Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Building Some More Miles

After Sunday's 15 miler, yesterday's rest day was a welcome respite. Last week wrapped up right on plan. 43 miles running, 6.2 kilometers on the erg. I'm now in a new realm. 43 miles a week and growing. I am beginning to understand the real importance of rest and recovery. It's pretty amazing to think about where I was two short years ago (answer: on the couch watching TV thinking about doing something to get in shape).

This week is the last week in the endurance phase of my training plan. On the plan this week:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 9 miles GA, wrap with 10 X 100 stride outs
Wednesday: 5 mile recovery, some time in the gym
Thursday: 9 miles GA
Friday: Rest.
Saturday: 16 mile long run
Sunday: 5 mile recovery

Total plan: 44 miles

Beginning next week I get to stress my body a little more by adding some lactate threshold training. Woo hoo! In my last training cycle, LT training did more to improve my speed than anything else. Pfitzinger must agree, because according to him, this is the most important phase of training. I glanced ahead and expected to see tempo runs. But, I see a lot of training at Half Marathon Pace, Marathon Pace, and on the track. Looks like I'll be spending some time in the books to understand how these pace runs and intervals are helping my LT!

I'll be down at Crystal Cove today for my 9 mile general aerobic run!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Photo Tour - Shady Canyon

Unlike Saturday - I did get out for my 15 mile run yesterday (yeah!). I needed to freshen things up a bit, so I decided to try a new route. What I found was a bit of a hilly challenge, but one of the prettiest runs I've been on in quite a while. I though I would spend today's blog giving you all a little tour. (And - Easterners - note how green everything is here in Southern California!)

I started the run at Bonita Canyon Park, about a mile from home. It's a relatively new park built primarily for youth sports:

I took off to the east along the back of the University of California, Irvine, one of the rising stars in the UC system. One of the reasons for this is they have been able to attract faculty by supplying housing. Here's a picture of some of those homes. If these were offered to the public in this area, they would sell for at least $850,000:

Next, we pass our version of "Bible Mile". Within a mile are the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Newport Beach Temple:

St. Matthews Anglican Church:

The non denominational Mariners Christian Church:

And Tarbut V'Torah Community Day School:

You get the idea about what it's like living in a Master Planned Community. Just past the school, I made a right and started up the hill into a neighborhood called Shady Canyon. For all the years I've lived here, I've never been through this neighborhood. Shady Canyon is a pretty exclusive community (a lot of pro athletes live here -Mark McGwire had a home here, an bunch of ex-major leaguers and a number of Anaheim Ducks hockey players also live here). I always thought that I wouldn't be able to make it past the gates. Well, in the infinite wisdom of the community planners, it turns out the trails through Shady Canyon are open to the public.

What awaited me was a very scenic, albeit hilly run. The views were pretty amazing throughout the community:

You can bet those homes way up there on that ridge cost a pretty penny (upwards of $5 million):

I headed on down to the 7 and a half mile turnaround point, turned around, and headed back up the hill:

But, I had to stop and refuel. Somewhere along the way, the sun had come out and the heat was on! By 9 miles I had gone through 40 ounces of water. I stopped in this park to refill and grab a Clif bar and a Gu (Espresso Love - yum!):

Another 5 and a half miles put me back at Bonita Canyon. 15 miles total in a slow 2:45 (11:01 average pace). Average heart rate was 77% of max. The two "H"s conspired against me - hills and heat. But - it was a great little route - one I will definitely do again soon!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Yesterday was a pretty interesting day, as far as running went. I had a 15 mile run on the plan. I headed out the door just like clockwork to meet up with the group at 7AM at the local (Corona del Mar) High School. Imagine my surprise when I get there to find there is no parking. None. The lot was completely full. Turns out there was a big Summer Swim League meet going on yesterday. So, not being able to find a parking spot meant that I wasn't going to be able to change after my run (remember my past blogs about my ability to perspire?). So - it was back home to pick up a towel. In the meantime, I also thought that it would kind of be nice to run somewhere other than my normal trails. What about a run along the beach?

Now another thing about my Saturday morning run - normally I take my wife's car. The dealer we bought it from offers free car washes for customers. The dealer is an easy drive from CdM, so after my normal morning run, I normally take the short drive over and get her car washed. Of course, the complimentary Starbucks is also nice. But, since I was no longer going to be running from CdM, I decided that I should also change cars. Long story short - I forgot to transfer my fuel belt and water! And I wasn't going to do 15 miles without that. So - back home.

By the time I got back home (for the second time), I thought "Maybe the running Gods are trying to tell me something." Time was now starting to become a factor. It was getting close to 8 AM. Even though it was cloudy and overcast, this time of year the sun generally breaks out by 9AM. The thought of getting caught out in the humid heat did not sound appealing, so I decided to throw in the towel. Since I am a firm believer of discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to swap Saturday and Sunday workouts.

So, about 6:30 PM I headed out for a quick 4 mile recovery run - Sunday's planned run. I got to Crystal Cove, got my gear on, and turned the Garmin on. Guess what? "Batteries are Low Sucker!" Guess it was good I didn't get out for my 15 miler after all!

On tap today - ummmm - 15 miles. I'm out the door soon....

Friday, June 26, 2009

Running Aerobically

I thought I would stay in theme today. The past couple of days I talked about the importance of the slow run. Since I had a general aerobic run on the plan yesterday, I thought I would talk about that today. A general aerobic (GA) run is a little faster than a slow run. Not slow. Not fast. Just kind of half fast (cmon - say it quickly).

Honestly - how fast is "general aerobic"? To answer this we need to understand lactate threshold first. Lactate threshold (LT) is defined as the maximum pace you can run non-stop for one hour. It's usually right around your 10K race pace. So, the answer is somewhere between slow conversational pace and 10K pace. For those of us with heart rate monitors, this correlates to somewhere between 70% and 85% of max heart rate. The key to running aerobically is staying out of lactate threshold - above that pace your body will start accumulating acid that contributes to fatigue. Run at LT pace, and you will need to spend an extra day recovering.

The general aerobic run should form the foundation of your training program. These are the runs that build your overall fitness. They serve to help strengthen your leg muscles and improve your body's ability to transport oxygen from lungs to muscles. A typical training plan would include one day doing some speed work (intervals, tempo, etc.) and one long run day. Those constitute your "hard" workout days. The rest of your time is spent either in recovery or general aerobic range.

The last issue is the distance of a general aerobic run. According to the books, the distance can be anywhere between 3 and 10 miles. That's quite a range! Once again - the key is to make sure that you can handle the distance without stressing your body. These days, I have a little line that I use to determine whether a run should be a general aerobic run or a long/medium log run. Right now, that's right around 12 miles. Below 12 miles, I treat the run like a GA run and step the pace up a bit. Beyond 12 miles, I drop the pace and treat the run more like a long run. I find that right around 12 miles, my heart rate increases quickly, and to stay within the GA range, I need to start slowing my pace.

By the way, I think the best discussion of this can be found in the Competitive Runner's Handbook by Glover.

So, last night, I put in 9 1/2 miles. My average heart rate was 80% of max - so I managed to keep things aerobic. On tap today - rest. No rowing. No running. Just rest. Saturday - 15 miles. Things are starting to lengthen out - that's for sure.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Some Slow Miles

There's been an interesting thread on the California Running and Racing Forum over at Runner' World the past couple of days. The topic of discussion is "What's (sic) your running week look like." The thread's author was looking for input on a "typical" training week. The part I found most interesting though was the discussion about the mix of easy versus hard miles - even for those who have been running for many years.

This has become interesting for me for a couple of reasons. First off, I am finding myself on my feet longer and longer these days. A I come up on 50 miles a week it is apparent to me that I can't push hard through all of those miles. I know that I'm supposed to follow a hard workout with an easy workout, but what constitutes easy? And doesn' t "hard" come in two forms? Pace and distance?

Second, one of my running fiends, Lori (Run Along Now) has been bit by the Ultra bug. She recently ran the San Diego 100 (that 100 miles folks). I ran into her the next week at the Magic Shoe 5K. She mentioned something that took a little while to process. She said that the "race" takes a little different tact - you focus on cutoff times. Not on a target pace, but on making sure that you are at the next Aid Station before it closes. Hmm. It took me a few days to realize what she was saying. You run slow. And indeed, as I read through more ultra/trail run reports, I can see where much of those races are done at a slow pace or a brisk walk. But - all those guys are in shape right? And Lori? She just bettered her old marathon PR by 90 minutes!

Well, all this talk of slowing down really resonated when I was reading through the thread yesterday. There it was - clear as day. Folks who are capable of 3:30 and faster marathons saying they run anywhere from 75% to 90% of their miles at easy, conversational pace. Hmm. Maybe I need to slow down and stop worrying about training pace. Run at the pace my body allows me to run. Get out there and put the time in on my feet. Get the miles in the bank. It can be all summed up with one quote in the thread, "train for racing but don't race your training."

So, it was with some renewed vigor that I hit the trails yesterday for my 5 mile recovery run. I felt good the entire distance and got my run in right at 75% of my max heart rate. Right where it was supposed to be. I'm looking forward to what my nine mile GA run has in store for me tonight!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting Started in Earnest

Well, now that I've made up my mind to move forward on the Marathon front, it's time to get into the swing of training. Physically and mentally.

The physical part of marathon training is easy. Just go out and put in the miles. So, I put in the planned nine miles. The first five were general aerobic miles put in at a 9:53 pace and an average heart rate of 78% of max. The final four were at a 9:18 pace (at the low end of half marathon pace range) at a heart rate of 83% of max.

Then there's the mental part of this thing. Most say that the marathon is a big mental challenge. Most won;t admit though that the toughest part of the marathon is the training. Pushing through the miles and workouts when there are so many other fun things to do. Like watching TV. Or eating donuts. The race itself is just four or five hours of your brain telling you to stop. The training is 18 weeks of your brain telling you to stop! Oh well - one week at a time.

Finally, I need some advice. I am having trouble drying my shoes out between runs. I think I've mentioned before - I am a perspiration machine. If I run past your house, you probably want me to run up on the lawn and give it a good sprinkling as I pass. The problem is with the longer distances and times these days, my shoes end up soaked. I have two pair that I rotate, but even still after a day off, my shoes are sometimes still damp. What do you all do to dry your shoes out?

On tap today - 5 recovery miles. Crystal Cove here I come!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A few on the ergometer

Yesterday I ended up scooting back and forth on my rowing machine in the garage. Yeah - not very exciting, but I figure it's about time to start working out a few other muscles. I'm supposed to be in the gym every now and then, but I just never seem to make it there these days. So instead, I put about 30 minutes in on the erg and rowed 6.2 km. I had the doors open to get a bit of a breeze blowing through, but I was still dripping when I was done. Not to mention sore today. I forget all those arm, shoulder and back muscles that get worked when rowing. The only thing I need is to get some batteries in the old Polar chest strap. I guess I could use the Garmin, but on an indoor machine, my old Polar is a great tool to keep track of heart rate and heart rate ranges.

On another note, Christine posed a great question yesterday, "...what is a 'recovery run' and what is the purpose of it?" I know when I first got started (I'm still a relative noob) a couple of years ago, I thought that my 20 miles a week was sufficient to power me through races. It wasn't too long (well - a year actually) before I clued in. To expect to show real improvement, I was going to need to increase my training volume. Run more. Put in more miles. Which meant more days. I wasn't going to have the benefit of an off day between training runs. I started working six days a week. But I still was trying to run each workout like it was a race. Pretty soon I was *always* tired. My pace started degrading. I was running myself into the ground.

About that time I started picking up books to understand more about what I was doing (yeah - running had become a serious hobby, not just a way to lose weight). In all the books I read, there was this concept of a key workout followed by an easy workout. Those easy workouts were called "recovery" workouts. I started slowing myself down on "recovery" days, and slowly but surely, my race times started falling through the floor!

Was it because I was allowing my body to "recover" on those recovery days? Well, actually not. The term "recovery" is really a misnomer. While your pace/heart rate is lower than, say a general aerobic run, the purpose of the recovery run is to be able to add training volume (miles). Turns out the way our bodies become more fit is to react to training stress by becoming more efficient. But,we can only run so many miles at max tilt without breaking down (injury time). By reducing our pace/effort, a "recovery" run, allows us to put in the miles while giving our body a bit of a break. The key to the benefit of a recovery run is starting fatigued . By starting in a fatigued state, your body will call on other neuro-muscular systems to pick up the slack for tired muscles. In short, the recovery run is supposed to improve running economy and train muscle fibers that would normally go unused. The theory is that in longer distances, your body will have more muscle fibers to call on in the late stages of the race. The general rule for including recovery runs is based on how many days a week you run - if you run less than 5 days a week, recovery runs are generally not necessary. Beyond that, recovery runs can be beneficial if they follow either a key workout (lactate threshold, VO2Max) or a long run. Also, the recovery run should be run at a pace/effort much less than normal. For example, on a recovery day, I don't pay attention to my pace. I make sure my heart rate remains at 75% of max or lower. Sometimes that translates to a 10:15 pace. Other days that translates to an 11:00 pace.

So there you go. More than you probably ever wanted to know Christine.....

On tap today - 9 miles -the first four GA, the last 5 at half marathon pace. Which means a recovery run on Wednesday!

Monday, June 22, 2009


The clock struck the first day of summer, and the weather Gods replied with one of the most beautiful mornings in quite a while. Day before yesterday was dull, drab and drizzly (I was able to literally wring water from my clothes when I wrapped up my run). Yesterday though was absolutely beautiful. Gorgeous. It's tough to find words to describe the weather.

I got out about 8:30. It was 68 degrees. Breezy but not windy. Sunny. No humidity. Puffy white clouds in the sky. I headed to Crystal Cove for what was going to turn out being an epic Father's Day run:

My five mile recovery run wrapped my step back week. Final mileage: 32.5. Big fail though was that I never made it onto the ergometer or to the gym....

So, I'm now back to my mileage ramp. On the schedule for this week:

  • Monday: Rest day. Will probably hit the erg today. I'm feeling rested after last week.
  • Tuesday: 9 miles - first 5 GA, last 4 at Half Marathon Pace
  • Wednesday: 5 mile recovery. Hi the gym for some stretching and core work.
  • Thursday: 9 miles GA
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: 15 mile long run
  • Sunday: 5 mile recovery run. Hit the gym for some stretching at a minimum.
  • Total for week: 43 miles

And, now that I've made up my mind on doing the marathon, I laid out the rest of my training plan yesterday. I'm doing the Pfitz 24/55 plan (24 weeks, peaks at 55 miles per week). I had to whack 3 weeks off the endurance phase, so it's really the Pfitz 21/55. Now I understand how these things can be so daunting. Sixteen more weeks and 750 training miles to go. That doesn't include the 225 already under my feet. Deep breath. Deep breath. The journey has begun!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A New Cycle Starts

Our Saturday morning Cal Coast group is growing again - we had about 30 or so out for the Saturday morning run. Coach Sumner has started a new training cycle for the Long Beach Marathon. This is the third cycle that I've seen. The pattern is similar - the flow and ebb of the marathon hopeful. We start like gangbusters. We end up with a few hardcores. The rest slowly fade away. Some fall to injury. Some over train and burn out. Some start with all the right intentions, but fall by the wayside when the hours and miles lengthen.

One thing for sure - the marathon is a study of patience and endurance. Most undertaking the distance are somewhat aware of that concept - how on race day you need to be prepared for hours of running in the hot sun and pushing your body beyond what it would normally do. But most don't understand that the patience and endurance of the marathon starts weeks prior with their commitment to the plan. The miles (the first half on my current plan is 450 miles, and the miles increase from there). The hours spent running. Most of the time alone. Theboredom of running he same trails over and over. The monotony of the laps around the track. The heat. The cold. The little tweaks and niggles. Sore muscles. Forcing yourself out the door when the bed is so warm and inviting (kind of like the way I feel this morning).

Yes - the marathon is an accomplishment. But, it's not about 26.2 miles. It's not about Boston or sub 4:00. It' about making it. To the starting line. Making the commitment is easy. Having the patience and endurance to make it to the starting line deserves recognition. (I think I just made up my mind ....)

Yesterday's run - 11 miles at a 10:30 pace. Average heart rate 77% MHR.Looks like it's time to make an adjustment or two. That heart rate is a little high for that slow a pace. More rest and more fuel! Out for a 5 mile recovery run a little later this morning.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Foto Friday

Well, today I thought I would share a little of my recent trip to the Central Coast of California. If you are familiar with the area, I had to go to Santa Maria for a business dinner Tuesday night. Santa Maria is about an hour north of Santa Barbara, and about three and a half hours north of my home. Once you make it out of the Los Angeles metropolitan area (about two hours of driving for me), this is one of the prettiest drives around.

Some of the drive is *right* along the ocean. I have driven this stretch of the road to the accompaniment of dolphins in the surf:

More of the scenery along the main freeway/highway:

Some of you may be aware of my other hobby - poker! Well, up in the area is a smallish casino that I thought I would try out. The casino (Chumash Casino) is about 11 miles off the freeway. to get there I *had* to drive beautiful roads:

And through the Danish town of Solvang:

Solvang is a Danish community (largely tourism now) with architecture and names to match.

As far as yesterday's run - 9 miles general aerobic around the Upper Back Bay. Average pace was 9:50, and average heart rate was 81% of max. On tap today - rest. Oh - and the poker? Broke even after six hours of playing. So just a so so day. Tough to win when you have to fold Q-Q to flushes and straights!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

There are Snowballs in Hell

Yessiree! There has to be. Why? Because I finally got a decent race picture:

That's yours truly crossing the finish line at last Saturday's Magic Shoe 5K. No pain showing. Shoulers relaxed. And look - the back foot is actually off the ground!

Sure sign that Hell has frozen over....

On tap today - 9 miles GA in the afternoon. See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Seven Miles on the Dreadmill

So - just a couple of weeks ago I proudly pointed to a streak that I was proud of - *not* using a hotel treadmill. Well, I guess all good things must come to an end.

I had a dinner appointment with a customer about 3 and a half hours north of home. Since I'm an early to bed early to rise kind of guy, I opted to get a hotel room instead of driving back at 10PM. I still wanted to get my run in, so I hit up MapMyRun and scoped out a trail near the hotel. I got changed, got in the car and drove over to the trail. I was ready to go, fired up the Garmin, and got the dreaded "Batteries are low press enter" warning. For those of you new to the Garmin world, that warning really means "Don't even try using me because I'm about to shut off." Grr!

Since the trail wasn't marked and I had no other watch to keep time, I opted to head back to the hotel. I had my tail between my legs thinking that I wasn't going to run. But - wait a minute! I already had my running clothes and shoes on. The hotel is *brand new* (they are still training the employees). Why not check out the Fitness Center? Well, long story short, I hopped up on a treadmill for a 7 mile run. So - in the last week I've seen two streaks snapped - PR races on Saturday, and hotel treadmills on Tuesday.

But, my run was done. Seven miles at an average pace of 9:39. Average heart rate 78% of max. And you know what? My legs aren't sore this morning!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Decisions decisions

That was the question I posed here and on Twitter yesterday. The votes are still coming in. Right now the full marathon votes are leading.

I am getting a lot of great arguments, pro and con. Several of you point out that I'm already putting in 14 mile long runs and could ramp it up and get a couple of 20 milers in by the time the October date comes around. Several of you also point out that at my current mileage base, I should be in good shape for a half. A couple point out that the marathon I am eyeing (Long Beach) is a beautiful Half, but is pretty lonely out there after the half/full split. A couple of tweeters actually pointed out that it costs me less per mile to run a full than a half (love that one!).

Thanks for all the thoughts and ideas! Keep 'em coming in! Being an Engineer, I respond well to logic, and all of you are making great, logical points. I am really absolutely undecided at this point. On the one hand, it would be great to try to break the magical two hour mark in the half. On the other hand, I've only run one marathon and feel like I have a score to settle. Decisions, decisions.

For right now, I'm going to continue ramping my mileage. When I started ramping, I chose the Pfitz 24/55 marathon training plan. It wasn't so much to be on a marathon plan, but it seemed a great, structured way to build my mileage to the 50 mpw threshold. It also gave me the flexibility to go either way once I make a decision. I'm six weeks into that plan with six more weeks remaining on this mesocycle (endurance phase). There are 18 weeks left on the plan, with 16 weeks until the marathon. That means I have four weeks until I need to make a decision so I can adjust the plan accordingly. Decisions, decisions. I think I'll procrastinate some more.

Yesterday's workout can be summed in one word. Nonexistent. I decided that as tired as I've been the last couple of weeks, I really could use the rest and recovery.

On the schedule today - 7 miles GA with 10 100 yard stride outs. I'm travelling for a dinner appointment, so it looks like I'll get to check out some new running turf this afternoon!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Week in the Books

Yesterday wrapped another week on my quest to get fitter and slimmer. Hopefully I'm getting fitter (ha ha!). I ended the week with an enjoyable 14 mile run yesterday (honestly - I'm not being facetious). The seasons are changing too. Unlike most of my early morning runs the past couple of months, the sun was out in full force by 8:30 or so. I ended up downing about 70 ounces of water on and immediately following the run. And I was thirsty the rest of the day to boot.

Final stats for yesterday's run - 14.25 miles at an average pace of 10:30 and an average heart rate of 73% of max. Total for the week - 40.5 miles.

This week is a step back week in the plan. On the schedule:

Monday: Rest. I may try to dust off the erg and do a little rowing this evening.
Tuesday: 7 miles GA with 10 X 100 stride outs
Wednesday: Rest. I will dust off the erg and get some rowing in.
Thursday: 9 miles GA
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 11 miles medium long run
Sunday: 5 mile recovery. Then to the gym for some stretching and core work.
Total: 32 miles

I also started looking - there are 16 weeks left to the Long Beach Marathon. So, it's time to make up my mind - Full or Half?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

PR Race streak comes to an End

I've got to admit. I'm spoiled. It seems that every time I race I set a new PR. Well, the streak came to an end yesterday.

The race was the Magic Shoe 5K. This is the 20th year this race has been run, but this year it relocated from Irvine to Newport Beach. The new course is definitely a PR course. It runs a flat, wide open course. The only "hill" is about a quarter mile long and *maybe* 20 feet of climb. In other words - it's barely noticeable. Another big plus? Chip timed! Yes! A chip timed 5K! All those factors can lead to every possible PR opportunity.

But for me it wasn't to be. My last run was a 9 mile GA on Thursday that left me tired and aching. I did take Friday off, but I was still tired and stiff Saturday morning. I tried to get my body moving by taking an easy one mile warm up jog. Last weekend (Wrigley River 10K), I was able to slow way down for mile 3, regroup, and then push again for the last couple of miles to recover to a PR. A 5K though is too short to let up and as hard as I tried, I just was not able to push through mile 2. With the slowdown, so went the PR chance.

My goal was to break 25 minutes. To do that, I was going to need to average 8:05 and push pretty hard. I was going to use the same strategy that worked the last time (Costa Mesa Community Run) - go out a little faster than goal for mile 1, settle in behind someone running at pace for mile 2, and then push through mile 3 to the finish. . Mile 1 went great - 8:02. Mile 2 though - well - things kind of fell apart. It started with a side stitch about half a mile in. I had to pull up and try to get that under control. Okay done. Next, my legs had had it. Further slowdown required. Result was a slow 8:43. And by then I was dust. I pushed through mile 3 in an 8:41 and the final .1 in an 8:28 pace. Bottom line - chip time 26:03, 8:22 pace. That's 40 seconds slower that a couple months ago. But - I am satisfied. I am running 25% more miles now, I haven't been on a track for six weeks, and rest before the race was minimal.

The best thing about this race - check out the goodie bag:

More real stuff and fewer fliers!

This wraps up my racing schedule for the season. Since last October, I've run 3 5Ks, 5 10Ks, and 2 Half Marathons. I pushed through some minor injuries in December and January. I've watched my weekly mileage climb from the mid 20s to the low 40's. But, best of all, I'm still having fun and still enjoying my daily treks on the paths of Orange County! In fact, I'm off now for a 14 mile long run! Talk to you tomorrow!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Losing Some Weight - The Hardest Part

So, now that I've filled your head with numbers and calculations and convinced you how easy it is to lose weight, I thought I would spend today talking about where things go awry for me.

First off, I mentioned yesterday that these number assume current weight, age, and activity level. The first piece is easy to understand, As we lose weight and get older, the number of calories we need to exist goes down. For example, my BMR has gone from 2250 calories when I started (260 lbs 2 years ago) to 1960 now (based on 215 lbs). That's a reduction of 300 calories a day (that's one Krispy Kreme Chocolate covered custard filled donut). Here was my first little toe stub. When I first started losing weight I would "reward" myself and have that Krispy Kreme (well -actually we don't have Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts here in Orange County - but you get the idea). I didn;t understand that that 10 pounds I just lost was more than offset by a donut a couple or three times a week. Just to maintain weight as I get older and trimmer means I have to eat less - or at least be smarter about what I am eating. I would lose weight, and then relax. I would work out a little less and east a little more without understanding that those few extra calories a day was all it was taking to keep me from losing weight. It's not hard to rack up an extra 200 or 300 calories a day.

Second, AKA Alice hit the nail on the head when it comes to what makes calorie tracking difficult for me - estimating portion size. Portion size is the death knell for most people. What is 4 ounces of pasta? Cooked or pre cooked? 1 ounce of chips? That's a 1.3 ounce bag. Etc. Etc. I resorted to having a 1/2 cup measure with me to estimate portion size. Others I know have a postage scale. When I BBQ a burger at home though, I'm still not sure whether that's 4 ounces or 6 ounces or 7.34672 ounces of ground beef. Is that really a tablespoon of mayo? You get the idea. Portion sizing made folks like Jenny Craig very wealthy.

Then, Lindsay hit a home run with my other weakness - logging. To be effective, I need to log my food. Religiously. Lindsay left a comment yesterday - "last night i was tempted to have some more m&m's or sun chips before bed but then i was too lazy to log it so i didn't." Lindsay - I wished I had you will power. If it was my comment, I would be saying "last night i was tempted to have some more m&m's or sun chips before bed but then i was too lazy to log it so i didn't log it." Meh - what's an extra couple hundred calories between friends?

Finally, I love a nice meal out. Last night - for example. It was my wife's birthday, so the family went out to a nice relaxing dinner. How do I log baked truffle scented macaroni and cheese? Or Prime Short Ribs of Beef braised for 30 hours in rum and peppers. Sorry folks - I love good food!

So - how do I deal with these issues? I try. I try real hard. But I also don't stress if I have a few extra calories here and there. Or if I don't lose weight one week. Or put on a pound or two in a month. I know that by following this methodology I've dropped 45 pounds in total. And it's still moving the right direction, so something is working! Maybe slowly, but it's still happening.

On the exercise front, yesterday was a scheduled rest day. I'm hoping that my legs are rested enough to run my scheduled 5K (Magic Shoe 5K) this morning. The race is about a mile away from my house, and I'm tempted to run over to warm up. I'm still feeling fatigued, but not like last weekend before my 10K. I guess I'll find out just how tired I was in a couple of hours!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Losing Some Weight - Part 2

Yesterday I talked about understanding the output side of the calories out > calories in equation. We went through Sparkpeople's method of calculating my daily caloric needs based on BMR and activity level.

Now, let's talk about losing weight. In it's simplest form, one pound of weight equals 3500 calories. So, burn 3500 more calories that you eat, and in theory you lose a pound. Want to lose a pound a week? Eat 500 fewer calories than you burn each day. Want to lose a pound a month? Eat 120 fewer calories than you burn each day. We now have what we need to figure out how to lose the excess that we are targeting!

Let's do this old school. First off, we'll use my data. My BMR is 1950 calories. Adjust that for a sedentary lifestyle (basically sit in my office) - puts my daily base calorie needs at 2200 per day. Now, we need to adjust for exercise. I run a little over 35 miles per week. Estimating 100 calories per mile (or 3 miles per donut), I burn around 3500 calories per week. Add about 500 more cross training, and I get 4000 per week exercising. So - the equation looks like this:

Total calories out = (2200 cals/day X 7 days/wk) + 4000 = 19400 cals/wk

So, to maintain my current weight at my current activity level, I would need to eat around 2777 calories a day.

Now, I've targeted losing 15 pounds over the next six months. Assuming that six months is 180 days:

Daily calorie deficit = (15 lbs X 3500 cals/lb)/180 days = 333 cals/day

So, to lose 15 pounds at my current weight and activity level I would subtract 333 calories a day from the 2800 calories above, and I arrive at 2444 calories per day. Pretty close to Sparkpeople's calculations:

Now it's a matter of being religious and tracking the food that you are eating.

Sounds pretty simple huh? Well, let's talk about the reality of the situation. First off - all of these number are estimates. They are calculations over a population. They are not exact for Glenn Jones. Second, note the italicized letters. These calculations assume maintaining my 4000 per week calorie burn and my current weight. These are important points - as my weight decreases, my BMR will decrease. Likewise, if I reduce my weekly exercise level, then I need to adjust my exercise numbers accordingly. These two reasons are most often why we start losing weight aggressively only to plateau. More on that tomorrow.

Yesterday I did put in my miles. 9 miles in a *slow* 10:01 pace. Average heart rate was 79% of max. I'm really tired. I'm not fueling properly. Time to start eating right again.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Losing Some Weight

Yesterday I mentioned my evil snacking streak was causing me problems. I gotta come clean to everyone - I have a sweet tooth! My weakness is baked goods. Cakes, cookies, pies. And cheesecake. I will not set foot inside a Cheesecake Factory for fear of what is behind the display counter. I thought I would spend a little time today talking about how I got my weight under control and started working the pounds away.

To start out, weight was never a problem when I was growing up. Well - it was a problem - but the opposite way. I played basketball in high school for a couple of years, but a 5'11" frame carrying 133 pounds does not have much of a future in that sport. I was eating 5 to 6 meals a day to put weight on and couldn't. Through college, I enjoyed Las Vegas for buffets! Three, four sometimes five plates of food. I enjoyed eating! Bottom line is I was not an obese child that had always been fighting weight.

But, by the time I turned 50, I had expanded to a numbing 260 pounds. Not bad if I had also extended, but it was a problem on my 5'11" frame. Time to do something. Excercise seemed like a good thing to do. When I started exercising, the first 10 pounds just rolled off. After that though, it seemed that regardless how hard and long I worked out, I was not dropping weight. The problem was I didn't understand a pretty simple equation - to lose weight calories out > calories in. And to know how that equation was balancing, I had to understand the input side.

The first thing I learned about the input side of the equation is I really didn't understand the output side of things. Turned out that calories out was based on something I knew about (my first degree is in Biological Sciences) but hadn't really thought about since college days - Base Metabolic Rate or BMR. BMR is the number of calories burned to stay in bed all day. I found the easiest BMR calculator is at this website here. As a 5' 11", 51 year old, 215 pound male, my BMR is 1950 calories. That is what I would need to eat if I lived my dream life and watched baseball all day (what a life huh?).

But, we obviously don't stay in bed all day, so BMR needs to be adjusted for normal activity level. Well, I found the easiest way to approximate my daily caloric need was to find a website that did it for me. After experimenting for a while on various websites, I opted for Sparkpeople. (History of that decision is here.)

When setting up an account on Sparkpeople (totally free by the way), information critical to BMR and daily caloric needs are collected:

And your daily caloric needs are calculated:

Based on my input (age, gender, current weight, activity level) and my goals (drop an additional 15 pounds this year), I should be eating between 2410 and 2700 calories a day. Now, it's just a matter of keeping track of what I'm eating and making sure that I'm are getting enough of the right stuff to keep going while losing some of those pounds. That will be tomorrow's blog.

Oh - run? Yeah, just a measly, boring 5 mile recovery run. Man am I tired (more reason to start watching my diet again).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Eight More Miles

Yesterday was an 8 mile general aerobic run. I took off on my new favorite route from Big Corona to El Moro. I got going in the late afternoon, and the onshores were blowing pretty hard. So, my four miles out was pretty easy with the wind at my back. The four miles back though - well. The whitecaps on the ocean were an indication. Pant pant gasp whew! Headwinds. Yech! I wrapped up the run with 10 stride outs. I then went home and destroyed dinner!

I am soooo sore this morning, especially my quads. And my lower back is tired. I guess those stride outs got to me. Final stats on the run - 8 miles at 9:57 average pace with an average heart rate of 78% of max.

On a side note - I need to start tracking my calories again. I've been getting hungry in between meals lately, and have been snacking - a lot. I'm eating breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. Gotta get that back under control! As I ramp up (the next four weeks should be around 150 miles) I should be able to leave a pound or two behind. Sparkpeople - here I come (back again).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Today's Rant - "Doing It"

I'll be back on the trails here in Orange County today. On the schedule is an eight mile general aerobic run with 10 100 yard stride outs. I'm sure I'll end up choosing the CDM to Crystal Cove route again. This has evolved into my favorite route - despite running on a sidewalk on a busy road for a short distance, the varied terrain and wonderful views make it a beautiful run.

I'm finding that these eight to ten mile runs are getting easier and easier. Sometimes I feel that I'm not running very fast, but I think the increased aerobic base is starting to have it's benefits. This past weekend, I bettered my 10K PR by 32 seconds even though I started out tired. That can only be explained by being able to run farther faster and by carrying less weight when I am running. There was a comment posted yesterday about me mentioning an "easy" 14 mile run. Well - to be sure - 14 miles *is not* easy. But, I am finding that it no longer intimidates me the way 14 miles did a year ago. I know that I can go 14 to 16 miles without too many problems. I'll need a nap, and I'll be sore the next day, but my confidence to accomplish a run of that distance is way up.

And now the title of today's post "Doing It". A tweet from runkerrierun really got me thinking:

"All my old friends want me 2 help them lose weight. I write it all down & spend the time & then they don't do it."

Well, folks, I'm proof that if you "do it", it will happen! I am amazed at what I've been able to accomplish. I am amazed that race after race I go out and set new PRs. I am amazed that 14 miles is doable and 16 miles is well within my reach. I am amazed that I've lost over 45 pounds.

I got here by "doing it". Not by making a lot of excuses on why I can't. Or why I shouldn't. Or why the plan is wrong or why I know more than Hal Higdon or Pete Pfitzinger or Jack Daniels. It's having the trust in those far wiser than me that know what they are doing when they put a training plan together.

Start trusting your plan. If you are injured - take the weeks or months off and get better. If you are tired - take a day off. If you had a bad run - get over it. Close the book on that one - learn what you didn't do right, fix it, and then carry on with the plan. All good plans have the flexibility to allow you to do that. Have the patience to let things happen. But most important - trust. Trust those who know what they are doing. They have planned the work using years of experience with thousands of athletes. Now - it's up to you to stop doubting and work the plan.

(Rant is now over. Back into my hole.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Week = Fail!

Yesterday wrapped another week in my training. This week can be summed up in one work - FAIL. I had 14 miles on the schedule. But, I woke stiff and sore. My quads were *really* tired. My lower back was sore and my left buttock was producing some sharp pain. But most concerning to me was the burning sensation I would feel every now and then in my left shin and the sharp pain inside my left knee. I've been visited by the latter before in my life. The telltale signs of tendinitis.

So - it was decision time. Go out and do an easy 14 miles? Keep it really slow and easy? Or take a rest day, which, coupled with Monday's plan, would give me a couple of back to back rest days. Well - for me the decision was pretty cut and dry. One day of extra rest cost me 14 miles. One day of running with tendinitis and other little tweaks and niggles bothering me could put me on the shelf for a couple weeks. So, I took a day off. That means last week's number were rather pathetic - 15.2 miles total.

I am also letting this be my lesson that when it's time for new shoes it's time for new shoes! I was trying to squeeze some extra miles out of my old shoes since I only have about 300 miles on them. With the longer distances, it appears (and smells) like my shoes have gotten and stayed wet. I'll watch my new shoes to make sure that they get a chance to dry out between runs!

What I've done is moved last week's training to this week, with a minor adjustment for a 5K on Saturday:

Monday - Rest day. Going to take it off completely to give my legs and knee a rest
Tuesday - 8 mile GA. Finish up with 10 x 100 stride outs
Wednesday - 5 mile recovery. Hit the gym for stretching and core work.
Thursday - 9 mile GA
Friday - Rest day.
Saturday - Magic Shoe 5K. Tack on a couple miles warm up/warm down. Hit the gym for stretching and workout.
Sunday - 14 mile long run
Total: 41 miles

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wrigley River Run Race Report

Someone who is not familiar with the history of Southern California might think I am talking about Chicago. After all, William Wrigley Jr. did own the Chicago Cubs and built the stadium that most remember him for - Wrigley Field. But, William Wrigley played an important part in the history of Southern California too. Wrigley purchased Santa Catalina Island in 1919 (the Wrigley family still owns most of the island). Some of you may have heard about Avalon on Catalina Island - these days a tourist destination. Avalon was built by Wrigley. And, baseball got its start in Los Angeles thanks to Wrigley. The Los Angeles Angels (back before they joined the American League in 1961) was started (1925) and owned by Wrigley, and played here in L.A. in Wrigley Field (long since gone). There are several areas that carry the Wrigley name here. Today's race was in one of those areas - Wrigley Village in West Long Beach.

The excitment started early. I had heard from a couple of virtual friends of mine that they were going to be there. As soon as I got out of my car I saw person #1 - Penny from Planet Yennp Running! Penny is as nice and delightful as she comes across in her blog. And no Penny - you are *not* an Amazon! You need to talk to those folks at Camelback about their sizing! Even though we live within 30 miles of each other, this is the first time that we've met.

And just to show how the evil network of runners work - Penny introduced me to two of her blogging fields - Mary (Lilhlfpint) and Erica (Cupcakecarnival). It was a pleasure meeting the two of you!

As for the race - the morning was actually *perfect* for a run. Overcast skies. Rain (yes - real rain - not just a heavy drizzle). Temperatures in the upper 50's. All systems were go. Except for me. Despite taking Friday off, I was still sore and tired from Thursday's run. My legs were sore from shoes that need replacing. I was definitely not at my peak for this race.

I enjoyed my normal pre-race ritual. Porta potty - check. Coffee - check. Donut - check. I was as ready as I was going to be. By this time, the 5K'ers had started. I warmed up by jogging about half a mile up the course. By this time some of the faster 5K runners were making their way back on this out and back course. I stopped and cheered them on. Then - up in the distance - I eyeed Penny making her way back to the finish. I latched on and ran with her back to the finish to wrap up my warm up. Penny - you made me break a sweat!

A few minutes later it was time for the 10K to start. It is *really* nice to be in a race with only a couple hundred runners instead of thousands. No jockeying for position. No pushing slower runners out of the way. We took off in a light sprinkle.

This course was *flat*. Not quite like a pancake (there were a couple of inclines and one underpass) but there were no hills of any type of this course. I settled in to run my race. My goal was to break 55 minutes. Miles one and two had me on track. But, then, fatigue set in. My legs were starting to hurt. Heart rate and breathng said it shouldn't be lactic acid buildiup - but nonetheless - they were hurting. I still had four miles left, so I dialed the pace back in and tried to conserve what I had left for a finishing push.

Then at mile 5 - there she was - my savior! My buddy Ingrid (travelmama from the Runner's World forums). She had 'threatened' to show up and find me out on the course! What a sight for sore eyes - there at the water station at mile 5 with cups in hand. I gave her a great big sweaty hug and grabbed the nectar from her hands. Ingrid and I first met at the Southern California Half back in January. Since then I've seen her at two other runs, and if I wasn't such a marathon wimp, would have seen her at two others. Ingrid is another one of my certified running nut buddies - she has run 12 marathons in the last 12 months. All with an injured leg (ITBS and tendonitis). She keeps threateneing to take time off. I guess her idea of taking time off is to show up at a race to help! We should all be as charitable to our fellow runners! (And to let you know what kind of person Ingrid is, she was on her bike on her way to the local mission to donate clothing - race t-shirts that she was no longer going to wear).

Well - back to the race. There was still a little over a mile left. I was pretty sure my pace had been inconsistent since mile 2. I tried to push a little harder. Next thing I knew, we were rounding the corner and the finish line was in sight a quarter mile up the street. I gave my final push and hit the tape. Final time? 55:00. Argh!!!! One second and I would have broken my 55 minute goal! Instead, I was happy with a 32 second PR. I'm still making progress!

Overall, this was a pleasant race. Everything was well organized. The course was well marked, and there were plenty of volunteers out on the course to keep us going the right direction. Water stations were well stocked and well placed. And the post race food (bagles, oranges, bananas, pizza) and drink hit the spot! If you are looking to PR - this is a course to do it on.

I wrapped up a neat little race in a neat little community by spending some more time with my neat friend Ingrid, enjoying food, drink, and company. Want to know why I run....?

P.S. - Here's the pace chart from my race. It's pretty obvious where I lost this one....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Back at' Em

Okay. No excuses. I'm back in Southern California. No planes. No hotels. No reason to *not* run. So, I took off after work and hit up the San Diego Creek Trail for nine miles.

In theme with my desire to check out some new trails, I set out on a new spur of the trail just past mile 3. I was on this spur for about a mile and a half, but the trail continued south. I think if I continued, I would run into the trail that we used for the Southern California Half. Looks like I have another trail to check out on my longer runs!

The run was overall pretty slow. After turning around, the headwinds were brutal. There is a storm blowing through (in fact, there were actual thunderstorms) and the weather has been downright blustery. Second, I need new shoes. By mile 7, I was starting to feel pain in places I don't normally feel pain. I only have 300 miles on my current shoes. But, with the longer distances and the warmer temperatures, my shoes are getting and staying wet (perspiration). I think that has broken them down a little sooner than normal. Anyways, I only have a couple to three weeks left on them at my current mileage. Luckily I have a 15% coupon to Road Runner. Looks like I'll be making a trip today!

Final stats on the run - 9 miles at an average pace of 9:59. Heart rate averaged 83% of MHR - still within aerobic range. This morning I'm quite a bit sorer than normal - especially my quads, lower back and hips. More evidence that my shoes have given up the ghost.

On tap today - rest day (another one?). Yes - and I think I'll take it to help me get ready for the Wrigley River Run on Saturday. I'm excited! I get to meet my fellow blogger Penny of Planet Ynnep Running fame! Woo hoo!

Also, I wanted to share this picture with all of you - this is my finish at the Cinco de Mayo Half.

Funny - I don't remember being in that much pain! As my fellow runner and Whitneyite Lori at Run Along Now said on my facebook wall - "after 2 years of races, i haven't had even 1 good picture!" Touche! I think it's a huge conspiracy to embarrass us runners.

Oh and Lori? She is a certifiable nut. She's running the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run this Saturday (and probably Sunday). Folks - this is a woman who didn't even run two years ago. My hat's off to you Lori!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Missed Another Day

Yesterday was kind of a typical day in flight. Full planes. Delays. I think what has happened with the airlines is that these days of tough economic times is that cuts in expenses were made by cutting back on the number of flights offered. The upshot is fewer flights and fuller planes. Better for the airlines. Not for fliers though.

Bottom line is I got home a little later than planned. I still had plenty of time to get in my planned five miles, but I just was not in the right frame of mind. So National Running Day was out the window. I settled in for a quiet evening at home instead.

I've adjusted this week's plan accordingly. Instead of a 42 mile week, I'll end up with a 29 mile week instead. Today I'll pick up where things left off - a 9 mile GA run. Back to the swing of things!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Hotel Streak Remains Intact!

I'm talking about not running on hotel treadmills!

As mentioned a couple of days ago, I am on a business trip (still). It has been a whirlwind of a trip. Landing in Dallas Monday evening. Driving two plus hours out to the small town in East Texas. Then completing the job and driving back to Dallas yesterday. I got to my hotel in the late afternoon (around 4:30). The minute I stepped out of the car, I knew that running outside was not going to happen. It was 90 plus degrees, and the skies were starting to cloud up. I eyed the hotel treadmill (actually very nice), and made plans to hit it a little later in the evening.

Well, like all plans of mice and men - I went back to my room and promptly fell asleep. I woke an hour later (yes - the nap was *very* refreshing). The problem was I had a dinner appointment at 7 PM. My 8 miles on the treadmill was going to take more time than I had available. So...

I kept my streak of not running on hotel treadmills intact! The bottom line impact is that this week will turn from a 42 mile week to a 34 mile week. I'll do as most training plans suggest and just let the dead miles be dead miles.

I fly back this afternoon, and should be able to put in my planned five miles today. It will be back to the plan tomorrow!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Wrapping Up the Week

With my 4 mile recovery run, I wrapped another week in the history of the Running Fat Guy. Final stats for the week: 37 miles running and 10 miles walking. This also wraps May. I ended up running fewer days than last (11 days off compared to 9 days off in April), but putting in more miles (142 compared to 136). The fatigue that I started the week with seems to be gone as well. A couple nights of extra sleep and a couple days of pigging out seemed to do the trick! I'm not sure that I did the weight loss thing any justice, but I'm feeling a whole lot better than I was on Monday.

This also wraps up four months of consistent running. Since my groin strain back in December and recovery in January, I've been able to remain pretty consistent with my running. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I slowly came back. If I look at my training progress over the last few months, I've doubled my January mileage, but it was a slow build over a couple of months.
(In fact, now that I'm looking at the graph - check out that doubling of miles between August and September. Hmm. Maybe my groin strain was well deserved.)
I'm feeling pretty good about where this training is leading. I've dropped 10 pounds since the beginning of the year. I need to get my night time snacking back under control to work on the other 10 pounds on my goals for this year. I'm going to knock on wood here so that I can keep the streak alive.
This week's plan includes more base build and a 10K race:

Monday: Rest day. No cross training since I'm on a plane to East Texas
Tuesday: 8 miles GA. Wrap it up with 10X100 stride outs.
Wednesday: 5 mile recovery
Thursday: 9 miles GA
Friday: Rest day.
Sunday: 14 mile long run.
Total planned: 42.2 miles (new mileage record if I get it).

The catch this week is that I am getting on a plane today for a short business trip to Texas. In the past, I've always used my travel time as extra rest days. But I am eager to continue base building. So I'm going to try to get my run in Tuesday afternoon. Hopefully there will be a running path close to my hotel. That would be pretty prime. Maybe 4 miles on a trail and four miles on a treadmill. I'll have to play it by ear.

Finally, I want to apologize to my readers if some of these blogs sound like I'm full of myself. Being a male, I'm not good at things like keeping a diary (heck - as long as the Dodgers and Lakers are winning and the Stanley Cup is on TV, who cares about anything else?). So, I end up using my blog here as my diary. It's actually kind of neat to go back and check my old blogs to see how things are progressing (or not).

Hope that this week is good and injury free for all of you out there! And San Diego Rock n' Roll runners - take some time off! You all deserve it!