So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad* Training Specialist. Runner. Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) Certified Official, Category 2. RRCA Representative, Florida (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thirty Seconds At A Time

High noon on Sunday is a dangerous time.  Especially for the guys I run with.

We got into a discussion about an upcoming triathlon event, and I asked one of the group perched at the bar whether he was going to participate this year.  Last year he was ill and not able to be part of a troika of walking wounded competing in the relay division.  In hindsight, he said, it was fortunate for the very reason the group never made it past the swim.  Working shoulders are often necessary, even for a distance of 600 yards.

"And [blank] can barely run; he's the only guy I know who's trained for a (half-iron) triathlon and gained weight in the process."

A perfect case of "in vino veritas."  And not always the truth which should be revealed.

I know the guy in question, and in his defense it would be difficult to tell the difference between adipose burned and muscle mass gained over the course of five or six months.  I've been (more) pudgy and I've dropped weight, and sometimes it's difficult to tell the two apart until one is out on a run.  Several coaches have opined that a one-pound difference in weight, excess, can add an extra five seconds pace per mile.  I'm not so certain about you but if I knew I could drop a minute off my 5K on the road by losing five pounds of excess weight...  

The hard part - well, there are a lot of hard parts - is avoiding the danger areas.  Two danger areas come together on Sunday noon in this part of the country, namely alcohol and food.  If I could completely drop beer and french fried [blank] it would be easy.  Naturally, nobody said it would be.

A couple of other things to remember:

Many folks can get by with guesstimating 100 calories of energy expended for every mile run or walked.  If you want to be honest with yourself you can take your weight and multiply by 0.75. Walking and easy running is going to burn less calories for every mile than the hard, steady run; kind of like how long you can stand to have your hand on the hood of your car.  If you're driving the four blocks from the house to the grocery store you'll probably be able to set your hand on the hood not long afterward.  Drive halfway across the state at fifty-plus an hour and you'll generate more heat after the car has stopped.

It's not a perfect analogy but it makes it easier to understand.  And men burn more calories than women because of the greater degree of muscle mass.  So you might benefit more from having a single beer for every two miles rather than every one.  Researchers studied the calorie intake and expenditure of men and women and learned that both groups overestimated how hard they worked and underestimated how little they ate or drank.

Want an eye opener?  Set up an account on a food tracking/diet site, such as FatSecret, and log everything you take in.  Even after a week you're likely to be amazed, not only at what a serving size truly is, but the amount of empty calories being dropped into your fuel tank.  Other sensations, such as thirst or cold, can be mistaken for hunger.  I bulked up while participating in masters' swimming because I felt like I needed energy after swimming for an hour in an 82-degree pool (mind you, if it had been the pool we raced in at Auburn getting warm again might have been an issue).  Hindsight being not only perfect but magnified, I probably would have been all right with the large coffee with skim milk and a couple of teaspoons of honey, plus a slice of toast and PB rather than that SuperSonic breakfast burrito.

Suzanne and I have started to grab a low-calorie sports supplement drink or some nonfat chocolate milk after our Sunday runs, which staves off hunger until we can scramble up a couple of eggs and toast some bread.  We're less likely to jones for that brunch with the mimosas; do it once a month and keep track of what we suck down.  And we don't drink anything but water for the run; I used to do one or more sports drinks religiously but figured out all I was doing was shooting myself in the gut, er, foot.

Running regularly enough and hard enough has made me feel better about how I look.  I kind of miss the hanging out at brunch every Sunday but the feel of my clothes (and my head) the next day kind of makes up for it.  Getting that old self back thirty seconds at a time seems to be worth the trouble.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Hair of the Dog"

I crawled out of bed feeling a little less-achy than I crawled into it the evening before.  I really like when that happens on my "rest" day.  I got just enough over the previous few days that the one-to-ten scale of "how bad am I hurting" was only a two, and not in a place I was used to feeling pain.  So I decided to take a little "hair of the dog."

Not "that" "hair of the dog," but a very brief aerobic workout.  Just a little "something-something" to make me feel less guilty about doing "nothing."

The problem, I've learned, is that any real increase in training volume has to happen in a very gradual and incremental manner.  Sure, I'm only doing 35 miles a week, but I need to be up to forty about three weeks from now.  With some speed training, too.  Which means stretching out three or four of my weekly runs beyond sixty minutes.

What to do?  My favorite (shaded) running route is on the opposite side of town; once I get near home after work I'm not inclined to go out far.  That leaves me the option of running on a shorter loop a few miles away or indoors on a treadmill.  Weather conditions being the way they have been - infernal or electrical - the treadmill has been my go-to.  I'm suicidal only one or two mornings a week; even then the morning run is as early as practicable.

Rare is the soul who can stand a treadmill for longer than sixty minutes.  Even the best gyms aren't air-conditioned well enough to keep the sweat at bay; there's going to be the need to "stop and mop" if you want to go longer.  What's a driven athlete to do when getting up at three o'clock in the morning is beyond unsatisfactory?

How about splitting the workout?

The time of day you best perform - and most runners who deal with time constraints have figured it out - is probably going to be the best time to do the "main" workout.  I once was blessed with the ability to be one of those "doesn't matter what time of the day" folks, but that had a lot to do with being very single, having a flexible work schedule and only one graduate school class.  Like Friedrich Nietzsche said "when one has much to put into them, the day has a hundred pockets."  Now it's a different story.  I can get the quality workout in the evening and get just enough in during the early morning hours (should I decide to do so) that I'm almost not dripping after the shower while rushing out the door to the car, cup of coffee in hand.

It might be the best strategy for guys who have physical or stand-on-your-feet-all-day jobs, but the sedentary desk worker can benefit from that little extra piece of workout 12 hours or so to the opposite of the main workout.  I wouldn't recommend splitting it up evenly into two halves unless it's during those seasons when the weather conditions are closer to arbitrary and capricious.  That way if the spit hits the fan you haven't lost much beyond half that day's workout.

The bad news would be that dirty workout clothes multiply at an astounding clip. And the shoes which need to dry.  Work out too hard on one workout and you run the risk of going into the second piece incompletely recovered...risk of injury awaits.  This strategy would merit making certain all efforts are easy, vary between hard and easy, or vary between running and low-impact activities like the elliptical trainer or spinning bike, swimming or bicycling, rowing machine, and so on.  Let your conscience be your guide.

Imagination and ingenuity, as well as self-knowledge, can help you figure out how to get those little extra bits of training volume in without doing damage to your schedule or your body.