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.