5km Everyday for November (addendum)

Dear Boys,

I realised that there are some other details I’ve not explain well in my other 2 posts.

Losing Weight

No, I didn’t lose weight, nor was I aiming to when I started this challenge. The strange thing was the weight loss should have come as a sort of given effect, as I am putting more activities on the road, every day, but no, my weight stays on stubbornly.

What actually happened was my blood pressure started dropping. This was more acute when I run in the morning and take the readings after that, evening reading has traditionally for me been a spike, but even that was brought down during my runs at night.

recorded some of my best BP readings during my 30 day challenge, especially morning runs.

That was an encouraging sign as it does indicate that my body is responding positively to the increased cardio-vascular stress and load.

Breaking Mindset

To be frank the challenge was more like an experiment. I wasn’t sure if I can keep to it, as there are many unexpected things that can happen to break my running streak (pun intended). I could fall ill, got hurt, it could rain, and a lot of other events.

More importantly it is a self-commitment to see how far I can take it, before the challenge, I do felt stiffness/pain on my lower back, and instantly the mind came up with this perfect excuse/reason: “Yeah, shouldn’t run so much/long! Give ya back a break!” Or days where I planned it poorly, and ended up exhausted even before I hit the road, I’d tell myself: “Why the heck are you doing this!” Or “At your age?” Or “Hadn’t you got enough? Aikido, Cycling home, and then another 5km?” 

Cycled home…
…followed by a run

While there are tonnes of reasons why you will tell yourself not to do it, I always give myself 2 reasons why I do it:

1- It’s only for 30 days, consecutively, so don’t break it.

2- It’s only 30 minutes out, it’ll be over before you know it.

These 2 mantras helped me get through the toughest run, which is always about the mindset. Even during the run, these excuses/reasons never leaves me alone. But action builds traction. I learned that as long as I keep at it, I’ll get through it. Except when it rains.

Plan B

I’ve already mentally prepared that even if it rains, I’d run. Unless it is a massive thunderstorm. Then I’ll have to resort to Plan B, and thankfully I have a treadmill at home for such continencies, which I only used once.

The other time which I had to look for a gym/treadmill, was a Thursday where I have to see Ian off, flying to Japan for your 9-day school trip. I knew then the night will end late for me, so I left work a little early, popped into an ActiveSG gym, ran the 5km, showered and head off to the airport.

complements of AciveSG Gym at Jalan Besar

The mind is a very tenacious mechanism, and we need to be careful where we apply the tenacity, it can work for us or it sure has hell can work against us.

Reality Check

The other thing was a reality check which was closely tied to our mindset. We have to hit the action button constantly to make sure we are who we are, and not who we think we are. I also wanted to see how my body espond to a higher physical tempo, will I break? Will I fall ill? Thakfully my body held up well through the entire 30 days.

Putting 5km every day on the road, helps me constantly check myself. If I can do it, then there is no lying about it. And if I pretend to be fit when I am not, then there is no way I can do what I did. And despite of my physical ability to do it. The lazy me, did thought of cheating, like cycle instead of jogging, or do a quick 3 km and qualify it as an effort. The mind is tricky and sly, it is a constant battle to keep at it, and not stray from the goal.

Habit forming

There is a popular saying that it takes about 3 months for a habit to set in. I think that is bullcrap. It takes a long longer, and it takes commitment, discipline, and constant eye on the target to keep at it. And breaking it? It is just a matter of days. And the body will want to stay at rest, and continue its optimum rest position.

But what I learned was to be kind to myself, while it is a 30day challenge, I walsy give myself a caveat. I am not going to die achieving it. If I need to break it, so be it, I’m fine, and I am not going to be unhappy about it.

Besides, this was my 3rd attempt, as I’ve failed once a long time back, and again in Sept this year, where I must stop due to a bad bike fall.

Lessons learnt

At the end of the day, I took away valuable lessons in exercise, and staying in control. You see, to be able to put on your shoes and run, would mean that you have faculties under your control and influence.

While your world might become crazily out of control, as long as you can run and exercise, you will know deep down inside there’s still a part of you, that you have control and influence over. It is important for us to build our self-confidence over our own effort to shape and work our body, this is one faculty, no one has permission to control, except ourselves.

5km Everyday for November (Part 1)

5km Everyday for November (Part 1)

Dear Boys,

Your dad challenged himself to a 5 km run everyday for the month of November, and this is how he did it.

Planning

It is not as simple as just pick up the shoes and run, well it is actually that simple but there is some planning to do. You need to run through a couple of things in your head before you actually put the foot on the ground. It is the simple Franklin Covey’s ‘measure twice, cut once.’ mindset, as he as mentioned in his highly acclaimed 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Route planning

I need to know where to jog, that is to measure the distance and not do more than 5km, there is a discipline to it that you don’t over-run which is unnecessary, and will do more harm than good, there must be a good pace to contain fatigue (more on that later…)

To know where I am jogging, I use Mapometer. This website helps me plot my route and work out the areas I can jog to get my mileage. It is quite intuitive although in some places the routes are not updated, so you still need to have some ‘on the ground’ knowledge to make this work better.

mapometer.JPG

Planned Routes

After working out Mapometer, I will list out a few routes, so that I don’t get bored running the same route for 30 days. For where we stay, I’ve listed 5-8 routes which is in the range of 5km.

The 5 primary routes are:

  1. Punggol Central =5.47km
  2. LRT = 5.19km
  3. Kelong Bridge = 5.17km
  4. Triple Bridge = 5.06km
  5. FGS (Fo Guang Shan) = 5.18km

Once these are identified, I’ll work out a day to day plan:

october planning

This is to help me visualise what I need to do, and prepare the night before. I will usually have my ‘run package’ ready, which is top, shorts, socks, blister tape (more on that later as well…) running pouch and blinkers (talk about that, safety aspect too…)

Look, the plan is the plan, when it comes to execution, it often don’t go as planned, but without a framework, it will be no problem to start, but difficult to be consistent.

Having the map routed, and days sort of planned, it is time for the run! After every run, I will record it down in the journal:

Scan0009

While I use a running app to keep track of my running, nothing beats, old school writing it down. It helps me collect my thought and look at my efforts so far, there is a minor satisfaction writing down the accomplishment, and it does help me move day to day, with some level of motivation.

Hit the road!

Once all the planning is done, it boils down to the execution of the plan. If planning is strategic, the execution is tactical. In order to be successful, you need both, and with all the planning done, without proper execution, you will fizzle.

I know I can run, the issue is running consistently, and finding the time to do it. The running itself will take typically 30 odd minutes, the warming down, taking a shower and settling down at my journal, takes up another 20 odd minutes, so it’ll take me about an hour to end the whole exercise. Once you get the timing the first few times, you’ll know how much time you need to get it done.

While it is all about putting on the shoes to run, your mind will play tricks on you to drag it out, during the weekends, where you have the entire day to do your stuff and you will tend to procrastinate the run till almost the end of the day. This is even more acute during the weekdays, where a huge chunk of the time is taken up by work and commute. which left my running fighting for time with sleeping.

On top of that I have Aikido lessons in some weekday evenings, so in the most ideal situation, I’d like to jog in the morning, so that I have time for Aikido in the evening, but in reality, I’d ended up doing Aikido and jogging after class, which totally exhausts me.

I’ll talk more about fatigue, blisters, safety blinkers and other more nitty gritty details in the part 2.