In July of 2016, I noticed that my physical conditioning was not what it should have been. I had just finished two years of teaching at Coffee High School in Douglas, Georgia, and I realized that I needed to start exercising seriously again. Later that month, in an attempt to recapture the glory, I decided that I would jog everyday for at least 100 days. Well, 100 days passed and I kept on jogging. On November 21st of 2017, I hit a big milestone when I finished jog #500. Wow, almost a year and a half of jogging without missing a single day. Here are my thoughts and observations on more than 500 days of jogging:
1. Walking is great, but it does not compare to jogging (at least not to me). It’s a totally different movement that requires a different level of fitness.
2. Now that I’m 53 years old, I see a lot of my contemporaries are suffering from poor health. Jogging is my attempt to stay in shape as best I can.
3. Jogging gives me structure now that I’m no longer working. It’s hard to blow off a jog when you have so much free time. Getting a jog in means that I did at least one good thing for myself during the day.
4. I need a goal; that’s the reason I run every day. Jogging adds purpose to my life.
5. Jogging provides a simple baseline of fitness. It’s nice to know that I can go out and reel off 30 minutes of jogging without killing myself. Many of my contemporaries are starting to have health problems; that motivates me to keep jogging.
6. Nothing clears your head like a jog. Stress and worries seem to subside (or disappear) after a brief jog. The longer the jog, the fresher my mind feels.
7. Jogging can be done almost anywhere without any special equipment. Shoes + road/trail = jog!
8. My weight was a little heavy for me at around 245 to 250 lbs. These days it varies from 235 to 240 lbs.
9. My minimal qualifying jog is 12 minutes. That’s the deal I made with myself…a 12-minute minimum or the jogging streak is broken.
10. However, I prefer to jog at least 15-21 minutes.
11. When my legs allow, I like a long jog on Sundays. Sunday jogs are long and leisurely…just long enough to test my endurance a little.
12. I try to jog with 3-minute increments in mind. For example, if I feel good after 18 minutes of jogging, I’ll go for 21 but not 19 or 20. Gotta get that extra three minutes!
13. On a few occasions, my jog did not end on a 3-minute increment. That meant that I had a bad cramp or Mother Nature called.
14. Here’s how I log all of my jogs:
16. You have to build up gradually. During the first three weeks, my jogs were in the 12- to 21-minute range.
17. I’m not Mr. D-1 Hoopster Extraordinaire anymore…ego suppression is not easy. You would think that a 53-year-old man would have cooled his adolescent jets by now, but you’d be wrong. The urge to push the limits is always there.
18. Here are the places I have jogged in the U.S.
Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida
19. I’m a jogger not a runner. I’m man enough to admit that I’m really slow these days.
20. My buddy Mark Eichenlaub fed me lots of needed inspiration throughout my jogging streak:
— Mark Eichenlaub (@MarkWEichenlaub) August 8, 2016
Gamification and Other Tricks
21. By making myself end jogs in three-minute intervals (12, 15, 18, etc.), I’m constantly forcing myself to go just a little farther than I might want.
22. If I’m going to cross into the next interval but don’t feel like jogging a full three minutes, I pick a landmark and make myself get there before the end of the minute. For example, if I’m at 18′ and don’t want to go for 21 minutes, I might have to run hard for 30-45 seconds to make it to my arbitrary goal. A couple of times I was chugging along and busting my hump to get to my goals. This strategy makes my jog a little exciting.
23. Sometimes I miss my goal and pass into the next minute. In those rare instances, I have to jog two more minutes as punishment for being a sorry lard derriere that day.
24. 5-4-3 was a mental trick I used early in the streak. I’d jog 5 minutes and walk for 2-3 minutes, then I’d jog 4 minutes and rest a little, and last I’d jog 3 minutes to get my total jogging time up to 12 minutes. That little mind game helped a lot during the first month of jogging. I also did 6-5-4 a few times to get 15-minute jogs done.
Ideal Jogging Conditions
25. Jogging on grass is always better than the street or other hard surfaces. My feet and body can always feel the difference after a jog on grass.
26. Grass may be great but tall grass sucks because of chiggers and “red bugs.” After a horrible encounter with “seed ticks” in 2012, I avoid uncut tall grass for jogging. If you don’t know what seed ticks are, check out some of these images of “seed tick bites.” (I had about 75 of those bites on my legs in 2012…boy did they itch!)
27. I should walk more after my jogs because just being outside and the fresh air is therapeutic. Walking is also very easy on the body.
28. I love to run in the form of speed work. As slow as I am, I really enjoy revving the engines. It always feels good to run hard and sprint.
29. On a couple of travel days I did my jogs at 5 a.m. to keep the streak alive. Now that’s dedication…plus, Cal Ripken is always watching.
30. Morning jogs are best. The weather is cooler, most people are sleeping, but my day is already rolling.
31. Overall, I love being outdoors because it seems to have a calming effect on me. It must be all the natural light.
32. I hate the combination of heat and direct sunlight. A little shade or a cap to keep the sun off my head can be a lifesaver.
33. All that whining and complaining aside, I love being in the sun, especially in the fall and spring. Oh joy!
34. Evening jogs are great too, but I estimate that they made up less than 20% of my jogs. I usually prefer to get the jog done instead of waiting for later.
Clothing, Equipment, and Footwear
35. Wicking shirts are a must if you are going to jog or workout with regularity. They’re great because, unlike a cotton shirt, they cool your body by getting heat and sweat AWAY from your body.
36. As great as wicking shirts can be, be aware that they can stink to the high heavens. My favorite shirt is a blue one I got at the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida. If you ever see me in it, run for the hills because it smells like Sasquatch roadkill.
37. In 2012 I bought four pairs of Russell athletic shorts for a grand total of $20. Unless I’m jogging in my bathing suit at the beach, I’m jogging in my $5 shorts. Bonus, they have pockets for keys, money, and cigarettes. (Okay, maybe not that last one.)
38. At least 80% of my jogs have been in my Vibram Five-Fingers (affiliate link). I started training in Vibrams in 2011, and they’ve been my jogging footwear of choice ever since. My back no longer hurts, my mid-foot strike is second nature, and I’ve developed a keen eye for rocks, glass, and tree roots.
39. I also like barefoot shoes like my Merrell trail shoes (affiliate link). These shoes have a little more padding than my Vibrams, and they have better toe protection. That said, they’re still very minimal, so a heel-strike would be a no-no with these shoes.
40. I’m not a sock freak since I only wear them on about 20% of my jogs. My current sock collection is hodgepodge of over-sized socks bought at Walmart. Nothing fancy about my socks.
41. Last summer I used some Shoe Goo to patch up my favorite Merrell barefoot shoes. Shoe Goo won’t make them last forever, but it might give them another year or two.
42. I time all of my jogs with my super sweet Casio watch (affiliate link). It’s so advanced that it even has a stopwatch! (I sure wish the light worked worth a crap!)
People I Think About When I Jog:
43. My Dad because he has type-2 diabetes and its accompanying health problems. The main reason I jog is to stiff arm preventable health problems.
44. Forest Gump doesn’t have anything on me. Actually, I love the running scenes in that movie. I also love the idea of running just because you feel the need to run. I’m 6’7″ and 235 lbs (not your ideal runner), but for some reason I LIKE to jog, so jogging it is!
45. Steve Prefontaine was, is, and always will be a running bada$$. Anytime I jog with more pace than usual, I’m channeling the Pre baby!
— Dr. Jim Afremow (@goldmedalmind) September 22, 2016
46. Micah True is another butt-kicker who was in my thoughts. Back when I was contemplating running jogging a marathon, I thought of the Caballo Blanco all the time.
48. Dr. Art De Vany because he’s an 80 year old man with 10% body fat. He also is against excessive running…”chronic cardio” as he calls it. He suggests that there is a jogging sweet spot of 29-139 minutes a week. I try to keep my weekly jogging total within that range. Friend him on Facebook if you like.
by Quitting My Job
by Taking "Crappy" Jobs
49. Dr. Tim Noakes is the runner who advocates a low-carb lifestyle. Oh yeah almost forgot, he was one of the first proponents of carb-loading for runners, but now he has abandoned that position; follow him on Twitter..
50. My pal Carl Jensen (of 1,500 Days to Freedom fame) decided to get in on the jogging fun:
Hey @Ed_Mills_, I ran 5 miles today! A month ago, I could barely run one without huffing and puffing. And I’m starting to like it!
— Mr. 1500 (@retirein1500) February 4, 2017
Injuries and Problems
51. Plantar fasciitis has not been a problem at all during this jogging streak. For that I am thankful because I had a problem with it years ago.
52. Tendinitis occasionally makes an appearance on the top of my right foot. Nothing too painful, it’s just a reminder that I’m alive!
53. My soleus muscle was a huge problem during the first couple of months of the jogging streak.
54. I love red wine, but it seems to negatively affect my soleus muscles. The day after a few glasses of red wine seem to lead to muscle tightness or all out cramps. In my basketball days, I never suffered from muscle cramping. Yikes, it can hurt!
55. Drinking beer doesn’t seem to affect my soleus muscle as much. Why? Who knows!
56. Speed work became less frequent as I nursed my soleus injuries. It’s hard to sprint when you can barely walk.
57. I hate horseflies because they are so persistent and their bites REALLY hurt! I swatted and killed many a horsefly on my jogs on the soccer fields of Coffee County Middle School in Douglas, Georgia.
58. You never know what you might see on a jog. I came across this roadkill fox in a very residential neighborhood in Tifton, Georgia.
59. Sometime in November, I looked down at my right foot and notice a blanking tailor’s bunion (juanete de sastre). It doesn’t hurt, but it is butt ugly. I was going to put a picture of it in the post, but I decided to spare you. (If you are dying to see one, click here. Mine is nowhere near that size!)
Jogging in Mexico
60. Morning jogs are the most common here in the Yucatan because it heats up quickly. I usually complete my jog before 10 a.m.
61. Of course I did a couple of midday jogs just to test the mettle. I’m happy to report that I didn’t die a few jogs in 95+ degree heat. The most I usually ran in such heat was 18 minutes. (Come on, I’m not a complete fool!)
62. You have to be aware of holes and missing covers in Mexico. If not, your jogging (and walking) days could be over forever. For example:
63. Everyone in the Yucatan has a sixth sense for the shade. Well, now I’m the same way…I instinctively follow the shade on hot days. I don’t think about it, I just do it. Yep, I’m yucateco now!
64. Here are all the places I have jogged in Mexico:
65. Did I mention the hazardous jogging conditions in Mexico?
66. The greatest danger that joggers face in Mexico is…car traffic. Just like everywhere else in the world, you have to be on the lookout for distracted drivers these days. Overall, I think Mexico is much more pedestrian (and jogger) friendly than it used to be.
67. Jogging is a great way to sight see because no one seems to mess with joggers. “He’s busy training,” they think to themselves. Salesmen never try to sell to you, beggars don’t ask for alms, and restaurateurs don’t try to wave you in. (After all, who wants a smelly jogger in a Sasquatch-roadkill shirt in their establishment?)
Highlights and Memories
68. My most difficult jog was a 12-minute jog at the beach in Cancun. I had to get a jog completed, so I took off running in the sand. OMG, within two minutes I was huffing and puffing and my heart was pounding like a jackhammer. Soft sand is a jogging nightmare, especially when you’re 53 years old. Runner up: a post-Halloween party jog in Chattanooga; it’s not easy to jog 12 minutes on hills after way too many beers.
69. My most enjoyable jogs were along Blvd. Kukulcan leading to the beaches of Cancun. I jogged on the sidewalks and in the grassy medians, and it was especially pretty around Christmas.
71. I remember feeling guilty for taking a break by only jogging for 12 minutes for about 10 days. I reminded myself that there is no shame in taking it easy for a while in order to let my old legs rejuvenate a little.
72. I’ve got to be the biggest jogger most people see all year. That’s certainly true in Mexico where people occasionally do double-takes. Little kids seem amazed (and sometimes terrified) at my height and size. I’ve seen many a kid get closer to his mother as I pass. If they only knew how harmless I am!
73. One thing I learned during this streak is that you shouldn’t over do it. More is not better. If you’re going to jog daily like I did, you probably shouldn’t try to hammer long runs every day. In my case, I think my body would have broken down with injuries. Instead, I was able to chug along with only a few days of difficult jogs (those jogs with aching soleus muscles…yowza!)
74. Not-overdoing-it talk aside, I still don’t like words like “balanced” and “moderate.” If you want some kick-butt results, you sometimes have do something extreme. Do you want to save a big chunk of money? Then load up all of your accounts. Do you want to reclaim your fitness? Then exercise every day…no ifs, ands, or buts.
75. I realize that most days I don’t stretch at all. Instead, I just start off slow and slowly increase my speed. Don’t worry, I never push it until I’m good and loose.
Non-Jogging Aspects of the Streak
76. You’ll see on my jogging calendar that I fast a couple of times a years. Three or four times a year I fast for four days. I view fasting as a metabolic cancer-prevention treatment. Here’s an interesting video on fasting.
77. Through much of the jogging streak I also did a basic Pilates workout. Everything I know about Pilates I learned from Daniel Lyon’s book, The Complete Book of Pilates for Men (affiliate link).
78. In November of 2017, Edwina and I joined a gym and began weight-lifting again. I had forgotten how much I enjoy working out with weights. Jogging is great, but lifting is totally different. The first week at the gym was really difficult because, let’s face it, we’re in our 50’s now. When you take an 18 month layoff from weights, you just don’t come back and start throwing monster weight around. These days I’m lifting weights to improve my body composition, increase (or maintain) my overall strength, and rehab my trashed right shoulder.
79. My right shoulder began hurting around January of 2017 due to excessive push-ups. Like an idiot, I got up to about 200 push-ups on my jogs in Progreso, Mexico last December. One day I noticed some soreness in the shoulder, and I later started hearing clicks and pops. Since I’ve already had surgery on the shoulder in 2009, I should have learned my lesson, but “a meathead has gotta meat!” Anyway, trying to work out around a bum shoulder is a new experience for me.
80. Since January of 2011 I have been doing some form of a low-carb eating protocol. My default eating is similar to the Slow Carb Diet made famous by Tim Ferriss. Some days I eat no carbs, some days low carbs, and some days some slow carbs (beans). Naturally, I call it my No-Low-Slow-Carb Diet. I do allow for dietary cheats now and then, but I don’t have my sweet-tooth cravings like I used to. Overall, I think my improved dietary habits work very nicely with my current jogging streak.
Today’s jog was #517; that means I have only 483 more jogs until I hit #1,000. I’m not going to over complicate what I’m doing here. The plan is pretty simple: every day I’ll slip on some footwear and I’ll go jog for at least 12 minutes. If I do that minimal amount of jogging, I’ll count the jog and the magical streak will continue. I plan on making my next goal of 1,000 jogs. Along the way, I’ll add weights, Pilates, and other activities, but my daily jog will continue to be the starting point of my fitness plan.
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