Monday, November 09, 2015

The Last 100 Days 

Generations of kids grew up seeing this ad on the back of every comic book. Image via Comics Alliance

Sunday was day 100. Since August 1, I wanted to see how many workouts I could do in a one hundred day period. I’ve already explained why I started this before, but basically since the days of Charles Atlas ads on the back page of comics, advertisers have promised to make you a new man, in only 15 minutes a day, in just 90 days! That’s not that different from what Bowflex says now, or what researchers claim about interval training (I mean it is eerily similar).

Did I become a new man? Was my life transformed forever? Do I sleep better? Did I get all the gals? Well, not really but I did see some changes.

Since March I’ve lost about 18 pounds and reduced my body fat percentage by about 5% but about 10-12 of those pounds came off since August. From about April to July there really wasn’t any change at all despite swimming and running three or four times a week. I also have to admit I do sleep better but it’s hard to say if that’s from exercise or just better sleeping habits.

More measurable data show how I improved my overall running pace significantly from about 5:00 min/km to 4:40 min/km. In that time I also rode my longest ride in 2 years, swam my fastest 750 m swim ever, and run my best 10 km ever. Also my average heart rate during a run has dropped from about 155 to 142 bpm with similar decreases during rides (though my resting heart rate is about the same). Coincidentally, some time in the next week or so I’ll be getting blood work and a physical so perhaps that will reveal more changes.

It’s interesting that in articles I read about interval training researchers found exactly those kind of improvements but I really haven’t done that many interval training sessions at all. Only six of the 84 workouts I did in the 100 days were interval training. So would doing intervals have helped more or did just working out a lot more than usual make the difference regardless of intervals? Who knows? I can’t really say I like interval training or that I’ll do the 2-3 sessions per week recommended. In fact, I feel like I can’t really do any “more” of anything. My average workout length was about 30 minutes and in honesty I doubt I could go as high as 60 minutes. Not because I don’t have the time, but because I don’t think my body could take it.

By the end of September and the first week of October, my shoulders hurt too much to swim, my foot and knee hurt too much to run and I broke my bike trainer making that impossible. Repeated stretching, icing and heating eventually helped me back on my feet but if I’ve learned anything, recovery days are incredibly important and I think a day off every five would probably make a huge difference.

Ever since I hit my 40s I wondered if I’m running out of time to really get in the kind of shape I’d like to be. How many more kilometres can you run? How hard can you bike? How far can you swim? I don’t know if my body is out of warranty yet, but I do feel like if I break it, only exercise will make it better. Despite having a bad week or so of aches and pains I can honestly say I do feel like I’ve essentially kickstarted my way to feeling like a younger self. I noticed this as much biking around town or taking the stairs more than anything. That’s really the whole point of this. Not to look more svelte - which admittedly is nice, but to feel more like myself, or at least how I used to feel. Am I new man? No, but I'm a little bit better than the one I was 100 days ago.

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