Running Update (Taming Monkey Number 6)

Post Series: Twelve 30 Days Challenges In A Year

It’s the middle of the month today and it looks like a fine time to make a short recap of my taming monkey number 5 progress. If you don’t know what this taming monkey thing is, just go and read the first post. Basically, it’s like a monthly challenge which replaced my new year resolutions. The measurable part is that I decided to run at least 15 days in June.

The Data

Until today, I ran 10 days out of 15. Looks like, at least from the “measurable” point of view, I’ll make it. From where I am right now, doing it for 5 more days seems rather easy. But if I learned something since I started this “taming monkey” challenge, is that each and every monkey had some very unexpected effects.

The first and the most important one is that I want to run each and every day. 🙂 But I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself. Let’s stick to the data:

[tabs margin_bottom=”0″ margin_top=”0″ type=”tab_style_1″] [tab title=”Totals”]
  • Total workouts: 10
  • Total distance: 36.9 Kilometers
  • Total running time: 4 hours and 35 minutes
  • Total number of burned calories: 2842
[/tab] [tab title=”Averages”]
  • Average workout distance: 3.9 kilometers
  • Average time per workout: 27.5 minutes
  • Average run per workout: 2.46 kilometers
  • Average number of burned calories per workout: 284
[/tab] [tab title=”Longest”]
  • The longest run in one shot: 1.1 kilometers
  • Longest workout: 5.5 kilometers
[/tab] [/tabs]

BTW, if you’re wondering how I pulled those nifty tabs out, you gotta check out WPSumo, the wordpress framework that powers my blog. I did those tabs without a single line of code ;).

Also, if you’re wondering how was I able to extract such a detailed data, the answer is rather simple: I’m using Nike+ GPS, an iPhone app which proved to be really helpful. It tracks the total time per workout, the number of burned calories (based on my actual body measurements) and it also lets me input other details. Some of these are presets which are rather useless (it was rainy or sunny?) while others are pretty interesting, like my mood and the type of track, including a free form text field where I usually input all my running time.

The Approach

I decided to do it in the morning, because I can have a better control of my time in the morning. The evenings are usually dedicated to business meetings (yes, I’m still a digital nomad and I do have strange working hours) or to various social events, like getting out with friends or going to the movies.

I started to run in very short shots. In the beginning, I didn’t run for more than 300 meters in one shot. After this, 300 meters of power walking. Then I gradually started to increase the distances. I crossed the 1 kilometer limit in my seventh workout.

So far, I had only 3 main issues:

1. Breathing

It was rather difficult to find my own pace, at least in the beginning. Either I did it too fast and almost hyperventilated myself, or I was doing it not deep enough, thus the need to compensate every 4 or 5 breathes with a deeper one. Also, even the weather was absolutely fine, my throat seemed to become irritated if I was keeping an accelerated breathing pace for more than 4-5 minutes.

As I advanced and I kept putting myself there, I slowly found a little bit of balance. Now I can breathe normally for the first 3-4 minutes and my throat only gets irritated after 20 minutes. I guess I just have to keep pushing.

2. Ankle Pain

Around my 7th workout my right ankle kinda decided to have a life of its own. Like starting to hurt, for instance. It wasn’t a severe injury, but enough to feel it and affect my running balance and speed. It started rather mildly but aggravated in the last two workouts, up to the point that I decided to treat it with some BenGay. So far it’s under control, but I don’t know for how long.

I have a little bit of a history with my right ankle. I got it injured pretty much every year in the last 4 years (around the same time of the year, go figure) and it was always because I kept pushing on something that I wasn’t quite ready for. I suspect that there might be other reasons involved, not only physical. That’s why I decided to be proactive about it and don’t let it go out of control.

3. Will And Focus

But the most important issue was focus and, subsequently, will. Each time I started to run, my visual field was modified. I was moving, of course, and faster than I was used to. So I had to focus more on what I was looking at. My world was basically shaking around. You know the feeling.

The problem was that I had to find some extra resources to alleviate this problem. Like finding a little bit of smoothness around me. I guess I was trying to unconsciously do what a digital camera stabilizer is doing.

Around my fifth workout things got under control with this one too. I was able to separate my will from my perception. My lungs were hurting, my throat was irritated, my muscle legs and my right ankle were in pain but, somehow, I was outside of all this. My will was like an observer which was controlling this pile of muscle and bones and kept commanding to it: “two hundreds meters more, you can do it”. And indeed, those extra 200 meters were the ones that were the most important in the whole workout.

But even after I managed to control my will on a regular basis, some days are still better than others.

Running Effects

I lost some weight (didn’t measure that so far but I can see it from my outfits, which got larger), I have a better mood throughout the day, I sleep better (and far more less than usual, sometimes just a few hours per night) and I kinda have a much clearer approach on things. Like I don’t panic much (I didn’t panic before either, but some anxiety was always at the table) and find it easier to communicate my point of view.

Some of these workouts were scheduled while one of my kids were spending the day with me. If it was Victor, my 13 year old son, I took him with me. He actually seemed to enjoy this activity. At least for a while. If it was Bianca, my 5 year old daughter, I took her with me too and left her play with her grand mother until I finished my workout. Then we got together and played some more.

I know that I’m not yet stabilized, so to speak. My metabolism is still trying to adjust to this change. And it is a rather drastic change. But as I advance in this new direction, I can see the progress. And that’s what I’m after, in the end.

Taming Monkey Feedback

I’ve been talking to a number of people about this whole “taming monkey” challenge. Like real people, not over the internet. Some of them were friends, other just casual social interactions. All of them seemed surprised.

Some of them are still using new year resolutions. Some of them are not into this goal setting thing at all. But all of them are understanding the whole concept very clearly. Each and everyone has an underdeveloped part of himself that still creates some blocks. Each and everyone has some promises that he or she never lived up to. And each and every one of them are accepting the fact that they have to do something about this.

So, from where I am right now, I think I know what my next book will be about. At least one of them, for sure. A guide for taming your inner monkeys. Based on a real, 12 months long experience.

But then again, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m only in the sixth month. 🙂



Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner


The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”

And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.

Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.

If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.

Running For My Life -from zero to ultramarathoner

Dragos Roua

The guy who started all this. Entrepreneur, ultra-marathoner, tanguero, father and risk taker. I'm blogging here, but I also spend a lot of time in this marvelous space.. You're invited, by the way.