One Man's Fitness Fitness Adventures and Musings

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.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Solstice 5k

Last night after work I did a 5k. It was a good time, I will look into evening runs again. I could tell the field was a good one when I showed up, I should not have been surprised as it was run by my local RoadRunner's Club. The bad news, I came in dead last. There was not a sole behind me, not a one. I am ok with that because I think all things considered I ran a good race. I had wanted to break the 30:00 barrier. Well it remains a barrier but I did finish at 30:37. That breaks down to a 9:51 pace. I have never run any race below 10:00 something before and I only did 10:00 once. So this is an outstanding result. I think this is a good start for the summer.

The race itself was just an out and back on my local park trail but it was a nice little run. Nothing too special as I have run that route hundreds of times before, just not as fast.

I will use this as a base to determine my improvement over the next two months. I will look at this number at a 5k in August and see how far I have come.

So in short, I finished last overall with a PR. Hmmmm, not sure what that says but I am happy with it. Oh, I did shave more than 4 minutes off my 5k from last year.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Small Progress

As I have said, I am slowly getting my miles back up to some sort of respectable standards (well this is from my own perspective.) Last night I went out for a short run at about 10:00 pm. I just wanted to get 3 miles under my belt. Well, it was a success, huzzah.

I was working hard to keep my speed up but I was a bit tired and was not able to get to a sub 10:00 pace this time. Well what can you do. I did manage a 10:11 pace over the course of the run. I am fine with that.

That said my goal for my 5k on Thursday is to get below 30 minutes. I am not sure if I can pull it off but I will do what I can to get it done. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Week in Review

Things have been slow coming on the running front. I am still getting over being a bit burned out from the marathon training. It is slow but I am getting better. This weekend I managed a little over 4 miles on a single run, which is the most I have done in a single stretch since the marathon.

I remember not so long ago that the 11:00 mile seemed such a huge barrier. Today it seems funny to think so. I have made big gains in time since the marathon. I have not been running very long but I have been running faster. My last 3 runs have all been at a sub 10:00 pace. Now this is not going to break any records but it is a nice feeling to be in the single digits.

This Thursday will be my first race since my marathon last month. It will also be my first 5k of the year. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Little Speed

It has been very hot and humid over the last 3 or 4 days so I avoided running a bit. I admit it. Well today I went out for a bit before work this morning. Not much but something for the books.

9:39 pace, 2.35 miles
This was the first time I ever had consecutive miles under 10:00*. Mile 1 was a 9:45 and Mile 2 was a 9:48. This was nice, I finished with a .15 sprint where my pace was about 6:30. It is nice to know I can reach for the speed when I need it these days. When I set the goals for the summer I wanted to hit 10:00 pace for the 3 to 4 mile range. I think I am way ahead of schedule.
I have a 5k scheduled for next week in the evening after work. It should be a nice little race and it will keep me motivated to get out there this weekend. I have been a little short of running motivation since the marathon. I needed the break to be frank and I can't be too sure how much I will do during the summer. That said, I will do my best. Today I am happy with my performance. I hope to do some running tomorrow and Sunday so I should break 10 miles for a change this week. That would be nice.
* ever in this case means since my return to running a couple of years ago. When I was in the Army some 15 years ago I was running paces in the 6 to 7 minute range for 2 to 3 miles.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Post Marathon Struggles

Unlike last year after the half marathon, I did not go into any sort of depression after the race. I think this was because I have really thrown myself into cross training. That said last night marked was a weird post marathon occurrence. As my toes were mashing into the front of my shoes for 5+ hours my toe nails were damaged. Well they were killed and last night they fell off.
Disgusting to be sure, but I have new ones so it is ok. I like the new ones better anyway. The nails had just been hanging around for a few weeks to protect the new nails growing underneath.

Well there you have it, if something else that might happen as a result of running a marathon. I think that my shoes were a tad too big as I lost weight I didn't adjust the size of my shoes so I was wearing the same size shoes as I did when I was 70 pounds heavier. I will come down a half size and that should do the trick.

Well there is something weird for your day.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Horse Stances

I have been working some martial arts basics as well. Most striking based martial arts, those which focus primarily on hitting the opponent with hands and feet, do work from horse stance in varying degrees. A horse stance is just as you might imagine. It is standing as if you were riding a horse without a horse actually being there.

Please see the gentleman below for an example, he is doing a great job!

In essence, the feet are slightly wider than shoulder width apart. additionally, as you can see the legs are not straight but bent with the legs forced out to the sides. The feet of the practitioner will have the majority of the weight resting to the outside edges of the feet. This is a stance practiced for two reasons (1) for stability (2) torture. Well the second reason is just a side effect. If you have a desire to be cruel to yourself try doing this for a while. Just take 10 minutes of your time, lower yourself as the gentleman above in the stance and hold in for 90 seconds. If you haven't done this before 90 seconds will be a good place to start. Then take 60 seconds off then try to hold the stance for 2 minutes and see how that goes. You will know you are doing it right if your thighs have the feeling of bursting into flame. This is a focus drill. You see it is supposed to hurt, but can you focus through it?

Well tonight, I was doing 5 to 7 minutes on versus 2 minutes off while watching the basketball game, go Celtics. I will say that my thighs felt pretty bad after 4 turns through this little game, ouch, ouch, ouch. I hope to be up to 10 to 12 minutes in a month with 30 minutes being the real goal. Give it try, I am sure you did something to deserve it. Just kidding.

Just a short run

I went out for a short run this evening after work, it was pretty humid but I felt like I had been letting my running slide as I hadn't been out since last Saturday. So out I went and ended up with:

2.70 miles, 9:55 pace
Now this is a bit of a mile stone for me. I had never finished a run at a sub 10:00 pace. So I guess I am fresh and very well rested. I was huffing a bit at the end and this was a bit of an uncomfortable pace. I will let everyone in on a little secret, I have found that to get better you have to go through a little discomfort. So I don't mind being a bit out of sorts at the end of this little run. I am having a little pride episode over this sub-10:00 jaunt. I am sure I will get over it.
What else did I do after work, well I have been working on my overall body flexibility and to this end I have been doing entire body stretching. I will tell you what the tension has just melted from my body over the last week. I had done a particular stretching routine when I was studying White Tiger Kung Fu about 8 years ago. Well I dusted off my notes and went through my routine. There is nothing magical about my routine, I just found something that had worked for me and stuck with it. I feel quite refreshed. Work has been picking up so I need the stress relief. I like to live mostly stress free, which can be difficult in my life of work so I need a few outlets, the stretching has helped me keep on top of the stress. I will keep this up for a month and see what I think, with one week gone, I like the effect.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Where have I been?

I have been right here but I haven't been running very much. I do a little here and there in my reverse taper as you can see I did a little under 7 miles last week. I was lighting it up, that was on three runs, whoo hoo. I think after the marathon it is easier to get motivated for other things. I like the running but I feel like I put off so much to do this marathon that I am now catching up. Catching up on what? Glad you asked as for this Summer I feel that my running posts will be pretty spartan.

Six Flags - We bought season tickets to Six Flags Great Adventure. They have three parks (the main theme park, a water park and a drive through safari). I have been a bit family absent during the marathon training so I thought this might be nice to do once a month or so. We went up one day already and it is fun. I am not much of a roller coaster type but there are alot of other things to do as well.

Martial Arts - I have been putting off a test for the past two months due to my running so now it is time to get back to class. I have been a lot over the past few weeks. I am not sure how much anyone wants to hear about this part of my life. I have been training since the age of 16 and I will be 40 this year, so it is part of who I am. I have not trained solidly during that time but I think it would be fair to say I have trained for 15 years of that time period. The art I train in now is a reality focused which means I get hit alot by people much younger. With the marathon over I can now focus more on my training as it is hard to give equal time to anything and a marathon at the same time. I have also been writing a few essays on martial arts in my spare time.

Reading - I have been tearing through some books as of late. I think I have read about 4 in the past 3 weeks. I would recommend the John Adams biography by McCullough. I really liked it, I found a deeper respect for the man who history doesn't do much justice.

Work - Work had been slow over the last month, only about 40 to 42 hours per week. Now, we are speeding up again and it looks like we are approaching the 50 to 60 hour a week pace again. So I have been putting in more time than previously. It was nice that it waited until the marathon was over, so that is nice. :)

On the Horizon - I probably won't post that much this Summer, I will admit this. I will keep busy with some non running related things and will drop some notes now and then but please note my semi-retirement until the fall. This is unless folks really want me to turn this into a martial arts blog.

Happy running.