Tuesday, January 8, 2008

7 Run 2, Week 5 (CT5K) + Run 1, Week 4 (BTHR) + Strength-Training: An Evening of Über-workouts & Personal Bests (of The Season)


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What a wonderfully warm night for running outside! It was 70 degrees outside!!!!! It was a bit windy at times during the evening, but the wind was always very warm, even much later in the evening, as I was finishing my second run. It felt really amazing! (Plus, those big gusts of wind served as a particularly effective means of cooling down afterwards! There's nothing like the experience of feeling the full-effect of "nature's air-conditioning," especially when you need it most, i.e., after a particularly challenging run.)

My friend & I met for our joint run sometime after 6 pm. We both exuberantly exclaimed to each other how marvelously unseasonable today's weather was, & her attire of athletic shorts & 2 medium-weight layers on top also reflected this enthusiasm as well. Since I knew I'd be also running again later in the evening, I was a tad bit more cautious in my wardrobe choice, wearing my usual long running pants, a long-sleeved top, & light fleece pullover.

In this area, the weather can be very unpredictable, & accordingly, it can often be a challenge to plan one's outdoor exercise wardrobe in advance, especially in the winter, when temperatures can widely vary throughout the day. Especially at night, it can be difficult to predict how much the temperature will drop as the evening progresses, even if you do follow the weather report quite closely. How much cooler the weather will get in the evening is often a matter of conjecture & luck! ;-) And of course, there's also the wind chill factor to contend with, which can skew how cold or warm it actually feels outside; and of course, that just adds another wild card element into the mix.

Anyhow, back to our run. As usual, we talked while running. And, as usual, I had my left ear headphone-free for listening to my friend, (who likes to run on the left side of the path), while simultaneously listening to the CT5K podcast, which was playing my right ear. At first, dividing my attention like this was a bit discombobulating, but after several months of running this way, I've gotten used to it, for the most part. I find it sometimes affects my balance, but that's only usually during those moments when I need to lean in a bit more to hear my friend! ;-)

Instead of synchronizing our iPods together, which is more trouble than it's worth (i.e., I gave her my iPod shuffle, which doesn't have a display & the tracks don't always play in order -- and it can take a while to locate the correct track), we simply chat, while I listen to Robert Ullrey's podcast in one ear. I listen for Robert's verbal cues, so I can let her know when it's time to switch between running & walking intervals.

Well tonight, for whatever reason, I couldn't hear the point in the program where Robert tells people doing Day 2 to begin & end their intervals. (There's only one recording for this week, & he simply announces where people doing the different workout days should start & stop their intervals.) I could hear him telling Day 1 & Day 3 people to start & stop their running & walking intervals, but kept missing any mention of Day 2! Of course, this happened because I was paying more attention to our (very enjoyable) conversation than to the podcast! ;-)

Anyhow, we got a little off track in following the workout podcast for Day 2, so instead we ended up running several different intervals of 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 2 separate intervals of 8 minutes each, respectively. Of course, each interval was interspersed with a few minutes of walking, however imprecise!

Well, I just checked the CT5K workout listed on the Cool Running website, & as it turns out, we actually ended up doing slightly more than what our scheduled workout (for Day 2) called for tonight. Tonight's CT5K workout was supposed to be 3 running intervals of 8 minutes, 5 minutes, & then another 8-minute interval. Oops! Oh well, the extra 3 minutes is minimal, & there was certainly enough walking in between for adequate recovery time. At any rate, my running buddy can give herself an extra pat on the back for tonight's extra efforts!

Then, immediately afterward, (at 7:54 pm), I started my second run (i.e., a solo run). On tonight's BTHR schedule was 40 minutes of running at a fast pace. I did a total of 5 laps in 41:30, with a time of 32:31 at the 4-lap marker. That's an 11:12 minute-mile pace for 5 laps (3.7 miles). And an 10:59 minute-mile pace for 4 laps (2.96 miles). (Yea, this is the second time I cracked an 11-minute mile this season for the 2.96 mile distance!)

Well, I think tonight's run qualified as "fast" (atleast in relative terms!). In fact, I think tonight's run sets a new personal record for the season, as I've clocked my fastest paces of the season thus far for my 3 mile & 3.7 mile times.

I also think I set a new milestone in terms of my personal energy & stamina levels. For laps 1-3, I kept a fairly consistent pace, while still running at a decent clip. On lap 4, I really pushed it & had a slight side-stitch as a result of my efforts. (As I was rounding the final stretch on lap 4, I checked my stopwatch & realized that I had a good chance of breaking past the 32 minute barrier, if I just put in the extra effort. So I went for it!) However, after lap 4 I didn't want to slow down, as I wanted to see what I could do for the final lap. I had a slight dip in energy after sprinting to the end of lap 4, but was quickly able to recharge after slowing down slightly, just for a bit, to catch my breath. Amazingly, I found that I had still something left to give on lap 5. I didn't run out of energy, which was such a great realization. I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere, in terms of noticeable improvements in my overall state of fitness. This feels really fantastic, & of course, is extremely gratifying as well!



I was feeling pretty good after my runs, having just come off the high of my previous run. (I'd gotten a serious runner's high somewhere between laps 4 & 5!) So I decided to top off the evening with a strength-workout. I did 25 push-ups, 300+ crunches, & a whole host of free-weight exercises. (I think I might've done more crunches than 300 -- probably closer to 350 in all -- but was starting to get a tad light-headed & lost count after a certain point! That light-headed feeling was a pretty clear signal that it was definitely time to stop!)

Here's what I did for the arm workout: Using 10-lb. weights, I did 70 standing calf-raises (yes, using weights this time!), 20 shoulder shrugs, & 1 set of 25 reps for each arm of the following exercises: concentration curls, one arm rows, & shoulder presses. And then, using 5-lb. weights, I did 1 set of 25 reps for each arm of the following exercises: front shoulder raises with forearms parallel to the ground, front shoulder raises with forearms perpendicular to the ground, pectoral flyes (pec deck), shoulder presses, concentration curls, & alternating dumbbell curls.





Yes tonight was a night of über-workouts! ["Ja, ich bin die superfrau, höre mich zu brüllen!" For those who don't know German, just plug that one into Babelfish & see what you get! ;-) Hopefully my German syntax is OK, but I'm sure Kurt or Andreas (a.k.a., Lookcook) will correct me in the event I go off-course & make a grammatical boo-boo.]

Hopefully, today's series of über-workouts made up for some of the "damage" I incurred during today's dim sum outing with friends.

Originally, I was a bit hesitant to attend, as I'm adamant about trying to reach my body fat percentage goals over the next few months, in order to be adequately prepared for the roster of upcoming races. Simply put, less body fat = greater running speeds!

However, I did miss hanging out with my friends, as I've not seen several of them for a few months. So, I decided that it was possible for me to see my friends, partake in the fest o' food, & still stick to my nutritional "guns," if I just simply pre-planned my eating strategy a bit. My specific strategy was to eat moderate portions, concentrating on protein staples & vegetables & trying to avoid the selections which were comparatively much higher in fat.

Let me just say that this was not an easy challenge, considering that this particular restaurant, while admittedly lip-smackingly delicious, typically serves dishes which are generally much higher in fat than I typically consume. And admittedly, I was a little bit nervous about the prospects of trying to manage my caloric & fat intake, as there weren't many lower-fat options available on the menu at all.

The other option I'd briefly considered was eating lunch beforehand & then just dropping by the restaurant for a while for the sole purpose of socializing with everybody. However, in the end, I decided against this option, as I thought this course of action a bit inane (& let's face it, just totally lame!), & didn't want to unintentionally insult my friends by this seemingly inexplicable behavior. Of course, it had nothing to do with my friends, & was a solely reflection of my nutrition concerns & fitness goals.

While I don't believe in "sacrificing one's health" in order to socially conform, I also think it's possible to manage challenging eating scenarios (i.e., social get-togethers, holidays, etc.) in a way where you can successfully enjoy your friends' company, & all-the-while still stay focused on your health & fitness goals. It just takes a little forethought & some advance planning, that's all!

Even if it's not always going to be the perfect nutritional scenario, (which dining out so rarely is), I realize that situations like these call for a bit of adaptability/flexibility in one's thinking, as well as some temporary modification in what is otherwise a general trend of super-healthy eating.

After all, if a person can remain flexible & reasonable about their food intake, they are less likely to let one single "fattening" (or simply less-nutritious) meal tank their progress thus far. On a related topic, please see my recent post on how to overcome the perpetual self-induced guilt of diets and New Year's resolutions & instead replace them with much more effective strategies for achieving your fitness & nutrition goals.

Well, it was really great to see my friends. The lunch was thoroughly enjoyable and yes, the food was simply delicious.

I'll tell you one thing though: I won't be hopping on the scale anytime soon. Not until I've had atleast another solid week of running under my belt! Hahahahaha!

At the same time, I'm trying not to focus too much on the past month's rather see-saw-like progress in my weight-loss. However, I have a feeling that, after today's meal, my body fat percentage has probably shot back up to where it was a month ago too! LOL.

Despite my adherence to a very consistent exercise schedule, I realize that almost 95% of this see-sawing is due to my food intake over the past month. However, considering that the majority of this less-than-saintly eating revolved around multiple social gatherings of family & friends during the holiday season, I'm just going to cut myself some slack & move on.

While the see-sawing might be frustrating to witness, it's really not that big of a deal when you consider that, in reality, it's only a few pounds & body fat percentage points that are actually bobbing up & down.

Of course, lest anyone else comment upon my "apparent weight-loss obsession," know that the impetus behind these comments have less to do with external issues or vanity, & more to do with wanting to stay on target with my running performance goals. So there!!!!!!

Ugh, I'm so sick of talking about the above subject, so let's change the topic & talk about something more interesting: You! I'd love to hear about your running programs, race schedules, & fitness goals. So please comment here & let me know what you've got planned for 2008!

Good night to all, & to all a good night!
-C

7 comments:

ashi.kacheria said...

a very nice article. i do believe running in solo helps a lot then in socials. marathons are good but not always....

cyberpenguin said...

Hi ashi.kacheria,

Thanks for your comments! Glad to hear you enjoyed this article.

Do you enjoy going for regular runs? What types of sports & other fitness activities do you enjoy most?

Based on your comments, it looks like you prefer solo runs to social runs. Would that be an accurate assessment?

I find that solo runs are great for those times when you want to concentrate on the act of running itself, (i.e., for the more serious training runs, when you're focusing on your form, breathing, pace, etc.), while social runs are better for those times when you just want to lose yourself in conversation with others, or maybe don't want to be as conscious of the run itself.

Also, I find that if you run with a person with a particularly good sense of humor & personality (like my current running partner!), it not only makes for great companionship & some lively & entertaining discussion, but is a great way to relax while running. Of course, lively conversation will usually also take the focus off of the act of running, & may also partially contribute to a more effortless enjoyment of the run itself.

I guess when it comes right down to it, what probably most determines the level of conscious focus on the run itself depends on your own focus & intent as well as the focus & intent of the people with whom you chose to run. I have, in fact, run with people, who have been equally focused on running itself while we are running together, (but then again, they didn't talk quite as much either!), but on the whole, I generally find that it's harder to focus on the mechanics of running when there are other people around with whom I'm actively engaged in conversation while running. This can be either be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective! ;-)

Of course, everyone has a different experience with this, & their own set of opinions, but this is how I generally experience solo vs. social runs.

I don't necessarily think the experience is quite the same during races, but again, that probably depends on the number of people you know who show up for a particular race, how much you want to chat, & how much you're solely focused on winning! ;-)

When you say that marathons are good but not always, what aspect of marathoning are you referring to exactly? Have you run marathons before? Are you referring to the particular marathon races or the situations in which people train for them, or the general idea that running 26.2 miles can either be a good or a bad thing? Just curious....

OK, well it's late here & I've got to get to sleep.

Thanks again for your comments & for dropping by. Hope you enjoyed your visit & will come back again soon!

Sincerely,
Corey

Blaine Moore said...

Wow, that is one hell of a series of workouts for one evening! Bet your feeling that this morning.

I enjoy running in groups and running alone. Groups are great for a social aspect, but they are also great during speed workouts to have somebody to chase. Last night I saw somebody at the track so I jumped in and did a workout with him until he was done, which was much better than trying to run speed work alone.

For just getting in miles or long runs, I love having company but certainly don't need it.

My goals coming up are pretty simple. There's a 10 mile race in a few weeks, followed by a pair of marathons in a couple of months. I haven't registered for anything else yet, but will start doing 5k and 10k training shortly after the second marathon and will phase into short distance stuff for the Summer and early Autumn.

No idea yet what I want to do in the Autumn past a 23k mountain race in September. I'll probably sponsor and run the 19-week mid-week 5k series here in town again this year from May-Sept.

cyberpenguin said...

Hi Blaine,

Thanks for your many comments!

Surprisingly, I'm not feeling sore at all today, even after last night's battery of workouts. Maybe it'll hit me tomorrow, eh?! ;-)

I like what you wrote about solo & social runs. You've got some excellent points.

I like company too, but am also perfectly content to run alone.

Sounds like you've got a lot of different races to look forward to this year.

How does one go about sponsoring a race? Wow, that's impressive.

Definitely will keep checking in on your blog to read your race reports for this upcoming season. Good luck with your races & race-training!

-C

Abimars said...

I've always run alone apart from the couple of times my hubby ran with me, if I had to be honest I'd say I focused better alone. I finally learnt how to check my BF with my scale and OMG!!!!!
I've been procrastinating so long I know I need to sit down and actually commit to races and fitness goals for the year, I'll do it over the weekend.

Abimars said...

I could have sworn I left a comment yesterday... Hmmmnnn.

cyberpenguin said...

Hi Abi,

Thanks for your comments! You did post a comment, I was just really busy yesterday & didn't have a chance to check my blog yesterday & publish incoming comments. I'm considering turning off the comment moderation feature on this blog, to make things easier for everyone..... That way, comments don't get backed up in the queue when I'm busy (or travel!) & don't have time to moderate them! ;-) I'm still a bit hesitant to "open up the floodgates" as it were, mostly due to some unpleasant past experiences, especially with anonymous commenters, crackpots, spammers, & salespeople who write unrelated comments solely for advertising purposes. It's a nuisance to have to remove those things!

What's been your experience with this? Do you find you have to remove lots of these types of comments on your blog as well? Or is it only a rare occurrence? Am curious to hear your experiences with this. Anyhow, enough about this....

Bravo for you for being brave enough to check your BF. Just think of it this way, it's a starting point & you can only improve, right?! Think of how proud you'll be when you see the BF numbers start to go down, which they surely will with every week of running!

I agree with your thoughts on running alone. It's certainly easier to focus on your running when you're alone.

As for running with others, I think the trick is to find like-minded runners with the same goals.

I know that when I run with people who are serious about their training &/or are competitive runners, our runs are less about socializing & more about focusing on our training. Erik is a good example of a person who's serious about his training. Of course, he's also great company. It's nice because we could still run together in absolute silence & still enjoy each other's company. ;-)


At the same time, I know that, once I've gotten into a regular training routine, it's often fun to engage in social runs every once in a while, as it can also be a welcome distraction to an otherwise serious & focused training regimen. I find that social runs often re-energize me. Especially if I'm feeling blah or am flagging a bit in my enthusiasm to run, these type of runs often put some much-needed lightheartedness & fun back into my running routine. On a more profound note, these types of runs also help remind me that I'm part of the larger human race & am not alone in my daily struggles, regardless of whether these challenges are running-related or not! It's yet another way to shakes things up & keep the activity fresh & interesting. Of course, I'm not trying to suggest that everyone will enjoy running with others, but am just mentioning the idea as an alternative to consider, should you or others find the suggestion intriguing or useful.

So, does your hubby like to run? Is he as devoted to (or as interested in) running as you?

Who knows, if he's not already a runner, maybe your enthusiasm for running will spur him on to take up the sport, or perhaps re-ignite his interest in this area. Running can be a great bonding activity, whether it's between a husband & wife, or between two friends! Of course, if you find you don't have the same level of interest in running or find it useful to run together, that's OK too!

As your racing & fitness goals, it's great that you've begun to plan races & long-term fitness goals for the year!

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