If you’re on this page, maybe you’ve come with your knives sharpened for a heaping helping of schadenfreude – but for those who might have just wandered into this shinola show, here’s the basic conceit of this series of posts: I’m out of shape. If my family medical history were a book, it would be composed of many short stories. Or blurbs, maybe. So as a middle-age male who’s trending toward slouchdom, I need to do something, now, to sidestep premature mortality. I’ve learned that getting fit is a lot easier when you’ve got a compelling reason to push yourself out the door, so I’m hatching a plan for some sort of culminating event. More on that later. For now, know that I’m working closely with Julie Young and Dr. Andy Pasternak of O2 Fitness and Silver Sage Sports Performance to slap me into shape.

Julie set me up on Training Peaks software last week, and she populated this first week of workouts on Sunday night. When I opened the program to preview what the week would look like, my body began to tingle. Can you say “frisson?” The fearful kind.

When I saw what was ahead of me, I realized I’d be upping my activity hours five-fold in this first week alone. Included in Julie’s menu was a goodly ration of running, cycling, and a buckdancer’s choice day, along with a couple of resting intervals. The enduro bits I could  deal with, but Julie had me performing a bunch of Pilates-inspired exercises each morning, and these were a bit more difficult to square. First, I had to lie on the ground. Second, I had to tie a big-ass rubber band around my thighs. Next, assuming various angles of repose, I was to spread my knees and stretch the rubber band as far as possible. All while smiling. These I found physically and psychically trying in the extreme, and I can only hope they become easier as time goes on…if I can get around to doing them at all. As for the aerobic bit: running and cycling, both mountain and road.

I had to do the running at night. “There’s nothing for it, Mr. Frodo,” as Sam Gamgee, the faithful halfling, said. Nothing for it. That first night I so badly didn’t want to do it. Though I own enough inner and outerwear to open my own sporty clothing boutique, I spent an hour faffing around with layering systems, retying laces, looking for good reasons to blow off the workout. Too exhausted. Definitely not psyched. Too cold outside. Too dark. All alone…and there are mountain lions out there (seriously, there are). Did I mention I felt exhausted?

In years past, I’d push myself out the door at the end of a work day knowing I’d shed the fatigue within two minutes, and in within 10 I’d be happy to be outside. Thankfully, that truth still holds. I enjoyed the quietude and dark skies, big old Orion and his three-star belt (one of those stars is the Horsehead Nebula), and lenticular clouds undershot by the light coming from downtown Reno. I wouldn’t have made it out the door if not for Julie’s training plan, and I’ll look forward to more night runs.*

Wednesday: two hours of cycling. Battled a stiff headwind on the return leg of my 30-mile out and back. Glutes and hamstrings tired and sore.

Thursday: Another run. A trudge, actually. I used to be called “the rabbit,” because I’d tear out of the starting gate on a group training run at a sub six minute pace. My new handle is “the gastropod.” Slow to start, slow to finish. Hey, at least I’m consistent.

Friday: Thankful Day of Rest.

Saturday: A nearly two-hour mountain bike ride in hilly terrain. Ouch. Forgot how much mtb’ing recruits the upper body. Sore lats!

Sunday: Two-hour run in hilly terrain. Double ouch. Starting to feel IT band and achilles tendon on left leg.

Sunday night: Urinate blood.


The upcoming week is much the same as last: Monday and Friday days of rest, and aerobic excitement on the others. I’ll be running at night again. Love it while it lasts; we spring forward in two weeks.

In terms of the Grand Challenge. I may crowdsource ideas. Seriously. I’d like another couple weeks of miles on my legs before announcing a run or ride or climb.

My vow: I’ll attempt to do my floor exercises this week. I promise.

For nighttime pursuits I’m using  a Light & Motion Solite 250, which is really small, unobtrusive, and incredibly bright headlamp, with adjustable settings and a max output of 250 lumens. Completely lights up a trail and everything around it. I like that they’re made stateside, in Monterey, in a small machine shop on Cannery Row. It’s already my go-to light source, and it will become more valuable as workouts take me past sunset.