Saturday, June 20, 2015

Shut down...

Although the frozen roller helped the plantar fascia feel better, it was not enough to take a run this morning.  My walking gate is altered because of the pain, and running will on further exacerbate it.  I am going to put on my common sense hat and do what I would advise others in the same situation to do: rest, ice, compression, elevate (RICE).

Sometimes I hate common sense, but it is too wise to ignore.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Heading into vacation

My wife and I head to Santa Fe, New Mexico soon for a week of fun and sightseeing.  Vacation time always challenges exercise time, and this will be no different.  I am going to try to get some fitness activity into each day.

I have not posted since Tuesday.  Wednesday was a rainout for cycling and swimming, but I got back on-track Thursday with another running workout.  The last three running workouts have been very consistent in terms of times and efforts.  No new breakthroughs to report.  I stepped on a stick (about 1.5 inches or 4 cm in diameter) pretty hard last week (I run in Vibram Five-Fingers ELX), and it has created a pain in the left plantar fascia that is not going away quickly.   I have a foot roller which I keep in the freezer, and I have pulled it out for therapy.  We'll see.

Today's workout saw my best cycling time on my 5+ mile quasi-loop, though much of that gain had to do with waiting less time at traffic lights.  I'll take it, since it was finished with less rest (VBG).  I followed the ride up with a swimming workout which lasted 27 minutes.  It felt good to be in the water, and while I have made some gains in swimming form, I still have a lot on which to improve.  When I found the swimming website Enjoy Swimming, I thought I could use that alone as my coach.  I am not sure that will be true, though I will get a few more sessions on my own before deciding that for certain.

Tomorrow sees another run, and I am hoping the plantar fascia in the left foot is cooperative.  I will coax it tonight with some cold roller time.

Keep moving forward.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Run before the storm

Tropical storm Bill is comin' to get us!  Many businesses closed early or did not open at all because of Bill's looming threat of flooding.  I wanted to get my run in before the rains came.

I had a good run/workout today.  The time of the workout was the same as the previous one, so I am glad for consistency.  My running dynamics (recorded by my Garmin 620) are looking good, but also telling me I might focus on picking up my feet a little quicker.

While trying to extend my running distance between my recovery point and 80% HRmax, I will try to slow my pace.  In doing so, sometimes my form breaks down.  In this case, it is being too vertical causing the feet to land slightly in front of me.  The cure is simple, lean an inch forward (measured from nose, and leaning from your ankles).  It also means to concentrate on heal pickup, being centered, and where the feet are landing.

One other thing I am doing now with respect to form is doing a full arm swing.  If you have Denny Dryer's ChiRunning DVD, you will notice that he does a screen split into four.  He does this to illustrate that his cadence is the same no matter what "gear" he is in: slow, medium, fast, and race pace (he numbers them as 1, 2, 3, 4 and the gears' name corresponds to the inches of lean required).  The other thing to notice on the split screen is his arm swing.  He uses the arm swing to control cadence, and the arm swing is exactly the same no matter his pace.  It looks a little excessive in Gear 1, but reasonable in the rest.  Making the same arm swing regardless of speed is the way to control cadence, so practicing it now, when in Gear 1, is mission critical for me now.

It looks like Bill landed quite west of Houston, so it remains to be seen if I will be able to cycle and swim tomorrow.  The weather people say were are not out of the woods, yet.  Of course, they want to boost ratings, too.

Keep moving, forward whenever possible.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wheels and water

Today was the first day I combined cycling and swimming.  My ride was my standard 5.3 miles quasi-loop.  After this week I will bump it to six miles.  The ride went well, though my thighs continue to burn (a good thing, overall).  I expect the burning to subside and the speed to increase after this week.

I used my daughter's pool to get back to swimming.  Gosh, I cannot remember the last time I got in the water to attempt a "lap"; it has to be at least 10 years.  All I wanted to accomplish was waking up my muscles to the notion of swimming.  Swimming has never been "fluid" for me (really, no pun intended).  I have always felt my form was bad and my stamina poor.  I was hoping to be in constant motion in the water for 30 minutes, but I only made 22 minutes.

Thanks to my recent surgery, I was able to exhale my full lung capacity through my nose and underwater.  I had not been able to do this before, meaning that my breathing rhythm has been quite poor since forever.  I am sure the breathing problems contributed to my lack of stamina.  I did drills for swimming using only my legs and discovered that, except for the breast-stroke kick, I need a lot of work on getting my legs to aid the effort.  This is where coaching will come into play.  As to waking up my muscles for swimming, it did not take long before my shoulders and arms were providing rather concerned (TIC) feedback.  Overall, adding swimming on cycling days seems to be a good fit, so I will keep it.

If 91L does not prevent me from doing so, I will be back to running tomorrow.  Keep moving forward.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cool moist blanket beats a warm moist blanket

I got out to run before 7AM today, and the air was definitely cooler.  It was still humid, but cooler is better.  I finished today's workout almost three minutes faster than Thursday's workout.  The best part of today's run was the focus on form, especially in the second half.  When you think about it, the movements you make while running slowly are the same initial movements when running faster.  Running in good form at lower paces will make for good form at higher paces -- which has more to do with increasing momentum in the legs after the initial heel pickup via the body lean.

I would like to say that I am not a star runner, an expert, or anything else.  I am just a guy north of 55 years who discovered the joy of distance running late in life and am trying to recover it.   I have my own heroes and inspiration, guys who are also north of 50 years and have made themselves into very good runners.  They have shown me that the goals I wish to achieve in running are possible, but I must stick with it, just as they did.  I write here to fight my own running demons, to relate the realities of progress, to share the journey, and to encourage others.

I take tomorrow off, let the body rest and recover.  I plan to add a couple of swimming sessions next week, probably on cycling days.  Fixing my swimming form is a goal for the summer, focusing on the four basic strokes: freestyle, breast-stroke, butterfly, and back-stroke.  Right now, I feel my swimming is more akin to punishing the water for existing...

Keep moving forward, and thanks for coming along.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Warmer. Slower.

Yes, it was a full 5 degrees (3C) warmer, and I was 30 seconds slower today compared to Tuesday.  It is to be expected.  I got a late start, hitting the road at 7:30 this morning instead of an hour earlier.  The best time to run is 5 or 6-something, not 7-something or later.  Gotta remember that one.

Two positives to take away from today is 1) I made it to 0.3 miles before hitting HRmax (on the startout), compared to 0.2 miles just three runs earlier, and 2) I went over 1.5 miles being able to recover to 70% of HRmax before running again.  Thermodynamics took over, and by the end of the run, I could only recover to 75% HRmax.  The one negative from today happened late in the run.  I began to feel some knee pain.  With all the work I have done on form the last few years, I was able body-sense and assess quickly.  I made a form correction and was OK afterwards.  When fatigued, it is harder to keep good form, and the heat was getting the best of me.

Yes, I wish I could run the whole thing at 80% HRmax or less.  It is summer, I am overweight (but losing it), I have had a broken ankle and sinus surgery in the last 12 months.  I have no other option but to be patient and keep going.  I want with all my being to get back 10-12 mile weekend runs.  I did not get to there overnight back then, and it will not happen overnight this time.  Endeavor to persevere.  George Wooten penned that (or was it Lone Watie?).

Tomorrow is a cycling day.  Keep moving forward.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Humid, but good

I was glad that I was able to run today for two reasons: I enjoyed the workout, and it meant the fever and stomach bug that hit me Saturday AM had passed.

The temperature was 74F (23C) but the humidity was 90% when I ran my workout today.  Nonetheless, it was good workout which saw me finish about 1:30 minutes faster than the previous one last Thursday.  I was pleased with the workout performance though there is plenty of room for improvement.  I know where my body is at this point, and it is giving me what it can.  As the unwanted weight comes off, I will perform better during workouts.  I know this to be true, but I have put myself behind a HUGE 8-Ball, and will have to be patient where "numbers" are concerned.

I am dieting, also.  We are using the Advocare plan.  My wife and I decided we needed the discipline such a program can provide at this point.  It is working for both of us, and that is all good.  I have a target weight in mind, and it is possible to reach it by year's end.  It will be less than I have weighed in 20 years, so it is ambitious.

Until then, I will keep moving forward, and hope you are able to do the same.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Morning run, humid morning

Houston is humid, especially in the morning.  As the heat rises through the day, the humidity drops.  OK, it doesn't drop to Tuscon levels, but it drops double digits.  Nonetheless, morning is still the best time to run as this morning proved.

The run/walk (staying in the aerobic zone) this morning was seven minutes faster than the first one.  The first run was late in the morning when it was 90F (32C).  This morning it was 68F (20C).  During the first run, I could not get back to 70% HRmax and eventually could get my HR lower than 76% HRmax.  This is due to thermodynamics.  As the body tries to cool, the heart beats fast enough to get blood to the surface for cooling and regulate the core temperature.  Normally, perspiration appears on the skin and evaporates producing a cooling effect.  In high humidity, the perspiration does not evaporate and therefore, little cooling takes place.  Reduced cooling on the skin causes the heart to beat faster to pump more blood to the surface for some cooling.  This is why runners prefer 50F (10C) for running because the HR will bother little with its core temperature responsibilities.

I was able to run/walk throughout the three miles (the first day I walked the third mile, maintaining a HR of 76% max).  The first four cycles I was able to get my recovery HR to 70%, and then it began to rise, eventually to 73% HRmax.  The cooler temperature helped me be seven minutes faster; I am certain I have not changed physiologically enough to warrant a 12% improvement in two days.  :-)

This is a process.  A long one to manage, but the outcome is always positive.  Runners who stay at it for years go from being beginners and grow into accomplished runners.  I will, too.

Thanks for coming along; keep moving.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Coming back again, hopefully this time sans interruption...

It has been six weeks since surgery, and the doctor finally cleared me for exercise.  It has been a long healing process -- or at least it seems that way -- and the surgery did help my breathing significantly.  I have at least one more checkup before this chapter closes.

Yesterday I went for a run/walk.  All of my exercise is aimed at getting in and staying in the aerobic zone, defined as 70% to 80% of HRmax.  Due to scheduling challenges, I wound up running late morning, and here in Houston it was already tapping on 90 degrees (32C).  My goal is to run or jog until I hit 80% HRmax, then walk until I get to 70% of HRmax.  With the heat, I could not get down to 70% HRmax after the first cycle.  Every cycle I ran caused the HR on the low cycle to be higher.  I got to the point that when walking I could not get below 76% of HRmax, I simply continued to walk.  Sure, it is not as satisfying as running the whole time, but I will get there.

Today I cycled almost 5 miles for cross training.  I was out 25 minutes, and the last 15 minutes were in the aerobic zone.  A little thigh burn is good for the soul.  It is hard to find a longer route without getting on some busy roads, so this is something on which I will be working.

One day at a time, keep moving forward...