Post-Run Report: April 24, 2017


This was my first post-APFT run, and I wanted to run fast and hard and ended up doing pretty darned well. While I didn’t set any new records (and I really didn’t expect to), I did end up surprising myself with a great third-mile pace! It was faster than my first or second miles! For 3.2 miles, I ended up with a 8:34/mile pace which is pretty decent.

I actually learned something today. When I was running, I started pushing back on my legs to where I could feel my feet making contact with the ground just a little longer. This made me noticeably faster. I only figured this out on the last quarter mile of my second mile and I used this technique for the last mile and a quarter and looking at the numbers afterward, it definitely helped. I’m still not using a proper step/run, but with extending the power portion of my step did make me have a reduced heel strike. I will continue to work on this in the coming runs.

My goal is to bring my pace down to 7:15/mile at max effort for my next APFT. I know I won’t get there quickly, but I have a year to train to get to that point. It’d be nice to be at the front of the group next year and really surprise everyone. Heck, they were plenty surprised as it was. As an older guy, it felt great coming in before all these young soldiers. It just goes to show that you’re only as old as you allow yourself to be.

As for push ups, I stuck with 60 today. I am still slightly sore from the 80 push ups and 51 sit ups on Saturday, so I didn’t want to push myself too hard. I’ll try for 70 on Wednesday (my next scheduled PT day).

Otherwise, I feel great. No, seriously: even after the run, I don’t feel exhausted or sore. I just feel amazing. If this is what it feels like to finally be fit, I can’t believe I’ve missed out on this for so long. I thought this was what being young felt like. I was wrong.

Achievement Unlocked: Passed My First PFT in 20 years

On the left, me in 1998, a year after I left active duty. On the right, me last week (2017).

I was an active duty Marine for 11 years and I got out to get my kids closer to my parents, my sister, and her kids. I went to work at Compaq and quickly gained a lot of weight. So much, so fast in fact, that I had stretch marks. My weight reached a peak of 312 lbs. I then decided to get healthy and I did a Whole30 and adopted the Paleo Diet and eighteen months later, I’m in the National Guard and within height/weight regulations. On top of it all, in my second month in the Guard, we had to take our Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) which measures our ability to run 2 miles, sit ups in 2 minutes, and push ups in 2 minutes. For my age, the minimum requirements are 25 push ups, 30 sit ups, and the two-mile run in less than 19:30. My scores were:

  • Push ups: 80
  • Sit ups: 51
  • Two-mile run: 15:43

That gave me a total of 273 points out of 300 possible! While I’m very happy with the results as an old guy who didn’t exercise for 20 years, it also leaves me room to improve on my sit ups and my run time. I will make a 300 on my PFT next time. That’s my goal.

In the car right after my APFT. I’m a little happy.

Even a year ago, I never would have expected to be where I am today. It all started with push ups. I began with 10 and did them every other day, increasing as I could. When I got to 40, I felt like I needed an additional physical challenge, and I started walking which quickly turned into jogging and shortly afterward into running. I haven’t looked back since.

With my first APFT behind me, I will run again this afternoon. I will likely make it an easy run since I went full-effort on Saturday and I don’t want to hurt anything. I’ll go for three miles at a minimum, and I’ll do my push ups as well even though my arms are slightly sore. I will keep building and working toward that 300 APFT next April. In the meantime, I will continue to eat right and exercise to lose the last 3 lbs and to get sub-7:15/miles.


Post-Run Report: April 19, 2017

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This was a much shorter run and at a slower pace as I get ready for my APFT on Saturday. For the first quarter of a mile, I tried the new running technique which was a mistake. My calves started hurting and they ached for the rest of the run. I hope this doesn’t effect my run time on Saturday. I should have stuck with my plan to not change anything until after the run, but I was too eager to see if it could perhaps make me faster. Instead, it may end up slowing me down. I’m hoping two days of resting the muscles is enough for me to not experience any pain for a full-effort run on Saturday morning.

I started with 75 push ups. Again, not max-max effort, but I’m hoping for 80 on Saturday morning. Not that I need to go that high, but I want the guys to know that I can do the true max, not just the max for my age group. Things like that matter to soldiers.

I now begin my pre-APFT break. I will post on Saturday as soon as I can after my APFT to report on how I did. I’m hoping for 61 sit ups in two minutes, 61 push ups in two minutes, and a run close to 16 minutes (or less). As for weight, I’m well under my max, so that’s not even a remote concern at this point for the first time in a very, very long time.

Running Form: Mine is Bad

I need to relearn how to run, apparently. I heel-strike when I run, and apparently, that’s bad. Unfortunately, I have less than a week to my APFT which is not a lot of time to get it right. So, I’m going to keep my bad habits and work on my form next week. What are my problem areas?

  1. Heel-strike. This is a big one and probably my biggest problem. All long-distance runners run by striking the flat of the foot first. When you skip, the flat of your foot hits the ground before the ball. That’s how runners are supposed to run. When I run, my heels come down pretty hard on the ground which is bad for my knees, joints, and even my endurance. I will work on this a lot starting next week.
  2. Arm movement. This is an easier one to address in the short-term. While my arm movement isn’t very bad, with a very minor adjustment, it can be made correct. I will do this on my run coming up tomorrow.
  3. Posture. I have read some conflicting information about posture, but all agree that your neck should be straight and no hunching over. Some say lead with the hips while others say make your body straight but leaning forward. I will try both and use whichever feels more comfortable. Again, this is a change I will work on next week.

I run about as fast as I can run right now with all my bad habits and form. I think I’ll be okay Saturday for my APFT and I’ll get a passing run, but I want to improve my speed by improving my form. 3+ miles is considered an endurance run, and I need to work on endurance since 5k distances are mostly aerobic with only 15% of the run being anaerobic. I don’t plan on running really long distances, but I will begin to run longer/slower runs in the future to help bring my 2 mile and 5k times down.

Post-Run Report: April 17, 2017

Soaked to the bone, but glad to be done!

Today’s run was unique; after my first quarter mile, it began to rain. And not just a little bit; it was a torrent. My neighbor was out running and he ran straight indoors when the rain first started falling. I thought of doing the same for a moment and then thought, “Fuck it. It’s only water,” and I kept on running. It was more difficult than I thought it would be, with my sweat mixing in with the water dripping off my head, but I persevered and just kept going. At times, the rain came down exceptionally hard, while at other times, it was a gentle drizzle. The wind was also kicking up every now and then, driving the rain like little bullets into my eyes. I just squinted and kept going.

By the time I was done with 3 miles, the rain had all but stopped. I decided to go another half mile just to get a little more distance in and to get past 30 minutes. My pace was okay; a little slower than my last two runs, but I still had some PR’s for first half mile and 1k and 2nd’s in three other areas. All in all, not a bad run.

I did 70 push ups, not because I couldn’t do more, but because I wanted to take it easy on the arms. I’ll likely only do 70 on Wednesday unless I’m feeling exceptionally strong. I also am expecting my Wednesday run to be a light one: a very slow 2 miles just to get ready for my APFT on Saturday.

I found out after posting this that my son had taken video of me running in the rain. I know, it’s not the best quality, but it’s pretty funny to see me getting soaked while I run.

The Big Week

img_57441This is a big week for me. As a new National Guard soldier, I will be taking my first APFT, or Annual Physical Fitness Test. Since I’m an old guy, the standards are a little lower for me, but basically I need to do 61 sit ups and 61 push ups in 2 minutes and complete the 2 mile run in under 19:40. Well, as of my last few runs, I was completing the run closer to 16:30, so I think I’m going to be in good shape. As for my weight, I’m a good 6 lbs under my max, so even there, I’m in good shape. My body fat is around 15%, well under the maximum allowable for my height/weight.

This week, my workouts will be a little different. I will likely go for 3-3.5 miles today (weather willing) and then do a slow run on Wednesday; like a 3 mile run. I’ll take off Thursday and Friday to have my muscles be as fresh and ready as possible on Saturday morning.

I’m actually looking forward to the APFT which is something I never did in the Marines. I’m a much more active runner now than I was as a Marine, and I actually run for fun. I never thought I’d be a person who enjoys running, but I am.

Post-Run Report: April 15, 2017


Today was a hot afternoon, and I wasn’t really in the mood to run, but once again, I just pushed through it and got it done. 20 minutes or so before the run, I ate the three dried apricots which seems to help by giving me energy during my runs. I started with 80 easy push ups and hit the deck at a good clip. I felt pretty okay, and I pushed it despite the heat. I still have a bit of pain in my left glute, so I wasn’t trying to push too hard, but I am worried about it becoming aggravated at the APFT when I do my sit ups prior to my run. I’m hoping it will be okay.

After the first mile, I felt really good. I thought I might be able to do 4 miles. After the second mile was done, I knew I was only going to hit 3. The heat was getting to me, and my legs were getting sore. I pushed through it and finished with a decent pace; my second-best.

While this run wasn’t as epic as the run before it, I’m happy with it. I will have a longer an slower run on Monday followed with a shorter run on Wednesday which will be my last run for the week until my APFT on Saturday when I will run all-out for two miles. I’m hoping to set a personal best record.

Post-Run Report: April 12, 2017


What a great run! I blew away so many personal records (PR’s) in this run and set a new bar for me to get past. I set a tough one, for sure, but it was really nice to experience. It looks like my experiment with eating three dried apricots 30 minutes to an hour before a run is really paying off. I once again felt like I had a lot of energy throughout the run and I didn’t feel wasted or exhausted afterward. I was also able to keep a really good pace, and kept below 9 minutes per mile for the entire duration of the run. As for the new PR’s, they are:

  • 1k – 4:55
  • 1 mile – 7:56
  • 2 miles – 16:27
  • 5k – 26:10
  • Pace for 3+ miles: 8:28

I can’t be any happier about all this. I finally feel like I’m making some solid progress in running again, and what makes me even happier is that after a run, I don’t feel the pain in my legs or any soreness at all. I’ve been running for seven months now, having started in September 2016, and this entire time, I’ve always had soreness after a run. The only difference now is that I eat those three dried apricots before a run. I knew that the Paleo Diet is rather tough on runners, but I didn’t realize just how tough. I will continue to eat the three apricots before runs to see how it continues.

As for my push-ups, I stopped at 75, not because I was overly tired or worn out, but because it just felt good. I could have easily gone 5 more to 80 and probably even beyond, but I wanted to stop at a good point where I was plenty past 60 and still feeling solid.

I am still experiencing some pain in my left gluteous maximus (left butt cheek muscle) due to sit ups a few weeks back, but with each day, the pain seems to be subsiding. I’m hoping it’ll be gone for my APFT in two weeks. At least it doesn’t hurt much while I run. Well, at least not bad enough to affect my run.

The best part about this run: I didn’t think I was really pushing myself to the wall. I did put in some solid effort, but I didn’t go all-out. I’m saving that for my APFT. I hope to break some more PR’s that morning. Until then, this run is the new bar against which all other runs will be judged. What a great day.

Post-Run Report: April 9, 2017


So, I ended up taking a four-day break from running inadvertently. I will fully admit that it was my own fault, and through a large amount of stupidity that this happened. I had planned to run Thursday after work, but a co-worker of mine suggested we go have a few drinks after work. We met up with four more co-workers, and a few drinks turned into far too many, and I ended up having to call my wife to come and pick us up at around midnight because neither of us were in any shape to drive. The next morning, I was sick, and I had to take the day off from work. I stayed sick the entire day and didn’t feel well until Saturday morning.

You see, I don’t drink. I hardly ever drink at all, and even when I do, it’s in very strict moderation for a few reasons. One reason is I just don’t like to be drunk. The second reason is that I have too much respect for my body to put it though the effects of alcohol. Unfortunately, I let myself down Thursday night and things got out of hand. The good news is that it won’t be happening again.

Why didn’t I run on Saturday? My wife had a lot of things planned for us to do, and it would have been unfair for me to cancel those plans due to me needing to run. It wasn’t her fault I was stupid Thursday night.

So, this morning, I got up and tried something new: I ate three pieces of dried apricot. I had read that one of the difficulties runners who are on the Paleo diet have is that they lack carbs during a run to fuel them. I’ve definitely been feeling worn out after runs; far more worn out than I think I should be. I decided to take the advice of some runners who share the same diet as me and eat a few pieces of fruit before a run. I’m glad I did.

Although my legs were a bit sore from the lack of exercise over the past four days, I definitely felt I had more energy and the run was far more effortless than previous runs. I even had my fastest mile at an 8:53/mile pace, and my average pace for the 3 miles was 9:17/mile. That’s pretty fantastic, even considering the four day break! I didn’t feel like I was working as hard, either. Again, my legs were a bit sore, but that’s because of the break.

I also had a bit of ankle soreness on the left and some knee pain on the right, but nothing horrible. I am wearing new shoes, and I’m hoping they stretch a bit. I had them fitted properly and they seemed to be okay in the store, but today, they felt a bit tight. Maybe I tied them too tight. Next run, I’ll pay more attention to them.

I did 70 push ups which, again, not a record, but past the minimum 60 I try to do every run. I’d like to be 80+, but that four day break really affected the arm strength, too.

Otherwise, I’m pleased with today’s run. I set out to do an easy 2-mile run and ended up with a record-breaking 3-mile run without even really feeling spent afterward. That’s a definite plus, and I will likely run again tomorrow to get back on schedule.

250 miles since September

Every now and then, I look at my stats in Strava to see where I’m at, how far I’ve run, my pace progress, etc. Last night as I was going to sleep, I looked at the Strava app on my phone to get an idea of where I’m at and I found that I’ve run exactly 250 miles since I began running in September. That’s not a lot for some people, but it’s a huge accomplishment for me. You see, I’m the guy who said he hated running and would never do it. 250 miles later, I’m looking forward to the next 250.

Never say never. I’ve stopped saying it, because almost every time I say, “I’ll never like…” or “I’ll never be a person who…”, I end up doing that thing.

I’m a runner now. I don’t run daily, but that’s more a decision based on my need to recover and heal after runs, not out of a lack of desire to run daily. I know my limitations, and to stay safe and uninjured, I need that recovery time. But now, I’m also a runner who put 250 miles behind him in six months. It does feel good.