Saturday, January 31, 2009

4 10-Mile Group Run (Running Clinic): Cyberpenguins Waddle Much Faster in the Morning When Their Alarm Clocks Don't Go Off :)


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Due to icy conditions, our coach changed the time & location of our long weekend run. We normally meet at 8 am, but today's workout was scheduled for 7 am, which meant having to get up at 5-ish am, in order to be ready in time to meet our carpool group by 6:10 am. :)

(Reason for the early rising/meeting times: The location is a bit more of a trek for some of us, & we'd also been told that parking spaces were going to be limited on this particular trail. Plus, I'm not a coffee drinker & even so, try as I might, I'm not exactly known for being fast-moving in the morning. And so, extra time needs to be allotted for the process of waking up. ;-) Also, that rate of motion slows down considerably the less number of hours I sleep. :) )

Of course, anytime I know I have to get up extra early (especially on a weekend), I keep thinking, "Ohhhh, I have GOT to get up on time," which of course means that I won't be able to fall asleep right away, because I'm too busy thinking about trying to fall asleep. :)

So not surprisingly, I couldn't bring myself to fall asleep until about 2 am. To allow for a few extra minutes of sleep, I ended up changing the alarm time to 5:20 am instead. ;-) Had I actually gotten up on time, that would've meant only getting about 3-3.3 hours sleep. Ugh. Thankfully, or perhaps not so thankfully, my alarm failed to go off at the appointed hour & I didn't get out of bed until about a few minutes before 6 am. So make that almost 4 hours of sleep. :) While I was thankful for the extra sleep, all the same, I think I set a record-time for getting dressed, eating breakfast, & scraping the ice off my car. :)

After getting out the door, I immediately called the lady who was organizing the carpool to let her know I was on my way & she kindly told me not to worry, as the previous person had just arrived & so, they hadn't left yet. Thankfully, we were meeting practically around the corner from where I lived, so I was only a few minutes late.

We spoke on the phone as I drove. As I'd prematurely taken a wrong turn (there were two very similarly-named complexes within close proximity of each other!), she guided me to the correct location & told me where to look for their car in the parking lot. She was very good-humored for 6-something in the morning, & as we piled into the car, she jokingly thanked me for providing a bit of early AM comic relief for the group. :) Hehehe, always happy to oblige. Apparently the site of my still very icy car & the running commentary on the mobile phone had a few people laughing while they freezing their chatkes off in the parking lot. :)

Happily, we made it to the running location with plenty of time to spare.

Anyhow, enough prefacing & onto the run: Today was supposed to be our long slow run. For the 9:15 pace group, that meant we were supposed to run 11 minute miles. (As it turned out, our pace group ended up running closer to 10:30 minute miles for several of those miles.)

When we all gathered at our running location at 7 am this morning, the coach told us we should change today's scheduled 12 miles to 10. Given the fact that our Tuesday track workout had been cancelled (I still have yet to make up that track workout on my own but will probably do that tomorrow) & I'd only done one other run this week , I was more than happy to run that distance at a nice easy pace today. :)

Today's temperatures were supposed to be fairly cold -- the night before, the predicted temperature was around 18 degrees, but it was supposed to feel more like 6 degrees after factoring in wind chill. The nice thing was that, in reality, it didn't end up being quite that cold or windy, & only felt a bit chilly in the beginning. After today's run, one person told me that, factoring in windchill, it had been closer to 10 degrees, but thankfully the sun came out & shone rather brightly, which also helped to warm things up considerably! :) I started out wearing three top layers, a balaclava, hat, neck gaitor, & double-layer mittens, but it wasn't long before the outer jacket, hat, & mittens had been removed & the neck gaiter lowered.

I felt pretty good for most of the run, but at about the 7 or 8 mile mark felt a bit of tenderness in one of my knees. This was very odd, because I can typically cover the mileage with no problem whatsoever & also at a much faster pace.

However, looking back on the situation & analyzing it now, I think I know why this happened: This feeling first started on Thursday after the hour-long treadmill run. Treadmills sometimes tend to aggravate my knees due to their unnatural propulsion motion. Also, my pre-treadmill warm-up was probably also too brief, & it probably didn't help that, previous to Thursday night's treadmill workout, I hadn't run since the previous Saturday. That's 5 days of no running in between. Oops. Lesson learned. One things for sure, I won't be postponing my track workouts ever again, not if I can help it! Usually, our track workouts are done in a structured group setting, (i.e., around an actual track - LOL), but there's still no excuse! It's really critical to get in all of the workouts with the proper spacing in between each one!

Anyhow, back to the run: In order to compensate for the knee tenderness, I slowed down somewhat but kept going with the group. Thankfully, there was another lady there who seemed to also be happy to slow down a bit (i.e., she'd told me she'd been dealing with a recurring ITB injury), & so we ran together for the remainder of the run. We weren't that far behind the main group (only a few paces), & managed to catch up with them on the last mile or so.

About midway through the run, a pal of mine announced she was going to do was going to do an additional 2 miles at the end, so she could get in the 12 miles which were originally slated on the schedule. I'd originally planned to join her, but due to the knee issues which'd cropped up a bit later in the run, I wisely changed my mind & decided to forgo that option by the time 10 miles rolled around. :)

As many of you probably already know, one of the best ways to forgo injury is to back off as soon as you feel an unusual amount of tenderness &/or pain in your knees or other parts of your body that could potentially impact your stride. This is not about giving up or wimping out; it's about being smart. After all, even elite runners will stop if something's seriously not feeling right.

When your body is trying to tell you something, it's very important to listen! Otherwise, you will usually end up paying the piper!

Frankly, it's times like these where experience really helps a great deal: People who've "been there, done that," are often more likely to recognize the initial signs faster & will tend to listen to their bodies more readily when they're trying to communicate. ;-) This accumulated "body wisdom" is really important; & the only way to truly & deeply understand that is to go through the process & experience it for yourself. :)

I'm not saying you have to get injured or ill to find out, but once you feel what it's like to approach the threshold & are "teetering upon the precipice," you've got a decision to make. And hopefully, over time, you'll get better at learning from those choices, both good & bad.

Also, most seasoned runners realize it's about taking the long-range view & being able to run for years to come. This is one sport in which it doesn't pay to be stubborn or short-sighted. :) Of course, no one else but you can tell you when you need to stop or keep going, but if you pay careful attention to your body's signs, you'll know the answer. )

Also on this note, I made some additional observations that'll really help the next long distance run go a bit more smoothly: Even though the other people in the group had barely touched their water bottles, the dry cold made me really thirsty today: I drank 3 10 oz bottles by the 7-mile marker! (This also could've been caused in part from the salt in last night's homemade soup! I didn't really think it tasted all that salty, but apparently it was enough to cancel out the effect of hydrating with 3 bottles of water the night before. ;-) )

For some reason, (maybe it was due to lack of sleep!), I thought I'd drunk all 4 bottles, & so was feeling a bit thirsty/dehydrated on the last 3 miles. That probably also accounted for part of the reason why I'd slowed down a bit too. :) (Of course, I only found this out until after the run was finished, shaking my head upon realizing there'd been a whole other full bottle! Oh well.

Peeling off layers & tying them around one's waist usually obscures easy access to the water bottles on one's hydration belt. Plus, when you're getting tired towards the end, accessing the bottles in the back can be a bit more of a challenge. Sometimes that means slowing down to readjust, but since I was a few steps behind the pace group already, I didn't want to fall back any more than was absolutely necessary. :)

On this note, it's really important for training purposes to stick with your pace group. Plus, during those last few miles, it becomes even more crucial to conserve energy, & so yelling out to have the group wait up for you when you are tired & cold can sometimes be even more challenging than just sucking it up & being thirsty for a few final miles. :)

All in all, despite the knee soreness & end-of-run thirstiness, today's run felt fairly good on the whole.

Also, I met a lot of very nice, "new" people today, especially since today was the first day of running with the new pace group. (As mentioned in a previous post, the coach had moved me from 10:30 to 9:15, since I'd gotten a lot faster between the time I'd first registered for & then actually began the running clinic. There was almost a month's gap of time in between, so the race data given to him at the time of registration was by now seriously outdated.)

The reason I'm just getting around to writing this post is that, I just woke up not too long ago after napping from 11 am until 4 pm. Didn't mean to close my eyes, but they closed anyhow while relaxing & watching TV. :)

If you'd have run 10 miles on less than 3.3 hours of sleep today, there's a good chance you might have snoozed too. :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

2 HPC (D2W2) + 300 Crunches: Yep, Those Push-Ups Are Still Challenging the Second Time Around ;-)


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D2W2 (HPC): Today's push-ups workout called for intervals of 14+16+12+12+max 17+ (with a minimum of 90 seconds rest in between sets). Did 14+16+12+12+25.

Arms felt a bit tingly & face felt flushed on those last 5 push-ups. :)

Also did my usual 300 crunches. Yes, la-de-freakin'-dah.

There, how's that for a far less moody post? ;-)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

0 6 Mile Run: Add One Dash of Fatigue & A Big Dose of Attitude ;-)


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In brief: On schedule today, 6 mi. run at easy pace, i.e., 11 minutes (for 9:15 pace group). Did 6
mi run in 01:04, or an average pace of
10:40.

Just a brief word of warning:
You know those two faces of Gemini? Well, the bad@$$ crabby one is here today. :) So don't expect my usual cheery "pep talks." ;-) I will try to keep the "wah-wah-wah-ing" to a minimum, but given the maelstrom of crabbiness going on here right now, there are simply no guarantees. :)

The That being said, please proceed with caution/at your own risk, & don't say I didn't warn you. :-0

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It was REALLY icy outside, so I opted for a treadmill workout tonight instead of meeting up with our running group. (I am pretty hearty & hale, & will usually run outdoors in weather that scares most people away -- whether it be rain, snow, freezing cold temperatures, & wind -- but really icy conditions are something that I just don't do. So you know the ice has to be pretty bad for me not to run outside.)

As designated by our running clinic's workout schedule, tonight's run was supposed to be our typical Thursday night run -- i.e., an easy 6 miles, at a 10:30-11 minute mile pace.

Had kind of blah workout tonight, mostly because I was already tired (it was around 11:30 pm when I began my workout! Do you think it was possible for me to put off my run any longer today? ;-) ) & furthermore, wasn't exactly psyched to be running on the treadmill. (And yes, in case you were wondering, the second part of that last sentence contributed directly to the first part. ;-) The amount of procrastination is directly proportionate to the amount of resentment I often feel at being forced to workout indoors on a treadmill. :) )

Actually felt fairly strong for the first 4 miles, (keeping to a 10:30 pace for all 4 miles), but the last two were a real struggle tonight (i.e., closer to an 11:00 pace). This is unusual, because I normally don't have any difficulty completing 6 miles at a 10:30 pace.

Although I was tired, a lot of it was mental. I just couldn't wait for tonight's workout to be done & over with as soon as possible!

I don't care if people say that treadmill workouts build mental toughness: For me, that's not the issue; rather, it's about just finding a way to not want to scream from boredom. :) Doing an hour or more on a treadmill is seriously dull, even if one's workout is accompanied by inspirational, high BPM music. On a treadmill, that seems to only help to get one going for a few prolonged bursts at a time. :)

It's weird, because I'm usually the type of person who can easily find ways of occupying my thoughts for hours on end. However, during tonight's t-mill workout, it was a real challenge to keep my mind focused.

Part of it is that running on a treadmill is not at all like the smooth calming feeling of running on the road. It feels all herky-jerky & unsettling, like one is "chained" to the machine & being pulled (or rather dragged!) along unevenly by an imaginary forklift or crane. It's that "hamster in a wheel" feeling that just has me all out of sorts, mentally & physically!

OK, enough feeling irritated & crabby about tonight's t-mill workout. Hopefully tomorrow's run can be done outside!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

0 Nutritional Tip #12: "The Politics of Eating, The Politics of ...Ooooh, Feeling Good...."


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For some of you, the phrasing of this post's title will most likely conjure memories of the Re-Flex song from the 80's, "The Politics of Dancing." And for those of you who have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, here's the music video reference, for your own edification:



But of course, that is an entirely unrelated topic, brought about by free-association. Or is it? ;-)

Aside from food's functional purposes -- i.e., to fulfill basic survival & to (hopefully) nourish the body, there is no doubt that, for a large majority, food also nourishes the mind & soul.

If you've ever read Laura Esquivel's wonderful book of magic realism, "Like Water For Chocolate" (or perhaps have also seen the movie), you'll know what I'm talking about. Even if you haven't, maybe you still know what I'm talking about here.

There is no doubt that most of us have an emotional connection to food. Some of these connections, (or dare I say in some cases, these connections have turned into full-blown "relationships"!), are more positive than others. A lot of how we think & feel about food often has to do with our past experiences, family dynamics, & a whole host of other factors. Don't worry, this is not going to turn into a discourse on "emotional eating" or "food abuse."

For the moment, let's assume that you eat "like a normal person." In other words, that is, you eat when you are hungry, & stop eating when you are full.

Now as no one's perfect, sometimes this doesn't always happen. Sometimes we forget ourselves & our stomachs, & keep eating. Or sometimes we aren't hungry at all but eat because we are craving the taste of a particular food. Or sometimes we are hungry & eat something we don't really want to eat because it's "good for us," which then makes us reach for what we really wanted to eat in the first place. :)

Heck, I know I've certainly done all of the above from time to time.

So what can we do about it? Here's a suggestion: If you need some "eating strategies," this topics is something I've already written about extensively on this blog. Just check the archives, looking under the categories of "nutrition," "body image," &/or "tips."

Of course, underlying all of these strategies is how we deal with our attitudes towards eating & food.

So, I'd like to propose a different way to view food.

Let's face it: Aside from the obvious basics, most of us eat for pleasure. Frankly, we would prefer to eat something yummy. Of course, that can mean different things to different people.

But let me ask you something: If we eat something because it makes us feel good, is it making us feel good in an immediate sense, as in a quick burst of energy (& the dopamine released in our brains) which we might get from refined sugar or caffeine, or is what we're eating making us feel good in the long run, as in we feel healthy & energetic & our blood-sugar levels are being balanced & sustained throughout the day?

Now I'm no hypocrite, & so, am not here to sit up on high shaking my finger at all of you like I'm some kind of holier-than-thou "food saint." There will be no guilt-inducing lecture sessions. In most cases, people who put themselves through the ringer like that don't need me to trigger those types of responses in themselves. :) They can do a perfectly good job of that all on their own. ;-) However, that guilt response really isn't helping either. So this time, let's be gentle with ourselves & just not go there this time, OK?

What I will do, however, is challenge you to read the latest health & nutrition articles & think about what you are putting in your body & how it's making you feel, in terms of how your mind & body are functioning throughout your day, and throughout the week, the month, and the year.

Because if you could choose to feel good all day long in the physical sense, as a direct result of your food choices, wouldn't you rather take the long view instead of the short one (i.e., instant gratification)? It's not a matter of being perfect & always picking the former choice, as it's important to have "special treats" from time to time, but what is important is that you truly feel good on the whole about the food choices you are making, & that these food choices also generally make you feel physically healthy.

On that note, I believe it's possible to satisfy both our need for eating yummy foods & our nutritional needs. How exactly you do that is up to you. Most of you don't need to be told like little children what's good for you or what tastes good. :)

Certainly, I could make recommendations, & you could pick & choose the types of foods you like from the list. Of course, the list isn't meant to be all inclusive, just a selection of healthy food suggestions. Also, I'd be happy to share what works for me, & you can pick & choose from the ideas, or do your own thing.

If we eat for nutrients and for pleasure, & discard the notion that these two things are contradictory, there might just be a way that you can "eat your cake & have it too."

OK, horrible pun, I know, but you get the point. In the next post, I will go into the specifics, & offer a list of healthy food choices, which can be used as a starting point, & will also talk about what I personally do.

0 Track Workout Cancelled Due to Snow, But That's Not Going To Stop Me :)


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OK, so local area schools are closed, which means our club's track workout is cancelled for tonight.

As I see it, there are four options: Use a treadmill, run on the road, find an open track (which might be difficult considering the 191 school cancellations in this area due to snow ;-) ), or take a wait-&-see approach & postpone the workout until tomorrow.

I'd prefer to run outside today, but if the road conditions are a bit too slick, I may opt for the treadmill instead. The important thing is that the workout gets done at the proper intensity levels.

Today's workout for my particular pace group (9:15) is supposed to be 6x800 at threshold pace (75-85% effort level), bookended by a mile each of warm-up & cool-down runs done at an easy pace. According to the pace chart, this means my warm-up & cool-down should each be done in 11:00 minutes total, with each lap, or 400, done in 2:45. Threshold pace for the 800s are supposed to done in 4:40 (or 2:20 per lap). We also have the option of simplifying the workout by running 5 minutes at threshold pace & then doing a 3 minute recovery jog.

As described by our coach, "Threshold pace should be a pace you can maintain for at least an hour. You should feel like you are running comfortably hard or are on the edge of huffing and puffing."

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Psychologically speaking, it's probably best to get the workout done today. :) While I don't believe in being obsessive or inflexible about scheduling, I will usually still try to stick to the original schedule whenever humanly possible. The reason I do this is simple: I am trying to reinforce positive behaviors, & for me, postponing workouts without a really good reason is basically tantamount to procrastination. :)

That being said, my biggest struggles in running/exercise have almost always been mental. Without a doubt.

If you don't think it's a struggle for me to get out of bed at 6:30 am on a Saturday, when I'd honestly rather be sleeping in on a good number of those Saturdays -- and mind you, I get up the natural & frequently painful way -- yes, that'd be without coffee :), & with less sleep than I'd probably like to have gotten -- just so I can get to our club's long-distance trail run, then I will promptly tell you otherwise! :)

And just for the record, I was seriously tired on Sunday when I did those pushups & situps, (I'd just run 12 miles the previous day, which is two miles longer than my usual long-distance weekend runs), but you know what, I did them anyway. Of course, it would've been much easier to say to myself, "I'm tired & don't feel like doing this. All I just wanna do is rest/sleep!" (My inner voices did, in fact, say this a few times, & some of them manifested themselves out loud, but I chose to ignore them. :) )

But I do them because I'm dedicated to seeing this process through. It's more important for me to exercise than to not do it. Because I know how awful I will feel if I don't fulfill the deal I made with myself. My word is my bond. And I made a promise to myself, & to others as well (that'll I regularly show up for group practices!), & I'm not about to break those promises. It has less to do with the money I paid for the running clinic, & more to do with those promises I made.

I think it's important to acknowledge these struggles, because all too often it could appear to someone "from the outside looking in" like "la-de-dah, this is a piece of cake." (Well, sometimes it does feel like a piece of cake, but on other days, it's really not!)

In fact, I will honestly tell you that I have mental struggles all the time. However, the good news is that I find that the more I fight those inner voices telling me to sleep in or call it quits, the stronger I feel, & the easier it becomes to say things to yourself like, "Yeah, yeah, I've heard that one from you before, so it's not gonna work on me this time," "You will NOT beat me at this game," or "No, I'm not going to listen to you this time, Voice of Laziness." :)

OK, those admissions were brutally honest. But it's important to be honest with oneself about how one best functions. I don't exactly think Socrates had sports in mind when he said "know thyself." However, all the same, it's crucial to pay attention to our physical & psychological selves, & acknowledge how we operate in various circumstances. :) This is not to say that we cannot change psychological & physical patterns; I firmly believe that it is possible to change long-standing, counter-productive behaviors, especially if we are willing to put in the continual effort to do so.

Changing our "exercise mindsets" is similar to how visualization works in sports. Being aware of one's "monkey mind" (to borrow the expression from yoga/Asian philosophy), & taking control of your "self-talk" will help you to be successful & making good choices for yourself.

So go & show those inner "Voices of Laziness" who's boss. Repeatedly saying a firm "NO!" to them will not only make you feel better about yourself & your accomplishments, but will also help you to say "YES!" to exercise the next time too. :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

3 General Note to Companies Who Are Offering to Send Me Free Sample Products


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Hello Advertisers & Companies,

What I'm about to write isn't personal: Please note that as a matter of general security, I don't disclose my postal address to unverifiable entities under any circumstance. So, sorry but I can't try your product & review it here, not unless you'd like to disclose your own business postal address to me first, (so I can verify it through the Better Business Bureau & then contact you via snail mail at that address), or unless you already have me on your direct marketing lists. :)

And no, I'm not going to be setting up a separate P.O. box just for this express purpose anytime soon. :)

That being said, if you work for a company with whom I have a pre-established business relationship, you are more than welcome to mail me samples. If this is the case, you won't have to ask me for my postal address. ;-)

Put the shoe on the other foot for a moment: Hmmm, let's see. Most of you are sending me communication from a Gmail account versus an actual verifiable company/business domain (i.e., person's_name@company.com). Call me paranoid, but that looks a tad bit suspicious. Gmail accounts can be set up in an instant without any true accountability & can then disappear as soon as they are created. How do I know if you are legitimate? Could you please explain why you aren't sending email correspondence from a legitimate business domain? Since I don't have any way of verifying your identity via the internet, I am not going to release my postal address to you.

Having worked in IT for 15+ years, I "ain't no dummy." :) So, if you are trying to scam me through these attempts, nice try but no dice.

I think most people can well understand that it's not a wise idea to disclose one's postal address & other personal information to complete & utter strangers without knowing them well first. Think of how you would feel if you were asked to provide the same. If you manage or are employed by a valid, legitimate business entity, then as a fellow businessperson & private citizen, you will likewise certainly understand my response & won't take offense at the protective, common-sense tone of this email. :)

Also, even I weren't "paranoid" about releasing my personal information, I'm a little bit overwhelmed right now by the sheer number of requests & electronic communications coming my way at the moment, especially with regard to my blog & other related social networking communities. So if you are a valid business entity & I haven't yet contacted you, it's either because (a) I'm not interested & am too busy to write back, or (b) I am, in fact, interested, but am too busy at the moment to write back. :)

Lastly, I am, in fact, open to forming new business relationships with companies, but your postal address & email address must be readily verifiable. So, if you are in fact a valid business & would like to do business with me, then you need to have some way of conclusively proving it to me. This is how it's going to work: First email me your business postal address & your email address with a valid business domain, & will contact you if I'm interested in doing business. Thanks!

Also, valid businesses are welcome to contact me for advertising space on this blog via AdRoll or other arrangements, i.e., blog text links or banners. For the latter, the minimum period of time for advertising contracts is a year, to be paid in advance via PayPal.

Thanks for your understanding.

-C

P.S. If you are in fact from the following companies (& your identity can be readily verified), I welcome doing business with you & establishing advertising contracts on this blog (& my other blogs):

Companies Selling Running Products:

Favorite Running Stores in Other Locales

Other Health-Related Products

Please note: In terms of advertising contracts, if you happen to sell health food products or services, they must not be "diet products" or funded by companies which produce these products. I am ethically opposed to diet pills, shakes, and the like, & also do not support quick weight-loss solutions. Also, if I cannot readily identify the ingredients in your products, or you are not willing to release this information to me, then I am not interested in endorsing your products. I am pro-organic & anti-drug (i.e., caffeine), & have clearly stated this on my health-oriented blogs.

I believe in moderation & balance & natural health, & if you have spent any significant time reading this blog, you should already know better than to ask me to endorse products which go against this medically-backed philosophy. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

4 Movin' On Up! ;-)


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Just a brief bit of news to share: Today the coach of our running clinic told me that he was moving me from the 10:30 pace group (which admittedly was not challenging enough for me, & was based on earlier race times, which I'd submitted during my registration for this class) to the 9:15 pace group. Yowsa!

He's basing this change upon the fact that I'd done close to a 10-minute mile for my last 10 mile run, & had run the recent 4M race in an unofficial guestimated pace of about 9:30 or so.

Also, during track practice I was running most of the threshold 8x400s at around 2-2:10, which is about right for the 9:15 pace group. Threshold pace for the 9:15 pace group is actually supposed to be in the realm of 2:20s.

You know the expression, "Be careful what you wish for, because it might come true"? LOL! :) Well, this is honestly more than what I expected. If anything, I thought I'd be moved into the 10:00 pace group, but since I can already clearly meet & exceed that challenge for the 10K distance (& almost meet it for the 10M distance at a 10:09 pace), it would be only a matter of time before I would once again find myself looking for a new challenge.

From a mental perspective, I realize that part of me would probably feel more "comfortable" in the 9:30 pace group, but a "speed development" program is not supposed to be based on the premise of what one feels "comfortable" doing! Otherwise one does not get faster. ;-)

Looking at the pace chart, it shows that I am supposed to be able to run a 10K in 57-58 minutes. Since I haven't run a 10K race in a few months, it'll be interesting to see how I stack up to this standard.

It also says that I should be able to run a mile on the track at an 8:35 pace. This run is supposed to be the "interval pace," i.e., a run done at 85-95% effort. How I would love to test this theory. Maybe sometime soon I will just have to head out to the track with a buddy & see what we can do. ;-)

In fact, on 4/15/09, I will get my first chance in a long time (since my high school track days in fact!) to prove what I can do for the mile (in an officially documented capacity) during the Firebird Mile racing event. I'm getting little goose bumps just thinking about it. :)

1 The Week in Review: Some Push-ups & Crunches, Lots of Running, & Also, Not-so-Uncoincidentally, Lots of Napping Too! ;-)


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I just realized that I ran around 24 miles this week (in 3 days). Last week I also did 24 mpw, but since it was spread out over 4 days, it definitely feels a whole lot different on the legs & the rest of the bod (in terms of overall fatigue)! ;-) This week feels a lot more intense than the previous two weeks, & it's only going to keep getting more intense from here on out; starting with the 4th week, we'll be increasing our mileage to 25-30 mpw, & on the 7th week we'll be heading into the realm of about 30-35 mpw.

As a direct result, there've been a lot more early bed times & napping going on in this household as well! ;-) Please note, both of these sleep-related behaviors are highly unusual for me, but I'm beginning to think that this might become a new trend, especially as the workouts get more intense. :)

If you'd like to read a brief recap of this week's workouts (i.e., running + strength training), you're welcome to check out my profile on DailyMile.com. Basically, I did 5-5.5 mi on the track (i.e., roughly 2-2.25 mi of that was speed work) on Wednesday. (Tuesday is our usual day of track workouts, but due to the Inauguration, it was moved to Wednesday). Then Thursday was a nice & easy 6.78 miles, followed by a long run of 12 miles on Saturday.

Admittedly, I haven't been as diligent about the strength training this week. I missed 1 day of strength training (out of 3), which isn't too horrible.

Frankly, I've been pretty tired for a good bit of this week: We got up at 3 am on Tuesday to go to the National Mall for the Inauguration, & needless to say, had an early night to bed that evening. That night, I think I might've set a new personal bedtime record of 6 pm. :) And as already mentioned in my last DailyMile.com post, I napped after the 12 mile run as well.

It's been early-to-bed, early-to-rise for several weeks now. And tonight, I just had a bowl of cereal as a post-dinner snack. What is coming over me? I feel like this whole running lifestyle thing is turning me into a little kid. :)

What's next, cookies & milk? ;-)

0 D1W2 (HPC) + 300 Crunches: Just Getting 'Em Done


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Tonight's pushups workout called for intervals of 14+14+10+10+max 15+ (with a minimum of 60 seconds rest in between sets). I did 14+14+10+10+25.

The last 3 pushups of the last set were really difficult to squeak out, but I was determined to do atleast 25, since that's what I've been doing all along, albeit it's been getting increasing more difficult as the number of pushups in each set has gone up each day.

Tonight I had no problem waiting 60 seconds between pushups. :) I'm feeling a bit tired tonight, after a full week of challenging workouts & having to get up earlier than usual for a few days this week.

And after tonight's pushups workout, I once again did the usual 300 crunches for my core workout.

OK, that's a wrap. Have a good night!

2 Looking For Good Winter Running Apparel? Just Ask Me!


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It seems there are lots of people who've been looking for decent winter running apparel that suits their needs. Instead of writing a general review of winter products here, some of which may or may not be suitable for your individual needs or clime, I decided instead to open up the floor for your specific questions.

So ask away, leaving your questions in the comments section of this blog, & I'll do my best to answer your questions. I've tried a lot of different products & also happen to know about lots of great sites where you can get quality running products, many of them at a big discount!

(FYI: I'm not pumping anyone's running products, so my recommendations are a true representation of my thoughts & opinions.)

BTW, for this very same reason, you might also want to follow me (@cyberpenguin) on Twitter. I regularly tweet about running products I've tried & liked, as well as those products I recommend avoiding. Think of it as sort of a mini product review in Twitter. ;-)

Also, if you'd like to join in the wider discussion about running on Twitter, you can look through the list of the people I follow, & follow several runners on this list, many of whom I regularly chat with about running-related topics. They are a great group of people! People often post questions there & we help each other out, giving each other recommendations for all sorts of running-related topics -- products, race events, tips, etc. It's a great community & I encourage you to join us!

Note: I tend to follow-back those who regularly converse with me in an amiable manner. ;-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

0 Running Clinic: 5-Mile Track Workout


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Went to our running clinic's 2nd week of track workout tonight. Did 1 mi warm-up, followed by 8x400 (at threshold pace), with each 400 of speed work followed by a recovery lap (another 8x400). So all in all, I did 5 mi. :)

Today I noticed that I was running a lot faster than my assigned pace group (10:30), without really intending to do so. For our threshold 400s, our group was supposed to do a 2:35 pace, but I was running closer to 2:00-2:10 on most of the speed work laps. (Didn't time the recovery 400s, so not 100% sure what my overall pace was.) I honestly didn't feel very tired after tonight's track workout, so either my fitness is improving or I'm not working hard enough!

Not sure if I should be moved to a faster pace group, since tonight's workout was supposed to be fairly easy in comparison to what we will be doing later on down the road. It looks like our workouts are going to get considerably more challenging. Of course, I'm not afraid of a challenge, but I also want to make sure that I'm in the right group!

(Since I signed up for the class rather early, my pace group was established using race data from Fall 2007, which probably explains the discrepancy.) Another friend of mine who's also doing the clinic is in the same situation, so it'll be interesting to compare notes with him as we both progress through the program.

Talked to our coach tonight about my pace group classification, & indicated that I ran a 10:09 pace for last weekend's 10 mile run, a 9:55 pace for my last 8K race (on 12/14/08), & a 9:45 pace for my last 5K race (on 1/1/09). The good news is that if I can find another race to do soon (i.e., perhaps next weekend, etc.), it'll supply more conclusive data upon which to base the decision!

Update (added later): I may or may not have done an extra 400 of speedwork followed by another 400 as a recovery lap, for a possible total of 5.5 miles. As I was nearing the end of the workout, I lost track & decided to do an extra set of 400s just to make sure I did the full workout as intended. ;-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

3 D3W1 (HPC) + 300 Crunches: Another Day, Another Bunch of Push-ups & Sit-ups


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Tonight's pushups workout called for intervals of 11+15+9+9+max 13+ (with a minimum of 120 seconds rest in between sets). I did 11+15+9+9+25.

OK, not bad. Was feeling pretty peppy until that last set, when I started to tire around 22 pushups or so, & it became a real effort to squeak out the last 3.

Sometimes I get impatient & find it hard to wait the full 120 seconds between pushups. That might just explain the rather unseemly noise I made on that last pushup. :)

I also did 300 crunches earlier today.

That's all, folks. Have a good night!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

9 10-Mile Run: OMG, What The.....?


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Ran 10 mi in 01:41:35, or a 10:09:30 pace.

Whoa. Did I just run 10 miles at the same pace as my last 10K?

Yep, I most certainly did. :)

Did a double-take at first when I checked my stopwatch after today's run, as I thought it was a mistake!

The funny thing is that I thought my legs were going to be tired from yesterday's race, but they felt really strong & amazingly didn't tire at any point during the run.

I'm definitely getting stronger. (Feels really good to know this too!)

A 10-minute mile pace was originally going to be my "stretch goal" for the 10-miler; however, it looks like I obviously need to re-evaluate and set more ambitious goals for myself.

Am really getting the hang of this distance thing.

After yesterday's race, in which I proved that I can go much faster right now than I originally thought possible, I think that my next "stretch goal" will be completing the half marathon distance in 10 minute miles.

Who knows, maybe if I keep working at it, I'll eventually be able to run a marathon at the same pace! :) Would LOVE to complete my first marathon in 4:30:00!

2 Race Results: Shooting Star 4M


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Official race results are in for today's Shooting Star 4M race.

If you've read the previous post, you'll know the reason why I'm disregarding my race results. ;-)

If not, you can read that race report either by scrolling down on the main page of this blog or clicking here.

My official time was 41:43, or a 10:26 pace, but this obviously isn't accurate since I got a late start & didn't join the race until a few minutes after the gun went off!

As I mentioned in the previous post, I think I ran closer to a 9:30-9:45ish pace.

Well, it looks like Erik is right about me being able to go faster NOW. He said this to me a few road races ago, when he observed that, strangely enough, my 5K race pace was way too close to my 10K race pace! ;-) [This was because I was previously running 6-7 miles on a regular basis (& 8-10 miles on my weekend long-distance runs) & needed to shake things up a bit in my training, vary distances & types of runs/workouts, & add strength-training, all of which I've since done. And it's helped immensely!]

Looking at the races I've done over the past few months, it's obvious that I don't yet know where "the line" is when it comes to establishing where my pace is "supposed to be," & am still trying to discover how fast I can truly go. To quote Erik, I "don't yet know what's possible or where the limits of (my) abilities are," which is actually a good thing, as it leaves the door wide open for what can be done. :)

Of course, the only way to find out is to keep testing myself.

One thing is clear: From today's performance, I know I have it in me to go much faster NOW.

Maybe if I keep working at it, I can get back to running 7:30's or 8's again. Who knows?

Well, one step at a time. First I need to work my way down to 9's, which I definitely think I can do. :)

I am also very encouraged by a fellow running club member whom I chatted with after today's road race, who told me that he went from running 11-12 minute miles to running 8 minute miles in only a year. Wow! What an inspiration he is!

I know it's going to take a lot of work, but am willing to do what's necessary to get there!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2 Race Report: Shooting Star 4M


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Got up (late) at 7:15 am & got this morning's race at 8:02 am. Only problem with that was that the race started promptly at 8 am & they'd already started without me & one other fellow, who also dashed out onto the course at the same time! (It's an informal club race, so no timing chips are used.)

He & I rushed off to catch the rest of the runners on the course. On the way, we passed the race organizers & the fellow with the digital clock timer jokingly yelled out to us in a super-speedy voice, "OK, on your mark, get set, go!" :-)

He told us that the gun had just gone off a few minutes ago, & directed us (pointing with his hand) towards the starting line. Both of us rushed onto the trail to catch up. It took us about a minute or so to run to the actual starting line & then another few minutes to catch up to the other runners in the race!

In fact, we couldn't even see the pack of the pack runners when we first rushed off. It took us about a minute or two to catch up with the tail group.

I felt like I was playing "catch up" for the entire race! ;-)

Psychologically, this was actually a big bonus, as I kept thinking "gotta catch up with my pace group," & so I obviously ran much faster than the officially recorded time. (Phew! What a workout! I truly felt like I was sprinting the entire 4 miles!) Also, due to the late start, I didn't have time to get nervous, or think about how cold it was, which in case you were wondering, was a mere 5° F. Wow!

All along the route I kept asking people, "What's your pace?" to see how much harder I'd have to run to catch up with my pace group. :)

I passed the 12-13 milers, then the 11 milers, & then finally caught up with the 10-minute milers. If you take a minute or two or three (!) off my official time, that means that in reality, I probably ran somewhere between a 10:07 pace at the slowest & a 9:30-9:45ish pace at the fastest.

The course was basically a 2 mile loop repeated 2 times. There were a few mild hills towards the end of the loop, but the course was basically fairly flat for most of the race.

Along the way, I saw some people I knew & called out "Good morning, [insert person's name here]," (Haha, reminds me of the movie Animal House: "I, state your name...." ;-) ), & issued words of encouragement to them. I made brief small talk with some people I knew from practice, but mostly just kept going, as I was on a mission to catch my pace group!

It would've been great if I'd have timed my start from the actual starting line. However, I was so concerned with getting on the trail, that I didn't think to hit my stopwatch until a few minutes in, & was already a few minutes behind already!

I'll never know how fast I ran today, but that's OK, because there will hopefully be plenty more opportunities to find out how fast I can run in the future. :)

Unofficial time was probably somewhere between 38-40 minutes. The time I saw on the digital timer as I passed the finish line was somewhere around 41:30. Still waiting for the official race results to be posted.....

After the race, Erik & I met up with @RunningRambling & also chatted with the other club members we knew, & also met a few new people as well. (Some people aren't "new" to the club, but they are "new" to us, because we haven't met them before. :) Our club is one of the largest clubs in the nation; so this inevitably means that there will almost always be "new" people there to meet!)

The nice thing is that each time Erik & I go to races (& also, in my case, track practices & group runs in the running clinic I'm currently doing), we see more & more people we know (or atleast recognize). Of course, when you start regularly participating in club races & other racing events, after a while, people's faces start to look more & more familiar each time. And then pretty soon, you meet these familiar faces, & then hopefully after a while, the names & faces start to stick together. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

2 Sit-ups..... Or the Forgotten Posts :)


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I'm sure some of you might recall me mentioning the "Two Hundred Sit-ups Challenge" on this blog not that long ago. Well, since I did 200 crunches for the initial sit-ups test, I am in search of a new challenge. :)

In the meanwhile, I've been doing 300 crunches or so about every other day. Keep forgetting to list them here, since I usually just record everything on DailyMile.com these days!

Anyhow, just thought I'd mention the "Two Hundred Sit-ups Challenge" again, as core strength is essential for helping to maintain good running form. Plus, it can help prevent back problems & improve posture. (Please save your back & do crunches instead of sit-ups!) Core strength can be achieved rather quickly, & it'll help give you great stability & balance!

Yes, it's not just something you do to look good in a bikini/swim trunks! ;-)

0 D2W1 (HPC): Here We Go.....


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Tonight's pushups workout called for intervals of 10+12+8+8+max 12+ (with a minimum of 90 seconds rest in between sets). I did 10+12+8+8+25.

Didn't let out any shrieks this time towards the end of the last set, but there was a smaller "uuuuh" type of noise made during the last pushup. ;-)

Once again, Java kept me company during the pushups. He seems to enjoy just sitting there & watching me. Now let's just see HIM do a pushup! :) LOL! Well he's a cat, so I know better than to expect him to make an effort like that. Hahahaha.

He does like to run around the house a lot with his "sister" Cleo. Yes, there are more runners in the family. :)

Pictured above (on the left & right respectively) are Cleo & Java. Cleo's a Siamese & Java's a Balinese. They are best buds & are full of personality. :)

Cleo's kind of shy & timid with strangers & can be skittish at times (especially if she detects sudden movements in her direction), but she's extremely affectionate & will sit with "her people" for hours.

Java is extremely social (read, "borderline dog personality"! :) ) -- & will walk up to almost anyone. He's much more of a casually friendly cat than Cleo, who doesn't give her trust easily, but once earned, it's something a person can feel very lucky to have.

Java's also more of a lap cat than Cleo, who rarely sits on anyone's lap but will certainly sidle up next to people she trusts & keep them company.

Of course, Java is not without his "primadonna" moments, & can sometimes get crabby, especially if he's "overpetted" by unwitting humans, but he's generally very good humored on the whole.

Cleo's not nearly as much of a "primadonna" but when she wants your attention, she certainly knows how to get it. She will usually let out a gigantic yowl, which of course is very characteristically Siamese. She's a little cat with a big roar! ;-)

Java has more of a "bewwww." In fact, people often mistake him for a girl cat because he's fluffy & has a much softer meow. Needless to say, he doesn't like that too much. :)

As his human representative here in blogland, he'd like me to ask people on his behalf to stop referring to him as a "she" in their discussions of him. :)

He's a fearless explorer, & would like it to be known that "fluffy" doesn't equal "female." :)

Cleo would likewise ask me to communicate that it's very important for people to keep petting her non-stop for 24 hours. On that note, I'd better go & pet her. She just looked at me & let out another one of her huge MEEEE-OOOWs! :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

4 Club Run: 4.8 Miles in 16 Degree Weather


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Tonight, I went on a group run this evening with members of our running club; a handful of people came out to brave the 16 degree temperature, which actually wasn't really that cold at all once we got moving. It also helped that it wasn't very windy & we were all dressed appropriately/warmly.

In fact, I got so warm during the run, that I took off my mittens at one point & unzipped my jacket part way. I tend to warm up pretty quickly.

A quick illustration of this point: During last Tuesday's track practice, which was a lot warmer (35 degrees or so), it only took me a few laps before I'd peeled down to one top layer, a long-sleeve compression turtleneck. I looked around; most people were still buttoned up like Eskimos. :)

But back to tonight's run: For those of you who think I'm insane for running the dark in 16 degree temperatures, I will just say that we penguins are of hearty constitution. :) But seriously, it's not that bad. Really! You just need to dress properly, wear reflective gear, & bring a headlamp or flashlight.

I will admit that towards the end, it started to get colder & I put the mittens back on & zippered right back up again. :)

According to our running clinic schedule, the pace was supposed to be very easy tonight, around 10-11 minute/mi pace. I didn't time our run, but the lady I was running with did time it & said our pace was somewhere around that.

Surprisingly, we were out ahead in front of the group for the entire run, with the slower pace groups behind us. This almost never happens to me! Usually, I'm somewhere in the middle of the pack, especially during races. There was however, a faster runner out there with us tonight, who runs at an 8-minute mile pace; he kindly kept pace with the woman in back of us, since he didn't want her to be running by herself. Needless to say, he's a very nice & considerate man!

Tonight's run was less distance & much slower than I usually run, but I figure it's the first group run of the program & will probably get a lot more challenging soon enough. At the end of the run, I felt like I could've run a bit more. Was very tempting to keep going. :)

It was really nice to run with people from our club. Was definitely a change of pace for me, since I'm either running alone or with one other person. Was good to have the company & some conversation; if I'm running alone, out come the headphones & the iPod. :)

We all went out for pizza afterward & chatted. It was wonderful to see runners there from all walks of life. There was quite an age range too: One or two people in their twenties & a seventy-five year old man who does triathlons & marathons.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

4 D1W1 (HPC): The First Workout


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Tonight's pushups workout called for intervals of 10+12+7+7+max 9+ (with a minimum of 60 seconds rest in between sets). Did 10+12+7+7+15.

The last 3 pushups were really hard; I kinda accidentally shrieked a bit on the last one. :)

Upon hearing this odd & unexpected noise, Java (one of our cats) cocked his head to the size & gave me a quizzical look, as if to say, "Why the heck are you doing this strange & difficult exercise?" Of course, if it were up to him, he'd probably count reclining on the floor & sleeping as exercise. ;-)

He likes to pace around & keep me company as I do my floor exercises. During pushups, he sometimes likes to rub my elbows as I'm doing them, which can be an added challenge, especially as the arms start to tire. :)

Also, he likes to stretch when I stretch. It's very comical to watch. Guess the little guy just wants to be part of what's going on, & this is his contribution. :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

0 Our Running Clinic's Very First Track Workout: Speed Work in Intervals of "Ins & Outs"


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Went to our running clinic's first track workout tonight. Did about 5.5 mi at approximately a 9:45-10 min/mi pace. (Didn't time with a stop watch, but ran with the 9-9:45 min pace group, so am approximating my time & pace info.) It felt good!

We did a series of track workouts called "ins & outs" in which we did speed work intervals on the straightaways (i.e., 200s) & recovery runs around the curves.

It was great to meet some new faces from our running club. Lots of nice people there!

Monday, January 12, 2009

4 What Lies Ahead.....


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As usual, the new year has started off with a bustle of activity!

Here are some of the highlights:

Martin (a.k.a., @runningrambling) & I are participating in a running clinic together. Last Saturday was our first kick-off meeting. It's a huge group this year, with over 300 people signed up for the program! No wonder the head coach has 4 assistant coaches! :)

The program is highly structured, with 3 group runs per week, & will most likely be a huge change from what either of us are currently doing. Lately, I've either been "flying solo" or going out on the trail with Erik. I used to run with friends more regularly, but due to scheduling & other issues, it's been hard to do this on a regular basis. But all the same, that's still very different from running in a pack of people. :) Frankly, I don't know quite what to expect from this particular clinic's group dynamic, so I'm going to enter into the environment with zero expectations, other than what I expect from myself! :)

I know the challenge will be good for both of us, although I must admit I am a bit excited & nervous at the same time. I'm hoping it'll be a good experience, & that there'll be a few other friendly & like-minded souls there with whom to bond.

So, as a result, it looks like I'm going to have to slightly revise my workout plans for this season. Yet again. However, changing course is nothing to be ashamed of doing & is really part of the larger, life-long learning process. First of all, it's early enough in the season to do so without impacting my long-term training plan, & secondly, I'm frankly quite OK with making multiple revisions along the way; it's a good thing to be flexible & head in a new direction when the old plans no longer suit your path.

So, although I originally thought I'd be able to somehow combine the current running clinic with the FIRST marathon training program which I'd started doing several weeks ago, it looks like I will first be doing the running clinic for several weeks, and then once I've completed this program, will probably do a somewhat modifed version of the FIRST marathon training program, depending on where I am with my fitness level & weekly mileage. I anticipate that after the running clinic, I will probably be starting several weeks into the FIRST marathon training program. Hopefully, by then, I will already be well on my way to preparing for the 2009 Philly Marathon.

Other new & exciting plans: This summer, my dad & I will be doing a triathlon as a relay team, which both of us are really excited about doing. It gives us a chance to do a race together as a father-daughter team, which is something we haven't done together in a long, long time. And, although both of us have done cycling & road races before, neither of us has ever attempted a triathlon before. So it'll definitely be a new experience for both of us.

Also, I plan to take the RRCA certification class (with a buddy of mine) this fall. Since I'm already doing coaching & mentoring in an unofficial capacity anyhow, I figure I might as well make it into a career/business & get paid for doing something I truly love. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2 Initial Pushups Test (HPC): Getting Back on Track


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Tonight I decided to restart the Hundred Pushups Challenge (HPC) (after, ahem, a bit of a hiatus from doing pushups!) & managed to eke out 25 consecutive bent-knee pushups during the initial pushups test. (You are supposed to do as many as you can before falling into a lifeless heap on the floor! ;-) )

I'm fairly OK with that number as a starting point. Atleast that's 5 more pushups than the last time I took the initial pushups test. ;-)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

6 6 Mile Treadmill Run: Set a New PR Tonight! Yay!


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Who-hoooo! I just set a new PR during tonight's 6 mi. training run! Did 6 miles in 59:20. YAY!

Really pushed it tonight. Felt on the edge of just being able to hold onto my pace. HR was in the mid 2 high 160s! Yay!

Forgot to bring water to the gym tonight (which I almost NEVER forget, because an hour is a long time to go without any water & feeling dehydrating is lethally yucky!). Wasn't exactly a "comfortable" run because of the resultant dehydration. Thankfully there was a water fountain in the hallway. Drank like a camel afterwards!

Also forgot to bring Nike+ ipod arm band, so my iPod flew off the t-mill & had to be retrieved a few times during moments of great exertion. Oops. LOL. But who cares, because atleast it shows I was putting in some major effort!

For some reason, the gym was filled with lots of women. The two on the treadmill next to me seemed more interested in gabbing than working out. :)

You can tell it's the beginning of January. :) Yes, it's that time again for the "New Year's Resolutions" crew to flood the gym like cattle for their guilt-induced workouts. LOL. Wonder how long that'll last. Hahahaha.

I'm confident that I will outlast every single last one of those "New Year's Resolutions" people, because I am serious about working out as an end to itself while most of them are probably ONLY working out just to lose weight. And then once that's accomplished (or in many cases, probably well before that happens!), these people will typically drop like flies -- their gym memberships languishing into obscurity & burning a big whole in their pockets. ;-)

Here's what I have to say about THAT: If you have to lose weight, focus on the workouts instead of the weight loss. If you do the workouts & eat healthfully, the weight loss will come as part of the process. Don't make the weight lose the sole end goal, because it's not a deep enough emotional reason & ultimately won't keep you going when the going gets rough. Frankly, if you want to be fit as a longterm goal (& really get your money's worth from those new gym memberships you just signed up for!), you need to find a better reason to exercise. Exercise for you. Exercise because it stirs your soul & gives you joy. Find exercise that is fun. The people who seek these deeper-rooted things from fitness are the ones who are going last in the exercise game. :)

Enough said. Now get out there & get moving for all the right reasons! :) And please have fun while you're out there doing it. Now, that's an order. Hahahaha. ONLY kidding.

Have a great night!

-C

Monday, January 5, 2009

4 This Year, "Adopt A Runner" &/Or Become One Yourself!


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I'd like to challenge the people who read this blog to be a positive "catalyst" to help others improve the quality of their lives -- and helping others to become healthier is at the center of it all.

Of course, as you know, one of the most powerful ways to do this is to first embody the essence of this change in yourself. That's where it all starts.

After all, Gandhi's famous quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world," applies to health as well! :)

If you'd like to receive support & encouragement towards this endeavor, I encourage you to join our "Healthy Eating Initiative" & "Thirteen Weeks To A Healthier You" programs over at JustFinish.com. If you'd like to find out more about these programs, you can also read the following articles & also visit Running Hoosier's blog. Also, please check out Running Hoosier's Facebook cause of the same name. All proceeds raised for this cause will benefit "Generation Excel", a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which "provides assistance to overweight adults & children in the form of fitness programs, weight-loss camp sponsorships and educational material." They also "provide grants for obesity research."

More specifically, "Generation Excel" sponsors the following endeavors:

--Weight Loss Camp Sponsorships: Generation Excel "makes it possible for 5-10 children per summer to attend a life-changing camp."

--Educational Materials: They are "producing a DVD which will provide education and support to parents of overweight children."

--Re-introduction of School-based Physical Fitness Programs: Generation Excel is starting a pilot program in Boston that will put physical education back in schools which have had to cut those programs."

These excellent projects are certainly something worth supporting!

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And then, while you are working towards this change within yourself, the next step is of course to genuinely give of yourself, by passing on that passionate spirit, the inner fire of motivation, onto others!

A person can start by doing something as simple as offering to share their wellness/fitness knowledge with others, to build awareness & light a spark within someone else.

People can start small, & start locally. Even helping a friend or family member counts. Little gestures can be just as powerful as the grand ones. You don't have to be canonized as a saint, (like Mother Teresa), to make a difference. :)

We can all "pay it forward" in one way or another, "doing our bit" to help the cause!

So, I'd like to encourage all fellow runners to "adopt" a runner (or two!) this year.

Getting others interested in running, &/or helping them to improve their own health/fitness state, can be as simple as talking about the sport you love, about why you love it so much, what it's given you, & what it can give to others. Genuine enthusiasm is so powerful & infectious!

2 "Just Say NO" to New Year's Resolutions!


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I was just over at my friend Dave's blog, The MS Runner, reading his latest post, "Happy New Year!", & I must say, it really struck a chord with me.

You guessed it; the article's all about New Year's resolutions. ;-) And the best part is that the article is great fun to read, as all of the insights are delivered with Dave's usual comic flair for finding humor in the absurdities of life & human behavior. I encourage you all to read it, because the man has an excellent point.

Bottom line: New Year's resolutions are a bunch of BS. Yes, you heard me correctly. :) So why do people still make them? Well, read his article & my comments for some more insight on that.

I much prefer the term, "goals." And yes, there is a difference. The connotations of these words are very different, indeed. Especially in terms of one's mental outlook & general approach towards achieving the tasks at hand. And maybe, just maybe this year, people's approaches to achieving those goals will also be different, as in "smarter" & "better." Atleast that is what one hopes anyway.

I highly encourage you to read Dave's article, especially if you are one of those people who makes "New Year's Resolutions" and then soon after "resolves" to quickly forget them. :)

Hey, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we have all probably been guilty of doing this at one point or another in our lives. However, this year can be different. We can all benefit from rethinking the way we approach our new year's ambitions this time around.

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And, as I can never seem to remain silent when there's something urgent or important that's just got to be said, I thought I'd reprint my response to his article here.

  1. # 1 cyberpenguin Says:
    Hahahaha! I agree with you 100%!!!!!!! Resolutions are usually 99% just “for show” & mostly done for our egos. You know what they say about the road to hell. :)
    New year’s resolutions are ultimately a bunch of BS.
    Been saying that for years, but now that we have the larger scope of the blogging medium to rattle on about it, maybe someone will actually “get” it soon, or atleast one of these days, & stop with all of this resolution-making nonsense. Hope springs eternal. :)
    You are so right about the way so many people have trained their minds to work. It’s quite obvious that they haven’t carefully thought through all of those resolutions, because if they did, they might change their minds when considering all the work those resolutions are going to require! :)
    They concoct these elaborate schemes so grand that they can’t possibly succeed. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, subconsciously rigged as a set-up for failure so that, in reality, they don’t really have to change at all. They can just claim a token gesture for having tried (maybe once or twice, & then quitting after the first sign of “failure” — a missed workout or an unwise decision — i.e., overexertion leading to injury, etc.), since there’s a rather small & unrealistic window on the time & effort dedicated to achieving those goals. People often forget that goals take time & effort to achieve!
    In the end, it’s usually a lot of “sound & fury signifying nothing.” These people can talk a good game, but when it comes down to the execution part, they casually “forget” about all those lofty plans.
    The attempts are often short-lived because they got easily overwhelmed by the grand schemes, instead of thinking on a smaller scale, starting slowly, & making gradual changes, in a step-by-step fashion. The second path, which unfortunately has often been the one less taken in modern Western/American culture (with regard to getting oneself into shape!), is a more surefire route to success. When will people learn? Steady effort, moderation, balance, and persistence are the wiser pathways.
    Deep, lasting change isn’t some superficial construction, or done for the purposes of “looking good” for others. People have to start small in order to start somewhere!
    You're right. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. You plant those grass seeds right here in your own backyard. :)

  1. # 2 cyberpenguin
    Of course when I refer to “the second path, which unfortunately has often been the one less taken in modern Western/American culture,” I am obviously referring specifically to the usual ways in which people try to get themselves into shape.
    I find it strange how the “hard work” ethic is ingrained & promoted tirelessly in American culture when it comes to one’s career, & yet is strangely not advocated as unilaterally when it comes to one’s approach to one’s health. :)
    In addition to “green technology” being the next big thing to take international markets by storm, I’d like to see “preventative health care” on that list as well!
    To quote a Chinese proverb, “The best doctor doesn’t need to treat his patients at all.”

Saturday, January 3, 2009

3 Cyberpenguin's Goals For 2009


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It's official! I just posted my 2009 fitness-related goals at JustFinish, in the group 2009 Goals.

Thought I'd list them here as well:

1. Run all of the 20+ races listed on my 2009 racing calendar, including my first marathon. (You can read more details about this on my blog.)
2. Set PRs for 5K-10M distances: By May, run 5K in 27:54 (9:00 pace), 10K in 58:48 (9:30 pace), 8 mi in 1:18:00 (9:45 pace), 10 mi in 1:40:00 (10:00 pace).
3. Complete the 2009 Philadelphia Marathon in under 5 hours (preferably 4:30 or better!).
4. Get down to an "athletic body fat range" of 14-18% to optimally enhance racing performance.
5. Do at least 1 day per week of strength training (lifting, crunches, push-ups, squats, etc.).
6. Complete RRCA coaching certification.
7. Start building my fitness business.
8. Inspire more people to run, get fit, adopt healthy behaviors, & find the enjoyment in the process of getting healthier! Actively mentor & encourage others!
9. Give back: Volunteer more in the community, both in the general & running communities. Help build positive sense of community & foster connections amongst people; be a catalyst & connection point for others.
10. Cross-training: Add some cross-training into the mix every so often! Think outside of the box when planning cross-training activities. Organize more group outings centered around fitness - bike rides, hikes, kayak trips, etc.

0 Update RE: Hundred Pushups Queens


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Due to the overflowing amount of information on the front page of this blog, I've decided to move the links for the "Proud Members of the Hundred Pushups Queens Club" from the front page to a post. This post, to be exact. :)

People will of course still get props for joining this group & taking on the challenge. That part won't change.

Below are the current members of the "Hundred Pushups Queens":
Abby (my sister) of "Ladybug & Co"
Ally (Cymrusteve's wife)
Carla of "Blog Mommy Blog"
Coach Jenn of "What Does It All Mean?"
Fit Mom of "Fitness for Mommies"
Jess of "21 Days"
Kristen of "Run Faster"
Lisa of "Chasin' Bunnies"
Lisa of "JavaMom Keeps On Tri-ing"
Lisa of "Workout Mommy"
Lori J. (of Plurk)
Marcy of "I Signed Up For This?!?"
Melanie Brookshire
Nancy of "Notes of a Non-Runner"
Rebecca of "So You Wannabee a Domestik Goddess?"
Robin
Runner Girl of "Who Is Runner Girl?"
Running Knitter
Shauna of "Diet Girl"
Susan of "Catapult Fitness"
Tamra of "Shop It To Me"
Tracey
Vickie of "Living & Tri-ing in River City"

If you'd like to be added to the group, simply comment on this post & I'll add you. PLEASE NOTE: You must be a female participant in the Hundred Pushups challenge. Hence, the traditional use of the word "queen." :)

Good luck, ladies! Hope that you have been successful in completing the Hundred Pushups challenge thus far & are still going strong!

0 Check Out Steve Speirs's New Strength-training Program, "Two Hundred Situps"!


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Those of you who loved Steve Speir's ever-popular "Hundred Pushups" challenge will be happy to know that he now has a companion program for strengthening your core, called the "Two Hundred Sit-ups" challenge. Both plans provide gradual strength training intervals to take you from "zero to hero." :) And just in the nick of time for the start of the new year too. So check it out!

Start 2009 off right with this great new challenge!

Feel free to spread the word about the program to your friends, family, & coworkers via the following link. Thanks & good luck with the challenge!

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