Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Too fast

Back in January 2005, i started running on the treadmill. My goal was to run three days a week, for twenty minutes. After six months of running, i was able to increase the distance from about a mile to two and a half miles. However, my average time for a mile stubbornly stayed between 11.5 and 12.5 minutes. My friends suggested that i shouldn't worry about it, that by the end of the year, speed would naturally increase.

However, in June, it became too hot to run indoors. First, i moved the treadmill from the second floor to the first. That gave me a month. Then, i started running outside. Instantly, my times dropped. The induced wind cools me down, and though i'm breathing harder, i'm running faster. After two months of running outside, my times have dropped to about 7 minutes and 20 seconds per mile. My times are erratic, but follow the outside temperature pretty accurately. Hot is slow, cool is fast, more or less.

Now I have a new problem. My speed goal was to get the mile down to nine minutes. All of my problems should be this difficult.

So, i need a new goal. In order to keep the running time over twenty minutes, the distance has to be increased to at least three miles. That's easy enough to do on a treadmill. Outside, it will take a new course. I'll have to measure it.

On the other hand, despite achieving something like running once a week in August, I'm considering attempting to run every day. The New Food Pyramid program suggests exactly that. However, i exceed the suggested pace, as near as I can tell. Yet, though i ran yesterday, it just didn't happen today.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Food Pyramid

The 20 May 2005 episode of Science Friday discusses the new 2005 USDA food pyramid. This new pyramid has changes in what food is recommended, but also adds exercise. In particular, if you exercise more, you get to eat more. Eating more allows you to have more discretionary calories - sort of a reward for exercise. Though they have a list of things to avoid, like processed sugar and transfat, they emphasize things you are supposed to eat.

In my opinion there are four things to do for good health, not two. Eating right, is one. Exercise for your cardio vascular system is another. In addition to exercise for your body, you need exercise for your brain. The forth is to drink plenty of water.

Exercise your brain. Take up an intellectual hobby. There are a number of good ones. Reading. Crossword puzzles. Building up mental arithmetic skills. Write essays. Astronomy as a hobby, which has the side effect of getting you out of the house. There are plenty of others. Pick one or more that you actually enjoy. One benefit is that you will be doing something you enjoy.

Each of these features of healthy living has a noticeable benefit. Eating right should bring your weight to some semblance of trim. You may not notice being at lower risk of diabetes, etc. Exercise like biking or running will give you noticeable energy and endurance. The most compelling reason for adults, especially over 30, for exercise is sex life. I don't mean attracting partners - as you can certainly be in good physical condition while being overweight. I'm referring to performance. Mental exercise of various kinds can noticeably improve your memory and mood. Drinking more than enough water will reduce the severity and frequency of disease.

I personally have never lost weight through exercise. I have only lost weight by reducing my food intake. I have never gained energy by changing my diet. That requires exercise. These are often confused.

The old recommendation was 30 minutes of exercise, three days a week. The new recommendation is 30 minutes every day. Add 30 additional minutes of lighter exercise.

I did not see water intake in the food pyramid. A search for 'water' does not get any response. For healthy living, drink at least half a gallon of water, every day. That's eight eight ounce glasses. If you work at a desk, you should have a glass in front of you, and you should sip at it all day long. Soda and coffee do not count. There should be no sugar or caffeine in these drinks. You can drink more water if it is room temperature than if it is refrigerated. The noticeable benefits are reduced disease, such as colds, and increased energy. Psychologically, its more difficult to consume soda and other things you should be avoiding if your water intake is high. Its also easier to eat less if your water intake is high.

Changing my habits in these four areas has improved my life in dramatic ways. Avoidance of sugar has allowed me to lose weight - about 35 pounds. I have improved my time for a mile run from about 12.5 minutes to about 8 minutes. This has dramatically improved my energy and endurance. Twenty minutes of mental exercise a day has improved my memory and concentration. Drinking a half gallon of water has contributed the lion's share of essentially eliminating disease from my life. The result is that i feel better, and am likely to live longer.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Really Bad

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other man pulls out his phone and calls emergency services.

He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator in a calm, soothing voice replies: "Take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead."

There is a silence, then a shot is heard.

Back on the phone, the hunter says, "OK, now what?"

Monday, September 05, 2005

Trip to Maryland

So, Max and i made it back home around 8 AM. It took ten hours and three 20 oz Cokes to get there. 60 oz is just shy of a half gallon. I used to drink that while sitting at work, every day. I get a little retroactive diabetic shock just thinking about it. It shouldn't have been a surprise that i gained weight. The real surprise is how little i gained. 2 pounds a year.

Max fell asleep almost right away, and the tank was about three quarters full. So the first fill up and rest stop was in Ohio. The car ran pretty smoothly, with no significant problems. All things being relative, "no significant problems" means that, well, one of the times when i made a rest stop, the car wouldn't start. The starter motor has a dead spot. So i had to push start it. I couldn't just sit in the driver's seat and push it in reverse with the one foot. I actually had to get out of the car and push it a few feet. Twice. While i wasn't out of breath, it did have me breathing hard for a minute while i pulled the car onto the highway.

Apparently, my endurance for this overnight thing is nine hours, not ten. So, i really had to tough it out once i crossed the Michigan border. The the only rest stop in Michigan is the Welcome Center. It is closed. Visitors take note. You are not welcomed to Michigan. I should have stopped in Ohio near Toledo. I was too tired to think that far ahead. Readers will note the irony. For me, its a way of life. I'm not real sorry if my karma ran over your dogma.

The first tank of gas for the trip got 37 mpg, the second got 36 mpg. Strange. The second tank participated in the new spark plugs. The number two plug was really fouled with charred oil. That's the cylinder that needs the ring job. It was approximately 2.5 tanks of gas, or 45 gallons. $120 in gas, roughly, for the trip. In July, i was paying $2.139 a gallon. That would have been $96. Last year, this trip was $55.

Once home, i unpacked the car and fell asleep. Dawn entertained Max for most of the day. When I woke, I did about three hours of work on the car. There is no evidence of a continuing water leak. The water overflow was basically empty, but the radiator was full. The car needed another quart of oil. I put some electrical tape on the exhaust gas vent thingy. I removed the ground wire on the starter motor, clean up the terminal and plug, and applied dielectric greece, and tried it. It seemed to help just a little bit, but really, i need a new starter. I should have replaced it earlier this summer when i had the new one in my hands. I diagnosed for sure a clicking sound from under the hood. There's a minor exhaust leak near the exhaust manifold. I left the car up on the blocks to work on it tonight, but it just didn't cool down fast enough. It will have to wait until the weekend. Then, something i had wanted to do before the trip, i cleaned the windshields and applied Rainex. I'll be happy if it reduces the dew in the morning.

It was quite an adventure for me. That's adventure as in the UHaul slogan "Adventure in Moving", where you imagine that the front universal joint lets go, and your truck is pole vaulted from the overpass. Max wasn't that concerned about the car, or at least, i've trained him that the problems with the car are my responsibility, and that he doesn't have to worry about it. He sure had a good time over the weekend with George, the Smithsonian, and sailing.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The One Ring

My son is enamoured of the movie series, The Lord of the Rings. He's been begging to go to Borders, where they sell The One Ring. In what must have been a marketing coup, they also sell The One Ring in packages of five.