Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Still Running

Yeah, I've been away awhile. It's been one hell of a winter, with ice storms and sleet and an up-down-up-down temperature shift that is making me insane. First it was 10 degrees. Then, that very weekend, it was 60 degrees. My trees started to bud. Then it was 10 again and a big sleet storm his, freezing everything under a layer of ice. Then it warmed up again and rained. Then it was 10 again and we had an ice storm, followed by some snow. This was 4 days ago. Today its 60 and raining cats and dogs. The ground is frozen and flooded. There are still piles of ice where people shoveled it and yet we're wearing short sleeve shirts today.

Weather like this reminds me of why I'm currently a big treadmill runner. Can you imagine how my running would be doing if I were trying to run outdoors in all of this?

OK, so I'm still running, but I'm still slower than Christmas. Yesterday it occurred to me why. When I was a little kid my parents gave me a purple spyderbike for Christmas. That same year, or maybe the next, my best friend and his younger sisters all received neon-colored spyderbikes. We all rode together everywhere. And where we lived was extremely hilly. I remember one hill in particular, a road named BeBe Ann, or however you spell it. It was a road I passed on my way to the swimming pool all the time. It was so steep that even cars seemed to avoid it. I would pedal as far up that hill as I could. When I couldn't make it I'd pedal until I was at a complete standstill, then turn the front wheel and roll back down. I did that every time I passed that street just to see how many tries it would take me to finally make it to the top. It ended up taking years. I was little and my legs were little, too. But I eventually made it. When I wasn't trying to ride up this hill I was riding everywhere else. My bike didn't have gears. It was just one speed and one gear and that was it. Anywhere I rode to required me to pedal as hard as it took to get there. Being a little kid I didn't think this was a big deal. And I had no idea that I was making my legs extremely strong.

When my elementary school decided to have impromptu foot races in PE class I wasn't surprised when I was one of the fastest kids in my grade. I was already playing basketball and soccer and running track for a church league so I knew I was fast. But I assumed it was something that ran in my family, something I had inherited. My sisters were all fast and they had said running was something we were all good at.

But my brother wasn't. And neither was my dad. And none of his sister's kids were good runners.

By the time I reached high school I was bicycling everywhere all the time. I joined the track team and was fast, even fast compared to all the other kids in my grade all across the state.

All these years later I haven't ridden bikes on a regular basis in a very long time. And when I do ride my legs wear out fast. They're weak. Just a few years ago I used to harassed a friend of mine for constantly complaining about his running not getting any faster. I advised him to do strength training - sprint work, hills, fartlek. He ignored me and just kept running further and further distances while avoiding several extremely good, steep hills right across from his own neighborhood. The first race we ran together I beat him despite not having worked out in years. It made him mad.

Endurance runner

A few years later and I'm living in a city with virtually no hills for me to run. I live in the country where there are no street lights. By the time I get home its dark, so bicycling is a bad idea. As I've written here, I've been running on a treadmill for quite awhile. At first it was just a way for me to get back into the habit while taking it slow and trying to avoid injuries. Instead I had a string of injuries, (probably the result of wearing shoes without any arch support) none of which helped me increase my strength or speed. Since then all I do is run the treadmill. And its boring. And I'm sick of running the same treadmill in the same room all winter long. So I've been treadmill-fartleking way more than I should. Its not really a good, hard workout the way I've been doing it. Its more of an excuse to stop and walk which I then justify by running faster than I otherwise would have in-between. But you can't fartlek every workout, and if you aren't really pushing it then you're just walking a lot when you should be running and working on a steady pace.

So, yesterday I didn't run the treadmill. Yesterday I did leg presses, as heavy as I could go without exploding my knees. This gym has no squat rack and that's a real shame. All it has are machines. So I pressed and pressed, knowing that my legs are going to hurt badly the next few days the way they should after a good leg workout. Then I did leg extensions and stiff-legged deadlifts. It wasn't a huge workout, but considering I haven't done any strength training in a long time I thought it was a good start. I need to do a lot more of this. Runners can't simply run and run some more and expect that this will be enough to improve their times, especially if you're running long distances. If you want to get faster, or even get back to where you used to be, you've got to build muscle. And that's what I need to do.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

It's 2015 already!

Happy new year and all that. If you're a Seahawk fan then you should be happy tonight. They just beat the Panthers. If you're a Patriots fan you're relieved. They had to come from behind to beat the Ravens at the very end of the game. So that just leaves the Cowboys vs the Packers and the Broncos vs the Colts. That's all tomorrow.

Oh, and let's not forget the Oregon vs Ohio State college championship game on Monday night. That's a big deal!

I'm a Cowboys fan. I have been since I was 10 years old, so at least I'm consistent. I can't recall the last time I saw a Cowboys team in the playoffs and not losing. Last week was the first time in a long time. I'll be honest with you guys, I didn't watch their playoff game against Detroit. I just couldn't do it. I hadn't seen Dallas beat Detroit since Megatron joined the team. I believe Megatron's real name is Calvin Johnson or something like that, but everyone just calls him Megatron. He's a giant and for several years Dallas had no corner or safety tall enough or skilled enough to stop him. I left the game playing on the TV and went upstairs to watch Lord of the Rings. I had just seen The Hobbit 3 and wanted to rewatch all the Lord of the Rings movies now that I had finally seen the entire first book in movie form. I came downstairs just in time to see Erin Andrews interviewing Tony Romo and asking him about how it feels to finally win his first playoff game.

Tomorrow is the big day, the Cowboys vs Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin day. Its expected to be COLD and the stadium is an outdoor stadium. That's bad for Dallas. But Aaron Rodgers has a tear in his left calf which somewhat limits his mobility. Just how important that is remains to be seen. But that's bad for Green Bay.

OK, well, it's 2015 and I'm still posting to my blog despite the fact that roughly 3/4s of the blogs in my blogroll haven't posted in months, some in over a year. I'm late to the party, obviously, but I'm still here. Don't give up on me.

Very popular sideline reporter Erin Andrews

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas!!!

Doomed. This blog is doomed. I know that this blog is doomed because I have gone over 1 month without posting anything. I've never done something like that before.

I'm still working out, mostly running. And most of my running is on the treadmill. I don't know how much I should count that as running. It's more like trotting electronically. Its an electric trot. Yes, that's what I'm going to call it from now on. I have been going on 3 mile electric trots 2 to 3 times per week on a fairly regular basis. It's been awhile since my last injury. That's a big relief. Of course, it's also been awhile since my last race and I have been running more slowly in an attempt at avoiding further injury. I'm pretty sick of the whole constant injury thing. But I'm equally sick of running at a ridiculously weak pace.

I'm fartleking a lot now. It's not because I'm strong and free of the fear of injury. I wish it was. Its because I'm sick of running the same 3 miles on a treadmill while watching the same Seinfeld rerun in the same cinderblock room, day after day. I just want something to break up the monotony. Fartleking allows me to convince myself that the workout will end more quickly. It doesn't, but I feel less bored.

Other than this, Merry Christmas! If you're still reading this blog after so many have bailed on me then I owe you a Christmas card. If you want it, send me your name and address and I'll send you the Christmas card. :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Checking In

It's been awhile since I was here last. Not a lot has changed. I'll make this quick. I injured my hamstring before the Warrior Dash. It was cold and wet and I couldn't see any point in my going and trying to run the hills of the Warrior Dash this year with a pulled hamstring. This was the first time I skipped the race after running 3 straight. And I didn't feel terribly disappointed about it. I think perhaps that is a bad sign. My fatigue is not from running. My fatigue is from being repeatedly injured and constantly having to fear the next injury, whatever it may be.

My workouts since skipping the Dash haven't been great. It is now taking me almost a full mile of fast walking before I feel warmed up enough to break into a slow run. Even with the slow run I feel my calves and hamstrings threatening to pull. It makes no sense to me. But it is certainly frustrating.

Aside from workouts, I have stress at work. As part of my position I am required to maintain 2 professional certifications in addition to my degree. I earned my first certification early this year. It was fairly difficult. My 2nd certification I earned just yesterday. It was very difficult and I barely passed. But if I am to keep my job I have to deliver both of these certifications to my employer or else they'll have armed guards escort me out after a specific period of time. I delivered the first certification already, but I'm having trouble getting the 2nd one to download. The company that conducted the test and awarded me my certification sent me an email congratulating me for earning it, as well as giving me a link to download my certification. When I click the link it tells me I have not earned the certification and then forwards me to a link to register for the certification test. I am more than slightly frustrated by this.

Anyway, no one is going to read this so rather than continue with other things about what is going on, I'll simply stop here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lacking Motivation

It's been so long since I've last blogged that Blogger seems to have locked up my page. I can't even get the URL to come up. How funny.

Anyway, over the past month, which is about how long its been since I wrote last, I've been battling this injury and that one. I even ran a 5K race with a pulled hamstring because I was just so sick and tired of always feeling like I couldn't do what I wanted due to the latest in an endless stream of stupid injuries.

One thing all these injuries have done, though, is to take away my motivation. I don't have any real reason to train anymore. I have a race coming up, the Warrior Dash, but there is no hope of my being able to run up those hills with a hamstring injury nagging at me and calves that are perpetually ready to let go any any moment. I have thought long and  hard about whether I am even going to train for it and try to go. I've just about decided not to bother. Last week I skipped the treadmill and went to one of the only hills anywhere near this Godforsaken city to run 'sprints' repeatedly up it. I put sprints in quote marks because my hamstring makes it impossible for me to truly sprint. The best I can do is carefully stride in sprint form, as if I were truly sprinting, but not quite. I could feel everything in my legs straining close to the limit, wanting to strain something - a calf or hamstring or perhaps something new.

I've had it. I'm still training, but not for any race. At this point I'm barely able to make myself even get on the stupid treadmill. On Monday I jacked up the elevation on the treadmill little by little, until I had it as high as it would go, and I fartleked on it. But after that I was so sore and stiff that I couldn't do jack squat on Wednesday. On Friday I just felt no motivation at all. I wanted to get on a bike or lift weights or something, anything except meander along on a treadmill watching the speed to see if I was even moving fast enough to be worth the trouble. I started running goofy out of sheer boredom. I did the Phoebe, from the episode of Friends when she went running with Rachel and ran like a goof. I ran like Elaine dances on Seinfeld. I ran like Kramer. At one point the guy running next to me commented that he thought I might break the treadmill. I was just so bored and sick of it all I really didn't care.

So this is where I am right now. I don't think I'm going to attempt the Warrior Dash. There is another 5K that same weekend just down the street from my house. I might attempt that one, but the last time I did one of these local 5Ks I ran the entire way with a bad hamstring. It was a disaster.

That's been my whole year, really, a disaster.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wednesday ... again

OK, so it's not a Wordless Wednesday because I'm typing stuff again. I do that sometimes. Still, it's my blog and lately it's just me and AlleyCat talking here, so I guess I'll just go ahead and talk on Wordless Wednesday.

Back to the Future II is on. I haven't seen this movie in forever. And next is Back to the Future III. It occurs to me that I've never even seen Back to the Future III.  So I guess now I'll see it.

The picture above is an image-stabilized shot from the old Star Trek series. When they did scenes where the Enterprise was attacked or hit with something, the camera would shake all around and everyone would throw themselves around. It looked convincing enough, I guess. But when you remove the camera shake it looks a little .... eh, less impressive. Don't you think?

I think I've found a possible cause to all my calf injuries. At least, I'm hoping so. You see, for the past few months I've been wearing these dress shoes to work every day because its required. Anyway, the specific shoes aren't required, just a formal dress, or semi ... office attire, I don't know what they call it. Anyway, I'm not exactly wearing Nike running shoes all day. That's the point I'm trying to make. Instead, I'm wearing leather shoes which, as it turns out, have absolutely NO arch support in them. Yes, that's right, none at all. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Zero.

The lack of any arch support combined with the useless heel makes me lean slightly forward and puts even more pressure on my arches. And then I go running after work and my calves blow out on me.

On Monday I ran by a sporting goods store to check out some arch supports. The guy working there asked me to take my shoe off so he could look at my arches to help determine which level of arch would be best. I took my shoe off and stepped down. He got on his knees and looked at my foot and said, "totally collapsed. Your foot is flat." Yep, flat.

So on Monday I put my new arch supports in my running shoes and then got on the treadmill. My right calf was already giving me trouble, so I didn't run. I just walked faster and faster and faster until I couldn't go any faster without having to run. I did just over 2 miles and then did a LOT of toe raises and some upper body exercises. No problems with my calves.

Now its Wednesday and if my calves seem up for it I'm going to run again. I'm hoping to God that these arch supports combined with my calf sleeves and toe raises I've been doing will finally help me solve these calf injury problems once and for all.

Anyway, Back to the Future III is starting and I've never seen this before, so I'm going to watch it. Wish me luck.