Friday, July 29, 2011

On Baggy Red Shorts and a Texas-Appropriate Wardrobe

Baggy Red Shorts

These Shorts are Too Baggy!

Week of July 24, 2011:

Bike: Tuesday, Thursday

Yoga: Monday (Morning Flow #1)

Run: Friday (two for one!)

It occurred to me recently that for someone who lives and sweats in Texas, I have a shockingly small number of running shorts in rotation.  I have two pairs that I wear all the time, but in this heat, two pairs is not enough to get through a week of bike rides and treadmill runs.  I’d love to go to Target to get a running skirt or two—a skirt! for running! oh, be still my racing heart!—but until that happens, I’m still in need of more summer exercise clothes.

Enter the red running shorts (see Figures 1 and 2 above).

I’ve had these shorts and a grey pair just like ‘em forever.  I think I bought them back in college, when I was a really hardcore runner and thought I might enjoy wearing real running shorts.  At the time, I found them weirdly baggy and uncomfortable with their extra inner lining.  I felt like I was wearing a tent.  So I shied away from wearing them, until last weekend when I pulled them out for a weekend morning of bike-riding.  And this time I liked them!  They still seem baggy to me but not uncomfortably so, perhaps because I have different underwear now.  (Too much information?  But let’s be real here: when you are riding a bike, or running, the fit of your shorts and your undergarments can make the difference between pleasant and downright irritating.)

So what do you think?  Too baggy?  I do like their cheerful red color—I’m a big fan of red.

On a different note, today I ran for 20 minutes on the treadmill!  I had planned to run earlier this week, but it didn’t happen because I was feeling exhausted and overworked.  I let myself lounge a bit and decided that I’d try to make today a “long run” on the treadmill, or the equivalent of two 10-minute work-outs.  I did a 2x10 minute set, with 2 minutes of walking between sets, with all the running done at a 9:05/mile pace.  It was a terrific work-out!  And the second 10-minute set was so easy.  I feel like I’m starting to gain some of my running stamina back.  The funniest thing is that of course I didn’t want to run on the treadmill today, because I can be pouty like that.  I was tired, it had been a long week, blah, blah, blah.  To handle this pouty toddler of mine, I fed her some cereal, gave her some water, and let her putter around a little bit before dragging her to the treadmill room.  And it totally worked: the carbohydrates quieted my rumbling tummy, the water quenched my thirst, and by the time I put on my running shoes, I was ready to work out.

Bribery!  It’ll fix what ails ya.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sunday, with Heat, Humidity, and Vibrant Greenery

Lush Greenery on Sunday Morning

A Peek

Week of July 24, 2011:

Bike: Sunday

On Sunday, I had a roundtrip of hot, humid, sweaty bike commuting, but my goodness, it was gorgeous outside.  Above are a few glimpses of my bike commute route; this is an especially pretty section, lush with trees and a green canopy overhead.  I’m really loving my quieter bike route these days.  Not only do I avoid the intersection at Texas Ave. and University Dr., which I’ve never liked, but I get nice views, peaceful streets, and a brief interlude of calm before I cross Texas Ave. and pedal into the madness that is campus.  Now that I’ve found what I consider to be my “perfect” bike commute route, I feel that much more settled in this town. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Dangers of Star-Charting

Bike Hanging Out


Almost Done!

Week of July 17, 2011:

Bike: Thursday and Saturday

Run: Wednesday

Yoga: Thursday (Gentle Hatha Yoga #1) and Friday (Gentle Hatha Yoga #2)

Be warned, dear reader: star-charting is dangerously addictive!

July’s star chart has been a great motivator for me.  I’ve only missed one work-out, my second planned run last week, and this week I even did an extra yoga session.  But the star chart is starting to exert its powers on me, making me itchy for multiple stars in one day, even though the point of the chart is to make myself do something athletic every day.  There’s a reason why I only planned seven work-outs a week, but the star chart doesn’t care because the star chart doesn’t care about balance.  It cares about stars and giving me a little rush every time I earn another star.

But I’ll take the risk of star-charting for the pleasure of its rewards.  Overall, I’m feeling calmer and happier than I was at the beginning of the month, and I know that an exercise routine plays a big role in my well-being.  So I’m a little obsessive about the star chart—it’s okay.  I’d rather be obsessed with gold (or—ahem—ballpoint pen) stars than with my weight, my diet, my love life, or my wallet.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sunday Flowers, Monday Showers

Strands of Spiderweb


Fading Flower

Week of July 17, 2011:

Bike: Sunday, Tuesday

Run: Monday

I ran outside last night!  We had a storm system moving through the area, which gave us cloud cover to block the sun and slightly cooler temps.  I walked outside in my work-out clothes, fully intending to go to the gym and watch Food Network while running on the treadmill, but being the carpe diem girl that I am, I decided to stay outside for my work-out.  (And seriously, if a Guy Fieri show was my Food Network option, I will start to view the television as negative reinforcement for summer running.  Does anyone else find him as annoying as I do?  And does he really sign his name with an exclamation mark?  That’s as bad as a teenage girl dotting her i’s with hearts.)

(Okay, rant over.)

After not running outside for months, I felt ridiculously slow last night, but I didn’t really mind.  I was just grateful to be outside with my slow legs.

On Sunday, I did my normal bike commute to work.  On my way home, I stopped at the gardens again to take some photos.  I’m sharing a few of my favorites above.  Everything in that garden is in shades of technicolor!  It’s unreal how bright and vibrant all the flowers are, but even amid all that lushness, you can see signs of the fading summer.  It will be a long time before the summer starts to recede down here, but some of the flowers hint at cooler days ahead.  I can’t wait.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Does Drinking Wine Count as Running?

Flowers at Dusk

Week of July 10, 2011:

Bike: Thursday, Saturday

Run(ning Around): Friday

Yoga: Only the pajama variety

So, does it?  Does drinking wine count as running?



I guess we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.  The only way to balance the equation of long week + running around is a glass of wine.  Because sometimes what I really need is a chance to unwind and relax, even if it means getting a little less exercise.

Balance, people.  It’s all about balance.  Here’s that equation for you, one more time:

Long week + Running around = Much-deserved glass of wine.

There will be a quiz next week, so take notes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Not-So-Secret Garden

Bike with Flower Archway

Feets Again

A Favorite Outfit

Week of July 10, 2011:

Bike: Sunday, Tuesday

Run: Wednesday

Yoga: Monday (Gentle Hatha Yoga #3)

I love gardens, but I don’t have one to call my own.  At Northwestern University, where I did my graduate work, there were lots of little garden nooks around campus, but at my new university, it took me a while to find a garden spot.  This summer, I found a holistic garden close to my work building, and I’m so tickled about it!  It’s got a vegetable patch, a flower garden, and lots of spaces to sit and relax.  Right now, it’s a little too hot in Texas to be lingering outside, but I’m looking forward to cooler days when I can slip away to the holistic garden for a few minutes to soak up some sunshine and botanical beauty.

On the exercise front this week, I’m working it!  I’m doing the usual bike commutes to work, and today I hopped back on the treadmill for a quickie 10-minute run.  My back has been hurting a little bit, so I opted for yoga yesterday instead of the treadmill.  I’m tempted to do yoga again this week for my back.  After my 40 Days of Yoga project, I was a tired of yoga all the time, but my love for a good stretch has been rekindled.  I’m ready for more namaste time.

PS  The photos up there at the top were taken at the holistic garden yesterday.  You can see I’m wearing my new summer uniform, a navy Gap skirt (with pockets!), a light blue t-shirt, and one of my summer scarves.  My labmates make fun of me for wearing a scarf when it’s so hot, but this summer I bought a pair of pretty, lightweight scarves at Target.  I wear them every chance I get, even at the risk of some good-natured teasing by unfashionable boys.  Boys!  Most of them are never going to understand the concept of summer scarves.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Chance to Breathe

Flowers and Fuzzies

Fuzzy Closeup

Week of July 3, 2011:

Yoga: Thursday

Run: Friday

Bike: Saturday

My new fitness plans are off to a great start, with a full week of scheduled work-outs completed and appropriately starred on my star chart.  It was a somewhat overwhelming and frustrating week at work, but it was really nice to run off some of that stress on the treadmill.  It’s interesting: while I recognize that bike riding and running are both aerobic exercise, I feel like they work my lungs in different ways.  When I ride my bike, I have occasional moments when I can really feel my lungs working to keep up with the demand, but it’s not a constant feeling of exertion.  I usually feel the effects of bike riding in my legs, and my aerobic capacity is strong enough to keep up without too much effort.  But when I run, the aerobic exertion is constant—my lungs are working.  I think it’s that extra required effort that makes running such a good work-out for relieving stress.  The physical work of running overrides any mental stress that may be weighing on me.

I can be lazy about running, which is why I’m so happy to have a plan for the month that will motivate me to get on the treadmill and run off the stress.  It’s easy for me to get exercise in other ways—bike riding, walking, yoga—but running gives me a sense of accomplishment that other exercise, though I love it, does not.  So cheers to running, to sweating, and to making each work-out count!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Forward Momentum

Sunday Sunset

Week of July 3, 2011:

* Bike: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday.

* Run: Tuesday.

It’s really nice to be back here, in this space.  I missed writing for this little blog, which is not just my fitness journal but a sort of diary of my everyday life.  I’m thinking that now I have a fitness plan for July, I can check in here twice a week, more or less, to share a few photos and tell you what’s going on in my corner of the universe.  Does that sound good to you?  Good!  I was hoping we’d all be on the same page with this plan.

Today was an exciting day!  There was a storm whipping things around when I left work this evening, tossing leaves and ripped flowers and raindrops at me.  I rode my bike to work today, and I left work late enough that the bus wasn’t an option, so I decided to brave the storm and ride home.  The storm didn’t seem too dangerous; the worst effect of it was that the raindrops kept splashing into my eyes and drying out my contact lenses.  (Got that?  Water in eye = dry contact lens.  I don’t know how it works, but I report my data honestly.)  And the cooler temperature of the air outside felt terrific after weeks and weeks of extreme heat.

On my way home, I passed a cat family, probably mama cat and her five teenaged kittens.  I adore cats, so I stopped to coo over them until a door behind the cat family opened, sending them all scurrying away together.  Those kittens may have been teenagers, but they were still following mama’s lead on the important things.

Tonight I’m feeling a little tired, so I’m parked on the couch, relaxing with my dessert and writing.  This is my favorite place to be, and I can even admire the pedicure on my toes peaking up over my computer screen.  Oh, and I’ve got Tom Petty spinning on the CD player.  He’s good for relaxing.

Hope your week is going well, my dears!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Reminder to Keep Dreaming


{Image from this site}  I saw it on Raquelita’s blog and loved it immediately.

I want to remember this when I’m logging all those miles to nowhere on the treadmill for the next three months.  I do love 13.1!  And I will run 13.1 again, outside, some day, somewhere.  I just don’t know all the details just yet.  But I know I’ll do it again.  Maybe even 26.2, some day.

Keep dreaming, right?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July, with Modest Optimism


Oh, hey!

I took a little vacation from this blog because June was a trainwreck of a month, and I had little time or energy for hobbies.  I’m glad June is over, and I’m feeling modestly optimistic about July.  During the month of June, I swallowed my dislike for the treadmill and hopped back on the machine because I missed running.  The last few weeks have been inferno-like here in Texas, and I finally realized that outdoor running, in those conditions, is not for me.  Also not for me: getting up even earlier so that I can work out.  I admire people who are able to exercise in the morning, before work, but I just don’t have it in me right now to take anything away from my precious sleep.  I am too overworked and stressed out, so exercise other than my bike commuting will have to wait until evening time.

So the treadmill it is!  My modest running goal for July is to run on on the t-mill twice a week.  I’ve done a few 10-minute t-mill runs lately, running 9:05 miles, which is my “normal” pace.  10 minutes of running is not much, but during serious crunch times, like this summer, I’ll take whatever I can get.

I’m biking a lot, as usual.  Typically, I do about four bike commutes a week: two during the Monday-Friday work week, and then one on each weekend day so that I can pop into the lab for a while.  I figure I’ll keep that up because I find biking to be reasonable outdoor exercise, even on 100-degree days.

Finally, I’m building some yoga into my July goals.  Desperate times like these call for some deliberate effort put into relaxation.  And with all the running and biking on my schedule, my legs will need some downward dogs and lunges to stretch them out.

I made myself a little star chart to track my progress this month, and to give myself the visual pleasure of seeing my goals realized.  I really need all the positive energy I can get these days, so an exercise star chart is friendly motivation.

July Plan

And today, I’ve already given myself a star in that “Bike 1” column for this week.  Success!  I’ve missed you, old friend.  Let’s hang out this summer.