Wednesday, March 31, 2010
“I thought the whole point to your writing your boring log was that I wouldn’t have to hear about your exercise pains anymore,” Holly said.
Oh yeah…THAT’S REALLY FUNNY…
So I complain a little when I hurt…which is all the time…and I complain a lot…so?
I had been with my son, Jack, at the track the evening before (he had decided to go up and do a time trial in the 400 – just for kicks. I think he’s starting to get into the track thing…) and had mentioned I was sore from my ride.
“How could you be sore from all the working out you’re doing? Shouldn’t you be feeling good by now?”
So I tried to explain the different kinds of workout pain without the boring physiology lesson. I told him how I was tired sore tonight…which is just how you feel when your thigh muscles have done something like fire about 10,000 times as they do when you ride a bike for two hours (80-90 revolutions a minute for 120 minutes). Then there’s lactic acid sore, which gets into the muscles and can last for up to 48 hours and is the result of doing an activity close to all-out for around 60 seconds. There’s also that great mitochondrial muscle tearing and rebuilding that goes on when you use muscles that haven’t done an activity in some time (how you feel after a game of pick up baseball or touch football after a five year layoff), which also lasts a couple of days. Finally, there’s the injury. The unusual soreness in a specific spot that often brings sharp pain. It’s the one to look out for and avoid.
Well…today it was the pain in my ass. I’m thinking it was from the back to back running days followed by two hours on a bike. Could do it. I had too much time in the car today – driving, sitting and waiting. Probably six hours. By the time I was driving to the park for my run, I literally couldn’t sit. I kept pushing my feet against the floor of the car and getting my butt airborne to relieve the ache. I sprung from the car and quickly changed into my running gear upon arriving. I couldn’t wait to get started.
Here's the cool thing. I knew I was going to feel better as soon as I started exercising. It really works! As the muscles warmed and stretched, they were going to feel better and I was going to have a good run. I was sure of it. It didn't start that way though...
The first one hundred yards must have looked like I’d escaped from an assisted living home. My ankles hurt with each step. My butt was twitching with pain and my left leg gave out a couple of times, causing me to stumble and almost fall. Generally speaking, I felt like shit.
By the time I reached the top of the first hill though, things were loosening up as I knew they would. I was planning on running the course Reza and I had covered in 56 minutes on Sunday and I was determined it would be quicker. I prayed I wouldn’t run into him again – there was no way I was talking through this run.
Though extremely tired – my thighs were so heavy – the run went well and I finished in 53:30 or two and a half minutes faster than Saturday with Reza. Talking slows you down. I’ve got a long way to go, though. I’ll be running this course in 48 minutes in a month if I can stay healthy. It’s a park perimeter run that I will return to as a time trial – just to prove to myself that I’m getting better.
Holly met me after the run and we hiked for another 45 minutes. Reza and Jimmy came running by and I told Reza how much faster I’d run without him to slow me down. He’d won that 5K he’d run on Sunday – probably the intense run with me on Saturday that had set it up. I’ll save information about Jimmy for another day. He deserves a couple of chapters.
Run duration: 53 minutes. Hike duration: 45 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 140 running. 75 hiking.
Calories burned during workout: 900 running. 275 hiking.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
It was just one of those days when I really, really didn’t want to do anything. I was sitting in my car in the Metroparks with my bike in the back seat. It was overcast and cold out there. I had the book ‘Bowerman’ in the car with me and was reading a couple of pages, burning time so that I wouldn’t have to ride as long. This, by the way, is normal behavior for me. No matter how committed I am to my conditioning, I just run into walls some days and don’t want to do a thing. Overcoming this feeling and doing my workout is an exhilarating feeling. When it happens…which before I began writing this blog was almost never…
And I really needed a good, long day. My sweet Holly has been trying to sabotage my efforts of late. You remember how last weekend she made ‘Grandma Paula’ chocolate chip cookies, which of course I had to eat almost single handedly. Well…Sunday she makes a banana cream pie AND brownies with peanuts. She says it’s for her dad, but that’s a line of crap. She wants me to have to write in here that I’ve gained weight. She’s jealous. And devious. And effective.
So…I ate half a pie Sunday night. Oh…and five brownies. Oh…and half a gallon of milk to wash it down. Skim, of course.
Alright. I got myself out of the car and started to get ready for the ride. It was about 42 degrees and dropping. Poopie. I put on a second t-shirt, my leather gardening gloves, my American Flag skull cap under my helmet and I was ready. Not pretty…but definitely ready. I had planned on a two-hour ride, thinking I hadn’t been out on the bike in almost a week, and needed to start the final prep for the birthday mauling I was planning for myself in three weeks, but pushed that thought aside and decided anything around an hour would suffice.
I started by going up a long, steep hill…which is a good thing when it’s cold since it tends to warm me up. It worked. I had a decent sweat going by the time I reached the top, but started cooling quickly on the flats. By the time I had been out thirty minutes, my toes were freezing and the skin on my knees had that pink/purple color thing going…like your lips got when you were a kid and stayed in the pool for the better part of the week.
But…turn around after only thirty minutes? I mean was I becoming my training partner John? Was I going to be a weenie? This thought pushed me on. When I hit fifty minutes I figured I may as well just keep going. No feeling in my toes, hands numb and major shrinkage. It was too late to salvage anything, so I kept on to the one hour mark.
The ride home was a living hell. Wind in my face and a major downhill added to the chill factor. By the time I arrived back at the car and stepped from the bike, I couldn’t feel the ground under my feet. I wanted to move quickly, but found with numb fingers that taking the bike apart, shoes, gloves and helmet off was progressing rather slowly. I got it done though and when I finally plopped down in the car, I had that euphoric feeling that comes from doing the workout I thought I was going to blow off.
So go ahead and make those desserts all you want, baby. The new me will eat them up…yeah, just like the old me…but I’m going out there and I’m going to burn those calories up and maybe, just maybe…not gain any weight. We’ll see…
Bike duration: Two hours. Hike duration: 40 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 125 biking. 75 hiking.
Calories burned during workout: 1,800 hiking. 250 hiking.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Raining again. Damn.
I had planned on a long bike ride to start the week – maybe three hours, but the weather was disagreeable. I could set up the trainer, but my brain started working the idea of running two days in a row.
You may be thinking ‘what’s the big deal?’ It’s just that I haven’t been able to run two days in a row without reinjuring my left calf for almost nine years. I’d get going after some time off from running, slowly building up the time until I’d hit around thirty minutes or try a second day. On probably twenty separate occasions, the muscle would start to ache again and I’d head back to square one. I’d seen a couple of doctors, but no answers. As I’ve indicated before, I’d quit running.
This time around though, something was different. I’ve run over an hour on three separate occasions and with no difficulty. But two days in a row? Nope – I’ve been chicken. Until today and the rain.
I went to the park thinking thirty minutes of running. Nice and slow and on the trails. They were muddy as hell and speed would not be an issue. I’d run almost an hour the day before and was still a little sore from that effort. Nervously, I started off down the trail.
My first encounter was with a fox. It’s only the third time I’ve seen one over the last twenty years or so of running and hiking. Elusive animals, though I’m seldom quiet in my approach. This one took a look and headed off the trail and into the woods. Cool start. I continued on, splashing through the puddles and feeling very uncomfortable. Often times I start my runs feeling extremely sluggish and have difficultly catching my breath. Frankly, I think it has something to do with the belly fat I’ve picked up, which restricts my normal running breathing. Only after 8-10 minutes do I feel like I can take the full breaths necessary to sustain the pace I know I can run and begin to feel comfortable. Today, it was more like fifteen minutes before I had this feeling.
And then it kicked in. Suddenly, running felt easy and I was moving along at 8-minute per mile pace. Nothing spectacular, but good for my current condition and the leg was feeling good. Now I had to be careful. It’s easy to overdo when you’re feeling good. My body was saying ‘run another hour’ but my brain had this well in hand. I turned around about sixteen minutes into the run and headed back to the car.
At some point, I knew nothing would go wrong and nothing did. I crossed the path of four whitetails along the way, which tends to reinforce running in the park. I was a muddy mess with soaked running shoes. The socks would never be clean again – not that that’s really important to me. It was only a 32-minute run, but I’d felt great and…two in a row!
I returned home and no one was very interested in my accomplishment. Well…who was I doing this for anyway? I think it’s important to have small achievements that excite me – and this was it. Didn’t matter that no one else was affected – it was keeping me focused. People supporting our efforts – either as training partners or just words of encouragement – are important, but it’s the intrinsic motivation that matters most. If it means just walking a little further or faster, losing a couple of pounds, going ten days in a row or whatever floats the boat - having little goals and achieving them keeps you going.
Tomorrow – more rain in the forecast, but I won’t be stupid and try to run again. I’ll save three in a row for a goal three weeks from now. It’s a little hill, but I’ll climb it…
Run duration: 32 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 140 bpm.
Calories burned during workout: 550.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
“What a perfect day for a run,” I thought as I exited the car in the park. It was sunny and probably fifty degrees. Although my legs had been sore on the hike the day before, I was feeling pretty good and anticipating a very successful run. My plan was to do a park perimeter run, which should be around six miles from my starting point. That would have meant about 42 minutes in my prime, but I was thinking closer to an hour in my current condition.
I started up the same hill I’d hiked yesterday, which I like to do to get the worst uphill out of the way early in the run. The down side is I’m not really warmed up when I hit it and it totally sucks the life right out of me…which just totally sucks.
I reached the top – it’s only about a quarter mile long – not feeling too poorly, which is a major accomplishment these days. Yes – this was going to be an excellent day! I changed my original plan a little so that I would be running hiking instead of bridle trails. I was heading down one of my favorites when I noticed a runner on the cross trail I was approaching. Panic set in as I realized I knew him – it was Reza. He was a high school runner I’d worked with who owned pr’s of 4:20 in the mile, 9:27 for two miles, 15:59 for the 5K – and those were all in high school. He was faster and stronger now. I was forced to make a quick decision. If I called to him, he might suggest we run together, which could mean…I would die.
In a soft whisper I said “Reza…” while stepping on a stick, which snapped loudly. He turned to look. Damn…
“Hey Mr. Rolf,” he called, stopping his run to wait for me.
I figured to find out my situation quickly. “Where you runnin?”
“Wherever you are,” he responded.
“Shit,” I thought.
Oh well. Payback’s a bitch. I’ve been told by a couple of folks I’ve trained over the years that they found it annoying that I talked to them – and expected answers – while putting them difficult workouts that weren’t bothering me quite as much. Reza was about to even the score for so many accounts. Too bad they wouldn’t be there to enjoy it.
“I’m running pretty slow – are you sure you want to tag along?”
“Yeah…sure. I’m racing tomorrow and just trying to loosen up today. Go as slow as you want,” he said.
Double shit. Here I was suffering my ass off and he was doing what I was doing…to loosen up for a race tomorrow? I could have slapped him, but I was way too tired.
I’d met up with him after fifteen minutes of running, so that meant I’d have to deal with him for another forty-five. Triple shit. Yeah…I was going to die.
Actually though, it turned out that…surprise, surprise…I did most of the talking. First – I told him about…you guessed it…the blog. He faked interest and told me he’d take a look. I’ll call him and tell him this one is all about our run. At least I’ll get another hit out of it that way…
I stopped to wring the sweat from my band about forty minutes in. I was drenched. I looked at him and wanted to puke. Not only was he not sweating, he was smiling and his hair was all in place. What the hell…
Youth is often wasted on the young. Ahhh…whadda ya gonna do? I finished the run talking away, though. It was harder than it would have been without the talking, but took my mind off of everything else. By the way, if you are going to CHOOSE a training partner…always go for someone who’s in worse shape than you. Much better for the ego. It has been my experience that people thirty-three years your junior and running seventy miles a week typically DON’T fit that criteria.
We reached my car first and he stopped for some stretching. He still had another mile back to his car. I told him how this was my first hard day back after 34 straight days of working out. He looked at me with surprise and said, “you always wrote days off into my training programs…always. So what’s up with that?”
“Do as I say…blah, blah, blah.”
He smiled again and started off down the trail – running now – not doing that thing I was doing when we were together. I collapsed into the car. I really have to be more quiet when running in the woods.
Run duration: 56 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 140 bpm.
Calories burned during workout: 950.
A couple of days back, I posted my thinking for a 55th birthday workout and how my climbing buddy, John, might come along for parts of the day to help me through. I did suggest that he was a weenie and would likely complain about portions – or all – of the day. He’s a regular reader and posted a comment that I would like to share. It went like this:
“You must be outta yer fookin mind! No fookin way, man! Maybe I'll do a 5.5 mile bike ride on the trainer since it will be 32 degrees and snowing on your birthday. Or maybe I can drive behind you in my race car. Otherwise, fuh-git about it.”
He watches a lot of movies. Anyway…he’ll be there. He’s always there for me even if I have to guilt him into it. Any one of the three things I have planned would be okay alone, but I’ think I’ll need a little help on the bike to get all three done. Don’t make any fookin plans for the 18th, Johnnie.
It was a little on the brisk side for an outdoor ride and I’m determined not to put the bike back on the trainer, so I grabbed the pack again for another hike. As soon as I strapped it on and stood, I knew I would not be doing step-ups. Though it had been three days, I immediately felt pain in the groin and the hips. Step-ups would be just asking for trouble. I decided instead to do most of the hiking off-trail, which automatically increases the difficulty and the calorie burn. It particularly works the balance and since the woods were still very wet and sloppy, I would have to really watch my step. One of the big problems with the pack and balance is that once you start to lean in a particular direction – as in a slip – the pack weight wants to keep going that way. It’s a good way to twist a knee or break something and I knew I’d be doing some steep, slippery slopes on my way to the marsh.
I began on an uphill grade and my thighs knew it. Man…they were still tired. The day off wasn’t doing much. Dakota kept looking back wondering what was taking me so long. I struggled up the hill before I really got into my rhythm, but once I did I was fine.
I did almost lose it heading down the steepest part of the descent to the marsh. Fortunately, I caught a tree or it would have been a 400-foot slide/tumble down the remainder of the hill. If I’m going to continue to use the marsh trail with the pack, I should probably switch the salt to my internal frame backpack. I was using the external frame and for those who are unfamiliar with the two types of packs, the external keeps the weight of the pack further from the body, which can be more comfortable in the heat, but is much less stable with the weight shifting side to side more easily and throwing off your balance. Not too smart on slippery, leave covered slopes, but then that seems to be my modus.
I made it to and through the marsh without event, but was disappointed not to see my eagle. I’d seen it flying over the road a couple of days earlier and knew it was back in the vicinity. I had my camera ready, but like so many nature pictures – it’s all about right place at the right time.
The last third of the hike was particularly painful in the hips and ankles. Sixty pounds is a good deal of weight – I only carry about forty-five when actually backpacking, and the smart thing would have been to start with less. Noticing a pattern? Anyway, my condition has gotten to the point that I think I’m ready for anything, but the reality is that switching from an activity that you’re doing all the time to one you haven’t been doing for a while, well, the conditioning doesn’t switch as easily. I’ve got the cardiovascular endurance to do the hiking with the pack…this will apply to kayaking as well…but there are many muscles specific to the packing and kayaking that don’t get touched biking and running – so I MUST be a little more careful. Especially at my tender, old age.
I got back to the car and was very thankful to be able to dump the pack into the trunk. My hips and legs were sore and tired and I was wondering what would happen on tomorrow’s run. I’ll know in twenty-four hours…
Hike duration: 70 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 90-100 bpm.
Calories burned during workout: 650.
Friday, March 26, 2010
“So…we’re going to eat in about 15 minutes, then head to the mall and look at frames for glasses – they have a 50% off sale and Lenscrafters – then I want to go to Michael’s and the movie plays at 10 p.m.,” Holly explained as I walked into the kitchen.
“…and don’t tell me about how you need to exercise and your stupid blog,” she said.
Okay…that last part she said with her eyes, but that was the part I heard the most clearly. I had to get away from her and think. Now…if we got the shopping done fast enough, I could throw the bike on the trainer (it was snowing outside – not that it ever snows inside) and get in a quick 30-minute ride. That was one option. Another was I could go for a walk or ride the trainer after we returned from the movie at, oh, midnight? Not going to happen.
Or I could take that day off my body was craving. Oh man – the guilt I was feeling!
I have been exercising pretty consistently for over forty years, but never in all that time had I gone so many days without a break. And yet…I just didn’t want to stop. I mean I’m not worried that I won’t be at it again tomorrow, but I don’t know, I just felt soooo guilty.
We made to the mall and then over to Michael’s. There was a Giant Eagle in the same parking lot and we needed milk so I suggested I’d go get it while Holly shopped. This was my chance! I’d grab the milk and do laps around the parking lot while I was waiting for her. I could get in some decent walking – nothing too strenuous since I didn’t have a pack or trails, but still – I’d be doing something. So I did.
Obviously something has changed in my thought process and attitude…and I’m okay with it. I really have the feeling that nothing could ever again stand in the way of my commitment to staying fit. I will experience minor setbacks at times. Let’s face it – life gets in the way from time to time. There are actually things more important than working out (I typed it - I didn't say it). It’s okay. Do what you have to and get back to the routine the next day. Truly, the body does need a rest from time to time.
In the meantime…I’m going nuts waiting for the chance to do something. Maybe a double tomorrow??
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Yeah – remember how I said the Plain Dealer had stolen my idea and was looking for people exercising and willing to write a blog they’d share with the world? Remember how I said I’d send them mine and how sure I was they’d be all over it? Well, they wrote to me and said “the quality and quantity of your writing and the nature of the experience you’re living and sharing is quite amazing. How is it that we didn’t find you sooner. Clearly, you should be writing for the paper and allowing the world to share in your many and varied gifts. Oh yes, and you’re good looking too.”
Honest to God – that’s a direct quote. At least I think it is. Anyway, I’d have linked it to my site if I hadn’t accidentally deleted it and then when I tried to recover it from my trash bin, deleted it from there, as well. Hate when that happens…
Okay…actually what they said was…nuthin. It’s not bothering me, though. The pricks.
Another run day. I took another trip to the East Branch Reservoir to check out the water for kayaking and do a run. It was perfect running weather - sunny and in the low 50’s. And what a perfect place to run. Shaded bridle and hiking trails weaving with the contours of the Reservoir and almost always in sight of the water. Geese and other waterfowl are in abundance and noisy. Occasionally, you get to see and eagle or osprey, great blue heron and a nice gathering of buzzards. They’ve added campsites to the park, including a lean-to with a fireplace. My kind of park.
I’m scouting this as a possible location for my birthday workout. I like to do something reasonably difficult on that day and this year I want it to be more special. I am going to be 55 after all, and need something good about which to write. I’m thinking maybe a 5.5 mile kayak followed by a 55-minute run and then a 55-mile bike ride. Challenging, but not too crazy and a good measure of progress - if I can handle it. I’ll need some help, so I’ll go after my totally out-of-shape weenie of a training partner, John. He’ll whine like a little girl, but when I remind him I’m ten years older, he’ll feel compelled to do it. Well – that’s three weeks away. I’ll worry about it later.
I managed a very difficult 66-minute run. Yeah, it’s the longest to date, but I was really dragging. I was still sore from the step-ups two days ago, but that’s no excuse. Just one of those days. I made the occasional stop to look for eagles and to wring the sweat from my head band and that helped me make it through.
Frankly, I just think the biggest problem is still the weight. Unlike the bike, I’m working against gravity when running and gravity loves to keep my fat butt close to the ground…which means I’ll drag until it’s gone. Holly made my absolute favorite – Grandma Paula chocolate chip cookies – to make matters worse. I am powerless where they are concerned – particularly when they’re warm and I’ve got milk. Maybe I should go back out for another run.
I expect these setbacks. I plan for them and don’t let them interfere with the overall goal. I don’t fall off the horse as much as I kinda lean to the side and then pull myself back up in the saddle. I think it’s unrealistic to be absolutely good all the time with regards to eating. Build in some breaks in the program so it’s part of the plan. Then it won’t mess up the plan because…well… it is the plan. Works for me, anyway.
Run duration: 66 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 145 bpm.
Calories burned during workout: 1120.
I thought I had lost some muscles from my inner thighs. I found them this morning.
I stepped out of bed and felt that immediate and painful muscle soreness that comes from using muscles that have been on an extended break. In this case, it was the inner thigh/groin muscles that did such a nice job lifting me and my sixty pound pack up and down for 200 step-ups the day before. They were pissed at me for doing so many and were telling me about it now and for the rest of the day.
Maybe you’re wondering why, after 33 straight days of exercising, I would suddenly have muscle soreness? Although I have been hiking, I haven’t been using the pack and I definitely haven’t been doing step-ups. It doesn’t take much in the way of small changes in the routine to activate different muscles and cause this. Another good reason to do a wide variety of activities – maybe cover every muscle and none will be sore?
I don’t mind this pain. In fact, it feels pretty good. Once I get walking, it goes away pretty much, but it’s a good reminder that I did something different and good. Muscles that get too much work after a long layoff – anything over a couple of weeks, will get this soreness. It’s no big deal, just little tears at the micro level as fibers that were pulled apart are healing themselves for another bout. When they come back together, they’re stronger than they were and ready for something a touch harder. The pain last about 48 hours and then it’s gone. Normal muscle pain, that is.
I decided I’d try a short hike in the woods to loosen the muscles and dissipate the soreness. I did a 30-minute walk and that did the trick for a while. I was planning a ride on the trainer, since the roads were still pretty wet from the mist falling until early afternoon, but during the walk, the sun popped out and the roads began to dry. Perfect.
I got home and dressed for a cool ride, which it was. I only had time for an hour ride, but I was thrilled that it would be outside instead of on the trainer. The soreness was still there, but the muscle use warmed it up and moved it out pretty quickly. Good thing about exercising every day – the exercise tends to mask the muscle soreness so I look forward to doing something, knowing it will feel better than doing nothing.
Hike duration: 30 minutes. Bike duration: 60 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 70 hiking. 125 biking.
Calories burned during workout: 225 hiking. 900 biking.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
It had been raining all day and so a ride outside was not in the cards. I didn’t want to do the trainer, so I had decided it was time to slip on the pack and do step-ups.
I keep a backpack with 60 pounds of stuff in it for training hikes I do in preparation for trips to the Adirondack Mountains. I’m already getting the fever and this would be my inaugural walk of the season. I keep a 50# bag of rock salt in it to make up most of the weight, then add a sleeping bag and the weight of the pack to make it to 60 pounds. The salt is good to carry for practical purposes, as well.
“Hey, buddy, you got rock salt on ya? My car’s stuck on the side of this here bridle trail.”
“Sure do. Fifty pounds. Let’s get that sucker out of here before the Rangers come and ask you what the hell you’re doing driving back here.”
Happens all the time. Anyway, I’ll walk a trail with between 8-10 stops where I’ll step up and down on stumps, rocks, fallen logs or benches between 10-15 inches tall to get more of a cardio workout and to strengthen the thighs for climbing. I should have done about 150 step-ups for my first workout of the year…so I did 200.
The hike with the step-ups took about seventy minutes. My training heart rate ranges quite a bit on this hike, getting as high as 130 bpm on up hills and while doing the step-ups, but only 90 or so while on level ground. I try to make it tougher by going off-trail and wearing heavy boots for the slop from the rain, but it doesn’t generate nearly the heart rate from running. Having said that, it puts a real burn in the thighs and is a great conditioner, working all of the muscles of the lower body. Additionally, having the pack on and walking the trails helps to develop balance, which can be missing when doing all of your walking or running on flat, consistent surfaces like asphalt or concrete and no pack.
Another plus is the calories burned. When looking at the calorie burn charts, by adding sixty pounds to my frame, I am burning an additional 2 calories per minute of walking. That’s 140 more for the hike, which isn’t too shabby for just carrying a pack on a trip I was going to take anyway.
The bottom line is I don’t get the cardio workout I’d like from this, but it’s a good fit for the cross training I need for the many activities I like to do. It helps to relieve the occasional boredom and gives some muscles a break while working others. I’m going to consider it a recovery day so that I’ll kind of get a break from my bread and butter workouts and be more likely to avoid overuse injuries.
A final note: as I was driving out of the park, I couldn’t help but notice a woman walking the all-purpose trail. She was swinging her arms in huge, almost 360 degree circles as she walked what I observed to be a normal pace. I’m guessing this was some kind of power walking, but she looked ridiculous and, I’m sorry, but there is no value to what she was doing. Don’t get me wrong – walking is fantastic and if you’re using your arm motion to help your pace – move a little faster, you will burn more calories and get a higher training heart rate from the speed of your walk – not your flailing arms. I think there is some misconception that the extreme arm swing is somehow building muscle and tone in the arms and shoulders. It isn’t. To increase the muscle tone and strength, the muscles must be doing work, which is defined as force times distance. In other words, you need to be lifting something heavier than your hand and working against gravity.
Hike duration: 62 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 90-130 bpm.
Calories burned during workout: 700.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I knew I wouldn’t be setting any land speed records today…or ever again for that matter, so I just headed into the woods for what I like to call an ‘Indian run’. I’ve read how the native Americans – which tribes I don’t know – would run down a deer. They’d do it by understanding the pattern in which the deer tended to run and then running cutoff routes to shorten the distance they would be covering in the pursuit. Though this would take a serious amount of time and massive aerobic endurance, they were motivated by the need for food. When I run through the woods I imagine myself following deer – their trails are rather distinctive – and wonder what it would be like trying to catch them for food. I’m guessing I’d starve.
Anyway, I found myself hopping fallen trees, ducking under branches, searching for roots and rocks that might trip me up and generally having a great time on a beautiful day. The sun was out and streaming through the trees. Blue skies overhead and the crunch of old leaves beneath my feet. I followed deer paths down to the marsh where I saw three red-tailed hawks soaring overhead. There was an incessant chatter of many species of birds as I jumped the creek feeding the marsh. I stopped and stared.
This spot reminds me over and over why I return to the Adirondack Mountains so often. It is a beautiful, secluded site with the majority of the sounds coming from nature. The only thing disturbing the tranquility is the distant sound of rubber on asphalt - a road about a mile away. In the Adirondacks, I can escape human sound completely – and the silence can be deafening. It is to die for and so I’m starting to think and plan my next trip. Conditioning to climb peaks will begin soon. I have found no better conditioner than a week in the back country eating only what I can carry in and hiking and climbing 10-12 hours a day. I’m so psyched about going this summer because I know I am going to be in killer shape.
This is also one of the great things about trail running for me. I don’t have specific times to match since I tend to take different routes each time. It’s totally non-competitive, relaxing and doesn’t overtax my already fatigued body. It’s the way to run when you just want the value of the workout and the beauty of your surroundings. If I see something I want to enjoy, well, I stop and enjoy it. What the hell…it’s a run for fun and nothing else.
I took the hill out of the marsh and remembered again why I needed the easy day. My thighs were screaming and it wasn’t ‘run faster’. I weaved my way onto a hiking trail for the next twenty minutes before again finding myself once again off-trail and following nothing in particular. When I finally reached the road and started towards my car, my pace quickened and the pure enjoyment receded. I had managed to put in the easiest 62 minutes of running I'd ever done. It’s never boring. Every step has to be monitored to avoid tripping and knocking a tooth or two out (been there – done that), which takes your mind off the effort. I’d forgotten how good it could be since I’ve been unable to run such distances in so long. Two days of cycling and I’ll be back for more.
Run duration: 62 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 140 bpm.
Calories burned during workout: 1050.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I knew I was in trouble last night after the hike. I was really sore and tired. I was really feeling the fatigue in my quads as I ascended the stairs in the house. All signs that it’s time for a break…and I really, really was planning on taking one.
Anyway, Holly, Dakota and I headed for the park shortly after breakfast. The forecast was for rain in the afternoon and so I would have the perfect excuse not to ride. Besides, it was damned cold as compared to what it had been over the last week. We hiked for a little over an hour and, again, I was huffing up the hills. Dakota, on the other hand, was not.
Dakota had paid a visit to the Doc’s about two weeks before I began my own reclamation process. My family had been trying to convince me that she’d been gaining weight, but I just didn’t see it. I put her on the scale at the vet’s and she registered 54 pounds. When we went in to see him I asked about the weight thing.
“Yeah…she’s fat,” he said.
“Fat? How could she be fat? She hikes with me and I feed her just like I eat…you know…only what she needs,” I said indignantly.
“Okay, well, you’re fat too so why are you so surprised?”
Okay – so maybe he didn’t actually say this, but his eyes said it for sure. Anyway, he told me to feed her only a cup and a half of food per day. I’d been closer to two cups. And, I figured, if Dakota had to watch what she was eating and do more exercise, well, so did I. The rest is history.
I told Holly at the conclusion of the walk that we should run up to the vet’s office – it was only ten minutes away – and weigh Dakota. Reluctantly, she agreed. When we arrived as they were locking up, but they’re pretty crazy about me and so allowed us in for the weigh-in. I warned Dakota that if she hadn’t lost, her future feedings were looking grim. She’s been attacking her food since the diet began and looked concerned. She hopped nervously on the scale.
“Okay. She’s 49 pounds,” the attendant said.
Dakota did a back flip off the scale. I reached down and offered my hand for a ‘high five’ which she acknowledged with a paw.
How much easier weight loss would be if my only access to food was determined by someone who wanted me to lose some chubby pounds. We’re headed in the right direction together. She is a damned good training partner. I wish she would learn to ride.
Later that afternoon, the guilt began to overtake me. Today would be 30 in a row…not that I bother with streaks, which would be stupid…and it was getting colder by the minute. I told this to daughter Heidi who stated quite indignantly “it’s not that cold, pappa,”. She rides her bike everywhere and knows how cold it can get on a day with temperatures in the high 30’s. I acquiesced and dressed for the weather.
It was cold. I mean a couple of weeks ago, it would have felt like a heat wave, but my body has been adjusting to 60 degrees. It was easily 20 degrees cooler and there was a nice wind blowing. I sucked it up and planned on a one-hour ride. Naturally, I went beyond that, but paid the price over the last 20 minutes as I began to lose feeling in my hands and feet. I rolled into the garage after an hour and twenty minutes pretty well frozen…and very tired. Tomorrow’s run should be interesting…
Oh yeah. Second straight week of 10,000 plus calories burned during workouts!
Bike duration: 80 minutes. Hike duration: 70 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 125 biking. 70 hiking.
Calories burned during workout: 1,200 biking. 500 hiking.
Dakota, Holly and I were huffing up a particularly steep hill in the Metroparks. Well…for sure I was. I had ridden two hours already for the day and I was really starting to feel the accumulation of workouts over the past month. As I’ve said, the body will send warning signals that it’s time to rest…but I don’t have time to listen.
“I was writing for the blog yesterday, and…” I started.
“You say ‘blog’ and all I hear after that is ‘blah, blah, blah’,” Holly said.
“What? Wait…they’re really, really interesting. I wrote about your green dinner yesterday. Didn’t you read it?”
“Blah, blah, blah…blog must stand for ‘boring log’,” she concluded.
Yeah. Real funny. I’m laughing now. Anyway, I told her about resting heart rate and how you can use it to predict if you need a break, which mine is. She yawned and I changed the subject.
I’d gone on a ride earlier. It was another unseasonably warm March day and plenty of sunshine. There are a couple of very important rules to riding which should never be ignored. The first is: have a spare tube and a pump on your bike when riding places from which it would be difficult to return if you had to walk in cycling shoes. The second is: if you ignore the first, you WILL get a flat. I ignored the first and fell victim to the second.
Fortunately, I had my cell phone and managed to get my brother Jim to swing by, pick me up and deposit me at my car. If ever there was a brother alter ego, Jim is it for me. Smoking and drinking are his primary forms of exercise and he’s Olympian in both. I walked about 30 minutes in my cycling shoes, incurring a blister, before I figured it was time to just sit and wait for him to come. I hate to wait. He arrived shortly after.
“Bro…did you know they make those things with motors on them for people our age?” he asked while helping load my bike into his trunk.
“Jim – wouldn’t you love to be able to ride your bike on a beautiful day like this and not be ready to puke from the effort?”
“What I’d love is to not have to rescue your sorry ass from these rides when I could be in my easy chair and sucking down a brew,” he said.
No winning this one. I got back to the car, took the bike home, fixed the tire – it was the rear – put it back in the car and drove back to the Metropark to finish the ride. I sometimes like to start from the park to avoid the traffic around my house. Anyway, I get there, hop out and open the back door to pull out the bike when I notice I don’t have the front tire with me. A big ‘holy shit’ later and I’m in the car and heading home from where I would finish the ride. Some days are destined to be fubar’s (f..ed up beyond all recognition) and this was mine.
Bike duration: Two hours. Hike duration: One hour and twenty minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 125 biking. 70 hiking.
Calories burned during workout: 1,800 biking. 600 hiking.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Do you ever eat food without really thinking about it? Is there any other way?
Holly had just taken one of those delightful looking frozen pizzas out of the oven. I mean – they look awesome on the box and smell pretty damned good, too. Typically, it ends there, though. The pizza was for Jack – we were eating something healthier…noodles, spinach, mushrooms…all fried up in olive oil.
“Are you going to eat that whole pizza, Jack?” Holly asked.
I think I heard his response and it sounded like “nope” to me. I reached for a piece, put it to my mouth and…
“Wow. Did you eat the ends of your fingers off or notice how it tasted?” Holly said.
I looked down to check. They were still there, but I couldn’t find the pizza I’d picked up. I looked down at the floor. Nope, Hadn’t dropped it. I noticed a funny aftertaste though, and it wasn’t spinach.
“I…um…no…still got my fingers. It tasted like…um…pizza, I think,” I replied.
“Yeah? What were the toppings.”
I was totally busted. I’d eaten something whose taste was unremarkable and which I hadn’t give a thought to or liked. And I was looking at the last two pieces thinking maybe I’d have another.
This is the behavior I need to curb. I eat things because they are there – not because I’m actually hungry. Habit, I suppose. And fast? Yeah…that’s me. I’ve finished everything in site long before I know if I’m hungry anymore. I grew up with five other siblings vying for the same possible seconds. No one ever beat me to them.
Although I believe the lack of activity to be the biggest culprit in gaining weight, I do know that eating plays a role. I am a proponent of keeping temporary food logs for the simple fact that it causes me to pause and think about what and why I’m eating. I may eat it anyway, but at least it’s a conscious act. I have a couple of links – fitday and calorieking – where you can check the caloric content of the foods you eat or log your intake to see how many you consume. I’ve done this for a week at a time and it’s an eye-opener. I try hard to eat normally while I’m doing it or to at least list the things I would have eaten if I wasn’t monitoring so I could know the damage I needed to control. My biggest problem? Eating from boredom. First, though, you need to be aware you’re doing it.
Well…at least I stopped at that one, tasty piece. The workout? It was a run day and I had no intentions of going for an hour again. I logged 41 minutes on a warm, sunny spring-like day. The trails are practically dry and firming up. I felt pretty sluggish and I’m starting to see a pattern. If I’ve ridden outside before my runs, I’m more exhausted on the runs. I can only assume that the outdoor ride is tougher on the legs, which makes sense. I will adapt, though. At least I used to when I was younger.
I returned after dinner with Dakota and we did our off-trail marsh hike as the sun was setting. We walked through the dark with a sliver of a moon trying to light our way. We’re both pretty good in the dark in the woods. Probably because she’s a canine and I’ve walked it a couple of hundred times. Owls were calling to each other, but it was eerily quiet otherwise. We covered our trail in 45 minutes.
Oh…I did not eat anymore of the tasteless pizza. I did wrap it for Jack, though. He actually thinks it tastes good. Tomorrow…yoga with Eric. Trying something new.
Run duration: 41 minutes. Hike Duration: 45 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 135 running. 70 hiking.
Calories burned during workout: 700 running. 335 hiking.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day and yes, like most of the country, I’m part Irish…except I actually am. Growing up, we knew we were German since my dad's parents' had been born in Germany, still spoke it all the time, and had only been in this country since the 20’s. Yeah, we were definitely German.
My mom, on the other hand, had some Irish in her and we looked it. Freckles all over when we were younger and then on St. Patrick’s Day, it was green dinners, just to make sure we remembered that heritage. Milk – green, mashed potatoes – green, jello – green, peas – well, what else could they be? And then a green cake shaped in the image of Ireland. The first time Holly came to the house for a St. Pat’s dinner, she nearly puked at the site. Welcome to the Irish Rolf’s home.
As much as she hated the green stuff, Holly has kept the tradition of the green dinner alive for me. Now that’s love. Or foolishness. Anyway, I enjoy it and knew it was coming. Something was stewing in the crock pot and it was loaded with fat…and green tapioca pudding for dessert. Yeah…I knew I’d pile on some serious calories later in the evening so that had to mean a longer ride…plus something.
The weather was decent. High 40’s and sunny. I headed out thinking I’d ride as many minutes as I could. Available time was a little less than two hours so that’s what the ride would be. I had blown my wad on the ride yesterday and wasn’t expecting to feel phenomenal today. I wasn’t disappointed. My legs were screaming ‘break time’ as I made my turn at the halfway point – never a good indicator, and today there was an actual, factual and totally serious head wind for the ride home. I’d guess around 15-20 mph and it was making me feel every revolution of the pedals. I determined I would push through it, though and kept the heart rate high. “Green, fat food…green fat food,” was my mantra as I rode. When you’re gonna do the crime, you gotta do the time. And that’ the name of that tune.
I ended up riding an hour and forty minutes. When I walked in the house to check on dinner’s progress, Holly informed me I had time to take the dog for a hike. Another way of saying “get your ass out of here – I’m busy,” or whatever. I grabbed Dakota and headed for the park. We made our usual off-trail tour, but without the snow, it was much quicker – taking only fifty minutes. But now the combination with put me in the vicinity of 2,000 calories burned…a total I would have no problem ingesting in green food.
Bike duration: One hour and forty minutes. Hike duration: 50 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 125 biking. 70 hiking.
Calories burned during workout: 1,500 biking. 375 hiking.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I climbed on the bike thinking this would be a pleasant ride. It was sunny and there was no breeze, but I quickly discovered it was about 45 degrees. I returned to the house and donned my long-sleeved t-shirt. Good decision.
I only had an hour. I was scheduled to see the “Twilight” movie with Holly – that series about vampires – and the chicks that dig them and I don't want to be the reason if we're late. That's always been Holly's job. I’d seen the first one, though I haven’t read the books. It was okay, but I go more for realism – stuff like “Rocky”. Anyway, I had to hurry.
In the past, I have found that I get into halfway decent cycling shape after two to three weeks of consistent riding. I had been feeling better on all workouts, particularly the running. I tend to notice my conditioning on rides with rolling hills, which is what I was on today. I hit the first series and did the first longer, gradual ascent with ease. By the time I’d completed the set and was flying down a steep hill, I knew I’d made it.
It’s a great feeling – being on a bike with your legs pumping like pistons that feel like they will never tire. There’s something special in powering a vehicle, be it only twenty-five pounds, faster than anything else around that doesn’t have an engine attached. I love flying down country roads, wind whipping past my folically challenged head, dogs giving chase and an occasional car passing, but driving well over the posted speed limit because they figure they should be going faster than a mere bike!
For me, biking is the aerobic activity of choice for the sheer volume of calories I can burn. I’ll do rides between 3-4 hours on the weekends and at 900 calories per hour, I can afford to come home to a thick milkshake and cheeseburger without worrying about gaining weight.
I love it as a form of transportation, as well. I have used it in the past to get to and from work, which has been 40-60 miles a day in some situations. In my triathloning days, that could mean getting in 200 plus miles a week without having to plan a workout time. What I really need to do now is get a bike for the neighborhood – something I could throw a nerdy basket on and use for shopping and such. Maybe even one of those cool bells...
I will admit to not being traffic-law sensitive. Stop signs mean ‘look around and pedal like hell if nothing’s coming’. Red lights are about the same, though I’m a little more sensitive at those since drivers tend to get pissed off that I’ve broken the law. Like they’ve never gone over the speed limit…
When cycling, I hug the shoulder, wear a helmet, and never ride two abreast, which is obnoxious and just pisses off vehicles and there’s no future in that. They have tonnage on their side and even a brush could be the end of my riding days. Admittedly, there are knuckleheads on the road just looking for trouble. I’ve been spit on, had beer bottles tossed at me, been cut off, horns blown when they’re right at my side just to see the effect they’ll get, and even had someone lean out the window to slap me. These are certainly the exception and in many instances, when I caught the vehicle at the next light…well…let’s just say I think they’re rethinking their policy of harassing random bike riders.
Bottom line…I feel safer on a bike with the occasional idiot than I do behind the wheel with my fellow drivers – too many of whom are suffering with varying degrees of road rage. I’ve been doing it my entire life and figure as long as I can balance it well enough to keep it rolling, I’ll keep riding.
Oh yeah - the movie. Total chick flick which tended to drag. I mean I was like "just bite her already and get it over with..."
Bike duration: Seventy minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 125 bpm.
Calories burned during workout: 1,050.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Holly just came in my office to talk about my blog. She loves to. About as much as she loved labor pains…
Anyway, I told her how I’d been in the parking lot at Microcenter during my walk yesterday and wondering how many of the 1,000 plus cars up there were within a mile of the place. It could have been an easy walk for them and they’d have had all the activity they’d need for the day.
“John – no one’s got the time to do that. Unlike you, they have to make dinners, do laundry, clean the house, run a business and now you want us all to read your *&%$ blog…”
“Umm…” I ummed as I searched for a rebuttal. And then I thought of one.
“I’ve been hearing that argument from fat people…like me…for too long. Either you get up off your ass and do something or you keep complaining that you don’t have time and stay fat.”
It’s the harsh reality – and don’t shoot the messenger. You can’t diet your way into shape. You MUST do something and it’s going to take some time. Every day. So face it, plan it, and then…do it. She told me that walking up to Office Max to buy something would leave her sweaty and not feeling like shopping. She’d rather walk in the neighborhood, clean up and then drive to Office Max. I’ve got no problem with that, but the difference is…she did make the time to do something and when she does it every day, she knows it makes a difference.
Enough of stuff for other people since we know it’s really all about me. It was a run day again – they have a funny way of popping up every third day. Still a light mist falling and temperatures in the low 40’s. This can go on for a week or two in Cleveland with no problem. So…time to run and the trails, though covered in mud that will suck off you shoe…were inviting. I didn’t know how I would feel, since the last run was such a disaster and I’d done no resting since then, though I had done my rides inside, which were easier.
I started with a long climb, which when your tired already, is just plain stupid. I’m a guy…that’s my excuse. Anyway, I was ready to park my cookies on the side of the trail by the time I reached the top, but shortly thereafter actually started feeling pretty good. By twenty minutes, I knew it was going to be a decent day. I’d increased my pace and was feeling comfortable. I knew the time to beat – 51 minutes.
Now…runners have certain milestones in their careers…and they do vary. Distance people tend to remember how long they ran. I can remember the first time I went over ten miles in a run. Then there was twenty (in Converse tennis shoes. I literally could not walk for two days after that fiasco). When I got into road racing, it became more about the personal records for a particular distance (pr’s) and most runners had them for training courses, as well.
Then, on a run in Chicago with my oldest son, Jason, in 2001, I pulled a muscle in my left calf and, from which, I have never recovered. Oh sure, I’d get running again, try to build up the mileage and always…always, it would pop again. Usually when I got between 30-40 minutes. I finally gave up on running – deciding that I could live without it and still stay in shape. Well, if you’ve been following this blog, you know I’ve made a bit of a comeback.
But today, as I finished the loop and found myself at 49 minutes when I reached the car, I decided to hit another 4-5 minutes. Well, I suppose you can imagine what happened next.
“I’m at 55 minutes – five more and I’ve got an hour,” the voice whispered…no…shouted in my empty head.
An hour is a milestone and there’s no sense in denying it. I’d been doing a physical inventory on the calf since the 40-minute mark. It felt good and so did I. I passed the car for the second time and added the necessary five minutes. I must admit I never expected this to happen so quickly. I’m only in my fourth week of solid training after being seriously out of shape and already I’ve run an hour non-stop. I know I’m nothing special…I’ve got Holly and others to attest to that…but I did it.
Well…there’s still a ton to do. The next step will be to put runs closer together and see what I really can do. For now…I’ll just savor it.
Run duration: One hour!!!
Training Heart Rate: 135 bpm.
Calories burned during workout: 1,020.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Okay…so I’m in church Sunday morning. Someone’s reading a lesson and I’m doing what you’re supposed to be doing at that time…yeah…I’m checking my resting heart rate (RHR).
RHR is a definite measure of cardiovascular fitness. Aerobic exercise is weight lifting for the heart and builds that muscle the same way bicep curls have me bulging from my t-shirt (okay…maybe not, but nice image of me). My RHR was running around 56 beats per minute when I began this little program. That’s high for me, but certainly consistent with everything about the way I had let myself go. First, I checked it during the gospel (we stand for that) and it was 54 bpm. Then we got to sit down for awhile and I checked it about five more times and it was consistently coming in at 48 bpm.
You’re saying…so what’s the big deal?
Some people ascribe to the theory that the ticker has just so many beats and when they’re used up, you’re done. I’m not one of those people, but if I was…well…here’s the math for my 8 bpm reduction in my resting heart rate:
Resting heart rate reduction of 8 beats per minute calculates to 4,029,600 fewer beats per year using only 23 hours in a day – saving one for exercise.
Subtract the exercising at a higher heart rate (130 beats verses 48 beats at rest) for one hour a day – a difference of 82 bpm, which translates to 1,795,800 a year.
Savings: 2,233,800 heart beats per year is the savings.
I’ve known people to bring their resting heart rate down by as much as twenty beats – so their savings will be…oh…over 5 million a year! If you’re trying to get yours accurately, take it first thing in the morning – before getting out of bed. Take it a full minute and check it three mornings in a row and take the average. Mine runs higher some mornings and this is an indicator that the body may still be recovering from a particularly hard workout or maybe being over-trained and in need of a rest. If I think it’s going to be higher…I don’t check it. Ignorance is bliss and I am one happy man. Anyway, it's another method to confirm that you're training program is working.
Anyway…on to the workout. For starters, my mind is constantly thinking of ways to burn extra calories these days. I needed a cleaner for the DVD player, which means a trip to Microcenter. I figured I’d walk. It was drizzling and around 38 degrees – conditions, as you know, I avoid like kidney stones. But what the hell…
I walked the 5-mile round trip in an hour and fifteen minutes and burned up a bonus 570 calories! How many times do I pass up the opportunity to do these kind of things? Way too often in the past. I’m thinking I’ll start walking to the grocery store to grab a fresh, low calorie dinner every now and again. It’s a couple of miles away as well, but more on that some other day...
I got back home and hopped on the trainer. I’ll walk in that shit, but not ride. The Cavs were on one channel and beating the Celtics while Ohio State was putting some wup… on Minnesota to win the Big Ten Basketball Championship on another, so I had plenty to keep me company for the one-hour ride. Day light savings time is here and so getting in longer evening rides is in my future. Supposed to be better weather tomorrow.
Bike duration: 60 minutes. Hike duration: 76 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 125 bpm for bike. 75 bpm for hike.
Calories burned during workout: 900 for bike. 570 for hike.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The day started in the usual manner. I’m eating breakfast regularly again – something I was avoiding when I was gaining weight – and was reading the Cleveland Plain Dealer with my cereal when I noticed two stories of interest. One was about a sports writer for the paper, Dennis Manoloff. It was alerting readers to the fact that Dennis had stolen my idea – blogging about getting into shape – and where you could read about him. I went to the site to discover that he’s young, only 42, and that he’s working with a trainer at the newest fitness facility in town. I read the first couple of days of his program and I know as long as he sticks with the trainer and the program, he’ll achieve his fitness goal, which has something to do with aerobic bowling. I don’t know.
The other story was really just a note inviting people who are losing weight to write blogs that they would feature in their upcoming articles “fighting fat”. I wrote to them about my blog. Now…I’m wondering if they’ll want the likes of me in there…after they STOLE MY IDEA AGAIN!!!
It’s okay. I’m okay. The more people that are doing something about their health and fitness, the happier I should be, as a professional and all. Right?
You’d think so – but…nah…I just care about me.
Anyway, so, he has a trainer. I don’t have a trainer. I mean I am a trainer but I think there’s a saying that goes “anyone training himself has a fool for a client”…or something like that. I will tell you this for sure, though. A serious training partner with a similar or the same goal is more help than any personal trainer can ever be. Don’t get me wrong – paying someone to take you through a workout can be a beautiful thing. They’re definitely motivating and motivated, but get the right training partner and you’re in.
For years, it’s been me and John. He's the guy in my profile picture with hair. We’ve known each other since my days as the Athletic Director for the Cleveland Athletic Club where I’d create all kinds of strange competitions to keep people focused on working out, but having fun doing it. He liked strange and was always around. We really became close when we planned our first backpacking and climbing trip to the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. At least twice a week, we’d schedule long bike rides or hikes to be sure that we would be in shape when the time for the trip came. He enjoyed my company and I tolerated him. We pushed each other, laughed and made it fun and if one didn’t feel like working out, the other nagged until it happened. There’s something about knowing someone is waiting for you to keep you from blowing off a workout. There’s also something about an event deadline for which you MUST be ready that has a similar effect. Put them together and you’ll stay in shape. By the way, you’ll learn more about John in my upcoming book “P46’s: The Privies of the Adirondacks”. It’s a charming little story about the 46 best privies in the Adirondack Mountains and the people who have shit in all of them.
So…anyway…my workout for the day.
You gotta’ love Cleveland weather. Seventy and sunny on Friday and today, it topped out around 45 degrees with a cold mist falling all day. Tough, dedicated guys get on their bikes and ride anyway. Neither word would describe me today. I hate riding in cold, wet weather. Frankly, it’s a little treacherous. Brakes don’t function quite as well and guys with tires that match their heads (bald) don’t get the traction necessary for safe riding. Besides, I’ve got a trainer and can ride inside again. Crap.
I slipped in the movie “Flag of Our Fathers” – the story of the men who raised the flag in the famous photo on the island of Iwo Jima in 1944. It’s a great story and it kept me going for seventy minutes. I was actually pushing past the hour mark so I could burn up the necessary calories to take me over 1,000 for the day. I set my original weekly goal for calories burned at 3,500 or the approximate amount in one pound of fat, but I’ve easily exceeded that over the first three weeks. In fact, I burned 10,675 this past week – a number that will be hard to match until I can get outside on the bike all the time for longer rides. All in all…a great workout week.
Bike duration: Seventy minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 125 bpm.
Calories burned during workout: 1,050.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Streaks are for people looking to injure themselves.
Streaks are for stupid people who don’t pay attention to the sage advice of the fitness experts who tell us to let the body rest.
Streaks are for freaks.
So…I’m at 22 straight days and wondering how many more I can do. It was not a good day although I must admit that I’m not nearly as sore as I have been in the past when working hard. As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed that recovery time (being sore as hell) is usually longer and that I’m less bendy (stiff when I’ve been sitting for awhile).
But I’m not feeling these things as much right now. I’m hardly whining to Holly, though she may have a different view. I want to keep it going, this feeling, and I will be careful. Tonight, I had that impulse I used to get when training for triathlons, that I’d like to go out and do some more exercise just because I could. Having said all that...
It was a run day and as I was heading for the park for some of the same old, same old, Jack called me and said that I wouldn’t have to pick him up from track since he had stayed home sick. Suddenly, I had more time and make a quick decision to go to another running location.
I get bored easily running the same locations, which is part of why I started going off-trail. Today, though, I decided to head to the East Branch Reservoir. It's about 20 miles east of me and is the head waters for the Cuyahoga River. I go there often, but normally with a kayak strapped to the top of my vehicle. I have found that it is a great place to run, as well, with a trail running along the water and creating an out-and-back of about six miles. I figured most of the snow would be melted from the trails and I could check out the water height and maybe return over the weekend for some kayaking.
I figured really wrong.
The Reservoir was still completely covered in ice and the trail was a muddy, icy, sludge. Not good for running, to say the least. I needed to run, though and so headed for the road.
Problem was it wasn’t a run. It didn’t even begin to resemble running. If a hundred people had been standing by the side of the road and been asked "did you see a runner go by?" they all would have answered "um...no". I mean…could…I …run any slower???
That would be a “NO!” I felt like a pile of poop and moved about as quickly. It truly was time for a rest, but there’s ‘the streak’ to consider, so I continued. I told myself to get in 40 minutes and call it a day and that is just what I did. As I waddled the last few steps to the car, I wondered what I was doing. Truly, I knew better and if I was running every day, I would give it a break. But I’m not and I’m betting that, although my legs will continue to suffer on the bike tomorrow, I will keep it up. To a certain degree, the body will adapt to what it is asked to do. Self-preservation is built in. It’s what I’m banking on for now.
Run duration: 41:00.
Training Heart Rate: 145 bpm for run.
Calories burned during workout: 700.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I’ve read or heard somewhere that it takes 21 days to make something a habit. I don’t know about that, but it has been 21 days since I began this little crusade. That’s 21 straight days of regular aerobic exercise. That’s a new record for me, too. Even in my Iron Man training days, I would take the occasional day off to recover and rest. Who says you get wiser as you get older? I know from experience that guys don’t.
Today was more like a late Spring day with temperatures in the mid-60’s and plenty of sun. I thought I would celebrate exercise becoming a habit by taking a longer ride. My plan was to go around 3 hours and maybe 45 miles or so.
There was a decent wind blowing and, of course, it was in my face. My experience with wind is that no matter what direction you travel – even on an out and back, the wind is always in your face. Maybe because I start out into it and it wears me down so that it feels like it’s still blowing in my face for the return trip. I don’t know.
I headed into the valley again and came up Old Mill in 6 minutes. That was a decent effort, but I would probably pay the price for my aggression later in the ride.
Note: If you’re going on the longest ride you been on in over six months, don’t push up the biggest hill on the ride, especially if it’s in the first 20 minutes. That’s just plain stupid. Yet, my friend, camping and training partner, John, would say “what would Lance do?” Well – Lance wouldn’t gain all the weight I’ve gained and he’d kick ass on the little hill I was sweating up and be wondering where his chain was (another note: when you’re really feeling great and riding like a beast – you ask your training partner to look down and see if you have a chain on the bike since it feels sooooo easy).
Anyway, I’m up that hill, but starting to slow. I rode this same course the day before and I know how far I had gotten in the first hour. As I approached that point and checked my watch, I wasn’t surprised to find that I was about five minutes off the pace. Now…this was kinda on purpose. I mean I knew there was a strong head wind (probably 5 mph – yeah, I’m a wuss) and I was going longer so I was saving something for the return trip. I did not want to experience a ‘bonk’ (cyclist term for low glucose/blood sugar levels – the fuel of the aerobic muscle) and the subsequent major slowing that would occur. I’ve had them before and they’re ugly. The muscles store enough glycogen (sugar) to keep going for 1.5 to 2 hours. Training and a diet high in carbohydrates can push that out further, but I wasn’t really there yet.
So…I hit the turnaround and took it up a notch. Bonk, my ass. It had taken 1:25 to get there and I wanted the return to be faster than 1:20. A five-minute negative split on my 21st straight day would be an accomplishment in my book. And…the wind was at my back – where it belonged! I was cruising back and feeling good. I’d hit the occasional snow melt with the accompanying spray covering my legs, but that chilly water felt refreshing. I had no problems with energy on the return, making it in 1:15 – a 10-minute negative split!
Now, though, was the moment of truth. As much as I hate the scale, it beaconed. I wanted to know if I was down after 21 straight days, but I didn’t want bad news when I was feeling this good. Throughout the last three weeks, I’ve watched what I’ve eaten, but I’ve been less than a saint about it. I still maintain that ‘Iron Man’ mentality, which for me said “you’re training so much you can eat anything you want”. It’s what had put me at 206 pounds when I began this odyssey. Oh – to hell with it. I climbed on.
Hot damn. Down another two and nine pounds in three weeks. To celebrate, I went out for a walk with Holly and Dakota. Okay...it would have been a bowl of ice cream...but I'd already finished the container.
Bike duration: 2:40:00. Walk duration: 25 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 135 bpm for bike. 70 bpm for the walk.
Calories burned during workout: 2,400 for the bike. 125 for the walk.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I picked Jack up from school after track practice. He looked exhausted and complained about how difficult the workout had been and how happy he was that I was there to pick him up – he could never had made it all the way home walking, which is a little over a mile. I was thinking this all had something to do with his off-season conditioning program, which was pretty much exclusively sitting on the couch and playing Xbox 360. “What was the workout?” I asked.
“We had to run 35 minutes and then did some core work.”
I thought, but didn’t say “are you kiddin’ me?” I suppose he hasn’t been reading my blog, but hey, that’s little more than a warm-up…
Now…when I was in high school and running track, I used to run to school in the morning, about four miles, and have my brother bring my change of clothes. I did this because I had a job after school and couldn’t always make practice. I rode my bike to work - about 15 miles - all summer, just because I like to work out. I wasn’t too sympathetic about him having to walk sometimes or how hard he was working. He’s skinny at least and should get into shape in a couple of weeks and I’m not too worried about him. I drove him home, carried him inside, propped him up in front of the Xbox and taped his fingers to the controller. He’d be good for awhile.
Now my workout began. It was another reasonably sunny day. Rain had been threatening for most of the afternoon, but I figured I should be able to get in a pretty dry ride with a little luck. I was wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt and riding gloves, but made no other concession to the weather – about 50 degrees.
I was taking on a lot of snow melt in the roads, which I detest for what it does to my bike, but other than that, I was flying along. I headed into the valley and up the east side of Old Mill Road. It’s not as steep as ‘the Lung’ but it’s longer. I was up in 8 minutes – not a bad time. I was coming towards the end of the ride, close to two hours, when the rains first started to fall. No big deal though, and I was happy to have logged another 34 miles.
I walked back in the house and called to Jack. I wanted to brag on my workout, but he wasn’t answering. I saw the TV was on and the Xbox loaded, but nothing was happening. He had slumped over and rolled onto the floor, controller still taped to his hands and ready to play, should he ever come to. I don’t think the old man should be in better shape than his 16-year old son. I’ve fomenting an idea to bring more attention to the obesity epidemic being reported in the papers and present in alarmingly high numbers among the youth of our country. It will be an event - some version of a triathlon, which I’ll be doing and others can join. It’ll be a little crazy. More later…
Bike duration: 2 hours.
Training Heart Rate: 135 bpm for bike.
Calories burned during workout: 1,800.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
It was a run day and I knew that the snow melting on the trails would make it a sloppy nightmare so I resigned myself to the roads again and chose the same course I’d done for my last run.
I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself and figured running the same course faster would be no problem and then I could write about that and be proud and stuff. That’s what I was thinking while lacing up the running shoes and getting ready for the run. It was a warm winter day – somewhere around 50 degrees and so, what the hell, I should be faster.
I kept thinking that way as I began the run. I’d parked about twenty feet from the road and by the time I’d reached it, that thought was fading. I should have been running on hard pavement, but the way my legs were moving, it could only be sand. I looked down to check. Nope. Pavement. What the hell?
As the reality of ‘tired legs’ set in and I’d covered my first mile, I started to do a little rational thinking. I typically avoid this because it can keep me from doing things I’ve decided to do, but the fact was that I’d ridden hard the last two days and that on top of my longest run in nine years should have alerted me that running faster probably wasn't a good plan.
I had been running about 20 minutes when I began to think about a place to stop for a breather. The bridge over the river? With all the snow melt, the Chagrin River was running high and fast and was worth a study, I told myself. I wouldn’t be stopping because I was a lazy slug – no – it would be more like studying nature, serenity…that kind of shit. When I hit the bridge, I slowed, which was hard to do at the pace I was moving, but then sped up again (only I would have noticed) and decided to stop on the way back.
When I hit the turnaround, I glanced at my watch. I’d gotten here in 25:30 three days ago and was expecting to see 27 minutes or more. I was amazed then when I saw 24:30 instead! All of the sudden I figured I could turn total misery into success if I could only hold what seemed like a survivor’s shuffle (something that vaguely resembles running and often done towards the end of a long road run or race. It’s not really running, but you feel like you have to do it to say you ran the whole thing or whatever) for the return trip. No thoughts of stopping on the bridge now as I crossed that swollen river. No way. I was heading for a p.r. (personal record – it’s the fastest you ever ran/shuffled a particular distance)!
Now I was glancing at my watch even though I had no clue how the times I was observing related to how I’d run the same course earlier. I was sure I would be able to make it faster when I began to feel that old familiar cramp coming on in my calf. Now, I know from experience that this means slow down or walk, but how could I? Less than an mile from the car and I hadn’t stopped doing any exercise in going on three weeks. No. No way. Forget about good sense…I’ve always thought that was overrated!
As I made the last turn for the short run to the parking lot and the car, I glanced again at my watch. It was under 49 minutes. When I finally pushed the ‘stop’ button, the time registered ’49:45’ which meant that I’d shaved 1:15 off the course from three days earlier. Not that it was any big deal – I was still as slow as hell, but I did run faster when I was feeling tired and sluggish.
There is a moral here and it’s about checking progress. Once again, there are much better ways than using a scale, which tells you nothing about fitness or body composition. I’m obviously getting more fit. I may not be happy with the rate or the times I’m running as compared to years ago, but I am making progress since I began and that is important to note. You don’t have to do it by covering a course faster, though that is a good indicator - you can measure progress by checking your training heart rate (THR) over the same distance if, let’s say, you’re walking. Where your THR might have gotten to 100 beats per minute when you began training, if it drops to 90 for the same walking time, you’re in better shape. Pretty simple, but it can be an important motivator. Just knowing it’s working can make a huge difference in your continued commitment to the program.
Oh yeah, I walked another 20 minutes later in the evening with Holly and Dakota. It was no big deal, but I burned another 100 calories, which was really like 600 since I didn’t stay home and eat more ice cream - the only alternative to a walk.
Run duration: 49:45. Walk duration: 20 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 145 bpm for run. 70 bpm for walk.
Calories burned during workout: 875 for run. 100 for walk.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Working out fulfills different purposes for me, depending on the day. Yesterday, I received some extremely disappointing professional news and went into an immediate funk. It was one of those blows to the solar plexus that buckles you over and causes you to take about five minutes to catch your breath. I was still trying to catch mine two hours later when I climbed on the bike for a ride.
I immediately attacked. I pushed the pace over the first ten miles of the ride and quickly took my mind off of my problems and put it squarely on the workout and how I was feeling, which was crappy. Since I had ridden hard the day before and hadn’t done long back-to-back rides since last fall, my legs were burning. I climbed the Iron Lung more slowly than the day before, but it took more effort. Still, I was totally enjoying the experience.
Exercise clears my mind. So many things came to me as I pedaled and pushed to keep the effort high. I managed a solid ninety minute ride and made some good decisions about what I needed to do to deal with the professional disappointment, something I would attack like I had the ride. I’d get the result I wanted or at least, make my position known. I’d do what I could.
I wasn’t done working out, though. I decided Dakota could benefit from a hike and so we went to the park and walked through what could be the last of the snow with camera in hand. I was hoping for another shot of the eagle that was cruising the marsh in search of a meal. I must admit that although the snow was not nearly as difficult to traverse, I was breathing heavily from the last three days of hard workouts. Exercise clears my mind, but beats up my body, too. It was an exhausting walk, but it felt good to know that I’d burned another bunch of calories.
I had to account for the two straight nights of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and peanuts somehow.
Bike duration: 90 minutes. Hike duration: 60 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 135 bpm for bike. 80 bpm for hike.
Calories burned during workout: 1,350 for bike. 450 for hike.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Note: There are approximately 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat. I’m going to log my calories burned per workout with a goal of burning at least 3,500 per week so I know that I’m doing enough exercise to lose a pound of fat. Actually, any combination of calorie reduction and calorie burning totaling 3,500 will do the trick, so if you watch the caloric intake while doing the workout program – you lose faster.
Remember when I wrote that bullshit? I sure do.
Last week, I burned 8,700 calories during my workouts. Yeah. And I didn’t lose a friggin’ pound.
So – just what the hell is going on? To be honest, I did have a huge dinner last night. Chicken, noodles, dressing, mashed potatoes, jello, corn, and lots of gravy. Then a piece of cake for dessert and a huge bowl of ice cream with peanuts and caramel syrup around 10 p.m. Oh – and I had some cheese while I was waiting for dinner.
I tend to eat this way a couple of times per week. I’ve been better over the last three weeks, but I love to eat and I figured after a 2-hour bike ride earlier in the day, I owed it to myself.
Is the scale the be-all, end-all in this story? It shouldn’t be and I know better. I was coming home from church getting excited about all the sunshine and thinking about the ride I was about to do. I quickly changed into my riding outfit, which consisted of biking shorts, two pairs of socks, a long and short-sleeved t-shirt, leather gardening gloves, and a head band for the ears. It was 42 degrees.
There was a little snow melt drifting onto the road, but they were mostly dry. The sun was so bright that my eyes hurt. Perfect, blue skies and only a little wind. I headed east for the country roads. I rode medium hard, not pushing down hills (it was too cold for that), but attacking the uphills. To me, that means getting out of the saddle and trying to climb them as fast as I can. I wouldn’t normally be doing this so early in the season, but the time spent on the trainer had me feeling confident and fit.
I tend to ride one course in particular because it extremely quiet – that is, no cars. I also tend to know how hard I’m riding based on where I am on the course after thirty, then sixty minutes of riding. I was running about two minutes behind my late season rides of a year ago after thirty minutes, which held to the turn around after one hour of riding. I was feeling quite strong and very comfortable.
There was a head wind to deal with on the ride back and my toes were very cold as I pulled in the driveway exactly two hours after I’d begun. I felt great. Not a bit tired and wondering if I would have time for a hike with Dakota before dinner. I didn’t, but the fact that my brain was working that way was quite positive.
So, back to the weight thing. Here’s the real deal. I’ve been working hard for almost three weeks. I’ve gone from running a little over thirty minutes to just over fifty. I’ve taken the belt in a notch and a half. I feel looser and stronger and I’m riding like it’s early summer already. Normally, I don’t get on the scale. If I hadn’t, I’d have been so pumped about the way things are going. I should be. I’m staying off that thing for awhile.
Bike duration: Two hours.
Training Heart Rate: 135 bpm.
Calories burned during workout: 1,800.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Lance Armstrong may be the greatest cardiovascular athlete to ever compete. The seven-time winner of what many experts in the field of sports consider the toughest competition in the world – the Tour de France, seems to know no physical limits. On a training ride in preparation to defend his first Tour win, he was climbing a particularly steep and difficult mountain somewhere in France when his coach called to him from the car “Lance – you cannot go on. We are told there has been an avalanche ahead and the road is impassable. You must turn around.”
Lance continued to climb. He was out of his saddle, pumping hard and in that training zone that had made him the best at what he did. His coach called to him again “you must turn around, Lance. We cannot go on.”
The camera filming this training ride was in the car with the coach and the lens focused on Lance’s face as he turned to the car and his coach and said, simply “who says?” He continued to climb.
I’m 54 now and I just completed my run for the day. I’m up to 51 minutes of running, but the last 20 were anything but comfortable. I’m feeling pains I never felt ten years ago when running was almost a daily occurrence for me. Is it the age or the lack of conditioning? Maybe the extra pounds I’m carrying now. I don’t know for sure but I do know that my hips and knees are sore while running, my stride isn’t as long as it was and I’m just suffering more.
I read a great deal of material dealing with exercise and its affects on the body. I have read the research about aging and the impact it will have on our ability to perform. It doesn’t take an exercise physiologist to figure out that we get slower and less powerful as we age. If we didn’t, no professional athlete would ever retire. Things change and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Or is there?
Lance retired from competitive racing for three years. At the ripe old age of 37, he returned to the Tour de France for another try. He had lost some training time a month earlier when he had been in a crash and broken his collar bone. No one tells Lance what he can’t do anymore, but I’m sure many were thinking ‘he’s too old’. He did not win, but did place third, an incredible feat and is training now for a run at this year’s Tour. He’s looking to become the oldest man ever to win the world’s toughest race. And he will likely do it.
He doesn’t and we shouldn’t accept ‘you can’t’. I understand ‘I won’t’ but ‘I can’t’ has little meaning. Many things get in the way of trying to achieve fitness goals. I know – I’ve been a walking, talking excuse for some time now. That time has come to an end for me. You just need to start with the premise ‘I can’ and you will. You show me what you think you can’t do, and I’ll show you a goal and a way to achieve it.
Take a look in the mirror. The person staring back should be saying “who says I can’t?”
Run duration: 51 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 145 bpm
Calories burned during workout: 875
For the last fifteen years or so, I’ve felt myself getting older. I suppose that makes sense since that’s what I’m doing, but do I have to feel it too? A couple of weeks ago, I decided I was going to do something about it and I’m already feeling better, but there are some things happening with age that I don’t think I will be able to change.
I was on the www.exrx.net site recently and completed the ‘health age questionnaire’. There are many versions of this and their intents are the same. Answer questions about your lifestyle and family history and receive an age comparison to your real age. Since I’m doing wonderful things for myself right now, my age came back as ‘35’ or 19 years younger than my actual age.
Don’t smoke. Keep your blood pressure in the normal ranges. Watch your cholesterol. Exercise regularly. Don’t get fat. And the most important one – pick your parents carefully. Do all these things and you’ll live longer, for sure.
I do all of these things and that’s how I got the thirty-five years for my ‘health age’, but I don’t do any of it because I think I’m going to live longer. I mean with all of the cycling I do, some idiot driver will get a little too close and that will be that. Or maybe it will happen when I’m climbing some peak in the Adirondacks and I just get unlucky and a rock from above falls and squashes my head like a melon.
The point is…I’m 54 and I can and do still ride the bike. I can and do climb peaks and hike all day carrying a heavy pack. I can grab my mitt and ball and throw with some heat and accuracy and not have to ice my arm for the next two days. I can do the ‘Survivor’ workout as well as some kids in their twenties (at least I will this summer). I’m in the game when I want to be instead of a spectator because I have to be. I assure you – neither my dad or grandpa did these things when they were 54 (okay, sure my dad didn’t like sports and never did any of them anyway– but his lack of activity would have prevented him from doing things had he wanted to). Well…you’re not stupid. You get it.
So – go ahead and check your ‘health age’. It’s good to know the kinds of things, statistically speaking, that could make a difference in the years you’ll live. But when you get down to it, it’s all about the quality – not the quantity.
Oh…and by the way…I did climb on the trainer again for a sixty-minute ride. I really looking forward to riding outside this weekend.
Bike duration: 60 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 125 bpm
Calories burned during workout: 900
Friday, March 5, 2010
It was an inside day again, though the forecast is good and I hope to have the bike on the road over the weekend. Amazingly, I’m having very little soreness from my 46-minute run yesterday. There are two reasons for this, I’m thinking. One is I’m doing so much of the run on a soft surface – snow – and not getting the normal impact soreness that I would get from running the roads. The other is, hey, I’m getting in better shape!
Anyway, I hit the trainer for another tedious 60-minute ride. I distracted myself with the movie ‘Milk’ which I will finish on tomorrow’s ride. I pushed segments of the ride again because I know it’s getting a little to easy for me and I want my THR up around 140 for parts of the ride. I’m always listing my training heart rate and for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, I’ve included my calculation. If you don’t want to do the math, follow the link in the upper right hand corner of this page: www.exrx.net. When you get to their home page, look along the left side for ‘fitness calculator’ and click on that. From there, click on ‘target heart rate’ and plug in your age and the percentage ranges within which you want to work. I use 70 to 85% for mine.
Training Heart Rate (THR)
There are a number of ways to get your training heart rate and it’s a very important number with which to become familiar if you are looking to get the most from your exercise routine. Personally, I go with the easy method which calculates this way:
Starting number: 220
Subtract age: -54
Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) : 166
In theory, this would be the number over which I could not get my heart while exercising and that, when doing my aerobic workout – biking, running, swimming, rowing and so on – I should keep my heart at between 60-85% of this number. Here’s that calculation:
Maximum Heart Rate (MHR): 166 x 60% = 96. 166 x 85% = 144
So – my training zone is 96 to 144 beats per minute, which is quite a range. I tend to keep it a lot closer to 144 than 96 and that’s because I want to burn as many calories as I can during the workout and get as much improvement in performance, too. Both of these things happen at the higher level.
To know how you’re doing without wearing a heart monitor requires that you check your heart rate during exercise periodically. I take it on the carotid artery on the right side of my neck and just under the jaw. I do it there so I can count the beats and easily read my workout watch while counting. I take a 10-second count, which even if you stop is almost exactly what it was while you were exercising if you get it as soon as you stop. I determine the range I want to be in by dividing my 1-minute goal heart rate numbers by 6 to account for the fact that I’m taking a 10-second count. For me, that means keeping my 10-second count between 16 and 24. Those are the only numbers I need to remember.
Now – the whole estimation can be off because it’s, well, an estimation. I know I can get my heart rate higher than 166. I’ve measured it higher when climbing peaks or running all-out efforts. Still, it’s close and it works for me. Normally, I’m not checking constantly because experience has taught me to know my THR by how I’m breathing and feeling. With runners I coach, I offer the following advice for determining effort in a workout:
Easy workout conversation: “Hey John, this is a wuss workout. What’s the big deal? I could run and talk all day long.”
Medium workout conversation: “Hey John, this workout is …(pause for breath)…a little tougher than the one…(pause for breath) …we did the other day.”
Hard workout conversation: “Hey ^%^$* (panting for 10 seconds), this %$%# workout (panting another 10 seconds) really *&^%%* sucks (bending over and puking).
When doing an aerobic workout, most of your training should be in the easy to medium range. The hard workout is for interval training and can’t be done for long periods of time. Get to know your effort by checking your pulse and then make the conscious decision to work out at the level the makes the most sense to achieving your fitness related goals.
Bike duration: 60 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 125 bpm
Calories burned during workout: 900
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Yesterday’s run began in the usual way. I exited my car wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt, running shorts, socks on my hands and my beat-to-hell cycling cap. It was around 35 degrees, but sunny, and the crisp, cool breeze felt good on my legs. I ran a short distance on the road before jumping on to the bridle trails. With the slight warming, the packed snow was giving way under each step causing me to pitch in every direction. Today’s workout out would be more from staying on my feet than the speed of the run.
I went along in this fashion for most of the run, but knew the last mile would be on dry road and I was looking forward to it. When I emerged from the trail and began running the road, I was facing the orange glow of a setting sun on the trees just beyond the river for which I was headed. Then, something weird happened. I noticed I was in a comfortable stride, breathing easily and with a runner’s gait. I say ‘runner’ to differentiate from ‘jogger’ which is what I had felt like for the years since my calf injury. I had thought of myself as runner since my junior high track days and through to the injury. It was part of who I was and when that changed, so did I. My body gave in more easily to the ravages of advancing age and my levels of dedication to my training program suffered. Maybe, just maybe, I’d turned another corner.
I finished 46 minutes of running feeling like I was back. It wasn’t fast and I was still way overweight, but I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m sure it wasn’t a train. Later that night, I received a call from an old high school friend asking me if I had heard that Bob Rudloff had died. Bob and I had been close in high school, he knew, and figured I’d know something about it. I didn’t.
Naturally, I started to think about Bob and our relationship. You see, it was Bob that had inspired me to run in the first place. He was one of the best high school runners in the country our senior year, but sadly never reached his full potential from, in my opinion, a lack of good coaching. I had decided then that if I was ever in a position to help young athletes to achieve their potential, I would do so to honor him and what he should have been. I kept running and pursued my Masters degree in exercise – coaching numerous high school athletes along the way. State champions and all-Americans followed and I’m pleased to think about the debt of gratitude I owe to Bob.
Thanks, Bob. I’m a runner again and this time I won’t stop.
Run duration: 46 minutes.
Training Heart Rate: 140 bpm
Calories burned during workout: 780