Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Return to the gym

It had been a long time between gym visits. I believe it was March when I last visited the gym. May have even been late February.

Now, I haven't exactly stopped working out as you know. I've been running outside, but all of my exercise has consisted of running around here. No free weights. No core exercises. No machines. Nothing but my new shoes and the street.

I made it back to the gym today, and I'd like to say it was a triumphant return but that would be too over-dramatic. So I'll settle for a satisfying return visit.

I started off with a gentle five-minute bike ride. As I started peddling, the one thing I had missed was the ability to keep track of my heart rate. After about a minute or so, I checked my heart and it was at about 90. After another minute or so, I got it up to 120. By the end, it was at about 154, which is a pretty good clip. I like to warm up for five minutes before I start my workouts.

I went to lift some weights afterward and did bench, lat pulldown and pec fly. I did three sets of 10 on each. But I really wanted to get back to running on the treadmill for old time's sake, so I only did those exercises. Usually, I'd done maybe twice as much work before hitting the treadmill but this time cut it a bit short.

So I walked over to the treadmill and it was a different and interesting experience. I wanted to run my usual 42-minute cardio session that includes walking, jogging, jogging fast and sprinting. The first thing that was different was the iPod slung around my arm instead of somewhere on the treadmill. That made such a huge difference. I wasn't distracted by it at all, whereas before it got in the way sometimes.

I set out on a five-minute walk and tried to read my heart rate. Of course, as luck would have it I picked a machine that wasn't working in that department. I had to measure it by hand. But since I'd tried so long, the time ran out. I had to start my 12 minutes of rounds.

I set at 5.5 and started jogging. It felt very slow. The first thing I noticed was that I run faster than a 5.5 clip outside. I jogged at this pace for a minute and it wasn't as I'd remembered it. Now, it was challenging the first time I ran it, way back in 2006. But now, it wasn't. I went back to a 7.0 and that was a steady pace but again not as challenging as I'd remembered it. I tried to keep the original interval plan in mind. I didn't want to throw it off by changing the speeds and running too fast. I wanted to run one minute at about 70 percent and the other at 90 percent, but I also wanted to keep it at a pace that wouldn't burn me out right away.

So I went up to a 5.7 and 7.2. That was better, even though the changes were slight. I wanted to keep the lower one at under a 6 and the other 1.5 higher. The next time, I might try 5.9 and 7.4 or I may go to 6.0 and 7.5, though I'd like to keep the low one low, otherwise the intervals won't work as well.

Anyway, I finished the 12 minutes of rounds and went down to a 4.0. I felt around for my heart beat on my neck and it wasn't exactly difficult to find. As the heart beat pounded out on my index and middle fingers, I tried to keep up with it. I counted it for 15 seconds and got to 43. By my math, 43 times 4 is 172, so it was pretty much right on track.

After a three-minute walk at 4.0, I went back for six more minutes of rounds. Afterward, my heart was up to 46 beats per 15 seconds, so it had increased to 184. It was about the same after my four minutes of rounds.

I got ready to run my two-minute sprint. By this time, I was getting fatigued. The intervals were working and although I wasn't as exhausted as my previous dozens of interval sessions, I was getting there. After a two-minute walk, I set it at a 6.0 to get my feet underneath me and then took off at an 8.3 pace. After one minute, I increased it to an 8.6. I actually ran over for 15 seconds before going back down to a 4.0. I checked my heart rate and I got to 49 in 15 seconds, which is 196. That's actually above what my max should be, since the max is 220 minus your age and that would put me at 188. But the last story I read about intervals suggested training at quick intervals at more than your max heart rate, so I was encouraged actually.

All in all, going back to the gym was refreshing. I felt in much better shape after leaving today than I had the last time I'd left that place.

Oh, and I weighed myself too. 184.0, post-workout. That was a nice way to end the day as well.

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