Monday, January 12, 2009

Going the Extra Mile

Going the Extra MileOn what was almost a pure lark, on New Year’s Day I went for a run.

I say “almost” because the idea had, in fact, been lingering somewhere along the edges of conscious thought for a few weeks, at least. As evidenced by the fact that lately on drives home I’d been mentally noting the distance between certain intersections and my doorstep. Lots of sidewalks, not too hilly (I’d also noted, vaguely). Let’s see... If I ran to that spot and back, that’d be a mile, two miles, three miles...

Then I’d go home and forget about it.

I’m not at all adverse to physical activity, but I had gotten out of the habit of regularly exercising over the last few months. Would hit the gym once every week or two and ride the bike for half an hour, and take occasional walks around the neighborhood with Vera. But that was about it.

Anyhow, I’d seen that report on CNN. You probably did, too. The one they were running during the holidays over and again that said something about a new study showing that people who run regularly live longer. Can’t say I paid too close attention to what exactly Dr. Sanjay Gupta was saying, but I suppose it must’ve encouraged me to think more concretely about actually going out and hitting the pavement.

So, as 2009 dawned, I dug out a pair of sweat pants, found a suitably masculine-looking toboggan (i.e., the one without the tassels), and took off.

About eighteen or so minutes later I was back home, having made it two miles. Was sore the next day (knees, calves, back), but ran it again, anyway. Felt even worse on January 3rd (neck, thighs), but did the route a third time. When I woke up feeling even worse on the fourth, I found it impossible not to curse Dr. Gupta and all the other quacks espousing the running thing. Live longer? Okay, fine. But who wants to live like this?

Nonetheless, I made myself do it again.

Now we’re nearing mid-month, and I have managed to run every day here in the new year, save one when it rained (that day I went to the gym and rode the bike). Yes, the pain did eventually wane, though not entirely. My time hasn’t really improved much, but that isn’t such a concern.

Yesterday, as I reached my usual turnaround spot, I took a deep breath and kept going, making my new goal that intersection I’d mentally marked as one-and-a-half miles from home. I was literally going the extra mile.

I motored along, Can’s album Future Days thumping out a sympathetic rhythm in my earbuds. (Love that 1970s krautrock, don’t you?) Several more paces down this new road and I found myself thinking about all those short little sessions of $0.50/$1.00 six-handed limit hold’em I have been playing here in the new year.

Following several months of enduring daily swings of $50, $75, or sometimes even more playing pot-limit Omaha, I recently moved back over to LHE (wrote about that here), where I’ve been very consciously restricting my play, only logging 50-100 hands at a time, often cutting sessions short once I’ve made even as little as a few bucks. After eleven days of such modest play, I’ve managed to trip up over the $100 mark already. Have run well, I suppose, but have lost my share of pots, too. A slow, steady climb, without much in the way of peaks or valleys.

Can’t help but think I’d probably wouldn’t be sitting much better having played PLO50. In fact, just glancing at my win rates for each game and the number of hands played, chances are good I wouldn’t have made any more. Of course, even if I’d made the exact same amount of cabbage playing Omaha, plodding along fifty cents or a buck at a time somehow seems like a healthier way to go.

I made it the three miles not too worse for wear. Will likely be sticking with just the two-mile run most days, though, perhaps saving the extra mile for Sundays. When I talk about the new exercise thing with some people, I’ve been joking that what I’m really doing is running a marathon. It’s just taking me two weeks to finish.

I know I’m essentially going in circles. But I still feel as though I’m getting somewhere.

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Blogger Rakewell said...

Well, it's a darn good thing you've finally started exercising. You seriously needed to lose some weight, you big ol' fat tub o' lard, you!

1/12/2009 1:05 PM  
Blogger kurokitty said...

Congrats! I've run everyday since Jan. 1 2007 -- 743 days in a row -- and I find that it's easier to run everyday than to not do it and find three months have gone by.

If you are just starting out, though, give yourself some days to rest and let your body recover. When I just start out running, it usually takes me six weeks before pain goes away.

1/12/2009 3:27 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Lol, of course Kitty would beat me to it, but I was going to offer you a couple pieces of advice:

• Yes, as Kitty said, don't run everyday. I am a fairly elite runner - half marathons are my thing most of all - and I don't run everyday. You'll eventually get tired of the pain and stop running. Give yourself a day to recover during the week; in fact you really only need to run 4-5 days a week.

• Pick different routes. Find 3-4 routes eventually that you like; that way running isn't such a drag or a chore. You won't get bored as easily.

• Go to a running store and have that person fit you in a good pair of running shoes. Yes, they will be expensive, but you likely won't be nearly as sore down the road, and a really good pair can last you six months or even more if you're not a fanatic like me (although I only put in 25 miles a week, maybe i'm not a fanatic).

Also, thanks for the tips on Omaha. I have started playing .10/.25 PLO pretty regularly and so far like the results, though it is a tough game.

1/12/2009 3:41 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thx for them tips, kitty & Peaker. And hahaha Rakewell.

Yea, I've figured out I need a better pair of skips, for sure -- will probably get to the store this wk. Good advice, too, about taking days off. Might actually mix in going to the gym & just riding the bike here & there, too, as that isn't nearly as taxing. They also have teevees there.

Talked to a colleague at work today who runs & told him I was "literally" following in his footsteps. He does 3 mil. a day. He is 65 y.o., and looks like he's 45. He was proud of me.

Oh, and also Peaker -- be wary of them short-term results in PLO, as that's one game where you can really fool yrself into thinking yr golden or crapola based on the turn of a card or two.

1/12/2009 4:30 PM  
Blogger cheer_dad said...

World's collide, at least it feels like it anyway, when there is talk of running on a poker blog. For the last several months I've been working on the "spare tire." I started out running, as once upon a time I was an avid runner. Running at 40, has certainly presented its challenges. : ) But I've stayed with it. I introduced a stationary bike to the mix when a knee injury presented itself. Since then I've found alternating between the two has been very enjoyable. (Though I really wish I could refit the bike with an old-fashioned banana seat!) Congrats on starting back up the fitness quest... carpe viam!

1/13/2009 1:08 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Nice one Shamus, do 3 or 4 runs a week (at around 6km a go) and really enjoy the benefits....

Still experimenting with the ideal music and open to ideas - need a nice beat but nothing too heavy, Clash's 'London Calling' fits the bill as well as the more modern 'Kaiser Chiefs' stuff... unfortunately Gong just leaves me running in circles!

Cheers and keep it up!


1/13/2009 4:23 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Rats, Shamus, I was thinking of turning into an Omaha pro. Way to throw cold water on my dreams.

Trust me, Omaha is WAY too swingy for me to play it more than twice a week. It's just a nice game to change up from the two-card game.

1/13/2009 4:38 PM  

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