Tag Archives: personal health

May 2021 status report

I’ve had a particularly tough May on the non-running front, though to some degree I expected it.

I had some annual equipment service things come up that ate up a bunch of my time, and though I dialed back my training this last couple weeks to attend to them I still got rather exhausted.

I DNF’d a hot 10K at 4 miles last weekend (putting it on the schedule seemed like a much better idea 3 months and 40 cooler degrees ago), and have had issues with waking up during the night and not getting back to sleep.

Thankfully, Indy Monumental is months away and there’s no urgent need to ramp up training. That said, I did substantially improve my running frequency and mileage in April as I transitioned from mostly cross-training to mostly running. I still have a ways to go: I peaked a couple weeks ago at 32 miles, and I at least want to build to the 40-55mi range through regular running.

But even at reduced volume I’m running 4-6 days each week and feel comfortable with near-daily running, thanks in no small part to the little 1500-2000m runs I’ve taken during the workday and an improved eating schedule.

My current regular running goal is 10K Per Day, 6.2mi in the early morning most days with occasional rest or easy days. The obvious exception aside from easy days would be longer runs for the marathon, but otherwise I intend to run 10K each morning, whether regular easy runs or cumulative mileage on a speed workout.

The weather currently is getting Vegas hot, and those short workday runs/walks are not yet challenging but 100+ degree temperatures will provide the true test. The morning workouts in 75-80 degree heat are now doable as I’ve heat acclimated at least to those conditions. I still have some ways to go to feel okay with the true Vegas heat.

I’ll ramp up marathon-specific training during the mid/late summer, though I should first take a page from Podium Runner and focus for May-July on building 5K/10K fitness. I want to get back to Chicago 2018 performance levels on mid-range speed, and I know I still have the ability to do it if I can whip back into shape.

I also need to shed some weight. I’ve made some progress to get from 182-183 to 180 lbs but it’s very slow going right now on the scale. I have to balance getting enough nutrition to fuel training and recovery, with cleaning up my system and shedding fat or unneeded water weight.

Adding more training volume and consistent strength training should likely produce the same results I saw in 2018 when without any “dieting” I went from the mid 170’s to the low 160’s. I have tightened up my diet a great deal, and now I just need to land on a consistent plan that consistently gets me every nutrient I currently need.

More later on the training strategies as I ramp up volume and get knee deep into summer training.

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Curing Your Sleep Problems

Photo by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com

Here is a topic near and dear to my heart, an important facet of health that I’ve been working on as much as my diet and exercise.

The single most important aspect of your training development outside of the actual exercise is your ability to get good sleep. Even the important factor of your diet serves in large part your ability to effectively sleep, and its positive effects on your health will be limited if you aren’t sleeping well.

Over 1/3 of U.S. residents surveyed report they don’t get at least 7 hours sleep, and it’s no surprise nearly 40% report some sort of sleep disorder. While some may try to pinpoint the cause to some sort of disorder, the reality is that our choices play a substantial role in how much sleep we get or don’t get.

Unless you’re caring for a newborn child (during that period, they’re often going to wake up overnight and there’s little you can do about that), those choices were to a substantial degree probably avoidable. Even being compelled to keep a complicated, troublesome schedule due to career or family concerns is to some degree a preventable product of life choices. We often choose other priorities over sleep and don’t realize what a mistake that is.

But I digress, and that’s a whole other topic. Barring such extenuating circumstances, most people have ample opportunity to get good sleep every night, and they just don’t. And they may not be fully aware of what else they do aside from just staying awake to deny themselves of that opportunity to sleep….

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How A Busy Schedule Improved My Nutrition

I’m currently working in a fairly isolated location across town, and some weeks I’m working longer than 8 hours. My schedule many workdays is wall to wall booked:

  • Wake up
  • Perhaps run as time allows
  • Prep for work
  • Go to work and work 8-10 hours
  • Commute home
  • Work out if I didn’t get to in the morning
  • Eat dinner
  • Prep food and clothes for tomorrow
  • Go to bed.

On many workdays I can’t leave the client facility because I only have 30 minutes for lunch, plus even when I can the best food options are halfway across town. In this location there’s no supermarkets or viable restaurant options nearby. I won’t eat garbage fast food or something off a vending machine or convenience store counter. Even if any of it was satisfying (hint: doubtful), the near total lack of useful nutrients will crash my energy levels in the afternoon, in a job where I need to stay engaged and proactive.

And, of course, I’m now endurance training. I need to stay fueled for those morning and/or afternoon runs. I can’t just eat a minimal diet or whatever happens to be available and expect to perform as needed in these workouts. Plus, I have to maintain my overall health and not make choices that will contribute to illness or burnout. The food I eat has to support not just my general day to day health but what I am doing in training.

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Preliminary strength for key bodyweight exercises

Photo by Karl Solano on Pexels.com

I imagine that the Coronavirus lockdowns closing gyms has something to do with this, but there’s a growing movement towards bodyweight strength training (also known traditionally as calisthenics).

I ran into this recent Medium Elemental piece, which as recent others have done says that you don’t need weights to get in shape. It basically recommends you stick to basic exercises like push ups and pull ups.

And yes, in principle, you can get swole on as little as the Fundamental Few: Push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, core exercises e.g. planks, sit ups, crunches, Russian twists, etc.

All of these exercises are safe, healthy and useful for most to do, except for push ups and pull ups. Most people do not have the needed muscular strength to minimally complete push ups or pull ups.

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How much ab work do you need?

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

I’ve said this before, and since we’re here I’ll say it again: 80% of your body composition is determined by your diet. And I don’t care if you want to argue that’s wrong. See the forest for the trees: If you want your abs to show up, your diet needs to change so that you burn off most of your current body fat while maintaining your existing muscle and biologically healthy function.

And a good portion of that theoretical remaining 20% is going to come from improving your posture. Improving your posture increases the “display” of your abdomen, which maximises any ab visibility. Often, abs don’t show up because a rounded back causes fat/flesh/fascia to bunch up around your abdominal area, further obscuring your abs even if you’ve burned the fat necessary for those abs to show up.

A well rounded fitness routine combined with addressing your postural imbalances will go a long way to making the necessary posture improvements. That I can and will address another time.

Meanwhile, will doing ab or core exercises help your abs show?

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Should you cancel your gym membership?

Times are tough. You may not have a job, may be broke or struggling. You’re considering cancelling your gym membership to save money. Is it worth the cost savings?

First of all, it depends on how much you typically go to the gym, and how much your gym membership costs.

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A few random words about ramping my current volume

Today marked the first time I’ve run four straight days since March, and the first time I’ve run four straight day all outside since December. After months of 2.0-2.75 mile runs, three of the four runs have been 3 miles or more.

Incidentally, each of the last couple days, I didn’t feel good about a morning run. But in each case I just started at as comfortably slow a trot as I could, and within 10 minutes I was running at closer to a normal easy cadence. If you had asked me at the start of each run I’d have said 3 miles would be tough to do, and by the end of each 3+ miles wasn’t a problem.

None of this is to preach or to reinvent the wheel. There’s a legion of anecdotal advice about how 90% of a workout is just getting it started and how making yourself doing the work is worth the reward of having done, and so on. I get tired of that preaching as well.

And who knows… maybe I wake up tomorrow and successfully talk myself out of running. However, probably not, because I recognize how easy it should have been to talk me out of the last three runs.

It’s very hot. I’m feeling weary. Given how little I’ve run, you could justify taking a rest day. I’m already strength training later in the day on top of this. If I need 10,000 steps I can go on a long walk later or a long walk that morning instead, which is way easier.

But along with my pursuit of 40 miles in a fortnight thanks to all ill advised Garmin challenge badge, and knowing I probably need to run 2-3 miles everyday for it to be in reach… I also realize that the easiest way to hit a step goal like 10,000 is to go on a 30-45 minute run.

By the time I finish each run I have 7000-9000 steps already, and it’s typically not even 8am. That makes getting the last 1000-3000 fairly easy, having the whole entire day to do it. Often I’ve hit the goal in midday or early evening with little to no additional effort.

I could if needed take a couple days off during this challenge fortnight, as long as all my other runs are this same 3.3-3.7 mile distance I’ve somehow been able to comfortably hit. So it’s nice to have that buffer.

At the same time, I also want to see how much running volume I can handle with everyday 3 mile runs. I hadn’t run more than 10 miles in virtually any week since the lockdown, and now I’ve already got 12. For reasons I’ll discuss in a bit, I have the luxury of being able to rest most of the day. So while others may get injured ramping up their volume like that (plus, again, I’m also strength training with mostly upper body exercises between all this), I may be able to successfully handle the intense ramp. I want to see how far I can take it. After all, like I said, I can afford to take a day or two off during the next week if I need it.

Not a lot to report here other than me trying to run everyday right now despite 115°F midday heat, just to see what I can do in a time and place where there’s currently not a lot to do.

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