Another day, another lesson learned?

I ran farther today than i have the past few runs before i had to walk a bit.  Getting used to the new pace is not easy.

Ran 1.27 Pace 8’52” – – Walked .2, ran .4, walked

I changed my floor exercises a bit as i am trying to expand and improve these.  I am doing a different kind of crunch.  Instead of rocking out 50 crunches, these have a little less total motion and you hold the pose when you reach max crunch for 1-2 seconds.  It definitely feels more intense.

40 crunches

I added a second kind of crunch.  These are a variety of “twisty crunches”.  From standard crunch pose, lift your feet until your calves are parallel to the ground.  When you crunch bring your left arm toward your right knee and straighten your left leg, return to neutral and do other side – right elbow toward left knee, right leg straight. It looks a little like bike riding…It is taking me a bit to get used to this motion and to maintain a focus on crunching and using my abs to bring my torso/elbow toward my knee instead of bringing my knee to my elbow.

10 total twisty crunches (5 each side)

I added the concepts above to my leg lifts.  I am now moving from about one foot off the floor to 2 feet off the floor (instead of 1-3 feet) and i am doing the procedure slower than before – i can feel the difference.

25 leg lifts

10 push-ups

190 lbs.

Today’s run was weird.  I wanted to go, i was excited to go, we have nice enough weather that i ran in shorts a t-shirt, but my legs felt weird.  I did stretch and i added a few new ones, but the muscles around my knees were tight.  Around .8 miles, i had a little internal/mental fight to not vomit the ball of green onions i ate in the yard not long before running (brilliant!).  I shut that down and kept going.  I knew that my pace was still good – still under 9 minutes, but i knew it was not very near to 8 or 8.5.  Since i decided to up my pace, i have been stopping at 1.1-1.2 near the bottom of a hill and walking up that hill and then mixing run walk the rest of the way home.  Today i could not make it to the top of the hill but i made myself run farther than before.  I ran to 1.27.  True, it was only a few more telephone poles up the hill, but i will run up that hill again and at my faster pace if i have to do it one pole at a time!  (It is actually a pretty gentle hill.)

Part of my struggle right now is morale and mindset.  I am not good at not being good at things.  Most things come pretty easily and naturally to me, and when things are more difficult and i can’t figure out why, i have to fight hard to stay focused and learn to achieve.  Not many days ago i was running 1.8-2.2 miles.  Now i am struggling to reach 1.5.  I understand that running near 8 minute miles is different from running near 10 minute miles.  I understand it but i don’t ‘feel’ it.  I am trying to focus on other things and stay positive.  I made progress today.

I learned (or re-learned) that taking a day off in between running days is ok, but those cannot be days of no activity.  My legs were tight today and i didn’t really stretch yesterday or do my other non-running exercises.  That is part of why i spent more time looking at runner’s stretches/exercises/ and core strengthening workouts today.  I have incorporated some of what i found already and i need to continue to add more stuff – not for the sake of volume, but to find the right stretches for me, and to find the exercises and drills that give me the best results.

I should have a good stretch every day and some floor exercise on running days, but i should have some more intensive strengthening drills on my non-running days.  I really would like to be able to run every day (or 5-6 days in a row) and i may try some back-to-back runs again this week.  However my body tells me to handle how many days to run, i need to tell myself to exercise one way or another every day.

Hopefully – lesson learned.

I watched the two parts of “The Runner’s Six Pack” for some of the ideas found above.

Quick Update

Hopefully i will have time to write more later today, because i am trying to figure out how to proceed – while reminding myself that this is a process and not an overnight transformation.  Skipped yesterday.  Today, mixed Run/Walk again.

Ran 1.2 Pace for 1 mile – 8′ 14″ then slowed, then walked, then ran then walked…

50 crunch/25 leg/ 10 push

more later…

Back in the (new) Saddle (sorta)

Two days ago, I declared a day of no-running-leg-rest, which was very nice.  Yesterday i allowed myself to be overtaken by circumstances.  About 7:30 ish, i heard my folks upstairs firing up a movie.  They had been talking about it and it sounded like Iron Man 2.  I planned to spend very productive time on the interwebs until 8 ish, start stretching, give Lucas his pill about 8:15 and then run and exercise, and then eat.  But – i wandered upstairs when the movie opened up with some AC/DC – about 2 hours, 1/2 a pound of carrots, a big bowl of pasta, some pretzels, and a chocolate dipped apple slice later, i was not really in running shape.

Today i got back out there.  Not quite as early as i had envisioned, but i had some email to answer, a book to finish and an initial edit sheet to write and send off (don’t ask, i can’t tell you, it is not mine, and it is top-secret – for now).  But i got out there and adapted to the new program.

I can tell you, again without fancy monitors, that i did get my heart rate elevated this time.  I did break this run up with some walking, so the stats are not quite as nailed down as they have been:

Mile 1 – pace – 7 minutes 56 seconds

I kept running for about .3 miles before i had to do fast walk for a bit to recover.  I don’t have exact stats on that, but from glancing at the sportsband while jogging, i think that my pace for the full 1.3 was 8:05.

I walked about .2 then ran about .2 then walked then ran.

50 crunch/25 leg/10 push

I feel real good.  My legs and knees felt good.  That weird pain in my outer quad area was gone (even though i have yet to master the stretches that target that region).  Glad to have gotten back out there, and ready to go back out (tomorrow).  I think this will be the new pattern for a while.  Try to rock the first mile in about 8 minutes (maybe 8.5 if i can find that pace) and do that as long as i can past 1 mile, then mix walk run.  Repeat until i can rock 2 miles in the 8-8.5 minute zone.  Repeat until i feel needy for more distance.

day of rest(ish)

Running (Smoking and Politics Below)

I decided not to run today.  Not a ‘talk myself out of it’ give-up kinda vibe like i fought yesterday.  This was a conscious decision to let my body rest.  I have gone for a run every day since Oct 6th with the exception of Oct 9th.  That is 12 out of 13 days and 9 days in a row.  I figured i was due for a leg rest.

I did revise my run plan a little further.  I am still planning to stay at about 2 miles for a week or maybe two, but i have refined the reasons.  As i have stated previously, i don’t care about the numbers involved for their own sake, but for what they can represent.  One of my key goals with this running is to get a good and effective cardio workout of 20 minutes or more in each session.  The runs i have done so far are good and necessary steps on my path.  However, i can tell you without any fancy monitoring equipment that running 9:45-10:35 minute miles is not getting my heart rate up.  I am not close to winded or tired nor is my heart beating at an elevated rate when i complete these runs.  My legs are tired, and again, that is why these baby steps are important – to build my body into something capable of extended cardio workouts.  I need to stay at or near a 2 mile length until i can increase my pace to a more effective level.  I think probably 8 minute miles, or thereabouts will get it done.  There is not much point for me to continue to increase the distance i run if i run at my current pace.  I could run 7, 10 minute miles and still not elevate my heart rate.

So there is the new(ish) goal: keep rocking my current route and increase the pace.

Semi-Side Note: Some of you may be familiar with a little television show called The Simpsons.  There is a beautiful moment (one of thousands) in which Homer says “…let us celebrate this occasion with the joining of chocolate and milk.”  I sorta felt like that yesterday.  It was my first moment of ‘i would enjoy to have a smoke’, since i quit about 11 days ago.  It was not one of those ‘this is all too hard to deal with…”, or “i am gonna lose it if i don’t get a smoke’, or ‘i am gonna lose it all over YOU if i don’t get a smoke’ kinda moments.   It was more like a victory feeling.  “I am doing so well with the fitness and the abstinence and getting back into daily writing.  How should i celebrate and commemorate this occasion?  I know!  Let us celebrate this occasion with joining of cigarettes and beer!”

It passed. All is well.  But it goes to show that this stuff is difficult and sneaky and it hits us all in different ways…

I may not get to it tonight, but i have some random thoughts brewing about the pending mid-term election cycle, and in particular, the state races in Pennsylvania!  If you are not registered, it is probably too late (though not definitely too late so look into it!).  And if you are registered, November 2nd folks.  Hmm, perhaps i will have to put together a little voting post.  No judgment or real advocacy one way or another, just good info, like “how do i find out what district i live in?”

the first slump

Ran 2.01 Pace 10:31 min/mile

50 crunch/25 leg/ 10 push

I was slower again tonight, though i did make 2 miles.  I know exactly why i was slower tonight – I Did Not Want To Go!  No real tangible reason.  It is late, i am enjoying a book i am reading and wanted to keep at it, with stretching it will take sooo much time, blah blah blah.

During the first leg, i am trying to make deals, ‘i can use the old turnaround and just do .7 today’, or ‘i can cut it shorter if i turn around here instead of doing the rest of this loop’.  I tried to focus on my breathing, think about the cool stuff happening in the story, and run right over Whiny Pants McGee.  So, yeah, it was slower out there.  But i feel good that i stuck with it, and i feel great after having done it.  My body feels good.  I know i will sleep better having accomplished my goal instead of lying awake wondering why i did not just do it.

My breathing was much better (not that it has been bad).  I was able to breathe through my nose for a large majority of the run!

And my post stretch floor exercises were easier than they have been – even the push-ups were not really bothersome.  I do think it may take me a week or so to build much past 2 miles, but i will get there.  I also think i may have to take a leg rest day here sometime soon.

Back to the book.  Night night.

Stretching Part 1

There has already been enough talk about stretching, and good information shared on the topic, that i decided a new stretching category could be useful and fun!  I will begin typing up my stretching routine and post links to good stretching sites that i found or that people have shared with me.  I definitely welcome your thoughts and experiences with stretching and look forward to stealing your great stretches!

Stretches:

I always start standing up.  It should be easy to figure out the application – where appropriate, I do 10 stretches in each direction on each side.  Quick Note: any time I or anyone else says to “hold the stretch” or “hold the pose” make sure that you keep breathing.  My sports Chiropractor used to tell me to “breathe into the stretch”.  With every breath you can feel the stretch deepen.  If you hold your breath, your muscles tend to freeze up and do the opposite of stretching.  I use this stretching routine for almost everything; before a hike, if motivated – when i get up in the morning, before doing construction projects, before i play golf, when smart – before a road trip/plane ride, and before and after a run.

Standing Stretches:

1.     Neck Rolls – 10 clockwise, 10 counter clockwise.  (I have never had the problem, but I was told years ago, keep your eyes open if you are prone to dizziness and you will not get dizzy.  These should be kinda slow anyway, so that too should help avoid dizziness.)

2.     Shoulder Rolls – I do both (right and left) at the same time, but that is not necessary.  10 starting out with a forward motion.  10 in the opposite direction.

3.      Arm Swings – one leg forward, one a little behind you. If your left foot is forward, swing your right arm in a full circle (imagine a helicopter blade – then rotate the helicopter so that the blade is spinning perpendicular to the earth instead of parallel to it).  Swing the arm 10 times in a forward direction, 10 times in the reverse direction.  Switch positions – right foot forward, left foot back and repeat the procedure swinging the left arm.

4.     I don’t have a name for these – Side Stretchers – feet about shoulder width apart.  Raise your right arm straight up towards the ceiling until you feel the stretch.  Hold that a moment or two.  Keep the right arm at full extension, and slowly bend it towards your left side.  You are moving the hand over your head and staying in line with your body.  You are sort of making a reverse letter “c”.  If you were supremely flexible, you would end this by touching your left hip or knee (that is not the goal just a visual.)  Once you have moved the hand and arm over your head, in line with your body, allow your left side to continue to bend, helping you right hand in it’s quest for your left side.  Go until you feel the stretch then stop and hold it.      You should be able to feel this stretch up and down most of your right side.  From below your right arm pit, down your side and even down the outside of your right leg.  Hold the pose for several breaths.  Bounce in it a little if you want.  Do it on the other side.

5.     Another one I don’t have a name for – Twisty McGee’s – Feet Shoulder width apart.  Exact position of your arms is not critical, find something that feels good to you.  I raise my arms up below shoulder level, but above nipple level with my elbows sticking out and my hands facing each other.  This puts your “wings” parallel to the floor.  Use your right elbow to lead you and your whole body around towards your back.  Keep your feet planted and try to twist around as far as you can.  When you hit your max twist point, bounce there about 3 times.  Then go to the left.  Do each side 10 times.  It sounds and seems (and is) really simple, but it really loosens up a lot of muscles in different places in one simple motion.  You will be stretching your neck, parts of your upper body, your mid section, your hips, your knees, and I even get an occasional ankle pop out of the deal.

Next Time on Stretching: Standing Leg Stretches!

Good Stretching Article posted on my Facebark Page – i need to try these out to see if my this is my problem area

Stretches from Runner’s World – i just started doing some of these

Better Legs?

Ran 1.8 Pace 10.6 min/mile

50 crunch/25 leg/10 push

I felt better tonight than yesterday.  I thought i was going faster, and i was, but not as fast as i thought.  No worries.  I am not trying to reach a specific pace, just monitoring what i am doing.  My legs did feel better.  The tightness i have been experiencing is in a weird spot, the lower outside section of my quads.  I have not figured out how to stretch there.  I keep trying, but i don’t feel it until i run…

I have been trying Kelly’s Chi Running.  I like it and think that it is a good long term move.  The only real problem i am having is that when i do focus on shifting my center of gravity a little forward, i end up running faster than i feel ready for.  I think this could be related to the fluctuation in my pace from pre-Chi running to post-Chi running.  I feel like i am going faster, getting pulled along by gravity, but i fight it – which results in some weird pacing…I don’t know.  We shall see with time.

I stopped a little sooner than expected due to a slowly developing stitch in my side. If i had been under 1.5, i probably would have kept running.  Over 1.5 i decided to stop and fast walk on to the house.  The stitch went away quickly and i feel fine and am breathing well.

Quick side note about an added benefit of not smoking or drinking coffee: My Teeth Are Getting Whiter!

Quickly to the digits

Went to the Big K today and bought some $7.00 sweatpants so i don’t have to run in my zero degree Under Armor leggings or shorts.

Ran – 2.01 miles Pace – 10:15

50 crunch/25 leg/10 push

Pace a little slower, but my legs were a little tight.

Started back on Calcium and added Glucosamine/Chondroitin to the mix.

more on the Gizmo and some health

I do think i will really enjoy this sportsband+ thing.  Today:

Ran 1.86 Miles Pace 9.45 min/mile

50 crunch/25 leg/10 push

Now that i have two runs uploaded to my nike account, there is more info in there to use for whatever we are supposed to use the info for…Seriously, it will show you graphically how your tempo was, where you were slow or fast.  Comparing your pace and distances over time should also be neat.  I don’t know how much i will play with that side of things.  I was mostly excited about the basic features.  I don’t own a watch, so timing my runs was difficult.  I like to run on paths and through woods and not stick to the roads, which makes calculating distance difficult.  Having a little device do it for me and update me live while running (if it is light enough to see outside) is really cool.

For instance, on today’s run.  I knew i wanted to make 1.5 miles if my legs felt up to it.  The voice of my body is primary in any of these decisions, but to look down and verify, “yep, past 1.5” and decide to walk in the rest of the way as a cool-down was nice.  I could have done 2, probably even 2.5, but i am trying to stick to my long-term plan – a little at a time, repeat, and add a little more.

Another use/side goal is to be getting at least 20 minutes of good cardio workout time each day.  I knew that i was not up to 20 minutes on my past 6-7 runs, and i did not quite get there today, but i am very close, and building a sustainable program.  I think this is going to help repair my lungs and strengthen my heart, which would be good.  I can already feel a huge difference in my lungs.  8 days ago my chest was a little tight and i was getting short of breath easily and quickly.  Now my lung capacity is much improved, the airways are more clear, i have no tightness, and i am not getting winded even in my running.  I can tell that there is still a long way to go.  I can start a run breathing through my nose, but after a half mile or so, i have to mix in some mouth breathing to get enough air into my lungs.  I can tell that my nasal passages are better than they were, but not really back to good yet.

The Tracking Gizmo

I like the new data toy.  It did take me a few tries to get it started correctly, so i lost about 2 tenths at the beginning of the run.  Then i got it sorted and it was nice!  I put a little extra tail on the run to figure out some new future routes and to run off a little extra excitement.  Yet again, i stopped and stretched and cooled down and did my exercises and i wanna go back out!  For me, this is the way to go.  Always leave them wanting more…

Ran 1.3 miles Pace 9:44 min/mile

50 crunches

25 leg lifts

10 push-ups

and i’m out.

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