Monday, February 28, 2011

Good Saturday, Calm Sunday

Good run on Saturday! We started out a little after 9 along the route I planned. It was a gorgeous day, if a little windy. It was especially interesting because I've run along the east side of Manhattan and I've run along the west, but never both in the same run. There are also particular areas along the route that are more populated with runners. Since we ran along 1st Ave for the first mile and a half or so, we didn't see too many. Because there's not much beyond 1st Ave and therefore little traffic, it's an interesting mix between the start/stop of running in the city and the more continuous nature of a run in, say, the park. The running crowd remained sparse until we got to the Lower East Side, where numbers seemed to increase. The other notably crowded area happened from about 10th to where we stopped in the mid-50's. Oh, that's the other thing. We stopped a bit early so the run ended up being about 12 miles.

We thought we would run late (and we probably would have) if we didn't stop early to get the quidditch equipment and make our way up to Riverside Park. So we did, and then had two hours of quidditch practice. It was a very good, exercise filled day.

What we didn't think of was breakfast! We didn't eat it and then didn't have time to get lunch. I realized this would probably happen right after we started running and regretted it immediately. I made myself feel better by planning to devour french onion soup from the usual post-quidditch stop, Toast and was not disappointed when I finally had it around 2:30.

Yesterday I kept it simple with the 1.5 mile midtown loop I've gotten in the habit of running when I either don't have much time or plan on a light workout. Phoebe came along and mostly enjoyed herself. By the time we were running along the park, though, she was pretty much done. It took some convincing to get her to keep up in the last few blocks and she was especially irked when we passed by what I have concluded are her mortal enemies: the Central Park carriage horses.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Whew...Back Again

What a week. After returning from Ithaca, I went to Boston last minute on Wednesday to visit my brother Matthew. I also came down with a very unfortunate cold that made my running on Monday through Wednesday (and even last night, to some extent) very unpleasant. I didn't do too much of it, not much more than the requisite mile. After running about a half mile when my cold was in the development phase, my throat would start burning and it made the rest of the mile miserable. I tried to make up for my lack of distance by incorporating some speed, even if it was just a little bit. I ran 1.5 miles on Wednesday and did the first mile at a pretty leisurely 9:13 pace, but did the last half mile at a 7:00 pace.

What I haven't been able to regain a hold of is my 100 sit-ups streak. It's on and off. Last night I did them, but not on Wednesday. But rather than accept it as something I don't have time to do, I would like to reclaim it as a streak. I think it's definitely made a difference in overall strength and I may even be able to see additional midsection definition. It's amazing what five minutes per day can do.

So now that the cold is on its way out, it's time to get back to business. Jared is currently doing the Paleo 101 challenge on Social Workout. Also, we've decided to try to be ready for the New Jersey Ultra Festival in a little under a month. This is going to be a very large undertaking, as we'll need to be ready to run 50 miles in not very much time. The current plan is to run 13 miles tomorrow, as a prep intro, 18 next weekend, then 24-30 the weekend after along with a couple of midweek long runs. This is really ambitious, but since Jared may be traveling to Germany soon, this is probably our best 50 mile option right now. So now I have indoor triathlon + ultra training to be doing. I think I'll need to draft a detailed plan for this because it's kind of overwhelming to think about. Anyway, part of Jared's challenge is making a Paleo-style dinner. The plan is to have paleo dinner and then go running early tomorrow morning before Quidditch. This is probably the route we will take:

It'll take us around the tip of Manhattan and to the Upper West Side ending at Crunch Gym, where our Quidditch equipment is currently in storage. We'll pick it up and head to practice after that. One thing's for sure: it'll be a busy day!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back in the City

I am back in the city and blogging again after a four-ish day break. The good news is I just managed to keep my streak going all throughout. It wasn't easy and there was a point at which I thought it would come to an end. On Saturday night, after performing in a couple of comedy shows, attending the ensuing party, and a trip to get food, I was about done for the evening. I was thinking to myself "well, it was a good run. But it's too late and cold and there's five inches of fresh snow on the ground plus ice under that and it's still coming down. It was good while it lasted but I think this is an okay place to stop." I was eating with a couple of friends and expected the usual dubious "you're really going to run right now? Really?" from one of them. I was totally ready to say no and, had she asked that way, I would have. But she didn't. The question she actually asked was done so with a tone of grudging resignation: "Guess you're doing your run then huh?"

If she had the expectation that I'd run despite everything that was influencing me not to, I really had no choice but to adjust my own expectations of myself. So I said yes and I did exactly one mile (in a well, lit area right outside the house, of course). It was a snow run, which I would have appreciated a lot more if circumstances had been better. Still, my streak stands at 20 days and counting. While I'm proud I've kept it going, I'm still aware of the fact that my overall training hasn't been great in the last week and the last regular indoor tri is fast approaching. I'll need to hit the pool, pick back up on my sprintwork, and do a couple of practice rides on the spin bike (with cycling shoes) to ensure that I can match my distance from last time. Speaking of cycling shoes, I'll have to do a post on those. It occurs to me that I've mentioned them a few times but not really explained what they are for anyone who might not know.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One Streak Broken

Noooooo. My situp streak came to an unceremonious end yesterday when I went to bed having completely forgotten about it. Totally slipped my mind. I ran five miles but forgot to do my damn situps. The sad thing is I had just gotten to the point where I thought it was a streak I could keep going for a very long time. I still believe that, I just need to make sure it gets done as early as possible in order to avoid forgetting again.

So I've restarted. That's really all I can do, right? Pick back up and try again. I was able to do this via a good workout with Jared. We did the following:

50 tabata burpees
25 x 5 crunches
50 squat split jumps
50 tabata jump squats
10, 8, 6, 4, then 2 pullups (assisted, for me)

Five rounds of:
5 dumbbell deadlifts
5 dumbbell hangcleans
5 dumbbell push presses
5 dumbbell squats

It was a good workout. Then I ran home to complete my mile requirement. It's going to require some thought and planning to continue my streak over the weekend as I'm going to Cornell to perform in our comedy group's fifth anniversary show! It should be a great weekend. Maybe I'll even get to do a run along my favorite route:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Introducing: My New Running Partner

I hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day, whether you had a Valentine or not. I, for one, ate entirely too much candy. As usual. I also continued my streak with a 3 mile loop just below the park. Accompanying me on this run was the newest member of our household (apartmenthold?), Phoebe!

Phoebe is a pretty good runner. She doesn't appreciate running much more than about 1.5 miles, though. She can do it, but she won't be happy about it. This is what I discovered yesterday. She started hanging back to indicate that she was not very interested in running anymore so I slowed down. The sad thing is she kept up with my slowed pace with what appeared to be a moderate trot. This would be less embarrassing if she wasn't tiny. She's a Pembroke Welsh Corgi who's maybe, maybe a foot off the ground and weighs 20 pounds.

She might have been tired after awhile, but she stuck it out like a champ. The only thing we really need to work on is her herding tendency. In the first two or three minutes of the run she likes to try to run in front of me and barks if I'm not going where I'm supposed to. She also hates grates and those metal cellar doors on the streets and refuses to either walk or run on them. It's a work in progress.

On an unrelated note, if you do road races and might be interested in writing a bit about your experience, let me know! I'd like to start doing some guest race profiles.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Goals, Goal Progress, and a Half Marathon Update

Last time I posted, I discussed a couple of my short term goals. Then it occurred to me that I often have these short term goals, but don't actually record them and make some sort of timeline for accomplishing them. I sort of say I'd like to achieve a particular goal at some point, then go on about my business and hope they happen over time and training. It's arbitrary. More so than I'd like it to be. Therefore, I decided to make a list of goals as well as a date or general time by which I intend to accomplish each one. This can be found on the "2011 Goals" tab. As you may have figured out, I'm a really big fan of spreadsheets. Occasionally I try to express my love of Microsoft Excel to someone, but typically all I get in response is blank stares or even looks of horror.

As I was writing them, I realized it's an ambitious set for one year. My hope, though, is that one builds upon the next. For example, the goals I mentioned on Wednesday. They sort of build upon one another. And once I can run a 5K in 24 minutes, it'll just be a matter of time before I can do 4 miles at that pace, then 5, then hopefully I can extend that to 13 miles to achieve my 2 hour half marathon goal. Others are simpler, like doing a pull up and completing the NYRR 9+1 program for entry into the 2012 New York City Marathon.

Yesterday I worked out with Jared again and we did a few circuits. Then, Jared told me to run a 5K and to record not only that time, but also my mile and how far I'd gone at the 20 minute mark. I was skeptical about this, as we'd already done quite a bit of working out. But I did it, and it turned out very well! After a quarter mile warmup, I ran a mile in around 7:25. Then I slowed my pace to 6.8 miles per hour, which is about an 8 minute and 48 second mile. Once I hit 20 minutes, I was at 2.68! In retrospect, that seems suspiciously high so I'll take it with a grain of salt. Regardless, though, making progress felt good. I finished the 5K in 25:48. Not the best, but definitely a good start.

In other unfortunate news, the Brooklyn half marathon sold out before I even knew it was open for registration! We're talking a couple of days, maybe. It's such a popular race that I'm starting to wonder when I'll get to run it again. Glad that I got to run it at least once though.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Or in this case, a mile every day before I sleep. To boot, I have some woods that are lovely, dark and deep in Central Park. Sort of. Okay, fine, it's a weak metaphor. I don't know what made me read that poem today but I did and am glad about it. Read it, if you haven't. The last verse is beautiful and a little haunting. Plus, considering the ongoing brutality of this winter, it's refreshing to read something that still treats the whole season with a measure of wonder rather than the disgust and annoyance I've adopted.

Jared and I worked out today. Circuits, as usual, but with a mile to begin. I did it between 7:30 and 7:35. Along with improving my mile time, I think I'm ready to begin increasing the distance I can run at this pace. I've gotten to the point where running a 7:30 mile requires a standard amount of effort; therefore, it's time I tackle a couple of goals. I've mentioned at least one, possibly both. The reason I feel like they need to be restated is that I now have a clear plan of action to achieving them. The first is running 2.5 miles in 20 minutes. This will come into play for the remaining two indoor triathlons in the JackRabbit series. As I've mentioned before and is easily calculated, 2.5 miles in 20 minutes works out to be an 8min/mile pace. The key here is increasing my distance steadily at the 7:30 pace. Maybe increase by a tenth or quarter of a mile every day? Or maybe somewhere in between. A quarter mile per day might be overly ambitious.

My second goal is really an extension of the first. I want to run a 5K in under 24 minutes. I did it in high school and I'm sure I can do it again. It's just going to require lots of discipline. If I can achieve these smaller goals and the approach proves successful, it may be that I can revamp my whole running strategy and be much faster than I thought possible. One step at a time, though.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Streaks - Harder than I Thought

The idea of a streak was originally appealing to me because the time commitment required isn't very large. Thinking about it, I realized I didn't need more than 10-15 minutes to do the things I set out to do (run at least 1 mile and do 100 situps per day). I still believe that's the case. What I didn't account for, though, was the process of getting ready and being in the right mindset. Getting ready and actually going to the gym or to Central Park is usually something of an event. This streak has made me rethink that approach. Yesterday, for instance. I waited until the very last minute to do my run and I knew that I didn't have time to make a production of finding appropriate clothes and such. I'm sure you're thinking, "can getting ready for a workout be that big a deal." I guess it's not that it's a big deal, but I realized that prepping for the workout is definitely something to take into consideration. Yesterday I didn't want to be bothered with all of it so I went in the clothes I was wearing. Jeans and all. It was kind of weird but a little liberating as well.

What takes getting used to is not the workout itself, it's the idea that not everything has to be just right in order for me to squeeze a workout into a busy day. Sometimes Jeremy runs to or from somewhere he needs to be during the day. I wasn't the biggest fan of this idea because I always thought it would be strange to just run around in the clothes you're wearing. I'm beginning to rethink that. Soon, hopefully, I'll be able to manage this streak without doing so much thinking.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Quick Run

I'm starting to wonder if this isn't making my workouts brief, unnecessarily. I'm still following through with this challenge, but it's making me wonder. Did a quick 2.5 around the teensy lower loop of the park. The park is always well maintained, so ice wasn't a big problem today. Tomorrow I need to get in a real workout, though.

I should have been doing the NYRR Gridiron, but it sold out before I registered! That means no run AND no football throw. Ah, well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Streak Rolls On

Alright, so it's really not that big a deal because it's only the second day. Still, it was a busy day and, had I not started this whole streak thing, I may not have worked out because of it. The situps were easy. I can do those in front of the TV. I will say that my buttbone was pretty sore from doing them yesterday and I wanted to set up some sort of cushion but couldn't figure out how. I guess that'll be a project for another day.

The run was the interesting part. I was pressed for time so ended up doing some city running. City running is great when you have no particular destination in mind and a block of time to while away. You run in one direction until you hit a red light, at which point you begin running in the direction of the green light. Sound arbitrary? It is. It's part of what makes it fun, though. That and dodging the crowds and vaulting over small dogs and, in today's case, avoiding ice patches. It didn't work out as well as I'd hoped because I had to be back by a certain time and so had to set a definite route. I started in midtown west, ran east to Madison, north to Central Park, then south again to return to the starting point. Since I was sticking to this route, I had to stop for red lights. The loop was about a mile and a half and I completed it in 15 minutes. That averages out to a 10 minute mile, but it was the result of sprinting between red lights and having to stop for seconds to minutes at a time. But, when all is said and done, my streak has survived another day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One Good Mile

It's fairly easy to get into a workout slump where I either don't work out at all or don't work out enough or hard enough. That's where I feel like I've been for the past week or so. What's amazing, though, is how quickly things can turn around. It only takes one good workout, even one good mile to get me back on my feet and excited again about racing and working out.

I just had a workout with Jared that did just that. He described it as something to do with how Gerard Butler trained to play Leonidas in 300. While I'm sure it's a modified version of that, it was challenging nonetheless. Also, in designing it, Jared took into account my streak goals. The idea behind the workout was that we had four types of exercises. In this case, they were pull up jumps, sit ups (for my streak), side push ups, and kettlebell swings. Our goal was to complete as many of each exercise as we could and then move onto a cardio intermission on the treadmill, elliptical, or rowing machine. After the cardio, we'd move onto the next exercise. The goal was to complete 300 of any combination of the four exercises. This seems a little confusing. Here's an example of a round:

21 pull up jumps - 21 total reps
400 meters on the elliptical
50 sit ups - 71 total reps
400 meters on the treadmill
26 side push ups - 97 total reps
400 meters on the rowing machine
50 kettlebell swings - 147 total reps
400 meters on the treadmill

And so on and so forth until the total reps reach 300. The key to finishing this workout quickly was doing the 400 meters on a treadmill whenever possible. It's the hardest of the three, but definitely the fastest. It takes entirely too much time to complete the same distance on an elliptical machine.

After finishing my 300, I ran my mile. I did it in 7:30. Granted, it's not the fastest I've ever done and it was on a treadmill. But considering I'd already done the bulk of the workout, I was pretty happy with it. It made me excited about my streak and excited about the NYRR Gridiron on Sunday.

Another bit of good news: today I got an email saying that I made the Indoor Tri Championships! Woo hoo!

What's Going on?!

Urgh. For whatever reason, I've found my motivation flagging the past week or so. I don't like it and I need to get back into it before it turns into a long term thing. The last thing I need is to find myself out of shape in the springtime, when all the best marathons and ultras take place. I guess what's also not helping is that I haven't actually picked and committed to a spring ultra or marathon. I'll compare some in a future post.

What is my proposed solution to this funk? Why, starting a streak of course! My friend Kim inspired this decision with her streak of biking at least 30 minutes every day. I've never been good at keeping streaks, but I'm hoping the one I'm about to start will be simple enough to keep going for at least a couple of weeks. Here's the idea: I pledge to run at least 1 mile and 100 situps every day for as long as I can. Should I put a definite number on this? Probably, since the crux of my workout strategy is commitment to a goal. Let's say two weeks. This doesn't mean I'll only run a mile per day, It just means that, should I find myself having not worked out at the end of the day, I'll have to drag my butt up and go outside for 10 minutes to run a mile. 10 minutes. It shouldn't be that big a deal.

I've read about people who thrive on streaks and love to be able to say they've run every day for the past however many weeks (or months, or years!) and I really admire them. One thing I'm kind of bad about is scheduling my training around my life rather than the other way around. I'm sure there are arguments for both, but in order to achieve some of the long-term goals I have (Boston, someday), I'll have to become more disciplined about training and I'm hoping this experiment will assist in that area.

My friend Meghan, with whom I graduated from high school, suggested I sign up for DailyMile. Apparently it's good for tracking workouts and connecting with other people that have similar workout goals. Check it out. Also, email me if you're interested in trying out this streak business with me! Keep in mind, your streak can be whatever you want and, if you don't mind going public with it (you can use an alias), I'll put you on the Streak List.