Saturday, April 19, 2014

#482: Limp, Walk, Run... and Fly Just a Little

RICE: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate

The thing that's most aggravating is that I've made this mistake before. Last year, while training the Flying Pig Marathon, I got it into my head that I was so much stronger than I had been the year previous, I no longer needed the Run, Walk, Run method helped me to finish my first marathon in Pittsburgh. A few weeks into my training, I started feeling aches and pains I wasn't used to. I immediately resumed the old intervals, and the pains went away. Well this year, when I started my 2014 reboot, I made the same stupid decision. I was going to train to run a PR in next year's Horse Capital Marathon. I had 15 months to get there, and I was going to run the whole way. So far, my longest training run has been only 4 miles, but my left knee finally let me know just how much that ambition could cost me.

It's ironic that a bone-headed macho stunt would bring me down. I'm about the least macho man you'll ever meet. A beautiful wife and mother who is a dear friend once complained about my driving saying, "You know, you're about 50% woman." Another recently told me tenderly, "I think you are much sweeter than I am." So parading manly prowess has never been my strong suit. On the other hand, ego has been my stumbling block, and my most unattractive personality trait since I was a fourth grader, singing in the youth choir in church. And it was pure ego that made me think I should be running at the same level as people a third my age, or with five times my experience. It's finally sinking in... the back of the pack is where I belong.

I knew that. And I really thought I was OK with it. But something made me want more this time. And the result was a big, frosty serving of RICE. That's the acronym for runners who get stupid. It stands for

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compressing
  • Elevation
It's the go-to treatment for muscle injury and inflammation. And in my case, it has kept me from training seriously for two weeks.

Ironically, the first time I noticed anything peculiar, I was in the pool, the last place in the world you would expect to have knee trouble. I was climbing out of the water on the ladder when I felt a little click, like a rubber band snapping back into place. Now, I have taken pretty strenuous water fitness classes, but mine is not one of them. We do some strength exercises, about 15 minutes of cardio, a 10 minute free-swim, then about 20 minutes of core, cool down, and flexibility training. Nobody ever comes out of there feeling like they've had their butt kicked. It's just not that kind of class. So I did what every idiot does when his body gives him a warning sign. I ignored it.

My long run that weekend was 4 miles, and it felt, well, OK. The knee complained a little, but didn't really pain me. I took some Tylenol when I got home, and didn't think about it again. I noticed it was making crackling noises when I stood up and was a little stiff if I sat in a chair for a long time to write, but again... I ignored it. Until that Monday, running with the kids at the Y.

First mistake: I skipped my recovery day. I don't remember why, but I did my weekend run on Sunday instead of Saturday. Maybe the weather. Maybe a long night on Friday. Whatever the reason, I wound up running two days in a row, breaking one of my cardinal training rules. I never run on back to back days. I just don't. And I wasn't ten steps into the run that evening when I realized I was not ready for two miles with the kids.

Three times a week, I am on the trail with a group of kids, 9-13 year olds, in a program at the Y called Run This Town. We started in late March, and will finish the spring with a 10K race in May. It's a great program that involves running, good conversation, and mentoring for a diverse bunch of kids. Some of them are highly motivated. some have learning disabilities. One or two run like they're being punished. And right around the one mile turn, I found myself right beside one of the most profoundly unmotivated boys in the group.

He's a fast kid. Plays sports at school. Loads of potential. Zero desire. His mom has been dragging him out for a couple years. And he runs, walks, or just dawdles along like he hates every minute on the trail. For some reason, at the half-way point on this day, he decided he was going to run. And I decided I would run with him. I slipped just ahead of him. My thinking was that being passed by a fat old man might tweak his pride enough to keep him going, and for a change it worked. I could hear his footsteps behind me the whole way. Every time he got closer, I would pick up my tempo a little. I knew that if I stopped to walk, he would stop and not run again. I also knew, from my long run the day before, that I could finish this mile at a good clip. No problem. And that's just what happened. I ran my fastest two miles so far this year. He cruised in right behind me. Still much slower than he could have run, but at least he kept running. I felt like I had really achieved something with him. Then I felt that little click again. And this time, it would not be ignored.

I stretched with the kids, then limped to the car. Climbed in with pain that told me something was really wrong. When I got home, the climb to my second floor apartment looked like a scene in a nursing home. I dug the blue ice packs out of the freezer, found a couple of elastic bandages in a box in the closet, wrapped up, and laid down on the couch to watch the Wildcats lose to the Huskies in the NCAA finals. A little RICE, a little wine, a little Tylenol. Everything would be fine.

The knee was still stiff in the morning, but the pool loosened it up. It ached a bit after I taught SilverSneakers CardioCircuits, but felt better than the night before. Back home. Put it up. Don't worry about it. Ran two with the kids the next night. Slow. Put in a couple of walk breaks. Classes again Thursday. Skipped my leg workout in the gym on Friday. Three with the kids on Saturday. I finally smartened up, and brought my interval timer. Would have been really smart to have had it with me right from my first run of the year. My time was better with the intervals, but the knee was really sore after. This week, I made it until Wednesday, but I just had to take the night off. There was no more denying it. I was injured. The result of overuse of the legs, and under use of the brain.

I wore a brace for class the next day. Kept the leg up. Iced it frequently.It's been feeling a little better each day, but this morning, when I stood up out of the bed, it immediately made that little popping sound that told me everything was still not all right.

Four miles to run with the kids this morning. I suppose it would have been really sensible to take another day off. But skipping the long runs, especially a month from race day, can really set your training back. And I didn't want to disappoint the kids. To be honest, I'm probably overestimating how much the kids would miss me. But, I would really miss them. So I showered, pulled on the big black brace, slipped into my lucky racing shoes, and headed for the car with a pronounced 'hitch in my gittyup."

We had a good sized group of kids today. Eight of them had managed to get out of bed in time for our 8:00 run. 48°. Gorgeous blue Kentucky skies. Just a light breeze. Perfect running weather. Three adults and Scooby the Labradoodle rounded out the team. I assigned the other two mentors to groups by speed... one for the burners, and one for the middle of the pack gang. I would be running 30 seconds and walking 30 seconds, bringing up the rear. Off we went.

The weather was fantastic. Just enough people on the trail to feel like a community, without us having to duck and dodge other, faster runners and cyclists. I started out at a pathetic, halting jog, and wondered how in the world I was going to be able to keep this up the whole way. Maybe I'd bail at the one mile point. The first walk break was heavenly, and much too short. Up ahead, the middle of the pack were pulling away quickly, leaving me and three stragglers in their wake. By the crest of the first hill, I started to close in on the straggling group, and at a half mile I caught them. Two girls and a Mom. I was surprised to see Speedy. She's the youngest, but one of the stronger runners. She had stayed back with M who was having a rough day, and Mom had kept back with the two of them, not wanting to leave them behind. Once I caught up, Mom and Speedy felt better about setting a quicker pace, and M and I brought up the rear.

M is a smart kid. Scary smart. She's voracious reader, loves the books about Percy Jackson, who is much cooler than (blech) Harry Potter. She has a terrific vocabulary and a wise-ass attitude that probably gets her into trouble now and then. She usually walks more than runs, and it's hard to tell if she's having a rough time or just being stubborn. She's a pretty willful kid. I asked if she'd like to run my intervals with me, and she shook her head. Her stomach hurt today. She had oatmeal for breakfast, and put milk on it, which she was sure was a mistake. I decided not to tell her that that was exactly what I had eaten for breakfast. We poked along for a couple of tenths of a mile, then I had an idea.

"What if we walk fast for 30 seconds, then slow for 30?"

"I love to walk fast," she perked up. "Let's do it." So, off we went. The funny thing was, that second mile was only about half a minute slower than I had been going with my run walk run intervals. After we made the turn, we did both of the final miles faster then I had started. And my knee felt surprisingly good. When we started the final quarter mile, we agreed to turn off the timer, and just walk fast the rest of the way. And then something kind of unforgettable happened.

I was a little worried about two things. First, that parents would have taken the faster kids home already, and second, that the tangerines I had brought for a post-run snack would all be gone. As we rounded the turn, and the pavillion at the Y where we assemble came into sight, we saw a crowd of brightly dressed runners heading our way, led by a small, black dog. Scooby and the gang were running our way. All of them. They were hooting, clapping, and waving.

"What are they doing?" M asked.

"They're cheering you home," I answered, proud enough to bust. "We're a team."

Kids can be pretty mean. That's what they tell me, anyway. But these kids shouted M's name, gave her high fives, danced and jogged around her, and wouldn't you know it, the whole bunch of them, including my pokey partner sprinted the last 50 yards, leaving me laughing and limping to the finish.

When we got to the picnic table where the sign-out sheet was, there were two tangerines waiting for us.

Yeah, my knee could feel better. And yeah, I may wind up walking that 10K in May instead of running it. But right now, typing by my window with the sun beaming in and my leg wrapped in ice... I sure am happy that I didn't take the morning off. Somebody asked me a couple weeks ago, "So why do you do this program? What's the point?" Well that's the point. Seven kids, running up a hill, congratulating their friend because she didn't give up. Making sure she wouldn't have to finish alone or go without a drink of water and a piece of fruit after a rough workout. Nobody coached them to do that. That's just who they are.

They're my kids.

And they're pretty damn cool.

After stretches, we circle up in the pavillion. One of them crouches in the center, while the rest reach in and join hands for our closing cheer. It's one of the highlights of my week.

"Shoes on the ground... Run This Town!"


Monday, April 14, 2014

#481 Glimpses of Paradise

Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants ~ Justice Louis D Brandeis

In a lifetime
In a moment
Have stolen all that might have been
Leaving only this
antique griefs and yesterdays
carrying away 
in a tear stained pillowcase

They day he found this
The night she broke that
phone calls 
lab reports
surgeries and morgues
sickbeds and coffins
weddings and funerals
leave taking

time's impossible arithmetic
the sum of unendurable moments 
unremembered years

grasping at ghosts of hope
terrified fingers crush the life
from each unwilling savior
why didn't you come when the sea was calm?
when my courage 
might have waited
for you to reach out instead?
when you might not have fled
to save yourself?

I will not be your audience
she said
I will not stand by and applaud
Your life's performance
how could she have known
how much i ached
for her face alone
her tears
her smile
there in the crowd
playing for many
longing for one

four years
all the same
nothing learned
nothing gained

In love with love
she said
Not me
never knowing
how right and how wrong she could be

She said
Shame piled on shame

I can't pretend any more
but you are all I have


Something in the recipe
Wasn't quite right
A tiny ingredient left out
"sent before my time"
Poor Dick
broken in his heart
not his back
We halt together
our twisted shadows
dark reminders
of the damage done
bleeding on the page
on the stage
the crippled king slashes and climbs toward Bosworth
spider pinned to the bloody earth

my kingdom for a heart

while in the corner
dusty cartons 
hold lost years
already eaten with mildew
the words unread
medicine untaken
reminders of false starts
and broken promises

You say too much
she said
Too many words you cannot feel
as open fingers let the traveler slip
into the shadowside

Look for the center
she said
Find the way between
but is it worth the loss
of losing heaven
just to stay out of hell?

A prisoner of the cruelty of seasons
Spring color crushed 
in winter's stubborn teeth
Chewed to pulp
and left to bake
Until Autumn throws open the oven door
served cold
and another forgotten year has passed

If we don't get it out, it will kill you
he said
and so it began
the great taking away
poisoning the Stranger
while Death stood watching
holding him nightly in her tender arms
until at last, even her kiss proved fleeting

I can see you
she said
wanting with all her heart
to lift him
her faith so strong
for a time, he too believed
saw himself
in her eyes
dreamed her dream
held her close
too close
too long
too late remembering
the cost of heaven

I will not hide
he said
bruises and the scars on exhibition
I will not fear your loathing
or your pity
Here is my shame
a pin pricked blister
for all to see
My only hope
he cried
Is this
chained to the mast
the merciless sun
burning out what the doctors could not reach

The price of another glimpse of paradise

Sunday, April 6, 2014

#480 Four for the Cats

Today's LSR on the Legacy Trail
Distance:4.00 mi
Avg Pace:11:32 min/mi
Elevation Gain:120 ft
Calories:813 C
Avg Temperature:61.0 °F

I had to attend a CPR training class yesterday, and missed my chance at a morning run with the kids from the Y. Today was so beautiful that I put my shorts and shoes on before breakfast. Nothing was going to keep me off the road today. I was due for a 3.5 miler, but last night's basketball game was so exciting, I decided I wanted to celebrate somehow. I briefly considered trying to run/walk 9 miles to commemorate the UK Wildcats' pursuit of their 9th national championship, but after the first cup of coffee cleared my head, that idea seemed pretty reckless to me. I settled on a 4 mile run in honor of the Final Four instead.

I've been wearing my headphones more than in the past, and I was trying a new, super mellow playlist designed to make me feel warm and fuzzy, and keep my cadence down to a manageable pace. It worked on both counts, and took me someplace I did not expect.

Our Song... How many tunes have I thought of over the years as Our Song? Sweehearts. Friends. Room mates. Cast mates. Unrequited loves. Heroes. Villians. So many times I have thought of this melody or that one as Our Song. Without explanation, and in no particular order, here are a few that wound up on my iPod during today's run...

At one time or another, each has been Our Song: the one that made me think of someone I loved. And hearing them can still send my heart and my senses to places long ago and far away.

But as I was running today, feeling waves of nostalgia and warm smiles of rememberance glowing inside, the thought occurred to me... I've never really had MY song. The one that I feel like I can own as a personal anthem.

I mean there's Born to Run, and Freebird: great rockers from my youth, songs that are still on my playlist and in my favorite workout mixes. But they feel more like the anthems of my generation than songs of my own.

There are songs that move and excite me for deeply personal reasons every time I hear them. Graceland. Walking in Memphis. Even Y.M.C.A. by the Village People.

But I'm not sure I could point to one and say, "There. That's me. Play that one at my funeral. That's how I want you to remember me. That's how I think of myself."

I'm not sure what My Song should sound like. Maybe it hasn't been written yet. Maybe I'm writing it myself, right now. Or maybe it's out there waiting for me do discover it or recognize it or finally grow into it...

Funny thing, running. I started out intending to get a little fresh air and think happy thoughts about a pretty doggone good basketball team. Four miles later, and I find myself in the warm embrace of a kind of existential mystery that can keep a man's heart beating and feet moving for a good long time. Went out the door looking for some exercise... wound up looking for myself. Not finding any answers, but quite content with the mystery for now.

Satisfied not to know. That's becoming a sort of a theme in my life, these days.

Come to think of it, maybe I do know what my song should be. For the time being, I think I'll go with this one right here.


Keep on Tryin'. That's how we do it in Pennsyltucky.

Go Cats!

Peace, Y'all.


Monday, March 24, 2014

#479: Leg Day #Rebooted

Never Skip Leg Day
Leg Day. Speak the words above a whisper, and watch weight lifter's faces turn pale.It conjures memories of hugging the squat rack until the room stops spinning, staggering like a disconnected marionette among the benches, praying you can get to the sauna without crashing to the floor in a heap. Clenching your jaw and your fists tight, as you desperately scan the walls for a trash can to throw up in.

Leg Day. 

It isn't for the faint of heart. 

But Dude, you can't spend your whole week doing bench presses and bicep curls in the mirror. You'll turn into a  Macy's parade baloon. The above picture may be photoshopped, I don't know, but I've seen this boy's kin folk all over town. The guys who only work the pretty muscles, the mirror muscles, the ones that show up in selfies. It's kind of sad. 

Real lifters do legs. Hard. Brutally hard. And the results can be amazingly beautiful. Maybe you find her sexy, maybe you find her creepy, but I promise you, Oksana Grishina didn't get legs like that without working hard at it. She earned every cut and curve. And definition like this does not come cheap.

A body builder's legs may be awe inspiring, but they are not really ideal for a distance runner... and they are not really attainable for a 53 year old man without the genes, the training, or the little bag full of steroids that make them happen. 

Pushing deep squats till you puke may feel macho, and it will make you strong as a bull, but it won't get you to mile 26 without a lot of pain, fatigue, and, to be honest, chafing. That much bulk just isn't built for distance.

Consequently, runners don't train their legs like that. Lifting gigantic weights with the biggest muscles in your body takes a lot of strength, and runners kind of need their strength... you know... for running. You aren't going to get much training value from road miles if you've left the best of your legs in the weight room.

Still... Dude... you gotta work legs. Not for bulk, and not for brute strength, but for muscular endurance. And just a little vanity. Cause, I gotta tell you,.. my biceps may resemble sausages hanging from the ceiling of a Brooklyn Heights Deli, but when the light hits them right, and you look from just the right angle, the Fat Man can have some badass looking gams. Hey, it isn't much, I admit, but you play the cards life deals you.

So here's how I'm doing Leg Day, now that racing season is upon us.

The organizing principle here is "Do More with Less." Low weight, high reps. My goal is to execute each rep with perfect form, through a full range of motion. 

After a quarter mile on the treadmill and some prisoner squats facing the wall to get the juices flowing, I hit the rack.

Supersets, 3 x 10, 30 sec rest
Barbell Squats, Barbell Split Squats

3 x 10, 30 sec rest
Romanian Dead Lifts with Barbell
Machine Leg Curls
Machine Leg Extension

2 sets, 30 seconds each, 30 sec rest
Plank (side, front, side)
Bird Dog
Dead Bug

It's a quick workout, and left me feeling pumped but not burned, so I thought I'd get a little creative with a finisher. Usually I'll finish with some vigorous cardio on the rowing machine or a bike, but since I knew I'd be running with the kids at the Y in a couple hours, I decided to finish with 20 minutes of kettlebell swings. 

Better make that 15. 

It's been a long time since I rang the Bell, and I forgot two things: what an intense workout it is; and how badly out of shape I still am. The good news was, I didn't drop the weight through the studio floor, or slip and fling it through a mirror. But it's going to take me a while to work back up to those 30 minute swing fests I was enjoying out in the sunshine, back when I was in racing shape. 

Finally, I spent about 15 minutes on some yoga and stretching, hoping to diminish some of the soreness I'm sure I'll be feeling around 3:30 this morning.

Oh yeah. Then I went for a 2 miler with a 10 year old girl who kicked my butt every step of the way. She pushed me as hard as I could go. But she never dropped me. That's right. I'm bragging. I am as tough as a 10-year old girl. Maybe you aren't impressed by that? Maybe you've never met a Kentucky girl.

All in all, a pretty good workout that burned an absurd amount of calories. Might even make up for the pizza I ate yesterday...

And, Dude... even if I do say so myself... The old legs do still look pretty good when the light is right...


Sunday, March 23, 2014

#478: Reasons To Race

A friend recently advised me, "Write in the morning, and revise in the evening." So tonight, I revisited and revised a post I put up earlier today. I don't take a lot of mulligans on FMR, but I'm making an exception in this case. I this comes closer to what I want to say... Pennsy

Lexington is getting a Marathon! I was so excited to learn about it that I registered on the first morning. Haven't run more than 2 miles in months, 40 pounds heavier than the last time I raced, and I just registered for a Marathon. The good news is, it isn't until May of 2015.

Fifteen months. That's a long time to prepare for a Saturday morning run. You need some good reasons to do something like that. Here are some of mine.

As 2013 came to an end,  I reflected on my own values, and how they should guide me, I decided that I had to start by practicing Strength. The Strength to take action. The Strength to respond. The Strength to do the things God is calling me to do. To serve. To help. To teach. To learn. To run. I took this very literally, focusing my workouts almost entirely on the weight room and building muscle and flexibility. My body felt weak, slow, tired, and fat. My spirit felt the same way. I let the squat rack and the dumbbell bench be a metaphor... every rep was another ounce of potential realized.... every stretch was another inch of increased readiness and flexibility. And as my body begins to change, I feel my spirit changing, too.
After strength, comes Courage: doing what's right. It means living with honor and personal integrity. Being the man I want to be... the man I say I am. It means accepting that I'm not in control, and that I don't need to be. As I reflect on my life's greatest stumbles, I think a failure of personal courage may be the common denominator. Why? Lots of reason, probably. But the one that comes to mind right now is that I've never really known or believed in my own strength. There's always been a voice, I call him my "Toxic Passenger" in the back of the bus, heckling me. "You're going the wrong way." "You're going to come up short." "They're going to laugh at you." "She's going to dump you when she figures out who you really are." He's always been there. Probably always will be. But what's changing is that I don't take his word to be gospel so much anymore. He tells me I'm weak and that I never follow though. Time was, I would just nod sadly in agreement with him. But now, when I hear him grumbling, I remind myself of all the deadlifts. I remember the miles. I touch the finisher's medal from the Pittsburgh Marathon, and I just smile. I'm stronger than the Toxic Passenger thinks I am. I've proved it. And I didn't do that by being the fastest or the smartest or the best. I did it by lifting one weight at a time. Taking one stride at a time. Running a race I could be proud of, and letting the results take care of themselves.
If strength is the bow and courage is the arrow, then Compassion is the bulls eye. Study alone? Yes. Run by yourself? Certainly. Pound out one more set in the weight room after everyone else has hit the shower? Every time. But do it because someday, someone is going to need that strength and courage. Somebody will have to be ready to run for help. To push the car out of the ditch. To go "the extra mile," whatever that mile turns out to be. To serve with compassion. When I read the story of Jesus,compassion is the defining quality I see in his character. Here was a man of unlimited strength and courage, whose every move was guided by the joy and the suffering that he shared with each person he met. The Incarnation is the story of a God who walked among us and shared not only our lives, but our hearts... our passions. The Creator became a creation and chose not to rule, but to serve. My most gratifying races were the ones I ran with a purpose that was bigger than myself. To honor The Five. To support Actors' Guild. To raise money for LIVESTRONG at the YMCA. I am still settling on how I will use this race to serve, but rest assured, I have no intention of doing this one alone.You don't run fifteen months just so you can get the tee-shirt.
And then, there is Joy. You don't make joy. You don't earn it. You can't coax it along. You can't force it. You can't expect it, plan for it, demand it, and you sure as hell can't guarantee it. Joy is rare, like a perfect, spring afternoon. You don't create it. You receive it. Joy is Grace. It is God's gift to you, not because you deserve it, but because every now and then, the universe peeps open and gives you a glimpse of the heart of God and for that moment, you bear witness to the Image in which you were made. Joy isn't payday. Joy is... everyday. All in an instant.. And somewhere along the road, I know there will be times to smile, to weep, and to laugh out loud for no other reason than the joyful knowledge that a life lived with strength, courage and compassion is a life that pleases God... and the gift of Joy is God's testimony to that pleasure.
You know what? 2014 is gonna be a great year for a run.


Monday, March 3, 2014

#477: Snow Day

After dinner last night, I needed to burn off some calories, so I headed off into the sleet for 4.5 slow, slippy miles. It was not the most fun I've ever had on the streets, but the payoff came this morning when I stepped on the scale. I'm down 13 pounds from my still unpublished but trust-me-its-awful maximum weight at the start of my current reboot.

Several inches of snow followed the sleet overnight. Woke up to some serious weather and road conditions. The Y cancelled classes, but I wasn't sure how many of my LIVESTRONG at the YMCA participants could get the news, so I volunteered to drive in and help make the calls to everyone. The Honda was not happy about having to be out and about this morning, and expressed her displeasure with a door latch that froze OPEN after I managed to pry the thing open without busting any of the door seals. I sent out a call for advice, and my friend C suggested dousing it with WD-40... which worked, of course. I believe that anything that's worth fixing can be repaired with a can of WD, a roll of Duct Tape, and a 12-inch pair of judiciously applied Vice Grips.

At the gym, the boss and I sat down and called everyone. My favorite response: "Are you crazy! I wasn't going to tread a foot out in this!" Something tells me I have failed to instill an appropriate level of fear in my charges. Since I was already there, and the crowd was decidedly thin, I decided to hit the weight room for my "Never Skip a Monday" workout.

Conventional wisdom says that you do your hard cardio AFTER you lift weights. Otherwise, you are too tired to give the iron your all. I was able to validate that today. Started out with 30 hard minutes on the treadmill. Longest jaunt so far. Also my quickest. I was able to sustain 12:00 miles for nearly the whole workout. That's almost 3:00 slower than what I was doing a year ago, but you know... it was quite a year. So I felt pretty spent, but encouraged by my progress.

After a little walk around the hall and some water, I checked my print-out... Deadlifts. Naturally. And my legs were already feeling puny. Then of course, there was someone using the power rack. Now, you don't actually need the rack to do deadlifts, but that's where the free barbells live. I hate taking one from the bench press boys... especially on Monday which is the high holy day for Cult of the Pecs. So I stepped over to the New Thingy. 

I don't remember the New Thingy's real name. It isn't a Smith Machine. The video shows you one of those. I don't like the Smith. The New Thingy has lots of rods and slides and bearings that allow the weight to move forward and back, not just up and down. I don't trust the straight lines that the Smith machine forces you to track through. Especially on big lifts. I hate squats on the Smith, and I would never use one for Deads.

Since I was already tired, and using an unusual apparatus, I switched from full Deadlifts to straight legged Deads. Here's a pretty good demo of that variation.

This lift still hits the hams and glutes, but doesn't require the same full body effort of a Deadlift that pulls from the floor. To be honest, I didn't think I was up for too much iron anyway. After the Deads, I took advantage of the open space to do some walking lunges with dumbbells, then arm work, including a very unimpressive three sets of assisted pullups.


I really like this machine. One of my life goals is to someday execute 10 unassisted pullups. This is a tool I'm using to get myself to the first one. I have a loooong way to go. (note to other pullup aspirants... weight gain make this a much harder goal to achieve.)

After finishing up with some of what I think of as "vanity work"... curls and presses designed to make my pathetic upper arms look big and strong... I did my core exercises on the mat, then staggered back out for a 10 minute wring down on the Vario... another very cool and versatile machine. Here's a pimped out promo from the manufacturer... lusicious patio companionship not included with the family friendly YMCA model...

Its basically a sexier version of an AMT, and I like it for the range of motion and what feels like zero impact on the joints.

And as a special added bonus, guess what came on my iPod as I was finishing up?

Even with the Inferno, this snow day workout wore me out. Once I had stretched and cooled down, I came home, had some leftover spaghetti squash, and crashed. In the long run, I'm hoping that exercise will give me more energy, but for the time being, these long workouts take just about all I have.

Woke up feeling fidgety. I would go for a walk,but the streets are still hazardous, and even the best citizens are having a hard time keeping their sidewalks clear. And the truth is, I'm still feeling spent. So I'm writing instead. And you know what? You've really helped me to feel better. Thanks for listening.


Monday, February 24, 2014

#476: Burning Calories / Earning Calories

"Supermans" image from BarStarzz
After a good breakfast, I hit the gym.

Treadmill Warm-up, 10:00 @ 4.6 mph
Barbell Bent-over Row
Dumbbell Chest Press
V-Ups on Bench with Plate
Core Series... Plank, Side Plank, Supermans
Recumbent Stationary Bike, 30:00 @ 15 mph

That's a pretty long workout... almost 90 minutes, but I don't teach any group exercise classes today, so I wanted to hit the strength training hard. After three classes, personal training, and my own cardio work tomorrow, I won't be in any mood for weight lifting anyway.

Helped Coach Rita with LIVESTRONG at the YMCA after my shower, then stopped by the drive-through for some protein. Not my first choice, but I have no dead animals at home, and was too bushed to think about shopping and cooking. Of course when I got home and logged everything into, I learned a couple of things.

  • While a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger may not be the most wholesome delivery system, it does pack 25 grams of protein along with a manageable 23 grams of fat. The bad surprise for me was that the sucker also hides 1050 grams of sodium... no wonder those "small" drinks have to be so big.
  • No matter how righteous that extra set of side planks make you feel at the end of a monster day in the weight room... there's just no good reason to refuel with an 820 calorie Shamrock Shake carrying 23 grams of fat.
  • About that sodium... I've been tracking every calorie now for five days, and I'm shocked by how much Na(sty) is hidden in the food I eat. Fat is MUCH easier to control. 
After my post workout indulgence, my food log told me I was running low on calories allowed for supper, so I decided to go buy some with an hour stroll downtown. The walk was nice... cold and dark, but relaxing. I had Emmylou Harris on my headphones, and she always makes my soul feel better. And when I got home, I was able to have a nice salad for supper.

The log I'm using let not only told me that I'd made some poor choices for lunch, it also let me be proactive about  deciding if I should go out for an easy walk, and what I might eat for supper that wouldn't undo all the hard work I did in the gym. I like that. I've tried a lot of online fitness log tools over the years, and none is perfect, but for my present purpose - watching calories in/calories out like a hawk - seems to be pretty effective. Of course, the proof will be in the belt loops, so I'm reserving my endorsement until all those running shorts fit again.

Label Cloud

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