Fitness in Increments

In some ways, I am lucky that I now live about 1.6 miles from work. One of the lifestyle objectives I have been targeting for some time now is driving my car a lot less. It’s good for the environment and also for my temperament. I’ll be honest with you, I do not like driving and I do not like other peoples’ driving, especially in Madison WI, which has some of the worst drivers I have ever seen (though that could be an artifact of the fact that I drive here more often than other places).

But I digress.

Another lifestyle objective that I pursue on and off is trying to run more. I am currently ON. Running is not my favorite thing to do, but it is a fantastic form of aerobic exercise. All the serious runners I know are in great shape, lean and full of energy. I can’t say for sure the direction of cause and effect is that running makes people more lean and vibrant. It’s possible lean and vibrant people just like to run more than everyone else. But I am hypothesizing it is the former, running leads to lean vibrancy.

When I run, I like to try to make it 5 kilometers, or roughly 3.2 miles. The problem is that my left hip joint does not like this distance at all and it sometimes gets acutely inflamed in protest. However, I discovered that I don’t get hip inflammation if I run half that distance, which just so happens to be 1.6 miles, exactly the distance I now live from work (coincidence or cosmic confluence?). Thus, I can get a 5k run accomplished in a day if I do half of it as my morning commute and the other half as my evening commute, without the inflammation (I have tested this to make sure). The 8.5 hours or so spent at work seems to be ample time to recover from any mild inflammation in that joint that comes from the morning run. It should be noted that I also try to run at a comfortable medium pace, especially for the run home. It’s not a race.

I can also bike commute to work, and living as close to work as I do now, biking is an excellent transportation option in lieu of driving, or if I do not have time to run. However, biking is not a very useful fitness option, because I barely break a sweat over that short distance. I used to live 7.5 miles from work, which was a nice distance for bike commuting (~15 miles per day round trip) and took about 35 minutes one way. Biking is my preferred mode of both exercise and transport, but it is not quite as potent of a fitness workout as running, as far as heart rate and endorphins (runner’s high). Plus, the current round trip 3.2 mile commute to work via running is at most 40 minutes, versus the 70 minutes or so needed to bike commute from where I used to live.

So now that I live 1.6 miles from work, I am motivated to run my commute a lot more often, achieving both my goals of running more and driving less. If my hypothesis is correct, I should also become leaner and more vibrant.

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