Tag Archives: Exercise

Eco-Saturday: Take your workout outdoors

In light of recent political events, I suspect the environment is going to need all the help it can get, and I strongly urge all of my readers to take every action you can to shrink your ecological footprint. To that end, it might be worth your time to search my archives or visit my Eco-Saturday, Vegetarian Friday and Tiny-House Preparations Pinterest boards to find ideas you can incorporate into your lifestyle.

This week, my Eco-Saturday suggestion also falls into the category of self-care, and it’s a fairly simple one to implement: Take your workout outdoors.

In the winter, it’s easy to look out the window and decide to skip the workout or move it indoors. Sometimes this is wise: If I can’t squeeze in a workout before I leave for work, I’ll hit the treadmill when I get home, because I don’t want to go jogging alone in the dark. If the snow is too deep or the streets are too slippery for a trip out on my Schwinn, I might put in a few miles on the stationary bike in my basement. But those indoor workouts always carry a heavier ecological price than a ride or run on the trail. The bike’s electronic display and tension controls sip a little power as I ride; the treadmill’s motor gulps it. More often than not, I could shave a few cents off the power bill and spare the environment a little strain if I simply made time to exercise outdoors.

Outdoor workouts come with an extra health benefit, too: This is the time of year when the days grow shorter, and your exposure to sunlight — which helps regulate moods — decreases, so any time you can spend outdoors will help offset that and reduce your chances of slipping into seasonal depression.

She is SO sick of my crap.
She is SO sick of my crap.

Today, Lillian and I incorporated an errand into our 45-minute walk with Ron and the rest of the pack. In her stylish new sweater, which reminds me of a certain Time Lord’s scarf, she helped me deliver a little Whovian-themed care package to the gentlemen responsible for installing the TARDIS in front of U.N.I.T. — er, Cape Girardeau Police Department — headquarters.


Eco-Saturday: Walk more; drive less

I spotted the chalk message pictured above — an adaptation of Philippians 4:13 — this week on Themis Street while taking literal steps to reduce my environmental footprint.

I knew walking instead of driving was good for the environment, but it’s something I didn’t start doing much until this spring, when the Subaru broke down and I refused to shell out $8,000 to repair it. We still have two other cars, but mine is nearly 9 years old, and I’d like to pay off some other bills before I replace it, so I’m trying to make it last as long as possible.

We don’t walk everywhere, of course. There are days when it’s too hot, our schedule is too tight, or for whatever reason, we just don’t feel up to it. But we’ve started walking to work several times a week, and on our day off, we often wander around town on foot, running errands or just checking out places we haven’t seen.

To maximize safety and comfort on my walks, I’ve found the following helpful:

Athletic shoes. Buy good ones designed for running or walking; they’ll last longer and prevent injuries.

If applicable, a good sports bra. Opt for medium-impact or better; it’ll save you a fortune in Tiger Balm and massage therapy.

A golf umbrella. Keeps off the rain without turning you into a lightning rod.

A backpack. If you’re carrying anything, a backpack will keep your hands free and distribute the load comfortably.

I could write a whole post on nighttime risk management (and would be happy to do that if anybody would find it helpful), but for most people, if you’re planning to walk after dark, I’d recommend the following:

Use the buddy system. One person is a much easier target than two.

Plan ahead. Walk your intended route at least once in the daytime, and drive it at least once at night to make sure you’re aware of trip hazards, poorly lit areas, potential hiding places for ne’er-do-wells, or other issues.

Wear light-colored or reflective clothing.

Carry a light. I like Mini-Maglites because they’re bright, sturdy and double as makeshift Kubotans.

Trust your instincts. If you get a bad vibe, get the hell out of there. NOW.

Speaking of bad vibes: Whovians, you cannot believe the number of weird little statues in this town. I spotted this particular flight of suspected Lonely Assassins on my way to work the other day.
Speaking of bad vibes: Whovians, you cannot believe the number of weird little statues in this town. I spotted this particular flight of suspected Lonely Assassins on my way to work the other day.

I’ve really enjoyed walking more the past few months. It’s good for the planet, good for your body, and good for your mental health. Kind of fun, too. You never know what you’re going to see when you slow down and take a closer look at the places you pass every day.


Marathon training

As I mentioned in my list of goals the other day, my BFF and I made a pact to run a marathon this year — his first; my first in a decade.

We started our training program yesterday with a three-mile run and continued today with a four-miler. Both runs were fairly easy, mainly because I’m using the Jeff Galloway approach, which involves building in walk breaks at planned intervals to help reduce the risk of injuries and maintain a sustainable pace for the duration of the run.

I used to base my intervals on time: Run five minutes, walk one. I know other runners who base their intervals on distance: Run a mile, walk a minute. Both methods have their merits, but this fall, I began experimenting with the idea of basing my breaks on steps rather than time or distance. I may never bother with a stopwatch again.

Your mileage may vary, but here are the advantages I found on my runs using the step-counting method:

1. More consistent effort expended between walking intervals. When I use the stopwatch, I end up running a lot more steps in five minutes at the beginning of a run than I do at the end.

2. More effort in general. If a quicker pace gets me to my break faster, I’m probably going to run harder between breaks, and I’m less tempted to slow down when I’m tired. Theoretically, running a specific distance between breaks would accomplish the same thing, but distance is harder to measure reliably.

3. It’s easier to keep track of, especially in cold weather. I have an iPhone with a stopwatch and GPS on it, but I have no idea where I put my touchscreen-sensitive gloves, so if I’m trying to track time or distance on my phone, I have to take off my gloves and coax it out of sleep mode every time I want to check. Instead, I use a cheap mechanical lap counter, logging a “lap” every 100 steps.

4. It makes a long run feel more manageable. I have something to think about besides how tired I am as the mileage increases, and I get a little psychological boost from clicking the lap counter every 100 steps. Never underestimate the value of a mental lift on a long run. Distance running is more mental than physical, and every little nudge helps.