Here's the skinny: I've been near 300 lbs. for years and need to lose weight. I'm married to a wonderful lady, and we have a family. One of our boys often asks if I'll run with him. I've always had to tell him, "No." In August of '09, my wife learned about a couch-to-5k running program, and I agreed to try it with her. This blog chronicles our progress on that training program. I hope I'll soon be able to surprise my son by telling him, "Yes, I'll go running with you!"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day 13

No training today, though Mrs. F and I will be looking at those stretches tonight after the kids go to bed. We had a birthday boy in the house today, so it was hard to stick to eating right. I had eggs, ham, and one piece of wheat toast for breakfast, a salad with chicken pieces for lunch, and dinner was an Asian chicken dish (homemade) with broccoli, peppers, and onions over brown rice. Of course, there was the obligatory slice of cake, but I had only one.

My right leg is sore along my shin, on the inner side. It's not exactly what I remember as shin splints, but my suspicion is that this could be the beginning of that problem. Let's hope I'm just being a hypochondriac.

Late last night I found a blister on the top of the fourth toe on my left foot. It's not from my training--I know the source. It's from a set of shoes I wore on Tuesday, my waterproof hikers. I wore them without the boot socks I normally wear, and my feet got too hot and moist. I remember them feeling really itchy on Thursday evening while shopping. I've had problems with athletes foot before, and I thought the itchiness was the start of another outbreak. I remember drilling my other foot into the top of my left boot while in the store, to help with the itch. My guess is that the friction was enough to start the blister. I didn't notice it during our session on Friday morning, and only figured it out while itching my stockinged foot late last night. Unfortunately, that bit of itching broke open the blister (thereby facilitating my discovery). I bandaged it last night and part of today, but I've been trying to let it air out as much as possible, too.

We got more sleep last night. Well, at least I did. I sleep pretty soundly, so I didn't hear the lad who woke up when he got trapped between his mattress and the wall, nor did I wake when our infant girl woke on two occasions. I did wake at 3 AM, however, as our son's sleepover guests were outside and making a bit of a ruckus. I'm blessed with the ability to fall asleep quickly, however, so that was a brief interruption. My plan it to be in bed around 10 PM tonight, since we don't need to be up until 8 AM.

We took our newest cross country runner to the store today to pick up his running shoes. He's the pickiest child we have when it comes to clothes and shoes, so we expected a bit of an ordeal, but the second pair we looked at fit him well and were comfortable for him. Much easier than expected! Since the coach ran him three miles yesterday, his second day running, his legs were sore today. Isn't it amazing how the young can just jump in and run three miles without nine weeks of conditioning?! As such, he did balk when we wanted to stay in the store a little longer to get him an extra pair of running shorts, a running shirt, and a set of warmups.

We're settling down to watch a movie at home this evening. I'm looking forward to another day of rest and the formal end of our second week of training.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday weight check (week 2)

Last Friday: 295.2

Today: 296.4

Gain/Loss: +1.2

Goal: 210.0 lbs.

Pounds to lose: 86.4

Comment: Well, it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Mrs. F makes really good cookies, and I am very weak. I also will admit that I didn't control my portions as well as I should have (i.e., I shouldn't have taken seconds at a couple of meals), and I couldn't resist mid-morning goodies at the office one day this week.

Mrs. F
Last Friday: 180.8

Today: 180.9

Gain/Loss: +0.1

Pounds to lose: 30.9

Comment: I was relieved that I didn't gain more than I did. I guess I need to watch better what I eat next week. Having those cheese curds and that Moolatte from DQ probably wasn't the best idea. I passed it (and stopped) twice (coming and going) when attending one of our son's cross country meets. It was a long drive. I did order a Diet Coke!

I'll echo

I'll echo Mr. F's thoughts today -- It was really hard today. Today came at the culmination of a very hard week at home too. Add in poor nutrition and not enough sleep, it definitely equaled a much tougher workout today.

I found myself trying to run faster and slowing down with each step. I kept thinking Mr. F has to call time(hes the watch holder) any second now. And on I plodded.

Its very tempting to consider redoing week 2. The thing Im noting though is week 3 is the exact same minutes of running as week 2. They both come in at 9 minutes. Yes they are staggered differently and yes week 3 has longer run times. But I believe we can do it!! Im also going to note that its 4 sets not 6 like this weeks. Im leaning toward trying day 1 of any week before going back to redo a previous.

It seems impossible to do but then again I thought I'd never ever run. One of the times I tried running a block with our dog resulted in disaster. I fell and broke my finger. I counted myself lucky that I hadnt broken more. I have successfully done 6 workouts that have involved running. That in itself is a bit miraculous!

I still dont like running but I'm finding my stride just a little bit.

Weight check later today! I am not looking forward to seeing this weeks damage!

Keep on running

Mrs. F

Day 12 (week 2, day 5)

Week two of our secret plan is complete!

With my obligatory "Yippie!" out of the way, I felt that it was a terrible morning.

It didn't start that way. The Asics socks felt great--a pair of Kayano II quarter-high. As I had hoped, they made my feet even more comfortbale in my running shoes. When I took my shoes off when I returned home, it felt as if I wasn't wearing anything on my feet. We got out a few minutes earlier today--it has been easier to get up and get moving in the mornings, at least--and the first running segment felt pretty good. The ache below my right knee was mostly gone, but my left felt more like my right had earlier in the week. I wasn't too winded after the first running segment, and the recovery walk left me ready for the second set.

The second wasn't too bad, either, though I noticed that I was landing a few less footfalls during our 90 second running segments. I caught most of my breath before the start of the third--I had enough spare wind to exchange a few words with Mrs. F, but that next segment was tough. I was plodding my way through and felt like I was dragging my body along by strength of will, and my strength of will was weakening with each step. We finished that running segment well short of the crossroad--perhaps by 40 meters (I'm trying to be deliberate about using metric for running distances)--so I could tell we were both slower today.

The next walking segment didn't feel long enough, and my legs did not want to respond when I saw the second had tick over on the illuminated dial. I sped up, and for a brief moment I thought it was all going to get better, I wasn't thinking about my footfalls (other than my count) and I was just able to look ahead on the trail and focus on my breathing. I don't know how long that lasted, but it wasn't long enough. My body cried out, "FULL STOP", but I kept moving. However, my stride was shortening and I just felt like dead weight. When we resumed walking, I pulled in a series of deliberately long, deep breaths. By the time that two minutes had elapsed, I didn't want to run again. I just wanted to walk back to the car and console myself by saying that "I tried"--which is, you know, a lot more than some people choose to do.

I started running, or jogging, or whatever other word you might use for my forces succession of lumbering strides. I felt like I could barely keep my legs moving. I felt like I was part of the earth and that my feet simply wanted to stop and take root. Mrs. F was ahead of me by at least 20 meters by now. I so wanted to stop!!!

The mark passed and the segment ended, but I kept running about 10 seconds longer, in part to catch up to Mrs. F, and in part because I felt like I hadn't run like I should have on that segment. She circled back, we aligned, and we walked back to our starting point.

At that point, I was conflicted. I was relieved that I completed the second week, but I felt like I'd be utterly unable to complete week three. I stretched the backs of my calves a bit, then sat in the car. I asked Mrs. F if we should consider repeating the Week 2 routine next week. I don't remember how she answered.

I'm at the point where it's hard--really hard--and I'd just rather go back to the way things were before. I just want to be comfortable, and able to relax. If I get up early in the morning, I want to be able to sit in my chair, sip some coffee, and review my favorite websites. I don't like the fact that my right shin is sore, that it's a strain to go up the three steps to the kitchen door, or that my legs are sore now when I bike.

Yet I know that quitting isn't an option for me. Well, it is, I guess, if I were to accept health complications and an early death as a reasonable alternative. Yes, I really believe it's that serious (and I know that Mrs. F considers it morbid, but this is my reality).

Let try to look at this from the other side. My blood sugar levels are the best they've been in years. I'm no longer so fatigued at work that I need to struggle to stay awake during the afternoons. I've lost five pounds (I'll find out later today if I've lost any more or if I've gained any back). I'm spending time with my wife. I'm increasing the odds I'll be around long enough to see all of my kids get through high school. I already look a bit better (my pants are a bit looser, my shirts don't fill out quite as much at the middle, and I don't look like I've been fighting to stay awake for hours).

That's all good, but this is really hard. This is probably the hardest thing I've ever done!

I'm looking forward to tomorrow and Sunday--days without running. We're going to try to do a few stretches on each of the mornings, but that's about all. We're also planning to get to bed early and, if the kids allow it, sleep in a little late.

If I can make it through next week, we'll be one third of the way there. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of looking up next week's routine already. Frankly, it scares me (and the longest running segment is only three minutes!).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day 11 (week 2, day 4)

Here I am again, up too late on a Thursday night. Mrs. F and I set our bed time for 9 PM, but that is tough to manage at times with a family, especially when we needed to pick up a birthday present this evening.

I still have a little bit of soreness below each of my knees, but less than yesterday. I'm almost looking forward to tomorrow morning, because it means we survived our sessions for week two, but I also am trying to be realistic--it's going to be hard.

We had one exciting development this week. After buying our Asics running shoes, I emailed their customer service department to tell them about our secret plan, and to let them know that I was really pleased that their shoes fit my big feet and were comfortable while training. In their reply (something I think I mentioned earlier), they indicated that they wanted to send us a little package to help us on our way with our secret plan. The package arrived today, and I was astonished by how generous they were!

Included in the box were three full sets of running accessories for Mrs. F, our son who runs cross country, and me. These included running socks, wrist and armbands, a headband, arm warmers, a mesh backpack, anti-chafing powders and gels, a sports towel, and a t-shirt for each of the three of us. From the context of our email exchange, the customer service rep also figured out that we had other children, so he included extra mesh backpacks, stickers, pens, and cross-country training logbooks. He indicated that he didn't want to leave anyone out. The email messages we exchanged were very encouraging. In one, he noted that he sent the arm warmers because I had noted in this blog that it has been quite cold on some of the mornings. When I asked him if someone on staff was a runner who could point Mrs. F and me to some resources we could use on our non-running days, he had someone email me with a link to a site with some information on stretching, and the message also encouraged us to make a wholistic approach to our training, including sleep and nutrition. [Okay, I'm feeling guilty now that I'm an hour past bedtime. I'll be brief.]

Wow! I've encountered companies that took extra care to develop good customer relationships before, but Asics went above and beyond. The way they took a personal interest in our story is something I've seen in few other companies--Lands End is one that comes to mind. They've gone beyond simply being a purveyor of running shoes and accessories--they treated us like we're a part of their extended family!

I'm so looking forward to using the running socks tomorrow morning. They're much thinner than the casual socks I've been using, so I imagine they will make my shoes feel even more comfortable. Our son was delighted to receive his share of the gear. I don't think his suspicions were raised in the least about our secret plan. Earlier this week, I told him that I had emailed Asics to compliment them about how much I liked their shoes, and that they insisted on sending a package to us. He doesn't yet know about our secret plan, so he's probably wondering what we're going to do with all of the cool Asiscs gear.

Anyway, Mrs. F has made her way to the bedroom. She'll be reading until I get there--she doesn't like it when I stay out here on my laptop too long after she heads back, and she doesn't sleep as well if I'm not there with her. I best head to bed now--far be it from me to further inhibit her ability to get some rest. ;)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 10 (week 2, day 3)

I have a word for today's session: misery. Maybe some of it had to do with eating a little too much yesterday, but I'm guessing that most of it is just what should have been expected--a battle in my body and in my mind.

The thought of needing to be this active (and more!) for the rest of my life is both sobering and depressing. I really don't know how people do it. The running segments made me uncomfortable and desperate to quit. I walked a faster warmup today because it felt better, and the first running segment wasn't really too bad, but it was continuing with the rest of them that really got me.

The area near my right knee felt better during those early sets, though now that I am past my exercise and have had to get up and down throughout the day, I find it just as sore as it was immediately after Monday's session. I felt a little strain in the same place on my left leg today, too.

Today I realized that, perhaps, this whole thing is more about mental strength than it is about physical strength. I mean, so far my body has been able to take everything I've thrown at it. I can't say it felt good all the time, or that it hasn't been without pain, but I have been surprised by my body's resilliance. I find that it's my mind that wants to give in before my body really starts to resist.

Getting through the third set (of six) was pretty tough today. We still covered a good amount of ground, crossing that cross street again right after we ended the third running segment. From mapping a parallel path in Google Maps, it looks like we are covering about 3/4 of a mile each way (excluding our warm up walk), so we are doing 1.5 miles in 21 minutes. That sounded good until I realized that means we're only doing 4.5 miles per hour. I mean, when we hike some weekends, I'm pretty sure we go at approximately a 4 mph pace, but now I'll need to go back and check that. I think our pacing is because we slow down a lot after our run segments and and we return to walking. I guess we'll really get a better feel for our running/jogging pace at the end of week 5 (not that I really want to think about that right now).

On the furst run of the return segment, set four of six, I could sense my internal dialoge: "Come on, let's get those feet moving." At the start of the fifth, it felt like my feet did not even want to move, but I was able to get moving. During one of the walking sets, I remember speaking to Marie in one or two word bursts between heavy breaths: "I... think... I'd... rather... die... than... keep... doing... this." I also noted that "I... sound like... that kid... from... Malcom... in the... Middle." I'm so glad I was able to find some humor in my discomfort.

To say that I forced myself to finish today's routine is a profound understatement. Honestly, I don't know how I managed to keep myself moving when most of my body was screaming "ENOUGH OF THIS ALREADY! JUST STOP RUNNING AND WALK! BETTER YET, STOP RUNNING AND JUST LIE DOWN!" Perhaps that bit I read about running being a challenge of mental toughness is really true. Well, I guess I've been working on some mental callouses this week.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow, a Thursday and a non-running day.

Day 10 (Week 2, Day 3) - Mrs. F

Thankfully yesterday was a day of rest as far as the workouts are concerned. My body definitely needed it! I must admit I was not looking forward to todays workout at all

It was hard today. It was better than mondays workout but most definitely not easy. Its a bit mind boggling to think of week 3 and 4 if its already hard. The one thing I have going for me is Im determined. I want to lose the weight and I want to run and surprise my kids -- so thats what keeps me pushing through this.

Overall leval of hurt/pain was okay. I had a bit of strain on the side of my ankle up into the leg but thats about it. Im feeling it as I go up or down the stairs and my energy leval is a bit down today. The energy leval could do with lack of sleep and busyness of yesterday.

Keep on Running or walking

Mrs. F

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 9

My right leg is sore today below my right knee and to the left of the ligament that runs down from the kneecap. It's not a horrible discomfort, but just an obvious ache each time I use my legs. I can tell my thighs were worked hard yesterday--I can feel it. Sitting and squatting gives me some aches, but nothing from which I won't recover.

Having biked home for lunch, I'm sitting in my chair and feel quite drained. I'm not looking forward to tomorrow morning. Actually, I'm not looking forward to biking back to work.

I don't have any discomfort in my ankles or along my shins, so that's a good thing.

Mrs. F. reports that she's drained today, too. School started up again today, so it is a lot quieter around the house during lunch. It's quiet enough that I could almost doze off...

Nah! I had best get up now and bike back, before I fall asleep.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 8 (week 2, day 1) - Mrs. F

Today was hard! I tried to pysche myself up for the extra 30 seconds by reminding myself of the 2 minute walk. It didnt help!

The first set was really hard and I thought this is crazy. I must say the 2nd set actually felt pretty darn good. I was more awake, my speed increased and I thought "Hey I might be able to do this!" Then we hit the 3rd set ....

It felt awesome -- not so much physically but mentally-- to say that I completed the first day of week 2. Its scary looking ahead at the next weeks and I think I'll never do that. But what I can do is do today and then the next running day. Literally take it one day at a time.

Overall physcially tonight, I feel pretty good. Not too sore or overly tired legs.

Mrs. F

Day 8 (Week 2, day 1)

Well, we didn't roll out of bed at 5 AM this morning as we had planned. We didn't get out of bed until after 5:30 AM. Before, I would have used that as a convenient excuse for skipping today (and by the end of the first set, I wished I had), but I didn't. We got out late, but we got out.

Here's the routing for this week:

Week 2 Routine
  • 5 minute brisk walk (warm-up)

Then, this pattern repeated 6 times:

  • 90 seconds jogging/running
  • 2 minutes walking
Comparing Week 1 to Week 2, the first week had us running/jogging a total of 8 minutes in one minute chunks. This week has us running only one minute more (9 minutes), but 90 seconds at a time.

Our warmup walk seemed to go by before we even realized it. That, in and of itself, was a good thing. Mentally, I was not ready, but was surprised that my body didn't show any signs of resistance to that which was ahead. I noticed the extra 30 seconds during the first set. As I approached the 60 second mark, I could feel my body get ready to slow down. Pushing on at that point was where I started to feel the resistance in my body. At the end of the 90 seconds, I found myself saying aloud, "I wanna stay home and be a couch potato." Yet I continued on.

The two minutes of walking were barely enough for me to catch my breath and get ready for the next running segment. The only consolation I had this morning was that there were only six sets, rather than eight. Even though they would each be longer, in my mind it seemed like there was less ahead of me.

My cadence, at least, was about the same for 90 seconds as it was for 60. Counting my footfalls, I added half again the amount and found myself about at the 90 second mark. I didn't care how well I kept up with Mrs. F today. I was too busy concentrating on just finishing the current set.

I should note that I made a change to my shoe laces this weekend. While in the city to get my son some running shoes, I picked up a set of elastic laces. At first, they felt a little more snug when I slipped my shoes on in the morning, but I didn't have any problems with some of the laces feeling too tight on the top of my instep today. Overall, I think it was a good change.

We finished our third run just as we came to the crossroad, and then walked our two minutes beyond it. We definately went further again today. I felt beat--breathing was hard and my legs felt heavy. I was nowhere near ready to run again when we turned around, and I whimpered, "I don't want to." Yet on I went.

Mentally, I knew we were about 2/3 of the way through when we finished that run (technically, the 2/3 mark was at the end of the walk we started at that moment), so I told myself that I'd be able to finish it. The next jog was really hard, though, I could tell my pace was slowing a bit, and I just wanted to stop running and walk the rest of the way to the car. I kept seeing Mrs. F. at it though. I definately was not going to stop if she was still running.

The last segment was about the same as all but the first as far as feel, but I was ready to collapse into the driver's seat of our car. As I ran my pathetic little jog, I thought about my son who runs cross country and the way he needs to sprint the final leg of each of his races. Looking at my watch, which was held tightly in my left hand, I decided I would try to sprint the last 10-15 seconds of the final run. When the second had swung over the appointed mark, I pushed myself ahead with everything I could muster. My head was looking down, so I could see how much longer my stride was. Moving at that pace felt good--it was different than my regular plodding jog--but I definately felt each impact more. The end of the set included a bit of discomfort along my right shinbone, and some soreness in my left knee. I probably won't do much running at that pace for a while (and until I lose at least 50 lbs.), but I had to try it.

Ending with our two minute walk felt really good. I was beat and winded, but glad that we did it--we survived the first workout of the week. We covered the same amount of ground going and coming again--a good sign that our pace each was was consistant. We sat in the car and drank water for a few moments before taking a slow drive home. On the way, we decided we'd celebrate our little victory by sharing a breakfast at a local cafe. As it turns out, however, none of the area cafes were open because of the Labor Day holiday. That's probably a good thing.

When we got home, I made breakfast for the rest of the family, then sat down to write this post. It should be a good day, and I look forward to being able to say that we completed Week 2 on Friday.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Day 7

I'm up way too late, and I think I'll pay for that in the morning.

Felt fine today. Ate a little too much popcorn this evening--I stayed up late with the kids while they watched a two part movie. We had to run some errands today, so I ended up on my feet for a few hours. My right one is a bit sore, but I think that's from my sandals.

The second week starts tomorrow. We'll be up at about 5 AM to keep it at our regular time, even though it's a holiday and I have the day off.

I'm going to go catch those ZZZs I need.