Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Week ending 1/26

Pretty standard stuff. A log for logging's sake, so I feel motivated to get out, or in or whatever.
AM: 4 miles. Loop around campus to see how my legs felt after an overdue long run. Hardly any soreness at all. I could feel the longer effort from yesterday(and being a little hangry) raising my heart rate, so I took it easy.

AM: 6 miles. About an hour at Al Sabo in the morning. My phone said it was three degrees. 3 layers on the bottom, 4 on the top, and a fleece hood kept my skin from stinging, so it's all good. A really mellow morning cruising the trails and stopping to sit for no reason at all, other than to watch my breath float around and crystallize in the air. The footing was great, and I had the place to myself. This place isn't particularly hilly or challenging, but it feels big and has a "home" feeling for me for some reason. I think I'll make the short trip there more often.

Obligatory phone piture from an "overlook."

PM: 6 miles. A Sunny day made the single digit temps feel pretty bearable, so I took advantage of a scheduling mishap and went for a loop from the apartment. The packed snow and cleared sidewalks made it feel pretty easy. Already paranoid about losing motivation. If I can only have about 90-100 more days like this, I'll be all set.

I also carried some kettlebells up some stairs at work. That's got to be good for a mile or two.

Workout-ish day. 15 minute warmup on the treadmill, then 3x10 minutes at a 15% grade, 5 minute rest on the treadmill. Short cooldown, then leg press, chest press, and upper back exercises. These short workouts make me feel exhausted. To think that I used to do this and swim workouts 4 nights a week probably explains why I used to look and feel more fit. Growing old is getting old already. 5 miles, then? Sure. Five miles. That's probably a flattering estimate given how slow I climb.

10 miles with Kelsey around town. A few inches of snow fell last night, so some sidewalks weren't clear. Most were, so it was fun. A mostly cloudless sky made me feel warm and lifted my spirits, even if it was 11degrees. Am I really one of those sun-worshiping people?  Oh well.

5 miles - workout-esque activity. Ran to and from the rec center, did a little jogging to warm up, then high resistance on an AMT. Not a horrible experience, but, meh. It's the gym. Back and biceps resistance work also. Starting with what shreds of muscular strength I used to have is humbling indeed. Doesn't take long to get fatigued with low rep/high weight exercises.

Saturday and Sunday were pretty much off. Racquetball and a staying moving at work provided enough stimulation to allow me to sleep.

36 miles with some workouts and resistance training.  My body feels good, so I'll take that as a sign that I need to go slightly harder, but not crush myself. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Week ending 1/19/2014

Attempting to not even estimate miles this week as a way to encourage a "quality over quantity" mindset. I've been trying to let go of mileage as the only way to determine fitness. This week had some decent workouts, a long run, and some fun, so I guess it's all good. I did manage to actually run every day, so that's something to celebrate too. The notion that Zane Grey is actually drawing closer, to the point at which I should start training, might have spurred me on a little bit as well.

Monday: 1 hour. 9 hour orientation for work and some pathology reading kept me from doing the ultra distance run I obviously would have done. You know, scheduling conflicts and what not. Okay, it was a pretty standard run, and that seems to happen regardless of how busy I am. 2 miles with Cohen around campus, then a 4 mile loop alone.

Tuesday: 30 minutes with Kelsey and Cohen. Surprised my work orientation ended early.

Wednesday: 45 minutes. 5 minute warmup(I had already walked 20 minutes from the apartment to the Rec Center, so I cut the warmup short). 35 minutes at 15% grade on the treadmill. Tried to get progressively faster: 4mph for 20 minutes, then got up to 6mph. Christ, I'm slow. I feel incredibly awkward on a treadmill. It's not a bad thing I guess, but I wish I had another way to do continuous climbs without it. It's also hot and stuffy and crowded. I think that maybe adding it to the weekly routine(I use that word so loosely that it has no value) could be good. Steady climbing, heat, forcing myself to focus, and then briefly hitting the weights after could help me strengthen my body and feel fit again.

On another note, I can't seem to even step into a gym without being ravenously hungry afterward. Shoulders/arms, legs, and core exercises for 15 minutes, combined with the "Mount Treadmill" run made me hungrier than I've felt in quite a while. I'll take that as a good sign.

Thursday: 55 minute progression run. 28 minutes out on some pseudo-dry, hilly roads out into more rural territory, then a negative split return trip by about 4 minutes. A really fun, (seemingly)effective use of an hour. Knowing I'll have to run faster on the return trip encourages me to do a decent job of easing into it and saving some gas for the second half. My legs felt pretty peppy after yesterday's climbing effort. Reminds me that climbing doesn't really produce much soreness. Descending, on the other hand...

Friday: 1 hour. 20 minutes with Cohen, then 40-45 minutes by myself. 15deg felt really cold this evening. Nice and easy pace, even though I felt pretty strong. I guess that's what "nice and easy" is for.

Run 1: No idea. 40 minutes? Kelsey, Cohen and I goofed around and ran the trails for a while and had burritos afterward. Good company, being outside, and mexican food. Bliss has no need for quantitative measurement.

Sunday: 4 hours. A rather last minute(I still haven't got a work schedule hammered out yet) jog around the streets, unplowed sidewalks, and trails. This jaunt went much more smoothly than expected. 3 loops centered around Dave's house, which was used as an aid station, fully stocked with beer and muffins and sour gummy worms. Didn't feel completely depleted at the end, which makes me feel a bit more confident as training ramps up.

530ish minutes on my shoes this week. Resisting the urge to do the math and estimate miles. Must. Not. Quantify. Distance.

...Okay fine, I'll compromise and assume 10 minute miles. 53 of them.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

To Weather

The weather here in Michigan has gotten severe, and I feel a sense of urgency as I scroll through social media and read news websites. It got me thinking, which got me writing.

I sit here, perched on the back of couch, peering out the window at the snow that has bombarded the Midwest in an unprecedented cold snap. Sipping coffee as I lean against a window that has iced over on both sides, I can't help but wonder how cold it feels outside It's the kind of cold that makes your hands ache and your lungs burn. I'm reminded of the coldest I've ever been, huddling in the dark under a snowmobile in the middle of Michigan's upper peninsula as I waited for help to bring gasoline for my empty tank. I'm finally starting to grow hair on a patch of skin near my chin after frostbite.

At this risk of not sounding dedicated(read: insane), I don't really want to run in this weather that much. I like to observe it, bundle up, and feel connected to it on a walk. Running in this weather just feels like streaking through snow naked. It's sort of fun to say I've done it, but kind of pointless in the end.(Not to discriminate against my friends who post selfies of frozen beards/eyelashes in this shit. Do what you feel, my crazy ass friends)

Whether it's because of a media hype or our tendency to forget every single year that winter is cold(granted, this is exceptionally cold), we Midwesterners are battening down the hatches and settling in for a real storm. Stores experienced a large influx of shoppers buying food and supplies, and schools and businesses preemptively closed, even the area colleges.

My first thoughts when we actually get severe weather are those of concern for those who actually have their survival threatened. I'm in an apartment with heat or an all-wheel drive car. I know I can go a couple days without food if need be. I don't particularly worry about myself. I've missed one class and have been put into a time crunch for an impending grad school deadline, but have been otherwise unaffected.

People who haven't been in grade school for years are getting "snow days." Any of us in a service industry are lucky if we get to choose which holidays we work. Any businesses that aren't part of national or regional chains could decide to close their doors for the day. In a society where working on holidays is expected of nearly everyone, many of us just see these once-cherished times as another thing to "get through." Obligatory gifts, meals, cards, and formalities make us lose track of the real meaning of fellowship and enjoying each other's company. On days like today, where many of us were explicitly told to do nothing, we may actually be able to relax. No academic work looming over our heads. Work is closed. Nowhere to really go and distract ourselves from each other. In a rare series of events, we were granted temporary freedom to appreciate what we have and not look for more. As I sit in a quiet apartment with ice creeping in and snow drifts holding the door shut, I'm thankful to be sitting here with two beings that quickly changed my life. I've realized how wonderful it is to decide what I want for dinner and have those items from a store within an hour with no real inconvenience. The "quick" 100mile drive between my current home and my childhood home seems substantially longer. I'm grateful for every moment.

Though a streak of harsh weather can have terrible consequences, I'd like to think that it can remind us of indomitable spirit and appreciation for what we have. Check on old neighbors and don't lick flagpoles.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Week Ending 1/5/14: Do I have to start training now?

AM: failed attempt to run trails. 5 minutes in and we realized it was a light dusting of snow over several inches of slick ice. Core work instead.

PM: 4 miles in the dark on the sidewalks around campus solo. Easy pace with some charges up the hills.

(7 miles?)1 hour at Al Sabo Land Preserve with Kelsey. Icy trails with some fluffy accumulation on top. Beautiful day to be out, even if I was a little underdressed for 15deg. This felt like the first continuous timed run in a while, and it was wonderful. Staying moving in the snow and sliding around on powdery singletrack made me feel grateful for the day. Maybe it was New Year's Eve that caused the mellow reflection, but I was pondering a year that really put me through the wringer. Many reminders of how finite our time is on this planet threw me into a state that alternated between angst and ambivalence about how I would use this gift of time. I smiled to myself because while I've fretted mourned, people and experiences have kept me laughing and healthy.

The year ended as Kelsey and I stood silently, alone on a hill in Kalamazoo, watching fireworks off in the distance as we passed a mason jar of champagne back and forth. A wonderful way to cap off 2013. 2014 is showing a lot of promise. Exciting, terrifying, motivating promise.

2 miles - Yes. 2 miles. Jog on the River Valley Trail with the dogs, mostly for the sake of tiring them out. I got more than I bargained for when Calvin(40lb spastic leash-yanking variety of dog) Tugged me along on an interval workout.

AM(okay, noon): 4 miles of postholing in knee-deep(in some spots) snow from the apartment. I wouldn't want to do it all the time, but I do occasionally love running in such difficult conditions. Inconsistent footing, picking up the knees, and feeling my body warm up in spite of it being 10deg outside. Something about embracing a struggle is comforting. When it's difficult, I can't zone out with each step, which makes me less likely to mindlessly shuffle.

PM: 3 miles at the Arbs with Kelsey and Cohen. Even though this is the spot where I lost consciousness and had some sort of seizure, I love this place. A nice, small network of trails, and today had beautiful weather. It was cold enough to make ice crystals float about in the air and reflect in the Sun. Kelsey was testing out a slick new pair of snowshoes, and I'm envious. I even got to try them out.
They may not be long or fast, but these short trail outings as of late have made running feel fun, and shown me that physical activity such a vital part of my happiness. Compared to the infrequency of my running in the past...year(wow), I still feel like I'm building fitness one small piece at a time. Being back in the town where I went to school has reminded me of the lifestyle I had when I made large gains in fitness. Frequuent runs, resistance training, occasionally swimming and keeping my mind busy(seldom a problem, as is evident by my parenthetical ramblings) is far better for me than feeling like I'm starting with nothing every day.

AM: No jogging. Body weight exercise: Planks, tricep dips, push-ups, squats, lunges, sit-ups, shower, oatmeal, coffee. I'm just listing words now.

PM: 12 miles. Pseudo-workout in the snow. A mix of plowed and unplowed sidewalks on the route to the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, which was untouched by anyone since the last snow. I trudged along until I reached the Kal-Haven trail, which was packed down by snowmobiles. Once my watch hit one hour, I turned around and did a timed interval workout on the way back. 1x5:00, 1x4:00, 1x3:00, 1x2:00, 1x1:00, 1x0:30. Equal rest interval. I was kind of bored on the return trip, and the thick snow provided some added resistance to build some leg strength. Felt excellent when I got home.

No jogging during the day, but a few miles of hiking at the Yankee Springs Winter Challenge to find an aid station manned by Mark, Ryan, and Tony. I was unabashedly pleased to not have been running a race today, but hanging out at a cool local event for a while is always motivating. Some people I know, and many that I don't, were out in the winter weather for 10k-50mile runs. Kelsey, Cohen and I loitered around and waited for Mikey to come through the AS, then hiked back.

AM: 1 hour. 5 miles, I guess. Al Sabo Preserve with Kelsey and Cohen. Deep snow, swinging on a swing in the middle of a field, and a quiet morning in the woods. I have an incredibly hard time getting myself out the door for winter running, but really enjoy it once I get out. I type this as I try to muster up the motivation to get outside for another run. I don't stark work until next week or school until tomorrow. "No time" is an excuse I won't be able to utter for a while.

PM: 5 miles. About 45 minutes around campus, but the entire area was a big snowdrift. It made for a frozen yet fun experience, running around in the dark alone. Stomping up the hills around buildings that I normally see surrounded by a sea of humanity(at least that's how I remember it; I haven't been here during class hours in a couple years). Dark, cold, and awesome.

42 miles. Good, in that it's the highest mileage I've done lately and it didn't feel that hard. I could improve by adding some intensity and simply trying to get two runs in per day. Not necessarily two long/fast runs, but tacking some extra minutes of training onto each day. Run to work. Run to the store. Feel like a runner, a way I haven't really felt in a while.

Jog on, Joggers.