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Miscellaneous Exercise Musings

Sunday, September 02, 2012

I've done two days of walk/run intervals at walk 4 minutes, run 1 minute. The first time was a test of the system. The second time, yesterday, I got the iPod app working right and had all the right cues. I did 9 cycles of walk 4, run 1.

There is good news and bad news here. The good news is that I learned I can now balance on one foot while doing quad stretches; before I needed to lightly touch a support to keep my balance. The bad news is that my bad foot is reminding me that I've been quite active. Apparently every other day is too often for this drill right now. If the foot isn't noticeably better tomorrow, the next walk/run interval will need to wait until at least Tuesday, maybe later. Sigh.

While I wasn't even trying to run, I had done pullups and pushups as supersets; I'd do a set of the pullup du jour, then immediately do a set of pushups. Go fiddle with breakfast for a bit, do a second set. Fiddle with the next part of breakfast, do the third set. That was okay when I was doing 4 or 6 pullups, but at 10 or 12 it fatigues my upper arms too much to get anything else done after the pullups and pushups. So I split them up and stretched out the time; now I do three sets of pullups with some rest between, then three sets of pushups. And I started thinking more about the pushups.

Over the past few weeks, I've come to realize that all pushups are not created equal. As with all traditional weight lifts, doing them slower is harder. For some time, I've been doing the first set of pushups at a pretty deliberate pace, then letting myself go faster on the other two sets.

A few days ago, I saw a blog where someone had posted a picture of a girl doing decline pushups (hands on sidewalk, feet on a park bench) as a motivational image. I can do sets of 60 regular pushups; I wonder how many decline pushups I can do? So I got out a folding chair, because it was the most stable thing of the right height I had, and had a go at it for my third set of pushups one morning.

I did them fast, and was surprised by the blood rushing to my head thing, but I got 60 pushups done. The effort by the time I got done was close to the effort from doing a set of standard pushups slowly. The decline pushups went into the morning routine for the time being, as the third of three sets of 60 pushups. Now they're not the noticeable effort to get 60 in that they were the first time; perhaps I can slow the decline pushups down just a bit.

I don't think I want to do 3 sets of 60 decline pushups. Substituting one set for a set of standard pushups is just fine for me right now.

Other than that, my main exercise right now is plain old walking. Because walking isn't very intense, I put in more time than I would if I were running. That makes the fitness minutes pile up, so the totals will look more impressive than if I were running. That's okay; I know what reality is, and I'll be happy to log fewer fitness minutes if it's because I'm running again.

But for that to happen, I have to figure out how to get from injured reserve back onto the running team. And making that move is a slow, feel my way sort of process.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSLZZY 9/4/2012 5:21PM

    You have gotten the hang of changing things up
and making it work for you. Good job!

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HEALTHIERKEN 9/3/2012 10:40PM

    I'm in awe at your push-up and pull-up stamina! No wonder your upper body shows so much definition.

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WATERMELLEN 9/2/2012 8:53PM

    I wish in hindsight I'd exercised your patience with rehab when I was running a lot myself . . . but I didn't. And now can do cardio primarily on the elliptical, or walking on the golf course briskly. One of my friends who ran marathons has just required hip replacement surgery (after a fairly long wait . . . ): no fun. Your way is better!

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RG_DFW 9/2/2012 8:50PM

    Still going... that's good

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ONEKIDSMOM 9/2/2012 8:40PM

    What all of this is showing me is the essential nature of cross-training during injury rehabilitation.

Patience, a lot of patience, that's what it seems to take.

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Adventures in Cooking

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The other day a Chef Meg recipe for whole wheat flatbread crossed my screen. Like most Chef Meg recipe, it called for things that I'd have to go out and buy in order to make the recipe. Unlike most Chef Meg recipes, I had plausible substitutions in my cupboards and on my regular grocery list.

I set out to map the substitutions: White flour for whole wheat flour, because I have it on hand. Dried parsley flakes for chopped fresh parsley. Don't have baking powder, but Dr. Google is my friend; he tells me I can substitute two parts cream of tartar and one part baking soda for three parts baking powder. Amazingly enough, I have cream of tartar on hand; and baking soda is a given. And the recipe calls for 3/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt, which I buy in 6 oz. containers.

The first experiment was with reconstituting the parsley flakes. My container tells me to soak them in equal parts cold water for 15 minutes. I assume that means 2 Tbsp parsley flakes to 2 Tbsp cold water. Did that, and the water wasn't all absorbed. Meanwhile, I've used the nutrition tracker to determine that 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley is something less than 1 Tbsp of dried parsley. Oh, well. I estimated the use of 1 Tbsp dried parsley, and measured 2 Tbsp of the reconstituted stuff after draining the water. It was clumsy and a bit messy; if I do this again, I'll just use dried parsley and add water if the dough is too dry.

Mixing the dough was a little clumsy. The closest thing I've done to this is pie dough, and getting the Greek yogurt to mix with the flour looks to be a different skill than cutting shortning into flour. But I persevered and got it done. Let it sit. I can do that.

Turning it into dough balls, and then rolling the dough balls out into something approximating the shape and size of flatbread was an exercise in humility. I made a mess. The only reason it wasn't a HUGE mess is that this is a fairly small recipe. I ended up shaping the first two purely by hand before I got the hang of adding enough dry flour to make the rolling pin work correctly. Then there was cleanup of the mess. This reminds me of why I buy pre-made pie crusts if I want to bake a pie!

Got the two hand-shaped slices and the four thinner, rolled-out slices cooked with surprisingly few issues. That turned out to be the easy part of the process. Of course, I had to sample one of each; good thing I'm doing this on a day when I have the calories to spare. They turned out to have the flavor and texture I expect from flatbread; the issue is keeping myself from just eating all of them when they're fresh and warm. I ended up putting the other four on a plate under plastic wrap, and I'll use them as bread until they're gone.

Lessons learned (or re-emphasized):

1. There are some cooking skills that simply need a lot of practice to become easy. Rolling out dough is one of them, and I never got a lot of practice at that.

2. Cooking something I like, that is best when fresh, in a bigger batch than for one meal for one person, is dangerous. I shouldn't do that very often.

3. This version of flatbread isn't very cost-effective compared to store bought bread. The price of the Greek yogurt (the only ingredient I actually bought recently) is right up there with the price of a loaf of whole wheat bread when I can get the bread on special, or around half the price of a loaf of whole wheat bread when the bread isn't on special. But the flatbread only makes 6 slices.

I'll see how the other four slices go with being stored until they fit into the nutrition plan. It may turn out that, given sufficient self control at cooking time, flatbread could become a staple. But for that to happen, I need to get a lot better at the preparation than I was today.

It could happen; preparation of steel cut oats was pretty ugly the first time I tried that. But at least the steel cut oats could be prepared as a single serving.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BBECKER1955 9/2/2012 9:12AM

    You're a braver man than I! I try to stick to the "slow cooker" or "grill" recipes, I can handle those.

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RG_DFW 9/2/2012 7:56AM

    Good deal, I still have problems boiling water...

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NWFL59 9/1/2012 11:04PM

    Glad you tried it out, fresh bread is way to tempting for me to make or have on hand. emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 9/1/2012 8:26PM

    I know that if it is there . . . I'm highly likely to eat it!!

One of the many reasons why I've pretty much stopped baking . . .

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MERRYMARY42 9/1/2012 7:20PM

    I try a completely new recipe once in awhile, and quite often, I am happy with it, and do it again, but then sometimes, I find, that it is cheaper, better and more cost effective to go to the store and buy it ready-made, but it is fun to try it,

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ONEKIDSMOM 9/1/2012 5:18PM

    You're a braver cook than your sister. My experiment with doing my own bread (yeast type, even) was back before your nephew was born when I had to find a no salt bread recipe. It, too, was an ugly process, and one I did not keep up beyond the pregnancy.

Sometimes hassle is just hassle. Good luck finding the balance that works for YOU with the flatbread. And congrats on having the courage to try. emoticon emoticon

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Looking Forward to Running

Friday, August 31, 2012

Had my usual Friday dinner with daughter at Taco Bell. The conversation focused on her pending move to a smaller (and more affordable) apartment, and the 10K we registered for on Thanksgiving Day. She's trying to train, and currently maxes out at running for 30 seconds. She thinks she could walk a 10K, it would take her about 2 hours, and she might not be able to walk very well the next day.

I see no reason to doubt her self-assessment. For now, she's trying to build up to being able to run for a minute at a time, in preparation for starting the 5K Your Way beginner's program. I think she has correctly identified motivation as her biggest challenge; I'm doing what I can to encourage her.

For my part, I'm pretty sure I could walk 10K. The open question is whether I'll be able to run 10K by Thanksgiving, or whether my attempts to train up to that flame out and result in my not being able to walk that far. Time will tell.

As of this evening, my bad foot is still less than 100%. But it isn't keeping me from walking, and yesterday's walk-run intervals didn't make it obviously worse. So another set of walk-run intervals is on the agenda for tomorrow. I'll have to think about how long I want to go, and whether I want to shift from walk 4, run 1 to walk 3, run 1. For sure I don't want the running interval to be longer than one minute right now. Caution is the current watchword.

It will be hard to stay cautious. I'm really looking forward to running regularly again.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NWFL59 8/31/2012 11:36PM

    Well done on utilizing caution on getting back into longer runs during your intervals. emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 8/31/2012 9:53PM

    It's great that you are working with your daughter to get her into fitness; and exercising reasonable caution yourself!

Nice memories.

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/31/2012 9:27PM

    One day at a time. One workout at a time. Slower is better than faster at this point in training. You CAN exhibit self-control... I've seen you do it!

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Walk/Run Intervals

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Today was a work at home day. On my lunch hour, I decided to try some easy walk/run intervals. That's how the 5K Your Way program structures things for beginners, and that program worked out okay for me last year.

I decided I didn't want to start with running more than one minute at a time. After thinking about how far I wanted to go and how much time I had, I settled on trying a walk 4 minutes, run 1 minute regime. I planned to go a measured 5K route. My thinking was, walking would take me 42 to 47 minutes on this route, and running one minute out of 5 should trim 6 to 8 minutes off the total. I haven't walked a 5K in under 44 minutes since the foot injury was aggravated, so call it maybe 38 or 39 minutes.

A year ago, I was doing wak/run intervals by looking at my watch. If I didn't look back at the right time, I'd miss when to switch gears. This year, I have an iPod touch. My daughter recommeded the RunKeeper app for its "coaching" function. Played a bit; the options are slow, steady, or fast. Set up a program of 4 minutes slow, 1 minute steady and set out.

The first 3 cycles went well. I got an audio cue to switch between walking and running, right on schedule. Unlike a year ago, I wasn't wondering how much of my minute is left; I was using the cue to stop when I should, before I run too far. The app also announces time and average pace every mile; but that's bogus because the GPS on the iPod sucks.

I think the app crashed right at 15 minutes. In any case, the next period of running wasn't cued on time. I restarted the app, and it immediately cued a run; I started running. I think I ran two minutes that time; the app had paused. I'm learning some lessons about iPod management for this stuff. Next time I'll pay a little more attention to the hardware, and also more attention to my watch as a backup. I lost a few minutes of the app being non-operational, but once I figured that out it worked properly for the end of the route.

Finished the 5K at about 35 minutes. That's "about" because the app had paused and I didn't get a precise reading on my watch when I started, but it's a close "about" because I did get a watch reading at the first few cycle changes. I was amused that SP offered me walking 6 minutes per kilometer, but not 7 minutes per kilometer. When I entered the exercise from the map, it insisted I was running. Well . . . not really. I was probably walking faster than I would have with a pure walk today, but I wasn't running most of the way. Average pace of around 11:15 per mile is faster than I can walk, but much slower than I run. This is as it should be.

Got some stretching done, on general principal. I don't stretch after walking, and didn't really feel a need to stretch today, but I thought it was important to establish the habit. The idea is that these walk/run intervals will eventually turn into real runs, and if I start the post-"run" stretching now, the real need for stretching won't surprise me with an injury.

The foot felt as good after the intervals as it did before. I'll pay attention to how it feels tomorrow and Saturday. If all goes well, I'll do some more walk 4, run 1 intervals on Saturday.

The lesson from 5K Your Way is, train 3 days a week. Keep the same interval pattern for a week before expanding the running time. That worked well for me a year ago; I'll try it as a disciplined plan to rehab this year.

For nostalgia's sake, I looked back at my blog from a year ago today. I was on Week Zero of the 5K Your Way program then. I was not a runner, though I was running 2 minute intervals. Now, I perhaps am not a runner again; but I have been a runner, and I'm confident that I will be a runner again.

I might even be able to run a 10K by Thanksgiving Day. Just have to see how the rehab goes.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SMILINGTREE 8/31/2012 11:28AM

    You might want to try out the Nike+ chip with your ipod. I really liked using it, when I had it (my battery died, then I lost the chip). Anyway, you can get a thing that attaches the chip to your shoestring, so you don't have to buy the special Nike shoes. It also has a piece that plugs into your iPod. You can upload your workouts to Nike if you want, and it stores your history on the iPod. It works a lot like RunKeeper, but you don't need the GPS and it won't crash.

Good luck with your running recovery. It sounds like you are off to a good start.

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MSLZZY 8/31/2012 10:33AM

    You are starting at the right point for you and
using a slow progression. In theory, that should
help you get back to running without injury.
Good luck!

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KRISZTA11 8/31/2012 5:02AM

    Your plan sounds good: safe but still motivational.
It is amazing you made 5K in about 35 minutes while walking 80% of the time...
I'm glad it went so well!

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/30/2012 8:55PM

    emoticon Good luck on your second 5K your way! Come Thanksgiving, we shall have tales to swap!

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The Bad Foot: Time to try again?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Long term readers of my blogs will remember that I have a foot injury that keeps me from running. I got it at the beginning of February, took most of February and March off, and then got back to running. Mid-June, I did too much too hard and aggravated the foot.

Since then, I've been very cautious about coming back. I want that foot to heal properly.

But . . . how much is enough? Right now, the foot is probably better than it was when I was running in April and May. It's not 100%, and I'm intimidated by the prospect of making it worse. So, what can I do?

I can walk reasonably briskly. In mid-February, I couldn't do that.

I can run short distances, such as to make it across a street before the light changes.

Some days, I can run a few laps up and down my hallway lightly. Other days, the foot reminds me that it is injured. This doesn't keep me from doing things, but it warns me of potential re-injury.

Ten days ago, I walked 5.2 miles briskly. That was a poor choice. The length of the walk wasn't that bad a choice, but a course that didn't have an opportunity for me to bail at about 4 miles was a poor choice. By four and a half miles, my foot was feeling it. I lost the ability to run laps up and down my hall for most of last week. But the foot got better, during a week when I got over 10K steps each and every day. I ran a few light laps up and down my hallway yesterday morning and this morning.

I have a 10K on Thanksgiving Day, and I expect I'll be able to walk it if I don't aggravate the foot. I *might* be able to run it, *if* I can figure out how to ease into training.

So . . . this evening I ran about a tenth of a mile. Practically nothing, but it didn't feel bad. Tomorrow morning I'll pay attention to whether the foot is complaining. If it doesn't, maybe on Thursday I'll try some walking with short running intervals.

I just hope I don't find out how much is too much the hard way again.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Your foot will let you know when it has had enough. I would gradually increase the distance.

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KRISZTA11 8/29/2012 1:56PM

    Walking with running intervals sound a great idea.
I have a feeling that running a bit slower during the adaptation could also help, because you usually run very fast and that may require more from your foot arches than a slower pace.
Another thing is the surface: something softer than asphalt could be beneficial, like gravel or packed dirt.
Good luck & stay safe!

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ARCHIMEDESII 8/29/2012 1:39PM

    Do you do any cycling ? To take some pressure off that foot, try alternating your brisk walk days with a ride your bike day. If you don't ride a bike, how about swimming ? That's another great cardiovascular exercise that will take stress off that foot.

I know you want to keep doing vigorous exercise to stay in shape. but you may have to lay off the brisk walks for a few weeks to allow your foot a chance to heal so that it is ready for that Thanksgiving day run.

At least, try doing a brisk walk one day followed by something different the next day. cross training might help.

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KAYOTIC 8/29/2012 10:07AM

    I can sympathize, having my own foot issues that are finally starting to get better....time can help, and it's really hard to stay off the foot to let it heal!

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MSLZZY 8/29/2012 9:54AM

    How can you know how much is too much? I do
not envy you in this regard. Just do the best you
can and take care of that foot. Wish I had sound
advice but short on that today.

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PLMITCH 8/29/2012 9:03AM

    I know what you are going through. It has been an agonizingly long trail back from my Achilles tendonitis ( well long for me - I have the patience of a fruit fly!), so holding myself back has been a challenge. Thankfully I was able to swim when I could not run at all.

Yesterday I was able to do 3 miles in under 40 minutes (38:10 to be exact), and the one thing I am seeing is really making an effort to stay throttled down early on. I did the first mile in 14 minutes and ran maybe 50% of it. Miles 2 and 3 much moire running and felt VERY energized at the end! In the two 5K race I have done, I clearly overdid it on the first mile, especially the last race where I ran like a 9:30 mile and not only had NOTHING left in the tank at the end, but very likely injured the Achilles tendon in that first mile by overdoing it!

My next 5K is 09/22, and while I want very much to meet/exceed my personal best of 32:10, I am going to be much more conscience of how I go out in that first mile.

Oh yeah, and I LOVE my Brooks running shoes!

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/28/2012 10:00PM

    Listen to your body. Intervals. Walk breaks. Every read Jeff Galloway's stuff? About training injury free?

I'm doing intervals, even in races. It makes it possible, for me, for now... and I'm running faster than I used to. Good luck!

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 8/28/2012 9:17PM

    Good luck in your venturing forward. I think that .1 of a mile is a good and prudent start. But please be cautious.

I LOVE your Spark Name so much!

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ILOVETOCRUISE 8/28/2012 8:54PM

    Listen to your body, in this case your foot. Good luck on your goal.

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