Back to it

It’s been two weeks since I last ran, but this afternoon, I’ll be back at it. I’m not going to lie: I’m nervous.

I’m in the National Guard, and I was on my two-week annual training which kept me from running. You’d think that we’d have some sort of PT or ability to run while on our two-week training, but we didn’t have a spare moment. We worked hard, and literally every waking moment was spent working.

I will start with my push ups, and then I will run. My goals are 80 push ups and a three mile run with a 9:30 minute/mile pace. That’s a full minute slower than normal, but if I can do that without excessive pain, then I’ll be okay.

I just need to get the butterflies out of my stomach. Today will be tough. Tomorrow will be worse with the post-run muscle pain.

Three Days Without a Run

It’s been three days since I ran last. My schedule got a little messed up over the Holiday weeks, and it put me on a strange schedule. On Saturday, which would have been my third run of last week, I went shooting with friends and was out in the wilderness and on my feet for the entire day, so I figured I got some exercise.

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Me shooting my Springfield M1A that was given to me by my wife and friends the previous week.

The main reason we went out to shoot was because Sherry and my friends chipped in and got me a rifle I’ve wanted since I was a kid: the Springfield M1A. That’s the rifle I’m shooting in the photo above. I also didn’t have it held to my shoulder properly and bruised it. That was a primary factor in me not running on Sunday because I didn’t want to aggravate my shoulder doing push ups. What does push ups have to do with running, you’re wondering. Well, that’s my work out, and if I can’t do one, I rest the other.

Needless to say, I’ll be running today weather permitting. I have a short errand to run after work, but that shouldn’t get in the way of my run. Only heavy rain will do that, and I don’t see us having a lot of rain for a long duration tonight. A shower? Maybe, but they are over soon enough.

Fish Oil

Some things I’ve been dealing with since beginning the Paleo lifestyle and running has been a pulled muscle in my left gluteus maximus (also known as the left butt cheek muscle), some joint pain, and (ehem) bowel movements that weren’t very regular.

For the glute, it’s a deep muscle pull, sort of a dull pain, and has been aching for months. Since I run every other day, it hasn’t had much of a chance to really rest and heal, but its been slowly getting better.

My joints? I’m getting older, and I figured it was something that we deal with as we get older. At least that’s what everyone tells me.

As for the bowel movements? They didn’t come daily like they used to, and when they did, they were often quite a laborious experience.

I spoke with my cousin Sarah, a PA, about these things, and she recommended that I start taking a fish oil supplement. More specifically, she recommended SFH which I quickly purchased. It’s been less than a week, but here are the changes I’ve noticed:

  • Muscle pain is greatly reduced. I have been running hard and longer distances on my past few runs, so it’s not from resting it.
  • Less joint pain/no joint pain in the mornings. This is something I have been dealing with for years. Over the past week since taking the fish oil, my joints feel much better.
  • Digestion: greatly improved. Bowel movements are regular again.

I can’t really believe that these three things have all changed so dramatically in so little time. I am hoping that it is related to the fish oil, because these are all very positive things that have a very marked effect on my happiness and general well-being.

I will be monitoring these three areas closely in the coming weeks and I will report back here on my blog with how it’s going. Sherry said she might try taking it too as she’s having some issues with her knee and some tendons/ligaments as well as the bowel issues.

Why do I run?

I’ve had people ask me why I run instead of riding a bicycle, rollerblading, or other lower impact exercise. Mostly, it’s because I prefer to do exercise that requires minimal equipment. I’ve never been a gym rat or someone who likes to use equipment to work out with. While I used to ride a bicycle a lot as a kid, it was more a means to an end: it got me around town efficiently and quickly.

There’s also the fact that as a National Guard soldier, I am required to maintain a level of fitness that is measured through an annual physical fitness test that includes a two-mile run. Therefore, it’s important for me to run on my own to keep my fitness levels high and to keep me prepared for anything that may come.

Then there’s the fact that running is one of the most physically demanding exercises you can do. Sure, there is super high intensity training that folks can do on a stair stepper, elliptical, or rowing machine, but again, those require you to use equipment. Meh. Running takes a lot of effort, and you can’t coast when running. If you stop moving your feet and legs, you stop.

I watch people who ride their bikes around the very same park I run in. Every corner they go into, they’re coasting. I watch them peddle and then just coast. I’d say they’re coasting 1/4-1/5th of the time. The amount of sweat on me versus them is noticeable. I know not everyone can run or likes to run, but seeing bike riders only makes me feel better about my decision to run.

I enjoy riding bikes, but not primarily for exercise. I prefer to run to get my exercise and ride bikes for fun. I have a nice mountain bike. I need to get it off the ceiling of the garage and take it out sometime. I hear there are some trails around here that I need to go discover.

Post-Run Report: April 9, 2017

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So, I ended up taking a four-day break from running inadvertently. I will fully admit that it was my own fault, and through a large amount of stupidity that this happened. I had planned to run Thursday after work, but a co-worker of mine suggested we go have a few drinks after work. We met up with four more co-workers, and a few drinks turned into far too many, and I ended up having to call my wife to come and pick us up at around midnight because neither of us were in any shape to drive. The next morning, I was sick, and I had to take the day off from work. I stayed sick the entire day and didn’t feel well until Saturday morning.

You see, I don’t drink. I hardly ever drink at all, and even when I do, it’s in very strict moderation for a few reasons. One reason is I just don’t like to be drunk. The second reason is that I have too much respect for my body to put it though the effects of alcohol. Unfortunately, I let myself down Thursday night and things got out of hand. The good news is that it won’t be happening again.

Why didn’t I run on Saturday? My wife had a lot of things planned for us to do, and it would have been unfair for me to cancel those plans due to me needing to run. It wasn’t her fault I was stupid Thursday night.

So, this morning, I got up and tried something new: I ate three pieces of dried apricot. I had read that one of the difficulties runners who are on the Paleo diet have is that they lack carbs during a run to fuel them. I’ve definitely been feeling worn out after runs; far more worn out than I think I should be. I decided to take the advice of some runners who share the same diet as me and eat a few pieces of fruit before a run. I’m glad I did.

Although my legs were a bit sore from the lack of exercise over the past four days, I definitely felt I had more energy and the run was far more effortless than previous runs. I even had my fastest mile at an 8:53/mile pace, and my average pace for the 3 miles was 9:17/mile. That’s pretty fantastic, even considering the four day break! I didn’t feel like I was working as hard, either. Again, my legs were a bit sore, but that’s because of the break.

I also had a bit of ankle soreness on the left and some knee pain on the right, but nothing horrible. I am wearing new shoes, and I’m hoping they stretch a bit. I had them fitted properly and they seemed to be okay in the store, but today, they felt a bit tight. Maybe I tied them too tight. Next run, I’ll pay more attention to them.

I did 70 push ups which, again, not a record, but past the minimum 60 I try to do every run. I’d like to be 80+, but that four day break really affected the arm strength, too.

Otherwise, I’m pleased with today’s run. I set out to do an easy 2-mile run and ended up with a record-breaking 3-mile run without even really feeling spent afterward. That’s a definite plus, and I will likely run again tomorrow to get back on schedule.

I’ve crossed a line into keeping stats

I’ve read on running blogs and subreddits that people seriously into running keep spreadsheets to track their progress. I didn’t do any such thing. Until today.

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As they say, now I’ve gone and crossed a line into crazy.

Honestly, I am a huge fan of data points. It’s what helped me through Whole30 (even though they tell you not to weigh yourself; I did the entire time as it motivated me), and its what kept me to adhere strictly to my Paleo lifestyle early on. Having immediate data points that I can use to measure my progress has always been helpful and motivating.

I have a Fitbit, and it has been an invaluable tool in helping me keep track of my running progress. Using the Fitbit, I can get (very close to) accurate measures of my progress including things like heart rate so I can see just how hard I’m working on those runs.

Plus, it’s just plain neat to see myself making progress. While my distance is likely to stay between 3 and 6 miles for the foreseeable future, it’s nice to see the pace going down over time. Admittedly, it’s not a very steep curve, but it is progress nonetheless. As long as I’m running mid 9’s, I’m happy.

Next up for the spreadsheet: tracking how the run felt. Maybe add the weather. Try to collect as many data points as possible.

The PaleoMarine Running Plan: How a 49-year old guy got into fitness

img_4083The other weekend, I put up shelves in our master closet for Sherry’s shoes. I had to measure, cut shelves, and then mount them in the closet. This required a lot of going back and forth, bending down, holding up a drill, and a lot of minor physical activity. When I was almost done, Sherry noted that I wasn’t sweating, out of breath, or needing to take breaks from holding the drill up. I hadn’t realized it, but this was the first time in as long as I could remember that I was able to do basic maintenance or construction without feeling like I was going to die afterward. What changed?

I hated running. I hated exercise. I hated anything that had to do with exerting myself to the point of sweating. The problem was that even getting a screwdriver out to put in a shelf or to fix something simple would cause me to sweat and get out of breath. Seriously, it was that bad. Something had to change.

I began running on September 1 of 2016. It was the one year anniversary of my healthy lifestyle, and by that point, I’d lost 110 lbs. I wasn’t running to lose more weight. Rather, I was interested in fitness. It was all well and good to be lighter by almost 1/2, but my heart needed to get stronger. So I set out doing it with the following plan:

Run day – off day – run day – off day – run day – off day –  off day

That turned out to be a M-W-F run days with Sa-Su off. When life would get in the way (as it often can) and made me skip a run day, then that would become my “Weekend” and I would continue as if I’d just passed a weekend. So, it could turn into a M-Th-Sa run week, or a Tu-Thu-Sa run week, depending on how things went. Either way, I started with three runs a week.

My first run started with a 20-25 minute jog. I didn’t set out to run hard or fast, just to complete the run without stopping. I did it, and my first run was in the record books, as they say. My main goal was to finish. This had a much larger effect on me than I thought it would. It proved to me that I can set my mind to it and get through it. Was I uncomfortable? A little bit, but it wasn’t horrible. I wasn’t nearly as out of breath as I thought I would be, and the discomfort was trivial compared to what my mind had built it up to over the years.

I then set out to run a little further and a little faster with every run. I vowed to never cut one short unless I felt the bad pain. What I mean by that is that there is good pain and bad pain. Good pain is the muscle burn you get after exerting yourself. Bad pain is a pulled muscle or ligament. It’s pretty easy to tell between the two; one is just discomfort and the other indicates a serious problem.

With each run, I also would gauge how I felt (I still do this) and increase the distance if I felt good or cut it a little shorter at the turn-arounds if I was having a hard time with it. More often than not, I end up increasing the distance from what I set out to run. It’s funny; I always end up feeling better once I start than at the beginning of the run.

I also do push ups before every run. I started with 10 and I’m up to between 70 and 75 right now. It really gets my heart pumping and gets me ready for the run. I don’t do any stretching or warm-ups before my run as many studies have shown that most injuries in runners is caused by stretching before a run.

With this day on/day off schedule I run, I’ve been able to make steady progress and kept myself from over-exerting myself. I’m 49, and my muscles take a little longer to recover than they did when I was 19 or even 29. I know people my age and even older who exercise daily, but I just can’t do that. I’m not willing to live in constant muscle burn. I don’t work a different part of my body every day: I’m a runner who does push ups and very soon will add sit ups to the routine. I currently don’t feel the need for weight training although I am looking into some self defense training that is physically intense. No decisions have been made yet, but we’ll see. Surprise, Sherry!

My plan is simple and anyone can do it. If you do it the way I did it, you won’t have shin splints or excessive muscle pain after your runs. I actually look forward to my runs now, and I find that I do much better on my runs when I pump myself up psychologically beforehand. Remember, keep an open mind, get excited, and if you find you can’t get excited about a run, fake it. Seriously, just pretend you’re going to enjoy it. Something strange will happen: you actually might find yourself smiling during a run. It happens to me all the time now, and I never thought that was possible. Ever.