Saturday, February 28, 2009

Long Run...Lungs Burn!

Week in Review
I just finished my fifth run this week: a 12 mile long run - my longest on the treadmill...longest run ever! To keep me motivated, I watched The Matrix Revolutions from beginning to end while I ran. During the action scenes, I was "pumped" and wanted to run faster. When the pace slowed, I found myself struggling to to keep going. Then there was my son who wanted me to stop so he could play his XBox (sorry dude, you had all day to do that!) Needless to say, my lungs got a great workout!

The other four runs this week were good too. The Tempo and Progression Runs were the greatest challenges until tonight's Long Run. I can feel my body getting more and more acclimated to longer runs. And, the Tempo/Progression Runs can probably be little longer.

Tomorrow, I will assist a friend with his search for a new treadmill. He's taken interested in running and needs a treadmill for cold weather days. Before I hit the sack, I need to do a little research before we hit the stores.

Next Week's Runs
I'm averaging more than 20 miles per week this year. Next week I will take it easy just a bit. I've had 3 straight weeks of long runs. Here's the plan:
  1. Sunday - Easy Run / 3 miles
  2. Monday - Hill Climb / 4 miles
  3. Tuesday - Speed Work / 5 miles
  4. Thursday - Progression Run / 4 miles
  5. Saturday - Long Run / 7 miles
The Wednesday and Friday rests are also making a huge difference when I do my Long Runs on Saturday

Monthly Goal
With 8 days left in the Run 100 Miles in 30 Days Challenge, I've run 78.72 miles. I should easily meet this goal if I run 23 miles as planned.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tempo Treadmill Run...

This afternoon marked the end of four consecutive runs that began last Saturday.   Today's run was a 7-mile tempo run: 1 mile warm-up & cool-down at 10 miles/minute and  5 miles at my 10K pace 8:50 miles/minute.  The run took about 65 minutes and I felt generally good although I feel tired now. 

At the suggestion of a few Twitter-mates, I watched one of my favorite DVDs, Planet Earth - Great Plains, and thought through a few a few blog topics while on the treadmill.  In fact, today's topic came to me while I was on the treadmill so I guess you could say this is kind of a recursive entry (ok, only the techies will get that joke).

Tomorrow is a well-needed rest day. I'll do my usuall pull-ups and crunches.  I may also do a little legwork - some lunges and a few stairs - to strengthen my legs.  And yes, the legwork idea was a suggestion from another Twitter-mate.

Thursday is another Progression Run and then I'm off Friday in prepartion for Saturday's Long Run!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

When Is The Best Time For Me to Run?

Since I started running almost a year ago, I have tried morning, afternoon and evening runs. And, regardless of when I run there always seems to be reasons why I should have run at a different time. Several of my Twitter-mates recently discussed the times they prefer to run and their responses varied across the board.

With no definitive reason to run at a specific time of day, I searched the internet to answer the question, "When is the best time for me to run?" I guess I should not have been surprised to learn that science does not have an answer to this question. The best time to run typically depends on your circadian rhythm: if you are a morning person you probably prefer morning runs; if you are a night owl you may prefer afternoon or evening runs.

In the article When is the Best Time to Exercise?, Elizabeth Quinn says you should be aware of the following research:
  1. Late afternoon is best for exercise because our body temperature is highest.
  2. Strength is greater (by about 5%) in the afternoon.
  3. Endurance is greater (by about 4%) in the afternoon.
  4. Injuries are less likely in the afternoon because we tend to be more alert, our body temperature is higher, and we muscles tend to be more flexible.
  5. Morning exercisers are more consistent, i.e., morning exercisers are less likely to find something else to do other than exercise.
  6. There's no clear evidence that shows evening exercise adversely affects sleep.
In summary you should choose an exercise time that is convenient for your schedule. In the article, What's the Best Time to Exercise?, Steven Aldana, PhD says, "Most of all, find a time that helps you make your exercise a regular, consistent part of your life."

I tend to be a person who exercises consistently when I run in the morning. However, my work schedule sometimes dictates that I run in the evening which feels better but is more difficult to do routinely. The bottom line is, what's important is that you DO run; and not when you run.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Half-Way Done with My 30 Day Challenge

I finished Week 8 on Saturday with an 8 mile treadmill run.  The goal was to do 10-12 miles, but cramps settled in and I had to stop early.  The Hill, Speed Work, and Progression Runs are really helping to improve my speed and endurance.  I think I'm ready to run a "practice" half-marathon and believe I can keep a 10 minute/mile pace or better. 

I can't wait to get outside to run freely again.  Last month's warm spell really spoiled me!

Next Week's Runs
I'm enjoying a 5 run per week schedule.  My body is able to recover and I can tell my times are getting faster.  Next week I plan to do the following runs:
  1. Sunday - Easy Run / 4 miles
  2. Monday - Hill Climb / 4 miles
  3. Tuesday - Tempo Run / 6 miles
  4. Thursday - Progression Run / 4 miles
  5. Saturday - Long Run / 12-14 miles
The Wednesday and Friday rests are also making a huge difference when I do my Long Runs on Saturday

Monthly Goal
With 15 days left in the Run 100 Miles in 30 Days Challenge, I've run 52.71 miles.  If I continue to run a minimum of 25 miles per week, I will achieve the goal with room to spare. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reclaim Your Abs!

Every year I create at least several goals in 4 different categories: Spiritual, Personal, Family, and Professional. For the past two years, I have had a personal exercise goal to maintain a "healthy" BMI and to exercise at least 4 times per week. This year I decided to beef up my exercise goal. In addition to the usual goals, I am reclaiming my abs!

The Plan
I know what has to be done: sit-ups and/or crunches are in my cites. I despise sit-ups and traditional (upper body) crunches, especially sit-ups because they put more strain on my lower back. After hearing about Steve Speirs' Two Hundred Sit-up Challenge, I accepted the challenge and have integrated upper body crunches into my routine. What has really helped my abs thus far are my weekly push-ups. When performed correctly, push-ups can strengthen the abs tremndously. I have been very pleased with the results of the crunches and push-ups.

The Results Are In!
The other day I put on a pair of jeans I bought a year ago. Although I dropped a size last year, it was a bit of surprise to see the jeans were at least 2 or 3 sizes too big! I guess you could say the crunches and push-ups are working. During last year's physical, my doctor told me, "Your health is great. Just keep doing what you do!"

A Slight Adustment
So, what's next? Well, what I really need now is a way to tighten my lower abs. Upper body crunches and push-ups are great but mostly affect the upper abs. My next goal will be to incorporate lower ab exercises. Once I start working the lower abs, I'll focus on push-ups to for upper ab work.

It will not be long before I completely reclaim my abs. The exercise results are impressive thus far. And best of all, my kids will no longer be able to talk about that bowl of jelly on my stomach!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Week 5, Day 3: Two Hundred Sit-Ups

I'm now done with Week 5 of The Two Hundred Sit-Ups Challenge.  I can now do more than 310 crunches in one sitting!  I'm going to give myself a little time off and see if I can do the 200 crunches one day next week!

Progression Run

I tried a Progression Run (PR) today based on the suggestion of a Twitter companion. A PR, as defined by Greg McMillan, is a run where you you begin running at a slow, easy pace but finish at a fast pace (see URL My stats were: 400 (kcal). 4.00 mi. 9:22 min/mile and 00:37:33 time. I thought I did pretty good even though I was unable to finish the last 8 minutes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Week 5, Day 2: Two Hundred Sit-Ups

Almost done with Week 5 of The Two Hundred Sit-Ups Challenge.  I'm up to about 290 crunches in one sitting.

Friday, February 6, 2009

17 And Counting!

I'm up to 17 miles this week which is about my weekly average in 2009.  The Lord is going to bless Chicago with warmer weather the next few days, so I'll be able to go outside, PTL!  I've been "tweeting" and "facebooking" a lot and have built up my network of runners and trainers who are located across the entire world. That's pretty good for a guy who was not even running this time last year!

Today I did some speed work: 1 mile warm-up/cool-down & 4x400 sprints.  I also incorporated core training exercises used by Lolo Jones.  Tomorrow I am going to do a long run outdoors.  Now if I can just figure out where to run...hmmmm.