The last few weeks have given me a chance to get a bit more organised and devote a little more time to the blog than of late, something I hope I can maintain as the new school year begins. So as my summer break draws to a close, I though I would update you on how I’ve been spending my time.
Yup, you did read that correctly: walking. Although my job often involves me being on my feet, wearing an activity tracker revealed that I wasn’t actually moving around all that much. I was a textbook example of the “actively sedentary” – going for a workout in the evening, but moving very little the rest of the day. What with my half hour each way commute, teaching lessons and completing all my admin, I was spending a lot of time either standing in more or less the same spot or sitting down, neither of which are particularly helpful for running well! I decided I had to do something about that. My activity tracker sets me a step goal each day based on my activity levels. If I hit my goal, it increases a little and if I miss it, then it goes down a little. I had been very inconsistent in meeting my goal. I knew for example that I would have very few steps on a Monday as it was a busy teaching day, often with an after school meeting, and my workout was a swim so no steps there. Conversely, I knew I would easily meet my goal at the weekend when I had a run each day and would walk into town for any errands I had. So I set myself a mini goal: for every FULL day of my summer break, I had to meet my step goal. This meant that as time went on I would have to be more creative about adding more walking into my day in order to do so. To give you an idea, here are my stats for the first full day of this challenge (a Saturday so higher than my average at this point). Notice that my goal was just 6586 steps, way off the 10,000 often suggested to keep healthy and a real indication of how little I had been moving:
And here are my stats 6 weeks later, also a Saturday and captured a few hours earlier in the day. My goal is almost 6000 steps higher and my daily average has gone up considerably!
And yes, I have met my goal every day, as you can see from these graphs. (The eagle-eyed among you will spot that my stats on the 1st of July, when school finished at lunchtime, were terrible. I spent much of that afternoon in a hot tub and didn’t wear my watch. I was celebrating the end of term after all!))
It’s been fun. I pretty much ditched my car and have walked everywhere I possibly could. On a couple of occasions, I went out for a short walk in the afternoon as I knew I was going to come up short. As a result I now feel, fitter, stronger and healthier both physically and mentally. I’ve really enjoyed walking around and taking in more of my surroundings, even when walking on a route I often run as the slower pace meant I would see much more:
It would be great if I could remain more active day-to-day as I return to work, but I know it’s just not feasible to allow my step goal to continue increasing. At the start of term I’m going to set my watch to a fixed goal of 10,000 steps and see if I can manage to fit a bit more walking into my daily routine. Watch this space!
One benefit of all the walking has been extra time in the day to listen to podcasts (I wrote about my favourites here). Usually I listen to podcasts when I run, but like the radio in the morning and a podcast on my drive home from work. Most of my walking was at least half an hour each way, so I could listen to one podcast and a bit of a second. I then often finished the one I was in the middle of whilst doing bits and pieces around the house. Sometimes I even listen to one in the shower as I have a waterproof bluetooth speaker that I can take in there with me! Listening to the Runners Connect Run to the Top podcast in particular has given me a great deal of food for thought and I feel much better informed about some running-related issues as a result of all that listening!
Don’t worry, there’s been plenty of running happening too! I’m still sticking with the three runs per week I was doing when I returned to running after my injury and making sure each serves a purpose (no junk miles here!). My main goal is to bring my short distance times down (I can track this with my parkrun times) and build up some endurance over longer distances so that I can head into my spring marathon training feeling much stronger. What this means in practice is a midweek tempo run, Saturday parkrun and longer, slower run on Sundays. So far I’m pleased with the improvement in my parkrun times and I’m enjoying running more slowly on Sundays.
The Olympics of course! Much like in 2012, I’ve been glued to the TV overage and can easily get sucked into watching absolutely anything that’s on. Diving? Watched it. Gymnastics? Watched it. Dancing horses? Yup, watched that too! And now we’re into the stuff I really like (athletics, velodrome cycling and the climax of the tennis) it would be easy for me to spend literally hours in my comfy chair enjoying that shared viewing experience afforded by social media. It’s a good thing the time difference means it’s later in the day before the live coverage comes on, or my step goal would have been in serious danger over the past week!
For the new school year. For a variety of reasons, last year was tough for me. Work aside, there was a lot going on in my personal life that seemed to conspire to make everything difficult and I know my health was suffering because of it. Fast forward a few weeks and spending time relaxing in the Florida sunshine, getting well rested and using my time to feel fit and healthy in all senses, I want to continue to feel this way. Of course, teaching will always provide its challenges, but in the year ahead I need to make sure that while I keep an eye on my pupils, I also keep an eye on how I’m feeling and take steps to make sure I end the year feeling a bit less exhausted than I did this year. Please someone remind me of this in February when work is busy, daylight is limited and the end of term seems a million miles away!
What have you been up to?
How do you make sure you stay fit and healthy all year round?