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.
Saturday, November 05, 2011
One of the popular fitness goals is to get 10K steps in per day. Make that into a Spark goal, and combine it with streak tracking, and the stupid motivational tricks suck me right in. I have a streak of 112 days of getting 10K steps or more. The streak tracker only reports 29 days, but that's because of a bug that used to chop off that streak when I changed my calories burned projection. (The bug appears to have been fixed, but the streak tracker doesn't let me start tracking an existing streak from when it really started.)
Early on in my SP membership, I watched how far over 10K steps I went. My thinking was that as I got more fit, those step counts should go up. I envisioned getting to where 20K steps in a day was no big deal.
My thinking on that subject has changed.
As I learned to be a runner, I also learned that there is such a thing as too many steps, and that all steps are not created equal. On two days, my step count exceeded 18K. On one of those days, I injured a calf and spent over a week getting it back to normal. That was a day of lots of walking, plus training to run.
Straining my calf drove home the lesson that there is such a thing as too many steps. Getting 10K steps per day in the wake of that injury highlighted the lesson that all steps are not created equal. The first couple of post-injury days, I had a lot of cheap steps pumping the count.
Running steps are a lot more exercise than walking steps. Continual brisk walking steps are more exercise than ambling steps. And the steps around the house just doing household chores are light and very easy. The steps are not created equal.
So, what about the 10K steps per day goal? It's a good goal, but it's not a stretch goal. On a day when I run 3 miles for 4K steps running, it really doesn't matter if I have enough walking steps to make the count hit 10K. I've been active. It will still be fairly easy to hit 10K, as running 3 miles plus a warmup and cooldown is likely to be 6K all by itself, and 4K for the rest of the day isn't that much; but the day would be active enough even if I spent the rest of it in bed reading a book.
The real value of getting the 10K steps is on the off days from running. The difference between 2K steps being totally sedentary and 10K cheap steps is much, much larger than the difference between 10K cheap steps and 15K steps including a 5 mile run. Those 10K cheap steps might not even include anything that I'd count as exercise for the tracker, but they keep me active and burning calories. Maybe it's only 200 or 300 calories a day, and certainly I can't track them accurately; but it's a lot better than *not* burning those calories.
And that's the real value of wearing my pedometer and making an effort to get those 10K steps. It's not in getting the best exercise on good exercise days; it's getting a minimum amount of exercise on days that are mostly rest.
So how am I doing? Today is an enforced day of no running, before an organized race tomorrow morning. The pedometer shows over 18K steps. 9100 or so were a 5.2 mile walk, and the rest were pretty cheap steps. My legs feel fine, which is part of the point of not running today; and it's better to have those cheap steps than not have them.
Much like overeating, getting too little exercise can sneak up on me. Those 10K steps per day, even when they're mostly cheap steps, help prevent that.
Friday, November 04, 2011
Q: What do a Snicker's mini, hand sanitizer, a Nestle Crunch Bar fun size, kleenex, a Big Ring Lifesavers Gummie Sour, two pens, and a tire pressure gauge have in common?
A: They were all part of the advertising that came in my 5K race packet that I picked up this evening. (Willpower being what it is, I looked up the candy in the Nutrition Tracker, determined that it fit in the day, and ate it. I probably should have just pitched the Gummie Sour; it wasn't that good.)
Packet pick up was at the local running store. While I was there, I bought a hat and gloves for running in colder weather than I expect on Sunday morning, and got some pointers about how to manage the post-race wait for results given that I'm driving myself there and have no support team.
On the advice of longer term runners, I ran lightly today and won't run tomorrow before the race on Sunday. Got decent weather for a run at lunch, which I've done before. Picked a short route, and didn't try to run hard. While running, I guessed I might be doing a 7:30 to 7:40 mile. It mapped out to 2.83 miles in 21 mintues, or a 7:25 pace per mile.
The twinges in my right calf did not return after the light run. The race on Sunday is a go. Other runners at work tell me I should be in competition for a medal for my age group, so I suppose I should take my camera just in case I win one. Maybe I can find someone to take a picture if that happens.
But the most important thing is to have fun. If an organized 5K turns out to be a lot of fun, I'll sign up for a 4.4 mile run on Thanksgiving Day. That has to be a better way to express thankfulness for my health than fixing a bigger meal than I should eat.
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