one Man of a Certain Age's journey to a healthier lifestyle

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Welcome to my fitness blog. I started running in early 2012, having set my sights on the Walt Disney World Half Marathon which I ran in January 2013. (You can read about that in my other blog). I intend to update this blog weekly with training progress and run reports. Please follow and join this blog (links below) for updates. If you want to share please feel free to, there are links to share via Facebook or Twitter below as well. You can also follow me on twitter. And please comment letting me know what you think!

My upcoming races: My recent races:
NYCRuns Central Park Half Marathon February 23, 2014 2013 Year in Review
Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon - DC March 15, 2014  

My Blogs Thompson Family Web (Travel, Disney and fun) The Runner of a Certain Age Blog

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Aching back and Frosty cap - February 24, 2013

For quite a while I've been following the same basic workout schedule - 3 days a week of cardio, 3 days a week of core and/or weight training, and one day a week of rest. Since I have thrown training for and running marathons into the mix, while the basic schedule has remained the same, some of the details have changed.

First, obviously, is that my cardio work - which used to consist of walking - has become training for races. Almost as important, though, is that I've been much more diligent about working out in general. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. First, when you're training for something specific - like a race - I find that works as good motivation to stay on track. And when I'm staying on track for that part of my workout I tend to stay on track with the rest of it. Also - and this was unexpected - as a result of my training I've been sleeping better making it easier for me to get up to workout.

Last week I added something new into the mix - yoga. I live in a lake community and there is a clubhouse by the lake where there is a yoga class every Sunday morning. I went last Sunday for the first time. I have to say I was surprised by two things about the class. First, even though this class is geared told fogies such as myself (I was on the youngish side of the students this week I think), I was surprised by what a good workout it is. Second, after the class my back was aching all week. I suffered severe back trauma about 13 years ago (I fell off of a horse) and have had to be careful with my back since. I go to the chiropractor regularly which helps, and I've remained injury free (if not pain free) for several years. This pain is not of the "I'm about to make your life miserable with crippling pain" variety, more along the lines of "Yo! You're working muscles you ain't never worked before!" variety. So that's a good thing. Still hurts though.

OK, so here's my new weekly schedule (again, not much different from what I have been doing for years aside from the race training). It all starts with what day I do my long run. I prefer Saturdays, but depending on weather I might do Sundays on occasion. Given that...

Saturday - long run
Sunday - yoga and weights
Monday - short run
Tuesday - Core workout and weights
Wednesday - Short run (plus there is a yoga class at my gym I might try to do)
Thursday - Core workout and weights
Friday - off

If I need to do my long run on Sunday instead then everything shifts by a day (although I keep Friday as my day off). During the week I use the weight machines at my gym (which is at my office), on weekends I use the universal machine in my basement.

And, of course, this week I did not go by this schedule. Here is what I did:

Sunday 2/17:
Core work 15 minutes, weights 20 minutes, yoga hour plus

Monday 2/18:
As it was a holiday I went longer than my usual short run. I ran 2 "laps" a round the lap. Usually I like to "kick in" on the flat sections when I am in a running interval, but during this run my back was stiff from yoga and this really prevented me from running as fast as I usually would - so I took it very easy. Here are the specifics:

Total time: 52:08
Distance: 3.56
Average pace: 14:39

Tuesday 2/19 - core work, weights at gym

Wednesday - 30 minutes treadmill, stretching

Thursday 2/21 - 30 minutes core & stretching, 20 minutes weights at gym

Like I wrote - I did not stick to what I decided to do as a schedule. The weather forecast was calling for what looked like pretty much constant rain and/or snow all weekend. So, I decided to do my long run on Friday and take Saturday off. Since I was going to drive my wife to the train and she needed to be there by 7:30, I had to start my run by 5:00. There was no rain or snow and the roads were dry... but it was also 22° F. At least there was no wind. The thing I hate most about running in the cold is after you start to sweat and your sweat gets cold. When I got home and took my cap off I saw that the sweat from my head had frozen and there was a layer of frost on my cap!

Here are the specifics:

Distance: 8.02
Time: 2:06:00
Pace: 15:42

I also should point out that Friday is my day to weigh in. Anyone who is working on losing weight knows (or should know) that you should weight yourself once a week on the same day at the same time. Here is my weight progress:

Change: -2.8 lbs.
Total change (2 weeks): -6 lbs
Distance from goal: 26.8 - 36.8 lbs

(I have not set a specific goal - more a range I want to end up in).

I should say I'm not sure how accurate that is - I did weigh myself right after the run which may have skewed it. So we'll see. I've set a sort of mini-goal for the Sleepy Hollow half marathon for which I would need to lose another 6.8 lbs in 4 weeks - do-able but I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't get there.

Speaking of the Sleepy Hollow half, as I mentioned in my last post I have been running a hilly course in my neighborhood in preparation. I had been wondering exactly how hilly the course is. Turns out that the iPhone running app I use - iRunner - keeps track of elevation. Below is an image from my Friday run. Each peak indicates one lap around the lake. The final two are shorter because I took a slightly shorter route for my last two laps to make sure I got back in time to take my wife to the train. And the final one ends short because I stopped the app at 8 miles - about 1/4 mile from my house. As you can see, each lap has a total elevation change of about 200 feet. Hopefully this will get me in shape for the hilly half marathon.

I don't know why it labeled the last mile as "9" - should be "8"
That's it for this week. I did not expect this post to be so long - and I expect most of my posts will be shorter. I hope you enjoyed it and be sure follow this blog if ou want updates. And feel free to share!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A few trial runs - February 16, 2013

As I mentioned in my first post, I am training for the (very hilly, or so I'm told) Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon by doing practice runs on the roads around my neighborhood, which are quite hilly. Today I did 3 "laps" around the lake which I figured would be about 5 1/2 miles. On this run there were a couple of specific things I wanted to do (besides just doing a practice run). First, I wanted to determine exactly how long one "lap" is. Second, I had been thinking about different ways to attack running a hilly course and I wondered which would provide the best time, so I wanted to try out a couple of different approaches.

OK, First the stats:

Total distance 5.35 mile (3 laps)
Total time: 1:13:03
Average time per mile: 13:46

So, this means that one lap is 1.78 miles (approximately).

Now, I have been following the approach to running marathons recommended by running expert Jeff Galloway. Using Jeff's "run/walk/run" method you determine an interval that is right for you (usually based on your experience and how fast you run) and then you alternate running and walking. (Or in my case, jogging and walking). The interval I use is 1 minute of walking to 2 minutes of running.

OK, so I wanted to try a few things on this run. As I wrote, I did 3 laps. What I did was to do the first lap in my standard run/walk/run interval pattern. For the second lap I ignored the intervals and instead I walked up hills, jogged going downhill and ran as fast as I could (believe me, that's not very fast) on the flats. For the third lap I went back to my run/walk/run intervals, but when I was in a run interval on a flat area I kicked it up a notch and ran as fast as I could. Here were my times:

Lap 1: 25:19
Lap 2: 24:43
Lap 3: 22:58

Bear in mind it takes me a bit to get situated in a run, and the first lap bears the brunt of that extra time. Still, the time differences were significant. I was actually surprised that lap 2 was as slow as it was and how much faster I was in lap 3. And that was after I'd already put almost 4 miles behind me. I'm probably going to try this experiment again next week to confirm my findings, and if this holds up then the line of attack I used for the 3rd lap will be how I approach the remainder of my training for this run as well as the run itself.

On a different note, I did not mention in my first post that I am also actively working on losing weight. I started to work on it a bit while I was training for the half marathon I ran in January, but I found I was better off focusing all of my attention on my training. Now I feel more confident about my training and want to refocus on my weight. I'd like to lose at least 23 pounds and as much as 33 pounds. I am a lifetime Weight Watchers member and I have found that, if I can stay "on program", I can keep my weight where I want it to be, Anyway, I started strictly following the program last week and so far I've lost 3.2 pounds. I don't expect to lose that much every week - the first few pounds always come off more easily. Still a good start and I'll keep updates on this blog.

Next week I'll write a bit more details about my cross training regimen.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Running man of a certain age

Welcome to my new blog. I have been blogging about Travel, Disney and other various things at my family blog for about 15 years, and I started training for my first half marathon, which I ran in January, about 10 months ago. I won't go into details here, but I wrote about my decision to start running here and I kept a training journal here (Thanks to +The DIS ).

Now I have decided to set myself a couple of goals:

  • For this year I want to run about a half marathon a month. I am already signed up for the Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon in March and I am planning to run the Unite Half Marathon at Rutgers in April.
  • By the end of the year I hope to run a full marathon. I have my eye on Philadelphia.
  • Finally - I am looking to run the 10th anniversary Goofy's Challenge at the Walt Disney World marathon weekend (the half marathon followed by the full marathon).
I'm a bit worried about the the Sleepy Hollow race. It's only my second half marathon and I've heard it's a challenging course. My chiropractor, who is also a runner, did the race a few years ago and told me it is really hilly. The organizers changed the course this year and published the it on their website. I looked at the course on google maps. It's hard to tell how hilly it is - especially since a good deal of the course in on trails instead of roads. On top of that the race has a strict 3 hour and 30 minute time limit. My time for my first was 3:27 - but that race was a bit slow because of distractions and it was very crowded. The Sleepy Hollow race should only be about 1000 runners.

So, in preparation I'm doing a bit of a more challenging training routine. I decided to make sure that I used courses with hills for my practice runs. Luckily just such a course exists right outside my door. I live in a neighborhood that is on a lake, and the road that goes around the lake has quite a few hills. The distance is a bit under 2 miles, and last Sunday I did 6 laps - a bit over 11 miles - in 2 hours and 50 minutes. I plan to do one more long run before the race - I'll do 7 laps (which should be about 13 miles) and I hope to complete it in about 3:15. If I can do that I'll feel good about the race.

As a "man of a certain age" (I'm 55) I have had to deal with a few aches and pains. What I've come to realize is that if I listen to the professionals who know what they're talking about and head their advice, then I can stay on top of the aches and pains and (hopefully) avoid injury. Here ia a short history of the issues I've dealt with and how I've been dealing with them:
  1. I had pretty major issues with my Achilles tendon. This was basically making it impossible for me to do any distance running - especially on hills. I started working on this quite a while ago - doing stretching and strengthening exercises recommended by my physical therapist. This completely alleviated the issue. After my run last Sunday I did feel a bit of tightness, but it was not a big issue.
  2. I started having trouble with my knee. My chiropractor recommended using The Stick. I use it after all my runs and I have not been having any knee issues. I am also going to start exercises to strengthen my thighs which will help protect my knees. Unfortunately I keep forgetting to do this - but I will starting tomorrow, honest.
  3. I have weak ankles, and I have been doing dome strengthening exercises on my ankles. I also started wearing a brace on my left ankle which is the most problematic. So far so good.
  4. My most recent issue has been foot pain - especially my left foot (hey! sounds like a good movie title!). I started dealing with this by buying some orthotic inserts (Lynco Orthotics). This worked pretty well, but they were not perfect. I saw a podiatrist who told me I could get custom orthortics but they are expensive and not covered by insurance. He suggested I look into orthotics made by New Balance. I have very wide feet and have only worn NB shoes for many years. I got the NB orthotics after I ran the marathon in January and they seem to work very well.
I keep to a pretty regular training schedule. I do 2 short (30 minute) runs during the week and a long run on the weekends. the length of my long run varies from week to week. I'm looking to maintain a regular schedule of 4-8 miles on my weekend runs with a longer run of over 10 miles thrown in at least once a month. I hope to do the long runs as races. On the days that I run I also do my stretching and strengthening exercises. I also to weight lifting and core training 3 days a week on days I don't run. One day a week I don't work out, although once the weather gets nicer I'll go on long walks.

Very soon I will officially start training for a full marathon. I am having a physical next month and I promised my wife I would clear it with my doctor first - but I'm sure he won't have a problem with it.
OK, I will try to update this blog once a week. I'll keep updates on my training progress and I'll also post run reports after I do races. Please leave feedback and comments.