I have been exercising regularly for over 10 years now. I have had peaks and troughs along the way in terms of my commitment to exercise, but it’s been pretty consistent. At my peak, I was at 19% body fat. This was about 2 years ago. While I know this is not elite athlete territory, it was an achievement for me having started out at around 26% body fat. While I have been active in my exercise regimen, my body fat has slowly crept back up to its current place of about 23%.
I find lifting weights to be the most challenging exercise for me because it’s fucking boring as shit! When running on the elliptical, I can zone out to music or watch a movie from Netflix on the iPad. The time passes pretty effortlessly, even when doing a hard workout.
One thing I have always wanted to do was to run outside. I have a cycle with running that goes something like this: (1) I decide I want to try running again. (2) I buy some running clothes and maybe new sneakers. (3) I run for about 4 miles (which is what I do on a regular basis on the elliptical). (4) Although I stretch before and after, the next day I feel like a cripple. My calves hurt like hell and I hobble around. (5) I swear never to run again. (6) Repeat every year or so.
This time around, I decided to try a program that is well proven and based in science. I am reading the book, “The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer” by David A. Whitsett, Forrest Dolgener and Tanja Mabon Kole. It is extremely well written and is based on the experiences of runners spanning over 20 years. In all that time, every single person who has taken the course that the book is based on was able to run a full marathon at the end of the training, with the exception of one person. The one person who did not finish, by his own admission, did not eat properly leading up to the marathon – a cautionary tale for me.
The other thing I like about the book is its dedication to data and a plan. Being a total data nerd, I eagerly setup a spreadsheet that tracks my progress day-by-day until the marathon I plan to run in. You can see the spreadsheet where I am tracking my progress here. This spreadsheet is automatically updated as I make changes to the original.
One of the great passages in the book talks about secondary motivations for running the marathon. I must admit that my original motivation was body fat loss. However, the book’s focus and now my primary focus as well is the completion of a marathon. There is no focus on time, weight loss, muscle building or anything else. If I cross the finish line at the end of September I will have achieved the goal. There is no other measure.
As of this post I have completed the first four weeks of pre-training. For the first time, I have been running 4 days inside of a week and I feel great. While I do have some muscle pain, it is very mild – the kind I would associate with a strenuous workout.
I will touch base on how I am doing every few weeks. I had to add an extra 3 weeks on to the program so that I could be lined up with the marathon in the Adirondacks Mountains of New York by the end of September.