Author Archives: Steven Gomez

How I Built A Training Schedule Around A Different Work Schedule

To preface all this, I have a weird work schedule now. Not that the schedule isn’t normal for me personally (I am working it every week, after all!), but it’s not a schedule most people work.

It’s an office job where I work from about 10-11am until about 8-9pm, an early swing or 2nd shift, and I work Thursday through Monday. That itself is no big deal.

What’s weird is that some days are worked in the office, and some days are worked remotely at home. Because most of the office works a traditional Monday through Friday schedule with office closed weekends and some holidays, there’s no practical reason for me to come to the office on weekends and holidays… though the stores I interface with are open weekends and holidays.

So I work remotely at home on Saturdays, Sundays, and business-open holidays, while going to the office (when open) on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. (Of course, with the current Coronavirus risk, this can always change and I could end up working remotely everyday if that situation gets suitably dangerous again.)

Getting back to more relevant material, this adds several wrinkles to training. I’ve mentioned before that my schedule now allows me to train comfortably every morning, without having to wake up early. I can also sleep in as needed, and the reduced sleep deprivation improves my long term recovery.

However, once I get off work around 8-9pm, it’s highly impractical to train at all being so close to bedtime. So on work days I need to train during the morning, unless lunch and work circumstances allow me to sneak out and get a quick workout in during a late afternoon lunch break.

On the flip side, having to work out early in the day means spending my work day sitting, which really helps with recovery. There’s no afternoon commute or stress to complicate recovery… especially if I’m working from home that day: There is no commute!

With all of these opportunities and advantages, I have slowly carved out a template for a weekly all-around training schedule.

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Running Is Easy Again. And Running Is Tough Again

For all of April and May, I ran a grand total of 8 times. And 6 of those times were prior to April 15.

After the first week of April, I shut down all my running and embraced our collective lockdown. I basically went into personal hibernation, focusing on cleaning up and slimming down my diet, my only exercise most days being an occasional walk.

After years of mostly uninterrupted running and active life, I decided to give myself a long break for the first time in a while, and see if extended inactivity would help me physically once I started to train again. So far, so good.

After “beta-testing” a variety of workout approaches over the last couple weeks, I’ve settled on resuming regular running, with a long term goal to train for 5K running, then for 10K, then for the Half Marathon distance, then finally to train for (world events permitting, of course) the 2021 Vancouver Marathon in May 2021.

Part of this is a semi-fortunate change in my work schedule. For the better part of the last two decades, I worked weekdays 8 to 5 in offices like most people. Much of my creative efforts to consistently train were built around this schedule and lifestyle, and to be honest I got a lot out of myself that way.

But now, my job requires I work more of a swing shift, from late morning until the evening. Plus I work on the weekends, with my days off during the week, and since the company’s retail outlets are open all the time, I work on most bank holidays as well (except the big ones: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day).

This doesn’t sound ideal until I point out that my job can be done remotely. Though I do work in the office (now that we’re open, of course) on the weekdays, I work from home on the weekends. This eliminates the commute, allows me a ton of flexibility with meals, plus makes recovery a lot easier since I don’t need to move far for anything that day.

Plus, and this can’t be understated… for the first time in a while, my work schedule allows me to sleep in if needed. I can sleep in even later on the weekends despite having to work those days, because I’m working from home. Before, if I had trouble getting to sleep on a work night, I was likely ruined the next day. Now, it just pushes back when I wake up, and I still usually get 7-8 hours of good sleep that night.

That’s a big improvement on my recovery, because before I frequently ran into short sleep nights that interfered with recovery.

This also gives me more control over my diet. When you’re at the office, your food options are more limited. Working from home allows you to do things like cook for lunch while working. Also, since the workday starts later, this gives you more flexibility with breakfast, not to mention more time to prepare food if desired. Granted, I’ve been intermittent fasting so I’ve usually been skipping breakfast. But it’s great to have the option.

Most of all, instead of having limited morning time to train and thus usually training tired in the evenings… I now have hours in the morning to train as desired BEFORE going to work. I also do so with full energy first thing in the morning. Plus, instead of having to logistically figure out how to get a workout in following work, I have full control over what workouts I can do first thing in the morning.

Plus, with two weekdays off, I don’t have to deal with more crowded pathways and streets on the weekend. Most people are working weekday mornings, so the trails and sidewalks are mostly clear for longer runs.

So those are the benefits I’m experiencing now. After adjusting to the new schedule, I found it suited my training needs a LOT better than my prior lifestyle.


Meanwhile, my biggest struggle right now is the actual workouts themselves. Remember: I hadn’t run much at all since early April, and am just now getting back into regular running. Even though I feel mostly better after the break, any running at all is now a struggle as I work back into shape.

April 4th, 2020 was the last time I ran at least 3 miles. Even now, running 2 miles is a somewhat arduous effort. Only in the last week have I managed multiple runs in a week for the first time since April.

Yes, the dry Las Vegas summer conditions are a factor. Even training in the mornings, temperatures at dawn are already in the low 70’s (Fahrenheit, 21-24°C), and if you wait until the 8am hour the temps are already above 80°F, 26+°C. Even with the desert’s very low humidity (20% in the morning, 5% by afternoon), the runner’s heat index is in the 120°F (49°C) range. Plus, Vegas is almost always sunny. The heat and sunshine get you hot very quickly.

Still, having experienced Chicago’s very different but similarly tough heat, I know the difference between heat wearing you down and just simply lacking aerobic endurance. A lack of running makes it easy to realize it’s probably way more of the latter.

So, while I’m looking forward to 10K morning runs, 10+ mile long runs, and 400-800 meter repeats… right now the first goal is just for 3-5 miles to feel normal again. Until then….

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Ten Things You Should Do To Survive the 2nd Wave of Coronavirus

This is not necessarily a post about running, but more of a general health post. To some extent it definitely applies to everybody.

With regard to the Coronavirus and our continued lockdowns, I think re-opening society now is the right decision, even though I am certain a new dangerous wave of COVID-19 will hit the world in the fall or winter. And I don’t think it will make much difference how much we’re outside our homes during summer. Though instituting lockdowns was probably a smart decision, staying locked down now isn’t benefitting us.

We are actually a lot safer mingling in hotter conditions, especially given most will want to do so outdoors. As with most illnesses, the public exposure risk of Coronavirus is largely tied to people being confined together in close quarters for extended periods of time.

While the virus is continuously mutating and other strains of the virus are spreading now, these current mutations are not as substantially dangerous as the wave that forced our lockdowns in March. Our immune systems are equipped to handle it. However, I do believe a new wave will come later this year that probably will be dangerous and kill many.

Your health is the key

I also realize that the vast majority of the people who have died from the Coronavirus carried a variety of other health problems:

  • Many were of elderly age
  • Many are overweight or obese
  • Many have other contributing health problems that led to COVID-19 killing them

Some health problems aren’t necessarily curable or preventable. Obviously, you can’t avoid getting old. Of course, some chronic health conditions are not preventable. Immuno-compromising conditions make getting any illness or health issue a potential grave danger.

However, a lot of health conditions stem from obesity, poor diet and poor lifestyle habits. All of the above are avoidable and (at least over a long period of time) curable.

Anyone significantly concerned about the Coronavirus, whether they feel personally at substantial risk or believe that loved ones are at substantial risk, needs to approach this summer as their one opportunity to safeguard themselves against a likely 2nd wave of Coronavirus this winter.

If you’re out of shape… if you’re overweight… if your diet is poor… if you have health conditions stemming from any of the above… now is the time to tackle your personal health and improve these issues as best you can now, before the next seriously dangerous wave of the virus strikes later this year.

The 10 Things That Can Help You Survive A 2nd Coronavirus Wave

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Everything Is Cancelled and I Feel Good

To the surpirse of few, the 2020 Victoria Marathon was cancelled earlier this week. I now have no race plans.

With every large public gathering of any kind suspended for the beyond-foreseeable future, I don’t foresee organized races happening again anytime soon… certainly not in 2020, and possibly not anytime early in 2021. Even seeing a race held in the spring or early summer of 2021 would be a bit of a surprise.

If you’re of the mindset that you’re looking forward to races resuming this fall or next spring, you probably need to change your mindset, and (if your life revolves around group workouts and/or training for races) probably need to re-evaluate your life and goals going forward. Life has irreparably changed, at least in the foreseeable future and relative beyond.

If the old reality is going to come back and stay, it likely won’t be back to stay for at least another year. Even if everything re-opens, chances of a 2nd spike in coronavirus cases forcing another lockdown by the fall or winter are very high.

And no, I don’t believe it matters how much or how little we are locked down in the present. A 2nd wave is probably going to happen even if we had handled everything perfectly. So don’t hand-wring about people going back outside or to other public places now. If anything, getting some exercise and sunlight is better for their health and immunity than staying inside.


Now, all of that said, this worlwide lockdown hasn’t really bothered me much at all. I’ve briefly mentioned adjustments I’ve made, and that the closure of almost everything has calmed down and simplified my life a great deal.

There’s no fear of missing out, because nobody’s able to do anything right now. Everyone and I are in the same situation, regardless of economic or cultural status.

I had already shut down all training for a few weeks in April, and had just began ramping my running back up when I found out Victoria was cancelled. Now that there’s no need to train for a race, I can now finally focus on training in some way other than running.

After my CPT training, I knew I wanted to spend some quality time strength training. Strength training is a lot harder to do when you’re running a lot, so I wanted to work on it when I had a long break from run training. And now, with no need to seriously run this year, I now have plenty of time to focus on it.

My work schedule also shifted to more of an afternoon/evening swing shift, and my days off are now during the weekdays. It’s a slight bummer on the running front, only because this would have made a running schedule so much easier, but now there’s no races to train for.

However, the schedule is still great for strength training as well as being a much more relaxing schedule. I can sleep in as needed every day (though I still get up early; habits die hard after 20+ years of early rising).


Also, my weight finally began to consistently slim down. Of course, I cut my calorie consumption quite a bit once we went into lockdown, since obviously there’s little opportunity to move around. I’ve intermittent fasted almost every day. Without having to balance the calorie needs of run training, I’ve been easily able to consistently maintain a calorie deficit. And my weight, having plateaued around 178-180 with about 20-21% bodyfat, is finally down to about 170-171 at 18-19% bodyfat after a consistent downward trend.

I want to diet down to at least 15% bodyfat (it’s actually best to diet down to a good target weight with basic daily activity, before beginning a serious exercise plan) before beginning a 12-16 week bodyweight or weight training program.

I don’t want to “cheat up” through a “body-recomposition”, aka seriously adding muscle while trying to burn fat and lose the weight. I find it can actually dissuade some stubborn fat from burning off (note my prior training stagnating fat loss), and the dietary balance you need to strike to avoid muscle catabolization or excess fat retention/gain is too delicate to be worth the trouble right now.

I also want to get my weight as reasonably light as possible because it’ll be easier on my organs long-term to build muscle mass from a fundamentally lighter body weight… and currently without the continuous hormonal stress of running a boatload of miles every week.

My projected goal is to get to around 165 lbs before trying to seriously add any muscle, if I even want to. I’ll have started on a stabilization -centered fitness plan before this point, so any mass-building strength training will be a function of naturally progressing from stabilization training anyway.


This 4/6/2020 post seems quaint. “It will be weeks, possibly months, before we can resume what we previously knew as normal activity,” is particularly cute. “Weeks, possibly months.”


Obviously, with gyms closed and scalpers having bought up all the free weights on the open market, I’m probably not doing any serious weight lifting unless gyms happen to re-open. Even then, if a 2nd wave requires a lockdown, I would lose that gym access again. Depending on how robust of a bodyweight/home program I can develop, I might even give up my gym membership entirely if things break right.

The plan is to devise and develop a suitable, progressive bodyweight workout routine that will sufficiently challenge my muscles and produce growth and/or athletic improvement.

It’s probably best for the long term either way that my long term goal be to develop a gym-free routine, since my long term focus is on being an endurance runner and coaching endurance runners (… should road races resume being a thing in our future society). Plus, many people don’t ever have access to a gym for various fundamental reasons, and a safe sustainable no-equipment-required exercise program would be helpful to countless people.


Meanwhile, I’m working out some adjustments to my current living situation that, once final, will free me up immensely and allow me to start work on some of these ideas. Until then, I’m waiting along with everyone else.

Reflecting on our COVID Hibernation

two green cactus plants at daytime

Photo by Yigithan Bal on Pexels.com

I have not had a whole lot to say in the past month, because there hasn’t been much to add to what others have told you.

After the COVID-19 outbreak problem took off across the world, and two NBA basketball players were found to be ill with the virus, shutdowns and lockdowns quickly followed. Within a couple of weeks, almost everyone in the Western world was ordered to stay at home and only travel for essential reasons, while most businesses were ordered to shut down. Events, including races, were cancelled.

It will be weeks, possibly months, before we can resume what we previously knew as normal activity. Currently, Nevada and most states are being told that the earliest anything may re-open is May 1, 2020, and even that could be postponed if needed.

Meanwhile, I personally was fortunate enough to keep my job remotely with no change to my compensation. So the biggest change to my life is that I have nowhere I need to go. Yes, Vancouver 2020 was cancelled, as were basically every road race before the summer.

With no need to train before Victoria 2020 marathon training this summer, I decided to shut down non-essential training myself after Vancouver 2020 was cancelled. At first, I ran as little as twice a week, and maybe went on a walk or two. I ran if I felt like it, but that’s it.

Now I’m running a bit more regularly, albeit not terribly far, and certainly not all that hard. I’m following Budd Coates’ basic 14 day training cycles as outlined in Running On Air, which has me currently running 2-3 miles, maybe one longer run, about 4-5 times per week.

While Vegas temperatures are currently still reasonable, I’m going out for 20-30 minute runs (and possibly some extra walking) during the late afternoon following the workday. I take longer walks or runs on neighborhood trails at least once during the weekend. Once the desert heat kicks in for summer, I’ll need to switch to early morning runs.

I’m of course eating lighter and as clean as reasonably possible. Not having a convenient option to go to a restaurant or grab something quick at a store, plus having all day at a home that thankfully is well stocked with cooking supplies, makes cooking and eating at home the most suitable option almost every time.

The flip side is, by staying at home all day, I get far less natural physical activity, meaning fewer calories burned… even if I get myself to exercise or go out for a run. I burn maybe 2300-2400 calories in a day even if I did work out, or made some maniacal effort to stay active like get up and do squats or push ups every hour.

Generally I work around this by:

  • Intermittent fasting, aka skipping breakfast.
  • Eating a lighter lunch
  • Eating only two official meals a day, the lunch and dinner before bed
  • Avoiding snacks

In the past few weeks I have lost about 6 pounds of fat, whereas in previous, busier months I had struggled to lose any fat at all. I had a goal for Vancouver 2020 to get down to 160-165 pounds before May (I weighed as much as 185 this winter). Previously I had stalled around 178-180 lbs at my best, but have since gotten to around 174-175 lbs (and hopefully falling). The irony is that, now that I’m not marathon training, I might actually get to 165 before May.

While most people in the US are getting comfy and eating a lot of junk food during lockdown, I decided to really clean up my diet and eat right as much as possible. Even with a minimum of exercise, it has paid off, plus generally I feel better.

Part of feeling better also is that, as others’ anxiety has gone up… my stress has gone substantially down. As mentioned, I still (remotely) have my day job, meaning I’m not worried about income and paying bills. I realize compared to others that this is currently a luxury.

That said, I have to work weekdays, and my job has pivoted to where I do quite a bit of day to day work and regular web conferencing, plus larger ongoing projects. So there’s a lot to do. However, being at home, not having to commute… it’s had a calming effect on my life.

Plus, (though I still need to eventually sit for the NASM exam) I had just finished a very stressful CPT training program (right before COVID really blew up), and truth be told it was very hard for me to handle plus work plus marathon training plus home and family concerns over the final month. I actually reached my breaking point towards the final two weeks, and though the end of the program was a relief… the lockdown in itself was almost an added level of relief by eliminating work and commute related stress. Today is a total contrast to what my life was like in February. I went from everything hitting me at once to now being practically forced to do as little as possible.

With my basic needs met (my family has done a good job securing needed food and supplies), I actually feel pretty comfortable with life right now. My biggest concern aside from work needs is to make sure I eat healthy and get enough exercise to maintain some fitness and not gain needless weight.

I’m not going to join the train on any public service announcements regarding social distancing or lockdown etiquette. We all know where we’re at and I’m not going to add any new information. We know it’s going to be a while before live races are a possibility.

I for one am not interested in virtual races. That’s fine if it keeps you motivated, but I also feel like this forced hibernation is an opportunity in its own right to relax, regenerate and reflect. I want to use the time accordingly rather than fish for more ways to keep me occupied. We’ll have the chance to run races eventually.

Eventually I may offer some feedback on effective training ideas for runners while in lockdown. But for now, I’m going to make the most of our collective hibernation.

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Vancouver 2020 will not happen

The Vancouver Marathon was officially cancelled Friday night.

I don’t have issues with cancelling the race. Restrictions or not, if people are not comfortable with running it, then it’s best not to do it.

I guess it’s a bummer to train only for no race to happen, but I have other training goals I’d be more than happy to continue with. I was only halfway through my training plan, and while I was progressing I wasn’t quite making the progress I wanted.

My hotel is only lock-rate reserved and can be cancelled with no penalty. I imagine WestJet, who is already relaxing cancellation policies to accommodate travelers during this whole thing, will extend the courtesy to May flights if in fact the Marathon is cancelled and I want a refund. Right now they’re only offering to transfer or cancel March flights, so I have to play the waiting game with them. Worst case scenario, I can pay to defer the airfare and use it for Victoria in October.

VIMS basically had to pocket the 2020 entry fees, only allowing a slight discount on 2021 entries (they’re trying to negotiate something higher than 20%), or allowing you to use your paid entry towards a fall race (none of which are a marathon) if they happen. They’re also doing a ‘virtual race’, which isn’t any real consolation for those traveling.

I guess that’s a bummer, but I’ve thrown away paid entries for other reasons (I DNS’d a half marathon earlier this year, for example) and this would not be a huge deal for me.

So in some ways it works out. I can now work on some fundamental training and then start training for Victoria within a couple months.

 

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A quick review of the Las Vegas and Henderson Planet Fitness locations I have visited

PFGraphicSince returning to Vegas I have worked out at four Planet Fitness locations on my side of town (I have a Black Card membership which allows me to visit any location).

I’m not exactly checking off a bucket list of PF locations, but I realize I’ve visited enough of them to provide a useful contrast and comparison of those locations (plus they’re on a nicer side of town and thus may get more outside visitors). As time goes on and I visit more locations in town, I’ll add to this. But here’s a rundown of the locations I have visited and worked out at:

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