The Road to Bluegrass 8/1

Oh, hello, August. I didn’t realize you were here already but you’re looking good.

August is, indeed, looking good but that’s about it. So far my week has looked like this:

  • I ran long on Sunday (more on that below) and went for a relaxing lunchtime trip across the lake on my friend’s boat. I grilled steaks and baked potatoes for dinner but I didn’t do meal prep. I did, however, buy chicken to marinate so I could do it Monday.
  • Since I did heavy deadlifts on Saturday followed by a kickboxing class THEN a 7-mile long run on Sunday, everything from my waist down was barely functioning yesterday. I used the elevator to get to the second floor and I wasn’t even embarrassed.
  • I didn’t do meal prep Monday either. Instead, I ordered a pizza for dinner.
  • This morning I accidentally (swear to god) turned my 4:30 alarm off instead of snoozing it. I fell back asleep and didn’t wake up again until nearly 7:00. There went my Tuesday morning run.
  • I brought leftover pizza for lunch today (since I didn’t prep anything) and I ate it at 10:30.
  • We’re going to a show tonight — I have class in the morning — We have plans Wednesday night. Therefore the first time I can run this week will be Thursday morning. WHEP.

In other words, this week hasn’t been my finest work and it’s only Tuesday. It happens, I guess. Let’s get on with the good shit.


So last week I tried something I haven’t ever done: I actually trusted my program.

That sounds silly considering I started running with Couch-to-5k and after completing the program, I tackled (and completed) 5k-to-10k. Although I successfully completed both programs, completion wasn’t achieved by following the rules exactly. There were runs I’d skip, others I’d fudge. Some I didn’t do exaaaactly right but I still did them. In the end, I was able to finish both the program and the appropriate races just fine so it’s not a big deal, really, but the thing I’m trying to get at here is that I didn’t do them perfectly.

And that’s okay.

BUT…

What if I told you that the program is written a certain way for a reason?

NOTE: Not this kind of program.

I learned that last week after I did my first-ever legit tempo run. Up until this point, every training program I’ve been on has called for them but I’ve always fudged it. I didn’t skip the run but I didn’t run it at goal tempo. When I considered actually sucking it up and doing it this time around, I was immediately discouraged. I figured out that if I want to reach my half-marathon PR goal of 02:30:00, I’ll need to average an 11:27/mile pace. If you look at my spreadsheet, you’ll notice that up until last week I was averaging anywhere from 20 seconds too slow to as much as a minute.

That’s a LOT, y’all (have I covered this already?)

Anyway, I figured I’m not going to get any faster if I don’t go out and push myself so I did just that. When I started running that morning in the park, my legs were already sore from the weekend’s workout, I was stiff because I was in bed just a short time before and I didn’t feel very focused at all. Then I numbed myself to my aches, pains and negativity, and just ran. No intervals and no plan other than try to average 11:27/mile.

After I had been running about a mile or so I looked down at my watch and noticed that not only was I running fast, I was smoking.

NOTE: Not this kind of smoking.

Like, 7:40/mile smoking. Granted, I didn’t do it for long (especially after I realized I was running a little too fast) but the fact remains that after running a mile I was still able to run at sub-8 pace without feeling like I wanted to die. That was encouraging to say the least.

Anyway, I leveled myself out and took a short walk break after getting a righteous rock in my shoe and then another after eating a gnat. In the end, I ran my 3 miles with an average pace of 11:05/mile. If that sounds like my fastest average pace during this program it’s because it was.

A few days later I went on my weekend long run. On Sunday I set out to run seven miles on the Greenway and even though I was still riding high because of my surprise pace earlier in the week, I had no intention of worrying about my pace during my long run. They’re called Long Slow Distances for a reason, no?

Without getting into the details of the long run, I’ll just say that while I was definitely worn out at the end, it was not a killer run. I kept a steady pace for the entire run and felt confident the entire time. When I made it back to the door at TITLE Boxing Club (my start/finish point), I stopped my watch and realized I averaged a 12:08/mile pace. Was it the 11:27 I need to achieve to reach my half-marathon PR goal? Not even close.

BUT (again)…

Looking back at my stats for this program, a 12:08/mile pace is the fastest pace I’ve kept for any of my long runs by about six seconds. Somehow I was able to achieve this despite it being the longest run I’ve gone on in well over a year.

Now, did going on a single tempo run earlier in the week cause me to get 6 seconds/mile faster in such a short amount of time? Probably not. Did it give me the confidence I needed to push myself a little more, even on those slow and low long runs? Hell yes!

Thanks, tempo run. We may have to hook up again.

I finished the week with only two runs totaling 10 miles with an average pace of 11:36/mile and I’m now officially past the halfway point in the program. Y’all, I see a PR in my future.

Trying to salvage what I can of this fragmented week, here’s what the workouts look like:

  • Monday: 5:45am Boxing at TITLE
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 5:45am Boxing at TITLE with a FAST Mile afterward
  • Thursday: 4 Mile Run, 7:00 Kickboxing at TITLE
  • Friday: 3 Mile Tempo Run
  • Saturday: Cross-training (Phase 5, Week 7: Chest, Bis, Shoulders and Quads, 4 sets 8 reps at 45%, 4 sets 3 reps at 100%)
  • Sunday: Long Run — 8 Miles

Anyway. Don’t do anything dumb this week. And if you do, just keep moving.

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Friday Fitness Finds 7/21

You’re squelching your emotions — All you talk about is old times
You don’t do what you want to — But you do the same thing everyday
No sense of humor — But such good manners
Now you’re an adult — You’re boring
It’s a life sentence — It’s a life sentence

This morning I busted out an old favorite of mine on the way to work — the Dead Kennedys Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death. As I drove down the highway blasting and singing along to classics like Police Truck, Pull My Strings and Too Drunk to Fuck I was feeling more carefree and bulletproof than I have in weeks. Then it hit me…

I’m 32 years old and I’m driving my fairly new (five years old) car through the security gate at work where I write descriptions using a controlled vocabulary for a multi-billion dollar corporation. While the lyrics may be tattooed on my heart, when I sing songs about fighting a potential police state, ripping on those who sacrifice their morals for money and being more concerned about having a proper career than being a decent human being, it’s actually 16-year-old me that’s singing along.

I’m living the old man life nowadays because I like paying my bills and going to bed before 10:00. But these hardcore punker songs still speak to me. I still feel them in my bones. They set raging fires in my heart. And today, they made me realize I’m doing the exact same thing old dudes do when they constantly relive their glory days of when they were the star running back.

As long as it’s pushing you to be a better you that day, have at it. Even if you were an asshole jock back in the day. Or a punker. Or a metalhead. Or a 32 year old that’s somewhere in-between.


As for this week’s stuff. Let’s get to it. It’s mostly food this time around.

  • The Top Ten Signs that Say “I’m a Real Fighter” by Doug Ward via TITLE Boxing
    If you’re able to read something metaphorically then this is a dynamite article. It’s from the archives of the TITLE Boxing Blog and, therefore, is directed as boxers-in-training but I think there’s a lot to take away from it even if you’re not a boxer. Showing up, having passion, respecting your journey and yourself are all things that can benefit every one of us in different aspects of our lives. Boxing just happens to be a great way to illustrate it. Maybe instead of the Sweet Science they should change the name to the Sweet Philosophy.

  • Quit Overeating by Defining Your Happiness by Alex McBrairty via Breaking Muscle
    Yes, this article does address overeating and yes it does quickly start talking about how willpower is a shitty crutch and yes it does touch on the philosophy of being happy and several other weird “how did we get here” topics. But it also mentions how eating a whole pizza can be good for you. It also makes a Bruce Lee reference. And if you’re a top-notch reader, you’ll find that it makes many really good points about how important it is to keep yourself in check and remaining the hero in your own story.

  • Turkey Taco Salad Meal Prep via Damn Delicious
    Chungah is back in the house again this week with a pretty killer meal prep idea, especially for those that are new to the game. This can’t get much easier and I’m confident it can’t get much tastier. Though I may not be a big salad eater, I can definitely make an exception if you include taco in the title.

  • {Comfort Food} Shepherd’s Pie by Frisky Lemon
    PaleoGrubs pointed me to this recipe this week and I think it’s such a rad idea I’m going to make it for meal prep next week. I’ve done Paleo Shepherd’s Pie before so I know it can be done and can be done well but it’s been a few months since I gave it a go. And come on, it’s Shepherd’s Pie for Christ’s sake! Paleo + Comfort Food = win/win if you ask me (did anyone ask?).

  • Apple-Basil Chicken Burgers by Cave Food Kitchen
    More Paleo foodage that’s going on the meal plan for next week. Ground chicken isn’t something I work with a lot but these look and sound super good. Probably going to serve with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli but, I mean, there are no rules. Just tasty food!

  • Chocolate Cream Pie by Naked Cuisine
    The tags for this recipe include gluten-free, grain-free, Paleo, Primal, Raw, Vegan and Vegetarian. In case you missed the main point here, it’s also a chocolate !@#$ing pie! I can’t guarantee that I’m making it this weekend but I intend to.


Music to Run Fast-ish, Lift Heavy and Punch Hard To

It was definitely not a great week for heavy music. I’ve listened to tracks from about 12 or 15 new metal releases this week and came up with nothing worth sharing. This is a shame because in the non-heavy realm, it was a very good Friday for your humble narrator. My friend Brandon hooked me up with his band The Lees of Memory’s masters for their upcoming record The Blinding White of Nothing At All and it’s pretty sick. I don’t like using that term (see also epic and badass) so please know that I don’t use it lightly. I’ll probably make a full post when the record is officially released. If you’re into it, you can pre-order your copy with the link I just posted.

If you weren’t aware, sweet Lana Del Rey released her new record Lust for Life today. I haven’t listened to this one just yet but I did get my pre-order download early this morning and was hooked up with some of the preview tracks a few weeks ago. It will be gold, I know, because she always is.

But enough of that. While I don’t have anything to lift heavy to, I do have some jams worth rocking while you’re moving your body. Since seeing the Aquabats last week (I swear to god there will be new photos this weekend) I’ve been rocking some of their newer material harder than I did when it originally came out. These are the two main offenders. Turn them up and go move those feet!

The Road to Bluegrass 7/17

One minute you’re walking with a cane, the next minute you’re weilding Mjolnir.

It’s been about a month since the last Road to Bluegrass. That doesn’t seem right to me but the blog isn’t going to lie unless the author writes it. So what the heck is going on?

Let me be real with y’all for a minute. I’ve not been so good. Yes, me. I smile and sing and dance and bounce around and bake and give pep talks and push people to be their very best. ME. Hell, even I don’t want to accept it but the truth is, mentally and emotionally I was exhausted and not in a fabulous place. I haven’t been since my Paps died. Without going into every pitiful little detail, just know that I’ve been freaking out on the inside about everything.

EVERYthing.

Last week we took a long weekend trip to Cincinnati and Lexington to go to an Aquabats concert, visit the American Sign Museum and hit the east side of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. I’ll be posting photos here once I get them off my camera and processed, but just know that from Thursday through Sunday I didn’t run a single mile, I didn’t lift a single weight, I didn’t punch a single bag and I didn’t prep any of my meals.

Instead, I took a lot of photos, danced at a ska show, learned how neon lights are made, nearly drowned in the pouring rain, watched the Jerry Springer Show, toured four distilleries and one brewery, sampled 11 bourbons, four beers, two liqueurs and one rum, ate a breakfast burger, ate a Kentucky Hot Brown, had some homemade apple cobbler with ice cream, had an enormous glass of wine paired with a fig jam and prosciutto pizza, ate a bowl of spaghetti covered in chili and piled sky-high with cheese and…

…I slept.

I just rested and it was glorious. For four days I didn’t worry about anything. Not about my full-time job, not my personal training side job, not my upcoming trips, not my impending MMA training, not my upcoming half marathon, not the various dinner parties I’ve been pressuring myself to have, not the countless DIY projects I need to tackle at home, not building this new website and social presence, not coming up with original content to blog about, not making meal plans.

Nothing.

For the first time in over a month, I was free from all stress. I was rested and I had a positive outlook again.


Like I said, it’s been about a month since my last What I’m Doing update and that update said I was about to start week 3 of my program. I’m now starting week 7 and it looks like this:

  • Monday: 5:45am Boxing at TITLE
  • Tuesday: 3 Mile run
  • Wednesday: 4 Mile run; 7:00pm Boxing at TITLE
  • Thursday: 3 Mile run; 7:00 Kickboxing at TITLE
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 6 Mile run
  • Sunday: Cross-training (details below); 1:00 Boxing at TITLE

Cross Training – Phase 5, Week 5: Chest, Bis, Shoulders, Quads

  • Top of the Mountain Warmup Spin bike, 8 minutes: 1 minute each on levels 1-8, then stretch
  • Pull-Ups Set 1: 8 Pull-Ups
  • Circuit 1 – Dumbbells, 35% weight, 10 reps, 60s rest
  • Pull-Ups Set 2: 6 Pull-Ups
  • Circuit 2 – Repeat Circuit 1; 60s rest
  • Pull-Ups Set 3: 5 Pull-Ups
  • Circuit 3 – Repeat Circuit 1; 3m rest
  • Circuit 4 – Barbells, 90% weight, 5 reps, 60s rest
  • Pull-Ups Set 4: 4 Pull-Ups
  • Circuit 5 – Repeat Circuit 4; 60s rest
  • Pull-Ups Set 5: Max Pull-Ups
  • Circuit 6 – Repeat Circuit 4; 3m rest
  • Kettlebell Burnout – 100 Snatches
  • Bottom of the Mountain Cooldown Spin bike, 8 minutes: 1 minute each on levels 8-1, then stretch

Today was my first day back in action and I hit the ground running. For the last few weeks I’ve not even put my boxing gloves on during class, preferring to demo the moves sans-gloves and then spend the rest of the rounds donning the focus mitts so I can do one-on-one technique sessions with people. Today, I gloved up and jumped into my own class with everyone else. I did all the warm up, all the rounds, all the burnouts and all of the core session. It felt amazing. It’s good to be back.

I told my Man of Steel friend last night that I had fallen into the If I’m not being productive, I’m wasting my time trap and it eventually just caught up to me. “Thunder God, though I may be, at the end of the day I’m still Dr. Donald Blake and I need a cane to help me walk around.”

It’s a geeky analogy, but you get the point.