Of lifting weights and discovering muscles

A little over a week ago I finally did a full dumbbell exercise workout — 11 different exercises working all major muscle groups. I am using a pair of 10 pound dumbbells and so far they seem to be about the right weight. The workout takes about 40 minutes or so with the breaks between sets eating up a good chunk of that time. I expected to feel sore afterward and I did but whoops, I completely forgot to warm-up beforehand and ended up paying the proverbial big price for it. I pulled a muscle in my right arm hard enough that fully stretching the arm out hurt a fair bit. The pain persisted for about four days before subsiding. On Thursday I finally decided to do another full workout and this time all went well — I was again left sore but avoided self-injury. Hooray for common sense.

I’ll probably do another workout tomorrow (to celebrate Easter, y’ know) then work in my jogging program through the week. I expect to feel sore, tired and cranky but in the best shape of the past 25 years.

On the run again

Spring is only six days away. It is time for the trees to bud, the flowers to bloom, the Greater Vancouver area to receive another official snow warning (damn snow) and for me to ponder activities of an outdoor nature that involve more than walking to the store and back.

I went to Forerunners this afternoon. It’s a specialty running store with an impressively large wall of running shoes. The staff is friendly and appears to know their stuff which is helpful because every pair of runners I have bought in the past has been based on looks alone. Most of the time that got me by but a few pairs back I bought some where the left shoe absolutely murdered my foot. I stubbornly kept wearing them instead of doing the sensible thing and taking them back for a refund. I think it’s just one of those guy issues. That shoe was going to bend to my will. Except it never did.

This time, since I’d be getting shoes specifically for jogging and since I’m not…ah, as young and flexible as I once was, I thought it might be a good plan to put aside cost and looks and just get shoes that wouldn’t kill my feet. The young woman who assisted me measured my feet, made me crouch up and down, stand with my feet apart and cough twice. Okay, the coughing I did on my own. She brought out four different pairs of shoes of various brands and widths and I tried them on, often wearing one of each brand per foot. I’d walk around the store then go out and jog in them for about a half block. I did this enough to actually work up a very light sweat. Embarrassing.

In the end we both agreed on the New Balance MR769STs or as I call them, my pair of lemons. You can see them here (Flash required). They come in silver/blue or white/yellow. I got the white/yellow hence my clever nickname. I have never spent over $100 for a pair of running shoes before. In fact, I scoffed at those who did. My current pair cost $30 and have lasted weeks. Weeks! But I have to admit, the new runners feel really nice. They fit like a glove (as recommended) and have the kind of support and spring that you get when you invest $70 more.

I’m hoping they last till I’m 80.

I have a jogging plan to start out with — the Couch to 5K Running Plan — and now a nice pair of shoes. I just need a place to jog! I could create a route in my neighborhood but this area is kind of hilly and I’m not too keen on running on sidewalks or roads. It’s going to be hard enough on my body without making it even moreso. On the plus side, a route through the neighborhood would keep things interesting, especially if I mixed it up a bit. But for now I think I will stick to dedicated running paths. The closest I could find is about 12 blocks away at China Creek Park (North). I checked it out a few days ago and the jogging path there is dirt but covered with bark so it doesn’t turn to mud when it rains. It had a nice springiness to it, firm but yielding, like a nice girl on a second date. While there I watched someone jogging around the path. And I mean around it — he stayed just off the path all the way around the park. People are weird.

Here’s a satellite view of the park courtesy of Google maps. I have embellished the image slightly for your edification. I am tentatively planning on starting the jogging regime next week and will have my first report then.

China Creek Park

Jogging vs. weightlifting: Fight!

Last year I did the ol’ diet switcheroo, dumping fast food and junk food in favor of lean meat, veggies and low-fat snacks. The chief aim was to reduce my slightly-elevated blood sugar so I was no longer pre-diabetic. The diet has had side benefits, chiefly in terms of reducing me from a porky 187.5 pounds to a more svelte 150ish pounds. I then decided that the next step was to exercise more so that my skinny muscles would become toned and I’d have more energy and all that.

After mulling some choices, I settled on dumbbell exercises for a few reasons:

1. A set of dumbbells is fairly cheap.
2. I can work with them at home — no need for trips to a gym.

It turned out I pretty much also needed:

3. An exercise bench.

I never really committed to the exercises much despite getting the dumbbells and bench. Initial motivation in any new activity, especially one that requires, you know, actual physical exertion (and isn’t sex) is difficult to manage. But eventually I laid out a routine based on a book I had purchased and that’s when I discovered the bench I bought is too short and cannot be lowered quite enough for someone of my height. Crap. While I have found another bench that might work, it got me thinking that maybe I ought to consider other forms of exercise.

I have my bike and will probably ride it a few times a week. While not as good an exercise as some, it has the benefit of not being too hard on the joints. There is swimming but my lessons in January convinced me it will be a good while before I am comfortable enough in the water to consider swimming as an exercise instead of “not drowning”. And then there is jogging.

I was a decent runner back in junior and senior high. I was also about 16 years old. I’m now at the “consult your doctor before exercising” age and face the prospect of injuring myself if I don’t do things right. But I have been investigating running — looking at programs that ease you into it, scouting jogging trails (to avoid the pain of running on pavement or concrete) and looking into getting fitted for a good pair of running shoes. I even bought the current issue of Runner’s World and not just because the model on the cover is smoking hot (that was only 50% of the reason at best). So I think I may try this jogging thing out and see if my knees suffer a thousand agonies or if it goes a bit better than that. More to come!