Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Couple of Contrasting Workouts

On Monday and Thursday, I got out the tire and did

  • 8 times 25 step tire pull
  • 8 times 25 step sprint
  • 8 times 25 step tire pull
  • 8 times 25 step sprint
On Thursday, I figured that I needed to focus on turnover and leg lift, not power.
On Friday, my left leg (the better of the two) was pretty darn fatigued from the top of the glute to the knee.  So I rode the bike on Friday, tried icing but that didn't work very well.  I put 6 Salon Pas patches on my hip on Friday night.

Got up Saturday and it was still sore and fatigued.  Too bad - I got up and did my usual morning exercises.  That made it feel a little better.  I missed the San Gabriels so I decided to run on the Rincon Shortcut OHV road.  The first two miles felt pretty tough but got better as I went along, finally just having the top of my glutes complaining.  After two miles, no problem.  So I ran up to the saddle where the road first starts looking on the south side of the ridge - almost 6 miles.  Ran down slowly since I still have ITB issues on the right side.

Now it starts getting more interesting from a non-running viewpoint.  I stopped in Azusa and got some beet juice and some diced fruit at a panaderia.  They put something sour and spicy in the diced fruit.  I finished the beet juice which was a little weird - it gets your attention when you drink some.  Got home and had a peanut butter, strawberry preserve and banana burrito, then went to the bathroom.  IT LOOKED LIKE BEET JUICE IN THE TOILET!  Apparently this is a known effect of beet juice but that stuff passed through my body in less than 90 minutes!

OK, otherwise, I felt pretty tired.  Lying on the floor with legs propped up on the bed tired.  Eventually I decided to listen to Stevie Wonder - I Wish.  That got me dancing in bed and up.  Then I listened to Superstition and got up and started fixing noodles with natto and sardines with the left over diced fruit.  Then James Brown and Get Up Offa That Thing.  Then One Nation Under A Groove.  I cannot resist Funk. I makes me so happy!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Track Work

Inspired by Serena Williams and Beau Kittredge (see previous posts), I did a track workout on Tuesday night during the Snail's Pace time on the track.  Reading about Serena Williams assigning herself 2500 backhands got me to think what was the track equivalent.  I came up with about 240x40 yard dash or 100x100 meters.  Lengthening the interval (and lessening the intensity), this also works out to 6x1600m or 12x800m.  I've done close to these last two and possibly could get back to that level of fitness.  I might use those eventually to at least get the volume and then ratchet up the intensity, perhaps alternating with a bunch of forties or hundreds.

What I did Tuesday was what I called a sprint pyramid: 400, 300, 200, 150, 100, 50 and then back again.  I had to complete the last 400 in pieces.  Other than that, I felt ok though exhausted.  Then that night, my left plantar's fascia started complaints.  Alfredson protocol and one day on the bike took care of that.  Then during a hill repeat session on Thursday, my knee got a little sore so I cut that workout short.  Now (Friday), I'm just sore and still a little worn out.

So doing sprints didn't hurt me too much.  I'm going to wait at least until I can get in a 10+ mile run before doing that again.  I might try instead a 12x200 (same distance, same number of intervals).  400 repeats are also tempting since my (lack of) fitness ought to stop me before I get hurt.  Could I do 6?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Dogs on the Trail

When I see someone with their dog more than once, it's the dog I recognise more than the person.  There is a guy with a Dalmation that I see on Rose Hills Road.  At least in this case, I know the guys name but not the dog's.  I also see a couple on Workman Hill with a Bichon Frise.  I'm impressed with the dog because it is so light on its feet.  I used to see a middle aged Asian guy on the Skyline trail with a dog of indeterminate breed that always had its right ear sticking up and the left ear flopping over.  And now there is a guy in the neighborhood who has a couple of friendly pitbulls.

I've felt for a long time that dogs (and people) are better behaved off leash.  There was a young lady at the park the other day with a black shepherd off leash.  I made the usual clicking sounds with my tongue so that neither one would be too surprised.  That dog was actually a little timid.  I have a fond memory of meeting a couple with 3 dogs off leash on the Rincon-Shortcut fire road.  I could see how happy those dogs were because 1) they were with their favorite people, 2) they were out in the wilds where things smell so great and 3) they got to go off leash.  And finally, I remember a black lab running kind of sideways up a dirt road in anticipation of getting petted (by me).

Friday, September 1, 2017

It's A Girl!

Serena Williams and fiance' Alexis Ohanian welcome a baby girl into the world!  Congratulations!
It always brings a smile to my face when I think of this couple.  Both are very interesting people but in much different ways.  Serena is such an incredible athlete and such a dominating competitor.  And of course, with that comes a very strong mind.  Alexis is an internet entrepreneur who started Reddit.  He is also a social activist for selected causes.  It always pleases me to see successful people give back - and not in self serving causes, not necessarily through charity but through activism and participation.  And in a lot of cases, their profession and activism form a continuum, not a distinct set of interests.

Congratulations to both of you and may the three of you continue to prosper!

Monday, August 28, 2017


I'm job hunting and got wrapped up in that last week and missed running 3 days in row.  So since then, I've gotten out every day to the park and have run a few miles there.  Running at the park means picking up trash.  The park looks pretty good now.  There were two broken Blue Moon bottles yesterday, one in the grass right next to my path and one on the basketball court.  There was a dishrag by the one in the grass so I just put the pieces on the cloth and threw the collection in the trash.  I wanted a broom and dustpan to clean up the basketball court and luckily, the city workers showed up before I was done and I borrowed a pair from them.

My daughter is the trainer for the San Francisco Flamethrowers Ultimate Frisbee team that just won the AUDL championship in Montreal.  Did you know that there was a professional ultimate frisbee league?  At the end of the game which was streamed live, they interviewed the 3 co-captains, including the well known Beau Kittredge.  Besides his athletic ability, Beau is known for his durability.  He'll jump high for a catch, come down in a pile of bodies and come away unscathed.  In the post game interview, he indirectly attributed his durability to track work, lifting and plyometrics.  How does this relate to me? 
  • I've been injured quite a bit recently.
  • I've recovered primarily due to specific (non-running) exercises.
  • I've done track work recently.
  • I've lifted in the past.  I actually competed at powerlifting at one time.
  • I've never done plyos, at least not with any regularity, and
  • I haven't been lifting recently.
So, I did a second workout last night.  I did jumping jacks (lightweight plyo), some little jumps that I saw my other daughter (the one with the big vertical) doing. And then I went out and pulled the tire.  I didn't go overboard on any of these. 
So the goal is now, get that first workout in and then use the evening workout to fill in the non-running gaps... or track work.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


I'm finally getting back to a level where I got through 2 workouts which could be construed as full workouts, even though I still have a long way to go before I feel that I'm in decent shape.  The first was 2 hours of hill repeats on Thursday and the second was 5x1 mile repeats today.  In both cases, I got through the workouts due to some keys I hit on during the workouts.

The key I hit on in the first workout came from the Mary Poppins movie in the scene where she is helping Jane and Michael pick up the play room. Well begun is half done which according to Brainy Quote is from Aristotle.  I felt like quitting at the beginning of the third rep but noticed that after I got started up the hill, things went pretty smoothly.  So I recalled that quote just before I started each subsequent rep and that got me through the workout.

The problem going into the track workout today was that my flat runs have not been going well at all. In addition, running with shoes (except my New Balance on trails) has not been going well. Today's warm-up consisted of riding my bike to the high school, then jumping jacks in the grass, a couple of carioca passes and then 4x40m in the grass, but not that fast.

But the important thing is to start that first rep. As I write this, I recall yet another quote, attributed to Goethe by W.H. Murray: Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. So I started the first rep at a pace that was a bit too fast since I had no idea what my pace would be. The pace settled down but my problem wasn't a pace question; it was a form question. I started the third rep but then quit about 10 seconds in. I walked back to the start and I think at that point told myself a familiar key, which is to "lift my heels".  With that, I restarted the rep. After that, a smaller problem was that I was going from sticking my butt out to tucking it under, neither of which was correct.  So that eventually clicked to the other key, stay long through the hips.

Any runner ought to have some familiar keys to which they refer either in workouts or races. My key with the hill repeats was more on the inspirational side, basically telling myself to start each rep well. My keys with the track workout were more form cues on how to use my body. I've used both type of keys in races.

Monday, August 7, 2017


I think I may have found my (running) problem.  Let me narrate the thought process:

I hooked up with my old training group and ran stadiums that night.  I was taking short steps on the stairs, not bench to bench as I used to.  I think running those steps and working on turnover may have clicked something in my head about how to relax.

So the next time I ran hill repeats at Workman Hill in Whittier, I started working on relaxation while going up the last climb.  This translated quite quickly into a feeling of "tossing" with my foot by relaxing before I've even left the ground.  The next hill workout, mostly on just the other side of Turnbull Canyon was an exercise in tossing the foot in the same way.

This worked with no soreness or tightness as a result.  I'm super-optimistic.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


I've been having problems for a while with my solei, and recently the left soleus for a change.  I do the Alfredson Protocol on a minimum of a daily basis to help with this.  Playing soccer seemed to get them stronger.

I came up with the following workout.

Starting on a concrete levee, basically a 30 degree slope that's about 20 feet high:

  • Run straight up, emphasizing turnover, not stride length.
  • Run Carioca sideways (traveling both to the left and right).
  • Run straight up again.
The last time I did this, I did 8 reps, 4(L) + 4(R) reps, 8 reps.

Then, I ride my bike back to the local park and do the following.

  • Some running straight to warm up.
  • Some Cariocas
  • 1 step Zigzag, so push off left to go right, then on the next step push off right to go left - for 32 steps.
  • 1 step reversed Zigzag, push off left to go left, then push off right to go right.
  • 2 step Zigzag, so push off left, first traveling right, then 2 steps later traveling left.
  • 2 step Zigzag, push off right.
This seems to help.

Also, inspired by Serena Williams, today I squeezed out as many 24 step sprints as I felt I could without further injuring myself.  I iced and used the EMS machine afterwards.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Assistance Exercises

I start out my day, pretty much every day with a set of exercises. There is always the temptation to add to the set, but I like to keep the set as short as it is. The point is to do these daily and if I had too many exercises, I wouldn't always do them.
The other adaptation of these exercises is the lack of equipment required. I now have it down to requiring a floor and a chair (for the Bulgarian Split Squats). I want to be able to do these if I am traveling.
Finally, I do 16 reps of most of the exercises. 16 is 2x2x2x2 which is a nice number from two points of view: rhythm and computers. Computers are irrelevant (but my profession) but rhythm makes sense for physical exercises (and also is related to my other major in college: music). Also, I hold my stretches for 64 seconds which is 2x2x2x2x2x2.

    The exercises are broken into 4 groups which I call "AFES".
  1. A - Alfredson Protocol - Briefly, calf negatives.  Alternating left and right feet, with a relaxed foot, I first touch my toes on one side followed by flexing my ankle until I can lift my toes off the floor with my weight on the ball of my foot.  As I do this, I gradually take my weight off my other foot.  I do one set with bent knees (for my soleus) and then a set with extended knees.  I do a total of 3 sets of 16 (bent knees) + 16 (extended knees).  And when I say 16, that's alternating between left and right, finishing with 16 on each side.  I take my time to do these, feeling the effect in my muscles.  Often when I do these, I can have tightness or soreness at the beginning which is gone by the end.  This is the way I do Alfredson's Protocol.  It is effective for me.  There are other ways of doing it.  Also, the only equipment I need is the floor and something to lean against.  Alfredson's Protocol is promoted as a remedy for Achilles Tendonitis (or Tendinosis).  It also may help Plantar's Fasciitis.  I do it every day no matter what.  I sometimes do it at other times of the day if my lower calves feel particularly tight or if I'm going running.  These are named after Hakan Alfredson who is a Swedish sports scientist who devised these and is one of the foremost authorities on tendons.
  2. F- Flow - I picked up the idea of flow from Cori who does the Redefining Strength" channel on youtube.  I view it as movement to get my muscles warmed up.  Remember that this motion should be fluid and fairly relaxed.  This could be a sequence of movements that someone improvises but I have a set group of movements.
    • Knee circles - With my feet very close together and my knees bent (and together) and with my hands on my legs just above my knees, I move my knees in 16 circles clockwise, the 16 circles counter clockwise.  These days, I tend to feel tightness in my left hip flexor and sometimes some connection from my thigh to my hip.
    • Hip circles - I separate my feet by maybe an inch, keep my knees fairly straight with my hands on my hips and otherwise mimic the previous flow by moving my hips in 16 circles clockwise, followed by 16 counter clockwise.  Again currently, I feel these in my left hip flexor.
    • Twist - Without swinging and with a wide stance, I twist my torso and neck (in a controlled fashion) first to the left to view a point on the floor, maybe 5 feet behind me, then to the right the same amount.  The point is to work on back mobility, not to twist knees much.  I do only 8 in each direction because I start feeling loose after about 6.
    • Not sure what to call this, Open Hip Mobility? - With a wider still stance and with my feet turned out (left and right big toes farther apart than heels), I hang forward with my hands hanging down, moving my hands first toward my left foot, then my right, eventually touching the ground.  I keep alternating until my range of motion seems to improve.  I have no set number of repetitions and in fact my motion changes as this flow proceeds.  Remember that you are not in a competition if doing this, not even with yourself.
    • Still in a wide stance but with feet parallel (big toes the same distance apart as heels), I start in a "star" position with arms extended straight out to my sides, stretching my chest a little as I do this.  Then I pivot down to touch my left shin with my right hand with my left arm pointing upwards.  Then alternate and touch my right shin with my left hand.  Then repeat.  I always do this 16 times per side.  For me, I manage to work my way down to touching my foot by the 3rd rep.  Your results may vary.  Again, don't make this a competition.  Tightness in my right hip shows up in this flow but I have not made this into a stretch (touching the foot is good enough) and my hip has improved over time.
  3. E is for Exercise.
    • Pushups -I place my hands fairly wide because when I place them the "normal" distance apart, I get some crunching noises from my right shoulder.  Also, I only do 16.  However, I start out laying on the floor.  Between pushups, I am laying on the floor and lift the heel of my hands in between each rep.  As a result, I try to pushup more "explosively", of course holding the torso rigid.
    • Reverse lunge - 16 placing the left foot back, then 16 placing the right foot back.  I look forward (chest forward) instead of leaning forward so that it feels a little more like a squat.
    • Lateral Leg Raise - I just changed to this exercise today.  The idea is to exercise the side of my hip.  I do 16 reps of 4 - let me explain.  I'm on my (right) side with my right hand under my head (pillow-like) and my left hand on the floor in front of my chest to provide stability.  Both legs are bent a little.  For the set of 4, my left thigh starts out on top of my right thigh at the bottom of the first raise, then behind at the bottom of the second raise, then again on top, then in front of my right thigh on the bottom of the fourth raise.  I raise my leg as high as I can within reason.  Then of course, flip over and do the same on my left side.  About 2 seconds or a little less for each raise.
    • Bulgarian Split Squats - I need a chair or something for this one.  I stand 2 1/2 foot lengths in front of the chair.  Then I balance on my right foot and place my left foot on the chair behind me.  I'm not too picky about how the foot is placed; as long as it is touching, I start.  And by starting, I mean I bend my knee (not too fast) until I reach the bottom of my range, then back up.  16 times with the right, then 16 times with the left.  This is my favorite one-legged squat.  I used to do this along with weight lifting and would employ a little weight to add some work.  Not now though.
    • Thumbs touching pushups - Basically a pretty close "grip" pushup.  I started this by placing my hands on a home made medicine ball (cheap soccer ball stuffed with uncooked rice, bands of duct tape on the outside to improve grip).  The ball makes it easier since it transfers weight to your feet.  After I got to 16 pushups (started at about 8), I started placing my hands on the floor (with thumbs touching).  I'm just getting up to 16 reps now with hands on the floor.  Either way, my thumbs touch the bottom of my sternum when I'm on the floor.  And I don't relax my body in the middle.  Today, I took a moment at the top to focus after 12, then 14, then 15.  Don't arch your back on these.
  4. S is for Stretching.  There are just 3 currently.  I count to 64 on each of them.  For all of them, I just hold the position or in the case of the last two, just hang there.
    • Pretzel stretch (at least that's what I call it) -  Seated on the floor, my right leg is folded to the left so that the outside of it is on the floor.  My left leg has the knee up in front of me and the left heel is placed on the floor to the right of the right leg, touching the top of the right thigh.  I have to place my right fist on the floor away from me and back by my right hip so that I don't fall over.  I hold the toes on my left foot with my left hand with my arm on the inside of my left leg.  Hold for 64 seconds, then do it on the other side.
    • Dancer stretch - Standing with feet separated at least an inch, I relax my spine starting from the top and just roll over until my torso is hanging from my hips.  I might twist my torso a little and give my upper body a little shake.  After counting to 64, I roll back up.  I get a pretty cool (enlightened/relaxed) feeling at the end of this stretch.  Named "Dancer" because I used to play piano accompaniment for dance classes and this is something they would do.
    • Crossed-legs toe touch - Similar to the previous stretch, I just take one foot and place on just the other side of the other foot and in front of the other leg.  The leg in front of the other is holding the other leg's knee straight.  The point is NOT to hyperextend the other leg.  I feel this more in my (right) hip than anywhere else.  Anyway, place the leg, and hang from the hips just as with the previous stretch.  I might twist the upper body one way or another in order to feel some part of the stretch.
If it isn't obvious, this list can change.  The various exercises and even the format have evolved over time.  My initial aim was to work on my right hip (has issues).  Way back when I was lifting heavy, my shoulders could have problems so I added shoulder exercises.  Then the problem was doing the exercises consistently. I decided to limit how much I did in order to do it consistently.  I don't know how long it takes me to get through these although I'm sure it goes faster the longer I do it.  And now when I'm finishing the exercises (before the stretches), it can feel as though it isn't that long.  After the stretches though, it doesn't seem short (The stretches were the last element I added).
I also obviously change the actual exercises from time to time.  This week, I changed one exercise which had helped my hips but which I suspected of hurting my soleus (and used a piece of equipment).  That's what I changed to lateral leg raises.  Sometimes I add an exercise and sometimes I remove one.

If you would like to start something similar (first, don't buy anything), I'd suggest starting out with maybe 3 body weight exercises (also known as calisthenics) that work on areas of concern.  Do those for a week or so and think about how you like the routine and the effect of the exercises.  Then start gradually making little changes.  So for instance if you are doing pushups as one of your exercises, you can find dozens of variations on pushups by varying foot and hand placements.  Try making up an exercise of your own.  Try that flow idea.  Have fun and enjoy communicating with your body.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sydney McLaughlin, dominance reminiscent of Obea Moore

I was just reading an old post where I mentioned the video of Obea Moore with an outstanding anchor leg in a 4x400m relay.  That reminded me of a recent race by Sydney McLaughlin. McLaughlin's performance in this "Swedish Relay" looks even more dominant, starting a 400m quite a ways (>20m) back in 6th place and finishing first by a couple of meters. Also dominant is her earlier state record where literally no one else is in the picture for the last 60m. And neither race was her main event (400m hurdles).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Not quite injured but ...

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a mile on sidewalks on Tuesday and then again on Thursday.  I'm still paying for it with a sore left calf (usually my good side).  Running in grass doesn't cause problems.  Running hills on trails actually helps cure problems.  In general, I need to run hills to keep my legs healthy.  I now need to get conditioned on hills and grass.  At some point, I then will be able to run on the dirt tracks at the high schools.  But it looks like I just need to stay off pavement, at least until I'm in much better condition.  I rode the bike today but I'm trying to get in 3 to 4 days per week on the Whittier hills.

Speaking of the bike, I modified another thing on the Raleigh Twenty since my accident.  I cut the end off some pedals, one of which already had the end broken off.  This made them about 3/4" shorter than the folding pedals that were on the bike.  This will make them less likely to come in contact with the slanted face of the levee, should I ever try that again.  I tried the bike out by hand a couple of times while on my ride to check the clearance.  Right now, it looks like if the uphill pedal is at the bottom of the stroke, it might just barely touch if the bike frame is perfectly upright.  If I try this out while riding, I plan to walk it down the face, then ride it at the bottom of the face and maybe try climbing back up.
So now the changes I've made are

  • Put fatter (50x406) tires on the wheels to lift the bike frame about 0.3".
  • Replace the rear fixed gear wheel with a coaster brake wheel which 1) allows me to coast and 2) gives me a rear brake.
  • Reduce the width of the pedals by about 3/4" which should help hitting the pedal on the sloped surface of the levee. 
The two things I haven't done are
  • Change the wheels to 451 rims.  I think this would cost between $100 and $150.  This would only raise the frame at most about 0.7" since the tires will get thinner.  So not yet.
  • Change to a 140 mm crankset.  I currently have a 165 mm crankset.  I've used the 140 before on another bike.  The effect of it is that it is harder to pedal and really, the bike needs to be geared down and then pedaled faster.  That's possible but not desirable.

I also have to give credit to my wife.  She doesn't discourage me at all from going back out there and frankly confronting my fears.  She just asks for my expected time to get back home.  And fortunately, she's somewhat trained by ultrarunning where I would underestimate my return time from workouts by hours.

Finally, I'm pretty happy with how my body responded to the crash, if not how my legs respond to pavement.  I felt like I was in a mental fog for about a week which is a lot better than what others report after a concussion.  At least a couple of things actually improved.  Sudoku seemed like a little different game and now it looks like I have improved at it.  Also, I got rid of the bad habit of chewing my nails.  I think my beat up finger was the first thing that stopped me biting my nails, but now my dental hygienist told me that I have a crack in my tooth, so I've put a definite stop to that.

Monday, June 12, 2017


I was running laps around the fields behind the Cypress Community Center and Cypress High School.  I was playing around with the route and running on the track (since it wasn't muddy) to make 4 laps add up to 8 miles.  One thing I noticed is that right around the geographical center at the border between the Community Center and the High School, swifts (a bird) would start flying laps around me.  One even flew just a few feet in front of me and they always fly within 3 feet of the ground.
After looking it up, it looks like these were white throated swifts (by a process of elimination).  Including wings, they are about the size of one of my hands with wings that are pointed at the tips and two pointed tips at the two corners of their tail.  When they fly, they are completely silent and maneuver very well.  They stop flying in my vicinity when I'm close to a fence and they don't want to fly through a 5 foot wide gap between me and the fence.
The behavior of most animals seems motivated either by food or by family with a few of the more intelligent animals having food related behavior bordering on play.  Crows for instance take a behavior related to stealing eggs - forcefully dropping an egg to break it - and make it more like playing with a ball.  We've had crows dropping immature persimmon fruit on our roof - we can hear it bouncing and the crows chasing after it.  I once saw some crows that had a round plastic container from a vending machine, dropping the container on the sloping side of a levee and hopping down the levee to keep up with the bouncing plastic ball.
So my first guess at the swift activity was that they were trying to intimidate me by "buzzing" me when I got close to their nest.  After reading about their feeding activity where they catch insects while flying, perhaps they expected me to attract insects (as cattle and horses do) and were hoping to pick up something to eat.  They didn't strike me as intimidating, partially because they fly so low.  Hummingbirds, for instance, buzz people, etc in a definitely intimidating fashion, flying directly overhead.  Hummingbirds also have that diving behavior although that strikes me as mating related.
Anyway, if you have some knowledge of white throated swift behavior or can correct my guesses in some way, I'd like to hear about it.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Progress Against Goals

I mentioned a few goal related things down below.  My progress this week has been to
  • Mounted some bicycle chains inside the tire for some added weight and took it out on a local bike path to drag it.  It felt good.
  • Ran the aforementioned Workman Hill Traverse repeats more like 26 minutes per repeat rather than the earlier 30 minutes.
  • Improved my TVR distance by over a lap this past Saturday.
However, my leg was pretty sore after the last TVR time trial, so I took a day off before today's Workman workout.  I think I'll work more on volume and a little less on intensity.

Those Wacky Vultures!

Well maybe comical, not wacky.  On my way home from Silverado Canyon, right about where I left the walls of the canyon, I saw a vulture, perched on an electrical or phone line.  It wasn't holding its balance that well, wobbling back and forth.  I usually see vultures perched on a tree or something a little more solid.

Usually the way I see vultures is when they are soaring and not flapping their wings at all.  I have seen vultures standing on the ground in the morning with their wings spread in the sun to warm up.  We did see a number of them gliding in to trade opinions about how to open up a dead seal on the beach by Arroyo Grande.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

How Goals Work For Me

Yesterday, I was running what I call "Workman Hill Traverses", running over and back Workman Hill in Whittier.  The previous (and only other) time I did this, I quit after 3 over-and-backs since there was a light rain and mud was starting to collect on my shoes (actually Body Glove Realm water socks).  So yesterday I went up with the plan of running 4.

I run these not that fast because I'm not completely over the ITB issues.  For instance when I run now, after a while, it hurts to flex my knee to the maximum extent, but that's not required, so... what.  And later in the day, my knee doesn't hurt.  And yes, I'm (insert usual advice here).

So yesterday, I finished the 3rd one at 1:32:something.  So I started going over goals in my head - maybe next time trying for 2 hours, later on, working up to 5 or 6 over-and-backs in 2 hours (I like 2 hour workouts).  Then I started thinking, maybe I can break 2 this time.  So I wasn't fooling around on the 4th rep but I started pushing a little on the way back and finished under 1:58 and that included picking up some trash on the last descent.

The workout today was a 1 hour run.  We have a group of friends that annually do a one-hour run and mail in the resulting distance, this year by June 14th.  This was my first time trial for the year.  After 2 miles, it was pretty obvious that I wasn't going to make even 6 miles (pretty bad, huh?).  But that is as expected, actually.  Given uninterrupted training, I should be able to hit 7 miles, but not at the moment.  So I thought that 5 3/4 miles was a possibility.  So I kept track of my splits but I actually got slower, slipping from the 10:20's to 10:30's.  But when I finished 5 miles, I had 7:37 remaining in the hour, so possible to get to 5.75 if I could run 10 minute pace.  I ran the last mile in 9:30 and managed 5.75 plus about 73 meters.  Nothing to write home about (blogs are fair game though) but it reminded me that whenever I do this effort, I'm breathing at least a little hard as I did in the last mile. And now the goal for the next time I do this time trial will be 6 miles.

So I set goals during workouts, manage a little extra effort at the end to hit the goal, then use that for the next workout to hit a higher goal.  A typical mind game I played in the past was to calculate the average split from an earlier workout, then try to hit that split for that day's workout.  That would usually result in a faster time for the day.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Signal Hill Plus Tire Pull

It has rained the last two days so the hills in Whittier will build up on the bottom of your shoes for the next few days. Instead, I ran a higher intensity hill workout in/on Signal Hill. Signal Hill is a city entirely within Long Beach, California. It is basically a big hill in the middle of otherwise flat terrain. I was introduced to it by the Long Beach City College track team in the first week or so that I lived in California. I used to be able to run to the first stop sign on Hill Street in a P.R. of 57 seconds. Now, I hope I can break 3 minutes.
This workout started with 8 quick sprints in the grass in the park (which didn't exist long ago). The grass was wet so after 4 sprints, I went barefoot which worked a lot better. After the grass sprints, I put my shoes on and ran the hill 4 times. Back when I could run with more intensity, 2 repeats was pushing it. Today, I could tell I was tired on the 4th repeat. I wasn't sure if I would be able to get through the tire pulls but it turned out not to be a problem. The tire doesn't drag very heavily. It is more of a tool to keep one able to continue to drive. One of the other guys did get curious about the tire so I let him know how the cord attached, etc.
I like this workout because
  • I was able to get nice and quick turnover on the grass sprints,
  • the hill sprints really tired me out and
  • the tire pulls got me to drive, particularly with the right leg.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

TVR upcoming

Each year, my friend Andy Roth puts on the Titus Van Rijn One-Hour Distance Classic, a challenge to run for one hour. The folks on his list get a time to attempt the challenge (a duration of about 6 weeks this time). The challenge is to run for one hour on a 1/4 mile or 400 meter track and report the distance. I don't know why it is named after Rembrandt's son. I don't know how long I have been participating in this but I do know that my participation started before 2006 when I set my personal record of 14,681 meters (and had to curl up on the bed for a couple of hours afterwards with an upset stomach).

For the past few years, the advent of this challenge is the incentive for me to get into shape. Usually I'm out of shape because of some injury. This year is no exception. I've had hip issues for years and I've been steadily working on them for over a year. I've had ITB issues for several months, possibly related to the hip issues. Due to TVR, I've been working on the ITB and it has been responding. And then just to make things interesting, in quick succession, I got food poisoning and then crashed my bicycle.

So the point of progress today is that this morning, I ran in the rough neighborhood of my target distance and my ITB didn't develop the usual pain. Hooray! So my rough plan (I keep the plans rough since they get changed often) is to get a representative effort completed on relatively flat trails (at Bolsa Chica Wetlands) midweek and another on a track on the weekend, then repeat this for the next 6 weeks which is the rough term of the challenge.

I'm slow at the moment. Really slow. However, I know that if I don't aggravate my injuries, I'll probably start improving my pace and see that on a weekly basis. And if not, I'm running a time trial weekly so I'll have something to enter. I've had bad years before and it didn't turn out to be a tragedy. If there is any consolation, it is (by comparison) how much worse I am at weightlifting now than when I was younger, yet I can still do it and get some enjoyment and improvement out of it.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Still trudging after all these years

Despite getting food poisoning and crashing my bike in the past month, my main physical issue is ITB problems. I finally decided that it was an ITB flavored knee problem a couple of days ago. So after researching it, I decided that I'm already doing plenty of hip exercises but that I could get the foam roller out and also add a specific exercise for flexing the knee. I did those two yesterday, then ran my usual Rose Hill Road repeats today (increasing my repeats by one) and didn't have much of a problem with my knee. Of course, I need to get in shape because it is the time of year for... the Titus Van Rijn One Hour Run. I have to complete this by June 14th. I'll probably do a one hour run on a dirt track every weekend from now until the deadline. So if I get around the ITB issue, the next issue will be fitness, I hope. And that's always a good issue to work on.
Rose Hill Road is currently very overgrown with wild mustard and thistles. This gives me two concerns, neither of which has materialized yet. The first concern is rattlesnakes. I saw a striped racer the other day and I have seen rattlesnakes in this area in the past so I know there is a potential. My guess (after finding a snake hiding under a plant in the past) is that the snakes are out there, they're just doing a good job of keeping out of trouble. So I'll continue to do as I suggested to some hikers today: watch where I step and step on the dirt (trail).
The second concern is ticks. I have picked up a few ticks in the past in this general area but I haven't seen any hitch a ride on me yet. Not much I can do about this other than not run on overgrown trails and I can't do that because that eliminates running hills for the most part.
So the current program alternates hill repeats with some tentative runs in the grass in the local park. I'm going to move the flat runs to the local dirt track tomorrow and just gradually push this program and try to get in shape of the TVR one hour.