Saturday, June 23, 2018

Good News, Bad News

Good news: training this spring went well.  Just like I have shared in recent months, nearly all of my performances continued to improve: better strength, better muscular endurance, more power, faster running.  The progression has been toward greater, general fitness.

Bad news: I went on holiday.  The trip was exceptional, but after a week off from intense training, only walking, I struggled to get moving again.  I was very sluggish in all my workouts.

Good news: the second week after my holiday, I felt a lot better.  Apparently, it just took a while to get going again.  After about a week or so of normal training, I felt like I had prior to the break.

Bad news: I strained a calf muscle while running (right lateral gastrocnemius, if anyone cares).  It came from nowhere.  I was halfway through a workout, well warmed up.  Over a span of 5 strides or so, the pain appeared and increased to a moderate level and I stopped.  Unfortunately, I had to walk (limp) about 2 miles back to the gym where my bicycle was parked.

Good News: I recovered.  After 2 weeks of no running--I could do just about anything else, then 2 weeks of easy running, as well as some Kinesiotape/Rock Tape from Pat, I was good to go.

Bad news: that break put me behind schedule.

Good News: I adapt.  I am back at it, continuing to set and achieve short term goals.  My running continues to improve--every 5k time trial this year has been faster than the last.  My legs and core certainly continue to show strength and endurance improvements too.  So, it is all good!

But what does it all mean?

  • If I train smart, I still have the potential to improve, even at 47 years old--strength, speed, endurance, etcetera.
  • Even at my current training intensity, I need fewer rest days.
  • My strength training is helping my running improve.
  • S**t happens.  My calf injury was probably a side effect of my age.  I just have to do my best to prevent that sort of thing, knowing that another muscle or joint might get irritated in the future.
I continue to learn...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March-ing Forward

I think my decades of learning and experience, along with my recent consistency, are overcoming the disadvantage of my increasing age!  My progress continues--I am making regular, small but measurable, steps forward with my fitness and performance.

My February challenges achieved (some spilled into March):
  • 100 burpees without rest:  DONE
  • 100 leg lifts without rest:  DONE
  • 200 walking lunges without rest:  DONE
  • 18 dips:  DONE
  • 90 floors on the step mill in 15 minutes: DONE, 93 floors
  • 5k run:  improved my most recent time by over 45 seconds
  • Goal paces on training runs: ALL MET
Challenges not yet achieved:
  • 50 push ups: progressed to 38
  • 50 military/Pilates push ups:  progressed to 34
  • 7 pull ups, underhand: progressed to 6
  • 4000m on the rower in 15 minutes:  improved to 3536m
  • 1-minute power, riding my bike on the rollers: my average is up
So, the program is working!  Most importantly, my running is improving.  I still have a long way to go to match my previous running peak performance, but I remain healthy and I seem to be on the right path.

Last week was a relative recovery week.  I have two more hard training weeks using the same program, then about 10 days of vacation/holiday.  After that, I might change things a bit.  The days will be longer and hopefully the weather will be more consistently nice.  I may add outdoor cycling to my routine.

My rocket

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Early 2018 Progress

Yes: progress, indeed!  I have been working hard, consistently, with objective improvements.

February 2017
Reviewing my January challenges, I  met 2 of 4.  I completed the 12 runs and my sit up challenge.  I did not complete the push up and squat challenges, because Pat and I joined a gym and I changed my routine as a result.  The gym has been great!  Lots of toys and it is close to the beach where I can run on the 2-mile flat promenade and enjoy the great view and sea air.

This month, I started a new running regimen, using the FIRST 5k program.  I have completed 5 runs so far, easily achieving the goal paces for each.  Woo hoo!  I also weighed myself today and I am down, as is my body fat percentage.  I already knew this though, because I could easily use the second hole in my brown belt!

I set more challenges for this month:

  • 100 burpees without rest--I'm up to 55;
  • 100 leg lifts without rest, on my back, anchored with my hands--I'm up to 65;
  • 200 walking lunges without rest--150 so far;
  • 50 push ups--33 so far;
  • 50 military/Pilates push ups--30 so far;
  • 7 pull ups, underhand--my initial benchmark was 4;
  • 18 dips--initial benchmark was 12; 15 today;
  • 90 floors on the step mill in 15 minutes--I'm up to 88; already exceeded my first goal of 75;
  • 4000m on the rower in 15 minutes--benchmark was 3257.
  • I'm also working on my 1-minute power, riding my bike on the rollers.

I have found these challenges to be motivational and a good guide for my strength workouts.  This, along with my new running plan, has certainly helped my consistency with training during the first 6 weeks or so of 2018.

I have also set my long-term goals for the year:

        1. run the Great Aberdeen 10k again in August at PR pace;
        2. compete in the hill race at the Braemar Gathering (1 week later.)

Here I go...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New Year Goals

The festive holidays are over--time to get back to work.  I am generally not a fan of new year's resolutions.  I think it is better to set goals.  Here are my thoughts on goals from 2012.

Like most people, my training was interrupted by Christmas and New Year and sabotaged somewhat by overindulging.  Life happens!  And, I want to enjoy it!  But, as I said, time to get back to work.

I do not set new year's resolutions, but I have looked at races this year that I may run (long-term goals) and considered how best to get there (short-term goals).  My plan starts this month with getting back into a routine and doing some general base training.  Part of my plan includes a few challenges I set for myself:

1. Complete twelve 3-mile runs in January.
2. Work up to 300 air squats, starting with 30, adding 30 each time, resting as little as possible.
3. Same for sit ups.
4. Same for military/Pilates-style push ups.

I will fill in my weekly plan with cycling (power intervals on the rollers) and CrossFit-style workouts, i.e. cardio 5-7 days/week and strength 1-2 times 5-7 days/week.

As soon as we can finish all the rich, festive food in the house--I hate to be wasteful--I will start somewhat of a detox/cleanse/reset, essentially by eating clean.

Best wishes to you all with your resolutions or goals for your health, fitness, and training in 2018!  We can do it!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Is It working?

I wrote recently about my goals, how I currently train, creating and finding motivation, and a little about my running routine.  Apparently a few people have found this interesting--at least they clicked on the link!  When I have spoken to people in the past about working toward a goal, I told them to set the goal, develop a plan to achieve their goal, work the plan, then reassess.  Essentially, I have told you about the first three steps in my personal program.  Now, it is time for me to reassess.

Yes!  It is working, at least in some areas.  I have not taken a lot of measurements and a lot is subjective, but that can be positive as well.

1.  I am feeling better at the beginning of my runs, even if I do not warm up.  The legs are responding to a moderate pace right away.

2.  I have been sore.  This is great!  I am actually working hard enough to earn delayed onset muscle soreness.  Previously, I had thought I was working hard but would not be sore.  I think this is a direct result of doing the CrossFit-style workouts, logging my times/weights/rounds, and working each time to do better.  I have PR'ed almost every workout in the last 8-ish weeks!

3.  I hopped on the scales once recently--the first time in months.  My weight was slightly up, but my percent body fat was down.  Thus, lean body mass was up which means, more muscle!  At least that is the inference I am making.  Of course, there is error to consider along with water...probably some other stuff if I thought about it.  Whatever!

4.  I have changed my running routine a bit, so I cannot be sure if I am yet any faster.  As I have already said though, I feel good in the Merrells and I feel good at the start of each run, certainly better than in previous months.

5.  My watts on the bike are going up.  I am getting off the bike afterward completely spent too.

So, the plan is working; at least I am moving in the right direction.  I have made some minor changes in the routine, but I will write about that later.

Thanks for reading.  I hope someone is deriving some benefit from me sharing my journey.  I know writing about it is helping me.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Minimalist Running

Great shoes for rowing, by the way.
Several years ago I tried barefoot running.  I will not bore you with why, but I did it.  I tried the Vibram Five Fingers and later had two pairs of Merrell minimalist shoes--one for trails and one for roads.  I covered a lot of miles in all of them, even a few half marathons.  At one point, I bought another pair of more traditional running shoes, a New Balance stability shoe.  I think this was after I hurt my foot and I returned to running.  Some would blame the minimalist running for my foot injury--maybe; maybe not.

My point is: I am back in my Merrells (I discarded the others prior to the move.)  I had been thinking that I needed to lose some weight before I ran in them again.  However, I tried them on a short run during the summer and I felt fine.  I do not run in them all the time right now, but I am doing most short runs and speed work in them.

As an older runner, i.e. over 40, I need to protect my feet and ankles as they account for about 50% of all injuries in runners over 40 or so.  I also have an annoying on-again-off-again case of what I believe to be posterior tibialis tendinopathy (sore foot in simple terms) that I need to manage.  To do this I have been doing work in the agility ladder (also good for the hip musculature which will help protect the knee) and I do a lot of strength workouts, including some plyometrics, barefoot (in my living room).

Result: my feet are feeling good in the Merrells and I think I am faster in them.  Bonus!  Also, I think I may be tripping less often.  So, when the barefoot running craze comes back around, be sure to strengthen your feet first.

This is what I run in now, most of the time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


After my recent vacation, I returned home with a souvenir head cold.  Awesome!  So, my planned rest break (other than thirty miles of walking in three days in Italy) was extended, although it was not what I would describe as quality recovery time.  On the tenth day after my last pre-vacation workout, I completed some running hill repeats and a strength workout.  The next day I was tired, a little sore, I had a headache and was still feeling the symptoms of my cold, blah blah blah... I was compiling excuses not to work out.  Even with all my fitness and health-related degrees and credentials and years of experience in the exercise field and in training myself, I still struggle with motivation at times.

Then, I got a message from my good friend, Sarah, through Facebook Messenger:  "Working out today?"  @%$&!  "Well, I am now!!"  I replied.  As I told her, the message was just the kick in the butt I needed.  We continued chatting and I told her what workouts I had planned.  Then, I proceeded to destroy two CrossFit-style workouts and run some hill repeats.  Without Sarah's initial nudge and subsequent conversation, none of that would have happened.

I have written about ten different CrossFit-style workouts for myself, all with time or repetition goals--goals that I can attempt to beat each time I do them.  Over the last month or so, I have improved nearly every workout each time.  After at least two of the workouts, I have had to lie down on the floor for a few minutes to recover.  I have also set power goals for my cycling workouts which I have been doing on my rollers.  During my planned thirty-minute ride over the weekend, I had to stop at about fifteen minutes, because I was exhausted after killing my one-minute power goal during three intervals.  So, my programming is forcing me to work harder.

My point is, motivation can come from different sources.  Sometimes you need a nudge from someone else--look for this.  You can also create your own self-motivation with goal setting.

This is the guy I'm looking for in the mirror
(2010 Tri-ing to Help)