Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 28 (The Final Day): Running Challenge

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have completed my first perfect month. I ran every day excepting Sundays from May 24 to June 24.

I mentioned in the last post that I didn't go into this goal with any particular expectations about what it would do for me. I decided instead to just do it and observe how it affected my life. Now that I have completed the experiment, I would like to reflect on what effect my perfect month of running had on me.

At first, each run just got harder. I felt more tired and I dreaded it every day. After about the first week, I noticed a slight increase in my general energy level and that seemed to continue until the end. My running didn't seem to be getting any easier, but I was keeping track of times and distances on, which I highly recommend for those of you who are like me and like tracking progress. Though it didn't feel like they were getting easier, I found that I was running the same distance consistently faster, so I began to add some distance. When I got to the mile it was up and down. Some days I was surprised at how easy it felt. Others, even at the end, I was hating every step of that mile. This often depended on when I ran (evenings were easier) because the time of day seemed to affect where my mind was. Thinking about everything that happened during the day made the running much easier.

Here's the quick version of what I got out of running, in order.

  • Tired (About days 1-10)
  • Noticeable increase in energy throughout the day (days 10-end)
  • Increased morale in my daily life (From day one and increasing to the end)
  • Increased optimism, particularly about my capabilities in general
  • An opportunity for some quiet, alone time to reflect and think 
  • Although it's arguably just water weight, I weighed myself today to see if I lost weight, and I'm about 5 pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of the perfect month. This seems to fluctuate enough that I would guess I lost about two or three pounds
  • I don't look any different (hotter) physically but I feel much more beautiful and this started after only about a week. 
My favorite outcome was just the self-esteem and optimism that naturally came from achieving something hard that I set my mind to. I'm glad that this was the most noticeable outcome because I have hope that other "Perfect Months" will give me a similar feeling. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 26 (of 27): Running Challenge

I did the 1.11 mile run tonight and I hated it.

Okay. Now that that's out of the way, I can write what I really wanted to write about today.

I've been talking to some of my friends about "The Perfect Month" and it got me thinking. Losing weight or "getting in shape" is a big motivator for exercise. (Duh, right?) I have to admit that my leftover preggie-belly influenced my decision to choose running as my first "perfect month."

Realistically, though, despite what the media would have me believe, even a PERFECT month of running for ten or so minutes every day is not likely to make me lose weight. Certainly not a noticeable amount, anyway. I'm afraid it would take a few perfect months, at least, before I would see a difference in the numbers. Is that extremely discouraging? Only if my sole motivation is to lose weight. Luckily it hasn't been. Though my belly was the impetus for this goal, I made a conscious decision to not plan the outcome of the perfect month. All I planned was the part I would do, then I watched and observed the outcome. I assumed, of course, that the outcome would be good and make me happy but I didn't try to predict it.

As I thought about this, I decided that predicting the impact of your goal is possibly one of the greatest pitfalls in achieving your goal. If your motivation is coming from your prediction that you will have lost weight, what happens if you don't? If you're hoping to gain energy from your exercise, what happens when instead you find yourself more tired than ever? You stop. It's not doing anything for you, right? So why keep killing yourself?

Tomorrow I'll wrap up the perfect month of running by describing what this month did for me. I'll tell you if I lost weight (ooh!) and if I look hotter (ay!) and if I have more energy (orale!).

I can tell you now, though, that I've learned that when it comes to results from your goals, it's better to take what you get instead of demanding that you get what you ordered.

And speaking of what you ordered...I love french fries. (There. A picture.)

Day 25: Running Challenge

Yesterday was day 25. I ran the Eagle Heights loop and basked in the somewhat cooler weather. (It's down from 94 degrees to 84 degrees) Yay!

I went back to the 1.11 mile run and tried to occupy my mind by thinking about what I'll do for the next perfect month. I couldn't focus on that, though. Here's a word of advice. Don't plan what you're gonna be perfect at next while you're in the middle of trying to be perfect at something else. If that doesn't make sense to you, I guess the advice does not apply. If it does, heaven help you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Days 22-24: Running Challenge

To be honest, I don't remember much about my runs on days 22 or 23 (Monday or Tuesday) but I do remember that it was 94 degrees with 76% humidity on Tuesday and Wednesday. Our little air conditioner was not cutting it. I did run my 1.11 mile loop on Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday (day 24) I was so discouraged and exhausted by the second 94 degree day in a row that I ran my shorter run. (0.8 something miles)

A week or two ago several friends of mine mentioned that they had begun exercise goals that were inspired by "The Perfect Month." I've talked to a few of you and heard that the goals are still going strong. I officially invite you to brag in the comments under this post. I am so grateful to hear from you because it makes me feel like I have company in this crazy goal of mine! I began this blog as a way to make me accountable for my goals and thanks to you all it has really helped me succeed. What have you done as a result of reading this blog?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Days 18-21: Running Challenge

On Wednesday June 13 (day 18) I ran 0.82 miles. Days 18-20 were all 1.11 miles. It's a new route that I can only run during daylight hours because there are several stretches that would otherwise be dark as a cave.

As I recall, on Thursday (day 19) when I ran the 1.11 miles around the apartment complex, it was difficult but exhilarating. I ran within earshot of the girls softball game during the hardest longest uphill section of the run. This was extremely helpful when someone apparently made a magnificent play and the whole stadium erupted in cheers. Since I couldn't see the stadium from where I was, it was easy to imagine that they were my adoring fans cheering me on through the hard part.

They LOVE me!!!
On Friday (day 20) I allowed another delusion to motivate my EH Loop run (1.11 mi). There were many fireflies out that night. It seemed there was always a firefly blinking about ten feet ahead of me for the whole run. I decided to believe that it was the same little guy the whole time and he was being my pace-setter and coach. Aww what a sweetie. He took me all the way home.

Coach Lighty-bug

Saturday (day 21) I ran the EH loop in the morning and just about died. I had such a hard time getting my mind off of the discomfort of running. I think running in the evening is actually easier for me because by then I have a whole day's worth of things to think about.

I guess I'm an evening jogger

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 17: Running Challenge

In the last few days I've been happy to hear that several of my friends have been inspired by my blog! First, a close friend living in New York has begun a daily exercise program which he's been doing for a couple of weeks now, and last night when I was enjoying an already wonderful skype visit with three of my favorite people, I heard that two more of my friends were inspired and decided to begin training for a 5k together!

I don't know how to adequately explain how happy that makes me. I had hoped that by making this blog, I would create a sense of personal responsibility for my goals, but I am pleasantly surprised to find that it has also given other people some of the motivation that had been evading me for so long. I wish you three the best and would love for you to comment on "The Perfect Month" about how your goals are going.

Last night was day 16 of the running challenge and the run itself was nothing spectacular. I started out intending to do my new slightly-over-a-mile run but it was pitch black dark when I got beyond my normal turn-around point and without any street lamps, the lecturing of many friends and family members got the best of me as I began to imagine people following me...

I want to make a running T-shirt that says "I run with MACE" or even better, "I run with A mace"

Day 15 and 16: Running Challenge

I can't remember anything special about Saturday (day 15)'s run, but I ran it!

Day 16 was Monday. For Family Home Evening, Matt, Lilly and I walked to the nearby field (the one just down the hill going out of Eagle Heights, by the hospital) and brought our ball bag. It was a wedding gift and we have loved using it on many occasions. We also brought Lilly's playground-style ball.

When we first arrived, Lilly held one of Mommy's hands and one of Daddy's hands, and we helped her run while kicking her playground "Tangled" ball. We were wondering what we'd do if Lilly ended up being good at sports. We decided we'd love it, we'd just need to ask her to re- teach us the rules at every game. ;)

We played catch with the mini-lacrosse sticks and wiffle ball while Lilly ran around until it got dark, then we started our walk home. On the way home, Matt asked if I'd run yet and I hadn't so I decided to run home. Running with the goal of actually transporting myself somewhere instead of going in a loop was kind of exhilarating. I wonder if that means I'm ready to run my second ever race. (I mean mentally ready, because I'm certainly not physically ready).

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 14: Running Challenge

Distance: 1.11 miles
Time: 9 minutes

Woo hoo!!!! I broke the mile mark! I had to push through it because there were moments when I really didn't like today's run, but I found that it is very mental for me. The more I think about the running the more I hate it. If I can manage to let it be a time for reflection or planning, the pain from running is less noticeable.

Today was a great day. Despite the fact that I totally dropped the ball on getting a babysitter for our Anniversary celebration today, a late email to two friends last night resulted in two offers to babysit Lilly for free. I am seriously blessed to have such great friends here.

Matt and I went out without Lilly for the first time in a long time (I can't even really remember the last time). We rented a canoe at Memorial Union and had a romantic picnic on lake Mendota. We didn't realize that Hoofers was doing a special event today: Free sail boat rides. The whole shoreline was filled with crowds of people lining up for their ride. Fun as that would be, we still wanted our romantic alone time so we rented our canoe anyway. As we were setting the canoe in the water, though, I somehow tripped and fell halfway into the lake and halfway into the back of the canoe. Miraculously I didn't get hurt at all physically. My pride however was a little bruised as the entire dock got some lively entertainment while they waited.

Matt and I paddled out to picnic point to explore a bit then back away from the shore to drift, eat, and enjoy each other's company. Afterward we had dessert overlooking the lake and walked past an old church that is having its foundation replaced. They literally put the church on stilts and tore out the entire foundation and are putting a new one in. Incredible. Fun day!
 You can see the capitol building in the background on this picture and some of the others.

 We saw this baby bunny on our walk to the bus stop. :)

Oh--I forgot to give this shout out to Teri in the last entry: THANK YOU for noticing the blogging had stopped. You gave me the push I needed to get back on board. Since the blog is my primary source of accountability for this goal, I really appreciate it. I would hate to have slipped up with my runs this far into the month!

Days 8-13

The last six days of running are a blur. All I remember, really, is that most of those runs I really did not want to do, they were almost all at night, and a couple of them were after 11:00. I do remember I saw a firefly on one of them.

Despite my horrendous job of blogging them, I'm proud to say that I still have not missed a single run. There were several nights when I absolutely would NOT have gone if it weren't for the nature of this goal. The purpose of this goal is not to do the runs perfectly, but to do them perfectly consistently. I know it doesn't work for everyone, but it seems to be the only way to motivate myself right now and I'm feeling so good about how far I've come.

Even without setting distance or time goals I've found my distance and pace automatically increasing and that is very encouraging.

As an excuse for not blogging for the whole first week of June, I will offer this story:

Saturday morning, Matt, Lilly, and I were getting ready to go to a baptism. I ran back to the bedroom to grab a sweater as Matt was heading out the door, I heard him exclaim, "OH MY GOSH!" in a very sincerely surprised voice. I ran to check what had happened and saw a chipmunk run across the living room and into the kitchen! It had run past Matt and entered our apartment through the door when Matt opened it to leave.

We cautiously approached the kitchen, pulled out the fridge and searched, but he had disappeared as quickly as he had come! To make a long story short, Matt and the Resident Manager ended up pulling up the floorboard and the bottom of our cupboard under the sink searching for the little guy. Right when Matt found him, he disappeared again! We later discovered a small crack in the cement under our cupboard and figured he must be hiding down there.

Despite our greatest efforts, he decided to stay with us Saturday and Sunday night. We set up a barricade between the kitchen and the hall that went into our rooms and had begun to become sort of accustomed to our little house guest. We had heard him only twice. Once was a scratching noise we heard under the cupboard. The other was when Matt mentioned that we might have to use the mouse trap that the apartment complex gave us to catch him. He squeaked as if to say, "Please have mercy on me!" My heart melted and I insisted that we go buy a live trap.

We put our live trap out on Monday. A pest control guy showed up and set up a mouse trap for the little guy and we promptly disarmed it. By Tuesday morning when he was still nowhere to be found, we were starting to think that the hole he'd hidden in might lead to the basement.

That morning I took Lilly out to play and when we got home, I had just set her on the floor to take off her shoes when I heard a rustling from the window. I thought--I don't think we left the windows open--and turned to look. Imagine my surprise when four feet to the left of me, at eye level, I saw our little house guest climbing on our new curtains! I screamed in surprise and fear, grabbed Lilly, ran out of the apartment and realized that was really dumb of me. I should have watched him to see where he went. I called Matt and he came right home to help me get him out.

When he got here about 40 minutes later, he discovered the little guy hiding in our heater that runs along the floor under the windows. I put Lilly down for her nap and we began the hour long human/chipmunk showdown. After pulling the furniture away from the wall, this basically involved scaring the chipmunk with a stick so he would crawl through the heater to the end of the wall where we then scared him enough that he hopped out of the heater and out the door. Woo hoo! Major victory!

So you can see I was a little distracted from blogging...