Posts Tagged ‘running’

Five Reasons Running is My Preferred Exercise

In the triumphant return of Five-Things-Wednesday after a tw0-week hiatus I discuss the reasons I prefer running to other forms of contrived exercise.  Make no mistake, I’d rather not exercise at all, but I recognize that as a white-collar kinda guy I’m not going to reach my fitness goals without some form of contrived exercise.  And running is that exercise for the following reasons:

1.)  I actually go somewhere.  I can’t stand stationary bikes, stair climbers, elliptical machines (what the hell does that even mean?), etc.  Because they make you work and sweat … and you stay in one place.  They are, by definition, stationary.  Which makes them the epitome of contrived exercise in my opinion.  Running is still contrived (I’m not actually running from or to anything, after all), but at least I put some distance behind me.   This is, by the way, one of the biggest reasons I don’t like NASCAR – the idea of driving a car 500 miles and never leaving Daytona is mind-boggling to me.

2.)  I get to be part of the world around me.  It’s easy to take for granted, but the pace of running (especially my particularly slow pace) is ideal for actually seeing the stuff in my neighborhood without standing and ogling.  Soon I’ll know where all the dead birds, illicit garbage piles and hidden fences on Glen Springs Road are.  If I were doing anything in the gym I wouldn’t see anything but bad TV and a lot of people in infinitely better condition than me.  If I were biking I’d have to pay attention to other, bigger vehicles.  If I were swimming I’d be way too focused on not drowning to even see the sides of the pool.

3.)  It’s cheap.  And so am I.  Running (and yes, walking) is the least expensive exercise I know of.  Invest in a good pair of shoes and you’re in bidness.  Sure, there are gadgets and accessories you can add, but all you need is the shoes.

4.)  It’s portable.  Referring back to number three above, all you need is the shoes.  Which are a lot easier to pack than a bike or golf clubs.  When I used to run regularly I brought my shoes on business travel and as a consequence (referring back to number two above) I got see some really cool things in Denver, Austin and Fargo, just to name a few.  No, really, Fargo was interesting.  Stop laughing.

5.)  It’s removes the desire to sing along with Mick Jagger.   When I’m walking I find myself singing along, playing a little air-guitar, pumping my fists, etc., as I listen to my exercise playlist.  Which looks really stupid.  That’s not a problem when I’m running, because all my attention is focused on silly things like breathing.  And yes, I know that to exercise safely I should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably while I run, to which I respond, “Not with these lungs.”  At my most fit that wasn’t possible.  It’s darn sure not possible right now.

I noticed when I posted this that this is my 52nd post on Skipping Dessert.  Which means that post number 50, a nice, round milestone kind of number, was my running shoes haiku.  Which sort of opens the door to the exercise portion of my weight-loss path.  Interesting how things happen that way.

Exercise. Ugh.

As I’ve mentioned in more than one post on this blog, I don’t like exercise for the point of exercise.  Walking from point a to point b because it’s the best way to get there?  Sure!  Taking the stairs?  Heck yes – saves time!  Carrying the groceries an extra hundred yards or so?  I’m for it – means I probably found a shady parking spot!

But riding a bicycle for an hour without leaving the gym?  That feels pointless and dismal to me.  Climbing into a contraption designed to isolate one set of muscles moving in one particular direction and then working those muscles in that direction until it hurts to do the things life requires of me?   That’s just not logical or efficient.

That said, I know I need the exercise.  My lifestyle as a fundraiser/non-profit administrator/dad of three doesn’t exactly provide the level of physical exertion human males evolved to need for optimal long-term health.  In other words, as I lean into my mid-forties, I understand that I need to be more aware of creating healthy muscle-mass than I was twenty years ago.  And I know lean muscle mass burns calories faster than flab.  Not to mention the cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercise.

Sooo … I know I need to build exercise into my day, and I know that exercise needs to be the kind that I can make part of my life, not just something I do for a few months and then ease out of.  Two-hour gym visits need not apply.  And yes, by the time I drive to a gym, change, warm up, resistance train, cardio train, cool down, shower, dress and go back to work/home, I’ve used two hours.

Here’s where I’ll start:  Push-ups, sit-ups and some stretches.  Ends up being about 15 minutes out of the day (start-to-finish, assuming I take time to, you know, breathe), and I can fit it into any part of the day – if I get up before everyone else, that’s great, but if one of the sprightly daughters decides 4:30 AM is the right time to start the day, I’ll find another part of the day to make it happen.  Starting tomorrow.

Then – and I haven’t figured this part out logistically yet – I’ll add in a half-hour walk (which is actually at least 45 minutes, start-to-finish) at least four days a week.  Yes, more would be better.  Would you like to see my schedule?  In about three more pounds I’ll start accelerating parts of that walk to a run and eventually it will become a full half-hour run at least four days a week.  I hate running, but when I was running regularly I always enjoyed having run.

I’d really like to add-in some sport or another (“sport” being loosely defined to possibly include golf, but not so loosely as to include driving my car) a time or two a week, but every sport I know of will take longer than I can reasonably commit with a newborn in the house.  We’ll see how the “sporting” segment develops.  By the time all three of my daughters are teenagers at once I’ll need a hobby like golf.  Which leaves me a good decade to prepare, but it’s never too early to start.

Will keep you updated, as always, constant reader.

Tomorrow:  Why does convenient, highly-processed “food” make me crave more convenient, highly-processed “food?”

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