Friday, August 31, 2007

Back on the Run

I woke up today at 5:00 am and thought what am I doing getting up after 5 hours sleep. Well I didn't think much of anything really, I just grunted a lot. But I rolled out of bed threw on my running stuff, iced my hamstring for 15 minutes, warmed up and got out the door. Then off to the park, which was dark (I am going to have to re-think my morning route with less sunlight available in the mornings) but I ran anyway, the false dawn was enough.

I was nervous about my hamstring so I took it easy the first couple of miles. End result:

Mile 1: 13:45
Mile 2: 13:22
Mile 3: 12:55
Mile 4: 12:38

I felt pretty good, I could have done another 3 to 4 or more. I don't know exactly but 4 miles wasn't the bottom of the tank. But I was tired this morning. I worked out last night with some cross training. I have a martial arts test on Saturday so practice makes perfect. So I did an hour and a half. I won't bore you all with details. But I did find that by doing squats where you lift your heels off the floor you can get a deeper squat that works more of your total leg. I read it in a book, it is a nice tip, plus it reduces the strain on your knee. A nice bonus. I don't have knee problems but I don't want them either. Also, by doing push-ups where you only have a 3 inch movement is pretty intense. You can do a lot but you burn yourself out pretty fast.

The good news is that by regular icing my hamstring is behaving and I am running, with a little discomfort, but running. Next up, wait for it, wait for it, .....

9 Miles Tomorrow

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's Time to Run

My good friend Laura from my High School days in New Hampshire has started a running blog, It's Time to Run I would recommend people to stop by and say hello and give her some encouragement. Starting is the hardest part and just by getting out the door you are doing more than most. Good luck, I will be checking in on you to see if you are staying honest. :)

The things we do to ourselves

I practice American Kenpo as well as run. It is a practical art focusing mostly on quick hand techniques and foot movement. But before class I was working on some kicks and got motivated to do some jump kicks. Jump kicks are never done in practical formats but they can be fun. On Tuesday they were not. I pulled my hamstring. It hurt like the dickens, not sure if I ever said like the dickens before. But I have been R.I.C.E. ing for a couple of days (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) and now I feel right as rain. (hmmm, perhaps it is cliche day). So tonight at long last I will be running again.

I have been injuring myself for pretty consistently for the past month. When they talk about August injuries (whoever they are and what gives them the right to talk anyway), they are serious. This month I have suffered:

  • continuing heel injury
  • shoulder pull
  • back strain
  • hamstring pull
  • ankle strain
  • and someone hurt my feelings once

It has been a tough one for the old robster that is for sure. I look forward to the fall. It is my favorite time of year, cooler weather comes in and now it is officially race season. I have been struggling through the summer to make it to now. Two half marathons on the horizon. I am ready. I will finish, it won't be pretty but I will finish. My neighbor Jack will give me the extra motivation to keep it up. To be truthful, the last few days have been awful. I have become a bit addicted to the exercise, which is better than being addicted to a lot of other things or so I am told, so I am missing the endorphin euphoria of the exercise. I will post again tonight after my run. Wish me luck. Dealing with injuries is part of the game but I don't like that part.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hell with the cover off

Pittsburgh was once described as Hell with the cover off. I think I know what that means after my run on Saturday. It was a miserable mess, the heat and humdity mix was intense to say the least. The heat started at about 77 with 91% humidity by the end of the run the heat was up to 80 with 81% humidity. It was a nasty mix. I fought through 6 miles before I realized that this was requiring too much fight. I was getting too dehydrated and I didn't have enough fluids. When I took on the gel packs I felt like I was going to vomit. There is a difference between toughing it out and being stupid. I was verging on stupid with the humidity level. I did do 6 miles at about a 12:45 pace. Not too terrible. But my fears were confirmed when I arrived at home. I had lost 6.5 pounds between morning weigh in and the end of the run. Not good. That was too much. I had been hydrating but it wasn't enough.

Weight Check

This is for my pre run weight on Saturday rather than the abnormal post run weight. So that puts me at 259. It is only 2 pounds difference but it is 2 pounds less. I can rationalize the small drop. I hadn't run for 3 of the 4 weeks of the month and I had done my strength exercises which probably added muscle. But the bottom line is that I feel better today than I did 30 days ago. That is what this is all about. So I am fine with a two pound drop. I will shoot for 4 for next month.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Right around the corner

The Philly Distance Run is right around the corner, I know because they sent me the final race information in the mail yesterday. I know I can do the distance but with my heel injury, I have scaled back any time considerations. Instead, I have looked at it and thought I will need to run about 3 hours to finish. O.k. how do I do that, seems daunting at first glance. Well here is the formula:

This weekend: 2 Hours and 30 minutes on Saturday. I will not look so much at distance as time. 150 minutes of running -- seems like a lot. So my plan is to stash gels and water in my car. Then run out 38 minutes and run back 38 minutes, then reload with gels and water and do a slightly shorter distance. It will be boring the second time but I need to get up to distance for the race.

Then over the next two weekends I will push the long runs to 2 hours and 45 minutes and then 3 hours. This should put me at the correct endurance level. The only problem with running 13.1 miles is you have to do it in a row, I mean it would be easier if you could say run 3 miles one day then come back and do some more the next.

Things I think:
I think cross training is the holy grail for my running. The gains I have made in speed and endurance I attribute to cross training. It really is unbelievable. I have shaved a minute off my average times during my time off from running. Some probably can be attributed to fatigue but I think most of the gains are cross training related.

I think a half marathon is pretty far. I keep thinking 13.1, 13.1 and get a little nervous. I have the ability to do it, but I have never done it before. Uncertainty is the problem. I think I will be fine but I am gearing it up for the next few weeks. Wish me luck.

I know I have exercised everyday but one for the past 30 days. I think that is pretty good.

It took a long time to build up this exercise habit, but I don't think I could ever go back to not exercising.

I think that my weight check is tomorrow, check out tomorrow's post run post (someone should report me to the Department of Redundancy Department).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I am all jacked up today

The day started out well enough, I got up at 6:00 am and went out for a run. Things are looking up on this front.

Mile 1. 13:22
Mile 2. 12:22
Mile 3. 12:40
Mile 4. 12:32

This is two good ones in a row. I had only really looked at getting at 13:30 a mile for this upcoming half marathon. It seems I am out pacing my expectations. I am really doing well with the run since my return. I was a little tired from my cross training last night but overall I am happy.

Cross Training Notes:
Last night I was watching Human Weapon on the History Channel. It is a good show, there are some problems with some of the facts, but it is overall a good show. But it got me into the old school training methods I had done in my youth. So last night I did an hour and half of cross training after my daughter went to bed. I worked on a horse stance for a long time. A horse stance is simply a stance where the feet are a little wider than shoulder width apart, feet pointed forward, legs bent and knees out. This really puts a lot of stress on your thighs. If you can do it for five minutes you are doing well. But while I do this I also work on blocks and strikes. After twenty minutes my legs were toast. Additionally, my squats and other exercises are really getting high in terms of repetitions. Last night squats 45/ 40/ 50, calf raises 35/ 45, single leg squats 20/ 20. So that is going well

All Jacked Up
This morning after my shower, everything fell apart. First the trash truck was an hour early, so I had to run out and get all the trash to the curb. At least I didn't have to chase it. Then I forget to shave before I leave, so I have to pick up razors and shaving cream at the local Rite Aid before work and shave at my office rest room. The good news was no one saw me before I was able to shave. Which is fortunate as we have a group of attorneys from our U.K. offices here for the week. I could imagine, "Hey Nigel, check out this bloke." to which the partner I work for would promptly throw me from the 50th floor of our building. Well at least I wouldn't have been embarrassed anymore. The bad news is that I bought disposable razors and cut myself up a bit. I hate nicks. So now I look like I washed my face with glass chips. Who ever thought that scraping a razor sharp knife across your throat every day is a good idea is beyond me. Oh, well at least the running is good.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's always sunny in Philadelphia ... oh really

It is a wet morning here in the city of brotherly love, but I went out running anyway. It was cool and crisp. It is amazing how things improve with the removal of an obstacle, in this case heat. But I also like to think that my weeks of cross training have paid dividends. So here is the result of my morning excursion.

Mile 1: 13:45
Mile 2: 12:30
Mile 3: 12:22
Mile 4: 12:08

Now for me this is an exciting total. I have usually been a 13 minute runner and more often than not I have been happy to turn in times of 13:30 to 13:45 per mile. But today, I did not feel like I was pushing any harder but the speed was better, this is even on rain soaked trails. The last mile I was pushing to the finish for the last .5 miles. This was not because I was tired but because I wanted to see how I could do. To dig in for a little extra and see how I felt. The answer, I felt fine. I bought some plantar inserts for my shoes, its adds some extra cushion and my heel felt fine. If it is going to bother me for a while I can at least minimize it. cheers.

Weird Running Stuff today:

  1. A storm knocked over a tree at the entrance to the park I run in. So I:

a. went home

b. found an alternate way in the park

c. climbed over the tree

Answer: C

2. There are wild turkeys in Pennypack park, I did not know this. But there was a group (not sure the term for turkeys: gaggle, school, murder) of about 6 turkeys. It really is a park full of life that is for sure.

Cross Training Notes:
I have been logging my cross training since the beginning of August (July 30th really) and the results are:
  1. Since I began tracking I have taken only August 10th off, I do something everyday.
  2. I do two a days fairly frequently. Workouts per week are 9, 8, and 9 for the corresponding week.
  3. the cross training has really helped me to improve in all aspects of my fitness: leg strength, stamina, power and so on.
  4. I have more energy over all as I stagger the types of things I do each day. Swimming one day, running the next, crunches most days, push-ups most days, strength training one day, endurance the next and so on. This keeps it varied as well.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Something legal

People don't like lawyers. It's true and I am usually ok with that because I understand why that is. Most people don't like the fact that lawyers have the keys to the court house. People know that they can go it alone but it is an ill advised trip. All the procedure and forms are daunting for lawyers on any given day and we spend all of our time with it. For a lay person it can be nothing short of overwhelming. Sometimes even the best legal counsel can't save people from themselves. I was reminded today of something that happened in my first year of practice. Even though this is not a law blog, I thought I would share this law story. Heck people watch Law and Order every day.

I had been assigned to defend a homeowner in a suit where the Plaintiff alleged that he had fallen on the home owner's property and broken his elbow. So he wanted some money damages for his injuries and inconvenience. This is all well and good, Philadelphia gives out more in jury awards than the state of California. In Philadelphia, lawyers like to say this to each other. (California and other states have limits on jury awards, Pennsylvania does not- it is a distorted fact, but we still like to say it).

So I prepare to defend the case and do all the things that lawyers do to help their clients. This includes taking the deposition of the Plaintiff. A deposition, for those not familiar, is a statement under oath recorded by a court reporter. A lawyer, usually not your lawyer, will ask questions and the deponent (person being asked the questions) will answer and the court reporter will write it all down. Very efficient. The lawyer will ask all kinds of questions which seem irrelevant to the case; things about education, family, job and and so on. Then they will ask some things about the case.

As it turned out this started as a normal deposition. The plaintiff showed up with this lawyer and I asked a bunch of questions. How did you get hurt? blah, blah, blah. I will paraphrase some relevant parts:

Me: Did you go to the hospital?

P: Yes

Me: What if any treatment did you receive?

P: I had x-rays and a cast was put on.

(later on)

Me: Earlier you said you had an appointment to have you cast removed, did you make that appointment?

P: No

Me: Did you see a family physician to remove your cast?

P: No

Me: I see you are not wearing a cast today, how was it removed?

P: I took it off myself.

[I do a complete head spin here and my jaw probably bounced off the floor]

Me: You took off your own cast?

P: Yes

Me: Are you a doctor?

P: No

Me: How did you remove the cast, with a saw?

P: I don't remember

Well you get the idea, it went on much further inquiring into the type of tool used to remove the cast to the extent of medical training of the plaintiff. As a contractor he had a lot tools but no medical training or memory of how the cast was removed. I suppose the quick moral of the story is don't conduct medical treatment on yourself and then sue someone for it. He may have been entitled to a recovery of some sort but he sunk his own case by not thinking through his actions before hand.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weekend Work

On Saturday, I ran on actual roads again. It was nice to be back, my heel pain looks like it will be with me for a while. It is not bad just irksome. I decided when I went out on Saturday that I wanted to run for an hour. No expectations on time, pace or anything else. Just run an hour. I hit the trail at 7:30 and ran 30 minutes out and then it took 32 minutes to get back. Well not bad. I had no problems with wind or muscle fatigue. To be truthful, all the cross training in the past few weeks has paid off in terms of muscular strength. In the past, I might get some fatigue in my legs at the end of a long run. But after weeks of cross training and swimming, I felt great. I did not bring a watch on the run, mostly because I am an idiot. I forgot to bring it.

In the end I ran 62 minutes and ran about 4.5 miles. Not terrible. It feels great to be back on track. It is nice to feel the breeze on a nice run when the weather was not too hot. Everything was right and it was a good day to get back on the trails.

Friday: Martial arts work out

Sunday: 4 miles/ 50 minutes elliptical and strength training.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ho hum

This morning I did 4 miles on the elliptical - boring, but I did it. I have discovered that my heel is slow to recover. I think I will have to start running again if I will make the Philly Distance Run. So, my new plan ... wait for it ... wait for it:

Two days on the elliptical - yuck
Two days on the streets (get your mind out of the gutter, not that way)

As running never really bothered my heel I will just do a long run and one moderate run on the roads and then put in some time on the elliptical. It is a band-aid but I have to get back out there. I really want to do the half marathon this year after being sidelined last year. It may be advisable to rest but I will cut back instead. I don't really feel like being sidelined for months.

* * * * *
Notes and thoughts:

Last night, Kenpo class. Lots of kicks, knees, punches and open hand strikes. Lots of sweat and a good time was had by virtually everyone. I will be testing in two weeks. Usually I would be upset to test so soon but as it is just a low belt, I am not too taken back. I am getting a little sore from the weight lifting I have been doing. I have had a weight rebound since yesterday, up 4 pounds who knows why these things happen. Seems like an aberration. This is why I only weigh myself once a month.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Doing penance

With my heel injury I have been forced to seek out alternatives to running while I recover, which has been slow. I may have to grit through it before it is all said and done. But I went to the gym and there is the elliptical machine. Now I gritted through 4 miles on Sunday and another 3.5 miles on Monday. But I really would rather jam an ice pick into my neck then do stationary cardio machines. The boredom factor is beyond calculation for me. It must be penance. From my Catholic upbringing I have this sort of scene going through my head:

Rob: Forgive me father for I have sinned it has been "X" days since my last confession

Father: Why don't you tell me about it my son

Rob: Well Father, I have ....... (come on I am not going to post the sins, please)

Father: Well that sounds pretty troubling my son, I think a few months on the elliptical machine might be in order.

Rob: Nooooooo!!!!!

A little melodramatic, but I am sure there are people out there nodding their heads right now.


This morning I did 400 meters in the pool. It is amazing that I can weigh myself on wake up and then after a swim and I will lose 2.5 pounds when I don't feel like I am working as hard as when I am running.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

So easy even ... Rob can do it.

Today I turned back to gym for a little iron work. Pick up heavy things put them back down, pick them up put them down. Well you get the idea. Err, Err, pick up put down, repeat. I also did 4 miles on the elliptical machine. For the record I abhor the elliptical machine, I feel like a hamster on the wheel. But I gutted out 4 miles through extreme boredom. But it was a 12 minute 20 second average over the course of the "exercise" Then I lifted for about a half hour.

Friday, I mentioned I was going to Phillies v. Braves at Citizens Bank Park. It was a firm function. The nice thing about the firm I work for, which is huge, is that they really are genuine when events are planned. So it was a nice time. I have worked for places where you can't let your guard down during firm functions as the politics are so thick. But I do really like where I am now. As for the event, it was nice we spent some time at the bar in the park, nice touch, and had a few drinks before going to our seats, where some of my co-workers had a couple of more drinks. So it was loose and fun, much laughing and smiling, and the Phillies won. Yeah.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Finding my inner defiance

It is my first day off from exercise in more than two weeks, and I might do something after the game tonight, but I thought this was a good opportunity to philosophize (thanks Bill and Ted). Jason over at Jason's Running Diary, posted recently on motivation. I think this is a good time to revisit the subject and get some thoughts out there on the subject. I believe we all find different ways to stay motivated to get out there and run (or do other things as the situation arises, such as my recent turn to swimming due to injury). I think that the biggest obstacle that has to be overcome is ourselves. People as a general rule try to seek comfort, the path of least resistance as it were.

  1. mmmm, this tastes good ... it is only a pint of ice cream
  2. I need the sleep, why get out an run ... two or twelve more times through the snooze won't hurt.
  3. I really am too busy right now (fill in obligation here ________ {family, friends, watching the latest episode of "X", going to this movie, trying that restaurant}

As someone who found himself with about a 100 pounds to lose at one point. I am all too familiar with the effects of self delusion and the lies we tell ourselves. The truth is something all together different. Vanilla at Half Fast found the motivation to get up at 5:00 am and get out and run, something he abhors (getting up early not running). Amy at Runners Lounge has zeroed in on something with her inquiry into our foes when we run. This post is my answer to that question. What keeps us from achieving, mostly human nature. How do we get past that? Excellent question, here is my own answer.

How do we defy our nature to take the path of least resistance and seek comfort over pain? Well I have a lot of experience in giving in to this nature or I would not have gotten as far out of shape as I did. My favorite lie was that I had too much work to do to exercise. Where if I had simply done the exercise I would have had more energy to dedicate to work. Now I draw on what worked for me in the past. I think the desire to defy overcomes the desire to pursue the path of least resistance. You can couch this in different terms if you like. But the concept is simply that we have a nature to seek what is easiest. To overcome this first as Amy pointed out we have to recognize what our obstacles really are. Of course these obstacles are overcome within our own abilities and merits and these vary from person to person. When I weighed 290 my ability to run was not nearly as good as it is today at 258 and I am sure that my ability to run will be even better at 235 and so on. When I started my noble experiment/ grand endeavor of running I truly hated it, a lot. I still did it because I knew that I must to reach my goals. Now I love to run so getting motivation to get out there isn't the issue any longer, now I fight something else.

So where do we find the motivation to do what is necessary after we do what is required? We dig for it. Inside us there is a hard center, an inner defiance, that if we can cultivate will help us to push beyond where we thought we could go. I have found with exercise that this expands as my abilities grow. When I started I needed to dig down for motivation to just get out the door and walk/ run a mile or so. But when I run I get tired, but this is where it begins ... the debate that goes on, whether I think it is going on or not. Do I slow down/ stop when I get tired? Because of course I get tired because running for long distances is hard. I used to get tired at 1/2 mile now it is 3 miles at a moderate pace. Do I give in? It would be easy to do so, I mean just slow down the only person you are responsible to is yourself right? No, this is really where the rubber meets the road. This where I dig, I don't give in I look for what is extra not just in terms of energy, but heart. Going beyond what I think I would normally be capable of. I know I can because I have done it time and again. We all have. Approach the hill, it looks so tall how in the world am I going to make it up. I start and begin to tire on middle stretch, no I will not slow down, mentally I won't accept the physical desire to back off and I push up the rest of the hill. It may cause me to be winded at the top but I push through the pain to find the elation in success on the other side.

As I become I better runner, I find I am more capable of pulling on my inner defiance through difficult situations. My ability to recover from the defiance of my body's reluctance to perform has also gotten better. When I first started I would pay for my failure to listen to my body's desire to take the path of least resistance. Sometimes it would blow an entire run. I looked at this as a flaw in my personality. I don't do that now. I see that this inner defiance is necessary to get better. The don't quit attitude or unwillingness to accept defeat has helped me to progress. Without pushing how would I ever get better? I wouldn't. I would have stagnated at 15:00 miles into perpetuity, but I have progressed because I wouldn't quit. The desire to move away from adversity is normal but recognizing it is the first step in overcoming it. This is true for anything. If everything were easy then there would be no need to talk about motivation or overcoming motivation lapses. We would get out there and do what we needed to do and no one would say a word because it would be easy. But it isn't easy, sometimes it is down right hard. We talk about it because we are struggling with motivation and adversity. Success comes with the downing of our own natural tendency to seek comfort. To shirk comfort for an ordeal is not natural but we do it everyday we run and don't give up. When I ran the Broad Street Run I passed a guy hobbling to the finish line, it looked like he sprained an ankle on the course (I could feel for him because I did the same 2 days before the race) but with the pain fresh in his ankle he kept on going. It would have been easy to quit and no one would have faulted him but he didn't he kept going. His body said stop but he didn't he kept on.

I believe the desire to get out and start is part of the same thing that we dig into to keep going when we get tired. This is different from injury - pain from injury is distinct and we all know the difference. But we as runners, athletes, can dig into our core and pull out something extra from our desire/ motivation/ inner defiance. It is waiting to be tapped into. I really started learning about this (and as a result myself) many years ago when testing for an upper belt test in Massachusetts. The school I went to made you really push yourself in the upper belt tests requiring tests of multiple hours. You just won't pass if you didn't push yourself to your breaking point and beyond. You learn a lot about desire during these tests. How bad do you want it? that is the question. As a result you learn to dig deep and find your the character your mom always knew you had. When I was a Scout in the Army we trained not to let down our team, so you dig to keep up your end of the bargain, no one wants to be the weak link. In many ways it is harder to do this outside of this environment. But you don't have to practice martial arts or join the Army to find this, I find it in running as I have said. The refusal to quit, we all have it. Sometimes we falter, the path of comfort is welcoming after all, there is nothing wrong with failing on occasion we are human after all. But keep vigilant against too much temptation for comfort, it really is not our friend.

So I see that I am my own biggest obstacle to my success, (I am my own foe) if I can quiet my own fears and pains I will succeed at the great running experiment, if I can dig beyond the fatigue and find my heart I will make it. If I give in to the path of comfort I will fail. I see the obstacle so I believe I will succeed.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Swimming Day 2

I went back to the pool today and the results were fair. I swam 12 laps and managed to do two back to back. I didn't violate rule 1 of swimming, don't drown and still managed to bask in rule 2, swimming is hard. I was there with another gentleman today who was quite the swimmer. He never stopped for the 30 + minutes I was there. He was really good, breast stroke, butterfly, freestlye, he did them all. I was humbled and impressed.

Just a note: as well as swimming I have been cross training nightly - pushups, crunches, lunges, squats, punches, kicks, and so on. I do this for about an hour, then I take a shower and pour myself into bed. The good news is that I sleep very well.

I have been working hard lately as tomorrow is the office trip to Citizens Bank Park for Phillies v. Braves. A good time to be sure. I am a Red Sox fan at heart, but more than that I love baseball. It is a great game to see in person and Citizens Bank Park is a great park. There really isn't a bad seat in the house and there are lots of eats and bars inside the park. I like it, it reminds me a bit of Camden Yards in Baltimore (another park I like a lot).

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The first rule of swimming...

As my heel is still troubling me, although much less, I started on my swimming substitute. I haven't done laps in years, so it was tough for me to get up the motivation to get into the pool. But this morning I went to the pool at 6 am. The good thing about 6 am is that there are very few people at the gym.

I went with modest goals, 8- 10 laps. For me this really means 10 laps. As I approach the pool, I remember the first rule of swimming, don't drown. O.K., I got it, I think. So I get in the pool, which I have all to myself. I start with a back stroke, I can do this pretty well. So half way through the lap I am thinking, its over right? Wrong, keep going. I manage to finish the lap and all I can think, well there is no thought, just the hope that my heart won't leap through my chest. It didn't, hence the post. So I rest for a while and then decide to go with some good old fashioned freestyle, oh yeah. I didn't really think or say this but thought it would look nice in the post. But I did a freestyle lap. It seemed slow, maybe because it was. I was kicking like heck, trying to concentrate on form, but rule 2 of swimming snuck up on me. Swimming is hard work. But I was determined to make it through 10 laps if it killed me and it felt like there was a chance. After freestyle lap 1, lap 2 total, my lungs wanted to join my heart in jumping out of my chest. Neither of which happened. But the good news was that I made it through laps 1 and 2 without violating rule 1 - don't drown.

Without boring anyone. Laps 3 through 8 were fine. Laps 3 and 5 were back stroke and the rest were free style. I felt like I was swimming through maple syrup rather than water and my chest felt like it might explode at any second but I made it to the end.

Laps 9 and 10 were interesting. In case I was vague about this, swimming is hard and I was getting tired. I freestyled laps 9 and 10, my form was shot from fatigue and my thighs were worn out from 10 straight days of martial arts exercise and cross training. So I lost what little kick I had by laps 9 and 10. I was dangerously close to violating rule 1, don't drown. I was so slow that a 6 month old could have out crawled my swim. I labored for those last few meters on each of those laps. But I finished. Without out grace or style but I finished. Lap 9 was worse than 10. I was able to motivate myself on lap 10 with this little mantra, "you can get out at the end, you can get out at the end". It worked I was a little faster. Although, you don't know how much energy you burn until you get out of the pool after a lap. My body was weak, I felt like I got hit by a railroad tie. Just devastated.

But the first rule of exercise is that you will always feel better when you are done. This was also true today.

10 laps = 250 meters. Not bad for day one.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Future Plans and current training.

As most know, I injured my heel and now I am taking time off from running so that I can recover in time for the Philadelphia Distance Run in September. I hope to take a week to three off to set my body right. I haven't been idle though. I have been doing martial arts training at my home more often. Tonight for example, I did 40 pushups, 75 squats, 100 crunches, 60 side crunches, 30 dead leg lifts, 180 technique repetitions, 8 kata repetitions, and 200 punches. When I am done I am tired and my muscles have been sore, so I am working. I am concerned about my wind. There is a famous quote in Judo that the best practice for judo is judo. Well that is not always the case for striking arts. Practice of techinques at full force in the air, bag work, punch drills and foot work are all necessary things to be worked on outside of class. Some people think that going to class is enough to develop skill and proficiency, it isn't. I believe in the Cornell method for this, every hour in class shold be followed with 2 to 4 hours of outside work depending upon the skill you would like to develop.

this guy versus this guy

My point is simply that you have to practice to make perfect. Anyway on to my point of the night.

I have renewed my gym membership. With my wind a concern with up to three weeks off from running. I have decided to add some swimming to the mix. I feel that this will keep my wind up while I recover. This has the additional benefit of not aggravating the heel. There is no impact while I swim and I always remember feeling completely exhausted when I have done pool laps in the past. Wish me luck, I will most likely start on Wednesday. It should be an adventure. Maybe I should rename the blog, hmmm.

Swim to lose or Fight to lose. Fight to lose, that seems to conjure up the wrong type of image. Maybe I should just keep it as is, I am only looking at being out for a few weeks at the most.

Send some kind thoughts

Elkerette, over at Wheezy Whinings, is recovering from surgery. I would urge everyone who reads my blog to make a stop at her site and wish her a speedy recovery. Thanks in advance.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Injury Update

Lately when I would wake up my heel would give me a good start when I got up. Then after about 10 minutes of stretching I was fine. But it didn't affect my running at all. I did my paces without difficulty. These last few days off from running I have noticed a marked improvement on the morning pain. So that is good news. But I don't want to rush anything. I really want to run the Philadelphia Distance Run and if I rest now the chances are good that I will make the run. But if I push things now, I may not.

However, as part of my goals are weight loss, I have been diligent in exercise.

Fri: 40 pushups, 100 crunches, 50 side crunches, 50 leg raises, 50 squats, 25 techniques 8 times each, 200 punches, 200 kicks

Sat: 45 pushups, 100 crunches, 50 side crunches, 50 leg raises, 50 lunges, 30 techniques 5 x each. Then later in the day I went to a class where we worked on bag drills, stick fighting drills, kata (traditional set of moves set one after another to create a type of dance of sorts), and techniques worked on each other.

Overall it has been a good couple of days and I am keeping on track with my weight even if I am not running. I would rather be running but I have to rest. I will try to make it back for my birthday on the 12th.

Friday, August 3, 2007

On the DL

Much like my Red Sox would do to a baseball player I have placed myself on the disabled list. My heel has been bothering me for a few weeks. I think that because I did not take enough time off when I did it I have caused an over use injury. So I will take about a week off from running. I plan to be back at it next weekend. But I will guage that based on my recovery. It is a mild injury but it is lingering and that is a concern. I walk fine and I don't need any pain killers or anything. But it has been uncomfortable for a few weeks. So I will take a week (hopefully) or two (I would rather not) and see how that goes. I will put a few things up in my abscence.

No offense meant to my fellow Philadelphians, I do like the Phillies. A lot of their players are top notch and they play with a lot of heart. But I grew up in New Hampshire, deep in Red Sox nation so my heart will always be with the Sox.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Speed ... sort of

Today was my speed day. I started off well but the fatigue of speed is a little different than the fatigue of endurance. I feel positive about the run. Start early at 5:00 am and pass a couple of deer on my way. So I started with a fast mile and followed with a slow jog for a half mile and then repeat. My goal was to be sub 12:00 for each mile. I was able to do that:

Mile 1: 10:54
Mile 2: 11:30
Mile 3: 11:40

I am going to tweak this speed work in coming weeks with varied distances. Last night I did come cross training and realized that I am not very good at pushups. It is sad for a former military guy to say. So I will be working on that as well.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Non Running: Martial Arts Class

Man does not live by running alone. Much like Jason at Jason's Running Diary , I engage in other sports besides running. In contrast Jason Scubas where I engage in Martial Arts practice. Tuesday nights I head out to class to learn a few new things (in addition I practice another two or three nights a week, sometimes I make note of this other times not -- I try to stick primarily with running on the blog). As a bigger guy (although I am getting smaller) I often get paired up with some of the other bigger guys at the school. But you know last night was a bit tough. The man I was paired with was nothing short of huge. We will call him the Wall that Walks, or Wall for short. Wall is about 6'6" and weighs in excess of 300 pounds, I believe he is a police officer, I think I heard someone mention this but I am not sure. This guy is really strong. Wall is not a guy I would want to make mad, thankfully he is a good natured and pleasant person to work with.

In Kenpo, the style of martial art I study, teaching generally runs in the following fashion. The class gathers in a circle and the Instructor picks a victim/ demonstrator and illustrates a technique, much to the chagrin of the victim/ demonstrator. Once said illustration is over you split into pairs and work on the technique until a new technique is selected. Usually 5 to 8 minutes is spent on each technique before switching. One of the techniques we worked on last night ended with a punch to the neck. Now you can't really go about punching your classmates in the neck, even in a martial arts school, as you won't have many classmates left after a while. But Wall is also a beginner so his control is not 100%. So lets just say I got punched in the neck a few times. Sometimes you take some unintentional hits in a class, so you let it slide with as much of a smile as you can muster in spite of the pain. So I spent part of my night getting punched in the neck by a 300 pound guy ... so if I told you that my neck is a bit sore today you probably wouldn't be surprised.

Why would I spend my nights doing such a thing? That is an excellent question. Martial Arts practice has a lot in common with running. Most of all it teaches us something about ourselves. Running is more objective, you either ran a 10:00 mile or you didn't. The question is what are we capable of achieving? Can I average 13:00 over 10 miles or can I run 1 mile in 8 minutes. Martial Arts is about making similar breakthroughs in flexibility, speed, power, endurance and discipline. Can I do splits (no not really), how high can I kick, how many punches can I throw in a minute, or simply can I make this technique work. In the end you feel the euphoria of accomplishment when you get it right and you can feel that its right. Also, it is more of a group activity where other people are actually necessary to do a lot of the practice, so it has some social aspects. For myself, I have been practicing off and on for 22 years, so it is in my blood. I enjoy it immensely even though my neck hurts today.