Two timing — September 14, 2022

Two timing

Years ago, when I started riding a borrowed stationary bike for exercise, I struggled to get through a workout. I counted down the minutes because I was bored out of my mind. Listening to music and/or watching TV didn’t relieve the boredom.

So, I studied on the matter and decided to try reading whilst riding. It worked. Later, when I started walking inside my house – and eventually on a treadmill – I continued the practice.

It seemed so ingenious that I wondered why I hadn’t started reading whilst exercising years earlier. After all, I’m able to perform two worthwhile and self-helpful activities at once. Talk about a win-win.

But then I reminded myself that for years I walked outside with my late dog, the lovely and talented Mia Frances Goff. Reading whilst walking outdoors sounds dangerous. By the way, now that I’m used to reading whilst walking, I feel like I’m slacking if I walk outdoors. I feel like I should also be performing a secondary activity like folding laundry or changing a lightbulb.

Although reading whilst walking has enhanced my workouts, reading print books whilst walking offers challenges. Firstly, I must hold the book because it won’t fit on the treadmill. Secondly, I must turn the pages. Thirdly, as my hands become sweaty, I must deal with moistened pages. This ordeal represents one reason I’ve become a fan of ebooks in my advanced age. With one swipe I can turn a page on my device, which rests comfortably on the treadmill.

Other than the minor inconvenience caused by print books, I have identified only one problem with reading whilst exercising. On some days, I realize I just cannot walk for exercise. There’s no way I can raise one leg onto the treadmill, which offers a more demanding workout, or even put one foot in front of the other to walk inside the house. It’s too much to ask. It cannot be done.

Occasionally, this is due to mental exhaustion or a migraine. That’s understandable. But I’ve also come to realize that from time to time, it’s because I dread to read one more word of whatever book I’m reading.

It always takes me a few days to admit I no longer want to spend time with certain fictional characters or to continue inhabiting the nonfictional world I’ve entered. But when this realization finally dawns on me, I download another book and don my walking shoes.

Until I develop mental exhaustion, a migraine, or an aversion to whatever book I’m reading.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Weak in the knees — September 11, 2019

Weak in the knees

Last year, I participated in a 5k race. As someone who only runs away from snakes or toward treats, I walked the course and never considered attempting to so much as jog. But this year, I decided to train to run the race.

So I consulted several from-the-couch-to-a-5k training regimens, finally settling on one that began with three minutes of running and 30 minutes of walking until I reached a mile. The regimens also included several rest days, which I gratefully observed.

But on my training days, I’d perform stretches and warm-up walks and then run laps around my back yard like a hyperactive greyhound. I chose the backyard as my training ground because it afforded me privacy, which was important because I was secretly training. You see, I planned to surprise my family on 5k day. When the three minutes of running felt like three hours, I’d imagine their shocked and encouraging faces when they saw me running from the starting line.

That, combined with the numbers displayed by my faithful Fitbit, Esmerelda – Esme for short – kept me going when I wanted to quit. Indeed, it didn’t take long for me to increase my endurance, my distance, and my calories burned.

I was doing well. So well that I started ignoring the rest days. In fact, I ran for five consecutive days.

Excruciating knee pain kept me from running for six consecutive days. Actually, it’s kept me from running since.

Although I haven’t suddenly earned a medical degree, I believe I developed something called runner’s knee. As an overachiever, I have it in both knees. In retrospect, all those turns I took in my back yard couldn’t have been kind to my knees.

Of course, I didn’t immediately learn my lesson. For days after my self-diagnosis, I continued walking until I reached my daily step goal. To my defense, my right knee had started to feel somewhat better. The left one, however, continued to feel like it was on fire. Finally, after the pain woke me in the middle of the night, I submitted to the will of my knees. For the past few days, I’ve been adhering to the four components of RICE. Right this very second, I’m resting and alternating an ice pack and a compression wrap on my left knee, which is elevated.

RICE is helping. If nothing else, the compression wrap prevents me from walking at my normal pace. The worst part of this ordeal, though, is that I’m unable to exercise and it’s my own dumb fault. I have no one but myself to blame for not taking my rest days and for running laps around my back yard like a hyperactive greyhound.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.