Table of Marathons

11 MCM (not for time) 11 Wineglass (950/1442)
10 MCM (not for time) 09 MCM (348/1076)
09 Washington's Birthday Marathon (22/44) 08 MC Historic Half (51/210)
07 Frederick Marathon (32/60) 06 MCM (394/1076)
05 MCM (547/1047)

Monday, September 21, 2020

9/21

 142.4 lb.

Gentle run on a bright, sunny, breezy morning. 60 F or below for all miles. Legs not heavy but not quick either. Maybe it's the deadlifts from yesterday. Certainly not sore. Overall, everything felt ok.



Thursday, September 10, 2020

Running Links

 Some running links:
https://strengthrunning.com/2017/03/hill-workouts/

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Longer Run

 12.0 today. Went into this run tired, still, probably from Thursday. It is the first run of the season without oppressive heat: 65F roughly 65% humidity. The breeze almost felt cool. Legs held up well; last mile was the fastest.

Funny thing about this point in my training. No matter how tired I am or not, I can just flick a switch and my body starts running. On a bad day, the first 7 or 8 miles are easy, then I start to tire. If I'm fresh, I'll never feel the run.

My running profile for the year has been pretty ragged. Had a bit of tiredness in my arches earlier in the summer and backed off quite a bit. In reality, I hadn't stopped doing the miles; I just walked them. But I don't log the walks. At one point, I was walking almost 9 miles a day.

In any event, I'm probably looking at a down week next week.



Saturday, August 29, 2020

Recovery II

 Denise and I ran 3.0 today. I took it really slowly. Tried to eat more carbs today. Still a bit low from that Thursday run in the heat plus gardening day. 

It was mid-70 under a gentle rain. People cheat themselves when they don't go out in this. The rain is actually peaceful and refreshing. You have to remember your roots: we are all hunter-gatherers. Humans do not melt in the rain, it cools us.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Recovery

 Thought I'd run today and cut back tomorrow. Did 4 miles, beating the heat today. It was 82F, with a heat index of 86F. Near the end of the run, the direct sun did start having an affect on me.

I was surprised to find my energy levels still low from yesterday. The heat took more from me than I realized. Legs were fine, it was just whole body energy levels. 

Going to focus on really healthy eating today to hopefully bounce back tomorrow.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Heat

I got to a late start this morning which was unfortunate. It was 74F and 99% humidity when I started. My run went easy, legs were fine. As the sun rose, it took an increasing toll on my energy levels. But run completion, the heat index was 95F. This is actually much hotter that anything of which I have been capable of since returning to running in 2004. Additionally, my pace did not collapse. I was really gratified.

However, I had some butterfly plants that just had to be put in the ground, so I did that next. By the time I was done with this, the sun and heat had pretty much sapped so much of my strength that a full body barbell push routine in the afternoon was not possible. 

At least the butterflies and bees will be happy. 😊

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Doubles

Ran 3 with Denise, then 4 more this morning. Easy running, ~12:30 mpm. Planning for ~33 miles this week, so trying for easy miles. We started at 6 AM, at first daylight, thirty minutes before sunrise. It was another bats to birds run. It was also a delightful 68 F, with a light breeze. While moisture was still at 99% the air was the most refreshing in weeks.

I did a full body barbell pull routine in the PM. Really focusing on holding a pause at the full contraction point for each rep of each set of each exercise. This helps eliminate cheating and slows the movement. It also cuts my ability to do reps. But my goal here is to stress the muscle, not do more reps or sets.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Double Run

 Ran 3 with Denise, then four more on my own. 71 F with 99% humidity.

Deliberately kept the pace slow wanting to save my legs for a longer run tomorrow. Roughly 12:30 for first 3 solo miles, then 12:00 for the last mile.

This morning was a classic bats to birds transition. In the first mile, I enjoyed seeing bats dart in and out of the woods chasing their final meal of the night. As the cloudy morning gained light, they gave ground to birds, so much more subdued than in the spring. 

My goal for next Sunday is 12.

A drink, anyone? More?

 A 5 oz. glass of wine contains about 0.6 oz of ethanol. (1)   This quantity of wine thus has 14 gr. of ethanol.(3) This is 0.21 gr/kg for a 150 lb person.

Alcohol consumption affects hormone production significantly. This effect tends to be strongest with cortisol, which shows a spike after ethanol has been ingested. Ingesting enough wine to raise serum ethanol to over 1.25 gr/kg in a 150 lb person (six glasses of wine) the spike becomes five fold. (2)  

The effects of ethanol on testosterone is more nuanced. At low levels, red wine may have positive effects on both oxidative stress and testosterone production, but this is strictly limited to low does.

(1) https://www.nclnet.org/alcohol_how_it_all_adds_up

(2) https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-11-26

(3) https://www.nutritionheart.com/alcohol-drinks-grams-of-alcohol/

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Invitation

The master gunny I work with invited me to his unit's run tomorrow, in celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday. I haven't run with a Marine unit in nearly 40 years. Of course, it's not just a 3 miler. At each mile, they will stop to do pull ups or push ups or mountain climbers or some other such Marine self-entertainment. They will complete at the Commanding Officer's residence where they will stop and sing all three stanzas of the Marine Hymn. I don't remember all three stanzas.

I begged out for this year, citing my slowly healing plantar fascia.

He promised to keep me posted for next year. 52 weeks from now, I should be recovering from my 6th Marine Corps Marathon.

64: Be all you once were.

11/8/2018

53 F, 50 F wind chill out there. I love early morning runs like this one. The gentle breeze caresses as we labor through our run. Yes, I say labor. We've de-conditioned a bit over the many months. But it's just good to be out here.

Before, though, Ares demands his tribute. I missed doing arms yesterday. The ritual of devotion is simple. Dumbbell curl supersetted with dumbbell triceps extensions. 5 sets. I get depressed thinking about all this running time lost.....Hermes has forsaken me.  For my devotion on the other hand, Ares has been very good to me this year.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Gym Thoughts Karma



"You are the moves you make."
"You are the steps you take."
"You're every move you make."  Yes

"Everything you do, comes back to you."

Everything you eat.
Everything you study or learn.
Everything you allow yourself to think.
Every lift you perform.
Every mile you run.
Everything you allow yourself to hear.

Life is totally unforgiving. You are what you repeatedly do. You create your future and everything you've done counts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The effects of fitness on the aging process.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25157039

Plantar Fasciitis Treatments


 survey
 https://www.researchgate.net/profile/John_Gazewood/publication/7426924_Plantar_Fasciitis_Evidence-based_review_of_diagnosis_and_therapy/links/5681683208ae051f9aec4e59.pdf


heel raises
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25145882
https://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2014/09/15/plantar-fasciitis-important-new-research-by-michael-rathleff/ 
https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Plantar-fascia-specific-stretching-exercise-in-with-Digiovanni-Nawoczenski/96b18627ee770de36631fbb8944771ba259d2832
 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/sms.12313
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5962984/

stretching
https://journals.lww.com/jbjsjournal/Abstract/2006/08000/Plantar_Fascia_Specific_Stretching_Exercise.13.aspx

Challenge

I have been many things in my life, philosopher, student of zoology and science, engineer, coward, hero, leader. In old age, what resonates most loudly are the lessons I learned in the crucible that is most alien to all of us in comfort-land America. It is pervaded by an ethos that, among other things, teaches the implacable will to accomplish what you think you cannot do. You can hear the ethos in Major Misty Posey's laconic prose as she mentors and guides: https://www.marines.mil/…/SecretToPullupsHowToGoFrom0To20.p…. It is that absolute absence of doubt. https://www.marines.mil/…/zero-to-twenty-plus-marine-devel…/

We accept mediocrity in ourselves, enervate our minds and bodies, and ultimately undermine our health in our quest to be comfortable, professionally, physically, intellectually, spiritually. To be comfortable is to be dying.

Freedom is just another word....

Thought from one of my last runs, months ago. The silly bumper stickers are wrong: Freedom really is free. Freedom is a state of mind. I'm always hearing that we're the Land of the Free, as we sink deeper and deeper into debt and addiction. Despite all our declarations of freedom, we're not free.
What isn't free.....is often very expensive....is Justice.

Walking.....better than nothing

https://www.outsideonline.com/2342346/walking-might-be-best-exercise-there?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=facebookpost

Single Sets

Interesting results. Size does not equate to strength. Strength can be achieved by single sets, size comes from multiple sets. I've been spending much more time lifting since i can't run and I think it's showing. But the really important message is that real strength gains can be achieved in single sets.....provided you go to failure.
Of course, the body-building community has had it right for over half a century: you need volume for size.

 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/well/move/in-a-hurry-try-express-weight-training.html

Preventing Muscle Loss as We Age

A good pairing with the previous post: Muscle loss and its associated loss of strength, is entirely avoidable. One set per major body part, 3 times per week.....that's 15 minutes, 3 times a week. So avoidable....if you step beyond the myths about old age.

 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/03/well/live/preventing-muscle-loss-among-the-elderly.html

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Strength Cardio Dialectic

My plantar fasciitis has quietened my lift/run dialectic. It has removed the choice. Over the months, my mental barriers to lifting have completely melted away.

I realized this morning: in the weekends, I have the time to do 5 sets vice my weekday 3 sets.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Run....Walk.....Crawl

Still having so many problems with my plantar fascia.......Saturday morning, rather than canceling my run, I decided to walk for an hour. That went well. So, Denise and I walked for two hours on Sunday.

Compared to sitting in a recliner, you get 85% of the health benefit of running by merely walking. I can easily walk two hours. Running gave me that ability. When I can't run, my mind and body demand that I walk.

So, Denise and I have devised this scheme. What is 8 hours of relentless forward progress? Does it matter if it is walked or it is run?

I have 63 year old colleagues who can barely walk to the restroom from their desks. Not walking takes me a step towards the place where they are. Walking takes me a step along the path of relentless forward progress. A first 50K is cobbled together with whatever you have.

50K is not such an insane idea: 31.1 miles. It's just a bit further than a marathon. A normal, healthy person should be able to attain it in 8 hours. That's a 15:46 minute pace. It's walking.

Running, walking, crawling is being alive. Reclining is being dead.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Is It Mind or Body?

As I start what I hope will be my marathon training, time forces me to transition from split strength training to full body workouts on just 3 days per week. I ran a 5 day week last week, but for shorter runs. This week my ambition is 4 or more miles on weekdays. 360 compass points of lightening necessitated canceling my Tuesday run. Wednesday, I ran 5 miles. Today, I'm doing my first full body workout: 5 compound exercises of 4 sets each. This is taking me over an hour to do...probably 75 minutes.

Fifty minutes into it, while under the barbell press, I realize that the weight feels really heavy. I wonder, is my mind tiring under the heavy work? By comparison my separate push and pull days seemed so much easier. Undeniably, this is more stress on my body at one time, so I could be tiring. I am unable to tell.

Body and mind adjust. "Where the mind goes, the body follows." I have no doubt that my perception of stress, whether body or mind, will decrease.

There is a wonderful moment in an old movie about another time when men could still be heroes. Omar Sharif exclaims with absolute, fundamentalist certainly, "The Nefuud cannot be crossed." Peter O'Toole, ever defiant child of the Enlightenment, points across the impenetrable desert expanse and replies, "Aqaba is over there. It is just a matter of going."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Heat: 91 F Today

Heat is the ultimate test for the distance runner. The Marathon du Sable events, Morocco and Peru, come to mind. I will never be up to such feats, but, coming from Florida, I know well the feeling of that merciless burning hammer in the sky pounding me relentlessly like a hammer until I'm a sweaty, greasy, salty, incoherent mess barely staggering forward on a run.

In the animal kingdom, for Homo sapiens, heat is the great equalizer. Many species can run faster than us. A few can trot farther. But no species can run as far or as fast in the heat. This became obvious to me in my vertebrate zoology class decades ago: humans have sparse and sweat glands covering the body.  We share with horses, another great endurance species, the ability to dissipate large amounts of heat through perspiration. Nomadic desert humans have been known to hunt antelopes and gazelles by running them into heat exhaustion. Research in the subsequent decades went on to confirm my hunch, documenting a dozen or so adaptations that make us great distance animals. If the distance is great enough, we can even beat horses. Running, particularly in the heat, was our killer advantage.

This year, I want to re-embrace that human trait. Rather than racing the sun as it rises on hot summer mornings to finish early, I will celebrate its rise and accept the heat. I will look up at the sun and realize that it is my creator. Running in the heat is its own form of mental and physical purification. It is a statement of being human and acknowledging what forged us in prehistoric times.

Change your paradigm: Badwater 135.

Friday, May 11, 2018

148.2 Will

I often pick Denise up after work right in front of her building. I stand beside our car, watching as her co-workers stream out. With uncomfortable frequency, someone will come out and  struggle descending the eight steps in front of the building, having gotten so fat that he or she is no longer  able to manage his/her weight and movement on the way down. These individuals are in their 50's, 40's, or even younger. I watch and cannot but help thinking, "My god, what are you doing with your body? And health?"

When I was 17, my love of belle lettres, philosophy, and biology led everyone, including me, to presume that my future lay in literature and/or the biological sciences, perhaps both. While I was adequate in all my studies, nothing presaged any skill in mathematics. Also, no one at the time could envision any serious level of athleticism in my physique. I was painfully out of touch with my body.

My studies of human evolution brought my interest in running. Additionally, I discovered, it freed my mind. As I ran across the hot, humid, sub-tropical savanna that was the University of Florida in the 1970's, I discovered at that early date that humans really were "born to run". The Marines brought strength training. Strength made my days easier. As I gained rank, I learned that to lead Marines, you needed to look like a leader of Marines. Additionally, you had better be able to do whatever you told your Marines to do. When I returned to Florida ten years later, I found my chosen major, electrical engineering, was under restricted admissions: 3.5 GPA in mathematics and physics just to be accepted. I willed those A's in calculus and differential equations into existence by blunt force hard, focused studying.

I watched a pudgy old man amble out the doors of Denise's place of work. He was yelling to another old man approaching across the parking lot: "What are you still doing here? I thought you'd be retired by now." They stopped and amicably chatted. Then I heard the first remark: "I'm 62 now. I'd retire if I had a life!" Oh my god, I thought: that's 62? They parted ways and the first made his way across the parking lot in the growing heat with an ungainly gait.

I have a visceral, negative reaction when somebody refers to my fitness, or even my career in engineering, as being a result of some, natural, genetic, predisposition. I am not the way I am because of disposing genetics: I am this way because even though this morning I woke up for a quarter of an hour at 2:45 AM, when my alarm rang at 3:30 AM, I got up, ran my 3 miles and worked out. I remain uninjured not because my bones and cartilage are somehow more resilient. I remain healthy because I back off when my body tells me to. And I always come back.

In running shoes, under the barbell, in the books, what most determines outcome is strength of will.....and patience.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

149.4: 2 Miles - Not Self

The moon was just under half full at run start time. This week, I continue to lift while I experiment with 2 mile weekday runs. I think if my heels hold up on 3 consecutive outings of 2 miles, I'll be pretty much on a solid path to recovery.

Beyond 2 miles and I will have to drop my 6 day lifting. I'll do this regret. The regimen has enabled me to raise my working weights on just about all my movements. I will drop to lifting 3 days per week.

Running calls. When I lift, I strongly feel the element of self in my mind. Lifting is about self and power and domination of mind over iron, mind over body, mind over mind. Running is about not-self. I lose myself in the phases of the moon, in the procession of the stars and seasons, in the cycles of life and death that I inevitably witness when spending many hours as close to nature as possible. The goal of running is to pass quickly and silently across the landscape, first observing it, then becoming part of it. Gradually the wind no longer buffets me, it passes though me. My goal in running is to no longer be there.

Monday, May 7, 2018

149.2 Totally Own the Movement

The first two of five sets of slow pull ups to the sound of Van Halen's Eruption followed by Ain't Talking 'Bout Love at 4:30 AM is a great way to wake the body up. To better feel the movement in all my pulling muscles, I do it slowly, under full control, and holding for a full "one one-thousand" rep count at the top, under full contraction. I have adopted this approach in all movements where it's applicable. Full control and full contraction at maximum flexion truly imprints the movement into muscle memory. This allows me to feel my muscles flush with blood as my body fuels the effort. It seems as if I can feel every muscle, small and large, every tendon, and every ligament strain with the effort, then gasp for more air and energy in the rest period between sets.

This early in the morning, my mind rebels against the effort the really big compound movements in my routine: the pull up and the deadlift. I tell myself that these slow movements train me to totally own the movement, totally dominate it. Slow movement builds an intimate familiarity with the effort. But in this familiarity, I realize that I am wrong. These movements are about training the mind: by testing control, ownership, and domination of the weight, I train my mind to will this action into being. In the end, it is about owning the mind.

When you own your mind, you own the movement. The great Schwarzenegger, "where the mind goes, the body follows". This is true in academia, in all realms of effort.

It's Monday, just under 25 weeks to the MCM. Good morning.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

149.6: I don't buy the slowing metabolism crap.

I don't buy the slowing metabolism crap. We sit on our asses all day and half the night letting our muscles atrophy away at the rate of  1/2 to 2 pounds a year. We fill ourselves with greasy, salty, sugary junk and wash it down with caffeine, alcohol, and sugary drinks. As the pounds gather on our waists and legs, we tell ourselves "you deserve a break today" or "Everything in moderation". We subvert our natural healthy state and wind up in middle and old age struggling with increasing morbidity and disease, popping prescriptions that often lower quality of life even more.

Age has nothing to do with it, except, perhaps, to allow the food and pill manufactures more time to brainwash us with self-indulgent or self-aggrandizing messaging. This happens while bad habits and vices further embed themselves into our minds. Our bodies and discipline fatten and weaken. We give billions to purveyors of junk foods and needless conveniences in youth and middle age; in middle and old age we add the drug companies to this unholy group.

I haven't weighed below 140 pounds since my 20's, not because of getting older. At 62, I'm not at my optimal running weight of 139 because of lack of will and discipline.

Can you imagine carrying a 10 pound or heavier weight plate 26 miles and 385 yards? Can you imagine carrying far more than that for a lifetime?

Friday, May 4, 2018

You are What You do

Never smoking, lots of exercise, healthy diet, being slender, and moderate to no alcohol are the 5 habits you can have to most increase your life expectancy from age 50.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

It's Just A Mile

Typically, on my morning runs, my body doesn't even begin to  wake up and come into its pace until mile 4 or so. But I just don't feel the strength I need to feel on my runs. So Denise and I are sticking to little one-miles; this will be our third of the week.

Otherwise, my legs are doing great. I'm doing dead lifts a poundage and volume that I haven't seen since my Marine Corps day. Weighted heel raises are good, but a little weak. I just feel weak in my arches.

I wonder how much of this is mental. Am I being over-cautious?

On the up-side, my return to 5 set per exercise had been a huge boost my mental outlook as well as my strength progress. My body feels suffused with anabolic hormones doing this 6 days per week, high volume strength training.

Denise came down to the gym just as I was finishing my workout. We went out for our run.....breaking down and rewarding ourselves with 1.5 miles under a misty, waning moon. As we approached a particularly foreboding tree line in the pre-dawn, moonlit darkness, I asked her if she believed in werewolves. She laughed.

Primeval settings evoke primeval instincts.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Procession of the Gods

As Denise and I ran this morning across the commons, the moon's brilliance made my head torch completely unnecessary to light the way. After a full moon on Monday, our way was lit by moonlight. We ran silently in the dark, our path well defined against the dark, dewy, cold grass, marveling at the spectacle above us. This month, the moon is escorted by a procession of Gods across the ecliptic. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and, lagging behind, Neptune. Powerful pagans, these famous Wanderers wander not at all.

Another why we run moment, this is why we run predawn. Long after the human lunacies on Earth have ended, the procession will continue.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Consistency

In physical, mental, and intellectual training, consistency is everything. Consistency along with the firm belief that with it, inevitably come growth and evolution towards a more perfect state.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Promise to Self while Doing Heel Raises This Afternoon

Finished up my leg day, this afternoon, with slow, weighted heel raises.

People with strong feet and calves don't get plantar fasciitis.

When I get done with this injury, I promise to myself that I will never quit doing slow, weighted heel raises.

Waxing Gibbous

The misty moon, waxing gibbous, was just above the horizon at run time this morning. A chilly wind out of the north-west stirred up the tree limbs, just now showing the first signs of spring. This moon is a good metaphor for the late start in my annual running cycle: it's late April. The year is about to be one quarter over and I am just taking my first tentative steps to rebuilding my endurance training program.

But this run puts me back in cycle with one of the fundamental reasons I come out here. It puts me back into nature, into nature's cycles. The bright moon precedes Jupiter and Mars on the ecliptic this morning. As humans, we look up into the skies and see metaphor, message, and meaning. We delude ourselves and belittle the grandeur of our universe when we imagine reflections of ourselves in the infinite cosmos.

This is run number two in what is hopefully my long ascent to marathon distance this fall. Accomplishing this will be another cycle in nature.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Low Starting Point

It has been 10 weeks since I've run anywhere near a 30 mile week. My diet hasn't been pure as it needs enough and I have floated above my red line weight of 150 lbs. At 63, the price to pay for leanness is no crap food whatsoever, particularly when you're not running 30 to 50 mile weeks.

I've tried a couple of one and two milers in the last 3 weeks, testing my feet only to quit for the rest of the week because of residual pain or discomfort in my arches. Meanwhile, I have continued leg strength training.

Yesterday, I ran another tentative one-miler at the tail end of my weight workout. I had no discomfort at all during the day. This is a first. I woke up this morning with tight, achy arches, but this is not unusual.

This afternoon, I do another one-miler. Let's push it a bit and see what happens.

If I had an ego, I would not advertise these numbers. But the reality is that you have to start low to get high.

Patience: it has been working for me for 12 years.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Body, Mind, One

Not even counting the weeks taken off from running. It would be too depressing. Both heels are so close to 100% again. Been good about doing strength training, particularly leg work. It is surprising to me, that heels can be too sore to run on, but tolerate weighted heel raises.

The 6 or so run-stopping injuries I've had over the past 12 years have always brought some new insight into my strength training. These have usually strengthened my running. This time, my insight has been the rediscovery of how productive and satisfying doing 5 sets of a particular movement can be. When you do 15 sets of challenging, full control, compound reps per week, your mind and body gain an intimate familiarity with the movement that 9 sets cannot yield. Body and mind respond with greater strength and greater determination to attain still another movement rep, building on the last work out.

It is clear to me that physical training is also mental training.

Monday, April 16, 2018

It's Boston Monday

The Boston Marathon...possibly the biggest assembly of highly fit people in the world.

At 4:30 AM, my task is much more prosaic: five sets of strict form pull ups, done to "Eminence Front". It's simple, brutishly so. It's Boston Monday.....dumbbell pull Monday for me. No glory in my subterranean gym, just work.


My heels are perceptively healing.

Good luck today, Shalane.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Life Expectancy

I have recently read research indicating a strong correlation between grip strength and time it takes to up from the floor with remaining life expectancy in my age cohort, the Boomers. Apparently, these measurements are being used increasingly in clinical, hospital, and assisted living settings. I suggest that these are predictors of morbidity expectancy, not life.

Grip strength and the ability to lift are fundamental to the deadlift. Overall, I know of no way to measure a person's ability to generate life inducing strength and power than his/her ability to lift a dead weight off the floor.

Measures and estimates of morbidity expectancy may have their place. I hope they never apply to me. I'm more interested in life expectancy. A better estimate for life expectancy: the ability to deadlift some multiple of one's body weight many times off the floor......the more times, the better.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Simplicity

It is a straightforward protocol: perform the exercise and wait 3 minutes while your pounding heart slows, then repeat four more times. It is brutally simple.

Your breathing and heart rates are direct indicators of how hard your muscles are working. Performing the protocol above with pull ups or dead lifts energizes your entire lower and upper body respectively, leaving your muscles screaming for air as they metabolize fuel. Your system is perfused with anabolic and mood enhancing hormones. Perform this ritual in the early morning and it  rips off all vestiges of morbid slumber, waking your body, alerting your mind, and rendering the world  with razor sharp clarity.

Then something magical happens. Muscles harden and grow; body, heart, and, most importantly, will, become stronger. The pact is fulfilled.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Pact with the Future

I realize that each workout is a pact with the future, a commitment that improvement will come as a result of training.

This is particularly evident in strength training as the trainee watches reps, sets, and weight slowly increase with repeated workout. But it is true in running and even learning. With these last two, the path to improvement is not always obvious, straight, or even continuously progressive. With running, the trainee routinely must hold back to improve. With learning, the path is the most intangible and obscure because, in proper learning, the student does not always know where the path will take him or her.

In this venal and philistine age, learning is often confused with preparing for a trade. At it's highest, learning transforms the student's world view.

Thoughts while pushing iron this morning.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Mists

I've said it before, I love running in predawn fog.

The moon is waning, but still three-quarters full. It is locked in a mutual stare with Jupiter, which precedes it across the ecliptic. The stars are too pale to shine through, even Jupiter loses his brilliance in the gray blanket.

I ran 2 miles, embedded in the various exercises that are my upper body barbell pull work out. It is the second day in a row that I run. Regrettably, I feel a mild burning sensation in my left heel. We'll see how it goes as I baby it for the rest of the day.

Still....I love running in the predawn fog.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Monday, April 2

It's a cold, dark, blustery, raining morning. I have to admit it's nice to be in my warm, brightly lit, basement gym pushing iron. Today, it's upper body push.

Tomorrow, I hope to start running again. I'm mostly only feeling tingling in my right foot and some tightness in my tibialis anterior. It is improving daily. Happily, the plantar fascia soreness I was having this season is also mitigating.

All just in time for spring.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Gods Conspire against Me

The Running Gods have certainly decided against me this year. First, I stop running to allow my irritated plantar fascia to heal and strengthen. Then, on my second miserably one-miler of my return week, I turn an ankle on my predawn run. This knocks me out of another week of running.

Running injuries are always a period of re-discovering my strength training knowledge. I have moved to a triple split cycle: upper body pull, upper body push, and legs. I am getting great pumps and seeing more progress than I have in years. This training takes me back to Marine Corps days: good god we made ourselves strong with all that iron work.

Today is special: the March blue moon is very full as it sets in the west this morning. It is so perfectly round. March 31: 2018 is one quarter over. We should all be one quarter of the way to attaining our resolutions. Unfortunately I am still at square zero.

I find my mind, my will, setting itself against circumstances.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ruminations on an Injury, though mild.....

My principal heuristic when planning my runs is conservative: "It's not what you run today or this week that matters. It's what you run next week, next month, and next year." This view gives me an inherent tendency to manage any aches and pains early, and to focus on root causes.

This issue I have now is very minor. It amounts to a mild burning sensation in my left heel. I suspect it was brought on by trying to ramp up mileage in shoes that lack adequate support for my feet. The past few years, I have been experimenting with increasingly minimal shoes. It has worked well. I wear them as dress shoes at work and have been running predominantly in them for the past six months. I ran a not particularly high mileage fall season in them, then backed off for the winter.

Late this winter I started my annual mileage ramp upwards. I have to presume that my lower legs and feet could not support the stress of running in neutral lightweight Altra Escalantes and and spending my entire days in what amounted to bare foot shoes. I had also really slacked off on my heel raises, which are fundamental a very strong foundation for the entire leg.

I promised myself one to two weeks of complete rest from running. As the admittedly mild pain attenuates, my mind turns to miles. It negotiates with me: "How about one mile? That can't hurt anything." Compounding the attraction back to the road is knowing that my left foot easily sustained the 15 sets of weighted heel raises that I did this week.

What is running? There is nothing in the universe save the universe. Humans can only perceive the universe by its change, its cycles. Running brings us in direct, unavoidable contact with that universe. We must bend our minds and bodies, softened by disuse, misuse, and unnatural comforts, back to the activity and awareness of our evolutionary origins. By doing so, we cleanse ourselves of the mental and physical poisons of a materialistic, consumerist civilization. We experience, live, and adapt to the cycles that seemingly endlessly repeat all around us. Without that return to the universe, to nature, we remained trapped in the artificial world we have build around us.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

I want to weigh what I did when I was in the Marines.....again (Part 1)

When I returned to training in 2004, my Tanita impedance percentage body fat monitor, aka, my “fatometer”, told me I had 25.5% body fat at roughly 185 lbs. This is half a percent above the clinical definition of obesity. I worked that weight down to an average of about 148 lbs by cleaning up my diet and an exercise program of as much activity as my then 49 year old body could withstand.

This past holiday season, my weight crept over 150 lbs. My jeans and dress trousers, all purchased since I regained a healthy weight, started feeling uncomfortable. 150 lbs is my red line.

The facts are interesting. The average American gains one to two pounds a year after age 25. He/she also loses half to one pound a year in bone and muscle mass in this time. This adds up to a catastrophic 1.5 to 3 lbs per year gain in body fat. Conventional wisdom tells us that slowing metabolism due to decreasing muscle mass is the culprit. (1)
While muscle is more metabolically active than fat, a pound of muscle only uses three to five calories a day more than a pound of fat. This decrease in basal metabolic rate results in at most half a pound of fat gain per year. Admittedly, as a person’s fat content and muscular weakness increase, the net gain over a year by replacing muscle with fat becomes quite significant.

What you do with your muscle counts way more than its basal metabolic rate. A beginner can add 3 to 5 pounds of muscle mass in three to four months of strength training. As he/she moves into their senior years, there is an inherent tendency to lose muscle mass no matter what training he/she does. But the frailty that so often appears in old age is a result exercise deficit, not old age. Furthermore, osteopenia can be largely eliminated by proper training while younger. When endurance exercise is added to strength training, you have a powerful tool for weight management.  (2)

The wrong diet can overwhelm any exercise program. Even an informal survey of calorie counts in a typical chain casual dining restaurant, or a review of calorie counts on packaged foods in the local grocery store, demonstrates that single meals of over 1,000 calories are quite common. One thing is very clear: a 1,000 calorie meal is never OK. Even if you’re an ultra marathoner, 1,000 calories in a single sitting is gluttony, not nutrition. It’s not even fine dining.

In the UK, cola companies will tell you that their beverage is a part of a wholesome diet, balanced by healthy amounts of activity. Since the 1950’s, US food companies have been producing ever more appealing products for less money in the perennial need to grow profits. Another point should be very clear: the foods in fast food and other chain restaurants as well as most food in grocery stores maximize profits for their purveyors by being created as attractive, or addictive, as possible. It is absolutely no coincidence that the rise of worldwide obesity coincides with the industrialized mass-marketing of food products. Processed food is engineered to be addictive. As proof of this, just open a bag of chips or cookies in almost any office or work site in America and observe the reactions. They are no different from drunk patrons in a late night bar, smokers standing around outside in a designated smoking area, or even users in a meth house.

(3)



Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dear (Workout) Diary,

Today, I learned that being able to shovel snow with impunity is a really good indicator of the effectiveness of your core routine. You do core strength work to be a better runner...and look better. But training for running is training for the work of life.

Dear Diary, the other thing I learned today is that heavy dead lifts are also a great core movement, working back, glutes, and everything that needs oxygen to lift weight. After heavy dead lifts, a shovel of wet snow is a piece of cake.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring 2018

I missed running on the first day of spring this year. I regret it. One of the things I love about running is that it keeps my mind aware of natural cycles. I've noted many times that I see more sunrises in a couple of years' distance training than I did in my entire life prior to returning to running. The sun's rays lift my mind from its sleeping darkness and almost always drops my pace by a minute or two. I follow the moon's wax and wane each month, celebrating the full moon and embracing the darkness when it is new. Each solstice, I prepare mentally for the lengthening and shortening of the days. Long days mean warmth and longer runs as I do not lose as much morning time planning what to wear in the cold and then putting it on. Each equinox, I celebrate the arrival of spring or steel myself for the mental and physical stress of running through the winter. The passing of each year presents the previous twelve months as a challenge to improve upon and surpass them in the next twelve months.

For me, the word "injury" is pretty much "the name that shall not be spoken". I monitored the sensitivity in my left heel but did not refer to it as what it is. The soreness after last Sunday's 12 miles constrains me to acknowledge it as plantar fasciitis and decide to stop running for one or two weeks. Mercifully, my arches and calves are very strong. This strength acts as a natural shield against significant injury. The pain is very mild and has mitigated substantially after just two day's rest.

The sun's northbound crossing of the equator marks a day of private celebration and the anticipation of many mornings of long, sweaty, shirtless runs. Instead, I do the "push" phase of my split strength training routine. I console myself that the usual brakes I put on working my quads and glutes can come off: I will not need fresh legs to run.

Since getting back into strength training in a serious way, my time spent not running due to some ache has diminished substantially. But every time I do take a break, I promise to come back stronger.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ides of March

Today, I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon. It is my first since 2011. I wonder the implications of signing up on the Ides of March: what augures am I tempting?

That I am nursing an occasionally sore left heel is even more occasion to pause.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Solstice

It's the winter solstice. I like to run on milestones like this one, but it is a strength training day. I give a glance at the narrow sickle moon floating just above the tree line, but know that today i need to be in the gym.

A big part of my running is witnessing the cycles of time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What Doctors Tell Us

The chronic ache in my right shoulder that my doctor said was arthritis was actually shoulder impingement syndrome. It took me two years of self experimentation and research to find that out. Back to the bench press ... with a slightly lower eccentric movement. Funny how getting older really works....

Do not go gently into that good night.