One Man's Fitness Fitness Adventures and Musings

Friday, February 29, 2008

Monthly Weight Check/ Miles

I am a day early; however, tomorrow will be my weekly running report so I thought this might be a good day to do this. It was a good month to say the least. The new diet I started near the beginning of the year is still yielding results. I dropped 7 pounds the first two weeks of the month and 4 for the remaining two weeks. There is a slow down but I think that this is a good rate. So in all I dropped 11 pounds during the shortened month. That is not too bad.

The trends on this are good. Weight loss is seldom a straight drop, it is usually (for me anyway) a couple of days down a day up, a couple of days down, a couple of days the same, a day down, two days up and so on. But I look for trends to see if I am keeping on track. The results can't be argued with.

So the end result is that on February 1, I weighed 242 and today I weigh 231. I doubt that I will keep dropping 10 pounds or more a month but if I can do 6 to 8 I would be happy.

Secondly, this was a monthly high in terms of miles. I logged 96.69 miles for the month of February. I am so stoked over this I can't begin to put it into words. Every week I push out another 20+ mile week. It is an amazing feeling to succeed at this goal. It is all good feelings today.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Goals are made to be broken, not merely met

I have been thinking on the mental aspects of running quite a lot as of late. I had convinced myself early on that I would be slow and I think I accepted that for quite some time. There is nothing wrong with running slow, but there is nothing wrong with running faster either. For the past couple of weeks I have trying to push my limits in terms of speed. I am trying to break my mental block in terms of speed and become a faster runner. I don't want to break any records, I just want to get closer to my potential.

Tonight was my fastest 5 mile run, I want to say ever but it really is since I returned to running. A small aside, I used to run a 6:30 minute pace when I was in the military. But at that time I weighed a good deal less and I was much younger. But for now this was fast. The time was 53:27, this translates into a 10:41 pace for the entire thing. The other part of that that is impressive for me is that only one mile was more than 11:00. It looked like this:

1 - 10:40
2 - 10:17
3 - 10:31
4 - 11:03
5 - 10:55

I will admit that I had to push to maintain this speed. Mile 4 was an uphill or I think that I would have broken the 11:00 barrier on this mile as well. I just knew that I could do it and just pushed through all the baggage I have carried related to speed. I kept at it, there was pain and I focused through it. Running fast(er) carries a certain amount of discomfort, there will be more of this before there is comfort. But I am overcoming the next barrier.

The first barrier was the motivation to just get out and do it, the barrier after this one was overcoming injuries, and this barrier is breaking preconceived notions about what type of runner I am. I this mental side of my running will need some real effort and constant attention.

I have found the other side of 11:00, lets see what happens next. For now, I will focus on maintaining this for longer runs. I'll let you know what goal I intend to break next. For now, lets just say sub 11:00 pace for 7 miles; wish me good fortune.

Take it and Run: ... If I knew then what I know now

In their weekly installment of take it and run, Runners Lounge has come up with the theme of ... If I knew then what I know now.

I only really started running a couple of years ago. The first attempt, the year before last ended with a bad case of runners' knee. This lead to a renewed effort in March of last year which has gone quite well. I think that over the course of this time I have learned a couple of running related things. I think there are two things that are most important, at least to me.

First, you have to go slower than you want to when you start. When I started, I felt good physically. But what I didn't know was that even though I felt like I could handle all the miles I was putting on my body early on, I really couldn't. I set myself up for injury and really didn't realize it. I learned that my body really wasn't ready for all the miles that I was heaping on it early on. I should have taken it slower than I did. I had the desire to go further and I did. I was happy to achieve the results. However, I injured myself by not backing off early on. First, I ended up with runner's knee. The pain was so bad that I couldn't make it 100 meters without feeling like someone was setting my knee on fire. Last summer, I ended up with a plantar injury that last for a good 6 months before it was completely resolved. I believe that if I had taken a full two weeks off at the onset I could have saved myself a lot of injury management time; however, this was not a beginning injury like the runner's knee was.

I have read since my aborted first attempt that your ability to handle more miles develops more slowly in the connective tissue of your legs. This is why you feel like you can go further when you are really setting yourself up for injury. So if I knew what I know now back then, I would have taken it much slower out of the gate, mixed more walking and run/walks in and really dedicated more rest time to get my body used to the punishment.

Second, running is a physical activity but there is a very large mental part to running. I did not give this much thought when I started and have only begun to understand how far it reaches. When I first started running, I thought of course I am slow, what else would I be. I think this really defined my running for quite some time. It wasn't until I ran a half marathon last September that I realized that I was capable of some speed. I was running in the 12:00 to 13:00 range before the half marathon and yet at the even I ran the first 7 miles sub 12:00. This was really a first. So then I was convinced that I could run under 12:00, in my mind.

Recently, I started think why it was that I could not run below 11:00 on any sort of consistent basis. My answer was that I harbored some fear of injury if I went to fast. Now I have been attempting to log some sub 11:00 pace runs. I have done it now for the past two weeks for one run (these are planned). In short, I had the ability but didn't think I could do it before. Now, I know I can and I also know that I have to watch the mental side of my running. If I knew at the start that the mental side of running was such a big part of running I would have paid more attention to it early on.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Week in Review

This was a definite tick up week. This was mostly true due to the long run I did today. It was a tough one. A martial arts proverb states that a cup that is already full can hold no more substance. Which is a short hand of saying that if you think you know everything already you can't learn anything new. Well today, I was handed a dose of humility. I was running strong for the first 11 miles but 12 through 14 I bled some time and learned to respect the distances a little more. But without further delay here is what I pulled off:

2/18/08.....46:45 time.....4.05 miles.....11:34 pace.....745 calories
2/19/08.....1:10:32 time.....6.05 miles.....11:39 pace.....1133 calories
2/21/08.....49:19 time.....4.60 miles.....10:44 pace.....878 calories
2/24/08.....2:44:26 time.....14.00 miles.....11:44 pace.....2541 calories

Weekly miles: 28.70 miles

I learned to dig in a little more on this long run. My worst time was a 12:55 which was on mile 14 my best time was a 10:47. I did not record a single mile over the 12:00 mark until mile 10. Overall I am happy, but I have to watch going out too fast on the long ones.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Martial Arts: Why I Train Where I Do.

I have trained in quite a few martial arts schools in my years and even had the honor to run one of my own, that was a long time ago. These days I train in American Kenpo, previously I had trained in Chinese Kenpo and the mental backdrops of the two styles are really for all intents and purposes the same. I prefer a system that favors hand work to some degree over kicks. I can kick, quite well on some days; however, beyond all this arbitrary reasoning for choosing one style over another, tonight I was shown the real reason I train where I do.

I was out for a few months with a plantar injury that felt like someone was jamming an ice pick in my heel every time I pivoted. I needed to take time off because I don't know how to go half way. It is a personality defect I have come to accept about myself. That being said I started back this last week and found that I have very little rust, good news. Well tonight I received an e-mail from my instructor asking for some feedback on my transition back and asking how comfortable I am being back on the mat. He went on to assure me that he wanted to make my training as fulfilling and enjoyable as possible. In short my Sensei showed me that he really cares about his students. I think this is a noble quality that is not present in every school, some schools are really only interested in getting your monthly payments. I feel very fortunate to train where I do.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A night of no fear...

When I was growing up, I liked comic books. I wasn't much of a fan of the 4 color variety like superman. I was drawn to the gritty heroes. My favorite was Dare Devil. Dare Devil was the man without fear. As an 11 year old boy what is not to be impressed, a blind guy who happens to be a kung fu master fights crime in the streets of New York. I mean you would have to be crazy or fearless.

I have been running in the fear of injury since last year. I know that injuries happen but I know that if I slowed just a bit that I wouldn't risk injury as much. Tonight, I threw that out the window. I wanted to see how fast I could run a 5k. For those that don't usually read my stuff, my general pace is between an 11:15 and 11:45 pace. Sometimes a bit faster but not too often.

Tonight I had no fear and ran for all I was worth, which may or may not be very much, hmmmm.

I started out of the gate trying to find my runner's bounce and it came early. In the past I would gear back just a half step when I reached this point. But tonight I wanted to ride the wave to the 5k mark. Mile 1) 10:24 I was impressed when the Captain (my garmin gps) alerted me to the results. I was a bit taken aback. I felt good so I kicked it up another little bit. I was feeling good and felt I could push it. Mile 2) 10:02 Wow! that was a great mile. Outstanding really, perhaps the best since I started running again. I have to admit that I started to feel the fatigue on the uphills of mile 3. It was a little harder and I really had to work to keep my pace; however, I could not keep up the mile 2 pace. Mile 3) 10:43 three miles under 11:00 on each one. I have done this before but not to this extent. I was fearless in my running. These are not really fast times generally speaking but they are for me. My final 5k time was 32:11. For me that was flying. I know I have to cut back the pace on my long runs but I think I can really start to look for the speed on the shorter ones.

I geared back for the rest of the run and finished 4.6 miles in 49:19. The last mile and a half was at an 11:24 pace. Not terrible. I'm no Dare Devil but I checked my fear at the door, its a start.

Take it and Run: Martial Arts

Today is Thursday and it is the weekly event at Runner's Lounge Take it and Run Thursday. This week's topic is strength and flexibility. What do I have to add to this subject, I am not sure exactly but I will give my thoughts on the subject.

How do I increase my strength and flexibility? Anyone who reads my blog knows the answer to that is martial arts. Here are the reasons.

Boredom and Solitude - Gym exercise is boring, for me. I have spent a lot of time in gyms and two things are generally true. First, it is dull and second, it is an individual experience. No matter how you slice it the pick it up put it down gets old and there is only so much you can do to spice it up. I still lift on occasion but I find the experience to be a bit boring. Also, when you go it is really a solitary event. You may go with a friend but the focus is mostly on you and your workout. After spending hours each week running, alone, I feel I need a more social outlet for my cross training.

Martial arts fills both of these exercise needs. First, you always learn something new in class. You keep your mind and your body focused together during the exercise. This not only keeps you focused but it makes the time really fly by. Sometimes when I am taking classes I realize that an hour has already gone by when it seems like 10 minutes. It is like snapping your fingers. In addition, you are actively working with other people on your technique and skill base. You need the other people for your own improvement and they need you as well. You also need their critique and focus to help you and them out. So it can be a bit more social than the gym. For me martial arts engages my attention and has social aspects that my running lacks.

Results in Flexibility - The amount of stretching required in most martial arts programs will be far more than needed to assist your running endeavors. To gain the flexibility to kick above one's head it is necessary to engage in multiple leg stretches from many different angles. Everything from the hips to the floor are stretched. These stretching skills will really help your legs stay loose when running. I have been doing this for many years and even at my advanced size I can touch my toes, kick above my head, and do about 80% splits. I don't think I will ever get to 100%, too much effort.

Results in Strength - Overall body strength increases with martial arts practice. Throughout your classes your core muscles are constantly worked. Your back and abdomen gain real strength. You may not gain the gym body but you will be strong. If I needed someone with real strength to do something tangible, like more a piano and I had to choose between a weightlifter and a construction worker. I would pick the construction worker because his muscles are honed every day, he doesn't have gym strength he has real strength because he hones his muscles all day long 5 to 6 days a week. He may not look as good but he is more useful, generally speaking. This is what you get in martial arts, not a few sets of 10 reps on your abs but hours at a time spent working techniques that make you stronger through your core.

Additionally, when you work strength against strength during class you get stronger. Grappling techniques make you stronger from head to toe. You will use all your muscles from top to bottom and they will get stronger. You might not look as good as a gym guy but you will have more all around strength. This is what makes my running easier, much easier.

It is a combination workout - Martial arts is marked my starts and stops at high speed and going from one activity to the next very quickly. This works both your aerobic ability and is also an anaerobic activity, much like circuit training. At the end of a good class you are generally soaked in sweat and your muscles feel sore. That is the goal, to achieve an overall workout.

There is something for everyone. - There are more martial arts styles than you can shake a stick at. This means that there is one that will fit anyone. There are kicking styles, grappling styles, knife styles, punching styles (like boxing), and there are combinations. So if something doesn't appeal to you there is something else to try that might. Additionally, there are cardio kick classes that focus more on the workout than the practical aspects.

In short, I get bored at the gym and want an activity for my cross training that does increase strength and flexibility. Martial arts provides this outlet where as an added benefit I get to learn something useful.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bridgedale Sock Update

Last week I wrote a little sock review on Bridgedale Socks. Well it seems as though the company noticed. They contacted me and sent me some sock samples which arrived today.

They sent me three different types of socks and a nice brochure. As I said before, I am impressed at the way that they are put together with cushion in the heel and toe that is so important on long runs for me and compression through the arch and instep to cut down on blisters. Also, it is not just me. One of the pairs was not in my size and I gave them to my wife without a word. She was very impressed. Her words were, so soft.

So thanks Bridgedale. Additionally, I think I should add that I had very good thoughts about the socks before the free samples. But I do like the free samples.

Martial Arts: Hmmm... I could use a good ass kicking

Last night marked my return to martial arts after a few months of injured reserve. As a review, I had a bad plantar injury that really sent bad vibes up my right leg every time I pivoted. It was not good and it wasn't healing so I took some time off to let it heal. I should have been back a few weeks ago but there was that bit with the sprained ankle. So last night I made it back.

Today, I feel sore. We were working on what is known as arm destructions. That is a not so subtle way of saying maiming. So we elbowed through each other's biceps and just in case it is not clear, it really hurts. But just so that I would get the full effect of these pain/ compliance techniques, we also manipulated the collar bone. This is a very unpleasant feeling. Things like knuckles are not supposed to go behind bones, it feels wrong and it hurts, a lot. We did a few more stunning techniques and a few times I was seeing stars on strikes that were no more forceful than opening a bottle of water, nasty stuff. As the saying goes, Kenpo is for the streets.

All in all, it was a successful return and it was good to see all my friends again. I feel like a did a few rounds but I will be back on Wednesday.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Book Review: Contempt of Court, the Turn-of-the-Century Lynching that Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism

Part of being a lawyer is attending Continuing Legal Education courses. This is supposed to help keep you updated on the law. Usually these are very boring and usually limited in their usefulness. However, sometimes you run into something interesting. The other day I attended a course that focused on the Supreme Court's handling of a lynching case in 1906. This was turned into a production book, Contempt of Court, the Turn-of-the-Century Lynching that Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism.

Although I do not practice in constitutional law these days (I used to litigate 8th amendment issues at a previous firm), I do enjoy the subject matter. It is in fact the reason I went to law school in the first place. I digress; the course I attended was focused around a book written about the rape of a white woman in Tennessee. A black man was accused and his rights were trampled through a quick trial where he was found guilty and sentenced to death despite evidence to the contrary of his guilt. The man was convinced no to appeal but his family engaged two remarkable lawyers to handle an appeal. This went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court that ordered his execution stayed. After his execution was stayed he was promptly lynched by the good townspeople.

The story involves the only criminal hearing ever held by the high court. It is a very interesting story. It is a dirty period in American history but worth looking at. First, you get to meet one of my favorite Justices, John Marshall Harlan, one of the more colorful Justices to ever sit the bench. Additionally, the story is gripping. It is beyond horrific how a man can be fingered by a man who seems by all accounts to be lying, not be identified positively by the victim, have a dozen alibi witnesses and then be sentenced to death. Then when justice seems just within his grasp, he is taken by the townspeople and hung. In the background are two lawyers who might actually give my profession a good name. They did everything humanly possible to save this man, their efforts were in short heroic.

Additionally, the man who was lynched, Ed Johnson, never gave in when he was being coerced into confession. He always maintained his innocence. I have done extensive research into war crimes, genocide and related subjects. The techniques that police, secret and otherwise, have used to coerce confessions are very effective. It is just impressive that Mr. Johnson never gave in and maintained his innocence to the end. He was a brave man.
It all seems insane from a legal standpoint. But this is 1906 not 2008 and the world was a much different place. I think this book is worth the time. I enjoy the legal issues involved in this book from an intellectual stand point. I think that even if you are not inclined to the court related analysis that the story is worth reading for a glimpse into some things that we shouldn't forget.

Week in Review

The week was pretty good. The one down side was that I did not get to my 13 today. I just ran out of time. I will have to push my long runs to Sunday starting next week so that I can get the time to fit the long runs in.


2/11/08.....49:32 time.....4.15 miles.....11:57 pace
2/13/08.....1:22:25 time.....7.10 miles.....11:37 pace
2/15/08.....39:42 time.....3.5 miles.....11:20 pace
2/16/08.....2:12:38 time.....11.10 miles.....11:56 pace

Total: 25.85 miles

I felt much stronger this week especially in the long run. Last week I lost a lot of steam in the 6 through 11 mile range on the long run. This week not so much. I was strong start to finish for the most part. Last week I have 5 of 6 of the last above 12:00 this week only one was above 12:00. Much better. Overall I shaved 7 seconds off the total pace for the long run.

I think what has really been helpful is the long weekday run. It seems that this long run has really helped to pay dividends on my long runs. Very helpful to say the least.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Weight Loss Update

I was going to wait to see how I ended up during the month. But I figured a half month might be interesting.

February 1, 2008 - 242 pounds
February 14, 2008 - 235 pounds

That would be 7 pounds in two weeks. When I said I have the diet figured out I guess I really did know what I was talking about. Since I have started this more disciplined approach to diet I have dropped 17 pounds. Which is really only about 6 weeks worth of time. Not bad, but it does give you an idea of how bad my diet is. Here is an example of what I eat during a day.

Breakfast: yogurt (nonfat), banana, granola bar
Snack: carrots
Lunch: half sandwich, one small microwave supplement (about 150 to 200 calories) (like a pasta cup), cucumber
Snack: apple, celery
Dinner: Kind of an airplane meal sort of thing - 1x fruit, 1x small microwave dinner sort of thing about 250 to 300 calories, cucumber or celery, slice of bread (rye or pumpernickel)

Through the day I drink 8 to 10 cups of water. I have eliminated all caffenine from my diet save that in my gel packs for running and I take my daily supplements of vitamins. That is it. I am never hungry as the water suppresses my appetite and now I am used to smaller portions. That in combination with the exercise = 17 pounds less in 6 weeks.

Not bad.

New Faces ... for me

I don't always post when I decide to add some new folks to the blog roll, I wish I could claim to be so diligent. But today I will be mentioning a few blogs that are new or newer to me.

Formerly Fat Running Guy - I like Jeff's blog because he was in my shoes, exactly. He was a big guy who decided that running was the remedy for him. This is much the same as myself. His journey has been my journey so I like his site.

My Aching Knees - Chief Wahoo, or so he is known I suspect he is just an Indians fan, tells about his journey with running and his struggle with ... his aching knees. Chief just finished his first half marathon with a pretty quick time.

Uchi Deshi - This is not a running blog, rather this blog chronicles the adventures of a live in aikido student in Southern California. I stumbled across his site when I was running two blogs one which was dedicated to my martial arts efforts. Now that I have merged my running and martial arts efforts into one spot I have brought his link with me. This is one of the better martial arts blogs out there and anyone interested in Aikido should spend a little time checking his site out.

I Hated Running - She was here and then gone and now back. I was a regular reader of her blog for sometime, then she took a break and now she is back. These are chronicles of a Wisconsin based runner. As she mentioned that her hits were falling off, I thought a plug might be nice.

I can't promise to do more profiles on a regular basis but I may. Check out the sites, I am sure you will enjoy them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Gear Report: Socks

I like my running gear; however, these days I am becoming a bit of a gear snob. Not just any pair of shoes or anything else running will do. I did some experimenting with shoes and stumbled across the shoe that best suits my foot: Brooks. I had been wearing some thin synthetic socks to go along with them. This was fine in terms of preventing blisters but was not so fine on the long runs. After about 5 miles I really start to feel the road. I thought it might be the roads, and that is probably partly the case but not 100%. I needed new socks, not new as in not worn but new as in different. I read some reviews, because I am a geek like that. I mean who reads sock reviews, well this guy does. For what I was looking for I settled on Bridgedales.

I bought a couple of pair through REI, a company that I have a good deal of respect for. The good news was that they were having a sale, Bridgedales are socks that require thought before purchase. They are not an inexpensive purchase for a sock. But I was willing to shell out the coin if it meant that they would come up on their end.

What did I think? I loved them, I mean I feel as a close to these socks as I man can feel to a sock. Maybe it is because they are purple, maybe not. The socks I purchased are the X Hale model which is more of a light weight sock but it was just great and here are the features I enjoyed.

Cushion in all the right spots - the toe, ball and heel of the sock are all cushioned. I went out for 7 miles tonight and they really made the difference in the later miles. My feet and ankles felt fresher at the end of this run than they normally do after this type of distance. The Bridgedales were like a sort of shock absorber (or sock absorber?), which is completely unlike the thinner socks I had been wearing.

Grips in the right spots as well. The part of the sock that covers the instep and arch hugs tightly like an anti-blister sock. I found no movement in the sock during my run. Just very secure in its placement with no rubbing at all.

It Wicks. It was puddle central tonight and I hit a few. The sock got wet but it didn't stay wet. The wicking weave of the sock kept my foot dry despite my efforts to the contrary.

This is exactly what I am looking for in my long distance runs. Thank you Bridgedale you make one heck of a sock.

As for me, I did 7.1 miles at a 11:37 pace. Not bad for a Wednesday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Short on Wisdom...

There are times that I have shown a complete late of judgment, wisdom free as it were. This morning may have bordered on one of these times. I did not have to go in until 11:00 today as the project I am working on has a bit of an ebb. I decided that I should go for a run this morning rather than just go into work to stare at my co-workers. So I woke up this morning and it said the wind chill was -5. I thought, hmm sounds cold but I can do that. I mean I did spend a lot of time in my life living in cold weather.

So I went out with the intention of 4 to 5 miles. Well it was very cold. My torso, legs and feet were fine. I say thanks to Brooks for their fine cold weather apparel that I thought to buy a few weeks back. However, my hands did not fare as well. The running gloves I have are really shells and I needed more. After a quarter mile I pulled my fingers out of the fingers and made fists in the palm of the glove. This was fine. The good news was that after 2 miles I didn’t need to do that any longer. The wind was a nasty son of a gun that is for certain.

A few cold weather things happened along the way. First my water bottle froze. The tube froze solid and I had to really put some force on it to pry it out. The water itself froze near the neck where it was exposed to the wind. It was chilly, brrrr. The second thing that happened was that the moisture from my body froze on my mp3 player cords, just frozen solid. Finally, after a couple of miles I took my hat off and when I did the sweat was exposed to the elements and it froze in my hair.

In the end I did run 4.15 miles. I will admit today that I am some times too long on determination and too short on good sense. But I accept that about myself.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Martial Arts: Awareness

Some people think that the martial arts are all about hitting each other. As someone who has trained for an excess of 15 years, I have to tell you that this is not true. Awareness and generally being aware of one's environment is a major part of any martial arts training program. Whenever I am running it seems that a few times I night I come up behind people walking on the street. I do the normal thing and tell them that I am on their left and say excuse me as I pass them. A few times a week someone will jump out of their skin as I pass by them. The reason being is that they did not know I was behind them until I spoke to them and this scared/ startled them. There is no demographic determiner for this behavior: men, women, young, old and in between have all done the jumping.

I am usually amused by this behavior as I am not a quiet runner, especially with this flu I have been nursing for the past week. I think I breathe a bit loud and I am not trying to be quiet in the least bit. However, most of these folks don't know I am there until I am within a foot of them. This really is clearly a case of people not paying attention to their surroundings. In life you may be a victim by doing everything right, but it is less likely than when you act like a victim. If you pay attention to you surroundings you will increase your likelihood of being a victim.

First, keep your head up and look around. You can't avoid potentially dangerous situations if you don't recognize them. I think this is really the reason that most of these people jumped through their skin. They were not being active with their environment. We are all busy and have a million things going through our heads. However, if you can cut the chatter down to a dull roar and pay attention to what is happening in the moment you can avoid situations before there is a situation. If the lights are all out on a street perhaps a different route might me in order. I can give a bunch of scenarios but I think the point is made. Keep your head up and analyze. Does something have the feel of danger? Being safe is not paranoia, reduce your risks and you will reduce your chance of being a victim. It will never eliminate but it will reduce it.

In my normal situation, if these people had been paying attention they would have noticed a guy running at them in a bright yellow top. I look like a guy out for a run. The danger evaluation should come out pretty low on this analysis. It is possible that someone dressed like a runner might attack you, but I think the chances are small.

There are a number of other things you can do to actively reduce your chances of being a victim. I really wanted to touch on awareness but a short list (look into your car before entering, carry keys in your hand on your way to your car, always park in a lighted area, carry change in your pocket (you only need a second in most cases this could be a valuable distraction), practice the buddy system (when it is late don't go out alone) there are others but these are a few. I am sure if you think on it you may come up with your own.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bring it On...

I registered for my first marathon this week. It is a big date on the calendar to say the least. I used the end of the week to really gauge where I am in terms of fitness in getting ready for this upcoming ordeal. In addition I do have a half marathon to do on March 9th, or one month from now. So how did this week shape up, sort of like this (well exactly like this):

2/4/08.....3.88 miles.....45:32 time.....11:44 pace.....744 cal
2/6/08.....3.65 miles.....44:27 time.....12:11 pace.....643 cal
2/8/08.....4.90 miles.....56:31 time.....11:32 pace.....907 cal
2/9/08.....11:00 miles....2:12:24 time.....12:03 pace.....1944 cal

I have been nursing a sprained ankle. It is not bad enough to not run but it is bad enough for me to take it easy a bit. I intentionally slowed down on the first couple of days of the week to keep the pressure off. I think the progress is good.

My run tonight does give a good gauge of my ability. I ran the first ten miles sub 12:00 pace; the last mile I just bled time (13:13 pace for mile 11). It was late when I hit mile 11 so perhaps I was just tired, maybe if I was running during the day that mile might have been faster. It doesn't really matter, even when considered with the rest of the run it is still a very fast time for me for this type of distance. The strange thing is that I was ignoring pace and just trying to do the distance. But it all worked out. I think I have developed a good running base for the half marathon. I think I would beat my last time by at least 15 minutes today, I was on pace to do that tonight.

The other good news, when I ran my last half marathon in September, I could barely walk at the end of it. My ankles and hips were a mess. It was a week before I was normal again. Today, I did 11 miles and I just have a little tweak in my sprained ankle. No blisters, no soreness, nothing. So as to the half marathon, bring it on. As for the marathon, I think I am starting at a good spot to get ready. Things are coming up well for me in terms of the training.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

There is Something in the Air ...

I feel like spring is around the corner on this 65 degree day. The big news of the day....

I registered for my first Marathon today!
You read correctly. On May 18, 2008, I will be taking part in the Delaware Marathon. This is not a big event but I am really looking forward to it. They have their fees and now I can get on with my training. 26.2 miles is pretty far but I can do it. Well I think I can anyway. Everyone wish me well on this one. I hope this will be the first of many.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Injury Management

I mentioned that I sprained my ankle last week. It was a light sprain but even with a light sprain the standard practice is R.I.C.E. We all know this rest, ice, compression and elevation. Rest? Well how much rest should I take. Well most of the literature I have looked at suggests 4 to 6 weeks. That would be 4 to 6 weeks of no running. I don't think so. But Rob, the doctors say 4 to 6 weeks of no running, what is wrong with you. Well there is plenty wrong with me but I will refer you to the Running Bible (or Lore of Running by Tim Noakes, MD). This is the single best running book, period; everything else pales in comparison. Dr. Noakes suggests that you should not take running advice from a non-runner even if they are a doctor. He points to general lack of understanding of running injuries in the medical community to the point of recommending unneeded surgeries. Yikes, I say.

Dr. Noakes goes on to say that the last thing you should do when injured is to stop running. (There are some limits but for the most part this is the advice). If you stop running completely the same stress the caused the injury will be waiting for you when you get back to running. Id. p. 754. Run to the point of discomfort is the advice of the day. Id. p. 755. I have really always done this since I started running. Back to my situation, I sprained my ankle last Wednesday and was on an eliptical on Saturday and Sunday and was back on the streets on Monday. I have dropped 30 seconds a mile off the pace, but I am running. Thanks Dr. Noakes for telling me what I felt had to be true.

I would recommend everyone who runs to pick up a copy of this book, it is the single best running book I have ever bought and I have bought a more than a few.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Martial Arts: How to Pick a Martial Arts School for Yourself

I have made this blog more of a total fitness blog rather than a simple running weight loss blog. I will be posting on subjects more varied than running. I will post warnings on each post so if you don't care, I won't waste your time. Jason has a question the other day about picking a martial arts school. I think the martial arts appeal to many different people for a wide range of people. In fact, I saw a National Geographic show the other night on that referenced an American Sumo organization. There are lots of reasons for adults to be drawn the short list might include: fitness/ health benefits, cultural interest, and self defense. I am sure that there is a laundry list of others please excuse my cursory treatment.

Personally, I have trained in a number of different martial arts, my main background is in Kenpo and Kung Fu but I have trained in some grappling arts and some Korean kicking oriented styles. Kenpo simply works for me I do not find it superior to any other; most people who train for any time will come to the same conclusion that there are no superior martial arts only superior martial artists. With this said here are some considerations to consider:

McDojo - This is a strange looking word. It is a hybrid term combining the word 'dojo' a Japanese word referring to training hall and 'Mc' the prefix for McDonald's as in the fast food chain. In short McDojo references a training hall that is more interested in being financially profitable than in putting out a quality product. I won't dismiss all McDojos as they do have function for some people. Some people may not be interested in a serious school and a more laid back approach might work. A lot of McDojos will be short on discipline and technique. I would caution that if you feel you are training at a McDojo that you should not feel too comfortable with you ability to defend yourself.

Here are a couple of things to look for: 1) does the school push you to sign a long term deal very shortly after beginning classes, 2) does the school attempt to push other merchandise on you (training tapes, books, etc.) on a frequent basis, 3) are there fees for tests? If so are they excessive? This is a subjective analysis but if the tests for lower ranks exceed 30 or 40 dollars you may be in a McDojo. I think that if your school feels more like a used car lot than a place where you can comfortably train you may want to look elsewhere. You may not, if you are more interested in sport than self defense this may be fine. We all want different things from our training.

Injuries - As in any sport there are injuries in the martial arts. You should consider the types of injuries that you might receive and weigh that in your decision to train. Kicking arts, like Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do, as obvious as it may sound have a lot of leg work. This can lead to pulls in the hamstrings and groin, especially for beginners. You will stretch a lot but you will pull something sooner or later just a fact from what I have seen. Grappling arts are more prone to other types of injuries, I did not study Jiu Jitsu for long but I have seen shoulder separations and sprained knees. If you want to train in these types of styles you may want to consult a person who does train in this area. I train in Kenpo and there is contact and that means some bruised ribs, a stinger here and there and a few bruises. In short, Kenpo is not sanitary. You may want to ask about common injuries when looking at a school to know what you are in for.

- I am not sure if I would recommend sparring for all. Some might I won't. The founder of Judo said that the best training for Judo is Judo. But sparring is not Karate per se. It is only part of it. There is a lot more to your training than sparring and a school that puts a lot of emphasis on sparring might be leaving a lot out, unless it is in fact a kick boxing school. You should look to see what protection they wear. You might not want to go hot and heavy if you are just looking for a hobby or you might. But you should think about how much you want to mix it up when looking for a school. Most sparring doesn't hurt due to the padding but some people take it too seriously and you should look for this. You may not want to be in a school that allows this to get out of hand.

Physical Plant - I think the cleanliness of a school says a lot about those that operate it. If a school is going to charge for lessons they should make sure that the place where you will train will be clean and safe. A dirty and ill kept training area is reason enough to look somewhere else. However, if you are lucky enough to find an instructor who is not going to charge you or who only charges a nominal amount then you can give up a little here.

Schedule - Do the classes fit in your schedule? There are really two types of schools out there, part time and full time. Some schools are only open in the evenings and then again on Saturday mornings. These are usually less established schools or schools that are run by folks that have full time jobs. There are pros and cons to this. The pros being that they usually don't need your money and run the school for other reasons. The classes might be smaller and the fees might be smaller as well. The cons being that there will be fewer classes and there might be less instructor availability. This might not be true but it is a possibility. In a full time school, there will generally be classes on weekday mornings, open time for private lessons and multiple classes in the evenings. There may also be a chance for special classes or programs as the instructor's job is to be a martial arts instructor so there is less competition for his/ her time. I personally prefer this format as I like to be able to have greater access to the instructor.

The Instructor - this is bar none the most important part of the equation. Can your instructor teach? Here is where the rubber meets the road. When you watch a class is the instructor giving information that helps students refine their understanding are they correcting and polishing their students? Do they know? You can't really make all these decisions when entering a school for the first time. But during your introductory period you can make these evaluations. You should look not just at how your instructor interacts with you but with other students as well. Here is the hard part of looking for an instructor, it doesn't matter how many stripes they have on their belt. Should your instructor be an 8th degree black belt or a 2nd? I would answer the better teacher.

High skill and respect are great but it does not convey the ability to teach. A great martial artist like Bruce Lee might not be equally gifted teacher. If the 2nd degree black belt can convey information in a way that is easily processed by his/ her students than I would choose the 2nd degree as The other reason I say this is that there is no regulation for the most part over degrees conveyed. Some folks have just claimed they were a 10th degree black belt or given themselves such lofty titles as Grandmaster. With no regulation there is nothing to stop them from doing so. My advice, stick with those that can convey information and those that you are comfortable with. You may make a mistake for two early on in picking a school; as long as you don't get yourself into a long term deal it is ok.

Contracts - I have mixed feelings about this. For beginners there should be some sort of introduction program. If there isn't one find another school. You can't know if a school is right for you after taking one class. There needs to be a one month or 3 month program that lets you get your feet wet. This enables you to see if you are right for the school and the school to determine if you will be a good fit. Some schools will want to lock you in for a year right away; I would shy away from this type of arrangement early on. A lot of school use long term contracts of 6 months or a year. This commits you to the school like a gym membership and commits the school to you. It is really more against you though so keep that in mind. Just be sure to identify the exit clauses and if the contract can be placed on hold during injury or vacation time. I think this is an excellent insight into the school. If they will place your program on hold during these periods then they are trying to work with you, if not it may be a McDojo - see above.

Technology - Today there is more of a demand for things to use the technology resources of the day. Websites are inexpensive and a well appointed website can give you not only information about the school, but some schools are posting videos for students to reference when outside of class on techniques. Schools that embrace technology will make your training more enjoyable in my opinion. I don't think this should be used to discount a school but it can be a bonus. Being able to e-mail an instructor a question is valuable access.

I know a lot of this might seem needlessly complicated, but I do hope it can help a bit.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Week in Review

As I mentioned, I took on a small ankle sprain on Wednesday in the midst of my run. That sucked to say the least. Nothing like an injury to set you back a step. I did manage to make a respectable week out of it, here are the figures:

1/28/08......7.09 miles.....1:22:23 time ...... 11:37 pace.......1373 calories
1/30/08 ....3.75 miles ..... 44:47 time ......... 11:57 pace ......671 calories
2/2/08 ..... 4.10 miles ..... 54:00 time ........13:10 pace ...... 705 calories
2/3/08 ...... 3.88 miles ..... 50:00 time ........12:53 pace ..... 685 calories

Total ......... 18:82 miles (not terrible)

The last couple of days I did my time on the eliptical machine at my local gym. I hate the thing but with a light sprain I choose a little wisdom. I did my time and hope to be back on the roads this week. While I was at the gym I did some weight time as well, which was a nice change.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Little Recovery Time

I sprained my ankle last Wednesday in the midst of my evening 5 miler. It is not a bad sprain so no worries, but there is no reason to be an idiot about it. I could have run outside today; however, my lateral movement is a bit compromised. If I had to avoid any obstacles I am not sure if I would feel comfortable doing so. That said I went to the gym today and ran on an elipital trainer. The eliptical I was on is a good one, which is to say I only hated it a little.

All things being equal I would rather be outside. I do know that to get back outside I have to be smart. So the eliptical it was. I put in 4.1 miles on the thing at a 13:00 pace. my ankle is sprained after all. I took it easy and did my time and just reeled back with the thought that this is recovery. I then did some weights for a half hour and went home.

At the gym, I ran into a gent that I worked with at a previous law firm. He is a nice guy and is pleasant to be around. He was telling me how weights were really the only way to exercise and that other forms of exercise were just not as good. He didn't say this as direct as I just did but his point came across. I think that I might have been just as biased if I had decided to argue with him. I merely stated that I thought that weights were a good way to stay fit without chiming in that I thought endurance training should not be ignored. You don't have to run, but you can't argue that it is good for you in numerous ways. I also won't argue that those that decide to focus on lifting, playing basketball or dancing are less athletic than I might be (or will be). I know that the man I used to work with did not intend me to have this type of reaction to his statement. He was only saying that he felt that weight training should be the focus of anyone's fitness routine. I just have a different focus, endurance. Endurance first that is my focus. It is only a different focus, not right or wrong. We are all individuals and do what we think is right in terms of our fitness and abilities.

Have fun out there.