Friday, November 14, 2014

Run Journal - #52 aka: The Knee

For the whole 'two" of you who follow this blog, you will have noticed a severe lack of posts lately. The main reason for this is a severe lack of running. I had a long 14 mile run almost two weeks ago and about 5 miles in, my knee began to ache. This isn't unusual. My knee flares up at least once or twice on almost every long run, but then it settles down and things are fine. Not this time. It slowly got worse as time wore on until I finally had to run through my last couple of "walk" intervals because I worried that if I stopped, I wouldn't be able to start up again. I did complete the run, but my knee has been trashed ever since.

It's the same knee that I injured at the beginning of 2013 but I'm not sure if it's the same injury. It does feel a little different. After a few days rest, I tried a short 30 minute run and while I felt pretty good for about 15 minutes, at around minute 20, I knew that I had to stop or risk making things worse. After another week's worth of rest, I tried again and this time made it the full 30 minutes, but the knee was super sore for the next day or two.

So, what does this mean. What I'm fairly certain of is that running the full marathon that I was training for is out. I'd like to still try for a half marathon, but that will depend on if my knee starts to heal. I'm going to stay off it through this weekend and try a short run on Monday. If all goes well, I'll rejoin the training schedule on the half-marathon plan. My goal will then be to complete the half with a better time than this previous race I ran in October. Then, I can try to work up to a full marathon sometime in 2015. It's not the way I had planned it, but I'm actually Ok with this turn of events. When I hurt my achilles, I was extremely annoyed that my big picture plan might be disrupted, but I've come to terms with the fact that these injuries are out of my control. On the positive side, the knee injury only seems to be aggravated by repetitive stress like that from running. My crossfit workouts are not too badly affected so in the worst case scenario, I can simply switch the majority of my training from running to crossfit a little earlier than I planned - the original idea was to do this after the race in February, but if I have to make the switch now, so be it.

   

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Run Journal - #50-51

#50 Details: 2 x 1600 meters/4 min
Shoes: Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit

These speed runs are getting weird. 1600 meters is essentially a mile so today's "speed" run was for a whole mile with a 4 minute recovery walk/jog before doing it a second time. I managed the speed sections at 7:45 and 8:05 but that's not exactly speed, even by my standards. Still, I imagine these days server a specific purpose. They are quite hard; I'll say that, and maybe that's part of the point.

#51 Details: 20 easy
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

Just an easy 20 minute run so not much to say. The only thing I'll make note of here is that I did get a stabbing achilles pain about 5 minutes into the run. I haven't had that happen in well over a week so I was not pleased to see it return. I'm hoping that this was a not a sign of the issue returning or worsening.

Tomorrow is a 40 minute tempo run. That's one of the "long" tempo runs that usually kick my butt. Should be fun. ;) 

Houston Half Marathon


Details Official: Official Results
Details (Garmin Connect) : Half Marathon
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara

I ran the Houston Half Marathon this weekend and had a great time. It was a bigger event than I imagined it would be. There were well around 4500 runners. Here are a few pics of the meeting grounds early in the morning:




It was a nice cool day, but quite humid. The race started around 7:00 and I finished in 2:04. My overall pace was around 9:30 min/mile which I'm pretty happy with as it's my best ever pace on a long run. It was tough to maintain my run walk rhythm as there were very few people using that strategy. When I would stop a huge number of people would run past me and then I'd start again and as my run pace was pretty quick, I'd pass all of those same people, only to repeat the pattern again and again. It's probably silly to let that bother me as I finished pretty much dead center in the pack of 4500 which great for my first ever long distance race, but I may see if I can start to switch up my strategy to longer run intervals but at a slower pace. I don't know. We'll see. Maybe I shouldn't mess with something that seems to be working for me.

The event was a lot of fun. There were people lining the streets for almost the whole length of the course. They weren't thick, except at the beginning and end, but they were pretty much everywhere. Everything was handled extremely professionally and well organized. The race volunteers were terrific. I was impressed. The course we ran was, for the most part, quite nice. We started running through the tall buildings of downtown, and then headed west to, and through, Memorial Park. The only downside was that because most of the first half of the course slightly downhill, most of the second half was slightly uphill. That was a little brutal and the second to last mile before the finish was, by Houston standards, a not insignificant uphill grade. I would definitely have preferred things to have been the other way around. Still, we're talking about Houston here, so none of the hills were terrible.

My achilles held up just fine. No issues at all.  The humidity was a little high so I sweat like a son of a gun and thus got a little chafed but that will heal. I am going to have to figure out some of this chafing stuff as my weekly long runs are just going to get longer and longer. I don't want to go into detail but I'm not chafing or blistering in the normal areas like thighs and feet. Anyway, I'll get it all worked out somehow. The sweat is also taking a huge toll on my shoes. I have no idea what to do about this. I can wash them every week, I guess, but there's just no way that's good for them. Oh well.

Here's a picture of my sweat soaked self after the race:


When I started the running group training program, a half marathon was a legitimate option for the "final" goal. I'm super pleased to have already reached that milestone this early, and, if my achilles holds up, I'll have the full marathon to look forward to at the beginning of February. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Run Journal - #48-49

#48 Details: 3 x 1200m/4min
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

This was a weird run. As usual, Tuesday is speed work, but instead of short repeated bits of speed mixed with rest, this was a very small number of 3/4 mile speed sections mixed with long recovery runs. It was a huge challenge to keep my speed up for that long of a distance, but ultimately, I was pleased with the result. I was able to keep about a 7:10 pace for all three intervals.

The Hoka's were, again, kind to my achilles. Theses shoes have finally found a place in my rotation as I've really come to appreciate their feel during this injury recovery.

#49 Details: 30 tempo
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

I intended to run in the Kinvara's today in preparation for Sunday's half marathon, but they were still wet from the previous day's stint in the dishwasher, so the Hoka's got the call again. I didn't get my run in until much later than usual, but it was still wonderfully cool outside and I was able to push my pace to it's best ever for a run over a of more than two miles: 8:09 min/mile! That's marathon pace for some people but for me, it's super, super fast.

Have I mentioned that I LOVE the cool weather! :)

The Kinvara's should be dry tomorrow. I may take them out for a quick mile or two just to make sure the washing had no ill effects. It would suck to find something wrong on race day, but they should be fine.

One note; I've had a little soreness on the outside of my right ankle the last few days. This is something I've encountered before, but it's a bit worse this time. I'm icing the ankle for my achilles so hopefully that will also help this other bit of discomfort. It's nowhere near bad enough to impact Sunday's run, but it has made some of the yoga I've been doing a little uncomfortable.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Run Journal - #47

Details: 20 easy
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

Short, easy run today but it was cool so I pushed the pace a bit and had some fun. The Huaka's continue to be extremely kind to my achilles for some reason, so I'll probably continue to run in them this week. I'll switch back to the Kinvara's for Thursday's run and for the half marathon, of course. I'm excited about the coming weekend!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Run Journal - #44-46

#44 Details: 20 easy
Shoes: Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit

Not much to say. Simple short run.

#45 Details: 40 tempo
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

Ran in the Hokas today as they, for some reason, seem to give my achilles the least trouble. It was a good run at at 8:41 pace which is great for me for it being 40 minutes.

#46 Details: 11 mile long run
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara


I crushed my previous best long run times today by over 20 sec/mile. The cool weather was certainly the main reason with my achilles that was almost perfect playing a role as well.

Next week is the actual half marathon. If the weather holds up, that should be an fun event and if my achilles holds up, I should be able to recommit to the full marathon.

After the run today I tried something new: acro yoga. I had no idea what I was getting into, but it turned out to be a ton of fun. Basically one person provides a base and the other person is called the flyer. The two people work together to lift and move flyer into various acrobatic positions. That's a massively oversimplified explanation, but it's the best I can do here. The bottom line is that it was great fun and tested both my strength and balance and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Run Journal - #43

Details: 6 x 1min/2min
Shoes: Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit (not a good choice for today)

I actually did two runs today. I prefer to do the speed intervals on a track which isn't easy to get done before work, but this morning was the coolest yet and I woke up early enough before my meetings that I decided to do a very quick run in the wonderfully cool temperatures. I didn't even bring my watch. I just went out for about 20 minutes and ran a couple of miles. It was fantastic.

My actual scheduled run was for 6 intervals of 1 minute run and 2 minutes recovery. The track where I normally do this work was having an event today (soccer match, I think) so I had to head out a little further and where I ended up was actually a dirt track with lots of pebbles. The Nikes are awful for this as their tread pattern sucks up pebbles like a vacuum to the point that it actually impacts the feel of the shoe. Anyway, the run went well. My achilles doesn't seem to be getting better but it's also not getting worse, so I guess I won't complain. A few nice cringe inducing pains in the first warm up mile, but after that nothing too bad and I feel fine afterwards. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Run Journal - #42

Details: 30 easy
Shoes: Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit

Back in Blue
Short easy run today. For whatever reason, I never find Monday runs all that fun. On the plus side, though, I went over to Greatwood again. I like running over there; lots of tall trees. Fortunately I got out and back in before today's monsoon hit.

One interesting note: You may recall from Saturday's journal, I was sweating like a son-of-a-gun on that long run, and today when I went over to my Kinvara's to pull off the footpod to transfer it to the Nikes, I caught a generous whiff of the shoes, and as George Takei would say:


Those suckers may need to be incinerated. I'll try to clean them first, of course, but the "stank" might just be too powerful. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Run Journal - #41

Details: 13 mile run
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5 (surprise, surprise)

Polka dots! Who doesn't like polka dots. I don't, as it turns out (below)
It wasn't happening today. Maybe it was the humidity and the return of higher temperatures of maybe it was just "one of those days", but this run was a struggle from the start. Every time I looked down at the pace on my watch, it was slower than what I thought it would be, so I'd pick it up a little, but then I was getting tired. By the fourth mile I was frustrated. I was comparing myself to the folks around me and sinking into a bad mood, but then I remembered something that an instructor said in a yoga class I'd had that week. I'm paraphrasing, but the gist was to let go of your expectations and just live in that particular moment. That's not something I typically do, and I'm not even sure that it's something I even want to always do, but at that moment, in that situation, it seemed like a good idea. So I stopped paying attention to my pace, and instead just ran at a speed that was near the top of my comfort level, but not beyond. I had to catch myself a number of times, but I didn't look at my watch even once more the rest of the route. My frustration and impatience faded away over time and while I'm not sure I can truthfully say the rest of the run was "enjoyable", it was a far, far better experience that it would have been had I not followed that advice from my yoga class. In the end, my final time, while not great, was acceptable, but even if it hadn't been, I think I would have been allright with that today.

Oh, I mentioned the polka dots calf sleeves in the caption of the picture above. I like the pattern, but it looks like the thread or material used to make the dots is different than the rest of the calf sleeves. When the run was over I noticed that the sleeves were constricting deeper around the dots than anywhere else. This end result was quite uncomfortable. It's a shame as these are fairly high quality calf sleeves and I love the other pair I have from the same company.

I'm not sure what the deal was but I think I sweated ("sweated" doesn't sound right to my ear for some reason but I looked it up and apparently that's right) more on this run that at any other time in my life, I went through almost twice as much water than normal and by the end, my shoes, and of course my clothes looked like I had waded into a river. Every step would push water (well, sweat really) out through the mesh upper portion of my shoes. Uggg!

Fortunately rejuvenation and and one of the best experiences I've had a long, long time were just a hour away at my yoga class. The Saturday classes have been a godsend. Since I've been doing yoga after my longs runs, I've recovering much more quickly. Saturday used to be an almost lost day after the run and some Sunday's were not much better, but now things get back to normal pretty quickly.

The class was great. The Saturday instructor does a lot of balance, stretching and some core strength. It's perfect my needs, but the real treat came afterwards. A few days ago I mentioned some annoyance I was feeling that the milestone of running a half marathon was going to come during a mundane training session this weekend instead of a few weeks later at an actual event that a number of us in the running group were signed up for. The event would be a real, meaningful marker of this achievement for those of us who were first-timers. Well, a new friend of mine read that blog entry and did THE coolest thing in the world. After class she said she had something for me and then gave me this:


You might not be able to see it in the picture but it's says 13 miles and has a pin to attach it to my shirt like a medal. I was dumbstruck. It's a day later and I'm still misting up a bit as I write this. Even now, I don't have the words... it was one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me. In a few weeks I'll do the Houston Half and I'll get a finisher's medal, but that will be junk compared to this.

The rest of my day turned out pretty fantastic as well, so despite getting off to a rough start, yesterday isn't a day I'll soon forget.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Maps and Finally Feeling the Difference

If you've ever clicked on the "Details" links in my run journals, you've been taken to Garmin Connect where the data recorded from my watch is uploaded and stats are aggregated. A map overview of the run has always been prominent, but a recent redesign of the site has made the map section even larger. Wise move, Garmin. Wise move.

I don't know what it is, but I derive a deep satisfaction when I pull up an run review and see the map. When you're on a run, you experience the moment and that moment is just what is around you. Sure, you may intellectually recognize that you're going a long way, but one doesn't, or at least I don't, really feel the whole scope of the distance. Afterwards, though, when you pull up that map, you can really see the whole run as a whole. It always makes me smile. Every time.

Look at last week's long run map. I've driven those roads dozens of times, and let me tell you in no uncertain terms: that's a long freaking way!. It's awesome! When I saw that map for the first time after the run Saturday, I was practically giddy. The very idea that Matt, that 315 lb behemoth of a year and a half ago who couldn't have run a half mile without stopping, ran that distance and felt good afterwards? Yeah, baby!!


On a somewhat related note, it's funny - after I lost the weight, I was supposed to feel different. Better. As if my life had changed. The thing was, I didn't. Not at all. I looked a little different in the mirror, but I didn't feel any different. Some people treated me a little differently, but the few "real" friends I had didn't, which is just one of the ways that know they are real friends. (Fat Matt. Thin Matt. I was still Matt. I'm not sure if it's coming across, but that's not sarcasm or negativity. I'm truly thankful for these people and that to them, I'm the same person regardless of my appearance.)

This year though? This year, I finally feel different. One of the reasons for this is pretty straight forward, but the other came from somewhere I totally wasn't expecting. The easy one to explain is the running. As I've said before, I can't really say that I "love" running, but I do love that I "can" run, because it's something that I most certainly could never have done before. It's a symbol of the physical changes.

The other reason for feeling different this year is, well, people. While I've always been blessed with having tremendous people in my life (my family is awesome and I consider my friends Rob and Kirstin and their kids are every bit a part of my family as well), beyond that small group, I've foolishly imposed a certain self isolation for far too many years. This year though, I'm trying... really, really trying to open myself up a little. I don't even know why I find it so difficult to do this, but I do.

I'm taking baby steps for sure. A lot of it was almost by accident. I joined a crossfit gym. I could have joined a normal gym where it would have been much more individually focused, but I found the functional training aspect of crossfit interesting and also, though I didn't consider it at the time, it is group focused rather than individually oriented. Oh an guess what, the folks who run it are some of the most friendly and personable people you could imagine. I can't say that I know anybody there really well, but I have formed some friendships and enjoy just chatting with folks. That seems so benign, but believe it or not, it's way outside my normal comfort zone.

Then there's yoga. It's also group based. It's so against my nature to engage people, but before every session, I have a tiny pep talk with myself and say, "Matt, you smile and greet every single person who comes into that room. Ask them how things are going and actually mean it." You have no idea how "not me" that is, but I'm learning and I'll be damned to find out that I'm now actually interested in the answers. For example, "T" is someone who was in my yoga 101 class and now that the class is over I'm sad because I'm not going to find out how her kids are doing after both had car accidents in the same week (no injuries, thankfully).

Not only that, but as I mentioned a few weeks ago, through what again I can only describe as great luck, the instructors at the yoga place are just great people to be around. Seriously, every single one, from the owner on down.

These new relationships aren't deep of course, but they mean something to me. It's a start and it's a huge part of why things are finally feeling a little "different". The weight loss may have been a catalyst, and I'm grateful for it, but it didn't really change anything meaningful. I'm still working on the changes.

Run Journal - #38 -40

#38 Details: 35 easy
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

First run since the long Saturday jaunt. I'm continuing to nurse the achilles, but it wasn't too bad. I felt it a few times on the run, but nothing to be concerned about.

#39 Details: 7 60/60 speed intervals
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

My achilles felt GREAT today. Well, at least until I got stupid. Normally I have tennis on Tuesdays but I had a "bye" this week, so I went to crossfit and then afterwards to a local elementary school's track. Speed work is a little easier on a track and they are usually a nice reprieve from the hard concrete; something made even more important when doing speed work. The run itself felt terrific; almost no noticeable discomfort in my achilles at all. I can't tell you how much of a relief this was. It gives me hope that I can heal from this minor injury without taking the huge break in running schedule that would sideline my long term marathon plan. I won't make that decision until after the half marathon this month, but things are definitely looking up!

I mentioned being stupid above. That came after the run. I got back in the car and checked my email.  The tennis guys needed a sub for someone who couldn't make it. I had just been to crossfit AND gone on a run. The smart thing would have been to let it be, but smart isn't always my strong suit, so I volunteered. Uggg. Tennis is one of the worst things I can do for my achilles. It involves jumping from zero to sprint in an instant and that causes me heel problems on the best days, much less when I trying to recover from an injury. In any case, it's no surprise that I tweaked my heel repeatedly during the match and was feeling awful afterwards. Wednesday is a rare off-day on the run schedule so I took full advantage of it and only did some Yoga.

#40: 30 tempo
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

After Wednesday's dumb move playing tennis, I was a bit sore, but today's tempo run went pretty well. I felt it a bit during the first mile, but then things settled down. The run itself went well as far as pace is concerned: 8:35 which may be my best tempo run ever. Tomorrow is an off day for running so I'll have a nice break before the Saturday run.

Speaking of which, I'm a little frustrated that the Saturday run is a full 13 miles. I know this is silly, but 13 (or actually 13.1) is a half marathon and a genuine accomplishment, mile marker, achievement... whatever you want to call it. It would be nice if took place at an actual "event" like the half marathon planned in October. The training schedule does, in fact, work itself around the upcoming half marathon by tapering a bit the week before, but hitting that actual half marathon distance this week in a very anonymous manner is a bit of a let down. We get medals at the real thing. :)

Like I said, it's ridiculous to feel this way, but it still bothers me.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Run Journal - #35-37

Wednesday - #35

My achilles felt good Wednesday, but I still wanted to take it easy on them. I decided to go ahead with the planned 20 min. easy run but do it in an especially easy manner and also knock our a chore I'd been planning for a while at the same time. The "chore" was to calibrate my foot pod with all of my various shoes at about a 9:30 pace (my intended marathon speed). Each calibration is about .5 miles so roughly 5 minutes and doing 4 pairs of shoes (I already have the calibration numbers for my Merrell Bare Access) would come out to around 20 minutes with a nice healthy breaks each time I changed shoes.

Stepping away from the achilles thing for a minute; this was the first time I had ever had an opportunity to run with my different shoes one after the other. This helped to highlight the differences between each. The Kinvara's just feels like home. They're light, and comfortable, and they fit my feet amazingly well. I calibrated them directly after the Hoka Huakas, and the difference was huge. The Huakas aren't bad and I think I'll continue to use them in certain situations, but I can't see them ever becoming my go-to shoe. The Nike Free 4 Flyknit were great, but of all the shoes I tried, they did seem to aggravate my achilles the most. Perhaps that was just because they were the first shoe I wore that evening. Finally, the Altra One 2's were just weird. Really squishy and almost a bit unstable, even compared to the Huakas that had a bit more cushion.

I was pretty pleased with my achilles during the run. There were a few twinges, but nothing that worried me too much. I was sore afterwards, but some ice and anti-inflammatory cream (prescribed by the doc I'd seen the previous day) helped. It was a relief to see some improvement from Monday. The discomfort/pain was so different than what I'm used that I was really worried that I had done something that was going to crush my goals.

Thursday - #36
Details: 30 minute tempo
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara

Again, things went pretty well, although I planned the run poorly and ended up going out in about 90 degree heat. Dumb. I felt pressure in the right achilles but no stabbing pains like I had Monday; just an occasional moment of unusual discomfort. I was pretty sore afterwards, but the same treatments as the previous day and a great yoga session helped out quite a bit.

I am stretching my calves and achilles well before and after each run and then foam rolling and ball rolling each evening. It's appears to be helping.

Saturday - #37
Details: 12 mile long run
Shoes Saucony Kinvara


Rocking the purple calf sleeves; a paragon of fashion, I am

This was the real test. How would things hold up on another long run? As it turns out; pretty well. Even with my achilles issue and trying to take it easier today, my time came in pretty darn fast. Was it iron determination that saw me through? Force of will? My never say die attitude? Hahahahaha... don't be ridiculous. It was none of those things. Want to know the secret?

63°

Oh baby was it cool out there this morning! I cannot even begin to describe what a difference 15° cooler makes. Unbelievable. With 12.44 miles done at a 10:10 pace, I was feeling GREAT! I mean, yes, my achilles was sore and I'd felt twinges of discomfort throughout the run but nothing serious, and I was barely winded. I ran through my rest periods a number of times on the run simply for the heck of it because I wasn't tired, and there's no doubt in my mind it was all due to the temperature. I'm now officially jealous of the northern summer runners.  Of course, now we're entering the time of year where Southeast Texas begins to shine. Sure, we'll have a few freezing days, but between now and the end of March, we'll have a ton of 50 and 60° days that will more than make us for the mind numbing heat and humidity of our summer.
12.4 miles. 2 hours. No land speed records here, but I'll take it.

I followed up the run with a yoga session. This has now become a regular part of my Saturday run recovery and I think it's paying off big time. The session was with someone new (new to me, anyway) and each instructor has their differences, but you'll get no complaints from me. Through luck, we happened to do a few hip opening stretches that were terrific for after a run. I'll need to remember to do those on my own if the class doesn't do them, as they seems to directly target some stiff post-run areas.

My Thursday instructor thoughtfully brought to my attention a Yoga for Men four week workshop at another studio in Katy. It's something of a drive to get up to Katy, but it seems interesting and my recent Yoga 101 class was an eye opener so I decided to give it a go and my first session is Monday.

Finally, I'm cautiously optimistic about my foot issue. A little soreness today, but I was nowhere near hobbling around like I was last Saturday and Sunday. I'll continue to work with it and baby it a bit. If all goes well, I'll not only feel comfortable doing the half marathon this month, I may reconsider continuing my work towards the full marathon.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Doctor's Visit and My First Missed Run

The scheduled run today was for speed training - 9x60/60; nine intervals of 60 seconds of run and 60 seconds of recovery. It didn't happen. I had a early doctor's appointment and decided to skip the run, or at least delay it until afterwards.

The doctor didn't give me great news. He thinks it's achilles tendinitis. I guess that's not a surprise. The prescription? Rest. Crap... That's not what I wanted to hear, although it's a no-brainer that that is what would be recommended. I asked him whether or not it would be reasonable to carefully continue my running for a few more weeks at least until I'd completed the half marathon scheduled in October. While he obviously couldn't give me any guarantees, he did say that with stretching, before and after the run, using an anti-inflammatory medication, and just being cautious, I could probably get away with it. Those weren't his exact words, of course, but that was my take-away. So, that's what I'm going to try.

This probably does put the kibosh on the full marathon scheduled for January. I'm not happy about that. I know it's probably necessary, but it still feels like I'm giving up; wussing out. Stupid, I know, but when I commit to a challenge, not completing it, for whatever reason, just sucks.

I was supposed to play tennis tonight but one of the late afternoon thunderstorms we tend to get this time of year made it a bit too wet so the match was cancelled. When I got that news, I decided to try to get today's run in after all. I stretched well and my achilles actually felt pretty good for the first quarter-mile but then a few sharp pains popped up. That's unusual for me. If I have achilles pain, it's almost always there right away and then fades as the I warm up. I decided to stop the run. It wasn't terrible pain, but I'm hoping that by giving it another day's rest, it will be better tomorrow. Fingers crossed...

Run Journal - #34

Details: 30 easy
Shoes: Altra One 2

My achilles felt pretty good Sunday, but almost immediately into my run today there was sharp stabbing in the heel. It slowly went away after about a mile. Not good. I decided to call the doctor for an appointment.

I think I've mentioned this, but this achilles thing has been with me for years. The last month, though, has been pretty good. I kind of thought I had strengthened up whatever needed strengthening, but I guess it doesn't work that way. Bummer...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Post Run #33 Note

Since the run journal entries are for my own future reference, I thought I'd add that while my achilles/heels felt fine immediately after the run, by about noon, my right heel was killing me and it continued to give me trouble throughout the day. It's a little better today (Sunday) but still more painful than it has been after any other run in the last few weeks. If it continues to feel bad throughout this week's runs, I may finally take the step of going to see a doctor about it. I've tried to avoid this (stupidly, probably) because I don't want to hear that I need to take a break and ruin my marathon training, or worse, that I need to have some kind of internal procedure done. 

Run Journal - #33

Details: 11 Mile Run

Saucony Kinvara 5 - At the moment, my favorite shoes
Great run today. My final pace was middle of the pack compared to my previous long runs, but I felt fast today and could easily have gone another couple of miles. I was feeling good enough that I picked up the pace my last three miles (WAY up on the last one, in particular) to see if I could get my overall average down below 10 min/mile, but nope. I ended up at about 10:15. As a reminder, my current plan is run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute. I tend to skip the first one or two walk breaks just to get warmed up, and today I also skipped my last break while I was trying to knock my pace down.

I tried a new hydration system today. Until now, I've been carrying a water bottle in my hand with a grip system, but this has never felt terribly comfortable to me. I'd love to have my hands free. I haven't even bothered with a waist-based bottle carrying system, as I see them sloshing and moving around on other folks and that would drive me nuts. The next thing I was going to try was a hydration pack, however I ran across something else that intrigued me. It's from a company called Orange Mud and it's basically a small backpack that sits very high on your back and holds a water bottle. It's way overpriced, but a number of the reviews I've seen raved about it. I ordered it Monday and got it just in time yesterday, and ran with it today. Overall it wasn't bad. After trying it on at the house, I was seriously concerned about how tight it needed to be under my armpits, but as it turns out, on the run, that wasn't an issue. When running, my shoulders are back with my arms held fairly high. The tightness one feels with one's arms hanging to the side disappears during that running motion. I should mention that the water in the bottle certainly DOES slosh around. You can hear it (after all, it's sitting just behind your head); however, because the pack is so high and tight, you can't feel the sloshing at all. If not for the sound, you'd barely know it was there. The pack has some other nice features: the shoulder straps have elastic pockets for energy gels (or whatever you want to put in there) and the pocket of the pack itself is more than large enough to hold just about anything you might want to take on a long run like your phone, keys, etc. Again, it's all held so high on your back that the weight is barely felt. I think it's a keeper.

I mentioned last week that my beloved Scosche RHYTHM+ heart rate monitor was having issues. I managed to get in touch with Scosche support on Friday (very responsive folks, by the way) and they think the issue is the charger, so they're sending me a new one. I hope that this really is the problem. The Mio Link I'm using in the mean time is fine, but RHYTHM+ is just a tad more comfortable and easier to wear.

The last few Saturday's I've been going to a Yoga class after my long runs to stretch out the kinks and burn and wow, this has worked out well! I feel so much better on Sunday than I had before I began this practice.

On a related note, I love the place I have been going for Yoga (Yoga on the Brazos). The instructors are just fantastic; each in their own ways. Although I haven't been able to make her class since my tennis league picked up again last month, the Tuesday instructor leads an intense session that really tests my strength and endurance. The Wednesday instructor, who has also been leading the Yoga 101 class I've been attending, is a terrific "teacher", and I mean that in the technical sense of the word. She is gifted in imparting knowledge. She describes and demonstrates the movements in ways that make the poses understandable and achievable. She's also a true professional. I've been very impressed with her preparation and methods. The Thursday instructor, who also happens to have led the last three Saturday classes I've taken after my runs, has a great class that varies from instructional to fairly intense (although not so much as the Tuesday class I mentioned above). She also throws in a number of meditation and focus exercises which I was initially a little skeptical of, but now enjoy a great deal. And most important, she has a remarkable presence and attitude. You simply can't leave her class without feeling (I'm really searching for a word here, and not finding exactly what I'm looking for, but oh well) "uplifted". Anyway, as you can tell, I've been incredibly pleased with the classes I've taken there. The evenings and Saturday mornings I'm getting to spend in these classes have become something I truly look forward to. As a bonus, my flexibility has really taken a step forward and is showing up in my crossfit workouts. Winner all around!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Run Journal - #32

Details: 25 tempo
Shoes: Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit

It was a very short tempo run today so I tried to really push it after the first mile. I didn't make huge progress over my previous tempo runs, but I did get in about 20 seconds/mile faster than the last two weeks. Tomorrow is an off day (for running) and then Saturday is 11 miles. Only three weeks until the half marathon!

I mentioned my schedule yesterday, but didn't go into details. I was asked recently what my full schedule is these days:

  • Monday - Usually an easy medium length run and Yoga 101 Class in the evening (great class that has been terrifically helpful to my flexibility) 
  • Tuesday - Speed run intervals; league tennis in the evening
  • Wednesday - Easy short run and crossfit in the evening
  • Thursday - Tempo run and then yoga in the evening - I love this class; I don't know why but I always feel terrific afterwards
  • Friday - No running, but I go to crossfit in the afternoon/evening
  • Saturday - Long run with the training group
  • Sunday - Nada, nothing. Rest day.
Next week is my last Yoga 101 class, so after that I'll move crossfit to Monday and then take a different yoga class Wednesday. 

Run Journal - #31

Details: 20 easy
Shoes: Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit

My current schedule calls for crossfit on Wednesdays and one part of the posted workout was for a mile run, so I decided to combine that run with my 20 min easy run.

I can't tell you how nice this week's weather has been. The 8-10 degree difference from last week has been fantastic. It's making me look forward to the even cooler temperatures to come. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Run Journal - #30

Details: 30 easy
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

I tried to run on feel again today. In the end my pace was all over the place, but I can at least feel good about the fact that from a "feel" perspective a pace that would have been quite hard a month or two ago was fairly easy today. On a shoe note, I was in the Kinvara's today and they felt good. The Hoka's just didn't click with me, I guess. That's a shame as I had pretty high hopes for them given the praise they had received from so many of the bloggers I follow.

I was thinking today about what running I'll do after I'm done with this marathon training. The reality is that I'm doing this as a challenge to myself and not because I have a particular love of running. I do like that I "can" run now, but the actual act itself doesn't bring me any specific pleasure. We'll see what happens. Who knows, maybe I'll need to do it; after all, if I'm still struggling with my weight with all of the exercise and eating reasonably well, cutting back on the running doesn't seem like it would help the situation.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Run Journal - #29

Details: 10 Mile
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

So ends the week of the Hoka. I guess I'm not a convert to the brand like so many others. I got to the point where I didn't feel like I was working harder than I should be, but I never fell in love with them.

Today was the 10 mile run (actually 9.68 apparently) and no complaints. I was a little more tired than last week but I'll chalk that up to normal variability.


That pace time is for the last lap, not overall. My overall pace was 10:18. The extra strap you see to left is the Mio Link heart rate monitor. As I mentioned in a previous post, it looks like my Scosche HRM has give up the ghost. Very disappointing. The Mio is fine, really, but the Scosche was just a touch more comfortable.

1 Hour and 38 minutes. Am I really running for almost two hours? Cool!

I don't take my phone with me on these longer runs, so I don't have any mid-run pics, but here are a few of the group after the run as they are cooling off.



 
This is actually everyone all together; the walkers, 5k, 10, half marathon, and full marathon folks. My much smaller group is called Red Runners. We're about 20-30 strong with a target pace between 10:30 and 12:00 min/mi. They break the groups up pace and distance so that they can start at different times but all get back to this location at "roughly" the same time. It's quite the eclectic group. Anyone can participate in a marathon; you don't have to be a speed demon. You can even walk most or all of it, which is what some of these folks will be doing.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Run journal - #28

Details: 30 tempo
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

Huaka, Huaka!
I love to add more pictures from the weekday runs, but seriously, there's just not much to see. I need to move somewhere more photogenic!

My watch is set to automatically record laps every mile and when it hits those markers it vibrates and pops up a message showing the pace for that last mile. I would SWEAR that it showed 9:05 this morning for my first mile. but somehow it's now showing up in my run record as 9:44 which is way off from my other splits. I'm not sure what happened. Most likely I just misread it this morning, but looking at my watch during that mile I was trying, and hitting or so I thought, around a 9:00 min/mi pace so when I saw 9:05 I felt that was just about right.

Anyway...

Even with that slow first mile I was able to get around a 9:00 min overall pace which is fine and what I was aiming for before the run . I think the Hokas have earned a spot on this weekends run. We'll see how it works out. 

This Saturday's long run is a milestone. It's our first double digit-er: 10 miles. Last week's 9 miles felt fine so I'm sure it won't be a problem, but it is a little weird to think about how far I've come since January when I ran my first mile since high school (and I'm not even sure I ever ran a mile even back then). I did that first mile run at one of my crossfit classes and I was thrilled to death about it. I was tired and it certainly wasn't fast, but I did it. I think it was the first physical thing I'd done since losing the weight that I absolutely could NEVER have done before losing it, and that meant something. I think I smiled for three straight days after that first mile. :)

So here's looking forward to 10!

Run Journal - #27

Details: 20 Easy (20 minutes at an easy pace)
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

This was supposed to be a pure recovery/easy run, but as I've mentioned in the past, keeping those 20 minute runs slow (or slower; I'm plenty slow even at my fastest) can be a challenge.


In any case, my pace was a bit higher than usual which is a good sign as I wasn't really pushing it. For the first time in a week, my "feel" matched pretty well with the actual pace.

The last few days I've started using my footpod again. For whatever reason, I've been a little more frustrated than usual with the slow reporting of my current pace based on GPS. The footpod is much quicker to adjust the reported pace based on actual changes in my speed. The only downside is that to get a truly accurate reading, you have to calibrate the footpod not only for a specific pairs of shoes, but also for different pace ranges. Still, even with no calibration it will usually be reasonably accurate, especially for someone like me who's not pushing any particular boundaries. To be verify that it was at least close, I ran with both my Garmin 610 (my go-to device lately) hooked up to the footpod and my 310XT working off GPS. I checked them at various points in the run and they were rarely more than 15 sec/mile different from each other and that's "good enough" as far as I'm concerned.



Run Journal - #26

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/592051677
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

Speed work today, so 14(!!!) intervals of 30 seconds sprint, 30 seconds recovery. The jump from 10 to 14 was a bugger. A few of the last intervals were a little slow but I did give everything I had left on the very last ones and managed to pick it up a bit. I never thought I'd miss the hills workouts.

It's been rainy as heck the past week around here, and sure enough, during my second interval it started coming down. The only real impact was that I couldn't see through my glasses, but sight is overrated.

The Hokas were fine today. This kind of workout isn't a good measuring stick for the shoes, but I'm certainly not having any comfort or fit issues, so there's that at least. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Run Journal - #25

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/591184695
Shoes: Hoka Huaka

I'll call this "The Week of the Hoka". I'm going to give these Hoka Huakas a legit shot. Unfortunately, today's run was pretty much like last Thursday's in that I felt like I was working harder than my pace would indicate. We'll see what happens.


Run Journal - #24

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/589331073
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

No pics today, which is dumb. I really meant to take some pictures of the group so you could get an idea of what that's like. Oh well... next week. 

It did not start out as a good run... but it got better. By the time I got to the run meetup location, my stomach was cramping like a son of a gun; the wince and bend over at the waist kind of cramping. I can only guess that the previous night's cheesy tacos and salad were not agreeing with me somehow. At that point I had a serious talk with my stomach:

Me: Ok, stomach. I don't like you and you don't like me. That's established by now, but we're stuck with each other and I'm here and not going home. I got up at 5:00 AM this morning and I'll be damned if that's going to waste!

Stomach:

I'm not sure what I was expecting. Stomachs can't talk.

In any case, the tongue lashing must have worked because around mile 3 the cramps began to fade and then they were gone. Either that or the well understood and accepted phenomenon of ones digestive system slowing down during a long run occurred, but I prefer to believe it was the talk. In any case, I'm sure my stomach is just biding it's time in order to get revenge for that letdown. I'm betting it will be during yoga. We'll all be lying there at the end of a class in shavasana, deathly quiet in the room; nothing but the sounds of deep breathing. That's when my stomach will strike:


In any case, after my gut settled down I had a good run. The first 4 miles I ran with another group that was doing 5/1 intervals, but their run intervals we're pretty slow, so eventually, I ran ahead and did the normal thing on my own. Road runs are so much easier than trails. Last week at the end of 8 miles I was beat, but today I honestly felt like I could have gone another couple of miles with no problem. 

By the time I got home, though, my digestion must have kicked back in because things got ugly pretty quick. Still, I'll chalk that run up as a win.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Run Journal - #23

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/587986806

Started a little late today so it was already light outside; this is
the view from my front door
Not a great run today. It was supposed to be a 35 minute "tempo" run, but I struggled to keep my pace up near 9:00 min/mile. I actually did something that I've haven't done since starting this training program. I stopped mid way through the run to catch my breath. Was I tired from 5 straight days of runs? Was it the new shoes? No way to know really. I can say, however, that I won't be using the new Hoka's on my long run Saturday, just in case they were what was giving me trouble. 
Calf sleeves with the new Hoka Huaka's; sexy!
I have rarely been more ready for a run to end as I was today. Whew! To make matters worse, I'm having some kind of issue with my favorite running tech, the Scosche Rhythm+ heart rate monitor that up till now has been flawless. I seem to be having an issue charging it. I cleaned the charging contacts with a cotton swab and alcohol after the run. Hopefully the only issue is just that the contacts are a little dirty. We'll see. It would make me terribly sad to see that device go kaput.

I'm hesitant to do much of a "first impressions" review of the Huaka's after a bad run. I don't want to be negative when the shoes may not be to blame, but I do have a few quick notes. I guess what surprised me was how little a difference I actually noticed. After all, these are a considerably different approach to shoes that what I normally run in. There was no feeling of "running on a cloud" as one might expect from a shoe so much more heavily cushioned than my others. As I mentioned above, I did feel like I was struggling to keep up a pace, but I don't want to lay the blame for that on the shoes just yet. They were a little narrower than most of my other shoes, but once I got started that didn't matter too much. All in all, I guess my first impression is kind of a shoulder shrug. They seemed fine, but not stupendous or wildly different. If my pacing struggles continue though, then will be a different matter. I typically switch up my shoes almost every run, but I may give these a go for all of next week to see if it's a "getting used to them" issue. I'm also curious what kind of impact, good or bad, the extra cushion will have on my feet and calves.

I finally made it back to my crossfit gym this afternoon after almost two weeks away. It was good to be back. I enjoy the people there; especially the folks who run it. They are genuinely nice people. When I first started going there I appreciated their good cheer and encouragement, but I thought it was really just part and parcel of their responsibilities in running the gym that led to their consistent good mood and encouragement of the members, but after almost a year there, I now know they they are just downright good people. I have no idea how they mange to be so upbeat and kind every single day, but I know that every time I go, I'm in a better mood when I leave than when I arrived, and it's not just the workout that does it.

Today's gym workout was ideal in that if focused on strength (especially core) and balance rather than endurance (although there's always some endurance in the "sweat-con" portion). Tomorrow is a rest day for running, so I hope the planned gym workout is more of the same. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Run Journal - #22

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/587409581

Ran with Altra One 2's again today, so to avoid a repeat pic,
here's my watch after the run (Wow, I'm hairy! Gross!)
I trying to force myself to form an opinion on the Altra's so I wore them again today for a recovery/easy run. Just 20 minutes. Tomorrow is a tempo run so I'm glad to have the break as tomorrow will be my fifth straight day of runs including the long one.

Not much to say on today's run. As I've mentioned a few other times, I'm trying to go on a feel a bit more, especially on these "easy" runs, but as today's pace shows, that sometimes means I overdo it a bit when I'm supposed to be taking it easy. Still, it was just 20 minutes, so I don't think there's any harm done. It's fun to say that, by the way.  A year ago if you had asked me to run 20 minutes, I would have died, and two years ago I simply couldn't have done it, period.

Also, UPS just left me a new toy on my doorstep. I have a sickness, you know. Ever since I started this run thing, buying running shoes has become a crippling weakness. I swear I'm going to put myself in the poorhouse unless I deal with this addiction (kidding, of course; don't worry about me moving back in with you guys, Mom and Dad!). Here's my new fix: Hoka One One - Huaka. These are a HUGE departure from my normal shoe preference. I'm a semi-minimalist when it comes to shoes. While these are one of Hoka's most "minimal" shoes, the very fact that they are Hoka's means that they are firmly in the "maximal" category. Despite that, a few of the run bloggers I follow who are also minimalists have had good things to say about these shoes so I figured I'd see what all the hubub was about. I'll post some impressions after a run or two in them. After trying them on though, I can already say that my chronic "right foot bigger than the left" issue is going to be a problem. They are a little narrower in the toebox than I normally go for, but we'll see what I can do with the lacing to ease up some of the pressure.

Run Journal - #21

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/586722477

My Bowling/Running shoes -  Altra One 2
I've not quite made up my mind on these shoes. I guess if that's still the case by now, then I must not really like them all that much, but I'll be jiggered if I could tell you why. They are probably my most comfortable shoes (notice that wide toebox). They are the only shoes I own that feel good on both my feet instead of just the left. You'll also notice the calf sleeves today. The ole' calves have been burning a bit this week. I meant to wear them for the long run on Sunday, and if I had I probably could have avoided the burn. Lesson learned. I'll wear them for the 9 miler this Saturday.

Today was more speed work: 10x30/30 which means 10 iterations of 30 seconds run followed by 30 seconds recovery. That recovery tends is supposed to be a recovery "jog" but I'm not ashamed (ok, a little ashamed...) to admit I sometimes switched to a recovery "keel over and almost pass out" instead of jog. Hey, it was hot! Hot, I tell ya!

I'm not sure how much to trust the GPS based pace provided by my watch for such short distances, but it looks like I had a good bit of variation between 5:30 and 6:30 on my run splits. At least my last one was close to the low end which is (repeating for the last speed work post) what I was told to aim for. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Run Journal - #20

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/585826522

I was out of town  Saturday, so I did my long run Sunday instead. That means no day off between the long run and the beginning of the next week's training runs, so I was a little tired today. I almost, ALMOST didn't go. I actually came into my home office for my 7:00AM meetings and saw that the 7:00 and 7:30 had been cancelled so I thought, "what the heck... might as well do the run."

Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit... man, my legs look goofy from that angle

Not much to say today; a 40 minute "easy" run. Unlike last Thursday, I did peek at my pace from time to time, but I wasn't aiming for anything specific today so I just ran at whatever felt comfortable. It's interesting to look back at my recorded runs over the months and I do see my pace improving a bit. It will be interesting to get my weight down and combine that with the upcoming cooler weather to see where my pace is by January or February.

As I mentioned, I missed the group run on Saturday so there may have been an announcement, but I was looking at the online schedule and it looks like this past Saturday was when the half marathon folks finally split off from the full marathon people and ran a shorter distance. I'm sticking with the full marathon schedule for now and we'll see how far I can take this thing. I signed up for a half marathon on October 26th, and I think I can handle that... slowly, sure, but I can do it. The full marathon the program trains for is February 1, 2015.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Run Journal - #19 (Pictures!)

I thought I'd add some pictures to liven (some of ) these run journals. Some runs are just around my neighborhood and quite the bore, but some are a little more interesting; like today's!

I was in San Antonio yesterday so I missed my group run, so just as I did a few weeks ago, I used the opportunity to head up to Sam Houston National Forest.

Run Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/585098257

On the road again...
I know it looks pretty bright there in the picture, but I guess that's the camera trying to help out the low light conditions, because in reality the sun was just rising. On my previous trip, I guess my excitement about going up there the first time masked just how feakin' far away this place was, because this time it felt like it was taking forever. Door to trail it was about an hour and a half, though, so I guess that's not too bad.


Off the highway and into the forest
Finally, I parked and geared up. Today I was packing a phone (with the local maps saved in case of no cell service), a GPS watch, optical heart rate monitor, Nathan Water Bottle, and two energy gels.


Shoes: La Sportiva Helios (of course!)
I picked a different trail today, but still in roughly the same area. It was a bit more technical than before as it was closer to water and water flow is what carves out the ups and downs and uncovers roots.


Typical view for most of the run
Overall it was a good run. Eight miles is my longest run. Hitting a new "longest" on a trail run may not have been my best move, but in the end it wasn't too bad. I was tired but not wiped out. GPS based pace on trail runs is very difficult to get right, especially in situations like these with heavy tree cover and lots of switchbacks, so I mostly ran on feel.  The overall pace (doing 5/1 run/walk intervals) was around 11/min. per mile, which isn't great, but I can live with it. Trail runs are harder for me than straight road runs and GPS can only keep up with so many turns and twists so it tends to underestimate distance by a bit, meaning pace will be recorded a hair slower it otherwise would.

I really enjoyed the run, but three hours of driving is a pretty hefty price to pay for the pleasure. I've been thinking about camping up there next time. Also, I'd like to find a trail that includes some views. It's probably not hilly enough for long range vistas, but some water or open fields views doesn't seem like too much to ask. We'll see...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Run Journal - #18

Run Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/582482672
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

I did something interesting today. I did the run without looking at my GPS watch. I tried to run completely on feel. It was actually quite nice.

My miles were 9:30, 9:15, 9:15, and 9:00. What odd is that my my first two miles "felt" fast and easy whereas it seemed like I was having to push a bit to keep my pace up the last two. I think I'll try this more often. Tempo runs seems like a good day to do this as one way to determine a tempo pace is by the level of exertion.


Run Journal - #17


Run Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/581839833
Shoes: Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit

Today was the first time on the training program for speed work intervals. It was a very quick 8x30/30. That means 8 intervals of 30 seconds running as fast as you can, followed by 30 seconds of recovery (slow jog or walk). So after about a half mile warm-up, I did the intervals on a short dirt track on the edge of my subdivision. It was interesting. Even though overall I was only running (including warm up and cool down) for about 15 minutes, it felt like a much longer run, which I guess is what it's supposed to be like. My fast intervals were between 5:30 and 6:15 and stayed fairly consistent from beginning to end, which is what we were supposed to be aiming for, so it will be interesting to watch this as we continued to do more of these type runs each week.

Metabolism

Last year at the end of my weight management program I took a Medgem test to measure my metabolism. It was quite low. I was a bit disappointed, however I was willing to accept that the diet itself was contributing to this. Over the past year since the end of the program, I've worked hard. My diet is hardly perfect but it's a thousand times better than it was before the weight loss and my activity level has improved tremendously. I started with a crossfit program mentioned previously and now I'm both running and doing Yoga in addition to the tennis that I've always been doing. With the marathon training, I've cut back a bit on crossfit, so currently my week looks something like:

  • Run 18-25 miles/week - increasing about a mile per week per the training program
  • Crossfit twice a week
  • Yoga twice a week
  • Tennis once or twice a week
As far as my diet, I still track what I eat pretty religiously using MyFitnessPal. I set (what I thought was) a fairly low calorie target, and, on the advice on the nutritionist from the program, I add additional calories to the pool based on my runs (calorie counts are pulled automatically from the Garmin tracking program). I don't add in calories for the crossfit, yoga, or tennis. 

Despite all of this, I've been gaining weight. It's been slow, but steady. Since the end of the program I've gained back around 20 pounds. There are only two explanations for this. I'm either not tracking my intake accurately, or I'm not burning as much as I thought. I feel that I've been tracking both my food and exercise pretty well, so I decided to narrow down the possibilities and get my metabolism measured again. 

I went back to the weight loss program folks and set up a session to measure my RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate). They do a pretty good job with this and make sure to take into account your lifestyle alongside the numbers take directly from the calorimeter. My work has me at a desk most of the day, so for my RMR measurements, that's classified as sedentary. Exercise is not counted in the RMR calculation,  however it is taken into account when coming up with a diet plan. 

The results? Let me say it this way: after the test when they sit down with you to discuss the results, they print out your numbers on some paperwork. On one of the pages there is a chart that shows the RMR ranges and where your results sit within that range. The chart goes from 1650 kcals/day to 2203 kcals/day (remember that this isn't just your base "to stay alive" calorie needs, but also taking into account normal lifestyle needs). 

My RMR didn't make it onto the chart.  1560 kcals/day. 

So apparently, I have the metabolism of a 90 year old lady in a wheelchair. The good news is that should an apocalypse hit anytime soon, I'll be able to live off my current fat reserve for months! ;)

I won't lie. I was frustrated by this number. It was only 70 kcals higher than what had been measured at the end of the program last year and I've worked so hard since then. It does explain some things though. I know that this is just a number. It's not (really...) good or bad, but it does mean that I have next to zero wiggle room in my diet.  I will have to reset my daily calorie goals significantly lower, but I will still need to fuel my activity level properly so WHAT I eat will be extremely important. The mix of carbs, protein, and fats will have to be very well defined an maintained or I could have problems like fatigue, cramping, or just plain "feeling crappy".

It's good to know why I've been struggling with the slow creep up in weight, but I sure thought I had earned myself a little more leeway. Not to be, I guess.

 

Run Journal - #16

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/580293149
Shoes: La Sportiva Helios

I'm off work this week (and it was Labor Day anyway) so I was able to take the time for a more fun run instead of around my neighborhood. I headed for the trails at Memorial Park in the middle of Houston. It's kind of like Houston's version of Central Park except quite a bit more "woodsy". This was far and away the most technical trail run I've ever done. There were lots of very steep inclines and descents over roots and through gullies. I was wiped out afterwards but still enjoyed it immensely. Also due to either the holiday or just because this is always a busy park, it was crowded. On my last trail run, I didn't run across a single other person, but today I spent quite a bit of time trying to get around or through other folks walking the trails. I much prefer the more solitary nature of my previous run up in Sam Houston Nation Forest. I may head back to to Memorial Park for another run, but I'll try to do so when it's less crowded.

Once again, no complaints about my shoes. I really like these La Sportiva Helios. The fit is great and the traction is flawless. I went through mud (rain the day before), over roots, and up and down steep banks with not one slip. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Run Journal - #15

I'll embed the details here again and we'll see how it works. Perhaps the slowness issues with the previous post were due to my grouping so many together:
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5
This was supposed to be a 7 mile run today but my GPS only showed 6.85 so we'll go with that. Another good run, though. The second half of the run was a nice bit faster than the first half which is what I aim for. I'm going to have to attribute the late run energy and overall post run freshness (my feeling, not my appearance; after a run my appearance is that of a wet rat) to the energy gel as that's about the only thing that stayed the same between this week and the last. I'm not sure why my pace improved so much this week. I'll need to look at the split details to see what's up with that.... ok, so I wrote that and then went ahead and compared the two runs. It looks like my pace wasn't as different as I thought; only about 12 seconds a mile faster for the entire run. In my mind I was thinking last week was about 10:30/mile and this week was about 10:00/mile, but in reality the numbers were 10:21 and 10:08, so not a big deal.

As a side note, I'm back to using my Forerunner 610 watch instead of the 310xt. The latter has been showing up with an empty battery lately and that's after coming straight from the charger. I'm not sure what the deal is, but I need to be able to count on the device and so far the 610 has never failed me. The only thing it can't do that the 310xt can is "courses", i.e. provide directions for a preset route, and I can live with that I suppose. There's a new watch coming out from Suunto that I'm going to keep an eye on. If it has vibration alerts (their previous models did not, I think) I may be waving goodbye to Garmin. Other than the 610, I've run into constant problems with their devices and I'm not really all that demanding of them.

Finally, and I know I've mentioned this before, but it's really nasty how much I sweat. I normally like a good sweat when I exercise, but this is on a whole different level. My clothes are plastered to me and my shoes weigh a good bit more than they did at the start. They're genuinely squishy and quite gross. Obviously, there's really not much I can do about any of this, but I wanted to share the disgusting biological facts with everyone else. Cheers! :)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Run Journal - #10 - 14

Edit: I'm removing the embedded run details and replacing them with links to the Garmin Connect pages. The embedded details were causing the blog page to load very slowly. Kind of sucks though as they added a nice visual for each run. Oh well...

Whoops. Fell behind again.

#10

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/571704119
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5
This was a good run. For whatever reason, I felt terrific during and after this run. Unfortunately, that didn't translate into any kind of speed improvement, but that's Ok, I guess.

So why the good vibes on this one? Thinking back here are some potential reasons:
  1. I ate a pretty huge and carby meal the night before, but this seems just as likely to contribute to an awful run as a good one given past experience.
  2. For once, I got a decent amount of sleep Friday.
  3. For the first time, I brought along an energy gel and downed it at about the 40 minute mark.
  4. Just the randomness of the universe.
If I had to guess, I'd probably say it's a combination of numbers 3 and 4, but who knows. What I am sure of is that my big tex-mex meal the night before gave me massive gas for during the run. Maybe I should add that as number 5: "Inconsistent but powerful bursts of gaseous propellant meant less work for my legs." The people running behind me didn't seem to appreciate this particular method of locomotion. I'm pretty sure I heard startled cries and weeping once or twice from back there...

#11

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/573521353
Shoes: Altra One 2
Still not sure about these shoes. It was a 30/easy run today (30 minutes at easy pace). I'm trying to slowly improve my short run paces without moving my marathon training (long run) pace goals. I'm hoping that as the weekly big runs get longer and longer, the fact that I'm improving my effort on the short mid-week runs will allow me to simply maintain pace on the long ones. We'll see.

#12

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/575875707
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5
Hills today and no wimpy 30 minutes like last week. We're back to 45 for now. I pushed a little harder today than I have the last two weeks (at least it felt like it, although there was no pace improvement to  reflect that effort).  That combined with the extra time left me drained afterwards. And soaked... just so, so, sweaty. Uggg.

#13

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/576256597
Shoes: Merrell Bare Access 3
This was a recovery day so 20/easy (20 minutes at an easy pace). I didn't really mean to go at a 9:20 pace, but it's these shoes (don't know why) and the very short time made it difficult to keep the pace down.

#14

Details: http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/577046284
Shoes: Nike Free Flyknit 4
Today was a 30/tempo run. I've been trying to figure out what "tempo" actually means, but for now, I figured I'd just try to run faster than I normally would. My goal today was 9:00/mi. I try not to compare myself against runners I follow on blogs but when I see them running 8:00/mi on their long runs (and long for them is 15 miles) I admit to feeling more than a little inadequate. Nevertheless, 9:00 was my goal today and I hit it. I was genuinely WIPED OUT at the end of this run. It's odd. Yesterday was 20 minutes at 9:20/mi and today was 30 at 9:00/mi and the difference in how I felt was huge. This was the first time in a long time that kept checking my watch near the end just begging for the time to be over. 

On the positive side, my heels felt terrific! They've really been giving me quite a bit of trouble lately but Wednesday night I had a yoga session where we focused a lot on balance and after the balance poses the instructor had us use a small hard ball under our foot massaging it back and forth. I've done then several times before using a lacrosse ball, but I've been a little lazy about it lately (I will get back to it after this for sure). I'm not certain if it was the stretching involved in the balance poses or the recovery work afterward, but my heels felt better than they have in weeks when I went on the run Thursday. I can't let that work on my feet slide like this and I'm thankful to the instructor for reminding me how effective it can be. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Run Journal - #5-9

Whoops, I fell behind on my run logs, so I'll group a few together.

Shoes: Nike Free Flyknit 4

This was my longest run so far. I did the interval thing with 5 minutes running and 1 walking. I don't know about this whole interval thing. It doesn't feel significantly less tiring than running the whole way (albeit at a slower pace than the interval speed). My final pace was a bit slower than my previous 6 mile pace from a few weekends ago. Anyway, I'll give it some more time. I felt pretty good after the run albeit incredibly sweaty. I feel like I'm actually sweating even more lately and I didn't think that was possible.


Shoes: Merrell Bare Access 3

Quick run today. These short 20 minute runs are barely enough to get warmed up but even though they are supposed to be "easy" meaning slow, I do tend go at a fairly good pace (for me, anyway). My calves were a little bit burnt after the last few days. I'm going to start wearing calf sleeves and see if that helps any.


Shoes: Altra One 2

Hills. A short hills run, though. I ended it on a good couple of hill times. There's not much to say about this one except it was early and dark. Fun.


Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

Another short "easy" run. My pace was, unintentionally, within 2 seconds of my Monday run. I didn't even notice that until writing up this blog post. Interesting...


Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

This was a "tempo" run according to the Fort Bend Fit marathon training plan I'm on. I haven't quite nailed down what a tempo run should be, but I know it's supposed to be quite a bit faster than the marathon pace (which is about 10:30 for me right now). I managed to get a pretty good overall pace down; a few second faster than my short quick runs on Monday and Wednesday. I guess that will have to do for now.

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Overall I feel OK, but not great. My calves are a little tired and sore, but my main worry is my heels. I don't know if it's my achilles tendon or something else, but my heels have slowly been getting worse over the last few weeks. I've had period issues with this area for years, but at this point it's fairly constant. I'm trying a few different things like ice baths for my feet and stretching them more thoroughly before and after a workout, but it hasn't seemed to make much difference. I think I'm going to make an doctor's appointment, but frankly I don't have a lot of faith in doctors right now so my expectations are low. We'll see...