So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Spinning - think of a spectrum of exercise spanning an exercise bicycle and the Tour de France.
Positives: controlled conditions (no traffic), minimal equipment hassles (no flat tires), and the ability to work out at your own intensity level and still be in the vicinity of your fellow exercise enthusiasts. Oh, there's also the motivation of high-energy music (my instructor has played everything from Al Jarreau to ZZ Top in the past two years) and an instructor who tells you what you need to do, such as get up out of the saddle, hands at a particular position on the handlebars, pedal at a certain pace/heart rate intensity.
Negatives: doesn't help your bike-handling skills. Some instructors are less cycling-focused than others; while most Spinning instructors have a certification through Madd Dogg sports, they may (or may not) understand the focus of a cross-training athlete. You also have to find a place with a spinning class (local Y, fitness center, gymnasium, health club), then hope a bike is available. In my case, I like to use my road bike shoes, so I have to find a spinning bike that has Look-compatible cleats, or settle for platform pedals that accept workout shoes and aren't as efficient.
Burn: a 40-minute class will burn between 300 and 400 calories, depending on the intensity.
Elliptical trainer - lets you go through all of the motions of running or cross-country skiing, without the jarring of a treadmill. These are especially good during taper periods before a half-marathon or a marathon, when you absolutely feel the need to put a check in the got a 60-minute workout block of your daily to-do list; they're also great for rehabilitation from injury, say, when you break your arm and can't run for eight weeks.
Positives: most good machines have a variety of programs which allow you to work at a fat-burning or cardiovascular-stressing intensity, as well as hill climbing, interval and random programs. All of the information (distance, pace, calorie burn, heart rate, terrain) is right in front of you, so you are not left in the dark. You can let your legs and lungs feel the burn without beating yourself to death.
Negatives: most gyms don't have enough elliptical trainers, or the ones that are available have broken pulse monitors. A good solution for that problem is to take your own heart rate monitor strap with you to the gym. Also, without a television, music or other diversion, using elliptical trainers can be about as much fun as watching paint dry. When I do use an elliptical I'm always stuck in front of a television that has The Jerry Springer Show, or Fox News (now there's an oxymoron...) on...making my workout even that much more uncomfortable. You don't get the mileage in that you would cover on a treadmill or on the road. Also, if you have knee issues, some programs will trash your knees long before you stress your heart.
Burn: 40 minutes in fat-burning mode, without going too far over the line, will burn between 600 and 700 calories. You could do another 20 minutes, but the antidepressant use may outweigh the calorie burning benefits.
Treadmill - the original, and probably the most commonly used piece of indoor cardiovascular exercise equipment. I don't have to say much about this that you don't already know.
Positives: infinite variations on a theme. The ability to walk, jog or run on these things are a plus. Add the hill, interval, heart rate, and random programs to a good treadmill and you would wonder why any of us would ever go outside. The feedback on most treadmills is pretty much the same as elliptical trainers.
Negatives: doesn't replicate road running as well as most runners would like. Why is it I can run a 5:47 mile on the track and I cannot run a mile on a treadmill at 10.8 miles per hour? The shock absorbency of the treadmill deck varies from model to model, and a good model costs serious money. Also, while treadmills have ways to carry your fluid bottles and your music player, I've only seen one that has a ventilation fan...and even it isn't all that good. Watch me sweat all over a treadmill and you'll understand why I think fans are a great thing. And again, while I don't want to complain, treadmill choice at most gym facilities are like men and parking spaces at the mall: the good ones are all taken, the rest are way out there or damaged.
Burn: running an eight minute mile, you can burn about 500 calories in the space of 40 minutes.
Swimming - the one cross-training activity that I believe really transfers over to running.
Positives: no jarring, no pounding, and (relatively) easy on your muscles and joints. You know when you're improving in the pool, and when all of the techniques are falling into place. The discipline of breathing (inhaling especially) at the right time pays back dividends during that hard second mile of a 5K run. Also, there's not much you need to get into the pool, outside of a swimsuit and a pair of goggles. Everything else; kickboards, pull buoys, fins, caps, and so on...it's all optional.
Negatives: large learning curve. Technically a complex activity, unless you plan to limit yourself to easy breaststroke. Time your breathing wrong and you're likely to end up with a mouth full of pool water rather than air. Certain times of the year, especially in this area of the country (where lightning is a near-daily occurrence) can pull you out of the pool in a flash...pun intended. And most swimming facilities around here are very strict on pulling folks out at the first flash of lightning.
Burn: an hour of good, vigorous swimming can burn up to 600 calories.
So, it's a good time to start thinking about what to do other than just running during this fall and winter. The fitness and strength you can maintain over the dark months will shorten the time it takes for you to get back into form once spring arrives...especially if it keeps you from gaining those five or ten pounds that somehow jump on our bodies between the end of October and the beginning of January.
Kia Kaha. Stay Strong.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Temperature/condition at race start was about 58 degrees and high overcast; for those of us from Florida that's nearly perfect conditions. Most of the local participants are good at self-seeding, and maybe perhaps a little too good, because there was a big space between the front line and the crowd. Nice problem to have.
First mile was a 6:04. I knew as I made the first turn onto the bridge on Stewart St. that it was going to be a fast start pace. I worried a little bit: 'did I just sacrifice my race for a suicidal first mile?' Second mile split was called at 12:12; I still was not pleased and knew something screwy was bound to happen. I didn't feel good at all from the get-go, really; my right hamstring was tight at the junction of the lower glute (sounds like something strength-related, but I cannot tell).
Rather than deal with the hassle of taking cups of fluid on the fly (an issue I've had in the past), or not drinking altogether (another issue I've had) I carried a small 8.5 oz bottle of water with a (whole) Nuun tablet dissolved. Half a tablet is good for 8 oz of water, but I had no clue what to do with the other half and I didn't want to put it back into the tube with the other ones. So I had something to take a hit of every ten minutes or so. A warning for those of you who might think about using Nuun as part of your hydration plan: It's mildly carbonated and it will fizz up in a hand-carried bottle; so don't use a twist-off cap or it will spray you in the face. I had a sense of deja vu every time I opened the bottle, it was like what happened to me every time someone else stuffed a lime in their Corona on Friday or Saturday evening.
Last year, there were several guys who were running near my pace for the first three-to-four miles, so I had plenty of company as we went down toward the UD boathouse and toward the bike path. This year, however, either I was going faster than my contemporaries or the field got much stronger...a great majority of the race felt like a time trial from the first two miles or so. I got the pace issue worked out on the front half of the race, fortunately, and managed to go through the first 6 miles in the low 38 range.
The first signs of 'dude, it's time to pay for those first two miles' came once we got on the bottom side of the loop (turnaround) in West Carrolton. We got onto the street (very narrowly coned off, here - barely one person wide) and off the corridor bike path at that point; I could hear the breathing and footsteps of someone behind me. I must not have been hurting as badly as I thought, because he stayed right there until we got back onto the bike path and the bridge at about 7.5 miles. Even then, the guy was not putting any big distance on me. I saw Suzanne on the bike path, running relaxed and smiling. She cheered as I went by; I looked at her with that 'I'm hurting, can you tell?' look. At the bike path, Coach Rich Davis (my coach's friend) was coming from the opposite direction (a few miles back)...looking quite relaxed. He told me 'you're 19th.' About that point, all thoughts of backing off and "mailing the return trip in" went out the window.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
With three months left before the end of the calendar year, I have to take a closer look at my own leave and earnings statements. Scariest part is not so much that I have vacation time, but trying to fit it in somewhere. Since my wife has a nasty tendency to work all those holidays that most government workers (there I go using oxymorons again) it's more a day I can sit at Panera Bread, reading my latest acquisitions from the book store, or Amazon.com...I can feel the caffeine coursing through my veins as I write.
Next week is the closest thing we will have to a vacation before the Christmas holidays; we're going to Dayton to visit my coach and his wife, stay for a couple of days, and run the Dayton River Corridor Half-Marathon. I want to go out for a little schlep the day before in the area around Yellow Springs, Glen Helen Preserve, John Bryan State Park, and the like. There are some wonderful paths out there, as well as some really nasty ones, that put almost everything I've ever run in Florida to shame.