Once twice three times a runner

Last night’s run made it three consecutive days where I ran. I haven’t run consecutively since I was a twenty-something circa 1990 BSP (before shin splints).

I ran three days in a row! And none of them were wimpy casual runs. Tuesday was a 5k at higher than my normal moderate pace. Wednesday I did intervals, five six-minute sets consisting of three minutes walking, two minutes moderate run, then one minute at an eight mph sprint. And last night I used the treadmill’s Speed Burn which starts at a minimum pace (for me my moderate pace) then it ramps up to your maximum set pace (I set it for higher than Tuesday’s already higher than moderate pace, and then it slowly ramps down to your starting pace. It looks like a bell curve when all is said and done.
And I feel good. No pain. No aches. No nagging nags. I was worried because remember I had an IT Band injury in August that had prevented me from running a couple of weeks and set me back several weeks in my training. 

But no, nothing. I feel great. But I won’t push four in a row. I’ll take at least today off. Saturday I’ll play by ear, but if I do run, it’ll be my first 5 day running week since I started back into it last Spring.
Something else I mentioned a while back, that night running makes for a night of restless sleep and I thought about taking Advil PM to help the joint and muscle stiffness I was suffering from and to knock me out.

Turns out they have a warning for people 60 and older to not take said product and since I’m on the cusp, I figured better safe than sorry, and I only took it the one time. 

Instead, I take a couple aspirin and a Melatonin tablet (N-acetyl-5-methoxy tryptamine, a hormone from the pineal gland that regulates sleep). That seems to be working and I’ve not been experiencing any night-time leg pain or stiffness (even when my 70-pound dalmatian lies across my legs) or any sleepless nights (not counting dogs needing to pee at 3am).

And you’d think if I was going to suffer stiffness and sleeplessness, it would be after running three days in a row. But no. It’s all good.

And I nudged ever so much closer to the magical number of 200 pounds adding more incentive to run more frequently.

I did break past another magical number and that was 29.9. My Body Mass Index (BMI) is now 29.2! I went from obese to just overweight. Although my body fat percentage still has me falling on the obese side. I’m at 32.1% and won’t fall below obese until I pass 31% body fat (and in all honestly, I do find it odd that by one stat I’m down to overweight but by another stat I’m still obese). 

But wait, you ask, how do you know that?

Well first Body Mass Index is a fun mathematical equation that looks like this:

But if math makes you squeamish, then get yourself one of the new fancy-scmancy smart scales. All the cool people have them. If you get one that operates with bioelectrical impedance, than you get all sorts of cool information. 

What bioelectrical impedance  does is when you step on the scale, you make contact with little metal strips, like on my Yunmai Color Smart Scale, completing the circuit. These strips send a tiny, and undetectable by you, electric current through your feet, traveling up one leg and down the other. Because electricity travels faster through muscle and water than it does through fat and bone, it calculates your percentages by the current’s speed. Neat, huh?

This was from this morning:

Now I’m not saying you need to obsess about all those numbers — you really shouldn’t even obsess about weighing yourself more than once a week — but C’mon! You gotta admit all those readings are fun, right? 

Or maybe I’m just too much a techno-geek from watching a lifetime of Star Trek episodes and reading science fiction. Whatever.

The future is now! We have computers in everything. We’re living the science fiction predictions of the 1940s. This is Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a half Century!

Sorry. Got carried away.

The one stat I’m curious to see change is the last one, my Fitness Age. I wonder how far below my actual age I’ll be able to get? Kind of reminds me of the fitness age from WII Fitness. I got it down into my 30s and really, I doubt that video game boxing, tennis, or golf got me into that good a shape.

Run. Run again. Run once more.

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A weigh we go!

I’m reaching what for me is a milestone in my weight. 

Me, after my thyroid went wonky

Back in 1999, I blew up like the Michelin Man when my thyroid went on the fritz. Seriously, I have one picture that if I find it shows that is no exaggeration. My skin is white and puffy and you can hardly see my eyes because they’re just slits surrounded by puffy flesh. My lower legs were the worst. They had lost all their hair and were like playdough. You could push in on the flesh and leave a one-and-a-half inch indent that would stay there for quite some time. (Anyone remember the old pulp fiction action hero, The Avenger, who had lost nerve function to his face and could mold it like putty, changing his appearance to that of anyone? It was a little like that.)

I thought I was dying. I was scared.

My doctor ran me through a whole battery of tests to figure out what was wrong — nerve testing for my carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, chiropractors for my severe back pain, blood tests to see why I was cold and tired all the time — which is amusing (now that I look back on it), because we had a ferret who had a thyroid problem and he lost all the hair on his legs, so my wife kept saying it was my thyroid; it took my doctor months to come to the same conclusion!

And my weight shot up because my thyroid wasn’t regulating body functions properly; I was retaining fluids and I was just too damned tired to exercise. This experience has also made me a little less critical of people with weight problems because as with me, it might not be their fault and might be a medical condition.

So since 1999, I’ve been well over 200 pounds. I think I might have peaked close to 250 before I started taking my thyroid medication.

Today, I weighed myself and I’m almost, but not quite, at the point where I’ll drop below 200 pounds. Honestly, I can’t remember when I was below that. Early 1990s when I was still running seriously, before I developed shin splints? 

Now I’m only a couple pounds on the wrong side of 200. Part of me wants to fast just to reach it, but my luck, my body will think it’s experiencing a famine and it will hold onto its fat reserves even more tenaciously. So, no. Fasting isn’t the answer.

I do think I’ll run more often now that I see I’m approaching that marker. Instead of running three times a week, I’ll try to run five. Yesterday was the first time i ran on back-to-back days and i felt good.

Even though i can see 200, I’m nowhere near finished; after 200, I’ll still have at least 15 more pounds to go to reach my goal, but 200 is a great marker indicating my goal is within reach.

Yesterday, for grins, I lugged around a 20 pound barbell. It was exhausting! And I used to carry that, and more, around all the time!

By the way, losing weight is hard. You have to do exhausting aerobic exercises, get your heart rate up, sweat, breath heavy, for at least 20 minutes at a time, every other day preferably, plus you have to watch what you eat, count calories, watch fats, increase fiber, eat more fruits and veggies, and drink a lot of water (not soda or sugary energy drinks), and even then, depending on your.motabolism, you aren’t guaranteed fast results or huge losses.

Anyone who tells you losing weight is easy or all you need is their magic pill or secret formulation or miracle diet or superfood, tell them to Fuck Off. In fact, punch them in the nose, give them a good kick in the groin, then tell them to Fuck Off. The punch and kick will be good exercise.

Eat right. Drink water. Exercise your ass off.

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A tale of two shoes

Here’s a quick first impression of both my new running shoes that I acquired on Saturday.

Hoka One One Clifton 3

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First I ran in the Hoka One One Clifton 3 running shoes. This is my first experience with Hoka One One shoes of any sort.

I ran intervals in them on the treadmill. A set of 2 minutes walking, 2 minutes running moderate pace, then 1 minute sprinting at 8 mph.

I was very pleased with them. They were like running on a mattress. Lots of cushion. I tend to land rather heavy and they absorbed it pretty well. My one fear was that I’d feel unstable on them, because that is a complaint I sometimes hear from people who have tried Hoka One One shoes. It’s also how I felt in the Puma Bioweb pair I have. You ride rather high and there’s this feeling like you’ll twist an ankle. Not with the Clifton 3 shoes. They felt just right. No instability. No feeling like I was on stilts. They felt secure even with all that cushioning.

First impression: I like the Clifton 3. They are a good trainer on the treadmill. I hope to try them on cement when the weather gets better (and my weight). I hope they’re as cushiony on cement as they are on the treadmill.

Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17

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Uecker is comparing the Brooks GTS Adrenaline 16 (top) and 17 (bottom)

I ran in these today. Put in a good long 5k run on the treadmill at a faster pace (for me), which is faster than the moderate pace I use in the intervals, but still slower than a sprint.

The shoes fit well, didn’t seem to create any hot spots, and were very stable. I’ve changed my running style from when I first started running in the Brooks GTS Adrenaline 16 shoes I just retired. I was a heel striker and I’d overpronate as my foot rolled from the heel to the toe.

Now with my running style I land more midfoot, so I wonder if I need a stability shoe as much since my foot doesn’t roll as severely as it would have striking with my heel first, but I like these shoes any way.

There seems to be more bounce in the midsole with the 17 than with the 16, a complaint I originally had with my first pair of Brooks.

Other nice changes:

  1. There is a bigger protective toe cap for the 17 than the 16, which just had an inch wide extension of the outsole. The 17 also has that inch wide extension, but there is now a harder protective piece of plastic that extends around the toe so the fabric won’t get scuffed.
  2. There seems to be an extra stabilizing strip along the outside of the upper (the black strip on the bottom shoe) compared to the 16.
  3. The 17 also has an extra reflecting strip on the toe instead of just at the heel.

My 16 are size 11, which is only 1/2 a size larger than my foot. I decided to go to an 11-1/2 this time because my toes were cramped in the smaller shoe (that’s what I get for listening to the salesman) and the tips of my toes rubbed against the inside of the toe box, which caused my toes to hurt. (I have a split nail on one toe that really hurts when I run in too short a length shoe.) The 17 are much roomier, but I can’t say that’s because the toe box is wider and more open or if it’s just a case of the extra 1/2 size of leeway inside.

First Impression: I like the Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17 much more than I did the 16. I just never felt comfortable running in the 16. They were too hard, too cramped, and I was just dissatisfied with them, which is why I tried to replace them with a pair of Saucony (fail), and alternated them with my Puma Mobius (which I’m going to use for trail running now that I have these two for treadmill/road running.

Disclaimer: I have never claimed to be a reviewer. I’m just a guy who runs and writes about the run. Additionally, I am not compensated for my reviews. Who the hell would pay me to write this shit?

Run. Switch shoes. Run again.

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In with the new

For runners, what is our most exciting day?

OK, besides pizza day.

Right! Buying more equipment!

Today I struck gold, so to speak. I bought two pairs of new running shoes.

I went in not sure what I wanted, not even sure I was going to buy one pair, much less two. In fact, I went in just sort of thinking everyday walking shoes. But as I walked down the rows of running shoes, picking some up that grabbed my attention, flexing them in my hands to see how much give they had, and oohing and ahhing over the colors, I came upon a pair that this particular shoe store had never had before.

They had Hoka One One. (Someone told me that’s pronounced ohnay ohnay.)

Now to be honest, I’ve read about Hoka One One and they were never on my radar. Seems runners either love them or hate them. Plus, I was thinking more along the lines of another minimalist style pair of running shoes similar to the Puma Mobium I have that I like. Certainly not the exact opposite: a pair of maximal shoes. C’mon! They’re like 1970s disco platform shoes. It would be like being on stilts, or I’d look like Herman Munster! Who wants that?

But, for shits and giggles, I thought I’d try on a pair. I put them on, tied them tight, then jogged up and down the aisles.

Oh my! (You have to say that like George Takei to get the right effect.) They felt wonderful. I admit, I’m a heavy lander and these made it feel like I was running on a cloud. So I picked up a pair.

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Hoka One One Clifton 3

Another pair of shoes that attracted my attention were a pair of Adidas Alphabounce Engineered Mesh running shoes. I liked the feel of the sole, it seemed soft and giving, almost like the Hoka’s, so I tried them on as well. I did like them and was about to buy them when I saw the newer Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17. I’ve had my 16s for almost a year now and because they served me well, I thought, “What the heck? I’ll try these on.”

Well, one thing led to another as they say and I ended up liking them more than the Adidas, so I ended up purchasing the Hokas and the Brooks.

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Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17

So I came home with two new pairs of running shoes.

Maybe I’ll review them later after I’ve actually run in them a few times.

Run. Buy new shoes. Run some more.

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Feel the burn

No, this isn’t a political post and has nothing to do with Bernie Sanders. Although, really, folks? Am I the only one who had the squick button pushed everytime I heard “Feel the Bern?” Ick, no! I don’t want to feel him. Go away.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, on with the show!

Over the last year, I’ve been working to get back into running shape, analyzing my technique, what’s working and especially what’s not working. And dieting. 

And did you know one of those large bags of salad in the grocery store is considered a SINGLE serving? I know it’s only 5 ounces, but lordamighty, who can eat that much vegetation in one sitting? One of those bags will last me 2-1/2 days. I put a few handfuls in a Tupperware, then add fat free dressing, a little cheese (maybe a tablespoon or two), and maybe six croutons, and that’s my lunch. I’m satisfied. I can’t imagine trying to eat the whole bag.

Sorry. I digressed. Where was I? Oh, right, learning about, and adapting new techniques to my run.

I’ve changed my stride length, for instance. As a much younger runner, I thought to run fast you had to stretch your legs as far out in front of you as you could reach. Since I never ran track or Cross country in high school, I was never coached and I’ve had to learn as I go. What worked in a resilient and flexible 20-something body doesn’t in a none-of-your-business-how-old-somethjng body.

So over the year, I’ve shortened my stride and in the process went from an extreme heel striker to a mix between slight heel strike and midfoot striker. So instead of landing far out in front of my body, I’m now landing almost directly underneath my body.

Tuesday I decided to experiment again with foot strike. I was going to try to run on the balls of my feet. 

I started at a slower pace, just to get used to it, then slowly increased my tempo as I stayed up on the balls of my feet, not letting my heel make any contact with the surface.

I’ve tried this once or twice over the past year and I would just give up after a few steps. It just didn’t feel right. Almost unnatural. Maybe I wasn’t anywhere near in shape enough (read: way too heavy), but thise previous attempts were labeled as Fail and I figured it just wasn’t for me. After all, we’re all different and what works for one doesn’t work for all.

But this time out, I was determined and was able to stay up on the balls of my feet for a good long while (for me), much longer than I’ve ever attempted.

And it didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable. It felt pretty good, as a matter of fact. There definitely seemed to be less shock when I landed than during my normal foot fall.

So how long did I run on the balls of my feet? Sixteen minutes. That’s about when I started tiring and got sloppy in the execution of my landings. My calves were burning and I had to revert back to midfoot landing for the rest of the run.

When I finished, my lower legs were more tired than normal.

And today? My calves are stiff and sore has Hell. It’s like I’ve never used my calves before. 

Which means I will continue to run on the balls of my feet. It did feel good and if it means I’m working my calves and maybe they’ll start to grow and get ripped and I’ll finally have the muscular calves I’ve always wanted, then the burn is worth it.

Not my calves nor quite what I want

Run. Burn. Ouch.

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To sleep perchance to dream

I am so not a morning person. I might have mentioned this previously. To me, morning is for sleeping and you shouldn’t have to get up until the sun has warmed everything. 

I’d much prefer staying up late. It’s just how I’m wired, although as I’m getting older I can’t stay up as late as I once did and still expect to function at work in the morning. 

Yet, even going to bed earlier because I can’t stay up as late hasn’t made me a morning person. It’s just made me a tired night person.

This is all a lead-in to my present dilemma. 

Am not a morning person, so I run in the evenings. Always have. Problem that I’m seeing just recently, in the last month or so, is that after my evening run, I can’t fall asleep!

This bothers me because I have never had insomnia nor have my evening runs ever prevented me from sleeping. On the contrary, my evening runs exhausted me and I’d fall into an immediate, sound sleep.

Not lately, however. Now I find myself lying awake in bed tossing and turning. Some of it might be hormones like Adrenaline coursing through my veins, while some could be that my muscles and joints start to ache if I stay in one position too long, which forces me to change position, waking me up.

So my preamble to this was to demonstrate that switching my runs to the morning is a no go. That isn’t going to happen. Morning runs aren’t productive for me. I’m exhausted and can’t push myself the way I can in the evening, therefore I don’t improve.

Now, as an aside, I’m not one to take medication unless I have to (like the ones my doctor prescribes to keep me alive). I rarely take aspirin, but then I rarely get headaches. And the few times I’ve been prescribed pain medication, I’ve only used it if the pain became a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10.

For example, I had my wisdom teeth, all four, removed as a teen. The dentist gave me a bottle of pain killers. I never used them. In fact, I was eating popcorn that night. I will not be denied my popcorn!

The other night, however, Tuesday it was, I decided to try some Ibuprofen PM. Pain medication with a sleep aid. Now I have never in my life taken a sleep aid. Never. I’ve always had a fear of them. Of getting addicted. Of not getting real REM sleep. Of becoming one of those zombie-like people who are alternating between amphetamines and barbituates.

But I thought I’d try it just this once.

And it worked. I slept through the night. I had no joint pain and my brain took a break. Although the sleep aid did nothing for the dogs, they still had to get up, completely uncaring that I was now groggier than normal to put them out for their 1:00 AM piss.

The next morning, I woke refreshed without the usual joint stiffness I experience these days after exercise. I didn’t hobble down the stairs, groaning and grimacing.

So what did I learn? 

I’m not sure. I run again tonight and I’ll try the Ibuprofen PM again tonight and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Maybe just using it on run days I won’t get addicted?

Or is there something else I could do to help me sleep?

Do you take pain meds/sleep aids after exercise? How is that working for you? I’d like to know if I’m in the minority here. Or if I’m being overly paranoid.

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New year same old goals

Yes, yes, I’m well aware it’s already the 6th of January and I haven’t posted my 2017 New Year’s resolutions yet.

That’s because I don’t have any. Not really. Not any that I sat down and agonized over.

My goals for this year are the same as last year and the year before. Just keep getting better and better, every day in every way.  But if you want something more specific than that wonderful life philosophy, then here, they fall into the following categories:

Health & Fitness: My goals here are simple. To keep losing weight. To try to eat healthier, with more fruits and veggies and a lot of pasta and cheese. To keep improving on my running, distance and speed. And to keep trying to sculpt my aging body through weight training by adding muscle as I lose fat.

Writing: Again, simple goals. Keep reading and keep writing. Try to write something every day. Maybe go back to keeping a journal of ideas and stream of conscious thoughts, like I did back in my early days of writing. I will also try not to get discouraged and try not to take Rejections as personal insults. That last one is a hard goal, because every Rejection sends me into a blue funk. I need to change my thinking that they aren’t rejecting me, they’re rejecting my story.

Mental Health: Yes, OK, let’s move on, nothing to see here. I’m working on dealing with my ADHD in all its manifestations.Maybe I’ll try to get back into meditation or something.

And that, as they say, is that.

Well, I do have one new unspecified goal and that’s in regard to politics. I intend to get more involved, contact my Representatives more often on issues of importance, and to join the resistance against the big orange turd in an attempt to prevent him from destroying all the progressive advances we’ve made as a nation over the past 100 years. He lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and only won the Electoral College by 80,000 votes in three states. He does not have a mandate. He’s disliked more than any other incoming President in history. He does not even deserve to be President. He represents the worst qualities of Mankind: hate, bigotry, intolerence, zenophobia, homophobia, and sexism.

Join the fight. Let your voice be heard. The election is only lost if you give up and normalize ignorance  and racism.

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