Wrap a wrap a wrap

A Friday Haiku

Another week gone

Where do they go? I don’t know

To join dryer socks?

Exercises come and go

If you’re anything like me (and if you are, I apologize), you tend to hate certain exercises and quickly get bored with others.

Running, I’m good to go, even if I sometimes take more days off between runs than I should; I still look forward to my runs and enjoy them (well, except for those first several minutes where you question your own sanity and wonder why you torture yourself so until the endorphins hit, the sun comes out, and the birds sing).

But other exercises I’ve always hated.

Stretching has always been my ultimate nemesis. I could neven touch my toes in grade school (and still can’t). So any stretching regimen I start ends quickly in pain and frustration. I don’t need such negativity in my life. I get it, I’m a failure at flexibility.

Push-ups are another. Loathe them. I don’t know what it is about them, but I really have to force myself to do them. Bench presses, on the other hand, I don’t mind and in fact, when I can feel the burn in my chest, shoulders, and triceps, I become motivated to do extra reps. But push-ups, I just collapse on the floor and give up.

Sit-ups and crunches I hate as well, and not because they sometimes hurt my back. I always need something to hook my feet under or I just sort of thrash away like a turtle on its back. In high school gym it was very embarrassing.

And that must be the reason for my dislike of certain exercises, there is some sort of psychological association with high school gym where all the other boys were towering over me, muscles rippling (think The Crusher from Bugs Bunny), and they could pound out dozens of push-ups, sit-ups, as well as the dreaded chin-up, and throw in an iron cross for good measure, while I’d struggle with my skinny spaghetti limbs trembling and flailing around, never accomplishing anything.

Now that I think about it, high school gym class was exactly like that for me.

Anyway, I meant to talk about how I start doing some exercises, but then quickly forget to do them, but I got off on a tangent on why I skipped gym all the time.

I was noticing a pain or weakness in my hamstrings and buttock the last few weeks when I step up onto something, like curbs or stairs.

Running was causing a strength imbalance and the stretches I attempted weren’t helping.

I realized I had gotten away from doing hamstring curls on my Weider Crossbow and doing rows on my CardioFit. I call them rows, but the machine is like the Tony Little Healthrider (see below).

These machines were all the rage back in the 80s, so I picked mine up at Sears after our stairstepper died (and Sears wouldn’t do anything so I wrote the CEO, then got a whiny letter from the store manager. “Why didn’t you contact me first?” Because I wanted you to squirm). The Healthrider seems more aerobic, with little resistance. My CardioFit has an adjustable piston to increase the resistence, making it more anerobic, although I’ve rarely dialed it past 2 (it goes up to a muscle- and joint-punishing 9).

Sorry, I did it again. The point is, after a week of this cross-training, my hamstrings feel much better.

And I apologize for taking forever to make that point.

Writing and editing and sex

I’d say I’m about 80 to 85% done with my first round of edits for my urban fantasy fairy tale.

This is the first time I’ve read it through. Strangely, I’m still very excited about it. That must mean it’s horrible.

Right now I’m editing for flow and continuity. I see where I called one character Bill, when his name is Benton. That’s what happens when you grab scenes from a trunk novel and don’t do a thorough read to catch things like that.

I’m back to a concern I mentioned several weeks or months ago about the relationship between two of the characters. They’ve known each other for less than a week and they’ve already fallen in love. Yes, I know such things happen in real life, if infrequently. And yes, I’ve read some urban fantasy romances and it seems the characters are jumping in the sack almost immediately. And therefore, I shouldn’t be that worried, but I am.

I’ve never written anything romantic before. I’ve never been concerned with the love lives of my characters. But beyond this being my first attempt at romance, its also my first attempt at writing a sex scene. To be honest, I haven’t even read very many sex scenes.

And this one has two so far. Scenes that, lacking any literary experience in the matter, I don’t know if they come off as hokie, or cliched, or downright boring.

I wonder if I should pass it to some beta readers to get outside reactions?

Weigh-In Friday

Despite only running on Monday, although I did do some weight training, and eating more than my fair share of my wife’s Dairy Queen ice cream birthday cake, my weight is down below 200 pounds at 199.7. Woot!

Designated Driver

For you couples out there, when you go somewhere together, who drives? The man or the woman?

I grew up in a time when men were the drivers and women were passengers.

Lately, I’ve been noticing more women driving with men as passengers and it still looks out of place to me.

Not for any sexist reasons; I certainly don’t believe gender innately makes someone a better or worse driver. Nor do I believe men are somehow ordained to rule over or control women.

In my case, I drive because for one thing, I get carsick as a passenger. For another, I drive my wife crazy because I don’t know what to do with myself as a passenger. I can’t read or play on my phone because of the motion sickness. So, I fidget, tap my feet, or drum my fingers, play with all the dials and switches, and constantly change the radio station. Being a passenger magnifies my ADHD.

So, very early in our relationship, my wife realized it was better for everyone all around if she let me drive.

Then she could read and play on her phone and ignore the fact that I wait until the very last second before applying the brakes.

Finally nearing the end

Since I spent most of this blog going off on attention deficit fueled tangents, I’ll spare you any political rants for the week.

TheRump is still an orange turd though. Never forget. Never normalize his hatred, bigotry, or incivility. Resist.

Enjoy your weekend. Here’s a song to send you off with:

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My hammy, heat or ice?

I’ve been noticing a tightness in my left hamstring, sort of a persistant twinge. It’s noticable as a weakness when I’m walking and I come to a curb. I’ll leap from my right leg and land on the curb with my left leg, but because the leg is bent at the knee when I strike the cement, there’s this quick pain and a weakness in my hamstring that almost feels like I’ll collapse.

I don’t, but that’s the best way to describe it. I also notice the pain/tightness when I sprint.

I don’t necessarily feel I need to rest my leg, but I do need to find some sort of stretch for it.

My hamstrings have always been tight. When I played softball in my late 30s, pulling a hammy running the bases was a regular occurrence.

Before the game, I’d have to do a proper warmup and stretch, which helped minimize it, but the threat of a pull always remained.

Part of the problem is, I hate stretching. I’m relatively inflexible and stretching hurts. I’ve never been able to touch my toes. I have to use a towel wrapped around my foot to pull myself into a stretch because I can’t reach my foot. Even with the towel for leverage, I’m still several inches away from my toes.

See this meme?

I can’t do either of those. Even the bottom person is closer than I can come. 

So I’m wondering, since I can’t get a significant stretch out of my hammy with the hurdlers stretch or the modified hirdlers stretch, if I need to find other stretches for it.

So I did an Internet search and I found these, which I’ll have to experiment with to see if the help:

Lying hamstring stretch

The lying hamstring stretch looks promising. I already have the towel for the hurdlers stretch, so it’ll be an easy transition to this.

Bench hamstring stretch

The bench hamstring stretch also looks promising. I’ll probably still need a towel to pull muself into the stretch, but otherwise all you need is some stairs or a coffee table.

I’ll research further to see if there are other stretches I can manage with my inflexible body. 

In the meantime, starting tomorrow… OK, fine, right away, I’ll do those two stretches and see if there is any improvement over the next week.

By the way, should you apply ice right after a run, or heat? Is the heat later after you’ve rested?

Run. Stretch. Ouch.

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Calf love

The good news is my hip and thigh pain that struck down my running in August is gone. I’m now running limp-free and it doesn’t feel like my hip is going to pop out of joint..

The better news is I’ve been able to increase my running time to 40 minutes now. Granted, the distance is only about 3.5 miles. Thats also was an increase, but considering the recent injury it was a leisurely pace; slow and steady is preferable to trying to push myself and risking reinjury.

The possible bad news is, last night I noticed a new pain. Not something constant, not like the hip/thigh pain that I felt all the time regardless of activity. No. This was a weird occasional stab of pain in my left calf muscle that would catch me off-guard. 

The first time it hit, my leg almost collapsed under me. That would have been fun if I had crumpled because the treadmill would have shot me into the wall behind me. A regular AFV moment.

And the intermittent pain kept up for about the first 15 minutes of the run, without rhyme or reason. It was like practical joke pain: coming when I’d least expect it. A quick sharp pain, then it would go away for dozens of step before striking again. Each time almost making me stumble. Funny, pain, funny.

But after that first 15 minutes it was gone. Did the muscle finally warm up? I don’t know.

All I know is I didn’t like it and now it’s gone. But for how long? And what needs to be done to prevent it?

Do I need to stretch my calves before running? Do I need to do calf specific exercises, like calf raises or even jump roping, to warm-up before a run?

I guess I just need to show some calf love.

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Wait don’t weight

One thing I’ve learned over the years is don’t sweat your weigh-in. I know some people who become obsessed with weighing themselves and not only do it daily, but several times a day.

This can be self-destructive because progress takes time. Taking hourly weight measurements is frustrating because our weight fluctuates throughout the day. Even day to day our weight changes depending on what we’ve eaten, the temperature, if we’re retaining water, and so on.

I generally weigh myself once a week. But even then I don’t really get hung up on the nimbers.

For instance, I’ve hit a plateau and my weight hasn’t changed since the beginning of August.

Have I stopped making progress? Not really. Several things have been going on.

Injury. Since the middle of August, I’ve had a nagging hip/glute/thigh injury that has made me reduce my running routine. Without the consistency of an aerobic workout three or four times a week, my body hasn’t been burning calories as efficiently as it should be.

Weight-training. To compensate for the injury and a possible muscle imbalance, I’ve been lifting weights: doing squats, quad extensions, calf raises, and hamstring curls. It’s possible that I’ve been building muscle. As I build muscle, it might cause my weight to fluctuate, even increase. Muscle and fat weigh the same but muscle is denser and takes up less space.

Take measurements. Unfortunately, I haven’t been taking body measurements to see if I’m still progressing toward a fitter me. I did take measurements a year ago, but I haven’t since. Why? I can’t find the tape measure or that notebook. Yeah, I know. I’m a dweeb.

But my pants are looser at the waist, so that is an indication that I’m losing fat (not necessarily weight).

My advice is throw away your scale or at least cut back how often you step on it. Once a week at the most. Any more often and you will just get frustrated if you don’t see the weight you want to see.

Don’t sweat the small stuff and the small stuff are those numbers on your scale.

And I just finished a 2 mile treadmill run at a 5 mph pace. I don’t want to push things. The leg is getting better, but I’ll still take it slow and easy for at least the next 3 or 4 runs, just to play it safe.

I don’t like being injured and I’m impatient when it comes to rehab but pushing things isn’t the smart thing to do.

Do you have any tips when it comes to weight loss progress or even rehabbing an injury?

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Ice is the new black

I’m beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, I’m not quite as young as I used to be.

I also think that icing and stretching my post-run muscles is the new norm.

Back when I was in my twenties, I rarely stretched and never iced. Heck, I didn’t even warm up.

I’d step outside and I’d immediately launch myself into full stride. When I finished my usual 12 mile run, I’d relax in a chair. No fuss, no muss. PBR me ASAP.

Then after several years flaunting my invincibility — shin splints.

Then and only then did I stretch and ice, but stubbornly only my calves. The damage however was already done. At that point only rest would help. Years of rest.

Fast forward to now. My last run was Saturday and the pain in my IT band area that started August 16th didn’t seem to be improving any. So every evening since Monday I’ve been icing my left gluteus, hip, and upper thigh.

And I’ve been doing standing squats quad extensions, calf curls, and other leg exercises. I ordered those stretchy bands so I can add those to my leg repertoire. They should arrive today.

None of those aggravate my hip/glute/thigh pain.

Last night, I tried a treadmill run. It seems the icing and stretching and weight training are helping. I was able to walk/run for about 28 minutes. 

Despite my impatience, I took the advice I’ve read in other blogs and took it slow. The first quarter mile at a brisk 4 mph walk. The next three-quarter miles at a 5 mph jog. Then a short run for a quarter mile at 6 mph, then back down to 4 mph, then 3.5 mph, finishing with a relaxing g 2 mph walk.

Then stretching with an ice pack on my ass.

And today, the leg feels better than it has in a long time. As I said, icing and stretching nightly are the new norms for me.

I just hope running with pain isn’t. 

This is what I feel like when I don’t run:

Run. Stretch. Ice. Repeat.
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Body and inSole

This may sound like a familiar complaint (see Remember the Brannock Device?), but it’s a whole new one, I promise.

As you may recall, I injured my leg somehow last week. There was pain in the thigh and gluteus and when I attempted to run, the leg felt weak, like it was going to collapse under me.

So I took a week off running, then ran Thursday. Everything felt fine, the pain was reduced. Today, I attempted another run. The pain was there and so was the weakness, but it was only evident at a 5 mph pace or slower. At 6 mph it was fine and at what for me right now is a near sprint — 8 mph — it was also fine.

The problem is, I took a week off! Yes, exactly. My aerobic level isn’t there. I can’t sustain 6 mph. So instead I did 30 to 45 seconds at 8 mph and then did about 3 minutes at walking pace, 4 mph. I managed about two miles in about 25 minutes.

Before I ran, I did two minutes of warm-up on my Lifestyler Cardiofit (which is in the foreground of the picture. In the background is my Schwinn treadmill. In the center is my comfy chair for vegging out and listening to my collection of vinyl).

exercise room

Afterwards, I stretched.

But, as you may have noticed reading this, I’ve ADHDed around what my complaint was and what the subject of this whole blogpost was supposed to be about. (It’s been a bad day ADHD-wise, but I’ll not go off on that tangent and explain. I’ll try to keep on topic.)

Back in June, I bought a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 running shoes (see Saturday Shopping for Shoes). I tried on a few shoes and found them to be the most comfortable. The problem lately has been they just haven’t been as comfortable as they were just two months ago. That’s why I picked up the cushy pair of Saucony a couple weeks back, because the Brooks seems stiff and unpleasant, as if the cushioning had hardened up or something.

It was strange because my most comfortable fitting shoes were my Brooks Beasts and they’ve lasted for years. It seemed odd that Brooks had forgotten how to make good fitting shoes in such a short time.

Well, guess what it was?

Aw. You peeked.

Yes, it was the replacement insole the salesman at the shoe store talked me into. It was deja vu all over again. The insoles the salesman at Sports Authority (now kharmicly out of business) for the Asics I bought last year also hurt my feet. Now I find that the problem with the Brooks wasn’t the shoes, it was the Superfeet Orange Insoles I had in them.

superfeet_orange_pair_top_edit

Now, Superfeet is probably a very good brand of aftermarket insole inserts, but the problem I just realized today is: this particular pair hurts!

I put one of the original Brooks inserts into one shoe and left the Superfeet insert in the other and bounced in them. The Brooks insert felt the way I remembered the Brooks feeling at the store: cushy, yet supportive. Very, very comfortable. The Superfeet insert? It was only when I compared them side by side that I realized the problem was the Superfeet were too narrow at the heel. Instead of my heel fitting comfortably inside the hard plastic cup, it rested up on the sides.

So it never was the Brooks, it was a poorly-sized Superfeet inserts. I guess that was my fault. At the time, they seemed to fit. I didn’t realize they were too narrow or that the plastic sides were digging painfully into my heel. I just assumed a proper insert was supposed to be stiff… and, um, painful.

Now I know better. Maybe I’ll try to take the Superfeet back to Fleet Feet and say they weren’t the right size. It’s only been two months.

In the meantime, I was unhappy with my running shoes, but now I’m not. I’m very happy with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16.

And I wonder if aftermarket inserts are really necessary or if they’re just something shoe salesmen try to talk you into for an additional sale?

Do you use special inserts or do you use the insole that comes with your running shoe?

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Run like the wind

In my case, a slow, limping, overweight wind.

It’s been a week since I ran last. I was starting to feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

The pain in my hip and thigh has been lessening, however, and I’ve been on a regimen of various stretches that I’ve found designed for your legs and hips and also for IT Band issues. They seem to have helped a little.

But just as importantly,  I rested for a week. No running since last Thursday, although I still did my daily walking at work which adds up to about four miles, albeit much more slowly and with a limp. And I still took the stairs at work.

I also did other leg exercises, as I mentioned in “Hostage Crisis Day 5.”

And yesterday, I rested. I mean, really rested. I didn’t do any exercises. Well, except for walking and stairs and stretching. But no weight training or other type exercises. That’s resting, right?

So today, I’d say the pain was somewhat reduced and I was walking without the limp. So at lunch, I walked much faster. Enough to raise my heart rate and break into a mild sweat. Without pain. So I took that as a good sign.

I was going to run.

Before the run, I warmed up doing some rows on my Weider Crossbow. I don’t usually warm up before a run. (On the other hand, I do do cool downs.) I would imagine not warming up is just asking for an injury, right?

Then I got on the treadmill and set it for 5k at a pace of about 5.2 mph. Slow, but not too slow.

And yes. There was pain. I think I was limping as I was running. Is that a bad thing? I’m sure it is. It probably throws everything out of balance.

But I made it. I ran the full 5k. And when I finished, the pain was diminished from what I had experienced when I had started the run. How much of that was endorphin-related, I don’t know.

So I immediately did a bunch of stretches, which is something I don’t usually do either. After a run, I just sort of plop into a chair all slouching and tired.

But this time, I did the stretches. Have I mentioned I hate stretching? I know I have. It hurts. Like Hell. It burns. It makes me grit my teeth and I breath in gasps of pain.

And that’s just getting down on the floor; the stretches themselves cause me to emit screams that make the neighbors think someone is being tortured.

I am.

It’s all over now though. My body, my legs, feel good. I needed that run. And I needed to stretch.

Tomorrow, I’ll see how everything feels, then decide on Saturday if I’ll rest or attempt another run.

I hope I can run.

I wonder if I should ice?

Ice?

Baby.

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