One Man's Fitness Fitness Adventures and Musings

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Break Time Over, Back to Work

I will admit that I have been 100% slacking this holiday season. I had hurt my calf and was trying to get to the gym to hit the elliptical machine but I realized that I was doing more harm than good, it happens to us all. Since the first part of the month I have been really focusing on my martial arts training and not so much on running. I think it has been a couple of weeks since I had a real run. But that's fine, a little down time is needed every now and again. I can say that my body feels rested and now I am itching to get back into things again. But before I go into what will be I will look at what has been.

This year I accomplished quite a few things and had quite a few set backs. I turned 4o this year, which seems to be a bit of a milestone. I wasn't sure if I would make it to 25, so I am on borrowed time. :)

What did I do that was good?
  • Ran my first marathon
  • Ran a 5k at less than a 10:00 pace
  • Ran two half marathons and qualified for the National Marathon in DC (It's not the same as Boston but I will take it for now.)
  • Overall got a good deal faster
  • Lost about 35 pounds (but gained 15 back ... what can you do.)
  • Practiced martial arts a great deal during the year
  • Read about 50 books
  • Maintained a positive outlook on life

What happened that was not so good?

  • Fell into a serious funk after my marathon
  • Suffered what seemed to be injury after injury from the Summer on
  • Turned 40!!! yikes. (just kidding, I don't really care).
  • Did not reach my 1000 mile run goal, sad a little on that one.

Well it looks like the good has outdone the bad, so I think I will label it a successful year. So that leaves me asking what comes next? I am a bit of a planner so I will give you a tentative list of things on the horizon.

  1. Run in the American Odyssey Relay in April
  2. Run half marathon at the National Marathon in D.C. (still thinking about this one)
  3. Run Philadelphia Distance Run in September (half marathon)
  4. Run full marathon for Philadelphia in November
  5. Continue to keep at my martial arts training and hope to inch closer to black belt by the end of the year.
  6. Read another 40 t0 50 books.
  7. Lose that 15 pounds that came back and 20 to 25 of his brothers
  8. Keep a positive outlook on life.
  9. Try again to hit 1000 road miles for the year.

So there is my year in review, it is positive. I have had some tough times and some not so tough times. I want to thank everyone for being there and wish everyone well in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In Memory

On Christmas Eve of 1995 my father passed after a long battle with cancer, he was 54. It was too much for me to deal with then and even now I miss him, I suppose I always will. I have tried to make his birthday the day that I really try to remember him but I think because he died on Christmas Eve it is hard not to remember.

I do not remember in sadness as much as I once did. Recently, I wonder what he would have thought of what I was doing or if something strikes that he might have enjoyed. When he passed I was only a sophomore in undergrad and was working toward a teaching degree at the time. I wonder what he would have thought about me going to law school. I know he would have loved his grand daughter.

My father, like so many of his generation was a hard and determined man. He was on his varsity basketball team and won state one year. Later on he served in the Special Forces in Vietnam. He worked many jobs. He was a barber but for most his working life he was a truck driver. The hours were hard and I know he wasn't ready for a family when he had one. He was an alcoholic and smoked like a chimney. He was strong willed and could be difficult to talk to. This was especially true when I was growing up.

My parents divorced when I was in the 6th grade and my brother, sister, mom and I left state to stay with my Grandparents. I saw my father infrequently during this time, It was hard for everyone. I did not really get to know my father until I was a teenager and we didn't become close in anyway until after I returned from Operation Desert Storm. Now I know he was being a parent. It was not his job to be my friend, he did me more favors by not being a friend. But when I was a teenager, he would visit me at my part time job and came to my martial arts tournaments, it meant a great deal to me. Teenagers are brain damaged and I know I was not exception, I am sure I gave him headaches.

I remember not being able to carry on much of a conversation and then when I was back from the Middle East our relationship was suddenly easier. Cancer is hard as many people know, it was only five years later that he was gone. It is hard to think of it in those terms.

My father was an excellent basketball player, a very good fighter, a fan of country music, a good listener, he was really funny and had a great sense of humor, he had lots of friends (I learned this at his funeral, I wish I had known before), he tried to do his best to be a parent under difficult circumstances, he was a flawed man who did his best to deal with those flaws (especially alcohol), he was a man who did his best to support his kids even after they were adults, he always did his best.

Today, I always think of him ... I try not to be sad but there is always some of that mixed in.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ambition with a Dose of Reality

I had been off to a good start of my December-thon; however, Friday changed that. I tried to go to the gym to keep up my streak but did not know that it closed earlier on Fridays. This left me holding the bad so to speak. I am not recovered enough to run the roads so I could not run. I have decided that as I am officially injured that this was probably poor timing on the run thirty days in a row thing. I ended up taking Saturday off as well. On the plus side my leg feels much better today than it did last week. It is obvious I needed time to heal.

The thing I notice about being 40, rather than when I was 30, is that I get injured alot more. It is a nagging sort of thing that takes a day here and there from me. One has to be relentless in regard to this sort of thing. I would rather live with the little injures here and there than not do the exercise in the first place. But it has taken some getting used to. I am generally in good health and as a result these sorts of nags here and there are not that much of an issue. So I will need to keep my ambition in line when I need to recover. It will take some doing as my sense often times is out of line with my desires. In other words, I can be a knucklehead at times.

For the rest of the Month, I will do my best to do 5 days of week either on the elliptical or on the roads. I won't try running outside until Friday, this will give my left calf extra time to get back into line. I do feel about 95% better today, but I want to take it slow just to be sure. I have no pain walking up and down stairs. I only get a little jolt when I stretch it. So there it is.

What is next??? That is a good question. I have the American Odyssey Relay with some great blogging pals coming up in April but that feels like I should do something else before then. I did qualify for the National Marathon in D.C. which takes place in March. I would only do that half, I like the half. It is a challenge but it doesn't beat you to death like a full will do. Also, the training for the half is more manageable with my life. The marathon training consumed my life. Hmmm, not exactly sure, I will get back to you on that one.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

December-thon, Day 4

How: Elliptical Machine (dull)
Injury: Improved, but unchanged from this morning.
Miles (day): 3.40 miles
December-thon total: 13.27 miles
Song of the Day: Rihanna -- Don't Stop the Music

I was a little tired so I slowed down a bit on this one. I hope to be able to actually hit the road again by the end of next week. I am not sure how long this calf injury will take but based on previous injuries, I think this one is going to stick around a bit. The good news is that it is not a pain killer type of thing, so that is nice.

December-thon, Day 3

How: Elliptical Machine (dull)
Injury: Improved. It doesn't really hurt when I go down stairs any more. Not bad.
Miles (day): 3.25 miles
December-thon total: 9.92 miles
Song of the Day: The Strokes - Last Night

Nothing exciting to report. It was a late night at the gym after everyone in the house was asleep.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

December-thon, Day 2

How: Elliptical Machine (dull)
Injury: Improved. It stills hurts a bit up and down stairs but less than yesterday. So a step in the right direction
Miles (day): 3.42 miles
December-thon total: 6.67 miles
Song of the Day: Pretender -- Foo Fighters

The good news and good news. The good news is that I found that my gym is open until 11:00 pm during the week. I think this is a change, I remember a 10:00 time frame last time I checked sometime in the spring of this year. So this means that when my daughter is in bed I can sneak off for my elliptical time, well at least until my calf recovers.

The other good news is that my good friend, Aaron made it through his heart surgery fine. My thoughts are with him today.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December-thon 2008, Days 2 - 4, and 1 again

The December-thon was going well until day 3 rolled up on me. I went out for a run at night and I landed ... well wrong. I am not sure what the actual cause of the injury was but I hurt my left calf pretty badly. It is tight beyond belief and it is slowly, very slowly getting better. I get a nice pain to wince at every time I walk up and down stairs so that is nice. But I can walk fine. I can tell this will be with me for a couple of weeks at least. I can still use the elliptical machine at the gym so that is what I have been doing. But I did take Sunday off to see if some rest would speed things along, not so much.

This is a manageable injury, I just have to conform to the limitations that it presents. So I had to re-start the December-thon on December 1 with some elliptical time. I am willing to drop the December-thon if the injury proves to be more serious but for now it looks more like a serious pull than a tear. As I said, it does not hurt to walk only when I over extend the calf muscle when walking stairs. I will just try to gently stretch and loosen it up with some heat. It will take time - the funny thing about being 40 is that you get injured more.

So 1 day down and 3.25 miles in the book. As one of my Kenpo instructors, Bud Barrett, would say, "If you look for an excuse long enough you will find one you like." So I won't be calling off the December-thon unless it is absolutely necessary.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

December-thon 2008, Day 1

Even though it is still technically November, today I kicked off December-thon 2008. I have decided to run every day until the end of the year. Given the toll this might put on me I have also decided that the occasional indoor run on a elliptical machine is ok. That said, I won't be making that the core but rather the exception. I am doing this to fight injury.

Today, as I am only two days removed from a half marathon, I decided that the great indoors sounded reasonable. I worry about joints immediately after long runs and this seemed a prudent course of action. It was an exciting run with lots of forest animals running around and a nice cool breeze; moreover, it was a time to commune with nature and to feel at one with the universe. NOT REALLY!!! I was inside on an elliptical machine, so it was boring, mindless and annoying. I did 3 miles and called it a day. (I am making 3 miles the minimum run distance for this December-thon).

After my machine time, I thought some chest and arm weight exercises might be nice to do. 30 minutes later I was out the door with day one finished. Huzzah!

As you can tell I won't be looking forward to the elliptical portions of this event.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Philadelphia Marathon Post Race

On Sunday, I was able to run the half marathon variant of the Philadelphia Marathon. It was a nice race. I do like this one better than the Philadelphia Distance Run that is put on in September, I think it is the course I like better.

I woke up that morning at 4:50 am, which was about 20 minutes before the alarm. So I got up and got myself ready. It was nice to be up a little earlier as I was able to relax a bit and avoid the tension of rushing to get down to center city. I left the house about 5:45 and drove to center city to find parking. I drove to a parking garage about 4 blocks from the start line, I had to pay $11.00, I know there was some free parking but this garage was closer.

The chill hit me when I left the garage. Wow! the lack of sunlight seemed to make it seem colder. Probably not true but it felt true. So as Stephen Cobert would say it had some "truthiness" to it. I did my best to stay warm at pre race and Bart Yasso was there on the loud speaker, I thought that was nice. I learned that the Philadelphia Marathon is put on by the city which they said is unique. O.K. Go Philly.

There was a staggered start so I had to wait a bit for the start of the race. I tried to set my Garmin. Trouble. The think kicked out. I had been having trouble with the LCD washing out so I couldn't read it and sometimes it would just turn off with no warning (it was always fully charged). So now before my half marathon it died on me. So I would have no way to gauge my pace beyond the course time markers. I didn't like this very much, but what can you do. Roll with adversity, not much else is available.

I managed to get across the start line about 11 minutes after the official start. Not too bad considering that there were 18,000 folks running at the same time. That is not too bad for a big city marathon but given that some of the streets used for the course are not overly wide it seemed like a lot.

The course for the run was better, I thought than the Philadelphia Distance Run. The course for this race seemed to cover more of the city. You get to see not only the Art Museum at the start and by Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell area but also got you up to the University of Pennsylvania, Fairmount Park and Boat House Row. I liked the course. There are more hills in Philadelphia than I thought before, running up 34th Street past the Zoo and further was a bit trying.

How did I do with no clock to gauge myself. Well not as well as I would have liked but not terrible. My total time was 2:29:28. This is a minute slower than my PR at my last half marathon. Not being able to accurately gauge my time was a major hindrance but we have to make due. I did have a good time and would definitely run this race again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November/ December-athon

I have a half marathon coming up for this coming Sunday. I have a tendency to look ahead a bit and I am thinking what is next. So I looked at my goal of 1000 miles for the year and that looks like it is not going to happen. Admitting defeat is tough for me, especially on personal goals. Failure gets me down. So to do my absolute best to get there, I am planning the November - December-athon. After I have recovered from my half marathon this weekend, I will engage in a run a day everyday for the rest of the year.

I have read other blogs where folks have done a run a day for 30 days. I am just adding an extra week. I am not sure if I will get to my 1000 miles but I am going to fight for it and at least try and make it close. My plan is 3 miles a day. I will take my recovery days at a very slow pace instead of an actual day off. I know that this will be very trying on my body but nothing like the early winter to set a challenge to keep yourself off the couch.

Wish me luck on this one.


It seems this is at the core of everything that I do in terms of my exercise. The human condition seems to be programmed to seek comfort whenever possible. It seems to be nature putting its hooks into me. I know that when the late fall comes around I will subconsciously eat more as if I was trying to put on fat to help ward off the trials of winter. Hard wiring, we all have it. We all have our ways with dealing with this hard wiring.

I know that since I started martial arts, and more recently running, I have noticed that I often times have to overcome the natural inclination to take a nap or do something less unpleasant than exercising. This is strange because I do like running and martial arts but it seems that there is a mental hurdle that I have to actually get over to get into exercise. This is not aways the true but it does get in my way at times. This is what takes discipline.

I spent time in the military so I do know how to use some cues on how to get by in these winter days.

  1. Lie to Myself -- I know I am telling the lie but if I tell myself these lies to get going it seems I get everything in. "I will do 1 mile and if I don't feel right then I will stop." "I will do ten minutes of kata and if I don't feel like doing more I will stop" When I do this technique once I get going I am usually fine and the transparent lie seems to do the trick.
  2. Negative Motivation -- I spent time in the military and berating one's character can often times lead to greater motivation to accomplish the task at hand. I find this is useful when trying to get through something difficult once I started it. For example, I am looking at a big hill and lose a little heart looking at the task at hand. So a little negative motivation comes in handy, "What type of runner are you, you see one hill and lose your nerve" "It is only a hill, you have done bigger ones before" "What's wrong can't handle a little pain" Well that is the idea, get down on yourself about the type of weakness being exhibited and this will make you a bit angry and push you through the difficult moments.
  3. Carrot and Stick -- I do like this one because of the carrot, mmm carrots. I make deals with myself to do exercise on occasion. I use this for milestones. I usually say things like, when I log 500 miles I will get myself a new running shirt or if I make all my scheduled classes for three months I will get a new uniform for my martial arts. I can be motivated by the earned present. Personally, when I come up with such a plan and don't make it I would feel guilty buying the present.
  4. Hurt vs. Injured -- Sometimes I get hurt, actually I get hurt a decent amount. That said, I am rarely injured. I have learned that small nagging injuries are part and parcel of a regular exercise program. Last night, I twisted an ankle not a big deal but it is a hurt not an injury. An injury would be a broken bone or an ACL tear. I can sometimes lose motivation when hurt. It seems a good excuse, I can't run because my ankle hurts a bit. I am all for being smart but it doesn't necessarily mean a day off is in order. Managing the hurt is key, if I really can't do one thing I need to think about what I can do. This is a big discipline thing as it is so easy to take a break during these times.
  5. Excuses -- I was told by one of my first martial arts instructors "If you look for an excuse long enough you will find one you like." I really believe this is true. Excuses lurk around every corner and demands pull one in every direction. It is easy to get distracted and let yourself be drawn off course. I have found that taking a hard line in regard to exercise is the key. I know I have to do x, y, and z but should that mean that I have to miss out on exercise? I say no. It does not matter when you get it in as long as you get it in. If I have to get up early or go to be late I know I can't allow an excuse to get in the way. That would be poor discipline. It is about taking responsibility for one's actions and everyone else might understand why you couldn't do this or that. In the end I won't understand because I know deep down that I could have manufactured a little time to get something in. That's a fact.

Discipline is a big deal to me. I have always tried to keep on track with the things that I place importance in. The down side to this is that I sometimes can go through periods where my motivation is not 100%. There are lots of reasons for this that all sound like excuses but family and work are more demanding today than they were 10 years ago. Making time for yourself is important but difficult to accomplish, but you have to. My hope is that my list might be of assistance to some in getting through some lapses in discipline.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Martial Arts: Public Service Announcement

I was talking to my wife last night and she was telling me some things about her Tae Kwon Do school that have been troubling her. To be truthful they would trouble me as well. It seems that they are pushing her toward her next belt test. This in itself is not such a big deal. One of the things a good instructor will do is push you to achieve. Sometimes this pace will exceed your comfort level and that is just part of the experience. We have to reach faster and further than we might not otherwise think we are capable of. That said, this was not the case in the case of this Tae Kwon Do school. It seems that this school has used this belt test to attempt to sell my wife on a series of private lessons to get ready for the test.

I am a fan of the private lesson, I think you can learn a good deal from one on one time. That said, I think this should be something that is up to the student to decide if they need or not. I think this is especially true when there is a big charge for it. The hard sell is on at my wife's school in a big way, I find the test fees to be quite inflated and they want to nickel and dime their students for all sorts of little things throughout the year. The yearly training fee is small but they operate their business in such an aggressive format to make more money on top of the training fees that it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.

With this example on my mind, I thought it might be a decent time to give you some general information on the financial side of martial arts schools and what makes a good and bad school.

1. Contracts: It seems that most schools operate on some sort of contract and this is not all bad. From the school's point of view this is done for financial security. If they have a guarantee of x number of students then the school can be more financially secure to deliver lessons to their students. It can actually be a positive and at a professional school I wouldn't balk at it. That said there can be an ugly side to contracts. I would say never sign a contract that is more than a year long.

Life changes and signing multiple year contracts is generally not in your favor. Most schools won't ask you to as there is a body of law out there that suggests that they are not truly free to sell you lessons beyond your ability to take them. Anyone who is interested can e-mail me and I can give them more information on this, of course this is general and differs from state to state. I would shy away from things like "black belt clubs" or "black belt programs". These are usually designed to get alot of money out of the student at once. I would not enter into this type of thing at any school until I had been at a school for more than a year. The danger that exists in this is two fold.

First, a school might take your money and then forget about you. The quality of your training might actually diminish after you enter into such a program. I would say please take a year to learn the ins and outs of the school and the instructor before entering into such a program. Second, there is a conflict of interest that occurs with these types of programs. The deal is you don't have to pay again until you receive your black belt. Wow! what a great deal, all my training is taken care of until then. This puts the integrity of the instructor into play. Will you be pushed to reach a goal before you are ready. In disreputable schools you might just be pushed to black belt in a year or two without actually having the knowledge and competence necessary for the rank. Additionally, the financial motivation of the instructor makes it so that the instructor is has a vested interest in your success and as such can't be an impartial evaluator. There is always an argument that when you pay for lessons at all this is the case. I feel it becomes more exaggerated with these types of programs where there is a pay once situation and there are no future payments until an arbitrary line is passed by the student that should be based on merit.

In short, I would watch the contract length and would not sign a contract based on arbitrary demarcation lines, like black belt. I also would not sign any extended contracts beyond one year before I was completely comfortable with the school and the instructor.

2. Fees

Miscellaneous fees sometimes get added onto students that are sometimes just a fee for the sake of charging a fee. I have always found this infuriating. If you want more money for lessons just raise the tuition and be honest about it. My wife's school falls into this type of school which wants to sell you dvds, patches, books, manuals and so forth that might be helpful but not necessary to your training. They pitch this stuff ad nauseum until the student capitulates. This is generally not expensive but it all adds to the cost of training, $20 here and $30 there it all adds up. Then test fees get added on top of it along with mandatory tournament participation and seminars. It becomes mind boggling.

This is really a second reason for not signing a long term contract at the beginning of your training. If the atmosphere in a school is a hard sell you won't know that right away. You will need to time to determine if this is the case or not. It is not a problem for a school to promote itself through tournaments and seminars but they really should not be mandatory. Your training should be complete without them and they are not they you are not getting what you are paying for with your tuition. I will cast my school in a juxtaposition from my wife's. I have never heard my Sensei require anyone to buy anything beyond a uniform and a cup. He will announce seminars but there is no hard sell in anyway shape or form. Finally, the tests are no charge, free that is. I like this. I feel that this allows the instructor to be fair with you on a test and if you are not up to speed then you deserve to fail.

So this is my public service announcement. Please examine the financial side of your martial arts training to the same degree you would the type of training itself. The instructor might me a great teacher but if the professionalism of the school is suspect you might lose out.

The short list:
  • Watch the contracts for length
  • Be careful about signing a contract for more than one year
  • Know your instructor before signing any long term deal
  • Be mindful of schools that engage in the hard sell
  • Watch for the nickel and dime fees
  • Enjoy your training, that is the point after all

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weights and Running

When I was a bit younger I had lifted weights a decent amount. I did this primarily to make my martial arts better. Adding speed and power are decent motivators for picking up weights. Over the last few weeks I have been back to lifting weights again, this time to help my running. I have found over the past few weeks that the torso core and leg exercises have done wonders for my running. Mostly my legs feel lighter and my back has greater stamina. The chest and arm exercises I do are probably nice to do as well but for running I think the benefits are being paid on the back and leg exercises.

As with most professionals, I have a lot of things to occupy my day and it can be difficult to get everything in. Weight training has been a casualty of my schedule. I have made a concerted effort to add it back in, it has only been a couple of days a week but it has been enough for me to see the difference.

Here is what I do:

Leg Extensions: This is just a simple machine exercise that is familiar to everyone. I do one warm up set at a lower weight at 25 reps and then follow with 3 heavier sets of 8 to 15 reps. I like the higher reps for endurance purposes.
Calf Raises: I don't do weight on this I just find a stair and knock out two sets of 50 to 75 reps.
Hamstring Extensions: Also a simple machine exercise I follow the same 4 set routine with 25 reps at a light weight and then three sets of 8 to 12 at a heavier weight. Often times I will make the last set a negative set. This is where I resist the weight more coming down as opposed to focusing on the push. I do this at a higher weight.
Lunges: I also do this with out weight and do two sets of 25 lunges each.

Lat Pull downs: These are great for the back and I do this on a machine. This is 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Shoulder Shrugs: I use dumbbells for this and find this really hits the traps in the upper back. I do a bit heavier on this one and focus on doing three to four sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
Back Extensions: This is a simple roman chair exercise that is nice for back development. I do two to three sets of 15 reps right now. This is a hard one. I am getting better but it takes work to get better.
Dead Lifts: The old standby overall back exercise. I try for reps on this one as well 4 sets of 15 repetitions each.

This is just a snapshot of what I do. I am sure there are lots of ways to get to the same place. I know I have used different techniques myself over the years. I do work other parts of the body, but for running these are the exercises that seem to be making the difference.

Happy running.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Fine Finish

I had been fighting a flu most of last week. I know I didn't help myself any when I stayed up late to watch the election on Tuesday or any of the preceding three days looking at polls and opinion on the race. I am a political junkie, it is part of my make up. So I was sick and it seemed to linger. Then as I posted on Friday I finally went for a run, a short one but a run.

Saturday was a better day. I went out and slogged out 4 miles although I could still feel the over all fatigue that goes with getting over being sick. Sunday was the crown jewel of the week: 11 miles. I knew that I wasn't 100% so I had to account for this otherwise I knew that my chances of finishing were not strong. So I decided to do a test run of my half marathon strategy. I have a tendency to start out too fast and get tired and then slow as a result. My plan is to closely monitor my start and keep a short leash on my speed for the first two miles and then let out the slack for the middle miles. I used this plan on Sunday. I kept myself and check and intending to go slow I did first couple of miles at about 11:25. I wanted to be around 11:30, slow and steady is the order of the day. I kept about the same pace for the first 9 miles each mile was between 11:15 and 11:35. I felt fine with no indication of break down, which I thought was a danger due to the recent illness. With two miles to go I kicked it up a bit and finished with 10:15 and 10:00 for the last two miles. I think this worked out well. Controlling energy is a weakness of mine and I have to be more disciplined in my run strategy. That is my plan for two weeks from now.

I have thought about the race and think that 2 miles at a slower pace, then kick this up for the next 8 miles at my race pace. This will leave the last 3 and I plan to consider how I am feeling here. If I feel good I will try to kick it up another notch and if not I want to soldier on at my normal pace. I will use the ten mile mark as a check point of sorts.

Hope everyone else had a good weekend.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Post Sick Run

I have been sick. It seems that the laying of plans usually involves some sort of curse on my soul. I had no sooner said that I planned to run another ten miles this weekend with two or three smaller runs for the week than I go sick. So after a few days of hacking and fever monitoring I feel better. I don't feel great, I don't even feel good. I feel better.

So in keeping with my feeling better I went out for a short run. This was a 2.5 mile run. I set out to do 2.5 miles, which is absurdly short but given my post sick "feeling better" it was all I could reasonably commit to. It started out like a train leaving the station. That is there was lots of grinding and noise but not a lot of fast movement. To be truthful fast movement is still something of a mystery to me. That said, I did in fact get my body moving in what can loosely be called running and did in fact keep running for 2.5 miles. It wasn't pretty but I ended with a 10:30 pace at the end. I did feel run down a bit so I am not completely well. But I felt better at the end than the beginning and that is nice.

I have been reading these days about heart failure and running. With Ryan Shays dying at the Olympic trials last year and a few other deaths I was curious. So with Runners World latest issue exploring the issue, I was psyched. It seems that exercise is the key to prevention. The deaths on the courses are usually the result of other issues (clogged arteries or genetic defects) so that is good to know. But it does seem that I should aim to exercise 5 days a week. I think I knew that but I haven't been keeping up with it. I will make a more dedicated effort to get my work in. It is only an hour a day, I think I can do that. What is more important than your health. I would pick up and read the latest Runners World if only for the above mentioned analysis, its worth the cover price.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Stuff

I usually shy away from posting anything political. I have said a word or two here and there so anyone who reads knows that I was supporting Barack Obama. Personally I can described as being somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I have usually tended to be conservative on fiscal issues and liberal on social issues. With the far right social movement of the Republican Party I have ended up voting the Democrats over the past 12 years.

I was moved the other night during Barack Obama's post result speech. This was not the first time that I have felt this way during his speeches. The first time that this happened was during his DNC speech in 2004. I have been a fan of his ever since. I am happy to see him elected and hope that his actions can come close to living up to his rhetoric. It is nice to feel proud of our president and glad that he acknowledges that he is the President for the entire nation and not just those that voted for him. There are no words of left mandate like G.W. Bush spouted when he was reelected in '04. I only hope that he will govern more from the center than the left.

National pride is a funny thing and it can move you. The speech on Tuesday night made me remember a different time. I had just come back from a year in Iraq after the Persian Gulf War. I was a Reconnaissance Sergeant and had spent extra time in Saudi Arabia loading ships after my unit went back to Texas. When I arrived back in Texas many months later with a handful of other stragglers I was tired. Tired to the bone. I had a total of 3 or 4 days off in a year and had just added a 20 hour flight to the overall fatigue I felt.

I was riding the bus from the airport to the base and along the side of rode were hundreds of people waving flags and cheering. I can't remember being more moved. I didn't know these people from Adam but they turned out to show their support for a handful of soldiers returning from the Middle East. I was deeply moved and that moment remains a pivotal point in my life. The speech by Barack Obama on Tuesday had the same effect on me. I am hopeful for the next 4 years.

I promise to return to running and other fitness related issues, now. Have a great day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

10 Miles, check

I had planned to run ten miles this last weekend. I was not that hopeful as most of plans these days seem to fly out the window. I feel like I have been making more excuses than accomplishments as of late. So, I am happy to say that I did manage to get my 10 miles in on Sunday and the pace was decent as well.

I woke up thinking it was an hour later and was worried about getting my run in. (I did not remember about setting the clock back until about 2:00 pm on Sunday). So I hurried and got out the door at 8:30 (actually 7:30 - I was a bit of tool on this one). I had the route sketched in my head of what would be about 10 miles and I was pretty much dead on. I was happy to keep a 10:40 pace through the entire run. I thought that was nice.

I am scheduled to do the half marathon at the Philadelphia Marathon in late November and I want to get a PR. That would make up for a rather disappointing Summer and Fall. It seems I am right on track for breaking my half marathon pace. This is not that daunting a pace (11:19) to beat. Keep your goals modest I always say.

This weekend I hope to do the same 10 to 11 miles for my long run with two or three shorter runs during the week. Well that is the plan.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Night Run

Last night after the Phillies won the World Series, way to go guys, I hit the streets for a short run. It was a fun time running while cars drove through the neighborhoods honking horns and yelling "Phillies". It was nice, well up where I was running, I heard there were some burned cars in the South part of the city. Well, I guess these things happen, unfortunate but true.

I was able to really get a decent pace and keep it up for my 3.65 mile route. This was the first night I had to break out the running tights and thermal top. I am not sure if I will have to keep using them but last night it was a bit chilly. Good times.

Next Tuesday, I will be voting for Barack Obama like most of the country.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How's Monday?

I had a pretty productive weekend, I ran about 4 miles on Saturday and 9 miles on Sunday. It went pretty well but for one thing. My Garmin is now dead. I have had the thing a year and a half and the lcd has burned out. The poor captain (my name for my garmin) has been laid to rest. We had many a good time the Captain and I, we ran a couple of half marathons together and a full marathon. It is sad that he won't be joining me any longer. I am not really sure how to handle this news.

Now I am faced the reality of replacing the poor fellow. I am leaning toward getting a 405 rather than the 205 I was using. Is this an excuse to get a new toy? I do admit that I will miss the poor Captain, but I am also looking forward to new technology.

Oh well, I have to move on, I will miss the Captain.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Martial Journal

I have always been a bit on the fence about including my martial arts thoughts on this blog. There are couple of reasons for this. First, I had really started blogging to talk about my running experiences and progress. As I was excessively overweight, I really wanted to focus my attention on the running aspects of what I was doing. Secondly, I had started a blog dedicated to just martial arts related things. I found there that there are a large number of folks who comment on martial arts related material that are largely only interested in being negative and getting into some sort of pissing contest. There is too much testosterone out there.

But I think that I should try to vary things a bit on my blog. This may add a little spice to it and keep things mixed up a bit. I may switch to an approved comment format to weed out the negative comments. Rest assured that I will make sure that all comments from the folks that normally comment here will find there way on to the blog. It just won't be instant.

Well Rob, what is your martial background?
A: I have been training in martial arts since I was 16 years old, I just turned 40 in August. I did not train solidly during this time period but off and on. At 16, I trained in Tae Kwon Do for about 6 months. It was fine and I had a good time, but it wasn't for me. At this time my family moved to another city and I started training in Chinese Kenpo, this became my training style for the next 5 years. I liked it a lot and enjoyed many aspects of the training. From this point I entered the travel portion of my life and spent a year here and there at different schools. But I trained in Tang So Do, Wah Lum Kung Fu, Bok Fu (White Tiger Kung Fu), and Choy Li Fut Kung Fu. I spent a few months in Danzan Ryu JuJitsu and Hapkido, nothing serious. Then when I went to law school, I attended a Tang So Do school for a year, it was close to my house and I liked the instructor quite a bit. Finally, I have been at an American Kenpo school with a great instructor since February 2007. It is hard to say how long all told I have been studying I think somewhere between 10 to 12 years.

Will this new focus affect the running portion of the blog that we all love so much?
A: No. I will still try to update my running adventures as often as I can. I hope that by adding more content I will always have something to post every few days.

What is with your running these days?
I have been dealing with a tweaked knee. It is hurt but not injured. I just started back again last night. I hope to have much more to say on the running front in the near future. Sorry for not updating sooner.

Back to this Martial Arts stuff, what kind of belt do you have?
Leather, I got it at Sears do you like? Seriously, it is what is in your head that matters not what you wear around your waist. That said, I have a black belt in Chinese Kenpo and ran a school for a time. I also have been in instructor in Bok Fu and Choy Li Fut, I never reached black belt in these disciplines. I will admit that it has been quite a bit of time since I did any of that. So to be frank, this is sort of tracing old foot steps. I am journeying toward black belt again. I am currently a blue belt working toward green in American Kenpo. This is a mid level rank. Personally, I care very little about rank. But I do my thing and when my instructor tells me to test I do. So you are all welcome to enjoy or dismiss these posts as they come along.

I hope you all enjoy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Better Safe than Sorry

From running in shoes that were not quite right, I had done a little damage to my knee. It was hurt but not injured. I could tell some rest was in order so for the past week and a half I have not been running. I have been running for a couple of years now and I have found out when I need rest. This was one of those times.

My right knee was giving me some trouble even when I was walking. I felt like it was time to just let it rest a bit. Well now I am running again, well as of tonight. I have to say I think I did the right thing. My right knee didn't give me a peep. I am not sure if that would have been the case if I had tried to run through this one. I have to admit knees make me paranoid. I will try to run through almost anything but knee problems, no way. That is my wimp reflex. Knee tweak ... hold on lets rest a bit. That is my baby factor. I like to think I am pretty tough when it comes to pain, but there is my soft spot. Anything else and I will grit it out.

How did it go tonight, well I did 4.6 miles and everything felt fine. I have to kick it up now to get ready for the half marathon at the end of November.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Shoes

I have been dealing with a little tweak in my right knee over the past couple of weeks. I thought it was just a turn toward colder weather. I have been a bit battered in my life and I thought it was just old injuries letting me know about the change in weather. Not so.

Last night as I was helping my daughter with her homework, I took my running shoe out of the rack and tested the spring in the mid sole. It was dead. I hadn't thought about the miles I put on these shoes for some time and when I looked back I was over 400 miles. No wonder I was getting runners tweak. My ankles and knee had been complaining and this was why. I had a new pair upstairs and switched them out for my night run.

I ended up going 3.75 miles at a faster pace than I had been for the past month or so. I have been somewhere near 10:40 to 10:45 but last night I was at 10:20. I am not where I want to be but I think the new shoes will help me along. Plus, they are green so they must be faster.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bruised and Battered

Today, I went out for my long run. I would say this ... sometimes bad runs happen to good people. It started out fine for the first 2.5 miles when I felt the urge for a pit stop back at home. Upon taking care of business, I went out to finish the run but I could never get back into a groove. I did run 9.5 miles but the pace was a bit slower than I am used to running. I think that this had much to do with the amount of hills on this course. I will take the small victory of having put in some good miles. When it was done I was more tired than I usually am after a long run and really needed a rest. So there is good and bad, much like the rest of life.

In other news, I was back at my martial arts class again. I had been out for a good amount of time, due to some personal conflict. I am taking private lessons until things calm down in my personal life. I do like that better to be truthful. It is nice to have the one on one time. I was happy to get back into the swing of things. Additionally, I was pleased that I still had abot 90% of my speed and power, so that was nice.

In news more related to paragraph 1, I ran more than 20 miles this week. Huzzah.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Run Log

I woke up this morning, thankfully. A step in the right direction.

Get up, get up. I have to run. There is a work party tonight and I can't run after, I might be able to walk but there will be alcohol. I have to run.

OK, OK, I am getting myself together. Shirt, shorts, socks ... where are my socks. I have to wear my bridgedales. I need the little extra cushion for the runs. Where, this would be easier in the daylight. The laundry basket, a novel idea, I would have come on this sooner if I had been awake. Put on the clothes, grab the garmin, water bottle (stainless steel - new and very nice) and .... umm what else do I need ah shoes.

OK grab them and out the door. Maybe I should have put them on first. The steps will work and OK they are on. Run ... wait set the garmin, ah mp3 I forgot. Back in grab and out. Set the garmin and walk to the end of the street. Am I awake yet, not sure. But lets go.

I take off and try to shake the sleep off and manage to only go a half mile at about an 11:30 pace but manage a 10:55 for the mile. Not bad. One mile ... awake now. Am I breathing hard, I don't think so but Fuel is reminding me that everything that shimmers is sure to fade away. So that is an uplifting thought.

Mile two, up the hill. Chop it up, short step, short step. Will it end I feel like I have been looking up at it forever. Come on, just keep going can see the top , not far now. Just up, hell its only a quarter mile now. Cresting the hill, not breathing hard, garmin beep, 10:38 for the mile. Whew down the hill, pick it up. Red light, stop. Water, mmm best stuff on Earth. Green means go, run how am I going 11:15. Give me a break. Pick it up, pick it up. Flat and straight is not big deal, flat and straight is no big deal.

Going home, take the turn toward my house, mile 3, 10:30. Turn the corner and sprint down my street and walk for a .1 to cool off. 3.30 miles. OK, time to go to work, what did I just do?

Time to down a protein drink, chomp a banana and grab a shower. The day is just starting.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Looking ahead to ... Runtober

I know, I know, everyone does this sort of thing. But I was in a mood what can I say. So I am dubbing October, Runtober well for this year anyway. October will be the most important month of this training schedule for getting prepared for my half marathon at the end of November. September ended fine with 70 miles logged but I would like to build on that for this coming month. I want to say 100 but perhaps that is too ambitious so I will say 90. Here is the plan:

This week:
M: 4 (done)
T: 5.5 (done)
Th: 4
Sa: 3 (intervals)
Su: 10

Next Week:
T: 4
W: 6
F: 4
Sa: 3 (intervals)
Su: 6

This will be 26 for this week and 23 for next week. The following two weeks of the month will be basically similar except that for the long run I will be at 12 miles. This will leave a 14 miler for the 1st of November and then a taper. I think that should about do it. The miles I am planning do add up to over 100 but I know that my plans don't always go exactly ... well to plan. So 90 is realistic in case something unexpected occurs.

70 miles, not bad. And yes I did plan the distance of my run last night around getting to 70 miles for the month.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Here it is the end of the month and I have to admit that I have not been as diligent as I could have been at keeping content up on my blog. It has been a here and there endeavor this month. I hope to do better for October. I will have to increase my output to get ready for the half marathon in November so it will be better for all concerned (read me) if I keep up with it.

Running for the Week
I was only able to run for 3 days over the last week. There was a major rain storm on Sunday and I wasn't able to run. I suppose I could have run at about 10:00 pm or so but I was a bit tired from a day of cleaning. Over all not too bad it was over 12 miles for 3 days. Saturday I was great run. I did a two and half mile warm up with two miles of intervals. I felt quite fast averaging 9:00 miles for the half mile up ticks. It was a good feeling.

Martial Arts
I have been out of martial arts for a couple of months due to some home life stress related issues. I spoke to my instructor this last weekend and I will be taking private lessons starting next Saturday. I think that this will fit into my schedule nicely. The good thing about this is that I have been practicing again so that adds a few workouts a week and that makes me feel better. It is remarkable how things stick with you, I went through about 60 distinct techniques and only had to refer to video on two occasions to refresh my recollection. That is not a bad place to be. My form and speed need some ... special attention, nurturing really.

Upcoming Races
I registered for the Philadelphia Marathon, well not the whole thing but the half marathon. I was able to save 15% on the price from a coupon I received at the expo of the Philadelphia Distance Run, so that was nice. I am looking forward to this one and I know I could run the thing now but 6 more weeks of training should make it a good race for me. As of now I am at 8 miles for my long and my endurance is good. This coming weekend I have a 9.5 mile run scheduled so I should be just fine to set a PR. So far for me every race has been a PR but that is the joy of being a beginner.

One foot in front of the other

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sickness ... looks like its over

I have a tendency to get a little sick with the first weather snap of fall. I look at as part of the changing of the season. The bad news is that is usually hits me up for a week. With just turning 40 this year, I thought it was going to be bad. I was pleasantly surprised that it only took about a day and a half to get better. Nice. Sure, I had the sweats and fever and so forth but it was only 36 hours so ... I can deal.

This morning to celebrate my new found health I went out for a morning run. I woke up at 5:00 am. That is pretty early in most part of the world. I wanted to just get in about 3 miles but I felt good so I kept going (I ended at 4.65 miles). I will admit that I was still half asleep when I hit the road and my first half mile was well ... slow. I managed to pick it up and salvage a pretty good time for the first mile. Although, I did have to really kick it up to get to a 10:30 average by the end. It was nice to be out there but I am always surprised that there are not more people with the same idea. I think I saw one other runner the entire time I was out there.

There is one thing that is always true, I always feel better after a run than before. I like to feel like I could have done a few more miles at the end. That was true today.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Her First Race

I was not up for the Philly Distance Run this year. My training fell off this summer and I am now gearing up for the Philadelphia Marathon (1/2 marathon variant) in November. My daughter, Emily made her racing debut at the kids' run. It was a half mile run.

She did a great job. She competed in the 5-6 year old division and lined up in the second row. When the start sounded she was off like a dart and was in the middle of the hunt. I took a couple of photos (they haven't been up loaded yet) and then crossed over to see her after the half way mark.

She was still in the middle of the pack and I cheered her on to the finish line. She said she really liked it a lot and was very proud of her finishers medal. That is the one she is showing off in my cell phone picture above. I wish I had been encouraged to get involved in these sorts of things when I was younger and I am glad she is having fun with running. Watch out Deena Kastor. :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Not a bad run

I had planned to go 8 miles last week but it didn't really work out that way. The humidity was horrid. Today was another story. It was a great run. I managed 8.12 miles at really my normal pace, which was nice. It was a good tune up. I am going to do something a bit unusual in training for this next half marathon. Usually the way it works, stop me if you have heard this, you follow a schedule that usually prescribes 4 to 5 days of running a week. This schedule will have two runs that are short somewhere between 3 to 5 miles then a middle range run that will be a bit longer 6 to 8 and then a long run. I have found that for myself, I need a bit longer to recover from a long run.

I am taking a page, well in spirit, from Tom over at Runner's World. Tom mentioned a while back, I am not going to give you a pin point cite, that the twenty mile run was really not such a big deal to preparing for a marathon. I agree, I could feel my body start to break down once I crossed the 18 mile threshold. I think the logic of what Tom was trying to get at is what I am shooting for. Tom was getting at the point that conventional wisdom is not always what is right for you as an individual runner. Thanks Tom.

I know that after the long run I need more rest. So I will be doing a true long run every other week. There is no real need to do this more often in my mind. I want to preserve my conditioning as well, how to do both. I am going to run two week cycles. For week one, I will run my 4 runs as follows, 3 shorter runs (3-5) and one true long run (8-14) (there will be one speed workout in this week as well). Then for week two, I will run two shorter runs (3-5) and two mid range runs (6-9) (there will be one speed workout in this week as well). I am confident that this will help to preserve my conditioning. It might be a bit challenging to go up a bit faster on the long runs but the extra recover time will probably be what I need.

So there it is my unconventional running plan, self designed (self deluded - perhaps)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What happened to the train?

When I started running I was quite a bit heavier than I am today. I was in fact almost 300 pounds, that was not a good time. I also remember as a novice runner wondering a lot about my breathing. I think that this was mostly due to it being so labored. It is in fact tough to move that much weight at a quick pace. I could hear my breath and so I was concerned with contolling it. I thought about the way I should breathe. Should it be shallow or deep, should it be through the nose or the mouth. I was a mess, but I was a mess without the running so I was really just trying to control the mess. I eventually found a rhythm and just got used to the noise I made while I was running. For the record I breathe through the mouth and to the mid to lower chest area, it works for me.

As a runner I was a bit of a freight train. I was big, took a bit of time to get up to speed, and made a lot of noise. I think I got used to this image of myself as a runner and sort of got comfortable with it. Choo, Choo! That was me chugging through the parks on my self made rails, never going very fast but being a a pretty big object with a good head of steam I was fine. I made some strides in my weight loss and sort of lost that freight train look. I didn't realize that my breath noise has disappeared until recently. As I said I used to labor but I don't do that now. I am not sure when this changed but it has. When my mp3 ran out of juice the other day I ran without it and I noticed that I could not hear my breathing like I used to.

It was odd. I had sort of come to expect that part of my running included the heavy breathing. Like an obscene phone call but without the sleazy underpinnings. So I am not sure what to make of it. I guess I am happy to have made progress but I am no longer a freight train, I just don't have the sound effects. I guess I am an Electric Bus. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who is Fast?

Well not me, but I am getting better. Tonight after work I hit the road for a little recovery run. This was a nice and cool run. Unlike the mess that was Sunday, this was a good run. I got into a groove early and really could have kept going for a long time after I was finished. That is a nice feeling.

I even got my time down a bit. This is a nice change. My daughter will have her first run this weekend. Even though I will not be running the Philadelphia Distance Run this weekend, Emily will be doing the fun run. It will be nice to see my little 5 year old get her first finishers medal. I think she will have a great time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ahh, the week that almost was

The week started out so well. I managed early in the week to get in three really good runs a couple of 3's and a 5 sandwiched in between. I had such high hopes for the weekend. Well being an outdoor sport the weather can be a factor. I went out for my Sunday run expecting to put in 8.5 miles. Well long story short, not so much. The humidity was insane. I should have expected trouble as I was sweating while folding clothes at 7 am. But being long on determination and short on sense I went out for a run at about 8:3o. I don't know how hot it was but that was not the issue the humidity really took it out of me. Within a mile my clothes were soaked. My pace was fine but I was laboring under it and was forced to back off a bit just to get to the 5 mile mark. It was not a good performance. Sometimes these things happen. The good news, there is always next weekend.

The really good news is that I was able to get up to 17.1 miles for the week even with a bad long run day. So I am quite pleased with that aspect. I will shoot for 20 for this week. I don't think it will be a problem. Also, as I only did 5 miles on Sunday, I don't really need my Monday recovery, so I can get out tonight and put in some miles. I am now looking forward to the half marathon at the end of November. I think the timing is right on.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Remembering what works

When I had trained for my marathon and then again when I was training for half marathons. I found that my mid week longer run was very important. It seemed to me that this run balanced my weekly runs and really did quite a bit in adding to my overall fitness. My summer funk seems to be mostly behind me and today I added my first midling run on the season. It was a 5.2 mile jaunt. I had worked from home today as my car needed some work.

When the repair center called to let me know it was ready (it was a weird thing where the driver side lock just wouldn't unlock). Well I ran to the repair center but I got there just as I got into a grove ... too bad. I had run about 3.2 miles when I arrived. So I drove home and then added another two from there. It was only about a 10 to 15 minute drive. So I had a small break and then hit the roads again. So I don't know if it counts as two small runs or one 5.2 mile run either way I am fine with it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Short Comings

I have to admit that I haven't been very good at keeping up with the blogs on my lists over the summer. I am sorry about that and I hope to be better for the fall. It has been a crazy work summer having 50 to 70 hours a week dedicated to work can leave precious little time. It seems that things might be simmering down in terms of work. Which means an upswing in the running.

This morning I was out in the morning for a 3 mile run. It was a good time and I had nothing of issue to say at all. Just three miles. It was a good run, nuf' said.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Tough Week

I started off the week battling a throat cold. I am happy to say it is now gone but it made my running a bit ... well abbreviated. I ran about 2.5 miles for my first three runs of the week and then broke out with a 7.2 mile performance today. This salvaged the week.

Sometimes I have to admit, I forget some of the lessons I have learned only to have to relearn them again. I have such an experience happening now. I learned from my previous training that for me I have to run a distance twice in order to have a handle on it. The first time I struggle with the extra distance and then when I do it again it is not a problem. I am not sure if this is particular to me or not. So I have been struggling with the lower miles because I have not been pushing forward on the mileage. Additionally, my faster 5k made me think that every run should be faster. I think I have learned to back off a bit. Longer runs will be slower, of course. I will just have to be a bit more patient.

The good in this is that I can take this going forward to the half marathon in November. Today was seven and next week I will try for 8.5 miles and just build on that. Well here is to finding your way.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bloody Shoe

So I was out running last week and I guess that one of my toe nails was a bit long and was cutting into its neighbor toe. I didn't notice at the time ... I can obtuse. So I got home and my sock looks a mess. It was a good run. You can see the shoe and the stain from the blood.

I think the normal thing to do would be to wash the shoe. But I think it adds some character ... so the blood stays. I don't think it will mess up any PRs. I could be wrong on that, but I don't think so on this one. So if you see a big guy running with a a bloody shoe ... it could be me.

As for the week, it was an ok result. I ran three days ... work has been demanding in terms of hours. I ended up with a bit over 11 miles for the week and 55 miles for the month. This is moving in the right direction. I hope to get up to 75 miles for next month. Not too bad really.

I am feeling better in my running. My times are coming down and I feel a lot more comfortable in the running.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Good Week

I have been struggling a bit as of late between work and my general malaise to get some decent miles in. Well even with my 50+ hour work week I was able to put 16 miles in. This was not as focused in terms of the two days off one day off I like to but I did manage to run Monday and Tuesday and then Saturday and Sunday. I topped this off on Sunday with a 6.05 mile performance. Now I won't win an Olympic record for this little run but it was the longest since May. This is good progress for me. I am happy. I should take some recovery time I know. But I think that I need to front load my week to have any chance of getting 4 days a week running in. So that means that tonight I will be out there again doing a little 3 mile recovery jaunt.

I mentioned that I did not think I would be able to do the Baltimore Half Marathon in October. I have to revise my opinion. I think I could but that I would only be trained to finish not to improve on times I put in before. For this reason, it is best to cancel this race from my schedule. It would be best to just register for the half marathon portion of the Philadelphia Marathon. This is in fact what I will be doing, thank you very much.

The exciting news was that I bought a new Mp3 player. This may not be that exciting but with my last one shorting out and sometimes playing in my left and ear and sometimes not. This was great. I had to break it in with some new music. This made my Sunday run even more enjoyable as I had a new toy to come along with me. Ahhh, the little things.

As to Olympics, I am pleased overall but I would have liked to see Ryan Hall come in a little higher than he did. That is all I will say.Personally, I ran 4.5 miles at the start of the marathon coverage on NBC. I was especially pleased with the decathlon. I was especially displeased at the lengths I had to go to in order to actually find the footage. How NBC comes up with their programming is anyone's guess. One last Olympic thought, I have trained in martial arts for many years and I was especially disappointed in the Cuban Tae Kwon Do fighter who kicked at the referee of his match. I have never seen a more disgraceful display in all my years. It shows poorly on him, his nation and the sport. Which by inference includes me a martial artist. I am deeply saddened by this display and feel that a life time ban is not too long but appropriate for such a blatant unsportsmanlike conduct.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Finding a way

The last week was a bust. My well laid plans ... well they went astray. I wanted to get in some early running but we had such long meetings that I did not get out of the office until really late. To top it off I was mentally exhausted and just didn't feel up to running. I managed to get a 3.75 mile run in on Sunday but that was it. This week I have done better. I have couple of short runs in already this week and it seems that my schedule should be more forgiving, but we will see.

I would say that overall my body is feeling better. I have been going longer and longer without water/ walk breaks. I should be my old self in a month or so. Sadly, I don't think I will be making the Baltimore Half Marathon. I am out of condition and I doubt I would have the stamina for a half marathon my the first week of October. It will have to go off the books. I will try to the the half marathon at the Philly Marathon in November. I am still at the 5 mile range for long runs so trying to push a 13.1 out in 6 weeks seems like a poor idea. I could probably do it, but it just feels like the wrong choice right now.

November seems like a better time frame, that will give me an extra 5 weeks to train. I think that might work out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fifty Something

This the the amount of work I will be putting in for each week for the remainder of the summer. We are having some deadlines at work and that usually requires time and lots of it. Last week was a mid fifty week and the next couple look like high fifty to low sixty hour wise. That said I am still going to do everything in my power to get in my 4 runs. I know I can do a run tonight and another tomorrow morning before the madness starts. Then all bets are off until the weekend. So even if the worst thing happens I can imagine I can still get in 4 runs.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I was feeling a bit sluggish this summer. I am sure there are lots of reason and I won't get all worked up over it. That said I have recently started to take whey protein 30 to 45 minutes before my runs over the past week. I will have to say that it has helped quite a bit. I had been getting sluggish in the later miles and I couldn't find anything to tie my cart to as to why. That his beyond calling myself a lazy boy. I seemed to have found something that has corrected that problem. Today, I started a bit off my normal pace, I had slowed down a couple of weeks ago just to get the miles in. However, after the first two miles I was able to find a true grove for the first time since May and pulled negative splits 30 seconds faster than my first two miles. The first two miles were about 10:45 and the last three were all consistently 10:15. I don't know how much the protein helped but it seems to have done so. I am pretty pleased at how things have been righted.

I am pretty happy with the week being able to turn in a +15 mile week for the second week in a row. My miles turned out well with about 3.4 miles, 3.5 miles, 4.2 miles and 5.1 miles for the week. 4 runs seems the right mix for me.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Things that I love about running, feeling the love

Yesterday I did a little bit on things that fray my nerves while running. I thought to be fair there are quite a few things that I love about running. Here is a short list:

1. Post Run Glow - The feeling of general well being and euphoria I feel post run is enough to keep me going. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I am done and the post run endorphins are a great buzz.

2. Freedom (1) - When I am running on a slight downhill with a bit of a tail wind I feel flat out free. My speed picks up and I find a zone that keeps me coming back every time. I love that, for me there is nothing better than this pure feeling. Awesome.

3. Freedom (2) - For an attorney my job is not that stressful, but it has its moments. When I couple that with a turbulent personal life, I need a release. When I run I can forget all the other stuff for a while. This is a good freedom but not as good as the one above.

4. Finding the Top - I have struggled with hills since I started running, I am sure that I am not alone. It has been a challenge. That said, when I reach the top of the hill I get a nice feeling of accomplishment. It is nice, not overwhelming but nice.

5. Discovering Speed - I like to finish my runs with a couple of sprints. I think I do this for no other reason that I like it. I like to run for speed on occasion because it feels good. When you are burning the trail a bit, even if it isn't fast for others, makes you feel good even if you can't keep it up for long.

6. Race Day - Race day is a justification for all the training I have done previously. I may not always have a great race but the experience has always been a good one. It is nice to share this with a bunch of like minded people all out there for their own reasons. It is nice. You can put it all together and have a bunch of strangers cheer for you along the way.

7. Progress - Being a bit of an organizer in my personality, it is nice to be able to participate in a sport where my progress can be so easily evaluated. I am faster or not, I can run further or I can't. There are some nebulous things but for the most part, I can gauge my progress pretty readily. The anal part of me likes that.

8. New Gear - I like to buy myself some stuff now and then. Being a runner helps me decide what type of stuff I want to have. So when it is time for a little reward for whatever reason, running stuff has fit the bill as of late. Heck, we all like a reward now and then.

9. Blogging Friends - Although this is not true for all runners, it is for me. I like the networking aspect of the blog. I like that we all encourage each other and offer our own experience and learn from others. I think I have become a better runner faster because of this. Thanks to all that have commented.

Well that's my list.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

These are a few of my least favorite things

I love running, I do. But there are some aspects that get on my nerves while running and I thought I would make a list. This is not because I haven't been running, so there. So here is my list in no particular level of annoyance.

1. Dogs off leashes -- I am an animal person and I like dogs. That said, people who use the same paths as I do will sometimes let their dogs off leashes and then the dog will run at me while I am running. I don't know your dog and I am sure he is friendly but I don't know. So it makes me nervous. I have been scratched in one of these situations.

2. Shouters -- Sometimes my fellow runners will shout to get themselves motivated. I am a fan of anything that gets you up for your run, I mean really go for it. However, I will say that those that shout to get themselves up for the game get me. It just rattles my nerves a bit to have someone shouting behind me. I think it is the startle factor and the good Samaritan in me thinks is this guy in need of some help.

3. Litter -- This gets me, there are trash cans everywhere but some people, I am guess people but I suppose it could be the deer, leave all sorts of bottles and trash on the running/ biking paths. I mean really walk the 100 yards and put it in the can. It gets me fired up because there is no need for it.

4. Chaffing -- Well this happens infrequently these days, and not just because my miles have been down. I have gotten the chaffing injury a time or two and I never realize it as it happens. That is a little gift I realize afterward. I use my glide but every now and then surprise. Ha, ha!! No one ever expects a Spanish Inquisition.

5. Jogging Packs -- I will qualify this a bit. I will run behind a group that will run abreast to fill the entire jogging path and make it difficult for anyone to pass the group. Please people make a couple of rows.

6. Bikers -- I don't dislike all bikers. I have heard that bikers think that runners are too intense looking and thereby unfriendly. Well for those of you that just whip by without any warning, I don't like those bikers. A little courtesy please, just let me know you are coming.

7. Chatters -- Some folks will use the paths for just walking and sometimes they will run into some friends and stand in the middle of the path and chat. There is plenty of room off the path but I suppose that the middle of the path is more inviting. So I will come running up on a group of 10 people stationary in the center of the path. They will also have no urge to move even on seeing people running toward them. I think the discourtesy thread coming strong about now.

8. Drivers -- I think this is first. When I run the roads rather than the bike/ running paths I have to deal with traffic. I don't assume much when running the roads. I think at least once a day that a drive will pull through the cross walk and stop there. I don't care if you do this when you don't see a runner; however, these folks will do this after I am already in the crosswalk. Also, some drivers will turn through my crosswalk when I am running through it. This is also after they see me in the cross walk, while talking on their cell phone (usually). Sunday a woman almost hit me by turning through my crosswalk while I was running across the street. To this I give her a stern reprimand.

You are not very polite, so there
Well there is a small list of annoyances for Tuesday.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Week in Review

Well I managed a 15.42 mile week, a little short of my goal but quite a bit more than I had done in months. My long run only turned into 4.32 miles rather than 6 miles. As the saying goes, bad runs happen to good people. I just had a heck of a time getting into a grove. In the end I did 4.32 and I am happy with that. I will build on this for the coming week.

What did I learn this week? The summer is hot, no no its true. The Summer is humid ... also true. Both of these things make me slower and more fatigued than without. So I will take my small victories of a good week.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Mid Week Check In

The week has gone to plan so far. I did 4.1 miles on Monday and 3.4 on Tuesday, this all fits within what I had set out to do. Yesterday, I took a vacation day and went with family and neighbors to 6 flags for the day. Short lines and no crowds make Wednesday an amusement park day. But I will have to work on Saturday, oh well. At least I have a job where I can work at any time or any place.

Today, I hope to do 5 miles so I can break my last month total. I think I can pull this off.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hopeful Comeback

My running has been terrible for the past 6 weeks, it is true. Last night I ran 4.1 miles and I looked back in my journal (I am geek about writing things down what can I say) and noticed that the last time I ran further was on June 14th or about 6 weeks ago and that was 4.11 miles. There is serious trouble in the kingdom. I noticed that I had been taking longer walk and water breaks than usual. I short I was mailing it in a bit. There were reasons for my lack of motivation, mostly it was very humid and hot. I know these are factors and looking back at my numbers for last summer I notice that this was a factor then as well. That said I was also about 6o pounds heavier. Well last night I did run my 4.1 miles with shorter water breaks and no walk breaks. So that was a good change. I think part of my problem was that I was going out too fast and tiring myself out too soon. So I will have to back off the pace by 30 seconds for a couple of weeks and see how it goes.

My goals are to get to 20 miles per week. If I run 4 days a week I feel great, if I run less I feel like something is off. This is where I feel the best. So here is the week of running I have planned:

M: 4.1 miles - I did this one already
T: 3-5 miles
W: Screwing off
Th: 3-5 miles
F: Lazing about
Sa: 6-8 miles
Su: Make a mash-potato mountain

Total Range: 16.1 miles to 22.1 miles

This is the goal I hope to make it and if I can this week I am sure I will fine for the summer. Wish me luck, I may need it. The good news is that last night I was able to finish my run without any sort of pulls or strains and I feel fine today.

Friday, July 18, 2008

What is up with your running Dude?

Until the other night I had not run in over a week, a sad but true statement. My personal life has been ... chaotic and traumatic as of late. I did a good job the last couple of days getting out there but I need to build my base back up again. So I am pushing my speed work to the side for the next few weeks until I can get my miles back up again.

The last two were 3.37 at a 10:30 pace and 3.00 miles at a 10:25 pace. This is an o.k. pace for me but nothing special. I would like to get up to 20 miles a week and then hit the speed again. I will keep you all updated.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Take it and Run: Overtraining

The Take it and Run Thursday this week concerns over training. I can say that I am very familiar with the dangers of over training. This is a small personal story. I successfully began my running in March of 2007; I unsuccessfully began running in May of 2006. Unsuccessfully, you say. Sadly it is true. I possess heart and strength in very unequal proportions this was the recipe for disaster.

(fat me in June 2007)

I was quite heavy in 2006 (about 280 pounds), not as bad as January 2007 (293 pounds), but still quite bad. I met a woman at work who was a runner and with her encouragement I went out and tried my hand at running. I was slow, quite slow as I put in my 14:00 to 15:00 miles. I thought that even if I wasn't fast if I got out there 4 to 5 days a week that I would progress faster. Train more and get better faster, that is what I thought. I was very wrong in my thinking. I was over training in a big way where I just thought I was toughing it out.

My desire and heart were in the right place but I wasn't thinking very clearly about the state that my body was in. Besides being overweight my joints were not up to the stress I was putting them under. I wasn't giving myself time to recover, sometimes I would run up to 4 days in a row. I was getting aches and pains but I just thought that it was just normal pain from starting to exercise again. It wasn't.

I didn't let myself rest and these small injuries piled up and piled up and before I knew it, I had a bad knee injury. By August, It was so bad after that after only a hundred yards of running I felt like my knee was on fire.

(not so fat me May 2008)

I simply couldn't run, it was devastating. I had registered for a half marathon but didn't even make it to the starting line. I felt so badly but there was nothing I could do but recover and learn from my mistakes. It took me the better part of 6 months before my knee felt right again. I learned later that the connective tissue in the knees, hips and knees develops much slower than legs muscles and the cardio system.

When I did come back to running the next March, I gave myself more time to recover between runs and almost never ran back to back days when I first got back. If I have to give one bit of advice, and I am not sure if I am qualified to give any advice on running given my newness to the sport, it is please respect the recovery time. When you start don't run on consecutive days, you might think your body can handle it but you are wrong and you might not get hurt right a way but an injury is waiting for you. Take it slow because training healthy is a lot more fun than managing injuries.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Another double digit effort

Since running my marathon back in May I have been in a running funk. That said this is the third week of double digit totals, which is a step in the right direction. Actually I think it is great as it has been humid as of late. This weekend I was supposed to do a tempo run on Friday but that was just a nice idea. I was struggling just to get the miles in (humidity was killing me). I managed 3.8 miles. I took Saturday off from running and then put in 4 on Sunday.

I feel like I am getting better. I totally blew week 2 of my speed plan. But it doesn't matter as I am not on a time crunch so I will just do it again. It is nice how things work out.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Take it and Run: Running T-Shirts

The Runners Lounge has come up with a great Take it and Run Thursday: That is a great running T-Shirt. There are two that I have come across that I think are great.

"Pass the Weak, Hurdle the Dead"

"Run Like You Stole Something"

Which I did because I didn't come up with either of those. I just like them. To which I will add my own:

"Run Like It Matters"
To this I will add the thought that I think it does matter.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sprinting Fool... or just a fool (Speedwork W2, D1)

Last night I continued on my quest for the holy grail, which is speed. Pardon the Arthurian reference, I am reading Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles and it has taken hold of me as of late. These are some of the best stories involving King Arthur that I have come across, of course I love Bernard Cornwell and recommend all his works but these are top shelf. Now that I have done my little reading pitch. I went out and did a little three mile warm up because for me speed work is something I have to work myself into. I don't want to get hurt so I do three miles at about a 10:30 pace and then I did 5 sets of sprints. These were .10 at speed and then a .10 walking back to the start point.

I have been working on being consistent with the speed instead of just trying to go all out, well except for the last one ... that one I go all out. The firs four were at about a 7:30 pace. This is faster than my tempo pace by a good deal and I feel like I can maintain this without too much trouble. My legs don't bark and my chest does not feel like there is an explosion on the horizon, but it is difficult. For the last one, I go all out and try to burn it ... with a little help from Linkin Park. This one was a 5:33 pace. Now that was fast and smooth. But my heart felt like it was going to explode. It didn't. But that felt awesome. Tonight I have a tempo run scheduled.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Hill Sprints Suck ... I mean really suck

If you ever want to know how bad your conditioning is find a steep hill and do some hill sprints. I am doing a speed program now that called for Hill Sprints. I thought well I will work that in on my Saturday run. So I went for three miles to warm up and then ended at the hill that has long killed me and used that for a series of hill sprints. I thought well it is big and steep but that will make me better. I was humbled by that big bad hill. I did 4 hill sprints and I learned that sometimes you can feel like you are not even moving.

I would start at the flat part about 10 yards before the start of the incline to get a decent head of steam before I hit the slope. By the time I was halfway up I felt like I was running in place. My word. I did manage to get to the top 4 times and each time I thought my chest was going to explode. Hill sprints will just waste you. Even Linkin Park, my standby running tunes, were not enough to cope with this monster exercise event. I did it but I don't feel much faster yet. The good news is that I get to do it again this week.

I also did 4 miles on Sunday which put me over 10 miles for two weeks in a row. Huzzah!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Take it and Run: You are a Runner when...

The good people at the Runners Lounge have come up a nice Take it and Run Thursday. You are a Runner when....? A good question and I think a lot of new runners struggle with this bit of self definition. I would assert that:

You are a runner when you schedule runs into your week.
When running becomes such a part of your life that you take the time to schedule time for their completion you have made it. Speed doesn't matter, race forms don't matter. We all run at our own abilities and for our own reasons. Some of those reasons are similar to one another. But we are all running. When our running reaches the level that we want to put it on our schedule then we have made it, in my mind, we are runners. That is all it takes in my mind. We all share the pain and fulfillment that the roads and trails bring us. We are runners.

Tempo Run (Speed Work W1, D2)

So yesterday was my first tempo run of this little speed session I have decided to go with. It was not too bad. Based on the speed I ran my last 5k it was a bit slower than I am used to which is not the right feeling I think. The conventional wisdom is to take your 5k speed and add about 30 seconds for your tempo pace. I think I should adjust that a bit, it felt too comfortable. My last 5k was about a 9:50 pace so I ran about a 10:15 pace for the tempo part of the run. Too slow. It felt slow and not the edgy feel I expected doing tempo runs. I will have to remember this for the next time and scale it back about 15 seconds. That might do the trick.

All told, I did 3.5 miles including a .10 sprint at the very end. I wanted to do 4 but my legs were rubbery so I decided to go with the better part of valor (retreat). It was a good run and I felt like it was productive toward my goal.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I am no Steve Austin... (Speed Work W1, D1)

I have been trying to get faster and I don't have bionic legs so that makes it harder. Well it makes it harder than if I had them. Today marks the historic beginning of my speed training.

It almost didn't happen as I had car problems that needed immediate attention. I started with an easy 3 miles to warm up, nothing special just a bit under 11:00 pace. I was just looking to warm up. Then when that was done came the sprints. As this was the first day I was just looking for 2 to 3 at the end. I ended up doing three at a distance of .11. It doesn't sound like much but tell that to my body and there will be a stern disagreement.

Sprint 1: 6:18 pace

Sprint 2: 6:05 pace

Sprint 3: 6:11 pace

It is a great start in my book. I am getting used to going faster that is really the point right now. When I started running I was running 15:00 miles, It was hard. It really was, I am not kidding about that. There is a mental part of all physical endeavors, if you only believe you can do things one way that is all you can do. I thought I was slow so I was. I had to build a base that is true but I thought of myself as slow, so I was.

Now as I work on speed, I think about going as fast as I can and I do. It is no harder than going slow, in a lot of ways it is easier. It is shorter and faster. Tonight I just let go and went all out. My muscles were warmed from doing 3 miles and I just let it rip, well to the extent that I can let it rip. I like this training so far, it gives you a high.

As I learned in my kung fu training over the years, "you never know what you can do until you really try."

How to Ruin a Marathon

The folks at The Onion are at it again with this fun loving bit on ruining a marathon.

I almost fell over.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Finally ... Double Digit Miles

What has happened since I last updated you on my running adventures. Well it seems that I have finally got things back on track.

Saturday: I lifted for about an hour and then went out and did some intervals. I just wanted to get the hang of doing some speed work so I just sort of stuck my toe in the water. I ended up with a half mile warm up and a half mile cool down along with the following.

1st .25 mile -- 8:59 pace

2nd .25 mile -- 9:00 pace

3rd .25 mile -- 8:38 pace

4th .25 mile -- 8:57 pace

5th .25 mile -- 8:33 pace

6th .25 mile -- 8:41 pace

I rested for two minutes between sets which I did at a jogging pace, this accounted for about .75 mile as well. I liked this run as I seemed to get more power and speed as time went on. It was a good feeling, I had a bit of a suspicion at the end of it all ... speed begets speed. I will see if this is true over the next few weeks.

Then this morning I went out for a run. It was just supposed to be easy. My Garmin died, I plugged it in the charging station but my wife turned off the power strip so I ran out of juice after about a half mile. The Captain (my nickname for my Garmin) went AWOL. So I ran the pace I could and as I have run the course about 100 times I knew where the 1.75 point was. Based on the clock in the car upon my return I was a little under a 9:45 pace for the run. So I did about 3.5 to 3.6 miles at about 9:43 to 9:44 pace. There you have it two runs for the weekend and 4 for the week with more than 13 miles for the week, not bad. Things are picking up.

I have a speed plan and I will let you know how it goes as I get into it. It starts tomorrow.