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Entries in fitness (20)

Monday
Dec192011

Staying the Course

A month ago, I took a look the progress I’d made towards my fitness goals this year, at the setbacks I’d suffered at the end of 2010, and asked, “Do I know I what I need to do to avoid a repeat of a year ago?” What I felt then was a mixture of confidence and anxiety. I was pretty sure I knew what I needed to do, but I was worried about my ability to execute on that knowledge. The impending Thanksgiving holiday, in particular, set me on edge, because I knew that’s where I started to get off track last year.

So how did I do? Here’s what my year-over-year comparison looked like on November 18.

Here’s what it looks like today.

Suffice it to say, I’m a lot less anxious now. Now I just have to avoid overconfidence and keep doing what it is that got me here.

Sunday
Dec112011

5K After Ten Miles

This morning, I rolled out of bed at half past five, drove down to Oxnard, and ran thirteen point one miles in one hour, forty-six minutes, thirty-six seconds.

On the one hand, I’m shocked by this. That works out to running a mile in eight minutes and eight seconds, repeated a baker’s dozen times. When I did my first 5K race in years back in May 2010, I would have been overjoyed to run at that pace. (I ran a 9:06 split in that race.) The notion of running a 5K that quicker after having already run ten miles at that pace was out of the question.

On the other hand, I’m not surprised I was able to do it. In October I ran a half-marathon in an hour and fifty minutes, and that was on a much hillier course than this one. I’ve been training since then, and I’ve seen my workout paces speed up. My only goal for this race was to break that time, so I just ran with the hour and fifty minute pacer for the first ten miles. At the ten mile marker, I felt like I could push it a little more, so I ran the remainder on my own and finished a few minutes ahead of him. Doing the math, I realize now that I ran that last 5K at a seven and and a half minute mile pace. That’s faster than I’ve run anything except this year’s Thankgiving 4-miler.

Back when I was doing triathlons — around 2004 — I encountered something on a tri mailing list that’s stuck with me ever since:

People tend to overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in three.

At lunch after the race, Gwen asked me, “So, what’s next?” (She knows me too well.) I’ve had “run a marathon” on my list of things I want to do for a long time, but I’ve known that’s not something I could do in a year. In 2010, I got back into running. In 2011, I committed to making it a regular and important part of my routine. That makes 2012 year three. Maybe it’s time to finally go after it.

For now, though, it’s time to enjoy my underestimation of myself.

Friday
Nov182011

Signs Point To Yes

This is a graph I’ve been paying attention to recently.

I weigh myself every morning, under the same conditions, every day I’m at home, and I have since the beginning of May 2010. The advantage of being little OCD about measuring things and having eighteen months worth of data is that you can make charts like this and watch for long-term trends.

While that chart is interesting, this one is more is even more important to me recently.

A year ago this week I hit the bottom of my weight loss curve and started to come back up. A couple of things contributed to that, most notably that I hurt my knee so I cut back on running mileage pretty drastically, and I started getting lax about following my dietary guidelines, particularly with regards to red meat and alcohol. A few months of that meant that I fell out of my good habits, which made it harder to get back into them. That’s why I didn’t see a reversal of direction in the data until around the beginning of June, when I got my running mileage up over ten miles a week. You can see the slope for 2011 is still pretty shallow until the beginning of September, which is when I really re-established my good eating habits. (And yes, I have charts that show me this, too.)

The results of re-establishing those habits is obvious from another source as well: my pants. The nice thing about wearing the same kinds of jeans all the time is that they’re a useful benchmark. I had been wearing Levi’s 560s in a 36×30. A few months ago, I switched to 550s, which are — let us say — less generously cut in the rear. Effectively, that was a step down in size. This week I made the next step from 36×30 550s to 34×30 550s. So, a win there too.

And finally, my times for my running workouts have dropped pretty dramatically over the same period. I run by feel, and afterwards I see how fast I went. In June, I would usually run my three-to-five mile workouts around a 9:15 mile pace. By October, I was running the same routes at 8:30 a mile.

The critical thing about all of this is that I’ve got data about what I’m doing and about what results I’m getting. I can see what the effects of my behavior are over time. That helps me figure out what works and what doesn’t. Once I’ve established those connections, it strengthens my resolve to follow the rules I’ve set down for myself. All of this data gathering helps me answer the most important questions: Will doing what I am now get me to where I want to be? And do know I what I need to do to avoid a repeat of a year ago?




Update

Fitness: Rest day

Tuesday
Nov152011

I'm Just a Guy Who Runs Every So Often

I don’t think of myself as a runner, but the data may indicate I’m thinking of myself incorrectly. While updating some of my records, I noticed that since I got back into running again at the beginning of April 2010, I’ve run a thousand miles. That’s an average of 12 miles a week for 84 weeks.

And that kind of blows my mind.




Update

Fitness: Ran 3 miles
Monday
Oct102011

Age & Treachery Trumps Youth & Vigor

Back in 2004, I ran my first half-marathon. In fact, I ran three:

  • San Diego Half-Marathon (18 January 2004) — 2:14:42
  • Pacific Shoreline Half-Marathon (1 February 2004) — 2:01:30
  • Big Sur Half-Marathon (17 October 2004) — 2:11:58

I hadn’t run any since, until yesterday, when I added another one to the list:

  • City to the Sea Half-Marathon (9 October 2011) — 1:50:04

The lesson to be learned from this is obvious: I could totally take twenty-six-year-old me in a fight.




Update

Fitness: Rest day
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 328 words, 152 seven-day average, 281 average, 54567 total