More effort, PB on push ups

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Today, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I felt pretty rested and ready to go, but at the same time, my motivation level was a little low. I find that on days like this, it’s best to just get in there, hit the push ups, and get on the road as quickly as possible. I don’t let my mind linger on negativity; just go.

For push ups, I counted very carefully, and when I got to 100, I felt I could easily go for more, so I completed 120, a personal best! I felt pretty good afterward and hit the sidewalk on the small loop around the pond in front of my house. My first mile pace was decent at a 8:24/mile while my second and third miles were a little slower, one just shy of 9 minutes/mile and the other just over. So, the average pace of 8:47/mile is pretty decent, and I’m okay with it. Actually, I was really happy with it considering it was 97 degrees out.

I have one more run left before I go to my annual training. I am not looking forward to not running for two weeks or what that will mean for my run times when I get back. I will do push ups, though, so there’s that.

Back at it after a two-day rest

I had to take two days off. My legs were burning so badly after Wednesday’s hot run that I decided to take a rest and let the muscles rest some more. I’m glad that I did. Today’s run actually felt really good, and while my pace was nowhere near as fast as Wednesday’s run, it was still respectable considering the heat and that I’m use out there running to keep the heart and muscles working.

I started with between 90 and 100 push ups. Why don’t I know for sure? Because I lost count somewhere between 65 and 80, and instead of assuming I was right, I restarted from 60 as I was counting. I felt good after the push ups and hit the pavement in earnest.

Immediately, my legs felt good. There was a slight pain in my left foot for about 50 yards but it quickly subsided and I continued on. My first mile pace was good: 9:17/mile. I slowed a bit as I wasn’t sure if I was going to hit 3 or 4 miles, and I decided to just have a relaxing Saturday morning run. My second mile ended with around 10:17/mile pace, and I kicked it in just a little bit for my third mile and got it done with around a 10:01/mile pace for an average of 9:47/mile.

I also took a new route today, and I think I like it a lot. It’s just at 3 miles and takes me around the neighborhood in a nice loop. It’s mostly shaded, too, which is nice for those days when the sun is beating down and it’s hot out. I may make this a more regular route for my relaxing runs, although I find that I run a lot faster on the sidewalk around the pond in front of our house. I don’t know if it’s because I am able to pace myself better, or that I work harder knowing I’m running close enough to home that if I were to get hurt, I could literally crawl home to safety.

Much faster than I expected

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For those following along, I did my first kettlebell workout yesterday. It was pretty tough; tougher than I thought it was going to be. That resulted in me having some soreness in my muscles. Which muscles? All of them! Even my neck muscles under my chin! I wasn’t sure how this would effect my run. I expected it would slow me down, and since my last run was relatively slow as compared to previous runs, I decided I’d at least push through the soreness.

I started with 90 push ups. My arms and back (and shoulders) were all sore from the kettlebell routine, so I stopped at 90 push ups. This felt like a victory, all things considered. Then, I hit the sidewalk. Immediately, my legs felt sore, but I figured I’d just push through the soreness and run as best I could. As I read my first mile pace, I was surprised: sub-9/mile. My second mile? Same thing. My third mile was just a hair over 9 min/mile, but I was okay with this. My legs were burning throughout the entire run, and I was able to keep pushing, to continue a decent pace.

I am happy with my average pace considering I had to work through so much discomfort. I am still undecided if I will do another round of kettlebell tomorrow. I guess I’ll wait and see how I feel, but so far, I’m leaning towards a rest day to allow my legs to heal a bit. Even though kettlebell isn’t as demanding on my legs as running is, they feel utterly spent. I don’t want to push to failure. I’ve been doing a good job of living without muscle pain or burn for the past 10 months. There’s no need to introduce that into my life now.

Post-kettlebell muscle ache

I have to admit that I didn’t think the kettlebell workout yesterday was that tough in the beginning. It quickly became pretty tough, and by the end, I was out of breath. Afterward, when walking to pick up the mail, I was surprised at how my legs felt worn out. More so than even after my typical runs.

Well, today, they are downright sore. Not painful, but sore. They feel like they did after I did my very first run last September; like I’d never worked those muscles before. I find this interesting because as a person who runs every other day, I thought my legs were in good shape. Pavel Tsatsouline, author of Simple and Sinister (a book about kettlebell exercise) said that the kettlebell will work muscles that aren’t typically exercised in weight training. He didn’t mention that it would use muscles I don’t even use in running! Either that, or I have gotten to a point in my running where my muscles aren’t really challenged. I think the latter is more likely than the former.

I have a run scheduled for today, and weather willing, I will be out there running again. I just hope I can run with a semblance of speed. I am not looking to break any records, but my last run was really slow in the heat, and kind of disappointing to see the pace drop off by over a minute per mile on average. I’d like to stay in the 9’s today if at all possible, but with the muscle pain I have, I think that may be a tough order.

I’m going from three exercises to six per week this week, and I know it’s going to be tough on me. I don’t think it will be too much, though, considering that my non-running days will be working muscles in a different way, and mostly different parts of my body. But, time will tell. If anything, I’ll definitely get stronger, which is what I’m after.

So, it’s not just running now

Today, I added another set of exercises to my routine: Kettlebells. I’ve been reading the book, “Kettlebell Simple & Sinister” by Pavel Tsatsouline, a former Soviet Special Forces physical training instructor. I’ve been interested in kettlebells for about a year, and I even bought a set last year. I started working with them, and within a few days of starting, I broke a toe (not related to the kettlebells; I kicked my dog’s doggie stairs when I wasn’t paying attention) and I stopped with the kettlebells. Now, after some reading and after all the gains I’ve made in my running and push ups, I decided I needed something to do on my non-run days.

Kettlebells it is.

I did 10 sets of 5 and 6 for a total of 55. It doesn’t sound like much, and it only took me about 15 minutes, but HOLY COW was it a work out. The first two sets were really pretty easy and I was wondering if I started too easy or too light. Those thoughts were quickly laid to rest when I got past my fifth set. By the time I was done, I was out of breath, and my legs felt a bit noodle-like. The best part; nothing was burning or really worn out, just well used.

In the book, Pavel says that you should end a workout with a little bit left in the tank to handle daily life and whatever it brings. He says it’s not a good idea to work until failure because you will be sore and unable to handle surprises. I agree wholeheartedly, and it turns out, this has been a big strategy of mine throughout my running and fitness journey. I made it to 110 push ups doing it this way as well as my current running times and pace.

I will likely be doing kettlebells 3 times a week on the days I don’t run. I figure between my runs and the kettlebells, I should be in pretty awesome shape within the next three months.

Hot and Muggy Run

It was a hot and muggy day, but I went out and got it done regardless. Starting with 90 push ups, I was surprised that I was able to get them done considering the beating my shoulder took this weekend from my new rifle, the Springfield M1A. There was the slightest soreness on the first push up, but for the remaining 89, I didn’t feel a thing! After knocking out the push ups, I hit the pavement.

Normally, when I start running, I already have a plan for which route I will take, whether it’s laps around the lake or a neighborhood run. This time, I didn’t really know what I was going to do, but the sun dictated it for me once I got started; it was going to be a neighborhood run. I choose neighborhood runs on sunny and hot days because the neighborhood behind my house is older and has large trees alongside the road which provides shade for me to run under. This is crucial to keep me from getting overheated.

Even with the trees, however, each mile got harder and harder due to the heat. My first mile was at a 9:16/mile pace, while the second mile was a 10:09/mile pace finishing up with an 11:10/mile pace for the third and final mile which gave me a 10:11/mile average overall. Not the worst time, but definitely not my best. Whenever it’s really hot like it was today, however, these are pretty standard times for me. I try not to push myself too hard in the heat for fear of getting heat exhaustion or worse, heat stroke. The last thing I want to do is die on a run.

So, I’ll take it. I’m glad I got out there, I’m glad I got it done, and now, I feel much better. Oddly enough, after the run, and after cooling down in a shower, I feel refreshed and ready to take on the world. 

Three Days Without a Run

It’s been three days since I ran last. My schedule got a little messed up over the Holiday weeks, and it put me on a strange schedule. On Saturday, which would have been my third run of last week, I went shooting with friends and was out in the wilderness and on my feet for the entire day, so I figured I got some exercise.

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Me shooting my Springfield M1A that was given to me by my wife and friends the previous week.

The main reason we went out to shoot was because Sherry and my friends chipped in and got me a rifle I’ve wanted since I was a kid: the Springfield M1A. That’s the rifle I’m shooting in the photo above. I also didn’t have it held to my shoulder properly and bruised it. That was a primary factor in me not running on Sunday because I didn’t want to aggravate my shoulder doing push ups. What does push ups have to do with running, you’re wondering. Well, that’s my work out, and if I can’t do one, I rest the other.

Needless to say, I’ll be running today weather permitting. I have a short errand to run after work, but that shouldn’t get in the way of my run. Only heavy rain will do that, and I don’t see us having a lot of rain for a long duration tonight. A shower? Maybe, but they are over soon enough.

Fish Oil

Some things I’ve been dealing with since beginning the Paleo lifestyle and running has been a pulled muscle in my left gluteus maximus (also known as the left butt cheek muscle), some joint pain, and (ehem) bowel movements that weren’t very regular.

For the glute, it’s a deep muscle pull, sort of a dull pain, and has been aching for months. Since I run every other day, it hasn’t had much of a chance to really rest and heal, but its been slowly getting better.

My joints? I’m getting older, and I figured it was something that we deal with as we get older. At least that’s what everyone tells me.

As for the bowel movements? They didn’t come daily like they used to, and when they did, they were often quite a laborious experience.

I spoke with my cousin Sarah, a PA, about these things, and she recommended that I start taking a fish oil supplement. More specifically, she recommended SFH which I quickly purchased. It’s been less than a week, but here are the changes I’ve noticed:

  • Muscle pain is greatly reduced. I have been running hard and longer distances on my past few runs, so it’s not from resting it.
  • Less joint pain/no joint pain in the mornings. This is something I have been dealing with for years. Over the past week since taking the fish oil, my joints feel much better.
  • Digestion: greatly improved. Bowel movements are regular again.

I can’t really believe that these three things have all changed so dramatically in so little time. I am hoping that it is related to the fish oil, because these are all very positive things that have a very marked effect on my happiness and general well-being.

I will be monitoring these three areas closely in the coming weeks and I will report back here on my blog with how it’s going. Sherry said she might try taking it too as she’s having some issues with her knee and some tendons/ligaments as well as the bowel issues.

Why do I run?

I’ve had people ask me why I run instead of riding a bicycle, rollerblading, or other lower impact exercise. Mostly, it’s because I prefer to do exercise that requires minimal equipment. I’ve never been a gym rat or someone who likes to use equipment to work out with. While I used to ride a bicycle a lot as a kid, it was more a means to an end: it got me around town efficiently and quickly.

There’s also the fact that as a National Guard soldier, I am required to maintain a level of fitness that is measured through an annual physical fitness test that includes a two-mile run. Therefore, it’s important for me to run on my own to keep my fitness levels high and to keep me prepared for anything that may come.

Then there’s the fact that running is one of the most physically demanding exercises you can do. Sure, there is super high intensity training that folks can do on a stair stepper, elliptical, or rowing machine, but again, those require you to use equipment. Meh. Running takes a lot of effort, and you can’t coast when running. If you stop moving your feet and legs, you stop.

I watch people who ride their bikes around the very same park I run in. Every corner they go into, they’re coasting. I watch them peddle and then just coast. I’d say they’re coasting 1/4-1/5th of the time. The amount of sweat on me versus them is noticeable. I know not everyone can run or likes to run, but seeing bike riders only makes me feel better about my decision to run.

I enjoy riding bikes, but not primarily for exercise. I prefer to run to get my exercise and ride bikes for fun. I have a nice mountain bike. I need to get it off the ceiling of the garage and take it out sometime. I hear there are some trails around here that I need to go discover.

Cooler weather means better running

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It was overcast and cooler out this afternoon due to some cold fronts rolling through, and while it was raining in some parts of the Houston area, we didn’t get any rain where I live and run. That made for a perfect afternoon of running! I hit the deck with 90 push ups and set out for my run with the goal of running faster than my last few runs. Good news: I accomplished my goal with an average over the three miles of an 8:41/mile pace. Better yet; my pace stayed pretty consistent for all three miles, with only a few seconds of variance between miles 2 and 3.

I used to worry about my form, but I don’t anymore. I now concentrate on my breathing and pace, and it seems to be helping. I am not really working toward a run or APFT, so I’m not doing sprints yet. When I have an event to work towards, I’ll formulate a good plan and work on it, but for now, I run to run for my health and heart’s sake. Nothing more, nothing less. Oh, and because I like it.