Health & Fitness

The seven day challenge

On Sept. 29, I and 20 other crazies took part in La TraverSeine, a 26 kilometer death-paddle up and down the main Paris waterway. I am a member of the Miami Dragon Slayers, a dragon boat team based out of Virginia Key, and have been for the past 18 months or so.

(Dragon boating, for those not aware of the region’s obscure athletic pursuits, is a long thin boat with between 10 and 20 paddlers, all paddling like mad on their side of the boat, a steersperson at the back and, sometimes, a drummer at the front.) 

As part of the prep for this journey, we practiced for months in the relentless Miami sun, going for longer and longer distances and getting stronger and stronger. While in Paris, our group walked everywhere, tallying 10 miles or more each day. This is, I imagine, is how we could eat and drink like we were going to the electric chair and actually lose weight.

And then, via a nine-and-a-half hour journey back to Miami, I returned to reality — and a head cold. The first practice back was much, much rougher than I imagined. Instead of the almost languid pace necessary for the 26 kilometer (almost) marathon, we were now being coached to perform for our standard race length — 500 meters. Making a distance runner to suddenly do sprints, well, hurts.

Something needed to be done. Because of my current class schedule, I am unable to attend the team’s normal Monday and Wednesday night practices, and have to rely solely on the Saturday morning ones. Since our next race is on Oct. 19 in Orlando, that means I will only have one more practice — this Saturday’s — prior to showtime. A fair amount of conditioning, outside of the water, is in order.

Seven days of, um, fun?

I have been a practitioner of Bikram or hot yoga for quite some time now. Sometimes it’s hard to know if I’ve gotten any better, as the poses are remarkably difficult, but I do know that when I go regularly: I get injured less, sleep better and generally feel better mentally and physically. There’s some indication, for me, anyhow, that is helps manage my blood pressure, which can hardly be a bad thing.

It also seems to greatly increase my endurance on the dragon boat. So, in preparation for Orlando, I’m going to commit to a seven-day challenge, using this blog for motivation and accountability. I suspect most days it will be the yoga practice, but if I choose something different, I’ll note it. I’ll post my progress here, along with my general feelings on the workout du jour, from now until next Thursday. (I’ve decided to give myself the day off on Oct. 18, the day before the race.)

Additionally, I’m going to be very careful about what I eat and drink, significantly reducing — and some days eliminating — any alcohol intake. Let’s see how it goes!

Day One: 90-minute Hot Yoga

I am a member of Agni Miami a studio on just north of where I live on Biscayne Boulevard. I really love the place: the instructors, the fellow students, the overall vibe. The class I took today wasn’t too bad. I didn’t have much in the way of balance, but I got through Camel Pose  without feeling like I was going to lose my breakfast, so that’s a good thing.

Over the next few days, I’ll also note how the exercise seemed to impact my sleep and overall stress levels, but since today is the first day of this experiment, it’ll have to wait. But check out the heart rate and temperature stats. See you tomorrow!

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