Running Through

August 19, 2010

In all my obsessive reading about exercise and nutrition (like most of us I think, when I get into something I really get into it) I’ve come across a lot of information regarding plateaus. One thing that caught my attention is the fact that supposedly your first big one usually occurs around the point when you’ve lost roughly 10% of your body weight.

Guess where I am.

Logically I knew this was coming; emotionally it still pretty much sucks all flavors of ass. Figuring my vacation week into it, for almost three weeks now I’ve been fluctuating between 147 and 149. And while I know a two-pound range isn’t something to lose my mind over, it’s still hellishly frustrating, especially when I’m still doing all the things I’ve been doing all along that have met with success. I read these stories about people who get stuck for MONTHS ON END and it makes my blood run cold (how many calories does blood running cold burn I wonder?).

I’ve also been reading (obviously) up on ways to break through the plateau and I’m ready to deploy some stuff. Increasing and changing up the exercise. Increasing water consumption and decreasing salt intake. Playing around with the daily calorie consumption. It all makes sense and this is why I’m not panicking (yet).

The first idea is adding some running into my walks. While I hate it with the heat of a thousand suns, I’m pretty sure it’s a good idea. And I love the idea of it – the health and beauty benefits, the endorphin high, the self-satisfied and condescending tone you’re able to take when talking about how you “just got back from a run,” or you’re “looking forward to a good run later,” or any line where you can casually add the word “run” into it. My father-in-law runs five miles every morning and has for years. He’s in his mid-sixties and in very good shape for his age or any age. Well yeah but he also reads the Bible every morning too, so it’s probably not best to compare. So far I can’t claim to have actually “run,” but I’m working on it. In the meantime it’s more of a walk + jog = wog type thing. I plan to wog again tonight and weather permitting, quite a few more times over the next week, hopefully progressing into more legitimate actual running soon. Just writing that hurts a little.

But hey nobody said this was supposed to be easy, right? If it was, this blog wouldn’t exist and that would be sad. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to break on through to the other side of this little obstacle. Bring on the sports bras and shin splints.


For the record…

July 13, 2010

I was about to clear out my iPod’s timer log this morning when I decided to hold off.  I use my iPod as my stopwatch for my runs, and I hadn’t cleared it for several weeks.  I suddenly thought, “Hmm, maybe I should keep a record of this…

3.5 mile runs

June 23 0:44:14
June 24 0:42:20
June 30 0:41:11
July 2 0:39:49
July 7 0:40:49
July 8 0:40:57
July 12 0:39:27

6 mile runs

June 26 1:08:19
July 3 1:11:24
July 5 1:07:27
July 10 1:07:23

The 3.5 mile times are slow, definitely, but it’s also a seriously hilly 3.5 miles, so I’m comfortable with relative suckitude there.

The six-milers are somewhat deceptive, since I have to cross a highway and there may or may not be a wait involved there.  The six-mile runs essentially start with the hardest part of the 3.5 mile run, and end with a relatively long flat section, a long steady hill, and then another mostly flat (slightly uphill) segment.

Know what else makes a big difference?  The temperature.  It’s a hell of a lot easier to keep going when it’s 70 degrees versus 80…

But there ya go.  My times are now out there for the world to see whether I’m getting any better or just spinning my shoes.


June 28, 2010

Not a bad weekend around ye olde abode.  I started it off by getting up before dawn again on Saturday morning to go for a run.  At the last second, the talk I had with my ex-runner officemate re-entered my brain and I took a right instead of a left.  I parked my car on the other side of the park and instead of running 3.5 miles, I ran five.  My goal was anything under 1:15 – fifteen-minute miles – and I made it in 1:08 and change, having forgotten to start my stopwatch on time to begin with and having to wait for traffic lights to change twice, which I figure evens out in the end.  Close enough, at least.

I was definitely whipped but not completely out of commission, which was nice.  And a good thing, too, since when I got back to my car I realized that my extra door key that I carry while I run had fallen out someplace, so my keys were locked in my car.  I’d left my phone at home, so I had to walk the mile back home from the park and pound on the door until the dog barking at me got Dys  up to let me in.

Oh well.

Afterward, I showered and changed clothes and Dys and I went on a Wal-Mart/grocery run.  While at WM, I picked up a couple of sleeveless Under-Armour type shirts to run in.

In size Large.  Do you know how long it’s been since I bought anything without an X in front of it?  And while I’m still a little more bulgy in a few places than I’d like, they definitely fit.

I also bought a pack of white and black tank-top undershirts in size Large, and those suckers are definitely a little tighter than I’d imagined they’d be.  But still not grotesquely so, and I can still work on that a bit.  Dys asked if I was going for the Eric Northman look, and honestly it hadn’t even crossed my mind, but if it’s even bringing up the concept, then WIN.

Even in the ballpark of this guy is a compliment.

Having survived the five-mile run without serious complications, I think I’m going to succumb to my coworker’s suggestion and plan to enter the local Triple Crown.   A 5k (3.1 miles) on the last Saturday of next February, a 10k (6.2 mi) on the second Saturday in March, and a 10 miler on the last Saturday in March.  I think only the 10-miler is a real concern, and I have nine months to prepare for it.

Time to kick it up a notch, eh?

The Stride

June 22, 2010

One interesting thing about the heat…the local park is a lot more crowded at 6am.  Hell, today I got there just before 6 for my run, and there were two guys there who had clearly just finished and were about to leave.

I’ve been running for, oh, six weeks now – after swearing I’d never do such a thing unless violent death was threatened for myself or my loved ones.  Now, I can’t say I’m exactly a nut about it…I haven’t made the telltale subscription to Runner’s World or created logins for running forums or anything like that…but I’m liking it.

What I’ve found is that I respond much better to a distance-goal than a time-goal.  Running for 45 minutes seems a lot less boring than it was watching the timer count down from 30 minutes on the cross-trainer.  And on the cross-trainer, I not only had my iPod, but also a TV and usually a book to boot.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s still damned hard to drag my ass out of bed at 5:30 in the morning, even on days like today when it has been four…five?…days since I last ran.  Days in which I may or may not have ordered a Large combo cheeseburger at a fast food joint, for example, and relished every last bite of those peppered fries.

But I’m almost to the point of being able to run that full 3.5 miles without stopping to walk.  And these being some significantly hilly miles, I think that’s pretty cool.  In talking to a former-runner coworker on Friday, she encouraged me to think about the local Triple Crown next year – a 5k, 5-mile, and 10-mile package.  She was thoroughly convinced that by the spring I’d be ready to rock.

I told her I’d decide on that when I could run the 5k without stopping.  But I have to admit – as a goal, it’s good motivation.

As is putting on my pants this morning and noticing, wow, these really are pretty loose!

Attack mode…

June 15, 2010

My training plan is set and it should be buried due to some kind of freak injury in about eight weeks, but…

The local 1/2 Marathon is now on the agenda for this upcoming Labor Day Weekend.    Since my work day is much longer…leaving the house at 5am and getting home between 6:30 and 7:00 pm, training should be a challenge.

My training of choice has normally been longer and slower runs, but I just don’t have that kind of time, but I need a challenge…of a physical nature.

I am already working on a few new creative writing challenges that are showing some signs of promise and making me some extra money on the side as a bonus, so why not throw $75 away on a long run on the hardest concrete ever made.

I have run on a lot of surfaces, but the concrete on the boardwalk is definitely built to last and the only break you get from the concrete is when you are running on the asphalt, which is softer…but only because it melting under your feet.

But I will love every second of it and get a shiny medal and t-shirt as a prize.

Challenges are what drive me and it has taken me a few years to figure out that I am happiest when I am chasing something.

During baseball season, I remember telling the kids that I would rather see them go down swinging at a questionable pitch than to stand there and watch a god one go past them.   To go up there and attack the ball since they were the one up there with the bat.

I adopted that line of thinking when I signed up for the 1/2 marathon two years ago and things have been looking better for me…despite a decrease in pay and an increase in hours with the new job.

I am the one carrying the bat…

I am in attack mode.

Ego Writing Checks and So Forth

May 18, 2010

I blame MTAE for introducing me to Marie of Cheaper Than Therapy (or introducing her to me, whichever, I don’t remember).  Turns out she’s a funny lady who shares my taste in death metal, tweeting from work, and very sick humor.  But she also has this disgusting running habit.  Ugh.  (We won’t even talk about the beer.)

The thing is, I started having this weird-ass and completely alien-to-me thought – “maybe I could do that whole running thing?  Just once, to say I did it?”

So Marie gets the blame credit for inspiring yesterday’s idiocy.

See, in the morning I got an email saying that the U’s alumni association was having a 5k Fun Run on May 29th.  “5k, hmm?”  I did the math.  Ok, let me stop lying, I looked it up on the ‘net.  3.1 miles.

I thought about it.  For the last several weeks I’ve been doing cardio for 30 minutes at least 3-4 times a week.  On non-weightlifting days, I stretch and then hit it for another 30 minutes.  Admittedly, it wasn’t super strenuous cardio.  But hey.  I’m not a runner – I haven’t run more than mile at once in…hmm, I think ever – but I’m not exactly 100% in Couch-to-5k territory, either.

I walked over to the door of my office manager, who ran a couple of marathons before a knee injury ended all that.  “Hey, you said once that that loop around the park was right at 3 miles, didn’t you?”  “Yeah, 3 exactly.”  Google maps says it’s a little longer than that, but what the hell.

I figured, what’s the best way to see if I can survive a 5k?  How about attempting a 5k?

I’d just taken a bike ride with Boy to the park and then around this very loop on Saturday morning, so the layout was fresh in my mind.  My workout bag was in the car.  All I had to do was change destinations.  I deliberately didn’t think too much about it.  Instead of heading for the gym,  I drove to the park, parked on the far side near the horse stables (instead of the parking lot where most folks stop/end), did the whole changing-my-pants-in-the-car-and-hoping-nobody-drives-up thing, grabbed my cell phone (just in case of freak ankle sprains, etc.) and my iPod, and gave it a shot.

I’d glanced at the Couch to 5k plan.  I didn’t have any delusions about actually running the 5k – not this one, and not the on on the 29th, either.  WAY too short to go from no-running to that sort of endeavor.  I just planned to take it slow, intersperse jogging with walking, and see how it went.  I figured I could stop about halfway (more like 2/3 of the way, as it turned out) at the other parking lot where I knew there was a water fountain.  If things were going well, I could stretch out a bit, get some water, and finish it off.  If it was going badly, well, that was a good place to call Dys and ask for a pickup.  (There were also a few strategic places before that point just in case I was much more wussy than I’d thought.)

Conveniently it was 5:00 on the dot when I left the car.  I turned on the metal (Smash the World, Ma!), walked the first few hundred yards, passed a little old Asian lady in a big straw hat, then picked it up to a jog.

Predictably, the jogging thing didn’t last very long, but that was okay.  The weather was just about perfect for such an attempt – upper 60s and cloudy, not too humid – so I just used the light poles interspersed around the park not as progress meters but as goals.  “Okay, when I get to that pole, I’ll jog some more.  Okay, next pole I’ll walk – no, wait, I can make it one more.”

Not surprisingly, I got passed by a handful of 50-ish guys.  But at least I was smart enough not to take it personally.  My flat feet have never been all that friendly over distance – when I run I sound like a cavalry charge.  As they went by, I tried to watch their stride and see if there was something in their mechanics that I could learn.  I experimented with short, long, side-to-side, height, and all other kinds of motions and ended up just kind of settling into the one that felt best at the time.  I doubt my form was good at all, but it worked.

Also predictably, I got a stitch in my side around the end of the first mile, and my ankles and shins started bothering me a little before that.  Neither was particularly surprising.  My existing cardio routine was all elliptical and stationary bike – neither all that ankle-heavy, compared to heaving my 200-pound ass upward and forward once a second or so.  But it wasn’t anything horrid.  When I made it around to the parking lot, I took a drink of water, took a couple of minutes to stretch out my hamstrings, quads, and calves, took another drink, and kept on going.

Toward the end there I was definitely just moving toward a goal and not exactly having fun, but I wasn’t in anything like the discomfort for which I’d steeled myself.  When the last turn was ahead, I had enough left in the tank to break into an actual run for 100 yards or so before slowing back to a cool-down walk to the car.  Time:  0:53, just inside the hour goal I’d set for myself.  (When I got home, Dys said, “I don’t know what a good time for a 5k is.”  I said, “Probably under 20 minutes.”  But I’ll take it.)  No injury, no serious pain – and honestly, not nearly as much boredom as churning away in the cardio room at the damned gym.  That was a nice surprise.

Of course, I figured I’d pay for it in spades this morning.  But I was wrong.  Yeah, I’m a touch sore, but only my ankles and shins are any more so than after a good workout.  Nothing discouraging.  Rather the opposite, in fact.

So I guess I’m signing up for a 5k at the end of the month.  I’m not exactly going to be competing, but I’ll finish and earn my t-shirt.  It’ll be a nice little goal to work toward.  And after that, well, who knows?  I’ll see how my body treats me and evaluate from there.

Now for this afternoon, when I experiment with deadlifting post-5k.  Heheh.

A Reward

November 29, 2009

It is official…

I am now registered for the local Marathon here in March.   It was already a plan, but holding off on the actual registration has been bugging me for the last couple of weeks.

Recent events (mother-in-law having a stroke,  major repairs at the rental property and a monster of a storm) had put a huge damper on any running for the last couple of weeks.  It has felt good to get back out on the road this past week and feel good while doing it…

Running relaxes me.

It is me and my body…alone.

Unless a car invades the crosswalk while I am still there.

Last year, I felt like I needed to run the Marathon to prove something to myself.

What I did prove was that “gutting” out a Marathon is not a smart thing to try to accomplish.  Signing up at the last-minute was a silly move on my part.   The 1/2 Marathon was sold out in Late January and, in a rash on-line moment, I signed up for the big daddy.

An unmentionable physical ailment also keep me from running for most of the last two weeks before the race to compound my lack of a solid training plan.

Not this time.

I have a training plan, but it is just a guide to keep me moving in the right direction…it is nothing to get too obsessive about until March.

Running is a release for me, and this time, the Marathon is a reward and not a challenge.