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Trainers and Treadmills vs. Bikes and Pavement

I rely on a bike trainer for winter workouts. I would also sooner kick my own ass than run on a treadmill. On a bike, I like fast – can’t do that safely in the snow and ice so I simply use the trainer to keep as much of my fitness as I can over the winter months.

Running outside however, except during heavy snow and ice storms, I find quite nice – I become accustomed to the cold easily enough though it does take a some time.

I’ve also heard from plenty of friends who actually prefer, for one reason or another, indoor cardio training.

As far as I’m concerned, I say whatever floats your boat. However, and this is the purpose of this post, I’ve heard from a few people who don’t bother with cycling because the indoor trainer bores them.

I’ll be the first to admit that cycling isn’t for everyone – it takes a certain adventurous kind of person to take their bike out for more than a 20 mile ride – especially when you’re using lightweight equipment (road bikes, thin tires). Also, depending on where you live, there may be safety issues to consider.

Many people fear mechanical issues or flat tires on a ride… However, consider that bicycles not like cars, they are made to be easy to fix and adjust – you just have to know the steps and sequence in which those steps go. Once you gain this knowledge (use a smartphone app), it’s a snap – you can carry simple tools to fix virtually anything that can go wrong on a ride.

The point I’m trying to get at is this: If you find that you are bored by indoor cardio, don’t assume that the outdoor counterpart is the same – it most certainly is not – especially cycling.

Cycling, done properly on a proper bike, is the closest thing there is to owning your own roller coaster. It’s also a fantastic way to see the world without windows – outside “the box”, if you will.

So consider, please, just for a moment, that if you’re bored by the indoor trainer, take it outdoors and smell the fresh air at 20 mph… It’s sweet!

How I Stay Thin… Specifically, How I Do What I Do…

I read a post the other day that really touched me.  I didn’t know much about how the world worked when I was younger but I had it set in my head that being skinny was a bad thing.  I had it in my head that being a thin guy was on the same level of “society looks down on you” as being an overweight woman, so I set to working out at the college gym with a friend of mine who was quite big.  I did progress – I pushed heavier weights (up to 250 on the bench – and for a 6′ tall 135 pound guy, that’s pretty good) but I didn’t gain a pound.  I stayed stringy and after several months, gave up on it…  Right when I should have stuck with it.  In hindsight, I probably wasn’t eating enough.  Of course, this was back in the days when my money was going to a liquid diet.

After I got sober and quit smoking, I found out that food tasted really good.  Then I went the other way.  I went from 150 pounds to almost 200 before I realized how big I’d gotten and the fact that I couldn’t see a way that I’d stop, at least at first, before I hit 250 simply shocked me into action.

I started running shortly thereafter and lost much of the weight but I was never really able to get to where I wanted to be…  I wanted 160-165 and I was hopelessly stuck at 175.  I just had that gnawing feeling that if I could just knock of ten more, I’d be right where I wanted to be…  I was so close – but so far.  I tried for the better part of seven years to get my diet and exercise right to no avail.  Enter cycling – that sweet, minimally painful way to burn an absolute buttload of calories, and it just so happened that I loved to ride a bike.

After my first five months I’d dropped every pound I wanted to.  I was my estimation of perfect.  The next season, 2012, was more of the same and my mileage increased from 2,000 to more than 5,300 for the year but I had the same problem heading into the summer.  My weight dropped from a healthy 164 after the winter to 160, to 158 and I started panicking at 153.  I was down to 150 pounds when I bit the bullet and added fast food back to the menu during the riding season and I managed to stabilize at 160.  This year, same thing again:  Pizza, Burger King on Tuesday nights, Wendy’s every now and again…  The sky wasn’t the limit but I had some serious fun eating – and maintained a perfect 160-161 all season long.

Now, the first secret to my success is my diet.  I naturally eat just enough calories in a day to support a short 30 minute workout.  I’ve crunched the numbers before and I’m just that lucky.  I don’t bother with which foods are considered good or bad, I still eat pizza every Wednesday night for dinner (three pieces deep dish in the winter, four in the summer).  When we have nachos, I have a decent plateful but nothing ridiculous…  The point is, I don’t eat a lot.  I eat until just before I’m full – not uncomfortable full either, and I push myself away from the table.  Also, if I feel I’ve eaten a lot – especially during the off-season – and I’m still a little hungry I wait five minutes before getting seconds.  If I’m still hungry after those five minutes, I’ll go back.  80% of the time I’m full by the time the 5 minutes are up so I skip seconds.

The second secret to my success is the cycling.  I cycle hard and I’m a lot faster than most – I put some ass into those pedals.

First, for the winter, I ride my bike on the trainer four or five days a week 45 minutes a day minimum.  To fight boredom I watch movies while I ride.  Then I run on Saturday – nothing special 3-5-10 miles.  For the workouts I vary degree but it’s all by perceived effort (I do check my heart rate from time to time with an Azumi App on my phone).  Monday is a hard effort 150-160 bpm with spikes up to 185 for the full 45 minutes or as long as I can take it – I’ll slow down for a few and then pick it back up (21-22 miles)
Tuesday is an easy effort 130 bpm give or take (about 15-16 miles)
Wednesday is a medium effort around 14o-145 bpm (about 17-18 miles for the 45 minutes)
Thursday is a hard effort and Friday or Saturday is easy.

This works out to about 1,500-2,500 calories burned a week but I only use the winter to maintain my fitness for the spring.

Now, in-season I follow the same alternating hard, easy and medium workout schedule.
Monday is off
Tuesday is my 38 mile club ride (5 mile warm up and 33 mile ride) – and that’s one tough day…  The warm up takes 17-18 minutes and I get the 33 miles done in less than 1-1/2 hours.
Wednesday is an easy 16-18 miles in 52 minutes to an hour.
Thursday is a medium effort (16-20 miles 50 minutes to 1:06
Friday is an easy ride with my wife – 20 miles.
Then Saturday and Sunday are my big mile days.  30-100 miles.  If I ride 100 on Saturday I’ll take it easy with a 20 on Sunday.  If I’ve got a long ride on Sunday I’ll only go 30-45 on Saturday.  The efforts here vary by how the group goes on the long ride but it’s usually above a 20 mph average and I’ll stick to 18.5 or so on the other.

Roughly, depending on how many miles I can put it, we’re talking about 8,000-11,000 calories or 2-3 pounds each and every week from April until I slow down in November.  When you’re burning calories like that and not overeating, losing weight becomes easy.  Many would argue that they can’t find the time but for the most part, during the week, we’re only talking about an hour a day after work.  The weekends are a little tricky sometimes but I manage.  Sometimes I have to trade-off or ride early (or later) to make scheduling work – the important thing is that I make the time.

Finally I believe a lot of the success I’ve had is due to the amount of effort I put into cycling.  I’ve never used a cycling computer but I do track my rides with Endomondo on my cell phone.  I’ve never used a heart rate monitor either.  I do everything by feel – and go with the assumption (on the hard workouts) that I’m never working hard enough – I’m always leaving something on the table.  I don’t necessarily kick my own ass with it, but I’m not easy on myself either.  Where most people will go out for a comfortable ride and average 110-120 bpm, my easy ride is around 130-140.  A mid-range ride is 140-150 and my big efforts are 155-175 on average…  In other words, I work harder, which takes more effort and burns more calories to maintain that effort…  I wrote a post the other day highlighting a study that showed 1 hour of a hard workout at 75% of a person’s max heart rate is the equivalent of 50 hours of easy walking.  75% of my max is 142.5 bpm – going by that study even my easy rides are at the study’s high-end definition of “rigorous activity” so every hour I’m on the bike – up to 13 hours a week – would mean I’d have to walk for more than 500 hours to get the same benefits.  In short, the fact that I can work that hard has a lot to do with how easily I can stay svelte.  All of this, again, I did naturally without the help of electronics – the only thing I had was my Endomondo app to track my workouts.  I only figured all of this out after I successfully dropped my weight.

Now, if that isn’t enough to go by, I wrote a post where I broke down my caloric intake on a couple of average days – I did the math.

And here are two months from this year (August was a personal best of more than 800 miles while September was closer to average for the summer at 658):
August Mileage September Mileage

Flight: The Insanity of Alcoholism

I watched the movie Flight for the first time.  That movie gets the greatest compliment I can give to a movie about alcoholism and the road to the bottom:

It gets the insanity right.

If you don’t know already just how messed up in the head an alcoholic can be, watch that movie – and then come back to this post because this is going to contain spoilers.  If you have no desire to watch the movie, don’t mind having a few things spoiled before watching it or have seen the movie, read on… (more…)

Bring Back The Spittoons! And Other Fun News Items

Ah, the killjoy anti-smoking whores are at it again.  Now they want to stop people from puffing on e-cigs in public “because it’s unclear whether it’s safe or not”.

I’m about this close to chewing (tobacco, girls) so I can hock a big, fat, juicy, brown loogie on the sidewalk every chance I get.

Unclear whether steam is safe?… If you want e-cigs banned indoors because you really are afraid it may be unsafe, you might want to check your wife’s purse for your balls [I came up with the female equivalent and it’s funny as hell, but I think it’d go over like a lead balloon so I’ll refrain] – or you may even be a nut.  If, as is normal with these liars, you’re using the health angle as an argument only because you hate seeing e-cigs – you simply don’t like it, you’re more than likely a lying, manipulative, first-class f***ing a$$#ole.

I have chewed in the past…   Think about it smokers – you can get your fix on a plane, anywhere, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Nothing.  These anti-smoking dopes are two steps away from bringing spittoons back – and I hope they get some loogie on their shoe.  At least that’ll be safe for their lungs, spiteful b@st@rds.

PS  I quit cigarettes more than a decade ago and I don’t plan on going back to it.  On the other hand, the “second hand smoke” crowd is going too far with their attacks on e-cigs…  IMAO.  Take the “third-hand” smoke argument they’re turning to.  What the hell is that?  Whiffing the fart of someone who smelled second-hand smoke?  C’mon.

In other idiotic newsThree inmates sued because it’s too hot on death row.  Well, that can be rectified, can’t it?!  Next!  “Any last words”?  Somebody obviously wasn’t thinking when they filed that lawsuit.

Finally we have this:
Pajamaboy
Dear God in Heaven, where to begin.  I would kick my own ass simply for wearing those pansy PJ’s in the first place.  Seriously.  Bloodied and battered.  Now some accounts say that you’re not supposed to like pajama boy, that the advertisement is some subliminal dog call for young people to do what the ad says because they don’t like the guy in the ad.  Uh, yeah.

Here’s the reality:  That ad is Washington DC.  It encapsulates in a picture exactly what Democrat politicians and spinster bureaucrats think should be popular with men – limp wristed, onesie wearing, hot chocolate drinking sissies – because this is who they are.  Now I’ve seen another ad (again for Obamacare) with that guy and that dude isn’t that much of a sissy…  It looks to me that he was done-up and posed that way on purpose.  Can’t make it up.

My personal advice is absolutely talk about getting health insurance – with an insurance agent and quickly.  You’ve just been given a year’s reprieve to get into an existing plan.  I wouldn’t go near the exchanges if you paid me…  Oh wait, you would have paid me in the form of a subsidy.  You ever wonder how many other things were lied about to get that Bill passed?  You already know the president was crossing his fingers when he said you could keep your plan – and if you didn’t lose it this year, you will next year when the business mandate kicks in (65% chance).  How about price controls and that non-elected death panel?  How about the promise that your taxes won’t go up if you make less than $250,000?  The subsidy cutoff for the exchanges is just over $80,000 if I remember correctly – so much for that.  The truth is Democrats sold you out to get that Bill passed and you will pay – no matter what the promises were.  You’re seeing this reality already if you’re paying attention.  The one thing the president did say that we know wasn’t a lie is this:  “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”…

Unless you skip the cafeteria and head out to Burger King.  But then that depends on your definition of the word “free”, eh?  Mmmm.  Whoppers…

The Noob’s Advanced Club Ride Off Season Trainer Workout…

The goal of the advanced club ride, at least as I’ve experienced, is to either prep for racing or to ride ridiculously hard for a couple of hours – I’m the latter.  Our Tuesday night club ride is an “Everyone Gets Dropped” ride.  We start out the 33 mile ride in a group ranging from 20 all the way up to 40 cyclists in a double pace-line.  The lead group is down to 5 or 10 max by the last couple of miles.  By the time we get to the finish line, the one time I made it, there were only three of us.  I won the sprint.

Riding like this, especially if you’re one of the weaker horses (like I am), isn’t easy but it is fun.

This past year was only my second riding with the club.  Last off-season I worked pretty hard on the trainer hoping that I would be in better shape going into the beginning of the season than most of the other guys.  I was mistaken – they worked harder than I did and I ended up having to play catch up when I thought I’d be tearing more than a few of them up.

This off-season I’m implementing a newly designed workout that mimics the on-again off-again see-saw of an actual club ride.  It’s actually a hybrid of an interval workout.  The difficult part of a club ride (again, at least for me) is the transition from pulling at the front to fading and latching on at the back.  What happens is this:  As I move up the line, the draft weakens and it becomes harder to pedal.  Once up front, I’m pulling for a mile (2:15-3:00 minutes depending on the wind direction) with no protection and at speeds of up to 27 mph on the flat, I get worn out.  If I pull too long up front I don’t have enough in the tank to latch back on at the end…  Unfortunately, the best way to get faster overall is to pull just a little longer than I’m comfortable with.  All too often I’ve missed the latch-on because I don’t have enough in the tank to speed back up to get into the draft.

This leaves two options:  I can simply pull off a little earlier while I’ve still got a little left (I don’t like this) or work all winter long on recovering in the 20 seconds I’ve got while I’m drifting back to latch on – with a modified interval workout.

So here’s how this looks over a 50 minute workout on my Mag Trainer (hardest of three settings):

1 minute warm-up (I’ve never been big on warming up).
10 minutes 90 cadence 52/14 (26 mph)
5 minutes 90 cadence 52/13 (28 mph)
3 minutes 110-120 cadence 52/12 (36+ mph)
15 seconds soft pedal
1 minute 110 cadence 52/12 (35 mph)

Rinse and repeat. Twice.  I cut the 10 minutes down to 5 on the last two.  Cool down last two minutes.

The idea is no different that your standard 1 minute on, one minute off interval workout except the plan above is closer to what really happens in a group ride…  The important thing is that that last minute before the rinse-repeat is a real ass kicker.  I was absolutely cooked after doing it through my lunch hour today.

Fat Shaming: I Am No Longer My Own Worst Enemy…

This is part two of two, part one is here and introduces what I have come to know as a rectifiable problem in how I interpret those things that I have no control over:  Other people, places and things.  You will rightly understand this to mean there isn’t much else I can control.  The only thing left is me, or more importantly, what occurs in the gray matter between my ears.

Herein lies a rub:  A small percentage of our society is angry, some even go so far as to say we are an angry species.  I disagree – I see us as we are, good and decent folk, if a bit self-centered with a few bad apples that make a rather large mess for the rest of us.  We believe there should be a certain order to things, whether it be the Ten Commandments type of order, or some other natural progression of things.  When something interrupts that delicate balance, we often retaliate.  From there, misunderstandings escalate and chaos ensues.  There is a reason for this, and a simple fix to ensure that one can rise above this – almost every time.

The answer to a happy, enjoyable life, at least as I’ve come to see it, is to properly manage my own thought process.

First of all it is important that I understand that not every thought that enters my head A) has validity and B) makes sense. In fact, I have some pretty odd stuff blow through the gray matter from time to time.  For instance, and coming at this from a recovering drunk’s perspective (which I happen to have a lot of experience with), I have the thought pop into my head every now and again that a drink or fifteen would be nice.  It doesn’t happen often anymore but it does happen.  In fact, just the other day I was at the supermarket picking up coffee for the office and passing by a holiday beer display, out of nowhere, BAM…  “A six-pack would be nice…  Wait a minute, a twelve pack is better…  Wait, why mess with that, a case!”  This took approximately 0.8 seconds, that fast.  Now I used to be defenseless against a few thoughts like that – I’d be drunk within six hours.  Today things are different because I have the ability to, very quickly, turn around with “Are you f****ing NUTS?  Run!”  I ducked my head, picked up my pace and headed directly for the coffee aisle.  A nice quick, “God, please take that thought from me and throw it in the s#!t heap where it belongs” prayer and I’m right back to normal, where I belong.

Exactly as I described above – I am powerless over that first thought, but not the response.  The example above is an extreme one but the same principle works for any detrimental thought that pops up with practice.  The trick is to follow that negative thought with the proper action which is simply defined as “the next right thing”.  I look at thinking like this:  At any given moment I’m walking a path.  The destination is not important, staying on the path is.  The initial thought is a fork in the path that leads somewhere and I don’t always know if that’s a place I want to go or not – so I do my best to look down the fork.

Going back to my drunkard example, if I look far enough down the “six-pack” path, my marriage, my relationship with my kids, my house, my bikes, my life as I know it is gone – all of it.  I am that kind of guy – if I take that first drink, I’ll give up everything that is good in my life for the second (this is one of the few times a little self-knowledge does come in handy).  The next right thing is to abandon that thought process and continue down the path I was on.  Today I can do this within a matter of seconds but it wasn’t always so easy.  Perfecting this takes practice – and worse, when I add new problems to the process, things I don’t know how to handle intuitively, I have to start back on square one…

Take fitness for example.  I started running about twelve years ago because I’d packed on some serious weight.  I went from an admittedly skinny 150 pounds to just shy of 200.  I actually made a decision, the day before I started running, to go down the other path.  I chose, if only for 16 hours, to allow myself to get fat.  I looked down the path I’d chosen and I saw me at 250 pounds, miserable and sickly – on a half-dozen prescriptions for heart problems, sleep apnea and depression…  I bought a pair of running shoes that day.

Now, from time to time I had a tough time sticking with running, especially when I had to deal with running injuries – and I had a few.  Early on I needed help staying on the right path because, from time to time, I was weak.  I received this help from friends, indirectly and directly.  Indirectly from showing up to the running club and feeding off the energy of others.  Directly by calling specific friends and talking through my difficulties.  Through these interactions I changed the way I processed thoughts about my fitness so that now, when I have one of those, “I should just throw in the towel” thoughts I can make immediate corrections by discarding the initial thought as ludicrous.  I learned to control which thoughts win and which don’t.

This is the secret to my happiness, to my success.  One way or another, I have a tape that I play in my head that directly effects my performance in life.  If I run into a situation where my thoughts are taking me in a direction I don’t want to go, I change the tape.

Ultimately, what’s important is how to get back to our proverbial path – the one that doesn’t end in a crash and burn.  Once I can stay on the winning path I am no longer my own worst enemy.

Fit Recovery Wins A… SISTERHOOD Award! ?

Taylor, who writes Single-tracked Mind with her husband, Jesse, bestowed upon my humble, very male self, the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

Now, because I am a well adjusted kind of guy I think this is one of the coolest compliments a man can be given by a female blogger.

All too often in society men and women work against each other – it seems we often look for ways beyond the obvious differences to battle over simple differences in the way we live, so to receive a nod like this, is quite something.

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award-w500
As I will accept and proudly display this award on my Award Bar (Home Screen, right hand side), I won’t go so far as to claim that this will be the day the rise of the oceans was changed, nor will the planet begin to heal but at the very least, I’ll go home a happier man.  Here are the questions I’m supposed to answer:

Favorite color:  Blue, purple – but for a bike, it’s always Black and Red now.

Favorite animal:  Sharks

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Coke  Gatorade*

Facebook or Twitter:  Neither

Favorite pattern: Uh, Denim.  ?

Favorite Flower Bike:  Specialized Venge

What is your passion:  My marriage and kids, fitness and cycling – in that order.

As for who I’d give this award to, I’m a little unsettled.  While I do consider Elisariva and Sandra to be sisters from different misters, I think to get involved in giving the award to anyone else would be to disservice the award – so with the exception of those two, I’ll be abstaining from nominating anyone else.

Thank you again Taylor, I deeply appreciate the honor.

 

*  I changed my favorite n-a drink to Gatorade because other than water, that’s almost all I drink.  I still love a Coke every now and again but I’m not drinking it anywhere near like I used to…  A pound’s worth of calories every week is a tough hill to climb.

Jim

Fat Shaming: I Am My Own Worst Enemy.

I can remember the day that I made a conscious decision to eat myself to obesity.  My youthful metabolism had finally slowed on me (along with the success of landing a nice desk job).  That was a day that I struggle to never have to live through again.  The struggle to stay fit isn’t a daily battle anymore but there are times, though fleeting and rare, that I still have to fight back the urge to let up.  Staying sober, 20 years later, isn’t much different so I don’t anticipate ever hitting a place where I can simply relax.

I’ve been meaning, for quite some time, to address the charge leveled on a fitness blogger for posting a photo of her smokin’ hot self after her third child along with the caption “What’s Your Excuse”.  They called it “fat shaming”.  How being fat is not a shame, I don’t know.  How is it not a shame that my favorite aunt ate and drank herself to death before her 50th birthday?  Hell folks, that’s a shame if I ever heard of one – she went from 350 down to 130 and then back up to close to 400 pounds in the space of ten years (she was fat, lost the weight through diet and exercise, then gained it all back plus some almost immediately after she got married – she died divorced and alone, her husband having cheated on her and bringing home a gnarly little surprise from his 19 year-old girlfriend).
mariakang

What this photo did was confirm the truth that those who choose flab over fitness have done so of their own volition – that being fat is a choice.  She was also busting the myth that fat-by-pregnancy is inevitable.  In fact, here is another poster that addresses the same topic from the male perspective.

What Maria Kang did was bust the myth that having a child is a fat sentence – in one photo – and those who chose the couch instead are pissed.  It’s that simple

The problem here is that she went after a “protected”, vociferously defended myth – and this is what interests me:  The attempt to hide from reality because it’s uncomfortable.

I pulled the photo above from a post entitled, People I Want To Punch in the Throat where I found exactly what I figured I would:

“I can see both sides of her question. She says “What’s your excuse?” is meant to be inspirational, although I didn’t read it that way. To me, “If I can do it, you can too” would have been far less in my face and a lot more inspirational. But then again, I am a chunky monkey sitting on the couch making excuses every day why I can’t work out, so of course I took her question to mean “What the fuck is your problem, you lazy piece of shit? Get off your ass and do something already. You disgust me.” OK, maybe I didn’t interpret it that harshly, but I did feel like it was more accusatory than inspiring.”

There is no difference between “What’s your excuse” and “If I can do it, so can you”.  None.  I am my own worst enemy – or more importantly, the manner in which I interpret what I see, hear and read is.  When I see that photo I see a woman who busted her ass to get her body back after having kids – end of story.  Anyone who knows anything about genes knows that while they do have an influence, it’s a small one.  Getting old wrecks everyone who doesn’t do what it takes to stay in shape.  This truth is universal.  You either eat very carefully, eat well and exercise or you eat and gain weight – this is not rocket science.  There is no such thing as skinny people who eat a lot and stay thin while riding the couch after 30 – the notion that there are is a myth.

I am my own worst enemy.  I filter what I see through my personal experience and I have a tendency to mess that interpretation up which, in turn, hurts me.  Without a constant vigil against it I will lay blame anywhere but where it truly belongs – on me.  This is the root of all evil in my little world and only by triumphing over it can I know peace.

Here’s how I interpret that photo now:  She had a lot more going against her than I do and she was able to get herself back to smokin’.  I don’t have anything more difficult than that to get over so my excuses, my desire to be lazy, can be overcome.  Same with that first link – and that guy was missing a leg.  For those who take it negatively, all I can say is that your interpretation of the photo is simply a confirmation, a reinforcing if you will, of what you believe about yourself already.  The question is what are you willing to do about it.

Misinterpretation to lay blame elsewhere to escape reality:  It’s a tributary to that thing that isn’t just a river in Egypt.

Stay tuned for part two – where I’ll reconstruct the process I use to beat the common misinterpretation problem…

Fit Recovery Turns Two…

1,255 posts, 99,000 hits, more than 750,000 words.

To all of my ether friends:  Elisa, Chris, Sandra, Tracy, Aaron, David, Aaron, Christopher, Kecia, David, Bar Science, Bike War, Isaac, Cult Fit, TriGuy, Sue, Tisch, Chief…  And the Single Track Jedi…  Thank you for making this fun.

To all of my flesh and blood friends who help me on a regular basis to stay fit, active, healthy and above all, sober, thank you.

To my wife, thanks for being supportive.

Study Finds One Hour High Intensity Workout Equal to 50 Hours of Walking…

Another good title would have been:  Study Finds If You’re Having a Tough Time Losing Weight with Exercise, Go Faster.

I bumped into a post yesterday that went a long way to explain my own personal experience and beliefs but I wanted to do a little more research because I wanted to give my post a little due diligence and originality…  Imagine my surprise when I found another post with the same exact title… I thought the first plagiarized this post but I was kind of mistaken, because there is a little “source” link at the bottom that I missed (“Source” should have been “Copied and Pasted from this Post”)…  Humorously enough, the second link is plagiarized from this post.  Now, if this isn’t crazy enough, that third link plagiarized this post!  And they all have the same title…  Originality:  It isn’t just a river in…  Uh…  Never mind.

Oh how nice it is to live in my man-cave.

All joking aside, I’ve always loved to gently rib the whole “walking is just as good as running” or “walk-running (or run-walking) is faster/better than just running” crowd.  Running and walking may be easier and allow people to go farther than if they’d run the whole way, but better?  Yeah, and monkeys will be flying out of your butt in the near future.  Ignorance is bliss.  Let’s be clear, going for a walk is better than nothing and going for a run/walk is certainly better than just going for a walk but I want to break the linked posts down to something that is a little more understandable – to give this some shape.

Again, walking is better than nothing, but it most definitely isn’t as good as a nice sprint around the block.  Without getting too deep, here’s the important part:  The linked articles went off a study that used 75% of max heart rate as the target area:  I have a resting heart rate of 46 and a max of 190 (going by age alone, 177 bpm) so seventy-five percent of 190 is about 142.5 bpm.  To clear this up and make it easy, we’re talking about the middle of zone two here* (according to my handy-dandy Azumio Heart Rate App).

Well, I say let’s get right to the good stuff.  Let’s really play with some of my numbers here and find out what we’re looking at!  One hour of intense physical exercise is the same as 50 hours of walking:

One 7.2 mile run at 8:15 minute/mile pace is better for you than 49 hours of walking.
One 18.5 mile bike ride at 3:10 minute/mile pace is better for you than 49 hours of walking.

Now, let’s make the difference between pushing that ass and going for a walk even more stark:

If you did the government recommended minimum, a 30 minute walk, six days a week it would take you almost TWO MONTHS to get the benefits I get from ONE of my bike rides…  On an easy day.

Now we can delve a little deeper…  To the scientific equivalent of “No Shit Sherlock”:

Regardless of the variation of methods used to report exercise intensities, a consistent pattern appeared with the findings. All of the epidemiology studies that controlled for energy expenditure found greater cardioprotective benefits from the higher aerobic exercise intensities as compared to the moderate aerobic exercise intensities. As a matter of fact, no epidemiological study reported a greater cardioprotective benefit from moderate intensity versus vigorous aerobic exercise. The clinical studies showed very similar results. When energy expenditure was controlled for in the study, the vigorous exercise intensity was more beneficial in altering one or more risk factors to coronary heart disease. Specifically, in relation to the coronary heart disease, the #1 cause of mortality in America, aerobic exercise of a more vigorous type resulted in lower incidence.

Why do the higher aerobic exercise intensities elicit the great cardioprotective results?
The known biological and psychological mechanisms of regular physical activity are numerous and summarized in Table 1. Regular physical exercise has been shown to play a critical role in the prevention and management of numerous chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, cancer and depression (Warburton, Nicol & Bredin, 2006).

There is an important qualification (or five) to make here.  I’m using my numbers, yours may (will) vary.  Physical exercise, if one is not in shape and/or one is older, should be started only after consulting a doctor as nobody wants to croak because they tried to do too much too quickly.  Also, one does not just step off the porch to run with the big dogs.  It takes some time and effort to work up to it.  As well, there is an important balance that must be maintained between not working hard enough and working too hard – do your research.  Finally it is important that you not hook yourself up to an automated ass-kicking machine.  There is a vast difference between trying harder and feeling like a loser because you don’t want to work harder.  There are no losers in physical fitness, we are talking about best results – not the only way to get results.  The easiest way for me to look at whether or not I’m doing enough is like this:  I always assume I’m being lazy until I find that I’ve over-trained.  Then I take it easy for a week or two and start all over again (note that “take it easy” does not say “take a week or two off).

* My good friend Elisariva has gone to the trouble of having her zones professionally measured and explained that her running zone two and her cycling zone two vary by ten beats per minute (if memory serves)…  So going by that, 142.5 bpm on a bike would be low end zone three and in the middle of zone two for running.  I didn’t want to cloud the post by making it too difficult to understand – especially considering that I don’t understand how that works either…and I won’t be heading out to get my zones measured up any time soon because I’m fast enough for government work.  😉

UPDATE:  Gary, a long-time cyber-friend of mine, disagreed with the linked reports and studies.  Now knowing him as I do, he does nothing half-assed so his idea of walking (80 miles a week at approximately a 5 mph pace) is entirely not what the reports and studies looked at…   However, the distinction may not have been made clearly enough – the context of the study was looking more at a leisurely 30 minute walk as opposed to an activity that keeps one’s heart rate above 75% of max…  The important benchmark is that 75% of max heart rate.