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Cincinnati

April 30, 2012 1 comment

This, apparently, is Cincinnati

A quick shout-out on a Monday Morning to a good friend and apparent follower of this blog who is about to tackle his first ever full marathon this coming weekend in Cincinnati.  I’ve never been to Cincinnati, nor have I ever run a marathon, but I’d love to do both someday.  42.2 km (or whatever the hell distance that is in miles).  That’s wicked!!  I can hardly run 3 km.

Best of luck to you buddy this week in your final week of training (which, I’ll bet in spite of tapering will probably still be much better running than I’ll do this week).  Cheers!!

– DO’G

I miss training

April 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Even this picture helps...

I miss training.  It’s been over a week since I’ve done anything – no running, no swimming, no weight training.  A whole lot of nothing.  Actually, I’m doing a whole lot of too much, and that’s really the problem.

Training does more for me than improve my cardio and speed.  I’ve realized how much it grounds me.  Staying in my training routine helps me sleep better.  Staying in my training routine motivates me to eat better.  When I don’t train, these both tend to spiral negatively until I’m a bit of a wreck.

But more than anything, training helps me manage stress.  When I go for a run, I don’t think about work.  I don’t think about the to-do list.  I don’t think about anything except my breathing, and my legs, and how the heck I’m going to convince myself to run the next 500 meters.  When I get home from running my legs are exhausted, my body too tired to move and too full of endorphins to care.  Life is good, and stressors feel like they’re on another world.

I haven’t exercised in way too long, and I’m in a particularly stressful point in my life right now.  Good stress (getting married, opportunities at work, etc.), but stressful nevertheless.  In fact there are many things on my list that I’m not getting to, some of which are much higher priority than training.  But I think I miss training the most.  If I had time to train, it would help me cope better with everything else.  It would help me relax – I think I miss feeling relaxed more than anything else.  It’s funny to think of something so active and energizing as being equally relaxing, but it’s true.  I think I need to find ways to fit training back in.

-DO’G

A little push when I needed it

April 20, 2012 Leave a comment

I need to get one of these

In follow up to my last post, where I quite proudly announced that I am becoming a runner, and not missing a workout, it’s now been 4 days since my last run.  I’ve done nothing in that time.  Zip.  Zilch.  Oops.

Admittedly, I haven’t taken a rest week in a long time, so it’s not the end of the world.  But I was feeling a bit guilty to not have run in a while.

Last night I got a lovely and completely unexpected text from a cousin who reminded me that I’m making progress.  That felt incredible.

In the worlds of athletic training and weight loss, we push so hard for very minimal results.  We keep telling ourselves that each effort session is worth it, even though the gains in running time or loss in weight per session is so microscopic.  We keep pushing ourselves to run harder when it burns, to lift that weight one more time when our body wants to fall down and our heart wants to jump out of our chest.  We keep telling ourselves that it’s working, that it’s worth it, and to push on.

Possibly the best thing that could happen is unsolicited positive feedback – a reminder that all your work is paying off.

This morning I’m really tired, but really inspired.  Time to get back to the grind.  Today I’m going to fit in another run!

-DO’G

Learning to be a runner

April 15, 2012 Leave a comment

If only I could get out of bed to run at sunrise - that would be cool to see

Firstly – my apologies to all those loyal readers who have had shit-all for new content in the past two weeks.  I’ve felt like I haven’t had much to post about.  But in retrospect, that’s actually not true…

What have I been doing these past two weeks?  I’ve been learning to be a runner.  Not learning how to run (I still don’t know that I properly know how to run), but learning to be a person who runs.  Learning to make it a part of my life.

I haven’t swam at all these past two weeks (largely because my swim card has expired and I haven’t had the cash on me to buy a new one – which makes a great excuse to stay on the couch and not go to the pool).  It’s given me a few planned nights off.  Consequently, I’ve been able to structure the according days and stick to a schedule.

Wednesdays are stairs day!  I think I’ve hit them 4 straight weeks now.  Yay for consistency.  Yay for running up 508 steps straight up the Hamilton escarpment.  Yay for not hurling my dinner at the top, even though it’s been close a couple of times.  This past week I even managed to do a ~1Km run at the top of the stairs – notable as my heart rate is through the roof by the time I get to the top, so going straight into the run is no small feat.  But it’s good tri training – it symbolizes the feeling of getting off of the bike (having previously finished the swim) and having to set out on a run.

When not doing the stairs, these past two weeks I’ve been repeating my 2.8km loop.  Not a far distance at all, but focusing on running the full length and not having to stop and walk.  That’s actually a big deal for me.  With one exception, I have repeatedly pulled this off.  I’m learning to be a runner – not to take walk breaks when I’m uncomfortable (because running is hard, and wouldn’t it be nice to walk instead).  I’m learning to be a runner – to plan out a week’s training plan, to plan out my training sessions, and to stick to my plan.  I’m learning to be a runner – to really enjoy the feeling of going for and completing a run, getting a bit stronger each session, and feeling good about it.

I’m learning to be a runner – to not take more than 1 day off between training sessions!  To stick with it, and build it up.

Starting next week (aka tomorrow) my goal is to start building in one longer session each week, but otherwise continue to repeat my 2.8km loop.  I want to get stronger in terms of growing comfort in running the full distance – not just making it, but feeling like I can do it easy, and could do more.  It’s like a sports team building a culture of winning.  I don’t want to step out the door seeing how far I can run.  I want to step out the door knowing I can run this whole route.

I can do this!

A year ago I would step out the door expecting to huff and puff and already thinking about my first walk break.  Today I step out the door with confidence – I can go enjoy my run instead of wondering if I can make it.  That is such a great feeling!!!

-DO’G

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Goal setting

April 2, 2012 Leave a comment

From the knees up, running is starting to feel really good!

I sneaked in a quick run today at lunch: 2.8km over 19 minutes.  The best part about it though: I ran the whole thing.  No 5:1’s or 10:1’s… no walking at all.  I ran the whole thing.  That makes the first time I’ve left the house for a run and come back without a walking break.  Even over a short run, that’s a really nice feeling!!

I ran at a 6:50/km pace.  I now finally have a benchmark of how fast my run pace would be if not for walk breaks mixed in the middle.  I’m happy that it’s below 7:00, because few of my run sessions come in below 7:00/km (but, they all have walking periods mixed in until today).

Based on this, I’m now comfortable setting a goal for my Tri race this summer (still yet to be booked): I want to run a sub 35 minute 5k (sub 7:00/km) on the heels of the swim and bike sessions.  A sub 7:00/km over 2.8kms today was nice.  I think over the course of the summer I can stretch that out to a sub 7:00/km over 5.0kms.  But my goal is to do it at the end of a Tri race.  For reference, my current PB run time in a Tri race is 40:08/5.0km.

Today’s run felt really good.  My cardio was strong.  My thighs felt strong.  My mechanics felt good.  My biggest issue still seems to be in my shins, where the strain of 240lbs slamming into the concrete with every step takes it’s toll.  Everything above the knees felt great today.  Unfortunately I can’t drop 40+lbs overnight, so I need to find some other solution to overcome the shin pains until my weight drops.  But apart from that, today’s run reminded me I’m on the right path!!

– DO’G

Feed the machine

April 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Actually, as yummy as McD's is sometimes, the smell when I'm exercising is quite nauseating...

I’ve decided to incorporate a new tag “Feed the machine” to reflect on the impact of eating habits and training.  Where does this come from?  I’ve heard it used by a number of players on the Toronto Blue Jays lately.  But I think it reflects well on my opinion of “fueling” (or eating as it’s referred to in the tri community).

The general principle is as follows:

  • You have to eat.  Period.  Even if you’re training to lose weight, if you diet and reduce your calorie input, your ability to train hard will be decreased.
  • The amount you have to eat is correlated to how much you train.  If you burn a ton of calories training, you have to replace them with fuel.  Think of it like fueling a car: If you use up the gas you have, and don’t fill the tank back up, it won’t go where you want it to tomorrow
  • Calories are your friend, but only if they’re good calories!  You can’t fill a car with sludge, you have to fill it with gas.  French fries are sludge.  Beer and cola are sludge.  In fact, many of the good foods in life are sludge.
  • You need to allow yourself a cheat day.  A beer and pizza day, if you will.  If you indulge occasionally, you can avoid the binge eating that ultimately follows from depriving yourself for too long.  The key here though is to have a cheat day, not a cheat week.

I’m pretty bad about following most of these rules.  Really bad, actually.  I’m good at eating – I certainly don’t deprive myself with calories.  And I’m really good at matching my eating with my training – when I train more, I eat more.  But I’m not good at dialing back my eating when I take a rest week, and I’m really not good about avoiding the sludge.  In fact, I’ve had bacon in 6 straight meals now (5 of those meals being pizza).  I’ve had more beer and coke than water in the past 24 hours.  That’s sludge.

It’s really starting to occur to me as this spring moves along just how many moving pieces there are in training for triathlon.  On Wednesday I did the stairs, taking a few extra breaks, but running 50% of the stairs to really push my HR up.  On Thursday I spent an hour in the pool working on my flutter kick.  On Friday I went for a slow run focusing on pushing through cardio plateaus to increase my run distance (I got up to 15:1’s).  This weekend I celebrated with beer and pizza – a reasonable action, except the left over pizza has lasted for too many meals.  So many things to improve in my swim and my run (and I haven’t yet pulled the bike out for the summer), but I can’t neglect how I eat at the same time.

No wonder the ‘elite’ triathletes find sponsors and make this their full time job.  I’m glad I race against other age groupers, who probably enjoy beer and pizza just as much as I do.

– DO’G

 

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