (jog/walk)

I've been waiting for the big moment.

That moment that screams "I won't live this way anymore!" and "I'm better than this!"

That moment that those once-fat people on the talk shows refer to as the catalyst to their amazing weight loss and change in lifestyle.

That moment when the heavens part, the light shines down, the angels sing, and I'm hit with a powerful revelation that turns my life around forever.

It hasn't happened.

I am nearly 300 pounds, I get tired going up a single flight of stairs, my knees and hips hurt all the time, and I haven't had a pair of pants that fit well in 10 years. I wheeze, I snore, I stuff my face with greasy goodness, and I sit in an office chair for 8+ hours a day. I've got a beautiful family, a great job, terrific friends, and at this rate, I'LL NEVER MAKE IT TO 50. All of this, and it STILL wasn't enough to get off my lard ass and do something about it.

So what did it?


I started training for a marathon this morning ON A WHIM.

I hate running, fat people don't run well, and my schedule is plenty full as it is. So why do a marathon?

It dawned on me this morning that a marathon isn't something that I'm expected to do well. No one looks at me as a threat to beat them in a marathon. The guys in the front of the race don't look over at me before the gun goes off and think that they're in for a challenge. I don't even know what a fast time in a marathon is. All I know is that it has a start, a finish, and 26.2 miles in between. In fact, speed doesn't matter to me at all. Only SURVIVAL matters.

When I look at it that way, it actually seems doable. I have one, very simple, very clear goal: SURVIVE. In a way, it's a metaphor (or simile, or whatever the heck it is) for my life packed into a single year. I don't really need to focus on diet, or exercise, or cholesterol (which I LOVE, by the way), or any of those other IMPOSSIBLE tasks that fat people obsess over. I just need to aim for survival.

Seems like something pretty worth while.