Friday, February 27, 2009

Garmin Integration at RunningAhead!!

This morning I was out to Virginia for work again, so I packed my gym bag and ran on the W&OD Trail - for the first time with my Garmin.  Not that I need the Garmin so much on that trail, since there are mile markers every half mile (does that make them half-mile markers?).

Anyhow, it was a nice morning.  About 50 degrees with a slight wind.  Shorts and a long-sleeved running shirt kind of weather.

I ran an easy 5 miles - 2.5 miles out and back.  Then a quick shower at the gym and off to work.

I went to log in my run later in the day on RunningAhead, and I saw the following note on the site:
  • RunningAHEAD is proud to announce integrated support for the Garmin Forerunner! You can now upload data from your Garmin GPS directly to RunningAHEAD. With a few mouse clicks, all your data will be converted into workouts and saved to your training log.
    Simply connect your Garmin GPS to the computer, go to the import page and click the Upload button. You'll be able to see detailed graphs and a map of your workouts in seconds. Recording your data has never been this easy!

I tried it out and it really works very well.  Everything transfers over - splits, maps, heart's all there.  Now, the only runs I'll need to put in manually are my treadmill runs.  Nice.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

Work has been busy.  After work has also been busy with a bunch of Israeli Dance commitments - one of my friends and fellow Israeli Dance leaders had an emergency appendectomy so I've been filling in for her on some of her gigs - along with leading my own Tuesday night session and dance troupe on Wednesday night.

Unfortunately, that means that a few things very important to me are falling by the wayside - time with my wife and kids and running.  Let's just hope this is all short-lived.

I did get to do my last set of Week 6 Push Ups yesterday.  I did 159 push ups - 13, 13, 17, 17, 16, 16, 14, 14 and 39.

I didn't get to run this morning.  Hopefully I'll get my behind out of bed early tomorrow and get that run in.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Yesterday Was Such A Fluke :-(

Yesterday's easy 3 miler was a dream come true. My heart rate wasn't elevated at the training pace I had been running at, I felt comfortable and not fatigued; it was like I didn't donate blood on Saturday.

So I was looking forward to a nice mid-week long run this morning. 5 to 6 miles. Since I need to be in Sterling, VA for work today, I left the house at 5:30am and drove to the Fitness First in Reston. In my haste to get out of the house early, I forgot my Polar HRM watch (I remembered the strap, no it was no biggie since the treadmills all have HRM sensors, right?).

They have the Life Fitness 95T treadmills like in Olney, along with some Precor treadmills. I got on one of the Life Fitness machines and my heart rate did not register. The same thing had happened with this same type of machine at the Olney Fitness First, so perhaps this model doesn't do Polar HRM? Or perhaps I happened to find the only two machines that had the HRM feature broken???

Anyhow, I jumped onto a Precor machine and it got my heart rate. So...I was off and running. And according to the treadmill, so was my heart rate. Grrrrrrrr. I thought I was in the clear after yesterday's run, but it wasn't the case. Here I was warming up at a 12:00/mile and my heart rate was already in the low 150s.

So, I had a very un-inspiring run this morning. I convinced myself at about 1.5 miles that I would only do 3 today and do the 5-6 miler on Thursday morning. The weather is supposed to be nicer, so I could run outside instead of on the 'mill - always a plus.

Sh!tty run stats: 3.0 miles in 35:09, 11:43/mile, 152 avg heart rate, 162 max. Compared to yesterday's 3 miles in 32:44 with an average heart rate of 142 - can you see why I'm so perturbed about my run this morning???

Monday, February 23, 2009

Easy 3 On The 'Mill

This was my first run after donating blood at the neighborhood Blood Drive on Saturday. Normally my post-blood donation runs suck. I feel fatigued, my heart rate is elevated and I just can't seem to get going.

Nothing like lowered expectations to get you going on a Monday morning.

Ironically, this run went very well. I started off really slow - a 12:30/mile pace - and my heart rate stayed really low. So I just started bumping up the pace every quarter of a mile, until I was running at 5.6 mph - a bit faster than an 11 minute mile.

I kept it nice and easy and my heart rate never went over 151 bpm. Actually, my average heart rate for the entire run was 142 - I rarely keep it down that low, so it was especially surprising to see this after donating blood on Saturday.

Anyhow, I'm still going to take it easy this week and do an easy run tomorrow instead of speedwork.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Busy Day of Rest

It Saturday - the Jewish Sabbath - so I'm supposed to have a "day of rest" right?  Here's my version of the "day of rest":  Get woken up by younger son at 5:30am, try to go back to sleep once kids are in front of a movie...but can't, go out for an "easy 10" at 7am, get to synagogue by 10am...I'm chanting torah this morning, give blood at the neighborhood blood drive at 12 noon, go to a neighbor's house for Shabbat lunch.

If this is a day of rest, I'd hate to see what my work week is like :-)

Anyhow, the "easy 10" was nice, but it was a bit chilly when I left the house (18 degrees).  Since I saw that it was that cold before leaving for my run, I put some Gatorade powder in my water bottles...I did get some slush in the bottles by the end of the run - but they didn't freeze over like some of my runs a few months ago.  My fingers and toes were really cold during the first two miles, but they finally warmed up and then didn't get cold the rest of the way.  Luckily it was sunny and warmed up (to a balmy 29!) by the end of the run.

Run stats:  10.48 miles in 1:55:30;  11:01/mile pace, 153 avg HR, 169 max HR.

I decided not to do 12 miles today on my long run.  First of all, I was a bit tired.  Secondly, it was on the cold side.  Lastly (or realistically), I think I just wimped out.  Anyhow, I think I'm going to go with this week being week 2 of the training program - which means that the longest run I'll do before the Half Marathon is 15 miles.  That seems more appropriate than doing a 17 miler...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Push Ups - Week 6 Day 2

Last night, I did Day 2 of Week 6 of the Push Up Challenge.  I followed it to a tee - up until the last set where I was able to do 40 push ups instead of 44.  I did 146 push ups in all - 14, 14, 15, 15, 14, 14, 10, 10 and 40.

Today is a rest day and tomorrow is my long run.  Since I took nearly two weeks off from running after starting a particular training plan, I'm not sure where to start again.  For the past two weeks I've been kind of following Weeks 4 and 5 - which would make my long run tomorrow at 12 miles...definitely doable for me, but longer than I have been running lately.

I'm not sure it really makes too much of a difference - this plan is for running a full Marathon, and I'm really training for a Half Marathon.  I just wanted a nice plan to gradually add more miles each week to lead me to the race.

The race I'm targeting now is the Run For The Shelter, which is in 8 weeks.  So if say I'm on Week 5 and I do the 12 miles tomorrow, I'll be doing an 18 mile run 2 weeks before the Half Marathon.  That may be a bit much for training for a 13 mile race...I'll likely make it a shorter run when I get to it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Morning Lake Run

On the schedule for today was a 3 mile easy run. The plan is always to wake up early and get out of the house before the children are stirring. That's tough to do when one of your kids wakes up at 3:15am....

My wife - the saint that she is - tended to the little one from 3:15 to somewhere around 5am. At that point I could sense she was bubbling over, so then it was my turn. Somewhere around that time, the little one woke up my older son as well, so the entire house was awake. Joy, joy, joy! I keep reminding myself that in a few years these kids will sleep in until noon and we'll need to pry their lazy butts out of bed with a crowbar...but I only half believe it on mornings like this.

Given that Sherry was up for a few hours already and wanted to rest, I wasn't about to leave for a relaxing run at 5:30am. So I took the breakfast shift and got my older one ready for school.

Finally, I was out of the house for my run at 7am. The sun was starting to rise, so I felt comfortable running around the neighborhood lake instead of the other neighborhood 3 mile route that I take when it is dark. The morning sky featured layers of clouds tinted in shades of orange, gold and pink by the sunrise - what a great time to run!

I ended up not really getting into a rhythm during the run...I'm not sure why. My heart rate was a bit higher than I wanted it to be - it elevated as I crested a few hills early and then I didn't get it back into the 140s which is where it should be for an easy run. However, my average HR ended up being 152, so I guess I didn't do too bad.

Final stats: 3.21 miles in 34:07, 10:38/mile pace, avg HR 152, max HR 166.

Three weeks ago, I ran this as one of my first runs after my chest cold. In three weeks my pace has improved 35 sec per mile with a lower average HR. It's nice to see the improvements that consistent training brings.

I am bracing myself for slower times next week, as my neighborhood is holding a blood drive this Saturday. I never got back to the Red Cross office to try another Platelets donation, so I'm going to donate whole blood this weekend instead. After my long run on Saturday morning, of course!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

(Too Fast) Pace Run

This morning my plan was to do a 6 mile Pace Run.  Since I'm shooting for a sub-2:10 Half Marathon right now, my Pace Run needs to be in the neighborhood of 9:55/mile.  I set up my Garmin to show current pace in one of the windows so I could monitor how closely I was running to this pace.  I intentionally had the pace on a different screen than my heart rate reading - I had planned to follow pace this morning and not heart rate.

For what I can gather, I ended up not really following anything given my stats:  6.21 miles in 1:00:31 - a 9:45/mile (this actually doesn't look too far off the plan, except for the fact that my first mile was a slower warm-up mile).  My splits were:
10:36 - warm-up mile
9:53  - pretty spot on, but it includes a big hill
9:20 - net downhill
9:35 - net uphill actually
9:51 - another big hill
9:11 - nice strong finish (?)
2:02 (9:35 pace)

A few comments about my run this morning:
  • This pace was faster than the last 10K I ran.  Shouldn't a pace run (or a tempo run even) be slower than a race?
  • This was great for 6 miles.  At this point, however, I don't think I can sustain this pace for 13 miles.  For my next pace run, I really need to slow down.
  • How the heck am I going to be disciplined enough to get my splits to be more consistent?
For question #3, there are a few things I can do.  First of all I can ditch the iPod.  When I'm running and listening to music, I tend to drift off and not pay attention to what I'm doing.  Another thing I can do is run when it is light outside - in order for me to check my pace on this morning's run I had to turn the backlight on (not too bad, at least my Garmin has a backlight!, but it is a bit more difficult than just glancing at your watch).  Or lastly, I could do my pace run on the treadmill - but if I do I will miss out on the hill component.

I have a bit of experimentation ahead of me in regards to pace runs.  However, I'm sure I'll figure it out in the next few weeks - and hopefully ride it out to a sub-2:10 Half Marathon this spring!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Easy 3 and Week 6 Push Ups

I made it to the gym for an easy 3 miles this morning.  The goal was to keep my HR under 150 - I did pretty well.  About 1.75 miles in, I did hit 150, but never went over 152 for the rest of the way.  Final stats were 3.0 miles, 33:04 (11:01/mile), average HR 144.

I also did Day 1 of Week 6 of the Push Up Challenge.  Unlike most of my other push up sets, I was able to do ALL of the push ups called for - even the last set's "maximum push ups, at least ##...".  I did 132 in all - 25, 30, 20, 15, 42.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Duel In The Sun

I just finished the book Duel In The Sun - about the 1982 Boston Marathon in which Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley battled head-to-head for the last 13 miles and finished within 2 seconds of one another.

I'm not an avid reader - I struggle to get through my copy of Runner's World each month (perhaps I should stop reading so many darn blogs and get back to print media?) - however, I end up getting sucked into 2-3 books a year and fly through them.

I really enjoyed how this book alternated between chapters devoted to the race itself and the biography of the two runners.  I learned a lot about Alberto Salazar (who I remember hearing about when I was growing up) and Dick Beardsley (who I had never heard of before reading this book).  What was remarkable was how this one race impacted the careers of each of the runners - in this case both runners "left it all out on the field" and neither runner was able to recover from the effort they gave that day.  I find it remarkable that this was able to happen to world-class runners.

It was a great read, however, I doubt I'll be able to take much of this book into my own running.  First of all, I doubt I will EVER qualify for Boston.  Perhaps I would be able to run Boston as a charity runner, but based on my current times and horribly inefficient running form there is really no way I see a BQ in my future.  Also, I can't see myself "leaving it all out on the field" like these guys.  Not to say I wimp out all the time, but I'm pretty cautious.  My performance in the Parks Half Marathon last year kind of sums it up for me...if today isn't my day, take it easy - there will be other races for me to look forward to.

My running schedule this week will hopefully be an easy 3 miler Monday morning, a 5 or 6 mile pace run on Tuesday morning, an easy 3 miler on Thursday morning and then a long run on Saturday morning.  Hopefully I can stick to plan this week.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Morning Long Run

Once again, I'm back on track for my Saturday morning long runs.  Today was a 9 miler through Old Towne Gaithersburg.  It was a bit on the chilly side - 26 degrees when I left the house at 6:45am - but not unbearable.  I made sure that I did not go out too fast and convinced myself that I would eventually warm up - and I did, of course.

The first mile was tough.  I couldn't get into a rhythm.  I'm not sure what was going on, but I felt kinda choppy and not finding a comfortable groove.  It kinda sucks when after the first mile of a 9 mile run you're asking yourself "when is this going to end???".  Luckily, I started to feel good rather soon - as I don't remember wanting the run to end anytime after that.

The final stats were:  9.02 miles (same in Running Ahead as my Garmin - wow!), 1:37:22 = 10:48/mile pace.  Average HR 154 / Max HR 170.

My final mile was my fastest - 10:14/mile pace...and I was actually trying to get myself to slow down and relax during the last mile :-)  So, although I'm not in tip-top shape to PR a Half Marathon right now, I'm in good enough shape to finish - and likely to finish strong.

Tomorrow is a rest day and then I'm going to try to get my running schedule to be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  This makes the most sense for my current schedule of other activities (mainly Israeli Dancing where I'm up later on Tuesday night).  Hopefully, I can stick to this and not get sick again!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Push Up Exhaustion Test - Week 5 Edition

I did my Week 5 Push Up exhaustion test. 49 push ups. Hello Week 6!!!

No running today. Rest day before tomorrow's long run. I think I'll run 9 miles. With the Garmin. I can't wait!

It's looking like I've pretty much started the training plan over again after being sick a few weeks ago.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Week 5 Push Ups Completion and Lunchtime 6 Mile Run

Yesterday evening I did my last day of Week 5 push ups. In the middle of my fourth set, my younger son came into my room to find me doing push ups - and figured I was there to give him a horsey ride. I was not able to finish up that set of 24 push ups with the extra 30 pounds on my back - and I believe the rest of the sets were impacted as well (OK...that's my excuse for losing steam on the last set). All in all it was 163 push ups over 8 sets - not bad, but not as good as a few days ago when I did 175. Here's the stats: 20, 20, 24, 18 (horsey ride), 20, 17, 22, 22.

This morning I was up at 5:25am - not to go out and run (bummer...) but to drive my brother-in-law to the airport. Since there was no morning run - and I was working near BWI Airport anyway, I planned for the best and threw my gym bag in the car. I was starting to work a good hour earlier than normal due to the airport run, so as long as I had some open time in my schedule around lunchtime, I was going to try to take the extra hour there to run.

It ends up that the stars aligned and I got to the gym! (on my way back from Columbia, MD I went to the Fitness First in Olney). They do not have the cool TechnoGym treadmills (BTW...Fitness First North Potomac is featuring my blog on their homepage right now with my review of these new treadmills), however, they do have the LifeFitness 95T treadmills which are pretty cool.

Unfortunately, the heart rate monitor on the treadmill I chose to run on was not working. So, I had to continue to look at my watch during the run instead of at the screen. Also, my iPod didn't work with the iPod connector on this treadmill either - likely due to the iPod being on the older side (I'm still using a black and white screen that doesn't even show album art...I may as well be using a cassette tape player!).

My first minute on this treadmill was quite comical: I had bought a bottle of Gatorade since I did not bring a water bottle with me. I started the treadmill up and was jogging along, and noticed that the Gatorade was filled to the top. "I better take a sip or two now before I start running too fast..." I said to myself. Well, I must had breathed a bit while drinking the first sip because as soon as the Gatorade was in my mouth I started to have the coughing/choking reflex.   I tried to swallow what I had in my mouth before coughing, but couldn't do it. I think you all know what happens next... Luckily (or not?) the treadmills are the first pieces of equipment in front of the mirrors, so I ended up spraying the mirror in front of me instead of some poor soul trying to get their lunchtime workout in. I promptly stopped the treadmill and cleaned up the mirror, and then started over again (I had only run about 1/8 of a mile at that point.

I finally settled in on running - I wanted to do a pace run and since my goal right now is a 2:10 half marathon, that means a slightly faster than 10 minute mile. I started with an 11:00 mile warm up for 1 mile and then 5 miles at 6.1 mph (9:50/mile). My heart rate climbed up to the high 150s / low 160s about 3 miles into the workout, but did not go much higher. Final stats were: 5.97 miles (treadmill cut me off at 60 minutes exactly), 60 minutes, 155 average HR.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Push Ups and Easy Morning Run

Last night I did Week 5, Day 2 of the Push Up Challenge. This was the first time I was doing 8 sets instead of 5 (since last week I messed up and didn't see that I was supposed to do 8 sets instead of 5...). I actually was able to follow the program exactly, with the exception of the last set which calls for "Max - at least 45" and I could only do 35. I ended up doing 175 push ups - 19, 19, 22, 22, 18, 18, 22, 35.

Holy Cow!!!

I started thinking about the fact that I did 175 push ups. I had never, ever, ever done that many push ups in one day before - let alone in 20-30 minutes. Even if I do not get to the eventual goal of doing 100 consecutive push ups, I at least can take satisfaction in the accomplishments I have made along the way. I'm still going to continue the program - and I hope to hit 100 push ups one day in the next few weeks - however, I believe that I've pretty much achieved the intent of this program already.

This morning, I went for an early morning run. My kids had woken up early (somewhere around 5:30am??) and started playing together in my older son's room. I heard them stirring so I rolled out of bed, checked the weather (41 degrees - good for shorts and a long sleeve running shirt), and got out the door a little before 6am.

The Garmin took a while to find the satellites this morning. Kind of annoying when it is dark and on the chilly side.

Since it was dark, I was listening to music (Ben Kweller this morning) and I didn't want to look too much like a dork watching my watch and counting footfalls, I decided not to monitor my turnover on today's run. I think it's better to do that at the gym on a treadmill with an in-your-face timer looking right back 'atcha. I did concentrate on taking smaller steps to make my turnover quicker - even without counting the footfalls. I really think this helps my overall form - my posture seems better and my heart rate doesn't elevate as much.

Today's stats: 4.47 miles in 48:53 - 10:57/mile with an average HR of 150. Compare that to the last time I ran this route on Sunday (afternoon run and after lunch so it's not such an equal comparison) 51:09 - 11:33/mile with an average HR of 160.

Monday, February 9, 2009

7 Miler on a Beautiful Morning

Yesterday morning I went out for my weekly long run. This week was a 7 miler - not too long compared to what I will be getting to in another month or so, however, it's my longest run in quite a few weeks.

My plan - keep my HR in the 150s, don't worry about pace and don't worry about all the stuff I learned about my inefficient form at Saturday's Stride Clinic.

It was a great morning for a run when I stepped out of the house at 7:30am. It was 48 degrees and overcast - just chilly enough to keep me from overheating, but warm enough that I didn't need to bundle up.

The first mile was slow - 11:17 - but I kept my heart rate down, which had been my issue with the last few outdoor runs.

As much as I was trying to not think about the Stride Clinic feedback, of course it was going through my head from the beginning. It was like an "elephant in the room" - impossible to ignore. I was hoping this was going to be just a nice, easy run to get lost in the morning, the music and my thoughts. Instead, I started to experiment a bit with shortening my stride to increase my turnover, and ensuring that my right arm did not cross over my body.

What I found was truly surprising. When I started to shorten my stride and increase my turnover, my heart rate started to decrease - not increase like I figured it would. It ended up that my pace in the 3rd and 4th miles were under 11 minutes at around the same average HR as the first 2 miles. Wow! When I changed my stride, my body ended up being more upright - I was able to feel the difference between the posture of my previous form - leaning forward a bit and not being as "crisp" in my movements - and the new form. Of course, I would eventually space out and then realize I was going back to my slower strides, leaning a bit forward, etc., however, I would then get back into the "new groove".

The decreased HR with shorter strides ended up holding true until after 6 miles into my that point my heart rate started to elevate. However, it may have started to elevate just because I had been running for a while.

All in all, it was a great run. 7.39 miles, 1:19:43 (10:48/mile), avg HR 153. I'll try to run again on Tuesday morning...and work on turnover. I'm going to try to count footfalls every few minutes to see how I'm doing. I think this may be easier to do on the treadmill at the gym, but I'm not going to waste a nice morning to run outside - and it is looking like it will be a nice morning.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stride Clinic And My REALLY Inefficient Running

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, this morning I was going to MCRRC's Stride Clinic.

My main reason for going is to see if there was anything I was doing "wrong" in my running that if corrected could help me avoid injuries and/or run faster and stronger.  My feeling was that although running is pretty simple - one foot in front of the other - perhaps since I pretty much just laced them up one day and made a commitment to run, that maybe there was room for improvement.

I expected them to find something small - i.e. keep your shoulders back - and send me on my merry way.  I almost wish this is how it went down....

I got there early, so the person before me was still on the treadmill with a running coach.  I briefly spoke to the running coach that was going to be analyzing me - he took a look at my running history and PRs and said something like "OK, I see you're doing this recreationally and not running all out."  I'll give him that since I'm not very fast, however, I still feel that the 25:17 5K that I posted a few months ago was "running all out" and still quite respectable.  He saw that I wanted to have my running form checked and improve my running efficiency if possible.

Since I was early, I spent time with the podiatrist and shoe specialist first.  I let them know that I had plantar fasciitis about 5-6 years ago.  At that time I started to wear insoles and only tie-up shoes which give me more support and I haven't had problems since.  They had me take off my shoes and socks and walk away from them and back toward them.  The podiatrist then had me lie down and he started stretching my foot, etc.  The bottom line - there are no foot issues.  I should continue with the Superfeet insoles.  I may want to find a neutral shoe that bends a little less in the shank - the shoe specialist recommended the Brooks Dyad.  The next time I'm at Fleet Feet, I'll check these out.

Then the fun part came.  Running on the treadmill!  They asked me for the umpteenth time if I was comfortable running on a treadmill (and I answered yes for the umpteenth time).  The running coach told me to run at a comfortable pace.  I settled in at an 11:00 mile pace and he started jotting down notes and watching me from the side, behind and in front.

After a few minutes he started giving me his analysis.  It ends up that I'm quite an INEFFICIENT runner.

He started by telling me that my feet are traveling in a circular motion - like I'm on a bicycle.  They should travel more in an elliptical motion.  What this is doing is making me bounce up and down more and my stride is propelling me upwards instead of forward.  I should try to work on "pawing back" with my feet to help flatten out my stride.

The next thing he mentioned to me was that my turnover was a bit slow.  Ideally, you should have about 180 footstrikes per minute - which if you focus on counting one foot for 15 seconds it should be 22-23 footstrikes.  I was in the 20-21 range.

Another thing he said is that I am crossing my right arm across my body.  My arms should travel in the direction I'm traveling and my elbow should not cross my rib cage.

He had me stop on the treadmill and went through a few more notes with me.  Here's the list of what he wrote down:
  • Forward Head (my head is tilting a bit too forward when I run)
  • Knees Valgus (inward tilting of the knees)
  • Excess Vertical Oscillation (from the circular motion above)
  • Right Hand Crosses Front
  • Pelvis Unstable
  • Foot Turn Out
Basically, I got a lot more than I bargained for.  This was no "keep your shoulders back" feedback.

The recommendation of the Running Coach and Physical Therapist was to focus on strengthening my core which would likely help the pelvic instability - which in turn impacts the knees and foot turn out.  A little investment - maybe working with a coach a few times for a program I can do 15-20 minutes 3-4 times a week - would equate in significant progress...especially for long term injury prevention.  The running coach also wanted me to work on the turnover by shortening my stride for now and trying to get more footstrikes in.

On the way home, I had mixed feelings.  I'm glad I went, but it was a lot of information to digest in the 40 minutes I was there.  Plus, I felt like I was ambushed a bit.  I was expecting my form to be a bit inefficient, but I was quite surprised to see the list of things that this guy found by just watching me run for 10 minutes.

I'll likely look into some core exercises (the running coach recommended "Core Performance For Endurance Athletes by Mark Verstegen) and I'll try to focus on the turnover, however, I think I may just go out and run tomorrow before I do any of these things.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Push Ups, A Lunchtime Run and Stride Clinic Tomorrow!

This morning, I started Week 5 of the push up challenge again - this time on column 3.  I've decided that it doesn't need to be at the beginning of a real week anymore - I'm just going to do the next workout every other day or two until I finish this damn thing.  Again, I couldn't keep up with the "expected" number of push ups, but also again I ended up doing more push ups than I ever have done before.  150 of them.  36, 30, 30, 24, and 30.  The next time I do pushups will be 8 sets instead of should be interesting.

I didn't get back to the gym this morning for another go at the new treadmills, however, there was a 90 minute gap in my work schedule at lunchtime.  I think we all know what that means :-)

I did another heart rate program - this time I set it for 150 bpm.  I intended to do somewhere around 3 or 4 miles, depending on the time.  I ended up running much faster today than yesterday - 10:44/mile pace with an Avg HR of 148 vs. 12:19/mile pace with an Avg HR of 146 yesterday.  Not sure how I'm seeing such a huge difference in a matter of 30 hours, but I'll just chalk it up to good days and bad days.

I tried connecting my iPod into the dock connector/iPod holder of the treadmill and it did not connect.  It's probably made for the newer, color-screen, slimmer iPods - I'm not sure.  However, this treadmill has a lot of space below the console and it does not vibrate and shake while I'm running.  So, I was able to use my hard-drive based iPod on this treadmill without all of the skipping that normally happened on the older treadmills.  How nice to have my entire music collection at my disposal for a run!  I ended up listening to REM's Life's Rich Pageant.
This weekend will be very exciting for me in the running department.  Saturday morning I have Stride Clinic and I'll likely go on a long run on Sunday morning when the temperatures are supposed to be in the mid 40s (going up to the high 50s in the afternoon!).

A while back I had signed up for my Running Club's Stride Clinic.  Basically, they have a team of experts (Running Coaches, Physical Therapists, Podiatrists, etc.) watch you run on a treadmill and then give you feedback.  I'm interested to know if there is anything I can do to my running form that will make me a better / faster / less injury prone runner.  I've been wanting to do this for quite some time and never got around to it, so I'm really glad I finally signed up.  Stay tuned for a report of what they find...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Shoes and New Treadmill To Keep Me Honest

I got 8 hours of sleep last night - hooray! I was exhausted after my schedule over the past two days, so I went to bed early last night - lights out at 9pm. My younger son woke us up a little after 5am again, but I had already slept 8 consecutive hours - Woo hoo!

I hit the gym this morning for 4 easy miles on the treadmill. It was the first time I was at the Fitness First closest to me in a few weeks, and they finally opened their new treadmill room. It is really nice! The got rid of all of their older Life Fitness 9500 machines, they moved their 8-10 newer Life Fitness treadmills over (from the website it looks like they have the Premium Club model with the Engage console) and purchased 8-10 new TechnoGym treadmills. Most of the Life Fitness treadmills were taken, so I jumped on one of the newer TechnoGym ones.

Wow. This thing was pretty cool. There is a dock connection for the iPod (I had my iPod shuffle, but I will likely bring my 3G iPod with me next time to see how it works). There was a little fan built-in at the top of the console - it wasn't very strong, but it helps. There is a TV and Radio tuner built in - the angle of the screen was a bit too low for me to be trying to watch television while running, but this could come in handy if there is a good game on one day.

This treadmill has tons of different workout options - I was wearing my old Polar HRM strap so I decided to try out one of the heart rate programs. This program ran through a series of questions: age, weight, time, Run/Walk, Light/Moderate/Strong, etc. and then starts you out. It determines your goal HR from how you answered the questions (it started me out at 138 bpm, based on Moderate Run - I quickly upped this to 145 and then to 147 after the first mile). You can adjust the time and goal HR - the treadmill smoothly adjusts the pace to keep you in line with your goal heart rate.

I must say, this treadmill kept me honest. Over my past few runs, I have run at a heart rate faster than I should (my past two "easy runs" had avg HR of 155 and 160 respectively). Although it was painful to run slower than normal, this treadmill kept me right around 147 bpm the entire run. And the nice thing was that the treadmill speed was located towards the bottom of the screen - not calling attention to itself when the speed adjusted.

The old Life Fitness model's HR programs were a bit different. First of all, you chose your goal HR and pace and then the treadmill adjusted the incline to keep you close to your goal HR. However, if it was too fast (or if the incline got your HR up too far), the Life Fitness brought the pace down - with a loud beeping sound and a message going across the screen "Lowering Speed". It may as well shout "Hey Loser, Why Can't You Keep Up???". And the current Life Fitness models that they have are programmed to not let you do the heart rate programs with a pace greater than 4.5 mph - I guess they had too many people trying to run while holding on to the HR sensors???

Anyhow, it's hard to get jazzed up about a treadmill - especially since I recently got my Garmin Forerunner and I'm still very excited to run outside with hit. Just not in 14 degree weather (and negative wind chills) like it was this morning. However, I am actually a little excited to get back to the gym and run on this machine again - with my bigger iPod next time. Plus this will keep me running slower, until my body works itself back into the shape that I was in a few months ago.

One other thing that was new on my run this morning. I broke out a new pair of Brooks Defyance shoes. I actually purchased these babies in mid-Decmeber when I thought I'd be picking up the mileage to hit 1,000 miles for 2008. Instead I got sick and stopped running. My current pair of Brooks Defyance has 367 miles on them. It's my first pair of this type of shoe, so I'm not sure how long it will last, but I'm thinking it's a good idea to start working in a second pair even though I'm not getting any knee or foot pain yet.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Work Blues

I had to work an issue during a Maintenance Window last night for my job.  The problem is that I had already worked a 10 hour day and then had to lead my Israeli Dance group from 7:15pm to 9:45pm.  I made it back to my home office in time to open my conference call bridge at 10:45pm in preparation of the 11pm-3am maintenance window.  I was hoping this would be a quick fix, but there were issues from the start, and we ended up going over and finishing at 3:45am.  Grrrr.  The kicker is that I had to leave the house this morning by 7:45am for a 9:00 customer face-to-face meeting in Columbia, MD.

So I somehow functioned the entire day on 3 hours of sleep.  However, I did not go for a run.

I'm going to hit the sack early and see if I can run tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Morning Easy Run and Push Ups

I hit the gym this morning in Germantown - I'm visiting a cell site in that area for my project so I decided to work out close and then visit the site.

I did an easy 3 mile run. At the gym I'm a lot more careful keeping my heart rate down - it's staring me in the face for the entire run, so I see when it climbs above where I want it to be which is instant feedback to (a) try to relax or if that doesn't work (b) slow the pace down.

I kept is nice and slow - starting at 5.0 mph and bringing the pace up to 5.5 where I steadied out. The full run was 33:29 - an 11:10/mile pace. Average HR was 148. Nice and easy. I suspect that as I ramp the mileage up again and do some more speedwork that I should be able to run this at about a minute per mile faster at the same Average HR...definitely something to look forward too!

I decided to do my Week 5 push up exhaustion test after my 3 mile run. I usually don't do the push ups after a workout, but it wasn't an intense workout so what the hell. I did 41 push ups again....and I did start getting tired in the 30s. I'm not sure if I'd be able to do more if I did these before my run - but that's the way it goes. This week I'll do Week 5, column 3. And I'll try to do it correctly this time!!! (that's 8 sets - not 5...)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

And Then Again, Maybe I Will Get That Run In...

Right after I finished my previous blog post - at about 2:45pm this afternoon - I went upstairs and found that everyone else in the house was napping.

I had eaten a small lunch only about an hour before, but I didn't feel like I was still digesting - so I decided that I would go for a quick run.  Woo hoo!!!!!

I decided to run my 4 mile neighborhood loop - the maps on RunningAhead had it mapped at 4.43 miles - Garmin says 4.44 miles!  It's nice to know that the maps at RA are pretty spot on.

For some reason, I couldn't get my heart rate down to an "easy" level (in the 150s or below) after the first mile.  I guess I still have a ways to go before getting back to normal after having to take the time off for being sick.

Overall, my run was 51:09 - an 11:32/mile pace with an average HR of 160.

I also finished up Week 5 of the push up challenge.  Well...sort of.  You see, as I was doing the last set of the week's push ups, I noticed something odd.  When all of the other weeks labeled the push ups Set 1, Set 2, Set 3, etc., this week threw in a few "Sets 1&2", "Sets 3&4", etc.  So, I was supposed to do 8 sets of push ups each day, and I only did 5.  I thought it was a bit odd that the number of push ups I was doing was decreasing...  Anyhow, today I did 115 push ups - 18, 20, 17, 20 and 40!  If I had followed the program correctly, there would have been an additional 55 push ups in there - and I likely would not have been able to do 40 in the last set.  Next week, I'll be more careful and try to follow the plan.

What A Glorious Day!

Temperatures this afternoon were in the mid-50s and the sun was shining!  Are you sure this is February 1???

I let my wife go out for a run in the early afternoon, so she could put our younger son down for a nap.  At that time, I went out for a short run with my older son.  It was great to run with him - all of the things that amaze a 6 year old and the things he says are just wonderful ("it feels like Spring...perhaps the Groundhog saw his shadow and Spring is near...")

He made it a full half mile before we needed to stop for our first walk break.  Not too bad for a 6 year old.  We ended up running a little over a mile and a quarter.  I'm hoping to continue running with him over the next few months - and maybe get him ready for a 5K this summer :-)

The only unfortunate part was that I did not have an opportunity to go out for a longer run today on my own.  With guests arriving in 2 hours, I don't think I'll be able to slip out now.