Cycling and Running.

I’ve recently got it in my head that I want to increase my daily fitness without having to go to the gym more. I like my gym and all (YWCA Vancouver – you rock!), but the rushed lunchtime sessions my life allows doesn’t seem like enough to counteract the 7.5 hours a day I spend sitting at a desk and I don’t particularly want to add a second session indoors every day. Not to mention that when I’m on the road for work, I don’t always have access to good fitness facilities because while most hotels advertise a “gym” as part of the package these days, they are often little more than closets packed with old treadmills and stairmasters.

Last week, for the first time ever (almost), I took the running I’ve been doing on the treadmill during the last month (shoulder injury kept me from my fitness classes so I’ve been jogging occasionally instead) out onto the streets of Victoria during my visit.
On the first day, running near my folks place, I did twenty minutes (2 km). On the second day went the full circuit and only walked during the last five minutes of a thirty-five minute run (3.4 km) because it was straight uphill. On the third and fourth days I did forty continuous minutes to the tune of 4.4 km (mapped on Google) on the Dallas Road seawall and through Beacon Hill Park (one of those days was in a windstorm too). Which means that over six days I ran 14.2 km. This week I’ve only run once (3.5 km) on the treadmill but I’m thinking that lunch today might be spent on the seawall pushing myself back to forty minutes since there is no time limit in the real world, unlike the gym machines that clock out at 30 minutes.

I’m aiming to get to 50 minutes/5 km, but at the moment I’m content to under 45 minutes just so I don’t torture myself into giving up too soon. Up until now I’ve *hated* running with a passion – my whole life swearing that my build (busty) was an impediment I just could get past. But recently I’ve figured out a few things that have started to change my perspective (I don’t exactly love running yet, I’m just barely past hating but I’m working on changing that):

  • A good bra really does make a huge difference. Lululemon makes a bra called the Ta-Ta tamer that has a strong binding function which is what I need more than “good support”.
  • It’s okay to go slow. My heart rate does just fine at a slow jog (averages 145) right now, and it’s okay for me to focus on length of time as opposed to distance since I’m not a racer.
  • Good shoes also make it easier. I just bought a pair of cross-sport Merrell shoes that weren’t cheap but feel great – and I can use them for hiking, running, cycling and climbing. Such a difference from the low-end New Balance cross-trainers I’ve been wearing for years.
  • As the weather gets nicer, exercising outdoors has all sorts of aesthetic and emotional benefits that I really do appreciate. The more picturesque the run, the better!

So we’ll see. On top of the running, I’m also attempting to cycle to work on good weather days – starting today! As with the running, I am the slowest cyclist out there which I’m sure irks the commuting “warriors”, but I’ve decided not to be daunted by them or the traffic in my attempt to make cycling a part of my weekly routine. The new Dunsmuir viaduct lane is great, I took it for the first time just after it opened and it really makes a difference not having to cycle through the DTES or Gastown both in terms of time and traffic stress. I’m not sure that I would take it home as it is just as easy to use the Pender bike lane going east to where it connects to Adanac. Mostly I just try to stay to the side of the lane so the fast people can pass me and it’s only thirty minutes door to door (ten minutes less than my bus commute). Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll have that down to twenty-five minutes I’m sure!

Just figuring it out now – if I managed to cycle to and from work (6.2 km each way) and run for forty minutes at lunch, I would be looking at a total of 16.5 kilometres of self-propelled travel/exercise without adding any extra minutes to my daily routine. That’s crazy! And also pretty unlikely in terms of a daily routine. A couple times a week though – that certainly couldn’t hurt.

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