Archive for ‘walking’

July 29, 2012

Need for Speed

Am writing this while watching the Olympic hopefuls sail along rainy London streets on their bikes. The women are so fast. I love sports where you go fast, like skiing and biking.

The other day I was riding my bike to work and there was a woman running faster than I was riding on my bike. That was one fast runner.

There’s used to be a myth that only men liked the adrenaline rush of the high-speed chase. But women (and kids) do too. It’s a human instinct to push our physical limits and thrill with the ride. We were born to run.

And now that I’ve admitted my own need for speed, let me post a couple of pictures from my long walk in the Adirondacks.

While I love to run and ride and go fast, it’s easier to snap a pic when you walk and amble and go slow. It’s easier to savor the moment when you slow it all down.

To catch a good photo, you have to pause to frame it. To enjoy a moment, you have to stop and savor it. And any sport that you do outdoors, reminds you to love nature.

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May 24, 2012

Moving Is Better than Exercising

I bike to work and do Pilates twice a week at lunchtime in my workplace. Sometimes I feel that I should have nobler fitness goals. This is why I love this blog post by Nick Crocker about Finding Exercise in Life’s Margins at Harvard Business Review.

Weaving exercise and intentional movement into the fabric of my life feels way more possible (though less sexy) than training for a triathlon.

I let our family gym membership lapse because I just wasn’t going. And I felt guilty — for not going, for the expense, for the lack of family pool time. I felt I was a fitness failure. But I wasn’t. Just because exercise is easy — like slowing down on my bike past the flower gardens in Riverside Park — doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

You don’t have to hate exercise in order to get fit, feel good, or even lose weight. (The same goes for time at work — you don’t have to hate it.) Why not love what you do? I love playing tennis. Consistency is more important than breaking a personal record.

Personal brag: my son just won an athletic award this week. He was a triathlete — competing in three varsity sports as a 9th grader. But of one of the sports, track, he said he lacks passion. I say, Fine, drop it, if you like. Just keep moving.

Drop your gym membership too. Just stay active.

Weave fitness into every day. A little moving regularly is way better than a lot of fitness once in a while.

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A guy on the bus seated in front of me was carrying
this bundle of flowers. A rosy outlook only costs $3.99.

February 17, 2012

My stupid feet

Yesterday I was back at the podiatrist’s. I really have to take care of my Plantar Fasciitis. The bottoms of my feet hurt all the time, but especially when I wake up in the morning and after I do any sports.

Tennis season is coming up. I want to keep running. I want to be an active person, beyond doing my beautiful pilates and yoga and occasional swimming.

My podiatrist told me I MUST do the assigned stretches for my feet every day. She gave me a (cortisone?) shot in one foot and told me to come back for two more on that foot and then we’ll do three shots on the other foot. The shot hurt. I don’t want shots.

I know as we get older, like an old car, we start to break down. But I need to stay fit so that I stay sane and can destress. I don’t want to break down. I want to keep running smoothly. With Chris’s illness, I have to and want to stay healthy for the kids (and for myself).

Last night I couldn’t sleep. My forehead is still recovering from the basal cell carcinoma surgery two weeks ago. And now I’m concerned about my feet. These are small, even insignificant problems, certainly not life-threatening.

But even ordinary health problems can be irritating, slow me down. I’d like to write more about this, but I have to wake the kids and do my stupid physical therapy for my stupid feet.

December 27, 2011

Can Cleaning Be Exercise?

broom by creative commons

I have updated one of my four blogs (about faithcreative writingNew York, or this one, fitness) at least every other day during 2011. When I began in January 2011, I posted every day for 66 days, because I’d heard that’s how long it takes to make a habit.

When I traveled or wrote my NaNoWriMo (November’s National Novel Writing month), I slacked a bit. But mostly I’ve been consistent with my blogging.

I need to retire a couple of my blogs and this one, Running Aground, is the lead candidate for retirement. This has been my least popular and least updated blog. Reading about my attempt to run a 5K may not have mass appeal. And I don’t write on this one because I think that if I haven’t exercised by swimming, running, or going to Pilates class, I haven’t worked out. (Although, yes, I’ve written about sleep and diet, as well.)

But wait — I clean a lot and, living in New York City, I walk a lot! So let’s remember — Cleaning is a good work out. In an hour, you burn:

  • Sweeping: 240
  • Packing/Unpacking: 220
  • Scrubbing floors on hands and knees: 325 (Who does this?)
  • Cleaning, light (dusting, wiping down counters, picking up clothes): 100
  • Cleaning, general (washing dishes, doing laundry): 200

according to a post by Divine Caroline (Brie Cadman).

This post is an attempt to encourage myself to believe in the power of the clean-up work out! Now, Mary Beth, get out there and clean! I have about an hour to unpack from our Chicago trip and pack for our Adirondacks trip, take down the Christmas tree, and generally tidy up this apartment where I’ve hosted four parties in one month!

There’s been a lot of stash and dash over the holidays. Now let’s burn some calories by cleaning. But wait, first, I have to update my Facebook status and check my friends’ news.

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October 6, 2011

an upturned tree

Up in the Adirondacks, Sunday morning, I was sipping coffee before my family woke up. I was crabby because I’d have to rally the troops, pack up, leave the country, return to the city, get ready for the week ahead. Even writing in my journal didn’t work the usual magic of lifting my mood.

So I went for a run. I watched the fitness app on my phone, noticing that I was still unable to run faster than a 13-minute mile. Yes, I was in the slow lane; my feet hurt. And I couldn’t get enough breath. I tired easily.

I ran for five minutes, then walked for a minute. Then did that again. The first part of the run was easy. I passed the school house. Then it was wet so I looped around the Cold Spring Road instead of going down to the Stable Inn. I began the walk up the rough-hewn stone steps to the Big House. That’s when I saw this upturned tree.

Hard to capture in a dark, rainy forest, but this wide swath of trees and roots were upturned by Hurricane Irene.

Un-be-liev-able! It took my breath away.

If some special effects geek tried to recreate this 10-foot circumference of a sideways forest floor, it would cost millions of dollars and people would never believe it. But nature did this outstanding damage free of charge. Nature is whack, doing crazy shit. Hurricane Irene must’ve tore up this part of the woods as she tore through Vermont and the Adirondacks a month ago.

I gave up running, walked up the steps back to the house, packed and woke the darlings. I wasn’t crabby any more.

For some reason the extraordinary sight of the upturned tree calmed me down.

Today people are contemplating Steve Jobs’ death. And I’m remembering the upturned tree.

We all will die. I will die. I am small. Whether my death comes by cancer like Steven Jobs, by hurricane like the forest floor, or my personal preference, by old age, I will die. Running away from my troubles on a dreary Sunday morning made me remember that. And it humbled me and made me less crabby.

July 6, 2011

Running Without a Soundtrack

The silence running in the country was deafening.

I could not find my head phones. I usually run with ear buds listening to Pandora and the Omar Shariff sound-alike who calculates the distance of my run on my Cardio Trainer app.

I like running to Britney Spears songs like Piece of Me or Pat Benatar’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot. I think, “Yay, world, hit me. Try getting a piece of this.”

I know, I know. I am delirious after just five minutes of running, wondering, Is it time to take that well-deserved water break or walk yet? The music keeps me going.

So running without Britney, Pat or Omar, I felt a twinge of loneliness. The steadiest sound was the scraping labor of my own breath. Then the silence came alive.

running on a country road

There was a cawing of a crow, an old Buick rounding a corner, the wind swishing the hay in the field, and in the mix, my breath.

My breath was just a speck on the country road. Running helps you figure out where you fit in, a small piece in a big picture.

For this epiphany I rewarded myself by slowing down and walking.

May 18, 2011

Walking to Work

The rain is getting to me. I am going to walk the 45 blocks to work today.

Due to some burst pipe at my office building, my noontime yoga and Pilates classes have been cancelled for the last two weeks. I have discovered just how much I need those classes to combat my stress.

Just yesterday, I was walking the girls to school and heading for the subway. After a particularly stressful morning of finishing science projects before 8 am, I was thinking Wouldn’t it be great if I smoked? I could just blow smoke and watch the cars drive by?

And as I thought that, who should I see walking towards me, but my yoga teacher, Shane? Seeing her was a sign to make the healthy choices in handling life’s stresses.

We chatted a few minutes about when our classes will resume. Shane hoped by tomorrow. It’s always funny to bump into someone out of context. And as I’ve said before, my exercise teachers are the most gorgeous and nicest people you will ever meet.

I don’t know why I have been more worried lately — my husband’s Parkinson’s disease, his extended family’s financial situations, paying for the kids’ camps and tuition bills — I don’t know, just worried. 

And so here we stand, mid-week through a forecast of rain and gloom every day. If it’s only drizzling, I can walk and think today.

I must remember my 7 Rules. http://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/about/ And the things that always make me happy:  travel, parties, museums, art, hanging out with friends, working out, and getting a good night’s sleep. And so I will commit to these things. I’ll start with a walk in the rain.

January 8, 2011

Getting In a Good Habit

I want healthy habits, but they take time.

I don’t want to write right now. I want to go off on a tangent. I want to tweet and comment on my friends’ status updates. I want to check CNN and learn more about the senseless shooting of Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona. 

That story reminds me of when I was on assignment in Tucson a few months ago and saw bullet holes in the flags flown by Humane Borders, an awesome group that provides water to migrants in the desert http://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/humane-borders/ 

I dont’ know why anyone would shoot those symbols of water which could save lives. Vandals shot at Humane Border’s 100 lifegiving water tanks too. I don’t understand shooting at all. Violence begets violence. I hate gun violence.

I believe in peaceful solutions. I believe in the power of small steps to make the world better — small acts of kindness and small attempts at healthy behavior.

I don’t want to get sucked into watching TV and feeling angry and powerless tonite. My desire to develop healthy habits seems insignificant in the face of a national tragedy. 

To overcome stress and national trauma, it is necessary to perform small acts of self care. For me, that’s developing a habit of blogging or walking. I am comitted to these, even briefly.

Fifteen minutes a day is good enough. Between watching my son’s two basketball games this morning and watching the Columbia-Union College basketball game this afternoon, I went for a walk with Barbara in Central Park. We did not walk for long or far, but we walked and talked for about half an hour. It felt great.

How long does it take for a daily action to become a habit?  

One study says 15 minutes of vigorous activity a day reduces the risk of obesity. Another study says after 66 days of an activity you will acquire a healthy habit (and if you skip a few days, that’s okay).

So a week after my New Year’s goal setting, I am on my way to 2011 goal getting. Now that I’m done with this blog, I want to tweet, watch TV, check Facebook, but I think I will just go to sleep. I wanted to be in bed by 10 pm every night, but that goal’s not happening.

October 19, 2010

I did it!

I got up early on Sunday and ran (and walked) my first 5K. Joanna had invited me to join her and we’d run together (and walked together) before. I believe I’ve mentioned that I love working out with friends. Such a great, cheap way to be together, to talk, and to encourage one another.

We were a part of the http://www.rogosin.org/westbankrun/info.php (You can still sponsor me. I had to raise $100.)

The run benefited Rogosin, this kidney disease foundation. My friend Lois at work has been hospitalized with serious kidney problems after a world church meeting in Scotland. So I ran for Lois.

But honestly, it’s like the moral of last week’s episode of Glee. You say you’re helping someone, but you’re really helping yourself. The something in it for me was brunch at the end of the run. I love the West Bank Cafe, the run’s sponsor, on 42nd Street. After signing up, I realized I wouldn’t be able to stay for brunch. I’d have to book up to Charlotte’s soccer game in Central Park upon finishing.

It was a beautiful, clear day and the run was lovely, easy. (I will admit that we were slow). But I just liked getting out there, running along the West Side highway and the Hudson River. There were probably 50 of us.

My goal was simply to finish in less than one hour. I did it! I ran 5K in 41 minutes. That’s 3.1 miles, giving me a 13:17 pace. Next time, I can strive to beat it. I was thinking of Lois when I ran.

I have worked with Lois for a long time, since the early 90s. I think it’s fair to say both she and I can get impassioned, and therefore, occasionally, a little difficult. Yet I have always had a huge and deep-seated respect for Lois. Her intelligence, her wit, her kindness!

She has always fought the good fight and stood up for people who are marginalized — mainly, women and children. And maybe not just stood up for them, but run with them. Walked with them. Befriended them. Because they are us. And there’s something in it for us.

I really should sign up for another 5K, before I lose my mojo. And my goal is sometime, to run the whole way.

August 30, 2010

What we talk about

I walked with the girls to the actors’ housing today (because our beloved Sarah Hankins had just moved in). We walked through our beloved neighbor’s property to get there.

The girls and I chatted, held hands, talked about them getting braces and going into Middle School. I love running with my son and my girlfriends, it’s true. And I love walking with my daughters too.

I love the ease of conversation when you run or walk. It’s very high quality sharing time with kids.

I don’t really know why. It’s not that what we share is so deep. I think it has something to do with not being interrupted by phone calls or responsibilities. When we talk at home, there’s always dinner to cook, homework to do, cleaning to be done.

The tasks when you are in your home are sisyphean. (I love using that word!) But the talking on a walk meanders.

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