Tagged: exercise

Thoughts from a morning run

There’s a stray dog roaming the neighborhood. I got to keep my eyes out for him. Around 5:45 that white Camaro is going to be speeding by. I’d better keep my ears open. The municipality is screwing with the fire hydrants again so there’s likely to be a puddle of mud on that corner near the front of the subdivision.

Above are just a few of the thoughts that most mornings – pardon the pun – run around in my head as I’m running around my neighborhood.

This isn’t the case when I run on the treadmill. On the treadmill, I just stare at the wall on the opposite side of the basement. Don’t get me wrong, there is a thought process to treadmilling (My newly made up word of the day). You have to send some brainwaves down to your legs so they’ll keep pumping and so you won’t go flying off the back off the treadmill like fresh mulch shooting out of a chipper.

But when you run outdoors, it’s a multi-sensory experience.

You’re listening for cars rolling up behind you. You’re watching out for cracks in the pavement, puddles or anything else that could break your stride – or something more important if you tripped.

You’re thinking, not of an LED display in front of you, but the half mile you have remaining once you turn the corner by that nice house that they just can’t get to sell.

I enjoy working out in my make shift basement health spa, replete with my Denise Austin resistance bands and my vintage “The FIRM” VHS collection, but it’s an entirely different experience when I can get outdoors.

In my basement, the flush of the toilet two flights above washes out the greatest hits of the 80s queued up on my Pandora feed while I’m running up an incline. Outdoors, I hear Bill Conti’s horn section punctuating one of the greatest movie themes Gonna Fly Now as I channel my inner Balboa running up the Philly Art Museum stairs with these 50-year old hinges I call knees creaking their way up the one remaining hill – over by the clubhouse – that stands between me and a nice hearty bowl of oatmeal, flax seeds and blueberries with a splash of almond milk (That I wish was a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit).

Yeah, I was thinking a lot this morning. About 430 words worth that by now you’re probably tired of reading.

I’ll be out there again tomorrow. I doubt I’ll get another blog post out of my run. Maybe I’ll just be thinking about avoiding the mounds of poop left by that aforementioned stray dog.

Breaking a bad habit

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been rereading a great book by Charles Duhigg. You may have seen it. It’s called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

Part of Duhigg’s argument is that once we can accept that habits – good and bad – can be changed, it’s easier for us to take responsibility to change the good and improve upon the bad.

As that’s where I am today – a belly full of Thanksgiving and a guilty conscious as a result of falling short of maintaining a good habit and instead taking on a bad one.

I’m talking about what was once a pretty frequent 4 to 6 day a week workout schedule that has sadly slipped to zero to 1 time a week.

We’re all friends here and since we’re all about full disclosure at the Chronicles, I don’t mind turning over a stone or two and letting the creepy crawlies run out.

Not lacing up as much as I used to!

Not lacing up as much as I used to!

I have been woefully slacking when it comes to dragging my carcass out of bed for my daily workouts.

It would be too easy to fall back on any variety of excuses. Let’s see, there’s work, a recent (short lived) spat of cold weather, a scratchy throat, sore feet, a gassy stomach, the moon in Aquarius  – stop me when you’ve heard enough.

The part that sucks about not working out is how hard it is to get back in the proverbial swing of things – that good habit I spoke of earlier.

Being in the middle ages, on a good day, it takes this 50-year old body an extra minute or two to get warm and loosened up for the task at hand, but when I’ve been inactively perched on the shelf for more than a week having fallen prey to the excuse trap, it becomes even more of challenge to get the blood flowing and the muscles moving.

I like to run, and when I’m consistent, I can run well. When I stop for a few days, nay weeks, I find that I have to start all over again. Those 3 to 4 mile runs divert back to achy 1 mile walks – which ain’t bad, except when I’m consistent, I know I can do better.

As I guy who prefers to focus on solutions rather than harping on problems, I am committed to remedying this tedious situation.

No longer will the joy of sleeping in an extra 90 minutes outweigh the benefits of getting my arse out of bed and in the gym or on the road, because if I don’t I will begin to seriously outweigh my wardrobe.

I don’t like to beat myself up – physically or mentally – after all, I’m the only me I have. But I have to admit, I’ve gone soft on holding myself accountable – nearly as soft as my squishy cream-filled middle.

Thank you for allowing me to vent, and I’ll see you bright and early in the tranquil predawn hours  grasping for that last rep in my swank basement gym or huffing and puffing my way in a less than attractive trot through the bucolic streets that surround Casa de McCullough.

That’s it. No deep philosophical take aways or clever quips as we wrap up this post.

It’s simply man in the mirror time, and that man is a little chunky.

The serious moonlight

My friends at the Oxford Dictionary (Print edition – cause I’m old school like that) define lunatic as “an extremely foolish or eccentric person.” Oxford also provides the origin of the word. Lunatic comes from the “Latin luna ‘moon’ from the belief that changes in the moon caused intermittent insanity.”

Why am I rambling on about the etymology of the word lunatic? Well, it’s because I think basking in the pre-dawn moon over Atlanta does something to me.

Let me explain.

I like to get my exercise grove on first thing in the morning. Now you might say one must be a bit of a lunatic to go running around the neighborhood before the sun comes up – and you may be right!

Moon over Atlanta

Moon over Atlanta

Early morning workouts are quite common, and I’m sure I’m not doing anything many of you aren’t doing.

For me, it’s just that I find that alongside the overt physical benefits, lay several covert mental benefits of basking in the predawn moonlight.

Generally speaking, the predawn hours offer no noise and no traffic. But beyond that, there is a certain peacefulness that surrounds being alone with your thoughts under the luminous glow of a predawn full moon.

When I walk out the door – there it is. When I pass that construction site of the house on the corner that will never be complete – there it is. When I tiptoe around that crack in the pavement – there it is.

Something about the moon’s gentle glow and a quiet stillness make it easy to think – which is what likely led me to conjuring up this post.

The early morning tranquility is a useful setting for reflection, introspection or simply thinking about the day ahead. For example, what’s going in the brown bag for lunch (leftovers from a nice soba noodles in peanut sauce dish Mrs. M. whipped up a couple of nights ago).

And most importantly, all of these mental calisthenics do wonders for taking my mind off of my sore feet and creaky knees!

Good Morning Moon! Thanks for lighting the way and thank you for the inspiration!