Saturday, December 26, 2009

White Christmas

This is the first "White Christmas" that we've had in many years. It started snowing on Christmas Eve and lasted well through Christmas day - even have some in the shadow of the house still.

  • We had some time drawing around the table as a family. We put out some duplos and set the timer for 12 minutes and drew what we saw. It was fun. We also tried making origami.
  • My Granddaughter sitting in the snow laughing and having a great time.
  • One of the fun things we did on Christmas morning was have a "BIG" snow ball fight!
  • More fun for my Granddaughter and her Aunt.
  • Our White Christmas.
  • Christmas lights on our evening when we get hot chocolate and drive around looking at Christmas lights. It's a family tradition. Unfortunately the neighborhoods that we used to visit have less and less each year.
  • My favorite chandeliers! I always have to stop in front of this house and just look at it -- it's quite amazing. Here's a shot from over 100 yards. (This is also a family tradition.)

End of 8 weeks

It's gone pretty quickly, as time does these days; eight weeks of working on strength training. The running has taken a hit with the colder weather and busy schedule - no runs this week. :-(

[Photo: the last 3 leaves on the new tree that I planted this summer - now gone.]

Trainer: I did get the bike on the trainer once this week though - yesterday, for 2:05. I was wanting to watch a movie, so I rode while watching it. According to my Cat Eye it was 32.69 miles, 15.6 mph Avg, 23 mph Max, 80 avg cadence, 150 max cadence, no HR data. I've not ridden for a while, so two hours on the saddle was a little uncomfortable. I found myself sitting up right towards the end of the ride as well as moving around a bit. I've never had nor seen 'saddle sores', but I was wondering if that's what was starting as my bottom was getting quite sore...

Weights: I forgot to do my 1 minute sit up test (again). Today's pull up ladder had a second step of 5 pull ups (1,2,3,4,5,5,4,3,2,1). Last week it was just 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1. On week one it was 1,2,3,4,3,3,2,1. So over the last weeks I'm seeing 11 more pull ups in the ladder work out and have gone from a max of 4 to 8. (This is good improvement for me.)
On the bench I saw 2 more reps @ 155 and maintained the increases from last week: so only a small increase in 'work' over last week. Next week I plan to move the max lift on Th from 215 to 225. All in all I feel stronger now than I did 8 weeks ago - no question.

Weight: not so good; still up. I've been allowing and enjoying to many sweets. I plan on getting a little more serious at some point ... maybe tomorrow (which is saying I'm not ready to really make the commitment yet!). If I say I'll start something tomorrow instead of today - that's a warning flag to be dealt with and it's the thought I have when I hear others putting of starting something until the next day too.

Wed with Wife: she joined me again this week. That's 5 in a row now. And this week she did two cycles with me over the exercises. It was good and fun! She's lost many inches - not just in the last 5 weeks, but since she started this past summer - wearing belts and considering some new clothes... :-) Which is a good reminder: the scale isn't always the best may to measure progress as an increase in lean body weight doesn't always look nice on the scale, but does show up in the wardrobe.

I'm still playing with different ideas on how to quantify strength progress. My latest formulas include body weight to help scale the numbers based on the weight of the one doing the work. So a lighter person doing the same weight is producing more power. It's kind of fun in a few spare moments here and there. My latest formula is : work = reps ^ ((weight/body weight)^3).

My wife tells me these are hard to read ... hmmm, trying to work on that. Unfortunately I've not had any good stories like the gym experience earlier this year. :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Back on the Saddle Again

It's been over 3 months since I've ridden my bike outside; the weather last weekend was very tempting, but I had no time. This weekend was more than I could resist. Having missed my Friday workout and Saturday run - with only two shorter runs this week, when Sunday afternoon started to give way to early evening ... I was able to go for a ride.

I was a little nervous as it had been so long, but after a couple miles I was fine. The routine to get ready to ride is more complicated then going for a run:
check / lube the chain
check brakes
check tires - inflate to proper air pressure (120 psi)
prepare two water bottles
decide on clothing
backpack or fanny pack or none
pack phone, camera, something to eat
check lights
find shoes, gloves, helmet and mirror, glasses
put on chap stick,
It's quite an extensive procedure. From the time I took my bike off the rack to being ready to leave it was over 30 minutes.

The ride was part of my regular route last year: over the dam and up to Lake Ridge. The wind was out of the South so it was in my face on the way out and helping me on the way back: a good thing for a first ride after 3 months. It was nice to get out. I could feel the loss of stamina in my legs as I would go up some of the hills / inclines. Over the bridge I got to do my TT (time trial) section and managed 31 mph avg for the .5 miles with 181 as a peek HR. Over all the ride was 17.8 mph avg and 150 avg HR.

I continue to be pleased with the bike that God allowed me to be able to buy - well above my pay grade and experience, and something I don't take for granted. Having served my for over 5,000 miles earlier this year and hanging from the ceiling for the last 3 months -- it needed very little service and rode like the champ that it is. (Go Cannondale!)

I don't like missing my Friday workouts as those are the second workouts of the week that focus on the muscles that are helping me improve in my pull ups - something that I would very much like to have improve. I can do 7 now, but I'd like to get over 10 with the hopes of 20 some day. I've found that twice a week is enough to have improvement, but once just isn't enough. So, hopefully this week I'll get all five workouts in.

At the passing of another year I am more thankful for my health. One of the gifts I was given was a nice kitchen knife. I have some OK knives, but this one .. is amazing to use. It's almost like everything I cut is soft: it just goes right through it. I wish I would have gotten a premium knife years ago. (This one is a J.A.Henckels 8" Chef knife.) I have $10 chef knife and like it, but it just wont keep it's edge. I cook a fair bit if meals and dishes - so it's fitting for me to have a nice knife.

Eating wise: my weight is back to where it was 8 weeks ago. I've jumped 2 lbs down to 4 lbs up - 6 lbs. It's easy for me to move 1-2% in just a day or two. I continue to see some muscle growth, but I also see extra weight around my mid section. I have been doing pretty well with not eating much junk - until buying some Mint-Chip Blue Bell Ice Cream on Sat. That's my favorite ice cream and flavor - so I've had some every day since then.

My Monday routine is hard, or at least challenging in that it requires a high intensity level. There are no single exercises - all of them are in the form of two different but related exercises with no, or just a short, rest (30 seconds or less). I don't do heavy weights, but do more reps which lead to tight muscles before I'm done. Only minor improvements over last Mondays routine: which is acceptable as my intensity level is already high on this day so improvements are more likely to be due to strength increases over a couple of weeks.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Measuring strength progress...

With my focus being mostly on improving my overall strength and core - I'm finding it more challenging to share those details than it was to share my running or cycling stats. But, I'm going to continue to try as I think there is some value in it. (For some reason it feels more personal. Maybe because I'm not seeing others sharing it.)

My seventh week is almost over (just my Friday routine remains). Last week I logged a number that I am going to use to help monitor progress. I'm calling it a 'work' number. By 'work' I mean the traditional meaning in Physics: "In physics, mechanical work is the amount of energy transferred by a force acting through a distance." I'm calculating a representation of that number by multiplying the number of reps * weight. (EX: if I do a set of 12 reps at 135 lbs: = 1,620.) I will use this 'work' number for my Th bench routine as this is my weekly Heavy routine. For Pull ups I will use my Friday pull up ladder total. For core, I will modify my Friday routine to have a 1 minute sit up max rep test and include that number too.

So, today's routine was my Heavy bench and my 'work' number increased from 5,420 last week to 6,425 this week: an increase of 1,005 or ~18%. That gain was accomplished by one more rep at 175, 195, 205 and adding a new set of 2 at 215.

I know that this isn't just an increase in strength from last week, but a combination of strength and intensity - a pushing closer to my limits. (If I were on the bike this would be seen as a high HR - like my short time trials over the bridge this past cycling season where I saw a max HR of 191.)

I do train alone and have many times reached a point of failure on an exercise before completing the rep. Not to big a deal most of the time, but on the bench it's a bit of a pain: having the bar siting on your chest while you push it off to the side until it rests on the safety and then squeezing and crawling out from under it the other way. So, I expect over the next 4-6 weeks I will run out of intensity improvement and will see the 'work' number slow down - but at that point it will be more of an accurate measure of strength increase.

I have gotten in two runs so far this week: a 5 mi and 3 mi. The runs are not happening as the days are full - so I'm turning down my expectations with them and just wanting 3 or 4 per week. Mostly it's a filler until I start back on my bicycle - sometime next month. There is a ride in TN on May 1 called the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge that I'm hoping to ride in. I have one riding friend that is doing it and a few others that are warm to the idea... :-) It would be a neat way to start the season.

As for other possible cycling dream/goals for 2010:
  • do my first sub 5 hr century
  • ride 7 century's in 7 days (did 4 this year in May)
  • ride for 12 hrs straight
  • do my first triathlon
Being new to cycling - there are many 'dream goals' out there. Maybe some new technology would help: like a power meter... or some Zipp 404's, or ... maybe I need a sponsor ... :-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Time to hang up the shoes, but...

I've been running off and on for enough weeks now that I was expecting my times to be coming down by now. Last week during one of my runs, I was thinking about how I'm not motivated to work a lot harder in running to see the improvements that I'd like to see.

It was a moment of truth and honesty. Then this weekend, Sunday was such a beautiful day I wanted very much to be out riding my bike - especially after seeing three cyclists on the route that I normally ride. So I was thinking it was about time to hang up my running shoes sometime soon and start back on the bike again. I have been off it for a couple months now and I'm starting to look forward to riding again.

Then I went for a run today: it was a beautiful day, sunny, warm, running in a tank top. It was just so nice. Not the hassles of cycling: the extra gear, pumping up tires, checking brakes, helmet ... more prep time. I was just able to put my shoes on and head out the door. I didn't wear my chest strap, so I don't have my HR numbers, but I didn't think that was too important as I've not been pushing myself for the last 3 weeks or so. I did wear the GPS though, so I could track the time and distance information.

Numbers: just over 5 miles, 40:06 time, avg 7:57 /mi, max 5:50 / mi, ~760 calories. I haven't tried to avg under 8 minutes for probably 4 weeks. So today was just a 'enjoy running day' and it was quick and very nice - enough to make me want to keep running (and maybe add some bike rides for now).

[Photo: this mornings log from the weights showing the up arrows.]
The weights this morning were good. Monday is mostly chest, triceps and forearms - besides the normal warm up. I like to put little arrows in my log book when I go up in reps from the previous week - this morning there were many up arrows. By the end of the work out I had some tight muscles which is the fruit of a good work out for me. (When I go down in reps I put in down arrows.)

Weight: is up a couple lbs - and I know better than to think it's just an increase in lean body mass. There has been some of that, but I can still see and feel some not so lean mass around my midsection ...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The rest of week 6

With the days so full and not having a 'hard' goal - my blogging has bumped down a few steps and I'm trying to blog as often as I can make time. This week that is twice..

Signs of progress: as I mentioned in a previous comment - I have made the 5 strength training routines the primary goal right now. Partly because I can schedule them in first thing in the morning and have little risk other than sleeping in of them not happening; and the rest because I do enjoy them (after they are done). The following are signs of progress as I've finished my 6th week:
  • I'm taking shorter rests in between each set. I use a timer and set it in advance for the exercise to 30, 60 or 90 seconds depending on the exercise and day.
  • I'm doing almost twice as much work on the bench press (3,040 lbs lifted on Th of week one VS 5,420 lbs lifted last Th - those numbers are computed from the reps times the weight for each set).
  • Pull ups started with 4 regular on week one and I did 7 this week.
  • The pull up ladder on week one went to 4 and was weak and this past week went to 5 with complete reps (1-2-3-4-3.5-3.5-1.5-1 VS 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1, or 18 total VS 25 total).
  • Warm up was just punching bag and hanging knees on week one; this last week it is over 10 minutes of core warm up and training: twisting and stretching, hanging knees, knee raises, L's, crunches, Punching bag and a plank.
Training with my wife: This weeks Wed routine was the 3rd time in a row that my wife joined me: and once again it was a good time. I actually wrote down one of the things she said as it made me laugh when she said it. Now it's not likely to be as funny here, but the scene is we are on the last exercise of the circuit, the plank, and she says - "I don't wanna do the plank...". This wasn't said in a rebellious tone, but rather a child like whinny voice - looking for sympathy and an out. (It kind of made me think of someone being forced to walk 'the plank' in a Pirate movie - and them begging for mercy...) So, rather than having to do the full minute (and falling to the sharks in the water below), we agreed to 2 reps of 30 seconds with a very short rest in the middle. :-)

This past week I was able to get in all 5 strength workouts; but I was only able to run three times for a total of 14 miles. My road bike has been calling out to me! It's hanging in the garage .. tempting me as often as I enter. I have some loose spokes and a little bit of service that needs to happen to it and then I'll likely ride it again soon. I've not been on it for ~3 months now: long enough to 'want' to start up again after 5,000+ miles this year.

More big rocks .. as is to be expected, but that's OK. My thorn continues to be wanting to exercise or eat when I'm stressed. Eating is easier, but I prefer to exercise: to much of either is a problem; balance continues to be the goal and will likely be the life long goal that I continue to reach for that is just beyond my grasp ...

[Photos: my son's swim meet, the last stages of a spectacular sunset, breakfast one morning (2 fried eggs, onions, bell pepper, garlic, pepper jack cheese and spinach.]

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 1 - Week 6

Since this is the 6th week, I've modified my routine a little more.

[Photos: our small dog in his bed, our big dog in our small dogs bed, both dogs in our small dogs bed.]

The last 5 weeks have been good in the sense of increasing in strength (and muscle). The intent isn't so much muscle growth, but I was starting at a place where I had been cycling and not doing any strength training for ~ 8 months. So, a little muscle growth is a natural by product of the strength training and probably a good thing too. In the log book I can see more reps and higher weights - more to support my perception that the current training is effective.

There is much talk about keeping variation in a training routine so the body never gets used to a routine or work load. I have been doing that over the last couple weeks and have added some more variation this week. Specifically what I did to my Monday routine today:
  • The light bench routine is now done at the same weight for all three sets (135 lbs) and now has a 30 second rest after each set and then a set of dips is done; followed by 30 seconds and then another set on the bench. Three cycles of this is done .. it's a workout that I felt well into the afternoon.
  • The decline bench is the same as the regular bench with the exception of a closer grip and by the 5th and 6th set of dips I was just squeaking out 1 rep.
  • I then did a circuit of incline bench with light weight bar bells (35 lbs) and butterflies at 25 lbs; doing three cycles with no rest.
  • Lastly it was triceps: push downs forwards and reverse grip with 30 seconds in between starting at 30 lbs and ending with 50 lbs.
  • I always start with a more through warm up now that includes twists, sides, hanging, L's, punching bag, crunches and 60 seconds holding a plank - about 12 minutes of warm ups.
  • The whole routine took me 51 minutes today.
During lunch it was cool (~42) and drizzly. Not what I've been used to running in, but I had to run as it had been over a week since my last run. So .. I put on my running tights and a windbreaker, ear covers and a visor and headed out. I ran just over 5 miles and ran just for fun. It was very nice and enjoyable. The avg pace was 8:32. I was also able to encourage my wife to go for a run over lunch too. That was good as she has a harder time being motivated when it's gray, wet and cold. She wanted to, but just needed a little extra push to do it. (More good coaching - IMHO.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

End of week Five

This past week (the one with little blogging and NO running) was week 5 of making the weight workouts a higher priority. This was the first week where I didn't get in all five workouts - I missed Friday. This was also the first week where I didn't get in a single run!

[Photos: our first snow, One of the big rocks finally finished - no more falling down fence, a large spider my son found IN the house this last week.]

This was one of those periods where life was not able to accommodate my desired workouts - and so they were were shuffled when possible and lost for the rest. At this point - writing my Blog when I probably should be in bed, my thoughts are hoping for a week of 5 and 5: five periods of strength training and five runs of 30 miles. Unfortunately I'm sitting here eating Hot Tamales (the candy) and have had WAY to much ... another clear indicator of not getting enough exercise.

I still need to set a goal that is concrete. At this point I just have training goals: 10 / week. I also need a point in the not to distant future where I can accomplish something with the training to give it value. Over all I know I need to continue to get fitter, but I need some milestones.

That's all for now. Any suggestions for some goals or milestones? Thoughts or questions?

Working out with my Wife...

Wed is now known as "Last Chance Workout" days ... or so that's what my wife said she now thinks of them as. She has for the last two Wednesdays joined me for a portion of that work out.

It's more of a circuit day with most of the exercises working core and large groups of muscles. We have a warm up period (twisting, side stretches, hanging knees, L's, punching bag, crunches and planks). Then we cycle through the following exercises (squats, calves, jumping, good mornings, knee raises, crunches and plank). She does one trip through through with me and then I will do two or three more circuits after she leaves.

We have decided that this is good and we're going to continue to make time for our workout time together on Wednesdays. She'll also be eating the same protein drink in the AM. It's kind of neat to share this together after 21 years of marriage - it's fun. I like to coach and it's meaningful to be able to coach my wife in this way. I know it's no small thing for her to get up early in the cold and spend this time with me and to be subjected to some intense exercise ... all part of the significance of that time now.

My Wed routine has quickly become my favorite of the week! :-)
[Photo: Geese flying south last Sat on my run.]

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I've had some big rocks, that aren't appropriate to discuss here, going on in life. That has made blogging fall behind.

So briefly:
- last week I got in all five routines with the weights (4th week of 5/wk)
- last week I went on 4 runs totaling ~26 miles
- my weight is down maybe a pound

I have a neat shot of some geese flying south that I took Saturday late afternoon while I was on my run (11 miles: from my house to the dam and out just over half way then back).

Monday - yesterday: weights, but no run due to other bigger rocks.
Today - no weights this morning, another big rock. Hopefully I'll get the weights in during lunch.

That's all I have time for. I hope to have time very soon to be more regular in tracking my efforts and progress. :-)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turkey Bowl .. Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving morning started with my Thursday weight routine. I know it is Thanksgiving, but I also know that to miss a day makes it easier to miss another .. and another and ... so today I have many reason to be thankful - including being able to do my Thursday routine. (I think this routine is in a previous posting, so I won't put it here.)

That left a little less than an hour to prepare and cook the potatoes and sweet potatoes for the mid-day meal.
Shortly after 8 it was off to the Annual Turkey Bowl - touch football game. There were around 20 of us playing: teenagers to me - the most senior present. It was a lot of fun and nobody got hurt. Some left with some aches and tender spots, and others (myself included) had some the next day from the sprinting. We played for around 90 minutes.

Then it was back home to help with dinner: forming the rolls, making mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and gravy. My wife and kids made the remaining items. It was a plentiful meal and all 11 of us had plenty. We were 5 generations. We also played 'knock out' - which is becoming a family tradition too as my son-in-law is a basketball player.

No run in the evening on this day ... to full, tired and no interest! I hope you all were able to reflect and have a nice Thanksgiving.

[Photos: Turkey Bowl Shots - most of us on the field, me throwing a pass, some of us walking down to receive the kick (myself and two of my kids included).]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wed - Training with my Wife...

Wed morning is my legs and core focus - no real weight lifting, but rather a circuit training for my legs and core. I told my wife the plan for the morning workout (in rough detail) and invited her to join me - to which she said sure! Cool!

Space was a little tight, as my workout area is not very spacious. I copied the routine from last Wed to this weeks page and added another exercise to the circuit for the lower back. We started with the warm ups: twisting, side stretches, hanging knee raises, leg raises, punching bag and crunches. These are meant to get the blood flowing and loosen up the joints, muscles and get focused on the task at hand.

We then started the circuit. I normally do it 4 times - or 4 sets. Each set consists of the following exercises: squats, calves, jumping, good mornings, leg raises, crunches and lastly arm and leg kick backs - 7 exercises normally done one after the other taking ~10 minutes for a set. The first set today took ~40 minutes..., but it was a lot of fun doing them with my wife. It was fun coaching her and she commented about how she used to go to the gym before we were dating (25 yrs ago) to watch me work out. We giggled, had fun, admired each other and had a great time together - something that we (like most) need to do more of. It was nice to share something that I've done so many times - but never with my wife before. One set was all she was up to today - but she still has her own routine of walking the dogs, running and skating, and using a balance ball for core exercises too.

The next three sets took around 30 minutes - and were good at raising my body temperature and putting the hurt on some of my body. This is my fourth week back after a long (cycling) season of being off, but there have been years before this of consistent time in different weight routines and exercises - so I'm pleased with the reclamation of lost territory.

In the afternoon I was able to get out for a run. I was thinking 6+ miles, but once I started I noticed how tired my legs were (like I said it was a good work out this morning). So instead I ran to the school and did some track work: running the straights at 3/4+ speed and recovering on the corners. I did 8 laps of that. I then ran back the long way and put in 5.2 miles. The Avg pace for the whole time was just under 9 min/mi: not moving very fast, but just glad to keep moving.

Tomorrow morning is Thanksgiving. I am planning on getting up early and getting my Thursday routine in, then do some meal preparation and then head out for the Turkey Bowl (flag and tackle football game). Then back home to help more and share a wonderful meal with my family: all five generations. From my Grandma to my Granddaughter. We will take some time to reflect and give thanks - the very least we can do: "I have so much to be thankful about."

Tuesday - Training with my Kids...

As has become normal for this week, Tuesday was a bit later getting to the weights; so about midway through my youngest daughter came to check on me (as she occasionally does). Since she was there and asking soooooo many questions, I decided it was time to 'work her in' to the morning workout.[Now I agree with the common thought relating to children and lifting weights: that being not to do it. Rather than lift any weights, I let her do the motions in proper form with just the tension of the pulleys and cables and gravity.]

Her work out was:
- she likes to hang on the pull up bar, so I timed her for that
- I had her work the heavy punching bag for a while
- we both did some curls using the lower pulley; working on proper form and technique
- we had a hanging competition, but she started using her legs to try to knock me off (which I reciprocated and promptly fell off myself)
- she did some leg raises on the other piece of equipment (I don't know what it's called: you can do pull-ups, dips, core stuff, ...)
- ... about 15 minutes of this and she was ready to go out and play with the dogs some more.

When I came home for lunch and a run, my middle daughter was out front between our house and the neighbors and was kicking soccer balls into the street. She's working on her long kicks. So, I came out and worked with her some. Eventually there was a neighbor kid and another sibling joining us. It was fun, but took the time of my run, so it was lunch and back to work.

That evening I went for a run in the dark again. I wore my Garmin this time, but choose not to look at it at all during the run. Sometimes just looking at it changes how I feel about how I'm running. So I didn't allow myself to analyze the run while I was doing it - And that was nice.

When I was done I saw that my avg. pace was 8:28 for my normal route. That's a little faster than my average pace for the previous week. It felt quicker but still comfortable: maybe I just need to continue to allow some time to get my legs about me and the times will slowly come down. My AHR was 139. Still a little low for maximum aerobic conditioning.

It was a nice training with my girls today after bouncing with my youngest son the day before. And the Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl will be with my oldest son: and a bunch of others (mostly younger than myself); youth, college aged and other adults of various ages - Even a few of us Grandpas! We'll start with touch and end with tackle - or so the tradition is.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weights and a run and...

With the kids home for Thanksgiving break, my routine is always challenged. In part from the nights being later since the kids don't have school to go to first thing in the morning. So, I tend to be up later which makes getting up early harder. Today was no exception.

I did get a nice Monday routine in with the weights, but just not as early as I would have liked. I also got a run in, but after work instead of during lunch. I was heading out for my run when I ended up out back bouncing on the trampoline with my youngest - which lead to him discovering the fly. So, I ran in and got my camera and 20 minutes later and at least as many photos, it was to late to get out for a run during lunch. It was a good exchange though - bouncing with my son and a cool fly shoot vs. my normal run. And the run this evening was in the dark with out my Garmin - so it was almost like a naked run; except for the blinky tail light.
A public thanks to Frances for identifying the pretty flowering weed in my last entry: "Even weeds have a name, this one with the pinky flowers is henbit, Lamium amplexicaule." She has a great blog on flowers and gardens and some very spectacular photos too. And she has a Canon PowerShot A710 IS - as do I.

[Photos: weights just waiting to be used, a fly on the trampoline.]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A three week review

It's been three weeks now since I stated in a previous blog entry (I feel the need for some Discipline!) that it was time to get some more discipline and order as my life was running wild, or wild for me. With that week I started back on the weights and trying to run consistently: planned activities for 6 days / week.

This past week I was able to get in all my planned workouts; 5 with the weights and 5 runs - the second time in these last three weeks. My total mileage was 34 with a weekly avg of just under 9 min/mi. Yesterdays long run was 12.6 miles at 8:52 - about 10 seconds/mi slower than my normal pace (which means I should try to push myself a little harder during the shorter runs- something I already knew but have been struggling with).

Strength: as I look over my log from three weeks ago and compare it to the one for this past week I can see similar routines with more reps at the same weight or higher weights or extra exercises:
- pull ups (very hard for me) [4,5,2,2,3,2] Tues week 1 vs Tue last week [5,6,3,2 1/2,3,2] and my pull up ladder on Th went to 4 where the first week it didn't
- bench press has a couple more reps through out the weight range
- most all exercises are showing some small improvements
- I've also added more time in warm up with stretching and I've added some crunches there as well
- I am also noticing that I am putting on a little muscle (hopefully that would be the reason for my weight increasing ~2lbs since starting 3 weeks ago)
- The last two work out this week also felt better - not quite so mentally difficult: this is a good sign.
- Plans: follow the same routine for another 3 weeks as I think there are still benefits here to be gained

Running: has been enjoyable again, but I've not been pushing myself very hard.
- I've been struggling a bit with motivation to push hard and have instead just allowed myself to run at an easy/comfortable pace (usually just under 9 min/mi)
- Yesterdays 1:50 run, when it was all done seemed like I had only been gone 20 minutes!?
- My long run had an AHR of 139 - much like the previous days of this week: 140, 137, ?, 139.
- I know I would have more Aerobic benefits if I would push harder a couple days a week, but I've not been able to successfully do this recently - not sure why.
- Plans: to try again to get at least one run/week in at a higher pace/HR.

Weight: not much to say here. I'm not loosing any weight - actually gained 2 lbs since getting back to the weights 3 weeks ago. I'm not going to say it's all muscle, but I do know my lean tissue is increasing. I would expect by the end of this next three week cycle to see my fat decrease and probably have a reduction in weight. None the less, for each lb of muscle gained - I get the benefit of 50 more calories per day being burned up.

My key reminder this week: life is relational. It's much more than setting goals, attaining goals, being successful, prosperous, or anything else like that: those are some of the many tools of the trade of life, but not life itself. IMO the real work and satisfaction of life is relational - with God, family, friends, strangers, riding buddies, people we see at the store, on the street, ... where ever life takes us for as long as we have. With Thanksgiving coming this week - it's something to be mindful of.

[Photos: a tiny flower on a weed out back, but on close examination it is very pretty and fascinating, a nice yellow flower out front, even a tall blade of grass towers over this pretty flowering weed.]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Quit complaining and eat your vegetables."

Depending on your age, you have likely heard this and maybe even said it too. It's a saying that tries to capture a couple different ideas and tie them together. Today in my run - that was the thought that came to mind as I was mildly disappointed that I wasn't wanting to push myself harder to run faster; disappointed that it didn't feel better/wasn't easier; basically just wanting more results than my investment has had time to yield.

For me this thought was clear and direct: "Why am I complaining - at least I'm able to exercise?" My runs these days often feel like eating vegetables that I'm not fond of, but will eat (on occasion) because they are good for me. (Beat juice would be one such example.) There are many people that don't have vegetables or food enough to eat; and so too there are many that can't or don't exercise enough to maintain an active lifestyle or even worse yet, don't exercise enough to stay healthy.

So for now I am going to continue to allow myself to run for fun and back off the training aspect of wanting to see to much in the area of pace improvements. I'm going to do the same with the weights. I'm only back in my 3rd week after 8+ months off and the difficulties with some of the exercises (pull ups and dips to name a couple) I'm just going to allow and accept as appropriate for the place that I'm currently at. I need to persevere through this time of investment.

I am seeing results - the vegetables are helping me. Here's to eating your vegetables with out complaining!

[Monday and Tuesday - weights in the AM and runs later in the day. Aiming for 5 work outs with the weights and 5 runs each week. This is an investment that should yield a return .. soon.]

Monday, November 16, 2009

No long run Sat

... instead it was a time with other men and especially my youngest son and even a little bit with my oldest son too. It was the weekend of our Men's retreat: where we head out to some property and eat together, camp, have some teaching, sharing and do some cool things: skeet shooting, hand guns, etc...

I put up a 'large' tent that my youngest son and I slept in. We got there after dark, so It was a little challenging putting up a tent in the dark that I've never seen before. We only stayed Friday night due to a commitment for Saturday night already - but J. likes to camp.

There were parts of the property that were very wet : I got stuck in my pathfinder for about 15 minutes. Others also got stuck and I rescued / pulled out a truck on Saturday from the middle of a field that was difficult even for the 4 wheel drive.

In the morning J. and I went for a walk before breakfast and enjoyed seeing all the different flowers, weeds, animal tracks and etc: he likes to pick them, I like to take pictures of them.

Later in the day we got to do some shooting and that was fun. And towards the end of the afternoon when we were heading out J. and I had a little time with my oldest son too. He spent some time with his little brother (who enjoyed the four-wheeler rides and shooting his paint ball gun) - and I enjoyed seeing them enjoy being together!

[Photos: different shots from the time at the men's retreat.]

Weights & Home work

Friday morning started with my second Friday weight routine. It was nice to get in a second week of 5 times with the weights. This is my goal for the weights. Doing it in the early morning M-F aids in it being a regular time as I'm usually here and don't plan other things.. yet. (But, I knew this was my last formal exercise for the week: sure there is exercise in everyday active living - but that's not what I'm talking about here as formal exercise.)

Once the kids were gone it was into my youngest daughters bedroom where the carpet has been pulled up for a couple of weeks now and get it ready to put down some laminate wood flooring. My friend K. and his 9 yr old son came over and assisted me. Having the extra help was GREAT! They left at noon and it was my intent to stop at noon too ... but the room was so close to being done. So about two hours later I stopped and all but the closet was done. (I had to rip a half inch strip down the last wall and some other custom cutting for the threshold - but it looks very nice now.) Sunday afternoon I finished the closet. Doorways are tough and this was no exception as I made several cuts that were incorrect: probably one bad cut for every correct one - I'm thankful we had the extra boards to cover my mistakes.

It was good to get the "Home work" done with a day of vacation, help of a friend and time on Sunday.

[Photos: flooring and continuous through into the closet.]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A cluttered desk...

... a cluttered desk is often a symptom or sign of a life that is too full - or so it is in my case. If you want to know how my life is, the untouched up photo of my desk from earlier this week (unfortunately it's even worse today) speaks louder than several hundred words here could.

I try to keep the big rocks, but these days it seems like not even all the big rocks are getting done. No answers for this today... I know the simple techniques and choices - but the difficulty comes in making the many daily choices.

Wed and Th morning == two more bricks in the wall. I switched up the Wed leg routine to do different exercises with my bench attachment for thighs and hamstrings still broken (and no replacement part available from the manufacturer) - so I added some light squats and good mornings.

The fullness of these last days has made running one of the big rocks that didn't make it into the days activities. I did take a reflective 4 mile walk Wed around lunch time. That was nice. No walk or ride walks for Thursday.

Friday I'm planning on the weights in the morning and then working on a home project as I use a vacation day.

Saturday is already to full for a long run, so I'll only have 2 runs in for this week ... consistency is so difficult. Hopefully next week I'll get 5 and 5 again. That's my hope; with out sacrificing other big rocks.

[Photos: my desk in it's current state (and need of attention), breakfast this morning when my oatmeal concoction just didn't sound good...]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two more bricks in the building...

Monday and Tuesday were 'Two more bricks in the building" - meaning they weren't anything particularly special, other than they were faithfully done. Had they not been done - then that would be noted as two "Missing" bricks.

Nutrition wise I've been doing pretty good - except for some red vines and some small bowls of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (Blue Bell Ice Cream). After my morning workouts I'm drinking a soy milk, whey protein powder, almond powder, carob powder and a little cayenne pepper. (I can fill a little burn on my throat from the cayenne pepper.) Then I'll cook my oatmeal concoction for my breakfast meal.

For lunch I've been making two peanut butter-jelly-spinach-black pepper sandwiches. (The black pepper is new and came to me after trying a seasonal nut that had a coating on it that included black pepper.) My appetite has stepped up a notch due to the increased exercise, so I'm trying to be careful in my drinking of water and snacking of good foods at regular times.

Monday was the weights in the AM and then my normal route for a lunch run. The weights didn't hurt as much as they did last week; and after a week of getting back into the routine of getting up early It's becoming a little bit fun/enjoyable again (Except for part of Tu and Fr as I do pull ups on those days - and those are still quite difficult for me). The run was a bit later in the lunch break as I was trying to finish a task at work, so I turned on my 8 min/mi alert (beeps when I go slower) and heard it remind me to pick up the pace several times and point along the route until I turned it off half way through... Numbers: 7:58/mi Avg, 151 AHR, 165 MHR.

Tuesday was similar with the weights and different on the run. I did a moderate pace for a little longer 6.9 miles with one of those miles being a maximum effort. As I've said before, and will now repeat: running hard/fast is difficult for me. I have never run a sub-six minute mile, so I don't really expect to now that I'm in my 40's (although it would be an amazing thing if I did - so it's kind of a dream goal). The mile loop (according to my Garmin) was done in 6:31 with AHR of 162 and MHR of 170. I've had a 6:26 when I ran with Wes earlier this year, but this was my best effort on this day.

During that short 1 mile loop I was ready to back off or stop long before the end: it was a small struggle compared to other life issues - but at that time is was my biggest struggle and one that had to be won or surrendered to. Life is full of challenges that are much more significant than running a mile hard. Part of the benefit of pushing past those limits where the body wants to stop, is the memory and experience that goes with me for future events that require a similar perseverance. Running a hard mile has some value on its own. But a life that has been trained by many of these experiences is like a wall that can support ... the more significant things of life!

So the moral of my two days of exercise is simply - they are bricks in a wall that supports much Greater things; they are my attempts to be faithful with what I've been given.

[Photos: bricks in a wall, protein drink before mixing (after morning work out).]

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ten workouts this week, as planned

[The photo is my weights log book for this week. I log times, weights, reps, sets, and make notes. I also track rest times and other time information. I've got lots of these pages...]

M-Th: weights in the morning and a run later in the day.
F: just weights in the morning.
S: a longer run in the afternoon.
That totals up to 5 times with the weights: three different focuses and two days on all but the legs which are done on Wed to give 48 hrs rest in between the M Th and T Fr routines. It is my experience over the last few years that working each group twice a week will have results. I'm not looking for huge muscles, but rather to see a continued increase in strength: and that is still my goal and measuring stick.

For my run today I was able to run part of one of my bike routes. My wife and youngest two were in M at the soccer fields, so I ran there after getting back from my middle daughters soccer game. Google had it at 14.4 miles, but my Garmin said 13.49 when I stopped at 2 hrs as my wife and kids pulled up beside me after just leaving the soccer fields. It is the longest run I've done in the last few years.

I typically run loops, so this was the longest 'out' run ever. It was a little different seeing things on the horizon 4-5 miles away and then to know that I was supposed to run there .. and then keep going. The run was almost due South and into the wind. Normally I would get to turn around and have the wind to my back - but today it was into the wind almost the whole way.

My unit has gone missing, so the numbers from memory were 13.49 miles, 2 hrs, 8:56/mi Avg, 2020 calories.

Summary: most of my soreness from the weights is gone now - except for my calves which are still a little sensitive. Some totals for the week:
- ~32 miles run
- ~4.5 hrs running
- ~3.5 hrs lifting weights
- calories burned through exercise ~6600
- weight loss ZERO!
- energy and positive effects ... present but hard to measure

My hope is to follow this pattern for the rest of the year. Some variation of course, but much of the same structure.

Photos in the night

The photos are from out back last night. I like time exposed photos. The moon has been amazing for the last week; and even with it so bright in the sky the stars have been bright too.

It was windy, so I used my flash light to illuminate the flag while I took a 15 second exposure using my tripod. The moon of course is over exposed, as the shots that I've taken of it are around 1/320 of a second - so it's over exposed by 4800 times...

The flag is at half mast as a token of respect for the victims of the Fort Hood shooting that killed 13 people. As requested my flag of this Great Country will remain at half mast through Veterans Day on November 11th.

I'm glad to be able to have my 30' pole mounted to the top of my basket ball goal - which puts it up over 40 feet when it's flying at full mast: able to be clearly seen from the front of the house. City ordnance's allow a 50 foot pole ... maybe some day! :-)
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