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Rest is half the progress

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I decided to take a rest day today. I did exercise four days in a row and am looking forward to taking an outdoor run tomorrow. Today my muscles were a little sore from the uphill walking.
I spent some more time thinking about stress and what causes it. There is acute stress, where the body reacts to a challenge and this kind of stress happens in training and leads to the body developing endurance. This kind is not a problem.
The kind of stress that is of concern and interferes with aerobic training and performance is a high level of chronic stress. This kind of stress can reduce memory, negatively affect aerobic function, reduce immune function and fat burning and affect blood sugar.
Phil Maffetone asks his readers to make lists of stressors in their life and to distinguish between those that can easily be changed and those that can't. Then he recommends to take the ones that can't or won't be changed anytime soon off the list and focus on a few of the ones that can be changed.
This made me think about the difference between seemingly stressful events and things I choose to get stressed about. Doing too much, even of fun activities, falls in the second category. Perfectionism, whether it's in the area of work or of eating and exercise or hobbies also falls in the second category.
For those stressors that are unavoidable sometimes meditation or prayer as well as breathing exercises are very effective ways to manage stress. But we only think of these things if they are a regular part of our lives, which means we need to practice them in times of low stress as well.
Foods that increase adrenal stress are refined carbohydrates and sugar and caffeine, a good reason to avoid these, especially in combination or in higher doses.
Phil's book mentions not only Zinc but also Choline as nutrients that are beneficial for people with adrenal stress. Choline is the easiest to get from egg yolks, cauliflower, wheat germ or grains like amaranth or quinoa.
There is much more information in the book and I think I need to read it several times to put more of it into practice.
Avoiding most sugar and caffeine and increasing my intake of Zinc and Choline looks like a good place to start for me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DRAGONCHILDE 10/17/2011 12:35AM

    I have the tendency to overwork myself, sometimes. I have to remind myself that I need to rest, recover, let my muscles heal and rebuild.

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LATTELEE 10/16/2011 12:28AM

  interesting facts

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Long slow walk

Friday, October 14, 2011

Today I thought about taking a rest day but by afternoon I really felt like some more exercise than the dog walking I had done in the morning.
I decided to do some uphill walking on the treadmill and it turned into my "long, slow walk" rather than the usual long slow run, after all who would want to jog even slower than at 3.5 miles per hour.
This time I used a different approach. I did not measure speed but incline (elevation) on the treadmill. I started with a 15 minute warm-up where I increased the incline slowly from 2 to 9 at which point I reached my target heart rate. I should add that I decided to lower my target heart rate by two points after reading Phil Maffetone's description of how stress (physical, mental or emotional) will affect your pulse. Given that I was a little too busy this past week and did not eat very healthily plus did not get quite enough sleep I thought adjusting the target heart rate would help. It seems to have worked because after 5 miles of walking I felt great and could have easily kept going.
Here are the results:

Mile 1: incline 9
Mile 2: incline 8.5
Mile 3: incline 9
Mile 4: incline 9.5
Mile 5: incline 10

Why I was able to increase the incline I am not sure. I was on the treadmill this time that was right next to a fan so I may have stayed cooler. This is not an exact science.

There was another benefit to walking, apart from the one Phil Maffetone mentions, that exercising in an even lower cardio range has additional benefits: I was more able to focus on my thoughts and spent the time I was walking analyzing the things I had just read about: stress, cortisol production, diet and the adrenal glands.
More about that in my next blog. For now I just want to share that eating foods that are high in zinc, like pumpkin seeds, benefit the adrenal glands and promote better sleep.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARTHASPARKS 10/15/2011 11:16PM

    You seem to be doing well. Keep up the good work!

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A ride and a run

Friday, October 14, 2011

Today I started the day with a trail ride through the harvested wheat fields. Together with a friend we let our horses climb the hills in perfect fall weather, around 55-60 degrees F.
My resting pulse was still up to 70 this morning.
Just for fun I wore my heart rate monitor during the trail ride and confirmed that riding is really not a cardio workout for me most of the time. My heart rate never went over 115 except when I lifted the saddle on the horse. Even grooming and brushing did not get my pulse up very much. Next time I'll put the heart rate monitor on the horse, not kidding, they make straps for heart rate monitors that fit horses.
This afternoon I went back to the gym for another 3 mile run on the treadmill.
Incline was set at 2, the difference to last time was that I cut the warm-up down to 7-8 minutes from about 15.
The results were a little different:

Mile 1: 3.5 mph
Mile 2: 3.5 mph
Mile 3: 3.5 mph

Phil Maffetone mentions in his book that if people do the MAF test without proper warm-up it can happen that Mile 1 is slower than Mile 2 or 3. So next time I will go back to doing the full 15 minute warm-up.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LINDAKAY228 10/16/2011 6:09PM

    I haven't ridden a horse in years but I used to love to do trailriding. Reading this brought back so many fond memories!

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KKINNEA 10/14/2011 11:07AM

    Looks like the miles are a little speedier here? Enjoying this experiment you're undertaking.

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Second MAF test

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I had originally planned to do an uphill walking MAF test today because walking is what I do on my non-running days.
I started this morning by taking my resting pulse which was 68, a little on the high side, normal is about 60 for me.
When I got on the treadmill this afternoon I decided to repeat the jogging test from yesterday. I was still feeling slightly frustrated by the results I had gotten yesterday and was hoping against all odds that the heart rate monitor or the treadmill was wrong and that today's results would be much better. emoticon
Well, it got worse. After half a mile of warmup walking uphill I started the 3 mile test with the treadmill set at an incline of 2.

Mile 1: 3.7 mph average speed
Mile 2: 3.3 mph average speed
Mile 3: 3.1 mph average speed

After the first mile I went through everything in mind that I had just read in Phil Maffetone's book about the role of stress on the body and how the MAF test will often show this before any other obvious signs. I was thinking first of the heavy chlorine smell at the gym that is due to the indoor pool next door having the same venting system. I've always been affected by chlorine in the air, even when I'm not swimming.
What surprised me is that after three slow miles (4 incl. warmup and cooldown) I felt like I had had a hard workout. Now, about 1 hour after the workout I'm still feeling tired and am wondering if I caught my daughter's cold or at least if my body is fighting it off. If that is the case my results should improve in a week from now. Or maybe I'm just the slowest jogger around.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KKINNEA 10/12/2011 11:24PM

    It will be interesting to see the results of the various tests.

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First MAF test

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I didn't feel that much like running today but was curious what the MAF test would show using my new heart rate monitor rather than the built-in heart rate monitor of the treadmill at the gym. When I got to the gym I found it to be fairly warm and humid in there, quite the contrast to the cool outside air.
I set the incline of the treadmill to 2 to roughly simulate the effort of outdoor running, which is what I usually do. Then I started by warming up at a walk. The first 5 minutes I walked at 3mph, then increased the speed by 0.1 every minute until my pulse got close to my target heart rate of 132. My usual speed for long slow runs is about 5 mph or a 12 minute mile when running outside. My typical heart rate is around 140 bpm.

Here are the surprising numbers of the test after the warm-up:

Mile 1: 3.7 mph average speed
Mile 2: 3.4 mph average speed
Mile 3: 3.2 mph average speed

My average heart was 132-33 bpm but it ranged from 127 to 135. I found that when it went a little too high I could usually bring it back down by focusing on good form. I also found that looking down at the display brought my heart up by 2-3 beats, then when I looked straight ahead again and had my weight better balanced the heart rate went back down.
I realized sometime during mile 2 that if I had not had the heart monitor to rely on I would most likely have stopped running somewhere during mile 1 today. Judging my effort by speed would have misled me to think that I was doing so poorly that it's just not worth the effort. The heart rate monitor reading confirmed to me that my effort stayed the same throughout the workout regardless of the speed at which I was going.
I may repeat the MAF test with a different workout tomorrow: uphill walking on the treadmill.
Using the treadmill makes it a little easier to compare MAF tests with each other although there are still some variables like temperature and humidity in the gym and hydration.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

APIRLRAIN888 10/21/2011 3:03PM

    very interesting! read ur post on c25k. forum

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