Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for the 'Fitness' Category

Middle-age Fitness

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Every now and then, I post on fitness. I’m into weight-lifting, although I live far from the gym and don’t get there as often as I’d like. I also run. I used to run on the road, but around fifteen months ago, Ron and I got a treadmill, which we use a lot.

Anyway, I wanted to share my new strategy, in case it’s helpful to anyone else out there interested in middle-age fitness. (I’m fifty-five years old.)

Over the summer and into the fall I was having issues with running. I didn’t visit a doctor, but I’m sure I had plantar fasciitis in my right foot, some achilles tendon problems in the same foot, and an aching left hip. The hip was helped by stretching, but long periods of rest did not seem to help the foot, which was immensely discouraging. Eventually I visited a running store and got shoe insets for high arches. Since then, things have improved a lot. I’m not feeling perfect. I don’t think the aches and pains will ever be entirely gone, but they’re minuscule enough to ignore for now, and I’ve also changed my routine to minimize impact and wear-and-tear on the body.

My new routine calls for a run on the treadmill only once or twice a week, aiming for five miles at a 9:30/mile pace. I’d like to push this out to an hour of running, but that hasn’t happened yet. At any rate, I listen to my body. If I’m hurting more than a little, or if I’m just not feeling it, I’ll stop. Oh, and I keep the treadmill at a very slight incline, hoping to reduce the impact on my feet.

On other days — as many days as I can manage — I raise the treadmill to a fairly steep incline (usually level 10 on my treadmill) and I walk at a fast pace for a full hour. This was surprisingly hard when I first started. I was walking at a 3mph pace, and I’d be fine until forty minutes or so, and then I’d get really tired or really hungry. But I kept at it, and now it’s pretty easy even though I’m walking much faster, covering over 3.4 miles in the same time.

With running and walking both, I always start fairly slowly and gradually add more speed.

I’ve found several advantages to walking fast on an inclined treadmill:

(1) I CAN READ OR LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS WHILE WALKING. A whole hour of uninterrupted reading/listening is a huge gain for me, and I can’t do either when I’m jogging.

(2) Walking is much easier on my body, so I can still get an aerobic workout while recovering between running days.**

(3) Walking absolutely helps with my conditioning for running, without all the wear and tear.

So there you go. If you have access to a treadmill, incline walking provides a great respite from running.

If you have any advice for me on how to up my running game or make the aches go away, please let me know.

** An exercise bike would also reduce impact of course, but I don’t like exercise bikes! Also, women my age need load-bearing exercises to stave off osteoporosis.

On Running

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

We are capable of far more than we imagine.

Yesterday, for the first time, I ran six miles on the treadmill and I did it in 55:28, which works out to an average pace of 9:15/mile — not a big deal, but still, not bad for a fifty-four year old woman of no great height or running ability.

I’m not much of a motivational speaker, but I do want to say that if you’re interested in fitness, in getting in shape, in getting stronger, go for it! (Usual caveats — check with a doctor, etc. — you know yourself better than I do.) But it’s very likely that you are capable of far more than you imagine. That’s been the case for me. I was well into my forties before I started running somewhat regularly. I remember being astonished when I was able to sustain a good pace for thirty minutes. Now I’ve almost doubled that.

I think the key is to start slowly but keep it up. I started by running on the road. It’s a country road, so there are reflectors along the side. I’d run for the distance of four or five reflectors, then walk for two or three. As the days passed I’d extend the running segments and reduce the walking segments, until eventually I was running the whole thing.

My muscles were very sore when I first started. I don’t work out when I’m really sore. I let my body rest and heal. But I do workout when I’m a little sore — and usually I feel a lot better the next day. I tend to push myself pretty hard. But I also have a history of not exercising for stretches of time, sometimes because I’m traveling, or I’m sick, or I’m just so busy…but I always get back to it.


Sunday, January 25th, 2015

This post is for the few gym rats who might be out there — my thoughts on weight machines by Hoist.

Around Thanksgiving our local 24-Hour Fitness gym closed for a few days, and when it re-opened most of the old weight machines were gone, replaced with a new line of equipment by a company called Hoist.

My evaluation so far: I don’t like Hoist all that much — not so far anyway — although I can appreciate aspects of their equipment, and I presume as time goes by I will adapt.

The main factor that makes Hoist different is that the seat moves on most of the machines. I presume this is to get more benefit from the exercise through every angle of the lift, and this aspect is fine with me. I don’t have any objection to it.

Another positive aspect is that the hand grips on most of their machines are a material somewhat like hard-rubber, so it’s more comfortable to lift with bare hands than with gloves.

There are three factors that I don’t like:


Weight Loss & Body Image

Friday, April 18th, 2014

This is a post on diet and weight loss — not something I usually blog about — but under the circumstances these subjects have been much on my mind.

I now weigh 113 pounds. Why is this significant? Because before I fractured my jaw on March 6, I weighed about 126 pounds. To give you some perspective, I’m 53 years old, 5’4” tall, and fairly athletic–on the day before my accident I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill in under thirty-two minutes, followed by a weight-lifting session which included a few chin-ups and 120-lb underhand lat pull downs. If you’d asked me at the time, I would have said that I could stand to lose five or six pounds — though I wasn’t too concerned about it.

But now that I have lost weight, I’m interested in the process, especially since our culture spends so much time debating the most effective way to drop pounds.

Stage 1 Achieved on a Fitness Goal

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Last March I read a post somewhere on women training to do pull ups and decided to make pull ups a fitness goal. Today, for the first time since then, I did one, albeit underhand (aka “chin up”). And then I did another, and a third, with resting in between. So three sets, one rep. 🙂 But hey, a few days ago I couldn’t do even one, so this is a BIG deal for me.

From here, the goal is to increase the reps and work up to being able to do multiple pull ups with an overhand grip.

Funny side story: in my early twenties I did a lot of weight training (as I’m doing now) but I could never do chin ups. Then, after carrying babies on my hips for a few years, I remember that I knocked off three chin ups without much problem. Go, motherhood!

I think one reason it’s taken me almost nine months to get to this point is that my training has been inconsistent, with long lapses in my visits to the gym. Also, it took a while before I got serious enough to start piling on the weight when doing the critical exercises. I do a variety of upper body exercises, but for me, the most important one proved to be the lat pull down, with my grip adjusted on the horizontal bar to simulate the way I would hold a bar if I were doing pull ups. I’m presently lifting 130-lbs on the lat pull down when using an underhand grip, and 110 pounds with an overhand grip. (I weigh around 127 lbs.)

I’ve seen maybe three women do pull ups at our gym. I talked to one of them, and she said to work on exercises to strengthen the core, so I started pushing that too.

And today it paid off.

If you’re wondering, I’m fifty-three years old.


Fitness Roundtable with Lisa Mason & Kevin J Anderson

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Lisa_Mason_Summer_of_LoveWriter Lisa Mason has put together a New Year’s Day roundtable on fitness and diet that includes myself and Kevin J Anderson, chatting about what we do to stay healthy. Check it out — you’ll soon notice that I am the most laid-back and undisciplined of this trio!

Part 1: Move It!: Keep Fit, Keep Writing: A Roundtable with Kevin J. Anderson, Lisa Mason & Linda Nagata

Part 2: Chow Down!: Keep Fit, Keep Writing: A Roundtable with Kevin J. Anderson, Lisa Mason & Linda Nagata

Lisa Mason is the author of ten novels including Summer of Love, A Time Travel (A Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (A New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book), as well as dozens of stories published in magazines and anthologies worldwide. Her latest release, Strange Ladies: 7 Stories was called “a must-read collection” by the San Francisco Review of Books. Visit her at Lisa Mason’s Official Website.

Kevin J. Anderson has published 125 books, more than fifty of which have been national or international bestsellers. He has written numerous novels in the Star Wars, X-Files, and Dune universes, as well as a unique steampunk fantasy novel, Clockwork Angels, based on the concept album by legendary rock group Rush. His original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series, the Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy, and his humorous horror series featuring Dan Shamble, Zombie PI. He has edited numerous anthologies, including the Five by Five and Blood Liteseries. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta are the publishers of WordFire Press.

What I Did For My Birthday

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

I’ve always been into fitness, but over the last couple of years I’ve been more consistent and have been pushing myself further. My workouts vary between road running upcountry, and treadmill along with weights at the gym. Upcountry runs are usually between 4.5 and 5.5 miles. Treadmill runs are shorter and faster. They don’t involve any hills and take place at sea level which means more oxygen! So it’s a completely different experience from running upcountry.

So I’ve been wondering how well I’d do on a road run on flat terrain at sea level. Could I do seven miles? That doesn’t sound like much for serious runners, but for me it’s meaningful. So for a birthday workout I decided to go down to Kihei/Wailea and run, because I’m not getting older, I’m getting better! Right?

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite the way I’d hoped. First, the distance was only six miles, and second, the land was not flat. I knew there were hills in Wailea…I just didn’t remember there were quite that many hills, or how steep some were.

My big mistake was that I left the road and ran along the beach walk. This meant I had the heat of the setting sun blazing in my face, but worse, I had to jog up a steep hill to get back to the road, which was, uh…challenging.

But in the end, I made the 6.1 miles in 59:40 and witnessed a gorgeous sunset. So it’s all good in the end.

Here’s my course:

Next . . . yoga?

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

So apparently I need to do yoga. I have a bum shoulder. I’ve been favoring it in the gym for a long time now, and have gradually decided that stretching helps, particularly hanging from my arms with less than my full weight.

Well, I just ran across a video “Workout Tips from Miss Hawaii 2012 Skyler Kamaka: Child’s Pose & T-spine Rotation.”

Me, watching the video: “Heh. That looks easy. I’ll try it.”

Me during the child’s pose: “Geez, the child’s pose hurts.”

Me during the t-spine rotation: “Look up? Good heavens, I can’t even look sideways…but I used to be able to bend like that….”

Me after reality hits: “I guess I need to do yoga.”

I look like I’m in great shape. Just don’t ask me to reach back and touch between my shoulder blades.

In Defense of the Gym

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

I was moved to write this post in reaction to an article cited over at Andrew Sullivan’s blog. The original article is called Clean Up Your Fitness Routine: The Case Against Gyms. Here’s the infamous quote:

Gyms are energy-sucking, disease-riddled, crowded, and often expensive. It’s an industry that exists because people pay a lot of money for the privilege of not meeting their personal health goals.

Energy sucking? Meaning, you’ve exercised so you’ve burned some energy? Uh, this is a feature, not a bug.

Disease riddled? Hmm—been to the mall lately? A movie theater? I’m going to play the mom here for a moment and tell you one of the best ways to avoid picking up random cold germs is to never touch your face (eyes, mouth, nose) if you haven’t just washed your hands with soap. I’m serious. Huge difference.

Expensive? I pay $33 and change per month at 24 Hour Fitness, on a month-to-month contract (my advice: don’t sign long-term gym contracts). If you’re paying thousands of dollars a year, as one respondent complained, find a different gym! You don’t need fancy. Come work out with us hoi polloi. We’re really not that bad.

Condescending gym rats: this was another complaint lodged by a respondent, and I have to say, give me a break! I don’t know about your gym, but at our gym we have an amazingly wide spectrum of people that includes polished, silver-haired executives, middle-aged women facing up to years of physical neglect, pods of steroid boys (they rarely seem to work out alone), the elderly, the seriously overweight of all ages, beautiful young men and women, and occasional youngsters. I do not see people getting harassed. I have never been harassed.

I’m out on the floor all the time, where the gender ratios are maybe 80/20 men to women. (Women seem to prefer the classes.) There are no issues. People are extremely polite. Sometimes a guy will be leaning on a machine, watching his buddy take a turn at another device. He’ll move immediately if I ask him. Sometimes someone who doesn’t know the rules will leave too many hundred-pound discs on a leg press. I just ask the nearest strong guy to move them for me. They’re always happy to help.

And every time I’m at the gym door at the same time as a man, he will open the door for me. Young guys, old guys, it doesn’t matter. I never cease to be impressed.

So if your gym is full of snobs or misogynists, find a different gym! And tell management why you’re leaving.

You might be wondering why anyone would bother going to a gym when they live on Maui. Why not just exercise outside? Well I do, part of the time. I jog the road. But I live on the side of a mountain. Everything is either uphill or downhill, so it’s hard. And unless I go outside very early or very late, it’s hot. And there’s traffic. Also there are no weight machines outdoors, and resistance training is a huge boon to fitness, especially as we age and lose muscle mass.

One great thing about a gym is that it has the power of place. When I walk into the gym, I’m there for one reason and one reason only, so it’s much easier to focus on a workout than it would be if I were using a weight machine at home.

The worst thing about the gym for me is that it’s a half-hour drive to get there, and with the price of gas these days, the round trip costs around $10. So I only go once or twice a week, when we’re going to town for other reasons, but I continue to pay my monthly membership fee, because the results are worth it to me.

Physical fitness should be encouraged. If the gym doesn’t work for you, that’s okay, find another way. But for many of us, gyms remain a great place to get, and stay, in shape.