Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Try This, Ditch That: Books on Running

I'm pretty sure the recommendation for Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run by Alexandra Heminsly came from Kerry from Entomology of a Bookworm. I've gotten lots of reading recs about running lately, and this was the first book I ate up. Gobbled, in fact. 

When Alexandra Heminsley decided to take up running, she had hopes for a blissful runner’s high and immediate physical transformation. After eating three slices of toast with honey and spending ninety minutes creating the perfect playlist, she hit the streets—and failed spectacularly. The stories of her first runs turn on its head the common notion that we are all “born to run”—and exposes the truth about starting to run: it can be brutal. (Goodreads)

Fail spectacularly she did. But she endured, which is what most of us find we have to do in order to like this running thing. It takes getting over the hump, finding the way for one's self, and let's face it...getting a bit addicted. 

I read this book in about a day and a half and would've finished it much quicker if I'd had more downtime. I woke my husband up with my laughing several times, and I cried like a freaking baby (heaving sobs) when Heminsley met her goals by fighting through the mental and physical anguish of the tough days. 

On the down side, I did not jive with Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (translated by Philip Gabriel). Put this one in the DNF column. 

I love Murakami's fiction, so I figured a book combining running and writing would be a big, big success. What I actually found was a blasé attitude about running and some lazy writing. Early in the book he refers to his fitness level as somewhere between a high achiever and an overweight runner whose doctors told him 20 minutes ago that he needs to start exercising. So, yeah, maybe I took that personally, but it's just such a lazy sterotype, and I expect more from an award-winning author. So after a quick, mental "fuck you, Haruki Murakami" I endured to page 75 before I tossed this one. 

While the stereotypes died down, on the whole I found the book repetitive and his entire attitude about running was lacking for me. For Murakami running is easy. If I'm going to relate, I think I need to read about a bit of a struggle. There was nothing motivational or moving about this one. 

Monday, May 02, 2016

April 2016 Recap: Read More Than I Thought!

I definitely read more than I realized in April. It feels like my reading is dragging, but I think I'm a little over my average thanks to the Readathon.


The first book under my belt was The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales. I haven't been so much into the reviewing lately, but I did have to rave about this one.

Another book I really enjoyed was 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad. I really loved this one and found it thoughtful and it really resonated with me. I'll try to work up a review!


Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run by Alexandra Heminsley was a DELIGHT. Heminsley dedicated herself to running a marathon long before she was ready, and for that I thought she was nuts. But her story of coming into her own was a wonderful journey that made me wake my husband up laughing at night when I was reading in bed. And boy, did I ever cry when she succeeded! 

Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed was a surprise gift from Katie of Can't Get There From Here. It came to my mailbox with a wildly appropriate and sassy card. In light of having left my job and having made some big life changes, this one was just the thing. I have dog-eared (because that's how I show my love) SO MANY PAGES. Strayed's writing is full of quotable bits, and this book was a great collection of those to keep me motivated. 


Sadly, the two comics I read this month didn't pan out for me. Tomb Raider #1 and Ikebana were both too short and underdeveloped to be satisfying, though in Ikebana's favor, it had a much more innovative plot. 

I capped off the month with two more big winners. 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling is just as charming and funny as I'd heard. I listened to this one on audio during Readathon, and there's no better way to experience Kaling's anecdotes. She has such a unique voice, speaking- and writing-wise, and I found her wonderfully snarky, smart, and ironic. Go, Mindy, go! 

Finally, Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, is my biggest Readathon achievement and my big #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks achievement for the month. This one has been lingering on my TBR for what seems like forever, and I finally forced myself to pick it up. Once I gave it a fair shake, I was hooked. I thought it did a great job of portraying the all-consuming nature of adolescent relationships...especially for those teens who are not born well-adjusted (because how many really are?). 

It was not a great #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks month (one out of eight), but it was a great reading month. 

How was your April? 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks April 2016 Check-In!

 This is our April 2016 #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks link-up. Feel free to share any reviews, discussion posts, TBRs, or anything else #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks-related!

Don't forget to join me and Melissa for #SmashYourStack, an event focused on reading from your own shelves in May 2016! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Four Weeks Into a Fitness Routine

Four weeks, roughly. 27 days, exactly. Part of me feels like I should wait a little longer to post this, but most of me is just really excited to share. For those of you starting this journey yourself, I wanted to let you know what I've been doing specifically, something my doc recommended, and the results I've seen so far.  I'm shocked by the results I see in my body and my abilities. I didn't realize it would be this fast, engrossing, or addictive.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I jumped straight into a 200-minute per week routine after I visited a cardiologist for a preventative appointment and I've stuck to it religiously. I run Couch to 5K intervals with the C25K FREE app three days per week (Monday, Thursday, Saturday) as prescribed, with additional walking tagged onto the end of each workout to flesh out a full 40+ minutes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I walk a full 40+ minutes. I make myself take Wednesdays and Sundays off to make sure knees and ankles stay in good form. I don't really like taking Wednesdays off--Thursday seems like it would make more sense--but I work fairly late (for me) on Tuesday nights, so I'm always super tired on Wednesdays. Oh well!

I still post a lot of pics like this on the hard days!
In addition to eating mostly "real food" (low sodium, little processed) I've also been taking a combination of supplements my doctor recommended to boost metabolism: two teaspoons of soluble fiber in the mornings in my coffee (take it in whatever you like), a B complex, and a pro-biotic. I also tack on some extra vitamin C (about 1,000 mg per day) since I need the extra C to absorb more iron and avoid anemia.

Just...wow. The first two and a half weeks I thought I was going to die every walk and run. My knees and ankles hurt. My legs hurt. Muscles I didn't know I had hurt. But then suddenly last week...it got better! It's still hard...don't get me wrong. It's work. But it's not as painful as it was, and I know I'm getting better at it. It's always difficult to step up to a new level on the C25K program, but nothing hurts like that initial handful of weeks. So far I've spent about two weeks on each level of C25K since I started from absolutely nothing--no running unless a Rottweiler was chasing me. I find it takes me about that long to get comfortable with a new set of intervals, and I'm totally fine with that.

I do find that on the days I walk, I actually have to work pretty hard, push significantly, to really feel like I'm getting enough of a workout. I've also learned that I have to take fairly short, quick (prissy) strides to keep my feet and ankles from cramping. It's a pain in the ass (ankles), but it's been a problem for me as long as I can remember running and walking for exercise...even when I was younger and lighter. Hopefully I can nail down some stretches or exercises that will help with that, too.

Through reading up on running, and chatting to my running friends, I've realized the importance of strength training to accompany my regular workouts. I've been doing squats, crunches, and planks to help strengthen my core and elsewhere. The strength training is where I need to layer in more routine so I'm not just doing it willy-nilly. That's next.

I'm kind of shocked by the change I've seen in my body at this point. I've lost inches overall...I look noticeably smaller...and I feel much, much stronger. I'm down about four or five pounds, and I'm pleased with that progress. Also, I didn't really think of this when I started, but my skin is freaking fantastic. I'm sure part of it is shucking off a lot of the stress that was following me around when I was working my full-time job, but my skin is also smoother and brighter. Huzzah!

This post is getting fairly long, so I'll tell you about my shoe-buying experience soon and report on some running books I've been reading! Some have been hits...some, big misses.

Bottom line: I feel damn fine. 

If you're working on this journey, I'd love to hear more about what you have going on!

Images by Freepik