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.
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.
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.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Depending on when I'm driving to work, I might hear a segment on the radio from the local "health and fitness reporter." Since joining SparkPeople, I've listened more to what she has to say. A typical segment briefly describes a current health news headline, which might also appear on the SP health news feed. Then she discusses what it means, and has some light banter with the morning radio guy. This is fairly standard infotainment fare.
The other day, she covered an interesting headline. Apparently there was a study done, and in this study overweight people who exercised for 30 minutes a day lost 8 lbs. over three months. People who exercised for 60 minutes a day lost 6 lbs. over three months.
The fitness reporter explained that the study only looked at exercise, and that no requirements were set on diet. She hypothesized that people who are new to exercise and do more will work up more of an appetite, and they probably ate more. All this makes sense to me; but of course the headlines will scream, "Don't exercise as much! It does more harm than good!"
The interesting thing is, on the way home from work that same day the radio news mentioned this study again. This time, there was no health and fitness reporter explaining things. The sound track was that more exercise isn't as good as less exercise.
Google is my friend. I found a link to a news article reporting on this study: www.foxnews.com/health/2012/08/24/30
One thing that jumps out at me from the link is, the study was done with previously sedentary men. I remember the "previously sedentary" part from the morning radio spot, but the male-only wasn't mentioned, or I didn't catch it if it was.
I don't want to belabor the shortcomings of the reporting on this particular study. For one thing, I don't particularly want to go beyond the news and work hard enough to understand the underlying study. But I am going to ramble a bit about health news reporting in general.
The job of news reporting is to sell advertising. In order to do this, there must be readers or listeners. To that end, things that are new and different are reported, and these things are spun to pique the interest of as many people as possible. So we end up with health news headlines that sound like firm conclusions from scientific studies that mostly only produced interesting clues and pointers for further research.
This social phenomenon results in headlines that we can cherry-pick to suit our own preferences. Coffee is good for you. Coffee is bad for you. People who drink red wine in moderation are healthier than people who don't drink at all. Red meat is associated with heart disease. Lean red meat is important to get enough iron. If you pay attention over time, you can find contradictions in the headlines in less than a month.
The contradictions aren't because research is producing contradictory results, or at least they aren't most of the time. The contradictions are because very small phenomena are being blown out of proportion in the headlines. Most of us understand this intellectually; but it's still hard not to pay attention to those headlines. It's on the news, it should be true, right? Well, maybe kinda sorta if you pay attention to the fine print that might not have made it into the sound bite.
And that brings me around to a minor annoyance I have with SparkPeople articles. Among other things, SparkPeople is a news aggregator. Many of the SparkPeople articles are like the health and fitness reporter's spots on the radio. They pick up the current health news, give a little analysis, and move on to the next topic. So we get some inconsistency in the SparkPeople message.
Where SP is on message, it's very good. The material presents a mainstream point of view advocating a balanced diet, drinking lots of water, getting a reasonable amount of exercise, getting enough sleep, and paying attention to motivation. That formula has worked well for me.
Where SP is not on message, it passes through a lot of mainstream media health news and attitudes. That's where we get article titles like "Butt-Blasting Workout" and food comparisons that implicitly assume that more fat is always bad while ignoring the relative amounts of protein in the food being compared. I need to view that kind of stuff the way I view the health and fitness news. It's not news, the sound bites are not accurate, and it's so superficial I need to ignore it.
On the whole, I really like the SP site. I need the nutrition tracker. The fitness tracker works for me as a motivational tool. And the community is awesome.
Putting up with health and fitness news that's no better than the mainstream media is a small price to pay for the good parts of SP.
Friday, August 24, 2012
It's Friday evening. In my current routine, this is the day I take my daughter to Taco Bell while her last load of laundry is in my drier. Today, I stopped at Aldi on the way back to pick up a few things: A honeydew melon, strawberries, onions, cottage cheese, eggs, bagged salad, tuna, and baby carrots. Pre-spark, I might have bought eggs, cottage cheese (only when I planned to put it in spaghetti sauce, and the full-fat variety then) and tuna (four cans would last me several months). The rest . . . baby carrots maybe once in a while. The other stuff, never.
Now, this is all stuff I'm buying because I was running out of it. To be fair, the onions and the melon are new additions to what I buy, but this isn't a first-time purchase on any of this stuff.
Daughter is slower to change to healthy ways, but she did ask if I could give her an orange peeler. It seems she bought some grapefruit by mistake, and she's going to be eating them. A knife at her apartment didn't work as well as an orange peeler did at my house for oranges.
In the back of my mind, the trip to Aldi on the way back from Taco Bell is a timing issue. Part of it is giving daughter a good example, even if that example is a couple decades later than I should have started. The other part, of course, is that it's on the way and it's when I have time to get this done.
Daughter finished her laundry and went on her way. I got to my evening snack, and had to add calories to make my minimums. I would have been fine right now shorting myself a couple hundred calories, but I'm not an intuitive eater. I need to identify a proper range, and eat to that range.
This has been happening more than once a week lately. Get to the late evening, and have to eat more to make minimums. Since I'm not back to running yet, it can give me a twinge of anxiety; but the scale trend is sideways, so I'm not changing the nutrition range. And in the grand scheme of things, it's a heck of a lot easier to deal with finding another 200 calories to eat than to deal with being done for the day and still wanting to eat more!
As I think about it, the trend in grocery shopping and the trend in eating to the calorie range are probably linked. Adding peppers and onions to my salad doesn't add a lot of calories, but makes the salad more satisfying. And having 100 to 150 grams of melon instead of an orange is fewer calories, but satisfies that craving for something sweet at the end of breakfast. There's likely similar stuff going on that I'm not noticing, but those two spring to mind.
In this respect, I'm doing things a little backwards. I got to goal weight before I started eating this healthy. (Not that Taco Bell is all *that* healthy, but the rest of the day looks pretty good.) And it had to be a gradual transition, as I ate to the nutrition ranges and tried one thing at a time to see if I liked it and could fit it into the plan.
It's still an evolving process, but I'm seeing some similarity between exercise and healthy eating. Both required me to start with little stuff, incorporate that into my lifestyle, and build incrementally.
Before SparkPeople, I never would have though of eating healthy or eating clean as something that could be accomplished by a gradual transition. Now, I see that this is the only way I could accomplish that. I'm still not eating like a true clean eating fanatic, and maybe I never will; but unlike my pre-Spark self, I now could survive a week of being fed by a clean eating fanatic.
At least, I could survive it as long as I could make it fit into my ranges for calories, carbs, fat, and protein. And I'd probably run out to Taco Bell as soon as possible after that hypothetical week . . . and buy groceries on the way back from Taco Bell, with a list that might resemble today's list.
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