Saturday, January 24, 2009

Track Meet

Today was designated for "speed work" which I am still pretty new to. Today was a ladder where you run 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 mile followed by 1 mile, 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4. Between each is a 1/4 mile jog. For some reason I was nervous about the goal times but they ended up not being a problem. If there is one thing that motivates me, it's meeting those quantitative goals! I had to kick myself out of the house today and I headed for the VT track, where I discovered there was a massive High School invitational track meet at the fieldhouse's indoor track.

The kids were warming up on the outdoor track, and luckily the assistant coach for BHS was the kids' preschool director. I asked her what the rules of etiquette were for the track - do you use certain lanes for certain directions? Are slower runners to the outside? According to her, there were no hard and fast rules. Apparently! Whole herds would stretch across all lanes, then fold into just a few. Runners would plop down mid-lane and start stretching. I chalked it up to the 14-18 year old brains that aren't so good at thinking about others. Fortunately, the track never got prohibitively crowded and I got my work done...successfully I might add!

One fun thing was when a group would jog the ends and sprint the straightaways. I'd pass them on the ends, allowing myself a delusional moment to think I was actually faster than them, then they'd reciprocate by blowing past me!

I have to say overall it was a respectful, quiet, and focused group, and without their energy, I don't think my workout would have been quite so successful. Fun!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ready for spring

These cold weather runs are getting a little tiresome and I am ready for spring! Fortunately, the days are getting longer. Unfortunately, it seems my workload is getting larger too as once again, this is shaping up to be a challenging semester. If I've learned anything in the last year it's how to take it one day at a time, weather the tougher spells, and trust that an easier stretch lies ahead. It's like with a run, even at the toughest moments, there's inevitably a bit of relief around the bend. I just don't think I've ever been quite so scheduled before! It's tricky to find time for everything but with some creativity, so far I have managed. One advantage to the busy schedule is that it requires me to organize and pack food which facilitates making good choices. If I don't have it with me, I can't very well eat it.

I'm vowing to drink more water, fewer beverages with artificial sweeteners, and very little if any "junk" food. With mileage going up over the coming months, I need good fuel going in the tank.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A delusional culture?

This is the time of year when the diet and fitness industry hits hard. People have made their New Year's resolutions, swimsuit season is around the corner, and folks are tired of the holiday excess. They are prime targets -- "victims" with a heaping helping of excuses in search of any solution provided it requires minimal work, sacrifice, or change!

On SparkPeople, a common discussion topic seems to be that of "no matter what I do, I can't lose weight." To which people respond with things like, don't go by the scale alone, go by how your clothes fit. They are implying that the hapless "victim" has put on so much muscle (which weighs more than fat) that naturally the weight won't go down! How often is that really the case? I'd venture to guess rarely. You can lose weight much more quickly than you can gain muscle, particularly for women.

Then there is the genetics card. OK, for sure there are different body types and not everyone can or should be rail thin. But genetics rarely is responsible, entirely, for weight issues. Again, there are exceptions. But for most people?

I see a lot of wasted effort at the gym among people who have the capacity to work hard. If you are talking on your phone on the treadmill, I don't think you are getting much value out of it. If you are not sweating or breathing hard at some point during your workout, you are not working! I think these folks really believe that they just need to "do the time", but they are not educated about the difference between a low-quality and high-quality workout. Or maybe they think they are not capable? Or do they fear the sweat, the pain, the effort - both physical and mental.

It's a shame. I've been reading John "The Penguin" Bingham's book recounting how after years of couch-potatoing, and in his 40's, he discovered the joy of his inner athlete. Everyone deserves to find that in him or herself and to experience the joy of hard work and sweat.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

End of the Preseason

Yesterday marked the end of my preseason training program-- an occasion "celebrated" with a 13 mile run followed by 15 short hill repeats. The nice thing, and what demonstrates progress to me, is that I don't have to psych myself up in the same way that I used to have to for these 10+ mile runs. I just gear up and go, knowing it will just take a while.

One of the treats for me on these longer runs is that I take along and listen to the latest podcast of Whad'ya Know with Michael Feldman. This is a two-hour Saturday morning NPR radio variety program with guests, a call-in quiz show, some music, and a lot of improvisational humor. Then several times during the course of my run, I find myself laughing out loud, sometimes to the detriment of my running. This week he had on a writer named Joe Queenen who was astonishing. He would love to be described as astonishing - in his mind, the most overused work in book reviews.

My foot continues to plague me although I didn't have any of the pinpoint acute pain I've been having. However, the day after a long run it is very sore. I bought yet another pair of running shoes - the Imelda Marcos of running footwear. It seemed that while my sweaty summer feet fill my Asics, they swim a bit in there in the winter. I'm trying a pair of Mizunos from Runabout. That is a great store - I highly recommend it and James and his staff are amazing. They have more patience than I.

So this week will start the 16 week marathon training program. It's pretty daunting to see what JRP has laid out, but I will just take it one day and one week at a time.

Monday, January 5, 2009

WOW! What a run!

OK, I'm kidding.

I had just enough time (I thought) to get in a run before picking the kids up from school. I took a new route and underestimated the amount of time it would take to loop back to my car. Panic began to set in as I seriously considered hitchhiking back to my car...but as luck would have it, I was on campus and ran into a faculty member I know who was walking to her car and she gave me a lift for the final mile. Gotta love small towns. Oh, but the good run part. My watch had been telling me I was averaging about an 8:15 pace, but when I looked later, it said I had averaged 7:15. WOW! I was pretty pleased for about one second until I realized that I hadn't stopped the lap timer and the pace included the part where I was in the car! Darn it!

Today was fun as the kids and I all went to the gym. Grant tried a Karate class where he was a superstar but said he hurt his back. I don't doubt it as he did everything with total exuberance and I can see how he could have wrenched it. I hope he'll go back. Meanwhile, Spencer rode the bike then he and I ran for two miles. I even got a few nice sprints in which felt simply amazing. Now if I can just get Robert to consider picking up some fitness habits, we'd all be moving in the right direction! Miracles can happen....

Friday, January 2, 2009

I've got a new gym partner

I thought about titling this one "My gym partner's a monkey" but that would only make sense if you exposed to as much Cartoon Network as I am.

I suppose it appears that I've been having way too much fun at the gym because STM's requests to join me reached a fever pitch and I relented. At 8 years old (the min req'd), he is now an official member and has gone with me twice. I have to say it's been fun to have the company and to see the experience a bit through his eyes. He's run on the track, ridden the bike, and I put together a few exercises he can do that don't involve weights beyond his body weight. I've promised him some sessions soon with JRP to get a proper program designed and because, frankly, he shouldn't have to hear it all from his mom. I think he can really benefit from this opportunity to increase his coordination and awareness of a body that is significantly larger than what his peers have to deal with. The pediatrician predicts he'll get to 6'3" or so. YIKES! He already wears a size 7 3rd grade. Anyway, I think it's all fun and cute that he wants to get in on the action and I'd like to encourage it as much as I can since he's made it clear that he's not big into team sports. ("I don't find football amusing.")

I'm coming to the end of two weeks of solo training...solo only in a physical sense! I was left with very carefully detailed plans that made it easy to stick to THE PLAN (thank you!). It's actually been kind of cool to fill in the pages of workouts and see what has been accomplished in that time. Since December 23, it amounted to about 130 sets of exercises at the gym, maybe 2000 reps? Yes, I do love numbers and adding things up!