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Tough Food Day

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Today was a tough day on the Spark front. Fortunately, I knew in advance both that it would be tough, and the general shape of how it would be tough; so I didn't do as poorly as I would have if it had surprised me.

Today featured the unfortunate combination of a work in the office day, office Christmas lunch, and heavy workload with deadline today. The part that did sneak up on me is that yesterday (when I worked at home) was Snack Day, and there were leftovers.

I started the day well, I was up before the alarm, had a perfectly normal breakfast, and had enough time for a 32 minute walk before work. That kept my 10 minute exercise streak alive and was crucial to getting my 10K steps today.

Got to the office, and found the remains of Snack Day. I almost left them alone . . . but there was that one Bruegger's garlic bagel. Only one of these shows up on any Snack Day. It gets bought for me, because no one else likes them. And there was garden veggie cream cheese. My willpower failed to the extent of eating the bagel, but I held myself to a flavoring of the cream cheese rather than a slathering.

I had reason to think about that 300 calorie bagel later in the day.

I made it through to lunch on just that bagel plus the carrots I had brought with me. At lunch, there was no salad this year. There were standard sliced subs and pizza. I had a roast beef sub, estimating the ingredients for the nutrition tracker. I also had a slice of pizza. And a cannoli, which was delightful when savored slowly with my tea.

That was an expensive lunch, and the cannoli was a mistake. After lunch, that box of chocolates from Monday's blog called my name. I ate one, and found that they were very high quality chocolate creams. I ate another. And a third.

At this point, I knew I was sabotaging myself. I thought about several blogs I've read discussing compulsive eating or binge eating. I'm not a binge eater . . . or perhaps not as bad as some folks describe. But the tendency is there. I saw it in myself today. I wrestled myself to a halt on the chocolates, and managed to stare down leftover cannoli in the snack cube a few times; but it was hard. I had to rely in part on my standard Atomic Fireball candies that are a normal part of my office consumption.

Still, I nearly went back for a 4th, 5th, and 6th chocolate several times. Only staring at the nutrition tracker and thinking about dinner and evening kept me away.

By late afternoon, I had decided to treat dinner and evening as normal eating. Even if eating what I normally do was going to put me over range because of earlier indiscretions, the emotional aspect of the return to a normal routine was going to be important. So after work I went to Taco Bell, which has, sadly, become a very normal dinner for me. Then I went to Wegman's and bought some apples, bananas, and Greek yogurt. I could have put off the grocery shopping till tomorrow, but it was important for me mentally to be thinking about real food.

In the evening, I had my normal snack, minus part of the candy. I've certainly had enough candy for one day already! And I'm a pretty compliant kind of guy; cutting out the candy let me eat an apple, which I was really craving by evening.

The final tally brought me in 4 calories below the top of my range. That's 200 to 300 calories above where I'd normally eat on a day with minimal exercise, which today was. (Normal pushups and pullups in the morning, and that morning walk. Total steps hit 12K; there was a bit of stress walking at work.)

If I'd been able to resist that bagel first thing in the morning, this would look like a pretty successful adjustment to the Christmas lunch. As it stands, it looks like a potential binge that was scary close to being out of control.

As I look back, today's results weren't all that bad. My emotions and actions in response to them were scary. I got a glimpse of how I would have eaten on a day like this, pre-Spark. I don't want to go back there. I don't like how it felt being under the influence of a sugar rush from that wickedly tasty cannoli.

There was good news. The organizer of Snack Day is contemplating discontinuing it for 2013 in the face of a shrinking, aging work force with a lot of work at home. I responded that I was fine with it going away, but didn't want to rain on other folks' parade. I heard back that the responses received were all similar to mine.

And I got the next to last work fire drill of the year done. Now I only have about 3 days of work left to get done this year, and nominally one working day to get it done in. I spoke to the boss, and I will be allowed to make up the missed days off in January. I'm happy with that.

Tomorrow is a work at home day, nominally my last working day of the year. I'll get done what I can. How I proceed after that depends on how the insanity upstream of my job plays out. Whatever I end up doing for work for the remainder of the year will be working from home, unless something strange happens to force me to go in to the office.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PLMITCH 12/21/2012 8:43AM

    And yet you have thought through your plan, which is the key! Too many folks do not, and I was guilty of this for many years. We've worked too hard to get to this point to let a holiday gathering derail us.


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BLITZEN40 12/20/2012 11:04PM

    Holy cannoli! I feel your pain. The binge demon kicked the crap out of me today.

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WATERMELLEN 12/20/2012 9:10PM

    This totally resonates with me. My office is full of chocolates and cookies and stuff brought in by staff and grateful clients. I had ONE piece of chocolate almond bark but . . . . yeah. The temptation to binge (it was a very very stressful day) was absolutely there.

Banish Snack Day. Who needs it??

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MEXGAL1 12/20/2012 3:08PM

    I say...."away with snack day!" NO one needs it.
be strong!

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NWFL59 12/20/2012 9:59AM

    emoticon sounds to me you handled yourself well and gave yourself treats but YOU remained in control.

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MSLZZY 12/20/2012 7:37AM

    At one time, we baked dozens of cookies to take to
our office for the customers. Every year we baked
less and now, we bake only enough for family. Our
aging population politely refuse cookies and we
certainly don't need to graze on them each day.
Quitting that holiday tradition will be a sign
of the times-cut back and save yourself the hassle
of unnecessary temptation.

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_LINDA 12/20/2012 12:33AM

    It is scary how easy it is to come close the precipice. Thanks for the wake up call!
I hope they do decide to do away with Snack Day, its simply not needed..
Way to get your exercise in on a busy day!

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RG_DFW 12/20/2012 12:27AM

    Ah, the pre-spark days.. before we knew what needed to be done. But I think it's better now!

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RUN4FOOD 12/19/2012 10:20PM

    Not really that bad of a day. You had your binge and still didn't go over the high end of your calorie range. Now back to business.

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GREENGENES 12/19/2012 9:24PM

    Sounds like you handled it pretty well despite the modest binge. Now the scariest part is over and you can get back to your routine. Good luck!

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DALID414 12/19/2012 9:03PM

    That binge monster attacks when you least expect it!

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ONEKIDSMOM 12/19/2012 8:55PM

    Sometimes I think we all need a day when the memories of "how it used to be" keep it green for us. Your today did that for you, and probably with a lot less impact than my "keep it green" days have on me.

Good job. And good luck with the next few days.

On the plus side, my workplace announced we can wear jeans for the remainder of the year... OK, it's only a week, but I'll take jeans days whenever I can! Especially since my workplace doesn't believe in work from home.

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Wet Run

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's Tuesday, a work at home day. Work remains very busy, but my line in the sand today was a run at lunch. The bad foot had recovered enough from Saturday's long run that I felt reasonably good about running again.

It was 43F (6C) with light rain and NW winds at 13 mph. A brief warmup run convinced me I didn't need gloves. I set out to just run at a comfortable pace, not trying to be particularly fast or particularly slow. I started out thinking maybe just 5K, but as I got into it I decided to add the three little hills.

I ended up running 4.30 miles as mapped by RunKeeper in 29:45 for an average pace of 6:55 per mile. My pace was fairly steady through the run, so I guess this is a natural pace for me for a 4 mile distance.

The stats from RunKeeper:

The graph is scaled to the available space. There is a 50 foot gain in elevation from the trough before the highest hill to the crest of that hill, over a distance of 0.3 miles. Anomolous paces near the beginning and end of the chart may be partially due to fumbling with starting and stopping the app; but I do think I started out faster than my natural pace today. Edit to add: I didn't realize I was screen capturing the popup. That's a display of the pace I get with a mouseover of the blue line; if I were doing this deliberately, I'd have shown an elevation from the green line.

Of course, I got wet. But it was a pleasant run. 43F and light rain is one of those situations that I peg as better running weather than walking weather. And if I were afraid to run in the rain, I couldn't run consistently in the Rochester, NY area. And I'd much rather run in the rain in the daylight than after dark; poor visibility plus drivers not expecting pedestrians to be out in the rain is a bit scary.

Didn't find time to lift weights this evening; edited a document for work instead. Tomorrow will be a bigger challenge on the exercise front, with the department Christmas Lunch taking away my noon walk time; but I'll cope with that somehow.

Today I'm happy. I got my run in, made progress on the work projects, and will get to bed on time.

Life is good.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 12/19/2012 4:49PM

    Your pace is very steady, despite the elevation!

I don't mind a little rain either.

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RG_DFW 12/19/2012 11:48AM

    Great one

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MEXGAL1 12/19/2012 9:33AM

    Good for you!

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MSLZZY 12/18/2012 9:34PM


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GREENGENES 12/18/2012 9:10PM

    Way to go! Good luck with the party tomorrow!

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ONEKIDSMOM 12/18/2012 8:56PM

    Glad you got the run in (stress management boost, too) AND got the work done. Rest well... life IS good.

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_LINDA 12/18/2012 8:47PM

    emoticon emoticon A great day!
So many people wimp out with the slightest bad weather. Its refreshing to hear of someone who knows they won't 'melt' in the rain ;)
Hope your foot continues to hold up!
Keep up the great work!

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NWFL59 12/18/2012 8:13PM

    emoticon emoticon

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RUN4FOOD 12/18/2012 8:04PM

    Congratulations on another good day of exercise and getting work done. Glad your foot is better. Guess your happy with the rain rather than snow.

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Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's the season when holiday treats show up in the office. Since I work in a location with long term work force shrinkage, there aren't as many as there used to be. But some still show up. Today, there was a box of chocolates. Yes, the Forrest Gump kind where you don't know what's in the middle till you bite into it.

I have a sweet tooth. Free food is attractive. I like chocolate. So along about 2, I went and looked at this offering of free chocolate. Unlike my pre-Spark days, the first thing I looked at was the nutrition label. One serving = 3 pieces, 190 calories. One piece would be about 63 calories. That could be worked in pretty easily. A caramel would be a treat.

Then I looked at the label. Milk and dark chocolate, assorted cream fillings. Hmm.

I've never been terribly fond of the cream filled chocolates. Over the years, I've eaten a lot of them, mostly looking for the good stuff. I thought about this. If I can afford one piece of chocolate for 63 calories, and it turns out to be one of the sucky creams I don't really like, how will I feel?

I decided I'd rather pass on the chocolates and still have the almonds and craisins I packed for an afternoon snack. So that's what I did. It wasn't even particularly hard.

I came home after work, and didn't even say goodbye to the box of chocolates. They can sit there all day tomorrow when I'm working from home, and I won't miss them. That's not a surprise. The surprise was how easy it was to walk away from them today.

I can't change my lifestyle all at once. A year ago, I was working Milky Way Simply Caramel bars into the day, because I wanted them. Today, I can walk away from free chocolates and not feel tempted to change that decision.

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get, and sometimes you don't know how you're going to react.

Next dietary test, the department Christmas lunch on Wednesday. I wonder how I'm going to react to that one?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 12/18/2012 4:11PM

    " If I can afford one piece of chocolate for 63 calories, and it turns out to be one of the sucky creams I don't really like, how will I feel? "
I loved this : )))
What a surprising and funny point of view!

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MEXGAL1 12/18/2012 9:43AM

    Woo hoo.....good for you to think it though and pass on the chocolate. I am so with you when it comes to splurging....if I am going to splurge I want something good!
Have a terrific day.

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KAYOTIC 12/18/2012 9:30AM

    In total agreement about the cream fillings! I haven't seen any of those boxes around my work (yet) but used to have them all the time. I would only take the ones where I knew what was in them, the Sees box has a dark chocolate almond cluster that is so obviously only chocolate and almonds, no chance of surprise cherry nougat (yuck!).

And so well done, to walk away and not look back, the snack you brought sounds much more filling and delightful anyway.

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MSLZZY 12/18/2012 7:21AM

    That is the worst and best part about a box of
chocolates. You never really know what is
inside. So, instead of having an awful surprise,
you chose to walk away. Excellent! Have a great

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DALID414 12/17/2012 11:04PM

    It's amazing what we can logically talk ourselves out of if we only take the time to think it through.

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GREENGENES 12/17/2012 10:03PM

    Way to go! Change is good.

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BLITZEN40 12/17/2012 9:52PM

    Sweet treats + Free for the taking =Danger! Way to go avoiding that snare. Sounds like you've got calorie substitutions all figured out for times when you do want to have a treat, so Wednesday's Christmas lunch should be a piece of cake (so much pun) for you. emoticon

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RUN4FOOD 12/17/2012 9:35PM

    Good job. I'm fortunate, once I lay out the food I plan to eat I stick with the plan. Other foods, especially sweets, are not tempting to me. My problem is more like your Milky Way Simply Caramel bars. I plan my unhealthy foods. I have room for the calories so I indulge.
One of the goals I struggle with with getting 5 fruits and vegetables into my diet every day. I'm getting better, but still not there.

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_LINDA 12/17/2012 9:22PM

    Well done! I can stay away from those gross cream ones too, only 90 % pure cocoa dark chocolate for me! Its expensive, so I don't ever expect to see a freebe set out with them ;P
Keep up the great work!

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ONEKIDSMOM 12/17/2012 9:12PM

    If I know you, you'll react rationally. As you almost always do. In your case, a little bit of knowledge was sufficient to start you rolling down the Spark path... I warned folks you were a force with which to be reckoned. Looks like I'm still right.

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Taking inventory of body parts

Sunday, December 16, 2012

After yesterday's long slow run, the plan for today was to mostly take it easy. I didn't push anything terribly hard today, and it's a good day for reflection about rehab.

The sore thigh that kept me from running for a while is close enough to 100% as not to matter. It didn't speak up after yesterday's run, and it didn't speak up this morning. I have to pay very close attention to tell the difference between my thighs when doing thigh stretches. Chalk up one success.

The bad foot complained about yesterday's work. First, it let me know that it wasn't happy with the light jogging up and down my hallway this morning. Okay, I can rest it from that. I was up early, so I got a 2.5 mile walk in before church. Walk, not run, and walk gently for the foot. The foot slowed my usual walking pace a bit, and grumbled softly through the walk. It grumbled more at wearing shoes suitable for church, though it was content with the sedentary nature of the church service.

I took another walk of a bit over a mile mid-afternoon, to ensure I'd get my 10K steps. By this time, the bad foot was letting me walk at close to my normal pace; but it wasn't as happy with this as it has been.

I'm hopeful that the foot will be recovered to as good as it has been by Tuesday, but this is not a certainty. Have to wait that one out and see.

I almost gave weight lifting a pass today. The sore shoulder makes me cautious about many of the upper body lifts. Then I got to thinking; I might not find the time tomorrow, so I'd better do something today. And the shoulder doesn't feel as bad as it did; I should gently test its capabilities.

Weighted pullups didn't bother the shoulder, but I didn't press the issue by squeezing for more reps than felt comfortable. I only managed two sets of 8 and one of 6 pronated pullups with 5 lbs. on the dip belt. That looked pretty wimpy, given that I did sets of 15 unweighted pullups in the morning; so I had to think through the differences. In the morning, I do pullups before breakfast, in my underwear. I'm at my low weight for the day. This afternoon, I was more hydrated, wearing gym clothes for 2 or 3 pounds more than my underwear, and the dip belt itself is a couple of pounds. Okay, I can live with that result. I won't increase the weight until I can do sets of 10.

Romanian deadlifts didn't bother either the foot (because it remains planted flat on the floor) or the shoulder (not a huge surprise, but something to pay attention to). Then I got to incline chest presses. My bench adjusts to flat, 30, 45, 60, or 90. I put it on 30 for the wimpiest incline chest presses, in honor of the shoulder. But I tried my last working weight from 45 incline chest presses. I had to pay close attention to form, but manged three sets of 10 without a problem.

Then there were walking lunges. I did two sets paying close attention to the bad foot, then noticed my quads weren't feeling the burn like they had been. So for the third set I put 2.5 lbs. of platemates on each dumbbell, and got the appropriate burn in the quads. I felt good about a natural advance in weight for walking lunges in spite of dealing with a bad foot.

I wasn't brave enough to test calf raises on the foot today. Time enough for that on a day when it isn't grumbling so much.

So, where things stand: Sore thigh, effectively all healed up. Sore shoulder, making progress and not keeping me totally from lifting weights. Bad foot, still needs close monitoring and has the potential to interfere with my desired running schedule. I can live with this.

Right now, maintaining the fitness level needs a lot more thought than maintaining the weight. Yeah, I'm making adjustments with the nutrition plan; but they're going smoothly and routinely. It's the fitness and rehab stuff I have to think carefully about, lest I screw things up.

Tomorrow I plunge back into work craziness. That's not a totally bad thing from the perspective of letting the foot and the shoulder get better; but it felt really good to take today totally off from work concerns. Tomorrow it's back to the grind, and see how much of the craziness I can get resolved before next weekend. With luck, maybe I'll get a full weekend off then.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NWFL59 12/17/2012 1:42PM

    Way to listen to your body and still get your desired exercises completed safely. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MSLZZY 12/17/2012 9:38AM

    Having the opportunity to take time off from work
before it gets crazy again is perfect. You focused on
issues close at hand (shoulder and foot) and that
will keep you out of the pain zone longer. Have
a great Monday.

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HEALTHIERKEN 12/17/2012 2:28AM

    Here's to full weekends off!
Your blogs are always so excellently analytical, Kevin. No wonder you make progress even when working through injuries--you really figure out how stuff works!
Always an inspiration to read your blogs. Congrats on your successes. Hope work is not *too* crazy this week . . . .

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DALID414 12/17/2012 12:11AM

    I think at some point we should all take inventory of our body parts. I have a bad trap (from a car accident in '09) sometimes it really limits my upper body workouts and I have to baby it. Frustrating, but a part of life.

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BLUE42DOWN 12/16/2012 10:31PM

    Good job finding a workable level rather than pushing too hard or using them as excuses to do nothing. Take good care of that foot. That's one thing that, once aggravated, does not seem to heal well unless we really care for it.

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RG_DFW 12/16/2012 10:11PM

    It's been a long time coming but it sounds like you're past the major hurdles. Let's hope so!

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RUN4FOOD 12/16/2012 9:41PM

    Sounds like your body is healing. Take care and don't over do things.

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MERRYMARY42 12/16/2012 9:24PM

    always good to read your blogs, you never quit, which is great, I try not to also.

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Long Slow Run

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Today was the second attempt at running slower so I can run longer. I had an idea of what I need to work on based on last week's results. I also kept an eye on my recent running mileage. Last week I ran 15.22 miles. I had 7.45 miles in before today. I figured an 8 to 9 mile run would increase the total weekly mileage less than 10%, but increasing the long run by more than 10% was a concern. So I mapped out an 8 mile run, with opportunities to cut it shorter if the bad foot complained.

Set out after daylight, so I didn't have to mess with the reflective harness and lights. Once I get over 10K, I'm looking at running out of my normal neighborhood, at least for part of the run. Today was a familiar path from last year's efforts at increasing mileage. With a temperature right at 32F (0C) and 6 mph ENE wind, it was weather I know how to dress for. The new thing to work on is deliberately running at a slower pace, with the idea of targeting an 8 minute mile.

Here's the elevation and pace chart that RunKeeper produced:

The green elevation is pretty intuitive. On the RunKeeper site, I can mouse over the chart and see feet above sea level. There is a 103 foot rise from the dip before the big hill to the top of the big hill, over a distance of about 0.4 miles.

The blue pace is expressed as minutes per mile. That makes the higher points the slower pace and the lower points the faster pace, which took me a while to get used to.

And here are the split times RunKeeper reported:

I had RunKeeper tell me distance and average pace every minute, but I turned off the current pace because that doesn't seem to be accurate enough to tell me anything meaningful. As with last week, I started slow and couldn't help speeding up some. The high pace at the start probably reflects some time fumbling to start the app rather than being really that slow out of the gate. The pace for mile 9, being measured over a short 0.15 miles, is probably inaccurate. Or it might reflect fumbling with stopping the app on time.

Over the course of the run, I heard my average pace speed up. Still, some of the splits are a surprise to me. Mile 3 included distance along a strip mall; I may have been a touch slower because of pedestrian traffic. Mile 4 included a sprint to get across the highway between traffic, so I could be on the right side of the street to run the big hill. I might not have slowed down enough after that sprint.

There is more traffic complicating the highway crossings in daylight than there was when I was running this route in the pre-dawn darkness.

The early part of the run didn't really feel like running. It began to feel like a run going up the big hill, where trying to maintain a constant pace increased the effort. After that, the smaller hill was no big deal at the slow pace.

The total run came to 8.15 miles in 1:03:28, for an average pace per mile of 7:47. That's faster than the 8 minute mile I wanted to target, but it's still about a minute off the pace I ran naturally for a 5K on Thursday. Maybe this is just my natural slow pace right now.

After the run, my bad foot reminded me that I'd worked it. It wasn't a screaming loud complaint, but it was an indicator that I really couldn't have run another 3 miles today, even though my cardiovascular system was up for it. I won't be running tomorrow or Monday, and I'm optimistic that the bad foot will be enough better to support a lunch run on Tuesday.

My current thinking is that I won't stretch the long run to very much more than this next week. Perhaps I'll find time for more than a 5K run both Tuesday and Thursday, then still hold the increase in mileage to under 10% for the week. I say this, knowing that plans will change; but the changes are easier to manage if I think them through in advance.

The emotional highlight is that I now have a two week streak of running 3 days per week. I'd like to stretch that streak out a lot longer, but two weeks looks a lot more like the beginning of a routine ability to run than one week did.

Now, off to do more sedentary stuff for the paid job this weekend. But I did make time to get the long run in.

Life is good.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GYORGYB 12/17/2012 1:03PM

    Feels good after doing the long run. It feels that you are moving towards your goals. Good for you.

Hay! what is a "RunKeeper "?

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COMPUCATHY 12/16/2012 8:49PM

    Life IS good! You are doing TERRIFIC with your running. I love is so cool. I didn't know it did all the things you just demonstrated though. Very cool. Keep up the good work! Thanks for the encouragement! Spark on! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MEXGAL1 12/16/2012 9:18AM

    Woo hoo!
Have a terrific day!

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MSLZZY 12/16/2012 7:23AM


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NWFL59 12/15/2012 11:29PM

    emoticon emoticon

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KRISZTA11 12/15/2012 5:25PM

    Sounds great!
I'm glad your bad foot responds well. A two week streak is a meaningful achievement.

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WATERMELLEN 12/15/2012 4:50PM

    Sounds like your bad foot is responding well to your realistic pacing and planning.

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RUN4FOOD 12/15/2012 4:35PM

    Sounds like you had a good run. If your body can take that pace for 8+ miles I don't think I would fight it too much. Let your body tell you when it's time to slow down.

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DALID414 12/15/2012 3:04PM

    Great week.

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GREENGENES 12/15/2012 2:49PM

    Way to go. Looks like you are on your way.

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ONEKIDSMOM 12/15/2012 2:28PM

    Woo-hoo! You're learning to slow down to something I'd have to speed up to. Since you follow me on RunKeeper, you can see my efforts for the week just completed.

But particularly encouraging is that two weeks going, 3 days. I'm falling into a pattern that I think is going to become my marathon training rotation: Speed work on Tuesdays (about an hour worth), easy, keep loose run on Thursdays (about 45 minutes worth), and the long-slow run on the weekend, usually on Saturdays.

We shall see how it goes, as they say. I love RunKeeper for the outdoor runs... takes all the concern about mapping it out ahead away, and lets me change on the fly and still get the distance in. I only have it default set to tell me distance and average pace every five minutes, that seems to be plenty for me. I don't feel the need to manage / change pace more frequently. I have a watch to nudge me when I need a walk interval.

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PMRUNNER 12/15/2012 2:09PM

    Way to go!

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LIZRUNS22 12/15/2012 1:28PM

    I recently stared using running watch and can appreciate your detail in the data. I think that less than a minute of variance and concluding 13 seconds faster than goal is a grea achievement on your first attempt. Thanks for sharing!

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RG_DFW 12/15/2012 12:52PM

    Way to go

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COOP9002 12/15/2012 12:25PM

    Nice job on getting your long run in.

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