Wednesday, October 10, 2018

One-arm Push-ups!

They probably look more like Jack Palance than Rocky, but...

I recently started doing one-arm push-ups.  To be clear, I did not just rip through a set of ten or twenty one day.  In fact, I have yet to do that many.  However, I am progressing.  Here is what I did:
  • I occasionally did some standing in the kitchen with one arm on the counter, leaning at about 45 degrees.
  • One day I decided to attempt doing one on the floor...and failed.
  • Several days later I tried again and completed one on each side.
  • I then set a goal to complete three on each side.
  • A week or two later, I met that goal and set a goal of five each.
  • This morning, I completed six on the right and five on the left.
  • I am working toward eight each now.
Woo-hoo!  I would generally describe my upper body as being a weakness for me--it always has been--so this is a break-through, further enhanced by my age. Obviously, this is pretty cool for me, but why am I sharing?
  1. Push yourself!  Try something new!  You might surprise yourself.  This is how you become better than you were yesterday.
  2. Set a goal: it gives you a vision, an objective to work toward.
  3. Gradual progression:  just try to progress a little at a time and you will slowly improve.
  4. Now for a bit of science.  This little experience reinforced to me that we do not just train our muscles when we exercise, our musculoskeletal system; we are training our neuromusculoskeletal system.  This progression occurred too fast for me to build muscle and it is unlikely any significant metabolic changed occurred.  The improvement was most likely due to neurological changes: I learned, or more likely remembered, how to do the movement.  Essentially, my muscles (or muscle fibers) remembered when to turn on and in what sequence.  It is an example of motor learning or jogging motor memory.
Cool, huh?

Monday, September 17, 2018


In the early summer, I was not really enjoying my training.  My program was basically a 10k regimen with some hill repeats thrown in to prepare for a hill race I hoped to run.  I was fairly consistent, but it was not satisfying and I had not made it to any real hills either--I still need some new trail/hill shoes--so, I decided to make a change.

I decided to do workouts that I enjoy:
  • 1/4 mile repeats;
  • hill repeats;
  • stair repeats;
  • CrossFit-style workouts;
  • and a few others, like cycling (nothing regimented), stair stepper or treadmill hill walking (if I am at the gym and not running).  Of course, I do a lot of walking and hiking as well for recreation and tourism.
Nearly all are short and intense, hard and fast--exactly what I enjoy most.  The bonus is that they all should help me improve my 5k time, which is a general goal.

The result?  I have been consistent, maybe slightly more so because of my enjoyment.  My general fitness has definitely improved, most obvious in my resistance training workouts.  I measure and log many of these, for example:

  • 100 burpees for time;
  • maximum number of sit-ups or walking lunges in 10 minutes;
  • dumbbell swings and sit ups x50, 40, 30, 20, 10 for time.
Over a span of 2-3 months, I improved my performance in nearly every workout.  I also noticed that my recovery times improved and I felt really strong while running too, although I have not completed a 5k time trial recently for objective proof.

I also got new road running shoes--new gear always helps with motivation, right?

So...find physical activities you enjoy; switch it up if you have to.  Just be consistent and keep moving.

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!