Week 08 Update

Well, I ended up taking both Tues and Wed as rest days. I don’t necessarily feel too bad about it; the thing in my neck is still bad. I’m going to physical therapy next Tuesday and I don’t plan to do any weights until the physical therapist tells me what is and isn’t a good idea.

Thursday I ran about 4 miles. I did a warmup, and then 3mi worth of 0.5mi hard / 0.25mi easy intervals, then cool down. Doing the intervals I made a point of focusing on effort rather than speed – the route I run for a 4mi run is hilly out and downhill back, so I focused on perceived exertion level and heart rate instead. Especially for the rest intervals – something I have trouble with; I focused on jogging not walking but going easy enough that my heart rate actually came down. It was one of those runs I didn’t expect to feel as good as it did; it was hard while I was going but I felt great afterwards.

Friday (today) I went back to the pool, and swam for 40 minutes. I got myself a cheap waterproof watch, so I was able to structure a workout a little better this time:

  • 5x100s free on 2:00 easy as warmup (10:00)
  • repeated twice, 20:00 total:
    – 5×50 free on 1:00, hard (5:00)
    – 25 breast, 25 back/kick drills, easy, 200 yards straight (5:00)
  • 25 breast, 25 back/kick, 25 free, easy, for 500 yards in 10:00

1900 yards total. Longer than Monday’s swim. Like I said, I’ve noticed that what I have trouble with is my breath, not my endurance – if I stop to catch my breath in between each 50 I can keep going and going, and when I’m doing easy back/breast/free I can keep going and going for 10 min with no stopping. I am pleased with all of this. Also pleased because my body has that overall tired feeling from a good workout, without any pain. No sharp stabs or deep aches. I just feel like I had some really good exercise. is this what working out is like for other people?

Nothing now until the Warrior Dash on Sunday — I hope to update with some photos!!

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Week 07 Summary; Week 08 Plan; Doctor Update

Week 07 Summary: 14.7 miles (4.5 mi speedwork Wed, 7 mi LSR Fri, 3.2 mi easy Sun) plus abs on Monday.

There was only one weight session in Week 07, and that’s because on Thursday I went back to my doctor’s office to go over my x-rays. The x-rays report that I have arthritis in my spine. The degeneration is what’s causing all of the nerve pinching and the tense muscles. I also have arthritic degeneration in my toes, so I guess it isn’t a huge surprise to hear that it’s in my spine too. It’s depressing and scary, though: depressing because there isn’t much you can do to fix arthritis; you just have to avoid aggravating it or setting it off ; and scary, because I need to confirm that it’s osteoarthritis and not rheumatoid arthritis (RA is an autoimmune disease which might explain some of the other things I’ve been suffering with over the years, but can be fairly debilitating).

When I asked the doctor what this meant for working out, he told me that I could continue doing anything that didn’t hurt, but that he recommended avoiding heavy weightlifting (especially upper-body, anything focused on lats or traps) and high impact (running or high intensity cardio).

There’s irony here:

  1. I’ve been lifting heavy a) because it’s the most efficient way to build muscle and b) because it’s a proven way to stave off osteoporosis in old age.
  2. I’ve been running a) to keep up cardiovascular health and b) to improve (to what extent I can) my asthma.
  3. #1 and #2 are apparently what is ‘causing’, ie. setting off, my arthritis. These “good-for-you” exercises are actually acting as trauma to my body. So what I’m gaining in one place I’m losing in another.

I want to talk about this at some point on the blog, because I feel like this is an important place I’ve found myself: This is why it’s so important for us to define health in a way that makes sense, for each body. People have talked for years about how heavy weights are the only way to ‘get slim’, to the point where it can get very judgy or preachy. And here I am, evidence at 30 years of age that not everyone can do “the best” workout.  Is heavy lifting still “healthy” for my body if it keeps me hovering at a 5 on the pain scale of 10, if it aggravates my neck to the point where I can’t drive a car? I don’t think so, but I think the industry has a ways to go until that message is received.

So based on that, what’s gonna happen during Week #08?

  • Technically it’s a rest week for me; also, I’m doing the Warrior Dash on Sunday 26 August. However, I still want to maintain running fitness. I did ~15 miles last week; I’m going to aim for 12.6 this week as a rest/race week. 4.5 miles of easy speedwork, 5 miles easy on Friday, and then 3.1 miles at the Warrior Dash.
  • I won’t be weight training this week either. If I have a free day I may try to do some core work, but I also won’t beat myself up if I simply take it as a rest day.
  • I’m going to try a new gym that has a pool. I haven’t talked a lot about it here, but I was a state-level varsity swimmer in high school and I have always loved swimming. And when you’re looking at low-impact cardio and muscle-building activities, I’m not sure you get much better than swimming. I have a couple free trial passes to a new gym that I’m going to try twice this week (Mon and Thurs) and if I like the rest of the gym and the pool, I’ll be doing a 3-month trial period and incorporating lap swims and intense pool cardio into my overall workout plan.
  • Physical therapy. The doctor prescribed some PT for my neck, and I’m super whiny about it, because PT is expensive (especially on my insurance :/ ) and time-consuming. But I need to go if I ever want to figure out what’s wrong with my neck/shoulders/back.

I’ll update as I can. Has anyone gone through PT before? Any words of wisdom?

 

Week 07 Update

Today: 7 mile long easy run. (actual distance may be only 6.8 mi — I am having trouble getting my GPS and my Garmin to match up, and I’m an engineer: I need to know that my data is good. GMap Pedometer says 6.8 which is honestly pretty close. I just want to know which to trust!)

~11:30/mi pace. Pretty slow, but other than hills I didn’t feel like death or like stopping for a walk break. I’ll take that.

Week 07 Progress

Monday:

On Monday I hit the gym to do weights. I specifically didn’t want to work my upper body (see Tuesday), and I didn’t want to do too much with my legs because I was still sore from Sunday’s run, so I focused on core: abs and back. I did both machine weighted exercises and some bodyweight moves.

Tuesday:

On Tuesday I went to see my doctor about my neck/back/shoulder issue. It isn’t that I don’t trust chiropractors – I just don’t fully trust chiropractors. I decided that after six weeks of up-and-down-but-constant-presence pain, I should see my doctor in addition to the chiro. He took some x-rays, gave me an NSAID, and wrote me a script for physical therapy which I had originally planned to ignore.

Today the doc called and said he wanted me to come in to discuss the x-rays. So I’m going to assume he found something.

Anyway, I didn’t really feel right doing anything on a day I’d had x-rays, and I’d worked out Sunday also, so Tuesday was a rest day.

Wednesday:

Today I did a tempo run. 4.5 miles total, with 0.75mi warmup, 3 miles medium fast, and 0.75mi cool down. It sucked. I’m horribly out of shape at speedwork. I had to stop halfway through the tempo and walk it out to avoid an asthma attack. I really need to focus on running. I’ve got a 7.5 mi race in about 6 weeks!

Week 06 Summary; Week 07 Plan

Week 06:

  • Mon: BodyRock +  Weights
  • Tues: 4.8mi progressive tempo run
  • Wed/Thurs: Rest
  • Fri: 6 mi LSR with hills
  • Sat: Rest
  • Sun: 3.5 mi intervals

Weekly mileage: 14.3 mi

Summary: A lot of rest days this week, because I was at my parents’ house from Thursday night to Saturday evening for a short visit. I’m impressed that I actually got up on Friday – in a different state – and went out for a long run. I had hoped to do 7 miles, but I’d forgotten just how hilly it is where my parents live; that 6 miles involved me walking a couple hills, because, damn. So on one hand, sure, I had a lot of rest days, but on the other hand, I manged to put in 6 miles while on a trip. That’s something, and I’ll take it.

Week 07 Plan:

  • Mon: BR + weights
  • Tues: 4.5 mi tempo (0.75 warmup, 3mi tempo, 0.75 cooldown)
  • Wed: rest or BR + weights
  • Thurs: rest
  • Fri: 7 mi LSR
  • Sat: rest or BR/weights
  • Sun: 4 mi easy

This would put me at 15.5 miles, with 3 days of running, and 2 days of BR/weights/crosstraining. I think 5/7 days with workouts is a worthy goal.

Week 06: Monday/Tuesday Update

Weeks 04 and 05 seem to have vanished into the ether. Week 04 was a rest week, and then during week 05 I had some personal issues and some physical problems (took my bad neck to a chiropractor, and then was loathe to overwork it after he’d ‘corrected’ it) which combined to kind of wipe that period of time off of the map. No matter now; I’m back on it and looking at the Warrior Dash (Ohio II) coming up on 26 August as well as the Marathon Relay on 29 September.

Monday: I went to the gym and did a 12 min BodyRock to warm up. I didn’t use a video; instead I planned out a workout using moves I already knew:  3x(4x(50/10))

  • Sumo Squat + Knee Lift with a 12 lb medicine ball
  • Forearm Plank 5 sec + leg hops + 17lb kettleball drag
  • Sit Squats + 12lb medicine ball
  • Pushup + Toe Touch + Burpee Jump

I hadn’t really realized how much easier BodyRock was getting when I was doing one per day;  I haven’t done one in over two weeks and it was harder than I remember! After that warmup I did weights: squats, shoulder presses, lat pulldown, weight-balanced pull-ups, and the ab chair. I was exhausted afterwards.

Tuesday: Tuesday I did some speedwork: negative splits on a ~4mi road run. My Garmin footpod and my iPhone GPS disagreed on this run: the Garmin FR60 said I was about 10-15% slower than the GPS. Normally when they disagree, I err on the side of caution and go with whichever form of measurement says I am a worse runner (so that I’m not setting my expectations too high). However, in this case, I really feel like the GPS was correct. It tracked the entire run without losing signal, the road I ran didn’t have a lot of tree cover so I am pretty sure it was getting signal, and I do know the footpod needs to be calibrated soon. Plus, in terms of effort, I felt like I was going faster than the footpod said – and it was good effort, the kind that said you’re running better than you think you are, not the bad kind of exertion level where it’s hot as crap and I feel tired.
 
So if I go by that, I did 4.8 miles total (because I was following the footpod which was underestimating my speed), going from ~11:30/mi pace up to 10:00/mi pace. I kept with negative splits, too: each mile was faster than the last. It felt good.
 
Today I am very, very sore. Especially in my legs. I did bring my gym bag, because I am hoping to get into the gym to do some ab work, if nothing else – but if I am too sore, I’ll take today as a rest day. However, I’m going to visit my parents this weekend, so I would like to get one more workout in before I head up there.
 

Week 05, Month 02: A Change Of Focus

Well, Month 01 came and went. I’m glad I started keeping this log of my work, because time just seems to fly by. I think this is part of my problem with keeping up consistency — I feel like I’ve only been doing this for a little while, and a whole month has gone by: 4 weeks of workouts that should be having effects by now.

For Month #02, I’m setting some different goals.

My weekly mileage is up to a good range for right now (~14 mi/week); the long race (7.5 mi) isn’t until the end of September. So for right now I want to keep the weekly mileage mostly the same, and up intensity by starting to add intervals, speedwork, hills. I intend to do speedwork on Tuesdays for about 5 miles (1mi warmup, 3mi workout, 1mi cooldown), a 75-90 min long slow run on Fridays (which will land me 6-8 miles depending on my speed and overall feeling), and the remainder on Sundays. If I’m feeling good, Sunday will be a different kind of speedwork (example: I may do intervals Sunday and a tempo run Tuesday) and if not, it’ll be a recovery run. If I’m feeling particularly sore I’ll replace Sunday with 30 min on the elliptical.

The focus for this month can’t be completely weight based because I’m still running so much (and I need to be), but I do want to focus more on picking back up my compound lift workouts and Bodyrock. My real goal is to start getting actually out of bed at 6 so that I can do a 12min Bodyrock before work every morning, but I’m very concerned about being able to stick with it because I’m an insomniac who hates mornings. Either way, I’d like to hit the weight room at least twice a week. Wed/Thurs and Sat/Sun, whichever works, but going back to the NROL4W plan and sticking with it consistently.

I can’t decide what to do with my diet. With weightlifting I shouldn’t be cutting to many cals, so I may aim for only ~250/day below my maintenance level. But then again I did better than that last month and didn’t lose a whole lot so what the hey. Maybe I shouldn’t worry as much about cals — new goal could be, get >140g of protein every day? If I’m under I’m under, and if not, oh well? I’ll think about this one.