Running from 9/7/15 to 9/13/15

I ran to two extremes this week. During the work week I felt slow, with leaden legs dragging me down. This weekend I decided to combine two days of running into one. The decision was partly to address my fatigued legs, and partly because of a hankering for a truly long run.

I ran for 4 hours today and it was glorious. The weather did me a favor and gave me a starting temperature in the 60s and and ending temperature in the low 80s. You can’t ask for much better than that in early September in Austin. I followed up the run with a proper ice bath consisting of about 40 pounds of ice and some cold water. It was painful at first but my legs feel great now. We’ll see if it helps stave off the DOMS any more than a “typical” ice bath, where I’m just using what’s in our freezer.

Here’s what my week of running looked like:

  • Monday: No run and 8,301 steps total.
  • Tuesday: 32-minute run after work in the neighborhood. I ran too fast but couldn’t seem to keep my pace down.
  • Wednesday: 34-minute run on Town Lake after work. I ran a bit too fast again and it felt rough the entire time.
  • Thursday: 31-minute run on Town Lake in the rain after work. The rain was great.
  • Friday: No run and 5,034 steps total.
  • Saturday: No run and 6,004 steps total.
  • Sunday: 240-minute run on Town Lake. I felt like I could have run another couple of hours, but that might have just been my desire talking instead of reality.
  • Total active time of 337 minutes with an average heart rate of 143.5 beats per minute. Total steps this week: ~97,000

Running from 8/31/15 to 9/6/15

I dropped back into the swing of things this week and it was glorious. There’s nothing better than the steady state of bliss I feel when I’ve run on a regular schedule.

Here’s what my week of running looked like:

  • Monday: No run and 5,449 steps total.
  • Tuesday: 30-minute run in the morning with the dogs in the neighborhood. It was fun!
  • Wednesday: 32-minute run in the morning with the dogs in the neighborhood. More fun!
  • Thursday: No run and 4,312 steps total. I was going to run today but I stepped off a curb and tweaked my ankle on my run with the dogs the day before. I decided not to push it.
  • Friday: No run and 4,919 steps total.
  • Saturday: 125-minute run split across two activities, the first with Travis on Town Lake and the second with Mac the Border Collie at McKinney Falls State Park. He did great and I really enjoyed running with him on the trails.
  • Sunday: 120-minute run on Town Lake in the morning. This run felt good and it seemed like I could have gone about double the time without tiring myself out. That’s the best way to injury, however, so I stuck to the schedule.
  • Total active time of 307 minutes with an average heart rate of 142 beats per minute. Total steps this week: ~90,000.

Running from 8/24/15 to 8/30/15

My week of running was another weird one, but not because of any kind of physical issues. I took a very quick business trip to San Francisco on Thursday/Friday, and I neglected to plan properly for my running. As a result I ended up doing more of an “off” week.

I’m going to edit down my time a bit for next week to account for not increasing my time too quickly. My legs are feeling quite strong, so I think it’s just a matter of ramping up correctly.

Here’s what my week of running looked like:

  • Monday: No run and 5,672 steps total
  • Tuesday: No run and 9,999 steps total
  • Wednesday: 35-minute run on Town Lake after work
  • Thursday: No run and 10,188 steps total
  • Friday: No run and 8,775 steps total
  • Saturday: No run and 12,260 steps total
  • Sunday: I ran twice today, once with Travis on Town Lake for 51 minutes and once with the dogs in the neighborhood for 33 minutes. The dogs did mostly OK, but Mac is definitely the more enthusiastic running partner of the two. I just need to work with him on not trying to go play with other dogs when he sees them.
  • Total active time of 119 minutes with an average heart rate of 139 beats per minute. Total steps this week: ~73,000

Running from 8/17/15 to 8/23/15

It was an interesting week of running. I didn’t get to run as much during the week, which is OK. I also didn’t get to run as much this weekend, mostly because of a blowup on today’s run. I was having major stomach issues that cut my run in half.

I still got out for a 2-hour run yesterday, however, which was great. I’m not exactly sure what caused my issues on the run this morning, but I suspect it has something to do with what I ate yesterday. I feel good otherwise, so I’ll be back at it next week.

Here’s what my week of running looked like:

  • Monday: No run and 3,312 steps total
  • Tuesday: 30-minute run in the neighborhood before work. I tried and early morning run and it went OK.
  • Wednesday: No run and 3,860 steps total
  • Thursday: 31-minute run after work in the neighborhood. I also forgot my Fitbit at home so I have a low step count this day.
  • Friday: No run and 5,325 steps total
  • Saturday: 120-minute run on Town Lake in the morning. I got out pretty late so by the time I finished it was quite warm.
  • Sunday: 60-minute run partly on Town Lake and partly in the neighborhood. I had to come back from Town Lake because of the stomach issues, then I tried to go out again in the neighborhood mostly unsuccessfully. Just not my day I guess!
  • Total active time of 241 minutes with an average heart rate of 139 beats per minute. Total steps this week: ~72,000

Running from 8/10/15 to 8/16/15

This week I really took the “off” part of “off week” to heart. I only ran one day, and didn’t get in much cross training. It felt good to take it easy after a big week last week, and I’m excited to get back into it.

Most importantly, I’m happy to report that I have no sign of any kind of injury. This is good because my entire running strategy is built upon the goal of keeping myself healthy enough to run regularly. Yay for plans working out.

Here’s what my week of non-running (or doing much of anything) looked like:

  • Monday: No run and 4,290 steps total
  • Tuesday: No run and 5,828 steps total
  • Wednesday: No run and 6,113 steps total
  • Thursday: No run and 6,337 steps total
  • Friday: No run and 6,544 steps total
  • Saturday: 60-minute run in the neighborhood in the morning. It felt good to be back out there, and I was tempted to run for another hour or two.
  • Sunday: 86-minute hike at McKinney Falls State Park with Cassandra and the dogs. We got to the park by 8:15 and hiked the Homestead trail. We also took the Flint Rock loop. It was a great day for hiking and the pups enjoyed it.
  • Total active time of 146 minutes with an average heart rate of 130 beats per minute. Total steps this week: ~58,000.

Running from 8/3/2015 to 8/9/2015

This week was another one where I added 10% more time to my weekly total, which was fun. I ended up only running twice during the week on Wednesday and Thursday, so my long run was extra long. I really enjoyed the 2 hours and 42 minutes I was out there running for that long one!

Here’s what my week of running looked like:

  • Monday: No run
  • Tuesday: No run
  • Wednesday: 40-minute run on Town Lake after work
  • Thursday: 42-minute run in the neighborhood after work
  • Friday: No run
  • Saturday: 62-minute run in the neighborhood in the morning. I found a new route that takes me off the more highly trafficked roads I had been running on, so that’s nice. I still prefer to run on something other than concrete or asphalt when possible. It’s nice to have a decent route right out my front door though.
  • Sunday: 162-minute run on Town Lake in the morning. I made it to Town Lake and started running by 7:45, so the heat wasn’t too bad by the end of the run. I miscalculated how much food to bring with me, so I ended up running the last 30 or 40 minutes with a hungry stomach and a slightly fuzzy head. Despite the caloric deficit I still had a great run. I felt like I was in a flow state for about an hour across the entire run. That’s the main reason I love running long so much, when I feel like I’m in the zone and everything is just effortless. I’m definitely looking forward to ramping up the time for long runs on the weekends as I continue training.
  • Total run time of 308 minutes with an average heart rate of 143.75 BPM

Next week will be a slow and/or cross training week for me. See you on the trails!

Running from 7/20/2015 through 7/26/2015

Editor’s note: Welcome to the blog! This is the first edition of Stride Sunday. Check out this post for more about my daily writing schedule.

As you may know, I run. I’m going to write about my running every Sunday from here on out, as my running week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday.

I have four goals for my running (in order of importance and future chronology):

  • Run regularly to reap the emotional and physical benefits it brings to my life
  • Slowly work my way up to 8 hours of running a week without injury
  • Complete a 50-mile ultra marathon
  • Complete a 100-mile ultra marathon

Right now I’m actively working on the first two goals, the first of which is fairly simple because it only requires regular running. For my second goal of running 8 hours a week without getting injured I’m following a 2-week-on and 1-week-off schedule and running by time instead of distance. By way of example, this week I was on an “off” week where I focus mostly on cross training and/or running easy the entire week. Next week I will pick up where I left off from last week (254 minutes of running) plus 10% for a total of 280 minutes.

I’m also monitoring my heart rate and using the 180 Formula from Phil Maffetone to determine my maximum average heart rate for any run. Right now I’m at 145 after just getting back into training. If everything goes well I should be able to get more efficient and run faster at this heart rate, but it’s been fairly slow going in the beginning. I’m hoping this is another great way to avoid injury.

So I’ll be running slow, adding no more than 10% of time per week when I’m increasing time, and resting every two weeks. Based on my prior experience this should work well for me. Right now I’m planning to run 5 days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday) on my “on” weeks. I’m also toying with the idea of only running 2 hours during the work week, likely 30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday with an hour-long run on Wednesday. This will help me get into some long runs on the weekend family quickly. We’ll see how it goes.

Here’s what my “off” week of cross training and slow running looked like this week:

  • Monday: Walked the dogs in the morning for 31 minutes. It was more humid than expected. I had fun to geting them out and around the neighborhood for a while. I’m also happy to give Cassandra a break from her normal walking schedule!
  • Tuesday: No activity other than celebrating my birthday 🙂
  • Wednesday: 34-minute run on Town Lake after work.
  • Thursday: No activity
  • Friday: 58-minute morning run on Town Lake with Travis at a nice and easy pace
  • Saturday: Raked the lawn and did other yard work for 95 minutes. It was harder work than I expected, mostly because it involved my upper body.
  • Sunday: Took an amazing trip to McKinney Falls State Park to hike with Cassandra and the dogs for 101 minutes. It was tons of fun and we’ll definitely be going back again soon.
  • Total cross training time of 319 minutes with an average heart rate of 120 BPM

See you on the trails!

Running as meditation

Editor’s note: Welcome to the first installation of Thoughtful Thursday. I promise it won’t take long. My thoughts are simple. Check out this post for more about my daily writing schedule. Also, don’t judge me for calling myself the editor of my own eponymous blog, OK?

My father meditates. He calls it quiet time, but I’m pretty sure it’s actually meditation. I know we’ve talked about it before. We had to, because how else would I have tried it those few times?

It didn’t work. I remember struggling mightily to clear my mind, but wait how do you actually clear your mind — isn’t that like dying? — I’m totally thinking even in my sleep because dreams. Wow breathing is really weird I wonder how my lungs do that when I’m not paying attention.

You get the idea. I failed in every way to slow my mind, let alone clear it.

I haven’t tried it since, so it still doesn’t work for me. Instead I’ve used running as a way to keep my mental energy level on a relatively flat trajectory. I’m not sure that’s what meditation does, but that’s the best way I can describe what I get from running. Very long runs of 20+ miles tend to put me in a place where I can focus on my breathing instead of my inner monologue. Shorter runs can have the same result if I’m lucky. Only those long runs guarantee a few moments of bliss.

So yeah. I run. I call it running, but I’m pretty sure it’s also meditation. Why else would I lace up those shoes so many times each week when I could be doing more important things? Things like sampling every chips and salsa combo in Austin and ranking them across all the important indices like spiciness, chunkiness and deliciousness?

Meditation is one of those customs I really think I ought to have. It must be doing something for my father, since he’s done it as long as I can remember, and I’m more like him than anyone else. It would no doubt be of use to me considering our genetic and behavioral similarities. I can’t make my mind slow down on command so running will have to do. I even read this book about Running With The Mind Of Meditation and I’m still out there thinking about my next meal or how I can fix that thing at work or whatever instead of just sitting in the moment and realizing the truth of the matter:

The universe is not the voice inside my head.

An update on habits

When this post is published I will have successfully marked an X on the calendar for every day this year. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about you can find out more by reading my previous post where I discuss my plan to make habits in 2014. In short, I wanted to focus on making habits by employing a Jerry Seinfeld productivity tip.

The habits I’m trying to build have to do with writing, coding, running, and strength training. For every day I either write or code and either run or workout, I get an X. It hasn’t been easy for the last couple of weeks, but I’ve done it.

The writing and coding has been the easier part of the equation, which is surprising to me. I’ve written a bit more than 7,000 words of fiction (mostly first drafts and notes for various stories and surely utter shit as a result) and about 1,000 words for a new site I started called Midnight Horrors. I also wrote code for the site, which met my writing/code requirement on a few days.

On the exercise front I’ve only managed to get in about 18 miles and a bunch of random strength workouts. That mileage came as the result of only 5 runs, which is half the number I had planned for the last two weeks. It turns out running is hard when you have a head full of snot and pounding headaches from cedar allergies. Imagine that!

I think this habit thing is going to continue, mostly because I want to keep the streak going. That’s the wonderful thing about this system. In the beginning you have all the motivation in the world to do things because you’ve just started and the shine hasn’t worn off yet. Once you get into it a bit and run into some obstacles, however, you have the length of the streak dragging you along until it gets easier again. It’s the perfect motivation so far.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but perhaps I’ll be building even more habits in 2014 if my success continues.