Tuesday, December 11, 2012
My body needed a rest day on Sunday. Monday was a heavily scheduled day, with no time to run or lift weights. And work blew up on me Monday; the outlook is for a lot of time doing frustrating sedentary stuff over the next two weeks.
Today is Tuesday, a work at home day. Some of the frustrating stuff got done in the morning, and the afternoon was mostly lost to conference calls. The high point of my day was taking time to run at lunch.
The temperature was 32° F (0°C), with 9 mph WSW winds. It was overcast, with light lake effect snow showers that didn't accumulate. Since the rotation of clothing for this weather landed on a a black quarter zip jacket and black tights for the outer layer, it was a good thing to be running in daylight.
I set out to just run a quick 5K. Got along the way, and it was clear that I'd cover 5K in under 25 minutes. I wanted those 25 minutes, so I added an extra bit of hill to the route. Then it felt so good to be running that I added another bit on the end to ensure I'd make the time. Then I was over 28 minutes at my driveway, so I ran up and down the street enough to stretch it to 30 minutes.
RunKeeper reported this as 4.34 miles, for an average pace of 6:55 per mile. Aside from the typical slower uphill/quicker downhill phenomenon, which was muted because the hill was small, I ran at a fairly consistent pace. Split times were 6:54, 6:57, 6:47, and 6:57 for the first 4 miles.
Then I lost the evening to dealing with household paperwork and work email, with just a dab of progress on the frustrating stuff. But the evening is more bearable for having had that run at lunch.
From a scheduling perspective, it should have been possible to lift weights this eveing. I consciously decided not to, because tomorrow needs to be a non-running day. The way work is going, I think I might really need to lift weights tomorrow evening to de-stress.
On the injury front, the sore thigh is almost completely healthy now. I have to think hard to tell how the stretches on the left feel different than the stretches on the right. The bad foot still isn't 100%, but it's not complaining much or very loudly. I seem to have banged up my right shoulder somehow, either sleeping on it wrong or lifting too heavy; but I can deal with that. A sore shoulder isn't anywhere close to being as annoying as a sore thigh or foot. I should be okay just avoiding overhead lifts for a while and letting it get better.
I still don't know where my line in the sand is for these busy work days, but I'm coping for now.
Sunday, December 09, 2012
Today is Sunday. It's a non-running day, after the long slow run yesterday. The plan was to get a walk in the afternoon, and lift weights late afternoon or evening.
I got up this morning with DOMS from lifting weights Friday. Didn't have that yesterday, dunno why it delayed more than usual. The DOMS was gone by the time I got out of church, but how creaky I felt this morning was a clue.
As is typical on Sundays, I got to mid-afternoon without very many steps on the pedometer. Took a 5K walk at a gentle pace to ensure I'd get my 10K steps in. Set out to lift weights just before dinner.
I was tired. Felt like napping. That's another clue.
So instead of lifting weights, I went to dinner. Felt better after I ate something, but still decided to let the weights slide. I think my body is telling me it needs a rest day today. Of course, "rest" is relative; I did my usual pullup du jour (chinups today) and pushups in the morning, and I do have over 10K steps on the pedometer; but I haven't run, I haven't lifted weights, and I even skipped the Turkish getups this morning.
I'd like to say I'll get back to things tomorrow, but that's unlikely. The work outlook is that I won't have time for a run or a weight lifting session on Monday or Wednesday this week. So I guess I have to be sure to get the scheduled run in on Tuesday, and lifting weights would be good too.
But . . . it will be a late evening Monday and another late evening Wednesday. If I end up short on sleep, the weight lifting may have to slide till Thursday or even Friday this week.
I'll survive. Next week shouldn't be as crunched as this week, and I should be able to get back into things. But I needed to write this out to fix it in my mind. I don't expect to find time to blog tomorrow or Wednesday, and Tuesday is uncertain. Just have to see how the work week goes, and do the best I can on the fitness front.
From a scheduling perspective, today would have been a good day to lift weights. But the body needs a rest day now, so a rest day it is. There will be time to pick the weights up again later in the week.
Saturday, December 08, 2012
On Thursday, I thought about having a dawn run today. That didn't happen; the run didn't start till about 8 am, when it was light. I like having daylight to run in, anyway. Since I don't have the 9 am appointment on Saturdays that I had a year ago, I can afford to wait for daylight to run.
My morning light jog up and down the hallway showed my bad foot to be better that it has been in a while. I could contemplate a longer run, given all morning to work with. But let's check the mileage. I have 8.6 miles in already this week. I only ran 7.25 miles last week, but I ran 14 miles, with intervals, a couple weeks ago. If I parse 7 day intervals, I ran 13.4 miles in 7 days starting with the Thanksgiving 10K, then had to take a regular running day off.
So, what to do? I want to get back to running 3 days a week. I'd like to build the ability to do longer runs on weekends. But I don't want to increase the mileage enough to make the bad foot crap out on me. I decided to compromise. I'd run 10K or a bit more, but I'd try to learn to run slower like all the training plans call for doing on longer runs.
First try at learning to run slow is to use the tools I have. I set RunKeeper to give me a readout of distance, average pace, and current pace every minute. Current pace isn't very accurate, but average pace and distance are good enough to work with.
When I got started, it was 41° F and cloudy, with a very light fog, negligible wind, and wet pavement. I did a short warmup, trying to keep it slow. Found a pace that felt kind of like jogging across a street to beat the light, without a lot of urgency. Started the real run at about that pace, and kept my stride short.
At the one minute mark, RunKeeper reported an average pace of 9 minutes and change. I ignored that, because the first average pace always seems to be slow. I think this has to do with the inaccuracy of starting the app versus starting the run. By the time I put my gloves on at 5 minutes, I was getting average paces a little over 8 minutes. That might not be as slow as the experts say to run, but it's a significant slow down for me.
RunKeeper reported a distance of 0.98 miles at 8 minutes. Cool. I'd manage to stay over an 8 minute pace for a full mile. By then I'd gone up and down a gentle hill, and hardly noticed. I was at the bottom of the big hill, going the easy direction.
The big hill wasn't any big deal at the slower pace. It turned out to be about a mile from the low point before it started to the bottom of the other side. Since I was running the easy direction, the other side was a fairly steep downhill. It was hard not to speed up. RunKeeper announced 2.0 miles at 15:56, and the average pace after that was always below 8 minutes.
By the 4 mile mark, I was having trouble deliberately adjusting my pace in fine detail. I was still running slower than my typical weekday run, but faster than I set out to run. I just couldn't slow to an 8 minute mile. Along about 6 miles, my bad foot mentioned that it would be good to stop soon. So I went home by the most direct route from that point, with a bit of a slowdown near the end as I fumbled with the iPhone to look at what the app reported.
Total time turned out to be 51:51 for 6.62 miles, for an average pace of 7:50 per mile. This was characterized generally by running a little faster later in the run than early in the run:
The blue line is pace, expressed as minutes per mile. A high point on the blue line is a slow pace, and low point is a fast pace. It's clear that I'm slower uphill and faster downhill (duh!), but I also see a gradual pace increase over the course of the run. When I'm not trying to run slow at first, my pace slows over the course of a run this long. I'll have to think about that, and think about what marathon runners mean when they speak of "negative splits."
The green line shows elevation; if I mouse over the graph on the RunKeeper site, it shows feet above sea level. I see that the big hill has a total rise of 100 feet from the bottom to the top. Hmm. The map for the Flower City Challenge half marathon shows a rise of 103 feet over a bit more than a mile, while my training hill has a rise of 100 feet in about 0.4 miles the hard way. Good enough for training, I hope.
The RunKeeper site also gives me splits:
Mile 1 - 8:09
Mile 2 - 7:47
Mile 3 - 7:46
Mile 4 - 8:06
Mile 5 - 7:34
Mile 6 - 7:43
Mile 4 was some little hill work; RunKeeper reports a net gain in elevation of 41 feet. It looks like those hills helped keep my pace down, but otherwise I wasn't very good at holding to an 8 minute mile.
Still, I have to call this a success for a first attempt at running slow. Assuming all goes well with the bad foot, which is feeling pretty good right now, I think I'll try for an 8 minute pace again next week. Maybe I'll get better at it with practice.
Yeah, I've seen the recommended slow paces for long distance training. Right now, I don't think I can make myself run a 9 minute mile. But an 8 minute mile seems possible. Maybe if I can learn that, I can learn a slower pace later.
Friday, December 07, 2012
I've blogged before about the fitness maintenance puzzle: How much is enough? As with maintaining weight, there is no easy answer of what to do. There probably is no single answer that will work all the time.
I think I've entered a new phase of rehabbing my bad foot. I'm less focused on how the foot feels day to day, and more focused on doing things to promote general fitness and reduce the chance of future injury. Today's agenda was, get in a long walk (because it's a non-running day) and lift weights. I got that done, but perhaps not in the optimal way.
Right after breakfast I went for a 5.2 mile walk. The idea was just to walk, not to push it. As is typical, I started out slow then got faster as I warmed to the task. Ended up taking 76 minutes to walk 5.2 miles, for a typical to slightly slow average pace. Ideally, I should have been slower; but it appears that I'll get away with this one.
Then I took a nap. I was tired, and I don't know whether it was because I woke up too early (half hour before the alarm, and decided not to roll over and go back to sleep), or didn't eat enough carbs early to support that long walk. Whatever. After the walk, a nap, and a shower, it was pushing noon. Half the afternoon went away to running errands. Eating healthy has me making a lot more trips to the grocery store than I used to.
Just before dinner, I got my act together to lift weights. The idea was to just do three major lifts. For the legs, I did deadlifts. For the push exercise, I did standing dumbbell shoulder presses. And for the pull, I did weighted neutral grip pullups. That's it. Three sets of each, with a little bit of play around the edges. I worked hard enough that I should feel the DOMS tomorrow, but I didn't work up a sweat.
Time was, when I deadlifted a challenging weight for 3 sets of 8 reps, I'd be dripping in sweat. Yeah, it was in a gym that was warmer than my basement is right now; but most of the issue was that I was overweight and not a runner. There have been more changes to my body in the past year and a half than just shrinking the waist and butt to fit into the same size jeans I wore in high school.
And that's a bit of an attitude issue. Since I became a runner, I can do 3 sets of 8 deadlifts at a challenging weight without working up a sweat. I can feel in my legs and arms that this is all I can lift, but my cardiovascular system isn't terribly worried by it. Because I'm not working up a sweat, it doesn't feel like I was doing anything.
Intellectually, I know this isn't true. I deadlifted almost 25% more than my body weight, for 3 sets of 8 reps. Then I threw on 20 more pounds and deadlifted 136% of my body weight for 3 reps. The shoulder presses weren't as impressive in terms of weight lifted, but they were challenging enough that I could only do 9 reps instead of the desired 10, 2 out of three sets. And adding a 10 pound plate to a dip belt kept me from getting to 10 neutral grip pullups for the second or third set. I was working hard enough for this to be real strength training.
But it doesn't feel like I did anything, because it didn't challenge my cardiovascular system. Half the point of this blog is to remind myself that I did enough, even though I feel like I didn't do that much.
The good part about this is, it makes weight lifting more time efficient. Lift, stretch, hydrate, done. Total elapsed time, less than an hour. Got the important lifts done. Tomorrow I won't lift heavy, but I need to be sure to get some kettlebell work in to keep my core strength up.
There are a gazillion weight lifting training plans out there, and I'm not following any of them. I'm kind of winging it, doing lifts I already know how to do, trying to get to the weights 3 times a week and do enough to keep the muscle I have. If I develop a bit more strength, that's good; but it's not the ultimate goal. Maintenance is the goal. That, and avoiding running injuries.
But maintenance is not steady state. I think I'll be living with strength gains and strength losses for the long haul. If I can keep the losses small, I'll be content with small gains that just get back the territory lost.
And that might not be the final answer on how to maintain muscular strength; but it's the answer I have today. And it's good enough for me today, this week, this month. I'll worry about finding a different answer when this one stops being good enough to get me to maintain my strength.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
After thinking things through yesterday, I coped pretty well with an odd work day today. I was up before the alarm, and got a longer pre-work walk than I usually do on work at home days. Grabbed lunch in a hurry at 11:30 to make the mandatory webinar from noon to 1. There were audio problems, so after stringing us along to 12:30, the Powers That Be admitted it wouldn't come off and would have to be rescheduled.
The good news is that I got a short walk in before 1. The bad news is that there will be a reprise date for this webinar, which will no doubt be conveniently scheduled to take my lunch time instead of normal work time. It was a beautiful day for a walk, withe the temperature at 39°F (4°C) and sunshine. It was great running weather, but the time wasn't there for stretching afterward.
So, plan B. Run after work. Now that we're deep into Daylight Wasting Time, it gets dark early. And the temperature drops a bit from the high at noon; it was 35°F (2°C) and dusk when I hit the road.
The nice thing about being in my second year of running is, I don't have to think very hard about how to handle the changing weather. I just open my closet and pull out a solution that I found a year ago. In this case, it was a heavier weight, white compression shirt to go over a lighter short sleeved compression shirt instead of a quarter zip jacket. White, for visibility in the dusk. But by the time I got dressed for running, it was apparent that it would be full dark before I finished.
So, open the closet and pull out the reflective harness, headlight, and tail light. Batteries are still good. Check. This was actually my first evening run with the visibility gear for darkness; last year I was running in the pre-dawn dark and seeing it get lighter as I went. Today I ran in the dusk and saw it get darker.
Early evening can be expected to have more traffic than early morning. And this is Christmas shopping season, which means there will be drivers who don't know where they are going. In recognition of the season, I kept the run to the residential neighborhood, where there shouldn't be the shopping traffic. I only have to worry about commuters coming home, some of whom may be tired and not paying much attention.
I'm pretty sure the lights helped a couple of drivers see me. Twice I ran into the gutter as cars came around curves on the residential streets. I would have been okay on the side of the road, but better safe than sorry. Until today, I didn't realize how much I relied on looking at the drivers' faces to see whether they were aware of me.
The traffic was more than in the morning, but really not unliveable. It was interesting to see the beam from my headlight become more useful in seeing where I'm going, as opposed to the way it fades out as dark turns to dawn. When I got to the end of my run, I left the lights on for my walking cooldown. I remember last year, I was turning them off so as not to annoy drivers with the blinking tail light after it was light out.
The last surprise was that I went inside to stretch. Normally, I prefer to stretch outside unless it's too cold or too wet. This evening it wasn't too cold or too wet; just too dark. I could have stretched in my driveway anyway, seeing my watch (to time the stretches) by my headlight. But I found I preferred to come in where I have more light. That's odd. The dark didn't bother me running, and it's never bothered me walking; but I wanted light for stretching. That's kind of odd, but there's no harm in stretching inside.
RunKeeper reported 4.29 miles in 31:31, for an average pace of 7:21 per mile. That average was actually a pretty steady pace, as I was trying to run a sustainable pace and not hurry. Good enough for a 4 or 5 mile run, but I'll need to learn to run slower if I want to stretch the distance. Running about a half hour fits the bill for today. The bad foot isn't 100%, but isn't complaining much about abuse. I'll see how it feels Saturday, then decide what I'm doing in the way of running then.
If it turns out that I'm up early on Saturday and the foot is feeling good, maybe I'll go for a dawn run. Just have to see how I feel and what the weather is like.
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