SkinnyMike

High's and Low's: running and lifting

Saturday I set out for a 6.5 mile run to finish out week 6 of my training for the half marathon.  I was worried because 5 miles has been the upper limit of my running career so far, and I've heard that workouts longer than an hour are significantly harder on the body.  Even armed with that knowledge, I still felt I had good reason to hope for a good run.  My previous long run of 5 miles was easy and fun.

Imagine my surprise when the wall never came.  I did struggle a little more than usual on a couple of hills in the last mile, but I had enough on tap to power up the final climb and really push my pace.  I ended up about 10 seconds per mile slower than my last long run, and that's largely because I started out the run much slower than usual.

Feeling great, I went home for a shower and then I ate breakfast–a bowl of raisin bran.  It wasn't too long before I realized I felt very tired and my legs were weak.  The rest of the day I felt tired, and I had some lasting weakness even into Sunday.  I just lost any motivation to move.  I wasn't sore, just weak and tired.  It's something to be aware of as I start pushing into longer distances.

If only my Hundred Push-ups challenge was going so well.  Sunday I did my Week 2 assessment, and I only managed 10 push ups.  The program assumes the "base" level for Week 3 is 16.  Week 3, Day 1 has you do as sets of 10, 12, 7, 7, and 9 push ups.  I managed 10, 9, 7, 2 and 4.  I hit absolute muscle failure.  It's hard not to be a disappointed.  I try to find programs that offer a manageable progression of difficulty so I can follow my mantra of "Just Finish."  Today was the first time I was not able to complete an exercise I planned.

I'm going to repeat this day again and if I still can't do it, I 'll just repeat Week 2 until I can do 16 push ups.  I have to be in the bottom 5% for upper body strength among people my size.

At least I am trying to do something about it.

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Half Marathon Training: Week 6 Day 1

Last night I did 35 minutes of Threshold Training.  In a threshold run, I'm not aiming for any particular pace, but instead trying for a consistent level of effort.  Following some magic mile practice on Saturday, my legs really weren't able to produce a pace fast enough to get my heart rate up where I wanted it.  I did manage to gain 18 seconds per mile over last Tuesday, and I did struggle a lot around the 25 minute mark.

Thursday will be an easy recovery run before Saturday's 6.5 mile long run.  That's very near half the distance I'll do in the actual race, and I'm interested to see what happens to my pace in a run that is longer than an hour.

My website is a safe place for people whose beliefs about God are changing. Many are recovering from spiritual abuse or trauma. Please remain civil and kind in the comments section at all times.

Stick-arms No More: The Hundred Pushup Challenge

I'm a nerd.  I over think everything, and try to reduce everything into a system of abstractions.  I hate sports.  I love video games.  I get sunburn easily.  So, by my early 30s I'd ballooned to a very unhealthy 270 pounds, with a rate of gain that set 300 in my near future.

So I started exercising and watching what I ate.  The pounds melted away, and I felt much better.  Only something strange happened to my body.  My exercise of choice is running.  Over the last few months I've found I have very strong, muscular legs.  My legs look better than they ever have in my life.  The only problem is they are attached to my still pudgy midsection and the tiny stick-arms I had as a teenager.  In terms of measurements, I've lost more than 3 inches from my arms since I started running.

Some of that was fat, but most of it was muscle.  Everything I've read says that running burns fat–and muscle.  In my chest and arms I've burned a lot of fat and a lot of muscle too.  There's not much left.

I tried the gym, but I'm too weak in my upper body and my core to perform exercises with any kind of form.  I got discouraged.

Then I remembered I'd been here before.  There was a time–just last year-that running any distance seemed impossible.  The key was a gentle, steady difficulty progression in the form of Couch to 5k.  Surely there must be some similar system for starting from zero in the muscle fitness world.

I scoured the Internet for an answer.  A surprising set of exercises appeared as well-researched tools for building full-body strength: push-ups, crunches and pull-ups.  Here's the problem: I was too weak to do more than a few push ups, or any pull-ups at all.  I hate crunches.  Still, I have to start somewhere and push ups seem the most doable.

I found a system that many of my fellow nerds reported success with: hundredpushups.  The program is designed to take you to doing 100 push ups without stopping in 7 weeks.  You start with an assessment to see how many good form push ups you can do without stopping, and then enter one of 4 tracks based on how many you did.

With a grand total of 5 pushups, I made into the lowest possible zone.

Doing 5 push ups won't build strength fast enough to make progress that encourages you to continue, so the program has you do sets of push ups with rests.  On Monday I did 12 push ups.  On Wednesday I did 16.  On Friday I pushed to 22.

Today I started week two with 24 push ups.  I feel stronger already.  Week 1 was easy and I didn't have much soreness.  Today was tough, and I feel a little weak today, but like my c25k experience, I didn't stop when I wanted to.

Sadly, there is no "runner's high" with these workouts.  On the positive side, it takes less than 10 minutes.

I'm also doing 45 crunches a day to try and build more core strength.  Hopefully these two routines will make me strong enough to actually go to a gym.

My website is a safe place for people whose beliefs about God are changing. Many are recovering from spiritual abuse or trauma. Please remain civil and kind in the comments section at all times.

I Believe in Magic - Half Marathon Training Week 5 Day 3

As I move farther into training, some of my shorter Saturday runs are built around a magic mile. The magic mile is the fastest mile you can reasonably do. In the program I'm doing, you run two miles as fast as you can without using a sprint stride. The weather was cool and crisp this morning, so conditions could not have been better.

I managed at 10:15 pace or so for both miles, and I felt strong the whole way. Of course, today was a three mile run. That last mile was challenging, but still much better than day 1 & 2 of this week. All in all it was a great run.

I need to learn from my dogs. They think every run is fantastic regardless of pace, training routine or route.

My website is a safe place for people whose beliefs about God are changing. Many are recovering from spiritual abuse or trauma. Please remain civil and kind in the comments section at all times.

Half Marathon Training Week 5 Day 2

For this week's recovery run I really had one goal:enjoy it. W5D1 was so tough, I just wanted to get an enjoyable run in for the appointed 35 minutes. I started out a much better pace than Tuesday, but I was still tired much sooner than I should have. I ended up with an 11:58 pace over 35 minutes, which is only a few seconds faster than I did 5 miles last Saturday.

I have to imagine that the fatigue I'm feeling from grief over my grandmother's death and my worries about my Dad following an accident on the farm is affecting my energy. I'd had a really strong week last week, and I expected better from this week.

It's also possible that my body is starting to favor morning runs. I'll have to try that next Tuesday.

My website is a safe place for people whose beliefs about God are changing. Many are recovering from spiritual abuse or trauma. Please remain civil and kind in the comments section at all times.