Sunday, January 25, 2015

Our Masterpiece Is Complete

Well okay, the title is a little strong ... our new home gym is anything from a "masterpiece", but we worked really hard on it, and I thought I'd share a few photos.  Yeah, it's basically just the unfinished half of our basement, but we had about 10 years worth of clutter that we eliminated, and it opened up a lot of space for our peripheral workouts.  There are few more things I'll do later like build some stackable boxes for stepping and jumping, and probably update the weights and bench situation, but for now ... it's perfect for us and Michael and I are really excited about it!
Panoramic shot with my iPhone, which (side note) is a feature I just learned how to use this week, and I love!  The unfinished side of our basement has about 500 sq. ft. of unfinished space, which allows for some basic equipment and a lot of movement. 
One thing we saved & "splurged" on was a new wall mounted LED TV for this area.  We mounted it in front of the treadmill and Michael's bike trainer to make those workouts not quite as boring.  The mounting bracket is adjustable up and down and side to side.  Plus, I added some cheap wood paneling to this wall to cover the exposed batt insulation.
I'm a little bit (okay A LOT) of an organizational nut, and it's important to me to keep everything neat, orderly, and easy to access for workouts.  So I installed this rack for our hanging straps and bands.  My son, Gage, made the KC sign in 7th grade shop class several years ago.
One of my favorite new tools for supplemental and core workouts is the TRX Straps.  I've mounted them to one of the floor joists with a 3/4" Eye Bolt. 
We do a lot of floor exercises so we put down these rubber mats to avoid the cold and dirty concrete floor.  They also really help with traction and secure footing for some of our plyometric work.  You can also see the wood box I built around our sump pump so we don't accidentally step in the hole or damage the pump.
Another thing we're really excited about is the Pull Up Bar I installed by mounting to the floor joist as well.  We don't only use it for Pull Ups (good thing, because I can't do very many), we also use it for securing straps for many other exercises.  It probably seems like a small thing, but it's really versatile and helps with a ton of different exercises.
One of the things I love most about the space is all of the posters and art we able to hang on the walls.  We hung some of the stuff that was important to us over the years.  Upper left - Boston Globe front page the day after I ran the 2011 Boston Marathon with story of the fastest marathon in history at that point, a piece of my Mylar blanket from the 2011 Boston Marathon, and the race poster from the 2009 Little Rock Marathon, my first marathon. Upper right - sign my daughter, Madison, made for Michael and me at the 2009 Kansas City Marathon.  Bottom left - our new Human Muscle System poster I can't stop studying.  Bottom right - poster from the 2013 Chicago Marathon that Michael and I ran.
Heavy bag hanging from the floor joists with one of the mirrors we've installed in the background.  The heavy bag is a great workout - and I would've been a decent boxer if I didn't have to get hit.  The mirrors really make the room appear much larger, and really help us focus form.
Our weights and dumbbell situation is not great.  We have a small weight bench and a hodgepodge of weights we've accumulated over the years. But they aren't that important to me.  It would be embarrassing if you knew how little of free weight I actually use in my workouts - but at 46 years old, I have ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST in bulky muscles.  I just want to try to stay lean for running, so I use mostly body weight movements.  We'll probably update them in the future.
And finally, a few of the steps for jumping and plyometric work.  The storage box is full of tools.  It's the perfect height for me and doesn't move around because of the weight.  I'm planning on building a few 6" stackable wood boxes that will replace both of these.
So there it is, our awesome new workout space. We literally use it everyday and it's given us so much more flexibility in our workouts.  Have a great week!
... Be Great Today!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Detailed Marathon Training - Jan 8-24

Pretty good week of training capped with maybe my best long of the year so far.  It was a recovery week so I kept the mileage basically the same as the week before, but really backed off on the speed.  Only 7 miles were ran below 7:00/pace, with all of the runs at a nice easy pace.  Saturday's run went really well with 7:28 overall pace and the last 5 miles ran at 6:50/average.  This week I'll crank back up the intensity and try to hit it pretty hard.
There's five weeks left until the Phoenix marathon and I feel pretty good at this point ... but still a lot of work to get in.  Hope your training's going well.
... Be Great Today!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Plyometrics: Good For Weak Butts

RANDOM NOTE: If you like the Foo Fighters, and why wouldn't you, I just downloaded "Something From Nothing" ... you should check it out ... rock on.

Ya know in Napoleon Dynamite when he's looking for Chapstick because his "lips hurt real bad"?  Well ... my butt hurts REAL BAD!!! And I have pro fitness model (I think that's her correct title) Melissa from www.melissacunninghamifpapro.blogspot.com  to blame.  I've read her blog over the years, and the woman is probably the fittest person I follow.  Recently she sent me a new Plyometric Workout to try.  It's been 24 hours since I completed it.  It hurts to sit down. Well, it's not quite that bad, but I definitely got a good workout.

As with most Plyo work, it included a lot of jumping, squatting, and lateral movements, which are great for the glutes and hips.  I do a ton of hip specific work, but probably neglect my glutes a little, which is not good for a runner.  Hips and glutes help generate power and speed, and strong healthy muscles in these areas are a must.  And I knew about half-way through Melissa's workout that I was going to feel it the next day.

For a while now, I've tried to do some sort of Plyo work on Mondays, one of my non-running days.  But my workout  usually only consists of some box jumps, toe taps, and a few other movements that I've become comfortable with.  Changing up the routine really isolated and activated some areas that I haven't hit in a while.  And although my backside is a little tight now, I know it will help me be a stronger runner as I make it part of my routine.

As runners, it's easy to get in the rut of "running in straight line" for all of our exercise.  But I found that when I really started to increase my lateral and explosive movements, largely from Plyometrics, I gained overall strength and stability, and became a better runner.  Maybe it will work for you too.
... Be Great Today!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Detailed Marathon Training, Jan 11-17

Really good week of training, followed by decent run on Saturday. 71 miles was the furthest I've been since last Fall, but felt fairly strong throughout, though a little fatigued during the Saturday Marathon Pace Long Run.  Other than, really pleased at this point, with six weeks until the Phoenix Marathon.

I got through the run on Saturday, but it was a little tougher than I had planned at this point in my training. I probably started a little faster than I needed too, but just really had a tough time finding a rhythm in the pace.  When I got close to 7:00/mile I seemed to really be fighting it a little.  But when I started the long run this morning, I immediately noticed that I was a little fatigued, and my legs felt a little dead.  So all things considered, it wasn't bad.  Next week is a recovery week, so pretty  much every mile will be at a slow pace, except for some very slow "Pick Ups" midweek.
... Be Great Today! 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Things Nerds Say ... "I'm Stoked About My Muscle Poster!"

I am a nerd.  And I'm not the brightest bulb in the scoreboard either. Sure, I'm advanced enough in my career to keep a group of contractors, architects, and engineers entertained for an hour (I'm speaking to 200 of them next week) ... but I'm nowhere near "doctor smart".  But as I've aged, and really become more in tune with my physical fitness and makeup, I've taken a huge interest in the human body, and especially the human muscular system.  And honestly, if I had a time machine ... and a little more going on between the ears ... I think being involved in the medical field would be an interesting career.  But alas, I'll probably just keep giving riveting technical presentations to contractors, architects, and engineers until I retire ... whoopee!!! (no offense the any contractors, architects, or engineers who might read my blog, though it's doubtful)

So you can imagine this nerds joy and jubilation when his very own 18" x 24" semi-glossy poster of the human muscular system arrived today in the mail.  Soooo exciting!!!  And of course I immediately put it up in our new home gym (a.k.a. unfinished portion of the basement).

And call me crazy, but I definitely think this will make our family healthier.  It's been my experience that much, if not most of my joint pain and niggles caused from running are typically simply due to tight muscles.  Often, if I can isolate the pain, and then trace it back to the belly of the main muscle that feeds into that particular area, I can massage, stretch, or roll my way out of the discomfort.  For example, sometimes stretching the glutes or hips a little differently can ease tight knees.  And really digging into the hamstring muscles can ease a sharp pains in the adductor.  It's amazing how everything really is connected.  And now, with blown up images of the human muscle system, identifying the connecting muscle that is potentially causing the problem will be much more readily available and visual.

Could I have simply continued with internet searches for the same information ... sure!  But I think it's cool having something you would find in a doctor's office right in our very own home.  At least it's cool to me ... but I'm a nerd.
... Be Great Today!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Core Strength: TRX Straps & Pull Up Bar

Michael and I (mostly "I", ha) have worked the better part of the winter cleaning up our basement.  The best result was bags and bags, and boxes and boxes of donation material.  We were able to give a ton of stuff to Goodwill, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Society For Visual Impaired and Blind, and the Kansas City Humane Society just to name a few.  But to be honest, the reason we began cleaning 10 years of clutter was to make room for a home gym and workout space.  I'll write a full post on it later when it's completely finished, but it's coming along great!

Two of the coolest things we've added to the home gym is TRX Straps and a Pull Up Bar.  TRX stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise and was developed by a Navy Seal as a way to increase strength and flexibility, using only suspended body weight and a nylon strap.  We've attached ours to the floor joists in the basement.  I'm so excited about both of new pieces of equipment, and I've already seen results in my core strength by simply changing my routine a little.

Of course a good strong core is essential for distance runners, and it simply helps with everyday life as well.  A healthy and sturdy core helps maintain good running posture all the way to the finish line of a long run, and should be part of every runner's regimen. I focus quite a bit of time and effort maintaining my core ... even though I hate every second of it, ha.  I typically do about 30 minutes of core work, five or six times per week, before my running workouts.  Here are a few of the core and upper body movements with the TRX Straps and Pull Up Bar that have not only changed up my old, stale core workout, but have also increased my overall strength as I use my body weight for resistance and stability.

Hanging Reverse Crunch with Ab Straps - arm straps (harnesses) are latched to pull up bar and used as leverage to perform the crunch, the trick is to keep from swinging, and then lift the legs by tightening the core muscles
Hanging Reverse Crunch No Strap - Strengthens arms, grip, and of course abs, this movement is quite a bit more difficult without the straps, I'll also mix in hanging side crunches for oblique work
Hanging Leg Raise/Pike - Really works lower abs and hip flexors, similar to the reverse crunch, but a little more difficult, legs should be straighter than mine are here, bending only at the waist
Wide Grip Pull Up - These a work in progress, my shoulders are very weak and I'm conscious of avoiding injury since pull ups and bench press are two of the main exercises men over 40 injure themselves doing
TRX Suspended Crunch - The straps force stabilization from the entire core while performing the movement, I'll also alternate from side to side to work the obliques
TRX Suspended Pike - Similar to the suspended crunch, this increases flexibility and abdominal strength, as I grow in this exercise I'll keep my legs straighter and bend only at the waist
TRX Oblique Side Bends - Another work in progress, my form is not great but it will get better, this is one of the more slightly advanced movements and will greatly help with my obliques
TRX Reverse Fly - works posterior shoulder groups, which helps maintain posture during long runs, this is also a great exercise for people who stay hunched over a desk all day, good for keeping shoulders back
TRX Push Up - suspension forces stabilization from smaller muscles groups during the movement, quite a bit tougher than a standard push up without cables and helps with upper body strengthening
So there's a few of my new core and upper body movements.  There's about 1,000 different things you can do with the TRX Straps, but I'll start with these basic movements for now.  I won't do the same ones every day, rather, I'll  mix in a few here and there with my current crunch, plank, and stability ball work. But hopefully adding a few new exercises to my morning routine will confuse my core a little, and stimulate growth.  Have a great week!
... Be Great Today!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Full Workout Load

My blogger friend, Eddie of Eddie's World, mentioned this in my last post, so I thought I would provide a current three week snapshot of my marathon training.  (I used to do this all the time, but I kind of got out of the habit) This will not interest some of you, but I always LOVE looking at other runners training logs ... so here it is.  I'll start with two weeks ago, and then show what's on the schedule for this week. (Note: unless indicated, all workouts are done in the early morning before work, usually from 4:00-7:00 a.m.)

Sun - Dec 28
     Pre Run Core Work: Crunches, hanging reverse crunches, 8 min of continuous planks (front, back & sides)
     Recovery Run: 8.5 miles@8:45 pace (ran simulated Half-Marathon the day before)
     Post Run Upper Body Work: Push ups, pull ups, TRX straps, and hit heavy bag for about 10 min

Mon - Dec 29
     No Run
     Core Work: Crunches, hanging reverse crunches, stability ball work, 12 min of continuous planks (front, back & side)
     Upper Body Work: 30 min of  chest and shoulder light weights, pull ups, and light arm work
     Plyometrics: 30 min of box jumps & speed toe taps, TRX strap work, burpies, speed skaters

Tues - Dec 30
     Pre Run Core Work: Crunches, hanging reverse crunches, stability ball work, 12 min of continuous planks (front, back & side)
     Slow Run: 10.5 miles@8:22 pace
     Post Run Leg Workout: 30 min of light leg strengthening - hips, quads, hamstring focus

Wed - Dec 31
     Core Work: Crunches, hanging reverse crunches, stability ball work, 12 min of continuous planks (front, back & side)
     Slow Run: 10 miles@8:30 pace (-15 degree wind chill in Iowa City, miserable run)

Thur - Jan 1
     No Core Work
     MARATHON PACE Run: 11 miles total, 8 miles@7:09 pace
     PM Walk: 1 mile

Fri - Jan 2
     No Run  
     Core Work: 30 min of crunches, hanging reverse crunches, stability ball work, 12 min of continuous planks (front, back & side)

Sat - Jan 3
     No Core Work
     Long Run: 20 miles@7:45 pace

Total Miles For Week: 60 total, 8 marathon pace, 52 slow & easy


Sun - Jan 4
     Pre Run Core Work: Crunches, hanging reverse crunches, stability ball work, 12 min of continuous planks (front, back & side)
     Treadmill Recovery Run: 8 miles@8:00 pace
     Post Run Upper Body Work: Push ups, pull ups, TRX straps, and hit heavy bag for about 10 min

Mon - Jan 5
     No Run
     Core Work: Crunches, hanging reverse crunches, stability ball work, 12 min of continuous planks (front, back & side)
     Upper Body Work: 30 min of  chest and shoulder light weights, pull ups, and light arm work
     Plyometrics: 30 min of box jumps & speed toe taps, TRX strap work, burpies, speed skaters

Tues - Jan 6
     No Core Work
     Treadmill TEMPO RUN: 11  miles total, 8 miles@6:37 pace
     Post Run Leg Workout: 30 min of leg strengthening - hips, quads, hamstring focus
     PM Walk: 1 mile

Wed - Jan 7
     Pre Run Core Work: Crunches, hanging reverse crunches, stability ball work, 12 min of continuous planks (front, back & side)
     Treadmill Recovery Run: 10 miles@8:18 pace
     PM Treadmill Slow Run: 3 miles@8:50 pace

Thur - Jan 8
     Pre Run Core Work: Crunches, hanging reverse crunches, stability ball work, 12 min of continuous planks (front, back & side)
     Treadmill MARATHON PACE Run: 9 miles total, 5 miles@7:10

Fri - Jan 9
    No Workouts or Runs

Sat - Jan 10
     No Core Work
     Long Run: 22 miles@7:38 pace
     PM Walk: 1 mile

Total Miles For Week: 63 total, 8 tempo pace, 5 marathon pace, 50 slow & easy


For this coming week, the peripheral workouts remain the same, except I'll add one more leg strengthening day, for a total of two.  I'll also up the mileage a little with double runs on Tues & Thurs, and increase the Tempo, Speed, and Marathon Pace work - this will be one of my most high intensity weeks, then I'll recover next week

Sun - Jan 11 ... 10 mile Recovery Run
Mon - Jan 12 ... No Run
Tues - Jan 13 ... 12 mile Tempo Run, 8 miles@6:30 pace ... PM 4 mile Recovery Run
Wed - Jan 14 ... 10 mile Recovery Run
Thurs - Jan 15 ... 8 mile Speed Work - Track Repeats ... PM 4 mile Recovery Run
Fri - Jan 16 ... No Run
Sat - Jan 17 ... 18 mile Race Simulation, start slow and then build to 14 miles@7:00'ish
Total Miles For Week: 66 total, 8 tempo pace, 5 speed pace, 14 marathon pace, 39 slow & easy


So that's my basic monthly formula.  I didn't add in a fourth week, because I was sick the week prior to this schedule and only ran 23 miles before being in bed for four days, but it looks similar to the second week listed here.  Over the years, I've basically only posted results from Tempo, Marathon Pace, Speed, and faster Long Run workouts - I mean who wants to read about a slow recovery run???  And admittedly, this probably gives the impression that I do ALL of my runs at a faster pace.  And accordingly, I've received about 1,000 comments over the years that go something like, "Hey idiot ... you're running too fast ... you're 80/20 ratio is waaaay off ... you're working too hard ... you're going to burn out ... you need to slow down your long runs ... blah, blah, blah" no disrespect intended of course!  Well, as you can see, I obviously don't run all of my workouts up-tempo.  I pretty much do it like everyone else, except with a little  more core and strengthening work, and a little faster on the long runs a little  more often.  And as plain and simply as I can put it ... this is what has worked for me over the course of 10,000 miles and 30 marathons the past few years.  If you have a different plan, knock yourself out.  But based on all the INJURY FREE mileage (knock on wood) and the increasingly faster races I've put up all while advancing in age post-40, I wouldn't think I would have to explain that.  But I can understand how the message gets misconstrued a little.  All in all, I really do try to watch how many miles I run at faster paces.  I mean, I'm 46 years old, my legs need plenty of rest, ha.  Anyway, there's my training ... hope your training's going well too.
... Be Great Today!