It’s January. The gym is crowded. Everyone is making a smoothie. My feeds are clogged with resolutions and fitness ads. If you are looking to start a new running routine, or return to an old one after the holidays, here are the 4 things that I’ve seen work the best to get the run streak started and keep it going through the end of the year.
Goal: Become more flexible
Required Actions: Do a set of daily 10 minute foam rolling and stretching exercise. Find a way to incorporate yoga regularly into my workout routine.
Progress: I can’t say I’m doing a daily 10 minute routine, but I’ve been stretching regularly and attending yoga once a week.
Goal: Run 3 5K’s and do 3 sprint triathlons
Required Actions: Monitor the knee and sign up for the races when I’m feeling good. I’ve already done one 5k and spoken to friends about doing a few triathlons.
It’s too early to tell, but I think I’ll look back at 2017 and remember it as the year I turned 40 and the year I developed arthritis in my knee. Not exactly two inspiring events to remember, but we don’t always get to pick happy, rosy memories. Life happens. Sometimes you make it happen and sometimes it happens to you.
I turn 40 this year and time is growing short (just kidding!) so let’s get the big one out of the way first. I’m going to run the Chicago Marathon in October. At the end of last season when I started thinking about this year’s fitness goals, I originally thought I would try to go after that sub-90 minute half-marathon. Truthfully, the half marathon is probably my favorite running event but somehow that didn’t seem big enough, memorable enough for a milestone year like 40. Go big or go home, right?
I’m sitting in the office writing this while the snow outside still sits just inches below the nearby window sill and my poor garden beds are shivering under at least three feet of snow and ice. Last year I planted the first peas the weekend after St. Patrick’s Day on March 20/21st. It seems hard to believe that I’ll be able to see bare ground let alone get a spade blade into the earth in less than a month. Still, the garden catalogs are pouring into the mailbox, so it’s probably time to take stock and plan out what I want to accomplish (or at least attempt) this year.
This will be year four of, while maybe not serious, a bit more intense than a few patio pots, gardening. A quick recap of the lessons learned from the past three years.
Year 1: Built the semi-raised beds and filled them with gloriously organic, virgin soil. Plants and yields were great.
Year 2: Turns out in addition to the great soil, I think we had great weather for the most part as well. Year 2 was marked with a very cool, rainy start that knocked down a vast majority of the tomato plants with blight. I took solace in the fact that most other gardeners were suffering along with me and it wasn’t something I did.
Year 3: If year 2 was the year of wet and blight, year 3 was depleted soil and bugs. I had added some additional compost and soil goodies, but it must not have been enough. The yields were generally meager at best. After three years, beetles, horn worms and other pests have discovered my plots in earnest.
With those things in mind, here are my goals for year 4:
1. Pump up the soil
It all starts with the dirt. I’m going to re-dig the beds with a lot more compost and manure than I have in the past two years. If that doesn’t work this year, I’ll send samples off to UMass again to analyze to see if it’s a specific deficiency. Along those lines, we’ve been home composting in a bin for the last three years. I think it’s time to see if we have anything usable in there to add to the beds. I’ll build a simple screen and see if the compost effort is paying off at all.
2. Add more upside down hangers
While the upside down experiment didn’t work out too well on the larger varieties last year, they did work gang busters on the sweet 100’s and the other cherry varieties. I’d like to add three more hangers along the garage eaves. Two for additional cherries (Cece’s favorite) and one for pickling cukes.
3. Try pickling cukes again
The problem hasn’t really been growing them, it’s been using them. Along with everything else, we had bumper crops in year one and decent yields in two, but each year was an unmitigated disaster in the actually pickling process. I think I’ve found a good, fool proof method this year, so despite Chelle’s reservations, I’m trying again!
4. Harvest winter garlic
One of last year’s goals was trying to overwinter some crops. I chose garlic mainly on co-worker recommendations and its general infallibility. This spring it’s time to put that to the test and see if we can harvest, dry and use the two different varieties we planted last November. Trying to stay positive, but that garlic has to be chilly, despite the blanket of salt hay, under all that snow. Fingers crossed.
5. Better Pea and zucchini yields
I’m hoping this is largely related to the soil issues (see #1 above) but last year was crushingly disappointing in terms of good peas and zucchini, two of our top 3 favorite veggies to grow.
6. Plant (at least) one fruit bush
We inherited a blueberry bush with the house and have kept an ever bearing strawberry plant going, but we’d like to clear out space near the garage, a nice warm sunny protected spot to plant some raspberry bushes.
7. Healthier Pumpkins
Finally, I’d like to focus on pumpkins more this year. We’ve grown them in the neighbor’s larger plot the last two years and both times eked out at least one decent gourd, but they have mainly been an afterthought. It seems the long growing time and the ambling nature of the plant leave vulnerable to all sorts of fungi and pests. This year I’ll try to see if I can’t even the odds a bit and give the pumpkin patch a little more TLC.
Seven seems like a good lucky number and more than enough to keep me busy.
Deferred till next year (and beyond):
- Better watermelons – while we got a number of sugar melons last year, on the whole the entire patch was an abject failure. I’ll take a year off and try again next year
- Potatoes- I think Cecilia would like digging around to harvest the potatoes. I’ll try this next year when she’s a little older and can do more from start to finish.
- Creating a new raised bed for a dedicated kitchen herb garden
- Starting tomatoes from seedlings
- A more concerted canning/preservers effort
- Add a (dwarf) apple tree