Post-Run Report: April 24, 2017

IMG_6515

This was my first post-APFT run, and I wanted to run fast and hard and ended up doing pretty darned well. While I didn’t set any new records (and I really didn’t expect to), I did end up surprising myself with a great third-mile pace! It was faster than my first or second miles! For 3.2 miles, I ended up with a 8:34/mile pace which is pretty decent.

I actually learned something today. When I was running, I started pushing back on my legs to where I could feel my feet making contact with the ground just a little longer. This made me noticeably faster. I only figured this out on the last quarter mile of my second mile and I used this technique for the last mile and a quarter and looking at the numbers afterward, it definitely helped. I’m still not using a proper step/run, but with extending the power portion of my step did make me have a reduced heel strike. I will continue to work on this in the coming runs.

My goal is to bring my pace down to 7:15/mile at max effort for my next APFT. I know I won’t get there quickly, but I have a year to train to get to that point. It’d be nice to be at the front of the group next year and really surprise everyone. Heck, they were plenty surprised as it was. As an older guy, it felt great coming in before all these young soldiers. It just goes to show that you’re only as old as you allow yourself to be.

As for push ups, I stuck with 60 today. I am still slightly sore from the 80 push ups and 51 sit ups on Saturday, so I didn’t want to push myself too hard. I’ll try for 70 on Wednesday (my next scheduled PT day).

Otherwise, I feel great. No, seriously: even after the run, I don’t feel exhausted or sore. I just feel amazing. If this is what it feels like to finally be fit, I can’t believe I’ve missed out on this for so long. I thought this was what being young felt like. I was wrong.

Achievement Unlocked: Passed My First PFT in 20 years

18056749_10208972449097552_6204059986877295273_n
On the left, me in 1998, a year after I left active duty. On the right, me last week (2017).

I was an active duty Marine for 11 years and I got out to get my kids closer to my parents, my sister, and her kids. I went to work at Compaq and quickly gained a lot of weight. So much, so fast in fact, that I had stretch marks. My weight reached a peak of 312 lbs. I then decided to get healthy and I did a Whole30 and adopted the Paleo Diet and eighteen months later, I’m in the National Guard and within height/weight regulations. On top of it all, in my second month in the Guard, we had to take our Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) which measures our ability to run 2 miles, sit ups in 2 minutes, and push ups in 2 minutes. For my age, the minimum requirements are 25 push ups, 30 sit ups, and the two-mile run in less than 19:30. My scores were:

  • Push ups: 80
  • Sit ups: 51
  • Two-mile run: 15:43

That gave me a total of 273 points out of 300 possible! While I’m very happy with the results as an old guy who didn’t exercise for 20 years, it also leaves me room to improve on my sit ups and my run time. I will make a 300 on my PFT next time. That’s my goal.

364847B0-
In the car right after my APFT. I’m a little happy.

Even a year ago, I never would have expected to be where I am today. It all started with push ups. I began with 10 and did them every other day, increasing as I could. When I got to 40, I felt like I needed an additional physical challenge, and I started walking which quickly turned into jogging and shortly afterward into running. I haven’t looked back since.

With my first APFT behind me, I will run again this afternoon. I will likely make it an easy run since I went full-effort on Saturday and I don’t want to hurt anything. I’ll go for three miles at a minimum, and I’ll do my push ups as well even though my arms are slightly sore. I will keep building and working toward that 300 APFT next April. In the meantime, I will continue to eat right and exercise to lose the last 3 lbs and to get sub-7:15/miles.

 

Post-Run Report: April 19, 2017

Image-1 (1)

This was a much shorter run and at a slower pace as I get ready for my APFT on Saturday. For the first quarter of a mile, I tried the new running technique which was a mistake. My calves started hurting and they ached for the rest of the run. I hope this doesn’t effect my run time on Saturday. I should have stuck with my plan to not change anything until after the run, but I was too eager to see if it could perhaps make me faster. Instead, it may end up slowing me down. I’m hoping two days of resting the muscles is enough for me to not experience any pain for a full-effort run on Saturday morning.

I started with 75 push ups. Again, not max-max effort, but I’m hoping for 80 on Saturday morning. Not that I need to go that high, but I want the guys to know that I can do the true max, not just the max for my age group. Things like that matter to soldiers.

I now begin my pre-APFT break. I will post on Saturday as soon as I can after my APFT to report on how I did. I’m hoping for 61 sit ups in two minutes, 61 push ups in two minutes, and a run close to 16 minutes (or less). As for weight, I’m well under my max, so that’s not even a remote concern at this point for the first time in a very, very long time.

Running Form: Mine is Bad

I need to relearn how to run, apparently. I heel-strike when I run, and apparently, that’s bad. Unfortunately, I have less than a week to my APFT which is not a lot of time to get it right. So, I’m going to keep my bad habits and work on my form next week. What are my problem areas?

  1. Heel-strike. This is a big one and probably my biggest problem. All long-distance runners run by striking the flat of the foot first. When you skip, the flat of your foot hits the ground before the ball. That’s how runners are supposed to run. When I run, my heels come down pretty hard on the ground which is bad for my knees, joints, and even my endurance. I will work on this a lot starting next week.
  2. Arm movement. This is an easier one to address in the short-term. While my arm movement isn’t very bad, with a very minor adjustment, it can be made correct. I will do this on my run coming up tomorrow.
  3. Posture. I have read some conflicting information about posture, but all agree that your neck should be straight and no hunching over. Some say lead with the hips while others say make your body straight but leaning forward. I will try both and use whichever feels more comfortable. Again, this is a change I will work on next week.

I run about as fast as I can run right now with all my bad habits and form. I think I’ll be okay Saturday for my APFT and I’ll get a passing run, but I want to improve my speed by improving my form. 3+ miles is considered an endurance run, and I need to work on endurance since 5k distances are mostly aerobic with only 15% of the run being anaerobic. I don’t plan on running really long distances, but I will begin to run longer/slower runs in the future to help bring my 2 mile and 5k times down.

Post-Run Report: April 17, 2017

Image-1
Soaked to the bone, but glad to be done!

Today’s run was unique; after my first quarter mile, it began to rain. And not just a little bit; it was a torrent. My neighbor was out running and he ran straight indoors when the rain first started falling. I thought of doing the same for a moment and then thought, “Fuck it. It’s only water,” and I kept on running. It was more difficult than I thought it would be, with my sweat mixing in with the water dripping off my head, but I persevered and just kept going. At times, the rain came down exceptionally hard, while at other times, it was a gentle drizzle. The wind was also kicking up every now and then, driving the rain like little bullets into my eyes. I just squinted and kept going.

By the time I was done with 3 miles, the rain had all but stopped. I decided to go another half mile just to get a little more distance in and to get past 30 minutes. My pace was okay; a little slower than my last two runs, but I still had some PR’s for first half mile and 1k and 2nd’s in three other areas. All in all, not a bad run.

I did 70 push ups, not because I couldn’t do more, but because I wanted to take it easy on the arms. I’ll likely only do 70 on Wednesday unless I’m feeling exceptionally strong. I also am expecting my Wednesday run to be a light one: a very slow 2 miles just to get ready for my APFT on Saturday.


I found out after posting this that my son had taken video of me running in the rain. I know, it’s not the best quality, but it’s pretty funny to see me getting soaked while I run.

The Big Week

img_57441This is a big week for me. As a new National Guard soldier, I will be taking my first APFT, or Annual Physical Fitness Test. Since I’m an old guy, the standards are a little lower for me, but basically I need to do 61 sit ups and 61 push ups in 2 minutes and complete the 2 mile run in under 19:40. Well, as of my last few runs, I was completing the run closer to 16:30, so I think I’m going to be in good shape. As for my weight, I’m a good 6 lbs under my max, so even there, I’m in good shape. My body fat is around 15%, well under the maximum allowable for my height/weight.

This week, my workouts will be a little different. I will likely go for 3-3.5 miles today (weather willing) and then do a slow run on Wednesday; like a 3 mile run. I’ll take off Thursday and Friday to have my muscles be as fresh and ready as possible on Saturday morning.

I’m actually looking forward to the APFT which is something I never did in the Marines. I’m a much more active runner now than I was as a Marine, and I actually run for fun. I never thought I’d be a person who enjoys running, but I am.

Post-Run Report: April 15, 2017

Image-1

Today was a hot afternoon, and I wasn’t really in the mood to run, but once again, I just pushed through it and got it done. 20 minutes or so before the run, I ate the three dried apricots which seems to help by giving me energy during my runs. I started with 80 easy push ups and hit the deck at a good clip. I felt pretty okay, and I pushed it despite the heat. I still have a bit of pain in my left glute, so I wasn’t trying to push too hard, but I am worried about it becoming aggravated at the APFT when I do my sit ups prior to my run. I’m hoping it will be okay.

After the first mile, I felt really good. I thought I might be able to do 4 miles. After the second mile was done, I knew I was only going to hit 3. The heat was getting to me, and my legs were getting sore. I pushed through it and finished with a decent pace; my second-best.

While this run wasn’t as epic as the run before it, I’m happy with it. I will have a longer an slower run on Monday followed with a shorter run on Wednesday which will be my last run for the week until my APFT on Saturday when I will run all-out for two miles. I’m hoping to set a personal best record.