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More Believable

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Today I ran at lunch again. This time, I remembered to look at my watch when I started. Did a bit longer route. 3.31 miles in 24 minutes, for a 7:15 pace per mile. Felt like I was working a little harder than yesterday early, then backed off and about the same on the last half.

7:15 is more believable. I conclude that I messed up the measurements yesterday. Still, it was a good use of the lunch hour both days.

Now, off to choir practice!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 10/20/2011 8:01AM

    7:15 is still emoticon
I hope to reach this speed by spring - maybe, and not in miles but kilometers lol...

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RG_DFW 10/19/2011 10:20PM

    Great pace... Not sure I'll ever get there, but it gives me something to shoot for.

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DEBRITA01 10/19/2011 9:20PM

    Good for you...getting your run in during lunch! emoticon emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/19/2011 8:55PM

    emoticon emoticon

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Am I Really That Fit?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Last night at the gym was weird. I hadn't been in to lift weights in a few weeks, so I deliberately held it to four lifts from the categories of push, pull, major leg, and calf. This time, that was DB chest presses, lat pulldowns, deadlifts, and seated calf raises.

As expected, I wasn't quite as strong as when I was last lifting regularly. But the loss wasn't huge. I had been deadlifting 205 lbs. for 3 sets of 8 reps. 185 for 8 was easy, so I threw on another 20 lbs. I was able to deadlift 205 for 3 sets of 6. Deadlifting 205 is kind of an emotional point for me, because that's what I lifted the first time I could deadlift my weight for 3 sets of 8 reps. I'll get there again.

I had hoped to do the chest presses with 45 lb. dumbbells, but had to come down to 40 lb. The lat pulls came down from the 130 I was maxed at before to 125, and I could only manage 3 sets of 8 reps at that weight. As expected, the seated calf raises were a process of feeling out how running had changed my soleus muscles.

The weird part was, I did all the lifts to the limits my strength would allow, and I wasn't drenched in sweat. Yeah, I worked up a light sweat with the deadlifts; but at the end of the workout, I could hardly squeeze any moisture out of my headband. It felt like I hadn't been working at all. If this hadn't been a first time back, I might have done some renegade rows or something else ambitious just to feel like I'd worked hard enough. But I didn't push it; I've climbed back on the weight lifting wagon enough times to be cautious the first time back after several weeks off.

Sure enough, this morning my arms and shoulders informed me that I had indeed worked out yesterday. I didn't have the awful re-entry DOMS, just the normal amount that tells me I worked hard enough for a training effect. My legs mostly felt normal, though I could tell I had worked my quads as I walked up the stairs to my office this morning.

Maybe I'm seeing a benefit in the weight room from running improving my cardiovascular conditioning?

Then today the not quite believable results continued. The forecast was partly cloudy with a high of 61. I have bell choir in the evening, and I lifted weights yesterday. Today I packed my gym bag with running clothes, and planned to run from the gym on my lunch hour. The weather turned out to be nearly perfect for running, so that's what I did. I mapped the route as usual, but I forgot to look at my watch right at the start of the run. So I had to estimate a time and point early in the route to measure from. The result turned out to be a pace of under 7 minutes a mile.

I don't want to believe that. It didn't feel like running as hard as last Saturday, when I turned in a 5K pace of 7:03. But double check. The full route was 2.98 miles, and I timed 20 minutes. The tag of untimed route at the beginning was probably under a minute. The estimated point to finish was 2.89 miles.

I can't make sense of the numbers any way but to think it comes out to just under a 7 minute mile; but it sure didn't feel like I was working that hard. Either I'm still seeing training improvement, or I messed up the measurement somehow. Or perhaps the brisk walk from the office to the gym was a proper warmup, and I've never warmed up enough before? I don't know.

Oh, well. Whether I messed up the measurement or not, I'm beginning to believe that I *can* run a 7 minute mile pace for a 3 mile or 5K distance under ideal conditions. But that's not really important. The important thing is, running is fun and I need to figure out how to get it done through the fall and winter as the weather changes.

After all, I won't always have the near ideal running conditions I had today.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 10/19/2011 3:07PM

    After reading you ran 5K in 21 minutes,
I'm not surprised at anything ; )

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LJCANNON 10/19/2011 9:59AM

    emoticonNow that Running has become "Fun" for you, I know that you will find a way to get it done regardless of the Weather or any other Challenges that you face.

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WATERMELLEN 10/18/2011 11:40PM

    You are really making fitness progress: terrific!! And: obviously loving it too. Even better.

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MOBYCARP 10/18/2011 9:36PM

    I don't think I'm eligible for the CSG, because I'm not a Nebraska resident. True?

Anyway, before I travel half a continent to compete, I need to figure out how to compete in my own back yard. If that turns out to be more hassle than the prize is worth, I can always go back to running my neighborhood weekends and evenings, and running the Genesee River Trail at lunch.

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/18/2011 9:06PM

    OMG, another runner has been unleashed! "Running is fun" he says. Your dad was a walker. Your grandfather a runner and later hiker. Looks like you're a runner after all. You going to come blow away the CSG next Summer? emoticon emoticon emoticon Life's good... Spark on!

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The Fitness Tracker - an Analytical and Philosophical Digression

Monday, October 17, 2011

On yesterday's blog, I mentioned that the fitness tracker thought I burned 699 calories running. CIRANDELLA commented to the effect that burning that many calories in a single run impressed her. I'm not as impressed. I'm particularly unimpressed with the fact that this morning, the tracker showed that expenditure as 703 calories. Apparently it retroactively applied today's weight (0.8 pounds higher than yesterday) to yesterday's exercise. I wonder how far back this retroactivity goes?

I don't trust the fitness tracker's calculation of calories burned.

Not long after I became a member of SP, I noticed some flakiness in the calories expended numbers. The first big anomaly I spotted was that the fitness tracker gave me an awful lot more calories burned for bicycling at 13 mph than for walking the same amount of time at 4.2 mph. It wasn't double, but it was more than 150%. But I knew that it took more effort to sustain a 4.2 mph walking pace than a 13 mph biking pace. What I didn't know was whether biking was a high estimate, walking a low estimate, both of the above, or both were off by different amounts in the same direction.

Later, I found the mapping function. I like it for determining distance; but if I map a route and tell it how long I took, it generates a different number of calories burned than just telling the system the same miles and time without going through the map. I'm not talking rounding error; for yesterday's run, the answers were 699 or 648 calories.

And there are no calories credited for strength training. I'm pretty sure I burn more calories in a good 30 minute weight lifting session than in 30 minutes of walking. (Though perhaps not as many as in 30 minutes of running.)

I do appreciate the fact that the calories burned are only estimates. The relevant question is, are the estimates close enough to use in deciding how much to eat? I decided that in my case, the answer is no.

The upshot of these observations was, I decided to mostly ignore the calories burned generated by the fitness tracker. I use the tracker as a motivational tool, to get myself to actually *do* the exercises. To that end, I count my morning TGU/windmill combos and kettlebell snatches as strength training, even though the amount is small. But it gets me to be consistent. To that end, I count exercise walks even though they don't get my heart rate into the target end. To the same end, I don't count mowing the lawn or moving furniture, because those are things I'd have done anyway. (Okay, without SP I might not have been in good enough shape to move *as much* furniture when daughter moved; but I would have done what I could.)

Since I don't trust the calories burned calculations, and the way I use the tracker would make the calories burned numbers suspect even if I liked the calculations, I tend not to update my projected exercise plans much. The fitness tracker complained at me for too many calories burned all the time I was losing weight; but I was satisfied on my calorie range, so I stuck with it. Based on my rate of weight loss, I probably had a bigger calorie deficit than SP recommends; but it worked out OK for me. I lost weight, improved cardio endurance, and improved strength at the same time.

When I got to maintenance level, that gave me the issue of not knowing where my calorie consumption really should be. On another fitness forum, one of the more educated people says she just watches her weight and adjusts her diet in small increments if she is gaining or losing. I think that's a good concept; the question is whether I can learn to do it. After all, weight loss over time is the real measure of having a calorie deficit, just as weight gain over time is the real measure of having a calorie surplus.

The implication for maintenance is that I'd like to be able to set a calorie range, and have the site adjust the macronutrient ranges for me. I don't think it will do that. But I can adjust how many calories I tell the fitness tracker I'll burn, and the numbers will flow through to changed ranges for calories, carbs, fat, and protein. So that's my method for changing the calorie range: Take desired increment or decrement of daily calories, multiply by 7, and increment or decrement planned weekly calorie burn in the fitness tracker by that amount. Then I have to go in and override the lower limit on protein, which will always pop out at 60 grams when I need it to be 90.

As my sister is fond of saying, reality is more important than online tracking. Bearing this adage in mind, I'm happy with the SP fitness and nutrition trackers. The nutrition tracker is as accurate a measure of what I eat as I'm likely to find, and the fitness tracker works for me as a motivational tool. That's good enough, and I can work around the fact that the calories burned calculations aren't accurate enough for my taste.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CIRANDELLA 10/18/2011 9:36AM

    I've really enjoyed the way you're fine-tuning a personal maintenance formula for yourself, Kevin, and it's interesting that you've isolated the retroactive way one's most recent weight statistic is factored into the previous day's exercise. There are a variety of processes which can affect one's day-to-day weight fluctuations, water retention and glycogen storage a couple that come to mind. With regard to water, both amount consumed in a 24-hour period and salt intake influence the usual 60% or so of total body mass it comprises. You might find this article by a personal trainer of interest:
Nonetheless, you may well find that over time, a reliable pattern will emerge for you, and you can personally structure your plan accordingly. Am eager to see what you discover in the process.

I've questioned my tracker's calibration of nutrients, too; good point! Plus, I want to discuss with my internist whether it is now prudent for me to lower some of my medications. In particular, my neurologist and I found that the gabapentin I take for MS-related neuropathy could be lowered by 1/3, yet it still delivers the same amount of pain relief as the former, larger dose.

I've been using the software version of FitDay's tracker, largely because I've customized it quite a bit over the past 7 years. Eager to read about your progress, as always - keep 'em coming! emoticon

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DEBRA0818 10/17/2011 10:31PM

    Good enough is the gift that keeps on giving! As always, listen to Barb!


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ONEKIDSMOM 10/17/2011 9:04PM

    emoticon I'm sure I've accused you of perfectionism at some point or other, despite this being a pot/kettle conversation. Learning to relax and find the point of "good enough" is a gift!

Good luck with good enough, bro! emoticon emoticon

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Cheat Day, Running without a Program

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When I went into maintenance mode, I increased my calorie range by 200 calories per day. That was difficult, because I was used to eating at the low end of the weight loss calorie range. If I stick to the same familiar foods that worked for weight loss, I end up scrambling to eat enough in the evening.

I commented on a couple of forums that it would be easier to find an extra 2000 calories than an extra 200. One suggestion that came back was the Cheat Day. Some diets specify that every so often (the interval varies by plan), you don't bother with counting and just eat whatever you feel like for a day. The following day, you go back on plan. The maintenance thought is, you find a large bunch of calories all at once and don't worry about not finding a small bunch of calories each day.

That idea lined up well with a church luncheon today. I made my high-calorie Mexican bean dip, because people would be disappointed if I didn't. That's about an hour labor for prep and cleanup, and this time it added 40 minutes to get it into the SP recipe creator and figure out just how bad it is. Let's just say that this isn't a recipe that dieters will be clamoring to make all the time.

The Mexican bean dip is relevant because the leftovers come home with me. This time, a little a quarter of the 9 x 13 pan was left. That might go into the trash (sacrilege!), or I might try to work it into my meal plan. It will take at least 3 days of controlled eating to use it up.

Came home after the luncheon, and went to put stuff in the nutrition tracker. Yup, it was a Cheat Day all right. After lunch, I was over limit on calories, fat, and carbs. The estimate was about 800 calories over top of range for the day, and I'll eat something for dinner. Probably a salad with some chicken, because salad is cheap and I'm near the low end of my protein range.

I learned something about myself. I ate too much dessert. Yes, it was delicious; but I got to an uncomfortable full feeling. Then when I got back to the tracker, desserts were over 1400 calories. If I'd held myself to a couple of the smaller things (no pecan pie, sigh), I could have held that to 400. Then I could have made the day come in close to calorie range, even with eating dinner.

It's no secret where my eating weakness lies. It's kind of a wake up call that I have an overeating beast to control there, even on a cheat day. My beast might not be as ferocious as some other people's beasts, but that doesn't mean I don't need to deal with it. Historically, the budget has kept the beast in check at home; but free spreads like this luncheon let it roar.

So, lunch is done at 1. I feel bloated. I need to get steps in for my 10K steps. I'm done with the 5K training, and yesterday's 5K run wasn't very long. I decide I can run again today, and take tomorrow off from running so I have tomorrow evening to hit the gym and lift weights.

Running is another potential failure point. Yesterday was the end of the canned program, and now I'm working without a net. There is no protocol that I'm committed to. It's a gray day, and it rained in the morning and early afternoon. I end up playing on the computer and checking football on TV till past 3. People I talk to today seem to think it's a lousy day to be outdoors.

Well. Yahoo tells me it's 54 degrees, one degree off SP's ideal running temperature. By the time I get to it, the pavement is dry. The day is still gray, but there's no precipitation. This is shorts and tee shirt running weather.

I live on a road with no sidewalks and no paved shoulder. The neighbors two doors down are having a party. The cars park part on the grass shoulder, part on the road, making a hazardous situation for a runner with respect to traffic. So I turn the other direction, which happens to correspond to my longer running route.

Today, time does not matter. Speed does not matter. The idea is to run the complete 5.2 mile loop from my doorstep out past the strip mall and back to my doorstep. I certainly ate enough carbs at lunch to fuel this run, and I made sure I was hydrated enough before I started.

I forgot to look at my watch at the one mile point. Thought about that for the next half mile or so, and decided not to look at the watch until the 3 mile point. I'm running at whatever feels comfortable, which will certainly be off yesterday's fast pace. I'm expected to come in between a 7:45 and 8 minute mile.

At the 3 mile marker, my time is 22:26. I'm shocked. That's a shade under a 7:30 pace. A bit after that, I get a mile and a half into a headwind, including the most significant uphill stretch of this route. A headwind at 54 degrees with no precipitation is not nearly as cold as a headwind at 48 degrees with light rain. I spend much of that mile and a half stretch convincing myself to keep running. I'm not feeling so bloated by now, so no excuses.

From the 4.67 mile point to home, it's downhill or level. Piece of cake. I finished in 39:11. If this had been a 40 minute training, I would have run past my driveway and around those parked cars by the neighbor's house. That's an average 7:32 pace per mile. Not bad for after overeating ridiculously at lunch.

Just for grins and giggles, let's see what SP thinks about calories burned. Hmm. The tracker thinks I burned 699 calories with that run. Absent the run, I would have taken a walk that might have burned 300 calories by the tracker. So maybe an extra 400 calories, as compared to 1400 calories consumed for dessert at lunch.

I guess it's true: You can't out-train a crappy diet.

Fortunately, the lunch calories are a one day fling. Tomorrow, I'm back on calorie discipline. I'll be light with dinner tonight, even on the cheat day. And we'll see what the scale does. I'm guessing a noticeable blip up just from filling my digestive tract more full than it's been in a while, followed by inching back down to where I was over a week.

That's the theory, anyway. At this point, I call today a mixed success. The next time a social occasion rolls around that I want to treat as a Cheat Day, I think I can be a bit smarter about how I deal with it. But I'm happy with my run, and I need to start thinking about getting some shorter runs in on my lunch hour during the week.

Life is good.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 10/17/2011 2:47PM

    Maintenance eating is still an enigma to me too...
Either I eat what I ate during weight loss phase (today) or overeat in evening (yesterday) : (
I guess the key is eating enough during the day so that one is not craving for carbs in the evening.

Your running times are amazing, as always!

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CIRANDELLA 10/16/2011 8:20PM

    I'm very impressed by the progress both you and Barb are making with both maintenance and maintenance-level fitness, Kevin! Something tells me you'll whittle this thing down to a precise science over time, too. What's especially promising is that you're not leaving anything to chance in all of this; you plan for contingencies, gauge results, and forge ahead with modifications as needed! How can life turn out to be anything *but* good when you approach it with this kind of structure and hard work? As for incinerating 699 (!) calories in one run...consider me blown away! Well done! - Susan

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ARLENE_MOVES 10/16/2011 7:30PM

    Everywhere I've been reading lately says maintenance is really hard. I'll keep reading your blogs to see how its going. I have a ways to go so I'll be reading a while.

Good luck and it looks like your doing great!

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/16/2011 6:22PM

    Well done... in time even those small slices of pecan pie will be OK on very special occasions, and you'll plan for them!

Great run times. I, by the way, will be blogging shortly about today's outing. I finished the Governor's Cup 5K in 30:53, for a 9:57 minute pace. As I said, I'm jealous of your long legs, but quite pleased with my result, nonetheless.

Have a great week!

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Saturday Follies

Saturday, October 15, 2011

When I left off blogging on Thursday, my pedometer had died. I wore it Friday anyway, and periodically looked at the zero steps. Hope springs eternal. After work, I got a cheap pedometer at Walmart to use this weekend. I wasn't so much concerned about Saturday, which had a planned 5K run, as Sunday, when I usually need the pedometer to remind me to move.

The forecast for today was chilly with wind and rain. The plan was to get my 5K timed run in before breakfast at McDonald's with my daughter. Since I'm now in maintenance and have an extra 200 calories to play with, I ate my usual breakfast of oatmeal with skim milk and raisins, seasoned with unsweetened cocoa and cinnamon today.

Yahoo told me it was 48 degrees. No rain, but wet pavement and sidewalks. I made an executive decision to run in shorts and a tee shirt, since this is fairly close to SP's ideal running temperature of 55 degrees.

This is supposed to be a virtual race, so I tried to start off fast, visualizing a crowd of runners at the start of the race stimulating my competitive instincts. I shaved 30 seconds off my training time at my first watch check. After that, the route diverged from my training route and I didn't have good comps.

Found the wind in my face on the second long straight stretch. Midway through that stretch, a very light rain started. Even running, that was a bit chilly. Fortunately, the wind wasn't in my face after I got past that stretch, though the light rain continued.

In the spirit of this being a "race," I visualized the real runners passing me when I needed to slow down, and visualized passing runners who had slowed to a walk when I was able to pick up the pace. I did pass one actual walker, but he clearly wasn't pretending to be a runner. Just like a real race, I made myself sprint for the last 80 meters or so. Final time for 5K was 21:57, or a 7:05 pace per mile. I'm pleased with the effort.

Observations: I don't know how to put it all into the race and leave nothing in the tank when I cross the finish line. 48 degrees with wind and light rain is the bottom limit of weather I'm willing to run in shorts and a tee shirt. Any colder, and I want a jacket.

Because of the rain, I was forced inside for my stretching. My glasses were fogged over, so I went to tilt the new cheap pedometer to read it. It said zero. That reset button is just too easy to reach. Hmm. I saw 850 steps some time before I started, should have started with at least 900. 4+ miles was around 6K steps, so call it 4500 for 3.1 miles. A third of a mile walking cooldown should be around 600 steps for me. Call it 6000 at that point, and don't touch the reset button!

I will be glad to get my real pedometers in the mail next week.

Getting the other 4K steps turned out not to be a big deal. Picked up some stuff at Sam's Club, adding a chunk of steps. I had been confused by options for extending downspouts last week, and ended up not buying anything. Now I know what I want. Looked at stuff at Home Depot, decided what I'd seen last week at Lowes would work better. A trip to Lowe's, and I'm over my 10K steps for the day. Big box stores are good for adding steps to the day when you don't want to do formal exercise walking.

It turns out that I can't buy a 6 foot aluminum downspout extender. I can buy a 15 inch extender, or a 10 foot downspout. Bought 5 downspouts, with the plan of cutting them down to size. Lowe's parking lot taught me an interesting lesson about light aluminum tubing and wind. The downspouts didn't fit in my small car. Put the back seat down, shoved them in as far as I could, and drove home with my flashers on. I was mildly surprised that this didn't turn into a bigger adventure, but I got them home. Enough for one day. Cutting and installation will wait for a day with less rain.

Now, on to finish the boring every Saturday household chores.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ONEKIDSMOM 10/15/2011 5:22PM

    emoticon Great time on that virtual 5K. As I may have said before, I'm majorly jealous of your long legs!

I have a "real" 5K tomorrow, the Governor's Cup. Being in the height of allergy and overtime season, my training hasn't been up to snuff, but I'm going to go do it anyway. I don't promise to run the whole time. emoticon But I'm past my little temper tantrum... besides, I don't have to drive to Omaha and it doesn't start in the frigid morning. A Sunday afternoon run should be just about right.

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