April 3 is Getting Closer, Y’all…

Well, it’s Wednesday.

On January 1, I decided it would be a good idea to actually track my progress and measurements so I could better follow along with my health and fitness instead of randomly checking it from time to time. I recorded:

  1. My weight: Even though my weight is no longer much of a concern, I’d still like to drop another 5-10 pounds, maybe by this summer. No real reason, just a goal to achieve.
  2. The circumference of my arms, thighs, and waist: This year I’ve decided to take weight training more seriously and as much as I hate to say it, I’m looking to add some gainz.
  3. My three body fat percentage check points (measured with a caliper) and the total, overall body fat percentage it equalled out to: though, to be clear, I realize that body fat percentage measurements are about as valid as your BMI and are quite difficult to accurately measure. Keeping this in mind, I’m using the chart that came with my caliper and I record the percentage it gives me, then when I go to Title, I use their digital body fat percentage calculator and record that number, then consider my actual body fat percentage the average of the two.
  4. My blood pressure: Mainly because this was the first of many things that got me into the health mess I was in to begin with.
  5. My fasting glucose level: This was the number that freaked me out the worst on the physical I got a couple of years ago – the wake up call, if you will.

I’m honest enough to admit that I’m nowhere near disciplined enough to record these daily, nor am I even willing to do it weekly. Monthly, however, seemed doable, so on the first day of every month, I get down to measuring. I was all excited to finally share some of this in the blog this week because I’ve built a handy dandy spreadsheet that builds out some fun charts based on my weigh-in day input so I can actually see my progress but…Since I only have 3 months worth of information, even the slightest change looks intense. Since I somehow gained a pound in the month of February, my graph looked like I had gained 10. So I’m just going to keep those to myself until April 1 just so it makes me look a little better. No shame, here.


April 1 is going to be two days before the Covenant Health Half Marathon. That’s 32 days from now. According to my original training plan, I would be about to start my tapering for this week’s long run but I have failed miserably in the “staying on the plan” front. I have a massive list of excuses that range from visiting in-laws, to snow and ice, to just being too lazy to get up and go. I suffered the set back in December and, to be honest, I really just don’t think I ever truly recovered motivation-wise.

This doesn’t change the fact that the race is still happening. I’ve already coughed up the dough and my name is on the list. I just have to show up and make it happen, for better or for worse. I was a little encouraged when a coworker told me recently when he ran his half last year, the longest run he’d ever completed was 7 miles. I’ve ran 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, and even 9 miles before, so if he can run 13.1 with a 7 mile distance PR, then I can certainly make it happen with a 9 miler under my belt.

This won’t mean much to non-Knoxville folks, but Covenant Health finally finalized the route for this year’s half and sent it out to us today. Here’s what it looks like:

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So even though I’m really as ready right now as I’m going to be for this race, I’m still going to try to get in a few longer runs in before the big day. And to up my desire to get out there, I finally got around to picking up some new running shoes for the occasion:

These are OMNI 14s by Saucony and they feel great on my feet. A bit lighter with a little less “support” than the Brooks running shoes I had previously (and worn a big hole in the toe in). Silly how snazzy new shoes will motivate you to use them like they do. While in the store, I also thumbed through the basket of race stickers and found a 13.1 sticker I’m planning to get the day after I finish my race:

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So while I’m putting the old Brooks to rest, I still went out twice last week for a few last miles while I had them. A quick mile after my Friday morning Power Hour at Title Boxing Club, and a rather brief run on Sunday morning just down a semi-busy city street.

This street I ran down has many super Richie Rich neighborhoods connected to it, some with sidewalks. When I approached one that went up a steady hill, I decided to go for it just to get that little bit of hill work in on an otherwise level trail. I kept a steady pace as I climbed…And climbed…and climbed…I saw the top of the hill was near so I just kept going, not bothering to see how long the hill was. When I got to the top, I was huffing and puffing like an out of shape smoker but I had definitely conquered the hill and I took a few brief seconds to catch my breath and to enjoy the view this vantage point gave me of West Knoxville. I began going back down the hill, this time taking care to measure exactly how far up this hill I went.

Turns out it was a quarter mile up. Which is a bitch of an uphill run. Later, when I was checking my Runtastic stats, it turns out this quarter mile hill achieved an increase in elevation of 200+ feet! It’s no wonder it killed me like it did, and even less wonder why I cut my run short before hitting 3 miles!

Running sucks, y’all.

Anyway, here’s what we’re looking like going into March. I’m still keeping up my 4-5 times per week at Title in addition to a new weight lifting routine, but if I don’t get off my butt on non-gym days and get in some miles, my 350 mile yearly goal is going to get missed…Again.

Last Week

Mileage 3.5 Miles (5.63km)
Avg. Pace 10:37/mile (6:35/km)

2016 Running

Runtastic Runs (1/01-Present) 35.18 Miles
Total YTD Mileage 35.18 Miles

Miles Left Until 2016 Goal (350 Miles): 314.82

I’m going to end on this photo of our dining room table Sunday night just because it looks cool. In an attempt to help Erin with her health goals (and to push me to eat cleaner) we’re going full-on lunch meal prep party on Sundays. Meal prep and chill, anyone?

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On Distance Goals and Running Shoes

This is a lot of useless information for pretty much everyone but myself. I figured I’d share, though.

I started running in August of 2014 when I began week 1 day 1 of Active’s Couch-to-5k program. I stuck it out, finished it, and had registered for my first 5k. As a treat for beginning a new lifestyle, my sweet and lovely wife bought me some dedicated running shoes that were chosen for me at my local FleetFeet after some close observations of various aspects of my walking style. At about $120 they were a bit of an investment for shoes, considering I have a hard time paying more than $30 or $40 per pair, but from what I gather as far as dedicated running shoes are concerned my pair comes in at the lower end of the price spectrum. The Thanksgiving 5K was my first day wearing them (which wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had since they weren’t yet broken in). Either way – they were my first dedicated pair of actual running shoes and I’m hella proud of them.

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Recently I saw an article saying that runners with dedicated running shoes can expect to get 200-400 miles out of them. I know I’ve only started running in the last year but I was curious just how many miles I actually have on my shoes. So I did some figuring, combing through Couch-to-5k records, Runtastic records and the last 6.33 weeks of 5k-to-10k and came up with the following:

Time Period Total Distance
Couch-to-5k (8/14-10/14) 64.59 Miles
Runtastic Runs (10/14-4/15) 115.04 Miles
5k-to-10k to-date (4/15-present) 58.93 Miles

Total Miles Ran To-Date: 238.56 Miles

Pre-Shoes Mileage 100.3 Miles
Post-Shoes Mileage 137.7 Miles

137.7 miles on my shoes. That’s pretty heavy for me. 238.56 miles in the last year? That’s way heavy for me. Who’d have thought? Me. Running. I still have two months left before I hit the one year anniversary of me starting to run and about five months before my shoes turn a year old, so I’m guessing (hoping) I can get another year out of them. They’ve been pretty swell.

Allison asked me if I had a yearly mileage goal and the short answer is no. I’ve never thought of it, to be honest. After I did some figuring, though, I’ve determined that if I can run about 2.5 miles per run, three days per week, then I shouldn’t have any trouble hitting 300 miles for my first year. A nice, even number. And considering that I ran almost 3 miles just this morning and still have a couple weeks of 5k-to-10k to complete with even longer runs, I’m sure I’ll have very little problem doing it. Attainable goals are the key!

So allow me to officially start the tracking:

Remaining Miles Until 300: 64.44

Bring ’em on!

Running Shoes – Who Am I?

When I rolled out of bed this morning at 7am I was disappointed I didn’t make it to the 7:15am alarm. I could’ve laid in there, scouring Twitter and Instagram, maybe dozed back off with hopes of dreaming of running a 5 star restaurant, coming off stage after a successful encore, maybe even a lovely evening with Lana Del Rey. But I had places to go, people to see. The place: Carl Cowan Park. The people: the wooded path running parallel with the river, bordered by the mountains; a true gentleman of the highest regard. This morning was overcast, the threat of rain was in the air, but the temperature was a mild 40-something and I was excited to go for a quick Sunday run.

A short-ish run today – just over 2 miles before loading up on this week’s groceries. I made my way through the produce, dairy and meat departments being “that guy” wearing my technical long-sleeve (covered with a classic Saturday Night Grindhouse tee!), my gym shorts with moisture-wicking running tights and my classic Adidas ClimaCool running shoes. I switched over to the Adidas some time ago when I first started running on the treadmill at the YMCA. I can’t remember if it was the first, second or even third time that I quit Couch-to-5k but what I can remember is that my New Balance cross trainers just weren’t cutting it. Shin splints, knee pain – the whole nine yards. I decided to quit running but quickly made it back on after a friend suggested I invest in some actual running shoes.

But what difference will new shoes make?

Turns out, a lot! While the new Adidas didn’t do much to make my desire to run any stronger, it certainly all but completely stopped any and all pain that I had been experiencing. Those Adidas have been my running shoes since then, whenever that was – a little over a year or so ago, I suppose.

I hung those babies up while I was busy getting diabetes but busted them back out when I started moving around again. They stuck with me through spin classes, treadmill running, school track running, park track running, wooded trail running and gravel / wood chip running. They’ve been awesome.

But when I got back from the store this morning I noticed my left shoe had a hole on the inside and a hole wearing out in the toe. My right shoe was getting a hole in the inside and outside. It was hard to do, but at that moment I had declared my beloved running shoes legally dead.

But then I did something today that may not seem like a big deal to seasoned runners but it means a lot to me: I went to FleetFeet in Turkey Creek, had my stride and gait studied and was, for the first time, properly fitted for some new running shoes. I learned a lot about how my feet work while I’m walking, learned a lot about the different shoes that were available to folks and in the end settled on some green/black/white Ravenna 5s by Brooks.

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Oh, here he goes, bragging about his expensive new running shoes. Maybe, but what I want to focus on is that I’ve gotten to the point where I had to replace my old shoes. I’ve worn my running shoes out. Run holes in them. I’ve made it to the point where I’ve gone and invested in better running shoes that are going to not only last me a little longer but are also going to support me in ways that even my Adidas couldn’t. Does this make me a real runner? No – I became one of those the day I started running again. What it does make me, though, is a new Justin that has made some serious changes in his life physically and, ultimately, mentally – maybe even spiritually. I’ve gotten to a certain point and I’m confident in going further.

This isn’t merely another start and stop like the many times I’ve done something similar before. No, this is me making my health a priority in my day – every day.

Someone cue the motivational music. Maybe Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” – that isn’t too cliché is it?

So now when I wake up in the morning, I’ll be strapping on some new tools that are going to help me build myself as I continue working toward my November 27 5k date. I’ll move and shake in the office during the day, cook and eat a killer dinner at night and then maybe – just maybe – I’ll get around to that Lana Del Rey dream :-)