Sunday, August 31, 2008
As mentioned previously, I'm considering doing the Runner's Diet from Runner's World. Have any of you tried it before? If so, would you recommend it? Did you find it to be useful?
Also, I'm just curious to know if any of you runners/athletes out there in the blogosphere follow specific nutritional plans, or whether or not you just "wing it"? My bet is that unless you are an elite athlete, that many of you guys probably wing it, while many of you gals probably follow a plan. Hmmmm, now why ever would I say such a thing?! ;-)
Thanks to my blogger pal, Tim, I just discovered a really great blog, which addresses the mental aspects of how to move forward & achieve your goals.
And "Surprise, surprise!" -- One of the recent articles from this very blog advocates exercise as a great way to do this. ;-)
I'll admit that I was a tad bit put off by the title of the blog at first -- the title of the blog is "The Positivity Blog" -- because it sounds like just another glib sound-byte. But after giving this blog a chance & taking the time to actually read some of the articles (!), I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by its content. The integrity of this blog really did surprise me! Not only because it contained extremely useful advice, but it was just so real. And that shocked the hell out of me. I was expecting "Patty Pep-Talk," but she never showed up. ;-)
Needless to say, I'm not a big believer in the smarmy, New-Age-y, self-help industry of the likes of "The Secret" or Dr. Phil and such. (I'd much rather go to the source & read texts like the Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, or the Mahayana sutras, thank you very much. ;-) )
Plus, the word "positivity" has been so overused, that it's basically lost it's genuine significance in our modern age. In fact, I have to admit that when people use the word, I instinctively cringe, because the word is typically used by phony people who are trying to sell a saccharine, hyped-up version of positivity to the masses like it's some kind of wonder drug. Much more useful to our society would be what I like to call "realistic optimism." Yes, you can still be excited & happy about life, but it's also important to be honest with your emotions & thoughts, & acknowledge them even when they aren't always the most chipper.
In fact, some of the most unhappy individuals I know in life are those who constantly have a smile plastered onto their face like it's a defense shield. No one can penetrate beyond it, and frankly, it's just damn scary what actually lies behind the mask. Believe me, I've seen what goes on behind the curtain, & it's not pretty at all. Ironically, these are the exact same people who are actually very depressed & unhappy because they are trying to convince the rest of the world that they're happy 24/7. This play-acting is unhealthy, & will ultimately be their undoing. It can also lead a person down a very dark & perverse path. They might think they're doing the rest of the world a favor by concealing their negative thoughts & emotions, but it's better to express those thoughts & emotions via a safe outlet before they get too dark & completely consume the individual. Better to be natural, have good days & bad days, & be honest about it, than walk around like a ticking time bomb from hell. ;-)
In fact, that's exactly what this article (from The Positivity Blog) advocates.
So please, I beg of the blogosphere, no more phony positivity. There are just way too many fake & sappy "Don't worry, be happy" type of blogs that seem to replicate across the internet like mutant radioactive slime. ;-) They are similar in tone [i.e., totally light-weight in terms of anything which actually resembles useful content(!), & often also very insincere!] to those "get-rich-quick" type of blogs that go on about pyramid schemes and such. And do we really need yet another really dull & totally useless SEO blog? Sheesh, I don't think so! ;-0
I just want to shake some of these bloggers out of their boring little stupors. I mean, sheesh, have an original thought once in a while. Have something to say which isn't just a repetition of what other people are saying all over the internet. Be yourself. Find your own voice & say something unique; have an opinion which is truly your own & be courageous enough to express it, instead of just rattling off what 5,000 other blogs/bloggers are saying.
OK, I'm done with my rant now. See, now I can go back to being cheery again, because I expressed my little rant. It doesn't have any power over me, & I can move on & get to that higher plane of existence. ;-)
Saturday, August 30, 2008
So we never made it to the museum exhibit after all. We had to race to DC in order to make my errand in time. Thanks to some rather crafty driving done by Erik, we managed to squeak into the place I needed to go to before closing, i.e., 5 pm. (Hopefully, Erik won't be getting a speeding ticket in the mail; of course there are those darned traffic cameras placed at several points along the route. Fingers crossed.) I didn't realize they had Labor Day hours until about 4 pm when I called the place to check how late they were open. Oops.
So after a mad dash to DC, we decided to go out for Indian food at our favorite local restaurant. Needless to say, our glycogen stores are fully replenished now. ;-)
Although we didn't stuff our faces, we might have to run again tomorrow to work off some of tonight's meal. It's almost two hours later & I'm still feeling full from dinner. Uh-oh. ;-)
OK, so here's the big news: I am going to Hawaii & will be gone for almost a month. Unfortunately, Erik won't be able to join me on such last-minute notice, & I'm going to really miss him & our furry little "cat children," but all the same, I'm really looking forward to spending time with my family, and of course -- you guessed it -- running in Hawaii. Of course, that's not all I'm really looking forward to doing, mind you, but since I've always wanted to go to Hawaii ever since I was a little kid, I just could not pass up an opportunity like this.
Anyhow, I'm not sure how often I'll be able to blog, publish comments, or respond to comments & emails once I arrive there, but I'll certainly do my best. Most likely, there'll be internet access at the place where we're staying, but I'm not 100% sure.
The other big news is regarding my career: It'd probably be no surprise if I were to reveal that my career is currently in a "state of transition." Yes, it's back to the job hunt for me.
So it looks like I'm going to be shelving my jewelry businesses for the time-being. Additionally, I can't really comment on my current part-time position at present (i.e., this is something different from my jewelry businesses), but let's just say that I'm a "fish out of water" that's looking to head back into the stream. ;-) It was an interesting adventure/experiment to try something so far afield of what I was used to doing, & I certainly learned a lot about a new field, about others, & about myself as a person, & it also reinforced a lot of my existing beliefs about various aspects of human nature in general (!); however, I'll be tucking away these invaluable lessons for future reference & will instead be moving in a different direction.
I'm planning to keep the part-time job for a while, & might even continue working limited hours in the same capacity after I get a full-time job, but for the most part, I've decided to hop back into the job market & look for a serious, full-time job, most likely in the fields from which I came -- IT, science, and biotech. Program management, project management, network & systems administration, the federal contracting worlds -- These are the areas of expertise from which the majority of my career has been built upon, & to which I will most likely return.
I will admit that I do have many as-yet-unfulfilled "secret dreams" -- There's a lot I'd still like to do, & if I had ten lifetimes, I'm sure I'd like to try out all of those possibilities. ;-) Of course, I'm still going to do my best to try to fit in as many of those different experiences as possible. Just watch me try! ;-)
For one, I'd love to write, but don't want to do dreadfully dull & boring technical writing, which seems to be much of what the DC area has to offer in terms of writing jobs. And I really don't want to do journalistic writing either. Ugh. Just not my thing.
Even if I were to freelance at a magazine or journal of some sort, many of these jobs pay zilch, & frankly, I don't want to be broke or work for peanuts. I'm fairly certain that you've got to be a big, established name to pull in a decent living from magazine writing. And anyhow, what I ultimately want to do is to write a novel. There, I said it.
Yes, I want to do creative writing, even though I know it's not practical & won't pay the bills. So, I'll probably work a regular job & write in the evenings, like most other regular Joes and Janes who want to publish their "great American novel." ;-)
I think that the main reason I bristle against convention of existing media formats is that I don't want to be constrained by a rigid form defined by others. I want to have the freedom to speak my mind & write in my own way. I'm a trail-blazer, and don't take kindly to being told what to do or how to do it. I've already learnt the rules (grammar, existing literary forms, etc.), so now I can break them. And the world will just have to deal with me as I am. ;-) My mind is not meant to be constrained by others, and I just won't be caged by anyone. Period.
I'm fiercely independent & likewise love writers like e.e. cummings, Richard Brautigan, Oscar Wilde, Kurt Vonnegut, E.M. Forster, & others who dare to defy convention -- of thought & of form; these are writers who dared to break the mold and make a new one, even if the new structure was just for themselves. ;-) I don't want to do what everyone else is doing; I want to do my own thing. This doesn't just apply to my writing. It applies to how I am in general.
I don't want to control or be controlled; I want the ultimate freedom -- complete & utter self-control. And that's why I also have dreams of running my own business empire on a grand scale -- This is not meant to sound "Trump-like" but rather is actually something a tad bit more altruistic and humanistic. I don't want to go into too many details here, because it's a proprietary, commercial venture. All I will say is that it'd revolve around health & wellness. But that's going to take a lot of capital. And I mean a lot of capital. And at the moment, I don't have that kind of capital, so it's still in the dream phase at this point. ;-)
But now, back to the real world.
Now is not the time for me to run a jewelry business, whether as a full-time or part-time endeavor; I'm frankly a bit disenchanted with it, especially with the current state of the economy, & would rather go back to doing a purely services-oriented business. As I've discovered, dealing with product & inventory isn't exactly my cup of tea. Frankly, it's a real pain in the @$$. ;-)
So, during my vacation, I fully plan to take advantage of the down-time to reflect upon my career. Long breaks are the perfect time to recraft resumes, write cover letters, reflect, & refocus. And that's fully what I intend to do.
So, tonight's dinner was actually more of a "farewell" dinner of sorts. Farewell to my old life and a hello to my new, emerging one. Goodbye for a while to Erik & cats & friends, and hello to family.
Yes, there are some big changes afoot. I don't exactly know what direction I'll be moving in quite yet, but I've decided to take a calm & forward-looking approach. I know I'll figure it out. One thing I'm confident about is that I've always been able to move forward & do things that I've never done before. Even if it turns out that it's not for me, atleast I've learned that lesson & can move onto something else. That way I gain skills that I might not have otherwise developed had I just "played it safe" & stuck with my comfort zone & my strengths; however, instead I gained something by taking a chance & working on turning my weaknesses into strengths. And instead of letting "fear of failure" get in the way of progress & learning, I consciously choose to forge ahead on the "road less traveled." It's just something I do and have always done.
Now, if I can just apply the same principles of my running philosophy to my career -- basically, that is, to prepare adequately for the challenges that lie ahead; to take a moderate, balanced, long-term approach; to maintain strong personal and business connections to others with similar interests & goals in the same & related fields; and to build upon a foundation of discipline & mental toughness -- then not only will I find opportunities & success, but my career will also have a richness beyond material value. And of course, one of those important elements are the people who are part of that world.
One thing that the other night's party brought home is the value of long-term friendship. All of us were co-workers who'd known the guest of honor, who was retiring after many years of service to the federal government. Many of the people at the party hadn't seen each other for a long time, & getting together was such an natural, easy, and warm occasion, that it made me think not just about where everyone had been and where they were going in their lives, but also about the many wonderful friendships I'd made while I was there.
One thing I've always felt strongly about was that I absolutely have to be surrounded by co-workers I like and respect. Of course, it's not a requirement that a person become best buds with one's coworkers, & I can certainly be professional & get along with people I don't like, but all the same, I can tell you that it's so much more pleasant when one can develop an easy rapport with one's coworkers. ;-) Or atleast with the majority of one's co-workers. After all, when it really & truly comes right down to it, why would anyone want to make themselves miserable working 8+ hours a day working with a bunch of mean jerks?! Certainly not me!
I don't care what anyone says; I just could never work with a bunch of @$$holes. ;-)
People are not just the "building blocks" of an organization. I hate that phrasing. It makes people sound like mechanical moving parts in a well-oiled machine. Clichés and crap, all of it. People who talk like this are banal & annoying & clearly don't really comprehend the true value of people. Rather, people are really everything to an organization. And the sooner leaders of an organization realize this in a sincere and meaningful fashion the better.
So let's be honest. Human nature cannot be denied. We work better with people we like and respect. Doh.
And likewise, the people I hung out with the other night at our pal's retirement party were not just co-workers; they'd become true friends over the years. Yes, I know we haven't always seen each on a regular basis, but seeing everybody the other night was just like old times. It was like no time at all had passed. It was one of the most fantastic experiences. I just stood there in awe of everyone. It was all completely sincere too. Warm hugs and lots of laughter. Wow, just simply amazing.
This is the kind of work experience that most people dream about having. I'm not saying that there were never any problems in the workplace, but looking back on my experience at this place, it was so great to work in an environment with other people who gave a damn about each other. That is a truly wonderful & rare experience.
"I wake up not knowing what tomorrow will bring, and am excited by the infinite possibility of it all."
Temp: 85° FHumidity:70%
|Warm-up Walk:Start Time: 12:29 pm|
Distance: 0.31 miTime: 5:00 minAvg Pace: 16:07 min/miCalories Burned: 32
Start Time: 12:41 pm
Distance: 6.38 miTime: 1:09:52 minAvg Pace: 10:56 min/miCalories Burned: 664
Start Time: 1:54 pmDistance: 1.48 mi
Time: 25:02 min
Avg Pace: 16:48 min/miCalories Burned: 155
This morning, as planned, I ran 6 miles in a slightly different location from my usual weekend locale. I knew it was going to be an interesting run from the start, when only a few minutes into my run, I ran past the "Bearded Biker Brigade." These two guys looked like ZZ Tops with bike helmets. ;-) They could've been twins with their matching sunglasses & shaggy grey beards. It was a hilarious site to behold. And it only got more amusing from there. There were lots of cyclists, runners, & walkers all along the trail, & I saw some of them more than a few times as I ran a 3-mile circuit & then looped back around towards the starting point.
There were lots of new sites to behold, & interesting situations to witness. However, right now I'm trying to reign myself in from recounting everything, due to time constraints: I've got to get ready very shortly, & then head on over to downtown DC. I have to run a quick errand there & then Erik & I are hoping to catch an amazing gallery exhibit, which I might blog about later.
So very briefly, here are some other quick details: It was incredibly hot & humid today, & the trail was nowhere near as shaded as the location of my "usual" favorite weekend running spot. On the plus side, it was a much more challenging & interesting run with lots of hills; on the not-so-great side, there were a lot of traffic intersections, which meant pressing crosswalk buttons, & lots of stopping & starting, & pausing my iPod workout multiple times.
As a result, I know my finishing time & pace probably aren't as accurate with all of those stops & starts. If I use the recorded Nike+iPod stats just for my overall, then I probably ran somewhere around a 11:38 mi/mile pace or possibly faster. Not sure. And not exactly caring all that much about it right about now, frankly! Just am happy to be done with the run today. Those of you who've had runs like this, (i.e., where you feel like "Help, I'm melting!" -- I bet some of you are probably picturing that green witch from the Wizard of Oz movie right about now ;-) ), will know exactly what I'm talking about here. ;-)
(I know for a fact that Dan & Steve can certainly relate to this! ;-) )
The run itself was OK. I had a decent level of energy until about mile 4, when I felt my energy reserves start to "dry up" somewhat. I reached for a Gu, which helped a bit. The last mile I'd regained my fighting spirit, & I sped up considerably. I sprinted the last little bit to the finish line, but it wasn't a mad dash or anything. I gave what I had left, which took every ounce of effort to give, due to the high heat & humidity.
Erik also ran 6 miles today as well, although he & I didn't end up running together. He started a bit later than me, & I took a nice long walk as I was waiting for his return.
OK, got to get ready. As promised, I'll be checking in again at some point to share my "news" with you, probably either sometime later today or tomorrow morning. Until then.....
Signing off for now,
Maybe it was the (one) beer & the dinner I had two nights ago, & then again, maybe my body fat scale is just playing tricks on me, but I gained 0.9% BF from last week's weigh-in on 8/17/08. And then, on the plus side, I lost 1.6 lbs. ;-)
Maybe instead, I should just weigh myself later today after my 6-mile run, eh?! ;-)
OK, I'll probably do another weigh-in tomorrow morning for consistency's sake, to see if I really did gain the 0.9% body fat, or atleast see if I can get rid of it & then some after my 6-mile run!
In terms of my BF% loss & weight-loss goals, I'm obviously not making as much progress as I would like. However, this doesn't mean I've become impatient about it either: I've actually adopted a rather non-plussed, laid-back attitude towards the whole process, especially since stating that it was no longer a primary focus of mine.
Of course, that certainly doesn't mean that I'm not expending the effort to shed the pounds/body fat. It just means that I'm trying not to obsess about it. ;-)
So with that understanding in mind, let's analyze the data. Here's a look at my cumulative BF% loss & weight loss progress:
From my lowest BF% measurement thus far on 7/28/08, I've actually gained a total of 2.9% BF. Yeeesh. But if even we use 8/3/08 as the starting date from which to measure, I've still gained 1.4% BF. Clearly, I must be increasing my fat intake somewhere in my diet, because I'm actually expending more calories these days. Hmmmph. Me thinks that my recent eating habits & weekly caloric intake is worthy of further scrutiny. ;-)
As for weight loss: So far, since reaching my last weight goal post on 8/3/08, I've lost a total of 2 lbs. And it's taken almost 4 weeks to lose those 2 lbs. Whoopee. ;-)
And yes, I do realize that it usually takes a bit more time & effort to shed the last 8-10 lbs., which are typically the most stubborn of all, & that the process is going to be a difficult, but not impossible, challenge.
And while losing weight might at first sound like good news, since it's not being matched by a comparable amount of BF% loss -- in fact, I'm actually moving in the other direction(!), that means that my supposed "progress" is dubious at best.
So what does it all mean? Am I losing muscle or perhaps eating too many carbs or too much fat? I suspect the latter. It looks like my nutritional plan, especially in terms of overall caloric intake, still probably needs some fine tuning.
On that note, I've been looking into the The Runner's Diet (a.k.a., the "50-25-25" plan) from Runner's World, which advocates that 50% of a runner's nutritional plan be composed of carbs, 25% protein, & 25% fat. Right now, my nutritional plan is probably closer to 30% carbs, 40% protein, & 30% fat.
I'll probably post an analysis of the plan at some later point, but right now I need to figure out the basics -- How many calories I need to consume, what I'm currently consuming, & what adjustments need to be made, etc.
OK, enough analysis for now. Off to run in a bit. See ya!
Uuuuuuuhhhh, I'm absolutely exhausted. I got home from work yesterday, ate dinner, & then crashed on the couch. I don't remember what time it was when I fell asleep on the couch, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't long after 9 pm. ;-)
Of course, after falling asleep so early, I woke up to transfer myself to the bed, & -- RATS! -- now I can't fall back asleep. So here I am, doing some late night blogging again. ;-)
OK, so I was going to run 6 miles on Thursday, but it's a long story why I didn't: Basically, the short version of the story is that I was feeling fairly ragged on Thursday morning & that evening Erik & I had plans to go out to a party; we spent the evening with several friends, many of which we hadn't seen in quite some time. We arrived around 8 pm or so & didn't make it back home until past midnight. Needless to say, it was a good party. ;-)
I'd had dinner late that night (i.e., they served food at the party) & washed it down with a delicious glass of Guinness on tap. ;-) Yes, I broke my "no alcohol while training" rule, but I figured it was OK, since I can't even remember the last time I had any alcoholic beverages (although I'm sure it's probably documented somewhere here on this blog! ;-) ). And of course, I realize that one beer over several months of abstinence wasn't going to be the end of the world nor would it totally wreck or completely undo all of my previous training efforts. Thankfully, I'm running this morning to burn it all off. ;-)
As for Friday, I knew it'd be pointless to run in the morning, especially after a late night of partying & a bit of alcohol consumption. ;-) (You see, one beer for me is like 2 or 3 for most other people. I'm a light-weight, both literally & figuratively speaking!)
And then of course, after all of the above description, that takes us up to the present moment.
One strange thing I forgot to mention is that my feet have been feeling rather numb lately. This has been going on for about the past two or three weeks. I know it's probably due to the amount of time I'm spending on my feet, both at work & from the increase in mileage with my new training plan. I've been trying to stretch them out, but frankly, my feet have been so tired & numb that this was also part of the reason I decided to pass on trying to run after work the last two nights. Clearly, some recovery time was needed, not only for my feet, but also for the rest of me as well. ;-)
Anyhow, I better try to get back to sleep so I can join Erik on our run in a few hours. (Guess that gives you the answer on what I decided to do later today, i.e., whether or not to run the road race or run with Erik. More on that later, with some additional news which has affected that decision.)
Now, back to sleep (hopefully).... Good night/morning! ;-)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Temp: 63° FHumidity:63%
|Warm-up Walk:Start Time: 8:00 am|
Distance: 0.40 miTime: 5:02 minAvg Pace: 12:25 min/miCalories Burned: 42
Start Time: 8:05 am
Distance: 4.64 miTime: 48:11 minAvg Pace: 10:22 min/miCalories Burned: 483
Start Time: 8:54 amDistance: 0.31 mi
Time: 5:00 min
Avg Pace: 15:47 min/miCalories Burned: 33
It was a little bit chilly this morning as I set out for my 48 minute run, but of course the temperature felt pretty good after about the second or third lap.
As you can see from my warm-up walk time, I walked & then briskly jogged part of my warm-up walk to help to warm the bod faster. ;-)
For the run, I did about 6 1/16 laps around the lake, or 4.48 miles. At the end of lap 4 (or about 31:36 minutes into the run), I gulped down some Gu to help replenish the glycogen stores; I certainly wasn't about to have another "crash & burn" again today!
Afterwards, I hit the Menu button on my iPod to end the workout but for some reason it didn't stop right away, so I actually finished in closer to 48:05, & not 48:11 as listed by my Nike+iPod. So, my pace was also a bit faster than the above listed time.
As usual, I'll again offer my own pace calculations, since they are probably more accurate than the Nike+iPod figures listed above: I ran 4.48 miles in 48:05, or about a 10:43:58 pace.
I definitely feel like I'm getting stronger. Despite feeling a bit peaked (in terms of my overall energy level, but not necessarily fatigued) at around the fourth lap, I picked up steam shortly after consuming the Gu, & then made an effort to progressively speed up on the remaining 2 laps, going faster with each lap. I felt much more energetic on the final lap, probably in part, thanks to the Gu, & it was also part psychological (being that I knew it was going to be the last lap, etc.).
I'm neither pleased nor displeased with the pace. Just remaining neutral about it, because there's a lot more work to be done between now and race day.
Since I'm ahead of schedule in terms of my weekly runs, I'm going to see if I can do my 6 mile run on Thursday morning, & then just do a quick 30-minute run this Saturday instead. Well, there is a 5K road race this weekend (i.e., The Kentlands 5K) which I just found out about a day or two ago & am sorely tempted to run (Ha, that'd be my 30-minute run! ;-)), but I told Erik that I'd run with him this weekend instead. Erik & I would be running at a new location that's further along the trail (i.e., where we usually do our weekend runs), which is supposed to be really nice; I've run part of it before, but am curious to try out this new route.
OK, I think I need to do a "Whoa, Nelly" & reign myself in a bit. Hmmm, well maybe. Even though running the 5K run would be a great test to see how much I've improved, I know that there'll probably be other 5K races I could run in a few weeks. Just got to find something mid-way between now & the Rockville 5K/10K race in November. (Also, need to work in some speed workouts at some point too!)
Still, I'm really, really tempted. Today's the last day to register for the reduced rate, & I don't want to pay "out the nose" on race day, so either I make up my mind today & run it, or just learn to control my "wild horses" & enjoy my more leisurely weekend run with Erik.
On the one hand, there's the thrill & the challenge of the race, & on the other, a beautiful new area to run in with my squeeze, whom I don't get to spend nearly as much time with as I'd like.
I know it's kind of last-minute, but I'm still in a quandary over what to do. So what do you think? Should I run the race or run with Erik instead? (Erik's made it clear that he doesn't want to race this weekend, & last night was nursing a swollen ankle to boot, so it's either run with Erik, or have Erik watch me race, & then he'll either run afterward or not at all, depending on how the ankle's doing.)
OK, it's your turn to vote. To race or not to race, 'that is the question. ;-)
Monday, August 25, 2008
OK, since it's been -- Gasp! -- well over two whole weeks since my last pushups workout (i.e., Day 1 of Week 4 on 8/9/08), I decided to take another pushups test to gauge my strength before repeating Week 3.
Well, I managed to do 40 consecutive pushups (for the initial pushups test for Week 3), which isn't too shabby. So, I think it's safe to say that I haven't lost too much strength in the past 2 weeks. Still, I'm going to redo Week 3 before proceeding to what I've officially dubbed as "the Week of Pure Hell," a.k.a., Week 4. ;-)
OK, have a good night everyone!
OK, I know, still no sight of the charity run post. I was busy enjoying my only day off of the week, so pardon me if I didn't want to spend that day on the computer. ;-)
Anyhow, I'll get to the post soon, I promise!
Temp: 73° FHumidity:76%
|Warm-up Walk:Start Time: 8:34 am|
Distance: 0.35 miTime: 5:15 minAvg Pace: 14:36 min/miCalories Burned: 37
Start Time: 8:40 am
Distance: 3.10 miTime: 32:26 minAvg Pace: 10:26 min/miCalories Burned: 323
Start Time: 9:13 amDistance: 0.40 mi
Time: 6:30 min
Avg Pace: 16:07 min/miCalories Burned: 42
I had an OK run for the first two & a half laps, & then I lost steam after that. I'm not going to make excuses, but I'm sure that my going to bed at 2 am probably didn't help any when I went out to run this morning only 6 1/2 hours later. ;-) Also, I need to pop something in my mouth about an hour to a half-hour before my runs for some extra fuel (i.e., to replenish my glycogen stores), but lately can't seem to get up early enough to do that! ;-)
It started out overcast & windy, whiched help me keep pace fairly well for about 2 1/2 laps, but then as the heat & humidity index started to climb, I began to "melt" with the sun's increasing intensity. ;-)
It was a fairly uneventful & somewhat lackluster run, & I was still surprised at how relatively slow I ran, even despite my lack of sleep & the muggy weather. Normally, I'm able to overcome these factors, & still pump out a fairly decent run closer to the 31 minute mark. (Today's run was a dog-slow 32:26! I did my usual 4 laps around the lake, or 2.96 miles, which is a 10:57 pace. Yikes!) My fatigue on the last lap really killed my pace; I just didn't have anything left & couldn't even do my usual closing sprint. Oh well, it was a run. It's over. Tomorrow's a new day.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I am working today to make some extra income, so I had to go straight to work after my run. Am eating lunch right now & won't get back home until very late tonight. Hope to post either late tonight or tomorrow morning, which is a day off. Yea!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Temp: 69° FHumidity:61%
|Warm-up Walk:Start Time: 9:23 pm|
Distance: 0.38 miTime: 5:36 minAvg Pace: 14:36 min/miCalories Burned: 40
Start Time: 9:29 pm
Distance: 4.65 miTime: 47:00 minAvg Pace: 10:05 min/miCalories Burned: 484
Start Time: 10:16 pmDistance: 0.46 mi
Time: 7:01 min
Avg Pace: 15:11 min/miCalories Burned: 48
I was going to run before work today, but wasn't feeling all that hot this morning. I had a pounding headache & felt somewhat off-kilter. So I decided it'd be better to run after work, which is what I did. Well, I got home on the late side, & then within a few minutes, headed out the door for what I hoped would be a cool & fast evening run.
I was supposed to run 45 minutes today, but ended up doing 6 laps (4.44 mi) in 47:00, or a 10:35 min/mi pace. That's an improvement over my previous 45 minute run, in which I seem to recall covering less distance in the same approximate time period.
The run was fast but still comfortable, although my knees started to twinge a bit on the last lap. I didn't slow down much on the final lap but instead tried to stretch out my legs to make the run more comfortable & eke out more distance from my strides.
Tonight I was really striving to get as close as possible to a 10:00 min/mi pace. I was hell-bent on it, & wasn't going to let a slight twinge or a feeling of fatigue get in the way of getting to that goal.
Lately, I seem to fluctuate between two modes of being: the "relentless runner" & the "reluctant runner." And sometimes this happens within the same day or even within the same run! ;-)
Although I pushed myself out the door tonight, I did feel slightly reluctant earlier this morning. Sure, I wasn't feeling that hot, but I still felt like I could've probably run, but decided to wait it out for optimal running conditions.
Now once I get out there, I can be rather relentless, especially when I'm in pursuit of a goal. But also lately, I've been procrastinating a heck of a lot more. Or should I say, more than my usual degree of procrastination.;-)
Speaking of which: Yes, I know. I still haven't done my pushups. ;-) I'm not going to make any promises or talk about it. Either you'll see that post sometime tonight or perhaps this week, but I just don't want to write about my intentions & then not follow through. It makes me feel like crap. And who needs that?! ;-)
To be honest, I'm getting a bit bored with describing my runs, & am no doubt also getting bored with running around the same lake day in & day out during the week. For reasons of practicality (i.e., time constraints, gauging my pace, etc.), it's easier to run around the lake, but it's certainly not helping my motivation any.
Sure, I'm motivated to reach my pace goals & reach new & longer distances, but from a day-to-day perspective, I know I need to shake it up a bit, or I'm just not going to stay interested in the process.
I find that the big challenge right now is just pounding out the miles during the week. I'm so sick of the lake, & doing repetitive laps like a rat in a maze. And then after thinking about how much I'm not looking forward to running laps around the lake & fighting past the clogged masses of irritatingly inconsiderate people (it's the equivalent of running the human gauntlet!), I look at what's next on running program, & sometimes think, "Sigh, I just want to get to the point where running 4, 5, or 6 miles isn't going to feel like a total tedium!"
In direct contrast, my weekend runs at the other lake, (i.e., my favorite lake!), are much more interesting because I'm going in a straight line & get to see new things, people, & animals, etc. It's much more stimulating for the senses, & is also much more of a challenge in terms of hills!
So, I either need to get up & do my runs earlier (i.e., before 7-8 am), like I was before, so I avoid the annoying crowds, smoke, & other nuisances, or I need to get up even earlier & find someplace new to run, that's still going to be convenient & easy to pre-measure to keep track of distance & pace. I'd love to run at my favorite lake in the mornings during the week, but realistically, it's just not feasible. First of all, I'm trying to conserve gas & money spent on gas, & secondly, even if that first issue wasn't a factor, I'd most likely be in a crunch for time to get in & out of there, & do my runs in enough time, without feeling super-rushed in the mornings. And I absolutely hate feeling rushed.
This Saturday, I'm probably going to end up working in the afternoon, which means I've got to get up even earlier to do my 6-mi charity run on that day (for World Run Day), & still be able to get back in enough time to shower, change, & eat lunch before work. I was supposed to have this weekend off, but an opportunity to make some extra money came my way, & I decided to hop on it. It's still not set in stone that I'll be working on that day: Part of me is secretly hoping that it won't work out, so I can have a break over the weekend & not feel rushed to do the World Run Day charity run; and then the other part of me knows that it'd be a good idea to cash in on the opportunity. I'm supposed to find out tomorrow whether or not I will work on Saturday, so stay tuned. ;-)
OK, hope you have a good night.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Temp: 81° FHumidity:52%
|Warm-up Walk:Start Time: 10:55 am|
Distance: 0.34 miTime: 5:26 minAvg Pace: 15:44 min/miCalories Burned: 36
Start Time: 11:01 am
Distance: 3.03 miTime: 31:37 minAvg Pace: 10:25 min/miCalories Burned: 316
Start Time: 11:33 amDistance: 0.38 mi
Time: 6:10 min
Avg Pace: 16:04 min/miCalories Burned: 40
Today's half-hour run went fairly well, considering the high heat. I managed to crank out a 10:40:53 pace, (i.e., 2.96 mi in 31:37), which, while not being tremendously fast, was still an improvement in pace as compared to other previous "high-heat" runs. So, it looks like I'm getting used to running in this stuff. Finally!
I drank 1.5 10-oz bottles of water total during today's run, but didn't feel the need to start drinking regularly until I was closing in on the second lap. (I usually drink water throughout the entire run, but thought I'd try sipping more conservatively this time, since on previous occasions I've gotten cramps or felt uncomfortably waterlogged after drinking too much in the beginning.)
While it took me a while to warm up during the first lap, I felt fairly energetic for the remaining laps. I actually enjoyed feeling the warm sun for about 2-3 laps, although by the final lap, I felt like I was beginning to melt. ;-)
Not much else to report about today's run. Will definitely be repeating Week 3 of the Hundred Pushups Challenge (HPTP) tonight, starting tonight with Day 1's workout. So stay tuned for that brief report.
Signing off for now,
Today is the first day of the BBOHR program. Here's a brief overview:
Becoming A Better One Hour Runner (BBOHR) (8/18/08-9/20/08)
Each workout is bookended with 5-min. warm-up & cool-down walks: (✓)
Wk 1: Run 30, 45, 60. (135 min.)
Wk 2: Run 30, 48, 60. (138 min.)
Wk 3: Run 30, 50, 60. (140 min.)
Wk 4: Run 30, 55, 60. (145 min.)
Wk 5: Run 30, 60, 60. (150 min.)
Sunday, August 17, 2008
OK, Andrew, so you were right. Big freakin' whoop. ;-) But on the plus side, I did make it 5 whole days without weighing myself; now that's almost a week!
I think I'm going to make a regular habit of weighing myself on Sunday or Monday mornings to get a "beginning of the week" measurement, for consistency's sake. ;-)
So here are the results: I lost 0.2 lbs & gained 0.2%. Since the variances are so minuscule, I'm not going to sweat the figures either way. Again, it's the trend that matters.
And speaking of which: Since 8/3/08, my BF% has gone up a total of 2% (Yikes!), even though the pounds on the scale have gone down. (I still look pretty trim overall: But I can tell that there's been a slight chance in appearance in my body; my abdomen feels slightly chubbier than usual, so that's probably where the excess fat has gone! ;-) Either that, or the BF% has found its way to the other "typical resting places" for a woman -- the hips &/or the rear! ;-) )
Since I'm running more & also craving more food, me thinks I should monitor & re-evaluate my recent eating patterns a bit more carefully. Otherwise, I'm going to start looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. ;-)
For one, I'll admit that that can of reduced-fat "Smart Flavors" Pringles potato chips (i.e., that's "potato crisps" for all you "British Commonweath" people out there! ;-) ) I ate one night last week for dinner probably didn't help any. (Eek! That's truly horrible, I know!)
My first mistake was requesting a can of potato chips in the first place. Even though I made the first can last for several days, which is actually pretty good for me (!), I can never eat just one or even a single serving of them (i.e., 17 chips). (Believe me, I also previously tried eating the 100 calorie mini-packs instead, but they ended up being worthless since I ate more than one at a time! ;-) Plus, you end up paying more for the packaging, & you get less chips!)
Now I was OK with just getting the one can. However, when a second can magically materialized on the cupboard shelves only a few days later after my first chip-snarfing episode, I knew I was in trouble. (Er, of course, that'd actually be Erik who picked up a second can during a post-work grocery run, which I hadn't requested this time around. I think he thought he was being thoughtful, or perhaps he was on autopilot, but at any rate, that second can was absolutely deadly! Of course, it's not his fault; it's mine for eating them, but nonetheless, I'd rather not have this sort of temptation around the house.) Of course, needless to say, I ate the entire can in one evening & then pleaded with Erik not to buy them again! ;-) He's told me he won't buy them, so there's still hope for me reaching my body fat percentage goals yet! LOL. ;-)
Strangely enough, I'm great at avoiding temptation outside of the home -- you could prod me all you want & shove the most chocolate-y, sugary thing in front of my face & I wouldn't eat it-- but as soon as I get home, all bets are off. ;-) I think it has something to do with home being equated with my comfort zone, etc., etc. Also, I haven't had very many "treats" lately (Geez, what am I a kitty or a puppy?!), & that might be exactly what's been messing with my head lately.
Other than the occasional bowl of Light Breyer's ice cream (which has only 3 g of fat per 1/2 cup serving) with hard pretzels (which are also very low in fat!), it's been difficult for me to snack on those "temptation" foods & exercise self-control. So, it's time to follow my own advice & "give myself permission" to eat them once in a while, so I don't go batty from deprivation. ;-)
I think part of the reason it's been such a struggle as of late is that I feel like I'm finally starting to make some minor headway with my weight. But I've got to remember that the body fat percentage is the most telling of all.
Of course, I intellectually know if I eat a pre-established portion size, i.e., a mini-bag of my favorite gourmet kettle-crisp potato chips (i.e., Route 66, etc., or another delicious brand!) on occasion (i.e., once a month or every two months or so), that it's not going to be "the beginning of the end." One individual-sized serving is just fine.
So why don't I want to let myself do it?! I know I need to give myself some "leg room" on this issue (pun intended!), or otherwise I'm going to snap when it comes to my nutritional plan & undo all of my previous hard work. It's the exact opposite of what most people think: That one mini-bag of potato chips is actually the thing that's going to keep me on track!
Yes, if you haven't guessed by now, good (i.e., read "gourmet") potato chips & thin, crispy, crunchy fries are a serious craving of mine. But I won't just stoop to eating just any chip or fry. Oh no. They've got to be high quality & good-tasting, because frankly, I'm not going to waste my hard-earned calorie-burning activities on just any potato product. My body is a temple, & if I'm going to do that temple in for a few brief moments, I atleast want it to taste good. For me, the pathway to hell is paved with many gourmet fries & potato chips. LOL.
I also really enjoy a much healthier version of potatoes -- the baked potato, although I've been avoiding eating it due to the high glycemic index, and what I feel like (i.e., blurry food-coma-like feeling) after eating it.
The same goes for pasta. I primarily get my carbs via veggies & whole-grain cereals & bread stuffs.
My meals are typically high in veggies, fruits & low-fat proteins. However, since I'm still trying to lose weight, I'm not sure if I really want to increase my overall carb intake just yet. If I do, I've got to be smart about the types of carbs I'm putting in my bod. Even though I've been able to mostly work off those 2 cans of Pringles, I don't want to be taking 1 step forward & then 2 steps backwards with my nutrition & weight management, not to mention what the extra BF% would do to my pace! Hmmmm, got to do some more research on how much I should be eating for the current amount of calories I'm burning during runs & for the weekly mileage I'm doing.
Maybe I should look into the Japanese & Kenyan nutritional training plans more closely. Last night, NBC had a segment on the Chinese marathoner, Zhou Chunxiu, who captured the bronze the other day at the women's Olympic marathon event; she's currently being advised by a 72-year old Japanese man, who recommended that she eat a special kind of rice pudding, etc. And those Japanese marathoners are good. Sounds like it might be worth a look. Then again, I'm not running 750 miles per month (i.e., the equivalent of a marathon a day!) like she is. Probably will end up scaling any of the food recommendations to meet my calorie intake requirements.
Anyone know any details about Zhou's diet? Would be curious to hear more about it? Hopefully, it's not some top secret thing that she's not sharing with anyone. ;-)
Saturday, August 16, 2008
On second thought, I'm not so sure that running the Advanced 10K Training Program (from CoolRunning.com) would be such a good idea. This week I did 16 miles, & the pre-training program starts at 31! Gulp! That's more than the recommended 10% weekly mileage increase, eh?! ;-)
So, I think I'm going to race in the Rockville 5K, & not the 10K on 11/2/08. ;-) I'll still train for a 10K distance, but will probably not race it until I've adequately trained for the distance. For me, it's not just about completing the distance; it's about having enough experience under my belt at that distance to run it well.
So, what to do? I could run the Beginner 10K Training Program (also from CoolRunning.com), which doesn't mean that I'm a beginner runner, but rather that I'm a beginner at 10K training, which would be a very accurate assessment at this point. ;-)
Or, I could run the revamped BTHR program, which I'm sorely tempted to do, primarily because I want a second crack at the program now that it's been revised, but also feel that this program is one of the more gradual programs in keeping with the philosophy & aim of the preceding programs I've done thus far (i.e., BOHR, CT5K/C25K, etc.).
Right now, my primary concern is just gradually building up the miles, so my feet, legs, heart, & lungs, etc., can adjust to the additional mileage & time spent on the ground. Then, I'll worry about things like speed & pace.
So, after taking these factors into consideration, I think I'm going to run the BBOHR/BOHR1.5/BTHR programs next in sequential order (i.e., see left side bar for more details), & then do a 10K training program after that. Maybe by that point I'll be ready for the more advanced version of the program. Who knows?!
I just cannot afford to be hasty. It's not about chickening out; it's about being smart & training properly to stay healthy (& also of course, do everything possible to avoid illness & injury!).
WEEKLY GOALS (8/03/08-11/15/08):
--Do warm-up & cool-down walks, & stretch.
--Do HPTP, 3x/wk. (0% to GOAL this week! Previously, probably closer to 80-90% to GOAL.)
--50 crunches 1x/wk.*** (0% to GOAL)
--3 sets leg lifts/squats x 20 reps (each leg), 1x/wk.*** (0% to GOAL)
--Drink 8 8-oz. glasses of water a day. (90-100% to GOAL)
--Eat 3 meals & 3 snacks (Eat 6x/day). (90-100% to GOAL)
--Take multivitamins & glucosamine chondroitin daily. (14.3% to GOAL)
SHORT-TERM GOALS (6/07/08-11/15/08):
--Complete HPTP by 8/17/08.
--Lose an additional 8-10 lbs. by 11/02/08. (A secondary goal.) (0% to GOAL.)
--Lose 10% BF by 11/15/08. (A primary goal.) (0% to GOAL.)
--Register, train, & run in the Rockville 5K/10K, on 11/2/08, 8:30 am. (0% to GOAL.)
LONG-TERM GOALS (8/03/08-12/31/10):
(Not doing "percentage to goal" figures for long-term goals, since I haven't begun working on them yet, save the BF% goal.)
--Reduce BF% to 14-18% by 5/30/09. (0% to GOAL.)
--Run & successfully complete my 1st marathon, (possibly by 12/31/10). (Will revisit this goal in late 2008. Considering doing the Shamrock as my first marathon.)
--Follow modified Abs Diet + Canyon ranch meal plan for maintenance.
--Weight train regularly, starting with 1x/wk. Over next 1-2 yrs., do 100 pushups, 5oo sit-ups, 100 leg lifts, & bench-press body wgt.***
--Run a 5K in 27:54 & a 10K in 55:00, or a 9 minute mile pace.
(*** = Goals needing further revision & refinement.)
New Goals (after re-evaluation):
WEEKLY GOALS (8/17/08-11/15/08):
--Do warm-up & cool-down walks, & stretch.
--Do HPTP, 3x/wk (until 9/20/08).
--50 crunches 1x/wk.***
--3 sets leg lifts/squats x 20 reps (each leg), 1x/wk.***
--Drink 8 8-oz. glasses of water a day.
--Eat 3 meals & 3 snacks (Eat 6x/day).
--Take multivitamins & glucosamine chondroitin daily.
SHORT-TERM GOALS (6/07/08-11/15/08):
--Complete HPTP by 9/20/08.
--Lose an additional 8-10 lbs. by 11/15/08. (A secondary goal.)
--Lose 5% BF by 11/15/08. (A primary goal.)
--Register, train, & run in the Rockville 5K/10K, on 11/2/08, 8:30 am.
LONG-TERM GOALS (8/03/08-12/31/10):
--Reduce BF% to 14-18% by 5/30/09.
--Run & successfully complete my 1st marathon, (possibly by 12/31/10). (Will revisit this goal in late 2008. Considering doing the Shamrock as my first marathon.)
--Follow modified Abs Diet + Canyon ranch meal plan for maintenance.
--Weight train regularly, starting with 1x/wk. Over next 1-2 yrs., do 100 pushups, 5oo sit-ups, 100 leg lifts, & bench-press body wgt.***
--Run a 5K in 27:54 & a 10K in 55:00, or a 9 minute mile pace.
(*** = Goals needing further revision & refinement.)
Temp: 77° FHumidity:50%
|Warm-up Walk:Start Time: 1:05 pm|
Distance: 0.62 miTime: 10:00 minAvg Pace: 15:59 min/miCalories Burned: 65
Start Time: 1:18 pm
Distance: 6.37 miTime: 1:09:31 minAvg Pace: 10:54 min/miCalories Burned: 663
Start Time: 2:28 pmDistance: 1.98 mi
Time: 32:17 min
Avg Pace: 16:15 min/miCalories Burned: 208
Today's run went surprisingly well. I did 6 miles, which is the longest distance I've run thus far since 7/21/07. [The longest distance I've ever run was 12 miles, back in Summer 1997 (i.e., August?), & I've only done that once thus far.]
Again, please ignore the Nike+iPod stats: I think what's going on is that, since my pace has sped up overall, it's throwing off the pedometer's calculations. ;-)
Here are the correct stats: I ran exactly 6 miles in 1:09:31, or an 11:35:10 mi/min pace. The cool-down walk was exactly 2 miles (there were mile markers to measure it!), & I also did another itty-bitty walk from the last mile-marker to the parking lot, which was only 2:45 minutes & somewhere between 0.15 & 0.25 mile; again, I can't be sure due to the inaccurate, off-set measurements recorded by the Nike+iPod pedometer.
I'm not going to wax poetic today, because I've just got too much to do. (Was that a sigh of relief I just heard amongst this blog's readers?! LOL.) So, I'll just point out a few highlights of today's run:
--I saw two deer (a male & a female) around the 1st mile marker, & then also saw them again near the same spot on the way back.
--I had a surprising amount of pep left after the 4-mile marker; I got my second wind sometime around then & my energy kept up until about the 5th mile, when my legs started to tire, & the muscles surrounding the knee began to pulsate a bit. This feeling wasn't painful, & didn't last much beyond the run -- it was more just a general feeling of exertion & the result of the time spent on my feet -- so I'm not concerned in the least. Tomorrow will definitely be a day off the feet to relax & regain energy & strength.
--I ran 4 miles out & 2 back, & then walked the final two. It was the longest I'd ever run before on this particular trail; somewhere after the 4 mile point, I remember seeing a sign stating that it was only a few miles more to DC! [This is really exciting stuff, because I know that when I really start putting in the miles for various training programs -- for the 10K, 10 mile, half-marathon, & marathon distances, etc. -- that, depending on where I start, it would be possible for me to run through MD, DC, & VA! Of course, I'd probably limit the really long trail runs to the weekends. Otherwise, I'd have to get up at the crack of dawn to run those distances during the week! (Hmmmm, it's very possible I will have to resort to doing that at some point. However, I'm getting ahead of myself. One step at a time....) At any rate, I'm looking forward to running past many of the monuments, & other interesting attractions. I'll definitely have to have my wits about me (& probably my pepper spray too! ;-) ) when running through DC; that's for sure! ;-) ]
Phew, I can't tell you how relieved I am to be done with the BOHR program!
Even though it's my second time around doing the program (i.e., the first time was last year), I've definitely improved my times considerably: During last year's final run (on 12/11/07), I only got to 5.18 miles in 1:02:30, or a 12:03 min/mi pace. And that was run around the "usual lake" where I run, where there's only a "small bump" of a hill, as Erik likes to call it.
Compare that result with today's run, run at my "favorite lake" (i.e., a different trail with far more hills!) in which I ran 6 miles in 1:09:31, or an 11:35:10 mi/min pace. And, I have no doubt that I probably could've run the 6 miles a lot faster had there not been as many hills to conquer! ;-)
Nonetheless, completing today's 6-mile run was still a significant milestone. And I will probably celebrate that significant milestone today by taking a well-deserved rest on the couch to watch some inspirational Olympic athletes on TV!
Enjoy your afternoon & the rest of the weekend, everyone!
Friday, August 15, 2008
Temp: 74° FHumidity:92%
|Warm-up Walk:Start Time: 10:31 am|
Distance: 0.35 miTime: 5:13 minAvg Pace: 14:33 min/miCalories Burned: 37
Start Time: 10:36 am
Distance: 3.92 miTime: 40:46 minAvg Pace: 10:22 min/miCalories Burned: 409
Start Time: 11:18 amDistance: 0.38 mi
Time: 6:01 min
Avg Pace: 15:43 min/miCalories Burned: 39
OK, this is going to be a really minuscule post, because I've got literally no time to blog before running off to work. So, here it is in a nutshell: I had an OK run today.
I'm beginning to think my Nike+iPod stats are completely worthless (& have got to get the track soon to recalibrate!): In reality, I ran 5 laps around the lake, or 3.7 miles, & not the 3.92 mi. as listed by Nike+iPod (!) in 40:46 minutes, which means by pace was actually closer to 11:01 min/mi. Yikes! That's a bit slower than what I'd hoped for today. Oh well.
I felt sluggish from the humidity, but was determined to press on. Drank 1 1/2 10-oz. bottles of water today. ;-)
Frankly, the real issue right now isn't so much the heat or the humidity, as it is a general lack of enthusiasm for my current running program. I'm really getting "BOHR"-ed with it ;-), & am just punching out the runs like an automaton. I'm hoping it's not an overall lack of enthusiasm for running longer distances ;-), but given that I've only got one more run in this program, I think I can hold on for just one more day. ;-)
Also coupled with the above issue is an overall lack of enthusiasm for doing pushups. It's been 6 days since my last pushups workout (which was on 8/9/08), & frankly, I've been avoiding doing them like the plague. ;-)
I think I might go back to Week 3 of the HPC (Hundred Pushups Challenge), to rebuild some of the strength I've probably lost over the past week. It's either that, or I need a break altogether from the program. But then I'd have to start from scratch or very close to it, and I really don't want to have to do that! That's reason enough to keep going!!!!! ;-)
Pretty soon I'll be posting my next running program on the left sidebar of this blog. As mentioned before, it's the Advanced 10K Program (from CoolRunning.com) as suggested by my pal, Cymrusteve. Thanks again, Steve! I really appreciate all your help & suggestions!
2 Your Blogging Questions Answered: Why Do Feedburner Subscriber Counts Fluctuate So Much, Is It OK to Blog Off-Topic, & Other Burning Questions
I was tweeting with runner-blogger pals (& fellow techies) Tim & Steve the other day about various topics - Feedburner counts, writing off-topic, what makes people want to read blogs, etc. And I thought I'd share some of my insights about those topics here, in a more in-depth fashion (i.e., extending beyond 140 chars!).
So, let's address the first issue, Feedburner counts: If you've ever wondered why your Feedburner subscriber count fluctuates so much in a week, wonder no more. This article should answer all your questions.
Previous to reading the aforementioned article, I used to wonder, "Is there something I'm doing one way or the other that makes people want to subscribe or unsubscribe to my feed?" Of course, even after discovering more information about how feed data is collected & updated, I have no doubt in my mind that some of my more opinionated articles have probably pissed off more than a few people & caused them to go elsewhere, but some of those articles have also brought me a lot more readers as well. ;-)
If this is happening to you as well, my advice would be to not take it personally. Ultimately, your subscriber count shouldn't be the primary motivation for why you want to blog. Of course, it's great to have readers, & I do sincerely appreciate every single last one of them, but that's not what I'm getting at here. My point is to be yourself. The readers who truly "get you" & your philosophy/point of view will usually be your most loyal subscribers/readers/commenters. Also, my secondary piece of advice to try to adopt a neutral attitude towards your subscriber count; don't let changes in your subscriber count affect your mood, writing style or tone, choice of writing topics, or your attitude towards your existing readership & your relationship with them (i.e., they don't deserve the brunt of your mood swings! ;-) ) After all, if you feel that you get a great big "goosh" of love when the subscriber count goes up, then what does it do for your attitude & self-esteem if the reverse happens & the numbers should plummet? ;-)
I think that if you stay true yourself & your writing no matter what, people will be able to respect you for that, & of course you'll respect yourself more for it too. And ultimately, whether or not people agree with your point of view, those of us who are mature enough & secure enough in themselves will be OK with that. As adults, we need to be able to agree to disagree, but it doesn't have to wreck a friendship or a blogging relationship. ;-)
And as for what motivates me to read someone's blog: I know that, personally speaking, I'd much rather read a blog from a person who's not afraid to have an opinion, who's not trying to please everyone, but rather is writing from a place of integrity. They are intellectually robust, secure, mature people, buoyed by what they believe in, & not just swayed by the tide. And yet, they are not blinded by their own biases, & are still able to be open to new possibilities & learning new things.
I also appreciate honesty & humor in a blogger. These are the people who aren't afraid to look silly, make a mistake, admit they don't know something, or act like real human beings. Now these are the people I want to know more about, whose stories that I want to read. Not some perfect robot who never makes a misstep, & thus probably never learns anything either.
Sure, I might read a blog for information on a particular subject, say running for example ;-), but ultimately what keeps me coming back for more is the person who's writing the blog. I'm attracted to a blog, not just solely for informational content. If that was the case, I'd just go to websites like Yahoo! Answers, Wikipedia, About.com, Ask Jeeves, or the Encyclopaedia Britannica. ;-)
So Tim, to answer your question, I think it's OK to blog off-topic every once in a while, especially since I think you've got the right stuff to keep people coming back for more. ;-)
Thursday, August 14, 2008
4 World Run Day 2008 & FreeBurma.Org -- Please Participate to Help Bring Freedom To Those Who No Longer Have A Voice
I don't normally blog about world politics but this recent report from
Johnny Chatterton, (organizer of the Facebook nonprofit sites, Burma Campaign UK & "Aung San Suu Kyi Day - October 24th"), literally brought me to tears & I just felt compelled to speak out against such brutal violence, cruelty, & injustice:
"The situation in Burma is more serious than ever. Yesterday we received a horrific report of the Burmese army soldiers gang raping a women and then beheading her in northern Burma. They then dumped her body in the jungle.... On Tuesday two MPs from Aung San Suu Kyi's democracy party were arrested simply for writing a letter.... And we've also just received reports, smuggled out of Burma, that the regime is denying medicine to political prisoners who are ill.... This is everyday life in Burma. It has been going on for twenty years. We can't let it go on for another twenty.... You can make a difference. Stay in touch with our campaign, and find out what you can do now: Burma Campaign UK."
There are also other international branches of the charity (located in the US, Canada, Southeast Asia, etc.), for those who would like to volunteer or donate money & resources. Please click here to locate the organization closest to you, & find out what you can do to help improve conditions in Burma.
If you are looking for a worthy charity to donate your tax-deductible contributions, this is one powerful cause that simply cannot be ignored.
This is going to be my charity of choice as I participate in World Run Day on November 9, 2008. Won't you join me & run for freedom for those whose voices are being suppressed?!
"Be the change you want to see in the world."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
On a personal note: Regrettably, in Southeast Asia, such brutal violence & suppression of freedom is not historically limited to Burma. I have several American friends whose families hail from neighboring & nearby Southeast-Asian countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), & whose lives have been marred by the savagery of totalitarian regimes. Their personal stories have deeply affected me. One of my friends, who's half-Malay-Chinese & half Cambodian, lost almost all of her relatives on the Cambodian side of her family as a direct result of state-sponsored mass-murder. Another friend of mine told me how, in the early seventies, her family was incredibly lucky to get one of the last boats out of their North Vietnamese village; a great deal of her family & friends who were left behind were either murdered, tortured, or otherwise brutalized by the North Vietnamese army. Several of her family members who were left behind were teachers & doctors -- These were people who'd done everything they could to actively help others in their local communities, people who'd made a profound & positive impact; and these were the exact same group of people (i.e., the intellectuals) who were turned into scapegoats by the ruling Communist regime, & were publicly shamed & stripped of their land, money, & possessions; ironically, their biggest impact came not from their material possessions, but from their words & deeds.
Other countries in neighboring regions don't exactly have the best human rights abuse records either: Take The People's Republic of China for example. Of course, there are the big, notable historical examples like China's takeover of Tibet, "The Rape of Nanking," etc., or more recent examples like the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the continued practice of the Chinese government suppressing free speech & censoring the Internet, jailing those people who advocate political & religious freedoms, who dare to speak out against what their government is doing. These people come from all walks of life; they are simply people, just like you and me. Had you been born there, it could've been you in that situation. Or maybe your husband, wife, friend, or mother. Just think about that for a moment. And quite possibly, maybe it has already been you or someone you know.
And then, of course there are the people I do know: I also have several Chinese-American friends who've told me details about horrible experiences their parents & grandparents would rather forget about. Many of these stories are too vile & horrific to repeat. And it's not just an unfortunate history lesson; it's still happening today. People are being jailed (or much worse!) for speaking out against injustice & exercising freedoms which many of us in the free world often take for granted.
I could go on & tell you more stories, but if you've ever watched movies like Beyond Rangoon, The Killing Fields, The Year of Living Dangerously, Turtle Beach, or even the more recent Rambo movie), then you probably already know that some of the violent acts portrayed in these movies are unfortunately very close to the reality of what has really happened in these countries & is still happening in Southeast Asia & many other parts of the world.
If the above stories upset & disturb you, then that should tell you something. You are human, sensitive, & showing true empathy for people who are suffering needlessly. You are connecting to others in an important way. Don't forget what that feels like. That connection is what keeps all of us in the present moment. It's what keeps us on the right track to doing something meaningful. It's thoughts & emotions like these that give us purpose & make us feel very alive in this world, & in this life.
It's stories like these that should not just make us thank our lucky stars & cherish our own freedom, but also spur us on to want to help others who aren't so fortunate. We have an obligation to "help thy global neighbor." Are we not all citizens of the world, joined together by our common humanity?
How often do we read headlines like this in the news, sigh, & then return to going about our day, soon forgetting what we just read? Too many of us think, "Well, I am only one person. What can I possibly do?!"
Well, we are all like Frodo (of the Lord of the Rings trilogy), & there is something we can do, no matter how small. I challenge you to do that small something. After all, great things can be accomplished through small deeds.