Thursday, January 29, 2009

At Home Workouts - part 2

I'm continuing with my trend of throwing together some workouts for Wednesday nights after work. It's such a great and easy way to get in a high intensity workout in a short amount of time. I try to keep it between 30-45 minutes.

Here's what it looked like:

Reps of 10, 9,... down to 1 alternating
Handstand push ups
Jump negatives


Reps of 10, 9 .. down to 1 alternating
Jungle Gym Leg Curls (stability level)
Front Squats - holding a 20# KB in each hand.

I really don't have room in my house to kick up in a handstand, and I don't feel comfortable doing one when no one is around in case I fall, so I modified these my putting my feet/knees on a chair that has high arms and tried to get my body as vertical as possible. And since I still can't do pull ups, jump negatives will have to suffice to build some upper body strength. I try to hold myself up for a few seconds then slooowly lower down until arms are fully extended.

My problem isn't just a lack of strength, but shoulder mobility (self diagnosis). Similar to starting a car, when you turn the key, you can hear it 'catch'. When I try to do a pull up from a dead hang, I get stuck, and I can't turn over the key in my shoulder. I'm sure it doesn't make sense, but I sure feel it. I've even tried to watch others to see what their shoulders 'do' and how they effortlessly pull themselves up. I'm sure years of softball and now rugby aren't helping my efforts (or my rotator cuff), but any advice would be appreciated. I'm going to see if I can find any tips online, but will continue to work on dead hangs as well as kips in the meantime. I'll figure out something.

Later in the evening I did a 3x5 workout of KB snatches with each arm using a 20# KB. I've always been a bit hesitant to do them, but working one arm at a time with KBs has been a great workout for my shoulders and lats. I've yet to do snatches with both arms and don't know if/when that will happen. I think I need to keep them from slamming my forearms before moving on.

All told, this took less than 45 minutes. It can be hard to keep the intensity up when working out alone when you only have you to answer to, and only yourself to disappoint.

Monday, January 26, 2009

In the long run...

I got in a couple good runs this weekend right before starting a rest week. The build up of weekend long runs was thwarted a little be Jan 17-18 when I said 'enough' at mile 22 of MMT Training run #1 (Buzzards to Camp Roosevelt). It was my longest run so far, and the thought of 9 more miles (2.1 part of the ridonculous climb out of Habron) wasn't too pleasing. A warm car and clothes, and copious amount of water, were awaiting me, and that's the tough part of having my GF there volunteering - cutting runs short is easy.

The following day was supposed to be a 25 mile run from "Gap to Gap" with a jaunt down to Bird Knob before coming back north, and my day ended at mile 9 at the Visitors Center. While crossing 211 from Crisman Hollow Road, I stepped on the edge of the road and twisted my ankle. There's never a trail run where I don't twist my ankle, but I never go down to the ground, and I was on the shoulder of the road in a hurry. I was back up pretty quickly, too, as embarrassing as falling is, and limped my way to the cars. Done. With a race in 3 weeks and it still only January I didn't want to push it and run on it anymore.

So after a couple runs during the week, I wanted to end the week on a good note with a couple long runs on a couple familiar courses - Bull Run and MMT. I got dropped off at Bull Run Marina a little later than I had hoped and headed south on the trail passing a few familiar faces en route to Fountainhead. I kept splits at each mile marker and did a 2 min on/2 min off workout for 40 min after a 20 min warm up. Once at Fountainhead, I picked up the blue blazed horse trail out towards Hampton Rd and crossed over the road entering the park on my way out to the 'Do Loop'. I tweaked my again and, damn, did it hurt. I walked a bit on my way out and around the blue and orange horse trail known as the Do Loop. It was hard to see the trail at times - footing and blazes - but I found my way and continued to turn my ankle numerous times. Very frustrating. I did a :30/1:00 hard/easy workout on this section and hope to do it as repeats in the near future. I hit the lap split on the way out and again when I reached Fountainhead. I had plans to be back at the Marina in 5 hours and was pretty well on target. Another runner took off from Fountainhead just in front of me and I tried to keep him in my sights as I started another :30/1:00 workout from mile markers 1-5. I was hoping to keep the mile splits about the same, but it was a little slower. Overall I was happy with the effort and came in at 4:45.

On Sunday the gal pal and I headed out to Camp Roosevelt within George Washington National Forest. Again, a little later start than we had hoped for, but we still got out there! Temps were a little chilly, so we were both anxious to start our separate ventures. She and the dog were going to head up the orange trail towards Kennedy's Peak and I was doing a semi figure 8 loop of the MMT course. The plan was to follow the course from Camp Roosevelt to Gap, up Jawbone and over Kerns Mtn to Crisman Hollow Road. Instead of following the road down to 211/Visitors Center as it will for the race, I took Waterfall down to the Connector and stayed on the orange trail (blue on that map) from there up to Scothorn over to Crisman Hollow Road. Depending on the road conditions, the gal pal would either meet me there, at Gap, or back at Camp Roosevelt if the gates were closed.

I kept splits at the start of the Gap Trail, top of Gap, at Gap aid, top of Jawbone, at Crisman Hollow Rd (off of Kerns), at the Connector, at Scothorn, and back at CHR off of Scothorn. All told, I was moving nicely even on tired legs from Saturday's run. A few sections felt longer than I remembered, but I hope to become more familiar (and faster!) with them during future training runs. I did my :30/1:00 up Gap and over Gap as well as across Kerns Mt (1 hr, 45 min.. ugh). The last 4 miles was just an effort to get to the end. Total mileage was just under 16 miles.

I tried to get better about nutrition and hydration. I think I've been having such 'low' feelings during my runs because I'm not eating or drinking enough. I take 3L out with me in the back and barely drink half of that for 5 hours. I know it's not very warm out, but that's no excuse. Rarely do I have to go pee when I'm out there, and it's not uncommon to not have to go until I get home. I drink as soon as I finish (Recovorite and Ensure) and a Nalgene full of water on the ride home to stay/get hydrated.

I'm looking forward to an easier week and want to spend some more time on stretching and using The Stick or the foam roller to loosen things up. I have a full schedule starting up soon and want to make sure I'm good and ready. I've also moved up to 28th on the wait list for MMT and joined the lottery for the Bull Run Run 50 miler in April. I hope all goes well and I eventually get into both, but I will continue to train and prepare myself as if I'm already in.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

At Home Workouts

I try to plan Wednesday nights as my night 'off'. Maybe some stretching or something at the abode, but no CF workouts.. nothin. But with not a whole lot getting done in the way of workouts in a week and a lack of internet at work (productivity was slightly up for the 7.5 hours I couldn't get online), I put together a quick workout to do at home. Not including set up and breakdown time, it took a total of 45 minutes and included enough variety to keep your interest while working the entire body.

sorry for the poor quality
This is what my desk looks like; covered in a lot of little notes with workouts jotted down.

Burgener Warm up - wmv demo from the CrossFit website. I did more reps to get used to the motion and to warm up a bit more.

15/15 - 15 sec of work, 15 sec of rest for a total of 15 minutes
-Jump negatives pull ups(hooray for the door gym!)
-Suitcase deadlifts - 20# KB in each hand.

I managed about 4 JN with varying grips and 7-8 deadlifts during each 15 second segment. I love the Timex watch and its intervals. I just set 4 of the intervals for 15 seconds each and let it go until it reaches Rep 15. Boom. Done.

The next workout was a quick circuit of 4 exercises, 1 minute at each with 1 min rest at the end of the round X 3

- KB swings (overhead) - 20#
- Sit ups
- Bodyweight squats
- KB Push Press - 20# in each hand

After the 15/15 workout, it's amazing how long 1 minute feels; an eternity on the first round! I kept the reps and intensity high and tried to keep the same number of reps the same each round. I could've taken out the minute of rest and thrown in some burpees or push ups, but I'll save that for next time.

Afterwards, since I had been thinking about Turkish Get Ups most of the afternoon, I decided to practice them a bit. I first started with a tennis ball in my hand to get the motion correct of punching upwards before moving to the 20# KB. A bit of a difference, but, man, what a great workout. More practice is needed, but not bad for whipping together an at home workout.

The workout left me enough time to prepare and Indian Curry Feast for dinner. Okay, so it took a little longer to cook than expected, but I didn't notice that the stove turned off while it was simmering for 40 minutes! That little snafu added 20 minutes to the cook time, but I sampled a little and am pretty impressed with my cooking skillz. I'm just glad the house doesn't reek of curry and will have more tonight. MMmmm!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Two Runs, Twice the fun.

I'm trying to keep up with posting more frequently and wanted to report on this past weekends happenings without getting too far behind. I wanted to put something out about a couple runs I got in over the weekend on both Saturday and Sunday. I wanted to get in a couple good long runs to work on building that base mileage. I'm not trying to go crazy with trying to cover X distance in X time. Right now I'm just focused on getting in time on my feet and time on the course.

On Saturday I was looking to get in 16-20 miles on the Potomac Heritage Trail (PHT) starting at the Teddy Roosevelt Island parking lot and heading up to the American Legion Bridge - 10 miles out. I took some mental splits at certain sections such was Windy Run and Donaldson Run early on as well as hit the Lap button on the HRM at other places such as Chain Bridge, Ft. Marcy, 231 GW Pkwy, and Turkey Run (8 miles out). There are certain sections I figured I could use for specific training, such as the 4 miles out to Chain Bridge, or the 1.2 miles between Ft. Marcy and the trail opening at 231 near GW Pkwy. I plan to run repeats here as speed work. There's even a long gradual hill halfway between the section from Chain Bridge to Ft. Marcy for hill specific work. There are so many options that I want to leave every possibility open and not limit myself.

I thought I might negative split the run and made it out to the 8 mile mark in 2:15. The return trip took me about 2:13 as I even or negative split each section I mentioned above. It's the first time I've been out there in awhile and the farthest I've run on the PHT. I'm not going to worry too much about my time and just plan on improving it over the next few months.

On Sunday, we got a bit of a late start on our trip out to the Massanutten's. I plan on running the Reverse Ring on Feb 21-22 and wanted to run a section of the course from Habron Gap to the Signal Knob parking lot. Including the 2.1 trek up to the intersection on the Habron and Massanutten Trail, the run should've been about 20 miles. Because of our late start, and lack of headlamps (DOH!), I decided to take the 'shortcut' down Sherman Gap Trail to Botts, and ending in the Elizabeth Furnace parking lot.

This gave me good practice on the climb up Habron, which is tough as well as a chance to check out the trail in the direction I'll be running it in a few weeks. Having been on the trails numerous times for training runs as well as for The Ring, it has become familiar to me, but running it in the reverse direction sometimes turns me around a bit! Since most, if not all, of this section I'll be running at night for TRR, I wanted to get a sense of how long it will take me to cover sections of the trail to where it intersects with other side trails. I'm sure I'll be MUCH slower at night, and with 50 miles underfoot, but still wanted to get in some good trail time.

The first challenge was the climb, which I wanted to get up somewhat quickly. Hills have been a struggle for me and I've been feeling really slow. I lose time on climbs and wanted to run as much as possible. I wore my HRM to keep splits as I reached trail intersections, but looped my new watch around a piece of my Camelbak and set two of the interval timers to countdown 30 seconds (run) and 1 minute (walk). No matter how steep the section was, I would do my best to 'run' it.. even if I could walk faster than I was running, I wanted to at least ATTEMPT running. I walked 4 minutes as a warm up before starting the watch, and the 90 second intervals repeated 25 times until I got to the intersection with the orange Massanutten trail. A few times on the last climb I had to stop and catch my breath, but I still made it up the 2.1 mile climb in about 42 minutes. I was pleased and want to improve on it.

It was eerily quiet on the trail. Almost TOO quiet. I was surprised to hear and see absolutely nothing. It was beautiful, but spooky all the same. The view off the ridge was gorgeous and I wanted to stop and stare, but wanted to get to the parking lot as quickly as possible.

When reaching intersections with Milford Gap trail and Tuscorora, I texted my GF who was doing a hike around the Signal Knob area. I kept her updated on my run and progress. We were able to talk when I got to Tuscarora (good reception up on the trail) and told her I'd let her know when I got to Sherman Gap trail since my reception down at Veach, where I was headed, was probably nonexistent, and I was right.

The mile descent to Veach Gap was good downhill running training, which is something else I need to practice. I knew it was going to be a long slow climb out, so I started my 30/60 run/walk interval set again. It was easier to run here, but by setting the intervals I was forcing myself to run. Even on the minute 'rest' I would continue to run, but at a slower pace to recover. My run was a flat our SPRINT to get to the next trail marking, or the next rock.. then if I reached that, it was the tree just beyond it.

I didn't know how long it was to the Sherman Gap trail, but I repeated the intervals 26 times until I reached the ridge. At one point I panicked since the area didn't look familiar and I thought I missed the turn. I figured I'd keep running and I'd eventually find the trail, which I did. After a long, steep descent, the trail leveled out again to the point were I ran my intervals one last time - 30/60. I ran as much as possible and sprinted on the 30 seconds. I'm sure if anyone else was around me they would've found the incessant beeping annoying, but it worked and it kept me moving until reaching the parking lot.

I was happy with the run especially with throwing those intervals in there. It made me run sections I might've normally walked, but I think it helped me run faster than I might've wanted to, and that's what I need to do. I can't keep doing these training runs at a slow pace that's at or slower than 'race pace' and barely getting me from aid station to aid station with some time cushion.

I plan to double up like this just about every weekend with varying mileage and intensity. I'm not looking to do 20/20 every Sat/Sun - no. The idea is hit my weaknesses, which seem to be endless. At least that gives me a lot to choose from, whether it's doing repeats of the 2.1 climb up/down Habron or experimenting with the intervals - running longer and resting for a short period of time.

This weekend includes another back to back run that covers a HUGE chuck of the MMT course. On Saturday we're running the first 1/3 and on Sunday it will be the middle 1/3. Chilly temps will be there to greet us, and running fast is a good way to stay warm!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Toys for Training

Often times I've heard that buying something new will help to encourage you "get out there" and train more. You should see all the swimsuits and goggles that I have still in their packaging as well as all the other STUFF. I should run a gym out of my basement, but I digress.

My latest purchases were a pair of New Balance Wind Blocker running tights that I snagged from an REI Clearance sale for $25. I'm picky when it comes to tights since I don't like to wear things that are.. well, tight on me. My usual riding/running tights are a pair of Novara Headwind Pants from REI which are tight in the rights spots with enough bagginess in other spots. I have two pairs of these pants and always were a pair of tri shorts underneath. Love the fit. So I'm really picky when it comes to a NEW brand of tights. I was a little leery at first, but wore them Friday AM paired with my other recent purchase.

As with tights, I'm picky when it comes to watches. My first Timex watch I got back in 1992 and it lasted up until a few years ago. It had gone through multiple band and battery replacements, you couldn't read what each button was supposed to do, but that darn thing kept ticking! That was until the buttons stopped working and I had to 'fall back' whenever I wanted to tell time since I couldn't change it for Daylight Savings. When that battery died I knew it was time for a new watch. I won a watch for placing well in my division at Ironman Wisconsin in 2004, but that watch wasn't me even though it was free. It was pink for goodness sake! I've since been using a Polar S410 HRM which is a bit outdated, but does what I expect of it - keeps my lap/mile splits and tells me my HR. Simple. I don't ask much of it, but I still yearned for a good ol' Timex.

For Christmas I thought I did my research when looking for a watch that has interval settings. Aside from that ability, I was picky in its appearance, fit, and other functions. My dad is not as picky as I am and just wants a watch that tells time. Are we related?? I did receive what I had put on my list, but when looking for the interval Mode option, I could not find it. I was upset to have spent so much time researching a watch that I didn't want. It did find a home, and my father took the watch instead of returning it since he had asked for a watch, and one that tells time. Enjoy, dad!

My mom felt bad and gave me about $40, the cost of that watch, to buy one that I wanted. I went back to a watch I had first looked at but thought was 'too much watch' for me and too pricey, but tried it on during a lunch break and purchased it online later that day.

"But why buy it online instead of at the store when you tried it on?" you ask. Because it was $15 cheaper at the same stores online shop. I found the same watch at a Target, but was happy with my decision to get it online even if it meant waiting a few days for it to arrive. The total cost came to around $46, cheaper than at Target - beat that!. I'm sure I could've asked to get it for the online price, but, whatever.

Features 100-hour chronograph with lap or split option; 150-lap memory recall and 100-hour, 3-mode countdown timer; 1-button lap reading--auto-release

Includes 12/24 hour time format, nine interval timers, five programmable alarms, 5-minute back-up alarm and second time zone with date display

These are just some of the features and it's obvious that it has more 'stuff' than I need (150 laps??), but what I'm most interested in are the nine interval timers. The most I'll probably use are three, but I tested out 2 of them Friday with my new nights.

I went out for a quick 45 minute run (would've been longer if I didn't stall so much) and programmed in a couple interval times - 4:30 and 2:15. I figure on a good day I could run a 9 minute (metric) mile, so 4:30 would be my 800m split and 2:15 my 400m split. I set it to cycle through both intervals (4:30, then 2:15) and stopped the watch at the end of the workout. I would pick up the pace on the 800 and slow down and recover for the 400, but not to an "I'm running in place here until the sign says WALK cuz I'm an idiot" pace. The point of the run was to get in a speed workout without stopping to rest and completely dropping my HR. Looking at later and tracking my route, it looks like I covered roughly 4.3 miles in 39:45 (9:12 mile pace). Not bad for actually seeming like I care about distance and pace. I do hope to drop my time splits to 4:00 and 2:00 as well as mile pace to something closer to 8:50-9:00 for longer runs. If I keep caring, and running, it will come.

I love the watch and the tights were great. I wore tri shorts under them since I like a little more padding and protection on my thighs and did have to adjust the gripper legs on the tri shorts a couple times pre-run. I didn't feel like I was running with newly formed basket under my crotch due to saggy pants, so that's a plus. I dig zippered ankles and some reflective strips, which they also have.

I plan to do more interval work like this by incorporating them in with longer runs during the week as well as on weekend long runs. It's a fun way to train and an even better way to annoy anyone else around you with the constant BEEP, BEEP, BEEPING of the interval timer.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Easy on paper, tough in action

A 15/15 workout is about as simple as you can get - two workouts, 15 seconds of work with 15 seconds of rest between each one. 1 round = 1 minute, and you can do as many rounds as you want. The key is to maintain the same number of reps throughout the workout. You don't want to come out of the block ripping out 12 push ups in 15 seconds to end that last round with 4. You're better off at 8-10 the whole workout. Once that's "easy", work on increasing the reps.

Sounds easy, right? If you think 1 minute is a long time, 15 seconds lasts longer than you think especially when you're only 5 minutes into a 10 minute workout. When 'half way through the round' is announced, there's usually a smattering of groans, which always makes me smile!

Thursday night's workout looked like this:

15/15 workout - 2 rounds, 10 minutes each
Round 1 - Hindu Push ups and Bent over rows with KBs (35# each hand)
90 second break
Round 2 - Split squats and Jumpers

I wanted to bust out of the gates, but had a number in my mind for each workout and kept it. For Hindu Push Ups, I did go to my knees each rep, but every rep was with good form until I'm strong enough to keep my hips off the ground on each rep. It'll come with more practice. Knocked of 5 HPU each round. For the Rows, I was a bit ambitious with the 35# bells, but was determined to work on strength rather than speed and reps. Maybe next time I'll drop down to the 20# bells, but maintained 7 rough rows each round. The last 3 rounds saw 6 reps with very hunched shoulders. Not the best form as I was too caught up in keeping the same number of reps. Split squats have you starting with your feet hip width apart and your feet staggered, one slightly in front of the other. You 'sit down', keeping your front heel on the ground and your back heel will come up while trying to maintain a good upright position. Return to the top by pushing up through that front heel. We did it with no additional weight, just a bodyweight workout and switching up the lead foot - if you could remember from round to round. Here is a goodexample of a Split Squat. Jumpers have you starting at the bottom of squat with your finger tips on the ground. The idea is to jump as high and as quickly as possible with a quiet landing. I did 9 good form SS and 8 somewhat 'high' jumpers each round.

We ended with workout with some partner ab work with a medicine ball - tossing it back and forth from the chest and then with your arms above your head. My shoulder didn't like the 14# ball overhead, so I dropped down to a smaller and easier to hold 12# ball, which my shoulder seemed to agree with. We ended with flutter and scissor kicks (straight legs!) while holding the med ball overhead just out of peripheral view. Tough to do for one minute each!

The 15/15 workout is an excellet 'timesaver' workout - you can get a full body workout in as little as 20 minutes. Sounds easy, right? Make up your own workout of 4 exercises and try it yourself.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

New Year Firsts - workout and long run

It's amazing what a couple weeks away from structured workouts will do to ones level of fitness. I can't speak for everyone, but Monday night's workout was a nice wake up call. Some push ups, sit ups, and squats and a lot of walking while in Michigan did keep me from only gaining 2lbs, but I did notice a loss of strength.

3 rounds, 2 minutes each workout, 1 min rest after each round
Back squat - 55#
Power wheel plank holds
Burpees to box jumps
Jump negatives
Half-sey push ups

I was able to crank out the squats and hold the plank on the wheel, but everything else was sub par. I had to resort to burpees on my knees and I got little air under my feet before jumping onto the box. I was able to hold myself over the bar for a few seconds before sloooowly lowering myself down on the jump negatives, but the last few on each round felt like I completely dropped from the bar to a dead hang. It took a few tries to find a grip that would hold. Palms out is my standard, but left palm in or both palms in seemed to give me a better grip and one I could hold more consistently. The push ups were gawd awful after how I faired on the burpess, so I just started with and stuck with half-sey push ups - on your feet going down and on your knees when pushing back up.

I had no oomph in me and it was pretty pathetic, but the eye opener that I needed. Hey, we all have to start somewhere, and now I have my benchmark for the year.

Speaking of this year, I don't make any resolutions, but have come up with a long 'to do' list in my mind that I'll put to paper one of these days. It includes a number of things, such as getting my first pull up (dead hang and kipping) as well as improving my overall strength with the barbell and kettlebells. I also have a list of races set to do this year, and at the top of the list is my third attempt at MMT. I went out there last weekend to do about 12 miles (Bird Knob) and was just happy to have the rocks under my feet again even if I was a tad nervous knowing it was hunting season, and seeing about 10 hunters throughout the run. I ran with the dog who wore a bear bell to ward off any bears and hunters. It probably worked to keep the deer, or whatever they were hunting, away as well.

Plans to get out there and to Shenandoah every weekend to run sections are a weekly discussion - where to go, what to focus on, how much to run, etc. I have maps galore and love pouring over them to the nth degree. I am, however, still on the outside looking in as I drum my fingers and slowly wait until I'm moved off the wait list. The likelihood of that happening is good, but not until April. So instead of just drumming my fingers, I will continue with my training schedule as planned. Sure I might miss a few runs during the week, but getting on the rocks and grinding out the climbs on the weekends are what I need to focus on.

There's a lot of planning going on and a lot of doing that needs to happen.. and it will at some point in time. I hope to stay consistent with my runs and CrossFit workouts and life in general. New Year.. same 'ol me.