Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pre-Halloween Beef-Up

Today I hit the gym for an upper body workout.  I'm going as The Hulk to a halloween party tonight, so I figure I'd beef up the guns or pythons a bit for the full effect.  (I can't even keep a straight face while typing that).

Reps & Weights:
Warm up: Elliptical; 1 mile forward, 0.2 mile backwards, 0.2 mile forward, 0.1 mile backwards (heart rate up to ~160)
1.  Dumbbell Press (10 reps with 55 lbs/arm)
2.  Bicep Curls (10 reps with 55 lbs)
.....** Repeat 1 & 2 for a full three sets

3.  Gravity Rower (10 reps with 50 lbs)
4.  Horizontal Overhead Lat (10 reps with 45 lbs)
5.  Trecip Bench Dips (30 reps)
.....** Repeat 3-5 for a full three sets

6.  Side Lifts (3 sets of 10 with 25lb [back] & 10lbs [sides])
7.  Horizontal Straight Leg Lifts (3 sets of 10)


8.  Crunch Ups (3 sets of 10 situps & 10 crunches)
9.  Side Turns (2 sets of 15/5 reps)
10. Military Press (3 sets of 10 with 60 lbs)
11. Pectoral Fly (3 sets of 10 reps with 90, 110, 130 lbs)
12. Vertical Bent Leg Lift (3 sets of 12)
13. Vertical Tricep Dip (3 sets of 10/6/8 reps)

I felt MUCH better today compared to Thursday; no dizziness, no real fatigue.  So I bet at this level I'm back to "normal" in two to three days with rest or at least lighter workouts.  It's always a nice feeling to know how long your body takes to bounce back from various things such as illnesses, injuries, blood donation, maybe a bought of dehydration, anemia, etc.  Those things will certainly come in handy down the road, especially for an endurance athlete who will without doubt run into one of those at some point.  With luck, you can catch the symptoms early or predict when they might be likely to occur and end up preventing them, but it's always a risk.  I simply feel it's always a risk worth taking.

It is now time to "make me mad."  I will check back in tomorrow, but a Happy Halloween to everyone celebrating early.  Be careful and have fun!


Friday, October 29, 2010


As you know, I donated blood on Wednesday and then was convinced that going to the gym to lift that same day may not be the best idea.  A number of people congratulated me on my "sane decision."  But the day after is perfectly fine, right?  ...not really.

I did a mixed workout yesterday and to cut to the chase, I felt the weakness, the fatigue, and even a little dizziness a few times throughout the workout.  While many people will tell you that anemia symptoms are the same as over training symptoms, I have a hunch that giving blood less than twenty four hours before the symptoms gives anemia a big advantage here.  I however do not advocate going out and training after giving blood.  It really is a beating on your body.  The main reason I enjoy doing these things (aka: testing my body and limits) is because I want to know what it's like.  For instance, anemia can be a very common occurrence among endurance athletes and many such athletes will have a drop in iron levels throughout the racing season causing symptoms to arise later on.  If I'm right in that what I felt yesterday at the gym was due to a temporary state of anemia, then I have that knowledge in case during my training season I end up feeling the same way.  At that point, I'll know that "hey, maybe I should up my iron intake for awhile."  There's always a reason why I push myself in that sense though I admit that many individuals do not share my perspective.

Reps & Weight:
1.  Bench Press Machine (3 sets of 10/10/5[5] reps with 90, 110, 130[110] lbs)
2.  Leg Press (3 sets of 10 reps with 210/230/250 lbs)
3.  Bicep Dumbbell Curl (3 sets of 10 reps with 25 lbs/arm)
4.  Sitting Leg Curl (3 sets of 10 reps with 100 lbs)
5.  Side Lifts  (2 sets of 10 reps with 10lbs [side] & 25lbs [back])
6.  Horizontal Leg Lift (3 sets of 10 reps)
7.  Military Press (3 sets of 10 reps with 60 lbs)
8.  Sitting Leg Extension (3 sets of 10 reps with 100 lbs)
9.  Pectoral Fly  (3 sets of 10 with 90/110/130)

** Stretching **

10. Crunch Ups (3 sets of 10 sit-ups and 10 crunches)
11. Side Plank Twists (15 reps on each side)
12. Vertical Leg Lift  (3 x 12)
13. Vertical Tricep Dip  (3 x 10)

After experiencing the symptoms - especially the dizziness - I thought back to a couple of my races this year.  First off, my 2nd Olympic Triathlon.  Compared to my first Oly, the 2nd felt slow.  I struggled constantly through the run to keep going and I felt fatigued much earlier in that race.  Thinking back on it, not only was this race a mere 7 days after my first Oly, but also only 4 days after having given blood.  While the circumstances may simply be coincidental, it's possible that my iron was depleted.  Second, I thought back to my half marathon here earlier this month.  I certainly felt fatigued at about mile 9 and even began to feel slightly dizzy as of mile 11.  In the moment I just thought it was dehydration, which it could very well have been, but it felt eerily like the dizziness I experienced yesterday.  I would bet that it was a combination of the two. 

So the lesson I take away from this is that athletes typically require twice the iron daily intake.  On top of that, endurance athletes can require extreme amounts of iron due to the amount they go through on a daily basis for training. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I know I said that today would be an upper body or more likely a mixed workout day, but I had forgotten that I had an appointment to give blood today.  I hadn't even thought about whether working out would be a good idea until I got up from the table and the nurse told me "And you know the typical...  Lots of liquids, rest, and no heavy lifting..."  In my mind I responded with "200 lbs, that's not 'heavy' is it?" 

After I got home I debated.  What's lifting really gonna' do?  I looked up some stuff and the rest and no heavy exercise is mainly to allow your body to replenish the plasma, iron, and red blood cells as fast as it can.  If you go workout, you'll probably notice a decrease in energy.  If you really push yourself, you might faint, but it's not detrimental to you.  It will simply push back your recovery date.  So based on that fact, I decided to stay home.  I still did some bicep curls, push ups, and ab work here off/on through the evening (because I hate giving up the day completely - and I like the feeling of being sore).

Tomorrow I'm gonna' plan on doing either an early morning or mid afternoon mixed workout since I have a get together in the early evening.  I'll let you know how the energy feels after 3/4 day rest from giving blood.  And now that I think about it, my second olympic triathlon was 7 days after my 1st and only 4.5 days after giving blood.  Eh, who needs blood?!  haha


Getting Behind...

I've gotten behind!  So my last post on Sunday was a mixed lifting day.  Monday was my off day, but since we had such warm weather, I decided to go for a short 2.0 mile run.  I was thrilled with the prospect of getting back out on the road.  The run felt great though I could tell my cardiovascular endurance wasn't where it had been back at the half marathon.  Oh-well.  You can't expect it to maintain itself.  haha  Anyways, later that night I noticed my toes were bothering me and as you can guess, they turned red/purple again.  They didn't get bad, just enough to where I could notice it.  So while I feel good enough to go out and run, I'm not exactly ready for it.  Therefore, I decided I need to stick to the gym for awhile longer at least; maybe a couple more weeks. 

Yesterday I went to the gym and did a legs workout.

Reps & Weight:
1.  Bench Press Machine (3 sets of 10/10/6[4] reps with 90, 110, 130[110] lbs)
2.  Leg Press (3 sets of 10 reps with 210/230/250 lbs)
3.  Sitting Leg Curl (3 sets of 10 reps with 100 lbs)
4.  Sitting Leg Extension (3 sets of 10 reps with 100 lbs)
5.  Vertical Calf Extension (3 sets of 60/50/50 reps with 60 lbs)
6.  Military Press (3 sets of 10,10,6[3] reps with 62.5[50] lbs)
7.  Back Leg Extension (3 sets of 10 reps with 110,130,150 lbs)
8.  Adductor (3 sets of 10 reps with 150 lbs)
9.  Abductor (3 sets of 10 reps with 80 lbs)
10.  Pectoral Fly  (3 sets of 10 with 90/110/130)

** Stretching **

11. Crunch Ups (3 sets of 10 sit-ups and 10 crunches)
12. Side Plank Twists (15 reps on each side)
13. Vertical Leg Lift  (3 x 12)
14. Vertical Tricep Dip  (3 x 10/8/7)

I keep increasing the weights on various machines and I continually find I lack the soreness the next day, so I may try to find alternate exercises to do on various days.  The yoga made me sore for sure on top of a workout, so maybe I need to do something along those lines; not strength training, but endurance work.  I'm always up for suggestions if you have any!

Today may be a mixed day.  I don't want to end up bored with an upper body workout.  I may even decide to do a whole new set of things.  That would at least keep me on my toes.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mixed Day

As I mentioned before, I've noticed I've been getting bored lately during the upper body workouts.  So today, instead of doing another upper body workout as planned, I did a mixed legs & arms day, which turned out to be really good.  When I focus on legs or upper body alone, I tend to rationalize taking breaks inbetween exercises.  However, when you alternate exercises, it was quite easy for me to stick to short intervals.

New Exercise(s):
1.  Bicep Bar Curl:  Much like the previously explained "bicep curl," this makes use of free weights loaded onto a bar as opposed to individual free weights in each hand.  Make sure to pause at the bottom of every curl.  Many people speed from the finish of one curl into the start of the next using their hips/core to bounce the bar back up.  This is cheating yourself. 

2.  Vertical Free Calf Ext:  The previously explained "Calf Ext" made use of a machine where you sat with your legs horizontal.  This exercise is "Vertical" because you do it from a standing position and "Free" because it makes use of dumbbell free weights for resistance as opposed to a restricting machine.  Much like the previous version, this still works the gastroc muscle.  The reason I've chosen to replace the calf extension with this version is an attempt to avoid excess stress in my foot/arch.

3.  Tricep Dip:  Starting from a vertical position where you are holding yourself up over the ground, you bend in the arms to allow your body to descent towards the floor.  Before the position of standing on the floor, push back up and return to the starting position.  As the title states, this works the tricep muscle.  

Reps & Weights:
Warm up: Elliptical; 1 mile forward, 0.2 mile backwards, 0.2 mile forward, 0.1 mile backwards (heart rate up to ~155/160)
1.  Bench Press Machine (3 sets of 10/10/6(1) reps with 90, 110, 120(110) lbs)
2.  Leg Press (3 sets of 10 reps with 210/230/250 lbs)
3.  Bicep Bar Curl  (3 sets of 10 with 35/45/45 [assuming bar weight of 25lb])
4.  Leg Curl  (3 sets of 10 with 90 lbs)
5.  Military Press  (3 sets of 10/10/9 with 60 lbs)
6.  Let Extension (3 sets of 10 with 100 lbs)
7.  Pec Fly  (3 sets of 10 with 90/110/130 lbs)
8.  Vertical Free Calf Ext  (3 sets of 40 reps with 60 lbs)
Cool-Down:  Treadmill; 0.5 miles at 4.0  (had to do this early to stretch out my calves)
9.  Stretching
10.  Crunch Up  (3 sets of 10/10)
11.  Side Plank Twist  (15 / side)
12.  Vertical Leg Tuck  (3 sets of 12 reps)
13.  Tricep vertical dip  (1 set of 10 reps)

Tomorrow is my day off.  I'll see if I can piece together a decent carbs-to-fat burning metablism piece, but no promisis.  I'm still doign a lof of reading on it. 


Saturday, October 23, 2010


Sorry about not posting last night.  It just got too late, so below is both yesterday's workout as well as today's.


This was a day that would be a whole new experience.  I had previously signed up for a yoga class, but still didn't want to give up on my lifting since it wasn't my day off.  So I gambled and did both.  I went to the gym about 3pm and assumed I'd be out, showered, have eaten, and rested by 5:30, ready for my yoga class at 6pm.  Well, it turns out it was 5pm when I left the gym, so I hurried home, munched on some peanuts, changed clothes, and ran over to yoga thinking "Oh God, this is going to be bad!"  It turns out it wasn't as physically bad as I thought it would be.  It was a one hour class offered for free by a med student at school who recently completed her yoga training class and needed to fulfill so many classes before getting a position.  About 40 minutes into the one hour class, I was beginning to feel the burn.  My legs were getting a little shaky and I definitely couldn't hold the positions as well as some of the others.  I'll attribute that to having worked out beforehand.  Overall, though, I enjoyed the class and will definitely go again if it's offered in the future.  If I find a cheap yoga studio or place in the meantime I'll see about doing that too. 

Reps & Weights:
Warm up: Elliptical; 1 mile forward, 0.2 mile backwards, 0.2 mile forward, 0.1 mile backwards (heart rate up to ~155/160)
1.  Bench Press Machine (3 sets of 10/10/7 reps with 90, 110, 120 lbs)
2.  Leg Press (3 sets of 10 reps with 170/210/230 lbs)
3.  Sitting Leg Curl (3 sets of 10 reps with 90 lbs)
4.  Sitting Leg Extension (3 sets of 10 reps with 90 lbs)
5.  Sitting Calf Extentsion (3 sets of 40,40,30 reps with 80 lbs)
6.  Pectoral Fly Machine (3 sets of 10,10,8 reps with 100,120,140 lbs)
7.  Back Leg Extension (3 sets of 10 reps with 90,110,130 lbs)
8.  Adductor (3 sets of 10 reps with 150 lbs)
9.  Abductor (3 sets of 10 reps with 95,95,85 lbs)

** Stretching **

10. Crunch Ups (4 sets of 10 sit-ups and 10 crunches)
11. Side Plank Twists (15 reps on each side)
12. Military Press (3 sets of 10,10,9 reps with 60 lbs)
- Cool Down:  Treadmill; 1.0 mile run, 0.5 mile walk
- Yoga: 1 hour


Today I woke up and definitely felt some tension/soreness in my legs, which I didn't feel last night.  The lifting and yoga certainly did a good job of working my legs out!  Today thankfully was an upper body day, so my legs got a bit of a rest in that respect.

Reps & Weights:
Warm up: Elliptical; 1 mile forward, 0.2 mile backwards, 0.2 mile forward, 0.1 mile backwards (heart rate up to ~155/160)
1.  Dumbbell Press (10,10,9 reps with 55 lbs/arm)
2.  Bicep Curls (10/5&5/5(5) reps with 30,30,30(25) lbs)
.....** Repeat 1 & 2 for a full three sets

3.  Gravity Rower (10 reps with 50 lbs)
4.  Horizontal Overhead Lat (10 reps with 40 lbs)
5.  Trecip Bench Dips (30 reps)
.....** Repeat 3-5 for a full three sets

6.  Pull-Down Triceps (3 sets of 10,10,6 reps with 60 lbs)
7.  Vertical Overhead Lats (3 sets of 9,10,10 reps with 60,50,50 lbs)


8.  Crunch Ups (4 sets of 10 situps & 10 crunches)
9.  Side Turns (16 reps)
10. Military Press (3 sets of 10,9,5 with 62.5 lbs)
11. Pectoral Fly (3 sets of 10 reps with 90, 110, 130 lbs)
Cool Down:  Treadmill; 1.0 mile run, 0.5 mile walk

I've been happy to add the treadmill into my workouts.  It's the first step to getting back out onto the road.  I won't push it any further than the warm up or cool down for now, but when I feel comfortable with it, I'll get on the road and start testing it out a mile at a time.  I haven't decided what to do for shoes just yet (go with a new pair of running shoes or dive into the Vibram Five Fingers), but I should at least go check out some shoes here soon since I've already stepped up onto the treadmill. 

I've also been doing some reading on how to transfer your metabolism from a high to low carb-to-fat ratio (teaching your body to prefer burning fat over carbs).  I got the idea from a video I watched from Tim Van'Orden, the guy that runs  The benefit to this option is that while fat offers less energy punch per unit, it is essentially unlimited.  You could run for days on the fat on your body if your body is ready to burn it.  On the other hand, most people will "bonk" after 2 hours of carb burning because that's about as long as the reserves in your body last.  So naturally, as many of you would notice for yourself, switching over to fat burning is really only advantageous for endurance athletes; people who train or race for over two hours).  While it would make no sense for me to switch for the spring triathlons, it will certainly help for the marathon and half Ironman races next year.  I'm going to keep looking into it and hopefully come next spring start working on it in preparation for those races.  I must admit, it's fun learning how your body works and how to manipulate it to perfect what it is you want to do.  I'll keep you posted on what I find. 

Tomorrow will most likely be a mixed lifting day.  I got bored again today with the upper body workout, so I know I shouldn't do that one again.  Based on that fact alone, I may take it as a sign to take some time off of the upper body lifting focus; it's not like I really want to add bulk anyways.  We'll see.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

And You Thought I Was Crazy!

Today was my first legs workout.  As with any new exercise, I tried to not push it too hard.  I took it easy with the upper body workouts to give my wrists, elbows, and shoulders time to get used to the added stress.  This time I'm easing into legs to give my ankles, knees, and hips time to adjust.  Diving head first into any new exercise can be optimum time for injury; I've learned that fact first hand more times than I'd prefer to count.  haha

Anyways, without looking up interesting leg workouts, I went ahead and used every machine the gym had available.  As you'll see below and in the following weeks, I certainly pinpointed some exercises that will be more difficult than others and some that will need to be adjusted due to my current level or preference on free weights vs. machines.  I can already max out the adductor machine.  Also, the calf extension machine puts too much strain on the metatarsals by bending your foot backwards.  I'll find my niche in a week I'm sure.

New Exercise(s):
1.  Leg Press:  This is an extremely common exercise for most leg workouts.  You can do this on a machine as I did or use free weights and do squats, which are relatively equivalent.  It's simple.  For the machine, you begin with your legs bent (the better you get, the closer your legs can start to your chest) in a sitting position and you push forward with your legs.  For squats, you begin standing with the weights on your shoulders and you lower your body keeping the weights on top of your center of gravity.  With work, you can bend lower and lower.  This exercise works a myriad of muscles in your legs; the quadraceps, hamstrings, and gluteus.

2.  Sitting Leg Curl:  Beginning in a sitting position with your legs extended straight out in front of you, you bend your legs at the knees pulling your feet under you and towards your butt.  This exercise focuses on your hamstrings.

3.  Sitting Leg Extension:  This exercise switches starting and finishing positions of the sitting leg curl.  Begin with your legs bent at the knees and curled underneath you.  Press the legs out until your legs are straight.  This focuses on the quadraceps.

4.  Sitting Calf Extension:  In this exercise, your legs remain straight and in front of your body.  The bend here is in your ankles as you use your calves to push on the weight.  When your knees are straightened, this exercise focuses on the gastrocnemius.  When the knees are bent, the load is shared between the gastroc and soleus muscles.  At a ninety degree bend in the knee, this exercise focuses on the soleus alone.

5.  Back Leg Extension:  This exercise begins with your upper body horizontal to the ground, face down.  Your leg is bent ninety degrees to your core and the knee is also bent at a given angle.  One leg at a time, you push backwards until the leg is straight.  This exercise again uses multiple muscles; the quadracep, hamstring, and gluteus.

6.  Adductor:  In a sitting position, this exercise has you squeezing your legs together, which focuses on the adductor muscles in your legs.  This is a must-do exercise for swimmers who focus on breastroke (me!)

7.  Abductor:  This is the opposite of the adductor where you will push your legs apart, which focuses on the abductor muscles in your legs.  If this machine is too difficult, feel free to use a free form version.  Lye sideways on a mat with your legs extended straight out.  Lift the top leg as high as you can and repeat.  This works the abductor muscle with only the weight of your own body.

Reps & Weights:
Warm up: 1 mile forward and 0.5 mile backwards on an elliptical (heart rate up to ~155/160)
1.  Bench Press Machine (3 sets of 10 reps with 90, 110, 120 lbs)
2.  Leg Press (3 sets of 10 reps with 150, 170, 190 lbs)
3.  Sitting Leg Curl (3 sets of 10 reps with 85 lbs)
4.  Sitting Leg Extension (3 sets of 10 reps with 90 lbs)
5.  Sitting Calf Extentsion (3 sets of 50,50,40 reps with 110 lbs)
6.  Pectoral Fly Machine (3 sets of 10 reps with 90, 110, 130 lbs)
7.  Back Leg Extension (3 sets of 10 reps with 70, 90, and 110 lbs)
8.  Adductor (3 sets of 10 reps with 90, 130, 150 lbs)
9.  Abductor (3 sets of 10 reps with 90 lbs)

** Stretching **

10. Crunch Ups (3 sets of 10 sit-ups and 10 crunches)
11. Side Plank Twists (15 reps on each side)
12. Military Press (3 sets of 10,10,9 reps with 60 lbs)

 As with any workout, I'm all ears for ideas of other new, fun, interesting, or killer workout sets that you think I'd like to try.  My bet (depending on how I feel) is that I will take tomorrow off, fyi.  I feel great right now, but I don't want to run myself into the ground by not taking the time to rest/recover.

On another note, for those who think my races or ideals are a bit odd, crazy, or down right idiotic (you know who you are!), I talked to a friend today who had run the Hartford FULL Marathon back on the 9th of this month.  We were asking each other whether we were back into training yet or not (you figure after a big race, you usually take some time to recover and rest).  Well, she has been taking time to rest just as I had, but still decided to head to Newport, RI to run another marathon this past Saturday.  That's two marathons in a week.  I couldn't help but react with "that's fuckin' awesome!"  She didn't do as well as she had hoped, but on the other hand, how many people expect to not slow down a bit with that schedule.  haha  She still finished and without injury.  So props to her and everyone out there like her running races and training sessions non-stop just because your body can!

Time for dinner before a Fried Oreo Party.  You heard me right!  The Big E inspired some friends to attempt frying various types of oreo cookies; and why not make a party out of it?!  But I need to get some real food in me before I hit the sugar.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pound It Out

I felt great this morning.  There wasn't any soreness, no difficulty stretching, nothing.  So today I upped the weight on some exercises I hadn't done so on last time.  Hopefully tomorrow I find a bit of soreness.  I might do a leg workout tomorrow though.  I found myself quite bored during today's workout.

Any suggestions on good leg workout ideas?  I've never really done a full leg based workout before.

Reps & Weights:
Warm up: 1 mile forward and 0.5 mile backwards on an elliptical (heart rate up to ~155/160)
1.  Dumbbell Press (10,9,6 reps with 55lbs/arm)
2.  Bicep Curls (10 reps with 30lbs)
.....** Repeat 1 & 2 for a full three sets

3.  Gravity Rower (10 reps with 50lbs)
4.  Horizontal Overhead Lat (12 reps with 40lbs)
5.  Trecip Bench Dips (30 reps)
.....** Repeat 3-5 for a full three sets

6.  Pull-Down Triceps (3 sets of 10,9,7 reps with 50, 60, 60lbs)
7.  Vertical Overhead Lats (3 sets of 10 reps with 60lbs)


8.  Crunch Ups (3 sets of 10 situps & 10 crunches)
9.  Side Turns (12 reps)
10. Military Press (3 sets of 10,6,4 with 60 lbs)
11. Pectoral Fly (3 sets of 10,10,6 reps with increasing weight [90, 110, 130 lbs])
Cool Down: 1.5 mile on stationary bike

If you have any suggestions for interesting or even just standard leg workouts, let me know.  Otherwise, tomorrow will be a mish-mosh (yes, I did just use that "word") of randomness.  Enlighten me world!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Gym, Gym, Gyree!!

Back to the gym today.  My muscles felt great and I even went ahead an upped a couple weights.  My goal is to essentially keep in the gym while my feet are healing and avoid hurting myself.  One of the things I have to do in order to keep up with the latter is keep from upping weights too fast.  I'm not looking to put on 20lbs of muscle or look like a body builder.  I just want to increase my upper body endurance, maybe build a little muscle over time, but mainly keep my body used to the workout schedule.

New Exercise(s):
1.  Military Press:  This works much like a bench press where you are moving weights up and down vertically, but instead of your body at a horizontal position 90 degrees to the movement of the weights, a military press has you sitting vertically.  The weights begin at or just above shoulder height and move up over your head.  The change of body position switches the muscle target from your pectorals to your shoulders.  Be sure to keep your back straight while doing this exercise or it will become an incline bench press and the muscle target will shift to include upper pectorals.

Reps & Weights:
Warm up: 1 mile forward and 0.5 mile backwards on an elliptical (heart rate up to ~155/160)
1.  Dumbbell Press (10,10,10 reps with 50lbs/arm)
2.  Bicep Curls (10 reps with 30lbs)
.....** Repeat 1 & 2 for a full three sets

3.  Gravity Rower (10 reps with 45lbs)
4.  Horizontal Overhead Lat (10 reps with 40, 40, 45lbs)
5.  Trecip Bench Dips (30 reps)
.....** Repeat 3-5 for a full three sets

6.  Pull-Down Triceps (3 sets of 10 reps with 50, 60, 60lbs)
7.  Vertical Overhead Lats (3 sets of 10,10,9 reps with 60lbs)

8.  Crunch Ups (3 sets of 10 situps & 10 crunches)
9.  Side Turns (10 reps)
10. Pectoral Fly (3 sets of 10,10,6 reps with increasing weight [90, 110, 130 lbs])

Two things I noticed today.  First, as mentioned above, I was able to do a bit more in weights/reps which would be expected after a day off.  Second, my body didn't seem to tire as much throughout the workout.  Usually I get a dull pain in my pecs early on, then a tension in my forearms, my triceps begin to burn, and all of that carries on to a degree throughout the workout.  Today they all seemed to fade away after a few minutes.  That means one (or both) of two things (at my current understanding).  Either I should have increased the weights/reps more or my upper body is already getting used to the intensity of the workout and is recovering faster.  I'll see how I'm feeling tomorrow morning and go from there.

H.E.A.T. & Get Out N Play

Good morning!

I've been searching around online today for activity groups as I'm thinking more and more of how much benefit I could get out of having a group of friends with similar goals.  And I came across a couple things that I thought you guys might enjoy.

First of all, I came across a group that I had previously seen at my triathlons, Hartford Extended Area Triathletes or H.E.A.T.  This is a group that you can join of mainly triathletes.  The main goal of any of these types of groups is simply to help & support each other with your goals, whether it be advice on how to maintain nutrition, how to focus a training workout, or even just motivation to get out and train day-to-day.  If you check out the website, you'll see forums with long lists of reviews for local or national events.  I read a bunch of their forum topics about experiences at the Ironman Lake Placid race and it was refreshing to see that other local individuals have similar goals.  For those with smaller goals, there are plenty of posts about local sprint triathlons, 5k runs, and such; plenty of variety for people of any level.  This would be the type of group that I'd like to join to get help with workout ideas, some advice for techniques or nutrition, motivation, and friends to join on some of the longer workout goals.  I'll be looking around at some other similar groups, but something of this sort would be incredibly helpful to maintain motivation.

While I was fiddling around on the H.E.A.T. site, I came across something called "Get Out N Play."  Much like Brian Bohrer from Wilmington, NC who I've talked about before, Aubrey Fleszar who runs Get Out N Play is a personal trainer who simply loves fitness and nutrition so much that she's made a career out of helping others meet their own fitness goals. Aubrey is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and also attended the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.  If you look at her website, you will notice she also has a blog, which covers not only some of her own adventures (check out her entry for August 20th, 2009 - some great photos of what seems to have been a great trip to Mt. Eisenhower in NH), but focuses on a lot of recipes and ideas for holistic nutrition.  Now I personally had no idea what "holistic nutrition" was at first, so for people like myself, do not fear.  I found this website to help explain.  As you may guess from the term "holistic" itself, holistic nutrition looks at helping the entire body and person as opposed to say a specific ailment or "part of the whole."  It's an intriguing idea and I'll certainly be giving a couple of these recipes a try. 

If you're interested at all in the nutrition or even getting ideas for your own personal fitness goals, I strongly suggest sending Aubrey a message.  There's a message center under "contact us" on the Get Out N Play website.  There's no time like the present to get started on making your life happier and healthier.

For those who are already "fit," if you're looking for either a way to step up the level or even just some motivation on reaching that next big goal (I'm certainly going to be looking for some on my way to the Ironman), feel free to talk to Aubrey or the guys and girls at H.E.A.T.  Heck, even contact me.  There are ALWAYS people around you with similar goals.  You've just got to know where to look and I'm just doing my best to make that search easier.

I'll be back later today with my typical post after I get over to the gym.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Today was my day off, but I decided that the weather was so nice that I should go do some hiking.  I started hiking a lot this past Spring, but stopped when I got into triathlons in June.  So I headed out to Penwood State Park in Simsbury, CT and that certainly was not the smartest idea I've had.  haha

I walked a total of about 3.6 miles; the yellow trail up to Lake Louise and then back south down the Metacomet (blue) trail.  By the time I was up to Lake Loise, my left big toe was already beginning to bother me.  I opted to head back to the car instead of continuing on up the orange trail.  Thank God I did that because not more than 5 minutes onto the blue trail, my toe REALLY started bothering me.  It may feel ok during gym workouts and walking around in short bursts, but I can't walk that far all at one time.

Stupid is as stupid does, but at least stupid learns.  I noticed something while walking.  The shin splint in my right leg started bothering me at one point and I realized that I was leaning on that foot.  My curiosity led me to remember that the majority of times I end up with shin splints, they are only in my right foot, rarely my left.  Therefore, I am wondering if I run unbalanced; do I lean on my right foot for some reason or do I tend to let my right foot hit harder than my left?  I'll have to keep an eye out for that when I get back out on the road.

After getting back home I checked out the toe and some blood is back underneath the nail; not the best sign.  It's really small, but I'll be staying away from extended walking for awhile.  Let this be a lesson if even just to myself - if you push yourself to the point of injury, it better be worth the recovery time.

Back to the gym tomorrow.  Ciao!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tear It Down To Rebuild

Today I went to the gym early.  I could tell that my muscles weren't as strong as the past couple days by the fact that I wasn't able to hold up on reps for a few exercises, but that just means I'm doing my job in tearing them down.  I will rest tomorrow and let them heal.

Reps & Weights:
Warm up: 1 mile forward and 0.5 mile backwards on an elliptical
1.  Dumbbell Press (10,9,8 reps with 50lbs/arm)
2.  Bicep Curls (10 reps with 25lbs)
.....** Repeat 1 & 2 for a full three sets

3.  Gravity Rower (10 reps with 45lbs)
4.  Horizontal Overhead Lat (10 reps with 40lbs)
5.  Trecip Bench Dips (20 reps)
.....** Repeat 3-5 for a full three sets

6.  Pull-Down Triceps (3 sets of 10 reps with 50lbs)
7.  Vertical Overhead Lats (3 sets of 10,5,5 reps with 50lbs)

8.  Crunch Ups (3 sets of 10 situps & 10 crunches)
9.  Side Turns (10 reps)
10. Pectoral Fly (3 sets of 10,10,7 reps with increasing weight [70, 90, and 110 lbs])

Lifting Injury

I got a crick in my neck (or very upper back depending on how you describe it) while lifting today.  I wanted to let you guys know that if it happens to you - if you seem to get a crick, pinch a nerve or something of that sort - heat is the best cure.  It is most likely that a muscle tightened too much or something got crossed and you need to let it relax.  So I will personally lay on a heat pad periodically throughout the day 'till it's gone.  The alternative is to get a massage, which will certainly help, but that's also a more expensive option.

Be fit.  Be safe.  Ciao!

Friday, October 15, 2010

That Feeling The Morning After

After yesterday's workout, I woke up with the beloved "morning after" feeling.  No this is not when I search out a pill.  After letting your muscles relax, recover, and remain relatively stationary for up to 8 hours, your body feels sore, tense, and in some cases like you've been hit by a car.  It's a great feeling!

This morning I felt sore in my pecs and a bit in my triceps.  I had expected a little soreness since I haven't been to the gym in awhile, but I hadn't worked myself hard yet so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.  Today I headed back to the gym for a second workout and even added a bit of core work to it.

New Exercise(s):
1.  Pectoral Fly:  This can be done a number of ways.  Using free weights, you can start in much the same position as an extended dumbbell press, but instead of going down, let your arms fall out like you're following a half circle arc.  Many times you feel a need to bend the elbow during this exercise to maintain strength; that's ok.  You will gain strength in time and be able to keep your arms straighter later on.  There are also machines that do this exercise and I personally use those.  I feel the machines more efficiently target the pectoral muscle at my given level.  If I were to do the free weights, I would need to do a much lighter weight in order to keep balance and control.  There are pluses and minuses either way.

Reps & Weights:
Warm up: 1 mile forward and 0.5 mile backwards on an elliptical
1.  Dumbbell Press (10 reps with 50lbs/arm)
2.  Bicep Curls (10 reps with 25lbs)
.....** Repeat 1 & 2 for a full three sets

3.  Gravity Rower (10 reps with 45lbs)
4.  Horizontal Overhead Lat (10 reps with 40lbs)
5.  Trecip Bench Dips (20 reps)
.....** Repeat 3-5 for a full three sets

6.  Pull-Down Triceps (10 reps with 40lbs)
7.  Vertical Overhead Lats (5 reps with 40lbs)
.....** Repeat 6 & 7 for a full three sets

8.  Crunch Ups (3 sets of 5 situps & 10 crunches)
9.  Side Turns (10 reps)
10. Pectoral Fly (3 sets of 10 reps with increasing weight [70, 90, and 110 lbs])

I expect to have more soreness in the pectoral muscles tomorrow morning since I worked those more today with that last set, the pectoral flies.  I like to do that exercise last for some reason; I just mentally prefer to leave with that soreness in my muscles (call me tortorous!). 

Toe Update:  During the workout today, my right foot felt perfectly fine.  I'm happy with how my pinky has turned out after a couple days left bandaged up to heal the new skin.  The big toe is still slightly painful with pressure, but is coming along nicely.  My left big toe is still a pain.  I'm going to look tomorrow for a way to compress the toenail to the toe continuously (maybe just tape it down) to see if that helps at all.  There are bubbles underneath that toenail that I can see moving around when I press on different spots of it.  Those are from the space underneath the toenail which was the blister causing the black look.  I'm hopeful that the nail stays on, but I'm weary that the continued pain and obvious space underneath the nail means the nail hasn't been able to stick back down.  We shall see in time.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Back to the Gym

Given the current state of my feet, I have been out of the workout regime since Saturday just resting.  As of today, I'm walking fairly normal.  There is still a little pain in my injured toenails, but I can walk on it fine; I just tend to walk a little light.  Due to this, running is out of the question.  I will get back out on the road once my toes are fully healed and I'm convinced it's safe.

Therefore, for most likely the next two weeks I will be forced to work on the rest of my body; the upper body.  Today I went to the gym.  I have a membership at Planet Fitness because it's only $10/month and I signed up during a $1 special.  Most gyms around here charge a minimum of $20-30/month even with student or low income discounts.  Anyways, I went to the gym and started back in with an upper body workout that I had got in the habit of doing since this past February.

1.  Dumbell Press:  This is a bench press performed with free weights, individual dumbbells for each arm.  The benefit of a dumbbell press over even a typical free weight bench press is that it completely separates your arms, forcing each to do its own work.  On a machine bench press, one arm is able to compensate for the weaker counterpart.  A free weight bench press eliminates most of this, but a dumbbell press does so completely. This exercise works the pectoral muscles and depending on the positioning of the bench and form, to a degree the shoulders and biceps/triceps.

2.  Bicep Curl:  With a free weight in each arm (again, to eliminate the possibility of arm compensation), alternate curling the weight.  Focus on keeping the elbow stationary; do not let the elbow drop behind your chest or this becomes a shoulder exercise.

3.  Gravity Rower:  From a standing position, bend at the hip to 90 degrees while holding the dumbbell weight in one arm.  With as little movement in your shoulders and back as possible, pull the weight up against gravity towards your shoulder.  Alternate arms.

4.  Horizontal Overhead Lats:  From a horizontal position, hold a dumbbell with both hands vertical above your head.  Keeping your elbows as straight as possible, lower the weight to a horizontal position behind your head (or further if your flexibility allows) and return to vertical.  This exercise works the latissimus muscles, but also helps to keep your arms stretched.

5.  Tricep Bench Dips:  Using the bench (or chair) you've used in the above exercises, set your hands on the bench holding your body over the ground.  Your gets are straight out in front of you while your feet may rest either on the ground for beginners or on another bench for stronger weight lifters.  Using your arms, lower your body to just above the ground and then return up to the starting position.  This works the tricep muscles.

6.  Pull-Down Triceps:  Using a pulley system, hold the bar as a position where your elbows are at your sides (upper arm should be vertical).  Pull down on the bar with your tricep.

7.  Vertical Overhead Lat:  Using the same pulley as above, hold the bar with your arms straight.  Pull the bar down until your arms are vertical (hands pointing down to your feet).  

Reps & Weights:
Warm up: 1 mile on an elliptical (raises your heart rate, readying your body for physical activity)
1.  Dumbbell Press (10 reps with 50lbs/arm)
2.  Bicep Curls (10 reps with 25lbs)
.....** Repeat 1 & 2 for a full three sets

3.  Gravity Rower (10 reps with 45lbs)
4.  Horizontal Overhead Lat (12 reps with 35lbs)
5.  Trecip Bench Dips (20 reps)
.....** Repeat 3-5 for a full three sets

6.  Pull-Down Triceps (10 reps with 40lbs)
7.  Vertical Overhead Lats (5 reps with 60lbs)
.....** Repeat 6 & 7 for a full three sets

It felt great to be working out again, though this is certainly more the strength training than endurance training, which will take some getting used to.  Today I took it easy; I chose reps and weights that I felt were not "easy" but still able to be completed in full.  Once my body gets used to the weight training, the goal will be to maintain a rep/weight that I am unable to complete three sets of.  Once I manage to complete the three sets, it's time to up the weights (strength training advantage) or the reps (endurance training advantage).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Official, I'm a Distance Runner

After the race Saturday, I noticed my two big toenails were black and my right pinky toe in total was black as well.  That night I realized the pinky toe was simply one large blood blister; I drained it and let it heal.  Today I decided to peal off the dead skin and let the next layer harden up.  Well, when I cut the skin off, the toenail came freely with it; apparently it had detached on Saturday.

Based on the fact that long distance runners all seem to have these stories, I feel I've been silently inducted into the group.  My friend from Boston who ran with me Saturday said she's lost toenails on both of her previous half marathons.  Then I read a blog online where a guy said he once lost seven toenails after one of his marathons.  I'm sure plenty of people will say things like "omg, that's gross," "are you kidding me?," and "you are an idiot," but for these people, it's a badge of honor, an endurable pain, and acceptable loss for what they gain by finishing the race.  So from their point of view, it's official.  I'm a distance runner.

Here's to hoping I don't make the mistake of wearing shoes that are too small again!  One induction is enough.  Barefoot runners would be yelling at me right now, but don't worry.  I'll get around to your footwear soon enough.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Black/Runner's Toenails

Today I want to give you guys a quick update on my recovery and then talk about another rather common running injury.

Update:  Overall, I'm feeling much better.  Sunday morning I woke up and the soreness in my muscles had set in, so I am still working on stretching them out, massaging them down, and recovering them, but it certainly is coming along.  I'm able to walk semi-normally now; no more hobbling around like a cripple or considering crutches.  My guess is that by this weekend I'll be walking normal though running may still be out of the question.  I'm going to try to make it to the gym a couple times this week both to make use of the membership I keep paying for as well as to do something physical.

Runner's Toenail or Black Toenail
The main reason for my slow recovery from Saturday's race is the fact that I got an injury during the race, three black toenails.  So what I want to do is go over what they are, how you get them, how you can prevent them, etc. much like I did with Shin Splints.  Maybe in the end of all of this I will be able to list links to all the common injuries of triathletes.  haha

What is a Black Toenail?
Black toenail, also commonly called runner's toenail, is just as it sounds; it's a toenail that has turned black.  Now, it's not the toenail itself that has turned black, but the color underneath the toenail that is showing through.  It is a bruise that is commonly obtained by runners and can cause an intense amount of pain and possibly the loss of the toenail.  But don't worry, the toenail does grow back.

For an idea of what black toenail looks like, here are a few links.  For those who are squeamish, please consider this your warning.
Black Toenail #1
Black Toenail #2
Black Toenail #3

How do you get a Black Toenail?
Most runners will tell you that if you got a black toenail, your shoes are too short.  When you exercise in shoes for an extended period of time, your feet expand up to a full shoe size and therefore in long distance running events, the common practice is to wear shoes half to a full size larger than your foot.  The reason for this is that once your toes expand, they hit the front of the shoe with each foot fall (roughly 900 times per mile).  Over an extended distance, this builds up a lot of impact on the front of your toes, eventually breaking capillaries and producing a bruise.  This method begins to answer the question of why so many people tend to get black toenails on their big toe as opposed to other toes.  It'll be the longest toe that begins to hit the front of the shoe first.

Another train of thought is the way in which your foot hits the ground.  If your foot is slamming into the ground with every foot fall, the accumulated impact over time can also break capillaries and create a bruise.  Therefore, both shoe fit and running form can contribute to black toenail.

How do you treat a black toenail?
There really is not much you can do other than wait for the body to heal itself.  Many inexperienced runners will consult a doctor out or shock and worry the first time they get one.  As long as there is no infection, which really can only happen if the skin of the bruise is broken, there is very little a doctor can do besides charge you for the visit.

Since black toenail is a bruise in all practicality and there is a lot of pain caused by the accumulation of blood under the toenail (the pressure), most experienced runners will go ahead and relieve that pressure.  To do this, you can either puncture the skin or the nail to allow the blood to leave the area.  If the bruise is only on the front portion of the toenail or you have easy access to the bruise from the skin under the toenail, I suggest using a sterilized and heated needle.  Simply be careful with applying pressure to the skin; you don't want to embed a needle in your toe further than necessary.  The alternative option for those with black toenails that span the entire nail (and are unable to drain the blood entirely from the front) is to make a hole through the nail itself.  Websites I've read suggest sterilizing and heating a paper clip, setting it on the nail and letting it burn right through.  I have not tried this, but I have been told from other's experience that a tiny drill bit works better.  Sterilize and heat the bit, set it on the nail and slowly turn the bit allowing it to drill into the nail.  In either method, releasing the blood from the bruise will decrease the pressure and the pain.  Beyond this, it will only take time for your body to heal the rest.

How to prevent getting a black toenail?
As you read above, running shoes should be adequately long enough to allow for expansion of your foot during whatever exercise you plan on doing.  If you're going to be a long distance runner, get your shoe a full size larger.  Also, be sure not to let your foot slam on the ground with every foot fall.  Running lightly will not only prevent toenails, but also blisters, and stress fractures, but also works better to transfer your energy into horizontal movement as opposed to inefficient vertical movement.  It will also help if you allow your feet to get used to the amount of pressure associated with running.  If you increase your running distance slowly, your toes will get used to the increased pressure and will be more resistant to getting a black toenail.  However, if you jump from running 5ks straight into a half marathon, your toes will be much more vulnerable.

My experience
During the half marathon on Saturday, I began to notice my two big toes hitting the front of my shoes a little over half way (maybe about mile 7 or 8).  I knew I'd probably end up with sore toes, but did not know of "black toenail" at that point in time.  It wasn't until I pulled my socks off after the race that I realized both of those toenails were black as well as incredibly painful to walk on; the pressure from the accumulated blood made it hard to walk period since I couldn't roll up onto the ball of my foot without having my toes flexed up.

That afternoon, I did some research, found this great website, and read about how most runners puncture holes to relieve the pressure.  It made sense, so I gave it a try.  I sterilized a needle, heating it up to red and punctured a hole through the skin under the toenail; blood quickly oozed out with every hole I made.  It took some time, a lot of patience, and half a dozen kleenex, but I managed to remove a good amount of blood.  I bandaged the toes up for the night and the next morning, they were no longer "black" toenails, but more "purple" and certainly were less painful.

The lesson that I took away from this was that if I plan on continuing long distance running (which I do), then I need to buy larger shoes.  I also need to keep a  better hold on my running form.  After 8 or 9 miles I could tell my feet were taking a beating, but I didn't do very much to try and correct it and subsequently paid the price. 

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or comments, I would be more than happy to hear them.  Ciao!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

2010 ING Hartford Half Marathon & Ford Ironman World Championships

Today was Step One in my path to the Ironman, the half marathon.

2010 ING Hartford Half Marathon.  I had three goals:
1. Finish the race
2. Run the entire race without walking
3. Run an average 7:00/mile pace

First of all, I finished the race.  Second, I never once stopped to walk despite wanting to very badly in the final three miles.  And lastly, I maintained a 6:54/mile pace through the first 6 miles, but lost my stride somewhere around mile 8 and slowed down with a 7:30/mile pace making for an overall run of 1:34:39 (7:14/mile). 

Overall, I am thrilled to sit back and think that as of this past Spring I would barely consider running.  Now I've completed half a marathon, not to mention having done half of it feeling rather strong.  When I signed up for this event, I simply planned on finishing (I would have predicted something like an 8:30/mile pace).  I ran a couple 5k races since, inadvertently proving to myself that I can not only hold a fast pace, but also feel good doing so.  I believe my greatest asset in this race was that I had no idea what kind of fatigue, pain, and challenge was in store for me.  I pushed it early while I felt great and after mile 7/8 I just did everything I could to hold it; I am an endurance racer and have never been a sprinter, so being able to blindly push myself early is my best option.  Unfortunately, from this point on, I know what the race has in store so it will be harder to push myself early and not hold back trying to "save energy."

Then on top of it all, today was the Ford Ironman World Championship; the best of the best professional Ironman athletes going head to head in the relentless Kona, Hawaii course.  I watched about half the bike and the entire run (the top women are still coming up to the finish as I type this) and the men had an incredible competition.  It's been great to watch the race both for the inspiration but also for both cycling and running tips; no one better to learn from than the best athletes out there.  Then along with this, two men have run 2:41 marathons (6:08/mile pace).  These people are beyond amazing. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Race Prep

I woke up this morning and decided I should give running at 8am a try in order to check what I can get away without wearing and not freeze.  Turns out I could run without the shirt as well as arm warmers, but I may wear the arm warmers anyways; I'll think it over during the day.

I just ran a short two miles today.  I didn't want to aggravate my shin too much, though it seems to already be screaming at me for just that.  I'm not a fan.  So I will most likely give my legs a week break from running after the half marathon tomorrow. 

Distance:  1.9 miles (3.1k)
Time:  13:20 (7:01/mile)

I'll be picking my race packet up around 11am today, so I bet I'll check back in here once more before the race tomorrow.  Wish me luck!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Shin Splints

As you know, I took yesterday off to try and give the shin splint in my right leg time to rest.  After some running in place today in my apartment, the splint is not gone but has recovered to a noticeable degree.  Therefore, I've decided to take today off as well.  I will plan on running again tomorrow (just a couple miles) with some walking as well to keep my legs moving.

But I wanted to take today and go over shin splints, which from my own experience and the experience of friends of mine are a very common runner's injury.

Have I had a "shin splint"?
First let's describe and define what is a "shin splint" is.  A shin splint in general terms is a stress injury to the shin.  Most runners would describe it as a pain in the front of the leg that goes away during a run and returns when you stop, often returning more painful than before.  Swelling and redness in the shin can also occur along with pain when the foot is bent downward.  Have you had a pain like this before?

What is a "shin splint"?
Given that a "shin splint" is generally any pain specific to the tibia (shin bone), many physiological conditions are included.  From my experience, the most common cause of this pain is stressing the muscle on the front of the tibia (the muscle that works to flex your foot upwards).

How do you get a "shin splint"?
Shin splints are typically a running injury. The main cause is unbalanced muscles in the lower leg.  Many people blame hills, but in my condition I blame my running form more.  If you allow your heal to hit the ground too hard when running, this forces your foot to immediately bend downward in order to meet the ground.  When this happens, the muscles in the shin are stretched rather quickly and the natural reaction for them is to flex/tighten.  This reactive flexing of those muscles puts an incredible amount of stress on the muscle, tendon, and surrounding connective tissue.  The longer you run, the more stress these tissues are subject to and the worse the splint gets.

How do you treat a "shin splint"?
Rest, Ice/heat, compression.  While a ton of running injuries can be treated once and you're set, shin splints need mainly TIME to heal.  So unfortunately, if you get shin splints, the best thing to do is to take a day off, rest your legs, apply some compression to decrease inflammation, and then cold/heat cycles will both reduce inflammation and relax the muscles.

How do you prevent a "shin splint"?

A few tips on how to avoid "shin splints."

1.  Avoid what causes them. 
2.  Strengthen your weaker leg muscles
3.  Change your running form
4.  Introduce cross-training into your workout
4.  Ease into your training

First, and most obvious, if you find that you get shin splints by running hills, by running on pavement as opposed to trails, or when running a specific way, avoid it. 

However, most people enjoy their hill workouts, their choice of paths (roads or trails), etc.  So for them, I suggest evening out the balance of strength in your legs.  There are plenty of workouts specific to the various muscles in your lower legs that will help you do this.  Stretching will also be helpful to reduce the effect that stress has on any muscle group. 

If your heals hit the ground before the rest of your foot, then the easiest (and most useful) thing you can do is change your running form - stop hitting your heal and causing so much stress!!!  The ball of your foot should hit the ground first, or at least the entire foot altogether.  This will keep the muscles in your leg from having to flex out of stretch reactions.  I admit that this will cause for much more muscle work and you may feel more of a burn in your calves for awhile, but trust me, you will get used to it and your shins will thank you. 

This still may not fully cure shin splints and that's because some of us (yes, I include myself) are simply running too often.  This doesn't mean you need to take a day off, just do a cross-training workout.  Go to the pool and swim, hop on a bike, or go to the gym.  There are plenty of other workouts that can still work your legs but not put as much stress on your shins and they may need that break from time to time.

Finally, this type of injury is even more common to first time runners or even seasoned runners who are just starting to get back into shape.  The reason for this is that your legs need time to get used to that amount of stress and most people tend to run too far too fast too early in their training.  Even the best runners will get shin splints if they "pack on the mileage" too fast.  By this I mean, don't go out and run 10 miles in the first week back to running.  Start with maybe 2-3 miles and ease up to 5.  Then the next week ease up to 6 or 7 and so on.  Your legs take pressure 2-3 times your own body weight every time they hit the ground while running, so give them time to get used to working out again.  I am usually at fault for this final point.  My body is very good at endurance and I often catch myself pushing myself too far too early.

So that's my little blurb on shin splints.  I hope this was in some way helpful.  I know a lot of people who suffer from shin splints and I personally get them quite often (I'm still working on changing my form).  Please let me know if you have any further questions or thoughts. 


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pushing it

Today I went out with the goal of doing another 5 miles at a sub-7:00/mile pace; I was shooting for 6:50/mile.  I ran the 1st mile in 6:35, second in 6:45 and ended up at a 6:53/mile pace average. 

Today's Workout:

Distance:  4.96 miles (7.98k)
Time:  34:13 (6:53/mile)
Music of choice: Incubus - Make Yourself
BPM: 68 - 172

The first mile was a bit fast and I certainly felt it in my breathing; it was beyond conversational.  The second mile felt better (more fluid, less 'muscling through it', but my breathing hadn't relaxed just yet).  I pushed myself to keep up the pace as best I could gauge through the next mile or so, but I could still tell the pace was slowing.  At roughly 2.5 miles I began to notice my breathing rate relaxing.  I kept the pace up and simply monitored my breathing.  The final 1.0 - 1.5 miles felt great and was at a normal conversational level as far as my breathing goes. 

So my lesson for today is that if I find I pushed myself too hard, decrease the pace a little and the breathing will relax in time.

On another note, I talked to a friend today who ran both X-country and track in high school and runs quite regularly still.  I told him about how I use my breathing rate as a monitor while running and that I'm going to attempt a 7:00/mile pace at the half marathon - he just started laughing.  He said it's amazing to see how much I've changed in just over a month; being barely able to keep up with him on morning 5k runs to now being more technically inclined in my running than he has been in 12 years of running.  He still has me beat with an 18:00 5k time, but maybe I've got him on the longer distance.  We shall see!

My right shin gave me some trouble today during the run, so depending on how it feels tomorrow, I may opt for a walk and some cross-training.  Ciao!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Half Marathon Pace

I was back out on the road today for 5 miles.  My plan was to try and guesstimate how a 7 min. mile felt and I hit it right on the nose for the first mile!  Mile 2 was under 7 and I ended up averaging 7:04/mile over 5 miles, but I was happy that I'm getting to know my stride, my energy output, and my body in general.  The 7 min. mile pace isn't exactly a conversational pace, but my breathing isn't labored and out of pure necessity as it is at my recent 5k paces when even attempting to swallow spit throws me completely off. 

Today's Workout:

Distance:  4.96 miles (7.98k)
Time:  35:03 (7:04/mile)
Music of choice: Foo Fighters

On two completely different notes, I had two great moments in the last 24 hours.  A friend of mine here in CT who has hopes of getting into doing triathlons told me they've been trying some of my cross-training workouts.  Secondly, I got back in touch with an old friend from high school after my father informed me he had heard that he was doing triathlons and it turns out that my friend has the exact same goal as I do - to do an ironman in two years.  So I'm incredibly pumped to know that what I'm doing has and hopefully will continue to be helpful to others in reaching for their fitness goals and to find out that other people - whether it be people I grew up with or just met for the first time yesterday have similar fitness goals (always nice to have someone to chat with about training tips, horror stories, etc.).

So keep it up guys (and gals)!  Ciao.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

UCHC South Park 5K Road Race

Today was my second running race, another 5K (3.1 miles).  Overall, I ran a 20:00 5k (6:27/mile) and took 7th or 8th I believe.  I split 6:15, 6:32, 6:34 miles all the while facing 50 degree weather!  I even had to pull out the arm warmers for this one since I'm not used to running in anything less than mid-sixties.  

I felt like the race started out at a quicker pace compared to last weekend and my time in the mile certainly verifies that.  However, despite being faster, I felt like I was less energetic - maybe sluggish is the way to put it and I partially want to blame my lack of comfort with the air temperature (I had never practice in cooler weather).  When I crossed the 1 mile marker I was shocked to see I was only 6:15 in.  The second mile last weekend was still on an incline, so this week's race is less comparable, but overall I felt a bit sluggish, maybe less pushed.  And after racing, I felt recovered very quickly.  I actually debated going out for a run this afternoon, but decided against it.  So compared to how I felt drained after last weekend's 5k, this one was a breeze with only 30 seconds added on.

Times will fluctuate and courses can never truly be compared evenly.  All I can take away from today is that I know I felt more sluggish, a little less energetic, and turned in a time 30 seconds slower.  I will take that with me and continue working on knowing how to pace my body. 

Next up is the half marathon.  My only previous goal was to finish it.  After today (having run sub-seven minute miles and not being fatigued), I may shoot for an average 7-min mile.  That'd put me at 1:31:42.  I originally thought a 1:30 - 1:45 would be my goal.  If I manage to grab it, that'd put me in a position to be seeded for a subsequent marathon (given a number based on my official predicted time), not to mention in a much better mental position to attempting a Boston qualifier.  Oooo, I'm getting goosebumps and excited chills just thinking about it.  One step at a time.  I have to average 7:25/mile in a marathon to qualify for Boston.  Let's see if I can hold that for half the distance.  Here's to high hopes!

This week's plan is to stick to nothing more than 10k runs and some core cross-training work.  I'll take Friday off and see what happens Saturday morning.  


Friday, October 1, 2010

Running for Sanity

It has been raining so much this week.  Today I decided I had to chance getting caught in it when I noticed it seemed to be holding off.  With a 5k Sunday and the half marathon next Saturday, I'd kick myself if I ended up injuring myself IN race because I hadn't kept up my running.  I got a little wet, but nothing too terrible.  I've got a bit of a shin splint in my right leg, but it felt good to get back out on the road.  It's weird to say this - mainly because I have years of "I hate running" buried in my head - but I like running.

When you're out on the road, trail, sidewalk, or wherever, it's such a freeing feeling.  You can go anywhere and if you're conditioned and not pushing yourself too hard, you feel like you can go forever.  At first you get out there and your hamstrings are tight, your calves may burn a little, maybe there's a pain in your hip or shin and you start thinking "maybe it'd be best if I just cut short today, save myself from getting injured."  But when you know how your body works and you push through that first mile of minor pain, force yourself to lengthen that stride a bit to stretch your legs, and you find that rhythm, the pace that makes you feel like there's no effort needed, you feel free.  I don't know if it's more of a physical feeling (endorphins, adrenaline) or mental (feeling good about being in shape), but I love it. 

Let me know how you guys are doing with any of your fitness/wellness endeavors!  I would love to hear about it.