Early morning hours

It’s funny to me how I started Bonkless to write about running and fitness tips and tricks, and here it’s become all about my injury and path back to fitness lately. Eh well, I believe in letting blogs expand into different areas as they please, so in any event, here we are.

I was at the gym at 7 a.m. this morning for a hard upper body, cardio and abs workout, which was great. I love starting the day both ahead of schedule and with a workout. As my workout buddy says of working out first thing int he morning, “You’ll already have done the hardest thing you’re going to do all day.”

Plus, there is something really satisfying to me about being up, dressed and out of the house before the sun comes up, don’t you think?

Rehab diaries: the bounce back kid

After hobbling, and after having to make myself totally stay out of the gym: I’m back.

Granted, it’s tough to go from being in great shape to being feeling like I have to start over fitness-wise post-injury. I had a great workout today, yet I could feel where exercises felt challenging with lower-than-usual resistance. But, that’s okay; it just shows me where to do the most work. I’ll get back to as fit as I was before my wreck last year.

(Sidebar: it was a year ago Thursday, that car accident that started this whole mess. )

So, in summary: I feel  the lost time for which I need to make up from being largely on the fitness sidelines this past year, but my head is in the game to get back that smart and fast.

Who knows, maybe I’ll come back better than I was before. That would be ideal, fer shur.

The rehab diaries: part bajillion + 1

I ditched the cane three days ago.  Apparently, it takes three days to really see what’s what, but I think I’ll keep it at bay. I wasn’t feelin’ it, that cane.

The good news about that, though, is that I immediately felt like my injury rehab was back in my own hands. Funny how jettisoning a stupid piece of metal can do that.

Now, I just need to remember to not get frustrated by starting from scratch, fitness-wise. I’ve gone from what I would classify as “extremely fit” to “strong as a garden slug” in a matter of months. So, that part should be interesting.

Run Green, Greener and Green-ish

greenWhat I dig about this article from Runner’s World is that is gives options for varying degrees of greening up one’s running. For example:

Hydrate

Good: Buy powdered sports drinks and mix them yourself.
Better: Wave away plastic race cups by carrying your own water in a secure container (like Amphipod’s Hydraform Handheld Pockets).
Best: Use reusable bottles instead of throwaway plastic water bottles.

See the rest at Runner’s World.

Lakefront parking meters

In Chicago, many runners are rather peeved (to put it quite mildly) about the lakefront parking meters which are about to be installed at lakefront parking areas.  Some are calling it a class issue– that installing the expensive meters along the lake which line the rest of the streets in the Chicago will serve only to limit lakefront recreation to those who can afford to feed the meter– while some call it just a matter of the city’s enthusiastic efforts to generate a lot of revenue from parking and ticketing, while many say it’s really a bit of both.

But for my parking quarters, my first thought was about my running route, I’ll confess.

Let’s say the meters allow two hours of parking at a stretch. To a runner, that means we can run only an hour away before we must loop back to feed the meter. Which might be okay for elite athletes and shorter-distance runners, but for those of us who aim for longer mileage in our running, this is going to make for some boring runs in the same circles over and over and over. Ugh.

And what of bicyclists? I know a ton of cyclists who park, then ride for hours out, then back. Or parents? I know parents who opted to bring their children to the beach during the summer for little more than the cost of a mid-day cooler picnic. Are they going to leave their children unsupervised on the beach while they go plug the meter? Of course not. They’ll pack the kids up and head home after only a short time. Great.

I can’t help but wonder how the new parking meters will challenge the fitness and recreation of Chicagoans. And not in a good way.

Daydreaming on the train home tonight, I thought of organizing a group of runners and bikers to stagger our take-off times in order to feed meters of the group, but then I returned to daydreaming about open parking like we have for a few more weeks.

Fight The Bonk: 12-Week Fitness Challenge Redux

I took on a mega-fitness challenge, but my timing sucked. As some  of you may know, when I’m not running, I am a literary blogger, author, editor and festival founder. Well, in the calm before the storm of the literary festival, in March, I took on a modified version of the Body for Life 12-week Fitness Challenge.

Well, that was kind of dumb timing. But, it had its good points. For one, I was working out and not stressing out through the festival in late May, which is also known as my busiest time of the year. But, it did lessen my workout focus in the week that followed, when I was planning for live stream author interviews at Printers Row Lit Fest. But, that’s ok.

A blog I really love is Slow Mofo, by John Frenette of HellaSound. One thing I like so much about his blog is that Frenette isn’t afraid to try new things and doesn’t blame himself when said new things don’t go to the letter. Because, really, what does ever go exactly as planned? Right.

So, with that in mind, I’m starting over. Granted, I’ve never really been in terrible shape but I’m in better shape than I was when I first started the fitness challenge back in late March. So, I’m not starting from the same place this time. So what? I’m starting again, in any case. Part of the fitness challenge is to photograph oneself at the beginning and end of the challenge. On my first time at bat with the challenge, I did Day Zero photos, and was shocked when my halfway point photos looked exactly the same. But, that’s also okay. I could feel a difference, and really saw a difference in my running economy, and that’s what counts.

And why, prey tell, am I doing this? Why not. I mean, really, why not? I’m active and in shape, but I think it’s time to bring it up a notch. I don’t want to just be fit, I want to be strong, have better running economy, expand my fitness activity horizons and be in better health. And, I don’t want to stop at the 12-week challenge. Nope. I want to declare this the summer of uber-cross training and of expanding my fitness horizons.

So, the new 12-week Fitness Challenge is on. It’s inspired by the Body For Life program, but I’m adding to it for variety. And, I’ll document it all here. Because, you know, why not?

Fight The Bonk: Tight Shoulders = Slower Pace

stretchSpending time hunched over the laptop and the general stress of certain jobs (or, the absence thereof, as the case seems to be all too often lately) causes tension in the neck and shoulders, which, believe it or not, carries over to running. Granted, running, as those of us initiated already know, eats stress nicely, but still! The bonkfighter is all about being proactive, no?

When you have stiff shoulders due to tension, it limits the ability to swing arms freely forwards and back. When this happens, the arms take a less neutral side to side motion, which does not a lot to propel the body forward and mostly just wastes precious energy and causes unnecessary fatigue.

However! Try this:

  • Take mini-stretch breaks throughout work time. Seems minor, but matters.
  • Lower right ear to right shoulder. Press gently on your left temple with our fingertips. Hold, release, and repeat ten times on each side. Aim for a stretch here, not a neck-crack.
  • Raise right arm up, keeping elbow locked straight and palm facing forward. Hold arm between your elbow and shoulder with your left hand. Pull (gently please!), hold, release, and repeat ten times on each side.

Twice a day, then, do the following to strengthen the shoulders:

  • Let your arms hang relaxed at your sides with your palms facing in. In one slow, constant motion, rotate your shoulders up, backward, downward and forward, bringing them toward each other. Hold them for a second. Do it in reverse, rolling shoulders until arms return to starting position. Do two sets of ten reps. Hold dumbells to make it more challenging as strength improves.