Sunday, 16 September 2012

Walking and wins

Photo courtesy Bradley Buhro, licensed CC-BY-NC-SA
Saturday I had the usual routine of coffee and grocery shopping with my mom at McEwan's (a premium grocery store in North York with amazing service), and then grocery shopping (for the bulk of the food) with the Nerd at the St. Lawrence Market.

I had planned to go for a walk after shopping and before lunch, but it was 3pm before we finished lunch as coffee ran a little long this morning.  One thing led to another and before I knew it, it was getting into the early evening, and no walk was in sight.

I had suggested to the Nerd that we go for a walk a few times today, and got a non-committal response each time.  I suspect he is starting to realize that these grim death marches are becoming a trend, and perhaps he is regretting his early enthusiasm for walks.

I finally decided to go myself if the Nerd would not accompany me, and headed out alone around 7:30 pm - - in time for a perfect sunset, and then a nice walk alone in the increasingly dark streets.  That latter part was not so fun, as inevitably in downtown Toronto there are certain blocks or areas that are less comfortable to walk past, either because of the number or type of people hanging out on the street.  But I am a big girl (no kidding), and I was walking at a good clip, and I appeared to be aware of my surroundings, so I was not bothered by anyone.

I tried a new app for the first time on this walk, the BeatBurn Treadmill app.  You may remember that I use the BeatBurn Elliptical app 6 days a week during my elliptical exercises.  The concept behind both apps is the same: the app adjusts the beat of your personal music to hit a specific cadence, and varies that beat/cadence throughout the workout.  On the elliptical machine this is accomplished by varying the intensity on the machine and your strides per minute.  On the treadmill app the intensity is varied purely modifying the walking pace.

Overall, I enjoyed using the app for the walk.  I would have enjoyed it more if it were light out and not so scary on the street, but the fact that I was walking at night was not the app's fault.  I found the variety in the music to be quite stimulating, and I did not get bored with the pace on the walk.  I also found that walking in time to the music helped me keep pressing the pace, avoiding my tendency to slow down over time.

I was surprised that I was so keen to walk, especially since I ended up walking alone.  It can't be because I get to eat more when I work out ... well, not only that, at any rate.  I think it is because I am committed to adding walks to my routine, and I am also committed to doing something active every day.  Going for a walk is a simple fix to a workout problem - - it's free, and can be as intense (or not) as you wish.

I still find walking challenging, because I have an unusually bouncy stride and cannot for the life of me hit a 4 mph pace.  But distance is not a problem any more, nor is time.  I walked for around 50 minutes, and could easily have gone longer if I did not need to get home for dinner.  My legs still feel achy when I get home and have sat for a while, but the next morning there are no sequelae from the walk - - no muscle soreness, no joint pain, no sore feet - - which is great.

I hope that the more walks I do, the better I will be able to dial up the pace.  I would love to walk 5 km in under 60 minutes (or preferably much less).  This is not because I would like to be a competitive walker, but rather, because I hate the idea of doing anything for 60 minutes that doesn't involve words like "snuggle" or "nap", or "tasting menu".

Photo courtesy Alien Skyy, licensed CC-BY-SA
As for wins, aside from the win of being motivated enough to go for a walk on my nominal "rest" day, I noticed today for the first time that I am having an easier time getting out of chairs. 

I have a couple of very comfy chairs in the living room, which by their nature are difficult from which to escape.

In the past, before I started working out, I would have to lever myself out of the chairs with great effort.  My knees would be very sore and weak, and there was no question of simply standing up - - getting to an upright position almost required a winch and a crane, and was a major undertaking.  Getting out of the chair was so challenging that most evenings, once I was in the chair, it was more practical to just accept that I was there for the duration.

A few weeks ago (or maybe even a couple of months ago), I noticed that it was somewhat easier to get out of the chair, in that it was easier for me to bend over and put my computer lapboard on the ottoman to permit me to lever myself out of the chair.  The simple fact was that having lost around 5" on my stomach, there was less of me in the way impeding bending at the waist.

Today I noticed that, although I am still levering myself out of chairs, the effort required is much less.  I am not leaping out of chairs like a springbok, by any means, but I am noticing that it requires much less effort to lever myself out of chairs than it did before.

I expect this means that my legs are getting stronger with all the exercise that I am doing.  After all, all those elliptical workouts and walks must be good for something, right?  Regardless, being able to get out of chairs with (slightly more) grace and dignity is a win, and I will take it. 

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