We're Walking, We're Walking

Think Kit day 10 prompt:

Make It a Habit!
What habits did you start this year that you want to continue? What inspired you to get in a new groove? Will you continue into 2014?

This one is a personal triumph. After many years of false starts, I finally established a regular exercise program, regular in the sense that I get 3-5 hours in a week, typically on the higher end of that.

It started this summer when my daughter joined a running club. On one of the first days, I took my bike thinking I get a ride in while the club ran. But then the leader of the club asked me to ride with the group as an escort. One day turned into essentially an entire summer of following these middle and high school students on their runs. I got a basket so I could carry water bottles and other odds and ends. In retrospect, I kind of made this club my part time job.

Even though I wasn't getting anywhere near an aerobic workout, it felt great to move and to be outside, even when it was yucky hot. And the kids inspired me to do more. At some point, I added extra trips to the trail to ride on my own or to a track to walk. Once autumn came, and the club finished its runs, I had this impending sense of loss. So I transferred the momentum to my treadmill that had been sitting oh-so-lonely in my basement.

Two things helped make that transition successful: a heart rate monitor and HBO original programming.

Heart Rate Monitor

One reason my past efforts had repeatedly failed is that I'd routinely get sick about two weeks into any new effort. I'd done some research that led me to suspect I was simply overdoing it and taxing my already crappy immune system. Cobbling together some of what I learned, I set up my HRM to keep me in a low-level zone. Voila! As long as I stay there, everything is peachy. The results include improved insulin receptivity, lower blood pressure, and better sleep.

HBO Original Programming

Let's face it; there's a big difference between riding the Monon with the wind in my hair (the hair that sticks out of my helmet, that is) or walking a track while the dogs run free around me versus slogging away on a treadmill. Can I hear a "boring!" My solution has been to revisit my favorite HBO programs while I walk away in my target heart rate zone. I'm nearly to the end of the

Six Feet Under

series. Now, those are 50+ minute programs. When I started this latest stretch of regular exercise, I was doing half hour, maybe 40-minute walks and rides. So I thought I'd do just that and then watch the rest of the show while cooling down. What actually happened is that I just stay on the treadmill for a full hour. Why not, right?

The habit isn't perfect yet. I haven't been doing much the last few weeks. I had an injury that kept me off the treadmill, and now I'm fighting with myself to get back on. As I write this, I'm sitting in my walk-on-the-treadmill clothes, knowing that it's a first step of getting there.