Saturday, December 31, 2011


Have you made any New Year's Resolutions this year? What are they?

Every year, people make resolutions at the New Year. It seems like a good time because of the 01/01, blank slate aspect of a new year. Most years, the resolutions are the same. Of the top 10 most popular resolutions: get fit, lose weight, learn something new, and volunteer/help others are all things that can be done by taking on my challenge to run this year.

Some of the other resolutions: spend more time with friends, enjoy life more and stop smoking, can be done or at least aided by taking on the challenge. It is much easier to stop smoking when you have another activity that can fight stress and raise endorphins. You can spend time with friends or family while running, rather than watching TV with them. Exercise or any increase in activity will make you feel better, which will make all of your life more enjoyable.

The success rate for resolutions is low, about 12%, and it's theorized the cause of that is lack of clarity and planning. People say, "I want to lose weight" with no goal of how much to lose, how they'll lose it, or how long it will take. There was a study that showed ways to improve the rate of success. Men need concrete goal setting and women need to share their goal. If you have a goal, please do both to increase your odds of success. It will also give me some challenges to tackle.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bad Information

I love the internet. I use it to get information about everything. I look up words for precise definitions all the time. I use it for this blog, too. I find that at least 90% of the information is accurate and verifiable. You can usually find several independent sources with the same information.

Unfortunately, there is plenty of bad information out there, too. Some of it comes from sources and sites that would be considered reliable, too. Yesterday while looking for a decent couch to 5K program, I came across a plan on Fitness Magazine's website. The plan itself wasn't horrible, it was similar to most other plans I found. However, their "Quick Tip" at the bottom is horrible and injury inducing. They recommend runners land heel-first. Never do this. NEVER.

There are top runners who do land heel-first, but they're not reading this blog, so the rest of us should avoid that and try to run like Ryan Hall who many consider to have the best form in the US. Here's a video that explains good running form in the way that numerous reliable sources have explained it to me and is basically step-by-step instructions to achieve Ryan Hall's stride.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Couch to 5K

Many people tell me that they can't run or can't imagine enjoying running. I was once among those people. I ran slowly and with a lot of whining. I think running is one of those things that people view as something they do or something other people do. There doesn't seem to be much of a gray area. I have been converted to the awesomeness that is running. I really want to help others experience the same conversion. Or at least open them up to the possibility of conversion.

With that as my goal, I started looking into the many couch to 5K programs out there. The concept is great. It lays out a 8-10 week training program starting with about 20 minutes of walking & a little bit of running and at the end, you're ready to tackle a full 5K. My only problem with many of these programs is that at the end, they expect you to run the full 5K with no walk breaks. I think that's pushing the participants past their abilities. I also read many people saying that they couldn't do the last week of training because there were no walk breaks. That leads to frustration and quitting.

I love Jeff Galloway and his run-walk Galloway method. Many of the charity marathon training programs use this method, but not necessarily the same run-walk ratios. This is the method that Team to End AIDS uses it gives them a great success rate. I finally found a couch to 5k schedule that used the run-walk method. I don't know if it's perfect, but it's the best combination of the two programs that I have found. I hope that I can encourage those non-runners out there to give it a shot and see if at the end of two months if you can enjoy running. I'm not guaranteeing that you'll love running as much as I do, but at least you'll have opened up to the possibility.

If you make it through the training program, you'll be ready to take on the 2nd challenge that I issued for 2012. I would love if all of you were out there with me next summer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


There is a simple way to determine if your weight is within a healthy range. It's not exact, but for the average person, it's a great way to monitor. The calculation was created as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. It was created in the 19th century, but has gained wider use in the last 30+ years. Or you could use one of the many charts that are online, like the one here. The goal is to have a BMI between 18.5 and 25.

There are other simple tools to determine if your weight is in a healthy range, but this is one of the most accepted and easiest to use for most of us. If you're a body-builder, or just very muscular, this may show you having a high BMI, even though you're healthy. You can use the waist-to-hip ratio or body fat percentage, too, but those involve more measurements.

Is your BMI in the healthy range? Do you want to get it into the healthy range? Stick with us and we can help you move more and get it under 25.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


It cannot be stressed enough that water is the most important thing you consume. If you're trying to lose weight, or just be more active, you need water to help you. There is no magic amount of water that you should drink. The "8 glasses a day" rule is close and easy to remember, but not accurate if you're heavier than average, or more active.

A good way to figure out how much to drink is to take your weight, divide it in half and drink 80% of that figure in ounces of water every day. The other 20% of the water you consume will come from food. This figure is just a base; you'll need to add more for your activity. A good rule of thumb is 8 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise. If you're fully hydrated before the activity, and you don't work out for too long or too hard, this should carry you. If you're working out harder or longer, you'll need more water and something with electrolytes.

There are many benefits to staying fully hydrated:

Water helps your body remove toxins in the most efficient manner, leaving the liver unburdened.
Water fills us up without adding any calories.
Water helps a person’s ability to exercise and burn calories.
Water is used for protein synthesis which is needed to build or repair muscles.

Water is a necessary ingredient in turning food and stored fat into energy. If you can't turn stored fat into energy, you can't lose weight.
Water consumption can reduce your risk of colon cancer.
Water consumption can reduce your risk of bladder cancer.

If something so simple can reduce your risk of cancer, there seems no reason to not have a glass of water.

A simple way to tell if you're fully hydrated is to make sure your urine is light yellow, never dark or amber in color.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Social Networks and Obesity

Many studies done on the spread of obesity and smoking through social networks have shown that the health habits of our friends and family are a good indicator of our health habits. If one of your close friends becomes obese, your chances of becoming obese go up at least 50%. The same data source shows that quitting smoking works the same way; if your friends quit, you're more likely to quit.

I'm trying to use this peer pressure to help all of us get healthier in 2012. If you share your health resolution with me, I promise to make it mine, too. I will also share our resolution with everyone else so we can all view it as a challenge to get moving more. So far, the only resolution has come from Desiree. She wants to set some personal records in the marathon and triathlon. She's also going to do more trail running and swimming. I will be doing at least two hours of cardio every week and will be training to run the half and full marathon.

If you're newer to fitness than Desiree, instead of shooting for a great marathon time, why not shoot for improving your time at walking or running a mile? If you currently take 20 minutes to walk a mile, why not work up to a 14 minute mile by the end of the year? Every person is different, but it's still important to get out there and move.

Have any of you decided to join us in these challenges? Do you have challenges of your own?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas

They mark the time from Christmas to Epiphany. It's also a time of year when many of us sit on the couch, eat leftovers and recover from too much drinking and eating. This is not a good way to get started on New Year's Resolutions or recovering from all the Christmas cookies and snacks. I found a set of exercises to help with all that sloth. It's set up just like the song, so you could do day 1 on December 26 and keep progressing until January 6. Or, you could follow the suggested workouts that they have at the link.

When January 6th rolls around, let me know how you did.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Inspiration

I wrote about Dick Hoyt back in March. I knew that he inspired me to get out and move, but I didn't know that he inspired an entire organization. My Team Triumph pairs up three volunteers to act as "angels" like Dick and help navigate "captains" like his son Rick through various races around the country. I saw them in action last July when I ran the Packers 5K and many runners and spectators were crying when they crossed the finish line. If you want to be inspired check out the WI chapter's facebook page. They do have chapters around the US, so you don't have to be in Wisconsin to participate. If you're looking for someone to keep you accountable to your running, here is an entire group that will demand that you be accountable to the other angels and to your captain.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Second 2012 Challenge

I will again be training with the Team to End AIDS for the marathon and half marathon. This year, I hope that injury will not prevent me from running the actual races. I challenge everyone out there to join me in training with them. They set up the training schedule and have a great success rate. If you make it through the training, you will make it through the race. They do require fundraising, but it's much easier than you'd ever imagine. To join them, you don't have to be able to run 26.2 miles already. You don't even have to be able to run quickly. Their slowest pace group runs/walks every mile in 16 minutes. You just have to be able to walk 3 miles to begin the training. I would love to see all of you out at the training site next summer.

If you want more motivation, please check out their video. It will motivate you and hopefully inspire you to join. Their first sessions for signing up will be in the first months of 2012, so I will remind you of this challenge at that time.

UPDATE: you have until 1/31 to sign up at the reduced rate of $65. It goes to $95 in Feb. Join Team Twitter and you'll have even more built-in support.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New everything

I redesigned the blog today. I added additional pages, which you can view by clicking above. I'm switching my blog from just being about my daily activity and progress to a blog about health, fitness and moving. I hope I can inspire you to be more active and in turn get inspiration from you.

I plan on posting inspirational stories and quotes to keep us all motivated to keep moving. I also will be posting tidbits about health and fitness. That could include scientific studies, recipes or anything that may help us in our quest to be healthier. I will still post updates on my fitness journey, but only periodically.

I know that the new year is just 10 days away and people are starting to think about their resolutions for 2012. Instead of resolving to be healthier, I would love if you would make more specific, concrete resolutions and share them with me. If they're not too far-fetched, I will make your resolution my resolution as well. It will be more of a New Year's Challenge, than just a resolution. Here's the first one: I challenge myself and everyone else to participate in cardio activity for at least 2 hours every week. That can be walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing or anything that elevates your heart rate. Please let me know what your challenge is.

UPDATE: I will be tracking my activity using DailyMile. The most recent activity will show up on the right side of my homepage. I highly recommend it. It's free and allows you to track all you activity and it creates graphs so you can see trends and improvement.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 18D--Pencentages

I am a big fan of logic. Sadly, this causes me some problems when I encounter the art of medicine. Sometimes, they don't seem to use logic at all.

Take for example the idea that everyone should drink 8 glasses of water a day. This seems pretty simple and innocuous until you realize that a person who weighs 100 pounds is told to drink the same amount of water as someone who weighs 200 or even 300 pounds. Now the randomness of 8 glasses a day makes little sense. It turns out that the real number is 1/2 ounce of water for every pound of weight. Some of this water can come from other beverages and even foods. The figure of 8 glasses applies to a person who is about 125 pounds. I theorize that women who were dieting in the 1950s-1970s were the ones paying attention to the water intake, so the 8 glasses became the standard figure.

I'm starting to theorize that the lose 1-2 pounds a week figure comes from the same dieting demographic. I can't comprehend how my weight loss percentage should be less than 2% a week, but a person who weighs 200 pounds can only lose 1% a week. What if a severly obese person used the same gauge. It could take them several years to get to a healthy weight and they'd only be losing .5% per week. After much searching, I found a few places online that say it's 1% a week, but they aren't reliable sites and don't cite anything for their figure.

If any medical or fitness professionals have a reason for the 1-2 pounds figure or a percentage that should be followed for people of all weights, please let me know. I'm really curious and want to understand the science and logic of it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 17D--Measurements

I have been working out with the EA Active faithfully for about five weeks. I was seeing some physical changes in muscle tone and definition, but much of it was still hidden under fat. I had been watching my diet and trying to lose weight, but wasn't seeing any progress. I finally gave in and started Weight Watchers about 10 days ago. I am too poor and cheap to actually pay them, so I am piggy-backing onto another's online membership. I am using the minimum number of points that they set up, based on the relatively small amount of weight I would like to use. It's working, too. In 10 days, I have lost almost 2 pounds and am at my lowest weight in 2 years.

I know I shouldn't focus on weight, and that has not been my first goal or focus. I have mainly been noticing it because I know my body has more muscle, but I could feel the layer of fat over that muscle and realized that losing pounds is the only way to see the definition.

It's been one month since I did my last set of measurements, so it's time to remeasure and check for progress.

My weight is currently 136.5, which means a BMI of 24.14.

My waist is 30 inches. Down one inch!!!
My hips are 39 inches. Also down one inch!!!!

My waist to hip ratio is .76, just slightly better than last month.

According to one site that calculates body fat percentage based on these measurements, I have is estimated to be 30%, which is down 1% over the month.

Upper chest: 34
Under bust: 31
Thigh: 23
Calf: 13
Wrist: 6
Bicep: 11
Neck: 13
Forearm: 10

Most of the measurements have remained the same. My thigh has gotten bigger, but I can feel that it's stronger, so I'm not too worried about the increase in size.

I will be back in one month to take a new set of measurements. My goal is to lose a little on the waist and hips and several more pounds on the weight.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 16D--Catch Up

Thanksgiving set me back a bit, but not too far. Even with the football game causing the meal to be delayed for three hours of snacking, I didn't go overboard too far. Now that most of the leftovers are gone or frozen, I can get back to eating healthful food without guilt about the food that could go bad.

I weighed the same this morning as I did last Tuesday morning. I am trying to catch back up on the missed workouts in the EA Active 6-week Challenge and should be able to do that tomorrow. My core continues to strengthen and I think my legs are, too. It's harder to tell about my legs from the charts because I'm doing squats and lunges on the Wii, so they're not fresh when I do the wall sit. My quantity of lunges has also gone down, but the quality has improved. My back leg is going all the way to the ground. I can't do a larger lunge than I did today. I am trying to hold off on measurements until the middle of the month so it will be a full month since the last time I measured. If I measure too often, the lack of change is a little depressing and counters the feeling that I have that everything seems more toned and muscular.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 15D--Slow and Steady

I have been continuing to work out every day. I am doing the EA Active 6 week challenge, but adding hand weights, instead of the fairly wimpy resistance band that came with the game. It feels like my muscles are getting stronger, but I'm not sure. I am sure that I am slowly losing some of my extra weight. I currently weigh the lowest I have in about a year. This only encourages me to do more workouts. As of right now, I haven't done any of my 9 exercises I was charting before I started the 6 week challenge. I will be doing those tonight while I watch television. I'm trying to feel better about myself and my body, not completely alter my life, so I don't want to give up watching TV. However, I can make my TV viewing less couch potato-y and use the commercial breaks to continue my fitness journey. I should have the charts updated by 9pm or so. I am a bit worried that some of my figures will drop because I already worked out today, doing some sit-ups, squats and lunges.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 14D--EA Active

I did the next workout in the EA Active 6 week challenge today. It was all lower body, so I didn't do any of the lower body exercises I've been doing in addition to the EA Active. I did do the workout twice, though. It really was designed to get my heart rate up. It had me sprinting and jumping a lot. It's amazing to me how challenging it is to jump rope. If you're not convinced, try jumping rope for more than two minutes at a stretch. Unless you're in great shape, I guarantee you'll be winded and sweaty. Many of the activities that little kids participate in without thinking about it are really physically demanding. The Hula Hoop works all of the ab muscles. Hop Scotch works leg muscles and core muscles. Tag is a ton of sprinting, as is Red Rover or Kick the Can. In fact, I think an exercise program based entirely on children's games would make a fairly well-rounded program. It also sounds like it would be a ton more fun than most standard workouts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 13D--Measurements

I realized that I'm about a month into my workouts and that seemed a good time to get some body measurements to see where I stand, so I have a comparison for down the road. I have taken measurements many times in the past on this blog. They are from 4/30/11, 8/1/10, 4/15/10, 3/14/10, 2/21/10, 1/17/10, 12/26/09, and 12/20/09. What can I say, except that I like numbers. I like being able to see concrete progress.

My weight is currently 138.5, which means a BMI of 24.53. This is less than I weighed in April, but higher than it's been for most of the last two years. I would like to get it down to 120, but anything close to 130 would make me feel better.

My waist is 31 inches. Again, better than in April, but not the lowest it's been.
My hips are 40 inches. Same as April and the highest they've been.

My waist to hip ratio is .77, which is under .80 and the range that shows an increase in risk for heart disease.

According to one site that calculates body fat percentage based on these measurements, I have is estimated to be 31.13% using the U.S. Army body fat algorithm, or 21.42% using the U.S. Marine body fat algorithm, or 33.44% using the U.S. Navy body fat algorithm, or 29.13% using the formula developed by the YMCA. or 28.78% if I average those four together. The average body fat percentage for U.S. females is around 32%, with the ideal at 22%. Athletic females should be around 15-20%. I will continue to strive to lower my body fat percentage. I know that will help me with running and avoiding injury.

Upper chest: 34
Under bust: 31
Thigh: 22
Calf: 14
Wrist: 6
Bicep: 11
Neck: 13
Forearm: 10

Although I really like seeing hard numbers and using them to gauge my progress, I prefer to see fitness as a journey with no real end point. Every day that I exercise makes my body stronger and more able to do things. I am more able to run for the train or lift heavy groceries. I know that losing some more fat will help me do even more things, and that is the ultimate goal.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 12D--Tired

I did the EA Active workout yesterday and today. Yesterday's was a whole body workout, so I did it twice. The 30 minutes didn't seem to be enough for me. Today's workout focused on the lower body and it was really hard. I think it was because it was targeting the same thigh muscles that I've been targeting with my wall sits, squats and lunges. My legs were on fire and I was very happy the workout was only 30 minutes. Both days also added crunches, so my abs are really feeling it. Today also had two sets of push-ups and I had already done one set to exhaustion earlier, so I can still feel the pain in my pecs right now.

The main thing that EA Active does that I have a hard time doing to myself, except when I run, is getting my heart rate up and making me sweat. Even though I was able to do the workout twice yesterday, I was sweating after the first time through. It's been months since I've exercised hard enough to sweat and I forgot how good it feels. It doesn't just feel good physically, which despite the pain, it does. It feels good emotionally. That's not just the endorphins, but the sense of accomplishment. I set a goal to workout, and I reached that goal. That always feels good.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 11D--Adding Upper Body

Runner's World had an article about upper body strength this month, and it made me realize I should add some strength training for my upper body to my regimen. I decided to start with the push-up. It is a very straight-forward exercise that works all of the muscles in red in the image. Because I don't have great upper body strength, I did modified push-ups. Instead of balancing on my toes, I balanced on my knees. The exercise remains the same, I'm just lifting less weight. Even then, I was only able to do 10. I hope that I can increase that number, right along with the increases I've seen in the other exercises I've taken on.

I will also be adding the jack-knife sit-up to my exercises. I can tell how much stronger my core is getting from doing the plank, but that isn't working the more superficial abdominal muscles. I won't be abandoning the plank, just adding this to work the rectus Abdominus, the "six-pack" muscles.

Now that I've been exercising for a bit, I am starting to want to lose some of the extra fat, not just increase the muscle. To that end, I will be starting the EA Active 6-week challenge again. I would love to get to a better, more comfortable weight before 2012. Right now, my weight is in the healthy range, but I'm not comfortable with it. I feel that everyone should weigh what makes them comfortable and happy, as long as that weight isn't horribly unhealthy (too high or too low.) I may also hit the streets for some running on occasion. Even though my first time out running again wasn't a success, it just made me want to get out there more and get healthier so I can enjoy the runs more.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 10D--running

I attempted to run 3 miles on Saturday. I quit and took the train after 2. My muscles were fine and the thigh injury from this summer seemed fully healed. Cardio wise, I was huffing and puffing too much. I could not catch my breath, even though I was walking a lot. I will try running again, but will also continue working on my strength to make the physical part of running easier.

I bought a new fitness game this week. Realized why all the online reviews of it were so bad. It was unresponsive to my movements, the game took too long to load and it was unclear how my physical motions were affecting the on-screen action. If you're looking for a fitness game for the Wii, please avoid Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009. I will be using the games I already have and checking out new games that have better online reviews. Jillian's game will be returned to the Gamestop.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 9D--Off week

Well, I missed an entire week of working out. It was my birthday and then I got a cold that knocked me on my butt and standing up was too hard. I thought about the exercise I was missing, but was too out of it to actually do anything.

I went back at it today, and will probably be sore tomorrow. Even with the week off, I didn't really lose much progress on any of my exercises. I was going to add one today, but don't want to overdo it anymore. Instead, I will be doing a ton of cardio today. I plan on breaking out the Wii games that I know will burn some calories and fat. I haven't used the Cardio Workout in a while, so I think I'll try that out again. It's mostly boxing, but it works the abs, too. Plus, it's fun to punch.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 8D--progress

My thighs and butt feel much tighter. I am also experiencing some soreness from the exercises. That is why I didn't add any new exercises the last two days. I will add some next week.

Tonight's my first time I'm bowling since I was on crutches. I'm hoping that will add some cardio and upper body work to my days.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 7D--Static Lunge

The lunge works the glutes and quads. After doing all my other glute and quad work, I was only able to do ten reps each leg. It also works all three of the hamstring muscles, the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosis.

I have added this exercise to the graph. I have noticed that I am having a hard time increasing my times and reps. I hope that changes soon, because I'd like to see some improvement in my numbers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 6D--Butt

Glutes are one of our most under-used and under-trained muscles. They're not designed to be sitting 99% of the day like most of us do. This is not just a problem for the casual athlete, but also some professional athletes, too. Darwin Fogt has said that many professional athletes fail simple glute tests.

To counter this, I will not only be doing the bridge but added squats today. The motion is just like sitting in a chair and standing back up, but with no chair to catch you. All of the lowering should come from your knees and hips. Such a simple exercise, but also very easy to do incorrectly. Many people end up doing much of the lowering by bending their ankles. If your knees go beyond your toes, it's poor form. To keep correct form, I have to hold my hands about a foot in front of my chest to hold my balance.

I am still doing all the exercises from last week, but did miss a few days. I will be running through them all during commercials tonight to get in some more reps. I left those days blank on my progress chart. As you can see, I added a second chart to track the reps on several exercises. These numbers aren't my total reps for the day, just the amount I do at the first time I do the exercise every day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 5D--Hips

Today's exercise is the counter to yesterday's exercise. This involves lifting the lower leg while you lie on you side. It works the hip adductor (the inside of your thigh) instead of the abductor (outside) Because it's crossing the other leg, it won't lift nearly as far as when lifting the higher leg. The supporting muscles are the same as yesterday, the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and abdominals.

With the complete exercises from this week, the thigh has been targeted from every side. The abs have also been targeted. This should increase strength and balance.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 4D--Hips

This is an exercise that primarily works the hip abductor (the outside muscle of the thigh) It also works glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and abdominals. This one exercise engages all the muscles from the other exercises from earlier this week.

When lying on your side with your back to a wall, just lift the upper leg straight up. It's deceptively simple, but is difficult to hold for the 5 seconds before lowering it for the next 9 reps. I haven't added this exercise to the chart, but only because I'm not sure if holding it steady for longer and longer times will actually do more than just 5 reps of 5 seconds each..

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 3D--Butt

The third exercise I will be adding is the bridge. I'd describe it like a pelvic thrust when you're laying down in sit up position. It mainly works the glutes and hamstrings, otherwise known as the butt. It also works the quadriceps, abdominals and shoulders as supporting medicines. This is another exercise that can be done quickly.

My abs are still sore from yesterday, so my plank time took a backwards step. I love that I can feel the exercises working, even if the chart doesn't reflect that.

I can't find a record time for the bridge, but did find one for the wall sit. Dr. Thienna Ho once held it for 11 hours and 5 minutes. I thought 11 minutes sounded ridiculously long and impressive. I guess I have a new goal to shoot for. Although, 11 hours of sitting would be super boring. I could watch the director's cut of all the LOTR movies in that time. Not that I would be any less bored if I did that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 2D--Core

The second muscle group that I will be targeting to improve my running is my core. The core is made up of all the muscles in your stomach. I focused on my transversus abdominis muscle. I did that by performing the plank. It's similar to the look of a push-up, without the pushing. You just hold your body straight, like a plank, while balancing on your toes and elbows or forearms. It forces the deepest abdominal muscles to engage and hold your body up.

Paul Drinan holds the world record in the plank at 33 minutes and 40 seconds. Today I managed to hold the plank for 1 minute and 10 seconds. I will continue to work on improving my time. I have added a chart to the top of the blog tracking my progress on the plank and on the wall sits. I'll chart the longest I can hold the exercises each day. I am doing them more than once a day, but these are my longest.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 1D--starting again

Six weeks on crutches and unemployment have done a number on me. I am sluggish, heavier and just plain out of shape. Now that I've ended my stint on crutches, it's time to get myself back into shape. My goal is just general better health, with a more specific goal of running the marathon next year. To achieve that specific goal, I will be targeting muscles that will help me improve my run performance. To determine which muscles to target, I will be doing research into anatomy and running injuries.

The first muscle that I know I need to work on is my quadiceps. It seems such a straight-forward muscle, but it's not focused on enough by many runners. It's the muscle that makes walking possible, but that doesn't give it enough work to fully strengthen it. To isolate the quadriceps, I will be doing wall squats. They consist of "sitting" with your back up against the wall and your feet about a 12 inches out but with no actual chair. It's amazing how quickly this will make your legs quiver in exhaustion.

Kathrine Switzer mentions this exercise in her book "Marathon Woman" and how she was insulted at the idea that she needed to strengthen her thighs, despite running 100 miles a week. Her first try she was able to hold it for 70 seconds. Later, she built up to 11 minutes. The doctor who gave her the exercise had never seen anyone exceed 4 minutes. I don't know if I will get up to 11 minutes, but need to improve on my current 25 seconds.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 76C--End of my season

I haven't blogged at all since the end of July. That was because of my pain and lack of running. What I thought was an IT band injury turns out to be an injury to my femoral neck. I have been ordered to crutches for six weeks, which means no walking, and especially no running. I'm out of the game until well after the marathon. Once I'm given the go-ahead to ditch the crutches, I will get a run gait analysis and try running again, but with a form that works to prevent this injury in the future. Until then, I will rest my leg and get a great workout from lifting my body weight repeatedly with my arms. I never realized how difficult crutches are and how much work my arms, back and chest would be doing to keep me remotely mobile.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 75C--Lambeau Field

I've been lax in my running and my blogging the last two weeks. The lack of running was because of pain in my IT Band and the rest of my right thigh. It got so bad on Wednesday that I was barely shuffling around, and that still hurt so bad that I was wincing in agony every few steps. The lack of running fed into my laziness and led to a lack of blogging.

The one thing that I really want to share was my experience with the 5K I ran on 7/30/11. As a Packer fan, the opportunity to run near Lambeau was really tempting. Luckily, this run actually runs into the stadium, down the player's tunnel and around the field on the track. That made it impossible to turn down. The Packers Cheerleaders (UWGB and St. Norbert squads) were on the field cheering us on for the final stretch. There were cameras set up so I could see myself running on the big screen. (Not a Jumbo Tron, I just learned.)

Aside from the sheer awesomeness of the run, it was really well organized. They said it would start at 10am, and it started at exactly 10am. Even though it was only 4,000 people, they had 6 different bibs/corrals. I was passing some people during my run, but most of the people around me seemed to be similarly paced to me. They kicked off the run with the National Anthem, and I actually heard the last line of it for the first time in ages. The fans/runners didn't cheer until the singer had ended.

The run wasn't perfect, though. Although it started on time, a 10am start is too late for July. It was super hot by the time we kicked off. I believe I could have clocked a better time if we had started earlier when it was cooler. The race shirt was cotton instead of a performance material. I ran in one of my regular running shirts instead. The bag they gave away for the race also seemed to be cheap.

Overall, I was happy with the race, though. I have recommended it to several people already and would suggest others try it, too. With any luck, I can get a caravan of Packer fans to make a Green Bay pilgrimage for the race next year.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 74C--16 Miles

That is how far I ran on Saturday. A new personal record in both time and distance. Luckily, the heat and humidity broke a bit, so I didn't want to die right away. I did want to die about mile 12, though. My legs were starting to get super sore and did not want to keep going. The only thing that got me through the rest of the run was sheer stubbornness. I was not going to fail at my run. Here are my mile splits:
14:08--mile 1 (I have no idea why this was so slow.)
11:40--mile 2
11:36--mile 3
11:34--mile 4
12:23--mile 5
15:10--mile 6 (this included our first gatorade/water stop)
11:24--mile 7
11:43--mile 8
12:02--mile 9
12:48--mile 10
14:06--mile 11 (our second gatorade/water stop. Also lots of stretching)
13:11--mile 12
12:07--mile 13
13:51--mile 14 (third gatorade/water stop with hosing off.)
12:44--mile 15
11:49--mile 16

Because of the heat, we ran a 4:1 interval, instead of 5:1, so our overall pace was slower. Although, looking at the splits, I see that miles that we didn't stop for food or water were run at our normal 11:30 pace.

I wanted to cry when the run was done. My legs were so sore that driving was difficult. I had a hard time moving my right leg between the gas and the brake. I had to push it with my hand. Luckily, I was in really slow traffic and a short drive, so I didn't have to switch back and forth very often. I went home and spent much of the next hour soaking in a cold bath, which helped a lot. I was able to get out of the house later that day and walk to the train & to the movies.

This weekend's run has led me to discover a new muscle. It's commonly called the IT band, which is short for iliotibial band. I think mine became problematic from walking and running unevenly because of my tight calves. I will be spending the next few days stretching that out so I can continue to run comfortable. I will also make sure to keep my calves and thighs stretched so they don't put excess stress on my IT band.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 73C--Hot

It's hot out there. It's supposed to still be hot tomorrow for my 16 mile run. And it's been hot all week long. That, and sore calves, kept me from my mid-week runs. I tried the treadmill, but that actually hurt more than running outside. I tried the stairmaster, but that hurt, too. I'm hoping that won't hurt me too much tomorrow. Because of the heat, our run won't go south 8 miles & then back to start like normal. We will be doing laps this week. It allows us to have access to water more often during our run, without having to set up many water stations. It will be boring & a little bit crowded, but safer. Also, the path that we're looping on is mostly shaded, so that should keep us a bit cooler, too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 72C--Weight

No, not my weight, just my observations on weight in the US. It is clear that the US has a severe problem with obesity. On the other end of the spectrum, we have 8 million Americans suffering from Anorexia. These are both bad things, but not what I've noticed today.

Unless you're an obese person, society does not allow you to complain about your weight. Even if you are obese, courtesy will prompt many people to placate any talk about your weight. This is not good for any of us. Many people who are not obese could benefit from losing weight. We need to stop telling people (unless they're way underweight), "You don't need to lose weight" "You look just fine to me." or other things meant to make them feel better about themselves. I know we mean well, but it's not helping anyone.

As someone whose weight has been right at the high point of normal to the lower end of overweight, I get this often. I know that I'm overweight. I can see it when I laugh and my stomach shimmies like Jell-O. I know people are being nice and possibly honest when they tell me I don't need to lose weight, but the reality is that I will be healthier if I lose about 20 pounds. When I tell people that, it leads to more placating, but that's 14% of my current weight.

I know I'm not alone in this situation. There are plenty of skinny-fat people out there. Or people who are overweight, but not what people would consider "fat." Fat is not a medical term, it's a totally subjective term that seems to have changed meanings as America has become more overweight. Being overweight is a health risk and we should stop placating people about their weight unless we know for sure that they are at a healthy weight. That is not something you can know by looking at someone.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 71C--7 miles

Today was a recovery run of just 7 miles. It was shockingly easy. Luckily, the heat wave hadn't hit yet so it wasn't too warm. There wasn't any difficulty at any point during the run. I know this makes for a really lame blog post, but there's nothing to say about today's run. It was 7 miles, 1 hour, 21 minutes of non-eventful left after right. It was over as quickly as it began.

Updated: Here are my splits:
11:33 (forgot to reset chrono after mile 3, so this is an average of mile 3 &4)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 70C--Calves

I've mentioned my tight calves before and I had gotten used to them. They've been tight since I started training at the beginning of May. Yesterday, my calves took a turn for the worse. Instead of just being tight and uncomfortable when I walked or ran, they are now sore all the time. I'm visibly limping all the time. My right knee & hip are starting to hurt because of the limping caused by my tight left calf. I have called the physical therapists that work with T2 and hope they can help me out. I don't want to miss tomorrow's 7 mile run, but I don't want to make things worse and miss the 16 mile run next week.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 69C--Hills

Last night was a drill run and it fit my schedule, so I went. I walked the mile to the lakefront and then walked along the dog beach for about 30 minutes before heading over to Cricket Hill. It was not snow covered, but that's the best picture I can find to show how big the hill actually is. I ran up and down the hill six times, then did some core work, then up and around the hill four times. Total workout time was about 45 minutes, but it was a very hard workout. Hills are difficult. I'm really glad that the marathon is basically flat.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 68C--I'm a runner

Back in May, I wrote a post called "What is a runner??" Part of the reason for the post was that I didn't know if I qualified as a runner and even if I did, when I would feel like a runner. The answer came to be prior to the 6 mile recover run on July 2nd. The week leading up to that run and the week after it had me repeating a phrase and really meaning it. "I'm only running 6 miles." The key word there is ONLY. It is shocking to me that I used the word only to describe a run of 6 miles. (Even if I did put the only in the wrong spot in the sentence, instead of right before the distance.)

This Saturday, I will be running only 7 miles. Up until I looked at the schedule, I thought that would read only 8 miles. Either way, using the word only when describing that long of a run shocks me. It also confirms in my mind that I AM a runner. I no longer have any doubt that I'm not a REAL runner.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 67C--14 Miles

14 MILES!!!! And with some post-run TLC, I'm ok. The run itself actually wasn't that bad. From mile 12-13 1/2 our group was chatting and energetic. We stopped talking the last 1/2 mile, but that was when we skipped our last walk interval and just ran to get the run over with. Thanks to a YouTube video, I was able to figure out how to get my lap splits for the run. I did miss one of the mile markers, so I had to take a two mile time and divide it by two for miles 7 and 8. That mile marker was the turn around sign. The path is a big confusing mess at that point because of the Navy Pier parking lots and entrances, so I was paying so much attention to staying on the right path that I forgot to mark the end of the mile. That and realizing we were halfway done with our run is always kind of exciting and distracting.

Here are my mile splits

10:48--mile 1
11:30--mile 2
14:24--mile 3
12:31--mile 4
13:36--mile 5
11:51--mile 6
11:55--mile 7
11:55--mile 8
11:20--mile 9
12:44--mile 10
12:31--mile 11
11:07--mile 12
11:03--mile 13
11:48--mile 14

This seems to happen on all of my training runs. We start fast, then get slow as we stop for the bathroom, lose some runners and get Gatorade and water at the various Fleet Feet stations on the path. We also are slower on the more crowded parts of the lakefront path. With all the passing and getting passed, it's hard to pace well. That's something that shouldn't be as hard on race day because keeping the group together won't be as much of a concern. We speed up at the end after we've passed the water stations and everyone has gone to the bathroom. I think knowing we're less than 30 minutes from being done also helps encourage us all to be a bit faster. We never talk about speeding up, but it seems to happen every run.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Inspiring person #22

He's running 1/2 marathons at age 100. Heck, he's still alive at age 100. That's inspiring enough. Plus, he's only been running for about a decade.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 66C--stress

I am a giant ball of stress. My job is ending soon. August 12th to be exact, which is four weeks longer than the July 15th date it was originally slated to end. My lease wasn't renewed, so I have to move at the end of August. I have long said that the two worst tasks in life are looking for a new job and moving and I get to do both of them at the same time. On top of that, my job is ending because the office is closing so I'm responsible for packing up. It's basically like I'm moving my home and my job. This stress has caused me to have headaches every day this week. I planned on running last night, but my head was pounding, so I just went to bed.

I will get in my run today, though. I don't want to be unprepared for Saturday's 14 miles. I can't believe I'll be running a Half Marathon in two days with an additional .9 miles for good measure. A mere two months ago, I was running 3 miles and found that to be sufficient. Two years ago, I never ran at all and found that to be ok.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 65C--2 months in

Here's my second update on the weight loss that I hoped would occur during my marathon training.

I've gained 1 1/2 pounds since last month, for a grand total of 2 pounds gained since I started official training. That's an average of a pound per month. At this rate, I'll be really overweight by the time the marathon rolls around. Right now, my weight puts my BMI just into the "overweight" area.

I found a site that allows you to determine you body fat percentage without any specialized tests. It just uses the measurements here to calculate. I have 28% body fat. 40 Pounds of fat and 103 Pounds of lean (muscle, bone, body water). Unfortunately, the site doesn't let you put in anything but whole numbers, so these figures are not exactly perfect.

The reason my body fat percentage is less than on the first date is because my calves are bigger, meaning I have more muscle. Now I just need to keep up the work and make sure to watch what I'm eating and drinking so that my weight doesn't keep increasing as my muscle increases. I'd rather that I lose some more fat while increasing my muscle.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 64C--Heat

Today was a recovery run. We dropped down to 6 miles from the 12 miles we ran last Saturday. That was a very good thing, because 12 or more miles in the heat would have killed me. It was about 80 degrees when we started our run, and close to 90 degrees when we ended our run. That isn't counting the 84% humidity. It was super hard to breathe. I was winded within a few minutes of starting out this morning and never really recovered. My muscles were fine with the heat and the distance, but my lungs were screaming for mercy the entire time. I'm sure I wasn't the best running partner today at all.

Despite the weather, we finished our 6 miles right on pace. That was despite extra walk and water breaks and a stop for a fallen teammate. A woman in a different pace group tripped on some broken asphalt on the path and went down hard. She ended up with skinned palms, elbow and knee. All of us thought she went down because of the heat, so we rushed to her side. She was able to walk away from the fall, and only missed about 1/2 mile of her run.

I don't know if it's the heat, the run, or something else, but I've feel kinda hooky all day. I slept from the time I got home from my run until abut 2, and have been lounging around the 2 hours after that. I did eat, but it didn't help my stomach feel any better. I have also been drinking water to make sure that's not the problem. I hope that I feel better tomorrow, or even today.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 63C--Calves

My calves have been tight and sore since I started marathon training. I stretch and stretch, but that only helps temporarily. I did some reading last night and found that my tight calves are probably caused by my tight hamstrings. I've always had tight hamstrings. It's all a giant snowball. If my calves have to compensate for my hamstrings, they get sore. Once my calves are sore, other muscles have to compensate for that. Eventually, I will be one giant tight muscle that can barely move.

Touching my toes is something I can do only after months of extensive daily stretching. I did get back to the yoga today trying to stretch my hamstrings a bit so my calves can stop hurting. I was also stretching my hamstrings while watching TV last night. I need to keep that stretching up whenever I have a chance so that my calf stretching is more beneficial and hopefully, I can keep from limping all the time. I will also start doing the strengthening exercises recommended by NovaCare for my marathon training group. They should help strengthen my quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, also helping ease my pain.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 62C--Sand

I ran at the beach this morning with other T2 runners. Not just near the lake like my Saturday runs, but on the actual sand of Foster beach. This is a pretty accurate portrayal of what our steps looked like. What that means is that the normal push you get when you run isn't really there, because the footing isn't stable. Running in the sand is both easier and harder than running on pavement. It's easier in that it works different muscles, giving your usual muscles a rest. It's harder in that each step is a test of ankle stability.

Running right next to Lake Michigan at 6:30 in the morning is a great way to start the day. It was calm and the sun was barely over the horizon and shining off the water. I'm still not a fan of running before work, but I think I'm a fan of running in the morning. It was still cool, not hot and humid like it will be this afternoon. It was also quiet. When there are very few people up and about, the city is really quiet. It's completely different.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 61C--12 Mile Run

Yesterday was the 12 mile run. We started at Foster and ran all the was down the lakefront to the middle of the S-Curve of Lake Shore Drive, to Chicago Avenue. I finished, and were really, really close to our goal pace of 11:30. Just like last week's run, the pacing was thrown off by multiple bathroom and drink breaks.

That didn't mean I finished without pain. My calves and thighs were sore, as were my feet. This was the first distance where my flat feet seemed to cause a problem. It was also the first time in my life where it caused pain on the outside of my foot. I've gotten used to arch pain, even though I haven't had much of that in training this year. Yesterday I had pain in both arches and in the outside of one foot.

Because my pain was farther reaching and more severe than prior weeks, I decided to follow my coach's advice and try an ice bath. I didn't use actual ice, just really, really cold water from the tap. I stood in the water to help my feet, but needed to get my legs into the water, too. The thought of sitting down in the water scared me to no end, so I had to find a way to sit down close enough to the water without getting my bits wet and frozen. Luckily, Jenni is a super-genius. She gave me a big stock pot to turn upside down and use as a chair. That allowed me to soak my legs for 10-15 minutes; much longer than if I had been freezing my privates. That bath and some advil is allowing me to walk today without limping.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 60C--Kathrine Switzer

I met Kathrine Switzer last night. :) I wrote a bit about her back in May. In person she's even more impressive. Before her presentation, she went around the room to make sure she met everyone there personally. She even stayed after a bit to take photos and talk to people. She also made me feel some sympathy for Jock Semple, the race official who tried to physically remove her from the race. He should get credit for the fact that more women are running in marathons today. Still not 50%, but getting closer. Without those iconic photos, her entry into the Boston Marathon would have been a mere footnote. His actions made it front page news and encouraged all women runners after that date.

She was in town to promote Icebreaker clothing. I couldn't afford any of the clothes, but going to the book-signing/presentation got me a free pair of socks that sell for $15 a pair. I will try them out this weekend. If they work, I think I'll make them my long run socks. At $15, they should be super amazing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 59C--Morning Run

I woke up early this morning to get my run in because my week is so packed that I didn't know when I was going to get them both in. Because I didn't want to get up three hours before work to fit in breakfast two hours before my run and then a shower after the run before my train ride, I ran without eating breakfast. It wasn't my best idea ever, but it wasn't horrific, either. I used the 5:1 run/walk intervals, but ran much faster than the 11:30 distance pace. I ran about a 9:43 pace. I did skip the last walk interval, but only because I could see the finish line and didn't want to walk to it. If it had been a real 5K, my time would have been under 31 minutes, which isn't my best ever, but much better than I've done over the last year. My next real 5K isn't until the end of July, so I have plenty of time to get a bit faster. By the time that 5K comes around, I will have run 16 miles, 60% more than I ran this last Saturday. Hopefully the increased distance over the next month will help my time in the 5K. I would really like to break 30 minutes, something I haven't been able to do since last May.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 58C--Off Days

I have been horrible about my cross-training. I didn't do anything on Sunday except some really light gardening and some cleaning. That's actually more than I did yesterday. I will be squeezing in a run this afternoon, even if it does rain. I have so many things planned this week that I feel like my fitness has to be shoe-horned in. I know my schedule is much better next week, so maybe I can get more cross-training in then.

I still have tight calves from Saturdays run. That seems to be a continuous problem for me. They get sore on Saturday, I stretch and stretch, but they don't feel better until I get a longer run in. I was told to try an ice bath after my long runs, and I will try that on Saturday after I run 12 miles.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 57C--10 MIles

I cannot believe that I ran 10 miles yesterday. It went really well. Ran all the way from Foster down to the North Avenue Beach House. We were a bit off our pace, but we stopped for two bathroom breaks and three water breaks. Weirdly, even though it was hotter than last week, the last two miles were no harder than any of the previous miles. In fact, the last mile went better than all the other 9 miles. The hardest part was running up the ramp onto the bridge over Lake Shore Drive. It was also the most rewarding, because the view of the city was fabulous from the middle of the bridge. Plus, some of my pace group did Rocky dances when they reached the top.

I mapped out 10 miles on my hometown and realized it's pretty close to the distance that I would bike on occasion, thinking it was a ridiculously long distance. And now I ran that distance. I feel amazing for having done that. I know pride is a sin, but I feel super proud. I also spent most of yesterday feeling really sore. My hips, knees and muscles were all sore, but they're much better today.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 56C--Love of Running

I love running. I can't believe I typed that and even more shocked that I actually mean it. I love that running is open to all people, regardless of background, fitness level, gender, income, weight, age or any other factor that may limit people in other sports. I also love the lack of competition in running. I'm sure that the elite runners feel they're competing against each other, but for the rest of the runners, they're just trying to run faster than the last time they ran. It's as much about personal growth and improvement as anything else.

I was reminded of my love of this aspect of running this morning when reading a blog post. It was about a "overweight, middle-aged mom" buying running shoes and how her fears about being treated as an outsider/intruder were unfounded. If you go to a running store to buy shoes, they will be helpful. If not, go to a different store. A good store will want you to succeed and join the runners. I was also reminded about the camaraderie in running by a tweet by a running friend who was loving an article in "Runners World" about mentoring/teaching running. She tweeted "Loving @runnersworld story on how #runnerds can help beginners get started. I love doing that! I'm so happy when I hear about someone's run." It's true.

Runners want to encourage new runners and are encouraged by their progress. When runners see someone faster, we just want to be them. We don't want them to fail, we want to follow them and get as good as they are. I've only been running a year and am amazed by the amount of help available from other runners. I thought running would be a solitary sport, but it turns out to be a team sport, just no other teams.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 55C--Over 100 Miles

Last night's run of 3 1/2 miles pushed my training total over 100 miles. That's at least double my entire life's running total prior to this. My run felt great last night, but my pace was slower than I realized. It may have been because of my stop at the grocery store and to peek inside the open door of the Uptown Theater. I love old theaters and this one has been shuttered for almost 30 years. I've been able to peek in the door twice now and each time I'm blown away by the beauty and decay inside. I may have been distracted by my stops and forgot to stop my watch when I stopped running.

Other than my slightly slow pace, I did notice a slight weight loss. I think that may have been helped by my poor attempt at dinner last night. I made a mushroom/cabbage soup, but used purple cabbage, so the soup turned purple. The picture at left is from "Bridger Jones Diary" not my actual soup. That was slightly disturbing, but didn't make the soup inedible. That was done by some dried mushrooms that didn't soften, so I had to eat around them. That was a healthful meal fail. I will continue to try to eat high-protein, low-fat meals, though. I need it and it will help my girlfriend in her mission. I'm glad I'm choosing the exercise method of trying to lose weight, though. I don't drink soda, eat fast-food or do many things that make dieting necessary. I eat high-fiber, low-calorie breakfasts and drink a lot of water, so I would have to cut out a lot of food quantity for a diet to work and I don't like feeling hungry. I'd rather feel exhausted from a hard run.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 54C--Mid-week training

I am scheduled to run 10 miles on Saturday. That's an increase of 2 miles, not just the 1 mile I've been increasing every other week. This is clearly the week to make sure I don't slack at all on my mid-week runs and cross training.

It's also a week to look for inspiration wherever I can find it. Every week, during my Saturday run, there is a church group running on the lake path. They are mainly black women and are heavier and older than the people I run with. Even though they're struggling a bit more with their run, they're still out there every week and smiling. They're super-inspiring.

I'm also inspired by the people running with me, but at a pace of 15-16 1/2 minutes per mile. As one person pointed out, they have to run for 6 1/2 hours to finish the marathon. That's up to 4 hours longer than the rest of us run.

I'm also inspired by my girlfriend Jenni, who is starting her own journey to get fit. She has started a blog detailing her efforts.

I am inspired by anyone who makes the effort despite the obstacles. One big one is the lack of plus-size workout wear. I have tons of options for appropriate clothing to run in, including boys large & Extra Large items, but the options are minimal if not nonexistent once you get past size 14-16. Sports bras are hard to find in sizes larger than DD and even those are scarce and not nearly as cute.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day 53C--8 miles

Today was the 8 mile run. The weather was perfect; a bit cold to begin, but then the running made us warmer. We ran at an 11:24 pace, which is close enough to 11:30 for all of us to be happy. Actually, the pace includes a bathroom break of 2 minutes and a Gatorade/water stop of another minute, so our running was even faster. Either way, I am happy that we finished and finished strong.

Our entire group of seven women finished together as a group, despite ankle issues and way too much chafing. The ankle issues belonged to Jenn and the chafing was all mine. I will be looking into other ways of defending against this. It's like a skinned knee, but after you've hurt it, you continue to rub it repeatedly for more hours. It's not super painful, but it's also not pleasant. I also have a black toe, which I got last week on the 7 mile run, and will probably have the rest of the training. It hurts like a bruise right now, but I'm scared that it will hurt worse when the nail starts to fall off.

Even with all of that, I am so happy that I finished my run. It is the longest I've ever run at a stretch and I felt so good when it was over, that I even did some yoga to stretch out my muscles. I'm now off for a ton of walking. It's summer festival time and I'll be walking to and from the festival and all over for a few hours.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 52C--Running

I got in my run today and it really felt good. I hope that the weather is just like this on Saturday so I can handle the 8 miles. I had a hard time with the 7 miles in the heat last Saturday and am a bit worried about the extra mile this week. I'm only slightly worried because the run/walk intervals mean one extra mile is only two intervals. The weather looks like it will be sort of cooperative for Saturday; cool, but raining.

I do know that I have to take 30 minutes this weekend to get my bike up and running so I can start biking to work. I really feel like I need the extra cardio to help me with the running. I also think I need it to increase my weight loss. Not that my weight is my primary concern. It's secondary to finishing my marathon training and being successful in October.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 51C--Heat

It's been really hot all week, which has sapped my energy. That and it feels like my B-12 levels are low, too. I wish that I could test my B-12 as easily as diabetics test their blood sugar. I feel sluggish, but not sure if that's lack of sleep, the heat, low B-12 or something else. I am taking B-12 tablets every day and the pills are way more than my daily needs, but still feeling sluggish. Unfortunately, there is no home test for B-12, so I'll have to get back to the doctor for testing. I think I'll also have them test for Celiac disease, too. I don't think I have it, but it can cause B-12 deficiencies and I'd like to eliminate that as a reason. If I do end up having it, it will be nice to know and deal with it and maybe feel more energetic.

I did try running on Monday and got in a little over a mile run. Most of that was speed work on the track. I also tried another energy booster during the run to see how it worked and tasted. Yuck. I couldn't finish because it was so gross. It tasted like bitter orange mix without enough water. I'm sure some people might like it, but I have vetoed it from my training.

On another food note, I have tried the pre-training food shown at left. They're about 50 calories a nugget and come 4 to a package. They taste like a yummy candy bar. I may see if these work during a run. They're mostly carb, so they should work and I don't dislike them, which is good.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 50C--One Month In

It's been a few days more than a month since I started training, so I thought I'd update my measurements and report any changes from that date.

I currently weight 141.5 pounds, 1/2 pound heavier than when I started., which makes my BMI 25.08. That puts my BMI within the "overweight" range, but just over the edge from "Normal".

Other than the slight increase in my weight, none of my measurements have changed over the month. I was hoping for more changes and in a positive direction. I think that the final arrival of summer will aid in moving these numbers in a positive direction. The weather in May was not as conducive to running as I really wanted and my mid-week runs were missed or shortened due to cold and rain. I do also plan on getting my bike out on the road this week, too. That should help with my cardio for the running and really work on these numbers.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 49C--7 Miles

I survived, which may not sound that impressive, but actually is. While I was running 7 miles, there was a half marathon on the south side of Chicago that was being called because of the heat. Sadly, there is a report of one of the runner's death. Survival is good.

Other than surviving, I don't have any greatness to report. I was really, really hot for the entire time. I didn't really feel all that great at all. At about 5 1/2 miles in, I told the rest of my pace group that I was spent and running on fumes. Finally, the stubbornness that I've had my entire life was going to really help me out. That stubbornness was what got me through the last 1 1/2 miles.

I really need to get my bike back on the road. My muscles aren't struggling with the increased mileage, but my cardio is clearly lacking. I felt like I was panting from very, very early in today's run. Since I'm only supposed to run twice during the week, I need another way of increasing my cardio capacity.

I did try the Clif Shot gel today. It tasted like really squishy fudge. Flavor was good, but the consistency was a bit hard to deal with while I was panting. I did get it down, and didn't really hate it, which was my worry. I have other mid-run foods ready for future runs. Hopefully, I'll have found one that I really like before October.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 48C--Training

My cross-training on Wednesday was softball practice. Some sprinting, lots of throwing and batting. I don't know if that's enough to qualify as cross-training, but it takes up most of the evening, so that's all that gets done.

Yesterday, I ran just over 3 miles. My time was a bit faster than my normal pacing, but I think that's because I ran 1 1/2 miles, took a break, and then ran the other 1 1/2 miles. It made running faster than normal pretty easy.

Tomorrow I run 7 miles, which is the longest I've ever run in one stretch in my life. I'm really excited to start setting new personal records (PR). Almost every Saturday going forward is going to be a PR. I do need to get to a health food/sporting goods store today to buy some race fuel for tomorrow. Time to start trying some different kinds. Also need to get used to Gatorade.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 47C--my running

I walked over 4 miles on Monday for my cross-training. It wasn't as much training as I probably should have gotten, but it was nice to walk to the beach and around the neighborhood on Memorial Day.

Yesterday was my mid-week run day and I ran 4.22 miles, even though it was hot and sticky. I thought the run was sucking, but my pace was right at 11:39. Yesterday was also one month into my marathon training. I should have taken measurements, but forgot. I will get them tonight and be sure to share if my weight or measurements have changed at all over the month.

I signed up for a 5K that happens at the end of July. It's in Green Bay and ends with a lap around Lambeau Field. Even cooler than that is that it's only $25 for the race. That's one of the lowest costs I've ever seen for a chip-timed 5K. The Soldier Field race was $65. Yes, I'll have to pay for a hotel room, but this is still a way cooler race than any other I've run. Better than running through the concourse at Wrigley.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 46C--Running

Saturday was my six mile official training run and I went into it a bit worried. I hadn't run at all during the week and had neglected my cross-training, too. I had done softball practice, but that was basically the extent of all my physical exertion over the entire week. Luckily, I was worried for nothing. The run went just as well as the five mile run from the prior week. Even though I was ok this week without doing my training, I will try to do a lot better on my Sunday through Thursday activities than I did last week. I already got in my cross training for today, which is a big step above last week.

Next week's run is seven miles, longer by almost 1/2 mile than I've ever run in my entire life. I'm really looking forward to most future training runs being the longest I've ever run. I know that I've taken on a big goal, but it will make it seem so much easier if I know that every week is some new goal for me, just like the marathon is.

Next week is also the first time they want us to start trying mid-run energy food. That actually has me more concerned than the running. Many of them seem to be gummy and chewy, something I really don't like. I haven't enjoyed chewy candy at any point in my life. I have always wondered why anyone would ever eat a Tootsie Roll. I will try some of them to see which ones are actually palatable to me, though.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 45C--What is a runner??

Many times since I told people that I was running the marathon, some version of, "Oh, you're a runner" has been uttered to me. I always respond with some form of, "Not really." It's really gotten me thinking, especially when I heard another person in my training group say the same thing, even though she ran a Half Marathon last year. I told her that, yes, she is a runner. I do know that by the end of this summer, when I've finished the marathon, I hope to be comfortable with the label "Runner."

When I was a child, I never heard of runners, except in the Olympics. Carl Lewis was a runner, but people who ran at home were joggers. I have no idea what the difference between jogging and running actually is, although some put the line at 10 minute miles. Based on that line, I'm not a runner, I'm a jogger. George Sheehan said, "The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank." I like that take on it better, but I still feel that the word jogger is basically the same as runner.

None of this has actually answered my question of what is a runner. I'm starting to feel more like a runner because I miss running when I go more than a couple of days without running. I also am scheduling my life so I don't kill the buzz of the runner's high. I will never be a morning runner out of choice because I like the high too much to ruin it with work.

If any of you have a good definition for "What is a runner?" please let me know. I do know that it's technically just "a person who runs" but that's a bit nebulous for me. Normally I love the strict definition of words, but "runner" seems to have connotations beyond just the dictionary definition.

Inspiring Person #21

John MacLean. He became paralyzed after being hit by a truck. Always an athlete, he went on after the accident to do even more. He has competed in the Ironman Triathlon, written a book, started a charity for wheelchair bound children and won Olympic medals.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 44C--Missed days

I was kind of lazy on Monday and didn't get much cross training in at all. That wasn't bad, but then I tweaked my back yesterday. All I could do last night was use my foam roller to stretch out my back muscles and lie perfectly prone. I'm feeling much better today, so I hope I can get in my 30 minute run before my softball practice, unless that's called because of rain. Even if softball is called because of rain, I will get my run in. I have to learn to run in the rain and the warmer temperatures today make it a good day to try it out.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 43C--Accoutrements

I always kind of thought that running was a great activity because it didn't need much equipment. That may be true if you're young and/or not running very far. Training for the marathon has caused me to get many items to help me get through the training and the actual marathon.

Body Glide. It's like a very, very soft candle in a deodorant tube. It helps avoid chafing. I use it by my bra.

My sports bra. It's something that Jane Russel and Howard Hughes would approve. I did a lot of research to find one that would really work and after seeing other women running on the path, I'm glad I made the investment. Very often I see other women running and I just want to cross my arms over my chest in sympathy pain. No, I'm not going to show a picture of my bra, just thought I'd share a younger, less fundamentalist Jane Russell.

My new foam roller. It's designed to massage muscles in the legs and back that are hard to massage on your own. I've had tight/sore calf muscles since early last week. They feel better after I start running, but stiffen up the minute I stop running, so the first steps really hurt. I tried my roller yesterday and it worked wonders on my calves. The roller can also be used for strengthening and I will try that out tonight with my cross training.

Interval Watch. Because we do 5 minutes run:1 minute walk intervals, I needed a watch that had intervals, something I didn't have. I ended up buying a men's Timex Ironman watch because it has memory for enough laps. It's really nice when I'm out running to have the watch tell me when to start walking and when to get running again.

This doesn't count the non-cotton socks, shorts & shirts that are needed. I had the shirts, but have purchased many socks in the last few weeks. I'm sure there will be additional products being purchased before the marathon in November, including a new pair of running shoes, but these are the only items that were needed and not all were expected.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 29C--Charity Auction

This Mets fan package can be yours. Bidding starts at $35 and will run until the end of May on my blog, twitter and facebook. The package includes a pair of Mets FanMats for your car, 6 Mets handles, 2 Mets Robe Hangers, Shea Stadium Plaque, 2000 NL Champs Plaque and team plaque. The car mats are worth $30 and the 2000 plaque is currently $35 on eBay. The highest bidder's price will go to my marathon fund raising.

Day 42C--Running

I ran my maintenance run yesterday. Went back to my route from last year. It's exactly 3.1 miles and, because it goes around a cemetery, has few street lights. I ran it in 33 minutes, which isn't great, but not too bad considering how sore/tight my calves were. I stopped at least once on the route to stretch my calves on the run and spent about 10 minutes doing nothing but stretching and massaging my calves when I finished my run. Luckily, they seem to be almost normal today, so they shouldn't pose any issues tomorrow when I run 5 miles with my pace group.

The weather for tomorrow morning's run looks ok. 30% chance of rain, but 62 degrees. I think I'd rather have rain with warmth than the cold, but dry weather I ran in last Saturday. Tomorrow will be the last group run under an hour. I'm really glad I like the two women in my pace group. T2 doesn't allow headphones during runs so conversation is a must. It makes the runs go quickly, but if I didn't like my group, I think it would make the runs drag and be miserable. I even ran into one of my pace group members when I was starting on my run yesterday. It was a nice bit of motivation.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 41C--Cross Training

I didn't really do anything different yesterday than the same core workout on the Wii. I am noticing that my balance is really improving. I can do the Tree Pose (pictured) without swaying the entire time. Holding the plank for 30 seconds is just starting to tap into my limits. The first time I was doing it, I was straining at 15 seconds.

I did do a couple of extra things before my workout, though. I did the plank challenge and the push-up challenge. The "challenge" on the Wii Fit Plus allow you to go as long as you can, rather than having some predetermined number of reps. I was able to hold the plank for 43 seconds and do 19 push-ups. They're still girl push-ups, but I can do more than a few, so I'm good with them.