How I Went From Couch to 5k, then 5 Miles

In the fall of 2017 I had a roommate. He’s a runner. Like, a serious runner. You know, the kind who goes out for a 5 mile run on one of his rest days? The kind who’s training for a 50 miler? The kind who has to eat 8,000 calories a day to maintain his weight? That kind.

One day (October 27, to be precise) he asked if I’d like to go out for a “recovery run” with him.

“How long?” I asked.

Just 2 miles,” he replied.

“Sure,” I answered, expecting it would suck, but being in relatively decent shape to begin with, why not?

It sucked, that’s why not! Ugh. It was grueling. I managed to maintain an average pace of 8’55”, which I thought was pretty decent.

A couple of days later, I decided to try again, only I would start smaller – say, half a mile. I did .43 miles in 9’10”. Not great! But I was alone and didn’t have my coach kicking me every step of the way.

The next day I did it again. .42 miles at 8’57”.

The next day I did it again. 1.01 miles at 0’03”.

From there I dabbled, going back and forth with a half mile some days, 2 miles the next. I didn’t have a plan, other than “run a mile,” which I did every couple of days. I continued that until June, when I decided I’d just start adding a little each day. Each time I ran, I added .1 or so miles until I hit 3.74 in July (and that day was a hot, sweaty, doozy).

I’d looked at formal plans in the past, and never really had much luck with making them stick. I even tried to go onto the “couch to 5k plan” to see how that would help me, until I realized that 5k is just 3.1 miles, and I was already there, so…

On April 6, 2019, I decided to kick it up a notch and shoot for 5 miles. Again, I decided to just add a little every time I ran. Since I was averaging a run every other day, I’d add .2 miles each time. I went from 3.1, to 3.2, to 3.3, 3.5, 3.7, 3.8, 4.0, 4.2, 4.4, 4.6, and finally 5.0 exactly 30 days later.

Since then, I’ve set 5 miles as my standard, shooting for a run every 2 days. I’ve done four of them so far and today will be my fifth.

Nike may not like it, but in summary, my plan is “just do it.” Add a little bit each day, making slow and steady progress. If you backslide, don’t worry about it! Just get out and do it again. Before you know it, a 5 k run will be just a warmup, and it taking supreme effort will be just a memory.

Why I’m Quitting Facebook

Let me put it in a way that will resonate with many of my friends: are you sick of the two-faced lies coming out of Washington these days? Facebook does the exact same thing to you, i.e., lying.

Here are a few examples I turned up in literally 1 minute of searching. Note that almost all of them are from the last few months – and this behavior has been going on for over ten years.

Seriously, if you care at all about integrity or privacy, do your own Google (or Duckduckgo.com) search for “facebook lies,” “zuckerberg lies,” or “facebook is bad for you” and see for yourself. I’m not talking about crazy conspiracy theories here – these are plain as day lies that are out in the open for anyone who cares to set aside the dopamine hit they get from all the Facebook and Instagram “likes” from their online friends.

You could say it all comes down to the fact that I just do not appreciate being lied to constantly.

Friends will still be able to find me here, on Twitter, and LinkedIn, on Signal, by email, by phone, and at home.

Yoga Update

Since 2015, I’ve been practicing yoga regularly at the Corner Studio in Medford. My favorite classes and teacher are Yin Yoga with Holland Sweeney. I like them so much, that earlier this year, I decided to take a teacher training with Josh Summers (Holland’s Yin teacher). After the first class, I immediately signed up for the second one, and after that, I formally enrolled in the Summers School of Yin Yoga to pursue my RYT-500 yoga teacher certification. As of last week’s retreat, I now have 220 of the 500 hours required, the balance of which will be obtained with one more class with the Summers School, and a 200 hour course with Jenna Palm.

So yeah, yoga has become a significant part of my life, and I’m loving it. Krav Maga, mountain biking, and running are still big as well, but for 2018, yoga is my focus. In fact, I’ve been teaching Yin Yoga at Alpha Krav Maga Boston, and will soon be teaching at Karma Yoga Studio in Cambridge. Want to follow my yoga pursuits? You can do so over at Yoga With Peter!

In case you’re wondering (because people love to jump to conclusions), no, I am not quitting my day jobs in information security, and Paradigm Consulting Co LLC is not going away.

Retreat! Retreeeat!!!

Last week, I went to a 5 day silent retreat in Western Massachusetts with Josh Summers as part of my enrollment in the Summers School of Yin Yoga. I am still digesting the experience. When I was on the road home, my girlfriend asked “am I talking to Peter 2.0?” I said it was less like the difference between these two guys:

 

and more like the difference between these two:

 

In other words, while it was a significant event, it wasn’t a dramatic, life-changer for me. I didn’t come back and immediately quit my job, break up with my girlfriend, stop smoking, etc. (No, I haven’t started smoking, and therefore I haven’t stopped, either. (Nor have I stopped beating my wife.)) That said, there are subtle improvements, new tools and techniques, and knowledge was gained.

The retreat was in the vipassana style, although more relaxed in most ways. We woke every morning at 6AM, sat in meditation 6 times a day for 30 minutes, broken up by 30 minute walking meditation sessions, recollective journaling, meals, dharma talks, chores, and more reflection.

On the first night there, I felt intense pain between my shoulder blades. I first thought that this was caused by the 200 kettle bell swings I’d done two days prior in the morning Krav Maga practice. After downing painkillers and sleep aids, I slept it off and the next day it was fine. The next day, my teacher noted this sort of phenomenon was common, and he himself often experienced it. “Hah!” I thought to myself. “Already checked that box!” Little did I Know that my mind wasn’t done trying to torture me, because two days later, when the weather had finally cooled and the conditions were optimal for a run, it returned. This time, it came back on the right side, and manifested as a searing blade that stabbed with every step I took. I didn’t get 0.10 miles before I had to stop and try to massage the knot out against a telephone poll, which didn’t work. I sheepishly limped back to the retreat center and stewed, all the time repeating “this is pain, and it’s like this. This is pain, and it’s like this. his is pain, and it F***ING SUCKS!” After discussing this in a small group during our afternoon session, the pain vanished and I was again able to do a 2 mile run uphill with no pain.

Similarly, other pains manifested in almost all sitting sessions, normally in the knees and hips. Depending on how I sat, my whole right leg would fall asleep from the hip down to the toes. Over time, I ended up sitting in seiza, which proved to be most sustainable. In seiza, I was usually able to sit for around 25 minutes before discomfort began to settle in. Coincidentally, this is when the meditation sessions would usually start to “get good.” Go figure – the mindbody was trying to distract me just when the good stuff began. Huh.

So what is the “good stuff?” Apparently it’s different, yet similar, for everyone. In my experience, I feel more relaxed, calm, and able to focus after a good session. Other people report stories similar to dreams, conversations with family, friends, and coworkers, and lots of other stuff. If you’re interested in a number of different accounts, I recommend reading Jason Siff’s book, Unlearning Meditation.

The technique I usually used is best described in the aforementioned text, although I often reverted to tagging/noting, metta (loving kindness), and body scans when I felt the need to. As the week progressed, the sessions became easier, with the final session Sunday morning flying by with zero discomfort.

I’ve managed to wake up, caffeinate, and meditate every day since the retreat, and will continue to do so. I also plan to try doubling a normal sit time (to an hour) once a week. Wish me luck.

2018 – It’s Been Eventful!

What have I been up to since my last blog post? A lot, actually. I’m going to break them up into different posts.

So, yeah, lotsa stuff.