Tuesday, October 7, 2014

two-wheel ride

As I had a week off, I decided a bike ride this morning would ease the body back into the routine.  Tomorrow, I will get back to my 200x100 intervals.

This ride was the same distance as the last one, but it did not feel as strenuous.  The thighs burned a little, but overall, it was a light workout.  I will start adding distance on the next ride.

Last week we had sandwiches catered during lunch.  The sandwiches were of good quality, but a week of them and chips and other bad (but tasty) things we consume during such things operations took a toll on me.  I feel the effects of poor nutrition for days after it is consumed.  I gotta get smarter about such things, and that alone will help my running and cycling more than anything else I can do.

I have a busy month ahead, so it will be a challenge to keep up the running.  I have a goal of at least 10 running workouts this month, but they will wind up being in 3 different states if I pull it off.

See ya tomorrow.

Monday, October 6, 2014

real life sometimes interrupts

OK, I did not fall off the face of earth, nor collapse along my running trail, nor did I take a vacation to a place which has no mobile signal whatsoever.  I worked.  I spent last week running some operational tests with new technology at our test site, which is about an hour farther from home than my office.

The commute was longer, the hours were longer, the testing brought its own set of problems and concerns, a.k.a. stresses.  When testing any new technology, there is always some degree of risk that it will not work as expected, for any one of many different reasons.  One must "pad" the time schedule to account for that risk.  Further, when testing multiple technologies, as I was last week, the risks "cascade", ever increasing the likelihood that something will go wrong.  We had four new technologies to evaluate, and wound up losing half of our test time to failures.  We cut back on the scope of the work significantly in order to fit into the remaining time at the test site.  We accomplished about 2/3 of our original objectives.  After a week of 12-16 hour days, 4-5 hours of sleep a night, I am mentally and physically pooped.

Even this morning, I still felt wiped out.  Tomorrow I will run or ride the bike, I do not know which, yet.  I need the cleansing -- both body and mind.

Monday, September 29, 2014

moving on up...

This morning I did my first 4x2 (or, for the mathematically correct, 2x1) intervals, roughly 200 meters by 100 meters.  I have the workout setup on my Garmin 620, and it buzzes me when an interval ends.

I purposely set out to control my pace, which varied between 9-10 mpm.  The right ankle (the recovering one) sent my brain signals that it was feeling some strain in the last 100 meters of the workout.  I have felt no inflammation post-run (now it is roughly one hour after the run).  I will let speed take care of itself for now, as my cadence did increase to 190 bpm -- clearly still a focal point.  There are a couple of minor tweaks I need to make, based on feedback from my bare feet.

I will fold in a bike ride (I hesitate to call it a 'workout' out of respect for those who can do actual bike workouts) tomorrow.  Establishing the habit of working out 5-6 days a weeks is an integral part of my efforts here.  Over time, of course, these workouts will be greatly extended, but I need to be patient.

Early commute today, as I am driving to one of our offices which is about an hour south of my normal office.  See you tomorrow.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

laughing at myself...

I got the bicycle ready yesterday afternoon, then took it for a short (3.4 miles) ride.  The ride was on street, concrete paths, and dirt trail.  My thighs burned like a yule log, I has huffing and glad to slow down to cross intersections.  I was sure this was a solid CV workout, just by the way I felt afterwards.  I uploaded the data to Garmin Connect.  My maximum, not average, heart rate was 130 bpm -- only 70% of HRmax!  I felt like I had hit 85-90%!  I just had to laugh at myself.  Perception.  All perception.  Legs were burning, arms feeling unfamiliar stresses, different breathing patterns -- all made me think the workout was more intense than what the numbers would show.  Yet, those very same signs tell me the crossover training is needed, and will be beneficial.

The grandkids are here, and we are going to take them for a picnic lunch in the park.  I hope you have a beautiful Sunday with your family.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

a mile run...

I wish I could say something wonderful about this run, so let me think....hmmm...I have it; well, two things, actually: 1) I made the contiguous run without reaching 90% of HRmax, and 2) my cadence averaged 180 spm.

As for the rest, the way back is going to be loooonnngg.  I have renewed motivation for that cross-training of which I wrote yesterday -- I need all the help I can get.   The bicycle gets readied today.  It is also time to pull out the balance board, as I could feel the weakness of the right ankle on this more durative effort.

Regarding cadence, my digital running metronome -- made by Seiko -- like its musical counterpart, can put emphasis on different beats.  I had been running with no emphasis, and therefore I ran with cadences ranging from 180 to 200.  Today, I had it emphasize every other beat, and this made it much easier to time my arm-swing.  My cadence is still not as dead-on consistent as it was (and had been) back in the spring, but that consistency was delivered out of focused effort for months.  It will come back this time, too.

Ready the bicycle, replace the garage light, get a haircut, have lunch outside on our deck, and maybe even dig around for my Bose wireless speaker (somewhere in the 'move from France' stuff), enjoy taking care of the grandkids on Sunday.  

I hope your weekend is joyful.

Friday, September 26, 2014

it's Friday; it's all good

Fridays, gotta love 'em.  The weekend is just hours away.  The work week, with all the good, hard effort to deliver as the job requires (and sometimes, then some more), is winding down to its close.  It's all good.

For me, this weekend involves my one mile run, evaluating the ankle and foot response, and finally pulling my bicycle out of mothballs (figuratively) so I can get it ready to ride.  Cross-training is important, and seldom done, by me, at least.  It is not easy to workout six days a week, no matter what regimes one is using.  I enjoy running; I enjoy resistance training.  I find it difficult to interleave three workouts of each into the week.  It is a mental thing, not a physical thing.

So, why the bicycle?  I want to "cheat the devil".  Riding a bicycle works different muscles than running, while pushing the cardiovascular (CV) system.  It is a great help to running, because it improves blood flow in different parts of the body (as does resistance training), and continues the push on the CV system (resistance training is not aerobic; it is anaerobic).  With improved blood flow in other parts of the body, there is less loading on the CV system during running, and I "cheat the devil" in getting back on track for improving distance and speed in running.  Yes, the benefits are that great from cross-training, and that is why I need to overcome my own mental hurdles in order to fold it into my regime.

Enjoy your weekend with the people you love...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

not ready to push it up yet

I ran another set of 3x2 intervals this morning.  Before I began the run, as I was dressing for it, I considered pushing up to 4x2 intervals.  I had a long enough time to prep to remember the inflammation I felt in the ankle after my run 2 days ago.  I decided to not push it up at this time, wanting to make sure the tendons can handle the strain of the 3x2s before advancing.

My cadence is still range from 180 to the mid-190s, and I notice it increases later in the run -- a fatigue issue.  My pace was a little faster than two days ago, ranging from 8-10 mpm.  My heart rate hit 90% of max in the last interval -- as it should.  I have a little form factor issue with the right foot, more than likely it is slightly turned out, which is more natural for it, but poor for running mechanics.  I need to train the muscles to bring the axis of the foot inline with the direction of travel, something I have done before.  No doubt the injury has let old tendencies creep back.

In other news, guitar techniques and learning how to improvise continues to progress.  I have a much greater respect for people who can improvise melodic passages -- or compose them at all, for that matter!  I have not really worked on repertoire for some time now, as I am spending my time learning the styles of various artists, adding classic licks to my toolkit, and practicing the art of improvisation.

Saturday's run will be a one-mile run.  I am not going call it an LSD, because I will let the heart go as it wants -- I know I cannot keep it under 80%.  Technically, such runs are called "tempo runs", but that will not be appropriate for the Saturday run, either.  I am just going to run a mile, be huffing and puffing, and hope my ankle and foot are none the worse for it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

roadwork again

I went back to my 3x2 intervals (~150m by 100m) this morning.  The morning temperature was an irresistible 64 degrees (18C). 

I disciplined myself to run a bit slower to reduce impact (always among the recommended "back in action" approaches after injury), and managed to run in the 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 mpm range, but most intervals were less than 10 mpm.  My bare feet tell me that my running balance was good, my cadence was in the upper 180s (which is good, but I would like it to be in the lower 180s; we shall see), and GCT was higher due to slower pace.

The rest of the body tells me that I need some core work (dreadful planks, here I come!), and I need to focus on keeping the core engaged.  The fibularis longus, the tendon I injured most severely in my broken ankle episode, is feeling a bit inflamed post-run.  I have no time this morning, but will apply ice therapy this evening.

Is this frustrating?  Yes, it is.  There are many factors involved in coming back, and mentally and emotionally, it cannot happen soon enough.  Physically, that is the problem.  The limitations on what we can do to the body to strengthen it and prepare it for more loading should keep the yellow flag of caution in our faces during these times, when re-injury (or even initial injury) is most likely.  I am educated enough on the topic through my own research to know that I have to go slow: cardio-vascular, immune, muscular (including tendons and ligaments), and skeletal systems are all involved in the increased stress endurance training places on the body.  AND each system has its own progress rate!  Throw in injury recovery, and even more patience is required.

Frustrating, yes, very much so.  The alternative is quit, which is the only way to lose.  I hate losing.

Monday, September 22, 2014


I use the descent of the stairs as a gauge for running pain.  Running creates an impact 2 to 2.5 times one's weight, and the descent of the stairs is less than that.  I still have some lingering TOFP, so I will give it one more day.  A friend of mine reminded me I should be cross-training, anyway, which I have not been doing.  Time to pull the bicycle out of the rafters; riding it is far, far better than doing nothing.  Thanks, Fred!

On the other hand, the Jeep received its final update until next summer: the fog lights are now fully functional.  Since arriving from France, the Jeep has received a new soft-top (with tinted windows), nerf bars (tubular devices which enable a step up to the Jeep), new stereo (I can stream and control Pandora through it), new clutch/brake/accelerator pedal covers (the original 13 years-old ones dry-rotted), a brush bumper, and fog lights mounted on the brush bumper.  At 137,000 miles (220,000 kilometers), I decided it needed an update.

That last paragraph had nothing to do with running, but did have something to do with keeping my life multi-dimensional outside of work.  It is good for mental health.  Tomorrow, I run.

Friday, September 19, 2014

rained out, lucked out

Houston is still being fed moisture from the hurricane which hit the Pacific coast a few days ago, and that, coupled with moist Gulf of Mexico (GoM) air, brings torrential rain.  Such rain cancels a run.  Lucky for me, it prevents me from making a run on a right foot that is considerably less than 100%.  I am prone to bad decisions when given the opportunity.

Today is a short report; it is a Friday; the weekend is a few hours away; perhaps a run tomorrow on a right foot which is closer to 100%; I will finish putting fog lights on the Jeep this weekend.

Have a great Friday; enjoy yourself.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

the language of running

All fields of endeavor have their own language.  Perhaps a better description is that each field of endeavor has its own shorthand, although it is not always about acronyms and abbreviations.

Running is no different than any other endeavor, so I will list some (not an exhaustive list; readers, feel free to add more in comments) of the "lingo" of running, especially useful to the non-runners who read my blog:

mpm -- minutes per mile (running pace)
spm -- steps per minute (cadence)
bpm -- beats per minute (heart rate, rather universal)

Acronyms and others:
LSD -- long slow distance, usually in the aerobic heart rate zone
GCT -- ground contact time, the amount of time the foot is in contact with the ground, a running dynamic measured in milliseconds
Vertical oscillation -- the vertical rise of a runner during a stride, a running dynamic measured in centimeters (1 inch = 2.54 cm)
VO2max -- volume of oxygen the body can process per kilogram (1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds) per minute, this is a key fitness measurement/calculation for runners
HRmax -- maximum heart rate, correlates with age, but other variables come into play as well, usually estimated from one of many calculation models (I use the Tanaka linear equation)
HRrest, HRR -- resting heart rate, usually measured in the morning before any activity
WHR -- working heart rate, target heart zones based on the Karvonen method
Intervals -- alternating running and walking, sprinting and jogging, etc., stresses the cardio-vascular system then relaxes it, used for improving cardio-vascular performance, improving recovery time, improving leg strength, there are many models and routines
fartlek -- Swedish for "speed play", which is like mixing random interval sprints into a run
Yasso 800s -- an 800 meter interval workout, building up to 10 such running intervals, whereby the runner attempts to run the 800 meters in minutes what he/she hopes to run a marathon in hours.  If the target is to run a four hour marathon, the runner would run each of the ten 800 meters intervals in four minutes.
Zero drop -- used to describe a shoe which has no rise between the ball of the foot and the heel

I think that is enough for anyone to absorb, and I hope your day is a great one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ginger run

I am paying the price for my overexertion on Monday.  The recovering right ankle was feeling the strain this morning, though I was not limping.  I knew I could not run fast at all in the intervals; I had to slow things down to reduce impact.  Form and cadence would be the only focal points for today's run.

The run finished with the ankle loosening up in the last third of the workout.  I do not know if I will be able to run Friday -- the ankle will have to let me know.  My intervals averaged from 8 1/2 mpm to the high 9s mpm -- a little faster than I expected.  My cadence improved to about 190 spm, so while there is room for improvement, it is a very good step in the right direction.  Core engagement needs some focus, as I did experience some lower back pain late in the workout.  Overall, a successful workout that almost did not happen.  I will not deny; however, that it might have consequences come Friday.

My personal adage about running is, "All runs are good runs, and some runs are better than others."  I might also add, "The only bad run is the one you did not make, unless it was your body that told you to not go."  The tricky part is ascertaining whether the body is truly speaking, or if the head is speaking on its behalf.

See you again soon...

Monday, September 15, 2014

speed kills

"Speed Kills" was the slogan of a campaign back in the 70s (I think) to get people to obey the speed limit, and save lives.  Today, for me, it takes on a different meaning.

All I have to do is read yesterday's post and realize my focus should be cadence.  It needs to be at or around 180 spm; any higher is wasted energy.  I was pleased with last week, especially as my intervals drifted into the 7 to 7 1/2 mpm range.  I liked that.  It felt good.  I wanted to keep it.

This week the run interval distance increased 50%, but I was not willing to let go of the 7 to 7 1/2 mpm pace.  Yes, I had my metronome.  It is set to 180 bpm.  I did pay attention to it, but I paid more attention to speed.  My cadence did drop into the 190s, but not the low 180s.  I pushed to keep my speed up, and fatigued myself.  The fatigue broke form, and now I have a blood blister on the right big toe.  The desire for speed led to a breakdown in form, and lack of progress on cadence.  Oh yeah, I did not keep my speed, after all.  Speed killed the purpose and focus of this workout -- valuable lesson learned.

Speed and ego are connected, and I had too much ego in this workout.  I am rebuilding, I need to be humble and keep focused on not simply good things, but only the best things.  Reset, run Wednesday.

Take care, and thanks for coming along.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

first bit of LSD

LSD runs, long slow distance runs, with 'slow' being a relative word, of course.  The real idea is to run totally within the aerobic heart rate window.  I could not do that yesterday, but like I said before, coming back has to be earned.

Regarding heart rate and running windows, I will share what I will use and why.  The first thing to have in determining workout zones is maximum heart rate.  I prefer to use Tanaka's equation, which is based on a study he did for a wide range of ages, even up to 90 years old:

HR-max, Tanaka = 206.9 - (0.67*age) (+/- 6.5)

For me, the above equation tells me my HR-max is 168.7, but could be anywhere from 162.2 to 175.2 bpm.  Now, armed with an estimate of my maximum heart rate, I know that the aerobic window is 70-80% of HR-max, my aerobic heart rate midpoint would be 126.5, with a possible range of 113.5 to 140.1 bpm.  That is a wide range, and one has to determine by feel what works best for them.

The above discussion involves a 'straight percentage' of HR-max to determine zones.  What running coaches and serious runners seem to use is the "working heart rate" (WHR) method, proposed by the Finnish cardiologist Karvonen, for athletes.  Karvonen's method takes into account the resting heart rate when estimating workout zones.

WHR = HR-rest + ((HR-max -- HR-rest)*target zone percentage)

One still needs to calculate or measure a HR-max, and measure HR-rest, usually done before getting out of bed in the morning, before any activity.  Mine is 53 bpm.  My aerobic range (70-80%), and accounting for the statistical variation in the HR-max calculation as before, is 129.44 to 150.8 bpm.

I will be using the Tanaka method for HR-max and the WHR method for determining workout zones.  The numbers are not exact, but are meant to be a guide, and as for me, having looked at every heart rate maximum equation going, and what others use to determine zones, I am going with what I have stated and sticking to it.  It keeps things simpler.

What else can I say about this run?  My running dynamics were good except for cadence.  It was still around 200.  This is wasted energy.  In the recent past I could run anywhere from 6 mpm to 12 mpm at 180.  I came home and replaced the batteries in my digital metronomes, as this will be a focus of next week.  By the way, do not count run cadence with your feet -- count it with your arm swing, as it has a more consistent feel throughout the run.  I made this run with better balance, though not perfect. Better is still progress, so I will take it.

Next week the intervals 'progress' to 3x2, or roughly 150 m by 100 m.  Gradual progress, and paying attention to the right things...

Friday, September 12, 2014

pushing and listening

Today's run was a good one.  Of my eight run intervals (I run/walk equidistance  at this point, roughly 100m by 100m), only one was at 8 minutes per mile (mpm), while the others varied between 7 and 7 1/2 mpm (a minute faster than earlier in the week).  I could feel the extra push aerobically, for sure.  The idea of stressing, then relaxing, the load on the aerobic system using intervals is to condition the system to be more responsive during runs, and recover more quickly.  The speed aspect of intervals is to strengthen muscles and tendons used for running throughout the body (yes, even the upper body).

These early days for me also serve as the opportunity to get my running form corrected.  I remember my old form maladies, and I know that my body will go back to them when pushed and tired.  Now that I know for what to look, corrections can be made more quickly.  This is also the advantage of running completely barefoot right now (even Vibram Five Fingers shoes block at least 80% of the feedback from your feet, in my experience).  I can already tell I am fighting a bit of an imbalance issue, so before I begin each run interval, I check my body alignment and mentally record feedback during the 100 m interval.

All my running dynamics were in the excellent region, though I was high on cadence.  I will replace the battery in my digital metronome this weekend, which will help me bring my cadence down from to 200 steps per minute (spm) to something closer to 180 spm.  That stretching to which I referred in my previous post needs to start this weekend as well.

Tomorrow, I take an LSD, a long slow distance run.  It will be the same distance, but a continuous run at a slower pace.  The LSD run should stay in the aerobic zone for the heart rate, which will be my guide.  I will also be watching a bit of TOFP (top of foot pain) which I was experiencing before this morning's run.  The body must adjust to the strain of running, and one must be careful of TMTS (too much too soon), even when the workout does not seem like much.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

second run, felt fun

I finished my second run today, and it felt fun again.  My interval paces steadily increased throughout the run, though I was not conscience of it at the time.

I run with a Garmin 620, which tells me many, many things about my running -- running dynamics is the official name for the particular group of statistics.  During the run portion of my intervals, my averages are:

  • Run Cadence: 200 spm (very good, but I prefer to be at 180 steps per minute)
  • Avg Vertical Oscillation: 5.0 cm (less than 6.5 is considered excellent, so I am happy with this -- I do not spend much energy going up and down, which creates strain on the lower legs)
  • Avg Ground Contact Time: 200 ms (200 or less is excellent, and is less strain on lower body)
  • Avg Stride Length: 1.1 m (longer is better, and I need to do hip flexor stretching to lengthen my stride to the rear -- it is like a free speed boost)

The 620 also calculates my training effect, which slightly increased with this run (as I am recovering from an injury, I am not pushing myself aerobically yet, which requires more distance and durative speed than these workouts can give), and my VO2max, which is 42, and higher than than the median for my age group, which is 37.  I am 1.4 points away from being in the excellent zone for my age group.

All of the above is helpful for training and motivation, as not every run leaves one with the satisfaction that everything is improving.  Gimmicks?  Perhaps, but also useful feedback when one does not have a coach or health facility to measure progress.  I have a long way to go before the real numbers -- distance, heart rate, and speed -- become a factor.  But I will get there.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

listen to your body

The title is the number rule for all of us: listen to what your body is telling you.  If you learn to listen well, you will discern the various pains, especially separating the pain of workout strain versus injury pain.

Tonight, some 30+ hours after my first run, I am glad to say I have no pain.  I will not; however, be running a 10K tomorrow.  As Danny Dreyer of Chirunning advocates, 'gradual progress' rules.  It is good to note that none of my injured tendons, which heal much slower than the broken bone, showed any pain or discomfort since the run.  This is encouraging, because as I stated at the beginning of the blog, coming back is uphill all the way.

Proper rest is as important as proper exercise, and I depart to do just that.  Good night.

beginning again

I am starting to run again, though it is not because I wanted to restart, but rather, that I have recovered from my broken ankle in May 2014.  Any runner knows the uphill battle of beginning again, because you wish you could step in and start where you left off, but instead, you are required to earn back that covered ground and climb the hill again -- it is earned and not given.

The title of the blog tells you my age is north of 55, but one is never too old to run.  I have read about 80 year olds who have completed marathons in less than 3 hours 20 minutes, and one 100 year old who completed a 10K.  Age is no excuse.  Nonetheless, it is a journey one should embark with knowledge, sensibilities, and skills -- lest one is forced off the road due to injury.

In my best of running days over the last four years, I could run four miles in less than 40 minutes, make a 10-13 mile run every weekend, and finally got my form to the point where I ran balanced and without nagging pains (oh yeah, I weighed 20 pounds less, too).  As of today, only the form has survived, and everything else is a goal.

I ran yesterday, a 1.2 mile interval run.  It was my first run since the broken ankle, and roughly 100m x 100m.  I will be doing what I call progressive intervals until I am running the whole mile, then will build upon that.  My paces were seven and half to eight minutes per mile.  I am running barefoot -- form insurance and assurance -- until weather dictates otherwise.

This is my journey of running past 55...welcome along.