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.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Yesterday I was all bummed out about my left calf getting hurt while I ran. Those who were paying attention to detail will have recognized that this was my previously healthy leg, the right one having given me issues most recently. That aspect was particularly frustrating.
So I rested the leg. Among other things, I didn't even think about mowing the lawn yesterday. But the grass still needs mowing, and there's no one else to do it. So about 6 pm, with my handy remote thermometer telling me it's 90° F (32° C) outside my window, I started the routine to mow the lawn this evening. Go down to the basement to get cords for the electric mower. As I reach the main floor with the cords, I realize that I didn't notice my calf on the way down. Hmm. Go down and back up, paying attention.
Today is not a day to run on that calf, but it's much better than it was yesterday. I'd say there was a fair chance I'll be able to run again on Tuesday. *Maybe* I could get away with it tomorrow, but I don't think I'll chance it.
Now to go mow the lawn, which might put me over my 10K steps for the day. Yeah, it's been a pretty sedentary Sunday, mostly working on my work computer. And I need to do more of that after I mow.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Today I ran 4.93 miles in 35:04, for a 7:07 pace per mile. The only problem with this was, it was a planned 5.20 mile run.
I started my Saturday by taking the luxury of moving slowly in the morning. Yeah, I was out of bed at 6 with the alarm; but I didn't hustle. I dawdled through breakfast, and went light on the morning exercises in anticipation of running. Got out on the road a bit before 9, and set out to run a very familiar 5.2 mile course.
Right now, 5.2 miles is further than I've been running. Thursday I ran 4.31 miles with a couple of small hills, so I figured stretching the distance to a course with only one minor hill would be okay. I made no attempt to run particularly fast, even on the modest downgrades in the early part of the route. A pace of a a bit over 7 minutes per mile felt sustainable. It felt good. The weather was beautiful, 64° F when I started, with sunshine and intermittent light breeze. I concentrated on paying attention to my legs, and making this sustainable.
Everything felt great. I got to the last downgrade a bit over half a mile from home, and picked up the pace just a little. Got to the corner to my street, and wham! Sharp pain in the left calf.
Well, I've seen that before. Stop running, look at watch, fish out iPod, stop the stopwatch, look back at watch to see how many seconds to subtract. Treat the remainder of the course as the first part of the walking cooldown. Stretch, take care of the legs. When stretching, the left gastrocnemious seemed to be the issue; but the way it hurt to go down stairs felt more like the soleus.
Sigh. As I'd been moving through those last 2 miles, I'd been thinking this would be my longest run for the next two weeks. The plan was to run less than 4 miles next week on Tuesday and Thursday, about 4 on Saturday, and limit myself to a 5K the following Monday before resting up for the 3.5 mile Chase Corporate Challenge on May 31. A real training plan, complete with taper!
Well. After being mostly sedentary the rest of the day, with some shopping to walk off whatever stiffness will walk off, the calf doesn't hurt all the time; but it's not in shape to run on, either. Maybe I can try again Tuesday, and maybe I'll need to wait longer.
When things go like this, my natural inclination is to hide from the online scene. It's a lot easier to write about running when the run goes well. But, I guess this is part of life. Sometimes, I have to find out how much is too much the hard way.
Oh, well. At least I can still do pushups and pullups.
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