Thursday, April 28, 2011

Back to It

After a short detour thanks to Mr. Cold Virus, I’m back to training. While my chest is clear, my head is not, so if you see little piles of green snots by the side of the Back Bay trail or on Bommer Ridge, you’ll know I’ve been there…

  • Monday: Getting better
  • Tuesday: Still getting better
  • Wednesday: Feeling human again
  • Thursday (today): Four easy miles
  • Friday: Two easy miles
  • Saturday: Four easy miles
  • Sunday: Six miles. Most likely trails.
  • Total: 16 miles

Saturday, April 23, 2011

So What going to Happen Now?

Training has been going well, that is until today. Somehow, even though it's been beautiful spring like weather, I've managed to catch a mean head cold. I got a decent run in on Friday, but right now it feels like my head is about to explode. Time for a day off.

So back to the title. If you pay attention to baseball, you have no doubt heard that Major League Baseball has taken over the operations and finances of the Los Angeles Dodgers from owner Frank McCort. If that name sounds familiar to you as a runner, it's because a couple years back, McCort purchased the Los Angeles Marathon. It's under his "leadership" that the amazing Stadium to the Sea route was adopted. For the frat time, us Los Angelenos were looking at the possibility of a World class marathon in Los Angeles.

But, if the business practices that McCort used to run the Dodgers (basically leveraging to the hilt, including borrowing against future earnings) have been applied tithe operations of the L.A. Marathon, we may have just seen the last of the Stadium to the Sea.* There is no Major League of Running to save the sport. My fingers are crossed.

* I've already heard rumors that some of the higher ups have been let go. News an tweets have been conspicuously missing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Has it Been a Week?

Wow. I had no idea. No wonder my stats are down.

Sunday I made it out on the trails for the first time in several months. It was a perfect Southern California day. I’ll let the video speak for itself. No music. Just the sights, sounds, a heavy breathing. Join me for five miles squeezed down into 3:52. If that’s too long, skip to 3:08 for a view of the wildlife on the trail. Hope you enjoy it!

Bommer Ridge on a perfect Southern California day

Monday, April 11, 2011

Changing Up on the Calorie Front

As I enter week 3 of this Half Marathon training program, I’m getting pretty tired of my clothes fitting a lot tighter than they did a year ago.

In the past, I wrote a blog review of an app on my iPhone: LoseIt! Well, after the using it for some time, I’m finding that the weight loss that I’m looking for just isn’t happening. This can only be for three reasons:

  1. I’m not tracking *everything* that I’m eating: Counting calories requires attention to minute details. That extra cookie could be 150 calories! And yes – guilty as charged.
  2. I’m not able to track everything I’m eating: This is usually due to an incomplete food database in your calorie counting app.
  3. My BMR is lower than what my tracking app calculates

I really really need to start dropping some of the major poundage that I have put on in the last year. To get things back on track, I’m going to change up my calorie counting regimen. Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. I’m changing to MyFitnessPal. The food database seems to be more complete than LoseIt (at least based on what I eat). And,  my calculation of my BMR is a full 200 calories lower in MyFitnessPal that LoseIt. Not to mention, it’s never my fault, right?
  2. I will be tracking *everything* that I’m eating. Period.

My goal is to drop 30 pound by the end of the year. That’s about a pound a week. About 3500 calories less to eat. Keep the carrot cake and casino buffets away!!!!

Speaking of burning calories – I ramp up by a couple miles this week:

  • Monday: Scheduled rest.
  • Tuesday: 3.5 easy miles
  • Wednesday: 2  miles
  • Thursday: 3.5 easy miles
  • Friday: Scheduled rest
  • Saturday: 5 miles
  • Sunday: Erg 35 minutes
  • Total: 14 miles plus rowing

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Glimmer of Hope?

Last night I introduced a hill into my (at present) meager mileage. And I still managed to run at a pace faster than I have the previous few weeks. Maybe…. Just maybe…

The other item of note was Babe was out last night. Dang! Too bad I didn’t have my camera. Who is Babe?


She is our resident Bobcat. Yes. She lives in Newport Beach. She knows how to live in style.

Today I’ll be out for a quick 2 mile recovery run. I may have to move my Thursday training run to Friday, but the mileage will get done.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Know Thyself

After 50 plus years on this planet, you think I would have learned.

For the past few months my training has been unguided. I’ve been wandering around the trails and paths of Orange County without any raison d'etre (pretty fancy French speak there). And yet I expect results. I am just not the type of person who knows how to achieve without a short term goal in my sights. I should know myself better.

If you’re lucky enough to be one of those folks who can achieve without setting those short term goals – all the power to you. If you’re having trouble getting/staying motivated - my advice? Know thyself.

With that in mind, I completed week one of my “HM training plan from scratch”. I had to juggle things around toward the end of the week, but I got all of the runs and my erg time in. This week is a repeat of last:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 3 miles easy
  • Wednesday: 2 miles easy
  • Thursday: 3 miles easy
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 4 miles
  • Sunday: 30 minute erg
  • Total: 12 miles plus 30 minutes rowing

I may actually run 50 miles this month….

By the way – anyone know of a good 5K the weekend of May 8th and a 10K the weekend of May 29th here in LA/SD/OC/IE?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Keeping it Slow and Steady

These days this is my challenge. I remember what it was like to have the wind flow past my face. These days, the only way that happens is when I’m running into it. I feel like I’m the underpowered Yugo (no offense to anyone who may have owned one) in the slow lane of the freeway. I hear steps coming up behind me and I watch a back disappear ahead of me. It can all get very frustrating and discouraging.

How did I know I was ready to get back to training? When I felt good about slowing down as someone passed me. They say slow and steady wins the race. But why?

The key is our body’s aerobic engine. As we increase the intensity of our workout, our muscles respond by breaking down Adenosine Triphosphate (any biochemists out there?) or ATP. The reaction is known as hydrolysis, and happens when a water molecule (hence the requirement for hydration while exercising) reacts with an ATP molecule to create  fuel for our cell’s little engines. Well, without getting too technical, that little water molecule is split into a Hydrogen ion (H+) and a hydroxide ion (OH-) during the process. The hydroxide binds with phosphorous compounds to create a phosphates. But poor little H+ is left to be dealt with by our bodies. And if I remember Chemistry 101 correctly (it’s been a long ass time since my Biology Degree days), that little extra proton decreases our body’s pH level, which starts decreasing our body’s ability to aerobically create energy as described above. Once we are no longer able to aerobically create energy, our body, in it’s infinite wisdom, tries to take other less efficient paths to fuel our little microengines. As those less efficient paths take toll on our systems, we begin to shut down and reduce the efficiency of our workouts until we are left on the side of the path puking and gasping.

So, I just counted that paragraph. 211 words basically saying that if we work out too hard, we reduce the efficiency of our workout. And efficiency is what it’s all about. How do we maximize the efficiency of our workout? By exercising at the point where we are at a balance – where the production of hydrogen ions is balanced by our body’s ability to flush them from our cells. When we reach that point where we are producing more ions than we can flush – we are at that magical point called “Lactate Threshold” – the point where we can workout for about an hour before we essentially shut down.

How can we make sure we are exercising at an appropriate level? There are two ways:

Perceived Effort

Notice that Lactate Threshold is at an intensity level that most people can endure for about an hour. Also note that an hour is about the length of time it takes for most folks to complete a 10K. It shouldn’t be a surprise then, that running at just below (around 80%-85%) your 10K race pace is that place where you are efficiently building your aerobic capacity.

Heart Rate Monitoring

If you’re like me, you like gizmos and gadgets and data. I wear my HRM religiously. For us data geeks, Lactate Threshold occurs somewhere between 80% and 90% of maximal heart rate (MHR)*. Therefore, to maximize aerobic conditioning, we should be running at a pace that puts our heart rate at somewhere between 70% and 80% of MHR. What I have done is program my Garmin heart rate zones, and then set the target for any aerobic workout (easy run) to stay in this zone. If I get a little too aggressive, Garmin yells at me and I back off. (These days that sometimes means a brisk walk).

So you may be asking at this point – “So why should I care? I just want to run a sub two hour half marathon.”

Here’s why. A two hour half marathon (conversely a four hour marathon) is running a 9:09 per mile pace. All of us can run at that pace. The magical question is “for how long?” I know right now, I can hold that 9:09 pace for probably 200 meters (half a lap). How can I get myself to the point where I can hold that for 13 miles? Simple. By training my aerobic engine to efficiently work for at least one hour, so I can through myself into anaerobic metabolism for the other hour. And the only way to get there is to efficiently train that aerobic engine mile after mile and hour after hour! That’s what “training” is all about.

So – avoid the pitfall of putting “speedwork” into your training plan – especially if you’re not ready for it. Don’t turn training runs into races. Slow down when training to speed up on race day.

* It’s important if you are adopting a heart rate training methodology that you test your maximal heart rate. Google “maximal heart rate test”. Don’t rely on calculations (220 – age). The calculations are normalized over a population.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I was Ready to Post Three Days Ago

But my computer crashed! Luckily, Dell was on top of things and got a hard drive to me the next day. Then to really press my luck, I was able to buy a USB disk enclosure, slap the old "bad" drive into it, and recover all of my pictures and important documents. I guess I must be on a lucky streak:

(1) Two weeks ago - Meat Loaf
(2) Last week- Score on twitter again! This time Free Eats from Rubios's. Sweet!

So what better way to close out the week than to get lucky and recover my important documents. And, to cap my lucky streak, I had backed up my iPod music just a couple weeks ago. Whew!

My advice? Don't be the cobbler whose kids don't have shoes. Backup your important data! CDs are cheap. Losing years of photos aren't.

Now, honestly tomorrow - how to run slow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad