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5K Your Way, Week Minus 1, Day 3

Friday, August 26, 2011

The 5K Your Way running program starts with walking 1 minutes, running 3 minutes, 8 times in a row. When I decided to start a running program, that was beyond me. So I started last Sunday at week minus one, walking one minute and running one minute.

Wednesday threw my schedule off. I had a prescription to pick up, so I did that after work. That killed the idea of the gym after work (normally Thursday, but I was feeling like I could handle weights a day early this week.) I didn't want to do the running, because I'd just done Day 2 on Tuesday. So I told myself I'd mow the lawn.

The lawn didn't get mowed on Wednesday. Instead, I sat inside and dealt with household paperwork. Then I went to bed early. That felt good. A light day was probably called for at that point.

But that put weights back on Thursday after work. Got home from the gym about 7, with nominally enough daylight to mow. But I was quite hungry, and by the time I'd fed the cat and myself, there wasn't enough daylight left. Summer is waning, even though the grass is growing almost like April.

That leaves Friday and Saturday. If I put off running till Saturday, I don't want to on Sunday and Monday will start the schedule conflicts with weight lifting all over. So it's run on Friday. But then there's the lawn. Dang, it's hard to get exercise and real life both in!

Tried something different. Packed my running clothes in a gym bag, and hauled it to the office. Went to the gym at noon, changed, and walked/ran where I normally walk. Did the walk 1, run 1 thing for 10 cycles, then walk 1, run 2 for 2 cycles. Total running, 14 mintues. That prepares for a ramp up to walk 1, run 2, times 9 (total running 18 minutes) for Day 1 of Week 0 on Sunday.

Came home after work, fed the cat and myself, and mowed the lawn. Without errands between work and dinner, there was enough daylight. We're definitely getting to the time of year when I get really tired of having the grass still grow; but now my weekend is free for other stuff. That's good, because I haven't done very well at getting both the mowing and the vacuuming done on the same Saturday!

Tomorrow is breakfast at 9 with daughter. I'm about ready to turn in now; if I wake up early, I may try some light running thrown in with walking my 5.2 mile circuit before breakfast. We'll see how it goes.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LGAR519 8/27/2011 12:19PM

    That old saying,"Not enough hours in the day" is probably appropriate for all of us learning to live a healthy life style. Oh, by the way, thanks for the comment on my blog: Confession, good for the soul. I took my Mom 2 pieces of pizza. And the other 2 slices are in the fridge waiting for my husband to eat them.

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BARBAELLEN 8/26/2011 10:46PM

    For sure, life often gets in the way! Don't worry. Somehow, someway, we usually figure out how to get things done in spite of it.

Isn't it hard to imagine that in less than four months the days will start getting longer again -- getting ready to start up another crop of grass to mow!

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JAZZEJR 8/26/2011 10:00PM

    Wow--you just gave me a preview of how challenging it's going to be for me after school starts next week. Sometimes there just won't be either energy or daylight left after work to get the outdoor exercise in. And, I don't know where you are, but here in the midwest, it will be dark in the early mornings too--so I guess we'll be forced into the gym, eh? But the good news is-- soon we won't have to mow!

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GETSTRONGRRR 8/26/2011 9:56PM

    Good luck, sounds like a good program.

The book "Galloway's Book on Running" changed my running life. He advocates always walking & running and has plans in there from 5Ks to half-marathons for every time was how I went from pack a day smoker, couch potato to marathoner in 8 months.

It's on Amazon at:

good luck!

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 8/26/2011 9:10PM

    Living our lives certainly can "get in the way" of our weight loss and/or physical fitness efforts. But what I'm sensing from your blog is that while you have hit a few speed bumps this week due to other responsibilites/chores, your motivation to succeed propelled you forward. Packing your workout clothes and taking them to work (and then following through with the plan to use your lunch break) was a great example of thinking outside the box. Way to go! Good luck with your training for the 5K.

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/26/2011 9:06PM

    Figuring out how to get it all in is the great puzzle of life. As you put it, the ultimate scare resource is time. Spark on!

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Hydration at the Gym

Thursday, August 25, 2011

We all know that hydration is important, both in general and in particular when exercising. SP makes tracking water part of the system.

Historically, I haven't taken a water bottle to the gym. The gym has drinking fountains, and it's been a ritual to walk to the drinking fountain between sets and take a sip. I really didn't know how much water I was getting during a workout, but I was definitely getting some. (A water bottle would be more important for using a treadmill than lifting weights, but mostly I lift weights.)

Monday I took a 24 oz. water bottle to the gym, and used that instead of migrating to the drinking fountain. The idea was to see how much water I was drinking during the workout. It was an adjustment. I had to figure out what to do with myself while waiting to start the next set. Ended up deciding to pace a little close to the station to use the time. At the end of Monday's workout, I had maybe a half cup of water left in the bottle.

Today I took the water bottle again. The routine without the drinking fountain is easier, and it allows for better control of the time interval between sets. There's no waiting for the occasional cardio fanatic to drink for 40 seconds, and distance from the weight station to the drinking fountain becomes a non-issue. At the end of the workout, I had maybe a half cup of water left. So I guess 20 ounces is about what I want to drink during a weight lifting session. I'd say that's what I was sipping from the drinking fountain, except for one thing.

I have a habit of weighing myself in my gym clothes before I go lift. When I'm done, I take off my sweatband, squeeze it out, and then go weigh myself again. Historically, the post-workout weight has been a half pound to two pounds lighter than the pre-workout weight, depending on how fit I am and how much I sweat.

Monday I chugged the last bit of water before weighing, and weighed a quarter pound more after working out than before. Today I weighed while leaving the last bit of water in the bottle, and was the same weight as before the workout. (Then I drank the rest of the water, so I could transport an empty bottle.)

I think I've achieved the right hydration level during workouts this week. Turns out that when it's more convenient to get the water, I'll drink more. But my instincts when it's convenient are pretty good. I wasn't loading up on water that I didn't need.

That water bottle is going to go to the gym with me a lot. If I become very fit and work so long that I run out, I can always refill it at the drinking fountain.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JAZZEJR 8/26/2011 10:09PM

    Since starting to Spark I've been taking a water bottle to the gym, too, instead of sipping at the fountain between sets. I find I drink about 20 oz. Never thought of weighing afterward, but I don't sweat a lot doing weights. On the elliptical is another story. I can almost empty the water bottle in a half-hour there. I'll see what my weight is like next time after finishing the elliptical.

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/25/2011 9:45PM

    Weighing before and after was a great way to find out whether you were properly hydrating, and looks like having it available is working better than the drinking fountain.

I seem to remember regularly refilling my bottle at the drinking fountain back in my gym days.

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Hunger . . . or not

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm on week 5 of stage 2 of the SP diet. One of the things I'm supposed to do this week is write down why I'm eating, every time I eat. One of the reasons is supposed to be hunger, every time. That sounds really lame, but I'm dutifully writing something in the notes section of the nutrition tracker.

Today's entry for dinner was, "OMG it's 7 PM and I need to eat 796 calories, 55g carbs, 20g fat, and 54g protein. Maybe I should be hungry?"

That kind of explains how I lost weight in 2009 and 2010. I wasn't tracking food at all, but I was making an effort to eat only when hungry, to avoid eating for boredom or stress, and to exercise (mostly lifting weights) enough to stay fit.

Exercise helps with food consumption a couple of ways. It burns calories, and it also suppresses appetite. Probably some of those days in 2009 and 2010 I was eating below what SP says is my minimum calorie requirement. Certainly other days in 2009 and 2010 I was eating well above what SP says is my maximum allowed calories. Let's not think about the macronutrient distribution of those calories. I probably wasn't getting enough protein unless I was also getting far too many total calories.

The second lesson I draw from this is, I can't trust how I feel about how much food I'm eating. Early on with SP, the diet felt doable but restrictive. I had to work to stay in the middle of the range. Then I set a weight loss goal, and the range shifted downward. It was trickier.

But over time, I figured out how to deal with things. Get the soda out of the house. Buy low fat cottage cheese and chicken breasts so I can get enough protein without blowing fat and total calories. Learn to eat salad, even if it means finding a salad dressing that I like.

Trimming the total calories did odd things to the calculations. Some days, I'd come in needing a few more grams of fat. That got rid of the bagels in the house, as cream cheese has fat. Later, it was toast and butter. Still later, I realized that it made more sense to eat almonds to make up deficient fat. It takes time, but I do get there.

Today was day 2 of week negative 1 of my 5K running program. (Negative 1 because I need two remedial weeks to get ready for the real program.) I came home from work planning to do the run 1 minute, walk 1 minute routine 12 times then walk home from wherever I ended up. Thought about eating something, maybe some whole wheat toast, before running. Then I thought again. Yesterday I lifted weights after work and before dinner; today I can walk/run after work and before dinner. It turned out not to be a problem.

Then there's that appetite suppression from exercise. All of a sudden, it was 7 PM. I wasn't hungry but need to get the daily requirements in. Got the job done, and I'll be fine.

But I do need to watch things. While it is more likely that failure to track food would result in overeating than undereating, I can't discount the possibility of undereating if I don't track. In fact, that would explain some rather poor performances in the gym in 2009 and 2010, which contributed to gym burnout.

I'm probably not going to keep writing down the reasons I eat after this week, but it was a worthwhile exercise. It showed me a side of mindless eating I hadn't thought of, mindless non-eating.

That's one more reason why I will need to track what I eat for the rest of my life. But that's okay. With tools like SP provides, tracking what I eat forever is nowhere near as dismal as it sounded six and a half weeks ago.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BARBAELLEN 8/24/2011 3:14PM

    My hope is that ONE day I will find that I have to make an effort to find more calories. I LOVE tracking, and have turned it into an enjoyable little puzzle, making bets with myself that I'll get the right balance at the end of the day. Hey, I've gotten REALLY good at it, too. But finding myself short on calories at the end of the day? Not happening! You give me hope. Maybe some day . . .

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WORDLILY 8/24/2011 9:32AM

    I'm still getting to the end of the day and needing calories all too frequently. Actually, it ends up working out pretty well (usually this is post-dinner, and I don't need that many calories!), but it feels weird.

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WATERMELLEN 8/24/2011 7:46AM

    "I will need to track what I eat for the rest of my life": my conclusion too.

. . . and that's because . . .

"I can't trust how I feel about how much food I'm eating": neither can I.

No doubt that you've got it figured out . . . execution means you will inevitably lose weight and get fit . . . and then it's maintenance.

As you say: the SP trackers make it relatively fast and easy.

Insufficient protein is an ongoing problem for me as well . . . fat free yogourt, egg whites, low fat feta, chick peas and lentils and of course chicken breast and fish are some of my go-tos.

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/24/2011 7:19AM

    I have to giggle just a little bit about how fast you got to the "undereating" side of the equation. It took me a long time and a lot of fear to get there, but there are times when I get to the end of a day (especially on maintenance) and have to find X more calories. It's a whole lot easier to find 300 x X than X, if you know what I mean.

But those extra nuts? Great choice... low volume, high calories, right composition! That was one suggestion my consultant gave me. Or if I have trouble getting in fruits (one of my nemeses)... dried fruit... low volume if I'm not especially hungry, but the right nutrients.

Spark on! emoticon

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CEHALLA 8/24/2011 12:29AM

    I really like how you logically analyze what you're doing (or not doing). I have so much going on in my life that I just zoom and zoom without really stopping to think about my choices.

I'll work on managing my time better for my next 10 day challenge. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Running and Strength Training

Monday, August 22, 2011

The day after I started training for running, my calves are a bit tight. Fair enough. I've seen this before, only worse, when I was trying to train but not doing it right. And I've seen it much worse after running a race without even bad training.

One of the things that seems to have helped with the calves, even without training to run, is strength training. After I started lifting weights, I'd still get sore calves the day following a race; but they didn't keep me from walking. I concluded that those lowly calf raises, which were mostly rests between major lifts, helped me out.

Besides being the day after I started a running program, today was a normal weight lifting day. By the time I get out of work, I've walked enough that my calves aren't bothering me. I've talked to a runner I work with, and confirmed that the calf raises are helpful. I realize that when I climbed back on the weight lifting band wagon, I did standing calf raises, which work the gastrocnemius; but I hadn't done seated calf raises, which work the soleus. If I'm going to run, both of those muscles are important. Today I'll add seated calf raises.

Had a nice session with the weights. Got my seated calf raises in along with the more major lifts. Give up after one set of walking lunges, because I don't have enough gas left in the tank to pull them off. I remember that I used to rotate through three workouts, with walking lunges being on the workout that had neither standing calf raises nor seated calf raises.

Run through my stretches. Pick a different hamstring stretch, hunting for the elusive hamstring stretch that I won't hate. Meh. I need to keep looking for that one. When I get to the calf stretches, I can feel my soleus.

It's been a long time since I've really felt my soleus when doing the bent leg calf stretch. I guess running yesterday really did work it. Too bad I didn't get the seated calf raises into my routine before deciding to run.

Oh, well. I've made some mistakes, but they aren't fatal. I can get the lifting routine arranged so that it supports the running as well as general strength. It is a bit of an eye-opener about the seated calf raises, though. The last time I was doing them, I couldn't tell that they were doing any good. Now, when I'm not doing them but ran a little anyway, I can tell. They're useful.

I guess this is one of the reasons I'm supposed to take the training to run slow. It's going to take a little time to build those calf muscles up to where they need to be for running continually for a half hour.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JAZZEJR 8/26/2011 10:15PM

    I ALWAYS have tight achilles tendons the morning after a run/walk session or even an extra long walk. I do a light stretch as soon as I get up. Both hands against the wall, step one foot straight back for a GENTLE stretch against the heels, about 8 seconds, then the other. Clears it right up!

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/23/2011 7:37AM

    Hmmm. Reminds me of a piece that's missing from my lower body workouts: calf raises. It's been a while. Time to reintroduce, maybe.

Good work on slowing down the ramp up. It does make things easier, to my way of thinking.

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5K not quite the SP way

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Last Sunday, I blogged about getting some exercise and steps in spite of the rain. Today, I have the Sunday lack of routine steps again, and it looked like rain early this afternoon. But this time I'm prepared. I've bought more exercise shorts, so I can afford to use them instead of cargo shorts for walking. I've bought a new pair of running shoes, so I can afford to get my old gym shoes wet. I put on the slick running shirt I got at the Chase Corporate Challenge two years ago, because it will handle sweat (and rain) better than a cotton tee shirt.

Well, I've never really trained methodically to run. Maybe I should look at what SP recommends. There are a variety of running gear up programs. Each of them is structured in terms of walk X minutes, run Y minutes, repeat Z times. The numbers X, Y, and Z vary by program, but it looks like you hold X and Y constant for 3 sessions a week, sometimes increasing Z, then the X and Y numbers get progressively more challenging each week. That's the concept.

When you get to reality, Week 1 is either walk 4 minutes, run 1 minute or walk 1 minute, run 3 minutes. I'm not sure I like either of those choices. But let's try the walk 1, run 3 thing. Get out, walk a minute, start running, and realize I left my water bottle at home. I'm dumb, but not that dumb. I stop running, walk back, and get it.

Start again, 4 minutes later. Walk one minute, start running. I'm feeling it at 40 seconds, but keep running for 1 minute. Plan B, walk 1 and run 1. Let's try this 12 times, because I know I managed 12 segments of short running (100 to 120 paces) yesterday during my 5.2 mile mostly walk.

First mile, 9:33. Second mile, 19:06. I'm shocked at the consistency; I could swear I'm running slower by then. I manage 10 reps of walk 1, run 1, then slow to walk 2, run 1 for two more reps. I'm needing a bit more rest between runs, but more importantly the first 20 minutes got me to the strip mall and I need to avoid pedestrians. By now it is raining steadily, so the pedestrians are congregating on the covered sidewalk and there is more traffic than usual in the close lane as their rides come for them. Two minutes walking was enough to deal with this.

After 26 minutes, I've run 12 one minute segments. SP would call this the end of a workout, but I'm about 2 and a half miles from home. No, I'm not that dumb; the plan was to take my normal 5.2 mile walk route and just walk all the way when I'm done with running. I shouldn't have any problem walking the rest of this loop, as my legs are very accustomed to walking.

The rain comes down harder. My natural inclination would be to run, to reduce the time spent in the rain. I resist this inclination, because I can feel in my calves that I've already been running. Been the overdoing it route before, let's try the gradual work up route this time.

I did run across the one significant intersection, because I hit the light green and didn't want to chance it changing while I was part way across. I don't expect drivers to be looking for pedestrians in the rain.

There's thunder, and a couple of small flashes of lighting. A couple years ago, they closed the course for the Chase Corporate Challenge for weather like this. That was the race where I got the shirt I'm wearing now, LOL. But I was raised in the Great Plains. I'm not intimidated by upstate New York thunderstorms. It's not cold, and it begins to remind me of walking in the rain when I was a kid.

I get home, after walking almost 3 miles in rain of varying intensity. Hit the restroom, do my stretches, take care of the wet clothes, shower. Now there's sunshine outside. Oh, well. The time to walk/run happened to be when it rained, and it was kind of fun.

I tentatively think I'll try a shorter walk/run around the neighborhood Tuesday evening. It will be a test of whether the suburban dogs get upset at seeing someone running, and it will leave me closer to home when I get my 12 segments of running in. How I deal with a third session on Thursday or Friday depends on how Tuesday goes.

It's kind of been a comedy today, but if I can run two minutes at a time next week, perhaps the week after I'll be ready to work on the SP 5K running program. I just need some remedial work first.

We shall see. I've never been a real runner, but I've never tracked what I eat before either. Don't know that I can't do it unless I try.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ONEKIDSMOM 8/23/2011 7:35AM

    Remembering some of our walks in flood waters in Bethany park... I wonder that we survived to adulthood, bro. Some things are just plain foolish. But a walk in the rain is still refreshing, if I don't have to be presentable at its end!

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BARBAELLEN 8/21/2011 8:03PM

    I love running in the rain, since it keeps me cool! (Speaking of cool, I'm sure you looked very dapper in your new slick exercise outfit.) I don't know about the lightning, though. I worked with a guy who is fortunately very bright, but has a severe speech impediment and limited motion on one side of his body, the result of being struck by lightning many years ago. Being a little intimated by thunderstorms might not be a bad idea. At the risk of sounding like a nudge, be careful!

BTW, you are really being conscientious on your fitness mission. Impressive! Keep it up!

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DIVALADY 8/21/2011 5:23PM


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GOATS03 8/21/2011 5:07PM

    Congratulations! That's awesome :)

I also enjoyed reading your blog.

Keep up the good work!

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GONEWLIFE 8/21/2011 5:05PM

    Good job ! Keep it up !

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