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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How Often

When do you get to call yourself "a runner?"

It's been a discussion for many years, and of course, there is no right answer. For me, if you go for a run, you're a runner. I don't see why it needs to be an exclusive label. One of the best parts about running is how accessible it is for everyone. You don't need equipment. You don't need membership. You need shoes and road in front of you. Poof, you're a runner.

Still, there are some who think you need enter races or make a certain pace. Some think that if you walk during your workouts, it doesn't count. These are the extremes. A more moderate standard is simple: it comes down to how often you run.

As relaxed as my standard is in general, this last is the standard I have for myself. If someone asks, are you a runner, my answer depends on how often I've been running. If I feel food about the work I've been doing lately, it's an easy "yes." Even if my mileage isn't that high, as long as I know that I've been out as much (or close to as much) as I want, then sure, I'm a runner. If (as now) I haven't been out much at all, I'll usually say something like, "Well, I run marathons, but I haven't been doing much lately." When I know that I'm not performing up to my own standards, I hate to claim credit, so I have to keep my statements in check.

But do I? Let me ask another question by way of answer: does it rain in Austin in August?

A week ago, a year ago, three years ago, the answer might be no. In fact, it didn't rain a drop in 2010 or 2011, less than 2 inches in 2012, and under half an inch in every year since then. No, it never rains in Austin in August.

Except, of course, that I'm directing outdoor theatre right now, and as the fifth inch of rain this week falls outside my window, I have to say, it definitely does. And in this moment, as I scramble to find rehearsal spaces with roofs, the "truth" of summer rain in Texas doesn't matter all that much. The last six years' evidence doesn't matter. It's raining now.

That's the problem with absolute negatives. It does rain in August. Not much and not often, but it does rain. In the same way, even if I'm not running much or often, I'm still a runner. And I still smile like an idiot running in the rain, just the way I did this morning.

It doesn't mean I'm satisfied with the occasional run, and I'll still qualify that answer every time I give it, but on a basic, fundamental level, my "truth" is that I am a runner.

And this week, a wet one.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Boost and Bust

Not gonna lie, I'm a little tired today.

It's been four months since I managed to complete more than two runs in the same week, and most weeks have had 0 or 1. Today, I went for my third run this week, and the second that was achieved by waking up on time. With my current work schedule, "on time" is 5:00 a.m.

I should say, I'm not a morning person.

However, I've found in the past that getting up and doing a workout is a great motivator for me. It gets the blood moving in the best way possible and puts me in a better mood from the get-go. Strangely, this wasn't the case for me on Tuesday, my other wake-up-on-time morning. I was happy that I completed the run, but I didn't get the same kind of energy boost that I've come to expect from early-morning runs, which is rather disappointing when you need that boost to carry you through a day you've started 90 minutes earlier than usual.

Today, I got the boost. It was killed by spending a lot of time in the car, but at least I felt it, and I can hope it'll be there if I get up and do it again tomorrow.

At the moment, however, I'm dragging pretty hard. This is something I've come to expect, of course. If I get up earlier, I'll be tired earlier. As much as I'd like to think that I'm just adding an hour to my day by getting up earlier, the reality is (most of the time) that I'm also removing an hour of sleep. Now, sometimes, that's an hour I don't need, like those days when I'm in bed for 10 hours just because I have nowhere else to be. But sometimes, like, say, after I spend an evening out at a concert and get to bed later than usual, maybe I just need the sleep.

So, I'll power through until an early-but-still-reasonable bedtime and see how it goes in the morning.

Or, based on how I'm currently feeling, perhaps early afternoon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


"Easier" is not the same as "easy."

I told myself this as I made a left turn this morning, changing my 4 mile run into a 3 mile run.

For the first time in far too long, I was embarking on my second run in as many days, and I felt really good about it. So good, in fact, that when my alarm went off, I almost thought I was still dreaming. Surely it couldn't be this easy to wake up so early after all the weeks and months I've spent hitting snooze. But it was. Alarm off, clothes on, quick pit stop and out the door. A total of 8 minutes from alarm to run, and I wasn't even hurrying.

My body has been craving this, and something in yesterday's workout must have opened the floodgates. I wanted to do four miles again. I wanted to see how I would compare in the cooler (but much more humid) air of the morning with a body that hadn't fully woken up.

Within half a mile, I could feel myself trying to push pace a little bit in order to enjoy the pseudo-breeze of the morning. It didn't feel "good," per se, but at least the air was moving and my skin wasn't baking. My watch found the satellites early and I found myself wanting to know if I was running fast enough. In short, I was building speed. Not a good plan.

I started thinking about all the other times I've gotten back into running and pushed myself too hard. And of course, of all the pain that came with that. I slowed down, and I turned left. Three miles is more than sufficient.

And still, I felt myself speeding up. It's only three miles, my legs told me. We can do this faster.

That's when the wisdom showed up. Easier is not necessarily easy. Yes, my run is one mile shorter, but that doesn't mean it has to - or even should be - faster. Sure, it's 78 degrees instead of 99, but that doesn't give me license to run my body into the ground over a training run.

I thought about what a faster pace or an extra mile would gain for me versus what it might cost. I remembered that the prospect of going too long, too fast, too early could only lead to trouble. Shorter run, slower pace.

Turns out, I was right. And I was rewarded.

At 1.5 miles, I hit a mini-wall very similar to the one I hit yesterday shortly before the turnaround point. My legs suddenly realized what we were doing and made their displeasure known. It was much easier to push through today, though, and one mile later, something wonderful happened. All the stress and strain in my legs released. My movements became fluid, and my pace quickened without any change in effort. In truth, it was probably slower than my last mile yesterday, but because I'd been smart early, it felt faster and I felt strong.

And there's a chance it'll get easier tomorrow.

Monday, July 11, 2016

If You Can't Stand the Heat

...then get up earlier.

It's an easy solution, really. Well, not easy, but simple.

Training outdoors in a Texas summer gives you only three options: heat, humidity, or some oppressive combination of both. Today, I battled the heat.

I've had a lot of trouble - and honestly made little effort - getting up early lately. As a result, I've gone for very few runs in recent months. With temperatures at or near 100 degrees in the afternoon and early evening, running after work hasn't really been an option for me. At least, not a sensible one.

This afternoon, I didn't feel like being sensible.

I had an overwhelming urge to go for a run today, and decided I would do so when I got home. As I stepped out the door, I could tell that it was going to be rough. The temperature was 99 with a heat index of 106. The most important thing was going to be keeping myself slow enough to finish.

The first half wasn't too bad, but as I neared my turn around point, the heat hit me like a ton of bricks, and as I turned around, I felt the sun on my face and my body heat went through the roof. I headed up a quarter-mile hill and at the top saw a stretch of trees providing some shade. For a moment, I considered stopping a moment and walking through the shade.

But I considered what it would mean to stop for the first time. This would no doubt lead to more stopping, which would only keep me out in the heat longer. There is a simple truth that occurs to me in moments like this: the faster you run, the sooner you're done.

As long as you don't run so fast you have to walk.

So, I kept myself moving, and with each step, I made a promise to myself to get up early enough to run in the humidity, not the heat. Sure, it's not perfect, but it's better than the alternative, which in turn is better than nothing at all. Today, I faced the heat.

Tomorrow, let's see how I face the alarm.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Modus Operandi

A routine and a pattern are two different things.

I crave a routine. I thrive when I can get myself into a rhythm and do the same thing over and over. When putting something together, I almost always drift into an assembly line system. A couple years ago, when at my best in running, I ran for the first 100 days of the year. Of course, I hurt myself and missed my BQ by two minutes, but that's another problem, and one I've been better about addressing. My bigger problem right now is actually getting out the door.

The sporadic nature of the blog posts has been no accident. It matches the sporadic nature of my runs. Even in the midst of P90X, I was having to find time at all hours of the day because I just wasn't waking up on time. For a while now, I haven't been excited about working out. Perhaps it's because I don't have any particular goal toward which I'm working. Or maybe I'm just getting older and crawling out of bed is necessarily harder. Either way, the work doesn't call me, and I stay tucked away in the safety and (ever-increasing) warmth of the bed.

That is my pattern, and I think that's the difference between the two. A pattern is there whether you want it to be or not. I get super excited and ambitious about working out and all the amazing physical feats I'm going to accomplish. Maybe I read an article about a challenge race or a new season of American Ninja Warrior just started. Something has happened that makes me believe this will finally be the time that I stick with it and legitimately change my life.

And so for a couple weeks (maybe even a couple months), I actually do it. I work hard. I see myself get better and stronger. I pay attention to what I'm eating and how I'm living in general, and for that time, I feel great.

Until I don't. Until something else comes along that takes my attention, like late-night rehearsals or a slew of birthday parties. Maybe I get injured or I plateau in my results and get discouraged. Maybe I'm just exhausted. Whatever it is, something turns off, and that passion turns to degradation. I tear myself apart knowing that I could never have accomplished all the things I said that I could. Certainly, how could I have ever thought I could do it?

It's a pattern. It's my MO.

I think the way to fight a pattern is with a routine. Yes, streaking helps me too. Not running around naked, though I suppose that's another way to go. Streaking, as in running for 100 days straight or counting the number of days in a row that I've woken up on time. (It's one, by the way.) This is also very motivational to me, but only when I get to a certain point, and only for so long. No, I simply have to develop new habits, which comes from developing the routine that I keep writing about.

The trouble is, I feel that to truly commit to the routine, other aspects of my life must be removed, so I'm trimming the fat. Over the next 6 months, I'm removing a lot of the distractions from my day-to-day that keep me from being healthy and smart, and I'm going to do all I can to stick to the new routine. Earlier to bed, earlier to rise. Workout, eat breakfast, write. Work, work, work. Set to-do lists. Read. Earlier to bed to do it all again. Health takes discipline, and discipline takes sacrifice. I think I'm ready. I'm finally ready to change my MO.

And day one is off to a great start.

Sunday, June 5, 2016


And it feels so gooooooood.

After yesterday's decision to return to a run-based workout plan, the natural choice seemed to be for me to take a run this morning. I actually woke up excited to do a workout, which hasn't happened in a few months.

Originally, I'd planned to do 5 miles, but within the first few minutes, I decided to drop down to four. I probably could have done the longer run, but my hips were a little tight. Even though I've been working hard the last few weeks, it seems to have used my cardiovascular system in a slightly different way, because I was breathing a little harder than expected.

And I couldn't have cared less. The run felt fantastic.

After the monsoon season we've been experiencing the last few months, it was great to have a bright and sunny morning with a light cool wind to help me along. Sure, it was nearly 80% humidity, but mornings are always more humid here in Texas. Of course, if I'd been running this whole time, I could have gradually gotten used to the increase in temperature, but instead, I've jumped right into summer.

And again, don't care. It felt so incredibly good to run again.

It wasn't long. It wasn't fast. Really, there wasn't anything spectacular about the run, except that I was running. I couldn't wait to get out and do it, and I can't wait to do the next one. This is the only way to sustain a fitness plan: to love it.

It's good to be back.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


What are my actual fitness goals?

It's a very good question, and one that I haven't asked enough when selecting the various workout programs I've done over the years. One that I've asked a couple times in the last week, and particularly yesterday when I began wondering if I could actually go through 90 days of the P90X program. 

Yesterday, I kept fighting through the workout because I didn't want to quit. I didn't want to give up and fail to reach 90 days again. But today, I had a more important realization.

I really don't like this program.

I certainly can't argue with the results, of course, but I don't think it's anything shocking. I mean, if you do any sort of intense physical activity for over an hour a day, of course you're going to see quick and impressive results. There's an advertisement that plays after every workout where they say something to the effect of, "Ready to cut your workout time in half and still see great results?" Well, who are they talking to? Who is working out for 2.5 hours every day? 

No one I know, but perhaps that's who this program is really created for. I don't think it's created for me. Which is not to say that I don't think it's a useful program. I think that I can use the P90X workouts as part of a more inclusive and varied workout program that brings running back into the mix.

I miss running, and I really want to run. That's the difference. When I don't run, I desire it. I do not have any desire to do the next P90X workout. I like doing a short ab workout, but I don't like the dread and agony of Ab Ripper. 

So, a new program might look something like this:

Sunday: Longish run and Yoga With Adrienne
Monday: Chest & Back, light ab workout
Tuesday: Fast run
Wednesday: Shoulders & Arms, light abs
Thursday: Mid-length Run
Friday: Rest

Despite the fact that this idea is born from failure, I'm actually starting to feel okay about it. Excited, even. And I'll give it the first try-out tomorrow. 

If I desire.

Friday, June 3, 2016

P90X Day 16 - Sustainability

I'm beginning to wonder how long I can keep this up.

Today, I actually managed to get up on time and get to working out. It's a Plyo day, so the workout is under an hour, which does make things a little easier. (Most of the other workouts are 1:10-1:15, when you include Ab Ripper.) Still, when considering time to cool down, eat breakfast and shower, we're looking at approximately two-hours each and every day (or at least 6 out of 7). In order to leave on time for work, this means my alarm went off at 4:30a.

It went off at that time yesterday, too, but I shut it down and headed back to bed. I could hear the rain outside, which made me want to curl up under the covers for a bit longer. Plus, I knew that I had nothing scheduled after work and that my wife had plans, so an evening workout wouldn't be a problem.

There's less room in my schedule today, so it was more important for me to force myself into my shoes and down the stairs.

As I gathered up what I needed for the workout, I began to wonder about whether I can reasonably expect to get up at this hour each day to complete this high-intensity workout. There are a number of concerns.

The first is obvious - sleep. I tend to stay up until at least 10p most nights, which leaves less than 7 hours until I would need to be crawling out of bed. Go to bed earlier, you say? Sure, okay. Except that I have other aspects of my life that often keep me out to that hour or later. If I'm seeing theatre, I'm not home before 11. If I'm DOING theatre, it may not be until after midnight. And, come late July, I'll be directing theatre, so who knows what time that'll be.

The sleep schedule is workable, though, if I commit myself to it. Most of the shows I see are Thursday through Saturday, which works well with the timing of the program. There will be a few rough days, sure, but if I make myself get up early, there's a better chance of falling asleep earlier, so I just need to get over the hump.

My bigger question right now is about my body holding up. In theory, it should be getting stronger, but I still notice all the aches and creaks, and today, there was some clicking.

In fact, I stopped the workout one move in to check in with myself. The first set of squats set off a clicking just below my left knee. With the DVD paused, I checked it out. There was no pain and no discomfort beyond normal workout fatigue, but the click was more pronounced than I'd heard before. I've had similar issues in my right shoulder during some of the weight-intensive things. In that case, I haven't had any slow-developing pain, and my performance hasn't suffered, so I try to move in a way that prevents clicking and keep myself in check.

There was no way for me to do these squats without a click, but again, there was no pain, so I hit play and forged on, telling myself that the second there was pain, the workout was over. The click went away about 10 minutes into the workout, or perhaps the moves I did after that point didn't move my leg the same way.

Whatever the reason, I completed the workout without further issue. Now I'm a little sleepy and my legs are pretty tired, but I don't have to work out tonight, which is its own source of relief. I'm performing tonight, but have nothing scheduled tomorrow morning, so perhaps I can sustain this thing for one more day. But for 74?

I guess we'll see.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

P90X Day 15 - No Nausea

It seems like a pretty low bar to set, really.

All I was hoping for in today's workout was to not feel sick to my stomach at the end. It hasn't happened yet with the chest and back days. It's odd, considering how little movement there is in the workout, but for some reason, this is the one that always seems to upset my body most. It was a big factor in taking a step back on Ab Ripper last week.

What it came down to was following Tony's first tip of the day: pace yourself. I made sure to set a pace that I at least had a chance of maintaining through the second round. There are still many limitations to what I can do. I'm certainly not ready to be in the next round of videos or anything, and I can't do any actual pull-ups after the first round. But I was able to do three of each kind in the first round, which is at least a minor improvement.

I set specific goals for the second half and made about half of them. The good news was that I really felt that I was doing as many reps as possible on each move. Especially the push-ups, I would try to get one more rep and fail, knowing that I'd gone as far as I could. 

With that knowledge, I fully expected to have the same reaction as the previous two weeks, but it turns out that my arms aren't the only parts of me getting stronger. For the first time, I finished C&B and headed into Ab Ripper without the sense of imminent vom. Again, it's not a high bar to set, but it's helpful for my general well-being.

This workout won't return to the schedule for six weeks, and in that time, theoretically, I'll have gotten significantly stronger. I hope, at that point, my numbers will be better than what I've seen so far.

But as long as I've got no nausea, I'll consider it a success.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

P90X Day 11 - Yoga X

I'm not sure that P90X understands the purpose of yoga.

For all the good that this program does for me, the one workout that I really don't like is the Yoga X workout. The first problem is the length; the workout is over 90 minutes long, and if I were to start the program on a Monday, I would have to find that time on a Thursday in order to keep with the program. Finding that amount of time on a weekday is never easy.

Fortunately, I've already anticipated that issue and, by starting on a Thursday, have managed to keep the majority of those workouts on Sunday. The exception, of course, will be the step-back weeks, but again, we'll talk about the issues with that week when we get there.

The first half of the workout is the vinyasa section, or the moving yoga. When I first did this program, this was the part of the workout that I disliked. It's much more difficult than the second half, and there are several poses (half moon, for example), that I'm just not able to do, at least, not yet.

After my month of yoga at the beginning of this year, however, I have a different point of view. Now that I have a much better understanding of the various poses, I can stay in control during the workout and not feel bad about being imperfect. Last week, my arms were so tired from the first week's workouts that I had a great deal of trouble, but today, I felt much stronger and was able to at least attempt each pose through the first half.

My real problem is the last 20 minutes or so. After the vinyasa section ends, there are some balance postures, which I also enjoy. Eventually, though, it gets into basic stretching.

Okay, yoga is about stretching, but this doesn't feel like yoga. It's not about being centered and focused and synchronizing the breath, it's just about stretching the muscles, no different than the Stretch X workout.

Then we go to what Tony calls Yoga Belly 7, which is nothing like any yoga I've done. It's an ab workout. He even acknowledges at one point that he's "yelling too much for yoga," which I completely agree with. He's trying to get the others in the room to work their abs, which doesn't seem to be about meditation and centering at all. Much like when Tony encourages us to do push-ups in between upward and downward dog, this seems almost like an apology. "Sorry we brought yoga into this, here's where you can buff yourself up."

Really the whole concept of "Extreme Yoga" seems like an oxymoron, but hey, maybe that's just me.

I really feel like we could have dropped this workout to an hour and left out some of the not-so-yoga aspects. That said, I felt infinitely better this week than last week, and while I don't feel too much need for Yoga Belly 7, I guess I have no problem with having a strong core.

Eventually, I look forward to having my own workout plan, including running and some variation of P90X workouts, and while I don't think that this particular disc will be a part of that future, I agree that yoga can and should be a part of my healthy plans going forward, though I'll probably stick with Yoga With Adrienne.

Or something else that is actually, you know, yoga.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

P90X Day 10 - Level Up

Struggling to get in and out of the car last night, I had a terrible thought:

I have to work my shoulders tomorrow.

The cumulative effect of P90X has been a double-edged sword. I am definitely showing additional muscle and definition, but I've also got a perpetual muscle ache somewhere in my body. For some reason, last night's ache settled in my upper back and shoulders, making for some rather comical (I imagine) faces as I tried to do pretty much anything that involved moving my arms last night.

This naturally made me a little nervous for today's workout, Shoulders and Arms. What I like about this workout is that it's only as hard as the weight that I choose. Some days, like Plyo, are based in body weight, so it's going to be just as hard regardless of my choices. Even Chest and Back uses push-ups. But, with the exception of chair dips, everything else in today's program is based in weight, and I knew that, if anything was too difficult, I could always drop the weight.

Of course, the downside to that is, if I don't pick a weight that's heavy enough, I won't feel like I've done enough toward my goals for that day. So, I laid out all the weights I might need, based on last week's numbers, with one exception. Instead of the 10 pound dumbbells, I brought out the 25, just in case.

Within the first few moves, I stopped worrying about last night's soreness. My range of motion was not affected, and I was already able to increase weight on a few moves. Still, given the surprises of Monday, I wanted to be cautious.

By the second block of moves, I decided to throw out caution, and I'm so glad I did. In all, there are 15 different moves in this workout, each done twice, and 13 of them involve weight. I based my starting weights off of the second round of each move last time, and in 9 of those, I was able to increase my weight off of last week, not to mention increasing my reps on the other two. Finally, I'm seeing marked results. I'm leveling up.

Which got me all amped up for Ab Ripper, and deservedly so. I was able to increase almost all the workouts (with the exception of scissors and hip raises) to 20 reps, nearly reaching the actual numbers for the workout. I feel like I'm actually making progress in strength, not just appearance.

I am under no delusions about the level of my progress. The is only day 10, meaning that what I have left is still 8x what I've done. I can hope, however, that my rapid progress thus far is a harbinger of great things to come.

I've still got many levels ahead.

Friday, May 27, 2016

P90X Day 9 - Double Time

I thought it would get easier.

It hasn't. Not yet.

At the 10% point of this program, I can honestly say that I'm seeing significant results. And that I'm exhausted. Yesterday was the first repeated workout, the chest and back, which means push-ups and pull-ups. P90X stresses the importance of taking notes on your workout so that you can see what you've done, which gives you a place of reference for the next time. I checked out my numbers and set a goal to be slightly better this time around.

For starters, all of my pull-ups last week were done with the aid of a chair, so I decided to do as many as I could without the chair, and then change over. Then, I figured I'd add a few reps of each type of push-up.

This did not last long. I did real pull-ups for the first two workouts, and increased on one style of push-ups. After the first break, I couldn't pull myself up anymore, and I was already starting to drop on the number of push-ups I could do, as compared to last week. Within the first ten minutes, it was clear that, not only was I not going to improve on last week's numbers, I was going to have trouble maintaining them.

So, what does that mean? Does it mean that I'm failing? For a while, it felt like it. I got very frustrated the first few times that I missed my numbers.

And then I remembered that last week, I was doing this workout with fresh arms. This week, I've got a whole week of extreme workouts behind me, so I couldn't actually expect to make the same numbers that I did when I was fresh. In fact, even getting close meant that I was doing great. So, I fought my way through the rest and even got through the abs with numbers reminiscent of my second day instead of my first.

Which brought us to today's plyo workout. I went in with tempered expectations after yesterday's limits, and found that the first half of the workout was similarly difficult. However, the back half felt great, and I even had enough energy to jump into Tony's "double-time" moments. Knowing exactly what was coming made a huge difference in my desire and ability to push myself harder than I would have otherwise.

While my numbers may not have reflected it yesterday, I do feel (and look) stronger already. I need to keep remembering that progress can be slow. I certainly can't compare my numbers to those of the folks on the videos. I can only do the best I'm able on any given day.

And double-time when possible.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

P90X Day 7 - Good Pain

On the seventh day, he (mostly) rested.

The last day of each week in the P90X cycle is rest or X-Stretch. The latter is a one-hour stretching routine, designed to increase flexibility and speed recovery.

As I've mentioned many times, flexibility is not a strong area for me. To be honest, I've got pretty much nothing in that department. When I took the foot-in-the-box hamstring flexibility test in college, I couldn't even reach the box, let alone push back the little gauge on top. The person testing me thought I was joking. I may have mentioned this before, not that it bothers me or anything.

That said, I've never worried too much about being flexible. With the exception of musical theatre in college, I've had no specific need for flexibility in my life, and as long as my muscles can keep carrying me forward, I've seen no reason to pursue it.

Until, that is, earlier this year. My month of yoga really got me thinking about how I can change my body for the better, and I experienced a very important (obvious) fact: the more flexible I am, the less I will hurt after exercise. I realize everyone already knows this fact, but it's something I had to experience first-hand in order to truly comprehend it, because pain has never been a problem for me.

I take a certain amount of (misdirected) pride in the amount of pain that I can withstand. When I was in the hospital last year, my wife informed the nurses to take whatever pain measure I gave them and increase it by 20% to get an idea of what was really happening. Marathon pain is a badge of honor, and with all the twisted ankles, pulled muscles and strained ligaments I've had in my running life, a little bit of pain is to be expected on pretty much any given day.

I also made the decision a few years ago to avoid taking ibuprofen except when absolutely necessary. I used to pop them like candy after workouts, but I came to realize - besides the obvious risks of taking too many NSAIDs - that is was only masking the pain, causing me to continue doing damage. I didn't know if I was actually feeling better or if the drugs were just working. I didn't know when I was truly well.

So now, I use the pain as a starting point for gauging my readiness for the next thing, and today, I've got a bit of pain. Mostly in the shoulders and butt from all the kicking and punching yesterday, but some in other areas as well. So, usually, I would take the rest day that is allowed.

But, as my wife pointed out, this pain can also be saying something different. Instead of "do nothing," this pain may actually be saying, "Stretch, idiot." Rather than sit still and wait for the pain to go away, I can take active (non-pharmaceutical) steps to fix it. Perhaps I should just do what the program tells me to do. Go figure.

So, I brought the DVD to work with me in order to complete the workout on lunch. Naturally, it won't play in my computer, but I found a list of the workouts online and did all of them I recognized. I figure it's better than nothing and certainly a step in the right direction. And even though it did hurt, I could tell it was a good pain. A healing pain. The kind that tells your body it's getting stronger. And that, after all, is the whole point.

One week down, twelve to go.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

P90X Day 6 - Selective Memory

They say you need to forget your last marathon before you run another.

The last few miles of your first marathon, unless you're an incredibly elite runner (in which case, good for you), were likely pretty rough. I know that mine were. In fact, the last few miles of every single one of my marathons has been pretty rough for one reason or another. The pain, the slow wobble back to the car, the days/weeks of recovery... it's never been easy for me.

I'm not alone in this, and for this reason, there are those who say you need to forget all about it before you can do it again. Not that it happened, of course, you need to learn from any mistakes you made in training or execution, but you need to forget the intensity of the pain, or you'll never return to the start line.

Quite frankly, I feel like the pain is part of the experience. I remember quite well the pain from at least three of my marathons, and I still went out and ran the next one, but the point is taken. It helps, in marathoning, to have a bit of a selective memory.

I don't think that's true for P90X.

I remember Kenpo (a kick-and-punch workout) as my favorite of the P90X program. What I had forgotten was the very beginning of the hour, in which we do some squat stretch of which my body is simply not capable. I just don't bend that way. There are actually about 8 minutes of yoga at the start of this workout which came as a surprise to me this morning, having completely forgotten about that. Needless to say, after an intense leg-and-back workout last night, it wasn't a pleasant surprise.

Then I got into the heart of the program. PUNCH! KICK! The only thing missing was a punching bag, which is absolutely on my Amazon wish list right now. By the halfway point, I was into the groove, even completing the double-time and yelling sections (though quietly, because the wife is still asleep).

It was at this point that a small, sneaking suspicion crept into my brain. I forgot about the hard part at the beginning; what if I forgot about a hard part at the end?

The worry didn't slow my intensity, but it did nag at my brain all the way into the blocking section. Turns out, it was unfounded. The rest of the workout was just as joyful and exciting as I'd remembered. It was only that one little section that had escaped my memory.

Tomorrow's schedule is to do the stretching workout - which I do not remember at all - or to rest. My theory right now is to start that workout and see how it goes. If I'm in pain, then I take my rest.

And this is where it gets interesting. For those unfamiliar with the program, you do the same schedule for three weeks, and then get a "lighter" week. (Calling that week "light" is crap, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.) So, beginning Thursday, I get to go back and do the workouts that I've already done with a fresh memory, and I think (hope) it will be a great advantage. There's a lot of strength in knowing that you've completed something recently. I took great notes on all the workouts that required them, and have an excellent baseline from which to work. In theory, next week should be the start of my real growth.

Unless I've forgotten something.

Monday, May 23, 2016

P90X Day 5 - More Decisions

So, about this commitment thing.

In the last couple days, I've given some additional thought to the slogan of "Decide, Commit, Succeed." In particular, I gave it some very deep thought at around 4:45 am.

As tends to happen at that particular hour of the morning, I found myself standing over my alarm. I sway slightly from side to side and think about just how much I want to put myself through a tough workout. Whether running, P90X, or any other form of physical activity, it takes a fair amount of determination for me to get myself moving hard first thing in the morning.

Today, I was not so lucky. I knew I had no commitments after work, so I could complete the Legs and Back day when I got home. I hadn't gotten as much sleep as I would like, and I told myself that it would be smarter to rest now and work later. And rest I did.

Sure, I got the workout done when I got home, but it wasn't how I planned it, and that's its own issue. It's taught me that making the decision once is only the start, but commitment isn't about making one decision. It's about making very specific choices each and every day (or at least 6 out of 7). To truly commit, you need to decide every day.

With that in mind, I can hope that tomorrow will hold a more successful choice for me. It's the Kenpo day, which is one of my favorite workouts in the program, so it'll give me something worth waking up for.

Let's hope I think so tomorrow.

Friday, May 20, 2016

P90X Day 2 - Older

Well, I made it through day two.

Sure, I didn't get up on time and I had to do the workout when I got home, but I made it through the whole thing. Day 2 is the Plyometrics workout, which is basically legs and cardio. This has always been my specialty in P90X. Using legs and keeping up the energy. It's what a runner is born to do.

This time was harder than any other attempt. Sure, I'm not running as much in the last couple weeks, but that wasn't all there was to it. The simple fact is, I'm getting older.

And that's fine. It's absolutely fine to not be as quick to 100% as I've been in the past. I just need to remember that in that 60-80% done part of the workout when I don't think it's ever going to end. I need to remember that when we do the leg swings over the chair and my hips begin to scream at me. Or when we do the jump tucks and everything goes haywire.

I did remember it when good ol' Tony Horton decided to ask for double-time on the workouts. I didn't do any of that. Not yet. I kept to the basic pace and made it to the end with questionable form but unquestionable success. Hard to believe there's only 88 days left.

Dear God, what have I done?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

P90X Day 1 - Reboot

They say the first step is the hardest.

I respectfully disagree.

This will be the third or fourth time that I've started the P90X program. I've had the DVDs in my possession for more years than I'd like to admit, and I've never made it more than 1/3 of the way through. There are many reasons, of course, from legitimate injury to plain old laziness, but it always comes down to one thing more than any other.


The slogan for Beachbody (the company who makes P90X) is (or was) "Decide. Commit. Succeed." For me, the first step is the easiest one. I decide to start lots of things. Just ask the two novels sitting on my computer, or the three screenplays. Check how many books I have on my shelf with bookmarks halfway through. Heck, look no further than my mileage from this year. It's barely moved since February, but it looked really good until then. I'm often motivated to start, but maintenance has always been my problem.

Still, that time I made it 1/3 of the way through the program, I was pretty well built. Probably the best shape I've ever been in, from a purely physical perspective. For various reasons, some pictures of me during that time have been surfacing in odd corners of the internet, and it's reminded me just how spectacular that felt. Since I haven't been running all that much recently, I thought that perhaps a change in workout style might be the shake-up that I needed.

And then I missed day one. In my defense, there was pizza.

Today, I made it happen. Day one is chest and back, which is a lot of pushing and pulling. I paced myself the first time through the workouts, and nearly duplicated my numbers (though with substantially more effort) on the second round. While these numbers are not particularly impressive just yet, it meant that I was actually pacing myself appropriately, which is its own little victory.

The Ab Ripper X workout at the end of these days has always been a problem for me. I go as long as I can and usually break down halfway through. This time around, I simply aimed for lower targets. They were doing 25 of each move, and I did 10. On all but 1 move, I easily could have done more, but it gives me somewhere to go in the coming weeks without discouraging me every step of the way. Once again, I paced appropriately.

So all my problems are solved, right?

Not hardly. Because as I mentioned, the first step has always been my favorite. Let's see if I get around to step two tomorrow. I think, at least for now, there's a pretty good chance.

As long as there's not pizza.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Saturday was the 100th day of the year.

And this is a year in which I've set more goals for myself than ever before. Lofty goals. Goals that include thousands of miles and tens of thousands of pages read. So, how am I doing?

Depends on which half of that 100 you examine.

The first half was pretty good. I'd run 187 miles by day 50 (February 19) and I'd read 2800 pages. The latter was spot-on pace, and the former was on the schedule that I'd set. Already, though, I'd started slipping on some other things, in particular that yoga that I kept raving about. As I dove into full-on rehearsals for one show and and performances for another, I was sleeping less and drinking more.

And the trend continued. In the next fifty days, I ran 103 miles and read 575 pages. The running still wasn't terrible, until you consider that only 15 of those miles were run after March 10. I was heading in the wrong direction, with no immediate relief in sight. I'm still in rehearsals (tech rehearsals at that) for one show, about to be in performance, after which I'll go directly back into performance for another.

So, a couple days ago, realizing we'd passed the 100-day mark for this year, I decided to take a look at buckling down just a little bit more. Spending less. Exercising more. Doing all those myriad things that I enjoy telling folks I do (and that have the added benefit of making me feel great).

Truth be told, I wasn't off to a great start.

Every day this week, I've overslept to varying degrees, but each enough to prohibit a run in the morning. This is likely due to the fact that each night but one, I've stayed up too late. Perhaps I'm not in a place right now to make a lifestyle change.

I can, however, make one good choice at a time. And today's good choice came after a fruitless trip to fix a computer in one of our offices. It hasn't been a great week in a lot of ways for me, and a last-minute schedule alteration always riles me up, so receiving that on my drive back to the office didn't help. Now I had a weird gap in my schedule with nowhere near enough time to accomplish anything.

Fortunately, I made a good choice this morning. I packed a running bag to throw in my trunk, just in case. I didn't wake up in time for a run, but maybe if I found some time, I could get a few miles in later.

And hey, I found some time.

I started out for 6.5 and quickly realized that I was going to max out at 5. That decision made, I examined how I was feeling, and the answer was, great. I felt strong and I knew I was making the smarter choice to run fewer miles. I smiled. And then a van turned into the parking lot a little ways ahead of me, driven by my friend Nathan, a former Sunday morning running partner. Not only did I get to feel this way, but I had a witness to the feeling. A fellow runner, no less.

And I wasn't done. Around the corner, just about the time that the sun was starting to bother me, I passed Beau, also in his car, another runner with whom I'd trained, this time on Wednesday nights at Luke's Locker, and this guy does ultras. Two former running partners on one 5-mile run in a month of inadequate training. I'm sure that's a sign of something, and they were both smiling, so I think it's a sign of something good.

Does this mean I'll definitely wake up on time tomorrow and go for a run? Of course not. I hope I do, but you never know. With too much going on, sometimes you can't make all the right choices.

But at this point, I'll settle for 50/50.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Trouble With "Yes"

The first and most important rule of improv is that you should always say "yes."

Especially when working with someone else, you must always acknowledge the choice they made and go along with their world. If they say that you're playing fetch with a tyrannosaurus, you don't get to suddenly be riding a motorcycle on the moon. The integrity of the world depends on everyone going along with the suggestion and exploring what that means.

Truth be told, I don't really care for pure improv, particularly the "give us a suggestion and we'll make a scene" kind. I'm not challenging its validity or insulting its place among the theatrical arts, mind you, it's just not the kind of work I like to do. One of the shows I'm currently working on allows for a great deal of improv, but within a very defined structure and script, and that's about as far down that road that I want to travel. Even this, though, requires that magic word, yes.

And I love saying yes. To scenes, to moments, to invitations and requests, to promotions and opportunities... I almost always try to find a way to say yes.

As I've mentioned in the past, this hasn't always worked out for me, and especially in recent weeks, the weight of my various yeses has been pulling me down. Over the last five days, I've been sleeping through my run times, waking up later than usual. Somehow, I've still found myself exhausted, almost to the point of being unable to keep my eyes open, which, let me tell you, makes it rather difficult to take promotional photos.

There's always somewhere I need to be, and if not, then there's something I should be working on for the next place that I have to be. I've got seven different To Do lists, and none of them seems to be getting shorter. I haven't been reading. I haven't been running. Most of the progress I made in January seems to have fallen by the way, and a new reassessment seems to be in order.

So, I've begun the process or determining what is most important to me on a daily basis, and what can be removed from my plate. Most importantly, though, I'm learning (or at least making a valiant attempt) to say no.

The immediate changes have to be the things that only affect me. Things like deciding not to go to the late-night concert of one of my favorite bands this evening, since I know I have to be up early tomorrow. I really want to go, but I know that I'll be cursing the world at sunrise if I do, and I just don't have that energy to spare.

Next will come the organizations that I want to be a part of, but have not thus far found the energy or time to become an effective member.

Finally will come the things I truly love doing, but have now done to death. If I do something because it makes me happy, why would I keep doing it to the point of unhappiness? As in all things, moderation becomes the key, and some of the wholesale devotion I've lined up for myself needs to fall away.

All of these changes will take time. In some cases, I've already made promises as far out as next February. Fortunately, I'm now able to look more clearly into the future and see that I cannot do everything I want to do. I can say no, and it will get easier with practice, right?

Yes, it will.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Old Habits

I think I know why old habits die hard.

It's because habits, real habits, are made of stronger stuff than we imagine. They come from years of practice, whether intentional or not, and they represent the baseline of our actions. The only thing harder than breaking old habits, I think, is creating new ones.

There have been many habits in my life that I've tried to break, with varying degrees of success. Popular thought says that it takes 21 days to form or break a habit, but this is based in a misinterpretation of an old study regarding plastic surgery and prosthetics. In reality, subsequent studies of this specific topic have shown a wide range of time required, from 2 to 8 months.

A longer timeline certainly makes sense to me, given that I spent 30 days doing yoga in January and almost immediately dropped it when the month changed.

The problem with a longer timeline is that it doesn't inspire the same kind of optimism as a three week challenge. I can reasonably expect to make myself get out of bed at 5 a.m. for the next three weeks, but to say that it will take six months before it feels comfortable is far more daunting.

We want to establish a "habit" so that these things become second nature. In essence, so that they become easy.

But the great things are not supposed to be easy. Yes, it'd be nice if they were, but this is the real world, where the things we want most have to be earned. I'm at two days in a row of waking up on time, and last night in particular, I was exhausted. After one day.

And yet, I still managed to get up today. I did some yoga, my second time since the end of January. It wasn't habit, certainly not automatic. It was a very specific, very determined choice.

And honestly, I'm happier with that.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Buy 20, Get 6 Free

The first few miles of a marathon are free, so make sure you don't pay for them.

I was fairly proud of this concept at mile 11 yesterday, but it may have just been the heat getting to my brain.

In the wake of my foot pain, my Sunday long run was set to be the first real test of whether I had a problem to deal with. I had no issues on Thursday or Saturday (Friday is a planned rest day for me), but it's a different situation when you're sustaining effort for over 60 minutes. Fortunately, I was scheduled for a step-back week, so this run was 13 miles instead of 17.

Of course, deciding to have some at-home brunch and watch a Kurosawa film made for a later start than normal, so it was well into the 70s by the time I got started. Coupled with the increased foot traffic of the Austin Kite Festival, this made for a higher degree of difficulty than I had anticipated. Perhaps it was the heat, or not drinking enough water on Saturday, or the four days off, but with two miles to go, I was fighting pretty hard. I definitely had thoughts of bailing, but I kept putting one foot in front of another, all the way home.

I was reminded of the last couple miles of pretty much every marathon I've ever done. In my eight attempts, I have never completed a marathon without walking due to exhaustion (or pain). Most devastating was Seattle, when I was on pace to qualify for Boston with four miles to go and simply ran out of energy, but all have been somewhat discouraging, and spoke to a problem with my training.

There's a widely-held (though often disputed) belief that training runs for marathons need not exceed 20 miles. For the average marathoner, this is the "wall" point - the 2000 calorie threshold where the body has to work a whole lot harder to find energy. Those who advocate a 20-mile ceiling sometimes argue that going beyond this point too many times can hurt more than help your endurance. For the most part, I've accepted this theory, and if I've gone over 20 in training, it's not by much.

My thinking became, if I've trained for 20 miles, my sheer determination will carry me the last 6. But now I think I was wrong. I shouldn't be training for the first 20 miles. I should be training for the last 20, because the first 6 are the free miles.

Now, if you're new to running, that last statement is probably aggravating. Please know, it takes a long time to build up to this kind of distance. This is not overnight progress, and it takes months to get your body into shape for that kind of work. Running is never easy, and anyone who does it deserves the respect and admiration that goes with completion of every mile.

Still, when that gun/horn/guy-yelling-in-a-megaphone goes off, adrenaline kicks in. I have almost always gone out too fast, and in that moment, it is incredibly difficult to convince yourself that you're not "just feeling good" today, but rather you're running outside your ability. I somehow tell myself that I'm "banking time" for later, so that I've got a little cushion against my goals, but it's this banking that makes me have to slow down later, whereas if I'd just stayed on plan the whole way, I'd be in much better shape at the end.

The truth is, I don't need to push for the first 10K. My adrenaline will do that for me. But when I hit that point, that's when I have to start checking in to every step around me. I need to run a 20 mile race that starts at 6.2, because that's what my body has trained for. So, every long run I do is done with a mindset of how many miles are left. If I'm doing a 16-mile run, I consider myself as starting out at mile 10. Yesterday, with 2 miles to go (telling myself I'd run 24), I felt fairly similar to how I've felt at that point in marathons. But I didn't give up. I didn't walk. I'm training my mind and legs to keep going to 26 every time. It won't just happen.

Nothing comes for free.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Too Much

As I've stated many times, I'm a sucker for extremes.

This year has actually been a surprisingly moderate one for me. The dozens (yes, literally) of daily metrics that I take on my life have kept me on a careful watch for excess. With a few slips here and there, for the most part, I've been keeping an even keel, and getting done the things I need to.

Of course, this knowledge only points out my latest excess - extreme monitoring. I can't just tell myself, hey, self, chill out a little. No, I've got to have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets to hold myself accountable. I have to track progress toward year-long goals with the fervor and attention of a last-second countdown. Even in my attempts to moderate my life, I put myself into a state of constant contention.

And what's more, my attempt to moderate things has (in my brain) meant that I can bring in more things to moderate. There are at least a dozen aspects of my life that demand regular attention right now, in addition to having a family and a job. I join committees in networking groups, I participate in strategic planning groups, and I'm in active preparation for theatre work with four different companies (some with multiple shows). And if schedules didn't change and the work were consistent, maybe (and only maybe) I'd be totally keeping up.

But they don't, and it's not, so I'm not. Things change, it's a part of life. I need to be able to roll with it, but there is nothing that will throw me off my balance like a plan thwarted.

It happened on Sunday, of my own accord. I've been running a whole lot recently, and I just ran my right foot into the ground a bit. I woke up with a pretty sharp pain in the top of the foot, and decided that it probably wasn't a great plan to test it with a 17 mile run. Of course, there was also the fact that I did get to bed until after midnight the night before (and the night before that) which helped keep me in the house that morning. The next morning was the same story, and the morning after that. My foot hurt, and my body wasn't cooperating.

Not enough sleep, and too much everything else.

So Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, I set my alarm for the correct time. I had a rehearsal, but not too much else that evening, and I even took a little time to relax before. When the alarm went off, I knew I wasn't rested yet. I needed one more day to recover, so I took it. And this morning, right at the buzzer, I headed out on the roads following a four-day break, the longest of the year so far.

See, what I recognized through my hazy eyes Wednesday morning was that getting back to the grind wasn't going to suddenly make the grind work. I needed to feel good, not good enough, and I could only do that by giving myself permission to step back.

I've begun the gradual process of relieving myself of some of the responsibilities I've garnered. I like to be the person everyone relies on, but stepping up too often will only make me unreliable. I need to take my rest when it's offered.

But not too much.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Future Perfect

I’ve become somewhat of a snob, grammatically.

It stems from my time teaching SAT preparation courses. Little things like “then” versus “than” and misuse of homophones can push me over the edge. Let’s not even get into the incorrect usage of apostrophes.

It’s = it is.They’re = they are. Every time. Not possessive. Sigh.

Knowing my quickness to judge others in this respect, I try to hold myself to the same standard. I feel downright humiliated when I find a typo in a blog post, and I’ve deleted whole Facebook threads when I discovered an early misspelling. In conversation, I’ve been known to swear audibly upon realization that I said “further” when I meant “farther.”

The one place this has not really extended, however, has been verb tenses. Sure, I try to use the correct tense most of the time, but outside of the big three (past, present and future), I don’t know any of their names or any of their specific definitions. I know what “sounds right,” and I tend to go with that.

Such looseness with the rules has led me to statements like the one that got me out the door yesterday morning:

I don’t want to run, but when I’m done, I will have wanted to.

If the preposition at the end of that sentence wasn’t enough to hurt my brain, the general construction does the job. Still, it’s the most accurate representation I can determine for how I feel while running. I don’t always love running, but I always love finishing a run.

Many people have challenged me over the years, telling me that it’s impossible to like running. In general, I disagree with the sentiment, but I can understand its origin. If someone has never run before, it takes a while for the body to acclimate. Muscles will be sore and minds will be tired, and that state can last a very long time. Eventually, you begin to see changes, whether physical or just based on your performance. Consistent behavior leads to definitive progress. Yes, the reward can be long time coming, but I believe the time it takes only increases its value.

Years removed from this personal revelation, it can be very difficult for me to remember what that accomplishment feels like. My goal of fifty marathons is a large, distant abstract at this point. I need to make incremental progress to have any chance of achieving that goal, but the increments don’t necessarily provide enough satisfaction to drive me on. Short version: some days I don’t want to run.

Particularly on long run days, it is very easy to forget the distant goal and think only of the instant reward. Yesterday, it was the thought of how nice it would be to curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and spend the whole morning in pajamas.

Yet I knew deep down, and my wife reminded me, that curling up was not really what I wanted, and out the door I went. As I neared the end of my two hour run, I broke into a huge, stupid smile. This feeling was what I really wanted. I needed the miles, the sweat, the pain of building something stronger. It’s hard to reconcile when I’m comfortable on the couch and (as was the case this morning) hard to remember when I’m staring at an alarm I barely remember turning off. But it’s what I really want.

Or will have wanted after.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Running Lines

I wish I were a multi-tasker.

Particularly for the last month, I've tried to fill my days with pastimes that I'm proud to talk about. Reading, writing and running are the chief goals, but there are plenty of others, such as music and theatre. In short, I have a lot of commitments, and there are times when it would serve me best to be able to accomplish multiple things at once.

So I try to multi-task A and B. The problem is, it's not that I can do thing A and thing B at the same time. It's that thing B is shiny and distracting, and thing A goes undone.

In general, I'm better served by buckling down on A and telling myself that B will wait until I'm done. Certainly, I'm not always good at doing that. The most common example is when I'm sitting at my desk, working on a project, with another eye on my email inbox. I pride myself at getting back to folks quickly, but when the email comes in, I cut off whatever I'm working on and change over my attention. Sometimes it's hours before I see the open window on my screen and think, "What was I doing in that program?"

I don't think I'm the only person who works like this. Every day, I hear from someone who "doesn't have time" to do this or that, wishing that there could be more hours in every day to get things done. Often, one of the first things to get sacrificed will be a workout.

Recently, I've realized that running is the one place where I can truly multi-task. Sure, I can't return emails or read a book (I have no idea how those people at the gym can read on treadmills), but there are a lot of parts of my life that can happen while I'm pounding the pavement, because a lot of my life happens quietly in my brain.

This morning, for example, after another battle with my sleep-fogged brain, I managed to make it out the door for my run. As usual, my mind started wandering pretty quickly, and I explored all the dark places of my doubt before finding a way to be proud of the fact that I'd actually made it out the door. At some point, I turned to my schedule for the day, remembering that there is a performance of the play I'm in tonight. My train of thought took it from there:

I'm kind of glad I'm not onstage tonight, after a bit of a break, it'll be nice to see it again - wait, when am I on next - right, Saturday, we don't have a show tomorrow - I should spend tomorrow going over my lines - hang on a minute... I've got time right now!

I began to run the play, beginning to end, in my mind on the road. It's surprisingly difficult to keep focused, especially as my mind wanders off into the comedic bits and improv that will happen throughout Saturday evening, but I ended up getting through about 90% of the lines I'll have to speak on the night. I'd accomplished two things at once, and perhaps even better, I hadn't even noticed the last two miles of the run.

Whether I'm working on a new song, prewriting one of these blog posts, or trying to remember whether it's "your" or "thy" in a particular scene, a lot of the effort of my day is cerebral. Tying that to my physical workout is proving to find me a little extra time throughout the rest of the day.

And then I can single-task to my heart's content.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


It doesn't take much to upset a delicate balance.

Now, delicate is not a word that I'd use to describe our boy dog. Floppy. That word is much more appropriate. Generally, he's pretty dumb and happy, and we like having him around. And in truth, even though we got him as a puppy, he's never been particularly destructive.

Of course, he does love peanut butter. And if the spatula head happens to be stuck to the peanut butter, well, he'll go ahead and take that down as well.

This lead to the wonderful adventure of puppy stomach surgery. Oddly enough, he had a very similar surgery to the one that I had almost exactly a year ago. They fortunately did not have to do anything on the same scale as they did with me, but he's stitched up with staples and drooling in his pain med sleep as we speak.

It's shocking normal activities suddenly become terrifying. The way he stretches his body is a concern for the staples. Whether or not he can reach his scar determines the necessity of a cone. Every outside trip is watched and mentally documented. He can't tell us if something is wrong, so it's up to us to determine for ourselves. The responsibility is heavy, and the worry can take your focus away in a heartbeat. The puppy body is off, and there goes all the balance in the world, it seems.

Certainly an overstatement, but it shocks me how fragile these little ecosystems can be. Four days of late nights and celebrations last week completely derailed me from a lot of the grounding efforts that I developed in January. I was finally able to get up and go for a run at my proper (read: early) time yesterday, only to choose, rather definitively, to stay in bed today. Besides that, schedules over which I have no control keep morphing without warning, our office is undergoing a slow, steady thump of construction, and the little stressors keep mounting, more and more, each day.

Most of these irritations are minor. On a normal day (or to a normal person) they might completely bounce off, but pile them on and they're suddenly some multi-Transformer machine of misery. Today, my last straw came when I wasn't sure if I could get my run in after work (which I totally dropped this morning in favor of laziness), having allowed a lot of steam to build. I reminded myself of those Snickers commercials where someone is behaving horrendously to those around them. Luckily for me (and I suppose for the Snickers folks) the answer is not far away. I ran.

In my case, things can be put back together almost as quickly as they fall apart. All it takes is a few good choices. Had I made the right choice this morning, it would not have been a problem at all. The difference is that a quick fix does not necessarily mean an easy fix. It is not easy to leave the house before the sun comes up, but it does solve a whole lot of other problems in my day before I even have to face them. And it may not be perfect, but it certainly beats trying to piece my life back together with little bits of chewing gum.

Or surgical staples.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog Day

"That was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I have that day over and over and over?"

-Bill Murray, Groundhog Day

Some brilliant soul on the internet recently suggested that the studio announce a sequel to Bill Murray's 1993 (I'm gonna say it) masterpiece.

Then they should just re-release the original movie.

I love that film, and can probably quote a good 70-80% of it from memory. It's one of those that I'll watch over and over again, seemingly appropriate given the plot. For me, it was always a story about what you could do with unlimited do-overs. Who hasn't wanted a chance to fix every mistake in a day? To absolutely get it perfect?

Of course, that's only the second half of the movie. The first half is getting everything wrong.

Today, I had a first half kind of day. Nothing big, nothing terrible, just lots of little things that added up to a huge pile of crud. In particular, there were several things that could have gone well, but ended up taking the wrong turn. Just a bad day. They happen.

Flipping through the channels this evening, I came across the movie being shown again and again on some cable channel. I watched for a few minutes, but wasn't much in the mood for silly comedy. I turned off the TV and returned to my current book, The Odyssey. Talk about a bad day.

My mind wandered, as it often does, and I thought about whether I'd be willing to live this day over and over again to try and get it right. I started to think back about what I would change.

And here's the thing: I got nothing.

I woke up on time. I went for my run. I took some time to cook breakfast and read in the morning, and was at work on time. Then, I worked hard, and answered some important questions at my job. I maintained focus better than usual, and got done with everything I needed. All the frustrations were from outside sources, and all were dealt with. In each case, if my immediate reaction was not constructive, I didn't give it out to someone else. I took my step back and reassessed, and everything that could be dealt with was. Everything that can't be fixed yet can wait.

And that's the best part about bad days. They end. Control what can be controlled now, and the uncontrollable takes less out of you. Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow today, which I guess is meant to give us hope for an early spring. I'm not quite sure about that.

But I do know that tomorrow won't be today.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Checking In

As advertised, I've been a bit busy the last couple weeks.

I began rehearsing a new play on January 21, the same night that I learned I'd be performing an additional role. I performed in that role 9 days and 5 rehearsals later. This was all while continuing to do my daily yoga, my 5 weekly runs, my day job, and all the other engagements in which I've found myself so far this year. To be honest, it's been a bit much.

Janu-water ended a few days early, which had more to do with my own lack of resolve than any outside force. Still, I did 25 of the 30 days, which isn't a bad percentage at all, and I certainly had a healthier month than normal.

Plus, I did all 30 days of yoga, a fact that I'm far more proud of than perhaps I should be. The final day was free-form, and I tried to keep up with what she was doing in the video, but honestly, it wasn't a great practice for me. Still, the important thing was that I got out my mat and I did the work. Totally counts.

At the end of a month like this, I have to ask what I've learned and what can I gain from the experience. This last weekend was a very good example for me of how quickly I can drop back into old habits. I stayed out very late on Saturday night to celebrate my first show, which I really enjoyed. The trouble was, I then did not get up and do my run on Sunday, and had no interest in doing so again this morning. Suddenly, I'm two runs down on the week one day out from my crazy healthy month. It doesn't take much to start the slide.

So, I guess what I learned is that it never gets easy to make these choices. I'll always have days when I don't want to run. Water is never going to be my favorite beverage. And it is unlikely that I'll suddenly be flexible any time soon. It takes work, and for me in particular, this will be difficult a lot of the time.

But I also learned that I'm strong enough to do it. When I try, when I focus, when I want it, I can do anything. I just need to keep myself in check and remain accountable to my goals. The fact that I'm "allowed" to drink whatever I want shouldn't mean that I never choose water. I'm not required to do yoga, but I can still decide to when the mood strikes, and I don't necessarily need someone to talk me through it. I know what it feels like to have pride in the things I do every day. It all comes down to making the right choices most of the time.

And celebrating every now and then.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Know When to Fold 'Em

I can play three pretty good hours of poker.

The problem is, I usually play four-hour games.

It's been a while since I've sat around a poker table. It used to be a fairly regular occurrence, back in my college days. We'd get together with some beer and a buddy's carefully-guarded chip set and spend hours trading one another's money back and forth. At some point in the game, I'd usually get ahead, playing very conservatively through the first couple hours and making my move when the moment was right. And then, unless I was able to get lucky with another big hand right away, I'd start my downward spiral.

As Kenny Rogers says, you've got to know when to walk away and know when to run. In poker, I don't. In running, however, I'm learning.

Yesterday, I decided it was not a day for me to run. My calf had been acting up on the 13-miler I did on Sunday, and throughout the rest of the day, it was fairly well on fire. I stretched, rested, and did all the things I'm supposed to do, but as I was heading to bed, I told myself that when I put my feet on the ground the next morning, if I had any concerns about my calf, I would not run.

The next morning came, and I could have run. I'm sure of it. Tuesday is a rest day anyway, so I would still have gotten a day without too much wear and tear. Still, I knew it wasn't 100%. I knew that I've been running very well the last few weeks and I'm ahead of the pace required for my January mileage goal. And most importantly, I knew that thinking you're ready before you are is the best way to give yourself a long-term injury that requires weeks, not days, to heal. Plus, I was really tired, so I decided not to run.

Unfortunately, I also decided that I did not want to do my yoga that morning. It was a 35-minute video, one of the longest in the 30 day challenge, and I just did not have the motivation after a night of fitful and sporadic sleep. Instead, I sat around doing nothing for an hour or so, and then got ready for work.

This is not the way to start a week. Every email with any bad news irritated me to high heaven. I could not focus. I didn't want to do anything. Quite frankly, anything that required any motivation from me was done without joy or drive. By doing nothing at all first thing in the morning, I set up my day to model that behavior. While I did a lot, I don't feel like I accomplished anything at all. Until, that is, I got home and did my yoga.

Even my wife commented on how focused I seemed during the practice (and how straight I'm managing to keep my back). There's something very centering about yoga that I really enjoy. While I don't think I'll stick to 7 days a week when February rolls around, I do still want to keep it as part of my fitness lifestyle, so I'll have to figure out the best way to do that. Today's yoga was similarly empowering, hence my ability to write a blog post before the sun's even up. I still didn't run, because it's a planned rest day, but I'm feeling much stronger and more positive than yesterday.

This morning, I'm all in.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


The halfway point can be deceiving.

Recently, I touted the virtues of an out-and-back training course, but this style comes with its challenges as well. For one thing, when the scenery doesn't change, you have fewer distractions from any pain or discomfort you might find, the usual complaint against races that follow this format.

My bigger problem, however, is the halfway point. You finally get to that point as far from home as you'll get, and you have no choice but to go back. I usually get energized for a moment. I've made it this far, so I know I can make it that far in the other direction. There's a brief rush that propels me forward as though I can take on the world.

And then I hit the 60% mark. Between 60-80% of whatever I'm doing, I always start to get shaky. The first half is fresh and exciting, that midpoint such a great goal, but then I have to keep going, and of course, the back half is going to be more difficult, because you've got the collected weight of the first half pulling you down. On today's run, I was feeling it something fierce on way home. My quads were tightening up, and my calf started screaming. It's not until I hit that last 20%, when I can tell myself I'm almost done, that I can stop fighting my brain and just let my legs work. Today was just a harder run.

It's appropriate that this challenge occurred today, one day after the halfway point of my 30-day challenges. Since January 1st doesn't count, yesterday was day 15 of yoga and Janu-water. The first has been extremely rewarding, and the latter has been surprisingly difficult. Still, I've made it halfway, which should mean that it gets easier, right?

Well, no. Of course not. Because I start rehearsals for my next show on Wednesday, which is going to make it difficult to find time to complete yoga a challenge, and what's more, the show necessarily involves drinking things other than water. I still intend to hold to my plan as long as possible and at all times when not at rehearsal, but I recognize what an incredible challenge this is going to be. Until I hit that last week of the month (80%), things are going to be a little rough for me.

Recognizing this pattern is a big part of the solution. Just knowing that I approach all of my challenges this way helps me to rationalize and fight through that 20% where I start questioning why I'm doing any of this at all. The changes that I'm trying to make are not just for January, and I need to be able to hold over my healthy choices in the face of adversity. It's been great to have a little buffer to get my rhythm while I got started, but the real challenge starts now.

Of course, as of this morning, I've run more miles this month than in any month last year, so I have to think I'm heading in the right direction.

A good start to the second half.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Sometimes I think that Underdog was poorly named.

"There's no need to fear," he would say. "UNDERDOG is here!"But here's the thing about being an underdog: it means you're supposed to lose. If I found myself in great peril against an animated evildoer, I'm not going to get that excited about the guy who is named after the team that will be commended for "making a game of it." Bring me Mighty Mouse. It's right in his name. Mighty.

We love the underdog, don't we? Unless you're already a fan of whatever Dynasty team is currently ruling the sport, all things being equal, many (if not most) of us will cheer for the upstart, and in many cases, we're not disappointed.

There are countless reasons why an underdog takes down the power, but for me, it usually comes down to two things. First, the underdogs get incredibly psyched up and perform at a level beyond anything they've done before; and second, the power underestimates the opponent. In sports, they'll talk about a team "looking ahead" to the next game. For example, the number one team is playing number two next week, but this week they get trounced by the JV squad, because they didn't bother to prepare. It's an old, familiar story.

In times of great stress and pressure, we can often rise above our expectations and perform like we always dreamed, but when our guard is down, everything can unravel in a moment.

I was thinking about this during my short run this morning. With my time constraints, I found myself pushing the pace a little more than I should have. Not fast, mind you, but still a level up from my standard runs these days. I considered this for a moment, and had to decide if I wanted to really go for a good, fast run, or stay in my recent groove of middle effort. I'm doing 13 mile runs on the weekends, so this would be my only chance this week at driving speed.

Then it occurred to me that I was underestimating this run. My long runs on Sunday are the Goliath to my David, when I'm the underdog who shouldn't be able to defeat the giant (but I have, two weeks in a row). These short runs in the middle of the week don't seem like much, but I could be walking (running) into a trap. Three miles is still a good distance, and I'm a long way from the days when it was basically a sprint. When I decided, at the end of December, that I was ready to push myself into speed work, I messed up a whole collection of muscles and I'm still feeling the effects. I'm not the underdog on Thursday morning, I'm the favorite. And if I'm not careful, these are the runs that can beat me.

Of course, I know I can do these runs. In a month when I've already done 12- and 13-mile runs and survived reading Ulysses (seriously, that book is tough), a little 5K isn't going to undo me, as long as I pay attention. So, I kept a healthy pace, driving a little more than some of my other runs. I did not let it get to the point of losing my breath, and I focused carefully on my form, checking in constantly for any aches or pains arising. I had none.

The lesson is to stay mindful of the moment in which you find yourself, something else I'm learning from yoga. Losing focus can mean losing a whole lot more. Don't get ahead of yourself. Rather, enjoy the moment you're in, and make it as productive and positive a moment as you can, and you can conquer anything.

There's no need to fear.

Only 24 Hours

I’m not a great manager of my time.

I can plan with the best of them. Planning spreadsheets are a bit of an addiction with me. Most work procrastinators turn toward solitaire. I set up an Excel document for how many miles to run every day from now until the end of the year to make it to a total of 2,016. Seriously. I’ve already got that figured out.

This particular vent for my attention issues is fueled by a vast resource of ambition, without a lot of action behind it in recent years. Currently, though, things are going pretty well, and this morning, I eclipsed my total mileage from last January. You know, the month when I did the Rogue 30K and the 3M half marathon. I’ve already run more miles this year than I did then. Clearly I was not training well, but this year, I'm training better. (See yesterday.)

Thanks to that ambition, I’m also still continuing my yoga streak. Day 12 today brought a lot of balance postures which made me feel strong until I inevitably lost said balance and toppled. It’s a process, right?

Except on Sunday, my current method is to complete the yoga first, and then immediately head out for the run. I’ve found it to be very helpful in warming up my legs, which is great since our nights (and early mornings) are about as cold as they get in Texas. Also, after I finish a run, I’m less than inclined to put my sweaty self on a mat, so doing the yoga first is the best way to ensure that it gets done. For the last couple weeks, if I did not have enough time in the morning to complete both exercises, it hasn’t been a problem. I would just come home and yoga afterwards. In one week, that won’t be an option.

Because next week, I start rehearsals, and I’m going to have a lot less time to play with. I need to be sure and complete my workout before my work day starts. This means as much as 59 minutes (depending on the length of the yoga video and assuming I run a relaxed pace - yes, there's a spreadsheet) of work before breakfast, which is a tight fit considering the need for food, shower, and commute. I can’t go to work later because I have to be out in time for rehearsal, and I can’t start earlier because rehearsal goes so late. There are only 24 hours in a day, and at least some of them have to be reserved for sleep. I have no delusion that this will be an easy two weeks.

If it turns out that this schedule is not conducive to healthy living, then I will make adjustments as needed. For example, I might take an extra 30 minutes of sleep one night and skip yoga the next morning. Or perhaps I can do the yoga on my lunch break, or before rehearsal starts. It really depends on how those rehearsals go and what my body is telling me. So, my first rule is that I will listen to my body.

Still, I need to put myself in a position where I can be successful. By planning ahead, I can avoid a lot of the wasted time that often surrounds my workouts. For instance, I will be absolutely certain to set out my clothes for my workout the night before, checking the weather ahead of time to save decision-making moments in the morning. I can carefully plan my grocery list for the week and pack the next day’s lunch as soon as I get home. I will determine exactly what I want my workout to be… wait, I’ve already done that.

In fact, I already do all of these things. The less I have to think in the morning, the less I think about going back to bed. There will simply be a heightened awareness through the end of the month not to let these things slip. I won’t have much margin for error in my schedule, but I don’t need it.

Not as long as I stick to the plan.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


There comes a time in every runner's life when he no longer gets faster.

I don't believe I've reached that point yet, but in truth, it's probably not that far off. Marathon runners tend to peak in their mid-thirties (nobody tell Meb), which is why that's the point when the Boston Marathon's qualifying times start to ease up.

With only a limited time to get faster, I've always been the type to push too hard, too soon and end up injured, as I have often documented here. Combine a competitive nature with an impatient temperament, and you've got me, limping through a recovery run before taking roughly 4 months off until I finally make the choice that I'm going to rededicate myself once again. Pretty familiar, particularly if you've read this blog.

Of course, you certainly haven't read this blog very much in the last couple years. In the years 2013-2015, I wrote a total of 32 blog posts. I've already written more posts in 2016 than I did last year, and in fact, since May of 2012, only one month has had more posts than the present one.

Now, why is that? Mostly, it's because this is a blog about running, and when I don't run, I don't blog. The last couple years have been inconsistent with running to say the least. My actual numbers are sitting on a crashed hard drive, but it's safe to say that since the St. George Marathon of 2013, I have not consistently been able to call myself a runner. Off and on, sure, but not across the board, and not with the sense of pride that I used to have.

The last few weeks have been different. I started up again in mid-November of last year, right around my birthday, and kept it up for about a month. Then the holidays hit and I went dormant again, but this is the part where it changed: I got back at it. I didn't just stop. For once, I took a short break and then returned, and I'm feeling pretty good about it thus far.

I've had my struggles, of course. It took a lot of encouragement (both self and from the wife) for me to hit the pavement this last Sunday, but I felt phenomenal after. I'm remembering more and more what that feels like when it's tough to get out the door, and I'm getting out the door.

My times, to be sure, are slower than they usually are for the shorter distances. I'm averaging a good 45 seconds behind my standard target for 3-5 miles. And that's okay. Part of it is that I'm running very early in the morning most days, and I'm giving my legs time to warm up and not just taking off at the gun. The other part is, well, who cares? My next (likely) race is five months away, and I can't forget that I'm still building a base. I can't be great yet, and I know that. So what can I be?

I can be better.

Better means more consistent. Setting a routine and sticking with it, even on those days when I really, really don't want to.

Better means smarter, slowly strengthening muscles and not allowing myself to fall into the trap of too much, too soon.

Better means well rounded, doing my yoga, keeping my journals, writing about how I'm feeling and (likely) writing about things not related to running once in a while to keep the habit up when perhaps I've got nothing constructive to say about exercise. For example, I'm reading Ulysses by James Joyce. Running a marathon is easier.

Better does not mean faster. Not yet. That will come with time. For now, it simply means stronger, mentally and physically. And it means when that alarm goes off tomorrow, I've got no excuse.

Not if I want to be better.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


There are many advantages to running on familiar terrain.

I love to explore, and a large part of how I was able to orient myself in Austin quickly was all the running I did back then. I learned lots of the side roads and short cuts through 20-mile runs leading up to the 2011 Austin Marathon. Unfortunately for me, my explorations did not take me to the hills of miles 11-18, and I never saw them coming. That was painful.

Learning new things is great, but when you're really challenging yourself physically, it's better to be more familiar with your path. Today, going for 13 miles, my distance plateau for a little while, I did a simple out-and-back course. No surprises.

The only trouble with this course is that the far point is substantially downhill, meaning that my second half is mostly up. In the first few miles, I felt a little tight and worried about whether I'd get the full distance, especially given the increased difficulty of the second half. I was only a mile in at this point, and I realized that I had a small uphill ahead of me. Nothing too challenging, but I thought, why does it always seem like I'm running uphill?

And I thought about that for a little bit. I tried to think of the last time I ran in the other direction on this road and did not remember running down a hill at all, but here it was, going up the other way. It occurred to me that perhaps all those "flat" sections in my mind were actually dropping, and that I could use them to store energy and speed. The simple knowledge that they're downhill makes them easier.

So I took note of every time I found myself going up on the way out, and paid special attention on the way back. Sure enough, each of those ups felt only flat on the way back. Now, however, knowing that they were actually downs, they felt easier than I remembered. What's more, the long, drudging uphill of the way back didn't seem quite so intimidating knowing that there were little breaks all the way home. I felt significantly better than I did last week at this time. No problems in my hip, no issues with hamstring or calf. Looking at my course as a series of small challenges rather than one long one, the whole experience was far more pleasant.

And that has made all the difference.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Take Breaks

It's hard to know when you're getting good advice.

Everyone likes to be the person who knows about things. When we learn a new fun fact, we want to share that with everyone else, and we're disappointed when someone already knows it. It's the, "have you heard" phenomenon.

When it comes to running, there are a whole lot of people who believe that they know best. You can spend (and I have) hours on the internet sifting through the avalanche of studies, lists of tips and pages upon pages of images depicting the "proper" form. Heck, I referenced one of those studies yesterday, and just by writing this blog, I am adding my voice to the growing cacophony. Where I differ from much of the noise, however, is that I don't believe there is one answer for everyone.

I know what has worked for me, and those are the things I try to pass on to others. When someone says that they have knee trouble, I talk to them about landing on the middle of their foot. If someone has hip pain, I'm happy to offer them stretches. Always, though, I try to say something to the effect of, "At least, that's what works for me." It may be different for you.

There is one piece of advice, though, that I believe is universally helpful for everyone, running or not.

Take breaks when you need them.

Day 6 of 30 Days of Yoga is an ab workout, and was the first day where I found several instances of my body refusing to go further. That was okay, though, because the video started with the instruction to take breaks when you need them, which gave me permission. Good, because it was going to happen one way or another, whether I chose it or not.

In the run itself, it's a bit trickier, but I believe that it's still valid advice, so long as you hold to the second part: when you need them.

For a while, my personal running mantra was, "Do not give yourself permission to be weak." It meant running through pain, through exhaustion, and through any of a dozen other warning signs that I was pushing my body too hard. On more than one occasion, I've convinced myself that I need to run every day or I'll get out of the habit. That somehow rest days are hurting me more than the excessive workouts I was doing. I tend to be an all-or-nothing personality, and it's injured me more times than I can count.

So I'm learning (sometimes over and over again) to take my breaks, when I've planned them. I run five days a week, and yesterday was the first rest day where I woke up, did my yoga and really wished I could go for a run. But I didn't. I stuck to my plan, took a nice leisurely shower, and made eggs.

It paid off today. I did a 6+ miler in pretty stiff wind and felt great the whole time. Personally, I don't like to take breaks during my runs, as I have found in the past that it encourages bad behaviors down the road. This is not to say it can't work for someone else. The Jeff Galloway Run Walk Run method is a great way for people to work up to running longer distances, because it's planned. It's not simply running until you're too tired to run and then walking for a while. It's structured and careful, which is what makes it work. I know that I can run the mileage I'm going for right now without walking. My body is prepared, so taking breaks during the run is neither necessary nor helpful for me.

My rest days, on the other hand, are golden. It gives everything in my body time to recover and reset. And if I'm lucky, I find myself excited to run, wishing I could do more mileage that day, but knowing that the smartest thing is to wait until tomorrow. Everyone needs to take breaks.

Just take it from me.

Friday, January 8, 2016

30 Days of Yoga

I'm not flexible. At all.

The kind of "not flexible" where you think I'm making a joke. Okay, touch your toes now. Very funny, now actually try.

It's always been a little embarrassing when I find myself in the presence of other fitness-minded people. When we do a physical warm-up before a show, or I get invited to a yoga class, I'm always hesitant to even give it my pathetic effort, full of the knowledge that I'll be tapping my shins while everyone else is wiping the floor.

Recently, I came across an article from 2013 relating a study that found a certain gene, COL5A1, may be responsible for the inflexibility of certain people. What's more, the same study found that a statistically significant portion of good runners have this gene. The study did not suggest causation in one way or another, but it is certainly an interesting correlation for those of us who chuckle slightly to ourselves when the yoga instructor says "raise up halfway."

Whether or not I can actually blame genetics for my insufficient foldability (and I intend to), there are other facts that I've learned from my own experience (and every coach I've ever had). Cold muscles will get injured if you start too fast, and I often start too fast. Sore muscles feel better when I move and stretch them. And a strong core will help prevent injury.

I know, it's not rocket surgery. Everyone who has ever laced up shoes knows this. And yoga is a great way to do all these things.

So, I'm left with a dilemma. My choices appear to be humiliation in a room full of spandex-clad acrobats (insult) or spending at least a day a week with something hurting (injury).

Enter, the internet.

My wife found 30 Days of Yoga on YouTube from Yoga With Adriene. It's a series of videos, each offering different aspects of the yoga practice, ranging from 35 minutes down to under 15. It's a chance for me to work on my tragically nonelastic self without the self-consciousness of being surrounded by lots of folks who are good at it. And what's more, the teacher (Adriene, duh) is excellent at anticipating what it is I'm doing wrong.

For example, there are moments where she'll say, "Your shoulders will want to come up here, drop them down," and I'm almost always shrugging. It is so reassuring to find that the corrections being offered are not directed singly at me, and that the issues I have others have as well.

Now, I've only completed 7 days, and if the last two are any indication, it's not about to get easier. The series I'm doing was actually posted a year ago. She has a new one right now called Yoga Camp, which also focuses on the mental side of health. The videos seem to be a little longer thus far, though, so for now I'll stick with my beginner's plan. And, it turns out, she's in Austin, so one of these days, I may actually get up the courage to take a yoga class in public.

Maybe on day 31.