Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Work is getting a bit busy right now. That's unusual for this time of year, but not unheard of. For work purposes, it would have been good to put in six to twelve hours over the four day Thanksgiving weekend. In reality, I did nothing but monitor emails (without responding) over that weekend.
I'm not sure whether that was the best thing to do for balancing work, leisure, and health; but it sure felt nice to have those four days. And I got two runs and two weight lifting sessions in on those four days, so I guess fitness won over career.
Now it's payback time, and I need to be diligent about doing the paid work between 8 and 5, and maybe sneak a bit of time in after 5. This tends to cut down on the step count, as "being diligent" in my line of work translates to sitting down more.
Today I am thankful that I can work at home 2 days a week. This arrangment allowed me to run 5K on my lunch break in spite of having a conference call scheduled right at 1 PM. The added time overhead of getting between the office and the gym would have precluded this on days I work in the office, even when I still had the gym membership.
The lunch run went well. Because of the tight time schedule, I deliberately held it to my flat 5K course from home, and went with shorter stretches than I would absent a time deadline. At 38° F (3°C) with a chilly southwest breeze, it wasn't quite cold enough to need gloves; but it was cold enough to drive me inside to do my stretches. The run timed out at 21:30 on 3.11 miles, for a 6:55 pace per mile. I'm not sure how much of that was just feeling good and running on a flat course, and how much was hurrying to be sure I got through in time to be on the conference call.
Got to a stopping point on work by 5:30, and broke for dinner. By the time I was done with that, I was feeling better. Sat down to write a blog, and the words weren't flowing. So . . . it's 7 PM, and I want to be in bed by 9:30. And the pedometer says I'm a little light on steps. Guess I have time for a short weight lifting session, and pacing between sets will be enough to get the step count up to average.
I know, lifting weights on the same day I run isn't ideal. But tomorrow is a packed day, and it's a given that I would get neither a run nor a weight lifting session in tomorrow, even if I had taken today as a total rest day. So let's do the weights this evening, but not overdo it. Be satisfied with a major leg lift, a push lift, and a pull lift.
For the pull lift, I decided weighted chinups. Left my jeans on, and strapped on 5 lbs. of ankle weights. Weighed myself, and it came out 173.4 (as compared to this morning's weight of 161.4 dehydrated and in my underwear). Managed 3 sets of 10 chinups with the weight, with a minute between sets. That third set was a lot more challenging than the third set of 16 pullups at stripped down body weight this morning. I see a dip belt in my future, to better incorporate chinups and pullups into weight training.
For the major leg lift, it was deadlifts. Warmed up at 155, then said what the heck. Let's try 205, which is a sentimental number. That's where I first deadlifted my weight. I did 3 sets of 8 deadlifts at 205, though I had to reset my grip twice during the third set. Then I racked the bar, and thought about playing with 215 or 225. Ended up deciding that 205 is enough for today.
For the push lift, I did dumbbell chest presses with my new 45 lb. dumbbells. Got three sets of 10 in and tested them with incline chest presses at a 30° angle. (I already knew I couldn't manage the 45 lb. DBs on incline chest presses at 45°.) No dice, couldn't get the presses started. But I did manage a set with 42.5 lb. DBs (= 40 lb. DBs plus 2.5 lbs. of Plate Mates). I'd failed with 42.5 DBs at 45° incline chest presses last time I tried.
The interesting thing is, this short exercise in lifting weights fit into a half hour total time. I'm loving the time efficiency of lifting in my basement, as compared to the gear up and gear down time required to get to a gym. The time efficiency makes it practical to just do 2 or 3 lifts; if I were going to the gym, I'd feel that this little wasn't enough to justify the time spent gearing up and gearing down.
So what's the point of this rambling? Mostly, it's notes to myself. I need to remind myself of a few things to remember as work gears up and demands more of my time and attention:
1. Running 20 minutes is much better than not running at all. Instead of worrying about wanting to run more, take the partial rest to let the bad foot get better.
2. Weight lifting doesn't have to take a lot of time. So make up your mind and do it, instead of playing Sudoku on the iPhone twice.
3. Getting the exercise in helps with controlling the food intake. I've noticed a tendency to eat from stress on work at home days. Looking forward to a lunch run helps control this in the morning, and having run at lunch helps control this in the afternoon. Then when my calorie count is normal instead of above average at dinner time, the evening feels more normal and less stressed.
4. Point in time check on the body: The sore thigh is almost normal now, and will likely get better even if I am running 3 days a week. Weight lifting seems to help the thigh. The bad foot may or may not be getting better, slowly. It will require continued monitoring, and I might have to take a day off running now and then to facilitate the recovery.
Gotta keep my head in the game. When work is slow, I might slide by just going through the motions on diet and exercise. But with work as it is now, I need to pay attention and get the exercise I can in the time I have. I have the time; I just have to use it wisely.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
The follow-up question to my fast time in the 10K on Thursday was, how would the sore thigh and bad foot hold up? It turns out that they held up pretty well. By this morning, the sore thigh felt not quite 100%. The bad foot was not as good as it has been, but not terribly bad. Throw in the anticipation of a mostly sedentary afternoon chatting with my daughter, and I decided to try a continual run this morning.
The temperature at my front porch was 31°F (-1°C) as I went through my morning routine. Got to the point of getting dressed for a run, looked out the window, and saw snow showers coming down with some flake sticking to the driveway and grass. Okay. I know how to dress for this weather, and it's unlikely the snow will accumulate enough to need different shoes.
Went out with the plan of running 5K or maybe a little more, depending on how my body responded to the run. Running felt very good. At the 3 minute mark, the RunKeeper app told me my average pace was 7:15. Perfect. I definitely don't want to run as fast as I ran for the 10K. The first mile announced itself at 7:19, and I figured an average pace between 7:15 and 7:30 was just what I wanted today.
The run was feeling pretty good, so I added some twists to the route to get the time up to 25 minutes or so. That put in one trip up the small hill, and down by a path I don't usually take. I had remembered how to dress for the weather pretty well, except I didn't think to put on any lip balm; I missed it a bit when headed into a cold westerly wind. Later in the day, that west wind became nastier; but it wasn't bad for my run.
Late in the run, I was feeling good enough that I decided add another detour to get the run up to 30 minutes. Gotta get that sixth Spark Point, you know. Back to my driveway didn't quite manage that, so I went a couple driveways further, then had to turn around slower than expected because of snow on the shoulder. But turning slowly is better than falling down, any day of the week.
The slow turn got my time up to 30:15, for a distance of 4.1 miles. That works out to an average pace of 7:23 per mile, which was fairly consistent through the run:
I started the run in snow showers, which let up by the time I'd gone a mile. For the last part of the run, I had sunshine. But the snow shower left my driveway wet enough that I had to go inside for my stretching.
Take stock of things, listen to your body. How are things going, Kevin?
The sore thigh reacted very well. It was better at the post-run stretch than it has been since it made me pay attention. I noticed that my soleus muscles were really tight and needed particular attention on the stretching. I recall that a strained soleus happened during my first round of training to be a runner. Probably ought to do something for the soleus. The gastrocnemius muscles were fine; maybe an underdeveloped soleus is just something I need to pay attention to if I want to run. It's too soon to tell for sure about the bad foot, but at least there isn't a clear warning that the foot has an obvious problem.
On general principal, I'm not going to run on consecutive days until the bad foot feels like it's 100%. By that time, the sore thigh should be ancient history. I'll probably have other bumps, bruises, and sore parts to deal with between now and then, too; but I'll worry about those as they happen.
I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll be able to run again on Tuesday, though perhaps I won't be able to squeeze 30 minutes in. 20 to 25 would be good enough for runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a longer run on Saturday or Sunday but not both. Realistically, there are going to be times when I need to skip a running day because of how my body reacts. I think the smart thing to do then would be to skip a day rather than try to shift the schedule.
Still, even with the need for continued monitoring of the sore parts, it feels really good to be out there running again. Maybe this time I can achieve last year's goal of continuing to run through the winter. Just have to be smarter about *how much* I try to run when I have time off in late December.
Friday, November 23, 2012
Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving. A day traditionally reserved for recovering from overeating, moaning at the scale results, and of course marathon shopping. I had a non-traditional Thanksgiving, so it stands to reason that I should have a non-traditional Black Friday.
I (mostly) ran a 10K on Thanksgiving, and was pleased with my time. I didn't have a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, but did have a small slice of coconut custard pie. Other than that, I ate well for a race day. The scale this morning said 160.0, right at the bottom of my desired range; but that's okay. I know part of it is a normal, temporary drop from running yesterday.
While I have no need to recover from overeating, and I have no complaints about the scale, I do need to recover from a longer run than I've been accustomed to. Check the bad foot; running 7 minute miles bothered it less than walking 13.5 minute miles did. Check the sore thigh. It's doing about as expected after a running day, and will probably let me run again tomorrow.
I took a couple days off from both running and weight lifting before yesterday's race, so this morning I did the once-routine TGU-windmill combos and kettlebell snatches in addition to my now-routine pullup du jour (chinups today) and pushups. Then I went off for a 5K walk to ensure that I'd get my 10K steps in today.
My natural walking pace on this recovery day turned out to be about a 15:10 mile, as compared to my natural walking pace on Tuesday and Wednesday being about a 14:20 mile. That's okay. It will get better.
Of course, I need to lift some weights on a non-running day to feel like I'm doing something and to work the muscles differently than running does. Motivation and finding time can be issues in accomplishing this; but today I was lucky. I'd met Robert (ON2VICTORY) yesterday, and he had expressed interest in trying out my 35 lb. and 45 lb. kettlebells while he waits for the 20 kilo and 24 kilo KBs he has on order. So we met at my house mid-day to talk and demo kettlebells and weights.
That go me motivated enough to get a little light KB work in, more like play than work. It also got me motivated to do my real weight lifting. Robert borrowed some of my dumbbells and had me snap some pics of him doing presses on his phone. I hope some of them turned out to be usable. I did Romanian deadlifts, walking lunges, and bench presses. Robert captured a couple shots of me doing walking lunges in the basement; here's the clearer one:
I was pleased that I managed to do a set of walking lunges (20 paces = 10 lunges on each side) with a pair of 20 lb. dumbbells. I hadn't been able to handle that weight the last time I tried it for walking lunges. In hindsight, that was probably because of my sore thigh, which isn't nearly as bad now as it was then.
Once again, I failed to think about good photos till after the opportunity was passed. It's nice that Robert was smarter than I was in that department.
I did end up doing one traditional Black Friday activity. I spent some time online hunting for good prices on laser printer toner. Ended up finding prices for toner for both my printers substantially cheaper than the last time I bought it.
By the end of the day, I noticed I was running a bit short of steps. A short pleasure walk took care of that, and tomorrow should feel like a normal Saturday. Today looks like a successful recovery day, adding to the satisfaction of a well-run 10K yesterday.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
ON2VICTORY mentioned in his blog yesterday that he was skipping the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot because he needed recovery time after his recent half marathon. I mentioned in a comment that he could stop in at the Race with Grace to say hi. That didn't happen, but we did manage to meet Thanksgiving afternoon at his motel.
Robert is pretty much what you see from his blogs and Spark Page. He's a pretty down to earth guy who is working on getting his weight where he wants it, and along the way running half marathons and triathlons. I am impressed by people who can run multiple half marathons, given that I flamed out training for my first. Robert was impressed with my 10K time and general fitness level.
We had a nice long chat about running, weights, kettlebells, and nutrition. I gave him some tips about learning the kettlebell snatch. He gave me some tips about training for longer distance runs, and also gave me a limited edition commemorative iron miner's cap. We totally failed to take any pictures, but he looks just like the pictures he posts to SP.
I took the opportunity to meet Robert based on my sister's recommendation to meet a Spark Friend whenever you have the chance. Now, I concur with that recommendation. If someone you've conversed with on SP is around your local area, make time to meet him or her. You'll be glad you did.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
I set the alarm for 5:30 to give myself time, but woke up early and rolled out of bed about 4:45. That's okay, because I still got over 7 hours of sleep. It also gave me enough time to have a normal breakfast routine including pullups du jour (close grip pronated today) and pushups in the intervals between fixing and eating the various parts of breakfast. I skipped the TGU/windmill combos and KB snatches because I expected to get plenty of exercise later in the morning.
Daughter showed up at 7, and we hit the road. The early start for walkers was informal and not well organized, but she got moving a half hour ahead of gun time for the crowd. The organizer had not put much thought into a formal early start for walkers until I talked with him last night; I expect he'll have something better thought out in advance next year.
Forecast for 9 AM was 40°F and sunny, with 6 to 8 mph southerly winds, Forecast for 10 AM was for 48°F. As near as I can tell, the forecast was very close to dead on. It was great running weather. I set out to just run at a comfortable pace, without worrying about people passing me or me passing other people. I did better with the not worrying part this year than last year. Early on, I noticed a guy swapping places with me who was breathing pretty heavily. I realized that was how I had been breathing in this race 264 days ago; but today I was pacing to breath easily.
The original plan had been to run intervals. Then I thought, for a race I can increase them from run 4, walk 1 to run 5, walk 1. Then I thought that maybe I could run a mile, walk a minute. At one mile, my time was 6:22, 8 seconds faster than last year. I felt pretty good after a mile, so I kept running. I passed daughter a bit after the 2 mile mark, and waved to her. By that time, I was thinking in terms of running 20 minutes, because one of my goals is to run 20 minutes continually 3 times a week. Stupid motivational tricks strike again.
At 20 minutes, I was close to 5K, and I wanted to see a running split. That turned out to be 20:22, or 12 seconds faster than last year. Well, that would slow when I got to real intervals. Partly on general principal, partly for cardio, I took a one minute walking bread at 21 minutes. Then I thought I should run 5 minutes and walk at 27; but at 27 I could see the 4 mile mark. Stopped for 2 small glasses of water at the 4 mile water station, then took a short untimed walking break before starting to run again on the downhill. Took my 3rd walking break, a timed 1 minute, at 33 minutes. Late in the race, I took another untimed, but under a minute, walking break at 40 minutes; then I ran for the end.
I sprinted the stretch where I could see the clock at the finish with the seconds ticking toward 43 minutes. Didn't quite make it; final time was 43:05. That was 47 seconds faster than last year, for an average pace of 6:57 per mile. I was impressed. I ran the full distance last year, took walking breaks in the second half this year, and actually covered the second half faster this year than last.
I'm more fit in general this year. I'm also a bit wiser. I probably could have run the full 10K, but I'm sure I finished in better shape for taking the four walking breaks.
The strategy of turning off the intervals, but turning on the readout of time, distance, and pace every minute worked well for an organized race, particularly where I was changing the walking intervals as I went. That was the point of the every minute readout on the app. But now I need to reset the app to reading out less frequently, as I don't want those frequent readouts for solo runs, walks, or intervals.
The real runners showed up this year. Last year's time surprised me with a first in age group. This year's faster time was more than 3 minutes behind the age group winner. Also, the over 50 male (who doesn't qualify for age group because Over 50 is worth more) would have been in my age group, and came it at 35 minutes and change. (Can't look up the change right now because the timer's web site maxed out its bandwidth. Not terribly shocking, on a day when they timed ~6500 participants in two major local races.)
The most noticeable body impact immediately after the race was tight calves. I could tell that I haven't been running this far regularly. But that is a good training effect, and one that's pretty easy to deal with. Long stretches, adequate rest, and build the regular mileage slowly.
The bad foot and sore thigh did not complain at all during the race. Afterward, the bad foot was no worse than after a routine run. The sore thigh lets me know if I try to run a short distance now; I'll see how well it recovers over the next two or three days.
If the recovery goes as well as it might, I'm about ready to start running continually instead of doing intervals. I'll still have to pay attention to the thigh and foot, and back off as needed.
After the race, there were bagels, Greek yogurt, bananas, coffee, and water available. I took a banana, a container of Greek yogurt, and a bottle of water because that was what I wanted. I noticed a contrast from a year ago, when I took a bagel and wondered where the c ream cheese was. This year, the bagel is too expensive given what else I wanted to eat today. I hadn't expected any insights to my dietary habits out of the race, so this was a small bonus benefit.
Because my daughter took over 2 hours to walk the course, I had plenty of time to get back and greet her at the finish line. But because she was participating this year, I don't have any photos of myself. Maybe there will be some professional photos available in a bit for a price. If so, I might have to actually buy some.
Overall, I'm happy with my two year tradition of running a race on Thanksgiving Day. I'm ready to make it three years in another 371 days.
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