Friday, June 27, 2008

Pushups and more pushups

Week 2 of the hundred pushups challenge is in the books.
Day 2 (earlier this week) was pretty tough, though I made things harder on myself by inadvertently taking only 60 seconds rest in the first four sets, then a few minutes as usual before the max effort.

Day 2 totals: 16/13/11/11/max(20)

Day 3 today was even harder. I'm sore in muscles I didn't know I had, and the soreness grew with each set. Sets 3-4 required virtually all-out efforts to reach the minimums.
Day 3 totals: 15/15/12/12/Max(18) =72 pushups

I'm through Week 2 and now the program calls for a new exhaustion test. At the risk of sounding like a slacker, I'm thinking of taking a few days off, doing the exhaustion test, then a few more days off, and starting with Week 3 after that - basically taking one "easy" week. I want to be fresh for the test, and fresh for renewed training. I'm fine with hard work and sweat. Soreness in the same muscles every day? That suggests my body is not catching up with new stresses, and I'm already recovering from other physical issues.

I enjoyed another spinning session indoors yesterday and pushed myself a little more, increasing the rpms and getting out of the saddle some more. Twinges in my right Achilles told me this might be too much. Sigh. It had been doing so well too. It's looking like I won't be crossing any finish lines on July 4 and will have to settle for cheering on the other runners.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Can lawn mowing count as cross training?

I passed the lawnmower test this evening. That is, I walked behind my lawnmower in the warm, humid Florida air and my Achilles (injury #1) was fine. It's been just fine walking, including going up stairs. Even better, the ball of my left foot (injury #2) is improving. I forgot about it until I was done mowing. It had sustained some kind of impact injury, possibly from dashing across a parking lot in the rain in my work shoes about 10 days ago. Bad idea! Looking in my journal, I've traced my Achilles problem to the road run following my 11 mile trail run in May. According to this source and others, running on sand can aggravate your Achilles. That presents a dilemma as the trails around here (north central Florida) are sandy and quite soft in some places. Hills are also tough on the Achilles, and I had been running hillier courses too - in fact I noticed the problem on hillier road courses during the week with my fleet-footed local running group. The articles also referred to Achilles injuries as common in less flexible middle-aged runners. Ouch! Time to do more stretching - can't do anything about my age. I like the line from Indiana Jones: it's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.

This wasn't the extent of my cross training today. I also fit in a spinning session, going slightly harder than last week, and my Achilles was fine, and my left foot was no problem.

I also completed Week 2/Day 1 of the hundred pushups training program: 12/12/9/7/max (21). I'm not claiming great form. I'm taking 2-4 minutes of rest before the max effort (equal parts rest, psyching myself up, and helping kids with something around the house). The psychology of this is interesting. Each time on these max efforts, I've felt like 5 or so is probably all I can do before I start, but I refuse to stop until the arms won't go, and I've managed to exceed the minimum each time (granted, I was doing some pushups once a week before this program). Maybe it's the rock 'n roll music. Andrew's blog got me started on all this (100 pushups, not rock 'n roll) and he's doing well. Ellie has also signed on. Anyone else game?

I hope to get back on the roads and trails soon. I'm eager to run a 4-miler on the 4th that I've run twice before, but it's somewhat doubtful now. I hope my biking is safe on my Achilles and this strange forefoot problem. If anyone has any experience coping with these things and has any cross training ideas, feel free to chime in.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

How to ruin a marathon

No, I haven't entered one yet! I just came across a funny running-related article in The Onion that is good for a laugh. This one is family-friendly I think, which is not always true for this site. I like The Onion, but it is not for everyone, so fair warning if you try their other articles.

In cross training news, I enjoyed my first spinning class ever yesterday. 51 minutes of high (for me) rpm work. Took it somewhat easy so as not to hurt the quads while I recover from running injuries. It was neat to be able to see my heartrate, rpms and mileage constantly updated.

I also tackled Day 2 of the hundred pushups challenge yesterday: 12/12/10 (getting tough)/10/max=19 (exhaustion). Oddly less sore today than yesterday.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cross training time

If you've been tagged with a running meme recently, see below....

I haven't been posting about new trail runs because there haven't been any. I'm still recovering from 2 problem areas in my lower legs/feet. I'm trying to stay positive and think that this is my body's way of telling me it's time to start cross training. I've been easing (so I don't destroy my quads) into some outdoor biking to get some low impact aerobic activity. I'm as weak biking on hills as I was at running them several months ago, which is to say pitiful.

I'm also going to try the Hundred Pushups Challenge I saw listed on Andrew's blog. I don't think I've ever done more than 40 or so consecutive pushups, even in my younger, lighter days, so this should be "fun". I have done 1-2 sets a week this year and my initial exhaustion test this weekend was 33 straight pushups.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

5 questions (and answers)

I've been tagged by Anne.

Here are the rules:
Visit 5 blogs and leave invitations to play, referring others back to your blog for more details. On your own blog, list the five questions and your own answers to them. Also, let the person who has tagged you know when you're done.

Here are the questions and my responses:
1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
Yikes. Pretty aimless. I did a little here and there, a few miles at a time. I don't think I entered any organized events that year.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?
The races tend to stand out more in both cases.
Best: I ran cross country in college (Division III: no scholarships, an average runner on an average team in our region). In my freshman year, I started out basically 8th on the team, if you had to make a competitive depth chart based on practices in September. The week of our first home meet (fourth race of the year), I hurt my leg and had to hobble back from a run. Race Saturday was a rainy and muddy, and things weren't really looking up. But an amazing thing happened. I caught up to a line of my teammates in the middle of the race and moved up from 8th to 4th on my team and held onto that spot. To be fair, our top runner was out, and some of the other guys probably started too fast that day. Still, I went on to place in our top four in three other meets that season, and I felt like I had arrived as a competitive runner, at that level.
Worst: going out too hard and cramping up in my final high school AND college cross country races, an ugly symmetry of wasted efforts. Thankfully there were many good days in between.

3. Why do you run?
To improve my health and fitness. To seek out new trails and new challenges. To enjoy the company of fellow runners. Plus it makes me happy.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
Best: improve gradually by stressing the body, then resting.
Worst: go out really hard in distance races, like 30 seconds faster in the first mile than the pace you can realistically average over the whole distance, instead of running within yourself.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people know.
I am descended from the sister of a real-life 18th century pirate who sailed from Rhode Island to Florida and back. We have some things in common. He found gold in Florida waters. I also found treasure in Florida - my wife. We were married ten years ago today. :-)

Now, I get to tag some others.

They are (drumroll please):
Beth at 6 a.m. Running
Andrew from New Zealand
Just a Trail (Running) Fool
Ellie at Against the Wind (if/when she's not backpacking)
bloggers I've tried to tag with this meme, but was too late - they'd already been tagged: 3
(one to go)

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Achilles heel

This is frustrating, because I've been feeling in the best shape I've been in all year. In addition to extending my long run further, I've done some road running and found my shins are holding up well to downhills. However, I've had a day each of the last couple weeks where my right Achilles area felt tired. I backed off a little, but after my last longer run on roads, my Achilles flared up, and was sensitive the next day just walking around.

I'm skipping my long run this weekend and taking a zero day tomorrow, in trail hiking parlance. Not just a zero day, but a zero weekend. It looks like I'm guilty of the old "too much, too fast, too soon" trap once again. This time I think it was the "too much" category.

This is a new sort of running injury for me. I'd been prey to shin splints/tendonitis before, but have managed to keep those at bay this year with gradual mileage increases, running many of my miles on sandy trails, and using both sides of the road when running on roads (recommended only on quiet roads and without listening to music). We'll see how it feels next week.