Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Saturday I ran in the snow. While I got my run in, the situation pointed out that I need to do something about footwear for running in the snow. Sunday I got to the local running store and ordered another pair of shoes. Yes, ordered. My reality is that my size won't be in stock. Monday I checked at Dick's. They had the shoe I wanted on sale, which means my size wasn't in stock. I left without buying anything.
This morning I woke up and saw snow on the driveway. Sigh. The snow arrived before I was ready to deal with it. I considered my options: Run in straight running shoes. Put more screws into last year's screw shoes to replace the ones lost on Saturday's run. Turn my walking shoes into screw shoes, leaving me with no stability shoes to walk in until my new running shoes come in.
Well, it's Christmas. Traffic will be light even if I wait for daylight. So I had breakfast, then went out to clear the snow off the driveway. There was only a half inch of medium weight snow. The road showed wet traffic lanes, with a snow or slush coating on the shoulder. I expect I can mostly run in the traffic lane, and retreat to the shoulder in the face of oncoming traffic.
Got out to start running about 8:15. It was 30°F (-1°C) with N wind 9 mph. This is weather I understand, and it was easy to dress appropriately. Went to run a standard winter route of 4.63 miles. I can do this same route Thursday, run 8 miles on Saturday, and still be adding less than 10% to last week's mileage total.
There was a bit more traffic that I expected, but it wasn't bad. I encountered 11 oncoming vehicle and had 8 overtake me. The only moderately concerning situation was the time an oncoming vehicle and an overtaking vehicle arrived at about the same time on a steep downhill. I slowed, retreated to the shoulder, and ran a few paces as a heel strike runner. Got through it.
Total time was 32:23, for an average pace of 7:01 per mile. The little hills didn't seem to be as big a deal as they were last year on this route. The pace and elevation chart and the splits according to RunKeeper are:
For reference, there is a 64 foot rise from the low point at 2.5 miles to the crest of the hill at 2.73 miles.
My bad foot complained about this run, but I had a totally sedentary afternoon watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas and some episodes of Dr. Who with my daughter. It's possible I'll need to forego my planned run on Thursday; I'll have to see how the foot is doing then.
I note in passing that TV is truly a Lack of Exercise Machine. It's not quite 5 PM, I've run 4.63 miles and done a good walking cooldown this morning, and I haven't hit my 10K steps yet. That's one seriously sedentary afternoon today.
All in all, it's been a good Christmas. I got to candlelight services last night, got a good run in today, and spent a lot of time with my daughter. I couldn't ask for anything more.
Monday, December 24, 2012
I could write a typical Spark blog for today. The scale has me below my desired range for the second day in a row. Perhaps I should increase my calorie range. I lifted weights today, weighing 164.8 in my workout clothes, and I squatted 165 lbs. Squatting my weight is a new accomplishment, made possible by having a lower weight than I had when I first started lifting. Woo-hoo.
I could write all that, expanded somewhat, on Christmas Eve. I could do that because Christmas Eve is low key for me. I'll go to Christmas Eve services later, and sing in the choir; but I have no major social obligations or family celebration. So most of the day could be devoted to paying attention to my fitness journey.
But this Christmas Eve, I'm in a somber mood. When I was out driving to get a few groceries this morning, I turned on the radio. The local news was all talking about a story where not much was known, and people were calling in with what they had seen. In the drives between various shopping stops, the story unfolded. Firefighters in Webster, New York answered a burning building call. When they got there, somebody shot 4 of them, killing two. The initial report of 2 houses burning grew to 4 houses destroyed and 4 more damaged by flames by the time I quit listening. Apparently it was three hours from the initial call before the situation was resolved to the point that firefighters could actually fight the fire.
Somehow, hearing this as it unfolded, before everything was known, makes it hit very hard. And the fact that it's local makes it hit hard. I've been at the place where this happened. My first thought was that this spot was picked because of limited access to get in or out, a military or terrorist consideration. I know someone who is a volunteer firefighter in the next town over. It's possible that his unit might have been called in to fight the fires after there was no longer an active shooter.
That makes it more real to me than the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Maybe I'm shallow, but it's more real because it's closer, and I know the area. And because I heard unfiltered eyewitness reports before I read the composed news stories that organized facts into a coherent pattern.
I turned on the radio briefly a few minutes ago. The local radio personality who had covered the breaking story read these words from a familiar Christmas song:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
This final stanza is a call to faith, in the face of insanity and evil and the apparent lack of peace on earth. I am wrestling with this, finding no other answer than the one God gave to Job. (For those of you who didn't read that far, God refuses to explain anything to Job.) Still, I pray that Wrong may fail, that Right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men.
May it be so.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Today is Sunday, a traditional day of rest. I'm not much of a traditionalist.
Every mainline fitness program in existence calls for regular rest days. I'm not much for following canned programs, as I tend to have conflicts messing with a regular schedule. I tend to wing it, and fit the various elements of a fitness program in when I can. Sometimes I take a rest day from exercise because I have too much going on at work, and just can't fit the exercise in.
So if I don't rest on Sunday because of tradition, and I don't schedule regular rest days, what does a rest day look like?
It starts with a good string of exercise days. I had that last week, culminating in a 8 mile run yesterday morning. Then after that run, I shoveled snow. The day before I had lifted weights. Last night I noticed I had over 18K steps on the pedometer. The day ended with 18,678 steps. I had to look; this was the fourth day since I started tracking in July 2011 that I had more than 18,000 steps. The only day I had more than yesterday was September 15, 2011, at 18,706. That was the day I strained my right soleus in 5K training. I re-read my blog from that day, and knew I needed to back off the steps today.
Today, when I got out of bed, my body felt pretty beat up. And it would have been a non-running day on general principle, even if my bad foot hadn't told me in no uncertain terms that it wasn't going to run today.
Between the bad foot and a body full of DOMS and minor aches, I decided to skip the kettlebell work this morning. And I decided to defer the next major weight lifting session till tomorrow, since I want to take tomorrow off from running anyway to stay on the Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule.
I didn't give up my usual pullups and pushups, but I gave myself plenty of time between sets. And I figured if I got my 10K steps in today, that's enough. I took a 2 mile walk before church, and another walk of a bit more than a mile after church. My pace came in right around 15 minutes per mile, which is slow for me these days. There's a clue that I need the rest. The two walks, plus a dab of shopping and normal daily activity walking, will put me around 11K steps for the day. Good enough.
Late this afternoon, I felt better than this morning. But my rational side knew that keeping the remainder of the day for rest was wise. So I sat down to watch football, which is a great way to avoid activity. That got me through the afternoon and evening without being tempted to do something stupid. Last week, I deliberately left the TV off so I wouldn't be inactive; today I found it's a good tool to encourage intended inactivity.
Taking stock: The formerly sore thigh is essentially all healed up. The sore shoulder is still a little sore, but well on its way to 100%. This morning's various other aches have faded, and I expect they'll be totally gone tomorrow morning. I think the bad foot is not quite as bad as it was last week on Sunday after running 8 miles on Saturday; but it's still an indicator that I shouldn't push that long run to be longer just yet.
I have all of this week off work. Last year, when I had a stretch of time off in December, I started running 5 days a week. In 20-20 hindsight, I see that's where my injury problems started. No worries about a repeat; this year I will strictly hold to 3 days a week running in spite of having the time off. I'll try to fit in 3 weight lifting sessions, but if my body tells me it only wants 2 sessions that's OK.
And it's time to do the end of year household and financial maintenance stuff that doesn't directly relate to fitness. If I control how much I exercise, I should have enough time for that.
Oh, yeah. There's some sort of holiday thrown into this week, too. I'll find time to enjoy that holiday, without blowing my nutrition plan out of the water and without overdoing the exercise side of things.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
The weather forecast called for 1 to 2 inches of snow overnight, and another 2 to 4 inches today. I typically get about half of what is forecast, so I figured the overnight snow would be no big deal, maybe a dusting. The plan for today was to take my long slow run early, before there was a lot of snow. This is because I want to wear my stability running shoes, not neutral shoes. I haven't got around to getting an extra pair of stability shoes, so the only screw shoes I have are last year's neutral shoes.
Got up earlier than the alarm, and saw that my driveway was covered with snow. The street seemed to have clear traffic lanes, from what I could see from my window. Went through my breakfast routine, and looked again. The treetops were whipping around pretty vigorously. Check the online weather. Wind WSW at 24 mph. Put that with 27°F (-3°C) temperature, and I needed to dress more warmly than I have for a run so far this season. No problem, I have the clothes. It's supposed to be a slow run anyway, so I'll skip the warmup and just start out slow.
Headed out north from my house. The shoulders are snow covered, but I figured it would be better when I got onto the major street headed west. It wasn't. I decided the better part of valor would be to run back home and change shoes. So much for skipping the warmup; I had 5 minutes of that in my good running shoes.
Back out again in last year's screw shoes. The plow had been by when I was in changing shoes, which helped. So did the screw shoes. Yes, it was cold headed into that west wind; but I've seen that before, and I dealt with it. The surprise was at about mile 3, where I was eastbound and the wind was strong enough that I noticed my back was cold.
The route went reasonably well along major streets. The planned late part through the neighborhood, not so well. I cut that short, and added some distance along my street to make it up to the planned 8 miles. I'm really liking having the RunKeeper app telling me distance, so I can make adjustments like that on the fly.
Here's the RunKeeper elevation and pace chart, plus split times:
Observations: It's easy to hold my pace down when the footing is bad, particularly when I'm going uphill. But the relief from getting past the bad footing makes it hard to hold the pace down when things are better, particularly going downhill. I heard the current split pace at 3.5 miles, and deliberately tried to slow down; mile 4 would have been ridiculously fast if I hadn't done that. The slowdown late in the run was more due to bad footing than conscious effort to control my pace. By that time, I had given up on deliberate slowness and let the pace be whatever it is.
The two little hills in the 3rd mile aren't as tall as I had thought, but they are pretty steep for the short distance they cover. That jiggle in pace, getting slower going up those hills and faster going down, is real. It looks like my fast mile 4 was because I didn't slow down enough after running down the second little hill. I'll worry about controlling that kind of thing when I run in better footing.
For all that I ran too fast part of the way, the average pace of 7:49 per mile wasn't too far off the target of 8 minutes per mile. I'll accept this as the best I was going to do under this morning's conditions.
My toes are a little sore after today's run. I take this to be an indicator that the old shoes don't fit right for running, and the good shoes I got from the local running store do. The local running store has earned more of my business, even if the shoes cost a little more there. It's worth the money.
The bad foot complained late in the run, and really didn't like being barefoot after the run. It quieted down some when I put on my stability shoes that I walk in, and only produced minor grumbling when I went out and shoveled the driveway.
Now it's about noon. The snow has stopped. The roads appear clear. If I'd waited, I could have run in standard running shoes, at least for the part of the run along major streets. But there would also be more traffic, and the wind is a bit stronger now. And at 30°F (-1°C), it isn't appreciably warmer. I don't regret running early.
Now I wait to see how the bad foot reacts tomorrow. My cardiovascular system can handle this mileage, but feeling my way through to how much the foot can tolerate and still slowly get better is tricky. I have to pay attention to that.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Today is Friday, December 21, 2012. Yesterday was nominally my last working day of the year. There is still work to be done, but I didn't expect to be able to address it today. So I started the day with a 5.2 mile walk after breakfast. The idea was to get my steps in, so I could hang around the house and make decisions about clutter without worrying about how much more I needed to walk later.
The walk was pleasant. It was 37° F (3°C) with rain sprinkles that turned to snow flurries as I walked. The snow flurries didn't stick today; we're supposed to get some snow overnight and more snow tomorrow. We shall see. The weather forecasters tend to predict more snow than actually arrives.
Taking a long walk instead of a 2 or 3 mile walk turned out to be a good decision. At 9:30, work reached out and grabbed my attention. First it was followup from one of the completed fire drills. This wasn't high stress, but it took some time and had to be done. Then the pending fire drill got back to me. I was able to make some progress on it. Had time to do a dab of grocery shopping in the awful Christmas shopping traffic, and the last piece I needed for the fire drill fell into place. Put in a couple solid hours working it, and finished up about 5:30 PM. The clutter around the house mostly remains where it was in the morning.
At 5:30, it felt like the end of a work at home day. There was an opportunity to eat from stress, without going over the day's calorie limits. Instead of doing that, I lifted weights. I'd thought about lifting this afternoon, but didn't because of the uncertainty of when work would interrupt. It turned out that lifting after I finished up the work stuff was very good stress relief. After lifting weights, dinner and the normal evening snack felt normal, not like stress eating at all.
Oh, yeah. The weights were pretty good news. I don't do a lot of lifts, just make sure I do a major leg exercise, a pulling exercise, and a pushing exercise. The pulling exercise was weighted chinups. 10 pounds on the dip belt, and I managed two sets of 10 before I could only do 8 for the third set. The pushing exercise was standing dumbbell shoulder presses. The weight isn't impressive, but it was enough that I couldn't do 3 sets of 10; I did 10, 8, and 8. But my sore shoulder let me do them. Maybe I could have pushed out 10 in the second set, but I was paying strict attention to form and the shoulder.
I had a similar sore shoulder in 2005, the first time I got into weight lifting. That time, it took a lot longer to heal up than this time. I think I'm smarter about paying attention to what the body is saying and backing off when I need to now than I was then.
Deadlifts were up in rotation for the major leg exercise. Mr. Testosterone talked me into trying them at 225 lbs., which is the heaviest I've ever done deadlifts for reps. My standard of "for reps" is to be able to do 3 sets of 8 deadlifts. I managed 8, 5, and 7 reps. I'm not as strong as I have been, but I can see where I could get there. I'm happy with this, and I'm happy with lifting on non-running days. I'll have to think about what I need to do to make that happen more consistently.
Today felt like a Spark sandwich. Did good stuff for my body in the morning, had an interlude of sedentary work related fire drills, and did good stuff for my body in the evening. That feels pretty good right now.
The outlook for the rest of the year is a lot better than it was 24 hours ago. I didn't get to keep today off work, but I got rid of the overhang for next week. There could still be some followup from the various fire drills reaching out to grab me, but I should mostly be able to enjoy the rest of the year off work.
Life is good.
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