Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 2012 in the Rearview Mirror

January ended up being a pretty good month all things considered, and I'm looking forward to the coming month with great anticipation.

Here is what the month looked like...

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 15:40:21 101.72
Walking 7:50:09 30.38
Cycling 0:42:20 10.69
Swimming 0:20:09 0.50
Elliptical 3:50:00 18.48
Overall Total 28:22:59 161.77

This month's mileage is the most I've logged since I started running last summer, so that is a major accomplishment considering that I was somewhat hobbled and in pain at the beginning of this month.

I'll be counting this accomplishment as my contribution to Operation Hardcore Fit as well, since I certainly would not have thought that I could pull off that type of distance earlier in the month.

I'm also a part of the 100x Challenge, and as a consequence of this month's running mileage I met the goal for January which was 100k (62.13 miles) !!    Now we move on to the next month's challenge, which I believe is going to be 100 push-ups a week.

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week in the Rearview Mirror: January 22 - January 28, 2012

This was a good solid week, and another one where it just good doing it (at least for the most part). I had planned on doing an 18- 20 mile long run on Saturday, but opted to do it in three parts within 24 hours instead. Just judging by the way I'm feeling this morning (Sunday), I would say that things worked pretty well. While I'm a bit stiff, it is nothing like it was with a single run of that length, and I actually feel pretty good.

I have more than just a feeling that my friend Paul is right in that one of the reasons these long runs are "knocking the snot out of me" is that I'm just not running them slowly enough. I would personally be THRILLED with a first marathon time between 4:00 and 4:15, and that would be roughly a 9:43 pace or better. I just noted that my last three long runs were at an average pace of 9:24, 9:22, and 9:36 respectively. In other words, I'm not doing them right... I'm essentially "racing" them.

Going forward, I'm going to HAVE to slow down on these, even if that means inserting some walk breaks for no other reason than to just slow me down. I'm NOT a fan of inserting walk breaks, since I personally find it harder to start running again than to just keep running. But I DO have to slow down on these. Thanks for pointing out where I might have been going wrong Paul...odds are you were spot-on.

The good news though is that as a consequence of having this type of week, I've not only set a personal record for the number of training miles run in a week, but I've already put more training miles in for January than any month to date since I started back to running last summer !

Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles)
Sunday Walking 5.02
Cycling 10.69
Monday Rest Day
Tuesday Elliptical 0.77
Running 10.26
Walking 1.06
Wednesday Rest Day
Thursday Walking 0.64
Running 4.09
Friday Running 6.02
Saturday Elliptical 0.81
Running 8.05
Running 6.15

These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 5:14:12 34.57
Walking 1:38:03 5.66
Cycling 0:42:20 10.69
Elliptical 0:20:00 1.58
Overall Total 7:54:35 52.50

Only 27 days till the Cowtown Marathon...I'm am SO looking forward to it. No more really long runs or days are planned, with just some solid 3 to 7 mile runs planned as I'm able to throughout the weeks. That should provide a nice taper as long as I don't press the speed on the running days, and then take it a bit easier the week of the marathon. .

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Second Annual Freeze Your Thorns Off 5K

This was my first participation in a "Virtual" race, and I think that all things considered, I had the most fun customizing my bib for the race.

The run itself was a part of an 8 mile training run in my neighborhood, and since I started this run a bit later than I normally do, I got to witness a beautiful sunrise. The temp was 39 degrees at the start, with a NW wind at 15 mph. This made it a bit cool when running against the wind, but not overly so. All in all it was a great run ! Looking at my splits, it looks like I did it in 28:41...certainly not Adam-fast by any means, but I did "Get R' Done".

But this wasn't my "original" plan for today.

I was scheduled for the last long run prior to my first marathon in four weeks today, and doing somewhere between 18 & 20. But all week long, I just had this little nagging feeling that doing another 3+ hour run at this point (which is easily what it would have been for me) just wasn't what was best for me at this time. It made sense on nearly all of the "plans" out there, but for a whole slew of reasons I decided to put in those miles a bit differently.

If I had to nail it down to one overriding reason, my main concern was the possibility of re-injuring myself with that type of extended effort, and the time I would need to take off afterwards to ensure that an injury didn't appear/happen even if the run itself didn't do it by starting back too quickly. I've only been running pain-free for a little over 10 days now, and my last long effort (and how quickly I went back to running after that) definitely contributed to ongoing injuries I had been dealing with since October. I'm just tired of running injured. If actual DOING my first marathon is what sets up a re-injury, I'm actually good with that...I just don't want it to happen on a training run four weeks out.

So, right or wrong I chose to run those same 18 to 20 miles inside a 24 hour period instead of all at once. I've covered 14 miles  so far (6 last night about 9 p.m., and 8 this morning about 7 a.m.). I'll do the next run about 4 p.m. today, and see how things go. I'm hopeful that while the miles covered will be about the same, that breaking it up will reduce the opportunity for the run(s) itself/themselves to produce an injury, and that it will allow me to recover much more quickly. Its not the same in every way, but it will have to do this time. I'll know in 29 days the ramifications of this decision, so I won't have to wait long to find out.

Happy Running Everyone...and thanks Adam, for setting up the Second Annual Freeze Your Thorns Off 5K Virtual Race !

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

I was tagged by Darlene at My First 5K and More... with The Versatile Blogger Award.  The rules are to share 7 things about yourself.  Then to tag 15 people.  This will be by first one of these, so we'll just have to see where it goes from here...

(1) I first started running in 1985, and have participated in several races from 2 miles to 15K. I was never really fast (more of a middle of the pack type), but enjoyed running and participating in the races. I was on a marathon build-up for the Dallas White Rock Marathon in 1986, when I was hit by a car about a month before the race while on an evening training run. It broke my fibula, and sidelined that effort. I did manage to build back up to running again, but could never stay on the run longer than 8 to 10 miles before the leg would start to ache...which led to the "vacation".

(2) I started running again in June of 2011 after taking a 20 year vacation from it back in the spring of 1990. I was embarrassingly out of shape when I restarted, and had to slowly work my way back into running while mixing in quite a bit of walking and a WHOLE lot of cycling over the summer and early fall. I've run two races since then... the 13.1 Dallas, and the half-marathon at the Dallas White Rock marathon.

(3) I lost about 35 pounds and 7 1/2 inches off my waist between the end of April and the end of September 2011, and have managed to keep my weight stable (within a 5 pound range) since then. I even made it past the holiday season without gaining any back, so I'm pretty pumped about that.

(4) When the weather permits and I'm not running, I love to ride the bike I bought last spring. It is nothing really fancy, but I enjoy getting out on it and cruising around my neighborhood and the part of town and surrounding countryside relatively close to me. Some of my favorite rides have been seeing the sun come up over the lake that is three or four miles from my home.

(5) I've been married to a wonderful woman and my best friend Bertie for 27 years at the end of March this year. She has been and continues to be a very patient and ardent supporter of every little "hobby" in which I immerse myself, which has been a few over the years.

We also have a little boy (Aiden) who turned six in October, and is enjoying his first year of Kindergarten.

(6) Although it has been a day or two since I've "gone under", I'm a certified PADI Divemaster, and my wife and I have been to several dive destinations such as Grand Cayman, Key West, Honduras, Cozumel (our favorite location for this), and a couple of live-aboard dive vessels in Belize and the Bahamas. I also got to do some diving off the coast of Sydney, Australia while there on business years ago, and went through Cave Diving instruction through the Apprentice level.

(7) I'm a Project Manager at a home and business automation company in the Dallas area, and have been with the company for a little over 14 years now. Although my first love is programming, I've also done a 5 year stint as the Director of Software Engineering, and have been in project management for the last 5 years.

If you're wondering what it's like... many times it is similar to doing the following for a living...

...except I don't work for EDS ;-)

I'm pretty new to the blogging world, and don't know a lot of people, so 15 "tags" might be a bit of a stretch, so I'll just tag a few of you with whom I'm not as familiar to play along if you like. Consider yourself "tagged"...

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week In Review: January 15 - January 21, 2012

This week was a very nice week. I felt MUCH better, and was able to really string some days together with good runs. Nothing epic or unusual, just good solid runs with no pain. Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles)
Sunday Walking 1.10
Running 4.15
Walking 1.01
Monday Rest Day
Tuesday Walking 1.13
Running 4.20
Walking 1.06
Wednesday Elliptical 1.63
Running 4.55
Thursday Walking 1.10
Running 4.13
Walking 1.00
Friday Walking 1.08
Running 4.61
Walking 1.05
Saturday Elliptical 1.60
Running 4.23

Just a quick note on the above. Since I tend to be a bit on the "stiff" side when I start out, and to prevent injury to "cold" muscles, tendons, and ligaments, I try to warm-up with some activity for about 15 to 20 minutes prior to each run. I don't usually skip this unless I'm already warmed up...like later in the day. If it isn't too cool out, I usually walk about a mile at a brisk pace first. If it IS cool out, I use the elliptical for about 20 minutes. Since I was holding the run distances to about 4 miles each, I would walk back to the house, which accounts for the walks after the runs (I take different routes, so don't always end up at home...I let RunKeeper tell me how far I've gone, and just take a wandering course through the neighborhood at times).

These are my time and distance totals for the week:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 3:54:18 25.87
Walking 2:03:26 8.53
Elliptical 0:40:00 3.23
Overall Total 6:37:44 37.63

Only 34 days till the Cowtown Marathon...its getting closer all the time. I plan to do my last long run before the race on Saturday of this week, and it will be in the 18 to 20 range. I'll give myself at least a day off prior to the long run, and at least one day off afterwards to ensure proper recovery. It looks like the weather is really going to be ugly (rainy and cool) on Wednesday of this week, so I may be hitting the treadmill. I'll just play it by ear and see how things go.

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On a roll and loving it

This last week has been pretty amazing for me compared to the last six or eight weeks, and I really feel like I'm on a roll now.

No, not that kind of roll (although I have spent quite a bit of time on these during that time, and do still use them occasionally).  This is actually the kind of roll I've been on...

Yes...the PAIN FREE kind of roll!  I think (at least for now, and I certainly don't want to jinx it) that I've finally got past the various pain issues I've been dealing with, and am rolling along pain free. I'm at the point now that I can do a little nearly each day, and that is so liberating. I was also able to dispense with the daily Advil dose(s) on Tuesday of this week, and I'm "running clean" !

While every bit of every run hasn't been free from all discomfort, no run has had issues beyond the first 1/4 mile or so. Even better though is that I have managed to run for 9 of the last 11 days, which is nothing short of amazing for me.  And several of those days were completely pain free. None of them have been far, but I've averaged about 4.3 miles per day for every day run. And all of this is better than being hurt so bad that I'm forced to cross train or take days off.

I'd like to say (and think) that I'm over that bout of discomfort and can just get out and run exclusively (I even like to "type" that :-)), but I honestly believe that a big part of my recovery (and what will keep me "in the game") is the stretching and strengthening I've been doing. True, I started these as a reaction to my injuries (TFL on left hip, ITB on right from knee to hip, strained back muscles, etc.), but I think going forward I'll need to be more diligent and intelligent in my approach if I want to minimize these issues in the future.

I'm thinking that I won't need to be quite so Reactive, if I will just be a bit more Proactive. At least with the body I've been issued (in its current condition), I need to ensure that I maintain a good range of motion, a solid and strong core, and even flexibility and strength from side to side. Since I tend to be "right dominant" from a strength perspective, I need to ensure that an inflexible or restricted quad or hamstring on one side doesn't torque my form and start another cascade of issues. I've started to get much better about working this in every day, so I'll just need to build from there and make sure that it continues to be a daily part of my routine.

I've been keeping each run distance pretty low, but I do need to do one more long run before the upcoming marathon, so I tentatively plan on doing that next Saturday, and doing something between 18 and 20. Given that I know I can cover the full distance now, I think this will suffice...the key for me is to ensure that the run doesn't set me up for re-injury.

Here's to everyone running well and pain-free in the coming days.....

Happy Running Everybody !!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Week In Review: January 8 - January 14, 2012

A much better week this week just going by feel, with some nice runs and a lot less pain. Also spent some time experimenting with core work (stretching / strengthening), and dialing that in. Here is what last week looked like...

Day   Activity   Distance (in miles)
Sunday Running 4.07
Walking 1.24
Monday Stationary Bike 33.57
Tuesday Running 4.00
Walking 1.00
Wednesday Elliptical 1.62
Running 4.37
Walking 3.06
Thursday Walking 2.00
Friday Elliptical 1.62
Running 4.53
Saturday Elliptical 1.62
Running 4.11
Walking 0.92
Swimming 0.50

Making my time and distance totals:

Activity   Time Total   Distance Total (in miles)
Running 3:20:53 21.08
Walking 2:06:11 8.22
Elliptical 1:00:00 4.85
Stationary Bike   1:05:00 33.57
Swimming 0:20:09 0.50
Overall Total 7:52:13 68.22

On 41 days till the Cowtown Marathon, and it looks like things are coming together nicely. I just need to remember that for any long runs I do between now and then (including that day), if my weekly mileage is as low as it has been, I'll need to give myself extra time to recover and be gentle with my body.

On a more serious note...please, please, please be careful out on the roads everyone.

  • Be aware of what's going on around you (keep at least one ear open)
  • Run against traffic so you can see what's coming at you
  • If something looks threatening or just doesn't feel right, turn back or take another route
  • Be sure you can easily be seen (don't go out in all black with no lights or reflective gear)
  • Have a phone with you if possible, or at least ensure someone knows where you went and when you expect to be back
  • I would also recommend a small canister (4 inches long, 1 inch in diameter) of pepper spray where you can get to it quickly (for dogs..both the 4-legged and the 2-legged kind).

I'm not trying to be your Mom, or scare anyone...but like it or not, the world is just not a safe place. You can ignore all of this and nothing may ever happen to you (I sincerely hope that's true). But you "may" not be that lucky. Twenty five years ago I personally went out for an after-work run in the rain in a black track suit and running WITH the traffic, and a car ended my running for quite a while (for years).

And not everyone on the roads is a good person, as many of us learned in this last week.

Just be safe. 

Happy Running Everyone !!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Am I 'addicted' to running...?

I often joke about my "running addiction", and others all too often will accuse me of it.

Who knows, perhaps they are right.

I try to engage in a fair bit of other forms of exercise, and I found over the summer that I really liked riding my bicycle. But there is just something about running that calls out to me.

It is certainly the most stressful thing I put my body through, and often times seems to require the most physical exertion. But I really enjoy my times out on the run (at least most of the time). Running through pain is no fun, but it is often the choice that I make over doing nothing (or even sometimes over doing something else). Ahhh, but the good runs are truly special.

As much as I like cycling, I'm apparently a fair-weather cyclist and anything below about 60 degrees means I'm not going to be saddling up. Which leaves mostly indoor activities (since there isn't a lot of cross-country skiing in North Texas)...and I really prefer to be outdoors when possible unless it is absolutely miserable outside.

It's bad enough that I am willing to admit a mild addiction (it is mild...right?), but when organizations I'm not even familiar with recognize it, it is a bit "odd". Case in point: I got this notification in my email the other day.

Apparently Kairos Healthcare is now stalking following me. They are just here to "...lend support for those who are in need of addiction treatment....". Hmm, I knew I was bad off, but I didn't think it was quite that bad. Maybe I am though.

Almost no matter how much running I get to do, it always just seems to inflame my addiction and not really "satisfy" it. A great 5 mile run, makes me want a repeat, or maybe even an 8 or 10 miler tomorrow.

 I used ta do a little but a little wouldn't do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin' ta get a little better
Said a little better than before

I do tend to hear these words rattling around in my head a lot. Maybe I should just reach out for some help.

No, I can quit whenever I want to...really.

And if my body really needs to rest, I can take a day (or two or three or four) off with no problem...

Running "easy" is really 'active rest', which is the same thing as rest...right?

OK, well maybe I'm a "bit" addicted.

That's enough banter for today though...I hear my running shoes calling me......

Happy Running Everyone !

Friday, January 13, 2012

Finally a nice run & Setting up a new routine

Well, after having issues with my hip and back for a couple of weeks, I finally managed to have a pleasant run this morning, and I couldn't be happier. It wasn't that it was epic or anything (just a simple 4.5 mile run), and it wasn't even particularly fast (actually, about 20 seconds per mile slower than a "normal" run), but it was still wonderful.

After a twenty minute warm-up on the elliptical, I was out the door and hit the start button just shy of 4:40 this morning. No wind to speak of, almost completely dry pavement (just some patches of wet), and 29 degrees. Although I still started a bit slow, it was faster than before because there was no pain and/or stiffness in my leg and back (or very, very little at any rate). Strangely, not a lot of people out exercising or walking dogs in the dark when it is below 30 [wink, wink], and the traffic was even light so it was really quite peaceful. I am SO VERY HAPPY that things went well...I really needed a nice run !

In order to make all that possible on an ongoing basis of course, there is the stretching and core work. I'm experimenting with what "works for me" so that I can get this in. If I can find a way to sort of flow from one thing to another, I think it will go better and I'll be more likely to do it regularly. The last couple of times I went through the routine (I took last night off and went out with the family for my birthday dinner...let's just say it was wonderful), I started on my back and did it like this:

  • Bent Leg "Leg Ups" (10)
  • Windshield Wipers (10, with 5 second pause at the low point for each side)
  • Hamstring Stretch with band (10 seconds per leg)
  • Cross-legged Stretch (I'm using the band to increase the stretch, 10 seconds per leg)
  • Bent Leg Situps (10)
I then flip over into an all fours position:

  • Rear Leg Raises (10 each leg)
  • Fire Hydrants (10 each leg)
  • Cat and Camel (5 cycles)
  • Psoas Stretch (10 seconds each leg)
  • Piriformis Stretch (Pigeon pose) (5 slow breaths in and out on this one)
  • Cobra pose (5 slow breaths in and out)
  • Bow pose (5 slow breaths in and out)
This leaves me lying face down and stretched out on the floor, where I can either end (which is what I have been doing), or flip over, bend the knees and start the rotation again. It is taking me somewhere between 10 and 12 minutes to complete a rotation, so one time isn't bad. It's just that I WILL need to get up to at least two and maybe three rotations at least occasionally (every other day would be a nice start). We'll have to see how that goes. Please see my last post if you want to know how to do some of these that don't have links.

I just know that things are slowly getting better, and I would really like for them to stay that way.

Only 43 days to the Ft. Worth Cowtown Marathon, and they recently put up a picture of the "bling" they will be handing out to the finishers. I definitely want to see this on my wall at the end of February.

Happy Running to everyone...hope your weekend ROCKS !!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Stretches and Strengthening Moves

I can't honestly say I'm a big fan of doing these moves, since I would much rather just get out and run or bike, but if I'm going to continue to be able to run injury free (or relatively so), it appears that I'm going to have to ensure that my body is not thrown out of alignment due to me ignoring the "not fun for me" areas which also demand improvement.

I know I was a bit vague on what the Chiropractor talked to me about the other day, so I thought I would share the general routine he asked me to follow (or ignore if I feel lucky...well, do I..?

[answer would be NO] :-)

Admittedly, many of these are both strength and flexibility moves in one.

Windshield wipers  As they do in the video, keep the legs bent (not straight). Start by going to the left, then the right, which makes a single repetition. He told me to start with 10.

Hamstring stretchwith band  With this one, he told me that keeping my leg straight is good up to a point, but there is a point where the gastrocnemius (one of the calf muscles) is the limiting factor. To move further into the stretch, unlock the knee and allow a small amount of flex in it to further stretch the hamstring (she does it towards the end in the video).  

Cross legged stretch  This is another one of those that is both a strengthening exercise, and a stretch.

Cat and Camel   This is a nice easy one. The stretch isn't pronounced, but it does the job and works some of the core muscles as well.

Piriformis Stretch (AKA The One Legged King Pigeon pose in Yoga). I didn't think I'd be able to do this when I first saw it, but it really isn't overly difficult.

Psoas Stretch  Be sure to remain facing forward...don't twist the upper body to the right or left. I personally find this to be a strengthening move as well, since I don't hold the pose effortlessly.

Cobra pose  As she says here, lead with the chest, not the head by tilting back the neck.

Bent leg sit-ups  With your legs bent and the feet NOT anchored in any way, place your hands beside and touching your ears (but not behind the head), and slowly sit up and then slowly return to the floor. I usually do two or three sets of 10.

Bent leg "leg ups"  Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your thighs perpendicular to the floor (the same starting position as the Windshield Wipers above). Cross your ankles, then slowly bring the knees up to the chest / head, then return back to the starting position. Once again, usually two or three sets of 10.

Rear Leg Raises  I normally do a couple of sets of 10 at this point.


Throughout all of these, my biggest problems doing these (aside from getting me off the couch) are not what you might expect.

  •  Regardless of his location and /or disposition just prior to me beginning, my six year old son will appear "needing" something (juice, chips, gummies, to tell me something (usually about a video game), needing me to read something to him (once again, usually  in the video game), or to ask me to play with him because he is lonely.
  •  Rio, our 11 year old Golden Retriever, will get as close to me as possible then lay down. If I need to move to a different position, it is my job to navigate around him. If happy, he will roll around on his back and flop against or on top of me (because obviously I'm in the floor to play with him). And since I'm obviously playing with the dog, why won't I stop and play with the boy (see above).
  • Oscar, our other 11 year old Golden Retriever, will drop a tennis ball next to me, back up a couple of steps and stare at me till I throw the ball for him. This will go on until he tires of the game (a LOT of throwing), or until I lose my mind and tell him NO...not now. He will then lay down and stare soulfully at me, heartbroken and hurt. Why won't Dad play with me (once again, because obviously I'm in the floor to play with someone, and it really should be him).

  • Cinder (short for Cinderella), our 2 year old black Lab. Will occasionally stop by and stare in my face (her face approximately 1/2 inch from my eyes) to make sure I'm alright. Then give me a big wet kiss and move on. Repeating as necessary (If Dad really was alright, why would he flop around on the floor like that).

The exercises and stretches themselves, aren't difficult at all...just takes a bit of time. Somewhere between 15 and 25 minutes (depending upon what happens concerning items 1 through 4 above).

By the way...I wouldn't have my workout routine "interruptions" any other way. :-)

Happy Running Everyone !

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week In Review: January 1 - January 7, 2012

This was sort of a weird week, since I had the pinched nerve issue, (which thankfully the Chiropractor was able to address, and give me some advice on the issue going forward), as well as just coming off the long run and having some pain in my left knee on the inside (which has also resolved itself with the rest). Here is what last week looked like...

  • Sunday:         Elliptical 2.37 miles; Walking 4.82 miles
  • Monday:        Elliptical 1.63 miles; Running 4.17 miles
  • Tuesday:        Elliptical 1.60 miles; Running 4.05 miles; Walking 0.31 miles
  • Wednesday:   Rest Day
  • Thursday:       Rest Day
  • Friday:           Elliptical 1.63 miles; Running 3.59 miles; Walking 0.77 miles
  • Saturday:       Recumbent Elliptical 12.60 miles

Not a lot of running, but I did manage to keep up the cardio somewhat, with time totals of:

  • Running:                      1:55:03
  • Walking:                      1:32:44
  • Elliptical:                     1:30:00
  • Recumbent Elliptical:    1:00:00
  • Overall Total Time:        5:57:47

I mentioned this in a comment, but after spending a little over an hour at the Chiropractor's office yesterday, and them doing some manipulation, a bit of ART, and some acupuncture with mild electric shocks, I'm feeling a lot better. It seems that I'm not as balanced as I need to be concerning how tight/loose my muscles and ligaments are from one side to the other (especially in the hamstring, glute, and low back area). He gave me some specific stretches I'm supposed to do at least twice a day (more often if possible) to finish bringing myself into alignment and keep it that way. Some strengthening exercises were also discussed. Apparently, if I ignore these stretching and strengthening exercises, it will be at my own peril.

Up till November of last year, I never really noticed the negative issues that can occur when one has these imbalances. I suppose I wasn't running often or far enough to have those imbalances affect me before, but now that the mileage is up, I'm going to have to get my act straightened out (so to speak).

So onward to hopefully a more settled and steady week this week.

Happy Running everyone !

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Something New, and something scarey

This morning, in the name of trying new things and getting out of the ruts I tend to travel in, I went to the gym to do a bit of cross-training on a piece of equipment I've never tried. The idea of trying something "new to me" 12 times in 2012 originated with Kim over at (Just) Trying is for Little Girls, and I "signed up" for the challenge she got started with this post.

It was a beautiful morning (for January at any rate) this morning, with little wind, no rain, and temps in the low 50's...perfect running weather. The problem with that for me is that I had a bit of a "scarey experience" yesterday so I won't be running until I can see my sports chiropractor about it (a little later this morning as it turns out...he had a cancellation :-)). But more about that a little later.

My first "new to me" challenge involved this piece of equipment...

This is a recumbent elliptical, made by Octane Fitness, and is their xR6000 model.At first I thought that since this is a seated elliptical, that it would essentially be just an easier version of a standing elliptical. It is marketed (in part) to those individuals who have lower back issues, or cannot otherwise stand for a workout.

Ah, but I was wrong.

There is a 5 position lever that allows you to set the recline level of the seat, along with a lever under the seat itself that allows it to slide up and down (which allows you to adjust the distance from your seat to the pedals). The readout expresses the pedal and/or pole rate as speed in cycles per minute.

Although there are many programs from which to choose, I set it to Manual, Level 8, for an hour. While I suppose one "could" use both the pedals and the arms at the same time, I found this to be a bit uncomfortable (or at least not what I was in the mood for), so I setup an alternating pattern and tried to hold the speed between 80 and 85. For the first 10 minutes I used legs only, and when holding on, held onto the handles next to the seat. From the 10 minute mark to 12 I put my feet on the foot rests just above the pedal pads, and kept up the same pace with just the arms (that was a challenge). From there and for the remainder of the time, I would use legs from the 2 min. mark to the 10 min. mark (12:00 - 20:00, 22:00 - 30:00, etc.), then switch to arms from the 10 min mark to the 2 min. mark (20:00 - 22:00, 30:00 - 32:00, etc.).

This worked my quads and glutes a fair bit more than either my real bike or the stationary ones at the gym, since on both of them the angle from the seat to the pedals is more vertical. That allows you to "get over" (or on top of) the pedaling action when difficult, and this just doesn't allow for that. And of course the arm work was all different.

I've got to admit that I enjoyed it, and will probably do it again. My final readout looked a bit like this (excuse the "flash")...

So it was a decent workout from both the calorie's expended perspective, as well as the other elements mentioned above.

Now, for the scarey part...

OK...well, maybe not that scarey, but it was disconcerting to say the least. I was out on a four mile run on Thursday morning, and at a hair over 3 miles into the run, my right knee just sort of gave way (no pain, and only for a fraction of a second). I didn't fall, so I kept running although a bit shaken. I was more or less fine up to the 3.5 mile mark, where it happened again, but this time several times in rapid succession about 2 to 4 seconds apart. Once again….no pain, just like a signal sent to my right leg and knee to just stop working and relax for a second. I stopped at that point and just walked it back home.

After thinking about it for a bit, I'm thinking I must have pinched a nerve in my back or something, since I did have sort of a "hitch in my get-along" right about where the arrow is pointing...

 It was scarey and a bit weird though. It wasn't that it was painful (because it wasn't at all), but if my leg gave out for just a bit longer, I might have fallen (or tried to catch myself mid-fall, which is usually worse). I'll see my chiropractor today since it is still sore there, and see if I need an adjustment, manipulation, or just a bit of time. This is quite different from anything I've dealt with thus far, and I have to say that I'm not a fan of parts just deciding to take a mini-vacation mid-stride. I might have strained my back a bit (although I didn't feel it at the time) by putting the Christmas decorations in the attic, but we'll see.

What a drag it is getting old.. :-)

Happy running everyone !!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Well, every run can't be great...

...and this morning's run certainly wasn't. 

It isn't that anything terrible happened. 

  • I wasn't attacked either physically or verbally by man, woman, child, or beast. 
  • I didn't injure myself in a new and exciting way (or even an old and/or dull one). 
  • The wind was mild, and the temperature was brisk but not all that bad (35 degrees). 
  • And my normal 20 minute pre-run warm-up on my elliptical even felt OK (not great, and I WAS wishing it to be over already about 10 minutes in, but I've had worse on it).

Maybe it was the fact that this was to be my first day back to work since the Friday before Christmas, which meant that the 3:50 a.m. alarm was required.

Maybe it was because the inside of my left knee is still a little sore from my long run last Thursday, and I was a bit worried that it would keep me from running this morning since it sent me a couple of rather jolting reminders that it didn't feel well during my first few steps on the elliptical. I started yesterday's run VERY easy and slow, but my pace still settled to something "normal" for me now (10:09 - 9:23 - 9:19 - 9:19 - 8:51 for a 4.17 mile run).

Whatever it was, I most definitely did NOT resemble this during this morning's run

No sir. 

I started slow like I did yesterday, and the tenderness in the knee eased after about an 1/8 of a mile or so, but the whole thing felt like a slog, and every quarter mile was an effort. I came a lot closer to resembling this...

Only just between you and me, he seems a bit happier about his outing than I was feeling in the dark this morning. It still wasn't all that bad (10:37 - 10:10 - 9:59 - 10:03 - 10:08 for a 4.05 mile run)....but it just wasn't one of those "in the zone and loving it" runs like my friend at Impossible Is Nothing wrote about on Monday.

Oh well, to be honest I very rarely feel like a thoroughbred galloping on the beach on my runs anyway, and probably all too often look like my relaxed-faced basset hound friend above regardless of how I feel. At least I was healthy enough to run, and tomorrow is another day. I'm still less than a week out from my 26+ mile long run, so perhaps my hopes are a bit high on the recovery timing. 

I'll take the slow ones over the days when I'm just not physically capable anyway, and I do want to give my old body time to recover...sort of ease into it gently. Maybe I need to be a bit MORE gentle for a day or so.

I hope everyone's day has been super (or at least acceptable) today (first day back to work for quite a few of us), and that your running is enjoyable.

No matter how you might look while you're doing it.  :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcoming 2012 and reflecting on 2011

As I stand on the doorstep of a new year, I'm both excited about the possibilities, and terrified by the prospects. Excited about everything that can go right, terrified by the things that can go wrong (like being "downsized" or injured), and yet ready to start on the 2012 journey.

When I started 2011, I was scheduled for a second surgery to remove a very large squamous cell carcinoma from my right side about half-way between my armpit and my waist. In early December of 2010, they had attempted to excise it by cutting about a 5 inch wide patch of the skin cancer out with a somewhat elliptical incision. Just before Christmas, I was told that they failed to get clean margins, and were going to have to try again. In late January, they made the same type of cut, literally "cutting out the scar" along with some extra tissue around it, about 7 inches wide. This time they were successful, but I've proven that I'm now at risk for that type of thing, so will need to see them once a year....and I have a nifty scar that looks like I was in a sword fight (a conversation piece).

In late April it seems that I really noticed the shape I was in, and determined to do something about it, so I started walking and eating right to get back in shape...the rest you can find in my initial post if you're interested.

I feel like I accomplished quite a bit in 2011, by losing over 30 pounds and 7 inches off my waist, running two half-marathons (a distance I had never accomplished before) in under 2 hours each, and even completing a 26.3 mile training run (a non-race marathon) in 4:12:46.  My numbers for 2011 from a workout perspective look like this...

So what about 2012..? Well first, I'm really excited even more now about running my first "official" marathon race at the end of February. Now that I have slayed the mental dragon of "can you really run that far without walking", I'm more pumped than ever to complete a marathon race distance. In many ways I feel like that successful training run has freed me from placing quite so much focus on increasing long runs, and will allow me to focus more on trying to just get in some good solid runs much more frequently.

Previously, I was trying to run at least 6 miles at a time, and that seemed to prevent me from running every day (I would have to put a cross-training day between run days). I could sometimes do two in a row, but not often, and have been battling issues with my right IT band for over a month (and before that, an issue with my TFL on my left side). However, I think if I can dial back that distance to 4 miles for most days, that will allow me to string together many more days, get more running in (which I love), and increase my mileage as well probably.

It's not that I intend to avoid long runs between now and the marathon in late February (or even after that...I really like the longer runs even if the really long ones are a bit intimidating), but I feel like they don't need to be my primary focus. At my current age and fitness level, it takes a day or two (sometimes more) to recover from the longer runs, and rushing that recovery just sets me up for injury.

My plan this year is to really focus a lot more on proper stretching, core work (abdominal, and glute work especially), and finding a balance that allows me to run more frequently without injury. The last time I "got into shape" about six years ago (please God..help me to STAY in shape going forward...getting back into shape is just too freaking hard), I pushed too hard, got injured, worked through injury for a while, and then just got tired of always being in pain so I eventually quit working out. I want to be certain that this time, I find a better balance..especially since I'm not getting any younger and I don't bounce back like I used to.

Beyond the marathon in February, I believe I would like to run some other race distances for some variety, and perhaps try a triathlon (or maybe even an ultra like a 50K...but that even sounds a bit crazy to write, much less plan for at this point). Mainly though my sights are on the marathon at this point. That distance has always held a certain mystique with me for some reason, and I want to "own" it...or at least occupy it for a while.

Happy Running Everyone, and bring on 2012.....