Friday, April 30, 2010

The Humbling Quality of Patience

One thing I read a lot about as I peruse the blogosphere is the amount of disappointment that I see about paces, distances, and results. I like to call it the “Humbling Quality of Patience”

This is the quality that we don’t seem to want to allow into our lives. I certainly fall into that camp. Every now and then, though, I have an experience that reminds me that sometimes I just need to allow patience to run it’s course. One of those experiences happened yesterday…

I may have let it slip a time or two that I’m a bit of a poker fanatic. If you want me to DNS a race, all you need to do is tell me about a nearby poker game (well, I’m not quite *that* bad). Poker is not so much a game of cards as it is a game of position and cunning. It’s about convincing others at a table that you have better cards than they do. Sometimes you do. Sometimes you don’t. That doesn’t matter as long as they *think* you do. The problem comes when those at the table either (a) don’t believe you because you’ve given them an opportunity to see that they *would have* beat you, or (b) don’t understand the object of the game. With the increasing popularity of poker, more and more of (b) happens everyday. People betting recklessly and irresponsibly. Which is good if you’re holding good cards, bad otherwise. Yesterday the tables were filled with beginners (“donks” as we lovingly call them). I was smacking my lips, because this can be the lead to a very profitable day. If I have good cards and good draws, I can generally increase my bets and increase my winnings. The last time I had this opportunity a few weeks back, I made a wage equivalent to about $60 per hour.

There was only one problem. No one told the statistical guru to be kind to me. I started at Noon. By 5PM when I quit, I had seen four quality starting hands all day (it’s normal to see somewhere around 20 to 30 hands and to win 2 or 3 of those  – per hour). And two of those got beat by folks who drew better hands. The rest of the day was spent folding hands and minimizing damage. That makes for a pretty boring and disappointing day. Folks were losing money hand over fist. I couldn’t be part of the collection mechanism. Grrrrrrrr.

So the next time you are ready to play with the donks (line up at the start of an easy 5K or 10K, a flat HM, or a marathon in ideal weather conditions), have a real understanding of how to play the game (followed your training plan to a tee), and watch those hands being dealt to you (pass each mile marker), remember that statistics (the way you feel, the fact you didn’t sleep well, nursing an injury, stressing out) are random. Everything may not all line up for you on that particular day. Time to be dejected and hang your head low? Nope. Just remember the Humbling Quality of Patience. And get ready to do it all over again.

Speaking of patience – 223.0 on the scale this morning. Arrrrgh! Back to my start point! Too much at the buffet yesterday maybe?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Is It a Perception Thing?

My turn to ask a question. How long does it take for strength and conditioning to degrade? Has my conditioning really gone to pot in four weeks even though I’m still putting in 20 to 30 miles a week? Or is it a perception thing?

I am often my worst critic. I know that. It can keep me going when others might be satisfied with where they are at. It also can lead to disappointment when it shouldn’t.

A prime example was last night. I had a cross train session on my schedule. I positioned the ergometer in the garage, fed the cat, dialed up some Phish on my iPod, and started a steady state row. I felt like I was struggling to keep a 2:20 pace (that’s how long it takes to row 500 meters). After 45 minutes I hopped off. My legs were quivering. I was soaked in sweat. My head started spinning. How can that be? Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that I was invincible?

So I started checking the data. 9200 meters. Average pace of 2:26.7. Hmm. Let’s see here. The last time I rowed this long was… Where’s that Concept2 online log? Hmmm. February 17. Back when I was invincible. Let’s see here. 10000 meters in 48:15 at an average pace of 2:26.00.

My point? Let’s not be so hard on ourselves folks! Perception isn’t always reality. My new philosophy? I start worrying when my mind starts dishing out the complacency.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Track Time Tuesday

The workout was tough. My Garmin displayed the dreaded “Batteries are Low” message. Last week a little rain was enough of an excuse to go home. But yesterday I showed up at the track in time to get warmed up for an interval workout. And I stayed.

The workout was 3 X 800 with 3 min rest followed by 2 X 400 with 2 min rest:

  • Interval 1 (800): 3:48
  • Interval 2 (800): 3:53
  • Interval 3 (800): 3:51
  • Interval 4 (400): 1:52
  • Interval 5 (400): 1:43

There was some serious sucking of wind last night. But I showed. I stuck it out. I finished.

Oh. I recently had some questions about intervals. I just kind of assume that because I know, everyone does. I know. I shouldn’t make those assumptions. Here are some answers:

Q: What does it mean to do 3 X 1600? A: The way that intervals are communicated are: # of repeats X distance. So, “3X1600” means 3 repeats of 1600 yards/meters. Run 1600 m. Rest. Run 1600 m. Rest. Run 1600 m. Done. Which brings up something else I’d like to point out – you will sometimes see intervals on a training plan like this: “ 1 mi WU, 8X800 @ 5K pace 2min AR, 1 mi WD”. This is saying 1 mile warm up followed by eight repeats of 800 meters run at your 5K pace with a 2 minute active rest (jog) in between each 800, followed by a 1 mile warm down. Clear as mud?

Q: I know that going around a track four times equals 1600 but being outside how do you tell? Do you have a watch or something that tells you you've gone 1600m? A: The short answer is yes – I have a Garmin. If I didn’t I would pre-measure a course ( driving in a car, etc.) and then run the course. The long answer though is that intervals really should be run on a track or some other flat surface. Intervals have a very specific goal in a training cycle (VO2 Max stimulation), so running them on a hilly course makes pacing difficult. So the bottom line is try to run them on a track or a measured flat course (around a park for example).

Q: Can you do intervals on a treadmill? To some extent, it seems like it would be easier, or convenient, no? What incline on a treadmill is sort of equivalent to running outside on streets? A: A treadmill can be used for interval training. As far as incline? I live in Southern California. Our weather is beautiful all the time. We don’t need no stinking treadmills. Seriously though, there is one thing that you should keep in mind if you use a treadmill. Streets don’t move. Treads do. So the action that you take on a treadmill is to lift your foot and drop it on the tread. On the track, you pick up your back foot and drive with your front foot. Just sayin’.

One final point about intervals. Don’t run them too fast!  We all want to go as fast as we can, but remember – there’s a purpose to interval training. The purpose is to stimulate VO2Max by raising our heart rate to a specific level for a specific time. Run your intervals too fast and not only do you raise your heart rate above the target you’re after, but if you can’t sufficiently rest between intervals, then the likelihood of hitting your desired target for later intervals becomes more and more suspect. So remember – 5K pace!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Unscheduled Rest Day or When to Buy Shoes

I had to take an unscheduled rest day yesterday. I often see questions from runners about knowing when to replace shoes. The answer I always give is “You’ll know when it’s time.” For me “time” is when I start feeling pain in places I normally don’t feel pain – quads, knees, hips and lower back. Well, I started feeling the pain a couple weeks ago. But Sunday’s tempo run was the straw that broke the camel’s back. By midday yesterday, my lower back was so sore I had trouble getting in and out of my car. It is nothing serious – just pesky muscular pain just bad enough to reward me for being lazy. I probably *could* have rowed, but I’m of the mindset that with no goal race looming, I’d rather be safe than sorry. So, Monday’s rowing session is being moved to Friday. Things are much better this morning, and I’ll be on the track this evening with Cal Coast. By the way – I *did* get new shoes yesterday.

I’m also busy crafting my next training cycle. I’ve decided that even though I don’t have a goal race yet, I am going to progress on a marathon cycle. My thought is that this will help set me up for my eventual goal of running a 50K in the (distant) future. I’m not going to treat this plan as gospel, so there will be a lot of flexing and adapting to things that are important to me – things like intervals with Cal Coast and trails with the Trailheadz. I want to get the miles in the books.

I’m also trying a new plan this time. About a month ago, Jill (Run With Jill), turned me on to a book that I found pretty interesting. The book is called “Brain Training for Runners”. The upshot of the book is that our brains start shutting things down when it senses that our physical body might be harmed. For example, the author (Matt Fitzgerald) contends that fatigue isn’t caused solely by glycogen depletion (studies have shown that there is still plenty of stored energy left  when we start fatiguing), but by our brain’s anticipation (teloanticipation) of falling energy reserves. The brain starts reducing muscle activation as a defense mechanism. Do I buy it? I’m not sure, but my history always has me shutting down pretty early in race situations. The other thing I like about the plan in the book is that they integrate a lot of strength conditioning and technique drills, something I desperately need.

So hang on kids. We’re about to begin an adventure…

Monday, April 26, 2010


It took five weeks, but with yesterday’s 40 minute/4.5 mile tempo run, I hit 30 miles for the week. I’ve got to admit that 3.8 of those were done on the rowing machine, but the rest were done on my feet.

This week will wrap up the final week on my Higdon Advanced Recovery plan:

  • Monday: 45 minutes erg. Somewhere around 5 miles (in lieu of 5 mile GA run).
  • Tuesday: Intervals with Cal Coast. Somewhere around 5 miles.
  • Wednesday: 45 minutes erg. Somewhere around 5 miles (in lieu of 5 mile GA run).
  • Thursday: 6 mile general aerobic run
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 9 mile general aerobic run
  • Sunday: 3 mile general aerobic run (in lieu of 5K race)
  • Total: Around 33 miles

To be honest, I don’t feel like I’m recovered yet. I feel much heavier on my feet, and little pains still abound. I’ll put my nose to the grindstone and keep things moving. Hopefully the motion is forward and not sideways.

Part of my lack of motivation is no doubt related to the lack of any short term goals. I only have one race on my schedule – the San Diego RnR Marathon Relay – and as long as I can be competitive at the 10K distance I’ll be fine. Don’t get me wrong – I’m really looking forward to the event – I have several friends and family for who this will be their first 26 mile experience. I’m planning on being a one man cheering section – out on the course three or four times running people in and providing whatever moral support I can. But other than that, I don’t really have any firm plans. And where there aren’t goals and plans there is only ambiguity and confusion.

Time to move on. Time to choose a training regimen. Time to get a few goal races on the schedule. Time to get the show on the road. Remember folks – never confuse motion with progress.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More Miles More Smiles

The streak is now five days. The good news is I didn’t have to fight with myself to get out the door. The bad news is that the actual act of running still wasn’t “fun”. I put in six miles on the Lower Back Bay with my running club. I had nine miles on my schedule, but as I said – the actual act itself wasn’t fun. I was overdressed, overheated, and oversore. I went with the flow and made the turnaround with the rest of the Cal Coast runners (most who are tapering for next weekend’s Orange County Marathon). Six miles at an average pace of 10:06 and an average heart rate of 78% of max.

Smiles? Oh. That was later in the afternoon. This weekend the Ragnar Relay made it’s way through Southern  California. For those of you who may not be familiar (I certainly wasn’t), the Ragnar pits teams of runners over multiple days over some pretty incredible distances. It’s not only a test of running ability, but endurance (as in lack of sleep) and teamwork. This weekend, the Los Angeles/Southern California version made it’s appearance with just a tad over 200 miles run in 36 legs over Friday and Saturday.I knew a couple runners doing it, and since the last exchange was happening just a few miles from my house, I headed over to lend some moral support and snap a few photos.

Folks – this looked like a ton of fun! Party atmosphere abounded. It was pretty obvious that these people were having a great time:

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These are people who had slept maybe 4 or 5 hours over the last two days. People who had put up with eating on the run and no comforts of home to speak of (can you imagine being stuck in a van with 6 other stinky runners?). Of course, our wonderfully bright and sunny day didn’t hurt the atmosphere:


But, the real reason I was there was to meet one of my fav bloggers/tweeps who had come out from Colorado to enjoy our Southern California weather run with Team Sugatorias – Alicia (Confessions of a (Not so) Fat Runner/alitherunner). It’s always nice to talk to an actual person! I met her at the exchange point. She was full of positive energy as she got ready to accept the challenge as the last runner for her team:


I also got to talk to one of my other fav bloggers/tweeps, JT (, also part of Team Sugatorias:

DSC_0073Then, a few minutes later, the exchange of wristband happened and Ali was off up the hill for the final five miles of her journey:

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And with that, the half of Team Sugatorias that wasn’t at the finish line readied themselves for some well deserved P&P (pizza and partying)! Well done!


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Four Days in a Row

With yesterday’s five miler my streak is up to four days in a row. I ran Crystal Cove State Park. Easy five miles with a little hill thrown in here and there at an average pace of 9:40.  Hopefully things are back on track. And I *DO* need some new shoes. Today’s soreness is the type and in places (quads, hips, knees, lower back) telling me that my GT2150’s have seen better days.

I’m out the door for six miles this morning with Cal Coast. The plan is to finish….

Friday, April 23, 2010

Trying to Get a Streak Going

Mother Nature tried to conspire against me yesterday*. Just as I headed out the door for my afternoon run, the skies opened up. Again. Seems like we are caught in a series of winter storms that is more typical of February. The temperatures are in the low/mid 50’s. There’s even snow falling in the local mountains.

So – what did I do? Go out and brave the cold and rain? Heck no! I went home and considered the rowing machine. Then I watched some NCIS reruns (does anyone else remember a young David McCallum on the Man from UNCLE?). Then I cooked dinner. You get the idea here.

Imagine my shock and surprise when I looked outside a little after 6 o’clock and noticed this yellowish disc in the sky**. And no clouds. So I laced up my shoes and headed out the door for my scheduled interval workout – one mile warm up, 3 X 1600 w/ 250 active rest, one mile warm down for a total of 5.75 miles (not the 6.75 that I had on the original plan - my math skills seem to be questionable these days).

Shocking. Absolutely shocking:

  • Interval 1: 8:20
  • Interval 2: 8:19
  • Interval 3: 8:30

No. Not the times. The fact that I could string three miles together without (a) having to crawl the last 400 of each interval, and (b) collapsing in a heap somewhere in the first interval. To say I was sucking some serious wind would have been an understatement – heck – even *I* could hear myself coming.

I’m paying for it this morning though. I’m in some serious pain. Quads, lower abs. You know – the good stuff that tells you that you had a killer workout. I’m also paying for it on the scale too. I drank at least a gallon of water last night, and I’m still sucking down the liquids this morning. 223.4. That’s plus 3.2 pounds from last week. And I know I’m running about 400 calorie deficit per day, so I’m taking it all in stride (although I am preparing the noose for next week though).

* I was actually crossing my fingers. Have I told you my motivation is at an all time low?

** Damn you Mother Nature!!!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sputtering Along

So maybe there’s some hope after all. I spent some of my morning reading my blog roll. I cannot tell you how motivating this is. Even if I  don’t leave a comment, I *do* read each and every one of your blogs. I hit one in particular yesterday….

“MILES 13-18  Suddenly things took a turn, so to speak.  I had lost that "essence of running" joy that I ramble on about on this blog and somewhere on one of the Newton Hills I started to get calf cramps in each leg and it was KILLING ME!  I wanted to quit.  I wanted to yell at the spectators!  … I just kept thinking about something a "Mystery Coach" mentioned in their blog which carried me through this whole race. “Just when you think you only have 70% to give,  dig deep because you really have about 30% more." So,  I basically ran the rest of the race chanting this mantra with my right foot knotted up and my toes doing a "paraplegic" thing with every step.  Truly,  my foot was turned in and I was completely tweaking up through the calf.  But I kept going.  Remember?  I still had 30% more to give”

And I’m sitting here complaining about some sore knees, tired legs, and a little rain. Thanks Meg. This is the kick in the butt I needed.

I headed out in the late afternoon and put in 5 miles. The weather was brisk (mid 50’s*) with a 15 mph headwind. It was tough to keep moving at times, but crap. What am I complaining about?

On tap today – some mile intervals. Gotta get them done….

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What’s This Falling From the Sky?

I had to check the calendar yesterday. It’s late April right? And I suppose April showers bring May flowers, but honestly – this is Southern California. Enough of this rain already!

I headed to the high school track a little after 5PM to put in some interval work. None of my pals were there yet, and just as I stepped out of the car the heavens opened. This wasn’t a normal warm spring shower – but a cold February type downpour. I decided there and then that my rowing machine would be meeting my butt. I ended up spending 30 minutes on the erg for a total of 6.1 kilometers. Today my back and shoulders are tired. I need more of that.

Speaking of being tired, my legs have been killing me. Nothing serious and no injury, but just a nagging tired muscle pain in my quads and some sore creaky knees. It’s been almost a month since the marathon, and I just feel like my legs are not recovering this time around. Maybe it’s time for new shoes – I do have around 350 miles on my road shoes. Hmmm.

Which reminds me – my schedule for this week:

  • Monday – Rest. Recovery from weekend race.
  • Tuesday – Intervals with track club. 5 miles or thereabouts. (Already behind the eight ball).
  • Wednesday – 5 general aerobic miles
  • Thursday – 3 x 1600 intervals at 10K pace. With warm ups and warm downs, around 7 miles
  • Friday – 4 general aerobic miles
  • Saturday – 9 general aerobic miles
  • Sunday – 40 minute tempo run
  • Total – around 34 miles

Keep me honest folks!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A New 5K PR!!! Maybe Not???? False Alarm!!!

(Note: This replaces an earlier post this morning. Once I mapped the run correctly, I was vindicated. Sorry Mr. Race Director for my earlier allegations!)

In general, I stay away from 5K races. I find them pretty annoying to tell you the truth. They are short, they are fast, and they hurt a lot. Even more so, I find it tough to justify getting in the car and driving longer than I’ll be running. Every now and then I’ll do a 5K if it’s close to home just to see if I’m getting any faster. Most of the time the news is pretty depressing.

But, this weekend, I broke my rule about driving for less than 30 minutes of running when I decided to drive about an hour and fifteen minutes for the Temecula Challenge 5K. My main motivation to do this came from an old High School acquaintance that I reconnected to through Facebook. She had contacted me a few months back about training for a race, but wasn’t entirely sold on the running thing. Hmm. Sounded pretty familiar to me. So I made a commitment that if she ran the race I would too. I mean running has been good to me, so I’m pretty happy to do what I can to help out anyone who might be intimidated by the whole running thing.

Of course though, I also had an ulterior motive. If you don’t know, poker is like my second hobby. Well – okay – my first. I love poker. I don’t love running. But I digress. From the start line of the Temecula Challenge, one of my favorite casinos is within spitting distance. So what better thing to do on a Sunday morning while the rest of the family is sleeping? Run a little, poker a lot….

This was a pretty low key event. The 5K was actually the start leg of a sprint triathlon. Since my last attempt at cycling left me a bloody mess (when I fell) and I swim like a bag full of rocks, I was only there for the run portion of the event. There were maybe 300 runners in total, and right on time at 8AM we were off!

The first quarter of a mile was on a slight incline followed by a stretch of level running. We turned right and headed on up a more moderate incline, past the mile point to a turnaround. From there it was downhill for a mile. Whoopie!!!!! I let the jets burn just a tad coming down the hill to the second turnaround. From there, we had a slight uphill back to the start point. I had to slow down just a touch when some of the remaining vestiges of the creeping grunge caught back up with me. I pulled over for maybe 30 seconds to hack half a lung, and then got back at it. The finish was downhill into a chute where us runners peeled off into a finish chute and the triathloners continued to the transition area.

I looked at my watch and had to make a second take. 25:03. New PR?!?! How can that be? My running has been anything but consistent lately, and I’ve done zero speedwork. Yeah – I pushed it as much as I could, but I sure didn’t feel like I had just put in a PR performance. Wow! Then to top it off, that was good enough for 3rd in my AG! Woo hoo! I left on a high as I headed across the street for the 10AM No-Limit Texas Holdem tournament.

When I got home later (like really later) Sunday, I dumped my Garmin into Sporttracks. I noticed something that startled me a little. 2.88 miles? What? That certainly would explain the PR and the perceived effort. I mapped the run on Map My Run. 2.97 miles. Crap. I hung my head and let my minions know that The Running Fat Guy had failed. Heck, I even crafted a blog post and posted it this morning!

But hey – Garmins don’t always work 100% of the time right? So – how can I confirm this. After all, it’s not every day that *I* put in a PR effort. In a last ditch effort to save face, I checked and rechecked the map. Then I noticed it – I had mapped the first turnaround a block short of where it actually was. So I remapped. I was as accurate as I could be. The start line was just behind the alleyway shown on the map. The first turn around just shy of Redhawk Parkway. The second turnaround right at the alleyway shown on the map.

Wow. Not 2.88 miles. 3.08 miles. Close enough for me! To quote one of my heros as he finished Pedro’s talent show dance - “YESSSSSSS!!!” Official time: 25.06!!!! Woo hoo! New PR!!!!!!

And to top it off, my poker day went pretty damn well too!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Busy Weekend

Yikes! I’ve missed a couple days of posting. Between trail runs, a 5K, and a couple of casino trips, it was a busy weekend. Today’s post will kind of be like post dating my diary.

I’ll start with Saturday. A couple months ago, I joined the SoCal Trailheadz – a local trail running club. I’ve been along for a couple of “New Member” runs, but with all the marathon training that I was doing, I wasn’t able to take advantage of any of the group runs. So Saturday, I joined six other Trailheadz for an early morning run where I had run on Thursday. The day was magnificent and the company excellent as we negotiated the single tracks of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. One of the cool things about running with a group is there is always someone who knows more about the area than I do. I was once again introduced to another world that I never knew existed in Orange County!

And talk about hills? How about this one? It’s called Big Bend :

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It’s the one at mile 5:

Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 4-17-2010, Elevation - Distance 

Yeah. I walked.

My legs were jelly at the top of Big Bend – so I wimped out (most of the group was going 15 miles) and headed the 2 1/2 miles back to the car. Not a bad way to start a morning – 9 1/4 miles of the most beautiful hills with some new friends!


Tomorrow – The Temecula Challenge 5K – or - when is a PR not a PR?

P.S. – Thanks Diedre for taking the camera out and snapping the photos!

Friday, April 16, 2010

It’s Beautiful in Them Hills

I headed into the local hills yesterday for a change or scenery. It’s beautiful up there! And all less than ten minutes from home!

The trailhead:


The trails:


The flora:

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The views:

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That’s the ocean out there in the distance. Down there is Crystal Cove, one of my other favorite places to run.

Oh. The run? Seven and a half miles with a few hills thrown in for good measure:


Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 4-15-2010, Elevation - Distance 

I’m a little (actually quite) sore this morning. I was in serious tongue dragging mode toward the end. At least this guy didn’t get what he was waiting for….


And it’s Friday. Weigh in time. Gulp. 220.2. Eight tenths less than last week. At least the slope of the line is still correct. Just don’t let me get near any food these days. What you just may have heard is me inhaling that little almond from six feet away…..

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Two Days in a Row!

Made it out for a quick four mile run late yesterday. I started in the Lower Back Bay, and mixed it up a little by heading out onto the open streets (Eastbluff Rd, Jamboree Rd):

Running Lower Back Bay 4-14-2010

Not to worry. The sidewalks are pretty wide on these busy streets. At least I got some hills in:

Running Lower Back Bay 4-14-2010, Elevation - Distance

I can tell that my body *still* doesn’t like me for my trek through Los Angeles a couple weeks back. My lower abs are tired/sore and my legs feel fatigued. I was pleased with my paces (especially when you look at the elevation profile above):

Running Lower Back Bay 4-14-2010, Pace

It’s just a tough painful go of it these days. I’m reminded of what one of my friends said once about running post marathon – it just takes time until everything feels right again. How long? Sometimes it’s a week. Sometimes it’s a month. He said once it took him 8 weeks until he was able to feel like he was doing more than just shuffling along. Time for me to be patient and get the miles in.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Not Much to Add Today

Made it to the track with my pals from Cal Coast last night. Two mile warm up, 2 X 400, 2 X 800 intervals, mile and a half warm down for five miles total. It was real obvious that I hadn’t done this in a while. The speed was still there. It was the pain that was the difference.

I engaged in a brief discussion last night about midway through the session. Me to Coach Sumner - “Wow. I can sure tell I haven’t been out here doing this in a while.” Coach to me - “I can too. Add a few pounds there Glenn?”

Hmmm. Motivation *might* be back in full force today…..

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Isn’t it April?

We had a storm blow through Southern California Sunday night. Rain this time of year isn’t unheard of, but it’s pretty uncommon. Add to that this was a winter storm (almost 2 feet of snow fell in the local mountains) and that made this storm more unusual. To all my friends in the Midwest – watch yourselves the next couple days! There’s a storm coming your way!

I had four miles on the plan, and got out around 5 PM to put them in. The storm had pretty much blown through, leaving a cool blustery day. Running into a cold headwind was not very appealing, so I headed up into the hills for some trail running. I wanted to rerun Sunday’s run in the upper reaches of El Moro.

Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 4-11-2010

The wind was *howling* over the ridge top, so I was looking forward to dropping into the canyon for a little protection.  But, I got a half mile from the parking lot and ran into the dreaded sign:

“Trails closed due to adverse conditions.”

Now, if there’s one thing that budget strapped politicians ecologically minded public servants do is protect the environment. And the best way to keep trails from getting torn up is to close them under threat of citation for a few days after a good rainstorm. And that threat of citation was enough to keep me off them! I shuffled back to the car and headed on down the hill to see if I wanted to run at Crystal Cove.

After a five minute drive (jeesh – it’s sure a lot farther when I have to run it), I was at the coast, where the winds were howling, the whitecaps were tossing, and my body was warm. I thought about my upcoming goal race (non-existent) and the warmth of the sunlight through the closed windows of my car. I think you can deduct what happened next….

Tonight it’s track time with Cal Coast. I hope the wind isn’t blowing….

Monday, April 12, 2010

First Recovery Week in the Books

So I finally did it. I finally finished week one post marathon recovery. Never mind it took three weeks to do it.

I finished the week with a short but sweet tempo run on Saturday (3.2 miles) and a short but sweet trail run on Sunday (4 miles in head high grass - had to check for ticks afterwards). I finished the week a little short of plan (20 miles compared to the 27 on plan), but I did get out 5 days. The only problem was what to do with my spare time Saturday morning. I used to have to set aside 2 or 3 hours. Instead I was done in 45 minutes. I had some serious thumb twiddling time.

On the plan this week is a little more mileage. If I follow the plan to a tee (highly unlikely), I’ll be up over 30 miles again:

  • Monday: 4 miles easy. I’ve got to get the core and ab work back on track.
  • Tuesday: Interval day with Cal Coast. If I follow my plan, 6 miles. I’m pretty sure I’ll be shorter
  • Wednesday: 4 miles easy. Maybe I’ll erg. I’ve got to knock the dust off that puppy again.
  • Thursday: 3 X 1600 intervals. Including warm up and warm down should be around 7 miles. I doubt I’ll hit the track up though. Maybe I’ll just hit the trails in El Moro and get a few miles in. Then again, maybe not.
  • Friday: Scheduled rest day
  • Saturday: 8 miles. Probably will head out with my Cal Coast buddies tapering for the OC Marathon.
  • Sunday: 35 minute tempo run. But then again….  I might run a little 5K about an hour away in Temecula. I know – sounds strange to drive an hour to run for less than 30 minutes…..
  • Total plan: 32.5 miles. Total actual: ????

The silver lining here is that this weekend was real enjoyable. I’m not sure I’m ready to whip out a double digit run yet, but at least I feel like I’m on my way back to some consistent activity.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Weigh In

Running on my recovery plan is progressing. I’m a little surprised at some of the tweaks and niggles I’m still feeling three weeks after the Big Day. My legs are sore and tired, and I’m suffering from some tendonitis in my right knee. Mostly I’m still feeling fatigue. I took an unscheduled rest day Wednesday, and I knocked the warm down mile off my slow and easy mile intervals yesterday. But, I’m still able to put one foot in front of the other, so eventually everything will sort itself out.

Today is Friday, so it’s weigh in day! But, before I spill the possibly ugly truth, I wanted to take a couple minutes to talk about my downfall when it comes to weight loss. Face it – for us runners, it’s relatively easy to burn a few hundred extra calories a day. But, if you’re like me, it’s also relatively easy to lull ourselves into a false sense of security that because we put that extra mile or two in, we can take that extra slice of cheesecake or scoop of ice cream.

Through my own trial and error, I’ve found the best way to fight the extra dessert is to track my food intake. When I first started tracking a couple years ago, I was floored by the number of calorie tracking websites on the Internet. It took me a while to figure out what was important to me about calorie trackers:

Food Database

Let’s start with problem #1. I LOVE TO EAT!! I love trying new foods. I love varying my diet. I love to cook too. As a result, my breakfast may be menudo from a local Mexican restaurant, followed by a sushi dinner from a Japanese restaurant. Then, tomorrow, I may throw together some gumbo for the family, followed by lunch the next day at In-n-Out. The bottom line is whatever I’m going to use to track my calories needs to have a food database that supports my eating habits. Not all food databases are created equal.

Here's a prime example. Say you went to Costco this weekend. You bought some blueberry muffins. You have one for breakfast. You go to Sparkpeople ( and type in "blueberry muffin" in the food searcher. Here is what you will see:

The first thing to notice, is that there are no Costco Blueberry Muffins on the list. So, we are left to guess at that point. Seemingly, a Starbuck's Blueberry muffin might be close. So we'll choose it. Here are the gory details about the Starbuck's Blueberry Muffin:

But, in actuality, the Costco Blueberry Muffin leaves this one in the dust! Over at Calorie Count, we look up the Costco Blueberry Muffin (which is on their list):

That's a whopping 61% more calories! It becomes easy to see how not having the right food on the food list can make a significant difference, even when you think you are trying to do the right things!

Bottom line is check out the food database for the stuff that *you* eat. Not the stuff that you *should be* eating.

Setting Your Goals

Your food tracker should be able to handle your weight loss goals. Most do. But make sure that the tracker that you use supports your goals. Some require you to enter a weekly goal. Others require an end weight and date driven goal. Some track fat %. Know what is important to you *before* you invest weeks in tracking calories.

Also – be aware of this little gotcha – most food trackers also have the functionality to enter your exercise with caloric intake adjusted accordingly. But, caloric output is estimated by the program. Some do a better job than others. Take these calculations with a grain of salt.


Face it, if it’s not convenient to enter the what I’m eating when I’m eating it, it ain’t gonna happen. That is why I have settled on an iPhone app called LoseIt!

Entry of your goals are pretty easy - enter gender, birthdate, current weight, goal weight and weekly weight loss goal. The program then calculates your calorie budget and you're ready to go!

 IMG_0313 IMG_0314

The program is easy and intuitive.

Not only are there the standard foods (e.g., bread, milk, eggs, etc.) but food are also categorized by manufacturer - like in this search for Grandma's Oatmeal cookies:

Then, what absolutely blew me away? A entire database of restaurant food! I can enter my In-n-Out Double-Double!

So What Does It All Mean?

In theory, it should be as simple as do what you’re told and everything else sorts itself out. I can tell you from experience though, it isn’t always the case. The bottom line is all of these numbers – whether it’s your calorie budget, or your calorie intake, or your exercise output, are estimates. So, whichever software you decide to use, you will need to experiment a little. Set up your goals. Judiciously track your food. Check your results. Tweak here and there. And most important? Don’t get discouraged!

Last week’s damage? Down 1.8 pounds from 222.8 to 221.0!!!