LlamaRun

04.26.17 | Back At It

It has been a long, inactive winter. Too much stressful work stuff and overcompensating with comfort food. Today I finally ran out of excuses and jumped back out on the pavement. It was a leisurely 3-mile trot from the house, up a couple hills by the state capitol, and the rest was even road. I consciously kept my pace slow and even. I didn’t want this to hurt at all. No need to, I have all summer to hurt. At 33:13 it shouldn’t hurt, but by the end my legs could feel the inactivity. It’s nothing spectacular. Still, we have to start this up somewhere.

09-03-16 | Slow and Long

What a difference a week makes. Gone was the humidity and high temps from the week before. The change to a milder climate allowed my training partner and myself to hold off on running until 10AM. I had 12 miles to knock out, and the drop in temperature was much appreciated.

I never felt great on this run. This was a two mile increase from the week before, and I knew it would be a big run. I wanted to get a 10-plus mile run in the books, and this was my weekend. I kept it slow and easy, but by 7 miles I was feeling the stress. While my mileage has increased, my weight has not dropped like I’d hoped, so dragging 207 pounds around for 12 miles is not ideal.

I wanted to hit my distance mark. This would require patience, wherewithal and a solid pain threshold. I started getting twinges at 10 miles of things wanting to cramp and seize. I couldn’t have that, it would lock my body up. Thankfully it held off. I did 12 miles in 146 minutes, or basically a 12-minute mile. My calfs on both legs were tripping, but not as bad as the previous week. Even though I went two miles longer this Saturday than last, by body wasn’t as wrecked due to the decrease in heat and humidity.

08-27-16 | The Dog Days of Summer

Saturday had arrived and a 10 mile run was on the schedule. It was going to be 90-plus degrees later that day, so I needed to get out on the pavement in the morning. About the best my training partner, Matt, and I could muster was 8AM. It had been a long week and neither of us was interested in getting up as early as we do on a work day. In hindsight we should have gone at 6AM. The humidity was brutal by 8:00 and the sunlight became searing once it crested the hills surrounding South Frankfort, lighting up the pavement.

This was only a training run and I took it nice and slow, but by 6 miles it was getting ugly. I had Gatorade and a Clif-shot to keep me moving. By 8 miles it was a trudge to the finish. I ended up being out there 115 minutes, or 11:30 minute miles. Those last couple miles added considerable time to my overall mile-per-minute average.

I’ve had plenty of runs that are 5 miles and under, but above that distance not so much, as I continue to build my base and endurance. That makes these longer runs a real treat each time out, especially in the heat. This 10 miles directly impacted the rest of my Saturday, putting me in bed for a couple hours to recover. After cooling off, hydrating and some rest I moved to the couch. That amount of time exposed to the elements had my calves tripping. Both were undulating and twitching from spasms for most of the night. I recovered fine, but bring on the fall temps.

08-21-16 | Long Run Recovery

The important thing here is I ran almost 9 miles Saturday morning. I’ve been on near radio silence since May due to the start of a new job in Louisville and the daily commute required.

I’ve done no writing and struggled to keep my workouts consistent. There was a multi-week break at the beginning of June, where I couldn’t get my head around much of anything but coping with job training. It’s still ugly but I’m starting to normalize. My four weekly runs have returned and I’ve instituted a 1-mile per week mileage increase, taking me from 4-miles to near 9.

Each of these long weekend runs are the most miles I’ve run since last October, so towards the end they get ugly. I’m relatively strong into 5 and 6 miles, but beyond I don’t have enough touches yet to be competent. I’m working hills as well in the heat, and those are like body blows early in a fight. Toward the end my legs are rocked from the distance and elevation.

It’s a process, and I’m just getting to where I can actually train. The plan is to still run a 10-miler in September and maybe three half-marathons in the fall.

Stay thirsty my friends.

05-07-16 | Kentucky Derby Day

It was a beautiful morning in Kentucky Saturday. The Derby would be run around 6PM, and this was just the kind of morning that lends itself to inspiration, breakfast drinks and putting on finery to attend the biggest and most prestigious horse race in the world.

I was not doing that. My task was to deliver kids to the Governor’s Downtown Derby Celebration in Frankfort. It’s the Capital City’s celebration of all things Derby.

There is food, plenty of bourbon flowing through the streets, bouncy castles, pony rides and all sorts of kid-friendly activities. There’s even the Peddle for the Posies, a midget bike race for adults.

I probably should have gotten up early and done my workout, but after dealing with my dad taking a fall yesterday afternoon and hospital visits, when I did get to sleep, getting up early wasn’t happening.

Against my instincts, I declined any alcoholic refreshments at this event, even with children running about everywhere. I knew I needed to get a workout done later and a Mint Julep would not help make that happen.

I did fill up on some of the fine cuisine but walked a bunch of that off.

By 3PM I was clear to exercise. The YMCA was open for business and I did a challenging free weight workout, then hit the pavement. This was a mileage step-up day. I went from 3 miles to 4.5 miles.

Thankfully clouds had offered some coverage from the sun. I took water with me and decided to go slow and easy. I never got really tired, but I was only doing 10 minute miles, finishing in 45 minutes.

With the weight training and it being the end of a full week of strength training, with four runs included, the sauna and steam room were welcomed to soothe my aching body.

I’m at a Derby party now in Louisville, having some light beers and relaxing. Time to ease up on the alcohol though, I have a 3 mile run tomorrow.

Happy Kentucky Derby to all!

05-05-16 | Rough Night

This just wasn’t my night. I was supposed to do some cardio strength training Wednesday but my schedule prevented that, so I doubled my cardio workout Thursday on a day when I was only supposed to run.

I got all the crunches, 6-inches, reverse crunches and such done in like 45 minutes, stretched, and it was time to hit the pavement. I needed to switch the inserts out from my shoes worn on my last run to the ones I was using tonight. As I grabbed my shoes they felt damp. I ran in the rain some this weekend but they shouldn’t still be wet, at least not this wet.

Then I saw the empty bottle of bubble juice. I hoped it wasn’t true, but it made sense. After questioning my 4 year old daughter, indeed she dumped the whole bottle into my shoes as a “joke.” You gotta love kids.

I already wasn’t having a great day and wet shoes did not help matters. The rest of my family had gone to soccer practice. I could sit on the couch in peace and watch MSNBC to observe the early demise of the Donald Trump presidential candidacy, and that would have made me happy, but I needed to get the run in.

This was one of those days where gravity felt heavy the entire way. The whole run was work, stride by stride. It was only 3 miles, and that’s how I talked my way through it. I know every inch of this path well and took it one segment at a time.

I completed the run in 27:58. That’s 9:20 miles. It could have been worse, but at least it’s done. Friday is supposed to be an off day. Not sure, but with the Kentucky Derby Saturday, and the YMCA closed, I may have to make Friday a “Go-Day” to knock that out and simply go and enjoy the Derby festivities free of a workout responsibility.

Keep on running!

05-03-16 | Positive Results

I ran my best time of the year tonight, 26:59 over 3 miles. Basically flat 9 minute miles. There still is plenty of work to be done but it was a positive sign.

Having taken the better part of three weeks off unintentionally, there was the positive impact of allowing my early training to take hold and be fully absorbed, and that has felt evident in my runs over the weekend into today. Monday was an off day. I almost talked myself into doing some cardio strength training, but held off. I needed the off day and took it.

That brought me to today. I did a set of machine-based weight workouts at the YMCA while the kids were at swim practice; three sets each of: Weighted Sit-Ups > Chest Flyes > Chest Press > Machine Assisted Pull-Ups > Machine Assisted Rows > Pulley Biceps Curls > and Triceps Pushdowns.

I can knock that out in 30 minutes if I only take 30 seconds of rest between each set. I returned from the Y, stretched and hit the pavement. I held my pace naturally for 2 1/4 miles, then it became consciously more difficult to keep chugging. Without looking at my watch during the run, I finished strong and got under 27 minutes by one second.

Next up is my first mileage increase this year, going from 3 miles to 4.

My plan is to add one mile a week leading up to the Capital City Stampede 10k on June 11. There is some debate whether that race will actually take place, but either way I should have 8 miles under my belt by then. If the 10k race is held I’m looking to hold 9-minute miles over a 6.2 mile course. Regardless I will have a good base under my belt to train for half marathons taking place in the fall.

Let’s get back out there tomorrow.

05-01-16 | Weather Be Damned

I’m done worrying about weather and having to miss runs due to inclement weather, in particular rain. It was overcast all day Sunday, but had only rained off and on. Right as I was getting my strength training completed the seriously dark clouds covered the sky.

The next segment of my exercise routine was of course to go out for a run. I had knocked out three sets of Teasers > V-Ups > Straight-Leg Twisting Crunches > Seated Criss/Crosses > and Weighted Reverse Crunches. I was ready to get up and go.

The plan was to drive down to the YMCA and run from there, then hit the sauna/steam room upon completion. The boys were going to go down to the Y with me to take advantage of the free swim time, but after calling the front desk, they had already pulled everyone out of the pool due to thunder/lightening.

Time was of the essence since they closed at 6PM and it was after 4:30PM. The boys stayed home, I stretched, grabbed a rain poncho and headed downtown. It ended up not even raining that much, but this is a prime example of a day when it would have been easy to call off the run portion of a workout because of threatening weather, and then it ends up not being all that threatening.

That makes me miss workouts and I’m sick of missing them, because they stack-up quickly and it throws off my routine and progress. I ended up doing a faster 3+ mile run today than yesterday and made it back to the Y for some quality time in the sauna and steam room. Now I get a rest day on Monday before kicking it back into gear.

Mother Nature can throw whatever at me now. I’m getting my runs done when my schedule permits, Weather Be Damned! I’ll see her back out there Tuesday for more of the same. Come get some girl!

Happy trails.

04-30-16 | Keep on Trucking

Funny how life goes. Shortly after writing my previous post, my body reached an obvious fatigue point. I had been rocking along since early March with four runs of 3-miles each weekly, plus cardio strength training on another day, along with weightlifting and other torture on some run days as well.

It wasn’t anything crazy, but after a month-plus my body was tired and I realized I couldn’t keep putting myself through that just to keep a schedule up. Eventually it would either get too arduous or I would break, so I took my own advice from my previous posting.

“Remember, it’s okay to take a couple days off, or have a step-back week, where you let the training absorb and the muscles can get some needed rest – just make sure to get back out there soon. But it is better to take a rest and heal up than run on an injury that becomes worse.”

It wasn’t like I was attempting some kind of ridiculous training program. A 3-mile run is a basic starter distance, but as my speed increased and the reps of crunches and the weight I was lifting went up it taxed my system. Usually I would tell myself to suck it up and keep going, but I’m trying to be nicer to myself as I approach 50 years of age.

I listened to my body after completing my Sunday workout on April 10, which was the first of a new week for me, and took the remainder of that week off as a step-back, to let the training I had completed absorb, give my muscles and mental outlook a rest.

Then the weather got nasty. It started raining frequently and the temperature dropped. Corresponding with that was an urgent need to get some stories edited I wanted to submit as writing samples for a job I was seeking. Between not wanting to pull out cold weather gear again for a run and the legitimate excuse that I needed to find work, one week off suddenly stretched to two.

Then kid stuff interfered. Soccer practice, games, swim practice and other obligations conspired to keep me out for about another week. Finally on Thursday, April 28, I shoehorned my way back out on the pavement for 3-miles.

Friday I did strength training in the morning and hit the YMCA that night for machine weights and some swimming with the kids. Today I was motivated to get in a solid free weight lifting day, then went for a run.

A good sign I took away from my Saturday workout was I went out there for 3-miles and ran it in the rain. For anyone new to running or getting back into it, or just trying to get in shape – it’s very easy to persuade yourself not to go for a run. Getting out the door is hard enough. Having to go out into the elements and take the beating that comes with running can be humbling. Throw in inclement weather and that is often an easy “Hells No” for the casual exercise enthusiast.

I embraced it today. In fact it made me mad. I ran even harder through the rain to let it know I was not intimidated. It’s a baby step, but I got back out there within the month and look to build upon that motivation.

Sunday is the start of a new week and I’m looking forward to some abdominal work and a run to get it started right. That will have me back on my regular schedule. If all goes well I plan to increase my distance one mile this week, adding a 4-mile run into the mix.

My short-term goal is to keep adding one mile per week, along with some modest speed and hill work, to be ready for the Capital City Stampede 10k race on June 11 in Frankfort. I’m throwing the gauntlet down and setting a time goal of 54 minutes to get the 6.2 miles covered. That is basically 9-minute miles.

I did that same race in 2015 in slightly under an hour, so this is a challenging goal, considering I’m still only running 3-miles at the moment, but achievable if my training goes well.

Big thank you to the downtown Frankfort YMCA for getting the steam room finally finished and reopened. That is a big plus to be able to sit in wet heat after abusing my body.

Keep on trucking everybody!

04-08-16 | It Only Gets Harder with Age

Nearly five years has past since I returned to semi-serious running, and an obvious pattern has emerged.

I get overweight > become disgusted with myself > begin running again > get in decent enough shape to handle a 13.1 mile race > then stop exercising in November until the cycle begins anew.

It’s not hard coming up with reasons to overlook exercising: traffic on the commute to work, busy schedule, kids, need time to write, dinner has to be fixed or vegetative television watching.

Coming into the end of February 2016 I wasn’t critically overweight yet, but I was on my way. Anytime I’m purchasing Hostess fruit pies or HoHo’s, something is going in the wrong direction.

We all have certain pressure buttons in life that trigger a need to chill. Some folks smoke, maybe a cocktail helps, I personally reach more often for comfort food when stressed. There is something peaceful and easy about a pizza or jambalaya.

But there are certain realities to getting older. My metabolism has slowed. I can’t consume a diet primarily filled with comfort food and expect it not to impact my waistline.

Nor at 49 can I just hop back out on the pavement and snap into shape. I’m carrying more weight, and it doesn’t drop off as quickly either.

Every extra pound is weight that must be carried for each mile and contributes to added wear-and-tear on knees, ankles and my lower back.

The other hitch is injuries. I think anyone who has attempted to get back in shape has likely become impatient and overly ambitious in whatever routine they pursued. I certainly have been guilty of increasing miles too quickly or exercising on too many days.

Getting hurt in your 40s and above is no joke. It can put one on the disabled list for a month or more. Simple ankle and muscle strains if not listened to properly can become nagging injuries that morph into something more serious.

Running is humbling, especially if you have done it well at some point. I don’t have any visions of grandeur that I will return to my 1996 form. That has me loosing 60 pounds.

But dropping 25 pounds sounds doable. And instead of looking at my running times as a sign of improvement, I’m more using running as a tool to see a drop in weight. This also helps improve the numbers on my blood work whenever I’m at the doctor’s office.

As an added bonus, consistent training and weight loss will also lead to better run times. The idea is all the goodness conspires together to improve several aspects of a healthy life.

What I’m working on this year is changing my mental outlook to exercise from viewing it like a chore, to instead looking upon it as an escape to ease stressful situations. I want to welcome my time to exercise, not dread it.

Picking up my gym bag for the first time this year found a crumpled bib number inside from the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon held in Louisville last October, and my crusty running clothes from that race. It was like a time capsule in there, untouched for four months.

Thankfully I hadn’t been off so long that running again seemed like such an arduous ordeal. I stepped back out in early March and haven’t stopped.

It’s not pretty, it’s not easy, but I’m running 3-miles four times a week and have some extra cardio-strength training built in to work my mid-section and tone my build.

My times are down from running 12:30 minute miles when I first started back to 9:30 and below.

What I’ll advise is don’t overdo it. Slow and easy is a much better recipe for success. Stretch either before or after exercise, and listen to your body. If there is even a minor injury, address it. Take an anti-inflammatory and apply heat or cold depending upon the injury.

There is way more generic maintenance involved these days in order to have my body ready to go back out there for even moderately consistent exercise. It takes time and patience.

Remember, it’s okay to take a couple days off, or have a step-back week, where you let the training absorb and the muscles can get some needed rest – just make sure to get back out there soon. But it is better to take a rest and heal up than run on an injury that becomes worse.

The biggest thing, and I can’t emphasize this enough, is diet. Unless you have runs that are 10 miles long or above, once you reach your 40s I find it hard to drop weight unless my diet is reasonably clean.

Fast food and soda are the first things that need to go. Yes, even diet soda.

As a starter it’s okay to buy some treats like cookies and chips. It’s considered a victory if those are being substituted for fast food. Really, the more items that can be prepared at home, that are not processed, the better – and get right with drinking water.

Sadly, rice, bread and pasta are big offenders when trying to drop weight. My problem is these are staples in my house, where there are five mouths to feed. Here is where portion control comes into play. Eat anything you like if the portion is small enough.

Red meat is another item that isn’t the best choice to consume when trying to drop weight. Try a week of no red meat, and then re-introduce it for a day or two a week.

As previously mentioned I like my comfort foods. I’m not silly enough to think I can instantly drop them all from my diet and adhere to any regimen for the rest of life.

I believe in having the weekends be cheat days. If I’m working out five days a week I’ll eat what I like at times. I do also limit the alcohol/liquor intake. Those are hollow calories and usually the more you drink the easier it is to skip the next workout. A great compromise is Michelob Ultra. Those are decent enough and I can drink several with little damage.

Everybody is different and it’s important each person find the exercise routine and diet that works best. I will just add that if you try to make too much happen at once, often that will become a difficult burden to maintain in the long haul.

Relax, be flexible in missing exercise days and remember there is the rest of your life to slowly get in shape and drop weight. Take it a day at a time, and if you fall off the schedule, don’t try to make it all up – there’s always tomorrow to begin a new slate.

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