Saturday, November 12, 2011
Early on in my time with SP, I noticed on a day that I was down that I was also tired. I'd seen the much-touted goal of getting 8 hours of sleep a night, and it didn't speak to me. I couldn't really control how much sleep I got. I had to be up early in the morning 5 days a week, and unless I wanted massively reduced income that was a fact of life.
But while I couldn't control how much sleep I got, and I couldn't control when I had to get up most days, I could control when I got to bed. I had this new web site with motivational tools. So I made a goal to get to bed by 10:30 PM six days a week.
I now have a 14 week streak of getting to bed by 10:30 at least six days a week. That's more than a quarter of a year. How's it working out?
I have become a synthetic morning person. Wednesday choir practice runs till 9, and I don't want to work on anything hard after 8:30. I can come home and still (usually) make it to bed by 10:30 on Wednesday. I am sometimes up with the alarm, instead of using the snooze multiple times. And sometimes I wake up before the alarm goes off.
My alarm is set for 6. This morning I woke up at 5:15. I could have rolled over and gone back to sleep, but I'd been thinking about trying to run longer; and getting up earlier meant I could start the run earlier, and thus have more time before my 9 AM breakfast at McDonald's with my daughter. (Second breakfast in this case; I have the healthy breakfast before I run and then an Egg McMuffin at 9.)
Being up early got me out the door and starting to run at 6:39 AM. Four months ago it would have been unthinkable for me to be out of bed at that time on a Saturday. Today, I had checked in with SP, done my morning TGU/windmill combos and KB snatches, eaten breakfast, checked the weather, and dressed to run in 36° F weather by 6:39. That's 21 minutes earlier than my target start to run 5.2 miles, so I tacked some extra twists onto the beginning and end of my standard 5.2 mile loop.
When I got back to my driveway, I had been running for 43:45. Stupid motivational tricks kicked in. I ran up the street a ways and back to get to 45 minutes and that 9th Spark Point. I figured I ran a bit over five and a half miles.
It mapped out to 6.12 miles, for a 7:21 pace per mile. That's pretty good for deliberately running easy so I could keep running longer than I have to date. At that pace, I could do a 10K in under 46 minutes. I could have run for 10K this morning, and I might have if I had realized how close I was. I'm about 90% decided to sign up for a 10K on Thanksgiving Day; the holdup is that the easy way to sign up requires payment by PayPal, and my account isn't set up yet. (Yes, I'm a dinosaur who ignored PayPal until something came along that was either pay via PayPal, mail a check to a nonprofit that won't cash it quickly, or drive 15 miles out of my way during normal working hours.)
As far as pure time goes, I could have fit running for an hour into the time if I were trained to run that long continually. I think I'll get there, but one of the lessons from 5K training was don't try to do it all at once.
The interesting thing is, the long run would not have happened without being up early. After breakfast with my daughter, I do a dab of grocery shopping then dive into weekend household chores. Fitting a long run into Saturday afternoon would be a non-starter. Sunday afternoons are a bit easier, assuming I get the weekend chores done on Saturday; but when I have run 5 miles on Saturday, a longer run on Sunday hasn't worked very well. Long runs on weekday evenings are out because I have other evening commitments, the roads are dark this time of year, and drivers won't be looking for runners. I'm fitting my weekday runs into lunch hours, which limits the distance to the 3 to 3.5 mile range.
Maybe next summer, when I don't have evening commitments and we have lots of daylight, I can train more long running on weekday evenings. But I'm not willing to plan that far ahead right now. The current plan is to find a way to keep running through the winter. If I get that figured out, time enough to worry about training with more daylight when the daylight gets here.
Friday, November 11, 2011
My initial weight goal was 175 pounds. On Friday, October 7 I weighed in at 174 and declared myself to be in maintenance. Today marks 5 weeks of maintenance for me.
In those five weeks, I've lost 5.4 pounds to arrive at today's weight of 168.6. That's a bit more than a pound a week. Hmm. Sounds more like SP's recommended speed of weight loss than like maintaining a steady weight.
So what have I done in five weeks of maintenance? I've increased my calories, twice, for a total increase of 400 calories per day. I've taken two cheat days where I deliberately went over the top of the calorie range. And I've gone from training to run a 5K, to regular running, to running a competitive 5K.
So while I've added some calories to the diet, I might not have added enough. And I might have added some calorie burn to the exercise side, too; it's hard to tell. On the one hand, I'm concerned about adding more to the diet, because I'm not convinced that I will sustain my current level of activity long term. On the other hand, I'm concerned that I might eat too little and lose too much weight.
The gripping hand is, I don't know what my most healthy weight should be. I'm pretty sure I'm not below it yet, because a) I'm feeling pretty good physically, b) I ran a personal best fast pace for any run longer than 2 miles last Sunday, and c) the daily TGU/windmill combos and snatches with the 45 pound (~20 kilo) kettlebell are easier now than they have ever been.
So I guess I gotta have faith that my body will tell me when I get where I'm supposed to be. That's what my sister says happened for her. At this point, the fantasy of achieving my immediate post-high school weight of 165 doesn't look all that far fetched.
But I won't get there because I'm trying to lose weight. I'm in maintenance, dammit! If the weight comes off, it comes off; but the goal is to stay fit, have fun, and keep running through the winter months.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
It's been two days since I ran my fastest pace to date in an organized 5K. Today was a day to run on my lunch hour, which has the additional benefit of taking me away from the Snack Cube on Snack Day during the time that everyone will be walking in and out and sampling stuff.
Got a late jump on the lunch hour, so I went a shorter route than I would have preferred. Tried to run at a brisk training pace, not pushing to equal Sunday's race pace but not slouching. Got lucky with favorable pedestrian and automotive traffic patterns between the gym and the River Trail, and it was near perfect weather for running. Added just a small jog at the end to come out to 21 minutes, and figured I'd run 2.8 or 2.9 miles.
It mapped out to 3.02 miles. Doing the math, that turns out to be a 6:57 pace per mile. Huh. That's the second fastest pace I've had on any run of greater than 2 miles. It was exceeded only by Sunday's race with real competition, and I certainly wasn't trying to run that fast today! There could be some small inaccuracies in my mapping and/or timing, but I almost certainly was running around a 7 minute mile. And if it weren't for time constraints, I could have kept going.
So I came back to the office and faced the Snack Cube. Did some figuring, cut some of my normal lunch out in favor of a Brugger's bagel (12 grams of protein, TYVM) with light garden veggie cream cheese (spread thin to stay in the 2 tbsp serving size listed on the package). Planned out the food for the rest of the day, and quit eating snacks. The quitting part would not have happened in my world before tracking and trying to hit calorie and macronutrient ranges.
An email arrives to the effect of, "I've just cut the chocolate cake and it's delicious! Come get it before it's gone!" The cake does not fit in the meal plan for the day.
I forego the cake.
At quitting time, there's quite a bit of good looking stuff left in the Snack Cube. I can leave it there.
Nothing tastes as good as being able to run a 7 minute mile feels.
Monday, November 07, 2011
I got out of work at 5 today, and the first thing I noticed was that it was dark. Of course, this happens every year on Daylight Wasting Monday; but somehow it always surprises me with the contrast. This year, it was especially striking because today was a beautiful sunny day with a high around 62° F (17° C).
Intellectually, I know why this happens. It's a combination of being at one of the more northerly points in the Continental US; being further east in the time zone than where I was raised; and (usually) heavier cloud cover in the winter making the dusk turn dark more quickly than in the clearer summer months. It makes rational sense, other than the silliness of changing our clocks instead of just staying on the same time year round.
But still, it seems harder to accept that it gets dark all of a sudden than to live with the gradual change in the length of the day.
As I walked out to check my mail in the dark, it struck me that running in the evening would be dangerous now. I need to get a reflective harness and runner's lights to make myself visible if I'm going to run in the evening dark, particularly in the winter when many drivers won't be expecting to see runners. Either that, or get my running done on weekends and lunch hours.
The lunch hour thing should work tomorrow and Wednesday, as the forecast calls for good running weather. But I shouldn't put off darkness running gear more than a week, because we won't have good weather all winter long.
This is the sort of thing that has the potential to derail an exercise program. I don't want to let that happen.
After musing a bit about the dark, I came in and read a few blog entries. The theme that jumped out at me this evening was maintenance and motivation. There were people just entering maintenance, or close to goal, and concerned about how to do it. There were people like myself, newly in maintenance and still feeling out how to make it work. There were longer term maintainers struggling to keep or regain their spark, so they could stay healthy.
It's a bit sobering. Today I skipped lifting weights at the gym, in favor of grocery shopping. The groceries for my kitchen could have waited, but a snack day was declared for work tomorrow, and I need to bring something. That last bit pushed the boring errands into higher priority than the pleasant gym session. Sigh.
But there was a blog addressing food control in maintenance, too. It served as a cautionary tale for what could happen to me if I slip back into my pre-Spark eating habits.
So, pull up my big boy pants and deal with the snack day. I bought mini kolackies, which will keep well enough that I can just leave them at work if they don't all disappear. I need to mostly ignore the snack cube tomorrow. I need to plan what I will do to make this happen.
One important part of the plan is, I will run on the lunch hour. Besides the forecast for good running weather, being out of the office long enough to run means I'm not eating snacks for that long. Another part is reaffirming my motivation to leave the snacks alone after a taste. I have two sayings for that.
First, for people who offer me stuff I shouldn't have: "Nothing tastes as good as being able to run a 5K in 21 minutes feels." (The classic line of "being thin" just doesn't speak to me.)
Second, for myself when the temptation is internal: "You can't out-train a crappy diet."
We'll see how the day goes tomorrow. One day of blowing nutrition discipline won't be a disaster; but snack day is not the best excuse for a cheat day. I'd rather save that level of indiscretion for something more socially significant.
Sunday, November 06, 2011
This was my first organized 5K since I've been training to run. My goal was to beat my timed solo 5K (21:57) and to keep running the entire course. Both goals were accomplished, making this the first organized road race that I've actually run all the way.
The weather forecast was for 36° F (2° C) and sunny at race time, with the temperature rising to an eventual daily high around 62° F (17° C). I had just bought more running clothes yesterday, and some of them saw duty today. I had advice from the local running store on how to organize things, given that I would be driving myself to/from and had no support crew. It worked out well.
On the advice of a co-worker who runs, I lined up at the front. This was not as daunting for a race of under 300 participants as it has been in the 10,000+ participant Chase Corporate Challenge. I started out fast, prompted by adrenaline and competition. Of course, I could not keep up the pace of the leaders. I passed a few people in the early going, then I was passed by a handful of people during the rest of the race. Somewhere during the second mile, a female runner passed me and I thought she would probably be the overall women's leader. Sure enough, she was. I traded places with one other guy a couple of times, and he ended up ahead of me by quite a distance.
So how did I do?
On the list posted on the wall, I showed up 22nd out of 135, with everyone ahead of me being younger than I am. Hence, the age group medal. Chip time on that list was 20:59.534, but they read the time as 20:59 when they gave out awards. That works out to a pace 6:46 per mile. Kind of makes me wonder what my one mile split was, as I slowed down later in the race.
I'm pleased with my performance, and now I'll have to think about other organized races. There's a 4.4 mile race on Thanksgiving Day; if I run that one, I'll have to control the urge to keep up with the real runners at the start. I don't think I could have kept running for 4.4 miles after the start I had today.
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