Wednesday, October 02, 2013
A quick follow-up to yesterday's blog since so many folks commented on it. Thanks for the kinds words and support.
Apparently, my complacent, apathetic self just won't go away without a fight. Last night while running intervals as part of my training program for a ten mile race in three weeks, I suffered what seemed to be my first serious injury since taking up running about 4 years ago. I had just finished the third of what should have been seven half mile at 5K pace segments and was slowing down into the recovery phase when something went really wrong with my left calf muscle. I had a shot of pain and intense tightness. It felt like someone was grabbing the muscle from inside my leg. I stopped immediately, tried stretching but it soon became apparent that I was going to have to abort this workout and limp the half-mile back home. I debated calling my just-turned 16 year old daughter to come get me, but didn't because (a) she only has her learner's permit which requires me to be in the car with her and (b) I thought maybe I could "walk it off".
The pain disappeared pretty quickly, but the stiffness/tightness remains and the area is sore. I thought I must have pulled a muscle and went to the doctor. I was convinced I would not be running that 10 miler.
The good news is the doc says she thinks there is nothing pulled and this is just severe cramping and should be back to normal in a matter of days. There should be no issue with the race. Whew! Hopefully I dodged a bullet there and can get back to training soon and logging consistent exercise minutes in my quest to reclaim my healthy lifestyle. Still, as I sat on my bed elevating and resting my leg last night, I couldn't help but think back to yesterday's blog and think the whole incident was my complacent side letting me know it would not go away without a fight. Hopefully that was it's last gasp!
So I am looking at a few days (hopefully) of rest and then it will be right back at it, slowly of course. Perhaps this will give me a chance to reflect and to plan and that would not necessarily be a bad thing. I will also focus on the nutrition side of the equation since there will be little exercise for a few days. In all honesty, I know that is where the problem is anyway. Perhaps in more ways than one as the doctor is checking several levels (elctrolytes, vitamin D, magnesium) as if they are low, that can apparently make one more prone to muscle cramps. Wouldn't it be ironic if my bad self's last gasp ends up helping me turn the corner by paying really close attention to nutrition?!!
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Sometimes I write a blog with the intention that I have a message or experience that I think a particular group may benefit from hearing. Occasionally I just want to express my happiness at some milestone I have reached. This is not one of either of those kinds of blogs. Rather, this is intended to be a swift kick in the pants. My pants. If someone else needs it, great, but right now, I just need to yell at myself.
For too long you have been bemoaning the fact that you have slipped some in this lifestyle change. Some good things have happened. You've become a runner and that continues to this day. You've lost one of two cholesterol medicines and reduced blood pressure medicine dosage down by a third of what it was.
Somehow though you have managed to regain 20 of the 40 pounds you originally lost. And you keep wondering why, as if it is some mystery. It is no mystery. Look in the mirror buddy. You're the reason you've slipped and the only person that will get you back to where you really want to be, is staring right back at you in that mirror.
You see, you got lazy. Complacent. You stopped tracking. You thought, this is second nature now or oh I can do this in my head. Right, and then you'd start tracking again and see how bad you were at mental estimates and for some reason, you'd soon stop again. And there would always be a reason, though never a good one. I'll wait until Monday to start the new week, I'll wait until the 1st and start the month off right. Better yet, I'll wait until the next month that starts on a Monday!
It's time to get back on track, once and for all. It starts today. Track everything. All food in, all exercise "out". Stay motivated. Make sure there is always a "next race" on the schedule to remain motivated and working. Follow a training plan. Get back to strength training. You had a good simple program that you could do without weights in about 20-30 minutes and after just 2 weeks, you felt like it was making a difference, but then one spell of a really hectic schedule caused you to miss one day, which became one week and now you haven't done any ST in about a month. You know it helps your running and your general health so to borrow a well worn, over-commercialized phrase - Just Do It!
You can do this. You know you can because you've done it before and then you were coming from an even worse starting point. You're good at being flexible with allocating calories eaten and with fitting in cardio around your crazy schedule. Just extend that to the rest of your plan. And track everything. How will you know if you're off track if you don't even know what road you're on?
It's time to once again reclaim your life and your healthy living lifestyle. It starts today. Right now. On a Tuesday!
Don't make me tell you again!
Friday, April 05, 2013
I have experienced a lot of major life events in the last few months. For the purpose of this Blog, let's say it all started around Christmas when my wonderful wife came to the conclusion that something was "going on with her". The medicine she was taking for her minor depression of almost 14 years was no longer working. She was experiencing emotional breakdowns on a fairly frequent basis and just did not feel like herself. Thankfully she at least recognized that something was amiss and got to the doctor for an evaluation. They determined that her minor depression was now Major Depressive Disorder and also now includes anxiety. For a few weeks this really turned our lives upside down. I am slowly learning though that thus awful disease distorts the way your loved one thinks or processes information and therefore things that would otherwise be very hurtful have to be set aside because it really is "the depression" talking. Not your loved one.
Why am I writing about this? Well I guess it is because I have come to realize that so much of what comes of our lives depends on our attitudes towards the events and circumstances we encounter. This event could have been a major problem in our lives. My wife was very moody and the bad moods were much more frequent than the good ones. She was extremely hard on our teen-aged daughters and intimacy in all forms absolutely disappeared from our marriage I don't know that I am any better a husband than anyone else, but I am confident that many a man would have left her. Thankfully somehow it got through my thick head that this person I had been living with of late was not really my wife. By the Grace of God, I developed the patience to support my wife and to even just leave her alone at times. She is by no means "cured" today. We're still trying to pick the right anti-depressant and other courses of treatment, but she is getting better. I even notice improvements that she doesn't. Most notably her mood, while not back to "normal" is markedly better. It is more high (or at least level) than low and the swings are less frequent and less severe. She feels like things are not working because she still has side effects like fatigue, headaches & zero libido, but I am confident now that those aspects will improve too as we find and fine tune the optimum treatment for her. So, rather than wallow in the pity of the millstone this event could have been in our lives, I choose to view it as a milestone instead. My wife is on the road to recovery and I am hopeful I will regain the person I haven't fully known in about 14 years now.
The next life event was my birthday. It was 2 weeks ago and it was a big one. One that ends with a "0". This particular one comes along once every half-century! This can be a depressing event for a lot of people and I admit, for the first time ever in my life, I considered the number associated with my age and thought, wow, that is kind of old. But, at almost the same time I also celebrated my 4 year Anniversary on SP. Thanks in large part to that I am in many was actually younger than I was 5, even 10 years ago. I lost 40 pounds and yes I gained 20 of them back, but that's OK because it is still 20 less than where I started, I know what to do to lose again, and even if I am slightly overweight, at least I am fit and overweight.
Which leads me to milestone #3. I will run Half Marathon #3 tomorrow morning. 4 years ago I could not walk, let alone run, a fraction of the HM distance. Now I am about to run 13.1 miles. for a third time. That is a milestone.
How do you treat the events in your life? Maybe by re-framing the event, you can learn and grown from it and your millstones will become milestones instead. It has worked for me!
Monday, May 21, 2012
Sometimes I still consider myself a newbie to this whole running thing, even though my first 5K was now two and a half years ago. I trained and did a few 5K's and 10K's for over a year before I moved up to the Half Marathon level. It was one of the most self-satisfying accomplishments of my life. So why, I wonder, did it take so long to do another?
After a year and a half, I finally entered my second Half Marathon this past weekend. It was part of the Inaugural St. Michaels Running Festival in St. Michaels, MD. That is a quaint little touristy town about an hour from my home and just 20 minutes or so from my work. for anyone looking for a race to do next year, I will also add it is flat as a pancake!
As the days approached I found myself both looking forward to the race, but also slightly nervous. That was certainly true for my first HM but this was different. After all, I had run one before so mentally I knew it was possible and I knew (at least theoretically) what I was in for. Still, although training went well, this time around I only ran three days/week, with two days of cross training (walking on 10% slope on Treadmill) and two days of rest. That is significantly less than leading up to my first Half. Also, for whatever reason I am a good 15 pounds heavier today than I was at the end of 2010. I believe the reason is the quality of what I am eating and that is the number one thing I am going to focus on now because if I can run a Half Marathon today at close to the same speed I did 18 months and 15 pounds ago, I optimistically think I could really do well if I got back down even close to that weight.
Race day was beautiful. The temps were probably upper 60's to low 70's throughout the race. Definitely warmer than my first Half when it was so cold that the water at the first water stop was frozen! It was also fairly breezy, but we caught a break in that for 90% of the race that breeze was a cross wind and on the only significant portion that was into the wind, it was also through a heavily wooded area so the trees helped block the wind.
In all honesty I was really not sure what to expect in terms of performance. My Long Runs leading up to the event had been fairly slow, but that was largely a conscious effort to run them slowly so as to be more ready come race day. I had to put an estimated finish time on the entry form. I finished my first Half in 1:56, so I guessed 2:15 and hoped for something around 2:10. Throughout the race I was ahead of that pace, but afraid it would really tail off towards the end. Remarkably though I found myself getting stronger, so much so that my fastest mile was mile 7. To have essentially run a 10K and then run my best mile of the day was encouraging. I had also caught a friend at about mile 7 whom I have never beaten before in the two or three 10k's we've run together. We'd run together for a while and then he'd take a walk break. Soon thereafter he'd catch up again and then fall back. I just knew he'd catch me and go past me right at the finish line, but somehow I finished about a minute before him. I choose to focus on the fact that he was a high school track athlete and I..., well I was most decidedly not, rather than the fact that this was just his second race back after being sidelined with a hip injury!. Anyway, my final time was 2:02.35. All things considered (extra weight, warmer weather, etc...), it could be argued that this was an even better performance than my first Half, even though it was a little more than 5 minutes slower.
I am beginning to feel more like a true Half Marathoner now. After all, I tell myself, nearly anyone can psyche themselves up and do a HM once. Heck, I suspect that is what I will do with a full marathon myself one day. To repeat it, though, that takes it to a whole other level, especially when, as is the case for me now, you start looking forward to the next one!
Bring on HM #3. I can't wait, especially if I can do it without the extra baggage. That's the next chapter in this ever evolving journey to lifelong health and fitness. I feel confident I am ready for it.
Monday, October 31, 2011
The title of today's blog is derived from the fact that (a) today is Halloween and (b) I (once again) need to kick start my Healthy Living Routine. I have been slipping for too long now. I even wrote a blog or two about it, but evidently I was more able to talk the talk than to walk the walk.
I have been noticing a bit of back-sliding for a wile, but for whatever reason this past weekend has brought it all into focus. It started with realizing that I was missing this year's version of my first 10 mile race, which was and still to this day is, my favorite race in terms of performance. It was my first race at any distance beyond 10K and it was, for whatever reason, my most effortless race ever. I felt like I could have run another race right away. Maybe not another 10 miles, but certainly a 5K! This year I just could not afford to pre-register and when it came time for the race, there was no way I could run 10 miles. So I was out yesterday doing my Long Slow Run at home instead. Only 6 miles. And not just only 6 miles, but 6 slow and fairly hard miles. I was a good 5 minutes slower than I typically run it in training mode. That's when I started to ponder what the heck is up with my fitness and why I seem to be taking several steps backwards.
Here is what I discovered. First, I have not been honest with myself. For whatever reason after reaching a SparkPeople low weight of 133 pounds just about one year ago, my weight has crept back up. I don't even know what it is today because I have been scared to get on the scale for a couple of weeks now. That should have been a sign right there. When I was doing great and losing 40 pounds, I weighed myself daily, for a while twice a day. Then, when the scales started heading in the wrong direction I started avoiding them. Worse, instead of trying to figure out why this was the case, I ignored the issue. I should have adjusted my weight on my plan so my calories would adjust accordingly. I didn't so that only made the situation worse as even when I managed to stay within my range, it was an artificially too high range. Worse yet, I was compounding the problem by not consistently working out as much as I did in 2010. So my trackers are off on both calories in and calories out. No wonder I gained weight even while exercising. I also had not been that faithful in tracking. I have not been tracking weekends for several months now and I had rarely tracked anything at all for about the past three weeks.
The second thing I noticed is that I have not been very active socially. I'm not by nature an overly social creature, but even by my recluse-like standards I have been a bit on the hermit-like side. I noticed I have not added a SparkFriend in months and in reviewing my existing Sparkfriends statuses, I noticed that all but a small handful have become even less active than me. Several had not posted status updates in over a year. I suppose it is natural on a site such as this for the truly active members to come and go, but my friends seem to largely drifted right along with me into the non-active or less-active state. If I want to remain socially relevant (i.e. active, i.e. accountable and/or supportive to someone else) I need to consistently making new connections.
The next thing I realized is that it really has been a very stressful year in my life and while I like to think I do a better job of handling stress than most, I wonder if I am actually handling it or merely keeping it bottled up inside and if the latter, I'm sure that is not a good thing. In just calendar year 2011 I have experienced the following: My grandmother passed away (not surprisingly but still a blow, especially when it was my last remaining grandparent), my step-father passed away from a heart attack (VERY surprisingly) just a few hours after seeing him at my daughters' school concert, my wife was (FALSELY) reported for suspicion of abuse of our own daughter (thankfully we were completely cleared of anything but the whole episode was very traumatic), a manslaughter occurred within site of our house on my Dad's Farm where one son of the man who tills our farm ran over and killed his own brother, and most recently our house was broken into while we were away for the day celebrating my oldest daughter's 14th birthday. We lost two big-screen TV's, an iPod Touch, and our safe. No one has been caught and break-ins continue amongst our neighbors. We live in the middle of nowhere in a usually quiet, very rural setting. This has our whole "neighborhood" on edge. And this is just the out-of-the-ordinary stuff. We also have the more expected stress of money issues, a teen-aged daughter and a 12 year old daughter, our riding lawn mower breaking down right towards the end of mowing season, friends with marital issues, etc... Good Heavens, just writing about it all brings into focus for me what a strange and stressful year we've had. And we thought 2010 was bad. Ha, in retrospect it was a picnic! Oh, I forgot that I got a promotion at work, which is certainly a good thing, but is not itself without stress.
So I have been reflecting on all of this and asking myself, OK, so now what? I realize I know what to do. I have to be honest with myself. I have to hop on those scales first thing in the morning and then input the accurate numbers for weight and activity into the SparkPeople formula and rededicate myself to following it. If I have 10 or even 15 pounds to lose, I'd sure as heck catch it now and tackle it rather than wait until it is 25 or 30 pounds. Best of all, my running should improve. That was my barometer that let me know something was off. When my running times began to slow way more than I could explain by saying it was lack of sleep, a bad meal the night before, over-training, under-training (yes I used both), old worn-out shoes, the weather, etc..., I finally realized what the problem was when I had a "1 year ago today" moment to compare it to. I was 16 or more pounds (I'll see exactly what the number is in the morning!) lighter this time last year. That's like running while carrying a bowling ball. Enough said. Cause of problem identified.
Now that I know what the problem really is, I need to fix it. I will do that by refocusing my running to running for general fitness/weight loss rather than training to improve race times. I am confident that will be a natural by-product of dropping a few pounds anyway. I look forward to it and hope that when I am at a weight with which I am happy, I have learned what NOT to do from this experience so I don't make the same mistake again.
Get An Email Alert Each Time LBTHOMASJR Posts