The year in fire wood

It’s been a while since I posted anything up here.  I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to get back to this blog, but I think I’m gonna give it another go.

I won’t be explaining the past year in a single post.  But I did want to to illustrate one thing I’ve been working on for a good portion of the last year.

A little over a year ago, Hurricane Sandy made her way through my neck of the woods.  It did some pretty big damage to my property, although luckily nothing hit the house.  We lost power for about 2 weeks, but (again luckily) we had the generator to carry us through.

Here is what the yard looked like in the days after Sandy.

Looking southeast from my back deck

Looking southeast from my back deck

Closer view of the mess of trees to the southeast

Closer view of the mess of trees to the southeast

Looking due south from the back deck

Looking due south from the back deck

Then the cutting began…





2013 01 Tree in back

On to the splitting and stacking …

EOD 4 130327 IMG_20130402_171537_992 IMG_20130402_171605_213 IMG_20130408_181900_179

Here is the latest … starting to get some real wood stacks …

131102 pic 1 131102 pic 3 IMG_1239 IMG_1240

Got a good variety in those stacks — ash, hard maple, oak, hickory, sassafrass.  We have a wood stove in the house, so the wood will get put to good use once it’s seasoned.  I’m also looking into a wood burning furnace and hydronic radiant floor heat — then things would really be cooking.

All of this moving, splitting (by hand) and stacking has left me with quite the strong core.  My aerobic strength sucks and I’m still over weight.  I can address all of that stuff in due time.  I still have plenty more wood to cut, split and stack.  Soon I’ll be at a steady state where I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming (running & riding) and use the work with wood as strength training.  It’s much better than going to a gym.

One last thing…as part of all this, I discovered this amazing place for info on fire wood, wood stoves, etc.


Week in review: April 16-22, 2012

This week was supposed to be a higher volume week, but my weekend family obligations sort of derailed that.  And I’m ok with that.  Caitryn had a once-in-a-lifetime event (first communion), and we had 30+ people to the house for a celebration of that plus 3 other birthdays.  So a big deal.  I traded volume for making sure I didn’t screw that up.  And 12 hours of workout time for the week should be enough for me to make progress.  Expecting more might be a bit greedy.

Here are stats for the week:

  • Runs:  2 for 26 miles, just over 4 hours, including the most intense run I’ve done in 6 months
  • Rides:  3 for 143 miles, 8 hrs and 21 minutes
  • Strength:  1 session that I probably won’t be doing again (more on that later)

If I had figured out a way to get the runs in this weekend, it would have been a great week and exactly to plan.  But I’m not going to go nuts thinking about it.  I’m just going to continue on Monday, trying to make things work.

I probably should report something about my efforts to “stay in the moment.”

From the not-a-surprise department, it works!  I am having much more fun putting my kids to bed, especially Callista (the two-year-old).  She’s crazy like any two-year-old who is just starting to figure things out.  Soon she’ll be running the house.  I used to stress out during that 60+ minute routine of putting her to bed.  But I’ve discovered that it’s actually pleasant when I just focus on that instead of trying to get it over with so I can do whatever I had planned to do next.

But it is hard for me to always stay in the moment.  This week, it was especially true for work, where I’m currently doing some computer-based training that’s pretty boring.  I (re-)learned that when I’m bored, I eat.  I expected some bumps in the road to focus, and overall my focus was better this week than in the past.  So progress there.

Details are below.

Monday (April 17)

This ride eliminated any concerns about the effects of few days off every once in a while.  It was the strongest I’ve felt in a long time.  63 miles in about 3 hrs, 30 minutes.  And while I realize that training workouts should not completely be measured by performance (they’re more about trying to evoke a response from your body), it’s nice to see an improvement in performance every once in a while.

Tuesday (April 18)

Went exploring today in Teetertown nature preserve.  Several of my runs include the ravine part of the reserve, but there is so much more to it.  My recent fishing trips with the kids motivated me to explore more of the preserve, as it is really interesting.  There are a few different types of workout I can get in this place, including:

  • Flat to rolling runs over longer distances in open fields
  • Trails with medium degrees of technical difficulty and short to medium but steep hills
  • Gravel surfaces for longer hills with medium grade inclines:  something like 1+ miles on a ~6% incline
  • One extremely steep trail section (12-15%) that is a tenth of a mile or two

In short, this place will be great for a bunch of different kinds of workout over the next 4 months.  I have no idea why it took me so long (almost 5 years) to discover this place.  Maybe it’s the sign that said:  “Caution:  Hunting allowed from September through February.”  But since it’s now April I’m not so worried about that.

Total time was about 2 hours, 47 minutes.  I’ll call it 17 miles but I don’t have any idea how long it really was.  I kept the intensity at MAF level.

Afterwards I did a strength workout that I regretted until Saturday.  3 iterations of:

  • Jumprope:  60 both legs, 25 each one leg, 60 both legs
  • Step-ups:  30 each leg
  • Single-sided stone squats:  7 with the stone on each side (total of 14 per iteration)

As the picture below suggests, I have a million rocks on my property, of all shapes and sizes.  So I have a ton of choices.  And does anyone need any rocks?  The rock I chose is in the center of the picture below.

I have no idea of the weight of the rock I decided to use.  That should have been a red flag.  My legs were sore for the next 3 days.  I need to re-think the objective of strength training for me, now that I’m about 16 weeks out from Pikes Peak.  I don’t think I should be doing anything new or crazy with strength workouts.  As I discovered this week, it might not help that much and could really disrupt my other training.

Wednesday (April 19)

My legs were really feeling sore from the workouts yesterday, so I cut short my planned ride.  Went 35 miles in 2 hrs, 12 minutes.  Given how sore my legs were, I tried to focus on easy gearing and high cadence.  That helped for a while, but I really suffered in the second half of this workout.

Thursday (April 20)

My legs were still sore, but I was ready to get some intensity in today.  I think yesterday’s bike ride really helped with recovery.  Enough so that I could do something today.  I returned to a staple training workout for my 2010 Pikes Peak effort, but I modified it slightly.  The workout was 3x over and back one of the hills in Schooley’s Mountain park.  The degree of technical difficulty on this trail is much less than the one I’ve been running on Schooley’s.  Each “over and back” includes:

  • About .6 mile hard effort (mostly uphill, some downhill).  Each of these lasts about 5 minutes.
  • About .3 mile recovery (downhill).  Each of these lasts 2-3 minutes.

So with 3 “over and back” repeats, I got just over 3.5 miles (6 x .6) of hard running in about 30 minutes.

My aim for these is what Jack Daniels calls “VO2max intervals,” which should be 95-100% of your max HR.

HR average for each of these hard efforts was 166-168.  So they might not be at 95-100% of my max HR yet.

I also put in a bit of progression work on the run home from the park, with my HR increasing every 3-4 minutes over the course of 17 minutes.  I maxed out at 175 in the sprint down my street to finish my run.

My legs weren’t feeling great at any point during this workout, but I was pleased with the intensity I was able to achieve.  I need to be able to sustain it for longer though.  That’s a major focus for the next three months.  About 9 miles in just under 1 hour, 21 minutes.

Friday (April 21)

Back to riding today.  My legs were actually feeling better than expected this morning.  The soreness from those ill-advised stone squats was finally subsiding, and yesterday’s interval session caused less lingering pain than expected.  So I added some intensity to this.  Again trying to focus on high cadence, easier gearing.

45 miles in 2 hrs, 39 minutes.

Saturday (April 22)

For a brief moment, I considered trying to sneak in a workout early in the morning.  But I had stayed up late the previous night (preparing for the party), and I was tired, and I didn’t want to take any chances.  So I skipped it.

Sunday (April 23)

More family stuff mid-morning through mid-afternoon.  Callista is in that mode where she wants to skip her afternoon nap.  Given her late bedtime last night (and no nap, and a ton of activity), she absolutely needed one today.  So I decided to make it a team effort – I took an afternoon nap too.

I probably could have figured out a way to get something in today, but I was mentally 0ff with no interest in fitness.  Hoping this is just a passing wave of dis-interest.  Took a zero today on fitness.

Building fitness while traveling / in a hotel

Woo hoo!!!  I’m officially in to the Pikes Peak double.  Both of my entries were verified over the past day or so.  I wasn’t overly concerned, but there was always that off chance that I fat-fingered one of my qualification links or something…but luckily all is good.  No turning back now!

I’ve spent the first few days of this week in a hotel outside Philadelphia.  Actually really close to where I grew up.

Since I started this new job, I’ve been on the road for at least a couple days during 3 of the first 4 weeks.  It’s become really important for me to figure out how to build, not just maintain, fitness while I’m traveling.

After a few weeks of experimenting, I’m slowly getting the hang of it.  That’s not to say I’ve got it figured out, but I definitely have a good sense of what I should do when traveling.

Here are some things that I found to be helpful thus far…

1.)  Bring some key food items, supplement with a grocery store.

Depending on how long I will be in a place, I’ve found it very useful (and much less expensive) to actually buy a small handful of groceries while I’m in a hotel.  This is much easier if you have a fridge in the room.  But just buying a few groceries really helps keep things on track.  It prevents the room service mentality as well as the inevitable junk food.

I’ve really been bringing only one “key food item” — sardines.  Yeah, sardines.  They’re almost perfect from a nutrition standpoint, and they’re really portable.  The only problem is that it’s really not fair to eat these in close proximity to others (like on an airplane).  I guess you I might also consider fish oil pills as another key item.

Grocery-wise, I’ve focused on greek yogurt, a few pieces fruit and (if I need dinner) some salad makings.  All of that stuff is easy to find and not too hard to manage.

For this most recent trip, I spent less than $20 on enough to give me 4 meals.

2.)  Use the treadmill and hotel stairs.

Especially when I have to get out for an early meeting and it’s dark outside, the treadmill can be a friend.  When I’m in a hotel, I try to be off the treadmill by 5:30 am or so…that’s when it starts to get crowded.

This trip, the hotel treadmill kicked me off after an hour of running.  I could have hopped on another treadmill I guess, but I had to shut the workout down anyway because I was running late.

Hotel stairs would also be a good idea.  Oddly, when I asked the front desk where the stairs were, they claimed that there “weren’t any.”  Hmmm.  Kind of impossible…there have to be stairs in case of fire.  I just moved on.

3.)  Create a strength workout that’s possible in your room, the fitness center or outside the hotel

My strength workout is coming into form.  This week, it consisted of the following:

This workout was about 1 hr, 20 minutes end to end, including time trying to find a good place to do my leg strength stuff.  I hoped to use the fitness center but it was too small.  Eventually I think this workout could take about an hour total.  That’s a nice short amount of time.

The jumprope is awesome.  It’s not much to bring and can contribute to both a strength workout or a warmup/cooldown.  Today’s jump rope session was 5 x (50-both feet / 20 right / 20 left / 50-both feet).  Total I got 500 jumps with both feet and 100 one legged with each foot.  Not bad.

My strength workout today was with body weight only.  Still a bit conservative…trying to avoid injury.

Also had a weird experience yesterday.  It’s hot in Philly.  I got a quick afternoon run in and was pretty warm.  I was looking forward to a nice cool shower.  I turned on the shower and got nothing but hot water–it went from warm to hot.  That was the fastest shower I’ve ever taken, and I ended up having to sit in front of the air conditioner for about 15 minutes to make sure I cooled down afterwards.  The front desk had no clue what was going on.  My suspicion is that the water tank is on top of the hotel, so as the day heats up the water gets really hot.  I was on a high floor, so I’m guessing it just didn’t cool off as it came into my room.

I realized when I took my job that I’d have to travel.  It’s not ideal, but if I’m going to do it, I’ve got to make the best of it.  When I’m on the road, I try to do nothing but work, work out and sleep.  If I can do that, I feel like I can maximize the time I spend away from my family.  Then I can spend more time with family when I get home.  It ain’t perfect, but it can be made to work.  Actually it can work pretty well.

Week in review: March 12-18, 2012

Well this week didn’t go exactly as planned.  It started off beautifully but went south as the week went on.  Hopefully, though, the week ended with me feeling good enough to start next week well.  I remember thinking that since I’ve added strength training to my repertoire, there really was no reason for me to have a day with no workouts.  Umm…how about that flu thing?


  • 2 runs:  21 miles, 3 hrs, 8 minutes
  • 1 ride:  45 miles, 2 hrs, 48 minutes
  • 1 strength workout:   lunge matrix, myrtl, core, squats

All of those came by Wednesday morning.

If there was a positive to the whole flu thing, it was probably that I didn’t feel like eating on Friday and Saturday.  Perhaps that’s a start to my turning around the eating habits.

And I got a lot of sleep this week.  55 hrs, average of almost 8 per day.  Of course 60% of those hours came on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I know I need to work on my sleep habits.

I’m up to page 500 in The Fountainhead.  Through three out of four parts.  I guess that’s one other good part of having the flu–I got a chance to put a lot of reading in.  At some point I might have to write up a post about the core philosophy of the book and how it conflicts with some things that have long been important in my life.  I admit that I’m struggling with some of those concepts.

Incidentally, I’m also about 60% through Blah, Blah, Blah:  What to Do When Words Don’t Work.  I’m not entirely sure what to think yet.  I need to keep going and trying some of the ideas before I render an opinion.

I can’t do anything about the days lost to the flu.  I hope I can get back on the beam hard on Monday and stay on it.  The ascent starts in 152 days.  There isn’t time to screw around any more.

Monday (March 12)

Started the week with a 45 mile ride.  This one felt weird from the start, which was in complete darkness due to the change to daylight savings time.  Even with my light, I hit way more potholes than I usually do, including one that jarred one of my water bottles out of its cage.  After searching for about 5 minutes, I gave up on the bottle.

Overall the ride was ok.  My hands were freezing at times when I went down into the valleys.  I could feel the air get colder.  I wonder whether my hill sprints yesterday had an effect on my strength.  I just felt off the whole time. I was just thankful to get my bike (and myself) home in one piece.

  • 9 am:  yogurt w/ protein powder, orange, roasted veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, peppers, zucchini)
  • 1 pm:  salad (arugala, carrots, strawberries, red onion) w/ leftover steak, apple
  • 6 pm:  turkey and veggie chili, carrot salad, asparagus and broccoli slaw
  • after 8 pm:  chocolate chips, ice cream, popcorn, M&Ms, Girl Scout cookies

I noticed something interesting today that I might need to dig more deeply into.  I got extremely tired, like can’t keep my eyes open tired, three times today:

  • 10 am:  driving in to work…I actually parked my car after driving for 20 minutes and napped
  • 2 pm:  kept waking up after having pressed some random key on my keyboard like 350 times
  • 7 pm:  putting my 2-year old to bed and reading, or was she putting me to bed?

Notice a pattern?  This kind of thing has been happening to me for a long time now.  Sometimes it isn’t as obvious as today, but it’s been there.

Tuesday (March 13)

am:  Wanted to get up earlier, but got to bed late last night (lots of admin stuff right now).  Did a short run, 7 miles, at MAF intensity.  Wanted to get home to see my 7-year-old off to school.  Travelling today.

pm:  This week finds me in Indianapolis.  Ran 14 miles around the greenway that goes in and out of the city.  It’s a super-flat run, but that was ideal for me.  I haven’t done double-run days very often; I can probably count them on one hand.  But today I really wanted to get out.  It was beautiful here and a good day to run.  14 miles, just over 2 hours.

Total for the day:  21 miles in a bit over 3 hours.

  • 7 am:  Turkey & veggie chili, kiwi, carrot salad
  • 10 am:  4-egg veggie omelette  (red onion, yellow onion, garlic, tomato), orange, strawberries
  • 9 pm:  Salad (spinach, peppers, carrots, strawberries, red onion, seeds), sardines

Eating was perfection today.  Would like to bottle this day and repeat it over and over again.

Wednesday (March 14)

Woke up in the hotel with some time before my day got started.  Figured some strength work would be good.  I’m exploring the idea of doing strength work on the last morning of my out-of-town trips.  The strength work will typically fit my schedule more effectively (I usually don’t have much time in the morning when I’m out-of-town) and allows me to get on the bike the next day for more recovery.  When I’m out of town, I typically run a lot.  So to end it with strength then a next-day bike seems like a reasonable approach.  Today it worked out well.  I am taking the strength work slowly since I know I’m still new at it.

  • 9 am:  Scrambled eggs, banana, orange
  • noon:  turkey &  cheese sandwich, chips, soda, milky way, 2 chocolate pretzels
  • 10 pm:  2 bowls of life cereal, pistachios, M&Ms, ice cream

Managed to get an earlier flight home, which is always good.  I’m worried, though…got a huge headache like my head was exploding as we descended to the airport.  I don’t get headaches.  Ever.  This one lasted until Thursday morning.

Thursday (March 15)

No workout.  Starting to feel awful.  Got to work, but didn’t feel much better.

  • 9 am:  Kiwi, orange
  • noon:  burger with bacon, soda, chocolate milkshake
  • 5 pm:  2 DQ blizzards
  • 8 pm:  M&Ms, nuts, chips & salsa, klondike bar

Registration for Pikes Peak went well.  Now just waiting for acceptance of my qualifying information.

Friday (March 16)

Feeling really awful now.  No workouts today.  Sleep and hopefully I will feel better.

  • 9 am:  yogurt with protein powder, banana
  • noon:  2 powerbar recovery bars
  • 6 pm:  eggs, orange, klondike bar, chocolate

Saturday (March 17)

Still feeling bad, maybe slightly better but it’s hard to say.  No workouts today.

  • 9 am:  Sugar cereal (a few handfuls)
  • noon:  Fruit smoothie (banana, raspberry, peach, protein powder, yogurt, orange juice), popcorn
  • 4 pm:  2 powerbar recovery bars

Sunday (March 18)

Feeling better but not as good as hoped.  Another day of rest.  No workouts.  I did manage to split some wood towards the end of the day.  At this point, I’m going to declare my sickness over and hope my body agrees.

  • 8 am:  Sugar cereal (a few handfuls)
  • noon:  turkey and veggie chili, banana, orange
  • 3 pm:  2 powerbar recovery bars, M&Ms
  • 6 pm:  Meatballs, salad, roasted veggies (onion, squash, zucchini, tomato)
  • 9 pm:  Sugar cereal, chocolate


Weekly recap (Feb 27-March 4, 2012)

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!

Saturday running, thoughts on strength training

Went for a short run today, more of a scouting expedition.  Definitely feeling some fatigue so I wanted to take it easy.  Just over an hour, call it 7 miles.  I was looking for a few things:

  • a soft surface with a very slight downhill over a quarter mile or so
  • a really steep hill or two

I found both of what I was looking for in some local parks.  I plan to use the downhill for fast running.  I want to be able to teach my body learns the feel of fast running.  Neuromuscular stuff.  The steep hill will be used for steep hill sprints, essentially a form of strength training.  I managed to locate two steep hills, one that I could run in about 12 seconds and the other that would take about 30 seconds.

The steep hill sprints had me thinking more about strength training.  I  know it’s good (probably mandatory at my age), but I can’t wrap my mind around just lifting weights.  I’ve never done it consistently, and it was one of the main reasons I quit football in high school.  I didn’t want to be in the gym.  I think back then it was more because I was self conscious.  Now I just think there are so many other interesting things to do.

For me right now the strength training will happen, but it’ll take a few different forms.  The first will be the steep hill sprints I mentioned above.  The second will be just outside work.  I have rocks and trees all over my property, and I think I can get a great leg strength workout by moving those.  One example—I could load up my yard cart with fire wood and drag it up my driveway.  I could also see myself moving heavier branches and logs across the yard to my outside fire pit—I could figure out a way to work squats into that mix.  It would accomplish a few purposes…getting me outside, building strength, cleaning up the property…all good.

I also switched up my pre-run ritual today.  Most of the time I like to stretch (I’m a bit obsessive about active isolated stretching) before I run.  It’s more of a mental thing at this point; almost everyone agrees that you don’t need to stretch before you run.  Today I did something different….jump rope, the lunge matrix and some aspects of the myrtl routine.  It was good to get a quick warmup and then get going, and I could see myself doing these things when I get home.  I am neurotic, so I did manage to sneak in a stretching session later in the day.

Speaking of steep hills, I was fascinated by this video which describes some stuff that Blake Griffin does.

“If you can run up a 60 degree incline in sand with a 60 pound weight vest then running 94 feet down the court on a flat surface should be easy.”

Miscellaneous thoughts

Didn’t do a run today, but I feel like I got a few pretty good workouts anyway.

Girls soccer this morning…I always feel exhausted after one of these games.  As coach of a team of 6-7 year olds, I spend most of the game running around trying to get them in the right positions.  I’m tired and hoarse by the end of the game, but it’s always fun.

Lots of yardwork these days.  That’s what happens when you live in what is essentially a forest.

Lots of trees = lots of firewood = lots of strength work

Leaves are my nemesis for the next two months.  I’m using the industrial strength leaf blower twice per week just trying to keep the leaves at bay.  Of course it makes for good fun for the girls…I can make nice big piles of leaves for them to jump around in.  Always a good time!

I also got some strength work in.  With temperatures dipping into the 30s tonight, it’s almost time to get the wood stove cooking again.  I can never get enough firewood for that thing.  Luckily we have firewood on the property; I just need to cut, split and stack it.  It’s much better to work with firewood than spend time at a gym.  Kinda like CrossFit I suppose.  I’m forever throwing wood around, and it’s heavy.

There are too many football games on right now.  I’m trying to figure out which one to watch.  Notre Dame?  Wisconsin?  Stanford?  Maybe I’ll just stick with the baseball game; I’ve been really into the World Series.  I suppose it’s been long enough now that I’m over what happened with the Phillies.  The World Series has been some great baseball.

I caught this post from Coach Jay Johnson.  It was really interesting advice that could benefit any youth coach (like me with the soccer team).

It also got me wondering what it would take to create a culture of running in my local area.  I’ve always been a solo runner, but I’ve heard so many good things about running with others.  And there are some great examples of towns (mostly in the west) that are like meccas for runners and other fitness people.  I wonder what it would take to create something like that where I live.  I’m sure there are runners where I live.  I don’t know if they run fast or slow, or even if that matters.  We also have some great places to run here.  I’m not saying our little patch could be as neat as those places in Utah or Colorado or California, but we do have some resources here.  It might be interesting to see what I could do to create a running or fitness culture.  Maybe a long term project once I create a running culture within my own life…