Posts Tagged ‘Exercise’

The time over distance, speed/strength over LSD (long slow distance) and intensity of effort over “logging miles” has sunk in deeply now.  In looking at January I could feel a few different ways:

  • Down because my running miles were low (67) and almost 1/2 of a year ago.
  • Excited because I had over 300 aerobic miles and several anaerobic sessions (the aerobic miles inflated due to indoor bike/spinning)
  • Steady because I hit a target time goal of 26-30 hours each month or 50-55 minutes each day.

I’ll chose steady.

Daily mile allows a nice quick summary for both time and distance.  I’m hoping to see some drill down ability for

Time

Time is my primary outcome measure now

Rowing and CrossFit/Fitness categories – but I’m not picky.  It’s nice to have a utility that lets me track it all.

Here’s January’s summary

  • Total miles: 301
  • Cycling (trainer, spin, rinse, repeat) – 222
  • Running – 67
  • Rowing – 10
  • Swimming – 2
  • CrossFit WOD’s – 11

February may have a different mix of aerobic miles.  My plan though is a little more swimming, less spinning, running up to 90-100 miles, same row and 12 CrossFit WOD”s.  The idea is flexibility, intensity and consistency.  I would rather hit  rowing/bike/swim at 100% than just log miles on ice (though sometimes I’ll use the mental discipline and crank some miles in -10 weather).

distance

My primary exercise outcome measure from 1992-2009, no longer the case.

Similarly if my shoulders are screaming after a CrossFit WOD (lets say pull up, thruster or wall ball intensive one)  I’ll rest from swimming and rowing for a day or two.  I’ll bike or run instead.  Over the last year I’ve found rowing to be the closest substitute for running in terms of distance and effort.

Quick question for you all, how do you gauge your exercise outcome and success?

Pull-Ups – Extreme Fun

Posted: January 12, 2011 by Dave Kohrell in Crossfit, Strength Training
Tags: , ,

These two guys demonstrate how to have fun with pull-ups.  Wow!  Some slick and impressive moves!  Also reinforces the connection:

Play + Exercise = Life Long Health.

Summary

If you’re an aerobic athlete (runner, swimmer, cyclist, triathlete) who’s reached a plateau, has found more miles does not translate into success and wonders if strength training might help – please read. I’m not offering a quick fix, food gimmick, shake, or simple  trick.  Over the last year I’ve ventured into a different way of getting to a goal – it may not be for everyone.  But I have found an incredible payoff from it and embrace it.

It’s a few simple things

  • Incorporate the right kind of strength training (read more in this blog) 2-4 times a week
  • Cut back your miles for miles sake
  • For your existing mileage look toward performance, speed and stamina
  • Chart your progress over 12 months and see what happens!

Detail

Proof.  Data.  Trends.  Statistics and data gathering can mislead and interpretation of results requires wisdom as well as raw analytic power.  That clarification and limitation declared, I do think there’s enough evidence that a combination of Strength Training + Aerobic Training is far more powerful than Aerobic Training alone.  Modify that aerobic training to focus on stamina, speed, flexibility and burst, and alongside the strength training, your results will be strong.  Hone that further with improved nutrition and those strong results become powerful.

Two years ago, during one of my worst marathon experiences (4:52 at Twin Cities), I thought about punting it.  Pack it up.  Give it up. It was miserable weather day, but I had endured worse.  It seemed though a goal of getting to Boston (or 1 hour and 22 minutes faster) was an impossible hope. Rather than give up I decided to push it harder.  So in 2009 I ramped up the training.  I knocked off a Pikes Peak Double and some “ok” marathon times (4:30 range).  The price of that ramp up was high: a strained, torn sartorius tendon.  By October of 2009 I was hobbling at the start of the Des Moines Marathon.  Sure, lots of miles in the bank, toward 1,500 running for 2009.  But hobbling still.

That began my entry into cross training – had done that in triathlon terms for several years.  But serious cross training, or more properly strength training, nope, nada, avoided it.

P90x was Stage 1.  It was perfect for torturing my aerobically fed and strength dead body into shape.  All the Tony Horton’isms, pull ups, sneaky lunges, gut cracking ab routines, yoga twisting/humbling sessions and push ups a guy could hope for.  I saw some nice results.

A chance encounter with a surly but dedicated athletic trainer, Mike Livergood, at Bellevue University in January of 2010 led to Stage 2 – CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance.  Similar in many regards, the difference between the Beachbody DVD fed programming and organic CrossFit approach was significant. CrossFit is a better fit for my performance goals.  Step by step, coaching from a great box and set of trainers at the Lincoln CrossFit box (Cole, Jeremy, Kelsey Phil and Tanya) and staying with it on my own have led to the best fitness base in my adult life.

Stage 3 involved extending a wonderful speed group of like minded, er like age, friends to a group of Freaky Fast Runners I had no business trying to chase.  From June until present, this group has been an evolving network of fast people who have fun.  Not quite the same every time, but always putting the hammer down for speed, hills or a Saturday run.  Love you all!

So what does this mean?  Big deal?

I’ve been blessed to achieve 15 year PR’s in 5 mile, 15k and marathon races.  This has been my best year of racing since 1996-98.  There’s been some learning curve and minor injuries: a hamstring pull in late May from performing too many deadlifts a day before a 5 mile race and calf pull in July as my body adapted to move towards a “pose” esque running style, lots of hills, etc. From beginning to end – I’ve been pleasantly surprised or more apropos, shocked!

While a 3 hour 30 minute marathon for Boston or a Full Ironman triathlon are not a sure thing, I can at least place those in the realm of possibility.  I’ve been able to shave 24 minutes off my aerobicly training injected marathons of 2009, and now have only 37 minutes to go.  The table below lists the results for marathons.

I’ve also cut 15lbs, from 176 to 161, increased muscle strength and burst across a variety of tests.  My “vitamin I” (ibuprofen) fix has been cut dramatically (not pounding the body and actually strengthening muscles, ligaments and connective tissue).  I am to do things I didn’t image possible – a kipping pull up, jumping up with confidence to a 8′ pull up bar height, over 250lbs for deadlift, 40 unbroken knees to elbows. This still a ton of other goals to still drive me; for example, why not try to attain the Navy Seal standard for 40-50 age males?

More distinctions:

  • In 2010 I will run 66% the amount of running miles compared to 2009  (1,000 to 1,500) with the same biking and swim miles.  Total aerobic miles will nudge 1,550 to 1,600 versus 2,000 in 2010.  New aerobic miles have been introduced through rowing.
  • In 2010 that 66% running miles will have been done at much more efficient and faster pace.
  • In 2010 my anaerobic training (CrossFit) will reach 140 Workouts Of the Day (WODs), not including the aerobic oriented WOD’s.  Overall training hours will be the same as 2009.
Marathon State Date Place Overall Place % Pace Time PR +/-
Route 66 Marathon – Tulsa
Marathon
OK 11/21/2010 422/1648 25.61% 9:27 4:07:55 P.R.
Lincoln National Guard Marathon & Half-marathon 2010 – Run -Marathon NE 5/2/2010 667/1154 57.80% 9:51 4:18:29 +10:34
Brookings Marathon – RUN – Marathon SD 5/15/2010 119/203 58.62% 10:02 4:22:57 +15:02
Lincoln Marathon – Run :: 26.2Mi NE 5/4/2003 523/785 66.62% 10:02 4:23:14 +15:19
Siouxland Marathon And Half Marathon – Marathon SD 10/20/2007 107/166 64.46% 10:07 4:25:11 +17:16
Scheels And Adidas Fargo Marathon, Half-Marathon & 5K – Marathon ND 5/19/2007 819/1191 74.81% 10:18 4:30:02 +22:07
IMT Des Moines Marathon 2009 – Run*Marathon IA 10/18/2009 922/1374 67.10% 10:21 4:31:27 +23:32
Lincoln National Guard Marathon & Half Marathon 2009 – Run -Marathon NE 5/3/2009 768/1142 67.25% 10:26 4:33:23 +25:28
Go! St. Louis Marathon & Half Marathon 2008 – Run-Marathon MO 4/6/2008 1106/1617 68.40% 10:36 4:38:00 +30:05
Lincoln Marathon 2006 – RUN – MARATHON NE 5/7/2006 775/959 80.81% 10:44 4:41:28 +33:33
11Th Annual Gobbler Grind Marathon,Half-Marathon, 5K & Marathon Relay – 26.2Mi Run KS 11/18/2007 175/244 71.72% 10:54 4:45:46 +37:51
Oklahoma Marathon 2003 OK 11/22/2003 205/308 66.56% 10:57 4:47:15 +39:20
Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon & Medtronic Tc 10 Mile 2008 – Run-Marathon MN 10/5/2008 6172/7967 77.47% 11:04 4:50:09 +42:14
Pensacola Marathon And Half Marathon – Marathon FL 2/17/2008 175/263 66.54% 11:09 4:52:24 +44:29
Community First Fox Cities Marathon WI 9/24/2006 510/706 70.96% 11:13 4:54:10 +46:15
Pikes Peak Marathon 2007 CO 8/19/2007 551/773 71.28% 18:28 8:04:03 +3:56:08
Pikes Peak Ascent 2009 – Marathon CO 8/15/2009 668/711 78.48% 21:31 9:23:49 +5:15:54
Lincoln National Guard Marathon – 1995 NE 5/1/1995 NA NA 9:38 4:12:22 +4:27
Lincoln National Guard Marathon – 1994 NE 5/1/1994 NA NA 9:03 3:57:11 -10:44
Lincoln National Guard Marathon – 1996 NE 5/1/1996 NA NA 8:59 3:55:36 -12:19
Weekly stats – total miles 30.2,  total time –  6 hours, 6 minutes
* Running – 21 miles
* Walking – .6 miles
* Bike/spinning – 8 miles
* Swimming – .57 miles
* Rowing – 0 miles
* Crossfit – WOD (workout of the day) – 4

13 weeks of Crossfit infused training completed.  It followed 13 weeks of P90x.  So here I am, pondering in a slightly hopeful yet nervous state the impact of 26 weeks of cross training.  The test to come is Sunday at the Lincoln Marathon (May 2, 2010).  So far on the 10k’s I’ve pushed the window of time back 12 years to 1998 for 47-48 minute times.  I feel stronger, more functionally fit and healthier than any marathon since 1996 (PR of 3.55).

Yet a little voice says “hey, you only had 400 running miles since January – a wee bit under what you should have and 100+ less than last year”.   I’m confident, yet not overly so.  In the place of the 100+ running miles, over 45  Crossfit WOD’s have stacked up along side 150 miles of cycling and 8 miles of swimming.  I need to confirm data but overall exercise time is higher.

So I’ll see the results in 6 days 😉

Sunday, Day 85.  A little two’fer.

  • Nice 4 mile plus recovery bike ride with Heidi – only about 9 mph and let her two me a bit.  But for a fit yellow lab, going fast is perfect!
  • Crossfit Endurance  WOD.  2 x 12 front squats (used 30lb dumbbells for 60’lb load) then 3 x (10 left & right dumbbell snatch – 30lb, 10 clap push ups and 10 knees to elbows).

Monday, Day 86 – Two’fer Monday.

  • Who let the dogs out?  I did – they needed some fast work (5k) on a cooler day.  8.58 pace.
  • Crossfit WOD  – 3 rounds of 100 feet walking lunge, 50 squats and 25 (back ext, scissors and frog – mod on that). 12.11 time. Right after run.

Tuesday, Day 87 –  Two’fer Track Tuesday.  8.5 miles.

  • Yasso 800’s – a quiz before the Lincoln Marathon Exam on May 2.  3.35 average for 10 x 800 meters w/ 200 recovery (2 min). 3.33, 3.29, 3.35, 3.31, 3.23, 3.41, 3.31, 3.38, 3.39, 3.36.  The same quiz in January  and late February at the indoor track at UNL yielded 4.01 and 3.50 average 800’s.  The premise of the Yasso 800’s (named for Runner’s World Bart Yasso) is that 10 800’s with limited recovery (200 meters in 2 minutes) yields a good predictor to marathon time.  Some will add 10 minutes.  So my Lincoln Marathon target is 3.35 + 10 minutes or 3.45 hours.
  • Tuesday night track group.  Not much with this group but did munch on a Wendy’s frosty – ah the joy of protein ;-).  Ran about 600 meters with them, 200 meters during Annaliese’s soccer practice and walked .6 miles barefoot with Heidi to cap a 8.5 mile day.

Wednesday, Day 88–  Two’fer Wednesday that proved much  tougher thought it would.  Swimming – 1,000 yards.  Back to back tough days will call for a little easing tomorrow and Friday.

  • Crossfit Endurance WOD – Part 1: Deadlift. 155 x 5, 175 x 5, 195 x 3, 205 x 3; Split jerk 95 x 3, 105 x 3, 115 x 1, 115 x 1, 125 x 1 fail/ 115 x ; 10 minute rest then Part 2: 5 rounds of ( hold breath 30 seconds, 15 pull ups, 15 push ups – to deck, 15 situps, 15 air squats). Subtracting 30 seconds of breath hold would net 53.41 in time.
  • With 3 hours of rest took up the CF Endurance aerobic challenge.  swimming 1,000 total – 50 yd warm-up, then 3 x(50, 100, 200). 51, 1.56, 4.13, 56, 2.02, 4.24, 54, 2.04, 4.19. Rest approximate to interval time (shorten rest due to time constrain). Felt a bit tired 3.5 hours after the anaerobic/strength part of the day, that’s where streamlining comes in helpful 😉

Thursday, Day 89 –  Easy 2 mile bike ride to get Heidi out.  Burned out a bit after Tuesday/Wednesday.

Friday, Day 90 –  On Day 90, I paid a tribute to Tony from P90x with Ab Riper X and staying true to Crossfit 50 chest to deck pushups without break.  Was a good confirmation that my abs had not suffered through the situp and GHD centric Crossfit approach.  Could keep up the “big dogs” of Tony’s group.  Still a good workout, pre 10 race tomorrow.

Saturday, Day 91 – A final quiz.  Eagle 10k. Nice course starting 1st mile in town then Mopac trail. Kept steady 7.45 splits with pick up on final mile.  7.43,7.47, 7.36, 7.56, 7.54, 7.32, 57. 23.58 1st 5k, 23.59 2nd 5k

Next week taper before Lincoln Marathon!  Then the final exam for Spring.

Weekly stats – total miles 35+,  total time – 7 hours
* Running – 22.1 miles
* Walking – 0 miles
* Bike/spinning – 10.48 miles
* Swimming – 1.02 miles
* Rowing – 2.33 miles
* Crossfit – WOD (workout of the day) – 5.
A little bit of everything this week added up to a shade over 35 miles and 7 hours of training time.  As I’ve incorporated 1) varied triathlon training and 2) CrossFit — time and effort has replaced sheer miles.  Gone is the ubiquitous 40 miles a week running goal.  In its place is 7 total hours across all workout types.  If I voted American Idol style for the strongest workout type – the winner is the Crossfit WOD this week.  Got 5 of those in.
The pay off is in making the day’s schedule flexible – for example on Saturday was planning on another 16-17 mile moderate paced run (no more LSD’s- long slow distance – for me)!  Opportunity arose to split that into a run then bike thanks to workout friend Tony.  So the morning turned into 7 miles of a good paced run (8:55 pace) and 10.5 mile bike with Tony and Chinda.  A little over 2 hours for total.  An additional benefit is feeling fresh all day to help coach and cheer on the kids in their soccer games.   A downside of the long run day is the slow motion feeling, desire for an extra nap and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).  I have not really felt that in 2010.   So something must be working, right?

Sunday, Day 71 –  4.1 mile recovery run with dogs (10 minute + pace) then Crossfit WOD #1 of the week – Crossfit WOD Dumbbell Clean and Jerk / Pull Up reverse rotation for time: 18:28. 30lbs (60 total).  The reverse rotation means 10 reps with one exercise and 1 for the other than down/up the chain — see below:

10 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks 1 pull-up 9 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks 2 pull-ups 8 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks 3 pull-ups 7 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks 4 pull-ups 6 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks 5 pull-ups 5 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks 6 pull-ups 4 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks 7 pull-ups 3 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks 8 pull-ups 2 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks 9 pull-ups 1 Dumbbell Clean & Jerks 10 pull-ups

Monday, Day 72 – Crossfit Endurance WOD.  Jump Rope 6 mins (201 total), mixing in variables of standard, single foot, running. 3 wall walks, 2 bridges (30 sec) 5 Rounds, Not For Time. Body Weight Bench Press Max Reps (145lbs ok 25lbs below but getting better) 7, 6, 6, 5, 4 – 28 total.  Inverted Row Max Reps, 10 each rd – 50 total.

Memorial Stadium

Lincoln Marathon Finish

An added bonus – today I received confirmation that the Lincoln Marathon on May 2nd will indeed finish in one of the most revered places in all of college football – Memorial Stadium, home of the Huskers!

Tuesday, Day 73 –  Two’fer Tuesday workout day!

  • Crossfit Lincoln orientation number 3 with Tyler.  Warm up with rowing and stretching.  Push press, shoulder press and push jerk. Situps, rowing and pushups for warm. Then 4 rounds in 7 min of 7 push press- 45lb, 7 box jump and 7 pull up – band and kipping.
  • Found the “Big Dog’s of Lincoln Track Group” today.  Jeremy (CF trainer at CF Lincoln) tipped me off to the group that meets at 11:45am every Tuesday.  Unable to make our Tuesday night workout due to what turned out to be a fantastic family night at the Harlem Globetrotters, I gladly jumped in.  Now I need to clarify I did my workout while they were doing theirs.  This week I’ll try the “big dog” work and our Tuesday night track group.  My workout – 8 Repeat 600’s w 200 recovery (3 min AV rec) 2.21, 2.33, 2.29, 2.28, 2.27, 2.35, 2.44, 2.47). 20 push ups, 20 leg kicks, 10 scissor mixed in. Elite group there. 1200 warm and 400 cool.

Wednesday, Day 74–  The pool and sore muscles beckon me!  Crossfit endurance workout 5 x. Chose swimming. 200’s. 4.13, 4.10. 4.09, 4.08, 4.06 splits

Thursday, Day 75–  Two’fer Thursday workout!

  • First, the final Crossfit Lincoln Orientation.  Almost 3k total of rowing (including warm up).  Jeremy led the final orientation!  Focus was on rowing, kipping pull ups, wall balls, squats, burpees. Then a 10 minute ARMAP (as many reps as possible) for 250 m rowing, 15 wall balls (10lb), 10 pull ups (needed a band). Got 3 rounds plus rowing & 2 extra wall ball.  Cranked this out with National Guard& UNL student Katie who smoked me on the pull ups (well the whole thing)!
  • Second, 6 miles of running from the CF Lincoln WOD (5k run plus a mile) and CF Endurance website.  It was perfect running weather over lunch! 18.11 1st 2 miles 17.37 2nd 2 miles (36 total).  Ran with my dogs – starting to warm up so need to trim their miles down.  Next!  2 mile run 1 up hill, 1 down, split in quarters (4 repeats) with 14lb weighted vest.  I didn’t have a full mile hill nearby so ran the quarter up my street. 7% grade. 14lb vest. Let the dogs soak in water and cranked alone over lunch. Good 6 miles overall. 24 minutes total.

Friday, Day 76 –  Rolled with the CF Endurance workout – 500 yard swimming time trail.  Just nudged under 10 minutes in 9:58!  Great workout – done in 12 minutes total (100 yard cool down).

Saturday, Day 77 – Three’fer Saturday – Run, Bike and a little CF Endurance Strength Recovery :-).

  • Early morning began with a nice easy 1.25 to warm up, 10.20, said hello to YMCA running gang, then 6 at 8.52 pace. With my constant running buddy, dog Heidi.  She enjoyed a 1 mile sprint along the Dietrich trail, looping back about every 200 yards to make sure I was ok.
  • Then the bike.   Met Tony and Chinda on Mopac for a trail ride. Forgot what’s warm for a run gets chilly on bike.  Brrrr.  Still a nice ride even with frosty toes and fingers.  Was also great to see Laura (Tony’s wife) out on the trail running again!  She had a nasty IT band bout from late March to early April.  Just a bit under an hour for this ride.
  • After the bike scooted out to Joshua’s soccer game for the Ice, which they won 5 to 0. I get to be the assistant coach – important and fun role.  In the afternoon I debated whether to call it a day.  Somehow the goal of 5 Crossfit WOD’s was wrapped in my mind – so hit a final strength session.  3 rds of 8 bench (135), 15 ghd back extensions, 15 25lb dumbbell swings, 15 elevated ab chair.

A good week overall.  With 3 weeks to the Lincoln Marathon, I’ll begin tapering and easing up.  Next up 10k race on Saturday, another one the week following and some quality mix up in between.

Chris Crowley in “Younger Next Year” (page 135) shared an important concept in keeping your exercise fires burning – a “kedging”.  A kedging is borrowed from old school sailing (not the sport but when sails and ships were the primary transport).  The purpose was to get a ship forward when there was a lack of wind or threat of storm.  The practice was to send sailors out a 1/2 mile or so in a long boat with a large rope, secure with anchor, return to the mother ship and the whole crew “pulls” with all their might.   They do so until they reach the anchor and, if need be, start it all over again.

For exercise this is critical to keep and heighten motivation.  Each person’s kedging is different – for some their first 5k or 500 yard swim is it.  For others it may be a multi day bike ride (100 – 400  miles) or ultra-marathon. The idea  is there’s something pressing you beyond what you’ve done before and you’re doing it with a group of other athletes.

I thrive when there are a few kedgings each year and have increasingly found myself drawn to events of different types (longer triathlons, open water swimming and nasty marathons).   It’s far too easy to slip into a sedentary state without a goal in front of me.

The Pikes Peak Double presented the perfect kedging opportunity to test myself.  I was blessed to complete the 2005 and 06 Ascents and notched my first PP marathon in 2007.  Last year I was turned back before the A-Frame due to ice (grrrr).  Feeling frustrated and wanting to hedge my bets, I signed up for the Double: half marathon Ascent on Aug 15 (Saturday) and full marathon on August 16 (Sunday).  Net – 40 miles / 14 hours of absolute fun and some pain in 2 days.  I’ve scribed some great information from the Pikes Peak website below.

Before that are my own reactions and notes I shared with friends a couple of days after (Tuesday, August 17th).

Feel good, very good on Ascent.  Jogged the first 1.32 with a short, light stride.  Walked to Double W then steady jogging to Barr Camp.  Walked with some jogging to A-Frame.   I crossed into Barr Camp at 2:07 and A Frame at 3:14 – was going for 4:15 if conditions allowed.  Scaled back at Cirque (1.25 to go) since hit that at 4:04 so final 1.25 was 39 minutes.  I was feeling lively enough to let out a happy shout in one of the photo opportunity just about one mile from the finish.  The weather was perfect and no need for additional cold weather gear gathered about me.

Ascent - closing in on the finish

Ascent - closing in on the finish

The Marathon was a whole new experience. The marathon Ascent time was 5:43 or 1 full hour slower.  Going down was 3:40.

I didn’t feel like the day after a marathon at start, but could tell legs weren’t fully there (calves were very tight).   I had a good cold soak and massage on Saturday.  Plenty of ibuprofen as well.  Sunday morning was a wee bit nervous.  Plus my new Garmin froze and left my back up Timex in the hotel.  Calves continued to be a little sore going up so walked the entire way up.  Split was an hour slower but reinforced you can walk up the entire way – much more traffic though than the 2007 marathon (8:04 then with 4:49 Ascent up).  Felt more altitude in terms of swollen hands, lips, etc).  Good news going up is that my quads were feeling much better than usual.

I had been practicing some of Matt Carpenter’s tips on up/down hill (finding what good hills are available at 1,300′ in Lincoln Nebraska).  Going down did a bit more running than in 2007 on the Summit to A-Frame, slowed from A-Frame to Barr Camp and then cranked in much faster (approx based on cell phone) from mile 21 in.  Much more confident on foot stride and not hitting anything (leaning in going down and straight posture going up).  My last 5 miles were by far my best of the 2 days – was great to apply Matt’s techniques for running the tangent and correct, slightly bent posture going down (versus very straight posture up).  Had enough to race the final strong – 7:45 mile and give a nice strange looking finish photo.

Pikes Peak Marathon and Double Finish 2009

Pikes Peak Marathon and Double Finish 2009

Definitely felt the adrenaline rush Sunday night – didn’t sleep a whole lot.  But made up for it the two nights after.  Did some walking on Monday and Tuesday after the Pikes Peak Double – lots of hobbling.

So next year goal is Ascent only, under 4:15; then maybe another double in 2011 for 13 hours….  Trying to ramp up to 1/2 Iron Man Tri as well and chase the all elusive Boston Qualifier for 45-50 beginning in January…

I’ll be in Matt Carpenter’s 5 year age group next year..  Ah, he has NO worries from me.  He’s very cool and like 07 congratulates each runner as he passes you on his return trip (which was either Barr Camp or the Cog Railway in my case :-)).

Whatever your current fitness level, select a “kedging” that truly challenges you – whether your first 5k, group bike tour, ski  trip or ultimate freesbie tournament.  The adrenaline of the day will pay dividends to you for months!

Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon [Home]

A Journey to the Top and Perhaps Back
The Pikes Peak Ascent® and Pikes Peak Marathon® will redefine what you call running. Sure, they start out like a lot of races on Any Street, USA. But your first left turn will have you turning in the direction of up! During the next 10 miles, as you gain almost 6,000 vertical feet, your legs, lungs, heart and mind will be worn to a ragged nothingness. But it won’t be until your last three miles, with still over 2,000′ of vertical to go, that you will realize where the Marathon got its moniker—America’s Ultimate Challenge.

There’s a reason trees don’t bother growing above 12,000′ on Pikes Peak. They can’t! Makes one wonder if trees are smarter than runners. Above treeline most runners take 30 minutes or more, some much more, just to cover a mile. What little air remains can’t satisfy the endless stream of zombies hoping only to survive their next step—a death march right out of a scene from Dawn of the Dead. Adding insult to injury, it might start to snow!

Then, if you are on the deluxe tour, you run back down for the second half of the Marathon. Along the way protruding rocks are waiting to send you crashing to the ground mangling flesh and only temporarily masking the pain of blood filled blisters. Meanwhile, the temperature has often risen by more than 30 degrees since the race start. After all, it’s always best to cook raw meat.

Join us in 2009 for the 54th running of America’s Ultimate Challenge®.

There’s a reason trees don’t bother
growing above 12,000′ on Pikes Peak.
They can’t!

Least I seem like a simple pied piper for exercise, oblivious to any potential harm or risk, this blog should help lessen that perception.  Exercise has wonderful therapeutic qualities to help manage pain and increase your brain functioning.  It’s not without a price.  That price comes in the form of pain – some of it is soreness as shared previously.  There is pain that can not be ignored,  It varies by type of exercise.  I’ll share a bit of the “soreness” versus “pain to get checked”.

Running – the #1 culprit in aerobic exercise pain. So simple to do.  So simple to get injured from.  The amount of force that hits the ground with each little pitter patter is profound.  Each foot strike can be a bit like a right jab from Mike Tyson in his prime x 20.  Not pretty.  There are some technique flaws that contribute to potential running injury – the top is, ironically, the way modern running shoes force the foot into a heel to toe strike.   While good for walking it’s biomechanically inefficient and awkward for running.  Related to this is the more spent on a running shoe the lesser the benefit – if the human foot is coddled it becomes miserable and aggressively shares its misery with the knee and lower back.  See the article below from Wired for more.

Pain not to ignore in running – chronic pain indicator:

  • Plantar Fasciitis – more than just a mild sore arch, plantar fasciitis is a slight to major tear or fracture of the tendon and connecting tissue in your foot.  It’s truly a runner’s plague.  Rehab can take months.  Best prevention is to ensure a strong arch (alas where most running shoes coddle too much and weaken) and cold soaks of the foot before the pain starts. I had a nasty bout of this in 1996 and went from a semi-curved last shoe to a straight shoe (new balance, mizuno and saucony are good brands for the straight last).  It did linger for five months.
  • Knee – all sorts of knee pain can be aggravated by running.  Some is transitional soreness.  Others in terms of ligament or knee cap stress should not be ignored.  Efficient running can help avoid this.  Another preventive measure is avoiding 100% of running on concrete surfaces (mix in trails, asphalt and cinder).  You can run on weak knees and see improvement in those knees.  A good friend of mine, after reconstructive knee surgery in one knee and a cocktail of treatments in another, has been able to regroup and resume his cycling / running combination as well as his pursuit of a marathon in every state.

Pain that is typically transitional soreness

  • Shin splints.  When I first began running, post high school running in 1992, one of my pain companions was a good old shin splint.  Shin splints occur as muscle and joints are stressed and strengthen along the calf / shin.  These typically grow and heal as consistent running occurs.  A simple way to strengthen your shin is to take can old paint bucket (empty), place a small brick in it (about 2-3 lbs max) and then place over your foot.  Lift your foot up and ease down slowly 12 to 15 times.
  • Sprained ankles, oh my.  Sprains travel in pairs.  Sprain one ankle and another one follows.  There are some good stretching exercises – a primary one is to simply flex your ankle in every possible direction.  Strength training for ankles (and other aliments) is important as well.  Check this article out for some good tips http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/tendon-strength-training-7
  • Sore shoulders, quads, buns, etc.  Soreness in those areas is just that – soreness.  Typically chronic pain will not ensue.  It’s just your body’s way of saying “hey, was pretty comfy all of these years, why are you changing now?”

To Run Better, Start by Ditching Your Nikes | Wired Science | Wired.com

Strong evidence shows that thickly cushioned running shoes have done nothing to prevent injury in the 30-odd years since Nike founder Bill Bowerman invented them, researchers say. Some smaller, earlier studies suggest that running in shoes may increase the risk of ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis and other injuries. Runners who wear cheap running shoes have fewer injuries than those wearing expensive trainers. Meanwhile, injuries plague 20 to 80 percent of regular runners every year.But the jury’s still out on whether going barefoot is actually an improvement.

“The running shoe right now is doing nothing for preventing injuries,” said Reed Ferber, director of the Running Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Kinesiology. But, he adds, going barefoot has downsides too, and the research so far is still inconclusive. “It’s a total tradeoff.”

Chris McDougall, author of the recent book Born to Run, goes further. “If this were a drug, it would be yanked off the market,” he said of running shoes. McDougall says his own persistent problems with plantar fasciitis cleared up after he started running in Vibram FiveFingers.

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest I’m probably a 5 on institutional running pain knowledge.  For two other aerobic exercises, swimming and cycling, my pain savvy is lower (4 for swimming and 2 for cycling).  I do want to share some about each in terms of chronic pain and touch on strength training.  Avid cyclists please add your insights as well.

First and foremost cycling and swimming are considering healing aerobic exercises – they do not impose nearly the force on the body that running does.  There are some longer term, chronic pain issues.

Cycling – there should be minimal chronic pain, if done with proper technique (not grinding the pedal with your legs but smooth stroke cadence) and proper equipment (clip shoes, right bike for right road, right size and seat placement).  The potential for a crash at high speeds does ratchet up the pain potential (remember your helmet).  Beyond that, knees can be stressed by cycling – though as shared this is due more to improper technique or gear.  Buns also take awhile to adapt.

Swimming – even more than cycling, swimming is considered a healing exercise.  Your body endures no impact in terms of gravity.  You’re buoyant in water.  You learn to move well.  There are some chronic pain problems associated with adapting to water (swimmers eye or ear). The butterfly is the number stroke culprit in terms of strained shoulders.  Then again butterfly is not a staple for endurance swimming. Its a great change up stroke for simulating anaerobic debt for workouts.  I have yet to see someone crank out a 1,500 meter fly in the open water and doubt I will.  Also if piling up swim laps is on your agenda, give your body some rest (24 hours) between swimming and strength training – some strength training during a swim is a great idea!

Strength Training – truly no pain, no gain is NOT the right mindset.  The benefit of strength training is for longer term muscle and joint strength.  Keep weights light and reps high as your body adapts.  There’s no benefit from trying to slam down 8, 45lb plates on your squats or 4 plates on your bench to compete in the weight room.  Most serious weight lifters are very helpful in terms of explaining proper technique and weight.  I’m a bit beyond caring whether someone uses my bench press weight for their curls – the person that does can be a great resource.  Absent a physical trainer (recommend you do find a good physical trainer) you can pick up some solid advice.

An overall pain prevention technique is to blend and weave in multiple exercises – tie in the ones listed here with Aerobics, Spinning, Indoor machines (elliptical, stair step), Martial Arts, etc.  Ongoing repetition limits improvement and reinforces the “pain side” of the exercise force.

Next up on the Exercise – Brain Connection is Goal Setting.  Whether at our TAPU blog or via Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn – please do share your experience and opinion with exercise and chronic pain.

Exercise and pain – two blogs have been devoted to it and a third one is presented here.  Maybe there’s a connection?  Even back to our brains. This blog addresses chronic pain from three prevalent health issues and the benefit of exercise to each.  The next blog will address managing long term pain from exercise – pain not to be ignored whether associated with knees, plantar fasciitis or achilles tendons.  Call this a sort of ying and yang of exercise.  This blog addresses the ying once again.

Benefits of Exercise – Take 2 – Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Back Pain.

I’ve shared that exercise provides benefit to a person of any age.  Can it help with significant pain diseases / issues?  The research indicates yes!  As with any exercise consult your physician first.  Also, as with the entire series on the Exercise – Brain connection, exercise is not offered a singular, exclusive solution that’s accomplished in four simple steps – it’s meant for a life long commitment that weaves and supports other treatments and activities. This ain’t an  informercial.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – I’ve seen the debilitating effects of progressive MS on my oldest brother.  Formal confirmation and diagnosis was provided in 2004/05.  His is not a relapse form of MS – it’s a downhill slope.  He is still active, aided by an iron will,  tremendous family support, treatment and moderate exercise.  While a marathon is not in the cards, he can be there at then end laughing at me trying to hold off the winner of the 80 and older age group.  That’s what brotherly love is all about.  Swimming and moderate strength training are his two primary forms of exercise.   The following video from WebMD provides some insights on how exercise can help manage the symptoms from MS

http://www.webmd.com/video/multiple-sclerosis-and-exercise

Fibromyalgia

A disease which has exercise intolerance as a root symptom might seem an unlikely candidate to benefit from exercise.  Research does indicate that, in moderate and careful doses, exercise can provide invaluable support.  The following is from the Arthritis Foundation, Research Update, March / April 2008.

Exercise and Education for Fibromyalgia

The authors conclude in their article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, “The present study suggests that progressive walking, simple strength training movements, and stretching activities are effective at improving physical, emotional and social function, key symptoms, and self-efficacy in women with fibromyalgia who are being actively treated with medication. Furthermore, the benefits of exercise are enhanced when combined with targeted self-management education.”

Back Pain

Back Pain is a common discomfort for most everyone at some point in their life.   For a some though chronic back pain is a life long issues.  President Kennedy’s struggle with back pain following his WW2 service is widely documented.  What is not as widely known is that the best relief was not provided by six daily pain treatment shots, rather it was after that approach was abandoned for moderate, back strengthening exercises.  The National Pain Foundation chronicles the work of Dr. Kraus in the following article:

Muscles, Back Pain and Exercise

Dr. Kraus, who originally was an orthopedic surgeon, actually established the first multidisciplinary pain center in the world in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which very few people know. It was at the Columbia University School of Medicine in the department of orthopedic surgery. There were psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, physical therapists, physiatrists, and orthopedic surgeons researching at back pain and trying to understand it.
They found that about 80% of patients presented with nothing that could be demonstrated on an x-ray or physical exam that suggested there was something significant pathologically, so they tried to understand it from the perspective of conditioning since that was Dr. Kraus background. They studied about 3,700 patients for 4.5 years and created a test – called the Kraus-Weber test – and an exercise program to go along with the test to deal with what they thought were the types of functional muscle pain that exist

The following article from WebMD helps and encourages anyone beginning an exercise program or anyone who’s been in their program for years.  Sore muscles will occur – call it the acute pain of overcoming inertia.  I was thinking of this very topic during a 20 mile run today – which was relatively pain free.  There will be some pain from exercise.  That’s OK.  The key is to determine what is normal soreness and what may be an indicator of a more serious problem.  This blog concerns normal soreness.

Two Types of Soreness that are good

acute, immediate– this is the type of soreness that occurs during or very soon after you’re done exercising.  It can happen to newbees or experts.  There’s also some characteristics of soreness from different activities – here are some that bubble up high on the list

Running:  shins, quads, hamstrings, knee, feet and shoulders, oh my!  Each of those will be pushed.  Depending on current fitness level and body composition, your soreness in any one area will vary.  Here is one big hint. Learn to run on the balls of your feet (I’ll have an entire blog on fore foot running).  For now let me just say that our bodies are meant to run toe to toe or on the ball of the foot (walking is heel to toe).  The downside is most running shoes cater to heel to toe strike.  Test this yourself – run barefoot for 200 meters and see how your foot falls.  Its natural fall is on the balls of your foot right before your toes.

Cycling:  buns, quads, shoulders and back.  Lots of bending over on top of a bike.  Proper technique (smooth and fast rotation instead of straining or chopping your stroke) helps.  For the buns aka “saddle sore” a cycling or triathlon pair of shorts  is well worth the investment.

Swimming: a wonderful healing aerobic activity swimming can strain the shoulders and back depending on type of stroke and, more importantly, your efficiency with each stroke.  Other irritations include swimmer’s ear and even the dreaded google imprint on the nose.  Compared to running there’s far less soreness involved. 

Lifting: more related to DOMS and discussed below, the soreness from weight lifting is typically 30-48 hours after.  This is the old “bench pressed 205 yesterday and can’t lift my toothbrush today” syndrome.

Sore Muscles? Don’t Stop Exercising  http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/sore-muscles-keep-exercising?page=3
After participating in some kind of strenuous physical activity, particularly something new to your body, it is common to experience muscle soreness, say experts.

“Muscles go through quite a bit of physical stress when we exercise,” says Rick Sharp, professor of exercise physiology at Iowa State University in Ames.
 
 “Mild soreness just a natural outcome of any kind of physical activity,” he says. “And they’re most prevalent in beginning stages of a program.
 
delayed onset soreness (DOMS)   Ah, the joy of the two days after a marathon, triathlon or 100 mile bike ride.  Walking around with a little hitch in your giddy up.  I’ve included a link to a fun video about the day after a marathon.  This type of soreness will lessen.  It’s a profound how our bodies are wired to deal with pain.  It’s associated with the muscle tear down and recovery cycle.  Read more about why DOMS happens in the WebMD article referenced above. 

To overcome DOMS the most powerful and frequently overlooked treatment is the cold soak – within 15 minutes of ending your session.  This runs counter intuitive to what our body tells us (a message of let’s soak in a hot tub and grab a massage is much more inviting than lets sit in a tub for 20 minutes with ice and shiver like a Titanic survivor).  But it’s the best way to reduce inflammation and quasi secret method for Olympic and professional athletes to treat DOMS.  Another good method is to stretch, warm up, cool down and stretch – call this more of a preventive technique.

In the next Exercise – Brain blog we will share a bit about what to do about chronic soreness or pain that indicates a deeper issue.  Additionally some ideas on how to manage that pain will be provided.

 

The day after the Marathon

“Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a common result of physical activity that stresses the muscle tissue beyond what it is accustomed to,” says David O. Draper, professor and director of the graduate program in sports medicine/athletic training at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.To be more specific, says Draper, who’s also a member of the heat-responsive pain council, delayed onset muscle soreness occurs when the muscle is performing an eccentric or a lengthening contraction. Examples of this would be running downhill or the lengthening portion of a bicep curl.

So you thought exercise meant pain? 

While there’s some pain that results from exercise (either during or after – called delayed onset) the pain relief benefit from exercise greatly outweighs the pain creation.  This article provides a nice summary of what’s involved and I’ll shout and echo the sentiment that “Moving is what the human body is designed to do”…

http://www.nationalpainfoundation.org/articles/11/reaping-the-benefits-of-exercise?PHPSESSID=0e91394ee648b212802586b2a34ddd63

Mixing aerobic, strength (anaerobic) and flexibility are the key – one type alone will not accomplish it. 

  • Aerobic exercise from running or cycling or aerobics classes help fuel that authentic wonder working tonic called endorphins.  From Medicine.net “Endorphins are manufactured in the brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of the body. They are released in response to neurotransmitters and bind to certain neuron receptors (the same ones that bind opiate medicines). Endorphins act as analgesics (diminishing the perception of pain) and as sedatives”
  • Flexibility helps your body correct itself from a generally sedentary lifestyle we have.  If you think about it, sitting at a computer or standing all day on your feet are the most punishing things you can do to your body.  So stretching, yoga and Pilate’s help increase your range of motion
  • Strength training does not mean “you’ll get pumped up” in the “governator” sense.  It does mean you’ll build muscles first and then over time (3-6 months later) your joint strength.Consider strength training your body’s natural ibuprofen. 

I’ve seen the benefits of exercise increase as I age or struggle with some minor chronic pain issues.  I have a flaky almost non existent thyroid that presented itself in 2001.  A 2 mile run felt like I was at mile 20.  It didn’t add up.  After a diagnosis and proper meds – Levoxyl rocks – I was back on my way.  However by focusing too much on running I would find myself fatiguing.  As I’ve mixed in a heavy triathlon dose and kept my strength training year round, I’ve noticed a much greater improvement in pain management.  Again, my pain management is very minor and I empathize with those who have arthritis or fybromyalgia or Lyme disease.  I’ve also seen that blending in healing aerobic activity of swimming and cycling helps with the body pounding nature of running (in a future blog I’ll share some secrets on how to make it less body pounding beginning with “get off your heals and onto the balls of your feet”).  My next step is improving my flexibility. 

Now further testifying to the benefit of exercise, I’ve felt the old body aches more if I’m away from some serious workouts for 4-5 days (lets say traveling).  The lower back creaks, feet hurt, etc. 

Please do share what you’ve found – whether you’ve exercised all your life, its been a few months or you’re just beginning.

Next up – overcoming the Pain from Exercise.