The Genius of “Run Fatboy Run”

run-fatboy-run-51fe2e9c68580Runners come in all shapes and sizes.  The reasons we run are as diverse as our body types.

Respect is often part of the equation.  Sometimes, it’s self-respect, a by-product of confidence.  Other times, it’s to prove something to someone else.  To prove we can lose weight.  To prove we can endure.  To prove we can stick with something – anything.  To prove (?) that age hasn’t caught up with us yet. Continue reading “The Genius of “Run Fatboy Run””

Starting to build again!

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It wasn’t far, but it was enough!

After eight months of no running (in an attempt to soothe my angry Achilles), I started running again a few weeks ago.

It’s been a slow progression. I’ve only added about a half mile in distance to my longest run each week, starting at a half mile back in November.

Due to travel and the holidays, I didn’t do much for the last two weeks of December, but have picked it up since then.

At first, I was only running three times every two weeks, then twice a week. This week marks the first time I’ve run three times in a week since the re-start. I’m cautiously optimistic.

I’ve deliberately kept the pace a little slower than what I’d like – typically between 9:00 and 9:15 per mile, and it’s been great.

I took my daughter on my third run of the week yesterday. We ran outside (😱) on a January day in northern Virginia and didn’t freeze to death!

I took her on this run deliberately. Although a track runner, she doesn’t typically run longer than 2-3 miles, so that helped force me to keep the pace sane. We went 3.9 miles at around a 10:00 pace, which was fine with me, given that it was on rolling hills.

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10+ in a week for the first time in *forever*!

Of course, having Jana running with me gave an added bonus – we got to run together, which rarely happens!  And…the biggest milestone so far was achieved – more than 10 miles in a week!

I know that isn’t that much, but it still means a lot to me. Sure, there were weeks where I was averaging more than 10 miles PER RUN, with five workouts per week.  But that was years ago, before I was hurt, and when I was in the best shape of my life.

Even so, this is important to me because I’m starting to feel like a runner again.  That means the world to me!

Return to fitness: a process

 

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Sunrise over I-66, before gridlock builds.  The streets I’m on are mostly empty.  I’ts strangely peaceful!

After months of fits and starts, I’ve decided that, for the time being, I’m going to have to eliminate running from my fitness regimen.  This has been a painful and difficult decision to come to, but I think I need an extended period off to strengthen my legs and give them a break from running’s impact, and just allow them to heal.

(But bear with me – it’s not all bad!!!)

It’s four years since I’ve been able to run for more than a couple of months at a time.  Just when I feel I’m starting to get back to normal, something happens, whether it’s my Achilles, my calf, or my hamstrings.

The final straw was April’s Parkway Classic.  I was concerned coming into the race, with my longest run only hitting six miles, but I took it slow, never going faster than a 9:15 mile.  By the fourth mile, I was tiring, which was expected, but then my right calf started giving me trouble.  By the fifth mile, it felt as if the calf was splitting in half vertically.

By the sixth mile, I was resigned to walking the rest of the way.  I tried a couple of times to start up again and maintain a slow shuffle, and only made it worse.  I wasn’t able to walk normally for three days.

About three weeks later, I tried to run a half mile at a 10:00 pace.  I didn’t make it a quarter mile before the calf reacted badly.

End result:  rock bottom reached.

At this point, I recognize the need to strengthen, but without the impact that running brings.

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The way out is nice.  The way back…not so much!

Fortunately, I started a new job this week, and have a trail available to me that allows me to get to work without being killed by texting drivers.  It’s about 20 miles one way, is fairly hilly, and will certainly give me my cardio and calf/hammy work.

I’ve got to add core work.  I’ve never been big on weights, but I’m getting older and have to acknowledge the need.  I’ve spent so much time on the shelf over the past few years that I can no longer deny the toll atrophy has taken.

I’m not sure how I’m going to feed my need to compete, but am considering aquabike races.  Of course, that’s going to require me to head back to the pool at least a couple of times a week, but I can make that happen!

I’m going to spend this week developing a workable routine to return to fitness.  The end result may or may not include the distances of running that I used to cover, but it will result with me getting back to the level of fitness I’m accustomed to.

The shame of stairwell stretching

I’m not sure why I’ve waited so long to simply get over the odd looks and occasional comments I get when doing Achilles stretches in my building’s stairwell.

They are almost always harmless – stuff like “You OK, man?” or “What’re you doing?”  Other times, it’s a confused look or the occasional “hmmph” as someone has to slide to the other side of the stair to get around me. Continue reading “The shame of stairwell stretching”

The beatings will continue until morale improves!

So I’ve simply decided to ignore Achilles pain and drive on with a conservative training regimen.

OK – maybe ignore isn’t the best way to describe it…. In the past, I’ve been advised to stay off the treadmill or trails for a couple weeks after a flareup.  It led to a cycle that played out something like this:

Achilles flareup -> one week no stretching at all -> two more weeks no running w/light stretching -> start running very short distances -> add a mile each week -> another flareup after a few weeks

beatings will continue
I’m looking at YOU, Achilles!

After several of years of this, I’ve decided that a more aggressive stretching plan is needed.  The heel drops and toe raises do not stop just because of a flareup, and neither does running, and a wider program is needed.

At the moment, if I run on a Monday, I’ll be somewhat hobbled on Tuesday, a bit better on Wednesday, and ready to do a split elliptical/treadmill run on Thursday.  So that’s the plan.  Run, stretch/recover from soreness for two days, re-engage.

I’ve noticed that even while I’m slowly increasing the mileage, my Tuesday soreness has lessened over the past two weeks.  I’m attributing this to the fact that I’m not passing on stretching and strengthening, regardless of the level of soreness.  Tuesday morning sees me limping a bit, but by Tuesday evening, after at least three stretching sessions during the day, I’m walking normally, albeit with some discomfort.

Starting this week, I’m adding more stretches and strengthening exercises aimed at the Achilles/calf/hamstring/glute chain.  While I think the real problem might be having a slightly reduced range of motion in my left ankle (many, many sprains in my youth), it can’t hurt to increase my flexibility.

After three weeks of NOT giving this thing a break, I’m starting to see results, which always makes me worry, as I wait for the other shoe to fall.  I’ve increased mileage to five miles, and my level of soreness is slowly dropping.

I’ve got the Parkway Classic 10-miler scheduled for April 23.  I will not be racing this.  It will be a slow run, aimed at nothing but enjoying the scenery (which this race is known for), and finishing.

If all goes well, I’m looking forward to a healthier summer than I’ve had in years!

What’s new? Random calf pain, flaring Achilles and a CPAP machine!

My apologies to my handful of followers for the long pause.  Lots of things going on, most of them not good.

I’m almost at the point where I’ve given up on ever running respectable times again.  Following a fairly successful (read: injury-free) fall and winter, including a surprising Army Ten Miler, I felt like I was on the verge of being able to return to the kind of times I wanted to run this spring.

Then the REAL fun started… >:-( Continue reading “What’s new? Random calf pain, flaring Achilles and a CPAP machine!”

An anti-resolution kept

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With the holiday season now in the rear-view mirror, I’m looking forward to the New Year.  This year marks the first time I’m not doing resolutions.

Why?  Because I find them to be a waste of time.  Why should I make promises to myself that I don’t keep all year ’round, and re-make them the following year?

This year, I did something else.   Continue reading “An anti-resolution kept”

Returning to track meets after 30 years

So today marked my first track meet in nearly 30 years.  The last time I competed as a varsity athlete ended in 1988 with me doubled up over a garbage can, distraught at missing my state qualifying time in the 800m by less than a second, only learning later that I had set my school’s record in the process.

I was a little apprehensive as I entered the athletic complex.  Funny – I still feel like I can compete, but I know I’m not nearly in the shape I was all those years ago.  Sure, I still run, but all the ten-milers, half marathons and marathons in the world can’t train you for this.

After all, how often do you get to see your daughter compete in her high first high school track meet? Continue reading “Returning to track meets after 30 years”

Preemptive gym stop

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, and Happy Thursday to everyone else!

Nothing big this morning, other than following through on my “pre-New Year’s rededication!”

Walking into the gym at 10:15, I was far from alone!

A short but intense half hour on the elliptical, followed by two fast miles on the treadmill.

 

That should effectively wipe out any guilt over consuming mass quantities in a couple of hours!img_1424-1