In my search to find exercise routines that I can make stick around long enough to build habits from, I am experimenting with a running app and a new piece of home equipment. My fiancee and I have recently purchased an elliptical machine for our home. While I was initially hesitant about the cost when I was already paying for my gym membership, I have since come around to the convenience of using the machine at home.
One issue I’ve had with fully embracing exercising at home is my limitations. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I drop our dog off for daytime boarding, since both my fiancee and I work during the day (it gives our dog some socializing time and exercise). This means that I have to be out the door a bit earlier than I otherwise would need to be, which cuts into time I could be at the gym.
I have been going to the gym Tuesday mornings for the last month and a half, but Thursdays are a write-off because I work at the bar Wednesday nights and don’t get to bed until 1am at the earliest. Outside of weekend, this means that my morning exercises are limited to body-weight work, or the rowing machine that currently serves as a clothes rack.
Enter: the Elliptical
The elliptical, on the other hand, allows me to jump on for 30-45 minutes in the morning, then I can immediately shower and get ready for work and still get out the door in time.
(Note: I realize that these are not good excuses for why a more disciplined approach to my morning wouldn’t fix my problems. While this is true, I’m trying to address these shortcomings with solutions, rather than relying on a fantasy alternative reality where I am a morning person.)
The elliptical is also good because it’s low impact on my knees. I’ve recently discovered that 330lbs is the magical number where my knees are starting to hurt by the end of the day. Ideally, I want to get back into running, like I had done in undergrad, but I know that my knees and shins wouldn’t hold up to the abuse of trodding at my current weight. The elliptical provides a good middle-ground to improve my cardio in the interim.
ACK! Zombies! RUN!
The last hurdle is that cardio is pretty boring. This is where the zombies come in. I’ve downloaded the Zombies, Run! 5k Training app (this is not a paid sponsorship; I just like the app). It’s a fun spin on the Couch to 5k (C25K) training systems that gradually build a person’s endurance over a multi-week period to get them from complete novice to a 5km run through weekly drills and timed runs.
I’ve used it for a couple of weeks as of writing, and I’ve been enjoying the experience and sharing my “runs.”
My experience with the app have been good so far. I like that it allows for external audio to play while the app is running. I run Spotify in the background for music, then the running app interjects periodically to give me instructions, such as when to run and when to walk. The app makes these instructions fun by forming them in terms of a story about a town fighting for survival during a zombie outbreak, so when you are running, it is from zombies that you can “hear” behind you. The training is framed as you learning to be a better runner for the town (runner scavenge for supplies out of town, hence why they need to learn to run faster from zombies). It adds a sense of purpose to the training, and provides a fun context to help you progress the story along. At its core, it’s an audiobook laid over a GPS/step tracker.
Because I can complete a mission in under an hour without leaving the house, it fits well with my time restrictions in the morning. I’m enjoying the experience and I hope to keep this going beyond the 8-week training module. Combining this with lifting weights at the gym a few days a week (or the occasional YouTube lead yoga session), it provides a sense of novelty to keep me engaged in the process.
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