Running with music vs without

runneredgeI have completed all my runs while listening to music. I prefer listening to something that keeps me motivated and pumped to keep running. I use my iPhone to play the music which is in a belt pouch that I wear while running. It’s reflective, and it fits really well; I don’t feel it at all while running. I use a set a Phaiser Bluetooth headphones that work remarkably well. I accidentally let the charge die on them on my last run, and I ended up running the last mile without music.

I thought that running without music would be harder, or that I wouldn’t like it. I used to run without music for my entire time in the Corps as running with a Walkman was always a disappointing experience and running with a CD… please. I remember how much I would fixate or concentrate on my breathing and I remember not liking it.

So there I was, listening to Sumo Cyco singing “Interceptor” (I love that song, especially while running) when all of the sudden, the Bluetooth voice said, “Power: low” and then shut off. I went from hearing really powerful and driving music to hearing… me, breathing hard. I noticed that my breathing wasn’t in-sync with my steps, and for a while, that continued until I noticed that I started breathing in a rhythm in-sync with my steps. For every six steps, I inhaled once and exhaled once. It was very efficient, and my pace actually improved.

At the end of the run, I felt good. It was a good, hard workout, and I felt as if I’d accomplished something. It turned out, I did. My average pace for the 3.45 miles was on-par with my best runs, and the pace actually improved mile after mile which is the opposite of how my runs have typically gone up to this point.

I don’t know if I’m going to run without headphones. I really enjoy listening to music as I run, and it helps take my mind off the running and allows me to think about other things. However, when I concentrated on the running and breathing, my pace improved and my breathing became more rhythmic. Maybe I need to do more experimenting with this.

Do you run with or without music?

Feeling Fit is Feeling Good: How to Start Running

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Me after a 5k run in San Antonio wearing my fancy (and old in age but not in mileage) Brooks Glycerin 9 shoes.

Another strange admission from me: I am enjoying being fit. I can now do things I could never do before like run in and out of a store without breaking a sweat or even getting out of breath, climb (more like run up) stairs in a football stadium or at work without even raising my heart rate, or chase the dog around the house (his favorite game) without getting tired or winded.

Losing weight opened up so many possibilities for me, the last of which I expected to be feeling good when getting fit. As I am working toward getting more fit, I actually like the improvements and how my body feels. I miss it when I skip a day of running. My legs actually ache more when I don’t run than when I do. And when I increase the distance I run? I actually feel better.

Weird.

If you’re not a runner and you’re still reading this, I applaud you. It’s because you’re either curious, not believing what I’m saying (because you’ve heard me say time and time again how much I hate running) or because you want to try it yourself. If it’s the first two, I’ve got nothing. But if it’s the last reason, I’m happy to say that it’s possible for you to enjoy running to!

Here is what I recommend when getting started.

  1. Get good shoes. This is super important. Your feet are your vehicles, and they need to be protected as best as possible. If you can, go somewhere that fits shoes individually. It’ll cost a bit more than Payless or even Academy, but your feet are worth it. This is your most important investment.
  2. Start with a plan to run a short distance. If you can’t run more than, say, 100 yards without stopping, make a goal of running a quarter of a mile, or half a mile without stopping. The way you do this is to keep your pace, but chop your steps. Turn it into a jog. It’ll take longer, but you’re building the stamina.
  3. Don’t push too hard, too soon, and don’t expect immediate gains. This is going to take some time. Be okay with that up front. You’re not in a race here. Take it slow and easy.
  4. Increase your distance as you feel comfortable. If you make no distance improvements after some time, that’s okay too. Just increase only when you feel ready. Trust me; when your body is ready, it’ll WANT to run farther.
  5. Fake it ’til you make it. Hate running? I did too! What changed? I told myself that I have to like this. I need to run, and I need to do so at least 4-5 times a week. Why do something you hate? That’s one of the hardest things to do. I figured that I might as well enjoy running since I’ll be doing it so much, and guess what? I actually DO enjoy it now. It’s something I look forward to, and while I’m doing it, I feel myself being active and making progress toward being a more fit person.

There are so many more tips I can give for running, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Start with those five and then come back for more tips. I’ll have some posted soon!

Running is getting easier

file_000-57I just looked it up in my Fitbit app: I began running on September 10th; that’s seven weeks ago. I’m astounded by the progress I’ve made in that short time. I have been purposefully taking it slowly and trying hard to not overdo it. In the past, my efforts in getting back into running were always derailed by my over-enthusiasm and injuring myself by doing too much too soon. Not this time.

My first run, looking back at it now, was laughably short: 1.63 miles. My pace was 12:17 which, compared with my last pace, was pretty slow. But at the time, my primary goal was to complete a run without stopping to walk. I wanted to do more than 1.5 miles and I wanted to run the entire time. I accomplished that goal and then let my legs rest for a day before going out again and aiming for more. I reduced my pace and increased the distance by a quarter of a mile. My main goal was to never give up and walk unless I injured myself. So far, I’ve been able to complete every run without walking.

My most recent run was an easy 3.12 mile run. My pace was a very comfortable 10:25 pace. I could have run faster, but since I plan on running 5 times this week, I decided to play it safe and run it easy. Tomorrow I will run an extra mile, so the pace may not be much faster, but adding 33% more to the run distance will be the extra effort for tomorrow. The following day, I may work on pace. We’ll see.

The bottom line, however, is that I’m now able to get out and run without it being a bad thing. It’s not something I dread. It’s not something that I feel horrible doing. What I didn’t expect was that the opposite happened: I actually enjoy it, and I feel good doing it. I look forward to it. After a few days off from running, I find myself waking up at night excitedly awaiting the alarm clock so I can begin my run. This is very weird to me; I’ve never felt this way about exercise before.

My ultimate goal is to run 4-5 miles daily 5-6 times a week. I don’t necessarily want to run marathons or half-marathons, but I would like to be fit. I like the way I feel after my runs, and when I need to run out to the car to get something and run back into a store, I’m not out of breath and sweaty. When I went to the Texas A&M football game last weekend, I was able to run 20 rows up to my seat without losing my breath. It was exhilarating! Having the stamina to do things that only a year ago were out of the question for me has really changed my outlook on life.

I know I’m a big proponent of using diet to change your health, and I still firmly believe, based on my own experience, that diet is more important for weight loss than exercise. However, adding exercise if you are able to engage in physical activity definitely improves your quality of life. I would never lie to you about something like this. I was the guy who swore off exercise at the beginning of my journey. I have seen the error of my ways, and I admit I was wrong. Get out there and move. Start by walking. Progress into jogging, and then if you’re able, into running. You won’t regret it.

Reddit Running’s Spotlight Runner: Me!

2016-11-04-07_34_05-peopleThis week, I was honored to be selected as Reddit Running’s Spotlight Runner (I’m Edge767 there). I was interviewed earlier this week, and the interview went live today.

Of all the things to happen to me in the past year, this is the least expected and most surprising to me. Besides the fact that I never thought I’d be a runner, and that I found how much I enjoy it, to be selected as a part of that group to be spotlighted after running again for just under two months is really special. I feel like even at my slow pace, I’m making advances and achieving goals nearly every time I’m out there hitting the pavement. To me, that’s what’s special about my journey, right now.

So, if you want to see what  I have to say on the subject of running from being interviewed by a runner, head over to Reddit and check it out.

So many changes in my life: who am I?

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Me after a run with my amazing Phaiser Bluetooth headphones. Seriously great.

This is something I never thought I’d be doing: browsing Amazon and Woot! for running gear. Fortunately, I have shorts I like, and enough shirts to last me for a week. I have a belt that holds my iPhone when I run, and a really amazing Phaiser Bluetooth wireless headset that has been all kinds of amazing. The Brooks running shoes feel like they weigh nothing at all and fit perfect (thanks to Fleet Feet). Next up: some running pants. It’s getting cooler out, and anything under 50 degrees is downright cold to me. I want something covering my legs when I run in weather that cool.

I haven’t shopped for exercise equipment or PT gear in a very long time. With the exception of the kettle bells Sherry and I bought a few months back, Academy was a place I went to for ammunition, not exercise clothing. Now, when I go there, I find myself looking at shirts, shorts, sock, shoes, etc. It’s not that I need anything, but I want to have ideas and numbers in my head for when I do.

There are many indicators to myself of how much life has changed. I have so much more energy in the mornings partly due to the better sleep I get now. My appetite has normalized to allow me to eat three times a day without snacking. Better yet, I don’t have snack cravings, and foods don’t tempt me anymore! I feel normal in my clothing: nothing binds, feels weird, or falls off me due to having an odd body shape (when my stomach was huge, it was always a battle to keep pants up even with a belt; I refused to wear suspenders). I can run up a flight or two of stairs without getting winded and I find myself not getting colds or feeling run-down anymore.

I realized this morning that I have a life I always wished I could have: A beautiful wife, great kids, a beautiful home, amazing and loving friends, a good job, a nice car, and a dog who drives me nuts sometimes but ultimately is a sweet and loyal buddy. I have no needs, only wants. It’s a good place to be. I want to enjoy this as long as I can. If eating right and exercising helps me do that, then I’ll gladly do it. It’s no imposition.

A final thought. There are many who have fought harder battles and who are unable to exercise like I can today due to physical limitations thrust upon them. I run for myself, but this morning, I decided to also run for them. I actually thought of all the veterans that can’t be out on a morning run like I was today. I picked up my pace to honor them. I plan on picking a week in the upcoming weeks where I’ll run 25 miles over the course of 7 days. It’s not much, but it’s more than I’ve run in a week since being on active duty in the Marines. It’ll be tough for me as a new runner, but I’m up for the challenge.

Adding Exercise to Paleo

I’ve been asked if I’m still eating Paleo now that I have started running. Some people are concerned that I may not be getting the right nutrients or enough calories to support the increase in calorie burn through running. Well, the easy, simple, and true answer is yes: I’m still Paleo.

There is no hard part.

I eat the same way I always have. Well, maybe I eat a little bit more, but in terms of ingredients, it’s exactly the same. For example, for breakfast, I ate an extra slice of bacon. After my run this morning, I just felt like I needed that extra slice, and now a couple of hours after breakfast, I can honestly say that I feel better than I would have without that extra slice.

For lunch today, I’ll have the exact same size portion I have been eating for the past 13 months, and for dinner, I’ll do the same with perhaps a muffin for dessert. Otherwise, my diet is the same as before. The only real difference is I add a tiny bit here and there to round out my nutrition to stave off any hunger. I’m working to increase my calorie deficit as well as getting fit, so eating a lot more would defeat a big part of the reason I’m running.

I don’t eat a lot of carbs. I have greens and some vegetable with my meat at every lunch and dinner, but I’m not loading up on them. I haven’t felt lacking in energy with the exception of one run, and that was in the heat after work when I was tired. Otherwise, on my morning runs, I feel energized and ready. I will even say I feel good. Today’s run was exceptionally good.

So, in my experience, adding exercise to Paleo is sort of a natural progression and doesn’t require any real additional food or planning other than maybe to add a fruit or some extra serving of something maybe twice a day to offset the increase caloric load on the intake.

Weight Loss for People with Physical Limitations

I just read another Facebook post by someone who has been injured and has been unable to exercise. I get it; I’ve been there. Using injury as a crutch to be fat was a specialty of mine (I’m not implying that the person making the Facebook post was doing this. I used to do that!). What made me sad was that this person still believed that exercise was the key to weight loss.

90% OF WEIGHT LOSS IS WHAT YOU PUT IN YOUR BODY. 10% IS EXERCISE.

I know this is a fact because I lost 110 lbs in one year without exercise. You read that right. I did nothing. Sure, I dabbled here and there with some physical activity, but nothing regimented and definitely nothing that would make me sweat. I only recently began doing push ups daily, but that’s a far cry from an exercise regimen. I’m working up to it, and I’ll get there someday (soon, I hope!), but for now, I’m still living an exercise-free life and still losing weight.

If you’re putting off losing weight because you think you need to exercise, stop. Stop buying into the hype and marketing that losing weight means sweating. It does not. Not even a little. “But I know people who have lost weight by exercising!” you’re thinking, and you’re not mistaken. People who exercise tend to eat better and pay attention to the quality of the food they are putting into their bodies. My sister is phenomenally fit, and she eats foods I would never even consider eating, but she eats them in very small quantities and she also exercises more than 90% of exercising people I know. Not only is she limiting her caloric intake, but she’s exerting far more than the average gym rat.

“So you’re saying that I can lose weight just by eating certain foods?” YES I AM! I did it. Look at this picture of me before and after. Bear in mind that the only difference between the two photos is 10 months and a different diet.

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No, I’m not skinny (yet!), but I’m no longer obese. Also, I didn’t do some sort of weight loss diet like Adkins or the Cabbage Soup diet. I changed my eating habits and adopted the Paleo Lifestyle after doing a Whole30.

You can lose weight without exercise. You can have two broken legs and lose weight. You can be a paraplegic and lose weight. All you have to do is eat right.

I’m not taking anything away from those who love to exercise, or who use exercise to be fit. I just don’t want anyone to believe that if you can’t exercise, you can’t lose weight, or worse, if you don’t exercise you won’t lose weight. That’s complete BS, and I’d be very incredulous of any fitness “Expert” who tells you that working out is the only way to lose weight. I’d stay very clear of anyone who spews that BS.

Take it from a guy who lost 110 lbs in one year without exercise: change your diet, eat healthy, and just get up and move a little, and you will lose weight.