Everyone want to be fit, and I'm no exception. I'm setting a fitness challenge of running a 10K race in 40 minutes or less. I also have three other goals I'll be tracking and sharing with you.
I've let my health slide over the last few years. Now I'm on a mission to get everything back in order. If you're interested in reading about why I've chosen 4 minute kilometers as a goal, or how I initially got into running you can head over to my Fitness Challenge Kickoff Post.
I'm setting my target date in late February, because there's a race I've thought about running for several years. This will be the year that it actually happens.
OK. Let's talk about each of the goals.
Goal 1: Run 10K in 4o minutes
I'm setting the goal of running 10K in 40 minutes (6:26 min/mile) as a challenge to myself to get back into a healthy lifestyle. I was able to run 4 minute kilometers about 10 years ago, but my commitment to fitness dropped off a lot since then.
Let me say this, because you're probably thinking it. “Yes, I'm 10 years older, and I'm in nowhere near the shape I was a decade ago.”
Being older doesn't make my goal impossible. My underlying goal is to get into amazing shape. Along the way, I'll be focusing on exercise, but I'll do my best to do
everything most things right. That means putting a huge emphasis on nutrition, recovery, flexibility, proper technique, and other cross training activities.
The 4 min per KM goal will just be a result of the conditioning I've been building up over the preceding 5 months. I'm including it down so we can see how far I get.
During the time leading up to the races, I'll be sharing my experiences with you as to how my training is going. I also plan on checking out some new techniques and methods to improve how I run. The plan is to use videos, visual maps, and writing to share what I'm working toward, and provide real-life examples of how you can use visual tools to be more effective in the real world.
You'll also get a chance to see what I think of my new watch.
The race I'm targeting takes place in February, so yes, it's going to be a little cold and there will be snow on the ground. The race is called the Hypothermic Half. It's been a race I've been “thinking about” for years, but I never made to time to actually take part. So now this is the year that I finally make good on my intentions.
- Hypothermic half – Feb 12, 2017 – Do 10K in 40 min
- Hypothermic half – Feb 26 – Do the 1/2 marathon (21.1K) – I'll set a target time closer to the event
- Use a wearable and apps to improve results
Goal 2: Do the full splits
OK. In case you're wondering, yes I'm trying to be a little sensational when I say my goal is to do the full splits.
In reality, my main desire is to be more flexible overall. Doing the splits will just be the results of doing a lot of good things on a consistent basis.
Another part of this goal is to ensure that the extra flexibility doesn't bring on any instability from what I'm doing that might cause injury. I'll research that aspect as well and share the results.
Where am I at right now?
Right now, my side splits are a disaster. I'm not naturally flexible. A 100 year old granny could probably do a better job, but I'm committed to consistently focusing on my flexibility and finishing what I start. I've managed to get very flexible in the past, so I know it's possible. I just need to be consistent.
The challenge with stretching, like other health fields, is that there's a lot of crazy people out there saying whatever they want. I'll be on the lookout for new ideas, but we'll probably come back to a lot of stretches that we all know and love – or love to hate.
- Full side splits
- Full front splits – both ways
Goal 3: Take posture from Caveman to Superman
Like a lot of people, my posture could be better. The act of sitting down and typing for long periods hasn't helped me much.
In the past, I've had some issues with my back and forearms. It was aggravated by typing, which meant working was a challenge some days. It started around the time I was spun around in a car accident. Someone drove through a red light and t-boned me – spinning me around. I tried to be tough and didn't get treatment, which was a huge mistake. It took a few years before I got smart and went to physiotherapy.
The physio helped, but my posture was still very “caveman-ish,” especially when I typed.
I eventually heard about a book for back pain. It's called Foundation. The book goes over a few basic exercises that help to reduce back pain.
I was obviously pretty skeptical, but it only took two or three days for me to see results. The book recommends doing three rounds of the exercises, but I only ever did one round. I also only did the first three of the five.
I'm embedding a quick tutorial video for you to see what's involved. I'll remind you that you should consult a physician before attempting anything in the videos.
You also get amazing posture
The best part was that in addition to making my back pain go away, my posture went from terrible to good. It wasn't perfect, but it was way better than what it had been.
A few years after my initial experience, I felt my back again. So, I did the exercises again as well. I didn't have the book anymore, so I did the best I could. Looking back, I wasn't doing them quite right, but they still worked. Sometimes I would just do the main exercise, the founder, for a few days and I'd feel better.
I've got a copy of the book again, and several YouTube links. I plan on going through each phase of the program. You start with the beginner routine for two weeks. Then, it's two weeks at intermediate – which adds a couple of new exercises. Finally you hit the advanced workout. That's where I want to be. At that point I'll decide where I need to be as far as maintenance exercises and go from there.
Don't forget about the abs
I'll share some sources for quick routines that use the latest knowledge out there. It seems like there are about a million ab routines out there. My goal isn't to overdo ab exercises. I just want to pick a couple of good routines and stick with them for the time being.
The Foundation book has a few “extra” exercises that might help out as well. I haven't tried them yet, but will see how they go.
That's pretty much it. I'll do a few things consistently. Boring, but effective.
- Progress to advanced level in Foundation book
- Perform Core exercises most days
Goal 4: Nutrition
I'm approaching nutrition from a meat-lovers point of view. I spent some of last year working on adding more plant sources into my diet and reducing the size of my meat portions.
I got hooked on Dal while I was in Sri Lanka and started trying out a bunch of recipes when we got back to Abu Dhabi. The downside to all beans and legumes is that the take a long time to cook.
I have a couple of resources I'll be talking about. I have plenty of advice from all over the place, but I'll also be covering some books and documentaries. I'll go a little deeper on books like, How Not to Die and The Paleo Diet. I'll also talk more about my experience with juicing.
I know I'm opening up a can of worms when talking about nutrition, so I'll keep this intro short. We'll get into it more in a follow up post.
- Make a realistic diet
- Plan healthy food that's quick to make (for busy people)
- Find vegetable dishes my kids (and wife) will eat with me. So far I'm eating some stuff alone.
- Cut the coffee. I still like it with cream and sugar. I'll replace with green tea.
The Fitness Challenge
I'm already a few weeks into my challenge. I took a little longer writing this post than I wanted to. I'm having an amazing time and I've got tons of follow-up content ready to go.
I've spent most of my running time doing slow runs to build up my cardio base. It's nothing spectacular, but it's necessary. My longest run has been just over 4K. I feel like I can run a lot further, but I'm trying to do things right by giving my ligaments and tendons time to strengthen. I'll continue to focus on slow runs for a while until my long run gets up around 10K. Then, we'll really start to rock and roll.
My nephew has been running with me most days. That's been a great help. He's also started to take his nutrition more seriously too. If he decides to stick with it, I'll start including him in some of my posts too.