Monday, February 25, 2019

Peloton Classes

As a sort of Christmas bonus, my husband's boss gave him a Peloton bike and class membership. I'll admit, I wasn't enthusiastic about this, and thought that if the man had ever seen our tiny home he might have realized what an impractical gift this was. At the same time, it was also wildly generous, as anyone who has priced those bikes might attest. My husband accepted in this spirit, and found a place for it in the family room (where I had hoped to put a small sofa, but alas, it was not to be).

Since it was in such a prominent position in our home, and since it was all paid for, of course I gave it a try. The first few rides were hard on rear, but my Google research assured me that this would go away after a few more rides, so I keep on, and Google was right. I thought - hoped? - it might be a good cross-training exercise for me to do on the days I wasn't jogging as I worked through the Couch to 5K program, and I think it has been very good for that.

The classes are all challenging for me, even the beginner ones, but I'm seeing progress as I keep on going. The instructors are fun, and I'm finding a few favorites. I also recently discovered their online classes for things other than using the bike. I guess they also make a treadmill, that we don't have, but I can do the classes on the treadmills at the gym using my phone. They also have outdoor running and walking classes I can listen to on my phone, and well as yoga, meditation, and some strength classes.

Since I've finished the Couch to 5K program, I've liked having the treadmill and outdoor running classes to guide me along sine I'm not really sure what to do for my jogging now. I can't usually keep up with the paces they are using, but since they aren't live classes, and no one can see me or know how slow I'm going, I just do what I can, the best I can manage, and it's been fun. They throw in general running/jogging tips that are great for me since I'm such a noob to the jogging thing and don't really know much.

They also have 'achievements' the program keeps track of like, how many classes you've taken, how many days in a row you've exercised, how many miles you've ridden the bike, and that sort of thing. I've maybe gotten a bit obsessed with my daily streak. It goes up to 60 days, and I've been determined to make it there. I actually don't have that far to go. Thank goodness, it will count any class you do. When I was sick last week, I just took a meditation class (and fell asleep - oops, maybe I need more work there too). Tonight, I was so sore from my jog this morning, and trip to the gym for weights, that I didn't think I could handle riding the bike tonight, so I did a 10 min yoga class, and my streak is safe.

We never would have had the money to consider buying something like this for ourselves. Is it worth the cost though? Since we didn't pay the cost, it's hard for me to say. It's pretty darn nice to have though. I'm very attached to the thing for someone who was resistant to letting in the house in the first place.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Creating a Writing Habit

While I enjoy writing, it had always fallen into the category of 'fun thing to do when I have the time'. Even when I'm trying to be more serious about my writing, and create a daily habit, it seems to be the thing on the schedule most likely to be pushed off until later when things are busy. And let's face it, things are ALWAYS busy.

A month ago or so, I finished the audiobook for The Power of Habit: Why We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. It gave me some insight as to why, when trying to establish several new habits, I had done so well with doing my exercising every day, and so poorly with trying to write every day. I learned that an important step in the habit loop, or in the creation of a habit is the trigger, or cue. The thing that tells us it's time to do the thing.

For exercising, my husband had declared that we would go to the gym together on Tuesdays and Thursdays as soon as he was home from work and Sundays first thing in the morning. Those are weight lifting days, so I decided I would jog first thing in the morning before I could be distracted by other activities on other days, or on work days when I can't get up early enough, I would ride our exercise bike or take a walk after dinner. So even though the cue varied from day to day, I had several cues ready, and even a back up cue - if I had an appointment or something else that kept me from jogging in the morning, I had a plan to bike or walk after dinner. Having a back up plan is also mentioned as a key to success in the book. Without knowing the steps to habit formation, we had set ourselves up for success with exercise, and we have been more regular in our workouts for the past six months than we'd been in years.

For writing, my plan was - do it in the evenings, when there's time. Obviously, that isn't as good a plan. Now that I understand more about how habits work, I am completely unsurprising that this master plan has mostly failed. Also, before reading The Power of Habit, I tried making a more detailed plan for myself. I would blog on this night, I'd work on fiction these other two nights, I'd work on the staff newsletter for work on another night, and the work blog the other night. Not only could I never remember what I was supposed to be doing on what night, this also failed because I still only had a vague - do it sometime in the evening when there is spare time - cue and that just didn't work for me. There is always something I need to do. So the writing got pushed aside. Again.

What I'm trying now: I downloaded a habit tracking app that lets you set a reminder alert. You could just use whatever alarm timer you already have on your phone I suppose. I first tried setting it for 5:30, thinking it would just remind me to write sometime tonight when I found the time. Just keep the idea if writing more forward in my mind. That didn't fly. I'm usually just leaving work, or planning dinner, or in the middle of something at that time. I glance at the reminder, but quickly move on. So I thought about when I'm most likely to be able to stop what I'm doing and actually write. I reset the timer for 8:30. I might be finishing up on the exercise bike, or grading school work, or doing laundry, but I'm just as likely to be playing a game. I decided that the timer would now mean - finish up what your doing in the next few minutes and start writing. I also decided that I would only expect 30 minutes of writing. That way if I really did have important things to get back to, 30 min wouldn't hurt that, and if I didn't know what to write, I could flail for 30 min without too much stress.

Has it worked? Not perfectly, but much, much better. I was writing maybe a night or two a week before, despite feeling like I'd like to do more. Now I'm hitting 4 to 5 nights easily, and usually once I've sat down and started, I go way past 30 minutes. I'm definitely on a better track. It's been about two weeks with this new system, and it seems to be getting easier over time. I'm looking forward to my writing time instead of stressing about it - like how I actually look forward to my jog. Who would have thought that could happen? So we'll check in in another month or so and see how the habit has come along.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Online Classes: Lynda.com

A friend recommended Lynda.com to me for my daughter who was interested in digital art and possibly design classes. It looked interesting, but I didn't want to spend the money at the time. Then I learned that we have access to the Lynda.com classes through our local library. We just use our library card number to log in.

She has taken some Adobe Illustrator classes, and is interested in some about Photoshop. I was looking around and found some about website design. I've been wanting to create an author website for my work, something in addition to just his blog, so I'm taking some classes as well. If I learn enough, look forward to my website hopefully in the not terribly distant future.

I'm also interested in classes there for creating a email list, and other marketing ideas. This is all brand new stuff for me. I've been writing, for myself anyway, for as long as I can remember. But branding, and marketing, and all the other stuff that goes into actually selling what I write - that's all outside the scope of my previous experience. I know some would advise to hire out the stuff you aren't personally experienced at, and there is wisdom in that advice. When you are just beginning though, and have a budget of zero, and are willing to take the time to learn some basics then that's what you do instead. At least, I hope you do, meaning, I hope I can. It's very possible, I'll take these classes, and still not have the skills to create my own website. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. On the silver lining side, I don't think any new knowledge is wasted. Learning new things is always good. If I learn that I need help to make my website, I'll have at least learned enough to better understand what I am looking for in that help.


Monday, February 11, 2019

I Have Finished Couch to 5K

Well, sort of finished it anyway. The app I'm using goes by time, not distance. So what I've actually finished is Couch to 30 Min of Jogging. I'm slow, and can't finish a whole 5K in those 30 min. But- darn it - I'm still super proud of this accomplishment. Since the final session in the program, I've been trying to work my way up to jogging for the full 5K distance. The last jog I did, I went for 34 min. Let me tell you, there were days along the journey that I didn't think I'd ever be able to jog non-stop for 30 min, let alone more.

At 34 minutes I still didn't quite hit 5K (3.1 miles), but I'm getting close. When I use various apps or my fitness watch thing I usually start them going as I begin my warm up 5 min walk, and I don't turn them off until I get home, so that includes 10 or so min of cool down walking as well. Some of the programs are easier to separate the walking from the running than others. My pace varies between 11 and 12 min/mile, usually about 11:30ish (I told you I was slow). So I figure if I can jog for 36 min I should be hitting the 5K by then. I suppose one of these outings I should wait to start tracking as I actually begin jogging, and stop when I start my cool down for a better, or at least more precise measurement.

I've been reading articles on advice for newer runners who have just finished C25K about what to do next to continue their training. Most advise against just running your 30 min every other day and say you should vary your distance, your speed, etc. to continue to improve. I've tried following a couple audio type classes that do a sort of interval speed work to help get faster. It's been a bit of a joke, because I'm really going the fastest I can right now, and any slower is a power walk - not a jog at all. I'm not sure an outside observer would be able to detect any difference in my 'fast' intervals vs. my 'easy' intervals. These classes like to talk about going at you're 'race pace'. I keep thinking, "My what now?"

Oh well. I have to start somewhere, right? I didn't know for sure I could jog for 30 min straight. Maybe someday I will amaze myself again and have more than one pace.

I girl can dream.