I could not believe it’s been since February that I last posted here. I knew it had been a while, but I figured it hadn’t been that long.
What have I been doing since then?
I’ll start with fitness, since that’s what I write about most here.
1.) Piling up miles
When I committed to the Quad Rock 50, I decided to explore a training approach that included higher volume. I’ve done that in 2014…I’ve done some sort of run or ride on over 200 days this year. That’s about as many workouts (running/riding) as I’ve had in a whole year in the past.
Adding it all up, in 2014 I’ve:
- Run just under 2500 miles (2478 by my count)
- Rode 1600+ miles (1610 by my count)
I’m not entirely convinced that a high volume approach is right for me. I’ll have more to say on this in the future.
2.) Raced (once so far) – Quad Rock 50
At some point I might write more extensively about my experience at the Quad Rock 50. For now, I will say that it was a tremendous experience. I finished in just over 11 hours (11:02:25) – not as good as I was hoping for. I suffered from a lack of fitness and some issues with my nutrition. But I learned a lot about ultra distance racing.
And it didn’t stop me from taking another step forward into the ultra distance.
3.) Signed up for my first 100 mile race – Oil Creek 100
The Oil Creek 100 is on October 11.
Coming off the Quad Rock 50, I knew I wanted to do another ultra distance race in 2014. I spent some time going back and forth between another 50 miler and jumping up to 100 miles. I decided to move up to 100 miles. I’ll explain the reasons in a subsequent post, but it was about more than just wanting to complete the distance.
There is something about the journey, about the process and discipline of training, that I needed. More later on this too.
4.) I still have not mastered my eating habits
This is an ongoing struggle for me and something I need to continue working on.
I’m convinced that this has more to do with what’s going on in the rest of my life (non fitness) than anything else. I’m eating almost as a way to pass time or numb some things that may not be quite right in other aspects of my life.
Maybe this is an excuse and I should be able to just have the discipline to eat better. But to me there is something else at play here. There is a disconnect somewhere else that I have yet to resolve, and eating is a way of distracting myself from dealing with that disconnect. If I could ever resolve that disconnect, I have a feeling that my eating habits would fall into line, almost effortlessly. I’m still trying to explore these things to see if I can make some progress here.
The other major thing I’ve explored a time or two on this blog is things like addiction, depression. Things haven’t been right for me in a while. I’ve gotten some insights about this over the past 6-8 months that I hope to explore more fully. I think writing about them might actually help bring more clarity to them. I’m actually feeling half decent right now, which is more than I could say for the better part of the last few years.
The other aspect that I’m constantly thinking about is career and how that plays into everything else. I believe I’ve figured out some things there as well. Now it’s just a matter of putting some plans into motion. This is where I encounter the most “Resistance” (a Steven Pressfield term), and I think it’s a major influence on other aspects of my life (eating habits and everything else).
Things really cannot be separated
In this post, I’ve neatly separated things into “fitness” and “non fitness.” What I’ve discovered is that for me, these two things cannot be separated. I need to be in nature and moving –runs and rides are not simply about getting ready for the next race or improving my health. There is something more to it than that. It gets into the nature of soul and spirit – I’ve been reading a lot about this recently and gained a ton of insight. I’m looking forward to sharing some of that here as well.
Finally, there has been the usual chaos and fun of being a husband and father. I don’t spend much time on that here…but I try to spend as much time as possible in those spaces and find it a constant learning experience.
Getting to a regular schedule for posting here on this blog is an important new goal for me. It’s one of the next steps I need to take to move things forward. It feels good to be back at it.
There, I’ve given more specific names to this “funk” I’m in.
The specific symptoms that are used to diagnose depression are listed here and many other places.
This “condition” is not new for me. A few years ago I felt it. It “went away” then came back last fall. Now it’s back again.
As I read more about depression, I realize that it’s not like a broken bone or a cold. Long term, it might go away. But more likely what I was experiencing was simply the ebb and flow of the condition. Its effect might lessen at times, but it frequently comes back. That’s what I’m experiencing now.
And now I realize that my prior approach to dealing with depression was flawed. I was trying to “get rid” of it, in the same way that I’d get rid of a flu bug or a sinus infection. That ain’t how this thing works.
No, I realize now that this will be with me for a while. It’s more like diabetes or asthma. I need to deal with it on a daily, maybe even hourly basis. That sucks, but at least I know.
Like depression, addiction can be diagnosed by looking for a specific set of symptoms (this post outlines some).
I’ve always been hesitant to call my problem with eating junk food, particularly sugar, an addiction.
But after my experience over the past couple weeks, I think it just might be that. My experience with trying to reduce my sugar intake has been enlightening. Definitely feels like addiction. I can no longer eat just one small piece of junk food. Eating just one results in many more to follow.
I suppose you could argue that it’s just a lack of discipline or willpower. And I probably could resist junk food. But the effort required convinces me even more that I’ve got some sort of dependency issue with sugar.
The fun part for me is that depression and eating and addiction all work together nicely to form a little vicious cycle. I feel like crap, so I eat. That makes me feel worse. So I eat more. And so it goes.
This post is not meant to be a pity party.
Giving a name to these things I’m dealing with is the first step to addressing them. Now I have a framework for defining the problems so I can deal with them.
I see this as a complex problem solving exercise, and I’m good at that. I’m good at defining the problem, figuring out the root cause and fixing it. That’s the way I plan to address this “funk.” It may be a more complicated problem than I’ve ever had to solve, but I know it’s possible.
Of course, some things will need to change. As I figure out the mechanisms by which this depression and addiction work within me, I will need to make adjustments to improve my situation. Running could be one example of that. For now, I need to eliminate any expectations that I have about a particular race or workout. Just focus on getting out, and be happy with whatever the result is. Worrying about whether I am running fast, or whether I’ll be ready to run a PR at Pikes Peak in August just makes things worse by lowering my self-esteem. So I need to adjust by eliminating the source of worry.
I expect more of those kinds of adjustments going forward.
At the end of the day, I don’t see depression and addiction as insurmountable problems.
I expect to come out of this better than I went in. With more self-awareness, more emotional strength, more appreciation of all the great things I’ve got in my life.
I know it will be work, hard work. But the results will be worth it.
I’m in the middle of a pretty deep fog right now. The last couple times I felt this bad were in the spring of 2009 and late summer 2011. I don’t know if I ever made it fully out of those.
It’s a little bit of everything. A big jumble of emotions, physically feeling like crap, mental distraction. No interest in running or riding. Lots of eating. I just really want to lay around all day and do nothing. Well, maybe just watch TV.
It just kind of came on. No real trigger that I can identify. Last weekend, I decided to completely give up junk food. I was thinking I might be addicted to it. So I went off it cold turkey. I struggled but stayed off it for a couple days, and I started feeling better. Then on Wednesday I re-introduced some. Thursday I went into a pretty complete funk, and I’ve been stuck there ever since.
I’m torn between two different paths. Should I completely ignore these funky feelings and just move on? Or should I “lean in” to these feelings and just see where it takes me. There’s a quote that keeps running through my head. It’s from Sir B. H. Liddell Hart and it goes something like …
“If you wish for peace, understand war”
I just wonder whether the best way for me to really get out of this funk is to really explore it fully. To “understand” it, recognizing that it’s the opposite of what I want. I have no idea how to do that. But I definitely don’t want to keep slipping back in. So rather than rushing to get myself out of it, should I instead just let it be, just try to figure out what it’s like and what’s making it happen? It sounds counter-intuitive. But maybe if I let myself fully experience this darkness, I would eventually decide that I am done with it.
I know that letting the darkness be would be costly in the short term. I wouldn’t run my best Pikes Peak in August. I might feel crappy for a little bit longer than I would like.
There are some things I’m not willing to compromise. First and foremost, my relationships with my wife and kids. I’m doing everything I can to preserve those, to not let those slip. I also don’t want to affect my job.
Sometimes I think the whole fitness thing is a major contributor to this funk. Is it stress from worrying about how I’ll do in August? Or stress about wanting to lose weight to run faster? Or the time that I spend working out, which robs me of time to do other things? Part of me thinks that my job performance would increase if I spent more time on that and less (even no) time on workouts.
But then again sometimes I miss working out so badly that I can’t stand it.
Should I spend some time exploring it? Like not working out for a week or so and seeing how I feel? Would I regret it? What would it feel like? Would my only concern be that I’m not training for August?
I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do to get out of this funk. Stay in the moment. Every moment. It will be a fight to get out of this funk, no matter how long I stay in it.
I just wonder whether I should be in such a hurry to get out. Or should I take a look around?
I’d been thinking about these a lot recently, and a recent comment to the blog finally incented me to get these out of my head and onto some sort of virtual paper.
Mental scripts are a big part of my life. It’s almost like they’re a soundtrack that’s constantly playing in the back of my head.
For me right now, especially with eating habits, most of my mental scripts are negative. And I know when I really think them through, they don’t stand up to the test of reason. Yet these days they seem to be sufficient to enable me to continue with bad eating habits.
I hope this doesn’t come across as some sort of self-immolation. It’s actually kind of refreshing for me to get these out into the open. Now the next step is to bring these to light before I make a bad food choice.
Here follows a list of the negative/false mental scripts that I conjure up when thinking about eating.
1.) “I’ve already screwed this day up, might as well hit rock bottom.”
Why it’s false: Multiple reasons. First, there is no rock bottom. You can keep going down. As long as you keep doing negative things, you will keep going down. Second, going any amount “down” doesn’t help me achieve any of my goals. It’s the opposite of what I want. I think this is partially my desire to create a bigger “turnaround” story. The idea that I made this huge comeback. But that makes no sense. I think I read it on Gym Jones website or twitter account…bad eating decisions are like loans, to get back to even you need to pay interest.
2.) “I’ll just finish this bag (box, sleeve, carton, etc.) then there won’t be any more”
Why it’s false: There will always be another one, or another opportunity to buy one, or another thing like it. Is it realistic for me to think that if I finish a bag of chocolate chips, that there won’t be another one in the house, ever?
3.) “This is the last time I’ll eat X (Y, or Z). I won’t eat it again after this.”
Why it’s false: It’s too drastic. It might work for a few days, but once I break down the flood gates open and I can’t control it. Or I just find an alternative that’s still bad, just maybe not as bad. If I really was done, I should probably have stopped already.
4.) “I’ll start clean tomorrow”
Why it’s false: Experience says that while I might start tomorrow, I’ll probably stop the next day. “I’ll start tomorrow” is another way of saying “I won’t start now.”
5.) “I need the food, I’m hungry or tired”
Why it’s false: I usually say this when I’m about to eat some junk food. I don’t really ever say it before I eat a can of sardines. And we actually need very little food, less than most of us think. In my case, I think about 1500 calories a day could suffice, if they were the right kind of calories. That’s fact. Plus, hunger doesn’t have anything to do with energy.
That’s enough for now. I think the key to this whole thing is for me to just raise my awareness “in the moment.” That’s a good first step, then I need to be strong enough to imply some rational thought and hopefully that will get me to a better place.
This podcast has a lot of good info on mental scripts. I think by just naming these I am actually moving forward in addressing them. Hopefully I can bring them to the surface more often when I’m “in the moment,” actually making the decision on my eating habits, and potentially it will help.
Last week was up and down…a bit frustrating.
First, the moment of the week…my 7-year-old caught her first fish ever. From what we can gather, it’s a sunnie/blue gill. Caught in a pond that was about 5 minutes driving from our house.
I’ve never really fished. I only got into fishing recently when my daughter expressed an interest in it. My philosophy on parenting includes the idea that you expose your kids to as much as possible when they’re young, then you let them gravitate towards areas of interest, then you support them. Well, my little one was interested in fishing. So she got a fishing rod as a birthday present from her uncle, and off we went fishing. We went once last year, and this was the first attempt this year. It’s not easy for me–I’m terrible with the hooks, I get grossed out by putting the worm on the hook and I really don’t like taking the fish off there. But she was thrilled. So we are eagerly anticipating the start of fishing season on April 7th. Our area is perfect for fishing–there are a million places to go all within close proximity. So, fishing it is.
Fitness wise it was another frustrating week. At the start of the week, I was just getting over being sick. Mid-week was better, but by Friday I was back feeling sick. Same stuff–chills, feeling like I got hit by a truck, fatigue, coughing, the whole nine yards. Although I feel better today, I’m going to the doctor. I’ve got to get this figured out.
All tolled, I got in:
- 3 runs for a measley 17 miles, in just under 2 hrs, 45 minutes
- 2 rides for 90 miles, 5 hrs 38 minutes
I feel like I’m taking two steps backward for every step forward. Between the foot injury and the sickness, I’m not able to get into any kind of groove. Pikes peak is 143 days from today, and if I don’t get into a groove soon I’ll have to start re-thinking my goals.
I’m itching to run today, but I don’t want to push it. I’d rather take an extra day off to make sure I close out this sickness. Today is hopefully one final day off with a trip to the doctor. Then I can get cranked up again tomorrow.
Gory details are below…
Monday (March 19)
Still unsure whether I was fully recovered from the weekend’s sickness, and having an early start for work this morning, I decided to try a short but hard strength workout. I aimed mostly at the upper body, since I hoped to get a run in later in the day (once I arrived at my destination). Came up with this: squat thrusts (10 reps), 10 minutes of wood splitting, chin-ups (overhand and underhand). All of these were done as intensely as possible. Just over 20 minutes of this (two sets) left me breathing heavy and sweating like mad. And I only did about 10 chinups total (including both sets overhand and underhand). Wow is that weak.
In Philadelphia this week. Back to my home town.
As the day ended, I had a decision to make: attempt a quick workout or get to bed early and go a bit longer tomorrow morning. I elected to get to bed early. If the fitness center in my hotel had a step machine, I might have thought differently. But no go.
Good start to the week of eating:
- 7 am: yogurt with protein powder, banana, orange
- 1 pm: small caesar salad with grilled chicken, apple
- 9 pm: salad (spinach, broccoli, peppers, onion, snap peas), sardines
I felt good about this eating day. I could have easily caved at lunch and dinner, and also in the hotel where there were awesome-looking Philly soft pretzels freely available. One of my favorite things! For dinner, I decided to forgo the company dinner (and the handful of soft pretzels) for a trip to the grocery store. I love it when there is a fridge in the hotel room…I was able to buy breakfast for the next couple days as well.
Tuesday (March 20)
Today I learned something about hotels and fitness centers. After an hour on the treadmill, the thing basically just stopped. I guess they limit the time people have on the hotel treadmill to make sure nobody abuses it while other guests wait. Still pretty weak. I could have just jumped on another treadmill (or restarted mine), but it was getting close to when I had to leave anyway. Being new at work, I didn’t want to be late for a client meeting, so I elected to stop there instead of getting another 10-15 minutes in. Total in the morning: Just over 5 miles, including 4 miles at grades 7-9%. HR average 143
In the afternoon, we got lost on the way from our client meeting to the hotel, which ate up about 20 minutes of time I would have spent on a second run. Ended up still going out, only for about 35 minutes. Just over 4 miles. My heart rate monitor wasn’t cooperating, so I ended up just running. It was probably harder than I should have been running, but it wasn’t super-hard. I did manage to hold back from what I wanted to do–given the frustrations of the treadmill then getting lost, I really wanted to run all out for a set of intervals. But I was worried about the potential for injury, so I just took it relatively easy.
Total on the day was about 10 miles and about 1 hr, 35 minutes. Some good treadmill incline in there.
Eating was good until I went off the rails late in the day.
- 6 am: greek yogurt, kiwi, grapefruit
- 3 pm: salad with chicken, and veggies
- 5 pm: protein bar
- 9 pm: lots of bread, rack of ribs, french fries, a few chicken wings
- 11 pm: 2 cookies
Wednesday (March 21)
These early meetings are hard on the fitness schedule. Today was “getaway” day from the hotel, so I did a strength workout. The strength workout is coming together. I’ll probably stick with something like this for the time being. The workout looked like this:
- Warmup (Lunge Matrix, Myrtl)
- Fast Abs core workout
- Body weight legs (jumprope, step-ups, squats)
- Cooldown (cannonball)
- 6 am: salad (spinach, broccoli, peppers, onions)
- 8 am: greek yogurt, blueberries
- 1 pm: sardines, blueberries, kiwi
- 6 pm: steak, green beans, broccoli, soda, some bread
- 10 pm: M&Ms, chocolate chips, cookies, sugar cereal, peanuts
Thursday (March 22)
Doulble workout today!
am: Riding 36 miles. This felt awkward at first, probably because I haven’t ridden in a while. The awkwardness went away as the ride went on, and I got stronger as time went by. I was disappointed when this ended. 2 hrs, 11 minutes
pm: Run 7 miles. Tried a trail that’s close to my house and my gym–Round Valley Reservoir. It was really convenient to be able to use the gym’s facilities to change before and shower / change after the run. The trail was great. I will definitely be back to this trail. Although I might wait to hear the outcome of this first.
I didn’t feel great, and I didn’t push it. 1 hr, 5 minutes HR average 144
- 10 am: leftover chicken, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers (think this was supposed to be heated up, but I had to take it in the car cold), leftover roasted veggies (zucchini, onion, cauliflower, tomato)
- 1 pm: yogurt with protein powder, banana, orange
- 6 pm: peanuts, pollock, roasted veggies (zucchini, onion, cauliflower, tomato), salad, asparagus
- 8 pm: M&Ms, sugar cereal, ice cream, chocolate chips, 4 powerbar recovery bars
Friday (March 23)
Woke up with a lot of stiffness and soreness, especially in my calves. Wondering if I was suffering from some sort of delayed onset soreness from that body weight workout I did on Wednesday. Decided to go for a bike ride, which ended up being great. 54 miles, on a route that I haven’t done in a while. I started out feeling great, but ended up feeling really bad. The last hour felt like it was 100% into the wind. Not sure if it’s loss of endurance (I haven’t been out for this long in a while) or something else.
- noon: yogurt with protein powder, banana, orange
- 2-4 pm: 6 or 8 powerbar recovery bars (lost track), handfuls of peanuts, sugar cereal
- 7 pm: Eggs, grapefruit
Feeling sick again. Chills, fatigue, aches, coughing, congestion. Perhaps the stiffness and soreness I woke up with was actually this damn “cold?”
Saturday (March 24)
Woke up feeling like crap. Day off. Towards the end of the day, I felt good enough to go outside and try splitting wood for a few minutes. Not the greatest idea. By evening I was not interested in anything but sleep.
- 8 am: Yogurt with protein powder, banana, orange
- 2 pm: 4 powerbar recovery bars, handful of nuts
Sunday (March 25)
Still feeling like crap. Another day off.
- 9 am: 4 egg veggie omelet (onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes), orange, leftover roasted veggies (zucchini, cauliflower, tomato, onion)
- noon: smoothie (frozen banana, carrots, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, yogurt, OJ, lime juice), popcorn, nuts, sugar cereal, M&Ms, cookies
- 6 pm: leftover roast turkey, salad (asparagus, tomato, onion), salad (romaine, tomatoes)
- 7 pm: ice cream, cookies
Another episode of the weekly installment…how did my week go?
The week in full detail is below. The summary is this:
Workouts: Pretty solid week, with one excusable zero and one unexcusable zero. Overall 4 runs, 59 miles, just over 8.5 hours running and 1 ride, 45 miles, over 2.5 hours riding. Most of it was MAF intensity. The big learning for the week was that I need to run MAF differently. It’s not just an easy paced run. Late last week I started treating my MAF runs as though I was trying to run as fast as possible with HR 145 as my governor. That was very different from “an easy run.” I found myself trying different ways to run faster (e.g., hips forward, shoulders back, relax) with as little effort as possible. I think this will eventually pay off. I was really pissed at myself for the zero on Saturday, but I was glad to avoid a string of zeros by getting out Sunday.
Eating: What can I say? I ate great for about 3 days, then the wheels came off big time. On Sunday I tried to get the wheels back on but couldn’t make it through the day. Although I’m disappointed, I think I have some tricks to help me use this as a launching point to get to a better place.
My sleep was badly compromised this week. I averaged 4.5 hrs of sleep per night, but that might be low because I didn’t count the snoozing I did on planes (which was probably about 5-6 hours total. The sleep was hard because of all the travel and still wanting to get my workouts in. Clearly I’ve got work to do here though.
My alma mater made it into the NCAA basketball tournament. Go Lehigh Mountain Hawks! I don’t think we have a shot to move on though, as we play Duke in the first round. Either way, it’s kinda cool.
I am 25% of the way through The Fountainhead. Quite awesome, better than the first time I read it. More stuff is resonating with me, which I expected. The one that probably resonated me the most…this paragraph:
“Sometimes, not often, he sat up and did not move for a long time; then he smiled, the slow smile of an executioner watching a victim. He thought of his days going by, of the buildings he could have been doing, should have been doing and, perhaps, never would be doing again. He watched the pain’s unsummoned appearance with a cold, detached curiosity; he said to himself: Well, here it is again. He waited to see how long it would last. It gave him a strange, hard pleasure to watch his fight against it, and he could forget that it was his own suffering; he could smile in contempt, not realizing that he smiled at his own agony. Such moments were rare. But when they came, he felt as he did in the quarry: that he had to drill through granite, that he had to drive a wedge and blast the thing within him which persisted in calling to his pity.”
Looking ahead to next week, Thursday (15th) is a big day. Pikes Peak registration opens. Will I be there Thursday morning?
Monday (March 5)
Got up late today … late night last night plus poor eating makes for a bad morning. Was eager to ride. Lately I’ve been trying not to focus too much on how fast I go, but today I was chasing a fast time. A few reasons for that…I was looking for a sign that my training was paying off. Sometimes it’s not easy to see it. Improving times are good affirmations that training is helping. Also, I was constrained for time with a flight in the afternoon. Finally, I just wanted to start the week with a hard workout. This week has the potential to be a bit crazy, so starting it out well was important.
I was debating between a 54 mile ride and a 45 mile ride. I almost always choose the longer one, but today I opted for the shorter ride (a bit nervous about missing my flight) and put some intensity into the mix. 2 hrs, 39 minutes. Solid ride.
Very happy with my eating today:
- 11 am: Pulled pork with home made BBQ sauce, Salad (romaine lettuce, carrots, cauliflower, radishes, OO & Lime juice dressing)
- 5 pm: sardines, banana, apple
- 10 pm (pacific): protein bar, 2 chocolate chip cookies
That last meal was pretty much all I could muster. After about 10 hours of traveling I was wiped out and ready to just eat whatever I could find at the hotel.
Tuesday (March 6)
Awoke in Los Angeles and was eager to get moving. The best way for me to reset my body clock is to run. I was staying in El Segundo (“recommended” by my company’s travel website), so I decided to hit the beach. I ended up running on the “strand” from El Segundo through Manhattan Beach to Hermosa Beach. It was a very different experience for me. I’m used to seeing almost nobody on my runs. Here there were tons of people. It was also interesting to see the houses on the beach…right on top of each other. Not sure I’d like that.
Mostly flat MAF run—14 miles, avg HR 145, 1:56.
Another good eating day, but not as good as yesterday:
- 9 am: Veggie omelette, fruit salad
- noon: Grilled Salmon, asparagus, mango, rice
- afternoon: salt water taffy
- 7 pm: Spinach salad, peppers, grilled chicken, 1 glass of red wine, lots of bread with olive oil
Bread with olive oil is a major temptation for me. That dinner could have been worse. It was with a customer at an italian restaurant. I can live with the bread since I didn’t have dessert and I avoided the tempting (but bad for me) pasta dishes.
Wednesday (March 7)
This morning was a big weird as our travel plans were changing at the last minute. I didn’t want to go out for a run then find out that I was supposed to be at the airport in 10 minutes. Ended up doing some strength work in my hotel room. This is something I need to develop. In this new job I’m going to find myself in hotels more often. I need to have a 45-60 minute hotel room (or fitness center) workout that I can be happy with. I think it includes the Jay Johnson strength exercises (Myrtl, lunge matrix, maybe others), core work, and other strength work like squats, push-ups etc. I’m starting to like this site for some of the strength workouts. So while this specific workout wasn’t great, I’m starting to get the idea. I would guess that I’m about a month away from a decent strength workout that I can do in a hotel.
Eating was good today.
- 10 am: Sardines, fruit salad (honeydew, pineapple, berries)
- noon: Yogurt (plain), Apple
- Midnight (eastern time): Salad with steak
This was another day where my eating was good despite a weird schedule. Flew back across the country from LA to NY. Didn’t get into the hotel in NY until about 11 pm, and opted for a salad instead of a protein bar. It was great. I’m finally at the point where I’m willing to spend money on an overpriced room service salad so that I can eat well.
Thursday (March 8)
Up shortly after 3 am so I could get my workout in. I had to be back by 7 am, so this was one of those time boxed workouts—I was going to run for as long as I could before I hit 7 am. I chose an unfortunate route—a busy road. Since it was my first time running in the area, I wanted something where I couldn’t get lost. We were staying in Tarrytown, NY so I ran through Sleepy Hollow, Briarcliff Manor and into Ossining, then I turned around and came back. No, I did not meet the headless horseman or Ichabod Crane.
The run overall wasn’t very good. I felt sluggish and off. Could be for a lot of different reasons—the travel, low fuel (my eating has been good, but my body isn’t adjusted to a lower carbohydrate intake), very little sleep. But the best part was that I got up and out. I had plenty of built in excuses for not running today, but I got out. That’s encouraging. MAF run—14 miles, 2 hrs, Average Hr 145.
Today my eating habits started to slide:
- 8 am: Orange, banana, protein bar
- 3 pm: protein bar, pepsi (basically what was in my car as I drove home)
- 7 pm: Baked chicken, salad, veggies
- 9 pm: nuts, M&Ms, sugar cereal, girl scout cookies, klondike bar/sandwich, ice cream, chocolate chips
Friday (March 9)
Back home finally. I was thinking of riding today but had the itch to run. A flat front tire on my bike cinched it for me. I was going running. Ended up really happy with the decision and the workout. Went down the mountain and onto a flat trail. I was running much faster than I expected—finally dipping under 8 mins/mile with my HR still averaging 145. Comparing that to the previous few weeks, it’s much faster. Not entirely sure why I was going faster. Could have been the extra carbs from my bad night last night, or maybe I’m just getting more fit. Either way I’ll take it. MAF run—21 miles, 3 hrs, 10 minutes.
My eating habits went off the cliff today:
- noon: half a grapefruit, 2 cupcakes, 2 Dairy Queen blizzards
- 1 pm: Sun Chips, coke
- 4 pm: pretzels, iced tea
- 6 pm: fish, salad, veggies
- 9 pm: a bunch of crap (M&Ms, ice cream, cookies, sugar cereal, klondike bar/sandwich, girl scout cookies, nuts)
Saturday (March 10)
This was disappointing. Got up late this morning, using the excuse that I had a long week. Mostly though it was stupidity and lack of discipline on my part (see eating habits from yesterday). Anyway, with a long day planned with the kids (Crayola Factory!) I decided to take a zero today.
Eating is still bad…think I’m on a downslide. Have to stop the bleeding:
- 8 am: Beef vegetable soup, orange
- 1 pm: Dairy Queen cheeseburger, fries, coke, blizzard
- 6 pm: Steak, veggies
- 8 pm: M&Ms, girl scout cookies, ice cream, chocolate chips
Sunday (March 11)
I was glad to get out the door early today. I had to get my run in early before the day went POOF! Today was 10 miles in Schooley’s Mountain Park. For a little spice, I added 12 hill sprints towards the end, each sprint being about 10 seconds. My foot was feeling good and I think it’s the right time to increase the intensity. Overall I was pleased with the effort. The first 2/3 of the run was at MAF intensity (HR 142-145), then the hill sprints and a bit of a cool down. All tolled: 1 hr, 33 minutes. The maximum HR I got on the hill sprints was 161, and that was actually while I was walking down. Not surprising I suppose, as it takes time for the heart to catch up.
This is going to sound silly unless you know me. After owning my heart rate monitor for over 10 years now, I finally decided to figure out how to use more than just one feature. I figured out how to set HR zones for a workout. I wanted these today because I didn’t want to be looking at my watch every 10 seconds…on a rocky trail in partial darkness that would have been a recipe for disaster. So I set an upper bound HR of about 148, and when my watch started beeping at me I knew I had to cut the intensity (until the hill sprints, that is).
Long day after the run though. Had the girls to the pool and multiple playgrounds with lunch in between. We left the house at 9 am and got back at 4. I was drifting (sleepy) a bit in the car, which was pretty scary.
Eating wise, once again I had a good thing going before I fell off the rails.
- 8 am: Yogurt with protein powder, grapes, banana
- 1 pm: baked chicken leftovers, carrot/red pepper sticks, orange
- 4:30 pm: M&Ms, sugar cereal, animal crackers, chocolate chips, a couple spoons of ice cream, 6 recovery bars
- 6 pm: turkey chili with lots of veggies, carrot salad
There is no question that I’m capable of eating well for periods of time. I actually eat really well for half the day. The trick is sustaining it for a day, then another day, then another. It seems like when I crash, I crash hard. I have some ideas on this though.
I’m shamelessly stealing this weekly recap format from another blog that I read on a daily basis. I thought it was a great concept, so I’m using it. I’ll tweak it a bit for my needs, but I like the idea of a weekly recap of training as opposed to daily posts.
Monday (February 27)
I was eager to get out today to test how my foot was doing. After running yesterday after 3 weeks off, I was worried that it might not hold up. But it held up beautifully. No pain whatsoever. Encouraging, but now I need to make sure I don’t go the other way and over-cook it again. MAF running today, meaning I wanted to keep my HR in the range of 142-145. Today I also explored a few new ideas:
- Just run for time, not distance. So I started out on a route and figured I’d ad lib it to get 90 minutes in. That worked especially well since I was only running for HR anyway.
- Seek out more hills. Running a hillier route for these MAF runs might work well. It would help build strength and also help me learn to run better downhills. My neighborhood is the top of a mountain (not a big mountain but still), so I figured I’d run more of the ridges. Need to do some work on the route here, but it’s promising.
Turned out to be just over 11 miles in 1:36, average HR 145.
Tuesday (February 28)
Bike ride this morning. 35 miles, which felt pretty short after a ton of riding in the early part of the year. Felt more sluggish than I had hoped, but I could see it coming. Last night I started feeling some pretty bad fatigue coming on. And it didn’t let up this morning. But I felt strong at the end. 1750 feet of elevation gain. 2 hrs, 6 minutes.
Wednesday (February 29)
13 miles of MAF running. Still taking it easy as I’m a week removed from 3 weeks of not running. Average HR 146. Total time 1 hr 55 minutes. Nice and easy. It’s becoming easier to do this kind of running the more that I do it.
Thursday (March 1)
Double-workout day, although not two runs.
Woke up feeling a bit of pain in my foot again. Oh no. Decided to go anyway. The pain went away over time which was good. 9 miles, MAF running. Average HR 146 total time 1 hr, 18 minutes.
Afternoon – got to the gym for some rowing (3 x 10 minutes, total of over 6,000 meters), Jay Johnson strength stuff, and weights. I figured I’d go a bit more with the weights today since I plan to ride tomorrow (should not be too intense). Still trying to figure out a good weight routine. I don’t expect to have something decent until the fall. It would be a miracle if I ever enjoyed lifting weights. It’s one of the reasons I abandoned playing football when I was in high school. I hated lifting weights.
Friday (March 2)
Bike ride today, trying to keep the intensity up. 57 miles. 3 hrs, 16 minutes. My goal with riding these days is to average more than 16 mph for all my rides. Was able to do that today, averaging over 17 mph. Today was colder than most days, but still good for late winter. Windy too. I started out great but eventually lost a bit of strength. Glad to get out today. In the spring and summer, I’d like to be able to do this ride in under 3 hours.
Saturday (March 3)
Woke up this morning and was glad to feel no pain in my left foot. Still kept it easy today, with 10 miles total. MAF running. I will definitely be using this course multiple times as a “MAF test” course. It’s got a good mix of hills and flats. 4 flat miles, 3 rolling, 1.5 down and 1.5 up. Really nice. Total time 1:30.
Still no zeros this week. Good good good.
Sunday (March 4)
Today was a bit of a test of my commitment to running. I knew the day would blow up after 8 am, so whatever I was getting in was going to happen early in the am.
Woke early and was out the door at 5:15 am. I wore a headlamp, but after the first mile I turned it off. There wasn’t much moonlight, but I had enough to see. My main concerns in the dark are animals (mostly road kill which I want to avoid stepping on) and potholes. Those weren’t a problem today. There is something about running in the darkness that I really enjoyed. It almost helped me slow down my brain. Perhaps without clear vision there isn’t the same amount of stimulus to the brain or something. But I found myself just wanting to be in the moment, to lean into the darkness and let my other senses go. It was a great experience, and one that I am looking forward to repeating in the future.
The other interesting thing about running in the darkness is that it’s hard to see my watch. This run was another MAF run, meaning I wanted my HR to be in the range of 142-145. I just went by feel on HR for most of the first 90 minutes, periodically checking my watch to see if I was even close. I felt a bit more in touch with my body here. Very good stuff. Kept the HR average at 145 over the course of 17 hilly miles (1100 feet of elevation gain). Total time 2:33:39. No fuel on this. Just woke up, stretched, went out the door with a bottle of water. I felt worse at the end, but it was manageable.
Needless to say, I was pretty stoked to have gotten out so early. It says a lot about my commitment right now. For me, getting out early is key. And the key to getting out early is the night before. I’ve got to get to bed at a decent time. Easier said than done most days.
In the afternoon I managed to sneak in a half hour of active isolated stretching. It definitely helps get the blood moving, and I always feel better after I do it.
This week was great from a workout perspective. No zero days, which was an important goal. The workouts broke down like this:
- Running: 60 miles total over 5 runs. 8 hrs, 52 minutes. That’s a good bit of time. All of this was MAF running, relatively low intensity. Shortest run was 9 miles, longest was 17 miles. My foot feels as good as it has in a long time. I’m optimistic.
- Riding: 92 miles over 2 rides. 5 hrs, 22 minutes. Also a good bit of time.
- One pseudo-strength workout. The most significant part of this workout was that it represented a second workout in one day. But it’s clear I need to figure out how to strength train. I was clueless in the gym.
Repeating weeks like this would build a lot of fitness.
That is, if I could address the elephant in the room.
On to my eating habits. Still really really poor. It’s depressing. Example: I’m sitting here looking at an empty 12 oz bag of milk chocolate M&Ms. The package label reads:
- servings per container: 8
- calories per serving: 210
- sugar per serving: 26 grams
I bought that bag of M&Ms earlier today. It’s gone now. Hmmm, let me do some math. 1680 calories, 226 grams of sugar. That’s just the milk chocolate M&Ms, it doesn’t include the cocoa krispies (a few handfuls), mini klondike bars (2), girl scout cookies (several), donuts, dark chocolate M&Ms (no, I didn’t eat the whole bag of those), tortilla chips. The only good thing about this is that M&Ms are made by Mars, Inc. which has its headquarters in Hackettstown, NJ. That town is right next to mine. I ride my bike by the Mars facility once a week. At least I’m keeping that operation in business. My neighbors that work there can thank me later.
The easiest way for me to lose fitness gains is to eat them away. It’s unbelievable that I could do a 17 mile run with no fuel and still gain weight for the day.
One thing I like about tracking and reporting my training in a post like this is that I don’t have any way to hide. I’m accountable for the numbers. I either did the workout or I didn’t.
From now on, these weekly recaps are going to include what I eat. I won’t be weighing my food or tracking it down to the gnat’s ass (e.g., today I ate 4 M&Ms or 3.14159 ounces of chicken) I’m just going to write down what I ate in basic terms.
For a while I have resisted doing that because I thought it would be too tedious. That’s crap. If I eat what I should be eating, it’ll be simple. It’s only tedious when I have to keep track of fourteen different junk foods that I eat 4-5 times throughout the day.
It will be interesting to see whether the accountability associated with reporting what I eat will get me on a better path with my eating habits. I can’t imagine it hurting. How much worse can it get?
I want to end the week on a positive note, though. Overall it was a very good training week. Every day I get a bit closer to where I want to be on that front. Looking forward to what becomes of next week.
Oh yes, one other thing.
It’s good to see the pro peleton heating up. Paris-Nice is on!