I’m 40% short of "good"

With an emphasis on “hard”

Today’s workout (core and strength training): 20 minutes

I’m being tortured again by the beautiful weather. Just going outside to put up a new clock in the pool area has me itching to go out for a run. It’s sunny, 64° with 54% humidity today. Maybe I’ll allow myself a very easy bike ride later.

This morning I ran through my standard set of core exercises and added some other elements. I never feel like I work hard enough after completing a core session even though I add more repetitions than what’s specified in my instructions. I started reading the current issue of TrailRunner magazine and saw an article about improving your strength-to-weight ratio. The article includes a chart that lists the amount of push-ups that a person should be able to do based on their gender and age.

The ideal core strength-to-weight ratio (CSSWR) is 4 (or below) with 4+ to 8 categorized as “adequate.” I missed the ideal by quite a bit and while I got close to doing 20 push-ups I’m still about 40% short of being “good.” I’m guessing that these categories are based on tuned, not recreational, athletes like me. But I like a challenge and now that I have a benchmark I’ll see how well I progress against this index.

Tomorrow I’m running the NHP 8K for the third consecutive year and I go into it feeling relatively ready. I’m planning on wearing the Hattori’s for the first time in a race and that will be interesting. In terms of performance I’m hoping that I’ll beat my prior time but I’ll be happy just as long as I enjoy the experience.

Run before the rain

Today’s run (street): 4.15 miles 

Today’s weather is supposed to include soaking rains starting some time this morning. I thought that after yesterday’s 8 mile training run that I might stay inside, especially if it was going to pour. I’ve been thinking about my conditioning gaps and what work I should be doing to prepare for the half marathon. An article I just read in the March Runner’s World focused on the glutes and how they affect running performance. I’ve often thought that this is a weak spot for me and I’m constantly planning to do the core exercises that will build up my gluteus muscles. I figured that today was as a good a day as any so that was my plan.

When I got up I saw that the rains hadn’t started so I changed my mind and went out around 6:30 AM for a neighborhood run. The Sunday morning streets were quiet and the skies were getting cloudy but I managed to get through my miles before the rain started to fall. While there wasn’t any precipitation, the winds were stiff and it felt like 75% of the time I was was running against them. I started off feeling energized, somewhat surprising after covering so many base-building miles yesterday at Bethpage.

After a while the wind resistance and my actual energy level caught up and it started to feel like a tough run. I’d planned to run 3-4 miles today and I ended up keeping to that distance. My pace was decidedly slow – about 9:50 – but between the wind resistance and some built up fatigue it made sense. I’m thinking of doing some core exercises later to work on those glutes.

Finally, my friend FS was planning to run the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K / Kids’ Races this morning. I hope that was a good experience and not too wet. The course is run around Ft. Tryon Park and the Cloisters, an especially scenic area. Happy Sunday. I’m glad I missed the rain.

Happily banished by my pulmonologist

Last night I saw my pulmonologist for my four week post recovery check in. The last time I saw him my testing had shown that my lung capacity was at 82 (normal range is 80-100) while my pressure score was just shy of normal. I had returned to running a couple of weeks prior to that test and I’d been disappointed that my progress wasn’t complete. Last night’s test confirmed my recovery, I scored 99% for capacity and high normal on the force/pressure scale. My doctor said I am completely free of pneumonia and joked that he didn’t want to see me again except as a co-competitor at a road race. I was fairly certain that I was back to form after performing well at last Sunday’s XTERRA trail run but, like running, the numbers tell the story best.

This morning I decided to forgo the elliptical in favor of core exercise and weights. I liked that I felt these workouts last week and I added more to the routine to make it more challenging. I’m still using light hand weights for my arm exercises and that seems the right amount of weight for the results I’m pursuing. The weekend’s weather is predicted to be rainy, especially on Saturday. Running in light rain can be fun but running in a downpour can be difficult for those of us who wear glasses. I’ll watch the skies and hope for a break in the weather. Otherwise it will likely be lots of treadmill and elliptical time for me this weekend.

Tapering to the core

I was surprised to see snow falling this morning as I made my way to the train station. The news didn’t mention it but when I reached the train I noticed a layer of white stuff on the cars that had sat overnight in the parking lot. I don’t expect much accumulation but you never know. Tomorrow I’ll take a drive over to Stillwell Woods to check out conditions for Sunday’s race. I’m hoping that they will have the XTERRA course marked so I can get a better sense of the route. I’m still concerned that I could get lost!

Since I’ve finished the running portion of my taper I’d planned to rest this morning. I decided instead to do the 15 minute core workout, as I did on Monday, and I’m pleased that the work on some of the exercises is beginning to feel easier. I’m assuming I’m making some progress and soon I’ll adopt the “make it harder” suggestions that accompany the Lolo core exercise descriptions and illustrations in the magazine. I always feel energized and stronger after doing this simple workout. I’m not sure if I’ll do anything fitness related on Saturday or if I’ll be self indulgent and rest. I really wish the race was tomorrow but Sunday will come soon enough.

Core for the common cold

As strange as it may sound I was happy to see that my sore throat was just the first sign of a cold. Having had a few bouts of strep in the past I take sore throats pretty seriously. Colds are annoying but relatively easy to ignore. I don’t consider them an excuse not to exercise and, in fact, I believe that powering through a cold actually speeds recovery.

My biggest concern right now is an increasingly noticeable stiffness and pain in my upper right leg. As I have mentioned, this discomfort disappears while running but it always returns. I should be icing it more but it was a busy weekend. Yesterday we returned to the track and I ran a little more than 3 miles at a 9:07 pace. I purposely held back to protect my injury but I did push the speed a few times. There was another runner on the track who was pacing (I’ll guess) around 7:30/mile and I didn’t want him to lap me.

This morning I decided to skip both running and elliptical and instead did 15 minutes of core followed by 10 minutes of upper body work. That was a great combo. My leg felt a lot better and I got my heart rate up a little. I’m thinking of doing core again tomorrow before running. It seems to help but it will cut into my running time. I guess I’ll just have to run faster!

Low impact, high diversity

I’ve been taking it fairly easy over the past few days. A real rest day on Friday, a normal long run on Saturday (5 miles) and a shorter run on Sunday (2.5 miles) made a little more challenging via trails and mud. I do think there’s something to resting but I also think it’s important to get my heart rate up every day to maintain a good level of conditioning. This weekend I found mixing up the workout to be a good way to isolate muscles and give them a rest while staying true to my daily routine.

I felt as though yesterday’s trail run provided a greater than average effort-to-distance ratio, meaning that I worked harder than usual to reach my distance. All the same I felt like I should have gone longer so later in the day, when my wife went upstairs to do the elliptical, I joined her by doing about 20 minutes of core and 15 minutes working my arms with free weights.

Keeping in mind that I had already exercised in the morning I didn’t push too hard but I finished feeling energized and satisfied that I made some gains. This morning I continued the low impact routine with 15 minutes of elliptical set to medium resistance. The rest of the week will be more intense but I wanted to give myself a break for a few days. Tomorrow I’ll be running in a 4K training session and I’m sure I’ll appreciate the rest I’ve taken.

Core competencies

This month’s Runner’s World ran a story on core fitness that illustrated the various muscles that, when developed, enhance a runner’s performance. The other side of this is the injuries that are likely to occur if a runner fails to condition properly. I decided to try the 15 minute workout to gauge the impact and to see if it isolated muscles that I’ve, ahem, neglected. I was pleased to see that not only was the workout (5 exercises) possible to do in 15 minutes it was more relaxing than arduous. The article had very clear illustrations and provided guidance on how to ensure you were doing it correctly. They even suggested ways to make it harder. Maybe next time for that.

After the core exercises I was very energized and decided to do a medium long run. We’re going to a family event tonight and I didn’t want to be too tired to socialize (admittedly, I have trouble in that area under any circumstance) so I cut my run a little short of 4 miles. The good news was the core exercises provided a great lead in for the start of my run. No “stage 1” struggles and the first mile came so fast I had to check twice to make sure I wasn’t misreading the display. The bad news was I grew very tired around mile 3. I kept on telling myself the glycogen boost was imminent I just needed to hold on but the boost didn’t come. Being slightly insane I constantly calculate my pace by looking at the time and mileage on the treadmill and the mileage on the Sportband. That’s a lot of math to do in real time but it gives me a good distraction. I can tell if I’m losing steam when the mileage numbers on my Sportband (which is tied to stride and foot speed) and the mileage on the treadmill (a constant) begin to diverge. That happened around 3.1 miles (at least I hit 5K at intended pace) and I barely managed to run another half mile before I slowed to cool down.

So I think I will integrate the core exercise workout into my fitness program but it’s going to be difficult to find the time to do it consistently. Perhaps I can do it at night although my time after I get home from work is already short. Well 15 minutes isn’t a very long time so I can’t make excuses. The energy boost you get is worth the effort.