Gym and Fitness

Running Exercise clip art mediumSomething is happening that I never thought possible: my workout routine is changing so much towards running, I have to call myself a runner nowadays.

If you had asked me 5 years ago, when I still lived in San Francisco, if I'd ever consider running, I'd tell you there was no way. I was too big-framed, I would say, and besides my knees were hosed from multiple cycling injuries. Running was heavy on the ... everything. You heard of knee injuries, shin splits, chronic pain, plantar fasciatis, etc.

When I started working out at the UCSD gym, I soon realized I had to do something about cardio. They only had a single spin bike in the workout room, and all the other cardio equipment involved some form of running. There were the elliptical trainers, the treadmills, and some strange self-powered treadmill that had the sad disadvantage of not keeping you on constant speed.

I ran, reluctantly. Initially, I could make 20 minutes at 6.7 mph (a 9 minute mile) and felt all proud of it. I was sure the entire gym was thinking I was a big stud - a feeling strengthened when one of the girls at the coffee shop asked me if I was the guy that did "all that cardio."

Read more: The Runner

A while back, I read an article about the dangers of using heart rate displays on exercise equipment. The gist was that the machine told you to reach a certain heart rate, and if that was too much for you, you could injure yourself. Of course, the advice was sound, but the alarmist title, Are Heart Rate Monitors Dangerous? was not helpful.

I found using a HRM one of the biggest improvements to my workouts, so much so that I don't even like to go to the gym at all if my HRM doesn't work. The monitor motivates me and paces me, and those are two enormous benefits. In addition, I use it to set and track workout goals. Let me chat a little about all of that.

Read more: Working out with a Heart Rate Monitor

I read an article yesterday about how chefs are moving away from big meat/protein portions and into vegetables more and more. The reasoning is very chef-y: big hunks of meat are boring. There really isn't much you can do with meat but marinade it, and no matter what you do, it ends up filling before you want to be filled.

So they serve smaller portions, focus more on the sides, and turn their menus around. Instead of eating a filet mignon on a bed of spinach and mashed potatoes, you would be served farm-fresh spinach leaves making friends with a mash of Yukon potatoes, with an accompaniment of filet mignon.

The cynic notes that this seems just a ploy to make portion sizes smaller and force people to eat more dishes if you can't force them to pay more per dish. After all, the cost of food is negligible in a restaurant, compared to rents, salaries, and accidentals. So making people eat more foods instead of more food is a good way to boost the bill, which means the bottom line.

Read more: The Green Revolution