Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not a Couch Potato Anymore

Although I've been blaming it on the arthritis, I've been sedentary for 3 years by choice. It's really been laziness. Certainly there are days when exercising is not going to happen. There are days when it takes all I have to do everyday activities. But those days are few. There are many more days when I feel good enough to get something done, something productive and active.

Before the arthritis, I was training for a marathon. I would run 6 miles with my dogs before work, 5 days per week. On the weekends I'd run 9 miles. I wasn't fast, but it was pretty easy. However, every time I worked up to 15 miles (on weekends), I would hurt so bad that I couldn't run for a week or two. I had no idea it was the arthritis rearing it's ugly head.

So for 3 years I gave up.

August 1 I joined the Nampa Rec Center. If you've never been, it's a great facility. I've been going to Spinning class 3 days/week, lifting weights, and I've started swimming. The swimming came about because I'm training for a mini-triathlon, a beginner's event: 1/8 mile swim (in the pool), 4.5 mile bike ride (stationary bike), and 1.5 mile run (on the track, which I'll have to walk since running isn't an option anymore).

Even without the Fitness Test I took this morning (results in a few paragraphs), I knew I was really out of shape. One way I could tell: comparing myself with other members. There's a tiny little lady who wears a shirt that says, "Filer Class of 1960." That would make her about 70. On several of the weight lifting exercises I do, she and I lift the same amount. I'm sure she hasn't noticed, but I have. It's embarrassing. I'm as strong as a 70 year old woman. yay ...

Three days per week I get up for the Spinning class that starts at 5 am. We spin for about 50 minutes. My goal for the time is aerobic exercise, trying to improve my cardio. I get my heart up to about 150 beats per minute, and keep it there the whole class. The last few classes I'm noticing that I'm having to work harder to get my heart rate up. That means I'm improving.

After Spinning, I lift weights for about 30 minutes. One of the Rec Center trainers, Joy, helped me develop a workout that fits with my physical limitations. She's knowledgeable about arthritis. In the short time I've been lifting, I've increased the weights. Today I added 3 lower body exercises that I'll do two days/week.

After the weights, I swim 1/4 mile. It takes a long time because I'm a really slow swimmer. I've also discovered something else: I'm not a good swimmer. When I was young, decades ago, I could swim underwater the length of a pool. I was good at holding my breath, and a pretty fast swimmer. Now, it freaks me out to put my face in the water. I feel like I'm not going to be able to breathe, even though my face is only 2 inches underwater and I can lift it up anytime. I'm working on it. In the meantime, I do my swim back stroke. It won't work if I ever do a triathlon in a lake, but as long as I'm swimming in a pool, I can stay straight.

Now for the Fit Test results (none of which are surprising): I'm obese, inflexible, and weak.

Oh well, I guess it's a starting point. In six months I'll be much healthier.

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