Good news, bad news

The good news is, I filed our federal taxes and finished our state taxes.

The bad news is, the Department of Revenue server ate our state return. So right now it’s telling me that I have to file, but when I try to fill out another return, I can’t because there’s already one in the system with that Social Security number. ::sigh:: Looks like it’s time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee a phone call to the DOR.

Oh, more good news: I did a 12-mile run yesterday. My time per mile was 10 seconds faster than the pace for my second-best half marathon. And this was just a training run, not killing myself like in a race. This program is WORKING.

I have no title but I must post

I think I mentioned before that I’m doing the FIRST novice marathon training program (motto: “Hard to Google”). You only run three times a week, but every run is what they call a “quality” run — intervals, tempo, or a long run. They’re all demanding, in different ways.

I chose the program because I like speedwork and because with the exercise bike in our basement, it’s easier for me to schedule the two cross training days than to find two or three more days to run every week. There’s one advantage I didn’t expect, though. Since every run is hard, every time I complete one I feel great about myself. I’m basically getting a shot of “I kicked that run’s ass!” three times a week. This is lovely for one’s self-esteem.

Except for today, mind you. Today’s run went OK, but now I hurt all over for some reason. But most days: ass-kicking!

Recommendation: Convict Conditioning

I actually shy away from telling people I use Convict Conditioning, not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because I don’t want to come across like I’m trying to be hardcore. I am not even slightly hardcore. I admit this freely. I just like the program.

See, I know strength training is important, but I have a few problems actually doing it.

  • Time. Or more to the point, scheduling. I already go to the gym 2-3 times a week to run when it’s cold, and it’s hard to find more time to add to that.
  • I don’t own weights to use at home, and I’m trying not to spend money so I’m not going to buy any.
  • Lifting is boring. I realize a lot of people find it more interesting than running, but at least when I’m running I can listen to a podcast and not have to worry about dropping 50 pounds on my foot because I wasn’t paying enough attention.
  • I just don’t know how to do it. I don’t know what exercises to do, how much I should lift, how many reps I should do. There are a ton of programs out there, but I’m not interested enough to spend a bunch of time evaluating different ones.

Convict Conditioning mostly solves these problems for me.

  • I can do it at home1, whenever I get a few spare minutes.
  • The only equipment I’ll ever have to buy is a pull-up bar, eventually.
  • I can watch TV while doing it, as long as I set aside enough brain cells to count my reps. I’m pretty sure I did a bunch of extra squats yesterday, so maybe I should work on this one.
  • For me, this is the best part — each exercise is divided into 10 steps of increasing difficulty, and the web site has a flowchart that tells you exactly how many sets and reps of which step to do next. It eliminates ambiguity, which is exactly what I need a strength training program to do.

I’m sure the best way to do CC is to use the book, but again, trying not to spend money. I’m not saying don’t buy the book, and I’d like to someday, but if you have to you can get by with the web site and the YouTube channel. So far I’m making slow but steady progress, and more to the point, I’ve kept at it.

In other beating-my-body-into-shape news, one week of marathon training down, 17 to go!

1It turns out that being overweight and having crap upper body strength is a bad combination for doing pull-ups. Who knew, right? I can’t even do 10 reps of step 2 on the pull-up progression, and I’ve spent weeks trying. So right now I’m using the assisted pull-up machine at the gym to try to build up a little strength.


I finally made my spreadsheet (spreadsheets are important) with my training schedule for the 2014 Illinois Marathon.

It’s sort of terrifying in how not-terrifying it is. Like, I look at this spreadsheet, and I don’t see anything I don’t think I can do. Except then there’s the part where it ends with me RUNNING A DAMN MARATHON.

For those of you who are geeks about these things, I’m using the FIRST novice plan, with training paces from fellrnr’s VDOT calculator. I don’t have a lot of training time and I like doing speedwork, so I think it’ll be a good fit.

The gym bag is half full — now

The gym down the block from where I work has an indoor track, which is handy when it’s 20 degrees out and you have a marathon coming up in…


…less than five months.

So yesterday I left work, walked down to the gym, changed clothes — and realized I’d left my running shoes at home.

Last fall, here’s what would have happened. I would have given up on the workout and changed back into my work clothes, swearing and berating myself all the while, and then spent the rest of the evening under a cloud of disgust at my own incompetence.

What happened yesterday?

For a second I started to do all that. Then I thought, “I wonder if they let people run in socks.”

(Answer 1: apparently. Answer 2: ow.)

Y’all, antidepressants are AMAZING.

The thing is, I’m not any more competent than I was a year ago. I’m not any less likely to screw up or to forget one of the 8 million things I need to keep track of in a day.

What’s different is that now I can think about myself in a way that’s simply not possible when I’m depressed. I can see myself as a worthwhile person who makes mistakes. I can use my mental energy to find solutions instead of wasting it on hating myself. I can see a screw-up as an occasion to get outside of my routine and try something different.

If you can’t do those things, I mean literally can’t do them, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. I hate all that pull-yourself-up-by-your-emotional-bootstraps, “you’re as happy as you choose to be” shit. Yes, there are ways to work on being happier — IF you have a certain baseline level of functioning. But you might need help to get to that baseline. I do.