#SpringThawChallenge : Halfway

An appropriate day as any for an update. 45 days down. 45 to go. Halfway to Spring, March 20 and I’ll not lie, I’ve been slacking.

We’ve been pounded with multiple snowstorms and brutal cold temps and keeping up, let alone finding the time and motivation to exercise has been challenging. I’m still managing to squeak in a run here and there, but diet is suffering. I find the more I hibernate inside, the greater my desire to eat all the things, specifically the bad ones. Things like 3 storms’ worth of #stormchips aren’t helping. Still not drinking as much water as I should either, but on the plus side I’ve had hardly any pop.

I did have a stint awhile back where I ran every day for a week and was feeling good but then the first of 3 snowmaggedons hit and derailed me. I tell myself I could hit the elliptical inside and that would be better than nothing, but I hate it. Would so much rather get outside, even if it’s cold. I’m really enjoying running when I can get out, even more so than the bike in some cases, just ’cause there’s less work/kitting up involved. Also with as much snow as we’ve had, I can run places I can’t go with the bike, even the fatbike. I’d like to get a set of running snowshoes. Maybe next winter.

I keep telling myself to get up early (which would mean around 5am) and run in the mornings, but damn it’s cold and dark then. It’s a psychological killer. Sometimes the voices in my head get the better of me.

“Go run outside in sub freezing temps in the dark? That’s nuts man. People will think you’ve lost it. It’s borderline irresponsible.”

I’m holding steady at 217lbs which is still down from the start, but not where I wanted to be at this point and really, seems to be my average/comfort zone, so not much accomplished. This seems to be the weight I always plateau at and I’m pretty sure that food is gonna make the difference at this point, but it’s hard to break bad habits and start eating like a rabbit. Never been my thing. I’ve always been a meat and potatoes (and cheetos) guy, so switching to ‘eat food, mostly plants, not too much’ is the hardest part for me.

Will get back on the exercise horse. I actually miss it and find myself looking for it each day I don’t squeak it in somewhere.

Half way. Days are getting longer now. I’m recommitted to kicking some ass and taking names.

Some Thoughts on Layering & Kit for Winter Running

You can do it too.

In an article at Gear Junkie that I posted earlier on Facebook and Google+ this week, Eric Larsen said something that really resonated with me. People are always commenting how I’m nuts to be out in such cold or that it’s weird that I like being out in it. What he said particularly was:

“People say they hate the cold. I think what they mean is they hate being cold. I agree, being cold sucks. It’s painful. I like being warm in very cold environments; you can do it, too.

Same here. This morning I got up to go for a run and it was -17ºC/1.4ºF. That’s pretty f’n cold. Not arctic polar cold, but cold enough for most of us non-explorers. Most of these mornings I lay in bed, contemplating if I want to face the cold or not, I also am mentally figuring out what I’m going to wear if I do. I’ll check the temperature and conditions outside and then in my head, compare that with other times I’ve been out in same conditions and what I wore and what worked and what didn’t – i.e. did I freeze my ass off or overheat. Another factor will be what kind of activity I’m doing and how long I anticipate doing it for.

So along those lines I thought I’d share what I wore today as maybe it will help some of you sort your own kit:

1. Thin cotton sock – most people, including me, will tell you that cotton next to skin is a no-no, and that’s true, but I don’t have any thin/liner weight wool socks. I hope to remedy that in the near future. I put these on today and rolled the dice. I won.
2. Grocery bags – yup, you read that right. Low tech, but never fails. Cheap vapor barrier.
3. Medium weight Smartwool sock.
4. Salomon Speed Cross shoes – while not a winter shoe specifically, these do have some tech and materials designed to keep water and cold out. More of a ‘fall/muck’ shoe.

5. Synthetic long underwear – cheapie stuff from Walmart.
6. Fleece/thermal cycling tights – these are Performance house brand ones I’ve had for at least 10 years. Still in great shape. Right leg has broken zipper pull replaced with a paper clip. I’m punk rock.

7. Under Armor ‘Cold’ base layer – wicking/thermal
8. Merino Wool Cycling jersey – wicking/thermal – added bonus doesn’t collect stink!
9. MEC Derecho Cycling Jacket – shell/wind – nice because it has full zippers up the sides/armpits that allow you to vent easily if you start to heat up.

10. Buff – This provides a nice ‘gasket’ at the neck to keep out drafts – something I hate. It’s also great ’cause if it’s too cold once you get out you can pull it up over your nose/mouth. I don’t even have the wool/winter version, just the basic one.
11. Trusty wool RandiJoFab cycling cap – this one’s got built in flip down earflaps if needed. I like it vs. a normal winter cap too, ’cause it has a brim.
12. Salomon running vest – this is the first time I’ve run with this even though I got it some time ago. I don’t normally take water with me on short runs, but lately when it’s cold I find I get thirsty sooner. Maybe it’s the cold air or my mouth dries out faster, I dunno. Perhaps, my body’s using up more water for heating so it’s telling me to drink. After reading again in the article the importance of eating/drinking, I decided at the last minute to throw some water in it and take it along. I’m glad I did. I didn’t actually end up drinking anything, but it was a great trial run. The pack is comfortable, streamlined and fit great underneath my shell layer. I actually sorta forgot I was even wearing it.

13. Some thin Head gloves from Costco – while not meant to be a liner glove, these are the closest thing I have. Also nice is they have the pads on the fingers that let you use them with a smartphone.
14. Pearl Izumi Amfib Cycling Gloves – as an outer glove.

Today I probably could have just gone with one pair of gloves, the Pearl Izumis, but it’s always nice to be able to take off the bulky outer glove to adjust snowshoe bindings or access zippers/pockets, without exposing your hands to the cold.

I wore all this too, bearing in mind that I wasn’t going to be stopping anywhere for any great length of time and would keep my body temp up with activity. If I had planned anything like that, I would have brought extra layers to add on for those times of inactivity, as Eric mentioned in his article.

Overall, I had a great time and wasn’t too cold or hot – BAM – nailed it! Nothing is better than getting outside any time of year and getting your kit selection just right.

#SpringThawChallenge Post-Holiday Weigh In

So the Holidays – and time of unlimited consumption – are now behind us and time to get back to the task at hand. I did enjoy some treats over the Holidays, I will not lie, but tried to do so in moderation. In addition, I tried – and was relatively successful – in continuing with my exercise every day endeavor. Looking back, since Dec 23rd, there’s only been 4 days that I didn’t complete either a bike ride, a run or a Neila Rey workout. So without further ado, this morning’s weigh in result: 218 lbs.

So, 4 lbs up from last weigh in, but still down from the original. I’m ok with that. I’ll take it. I’m feeling good moving forward into January and it’s unobstructed-by-holidays-that-involve-eating status. To celebrate making it through the Holidays without a total derailment, I’m 5 – and only these 5 – gumdrops. You may enjoy them with me vicariously.

#SpringThawChallenge Update: Merry New Year Beef Jerky Time

I’ll dispense with the trivialities. First weigh in since the beginning of the Challenge. We’re 20 days in. For those not paying attention – or too lazy to go back a few posts – I initially clocked in at 223 lbs with the goal being to maintain or lose weight over the winter towards a target of +/- 200 lbs.

Today’s Tale of the Scale: 214.8 lbs. It’s the .8 that’s really holding me back.

You’ll recall – or you may not if you weren’t playing along then – that the first weigh in was fully clothed – this one was done right though, nekkid. So there’s that discrepancy. Also, you’re welcome for that mental image. Far too early to declare any sort of victory as over my adult life I’ve noticed I’ll fluctuate 7-8 pounds over a month without even really doing anything, but certainly data points to movement in the right direction.

Save two days of slip-ups, my endeavour to do some activity every day has remained successful be it a walk, a ride, a run, playing hockey or a muscle workout. On some days I’ve even managed to fit 2 or more in. I had started out on the Fit Christmas challenge, and I’m keeping at it though there have been one or two days I wasn’t able to complete the workout. My consolation was that on those days I did do something else – in both cases a run (one of 10k) so I figure I’m ok.

Efforts to improve eating habits are additionally going well. At the beginning of the challenge I started writing down what I eat/drink every day and it’s helped me to ID what was good and bad about my diet as well as drink more water. I also tend to have a little more willpower to avoid the bad stuff if I know I’m gonna have to write it down later. Overall feeling real good and motivated to keep going which is good as I now stand at the precipice of the culinary abyss that is Christmas Vacation Week.

A Challenge Within a Challenge

Maybe he’s an enigma, a mystery wrapped in a riddle.” – Elaine Benes
“He’s a mystery wrapped in a Twinkie.” – Jerry Seinfeld

All Twinkies aside, day 11 into my #SpringThawChallenge and I’m feeling good about my progress. With the exception of a minor derailment last weekend – we’ll chalk it up to my depression over the discovery of my bathtub upstairs leaking into my basement ceiling – things are progressing smoothly.

I haven’t been commuting on the bike as much (at all this week) due mostly to a combination of schedule and weather, but I have gotten workouts in every day. I’ve been eating better and I’ve also gone 10 of the last 11 days without a soda. See aformentioned bathtub incident outlined above.

Came across a new mini-challenge-within-a-challenge on the Neila Ray website and decided to give it a go. Trying the Fit Christmas workout. Workouts everyday for 12 days. Sorta the 12 Days of Christmas Workout. Looking breifly through them, I think the hardest part for me might be the # of steps component attached to some of ’em. If it happens to be a day I can get a run in, no biggie, but on other days, I don’t walk a whole lot. I think I will try taking walks at lunch those days to augment my step count.

So tomorrow starts the Fit Christmas workout. 12 days will put my last day on the 23rd, so I can reward myself with some holiday treats afterward – in moderation – of course. Next week sometime I’ll probably do my first weigh in since the start – though I’m not expecting major results this early in, it will be interesting to see where I’m at.