Saturday, December 29, 2012

Advice For a New Year - Part 1

I needed to start filling out my advice section located here, so I decided to focus on what I am focusing on going into the new year. I am taking a years worth of knowledge and putting it to the test. Here is what I have scrolled so far (this is on the advice page for future reference):

12/28/12 - Advice For A New Year

I am nearing the 1 year point in my training, and I feel, with the approaching new year, that I should offer my first advice. Additionally, this page had said "under construction" for way too long, and for that I apologize. Here we go, my advice heading into the new year:

1. Love and protect your knees, feet and ankles - I am currently 1 week into a 2 week rest period from running. I should have done this much sooner, but I was stubborn and thought the injury would go away if I lessened road running and stuck to the elliptical; I was wrong. So, now I am icing and using compression everyday. Additionally, I am having to make concerted efforts to stay off it and just let the healing happen. Let this be a lesson folks - take care of your vital areas. Going into the new year I have the follow plan to help:

A.) continue to take glucosamine, fish oil and maintain a healthy diet that includes natural antiinflamatories (broccoli, blueberries, etc)

B.) continue to work on my running form. I am switching from a minimal shoe to a barefoot style pair of Vibram Fivefingers. I was too much of a heel striker, now I am mid foot - my aching calves will tell you that after every run.

C.) I will continue to do strength training in order to maximize my running form for longer periods. Additionally, the stronger my body, the less my joints will have to compensate! I will even make time for this during marathon training by incorporating two-a-days a few times a week.

D.) Ice Ice Baby! I am going to religiously ice after runs, especially of the long 10+ variety. I have ice packs for a targeted approach, but I have also been advised to soak in an ice bath for 10-20 minutes.

E.) I am going to be more intelligent with my stretching. Stretching is one of those aspects of training that splits the running population in half. Some say to stretch and some say you shouldn't. Some say you should but only before running, while other say during or after. I am having a hard time keeping up, so I am just going to experiment and see what works. I will report back later. The one thing I am going to stretch for sure is my calves, which is in direct correlation to research I have done in regards to barefoot running.

F.) I will use massages. I have heard from various runners that I need to invest in a foam roller and use it after every run. This is said to aid in recovery and help prevent injury.

G.) I will use various forms of compression before, during and after running. I have compression shorts, pants, socks and sleeves for my calves. This aides in the recovery of muscles by helping blood move to the areas it is needed most. Compression can also help get you back from an injury, or help you stay away from the sidelines.

Beyond Advice

As my rest/healing period comes to its half-way point, I had to find things to keep my mind occupied (besides food - ohhhhh the food!). It was decided that a touristy tour of Cleveland was the answer. First came food (of course) of the polish variety (you are welcome grams). Sokolowky's University Inn is some serious business, so I wasn't hungry the rest of the day. The view from the restaurant is pretty great (for Cleveland):

This excursion was followed up by a trip to The Christmas Story house. I loved the movie, and I had been meaning to go for awhile. Fortunately, Groupon answered the call, and it happened at last. It wasn't the most thrilling of experiences, but it made for good pictures (don't worry, I did not shoot my eye out):

Finally, the day was completed at the west side market where I got some highly inexpensive blueberries, which are meant to help in the healing of my knee.

Speaking of my knee, I really think it is making true progress finally. This is the first day where I feel that way. I can't wait to get back out there, even in the cold. I am going to appreciate it so much more!

What advice do you have going into the new year?

What have you learned this last year?

What do you still want to learn?

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday Happenings and Vibrams

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful, fantastic, engaging and otherwise entertaining holiday! I for one enjoyed myself, but I have been dealing with a cold for the whole week. Sometimes colds come and go quickly, but this one I classify as a slow burner. Christmas evening was especially bad because I had used up so much energy the past few days and in the morning, so by the time family and dinner came around, I was about to pass out into my Waldorf salad. Yesterday I began to feel much better, especially once I got a salted caramel mocha I my system from Starbucks (thank you gift cards). Today is even better, and I am starting to think I will be good to go for the New Year celebrations to come.

Yesterday's caramel mocha came with a series of shopping excursions, so I think I needed it. We had decided that it was a good plan to get out in the morning before the "blizzard" hit northeast Ohio. We ended up being out in it for the vast majority of the snowfall. The storm never developed into the end-all of storms, and I wasn't shocked. We did get some good snow, but it wasn't something that was going to keep me from getting things done. I have to say, I was disappointed because I love snows, and I love storms, so I was hoping for something epic.

When we got out, part of me was expecting the sore scenario, as I dutifully recorded on Christmas Eve Eve. Instead, most people chose to remain home to wait out the storm. This left us free to get things done without throngs of desperate and sad shoppers getting in the way. I hate shopping, and I hate crowds, so I was very pleased.

While we were out, I made my way to a local running store and purchased my first pair of Vibram Fivefingers. I have been talking about this idea for a long time, and I had received some gift cards to the store. I wanted to talk about the concept to the store owner first (same guy I purchased my Brooks Purecadance from). He seemed very positive about the barefoot movement, so I was excited to try some things on. I told him I wanted to see a variety of barefoot style shoes so that I could see which felt right (this is why running stores are the best). I tried on a pair of Fivefingers first, and my initial reaction was very positive. I loved how snug they fit on my foot, and it was like my feet came alive right away. The sensation was pretty hard to explain, but I really liked it. I got on the treadmill for a bit (even with my knee), and I loved how easily my legs and feet kept in a good, natural stride.

Next I tried on a pair of New Balance Minimus shoes, and these were by far my least favorite. There was just something about the feel of them that was uncomfortable. I didn't even try them on the treadmill because I knew they wouldn't work with my feet. Then I tried some Newtons and Merrells, which were better, but I still liked the feel of the true barefoot shoe better. In the end, I chose a pair of Vibrams with a bit more protection on the feet, and a more substantial back. I felt like they would hold up a bit better overall. Plus, the owner said Fivefingers tend to hold up better than traditional running shoes because they don't have so many parts and pieces.

When I got home I decided to just wear my new shoes around the house and see how they felt. My early reaction continues to be nothing but positive. The glove-like feel of the shoes were great over time, and I love how warm they felt, despite being so light. Now, I don't think I would wear these out in the snow, but they are machine-washable, so some mud, rain or mild-moisture aren't going to hurt them. Additionally, basic cold shouldn't be a major factor in the same way compression pants keep our legs warm. I will be sure to take these for a spin once my rest/healing period is over! I think I will wait for dry weather at least, at least to start out with. Expect a while series of reviews as I journey down the barefoot movement's road. I am excited to see how they hold up, how my form improves, and if I will be able to run a marathon in them.

Beyond my new shoes, I also received this beauty of a gift. I have wanted a Camelbak ever since I started doing long runs because I hated carrying a water bottle, and the idea of a belt sounded uncomfortable. After trying it on, and realizing how much cargo space I would have, I am already sold. Not only can I have easily accessible water, but I can carry my keys, cell phone, a credit card, gels/gu/food and an extra bottle or two of Gatorade. Once again, this will be something I report back on in the future, but I am very happy so far.

I rounded out my running Christmas with some compression sleeves for my calves, and I still need to get some toe socks. I am also looking to get some new running gloves and a running hat from Target. My collection of gear is finally getting to the point where I have everything I need. I still need to invest in a Garmin of some sort, but that may have to wait a little while. I also need to seriously start saving for a bike. I am just excited to come off my injury strong and hit the ground running.

How was your holiday?

Did you get any gear that you are very excited about?

Did you go out and do any hectic shopping?

Did you experience any of nature's wrath?

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Coming To You From The Couch

There was an extended time in my life where I wanted to be on the couch more than anywhere else; that time seems so far away now. As I write this post, I am into my second day of no training, and the first day of taking my knee recovery seriously. I went to Target (said the a French sounding ending) and picked up a new reusable ice pack that has a strap. I also have on my compression brace. I will alternate between the two for the next few days and spend as much time on the couch as possible.

I am wearing an Ace Brand sleeve, but I am curious if there is something better out there? Is compression pretty much the same across the board? Additionally, does anyone have any icing techniques or tricks?

Beyond ice and compression, I am continuing my intake of fish oil and glucosamine. I have had both of these supplements recommended to me, so I take them once a day with food. I just want to do whatever I can to get this thing healed up, and be able to go beyond 8 miles without pain.

Behind my little rehab, I don't have much going on. I am mostly just providing my dogs with a consistent lap to sleep on. I am also going to catch up on worthless TV, which is somewhat exciting. I am sure I will be going stir-crazy in about an hour. Wish me luck.

What are you watching this weekend/week?

Any other tips or tricks you know for recovery/rehab?

Anyone else taking some much needed time off?

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ten For Thursday

Today's workout: 10.5 miles in 60 minutes on the elliptical. 30 minutes on the weights doing biceps, triceps and shoulders. I ran out of time for core work, but I think I have done some good work on that area overall this week. I feel like my elliptical workout was crazy intense, even if it wasn't the most mileage I have put in in that time. This is later in the week, obviously, so I am not at my peak, but I still managed to achieve my goal. I definitely had to push myself to get through it. Weights felt great, too. I am definitely going in a great direction in terms of my overall strength, which I think is key heading into a week or so long break.
As it goes, I am not looking forward to shutting things down. Since I got into running and fitness almost a year ago, I have not missed more than 3 days without some kind of a workout. I get antsy after a day's rest, so I can't imagine how I am going to feel. I think this impending break is pushing me towards some great training this week, so at least something is coming out of it. I just hope I don't come home with too big of a food baby to get rid of.
I appreciate all the suggestions I have received regarding my knee. I am looking forward to reporting back about it, and I am definitely going in with a very positive attitude. Overall, my knee feels pretty good. I have done an 8 mile road run on it without major pain. I just want it to have time to get as close to 100% as possible. Unfortunately, this will leave me with very little to talk about for next week. I guess, in the end, everyone will be busy anyways.
In terms of everything else going on with me, my class has been really impressing me as the week has gone on. I was really worried that my students were losing their minds after Monday, but they have really come around and made vast improvements in their behaviors (overall). I don't want to get carried away because I still think my little crazies would drive most people nuts after a day, but I am happy with the progress. The week before Christmas break is one of the most challenging for any teacher in any grade.
I am also looking forward to "showing off" the new me to members of my family that haven't seen me since last Christmas. I think the change is pretty drastic, so I am expecting some astonished faces. I am very proud of where I have come and where I am going. I deserve to be a little vain ;)
What did your family do when you first got into running?
If you have been a runner most of your life, how do you keep at it?
If you have kids, is the holidays crazy or great for you?
How is your week going in life and training?
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Monday, December 17, 2012

Maximum Monday

Okay, my title might be a bit of hyperbole. On a scale from 1-10, I would give my day of training a 7. I was too lazy to get out of bed for a morning workout, so that dropped me a few points. Additionally, I was late leaving work, son didn't get as much time at the gym as I would like. Regardless, what I did do was pretty solid. I was on the stair climber for 50 total minutes, with 10 of those minutes sideways, and another 10 backwards. I followed this up with a 2:30 minute plank, so assorted core work, chest and back lifts. I did get an two lifts in, so I feel good about that, and my upper body feels great.

Beyond my week of training, I am looking towards the disaster that will be next week. Christmas is quickly approaching, I will be out of town, and I am not road running - what does that mean? Well, the answer isn't good. I think I am going to shut it down completely for at least a week and really let my knee heal. I will spend the week focusing on staying off of it (not something I can do normally, as teachers never sit). Additionally, I will apply compression and ice whenever I remember. Finally, I will try to get some blueberries and continue my daily supplement cocktail. I figure, if this doesn't get my knee back to form, I may have to suck it up and go to the doctor. I just don't think doctors have my running future in mind. Needless to say, I am a little apprehensive about this whole thing. Plus, I hate taking a single day off, so a whole week will drive me nuts. I just hope that all the Christmas craziness will keep me busy.

Here is what I am looking forward to though: running gifts! I should be getting a camelbak, which is great for long runs, as I hate to carry a bottle, and I don't want to wear a belt. I should also be getting some compression socks, so my continuing running form changes with be a little less painful on my calves. Hopefully I will also get a heart rate monitor, so I can really start to focus on this during long training runs in the spring. I am also getting a gift card to a local running store for some new kicks - I am guessing vibrams, but we will see. I may be shutting it down, but at least I will have some great new gear to try out later. I am just glad the people around me have accepted my insanity.

Did you go maximum today?

Have you ever shut it down completely? What did you do to heal a joint?

What did you do to keep your mind focused elsewhere?

What do you know you are getting for Christmas?

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sorry For Cardio Rocking

More like sorry for the delay in posts. I have been super inspired to train hard this week, but that ended up in translating into less time to actually sit down and write about it. Lucky, I do not work this weekend, so I am able to catch up a little bit.

I don't really have a good summary for you, but I can say that I got in a ton of cardio. I spent a few hours of the week on the stair climber, a few hours on the elliptical and a ton of time working the weights. The biggest increase of the week was on my core training. I was inspired by some fellow bloggers to get back on the plank bank wagon. On my core days I definitely hit the planks hard. I also did various other core exercises to compliment whichever part of that area I was hitting that day. The increase in cardio and core training is already paying dividends, as my elliptical times continue to get faster. I also increased some weight this week, and was still able to do 3x 10 reps. I have never been close to this kind of weight before.

Beyond training in the gym, I have decided to shut down my road running for awhile. I want to see if my knee will get to 100% without the need to shut down my training completely. I just can't imagine going more than a day or two without training in some capacity. Unfortunately, I don't have any access t a pool right now, so my cross training capacity is somewhat limited. We will see how I feel in the next few weeks. Additionally, I will probably have some extended days of rest around Christmas, as I will be away from my gym.

Beyond that, I am starting to get more and more excited for race season this spring. I cannot wait to get out and prove to myself that I am capable of being a distance runner. Additionally, I cannot wait to get some new PRs in shorter races earlier in the spring. I am very curious as to what my 5k pace is now, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I am under 20 minutes now. I am itching to get out and find out, but there will be plenty of time for that in a few months. In the mean time, I have a lot more training and mental preparations.

What kind of core exercises do you get the most out of?

What do you feel gives you the best all around gym workout?

P.S. I will try and stay more on top of things this coming week, but the holidays are crazy!

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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Elf On The Weight Shelf

Teaching Kindergarten is often about patience and understanding. Teaching kindergarten is also about trickery and bribery - just not as much. Today was a clear example of trickery, and I think you will all enjoy the concept. Bear with me because I will make a training connection here eventually. Today I introduced my classroom's Elf On The Shelf, which has been given, by my kiddoes, the name Milo. Ladies and gentlemen, Milo the Elf:

If you don't know anything about Elf on the Shelf, essentially, it is just a little stuffed animal that you tell kids is a magic a elf who watches them and reports back to Santa. This was originally intended for parents, but many teachers have now adopted it in the classroom. The key is that the kids immediately become very aware of their behaviors, so they begin to consistently act appropriately. I love it!

Now for my connection: what if we all had an adult version of the elf? Obviously, this elf is not a pervert, so he just watches you for one purpose: are you exercising and training hard enough? If you aren't, the elf on the weight shelf will report back to Santa, and you won't be getting those Vibrams or Procompressions you asked for. I am going to make sure I maintain my 100% philosophy this holiday season because seriously need a heart rate monitor. Make sure you are all getting after it!

I always attempted to stay on the good boy list by working my weekend away. Fortunately, I love my second job, but it was still tough to essentially move from one week right into the next without a break. This made my training over the weekend nearly nonexistent, but it was for a good cause. I work for my county's board of developmental disabilities, and we throw a Christmas Fair and Christmas party every year. I had a good time both days, and I could tell we were really making a difference in many kid's and adult's lives.

There was a time when I was asked to wrap presents in the Secret Santa Shop. I don't know what my boss was thinking, but I am not a great wrapper. I am pretty sure some kids went home and cried because their gift was wrapped so poorly. Okay, this is hyperbole, but I was less than confident in my abilities, and I know I used too much tape. At least I rock at doodling:

Since I didn't have much time over the weekend, I only managed a 4.5 mile run on Saturday. This was less than I was hoping, but I simply ran out of time before having to head to a friend's Christmas party. Sunday was a mandatory rest day after an otherwise productive week of training. I needed it for sure. I felt nice and rested for a new week!

Today was all about the stair climber. I tried something new on it, too. I switched between going forward, climbing sideways, and climbing backwards. There were a few times where this felt somewhat precarious. If you have seen or been on a stairclimber, you know how high off the ground you are, so being backwards on it is pretty scary. I survived 50 minutes on t though, and I am happy about that. I then added a half hour of weights on the chest and back. Overall, not the toughest workout ever, but a good start to the week. I will have more time tomorrow, so the elf won't have anything negative to say. You are welcome, Santa.

Have you heard about or used an elf on the shelf?

What kinds of weird Christmas traditions do you have?

Do you have anything special you have to do to stay motivated over the Holidays?

How was you Monday of training? How was your weekend?

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Flippin' Friday

There is something about knowing you are working all weekend that makes Fridays much less exciting. Regardless, I have maintained the intensity of last week's training. Wednesday was a great workout, but I felt great today and Thursday as well. Before I get to the details of my training, I want to share some hilarity with the masses - here you go:

I know it is Christmas season, but I think this gentleman chose the wrong vehicle to haul his oversized tree. Additionally, I don't think he roped the thing on very well, as it was practically falling off. The best part is that he is driving a cloth top; the worst part is that he was driving 20 miles per hour... In a 45. Come on man. Come on.

Next, I want to discuss some things that are good for you, and some things that are bad for you.

Sleeping is very good for you. Obviously it is if I teach my students about it. Still, the quest to get enough sleep is often a failure. Personally, I make a concerted effort to get at least 6 hours, but if I am going to the gym, and waking up at 4:30am, it can be difficult. I do recommend this though. I hear never sleeping is a bad thing, especially for us runners. Weird, right?

Food is a good thing; we need it to live. Bananas are very good for you. Banana bread is very good. The banana bread above was excellent, but I can't say it helps my athleticism in any way. Also, sandwiches are good, but shaping them into footballs like the one above does not increase the nutritional content, nor does it make you good at football. Moral of this story: eat nutritional food; the less processed the better. I have had a tough time with this the last two days. Thursday was a staff meeting with donuts - I had two. I also had banana bread and a football sandwich. Today was a little better, but I don't think the eggplant Parmesan was a good choice. I really gotta work on the whole willpower thing.

Other bad things: a lack of snow (what happened to winter?) - I am not a an of the stuff in February, but I am good with it around the Holidays. I am also having issues with people who don't understand what it means to be a runner. I try to talk about the subject and I get looked at like I am trying to be high-than-though. I don't have enough people in real life to talk to. I am not a fan.

My workouts:

Thursday morning - cross ramp 52 minutes, 6 miles - weights 30 minutes (chest, back, obliques, core)

Thursday evening - elliptical 45 minutes, 7.2 miles - weights (core)

Friday - elliptical 50 minutes, 8.2 miles - weights (arms, shoulders)

I put in a few solid machine miles this week, and I am very happy with it. I really need to start keeping track of all this. I rely on mapmyrun for my outdoor runs. I don't have any such thing for the gym.

I wanted to get another round on the stair climber, but it was always in use. Beyond that, I was able to stick with my plans. I think it has been a very successful two weeks, and I am starting to get more and more excited for breaking out races in the spring.

Tomorrow will be an outdoor run I think. It might rain, but it shouldn't be too cold. I need to reenergize my soul a little bit; the gym takes a lot out of my motivational stores.

What makes for a great week of training for you?

Have you seen any crazy drivers this week? Are you a crazy driver?

Do you have a fake or real Christmas tree?

What is your favorite machine at the gym?

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wicked Wednesday

So far this week has been solid. I feel like I have made more progress in the last 2 weeks than I have in a long time. Today was one of those days where I felt good from the start of the workout to the end. Even after two days of intense workouts, my legs felt fresh, my mind was focused, and I was ready to conquer the world. I started off the day with this "warm-up."

If you can't read it, the mileage reads 3.1 and the time is 16:10. I have never been that quick to finish a 5k on an elliptical, and when I was approaching that time, I has to get a picture. The best part is, I feel like I could have done better. I followed this up with another 7.1 miles, coming in at, for you math majors, 10.2 miles. I always try to put in solid mileage on Wednesdays, so I was happy. I feel like Wednesday is a good day for this, as you have two days to "recover" before the long run/workout on Saturday.

Speaking of recovering, I got a new thing of protein powder from Sam's Club. I've been trying all kinds because I am not entirely convinced that they are all that different from each other. I just think the key is the protein content and the taste. Maybe I am wrong about this. Have any of you had different feelings? Anyways, here is a picture of the massive bag I purchased (so far it is pretty good. Good protein content too):

I do believe, however, that protein has definitely helped me improve and recover after each workout. Partially this might be mental, but everything I have read supports the idea. Do you all agree?

The rest of the week has been solid. I've done my usual lifting routine in the time that I have. I have done some extra core work, too. Yesterday, despite working 13 hours, was a success; I got up in the morning, did 7 miles on the cross ramp, and hit my arms and shoulders. I think this set me up to have the energy to get through the rest of the day. Still, the morning thing can be rough, especially when the gym is as dead as it was:

I like having people around now that I am confident in my appearance. I think having people around, especially people who are good looking and in shape, motivate me to the max.

Would like am empty gym or a medium crowd (no one likes it crowded)?

Do you feel confident at the gym? Have you always?

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Get It Started

Today marks the start of another week. I took yesterday off, so I was feeling fresh. I was not fresh enough, however, to make it to the gym in the morning. I "accidentally" turned my alarm off, so I must have needed a bit more sleep. I HAVE to go tomorrow morning though because I work my second job immediately after the first. Unfortunately, that also means I will not get in one workout, while still having to wake up at 4:30.

Before I talk about my workout, I wanted to mention the greatest thing I have ever seen. Here it is:

That's right folk; that's the wienermobile. This beautiful piece of machinery even had its own vanity plates. Clearly, I was a little excited, but I didn't get to go inside. They had it open, but I didn't want to wait in line, and the ony ones going in were little kids... I didn't want to be THAT guy. Gotta say though, the WM was pretty plush from what I could tell. Be jealous.

Aside from wienermobiles, I did get myself some solid exercise since my last post. Something about showing such a vulnerable side to myself is refreshing and motivating. There is no way I will ever go back to that person; I don't even know who that person is anymore. Saturday I went for one of my best runs since Tough Mudder. I went 7 miles with very little pain in my knee during or after. I am getting more and more hopefully that this wont be a long term or lifetime thing.

Today was a mixed bag. The gym was pretty busy, so my favorite machines were taken. I ended up watching Man On A Ledge in the cardio theatre while doing an hour on the stairclimber. Let me tell you, if you haven't had the pleasure, but the stair climber will tear you up. I was literally soaked in sweat when I was done, and I loved every second of it. In miles I did about 7, but in sweat I did about 13. I followed that insanity with some core and weight work. I didn't have a whole lot of time, as I have been putting my emphasis on cardio, but it felt good.

On another side note, I looked into becoming a Crossfit instructor. I would love to be able to teach some kind of class on evenings and weekends. I just don't know if I can stomach or afford the $1000 upfront. I will have to look around at other certifications. I may also need to get into some classes at my gym and see what is what. I am so used to doing my own thing, it might be good to change things up.

How are you all starting off your weeks?

Who has seen the wienermobile in all its glory?

Anyone know anything about getting certified for crossfit? Do you know of any other good certifications?

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Fat Friday

For my 50th post I wanted to do something special. First, I started updating the page. Ideally, I want the logo to be without the white, but I can't seem to get it to work. I will also be adding content to various pages on the tabs at the top. Seems like every other blog has these, so I want to keep up with the Jones'.

Second, I want to talk a little bit about weight. I was reading a post by TorontoRunner, so I was inspired to talk about my own weight issues. This is definitely a sensitive subject for anyone, but I feel like this is something I have only recently begun to concern myself with. Let me just use a picture to demonstrate my first point:

The picture of me on the left is from 2009. I found this picture a few days ago, and I was shocked. I didn't even recognize myself. I was happy at that point, but I most certainly wasn't happy. I was eating way too much and getting no exercise. Quite frankly, I was lazy. Soon after this picture, I found myself n grad school; that was the end of laziness. Nothing like a few graduate level classes to make you productive. I also started to exercise a little, and I lost some weight.

The picture on the right was taken last week while on vacation. Clearly, there is a difference. I am 29, but I don't look or feel that old. Of course, this transformation didn't begin until last January. I fell off the wagon in 2011, and it took another large weight gain and confidence loss to realize things needed to change.

To be honest, a few things needed to happen in order to really get focused. I needed real motivation, and I found it in the mirror. I was finally able to see what I was becoming. No one ever said anything, but I wasn't getting around as well as I would like. Additionally, I wasn't make it through long days with the kind of energy I would like. I started to run and exercise as a way to lose weight. Then, when I realized I was actually pretty quick, and that I was becoming genuinely addicted to what I was doing, I became hooked. That is what I needed. I needed a reason to exercise beyond weight loss. I needed a way to really enjoy it.

It has been nearly a year since drastically changing my lifestyle, and I couldn't be happier. I will talk more about this when the new year comes around, but now fitness and looking good are synonymous with an enjoyment and happiness I haven't known before. I am far more confident than I ever have been. I even find that people treat me differently in a positive way. People are far more willing to do things for you when you don't look gross.

Looking good isn't everything, but it certainly helps. I like knowing that my lifestyle choices are positively impacting those around me. I like knowing that I will never stop now, and that I can really move forward towards my goals. I have new found faith in myself, and an outlet to vent frustration that otherwise would be kept inside. Everything about me is better now, and I am only going to improve.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Half A Week At 100%

It is Wednesday, and I have been making a conscious effort to be at 100% all week. I have to say, it hasn't always been easy. I have a few students that try my every nerve, and I haven't been able to get up the energy to get up at 4:30am to do a two-a-day. I would give myself an overall grade of about 90% so far. I am still recovering from vacation I think.

I feel pretty good about things so far though. I just need to keep in mind that I won't ever be perfect. I just need to always be doing my best. I would say this is the exact same philosophy of racing.

As for my training, I feel great. I was a little lagged on Monday from a week of eating garbage. I didn't know how fast I would get back to things, but I felt surprisingly fantastic yesterday and today. I stayed to the elliptical both days, as I am attempting to keep stress off the joints, but I was very happy with my performances. Yesterday I did 3.1mi at 19:45 and then finished at 8 total miles at about 52 min. Today I did the same 3.1 at 18:40, 6.2 at 37:55 and 8 at 48:30.

I have increased my cardio time, so my lifting time is diminished. This is why I really wanted to have the energy to get up in the morning too. I can do so much more when I have the time. Still, I have had time to work my major areas, and I've done some extra work on the core. I am loving how my body feels. I really think the vacation has entirely refreshed my system.

With that in mind, what refreshes your system most?

What does it take for you to really feel good about a workout (plenty of time, reaching mental goals, visibly working harder to everyone around you)?

What is inspiring you to be 100%?

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Monday, November 26, 2012

100% Philosophy

Last night as I drifted off to sleep I was thinking about two things; the first I won't talk about on here, but the other is about a philosophy. This philosophy is rooted a concept/theory for teaching. The idea, at the core, is to get 100% participation from your students. With that in mind, I want to get 100% from myself. I felt like, after vacation, I was ready to start putting more effort into everything I do. With that in mind, I taught hard today, brought a strong positive attitude, and finally hit the gym at 100%.

Now, I know this is a fairly unrealistic goal from day to day, but I think it is a goal we should all have. Essentially, we should all be living our lives at 100%. I at least want to feel like I tried my hardest to get to this point, and I think everyone around me will be better for it. I've always believed that doing good things and living a healthy lifestyle will rub off on others. I know several friends and family members that have started living better because I did. If people can see what hard work can do, they will be far more likely to work towards that same thing. Plus, this fact makes me want to work even harder so that I can continue to be an inspiration to anyone who wants one.

So, with my "new" philosophy in mind, I took to the gym with conviction. I needed some serious conviction too; my calves are super tight after my new form run yesterday. Plus, I had a week worth of crappy food in my system. I am increasing my daily cardio now, as I want to really get my body composition down. Additionally, I don't think I need as much weight training. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the gym in the morning, but like I said, my calves have been tight all day, and I didn't want to push it. I did get in some chest, back and core work though.

Tomorrow I have to get up in the morning because it is Tuesday, and I won't have the time in the afternoon. Tuesdays will be a tough day to stay at 100% simply because it is so long. Additionally, I hate not having those renewed endorphins in the afternoon; they come in handy after a long day of teaching.

I will continue to report on my philosophy, but I think it will be good.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

I'm Back - A Story Of Food

So, I am back home after a nice vacation. We loved the resort we stayed in, and we had a blast all week. I am pretty Disneyed out at this point though. Plus, the weather wasn't a warm as I would have liked. I suppose it made coming back to freezing temps a little easier.

I wasn't perfect in my training all week, but I think for being on vacation, I did get in a pretty solid amount of work. Fortunately, the resort had a nice fitness facility because the area wasn't designed for runners. Some of the resorts have trails, so I thought this one might as well; I was wrong. I went for one short run around the area, but I ended up having to do a few laps around a parking lot; I wasn't impressed. At least the cooler weather and sunshine was great for it.

I feel pretty good though. I think a little extra rest was good for me. I just wish I had toned down the eating a little bit. I am not real good at the whole portion control thing, and my choices were not exactly healthy. Whatever though; I was on vacation. Sometimes you just need to live a little. Now though, I am going to get back into things on an intense level.

Today I ran 5 miles with a little extra time before football. My knee was sore, but I feel good now. I think my body just needs to adjust. Plus, I am working n my form. Tomorrow is a two-a-day, cardio in the morning and lifting in the afternoon. I will also get back into my blog routine. I am looking forward to being back into things.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quick Update

I will be reporting much more on my vacation, and the subsequent training, but for now I just wanted to share some pictures. Additionally, I figure a short update on everything is possible.

This is the view from our first room. This is called a savannah view, and it is facing one of the Wildlife areas around the resort. These are some giraffes, obviously, but there were also a variety of African birds.

The resort also has a fancy fitness facility. It is very small, but it is also well stocked. The ellipticals, which I figured is best after a long day of walking, has a super fancy touch screen on it. I unfortunately could not use the television function, as they do not have them hooked up. I do like how you can see your progress, relatively, on a virtual track. I found myself doing some strong intervals at certain points on the track.

As for my training, I have done some cardio and lifting every day. It isn't as intense at home, but I am proud that I am still at it.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Sweet Vacation

I am currently blogging from the car (not driving). We are headed to Disney World where I will be spending the next week. I am looking forward to some sun, warmer weather, anti-diet food and some good runs. I probably won't be posting much, so I just thought I would leave some quick questions:

What are your favorite places to vacation and run?

What are your favorite pandora stations to run to?

Do you totally quit a diet over vacation?

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Think Positive

As my day nears it's early conclusion, I want to wrap things up with some positive thoughts. Today was one of those days where I really had to push through. I have always been a positive person, but sometimes I get down about myself. I guess we all do, but today was one of those days for me.

It is hard to explain why I was so down. I think partially it is the colder weather. Additionally, my body is adjusting to the shorter days. I also have some considerable life stresses that I won't get into right now. Finally, my body just isn't where I want it to be. I am fight an uphill battle against genetics, and sometimes I feel like I am losing. I exercise far more than a normal person, going at least an hour a day, 5-6 times a week. I don't est garbage all the time, but I could be better. Still, I feel like I should look better. So I second guess my training choices, life choices, and mental berate my genetic make-up.

At the end of the day, I look at all the blessings in my life and realize that everything will be okay. I will reach my goals eventually, and I just need to focus on working harder. If my genes don't want me to get there, then I just have to go around, under or over them. Besides, looks are secondary to speed, and I know I am only getting better every day.

Here are my positive thoughts from the day:

1. I helped improve the lives of 26 kids today.

2. I made excellent choices for my meals.

3. Despite a million things to do, I managed to get in 5 miles today.

4. I have the ability to do 5 miles like it is nothing.

5. I leave for vacation tomorrow.

6. I have a comfy bed to collapse in.

I figure I am probably just reflecting the thoughts of many people. I feel like through our endorphins, increased metabolisms, above average bodies, and positive life choices, we are just spoiled in a way. We have so many things going for us that anything negative can set us back. If we had a bunch of negatives, we would just get used to that.

What are you thankful for or blessed with today?

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Tale Of Two Workouts

Have you ever had déjà vu? I get this feeling every time I do a two-a-day. Don't get me wrong, I love the gym. I love how age diverse my place is, how nice the staff is, and I even don't mind the rubbery-sweat smell. Still, three hours is a long time to spend in such a small area.

Fortunately the gym does offer some fun perks that road running does not:

1. I can go guns out without freezing my arms off.
2. The cardio-theatre features a new movie everyday (today was 'How Harry Met Sally, and being the Billy Crystal fan I am, I stuck around).
3. Yoga Pants (sorry, but it's true, and any guy who says differently is lying).
4. Weights
5. Easily accessible restrooms
6. Televisions
7. Treadmills, cross trainers, stair climbers and ellipticals; I use them all during the week to access as many muscles as possible.
8. Lights (it is very dark at 5am, and even 6pm now)
9. People to watch for good exercise ideas.
10. People to mentally challenge and size up.

Obviously I still prefer a great run, but I always try to put a positive spin on things.

Since I was at the gym so long, you are probably wondering what I did. In the morning I did 4 miles on the Elliptical. I left out my crossfit as I don't want my body to become accustomed to it. I will get back to it after vacation, and I will do it hard to shock my system. Next, I worked my biceps, triceps and shoulders for about 45 minutes. I wanted to give my core a break, but I always struggle to lay off. I think my core is strong, and I just need to drop a bit more of BMI in order to show it off. Purely aesthetic, I know, but I like the bonuses that training brings.

In the afternoon I got on the cross trainer for 4 miles, switching directions every 5 minutes. I did not do any intervals today, also because I don't want my body to get used to anything. I finished visit #2 with some leg lifting. I hit my gluts a little more than anything else. I feel like these are one of my weakest areas right now, and they will come in handy when worrying about form at mile 22. I need ALL my muscles strong at that point.

Now that you are bored, I leave you with one thought: how can anyone ever exercise in jeans? I witnessed this painful travesty, and I couldn't believe that lady would subject herself to so much future pain. Go to Target and invest in some dri-fit clothes. That is all.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Who Doesn't Love A Half Day?

So, I followed up yesterday's day off with a half day today. Yeah, my job sounds easy, but I assure you that I earn every penny and every off day... yikes. So, how did I spend the second half of my day? At the gym of course! I am glad I didn't get up in the morning for a workout because I don't thinking I would have been recovered enough for the second. Additionally, when I did wake up, my calf was really tight, so I wouldn't have wanted to push it.

The gym went great though. My calf was back to 100% by that point, and I was in a great mood the whole time. I hit some cardio and crossfit first. I focused on my chest and back every 10 minutes, with speed intervals every 4. I was really sweating, and I could feel my heart rate staying nice and high. I tell you what, mixing burpees in with cardio is intense. I have been raising the quantity of them every week, so I am constantly get wrecked; I love it.

I did about 40 minutes of cardio/crossfit, then I moved on to some outer core/obliques exercises, then chest and back. I really wish I was seeing as much improvement in my chest as I was in just about every other part of my body. I need to figures out something that really works. I mean, I am improving, but the rest of my body is changing so much more rapidly. On the off chance that someone actually reads this, does anyone have any advice? Thanks!

I feel like I am going to be in a great place for Florida next week. I just wish I could have found a race to do. Oh well!

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Who Doesn't Love A Day Off?

So, I had the day off today for work, and what do I do? That's right, I spent two hours at the gym! I loved having the time to do whatever I want, so I did a full hour of cardio/crossfit. Then I hit the weights and retired on my own terms.

Yesterday I went for a short run because I wanted to test my knee after having done 6 miles the day before. I can't say it felt perfect, but I don't feel any major pain today. Even after the hour on the machine, I feel good. It just seems like something that will slowly get better with time. If I had the patience and metabolism to take a few weeks off, I would. I don't though, so it is just something I will have to be mindful of. Additionally, it gives me the excuse and motivation to work on my form. By the time the Flying Pig comes around, I will hopefully be in great form, with great form. This will be aided by my transfer to near barefoot running in March. The stronger my feet and legs, the longer I will be able to hold my form on long runs. I am excited about the possibilities of this move, as I am reading all about it in Born to Run. It makes so much sense that running without cushioning will help. We ran for thousands of years without fancy Nikes, so why do we need them? Time will tell, but I look forward to reporting on it.

As for my workout today, I feel like it hit it hard. I was covered in sweat by the end. Pretty sure the people at the gym think I am crazy because most of them are housewives basically walking on the treadmill, simply looking (and usually failing) to lose a few pounds. I'm not at the gym to look good; I am at the gym to get faster, stronger and more confident in my physical abilities (the looking good part is simply a bonus). Exercising to me has become something I love, not a chore. I think that is the key; the more you love it, the less likely you will be to give up or get injured. I need to run and work out like I need to eat. That is enough preaching for now, but if you are simply exercising to look good for someone else, you won't make it.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Get Excited!

Today was amazing; I am still buzzing! The weather here was unseasonably warm, so I had to go out for a run. I headed out the door in the afternoon after a morning of errands, and I was fairly nervous. I could feel hints of my knee, but I was determined to focus on good form during my run.

I resolved to only go as far as my knee would let me go, at a reasonably slow/comfortable pace. I didn't feel fast, but at the first mile I was pacing at 8:30; I could believe it! Plus, I couldn't feel any sense of pain in my knee. I kept going, speeding up, focusing on landing soft, working with my hips, using my muscles instead of my joints, staying loose and loving the act.

As I continued, I could tell my knee wasn't 100%, but it also wasn't nagging me. I also wasn't in pain, so I knew I could keep going. The only time it was a little annoying was coming down a hill, where I had to dial back and land different. I shifted my style a bit, shifting my weight forward and extending my stride, allowing my knees to bend my more and stretch out. This act helps, and I also stretch my knees in this way on flatter surfaces where I had the extra energy to do so.

By my sixth mile, I was thrilled. I had been enjoying myself, and I was closing in on a solid practice 10k time. I finish under 50 minutes at a 7:55/mi clip. I made sure to stay loose during my cool down, and stretched my knees a bit.

It is now over and hour since the run, and my knee feels fine. I took some fish oil and a protein shake, so my recovery and joints should heal quick. I will report more tomorrow, as I would love to go out again, but I am just happy with my progress. I am thinking this might not linger after all! That would make me so incredibly happy, you have no idea; or maybe you do... Not being able to run... I don't want to think about it.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Busy, busy

So, in life beyond training, I have parent/teacher conferences this week. I am quite busy this week. Additionally, last night I worked my second job, and I do the same on Friday. Fortunately, I have been waking up at 4:30am to go to the gym. So far, so good, but I can't help but wish I was able to do two-a-days. Again, I don't feel like I am doing enough. Plus, this schedule isn't good for my diet or my stress levels, all of which contribute to my body fat levels. I just don't think I will be where I want to be before vacation.

Regardless, I feel as though my overall training is not being harmed too much. A hour and a half each day is still getting it done for most people. After vacation, I will hit the ground running.

For the last two days I have done about 6 miles, which isn't a lot, but I am really making a conscious effort to let my knee heal. I am doing it low-impact, so I am hoping by vacation I can run around and walk around disney no problem.

Then I did chest, back and core one day, and arms/shoulders today. All of that lifting was started during cardio, in between intervals. I gotta say, I love how much energy I have after a morning workout. This endorphin kick is a real motivator.

On a political note, as a teacher, I am glad Obama got 4 more years; I just wish he had a better education policy. Maybe be will change with time. I hope so at least.

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cold in Cleveland

The thought of running outside in the cold never appealed to me. I made attempts to get into running in the past, but the winter always ended it. This year is going to be different. I think I turned the corner during tough mudder; I was so cold at that point, all I have to do on a cold run is think about that, and how it could always be worse.

Today I went for a pretty cold run (about 40 degrees). I wasn't terribly cold, aside from my hands (I now plan on getting some running gloves from Target). I had on compression shorts under my running tights. My legs stayed quite warm. Then I had on a long sleeve wicking shirt, with another short sleeve on top. Finally, I chose a North Face vest for a final layer. This was perfect for the weather, just wish there was some sun.

The run itself was an easy 6.35 miles. I didn't want to push myself too much. My knee bothered me the whole time, but it may just be something that needs to be worked through, and it did feel better as time went on. I am still nervous about it though. May need to eliminate road running until March, which makes me sad. Running has become such a part of my life. Maybe I can just tone it down to one road run a week. Just don't want this to turn into a major injury that could hurt my chances of doing the marathon in May.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012


This morning I had my alarm set for 5am in order to get up. For the first time in a long time I was very sore. I decided to take a morning off. I thought I might have to anyways, as it is something that should be eased into. Regardless, it was good to be sore again; it let me know that I was really working hard.

I got to the gym in the afternoon for my usual workout, and I was fine by that point, which is another good sign. My body is recovering quick from some intense work, so it shouldn't be long before I can do two-a-days on a more consistent basis.

Unfortunately, that will not be tomorrow. I am going to go to the gym in the morning, but I have to leave town in the afternoon. I will hopefully get some running in over the weekend, but I am going to Cleveland. My running depends on the weather, but I mostly just need it dry. I may finally get some mudless use of my running tights.

As for today, I got in cardio/crossfit and some intense core and arms. I may even be sore tomorrow. I just tried to make the most of the small amount of time I had. An hour and a half is not as long as you think, especially when you need cardio and a need to work the entire body over the course of a week.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012


This has been an eventful day. After a successful morning workout yesterday, I did another one today. Unlike yesterday, I made today into a two-a-day. This is something I am going to have to so more and more, because I just can't get everything I need to into one workout. I need to be home in the evenings, but I don't need to be home at 5:30 am. This way I can get in about 6 or 7 miles of cardio, and I can get in more core and leg lifting. It is just going to be hard to get into a new routine. I will talk about this more later in the post.

Right now I want to talk about what I am most excited about from the day; I am now registered for the 2013 Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati! I now have 185 days to get trained and ready, and I know it will go fast. If I want to get under 4 hours, I am really going to need to work it. The key is going to be really building up my legs and basic cardio over the winter, while still keeping my knees and ankles fresh. This should allow me to hit full road training in earnest in March. At that point I will start with some smaller races as additional motivation, and then I will just work up my mileage towards May. Once early May comes, I should be in the best shape of my life, by far. Then I want to get into some sprint triathlons over the summer, followed by the Air Force Marathon at the end of summer. Then in 2014 I want to do a half iron man. Yeah, I am planning way in advance, but I think that is necessary. Plus, planning in advance allows me to get early bird specials on race prices; as a poor teacher, this is key.

Back to my training today: I did interval training and some crossfit burpees and back lifting, followed by chest and back. This made for a quality morning. I do love how energized I am after this for most of the day. This will help when I need to do morning training runs in March. In the afternoon I was back at it with more interval and crossfit. This time I focused on core exercises, as legs, lower back and core were the afternoons focus. I really tried to vary my exercises over the day, so I think my results will be quality. Plus, I may actually start losing body fat again, which has been a point of inner-contention for me. I love eating too much to diet everyday (I still try to eat healthy, just don't have the will power everyday). I will get better about nutrition with time, and as I get closer to race day.

Obviously training for the pig is going to be a topic of conversation for a long time. I am very excited about this upcoming step in my personal evolution. I really can't wait to cross the finish line!

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Get It Started

After a Sunday off, it was back to the gym today. I can't say it was my best workout, and I am already missing running outside all the time, but I will take it. The weekend was full of poor dietary choices and alcohol. I am going to need to really get it going the next few weeks before I go on vacation in Florida. I gotta make sure my poolside body is up to snuff. Additionally, I really gotta work on my portion control. Too bad there is so much Halloween candy in the house.

In order to try and counteract my poor choices, I may just have to work out more. That is why I am definitely getting up early tomorrow to hit the gym. Plus, I won't have time to work out in the evening. Gotta keep the metabolism working all day. I also can't wait for my knee to be back to 100%. I think another week off the road should do it. At least the weather is awful, so I won't be tempted to go out.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

I love Thursdays

For whatever reason, I think Thursdays are generally my best workouts of the week (at least at the gym). Today was no different. I had some quality cardio and lifting. My arms felt really good, and I should be able to up the weight next week. Once I hit the weights alone, I really focused on going from one exercise to the next in quick succession. I wanted to make sure that I kept my heart rate up the whole time. I am going to continue to improve on this n order to reap the most benefits from my time.

I am really considering getting up and going to the gym tomorrow morning. I say that now but who knows? I love the benefits from morning workouts, but I am always so tired. My schedule and days are always intense, then add some hardcore working out after work... I am need my sleep. Still, if I am going to really get better, I need to do two-a-days a few days a week.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just Brief

I will talk more about tough Mudder at some point, but I just have time to talk about my week's training right now. Yesterday, on my shortened day, I just went on a timed 5k. I managed a 21.01 time, but I was pretty zonked. I was mad at myself at the time, but I hadn't had a day of rest, I hadn't had anything to eat since lunch, I was tired from my day, and I didn't warm up first. I like to think that in a real race, with all those issues fixed, I would probably PR. Who knows. I don't have any plans to run one, as I don't have a weekend that would work for quite some time.

Today I got a little more work in, but not as much as I would have liked. I had a short errand to run, but any little thing digs into my workout time, as I have to be back by 6. I got in some elliptical and burpees for half an hour. I worked through my sore knee, and it feels better now. Hopefully it will be something I don't have to worry about. I don't plan on doing a long run for at least another week. After cardio I just tried to get in as much back, chest and abs as I could. I don't feel like it was enough, but it will have to do. I just really need to start getting workouts in in the mornings; I am just too lazy. I need to find more inner motivation... Just hard doing it all on my own. I wish I has someone to go through all this with. So hard sometimes... I will just keep truckin'.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Tough Mudder Part 2

The appeal of tough Mudder is two fold: teamwork and primal desires. Much like a person's desire to have sex, I think we also yearn to run. Additionally, we all yearn, deep down, to run and commit ourselves to challenges. Tough Mudder forces people to push themselves to do crazy, scary and often painful things. This experience changes people. I feel stronger and more confident. I feel like I can accomplish any of my goals, both fitness and otherwise. I am already looking forward to my next Mudder.

I am going to use this post to talk about some of the more intense experiences from the Mudder. The first and foremost would have to be the electric eel. This little obstacle involves live wires and a very muddy plastic sheet to slide and crawl across. Personally, I didn't get shocked. I was able to get low and slide 2/3 of the way across, and I never touched any of the wires. Some of my friends were not so lucky. One got a wire to the head, which forced him to hit his head on the ground. Watching this obstacle was priceless. People were screaming and losing body control left and right. There was a good crowd watching this one too.

There were also two obstacles involving small tunnels. One was a bit more dry than the other, involving a crawl through more mud than anything else. The problem was that the tunnel was lined with 2x4 supports that often met with my knee. I still have some bruises from it, but it was pretty freaky to be underground in the dark. I loved it. The other tunnel was much more difficult and intimidating. I had to slide down a steep plastic tunnel into a freezing cold pool of water. Then I had to go under water to climb into another tube and make my way up again. Getting back into the tunnel was tough enough that hit my forehead right at my hairline. I still have pretty good gash from this. Still, this was my only blood drawn, so I have to talk it up.

Obviously I will be talking about this for awhile, but I want to talk about my workout for a bit. I got back to the gym, even with a sore knee. I think the workout actually helped quite a bit. I think I just needed to stretch it out a bit. I hit the elliptical hard, doing 6 minute 50 second miles while interval training. I also did 17 burpees every 10 minutes. I had a consistent heart rate above 150, which is great for my cardio.

Following successful cardio was a quality lift. I had already warmed up with the burpees, so I worked my back next. Then I did abs in between each individual exercise. I benched a little, did some body weight work, and hit my back hard (I really need to focus on this more as I work towards triathlons). For a Monday after a day off, I was happy with the experience.

Tomorrow I am going to get up early, knee permitting, to go on a run. The weather is going to be surprisingly warm all week, so I want to take full advantage. I also want to get in as much work as possible on a day where I have to work two jobs. I just have to get creative with it. Additionally, I think I will bust out the old resistance bands and work my arms a bit. We will see ow the day goes. Should take some pressure off during my brief afternoon workout, and I won't feel like such a bum.

I leave you with another Mudder picture.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

I Am A Tough Mudder

Yesterday was one of the most miserable and rewarding days of my life. I went out to Maysville, Kentucky with 7 friends and competed in Tough Mudder, perhaps the most challenging obstacle course on the planet. When the day THE most, I mean it. This course was possibly the most challenging on any Tough Mudder course, let alone some little 3 mile mud run.

I should start out by explaining the race from the beginning because I still have some a concrete memory of nearly every mile; it was that memorable. We were the second group to leave the gates at 8:20am. Fortunately for us, this meant the course was nearly untouched, and therefore, not too beat up yet. Still, it had rained the night before, so an already inherently messy race became even more so; even the starting gate and pavilion were trampled and muddy. The weather was brisk. Very, very brisk, at only about 40 degrees at start time and never working its way much past 45. Keep that in mind when I am explaining the obstacles and the run itself because by the end of this thing, I was colder than I ever have been before, and there was a constant stream on ambulances taking people away because of the elements.

As we left the gate, we were immediately greeted by our first down and uphill climb. As the event would continue, we would become quite familiar with this inherent obstacle on the course. This whole location was one giant climb or decent, with some parts of the course being nothing less than a hands on the ground climb, or a muddy slide down. There were times where you would have great momentum and confidence burst by the emergence of an impossible climb. Often there were people strewn along the hills with cramps or simple exhaustion. Many times you were only as fast as your fellow Mudders because people had to help each other navigate or complete a simple traverse. By the time we reached the first obstacle, some of my teammates were already feeling it. It turns out they had not trained, a mistake made by many a Mudder hopeful. It seemed that there were plenty of people who showed up thinking it would just be a fun hike, but then realized they had stepped foot onto the wrong obstacle course. People were bowing out of this thing after the first big hill. I cannot stress enough how important quality training is, and I was proof of that fact all day.

The first obstacle was simple: crawl under barbed war in the mud. Although not the most memorable, it was still an easy way to get intimately involved with the mud. Fortunately, I am short, so I was able to go through without having to go fully prone. On the other side, we took stock and moved on, something that, unfortunately, would not happen too many more times. The next obstacle would prove to be one of the reasons why: the arctic enema was a vicious addition to the course, especially as a second road block. This involved the dunking of your whole body into a pool of ice water, traversing a short distance, and then submerging yourself to get under a plank. On the other side was more ice water, and a short wait for others to get out infant of you. All the while I had labored breathing as my body felt like it was it by a truck. Every muscle ached and after finally getting out, I had to make sure to keep moving while I waited for my team. This was perhaps the most physically dangerous and memorable obstacles on the course, but it did make the outside weather feel a little warmer for a few minutes.

There is so much more to tell, so I will save it for tomorrow's entry. Additionally, I am planning on focusing my training on some less aggressive running, and more intensive low impact exercise and crossfit. I am going to hone my muscles while giving my joints a rest. Once march hits, I will resume an intensive marathon training schedule. By that point, my body should be in quality shape, and I will be able to really compete come May. I may also start including more two-a-day workouts, as the afternoon just doesn't seem to be enough anymore. I need more cardio, but I still need plenty of time in the weight room. So much to do, so little time. On that note, I leave with this picture that says it all from yesterday.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Final Steps

Didn't get a chance to update yesterday because I had to work pretty late into the evening. Fortunately, I only had a half day at my first job, so I got to spend some extra time at the gym. I usually don't get in a full workout on Tuesdays, so I was super pumped. I did a little extra cardio with some biceps and triceps crossfit. I did 4 minutes at a normal pace, then a minute at a sprint. I did this six times, with a lift between each. felt great the whole time. It was a vast improvement from Monday. The post-cardio lifting felt good too. I was happy with the whole experience.

Today was a much improved version of Monday's chest and back, too. I was tired all day, but the workout itself was energized. I think the cardio and burpees really got me going. I do wish I had had time for a run outside. The weather was really nice, but I had to eat dinner when I got home. By the time that was over, it was dark. Oh well, less stress on my knees before Mudder.

On a side note, my school had a health fair yesterday. I got my blood pressure checked, which was okay, but I will make it better. I also got a flu shot, and got my feet checked out. She said my feet look okay, but I need to file down my nails and really keep them trim. The feet themselves are n great shape considering the miles. I think the low impact exercises I use have really kept my leg and feet health up. Furthermore, the flu shot is far less sore than I thought it would be, and I don't think I am getting sick; I was super nervous about that, but working with little kids makes it important.

A local running store also had a booth, and I stopped by to talk shoes with the guy. I really want to make the move to Vibram Five Fingers after the Flying Pig in May. I don't think it will be a massive jump from my Brooks Pur Cadence, which are light weight and pretty minimal. This is something I will talk more about with time. I already have about 200 miles on the Brooks, so it won't be long before they need replaced.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Always Move Forward

For whatever reason this was my worst workout in awhile. I had a tough time getting going through my cardio, the burpees between miles were rough, and I just wasn't feeling it. The following chest and back lifting was atrocious. I just wasn't feeling as strong as I should. I was definitely hungry, so that might be a factor, but I am always hungry. I had a few skittles earlier in the day, so maybe my body was thrown off by the sugar. Maybe I drank too much over the weekend, and I am still a little dehydrated, but I don't feel it.

For whatever reason, it just wasn't a good day. I think the main reason is the change from warm to cold weather, a dreary day, and just feeling all around in a funk. Hopefully I can work out of it tomorrow. I just feel crappy after the only person to compliment me in my new contacts was a guy. Amazing how emotions and confidence can play into a work out.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bring On The Mud

I completed my final long distance training run for tough Mudder today. Since I did 18 miles last week, I toned it down and just did 13.1. I didn't want to overdo it and risk injury.

For the run I decided to do something new. I headed down to a path by a river and ran 7 miles up and the rest back. It was beautiful in many parts, but not as much so as I thought it would be. There were long stretches where you couldn't see the river, or when you could, you were right next to a highway. Traffic is not remotely relaxing. Regardless, I am glad I did it. I needed a change of scenery, and the weather was quite nice; it may have actually been too warm. I did see a lot of wild life, and there were a lot of other people doing the same thing (most bikers who looked at me like I was nuts. Yes, I am a distance runner, deal with it. Anyone can bike, but not everyone can run 13 miles).

I now feel very prepared for the Mudder next weekend. I really want to be able to support my team to the fullest. I am just going to take it fairly easy on my legs this week, and hit the weights hard. I fully expect to be Mudder ready. I am very excited to cross this off my list. I also can't wait to have a ton of pictures to remember the moment.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I See You Tough Mudder

With Mudder a week and a half away, I am feeling pretty good about things. I am not going to be going for any crazy records because I will just be trying to support my team, but I really want to be the strongest on the team. If I can motivate the rest of the guys to keep moving, then I think I will have done my job. I can't wait to be jumping over walls, running through mud pits, and carrying logs up hills; I have officially lost my mind.

More proof that I have lost my mind: I am registering for the 2013 Flying Pig in the next few days. I want to make sure to do the early bird and get the best price. It is just crazy to be making plans for something that is so far away. Regardless, registering will give me even more motivation to train hard through the winter and early spring. The Pig has always been my primary focus since I started training, so it is pretty wild to be signing up for it finally. I really want to come and out do great in it. I have so many reasons to keep working hard and moving forward, so I just need to keep at it, focus on staying healthy, and work harder on my nutrition.

I continued in earnest today after my usual abbreviated Tuesday workout. I did a half hour of crossfit and interval training. Then I hit the weights with a new found intensity. My muscles felt strong and I looked great. My form is getting better, and I am loving the new workout additions. I am trying to do exercises that incorporate multiple muscle groups at the same time. This allows me to fit more in in a lesser amount of time. I cannot wait to keep moving my fitness towards previously impossible goals.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

A Tale Of 45 Burpees

After a day off, I was back at it hard today. I was itching to get my mind and muscles working again. Off days are really the worst. I find myself becoming more and more addicted to seeing how far I can go and how strong I can be.

I started the workout with 30 minutes of interval training on the elliptical (knees aren't 100% yet). I did 2 sprints every 10 minutes. I also incorporated cross training into the mix. I did 15 burpees every 10 minutes. This occurred right after a sprint, so by the time I was done with the burpees, my heart rate was working. This is definitely something I will do more and more of with different workouts, and additional time. I could feel the positive difference in the end.

After cardio, I hit the weights. I can't say I did much special, but I did incorporate some new stuff. I tried to really hit my core, and do some body weight stuff to compliment the burpees. I feel good about the whole day of chest and back. I just wish I has equal time tomorrow for my arms. I hate Tuesdays. Plus, in non-running related news, I am going to miss the majority of my beloved Reds game.

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Going Strong

I set a goal for today last weekend: 18 miles, no matter what. I even made a post on Facebook just to add another level of accountability. In the end, I made it! I was pretty exhausted, and it was fairly slow (9min miles), but I am still proud of myself and my body. Now I will go for 20 miles after the weekend of tough Mudder in three weeks. Once I get to 20 miles I will simply set that as my limit until the flying pig in May. I will progressively get moe comfortable at that mileage, and then I will be far for capable of competing in the big event and following events. I don't want to just start from the ground up like a lot of people who run marathons just to say they did it. I want marathons to become a part of my normal competition. How else will I ever accomplish some of my impossible goals?

I am glad I ran a few miles yesterday to loosen up a little bit. I was pretty sore after my lifting on Thursday, so I need to get out there and just get some action. I tried out some light cross training in the process (60 push ups every miles for 3 miles). I think I will incorporate more of this in the future, but I am not sure how. I don't want to have to go to a park just to train, and the nearest park with cross training isn't right around the corner. I will keep this updated, but it should help give me another edge.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Impossible List

I was stumbling running websites yesterday, and I came across a list created by a guy who wanted to make dramatic changes I his life. In order to hold himself accountable he created a list of remote and impossible things at the time of its writing. On his list were a series of running goals, so I think I am going to start my own impossible list. This list will be edited and will grow with time. I just don't have the capacity to come up with everything at once.

- run a 5k in 18 minutes
- run a 10k in 40 minutes
- run a marathon
- run in the Boston marathon
- run in the New York marathon
- run in the Chicago marathon
- do a triathlon (start low and work up)
- do a half iron man
- do a full iron man
- do tough Mudder
- bench 200 pds
- curl 150 pds
- run a ultra marathon
- learn a martial art
- swim 4 miles
- bike somewhere 100+ miles away
- do a race with running, swimming, biking and rowing
- get published in a running magazine

I better get started. I don't think my lowly hour and a half gym workout will cut it for some of those. My arms feel good though. I did some leg lifting instead of cardio. I did get on a treadmill for a few minutes. I just ran out of time.

I am looming forward to crossing things off my list. Wish me luck.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday Is Better Than Tuesday

I hate Tuesdays. I mean, they are just awful days. I don't have any specials, so I don't get any breaks from the kids, then I have to work another job later, so I don't have more than 30 minutes to work out. I did get a little time on the treadmill in the morning, but I still felt like a slacker. So much of my mood is based on my exercise, so when I don't get a good one, I just feel down and lazy.

Today was so much better. I still got a few minutes on the treadmill in the morning, and then I got some good cardio and lifting in at the gym. I did a 5k on the elliptical in around 20.5 min. Then I just closed out the half hour. I did some good weighted abs, and chest/back. I am benching 100 + the bar comfortably. My back is looking and feeling good (swimming portion of a future tri anyone?). Overall, the week's lifting is going well; I will just have some arms and shoulders to catch up on tomorrow.

Beyond the gym, I am looking forward to a likely 18mi run this weekend. I figure that will up the time by about 17 minutes. From what I have read, that is an acceptable increase. My foot feels good, my legs feel better, and I can't wait to challenge myself again. I've been reading about some preparations and things I need to keep in mind. I will share those things that seem to help once I am through it.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

A New Week

After taking Sunday off, I was back at it today. My foot feels great, but I wanted to take it easy today. I just did about 5 miles on the elliptical and then hit the weights hard. I feel like I should have done more core exercises, but I was too excited to get to my chest and back. I will just have to do a bit more tomorrow.

As for my chest and back I feel good about it. The gym was a little busy, so I had to spend more time than I would have liked. I did get in what I needed, and I am really starting to see and feel results. Things should start to speed up now. I just need to fit more cardio in and get my body fat down. Maybe I will get a few morning workouts in. I have slacked in that department since my foot got injured. Plus, my classroom is cooled off, so I won't feel like garbage the rest of the day.

Tomorrow may need to include some leg weights. That means I definitely need to get in my cardio earlier. I won't have time to run and lift legs, along with arms and shoulders. Not enough time in a day.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

What A Day

Today was so nice out! I got out and mowed the lawn and cleaned out the garage. Then I followed up that productivity with another 6.2 mi run. I switch my route around, which meant I was basically going uphill the entire time; I still managed to run it a few seconds faster. Some day I need to get out and run a real 10k and get myself a real PR. My foot was sore to begin with, but it isn't an issue now. I guess it just needs to get warm and stretched out on the road.

I had some extra motivation today because I got a text from my dad about how proud he was of my running, and that I was motivating him to get out and run too. I was really excited to hear about someone looking to me for motivation, and I don't intend to let him down. He has set some quality goals for himself, and it sounds like he is moving in the right direction. I was sure to give him some advice though. The main thing I wanted him to do was to stretch rigorously and get a good pair of fitted shoes. My father is notorious for downgrading his own things in order to make life for his family better, but this is something he shouldn't close his wallet to. The last thing I need is for my dad to wear out his knees or hips.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

I'm Back

Not much happened today, but I did hit a quick 50 minute 10k after work. My foot isn't 100%, but I didn't not experience any major pain, and it is definitely no worse off now than it was before; it may even feel better. The run itself felt great. I have a lot to do tomorrow around the house, but I would love to do something similar. I need to get as many runs in before winter as I can. Those will be a long few months.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Return Of The Cardio

I can't say my foot is back to 100%, but I can say that I survived a half hour of fairly rigorous cardio on the elliptical. All those newer runners need to remember not to rush back into things; I am going to ease my foot back into the game. It should get some solid rest tomorrow and then hopefully I can get back on the road on Saturday. I would hope to run for an hour, but I will just listen to my body and see how it goes. There are different kinds of pain, so I will know if I am pushing too much. There is no point in turning this small injury into a bigger one.

Beyond cardio I hit my arms in the weight room pretty hard. I have really been getting after it lately. I also had a pretty healthy dinner aside from a few spoonfuls of peanut butter (protein, right?). At the end of the day, I am feeling pretty good about my workout. Just gotta see how my foot feels tomorrow.

In other news, I am thinking about coming up with a personal list of suggestions for people just starting to get into running and lifting. I know I have come across a lot of things that I had to solve, so a list could help me think about my journey of fitness.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nearly There

My foot is feeling much better today. I really think I will be back at it tomorrow in terms of running. I am very excited. Not running is driving me bonkers. I do like getting in some weights on my legs at least. It is going to help me tone some areas that running doesn't hit as much.

As for today's workout, I do feel pretty good about it overall. I think my chest and back are really starting to come along. I need to do more weighted core exercises though. Just hard to fit everything in in an hour and a half. I also worked quads, hamstrings, gluts and thighs. I am thinking all this rest is going to result in a great run, as long as my allergies feel even better tomorrow; they were bearable today.

Wouldn't have been able to run much today either; it was way too rainy today. I think tomorrow will be much improved. Here is hoping.

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Early Morning Update

I feel like a slacker. I haven't updated in a few days and I haven't run since Saturday. I haven't even been on an elliptical. My foot is still sore, and I don't want to risk further injury. Plus, I am hit by more seasonal allergies or a cold. I did make it to the gym on Monday and Tuesday, but it could have been better. Yesterday was such a rush job on my arms, so I am looking forward to Thursday already. I am also hitting chest and back hard today. I just can't help myself to just push through my ailments. I will probably just lift legs today too. I need to feel like I am still improving my running without actually doing any running. Hopefully I will have more to talk about next week.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

New Benchmark

I reached my running goal for the day, and I couldn't have asked for a better day to do so. When I started my 16 mile affair it was cloudy and borderline cold. When I finished, it was sunny and perfect running temperature. Despite the slight burn in my legs, I was really able to enjoy myself at around an 8.5min mi pace. I added a new neighborhood to add distance and I was really impressed with how beautiful it was. Of course, this neighborhood is built around a country club, but I will take it. Part of the joy of running is the scenery; it is always nice to have some new things to look at.

On a more comical note, I had to pee around mile 6, and I just didn't want to deal with it, so I ran into some woods and did my business. I have to take some new things into consideration when I am hydrating so much before long runs. I even had some water with me, so I had to go again later. Annoying. As for the water situation, I really need a camel back. I got really tired of carrying around a bottle, and I don't want anything around my waste. Besides, when I get a bike I can use the camel back for that too.

With a new distance record under my belt, I am making sure to ice my legs big time. I am drinking a ton of water and consuming protein whenever possible. I should be back to training no problem after resting tomorrow.

As for the body itself, I can tell my BMI is going down considerably. I must have got over the hill so to speak. Should be a fun week in the weight room now that I am seeing more visual results.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Time To Lift

I have started some serious uptick in my lifting this week. I need to start seeing some real results, so I am focusing on form and increasing my sets. I am already noticing a difference.

As for my endurance training, I have had some extra time this week, so I have really been hitting it hard. I am trying to preserve my joints for a long run on Saturday. I am really increasing my resistance and speed. I am feeling really good about my week.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Quick Ginger

5k #2 is done and I now have a new benchmark for my personal success. Unfortunately I was unable to pull down first overall in the last .2 miles but I will take a second place finish. Additionally, I did it against a guy 7 or 8 years my junior. I finished with a time of 20.58, .02 seconds under my personal goal, on a course that was almost exclusively uphill. In fact, the last mile left me nearly alone because most people had gassed out. I do have to admit that there was not a lot of competition, even on a beautiful day; apparently the fact that the race was during football had a dramatic impact on the turnout. Regardless, I think I would have done well either way, or had even done better with more people. I was in front for most of the race, so had I had someone to pace with, I probably would have gone faster.

Now I move forward with a question mark; I am no longer doing a 14k this coming weekend as my friend got the flu and has been unable to train. Now I need to figure out if I want to do one more race before Tough Mudder in October, or if I just want to train like normal. I know I want to start some leg lifting at the gym, but I need to figure out my training for the next few weeks. This coming weekend will probably include a 16 mile run, and I am going to focus hard on my diet (was a bad weekend in that department). I am also going to work on my form while doing chest and back. I will have to report back when I decide on everything else.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Calm Before The Storm?

I guess I am going to slow down a little before my 5k on Sunday. Sure, I hadn't really planned on it, but when things come up to do, you might as well cut a work out short. I am feeling good though. I think I can at least do a 21 minute 5k depending on the course. Hopefully that turns out to be accurate. I'd also love to come in first in my age group, but I won't get my hopes up too much. You never know when a ringer will show up like last time and go 15 minutes flat. Yikes.

As for today, I just did some low impact cardio for a half hour and then mostly did abs and some chest and back. I would have liked to do more, but I just didn't have time. Next week will have more two-a-days for sure.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I'm No Forrest Gump

I didn't work out this morning in hopes of feeling rested for a long run in the afternoon; that was a failure. My legs felt like garbage. My job keeps me on my feet all day so I wasn't really resting. I did manage to bust out 6.1 miles, but that feels like a failure to me. I may as well just start to come off a little for the race on Sunday.

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