One Man's Fitness Fitness Adventures and Musings

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gosh, a hard one

My new found speed has left me a bit more self critical on my run times. I went for a 3.75 mile jaunt on Saturday and it was a killer. Killer I say. The humidity was insane and yet I was determined to get a run in. I stubbornly refused to back off my pace for the entire run and managed to log a 9:45 average time throughout the run. The cost was a bit high. I was hyperventilating at the end of the run and my legs were giving me a bit of a shake. Not good. My inner Viking refused to quit and I paid the price. Earlier in the day I had done an hour and a half of martial arts training.

The combination of being a bit tired when I started and the humidity really dragged me down. It was a short run but I was dead when I was done. I think I am pushing harder these days trying to crack my speed barrier and hopefully reach the 9:00 mile. I am not sure if I will get there but now I am at 4 runs in a row with an average under 10:00 per mile. I am getting better.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Escrima Class

I have been training for a good many years and in that time I have trained with a lot of traditional weapons: Chinese Broad Sword, flute, bo staff, jo stafff, spear and so on. My attention to these weapons has been really limited to say the least. I have always been of the mind that they look nice and they do help to improve your balance and coordination but I found them to be of little practical application. I mean who walks down the street with a Chinese Broad Sword strapped to their back, beyond the legal implications you look like a psycho. So here I am again being coaxed into weapon work again.

I will say that I have finally found some practical application to weapon work. The school I train at has a good deal of knife and eskrima work. I have never worked with eskrima before two months ago. I had seen it done but I never gave it much thought. I admit with chagrin the error of my ways. Eskrima and Kenpo are two twins born of different mothers. Kenpo, the art I study is an art dominated by hand techniques that is filled with slashing techniques where movements work in concert. Eskrima is a Filipino art down with twin sticks to simulate machete movements. The techniques are with two weapons and are also done in concert. To say that I love this new weapon training is an understatement.

The most difficult part of learning the new weapon is the two man training drills. There are a series of drills that are performed with a partner that hone your skills with the weapons. The drills help you to mentally adjust to wielding two weapons at the same time. It takes some time to get used to the idea of controlling multiple weapons at the same time. It seems odd as I have been thinking in terms of multiple weapons for many years; yet with actual weapons rather than two hands and two feet it seems more difficult. I have been having much difficulty in getting the hang of the drills. That said anything worth doing takes effort. I don't mind looking like a fool in the short term.

I do appreciate my instructor's patience with my learning pains, I am sure it isn't pretty. Here is to future competence.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Home Practice versus Class Time

My schedule is ... well ... insane. I am starting my own law practice which takes a good deal of time. I think I am dedicating between 70 to 85 hours a week to work related activities. This leaves precious little time for anything else. What it means is that I cannot get to my Kenpo class as often as I would like. To fill the gap I am forced to do a few days a week of home practice while the rest of the world sleeps.

Moon shining
Feet moving, arms slashing
World Sleeping
I don't claim to be a poet and I know it is a bit off in the 5/7/5 format but there is my Haiku on my nocturnal activities. I digress.
As my schedule only permits so much time to exercise and maintain my skills when the rest of the world is at work and play, I need to practice at home. During my home sessions, I execute my lists of techniques and kata and try to maintain my form, speed, power and fluidity. Home practice is not the same as the time in class. There is no one there to correct you if you are off which can create an issue if you are practicing incorrectly. Because it is not practice that makes perfect but rather perfect practice. Additionally, Kenpo is about working techniques on your training partners. Without the reaction of an opponent you are not getting all the benefit you could be. Does that make it without merit? No not at all.
I have found my home practice very valuable for a few reasons. First, I get to set the baseline. When working with an opponent you have to adjust for the movements of the individual. When working alone you do not. Of course you have to remember this when you get on the mat. But working alone helps to cement the techniques in your head that isn't really duplicated when working with an opponent. Creating a mental blueprint is easier on my own than when working with others. I know that I have a tendency to try to work everything at once in class: power, speed and fluidity but this is not always the way to train. Sometimes you have to go slow to better understand the techniques. As I am not always able to do this in class my home study allows me to be more critical of the techniques and their applications.
Second, I am able to recover. The style I study comes with a good amount of contact. I like that about it but I need time to recover from it. A typical class comes with a few black and blues and a stinger here and there. Home study allows me to keep up on my training while dealing with these little hurts. When I was 20 I probably could have trained 6 days a week with no issue but at 40 I need a little recovery time.
Finally, (I say finally because I am a lawyer and I always make three points,there are more) I get to choose. Class time runs on the instructors prerogative, home time runs on mine. When I think I need to work on things I get to decide what needs to be worked on. The flexibility to decide where to focus my attention is a great benefit. Sometimes I feel that my kata needs work or I would like to really concentrate on speed or working my techniques in a 2 foot square or I might just decide that I need to work a horse stance and hand strikes for 30 minutes. Where ever I decide to take my training I am able. I appreciate and respect my instructor's guidance; home time is critical time to determine where the work needs to be done. In many ways home practice is about honing your skills where class time is about application. Application is important but you can't cut down a tree very well with a dull axe.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I wanted to wait a day to follow up on my record breaking run. I think I have placed myself into good speed for some time. I went for a 3.5 mile run on Sunday and ended with an average pace of 9:39. Previously I had always started a little slow to get myself into the running mode. But the problem with starting slow is that it can create a self fulfilling prophesy in terms of speed. So I have been starting faster and that has turned into more speed.

The last three runs my first half mile is at a 10:20 and then I drop that to 10:00 for the next half. I then kick this to below 10:00 and continue to drop it as I go. So far my fastest sustained pace has been at 9:13 but for a guy who has been happy with 10:30 this is great. I am feeling faster these days. I am not sure what the next few months will bring but these are great runs right now. I am taking it a half mile at a time.

On my Saturday class, I usually work with the same black belt. He is a bulky guy and hits with force and weight. You know when you have been hit. This last weekend I was fortunate to work with a second degree black belt who is more of a precision striker. He isn't the full body hitter the other man is but his strikes go through you like a shock wave. It is more of a focused power that seems to echo through your body. If this sounds unpleasant, it is; however, that is the intention. I always feel fortunate to work with people who are willing to lay one on me as this is how I get better, even if it makes me a little dizzy afterward.

In other observations, I find that I am progressing in skill but I also find that I am not operating at the level of precision that I would like to. I believe that will always be the case. You are looking good but there is room for improvement. We should always be trying to improve. It is the point after all. I only wish that I could go to class more often.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I have been getting more speed as of late in my runs. I was going to run yesterday but I wanted to be fresh for my little 5k experiment this morning. One of the things that has gotten me down was that I was not able to crack the 30:00 threshold for a 5k. When I came close last year, I was in truth a bit bummed about it. But now it seems that I have gotten some experience and with it some speed. Enter this morning:

I got up and out the door for a little run in the morning drizzle. I wanted to see exactly how fast I could do a 5k. So I started with my 2 minute walk and then set out on about a 10:00 minute pace for the first mile. Once I was awake I was pushing the envelope the entire time, uphill 9:45 pace, down hill 9:20 pace and so on until I hit the 3.11 mile mark which was at: 29:52 or a 9:37 pace. This was a great feeling. I am happier about this PR than any I can remember right now. Excuse me while I bask in my own accomplishments for a time ... ahhh. Ok, I am done. I am not sure what my running will look like in terms of totals this year but it will be faster. Also, if I didn't run another mile for the rest of the year after today, I would call it a success.