Monday, January 31, 2011

Muscles Like Arnold

This is always a strange day for me. It is strength and stretch day as scheduled. I have a basement full of weights, machines, bikes, treadmill, stair stepper and other various pieces of equipment (I could train Manny Paqiou down there) but I don't visit it often anymore. I ventured into the sub level and did bench presses, dead lifts, squats, dips, decline bench sit-ups and different stretches. I stretched mostly my legs and my back. I hope this leads somewhere. No matter what good lifting comes to my running.....I'd rather have just gone running. But I'm sticking with the program. I always do well when I do.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy weight lifting. I used to do it almost exclusively but I can't really lift with my grand daughter. But she will run with me. I'm looking forward to her and I traveling to some races this spring and summer and just having fun. We don't compete, we enjoy. As for the weights, I'm getting used to it but a strange thing. I always feel like I'm cheating on my running when I work out with weights. But I never feel like I'm missing anything when I run. On the good side though......I forgot how much I miss Sportscenter in the morning. I get to do that again and it's a shame to say but that is my favorite part of the weight lifting.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Could Run For Miles..........

I went to the fitness center and ran my scheduled 5 miler this morning. That gave me 21 miles for the week, about where I wanted to be. I remember the days when I used to hit 50 miles a week, every week. Maybe I'll get back to that but I'm not sure I even need to. The prevailing wisdom of the day is less miles but quality miles. Unless you are planning on trying to win the marathon, less miles with one weekly long run is the norm. I know it will allow me to stay in the game longer. On a side note, the scales at Wood's Fitness say I gained three pounds this week. That is just crazy.

It's a strange thing about running. If you are into it like I am and all the runners I read about, your feeling about the sport is like no other I can think of. The more you run, the more you want to.......well, run. I came home after chopping along on my 5 miler, worked on the house for awhile and then wanted to go back to "the mill" and run some more. I resisted the urge. You can hurt yourself that way. I wanted to run some more and I couldn't figure out exactly why. "Our sport is your sports punishment." I've heard that lately and it hit me how true it is. If you screw up in football, they make you run laps. In any team sport, you mess something up and you take laps as punishment. Runners on the other hand not only run extensive distances, but actually seek out hills, deserts, trails and any other obstacle that will make it more difficult. And enjoy it.

I'm glad I'm a runner. It doesn't cost much, you can do it anytime, you can do it by yourself every time if you want, and to throw it in for good measure, what other sport can you compete in at a high level and listen to music and pod casts at the same time. If you think of one....write me a note,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chompin' At The Bit But Sittin' In The Barn.

RECOVERY DAY! Actually it's a day later than it was supposed to be but that's alright. I ran yesterday, as I mentioned and I was supposed to rest. I'm still proud of myself for getting up on a cold winter morning and driving to the gym to complete a run so I wouldn't have to miss a workout. Only running makes me feel like that. I think I would feel guilty if I didn't complete my schedule.

I bought something the other day. Maybe I mentioned it yesterday. I ordered an sock pouch for my Nike + sensor. It's actually a little pouch that sits on top of your shoe attacked to your laces by Velcro. It's very sturdy and well made. Now if only it works. It's black so it's almost unnoticeable on my shoes. I can't wait to try it out tomorrow.

Sunday is my long day at the gym. I so wish I could run outside. I see all these pictures in magazines of runners romping through snow over mountain trails and long stretches of country roads. There is nothing like that here until the ice melts. It would be a huge risk to run my neighborhood in the dark on ice....a risk I'm not gonna take.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Surprise Of The Day

I ran 3 miles at Wood's Fitness this morning in just about 40 minutes and it came as quite a surprise. I hadn't slept well and the previous night I had to take Ibuprofen for my aching legs. In the evening they had begun to feel like I had a tight rubber band a around my calves and the feeling was akin to feeling the blood being cut off to my lower legs. The medicine worked quickly but I still faced another dilema.

My schedule called for me to take today off as a recovery day and then run 3 miles on Saturday. This was nearly impossible. The gym opened late on Saturday and the roads were completely impassable and dangerous to run in the dark due to the deep snow and ice. I was trying to I run today on tired, aching legs and take tomorrow off? Or do I take today off as scheduled and chance a run on ice in the dark? That was actually an easy decision because I wasn't going to run on ice in the dark. Should I take two days off? This was all going through my head at 4:30 am and I finally made up my mind. I jumped out of bed and went to the gym. I figured if I had to walk the damn three miles I would walk, but I didn't want to miss my workout.

I started my easy jog to warm up and was surprised to find that my legs didn't ache or even feel tired. I wasn't springy but I felt light and strong. I powered through the three miles well, at times hitting 6 mph for short bursts but mostly just keeping a steady pace. I surprised myself. I guess you never know how your body really feels until you ask it to do something for you. Today I asked...... and to my relief, it said OK.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dean Karnazes UltraMarathon Man

I stated out my day with 50 push-ups and 250 bench crunches. My plan called for strength work and that seemed like work to me.  That was followed by a trip to the fitness center where i did a 45 minute run. I actually covered just about 3.5 miles but my Nike app said I had run over four miles. I didn't cover that much ground. I'm going to have to figure out how to calibrate that sucker. I like the Nike Plus app though. I can listen to pod casts while I'm using the app to map my run. That is very cool.

I've gone on a shopping spree on Amazon the last couple of days. I have a book coming by Dean Karnazes (featured above) called Confessions Of A Night Time Runner. I also bought a runners shoe pouch for my Nike Sportsband sensor. I'll be dammed if I give up on getting that working.

I was tired and sore today and I ran slowly. I've pumped up the running alot lately. I should take tomorrow's on my schedule....but the gym opens late on Saturday so I will probably run tomorrow and take the next day off. I also weighed in at WF. I went under 180 lbs on their scale for the first time ever. That, at least, was good news.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Like A Speeding Bullet...........

I went to the gym today with a little trepidation. My schedule called for five quarter mile intervals to be held for the fastest possible speed. I was planning to hold a pace of ten minute miles and just hoped for the best. I easily breezed through this workout with just a slight hitch. The entire workout was 45 minutes total and I wish I had more time because I was feeling so good and that damn warm up got me again.

I run first thing in the morning because often I don't get home until 8:00 pm or so. By that time I'm hungry, tired and mentally beat up. I also am very much a morning person so it is very much to my advantage to workout in the morning. But that involves the time issue. I only have about and hour to drive to the gym, do my run and drive home until I frantically run around the house getting ready for work. That is the problem. It doesn't leave me with enough time for an adequate warm-up.

I ran for about 15 minutes and then started my first interval. I suffered at a ten minute mile pace, continued my quarter but had to lower the speed to 5 mph. That pissed me off. I thought about this as I walked a quarter for recovery and then took off again. This time I was able to maintain 5.5 mph with just a little struggle. The point is, that the last two interval quarters were both at ten minute pace done fairly comfortably. I should have been struggling with the last two but I felt much better by far than before. That damn warm-up. I'm going to have to remember I'm old now. I need a long warm up period and before it counts, in the race, I'm gonna be hot and sweaty before I toe the line.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tin Man From The Wizard of Oz

I ran well this morning at Wood's Fitness I guess. My goal was to cover my 3 miles in under 40 minutes. I managed to cover 3.77 miles in a little over 39 minutes so my run was a great success. But I certainly learned the benefits of a good warm-up. I suppose before a timed run I should jog a little or walk a little and drink some water maybe. Probably do all of those thing and THEN start my timed run but noooooooo. I jumped on the treadmill and took off like a Banshee. My first mile I felt clunky like a rusty old robot. I struggled between running quickly and having to walk just to get my breath. But then, I began to get warm and I felt like a great sailing vessel.

The second half of my run was well paced with bursts of speed that had the numbers on the treadmill computer board rolling around like icons on a gambling machine. Well, not that fast but I was hauling ass. I ended up covering more ground than I thought I would in the time I had allowed even with the struggles at the beginning. I started to feel my muscles warm and work together. I felt my abs control my breathing, my diaphragm pull and push my lungs and help me breath. I could feel my hamstrings push with every step and my quads easily pass the energy of my legs back into my backstroke.

I know this sounds very poetic, but when something goes right...when something comes together and it works and you feel lifted, that carries you along as a runner. I had fun today. And I can't wait to run again tomorrow.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Time To Muscle Up

     Today I lifted weights for the first time in a long time. I couldn't wait to start my new half marathon program so I started it a week early and the first thing it called for was strength straining and stretches. I've collected weight for years so my basement looks like Gold's Gym. I had plenty or iron to throw around. I did a full body workout consisting of bench presses, incline benches, lat pulls, bar rows, dips, squats and decline bench sit-ups. It took me about 37 minutes and I still feel pumped.

I hope this makes me a better runner. I'm not sure how it could. Most of the runners I know are skinny and not well defined, especially the really good ones. But the training schedule talks about muscle balance and strength in your hips and lots of things I still don't know how they pertain to running but I did the workout and enjoyed it. I must admit though that the best part of working out downstairs was being able to watch Sportscenter on ESPN and watching replays of the Steelers kicking the Jets ASS! to move on to the Super Bowl. That was easily the best part.

I hope I don't swell up and get muscle bound. I stumble along as it is without carrying muscles like Arnold. I'm only kidding about that. I've lifted on and off for most of my life and people can't tell. just sad. I'll get over it. I'm already looking forward to tomorrow morning's run.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Phidippides The Stud Muffin

I ran 70 minutes on the treadmill today. I went to Woods Fitness and found my favorite treadmill (the quiet one) and ran the longest run I've done all year. And I got 20 miles in for the week. That might not sound like anything to a long distance runner but 20 miles in a week is nothing to sniff at. That's four runs of five miles, or five runs of four miles or, as I do it, a mix of sprints, hill repeats, short tempo runs and my very important Sunday long run. But it is not, under any circumstances sitting on the couch eating Bon Bons. I also weighed myself after the run in my sweaty running clothes and weighed in at 181 pounds. That is the lowest I've shown on that scale since I've been going to the center.

I listened to a podcast as I always do while I ran. It was unusual to say the least. The podcast is called the100mile Endurance podcast and the voice of the pod was having a meltdown. He had DNF'd a couple of one hundred mile races this year and just completed a disappointing marathon and he was ranting about giving it all up! I mean the podcast, the racing.....everything. I listened and took heart in it. If a guy that devoted and talented could get to the point of depression like that and recover from it, it made me feel that my times of "is it all worth it" weren't that unusual. I can't wait to see if he is back on his podcast next week. I bet he is.

I felt good today. I found a good pace albeit a slow one. I got into a rhythm of running fast for four minutes and walking one minute while I toweled off and took some water. I have no intention of making this my strategy but today it worked. And the time flew by and I felt fresher and stronger after 70 minutes than I had on some of my hour long runs. I firmly believe that as you see yourself, so shall you feel and perform. And today, for 70 minutes. I was Phidippides The Stud Muffin. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bummed Out

     It's a scheduled Recovery day and I'm bummed out. I woke up rested and ready to go but the schedule says today is a day off. I've found long ago that I work much better, at anything for that matter, when I have a schedule to follow. I am just anal retentive enough that if a schedule says I'm supposed to do something like, for example, get out of bed at 5:30, walk through a blizzard and do hill repeats,  I have a tendency to do just that. Today's schedule said it was a recovery day even though I wanted to run.
     I don't know if it a concession to my age or the new wave of training but I don't run as many days as I use to. I remember once running every day straight from January 1st to the end of August without ever missing a day. Today's running gurus would say that is nuts. But in the old days that was the way it was done. If you took a day off, you were considered a bit of a puss. Today, the conventional wisdom is to run maybe four times a week, cross train and lift weights. Starting January 31st, I officially start on a program to run a half marathon, the Ogden Half Marathon in Wheeling, and my schedule calls for just that. I guess I'll get use to it.
     My biggest concern right now is that, because of the terrible weather we have been having, I actually haven't run outside the entire 22 days of this year. That is sacrilege but better that I'm hammering on the treadmill than not running at all.


Miles per hour
Calories burned*
in 30 minutes
     This is all I have to go by so for now it will have to do. I'm having a good time and improving rapidly so it's doing no harm. But I long for the fall when it was cool and dry and sunny, and I ran like a gazelle. I'm just shittin' ya actually. I just sort of shuffled along then too. It's OK. I've discovered podcasts and audiobooks and there are a surprising amount of books and podcasts about running and endurance racing. When I'm listening to a guy talk about how great the 100 mile Leadville race was in Colorado, it helps me suck up the last mile I have to run in my Sunday five miler.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Shoot Out At Donner Pass

Today was a test of dedication. I got out of bed at 5:30 am, dressed and readied myself and waded through 8" of snow to go to the gym to do hill repeats! Hill Repeats! Not exactly my (or anyone else I know) favorite workout. It was 16 degrees with a wind chill of -5* and I went to Woods Fitness and sweated out 10 x 30 seconds at 10* of elevation and at a pace of 5 mph. I cut the workout down from 45 minutes to 35 minutes only because it took me so long to get dressed and clean off the car to get to the gym, that if I didn't leave, I was gonna be late for work. Needless to say I had the gym to myself.

I saw an old truck in the parking lot. I can only assume that it belonged to the guy who unlocked the door to the gym. I looked over at the row of treadmills and saw emptiness. I've never seen that before even under the most dire of weather emergencies. I had my pick of all the machines so I took the one by the wall out of sight of the old guy at the counter. When I do hill repeats, after a proper warm-up I set the machine at 10* elevation and 5 mph pace and leave it running. I stand on the sides of the treadmill and jump on, running furiously and then pop off the machine and pace around the machines to keep moving as my recovery. Then when properly rested, I jump back on and repeat. It would look strange to the usual members of the gym who walk on the treadmills and read hopping and sprinting and I was glad to have the place to myself. I have though, on many occasions, done this workout in a room full of startled innocents. I can't begin to describe the stares and shocked looks I get.

Anywho, I got this one in and it was a dandy. I was still destroyed from yesterdays fiasco with the late afternoon workout after moving furniture. And I lost ten minutes but I DO have the satisfaction of know I got one in under Donner Pass conditions that a lesser man would have slept through. I am a hero in my mind.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Atlas Carries The World.........

I went to Woods Fitness Center and ran for 45 minutes, mostly at a 5 mph pace. That is outstanding for me. I have been wanting to push myself like that but I hadn't. I knew I would be panting and sweating profusely at times and I didn't really want to do that in front of the early morning crowd. The only thing worse than watching an old man sweat is watching him eat. I excuse myself from that group usually. I don't eat like an old man.

This run was especially tough because our new furniture came for our rec room today....and the rec room is forty feet up a winding staircase on the fourth floor of the house. I'm sure the movers were cursing me but I patted them on the ass, slipped them a fiddy and told them to have a nice day. The tough part was I helped them carry a room full of furniture up those forty feet and THEN had a bunch of miles to run. I was whipped before I ever got to the treadmill.

The snow is supposed to fall hard and deep tonight. Tomorrow the plan is for hill repeats and, as usual, I will be doing them on the treadmill. It's a good thing I'm driving my Subaru. There are days when I've had the gym all to myself because nobody else could get there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ain't To Proud To Beg......

Recovery Day! This one wasn't as much planned as simply forced on me. You know how the say, "Listen to your body?" At 5:30 am my body was saying, "Where are you going? You suck. My knees hurt. Today was supposed to be a rest day. What are you trying to pull." My body doesn't talk to me, it shouts at times. So I beg back to it. "You'll be OK. Just get up and get started and you'll be fine. We'll just run easy today." So I got up to take a morning whizz and my knees ached all the way into the bathroom and all the way back to bed where I got back in and cuddled with Chewie. He was body was happy...and no amount of begging convinced my body that today's scheduled rest day was gonna be anything but a rest day.

I don't know if I mentioned my ongoing battle with Nike over my $65 dollar Sport band that I bought. As part of my renewed dedication to running I figured I would collect some decent gizmo's  and use them to keep me motivated. Trinkets to satisfy my Techie soul. So I shelled out the $65 and got the band and it has never worked once. I've had it listing me as running 45 minutes and racking up 0.9 miles total. Once a ran an hour and it recorded me running three separate times that day, all sucking badly. So I wrote Nike to complain.

I got an overly nice e-mail back saying that I was a moron and probably using it wrong. It ask me, "Do you have the right shoes? Are you walking around priming the band before you run? Is it placed correctly in the shoe?" I got alot more questions than I got answers. So I went to the mall, plunked down $85 for the new Nike free shoes which haven't come yet and fooled around with the sports band some more. I wasn't any better at it than before. So I wrote them again.

I told them I have about five pairs of Nike shoes, I have this Nike sports band that won't work with any of them and just spent another $85 on a NEW pair of Nike Free's. They wrote back, " The Nike Free shoe isn't Nike+ ready either and maybe if we send you the download for the sport bands owners manual that might help. NOW I get a manual on how this works AFTER I've spent a fortune and still am not ready to use it. Also, I have five pairs of Nike shoes that are useless now, including my new ones.

I fired off a new e-mail....I must admit I was hostile and profane at this point....and so far I've heard no answer from Nike. The manual is 36 pages, 36 PAGES on how to make this little band work properly. When my new shoes come, and if this band doesn't work after I read the manual, I'm gonna return the band and the shoes and the manual and tell them to stuff them up their asses. Oh, I won't quit running but I've hear Under Armour is making some nice stuff now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

I don't think I will ever get used to getting up at 5:30 am, trying to get in my morning poop and still make it to the gym by 6:30 or so, driving over icy roads, to run intervals. Unless under direct threat of danger, nobody gets out of bed and starts sprinting any-damn-where. It is absolutely contrary to nature. I've seen National Geographic. Those lions stretch and yawn and fart around all day before they chase down a cape buffalo or wildebeest. But me, I go to the gym and sprint before my morning pee. Too much about bodily functions? Sorry I'll stop.

Intervals work....that is the only reason I do them. There is no denying that. And even better, they improve your sprinting ability very quickly. I do a harder workout each week on interval day and I'm always surprised that it wasn't quite the agony I expected. Good for me.

Today I did 45 minutes of: 3 x 90 seconds at 6 mph which is a warm-up, then 4 x 60 seconds at 7 mph and then 3 x 45 seconds at 8 mph. They may be pedestrian to most of you but that is the Flash to me. That is just flat out killing it, especially since I didn't croak. Actually, I got better as I moved along. My last sprints were my most comfortable. I wonder if I should do more intervals, increase the actual number or just run the same but faster. I also need to do longer intervals. There are definitely lots of combinations. But you can't go wrong. A good friend and a good racer once told me, "The only way to learn to run to run faster."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It Would Have Killed A Lesser Man........

I went to Woods Fitness, my home away from home, and did a miserably slow 60 minute run on the treadmill. It was miserably slow because I was hung over from the previous night. This is playoff season and the Steelers came back from a 21 - 7 deficit against the hated Ravens and won on a 58 yard pass followed by a short dive into the end zone with 1:33 left in the game. I'm glad I wasn't watching the game with my son. He gets unwound over Steeler games. This one probably came close to stroking him out. Next week we play the winner of the Jets and the Patriots for the Super Bowl. If the Jets win today, the Steelers are gonna win another Super Bowl. If the Patriots win, our season is over next week. I hate to say it but our team can't beat the Patriots in Fox-borough. They are our Kryptonite.

We went to the Mall today and dropped over a grand in about three hours. Brenda bought furniture and a dress for the princess teenager love of my life. That added up to about eight fiddy. I bought a new pair of Nike Free running shoes for a hundred and then dinner at the Longhorn. All together we spent  almost twelve hundred bucks. That's just crazy........except for the shoes of course.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Recovery Means A Little More Than Rest

Today is the long awaited Recovery day. It's not that I have been humping nonstop for weeks or months though. Every workout I do as a runner has a purpose. When I do intervals, a tempo run and then hill repeats back to back to back...recovery means "get your shit together and give your body a break." Also it is the rest day before my long run which I hope to do outside for the first time in 2011. My roads in the hills of West Virginia have been covered with deep snow for a long time.

Today I got a bit of a shocker. I got out of bed and felt light and fit which is the best time to weigh yourself. I never weigh myself if I'm not mentally prepared which is maybe cowardly on my part but screw it. If I don't anticipate positive results it's never a good weigh in. I went to my gym downstairs, stripped to my birthday suit and jumped on my usually uncooperative scales. The big numbers rolled around and settled on 165 lbs. 165 pounds?? I haven't seen the 160's in a year or so. That was a huge lift for me. I can't wait to tackle the road tomorrow morning, swiftly moving along on my new found thinner legs.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gramma Was Slow.....But She Was Old.

Because of the malfunction of my new Nike+ Sportsband during this am run, my Nike Running website shows me covering .91 miles in 39:41.

That's a startling 45 min. per mile pace. Amazing. I gonna have to get a handle on this. I love the technology and I'm sure I will whip doubt......but Jesus! The sooner the better!

Speaking of technology, although this is very low tech, I am amazed listening to my audiobook, Chicken Soup For The Soul For Runners, on my new I-Phone, going back and forth to work. That is a great thing being able to absorb a book while driving. Little things amuse little minds they say.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Renewed Dedication

I'm turning sixty years old this year and I've decided to change things up a little. I've always been an athlete. I've played basketball, actually all the team sports, with varied success. I've played alot of tennis, very much an individual event, and I enjoyed it. Lifting weights gives you a great pump and a feeling of accomplishment but it is only a means to an end. There is no reason to lift weights just to lift unless it equates to a sports use. At least not for me....I'll never compete in it.  But I've always loved to run. More than anything, I love to run.

I've been asked why a million times, as we all have, and I think I finally know why. I actually know, at the bottom line level, what I like about the sport of running. It is the means to an end and the end itself. And not many things can say that. Let me explain.

I love the self locomotion of running. There is something about covering ground using nothing but your own power that lifts me. It is an awareness that I don't need a devise to get me home or to the store or for a trip around the neighborhood. You simply put on your shoes and go. Once I got a flat tire while at a strip mall a few miles from my house. I discovered that I didn't have a tire tool and was standing there staring at the car. I was wearing cargo shorts, a t-shirt and river sandals and it occurred to me. Run home and get a tire tool. I ran easily for the few miles to my house, grabbed the tire tool and ran back. I didn't even think to call my wife and sit in the heat waiting for her to figure out what a tire tool looked like and bring it to me. I ran and got it.

I also figured out that you can run for simply the benefits of health. And along the way you get better at it and if you decide to race, the fun and healthy sport that you have so enjoyed just so happened to get you in shape for a sport exactly like you were doing for fun. Think of that. You lift weights to play football or basketball, rarely to actually compete in weight lifting. But you run simply to run. Fast or slow, it doesn't matter. You run to run, alone or with a fast pack with a tag pinned to your chest, it's all the same. You just might dress better on race day.

So I have committed myself to run races this year that I turn sixty. I committed myself to a training schedule, got my Nike+ app for my phone and started my blog. I have decided that knowing that I love to run, I'm gonna run.