Thursday, April 2, 2020

B is for Boredom Busters

Being bored while working out is nothing new, but with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing around the world, it's likely that you're finding yourself even more bored than usual because of the restrictions you're living under.  So how to combat that?  Let's see if I can help.

Gym closed?  
  • You can still get out and walk or run (in most areas), as long as you follow your required social distancing protocols.  
  • You can modify your gym routine at home, even without expensive equipment (things like resistance bands, medicine balls, hand weights, jump rope, and of course the devil's sidewalk - the dreadmill).  I've shared some tips on this post of things you might have around the house to use as weights.  Get creative!
Monotony of the treadmill make you nuts?
  • Watch TV.  I have my treadmill set up in the garage, and put a TV out there to keep me from going crazy.  I have a Roku device as well as a Hulu subscription, so there's always something to watch, even if I don't have that TV hooked up to cable.  Isn't streaming TV one of the greatest inventions ever?  
  • Podcasts are my new friend, and they can be yours too.  I've looked at several different podcast services and the one I found the easiest to maneuver around is Stitcher.  You can search for topics you like and save them as favorites, and never run out of things to listen to.  I listen more when I'm walking/running outside than I do on the treadmill, but if you don't have access to a TV where your treadmill is, it's a great option.
  • Listen to audio books.  Reading while on the treadmill can be a bit difficult (although I've done it!), so audio books offer a good alternative that is less likely to trip you up.  There are a number of different apps/subscriptions you can access, and your local library might even offer a good selection for you to take advantage of.  Let your mind wander with a timeless classic, or learn a new language.  The options are limitless.
Same scenery too boring?
  • If walking around your neighborhood has become mundane, research what trails you can find within a short drive, or venture further out and make a day of it.  Pack a picnic lunch and tailgate if parks are closed.  Again, be sure to stay within the restrictions imposed in your area.
  • It's not always about training for a race or competition, so include the family more often.  Kids can ride their bikes if you're running, or just take a family walk instead.  Make a list of appropriate things you might find where you're walking and have a scavenger hunt.  Bring chalk and leave your mark and share good tidings and encouragement to others who might come along after you.  Even better, make a hopscotch diagram to encourage others to get moving too.
Restrictions suck, but don't use the Corona virus pandemic as an excuse to be lazy.  Being active is even more important for your mental health now.  Get up and get moving!

~ Marie Anne

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A is for Achievements, and Achievement!

A large part of today's population has jumped on the fitness-tracker craze in attempt to get healthier, and it seems everyone has something strapped to their wrist that tracks their steps, among other things. Striving to achieve that step goal every day is getting people off the couch and more conscious of how increased activity can have many benefits - weight loss, lowering cholesterol, managing diabetes and high blood pressure among them.  For me, the biggest benefit to walking and running is mental health.

Do you have a Fitbit, Garmin, or other tracking device that counts your daily steps?  Apps like MapMyRun/Walk/Fitness?  MyFitnessPal?  Strava?  Did you know that you can get paid to use them? 

I've been a member of Achievement for a couple of years and have cashed out several times.  It's a no-brainer.  You simply sign up, choose which step tracker you want it to grab data from, and the system does the rest.  You don't have to log in every day to do anything at all, you just sign up and forget about it (unless you want to check your points occasionally, and then of course you have to request to cash out when you have earned enough points to do so).

You get points for your daily steps, and additional points for tracking your exercise.  You even get points if you weigh yourself.  Have you ever been paid to sleep?  If your Fitbit or other device tracks it, you get points for sleeping too!

Achievement isn't going to make you rich.  Even as active as I am, it takes me several months to cash out $10, but it's basically free money.  You honestly don't have to do another thing once you've added your tracking device to sync with Achievement.

Click on any of the links above to get 100 points just for signing up today (I'll get 100 point bonus too), and let me know if you need help setting up your account. 

You're tracking your steps every day anyway; why not let someone hand you some cash to do it?

~ Marie Anne

Friday, March 27, 2020

Pandemic + Challenges + Stubborn Marine = Mission Accomplished

So, the other day I did a thing.

With all the race cancellations from the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of organizations are turning to virtual races, and the Marine Corps 17.75k originally scheduled for 28 March 2020 was one of them.  Those who had already registered for the race have the option to defer their registration until next year's race, transfer it to another upcoming race in the area, or run it virtually.  In addition to the in-person-race-turned-virtual, the race coordinators opened up another strictly virtual run that's open to  anyone.

So what's a 62-year-old retired Marine who

- is overweight
- is pre-diabetic
- has high cholesterol
- has bad knees
- is still suffering from injuries to two parts of her right foot
- did a face-plant four months ago and still experiences minor issues from the concussion
- had a post-run heart rate situation a month ago that resulted in a possible cardiac incident

do?  She signs up to run that virtual 17.75k, of course!  Had to represent Team RWB.  😀

Oh, have I mentioned I've never run that far before, or even walked 11 miles at one time?

The significance of the 17.75k distance is to honor the Marine Corps' birth in a Philadelphia tavern on 10 November 1775.  Birthdays are a big thing to Marines, and always celebrated in a big way.  How could a retired MSgt not jump at the chance to earn a finisher's medal and t-shirt?

So, that's the 'thing' I did.

Honestly, the morning I set out to do it, I hadn't convinced myself that that would be 'the' day to attempt the mission.  I figured I'd go out and see how I felt, walking that first 3/4 mi or so to get off the potential toe-snagging sidewalk and across a main thoroughfare into the quiet subdivision with smooth asphalt roads.  Once there, I eased into a jog and settled into a slow pace that felt comfortable, and just went with it.  I started out later in the morning than I usually do, and since I was probably going to be out there for a couple of hours and the temp was expected to rise, I made sure to wear my CamelBak for hydration, and tucked a snack into the case as well.

Since I was attempting something that would no doubt be taxing for me, I opted not to go to a halfway point and turn around, but instead just trotted up and down the same several block area so that I would never be more than a mile or so from home (and within a half mile from the library so I could take a potty break if needed.  I should have, but didn't).  My heart rate was pretty steady in the 140s, so I was comfortable shooting for the 11.03 mile that I needed.

I started to feel a bit rough around mile 9.  The temp was indeed rising, and by mile 10, my heart rate had pushed into a dangerous zone for me, so I had to dial it back.  I didn't change my gait, but even though I could have crawled faster than I was trotting at that point, it was a mind thing.  After making it that far, I wasn't going to NOT finish.

And finish I did.  It wasn't fast, but I got 'er done.

I'm not advocating that anyone take risks with their health, and had I really felt I was in danger, I would have stopped and made a phone call. I constantly check my heart rate when I'm working out, and I made sure that I was never more than a few blocks away from a couple of friends who could come to my rescue.  I always have a whistle attached to me somewhere, and was running in a large housing area where someone would surely see or hear me if I called out or blew an SOS.

My heart rate was a little weird when I finished, but not nearly as bad as it had been the previous time I had concerns. 💓 It did drop down to a moderate level in a reasonable time frame, but each time I got up and walked even a few paces, it would start to spike again (not to a dangerous level, but definitely higher than it should have been). I have no doubt that it wouldn't have been a problem if I'd slowed down earlier and even walked for a bit so as not to exceed my sweet spot. Exceeding max HR for any length of time isn't smart at any age since it can cause damage to the heart, and since there's no glory in that, lesson learned.

Completing a half-marathon is still on my bucket list, 13.1 miles.  Based on recent experiences, I doubt I'd be able to run the whole thing no matter how slow, but since I proved I could do 11.03 miles, I'm pretty sure I could go the slightly longer distance by sticking to intervals, or even walking the whole way.  I don't know if I'll sign up for an official race, but I do plan to go the distance, maybe with a friend or two along for company after quarantine and social distancing are no longer the plan of the day.  😷

Never quit.

~ Marie Anne

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Runs cancelled during COVID-19 pandemic, virtuals popping up everywhere

With the threat of the Corona virus still looming over us and quarantines and social distancing becoming our new normal, getting in a workout is a bit of a challenge for many.  Going to the gym isn't an option, but hitting the streets for a walk or run is still possible for most people.

With races all over the world being cancelled, many race directors are either rescheduling, offering a deferred entry for next year's race, or giving the entrant the option to run it virtually.  There are even separate virtual runs popping up everywhere with crazy-cool medals for entrants.  There are plenty of sites that offer virtual race swag, and a favorite is Run Motivators, where you can get in on some action with the Potty Paper Race 5K.  Yes, the medal looks like a roll of toilet paper running down the road.  There's even an option to order up to 4 charms to hang on the larger medal, so that's five chances for you to challenge yourself and wear that virtual potty paper around your neck  proudly (I'm still running most every morning, so of course I ordered all the charms too).

Gone for a Run also has some pretty awesome medals up for grabs, and check out Peak Virtual Races if you'd like to take it a step further and support a charity with your efforts.  There are plenty of other virtual races that are as near as your keyboard, so do a quick search and see what piques your interest.

Don't have the money to sign up for the virtual medals with the fancy swag?  Come up with your own! If you usually run with friends or a running club, pick a theme for your own virtual race.  Cut up some cardboard or card stock and get creative with markers and stickers to make a medal, and don't forget race bibs!  Take it a step further and encourage dressing up to fit your theme, and have a contest for the best costume, most creative medal, etc., instead of the just awards for fastest pace.  Everyone can win!

Being stuck in quarantine doesn't necessarily mean stuck inside, so just be careful to follow social distancing and other protocols during the pandemic, and get out there and move.  I am.

~ Marie Anne

Sunday, February 9, 2020

2020 Running/Walking/Fitness Challenges - Run the Year 2020

So ... I've mentioned a couple of challenges in passing, and probably should share some of the details.

The first challenge I signed up for this year was the Run the Year 2020 Challenge hosted by Run the Edge.  The goal is to run (or walk, or other equivalent activity) 2,020 miles in the year 2020.  Because of past/current and the potential for future injuries, the majority of my miles will be accumulated by walking.  There are few rules, and you can choose to count all of your daily steps, or just your intentional workout miles.  You can also join a team with up to four other participants.

I signed up for the whole package with some great swag!  It included a t-shirt, finisher's medal, challenge coin, a couple of stickers, and a cool chart where you color in a spot for each mile.  You can sync your Fitbit or sport watch tracker, and also add or edit your mileage manually, and the site tracks all of your stats.

I get a good chunk of steps in daily by dedicated walking around the house, but it's often not enough to bother starting my watch to track it.  Since those really are additional steps, I'm counting all of my daily Fitbit steps towards the main goal of 2,020 miles by December 31 (an average of 5.5 daily miles ... easy peasy, and I'm already well ahead of the game), but I'm also keeping track of my intentional workout miles to see just how far I can go with that (I'm pushing for at least 1,500 miles, which would be an average of just over 4 miles per day, and I've banked some extra there already too).

Another participant gifted me her coloring chart and I'm using that to visually track my dedicated workout miles.

There is a Facebook group for the main RTY2020 challenge, as well as groups for individual demographics such as walkers, marathoners, those doing it for weight loss, etc, and also one for each state so you could even meet up with others in your area if you crave more than virtual motivation.  It's fun and encouraging to interact with and support other crazy like-minded  people who are taking this journey with you.

In additional to the main challenge, you can also sign up for six additional streaker challenges throughout the year, and I'll cover those in another blog post.

RTY2020 might have been the first challenge to spark my interest this year, but it seems to have started a fire.  Follow along to hear about the rest of the goals I'm striving to meet with other challenges.

~ Marie Anne

Are you doing any challenges this year?  Tell me about them!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Treadmill/TV Obsession, and Opening a Cold Case Marathon

Had a great time with a fellow Eagle from my local Team RWB chapter at 7am this morning, where we chattered like magpies as we pumped out a 6.34 mile hike on the Cedar Point Tideland Trail, part of Croatan National Forest (we usually do that once a month).  As if that wasn't enough, I popped onto the treadmill shortly after 4pm and logged another 3 miles.  Is it a bad thing that I might be slightly obsessed with the treadmill/TV relationship in my garage?

Today's treadmill boredom-breaker was Season 1, Episode 3 of Cold Case on the Roku Channel.  I
used to enjoy watching it, but haven't seen it on regular TV in several years (it ran on CBS for seven seasons, from 2003-2010, but I watched it later on ION, I think it was).  I happened upon it by chance on Roku the other day, so quickly added it to my playlist and watched the first two shows.  Even with commercial breaks (which are much less frequent that regular TV), each episode lasts about 45 minutes, but I can stretch it long enough to get a 3-mile walk in.

I find it fascinating how they can reopen a homicide case and follow a trail that went cold from decades ago, and Kathryn Morris is phenomenal as the lead character, Detective Lilly Rush.  There is a good chemistry between her and the rest of the cast, too (Danny Pino, who later played on Law & Order, SVU, will show up shortly).

One of the reasons I like this show is that they're often solving homicides from the 60s and 70s, and it's fun seeing the clothes and cars and such from back in my day, and of course hearing some hit songs from that era being played as background music is a nice bonus.

Is there a show that you used to like to watch that isn't on anymore?  If you have a Roku device or one of the new Roku TVs, make sure to check that channel as there are a lot of good shows right there without having to pay to subscribe to Hulu or one of the other services.

~ Marie Anne

Treadmill Motivation, Movie Review of Turtles & Hares

I've still been walking outside most mornings, but will sometimes jump on the treadmill for a second walk (or slow trot) later in the day.  I didn't think that having the TV in the garage would make that much of a difference in my activity level since the treadmill is boring and I prefer to be outside, but surprisingly, it's turning out to be a very good incentive.

Normally when I watch TV in the living room, I have to be doing something else at the same time ... crocheting, working crossword puzzles - something. I don't know how to not multi-task.  While the post-concussion symptoms are getting somewhat better, I still can't crochet for more than a couple of minutes at a time, and when working a crossword puzzle, moving my eyes back and forth from the page with the clues to the puzzle itself is especially hurtful and sends me into a tailspin.  Since I can't do much of that, walking while watching a movie is a good alternative.

I mentioned before that I've been adding movies to my watch list so I'll always have something at the ready when I climb aboard the 'mill.  My pick for the other day was Turtles & Hares, free to watch on Amazon Prime Video. It wasn't a very long movie, just under an hour, so was perfect to get 3 miles or so in at a walk.

Turtles & Hares is about Team Carrie, a group of people in Ireland who are training for the Dublin Marathon.  Coached by David Carrie, this little town of less than 2,000 residents now has almost half that amount who have completed the full 26.2 miles over the last couple of years.  What an incredible feat!

It's not a Hollywood blockbuster for sure, but for a basic documentary that chronicles the weeks of training to get complete non-running men and women of all ages across the finish line of a marathon, I'll give it a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars.  The Irish Brogues can be a bit challenging to understand sometimes over the noise of the treadmill, but it wasn't difficult to follow along.  I probably wouldn't watch it again, but it filled up an hour's time for a second workout where I didn't want to commit to a full-length movie so it served its purpose.

Do you have a favorite movie or show you like to watch while on the treadmill?  Please share!

~ Marie Anne

So far today:

6.34 mi hike w/Team RWB friend at semi-local state park

Challenge tallies to date:

Taji 100:  42.82 miles
RTY2020 dedicated activity:  146.7 miles
RTY2020 total steps:  274.12 miles
Amerithon:  274.12 miles

Yesterday's Fitbit stats:

15,182 steps
6.79 miles