Long Lost Frienemy



After running the Rock & Roll Las Vegas Half Marathonlast year, I not only let myself off the hook from such a disciplined regimen of training, but I cut out training all together. I still ran every now and then and even did a couple of races in the following months, but my running was sporadic at best. About three months ago, I just stopped running or doing anything really physical at all. While everyone else on Facebook and Twitterwas doing Run Streaks, I was doing my own non-running streak for no real reason other than with work being even busier than it has been and the usual menagerie of events taking place every weekend of the summer, I just didn’t make time or have the energy left to get out and run.
My girlfriend finds it relaxing to cook interesting recipes when she gets home from work and frequently she will surprise me with something tasty when I stop by after getting home from work, which is typically far later than one should eat dinner when they are planning to go to bed in the next hour or three. With the total lack of exorcise, working late and so eating dinner late and then going to sleep on a pillow of calories, plus sitting on busses and trains both ways for a one and a half hour commute each way, I have put on forty pounds in the past three months! Yup. 145 to 185 in just a few months of slacking off. I would like to simply blame my metabolism for retiring when I turned thirty this year, but I have quite a few friends that age and older who are in far better shape than I, while working just as much, drinking and eating just as much if not more, but who still make the time to work out or go running on a much more regular basis.
I got a FitBit a few weeks ago to help encourage me to at least get up from my Cube more often instead of staying chained to my desk all day, frequently working through lunch (which made me pig

out more at dinner since I was starving by that point). It ended up making me aware of how little I actually walk (especially since I hadn’t been running for the past couple months), even though I walk to several buses and several trains every day just to get to and from the office. At the office I hardly moved at all. Weekends I would use as an excuse to be lazy or I would try to catch a bus to a train rather than just walking a few blocks to the CTA Red Line during my daily commute. Having the FitBit has helped me to at least focus on getting a bare minimum of steps in each day and to drink more water (as you can track that manually in the app as well, along with calories, sleep patterns, etc.). It also helped me to establish a baseline for what I walk on average each day (a little over 7,000 steps on a workday when I started, now closer to 9,000 steps a day, though the default goal is still 10,000 steps a day). Slow progress, but at least it is a starting point.

Before Sunset – Frankfort, MI August 2014
Over the holiday weekend last week, we went up to the cottage my girlfriend’s family has in
Sunset – Frankfort, MI – May 2014

Northern Michigan. It was a long overdue vacation and it allowed me time enough where I would have no excuses as to why I would not get back out on that dusty trail with some Vibrams strapped to my feet. My brother went out running every day we were there, save for the last, as he was keeping up a run streak he had been on that month. I joined him on the second day and it was one of the most difficult 2.09 miles of my life. Not only had I not run in quite a while, but I have never run while being this overweight before. It was harder on my body than the first time in my adult life that I got out and ran my first few miles, several years ago, having never run before (other than in gym class twice a year for ‘The Mile’ run in middle/high school?). I ran slowly, my legs felt heavy, and my lungs were on fire. I knew if I pushed through then the next run would get easier and so would the one after that, just as they had before. This particular run however, was more of a wakeup call that I could no longer just sit by and maintain my previous lifestyle of the past couple months of simply being too tired or busy when I got home from work or whatever exciting thing was going on that weekend.

The day following that difficult run, I was surprisingly not sore. I figured I would get a brief reprieve as the second day soreness would not set in until the following day and I decided to make it worth the suffering and go out for a ten mile bike ride that day. A bike ride has never been more enjoyable. My legs had been thoroughly stretched and strengthened by the previous day’s run and the weather had cooled down significantly from the prior day’s heat. I rode a little short of five miles out and five miles back, though I would have gladly gone farther, but sadly had to cut it short as we were trying to make it out to Lake Michigan to watch the sunset again that evening. I rode along the shore of Crystal Lake for about three miles before cutting inland through a fantastic, and fortunately for my now weakened legs, flat, wooded trail before turning around and heading back to the cottage.
After being back in Chicago and back to the daily grind now for a week, I wanted to make sure I didn’t go back on what I had learned while I had been on retreat in Michigan. I started doing lunges and crunches again when I didn’t feel like going out for an actual run, then today I actually figured that since it was such a gorgeous day, I would go for a short run instead of watching the Bears game with my friends. Totally worth it. It was a slow and difficult run, but I felt much better afterwards than I did after that first two miles the week before which ended my brief hiatus from running. Hopefully this is a new beginning to my beautiful love/hate relationship with running.

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