Embracing the Mindful and rejecting the Beast

I’m giving my Plantar my full support

Today’s workout (upper body hand weights): 45 minutes

Happy President’s Day.  This morning my daughter and I celebrated with a cup of coffee at Runsketeer Starbucks. She didn’t have classes today because of the holiday. I’m off from work for the same reason. I always did like George and Abe.

After Starbucks, I coerced my daughter into swinging by CVS so I could purchase a couple of items that will supposedly help reduce the pain of Plantar Fasciitis. I bought a Plantar Flex Support Sleeve and Plantar Flex Orthotics. When I looked them up on the CVS site I saw that “related items” included Crest white strips, contact lens cleaner and razor blade refills. This Fasciitis thing is pretty complex. Now I understand why my heel pain hasn’t gone away quickly.

White strips and support sleeves – a natural combination!

I’m not sure if any of the stuff I got at CVS will help. Another great president, Teddy Roosevelt, said, “The best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Action is better than inaction. Otherwise the Plantar Fasciitis wins.

I dutifully placed the flex sleeve on my foot and put the supports in my shoes. I decided to forgo a run in favor of an upper body workout. Specifically, the Body Beast workout that TPP gave me last month. I put one of the DVDs into my laptop and as soon as I saw the Lou Ferrigno lookalike, I thought I might be out of my league. The warm-up was fine, but then they started doing push ups (push ups!) before the workout had even started. That did it for me.

Instead of giving up on a workout, I went online and found a video of a woman trainer with less muscles than Lou Ferrigno. Her routine, using hand weights, took 10 minutes and felt more like a warm up than a real workout. I decided to look at a few other websites and found a set of exercises on “The Mindful Body” that looked reasonable. Since every person I talk to uses the term “mindful” these days, I figured I’d try it out.

This routine was tougher than the ten minute warm up and took about 35 minutes to finish. I didn’t work up a big sweat, but I know I hit every muscle group in my arms and shoulders. I’m curious to see how I feel tomorrow, as I haven’t done a formal upper body workout since the London Olympics. While my arms will inevitably ache, I’m hoping my heel will feel a little better. If so, I’ll take that trade-off.

Good pain and bad pain

Here’s a recap of my running since last Thursday:

Friday: 0 miles
Saturday: 0 miles
Sunday: 0 miles
Monday: 0 miles
Tuesday: 0 miles

Despite that, I’m extremely sore all the way from my hamstring to my upper arms. I’m fine with the upper body soreness because it’s the result of exercise. I decided to act on my new resolution to add strength training to my routine and did a 45 minute workout on Sunday. Don’t be impressed. I used two 10 lb. hand weights and barely broke a sweat.

I didn’t want to overdo it, because the last time I worked with weights, I ended up straining my back. The fact that a light workout has resulted in so much soreness tells me that I need to spend much more time on upper body training. All the same, it’s nice knowing that this discomfort is due to effort, not injury.

The soreness I’m feeling in my glutes and hamstring is not making me very happy. I’ve always coped with minor injuries by taking a few days off from running. A short rest usually had me back on the road within a week. The pain I felt during last week’s Hangover Run wasn’t debilitating, but it was a clear signal that I needed a lot more recovery time.

It’s been five days since my last run and I think I’m going to take a sixth day off tomorrow. The pain has dulled, but a quick jog down the hall tells me more mending time is needed. I’ll probably try an elliptical session on Thursday morning to gauge my progress. Depending on that result, I’ll either plan for a Friday morning run or make an appointment with an orthopedist.

The freezing rain workout

 

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

Yesterday morning did not work out for a run. The overnight snowfall was saturated with freezing rain and my schedule was too tight to allow time for both shoveling and doing a workout. I was due to give a webinar later in the morning, preceded by some planning calls. Weather conditions were so bad they closed the schools and I figured that was due to the ice covered roads.

We only received a few inches of snow so I thought I could easily push it off the driveway. That was a bad assumption. The weight of this snow made it hard to move it more than a couple of feet. A full shovel’s worth of the stuff probably weighed over 30 pounds. I figured out a way to clear the drive and walk, but it took me three times as long as it did during the last snowfall. After about 40 minutes, my wife was able to join me and that cut the time considerably. No run yesterday, but I did get a good upper arm workout.

The still icy roads made the treadmill my only option this morning. I could have also used the elliptical, but I wanted to run. I had an early call scheduled, so I set the speed slightly faster than my comfort level. If everything went according to plan, I’d be able to finish, shower and still have a few minutes before the start of the call. I ended up cutting it close, but I made it. I was very tired by the end.

I’m in there!

Earlier this week I received my first copy of Footnotes, the Greater Long Island Running Club’s (GLIRC) official magazine. That, added to my recently received GLIRC 2014 calendar, made me feel like a real member. It was interesting to see that there are group activities listed in the magazine that don’t seem to be on the website (if they are they’re hard to find). Looking further, I saw that I was mentioned as a new member. Yay!

Nature’s gym: early morning workout

4:30 AM workout (Mrs. Emerging Runner)

The ten or so inches of snow that were dropped on Long Island today provided an excuse to skip my run and forced the need for some upper body exercise. I’m not a big snow-blower fan and hiring people to plow the driveway is a hit-or-miss thing (Are they coming? What if they don’t?). Over the years my wife and I have followed a strategy where we shovel the drive throughout a snowstorm so we never have to deal with big accumulations.

In the past we’ve gone out in the middle of the night to shovel, went back to sleep for a few hours and went out again early in the morning. Those were the days when I needed to get to the LIRR by 6:15 AM to catch the train into the city. I’m happy to say those days are gone. So instead of getting up at 1:00 AM, we went out this morning at 4:30 and dealt with about six inches of snow, freezing temperatures and blowing winds. My glasses alternated between fogging up due to trapping breath in my balaclava and going opaque from the snow freezing on the lenses. It was not as much fun as I’m describing it.

That was the worst of of it and we all went out again later to clean up the residual inches and dig our way past the wall left by the town plows. Through all of that, I got to use many neglected muscles above the waist, but I pushed far more than I lifted. I could have done a treadmill run today but I thought the shoveling workout would suffice as my workout of the day.

I don’t think the roads will be in shape for outdoor running tomorrow so I’ll definitely be on the treadmill on Saturday. Sunday’s temperatures are supposed to reach 41° and that might be an opportunity to get back outside. My 2014 running streak has come to an end all too soon, but 33% of my workouts this year have been upper body! If I could continue that ratio throughout 2014, I’d be in great shape.

Upper body ignorance is no longer bliss

Getting pumped

Today’s workout (light upper body): 25 minutes

Mondays are typically my rest day and I had no intention of running this morning. I felt some energy and that inspired me to try a little upper body work. I’ve read many articles about the benefits of strength training, not only to improve running performance, but also for the way it helps maintain bone density. Many runners ignore their upper body thinking that it’s all about their legs. But there has to be a reason why Usain Bolt has arms that would make most gym rats envious.

In terms of upper body development, I’m about as far opposite to Mr. Bolt as one can get. I’m not without muscle or (surprisingly) definition, but I have much room for improvement. That improvement did not come today, but it was a start. Instead of counting reps, I selected something distracting on the TV and did bicep curls with alternating arms (8 lb. each arm) for 10 minutes. I followed that with 10 minutes of reverse curls and finished with some isometric exercises.

It wasn’t a lot of weight and my workout was hardly difficult, but I did break a sweat. After ignoring my arms and wrists for so long, I wasn’t about to injure myself by over-training. If I can do this workout once a week, I’ll bet I’ll see some results, after a while. I know that arm speed relates directly to cadence, and if stronger arms will lead to more steps per minute, sign me up.

We’ll be in Montauk for a few days and I’m hoping to get some runs in near the water. Fast running with an ocean view. Sounds good to me.

100% workout using 50% of the machine

Today’s workout (upper body elliptical): 21 minutes

Monday’s are normally a rest day for me so I skipped my morning run. I thought I might do a workout later, depending how the day went. When my wife started on her treadmill run I was inspired to join her on the elliptical. I wanted to focus only on my upper body so I needed to get creative.

Three years ago, when we first got the elliptical machine, I was much better at balancing my cross-training. I incorporated core exercises far more often than I do today and lifted hand weights once or twice a week. Today I revisited one of the techniques that would do using the elliptical, that involves standing in front and moving the poles using only my arms.

The action of pushing and pulling the poles, with moderate resistance, reminds me of my old karate workouts alternating punches and blocks. In that case, there was no resistance unless we were doing ippon kumite, that involved a partner blocking or punching back. Seven hours later I’m still feeling today’s upper body workout, and that tells me I need to do it more often.

Imagine this in black

Earlier in the day we stopped into Sports Authority and I bought an Alpine Design (a Sports Authority house brand) running half zip. It’s a mid-weight layer that promises to wick sweat and it looks (and feels) similar to a $40 half-zip in the new Balance section. Except that mine was discounted to $19.99. I can’t resist a bargain. Especially if it’s on an item that I actually need.