Sunday, June 17, 2012
It's 6 PM on Sunday, and I've just finished what would have been finished by 5 PM Friday in a perfect world. But it did get done, and I'll meet the deadline tomorrow. This is a major work deadline. While there will be a noticeable amount of annoying follow-up, the long period of working evenings and weekends ought to be over now. It's a good time to reflect on how it went and how I handled the stress.
The habits I learned on SP helped a great deal.
First, I never let go of the exercise. I backed off some. I didn't attempt to run three days a week when it *might* have been OK, because I couldn't afford the time to recover if it turned out *not* to be okay. I missed 3 or 4 mornings of kettlebell work entirely, and most mornings I backed off to one set of 5 TGU/windmill combos and two sets of 10 snatches on each side. The dead clean/squat combos went by the wayside, as did the dead bugs. On the other hand, I kept up the 3 sets of 60 pushups every day, and I increased the number of pullups I could do during this period. Count exercise as a success under pressure.
Second, I managed what I ate adequately. I was in my range every day. I didn't jiggle the range up because I was concerned about less exercise; but the weight maintained or even went down ever so slightly. Yes, I had a lot of stress eating; but stress eating looks different now. Pre-SP, stress eating was eat anything that tastes good, in large quantities. Chips and dip. Fast food. Candy. Any type of dessert item. Now, stress eating is go pay Taco Bell for supper or lunch, and eat my standard fare that can fit into the daily nutrition. I would normally do this two or three times a week anyway; it's been every day for over a week now. But I've made the numbers come out on the food tracker, and the sideways weight trend shows that I'm not fudging the numbers. Count nutrition as a success under pressure.
Third, water. SP is big on drinking lots of water. For me, that's integrated with nutrition. It was no effort at all to keep the water intake up where it belongs. Count this as such an ingrained habit that success was never in doubt.
Fourth, sleep. This is a bit of a problem area. I have my goal of being in bed by 10:30 six nights a week. I missed a week in April under pressure, and both before and after that miss I've run close to the bedtime deadline most days. The early to bed at 9 PM hasn't been happening as much as I'd like, but getting up on time still keeps happening. I've been able to tell that I could use more sleep; but I'm much better than I was in similar situations pre-SP. Further, I've had mornings where I woke before the alarm on 7 hours of sleep just because I was keyed up about what I needed to get done. Hopefully this will improve with the passing of the deadline.
Count sleep as an issue, but an issue managed better with the habits I learned on SP than it would have been before.
What would I do differently, in hindsight? The only thing I see is that perhaps I could have focused more on getting to bed early. That's an easy thing to point at in hindsight, not so easy to do in real time. And looking around at how fried a couple other people at the office are, I'm not too disappointed in how I've managed.
Now, off to Taco Bell for dinner, then home for a bit of relaxing before the formal work week starts tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
After my last blog, my sister suggested that I could ace the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) for my age and gender at my current level of fitness. The APFT consists of as many pushups as you can do in two minutes, followed within 20 minutes by as many situps you can do in two minutes, followed within 20 minutes by running 2 miles as fast as you can.
Looking up 56 year old males, 100% would be 56 pushups. I do sets of 60 every day, so that's not in doubt.
100% for the 2 mile run would be 14:42, for a 7:21 pace per mile. I think I can do that.
100% for situps would be 66. I didn't know about that, since I don't do situps. I do Turkish get-ups with a 45 lb. kettlebell, and the TGUs start with a twisting crunch to a situp, so it's possible. Just have to test it.
So yesterday I did a long set of pushups, then before my TGUs I tucked my feet under the couch and tried some situps.
I got to 15 without strain on my abs, but had to quit. The motion of the situp was hitting my tailbone, and it hurt. Apparently I don't have as much padding there as I used to.
To be sure, I could have kept going if it had been a choice between being conservative about my tailbone or pleasing a drill instructor; but I didn't face that choice.
I tried situps again this morning, more cautiously, adjusting positions. Maybe if I use a padded mat I can do them, but not on my living room carpet. I'm not the world's foremost expert on anatomy, but I'm pretty sure the tailbone isn't meant to directly bear weight, and that's what's happening with a classic straight situp motion. (It turns out that the TGU motion lifts the weighted side off the floor first, avoiding hitting the tailbone like a straight situp does.)
I'll count that as flunking the APFT, since 15 is off the bottom of the chart; but I don't feel bad about it. I am not a soldier, and I don't have to try to please a drill instructor.
On the bright side, I went out and ran 5K this noon. I came in at 21:38, for a 6:57 pace per mile; aside from the minor detail that it wasn't within 20 minutes of pushups or pullups, I could have passed two thirds of the APFT.
The left calf muttered a bit, but not as loudly as it did Saturday. During stretches, it didn't complain as much as it did on Saturday. It's not 100%, but progress is being made. I'll see whether it feels like I can run on it again on Thursday; if so, I will limit that run to 5K. First I want to get back to 3 runs per week regularly. After that, I can see about increasing the time and distance.
Saturday, June 09, 2012
This morning I had a case of the Idonwannas. That's where I get to the normal part of the morning for exercise, and my mind says, "I don' wanna!" I got past that by stretching the exercises out over more time than I'd have on a work day. One of the results of stretching it out was that by the time I got to my third set of pushups, I'd had some rest time. These days, I normally do pullups then pushups in succession, then go do something minor toward fixing breakfast, then do another set of pullups and pushups, till I have the three sets in. Today, I had an interval of messing with breakfast prep between the third set of pullups and the third set of pushups.
So I got down to do the pushups, and without the forearm fatigue from pullups they felt pretty good. I decided not to stop at my customary 60, but to see how many I could do. It got pretty hard in the low 90s, but I managed 102. I might have stopped at 101, but I did that the last time I tried this . . .
Anyway, I put that out on my status, and I've got some comments and several likes for it. That prompts some historical musing on my part, coming from a history of very poor upper body strength.
I started lifting weights in 2005, as part of that year's weight loss effort. I recall that I was looking at doing one arm rows, and I asked an online forum how to do them if I didn't have a bench. One smart aleck suggested I just do pushups, and row from the plank position. Yeah, right. I couldn't do a pushup, let alone balance on one arm and lift a dumbbell with the other hand!
Well, how did I know I couldn't do a pushup? I hadn't tried in quite a while, and I'd been doing some dumbbell chest presses. So I got down to do pushups, and shocked myself by doing 20. Prior to that time, I'd never done more than 10 consecutive pushups in my life. Later that year, I worked up to my magic number of 50 pushups.
Fast forward to 2012. Fitness has come and gone and come again. I injured a foot running, and needed to find an exercise I could do without aggravating the foot. The first thing I found was pushups from the swiss ball. I started out with three sets of 25, and by the time the foot was well enough to support a plank position, I could do three sets of 40. The pushups became part of my normal morning routine, topping out at three sets of 60 because I could do 60 pushups in the minute it took the microwave to cook a scrambled egg.
Now I kind of take pushups for granted. I didn't know for sure that I'd be able to do 100 pushups this morning, but I thought it was a possibility. When I did 102, I threw that out as a status just to get the spark point from posting a status. It turns out that 102 pushups impressed a few people. (Dirty secret: Pushups are easier when I weigh 162 than they were when I weighed 185.)
I'm reminded a bit of my sister saying it takes a year per 25 pounds lost to identify with your new body. I've been doing pushups long enough that I think, of course I can do 50 pushups whenever I want to! But seven years ago, 50 pushups was a Very Big Deal to me.
This year, the Very Big Deal is pullups. In late April, I managed to do two pronated pullups on my then-new pullup bar. That was huge for me, and I worked pullups into the morning routine. I alternate between neutral grip, narrow grip pronated, chinups, and door frame width grip pronated. Today was the wider grip pronated pullups; my three sets were 6 pullups each.
Six pullups seems like a much bigger deal to me than 60 pushups, or even 100 pushups. This may be because three months ago, I couldn't do real pronated pullups at all. (As with pushups, pullups are no doubt a lot easier at 162 pounds than at 185 pounds.) I don't post status about the pullups, because 6 real pullups or 8 neutral grip pullups doesn't sound like an impressive number; but it's a Big Deal to me. I don't know how long it will be before I can take pullups for granted.
Anyway, that's kind of the routine every day stuff. What I really want to do is run. Right now, I have to admit that my legs aren't in good enough shape to run three days a week. I overworked my left calf in a race on May 31, and went 5 days to the next run, last Tuesday. Tuesday I quit running earlier than planned because of that same calf, then skipped Thursday's run. Today I ran, with the plan being to run a known 5K route without hills, having the option to add distance near the end if everything felt good.
About halfway through the run, the left calf started reminding me it wasn't 100%. I discarded the idea of adding distance, and just ran the 5K without trying to be fast. Came it at 22:30, for a 7:14 pace per mile. The calf didn't feel all that bad while stretching, and it's not bothering me now; I'll probably try running 5K again next Tuesday.
Recovery from injury is harder to manage than intial training or simply sitting out while injured. I'm still figuring out how much I can get away with, and part of the learning process is making mistakes. I think I'll get there.
Meanwhile, it was something of an ego boost to hear that people are impressed by the pushups I kind of take for granted when I can't run as long as I'd like to.
Friday, June 01, 2012
Last August, when I started training myself to be a runner, my first goal was to run the entire 3.5 mile course of the 2012 Chase Corporate Challenge in Rochester, NY. I had participated in this event every year since 2005, and had never been able to keep running the entire way. The best I did was run the first 2 miles; the worst, I didn't make it through the first mile.
More ambitious goals followed that one, as it became apparent that I could do more than just keep running for 3.5 miles. Before the CCC rolled around, I ran a 5K , then a 10K, then signed up for a half marathon, then got injured and had to back off to the 5K associated with that HM. Lately I've been bothered by running more than I should at my current state of leg development, and having my calves take turns telling me so.
A week before the CCC, I had a great run. That was my last blog. Then I ran out of time to write blogs. The short version is: Thursday, great run. Saturday, good run. Monday, decent run cut a little short because of that same left calf. Intentional rest till Thursday, the day of the race. Calf feels okay, not great.
Get my packet from the team captain on Wednesday. This year, the bib is a nice bright red, and my number is 730. Hmm. I've never seen a 3 digit number on this race before. The team captain must have got in really early.
It turns out there were some changes to how the race was managed this year. Instead of a single mass start for about 10,000 runners, the start was staged. First stage was for racers and fast runners, with red bibs. Second stage was for runners, with yellow bibs. Third stage was for walkers and non-competive runners, with green bibs. My team captain had asked what time I expected, and I told him my goal was 24 minutes. That qualified me as a "fast runner."
From my perspective near the front, the staged starts (yellow 2 minutes after red, green 2 minutes after yellow) was a smashing success. It didn't take very long to get to the start line, and while there was traffic to run through early on, there weren't a whole lot of really slow people to go around. In the entire course, I only passed one person who was walking. He had a red bib, and I think he took himself out for injury.
At mile one, the timer called out 6:30. That's too fast for me to sustain. At mile two, the clock said 13:20. That second mile turned out to be close to my average for the course. By then my left calf was bothering me, and if this had been a training run I would have slowed to a walk. But there was that goal of running all the way, so I just ran a bit slower. I think the clock at mile three was somewhere around 20:30, but I don't remember exactly.
I do remember coming into the home stretch and trying to pick it up to beat 24:00 at the finish line. I didn't make it, gun time. The clock said 24:05 when I crossed. But this is chip timing, and doesn't start until I cross the start line. A co-worker with a smart phone scanned my bib and showed me the 23:58 chip time. I made my goal, and that was good! It was also the fastest score on my company's team, which gives me some office bragging rights.
Miscellaneous race notes: The web site tells me there were 9,967 participants from 399 companies. There were plenty of people finishing ahead of me; the overall winner was a familiar name from the local running shop, at 17:33. The fastest female finished at 19:44. This year, the event shirts from Chase were tech shirts instead of cotton. Everyone I spoke to was happy with that. In fact, up near the front at the start just about everyone was wearing a tech shirt from their company. I think I only saw one runner up there in a cotton shirt.
The aftermath: Today that left calf really bothered me. I skipped much of my normal morning exercise routine, and my normal lunch walk. I did get a 30 minute walk in late this evening to get my 10K steps for the day, but that's about it. No running for me today, and no running tomorrow. Sunday running is doubtful at this point. If I do get a Sunday run in, I need to strictly limit it to 5K. The next important goal is to get the legs healthy enough to support running 3 times a week, even if the runs are only 20 minutes long.
I will probably enter more organized races before next year's Chase Corporate Challenge, but I'm in no hurry to sign up right now. Work is crazy busy, and it will be enough of an effort to get regular informal running in. If I take another week to write another blog, it's not because I don't have anything to write about; it's because when I only have so much time, blogging loses to planning food and getting the exercise in.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
After last Saturday's calf problem, I planned to rest from running till Tuesday. Tuesday came, and the calf still felt sub-par. Plus the old bad foot was making itself known. I decided to skip Tuesday's run. Wednesday was a non-running day anyway due to scheduling constraints.
Today is Thursday, a work at home day. Time schedules are tight, so I needed to keep a lunch run short. I figured 5K would be about right.
It was sunny with a hint of future higher humidity. My remote thermometer told me it was 82.9° F when I started. Ran most of my standard, flat 5K route, but couldn't resist adding a short detour near the end to add distance. That short detour took me back over a very minor hill, more of a bump, late in the path; I wanted that bump because there is a small hill on the course of next Thursday's race.
Had a bit of gas left in the tank for a little extra speed as I approached my driveway; but it wasn't really enough extra speed to be called a sprint. The run timed out at 21:41, and I figured I was running about a 7 minute mile because I wasn't making any effort to run slowly. It mapped out to 3.19 miles, for an average pace of 6:48 per mile.
Best of all, the legs felt normal when I stretched. Yes, I can still tell that the left calf is a little tighter than the right calf. Yes, I can still tell that the right foot isn't 100%. But it's close. More importantly, the legs and feet aren't keeping me from doing anything. If there was a limit on speed, it was more due to cardiovascular conditioning and temperature than legs.
I do have to think about taking a water bottle with me now. I would have used one on this run if I'd had it. That might have slowed me down a little, but it will be worth it as the weather gets warmer and the runs get longer.
The plan now is two more short runs on Saturday and Monday mornings, then take Tuesday and Wednesday off from running to be fresh for the race Thursday evening. Pre-race info is out, and it says that "the front rows of the start are for runners planning to race at a pace under 7 minutes per mile." This year, I can legitimately line up near the front.
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