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I have been struggling…

January 6, 2012

to figure out the best way I could help you this new year.  I don’t want to sell you my book or anything else, I just want to help get you started on the right track.  Once you start finding solutions that work for you life gets so much better.  Really, stupendously better!  I don’t want to supply another list of worst people of 2011 or worst diets (actually now that I write about it, I want to do both of those things, but they probably won’t help anyone get fitter, just get me a lot more readers).

I thought I could post a chapter from my book that will help you get started, maybe the Low Hanging Fruit Chapter or the How to Exercise Like A Fit Person chapter, and maybe I still will, but I don’t know if you will read a chapter here in this post.  It finally dawned on me what I could do, what I should do to help you get started on getting fit.

I am going to share with you how I started.  Not some boring recollection with instructions (which quite honestly is what my book is and it is good, but I may not be the best sales person I am thinking because I am not really describing it in a way that would make me go out and buy it), but instead, the actual blog entries that I wrote at the time.

A Little Background

You see, part of getting fit for me was finding the website   It is a fantastic site and I recommend that you check it out.  The idea is that you set up some goals for yourself.  You can pick anything, from playing in the world series of poker to climbing a mountain.  You can search through existing goals, or create your own.  You can find people with interesting goals and look through their lists and select some of their goals as your own.  You can set up to 43 goals, but that takes time.  The idea is that you can have a mix of long term goals, short term goals, fun goals, inspirational goals and reminder goals.  You can blog about each of the goals as you are doing them and people comment and give you support in the form of cheers.

The site has been around a long time.  It predates the slew of Bucket List sites by aways and I think it captures a very important concept that the bucket list sites miss, and that is of the day to day goals.  You don’t have to have any on your list and it could be a bucket list, but the site is great because you can have the day to day goals too.

One of my first goals was to Lose Weight.  I thought that was a good goal and I was wrong.  I explain all of this in the book, but suffice it to say, this was my first entry under Lose Weight:

Jan 26, 2007, 10:11PM PST: WHAT!?!? 127 Days!??!

I thought I had more time than that. Wow, am I ever glad I put the personal challenge on this one. I thought it was a lot more days until June 2nd. I had better come up with a plan here. #1 I will go for the running 5km thing. I will weigh myself (not really important) and get my fitness level done, ie body fat percentage, vo2max and use that to work from.

I received a bunch of comments, and the one that changed my life was this one from someone I didn’t even know, a guy by the name of TobySells:

goals are important

Add a date to the second part and do more than say “I am running a 5k thing” get signed up for one in a few months. You’ve now committed yourself to doing it, and will not want to embarass yourself. I’m going to be doing the same thing. Good luck!

I figured I needed to spin this part of my goal off into its own goal and here is where the story begins.

How I Got Off My Ass and Ran My First 5K:

I am going to include in chronological order all of the blog entries I made during this quest of mine, from couch to 5k.  If you do not have a goal yet this year, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE consider this one. If you are unsure if you are fit enough to run, take a look at this chart below from the book.

Use it as a guideline. You may want to set up a 5k Walk as your goal instead.  Always error on the side of taking it a little easy to start.  This chart is just a guideline, I am not a doctor, talk to your doctor, with this chart and your training plan before starting (This is infinitely smarter than just talking to your doctor by the way.  Bring your training plan when you go and discuss it).  If you are of a reasonable weight and age, start this adventure.  Start it now.  It is a fantastic beginning to a life of opportunity and achievement (really!!).

Jan 27, 2007, 10:38PM PSTSomeone pointed out…

..that “running the 5km thingy”, wasn’t quite the best first step to achieving my goal, so to follow their advice I have done the following:

Okay, first things first. I went online to find 5km runs in Vancouver.
I have 4 or 5:

2007 St. Paddy’s Day Dash March 11th
PMC Sierra Science fair fun run May 28th
HSBC Childrun June 3rd
ScotiaBank Vancouver 5 km fun run June 24th

The couch to 5km program takes 9 weeks. If I start today, I would be done by April 1st at the earliest. So this means that the St. Paddy’s Day one is out. I like the look of the PMC Sierra Science fair one though. Is this realistic? Anyone try the program who would know which one I should sign up for? What timing is realistic?

COMMENT FROM REW: You will know … because you will know =-)

Yes, the PMC seems very realistic. By May/June you will most likely be VERY ready to run a 5k … if you are running a little weekly from now until then. Get good shoes, run on a track or trail if you can, and take it easy the first month. I started a bit fast when I picked up running again and had to take some down time for my knees. Error on getting to the 5k run distance on the slower side then the faster side (hard to do for the male ego at times … but it’s mo’ betta for you)

Also, throw the whole 9 weeks thing for couch to 5k out the window. You may do it faster or you may do it slower. I’ve been using some couch to 5k pod-casts I found on iTunes on my runs. Use couch to 5k as a guide to get you running but after about week four listen to your body more then what the program thinks you should be doing. You may find you need to slow down one run and on another you may find you want to run more.

Listen to that and you will for sure know when you should sign up for your 5k run.

Jan 29, 2007, 01:34PM PST Step 2

Rather than actually start the running program because, well, it was foggy the last couple of days, and you know what they say ‘If there is fog, you just don’t jog’. What?!! They don’t say that, well they should. In any case, I killed 2 birds with one stone (or at least thought I would) and I took the kids to science world on Sunday. I love science world! Not so coincidently the fun run I was thinking of signing up for is signed up for at Science World. So I went to the desk and asked if I could register…and they didn’t have any registration information for the run yet… Oh well, I guess I will have to repeat this step. Figures, I start planning ahead for the first time in my life and I am planning too far ahead. It feels good though, now I know why the early bird is so damn smug!

On a brighter note, I could be the only person alive who can turn a 5 km run into a 12 step program….

Feb 07, 2007, 09:34PM PST  Step 5
Okay, no fog today. After work I swung by a local track on the way home. It was dark, but the track was lit-cool! I have downloaded all 9 weeks of the couch to 5k podcast (that was step 3), and put them on my ipod (step 4). Last time I tried running I used songs on my ipod to time myself, but that only gave me about a 5 minute accuracy. The podcast is so cool, it tells you when to run and when not to. It even knew that I did a good job… Only problem was after the 6th run walk combo it said I shouldn’t be breathing hard nor be tired… oh how wrong he was.
So one of 27 down. I have also set up a meeting with a friend I meet for coffee on Friday mornings. He runs marathons, but I think he has taken pity on my poor shape and he is going to help me get running. In any case, we decided to run first and coffee second, so one of my 3 workouts a week has now got a firm schedule (part a of step 6 [b and c will be to get the other 2 workouts a day and time]).
Step 7 will be to go to and get this goal set up there and the first one knocked off. Well on my way to my other goal which is to turn this couch to 5k into a 12 step program.

Feb 21, 2007, 10:40PM PSTProgress

The whole signing up to do something and publicly committing to it really works. I did the stair climb. So now I am going to sign up for a 5k. The science world one. I will go by the running room on Friday and sign up.

Yesterday, my friend took me running again. The best thing about running with him is that he has so many tips and tricks that make running easier. That said, my feet are killing me today. I think that there are muscles in the feet. Who knew?

So we started running and as I have said before, he can run triathalons and marathons. In any case, we ran a long ways and I just kept setting my goal to be a little further ahead. Eventually we had run 2.5 kilometers out. We stopped for a minute while I stretched my legs and then we started back. We kept it very, very slow but we ran all of the way back. I passed the odd old person walking slowly, but make no mistake I did pass them, and I was running the whole way.

In any case, I will try to run with him again, but when I can’t I will use the podcast.

Feb 26, 2007, 05:26PM PST Week 3

So I skipped ahead to week 3 on the running podcast. My feet really hurt from that long run with my friend (long for me), but when they recovered I figured I was no longer back in week 1. Ran the week 3 podcast, no problems, I think I will stick on that for the requisite 2 more runs in one week and then move on to week 4. Does anyone know if you should still do the earlier weeks even if you can do the later ones?

Still haven’t signed up for my run…

Feb 27, 2007, 11:36PM PST Week 3 run 2

I am getting in at least 2 runs a week! For me that isn’t bad.

I am working on active recovery. Running so slowly that my heart rate comes back instead of walking. This was recommended to me by my trainer. It worked. A month ago just lifting my feet would have brought my heartrate up. So I didn’t stop running for the half an hour of the couch to 5k program, only my run is so slow it is slower than my walk…

So, I travelled 3.2km in a half an hour, exactly what I did a couple of days ago walking in the rest gaps. Looking at the time and the effort, there is no way that the run I did last week that was 2.5km out and back wa 2.5km. I am guessing it is more like 2km MAXIMUM, probably 1.75km. I love all things google, but now I believe I have found the first cracks in the google empire. The measurements on Google Earth are off! (I am going to do some car odometer readings and measurements to confirm.

So, in any case, I am on track for my 5k.

Now to go to sign up for my run…

Mar 01, 2007, 01:29PM PSTMy trainer run…

This morning my trainer (I would say friend, but no friend would do to me what he is doing), took me running again. We decided to do the seawall run again. I am confused as to what the distance is after my week 3 run 2.

My new goal of bringing Google to its knees because it offers such inaccurate distance measurements is already in trouble. I decided to measure the track that I run on in Google Earth. The track tells me it is 400m on the inside track. So I measure it on Google Earth and sure enough, 408 meters or so. I measured another track that I have tried to run on before and it was 398m.

I was thinking about this as we were out running, on my own there is no way I could run 5k, but I ran faster and harder and much longer with my friend. Much! So this time he decides we are going another half kilometer than last time. Nothing short of panic went through my mind. I did not think I was going to make it, but I did. A quick Google Earth on the run we did and it was 6.06km. It probably took about 45 minutes. I have to get that time down, but I am pretty happy about it. Next run is week 4 podcast on the weekend. Wish me luck, this running thing is going better than I thought it would. Also, the view isn’t bad on this run (picture above).

Mar 14, 2007, 10:47AM PDT Week five and the trainer run again

On Tuesday we did the same run again. I was much better, not quite so slow and I didn’t need to walk once. We pulled off of the seawall to hit a hill and that nearly killed me. It has been pointed out to me that very few actual runs are as flat as my current training run. My body would have quit a couple of dozen times had I not had a running partner.

I really, really, really have to work on self discipline. That should be my over-riding goal. I have none. This applies to almost everything. I ran on Thursday of last week at the track, I usually have my podcast to keep me running, but this run I didn’t. I have heard that running around the track can be boring, but I just don’t think I cover enough distance to bore myself. In any case, I did my 8 laps in the most lazy, lapsidasiacal style you can imagine. You know you have literally 0 self discipline when a podcast is a significant improvement over your own mind…

In any case, I can run 6km. I have run it twice and I can run it again. My next key is going to be doing some more natural terrain with my trainer and then running a 5km route without my trainer.

I am getting some pressure to go in the Sun Run (10k) next month. I might shoot for this, but only sign up at the last minute if I have run that far. It wouldn’t be my 5k, but it would be cool. I think 5k is the right running distance and time for me, any longer and my body will fall apart. Any longer and I won’t do it because I won’t have the time. I am thinking of alternating with some swimming. If I can run and swim and visit the gym two to three times a week, I might just get slim(mer), but that is a different goal, this one is to run a 5k. I am on week 5 on the couch to 5k program. That is my trainerless run. I am only running twice a week, so my other goal will be to add atleast one run, maybe 2 a week.

Wish me luck, this actually appears to be going my way….

Apr 01, 2007, 10:39PM PDTI took a week off…

For no specific reason. It was the Winefest this week, so I was mostly hung over when I didn’t have a gym visit. In any case, I got out there again today. My gym trianer J is a running trainer (as opposed to friend and running trainer M, or my gym training gym trainer K). She has asked me to walk for 5, run for 15 minutes, walk for 5 and run for 15 more and tell her my HR at the end of the 2 running periods. I did that today. I ran over 5km. I was shocked that I could keep myself moving. It wasn’t hard running, but my mind was just saying, QUIT!! QUIT!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??? I went back to the seawall that I run with M and tried the same run. I would have probably completed the whole thing, but the park at the end of the run was having a festival so I turned around and ended up running a little further in the opposite direction.
I also signed up for the Sun Run 10k in 2 weeks. I am only intending on finishing the route, probably about 3 km minimum of walking, maybe 4. In any case, I should be ready to give my 5km next month a really good shot.

Apr 03, 2007, 11:34AM PDT Back to running…

…so my new trainer has set up a program for me. It has me doing running 2 of the 4 days I am not in the gym and 1 of the 3. She said something about running up hills ‘til I threw up on Wednesdays…I am sure she was joking…I hope.

In any case, she wanted me to walk for 2 minutes and run for 5 today. No problem, but she wanted me to do this 8 times. I must admit the 2 minute walk is such a motivator for me that as soon as I am running I am thinking, no problem, I have a 2 minute walk ahead of me.

So, I did it. It was hard and it took about an hour, but no part seemed insurmountable. My trainer was saying something about building up my base the other day, but to tell you the truth, I wasn’t listening so she might have been talking about someone else. I find it odd and quite exhilarating that I can talk about having a ‘trainer’. I wonder if dogs talk about their trainers this way. ‘So my trainer was saying blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and I sat down and got a treat. It was awesome, and it didn’t hurt, next time I might try to sit a little longer and see if I get 2.’

My total distance was 8km (7.92 to be exact-I was supposed to buy a heartmonitor and I found this cool one with a GPS antenna in it! It does all sorts of stuff, but you have to hook it to a pc to do that, and my dogs ate the power cord for that computer. I told the dogs to stop doing that, but they just sat down and looked at me like I owed them something).

That said, week after next I might be able to run/walk 10km. Oh who am I kidding, I am already scanning the race route for restaurants. I think Carlos and Charlies is on the route and they have an awesome patio. I should make a reservation now, I just need to figure out how long it will take me to run there.

Apr 24, 2007, 12:27PM PDT Friend run Tuesday

M and I did the standard seawall run, but this time we went further. Further than the 5 min run 2 minute walk combo that I did a couple of weeks ago. We went deep into the forest and up to the shopping mall, only turning around when we had run 4 km. It has taken 27 minutes. We decided to beat 27 minutes on the way back and at a couple of points really picked up the pace. As soon as I was back to the starting point, we had run 8km! No walking, all running. It took 51 min. 11 sec. If the average pace was used to calculate how long it would take me to run 5km, we have exactly 32 minutes. I think it is a good sign if I can run 8km at the same pace I am running 5. I hope it means that I can run my 5 faster, not that I am just slow at all distances. Oh well. It feels awesome to do this run and be back in full workout/training mode. Tomorrow I have to do hill runs…oh… I think, but I could be totally wrong, that when we were running up the hill at the end, that I actually outran my friend. He was dogging it on the flats for me, but I think I had a little more power up the hill. Who knows, I could just be imagining that, but it felt good to lead for awhile….

Apr 26, 2007, 12:48AM PDT Signed up for the Science world run.

I love science, although the only science fair thing I ever tried to do was a complete and unmitigated disaster. In any case, this will be my 5k run to complete my goal. I am totally psyched, because when I started this, I couldn’t run 50 feet.
In any case, I have a month before this run will occur (May 28th), so now I can focus on getting my time down. The current goal is to run 5k in 26 minutes. It is excedingly unlikely that I will be able to cut 6 minutes off of my time, but I will try hard.
Now I just have to arrange to have my kids there at the finish line. I think that would make the whole thing even better. Maybe I should pre run the site…

Comment from MannImSchatten:

knowing the course really helps …

I always try to learn the course before the race. One can learn where is the biggest climb, where is the last one, you also get a feeling how far is it to finish so you know when to push and when to back off a bit. There is nothing more frustrating (in race) than kicking your last mile really hard just to find out that there is a tricky climb shortly before the finish or saving your energy for last half-mile rush just to find out that its all downhill and you cannot use your saved energy anymore. Good tactics can cut the times of runners like you by a good minute or two. Go for it !!

May 01, 2007, 05:04PM PDT So this morning, M and I were standing there…

and trying to determine what kind of run we were going to do. I suggested we run the same 8k we did the other day, but today run 1 km past our starting point and back for a total of 10k. I have never run that far and I figured it would be good for training.
M looks over at me and says, ‘you remember when you asked me if you should run 5k as fast as you can to see how fast you can finish a race?’ I am like, ‘ya, but didn’t you say I shouldn’t?’. I can tell at this point, he really doesn’t feel like a long run, and I really want to improve on my 32 minute run, so I am in.
In summary, started too strong, suffered a little at the 2k point, turned it on a little at 3k and then some small bursts from 4k to 4.5k and then everything left to 5k. It took me 27min. 40 secs. Yay! That is almost a minute a kilometer better than the only other time I timed 5k, and getting me close to my 25:59 goal. I think I can do this one. I am loving the progress I am continually getting, but I can’t imagine that this will keep happening for all that much longer. At least I am in the 20’s now!

May 04, 2007, 12:29AM PDT  Ran my furtherest today…

I was really tired and couldn’t fit the run into my day, so I fit it in this evening. Had to set the kids up with a movie while my wife slept and I ran. In any case, I set out on my ‘walk 1 minute run 6 and repeat this 9 times’ run. I was running a kilometer in each 7 minute cycle so I figured I would keep doing it and run 10 of these. I ran all over the town. You would be amazed at how far 10k is. But I did it. I ran 10k (okay, I walked for 10 minutes of it, but I did it). That is a huge number for me. I never thought I could run 5k, but when I did, I realized I could probably run 10k. So it was just a case of actually proving it. I am going to create a run a 10k goal, but only after I actually run my 5k. I am going to run my 10k on July 7, so I will only have a month between the two. Then I am out of fitness goals. I am thinking of setting a goal of doing a triathlon, but I am not ready to even think about this one, as I can’t run and I am not great on a bike. I am adding bike training to my training this week (or at least my trainer is adding it to my training). Also, my bike is a cheap mountain bike….

May 06, 2007, 11:23PM PDT Still training hard

Did my interval training today. I had a very busy day so I couldn’t fit the run in until I got the kids to sleep. The run was 2 minutes as fast as I can sustain and then a 3 minute recovery run and to repeat this whole thing 6 times.
I did a quick warmup and stretch and then ran… big mistake. I think it was supposed to be 3 and 2, not 2 and 3. Whenever I bust out of the gates running as hard as I can, I end up burning myself out and taking half the run to recover. Did that again. My second half of the run was faster than my first by a ways. In any case, not my best run, but a run in the books none the less. So, for over a week, I haven’t missed one workout. Yay! Apparently my run walks over and that sucks, because I was getting good at those.

May 14, 2007, 03:29PM PDT The individual entries regarding this goal…

are beginning to bore me and make me realize, I need to work on some other goals of mine. I really am though, I am working hard at a goal I haven’t listed here. My brother and I designed and manufactured a product and we are marketing it. It is a lot of work to add to, well, work and this goal, but I am managing it.
In any case, I want to put some energy into photography and drawing, but for now that will have to wait.
So, still working at this, and I have my run not this weekend, but next!
My trainer and I are going to run the course this Saturday. Damn do they take this stuff seriously, more serious than me I think. In any case, I am just ready to tick this one off. We are shooting for under 26 minutes (note the we).
I am having a hard time with my reduction at the gym. I really like this gym, I don’t want to go. It may cost a lot, but it is worth every single penny. Oh to be wealthy (or single…or both).
Ironically all of my co-workers have a cold, so I am thinking I will be very ill for this run as well. I don’t care if I am throwing up, I am getting this off of my list of goals!
Oh yah, and I missed my first workout on Mother’s Day. No time… I have to make it up on Sunday.

May 20, 2007, 11:39PM PDT 1 week to go…

I ran the route today with my run trainer, it was fun, or rather, it would have been if it wasn’t a monsoon outside… In any case, it was a nice relaxing run just to be familiar with the route and so she can decide how she is going to push me during the run next week. One more week and I can check this one off. Can’t wait. I should have made this goal, run 5k, not run a 5k so I could have checked it off before now. Next entry should be done.

May 27, 2007, 11:39PM PDT 24:12

So this morning I met my trainer J at Science World. I was feeling great, I had eaten 2 hours earlier, picked up my number the day before. With my trainer there, I wasn’t at all nervous. I had already run the route and felt good doing it, so much so that I figured it would be easy. With respect to that, I was wrong.
J got me warming up, we ended running for 20 minutes, which seemed extremely excessive to me, but hey, I am not trainer. Then I had to do some high knees, and other stuff, then off to the start/finish line.
It was bizarre because I walked over and we stood there for a minute and then the hydrogen balloon was exploded and off we went.
The first km was actually really good, yada yada yada-to make a long story short, J was awesome pushing me to my limits and making me give it everything I had. I have almost always thought that I had something left at the end of a run, not this time though. I thought my legs were going to give out for the last km and I was going to puke at the end.
Walked off the puking feeling, had some oranges and water and found my kids and my babysitter at the finish line (missed them when I was running in and I was looking everywhere for them).
It was totally awesome!
I personally wanted to do 25 minutes, but I didn’t think I could. Lo and behold, the race was over and I did 24:12. By the way, it was a very flat course with maybe a 20’ grade difference from the high point to the low point-very flat.

May 28, 2007, 11:44PM PDT It still feels good.

I went into the gym today and of course the re-created photos that I had to make with my trainer were posted, including the one that I asked her not to post… The whole recreating the final run to the finish was embarassing, but I don’t say no to my trainer. As well, I didn’t know anyone at the race except my kids and my trainer.

They do this really annoying thing at the gym called thunderclaping. It is embarassing as hell, but, in any case, it was nice to get congratulated by everyone. It may be paid for support, but it is support none the less. I might look into prostitution-buying, not selling-because I am surprised how effective this paid for support is. I do feel that these people are really rooting for me and willing to do everything they can to help me. Just because I pay them doesn’t diminsh this feeling.

I really want to thank everyone here on 43 things for their ideas and cheers, they really helped. This was a tremendously worthwhile goal for me and I am so happy to check it off. Thank you tobysells for telling me to put a date on my goal, MannImSchatten for the advice of prerunning the course, REW for the advice and Ames for her multiple cheers.

Jun 07, 2007, 11:18PM PDT Running my next 5k

on next Friday.

It is the longest day of the year race, even though it isn’t the longest day of the year. I think it is the longest Friday of the year (although the next Friday could be, I would have to check a calendar). In any case it is a Friday night run with beer and hot dogs after. My kind of run. I am trying to get better (okay, still break 25) without my trainer pushing me. Some how I think that her impact on my run was more like 5 minutes plus, but we will see. I will give it my all. I need to program my virtual trainer on my watch to do a 4 min 40 sec kilometer and I have to keep up with him (yes, I have decided that it is a he. It is precisely the he that I was racing against at the end of the last race, only in small black pixels).

Jun 14, 2007, 05:09PM PDT Resting today and most of tomorrow.

Done my training for this, so all I can do is mentally prepare. That and get my iPod ready to go. This run is going to be quite different from my first as I am running to music and pacing myself.

I have set my watch to pace me for a 24 minute 5k. I have programmed 24 minutes of music into my iPod shuffle. I had better finish it in that time or it will be a quite sad, sad finish.

I have to keep telling myself: It is only 24 minutes (or however many I have left) and This isn’t pain…

Jun 16, 2007, 12:29AM PDT So I couldn’t stay on pace…

but I am very happy with my run. There was no part of the run area that was level. The hills were difficult but doable. Right now I feel awesome! I finished in 24:42 but that is by gun time. I was no where near the front, and they didn’t have the chip starting area, so I have no idea what my real time was, but it was close to my first finish.

It was so hard to push myself. I really had to dig deep. At the end of the run, I was a little bit behind this guy for about the last 1.5k. Every time I tried to overtake him, it took just enough out of me and he responded by speeding up. The end of the race was about 600m with slight downhill and then an uphill of about 40m and then a grass chute to the end. I waited until there was about 400m left and then I just pushed. I thought I was going to collapse, but I overtook the guy and just kept going. After my last run it felt awesome turning on the afterburners and actually overtaking the person, rather than having the opposite occur. Oh so awesome…

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