Refocusing

For the last 3 months I’ve been at a weight loss plateau.  I’ve been training regularly with 4 days in the gym each week.  Three days on my own and one day with my trainer for a 30 minute intense session.  I usually rest on Friday and Sunday with my weekend “Long Run” on Saturday.  My distance has improved greatly and over the past 11 months my speed has increased too so I am happy with the results to date, heck I’ve lost 45 pounds!  My weight has edged down a couple pounds since the end of July, but nothing significant.  I know that I’ll have to make some adjustments if a future shot at The Goofy Challenge or Boston is to be realistic.  Those two future goals are a ways off since I still need to run my first full marathon though.

Also, this is a “dangerous” time as we approach the holidays and some would think to rest on their past successes while I am thinking it’s time to refocus and step up my training. These past two weeks I’ve opted to hit the gym all five days for a little extra calorie burn.  The same goes for Sunday. While normally I would rest on Sunday I am going to go in and put in a little extra time on something different.  The key for me on these extra workouts is not to go all out intense, but to burn a few more calories, get a good stretch, loosen up and rededicate myself to the goal at hand, the Disney World Marathon on January 9th.

Even now as I write this I’m fueling up to go out for a 22 mile run this morning. Sunday will be an “active” recovery day where I just pedal on a stationary bike to warm-up, maybe walk for 10-15 minutes and then go stretch for 15-20 minutes.  I’ll follow this up with a whey protein shake to help speed recovery.

But back to the topic at hand, I’ve learned it’s good to keep a core schedule, but to also mix things up from time to time so I can shock my body into new growth (or shrink it). When I started out I was hitting the gym 7 days a week and burning a lot of calories in the process.  So I am going to return to that schedule of “active rest days” with the following schedule.

Part of this is a Jeff Galloway program & part is a “Brian Original”  🙂

  • Monday: Run 45 Minutes
  • Tuesday: Lifting Weights opposite of what my trainer does Thursday
  • Wednesday: Run 45 Minutes
  • Thursday: Personal Trainer Session (30 minutes)
  • Friday: 30-45 cardio/stretch depending on my long run distance
  • Saturday: Long Run, Speed Work or a “shorter” run
  • Sunday: 30-45 cardio/stretch depending on my long run distance

This will be my training plan through the holidays as I approach January 9th save for the required tapering period two weeks from race time. My diet won’t really change all that much except that I will be taking a protein supplement after my workout 7 days a week instead of the normal 5 days a week.  I will also be on H2O patrol to be sure I’m drinking enough and I’ll limit alcohol to the 2-3 special days left this year like Thanksgiving (Football & a couple beverages!), Christmas Eve (Egg Nog!) and of course New Years Eve! I’m hoping to drop just 6-10 pounds more by January 9th.  With the right focus this is totally doable for me in the 6 weeks of training I have left.  This would have me weighing very close to or just below 180 pounds and just 15-20 pounds from my ultimate goal weight.

Stay (re)focused and keep training!

Follow me on Twitter  ”@TheRunningMan23″

A rough & chilly run

So a couple weekends ago I geared up to run outside for my longest run to date. I was pumped, excited, anxious and ready! I had previously ran 17 miles (2 weeks prior) and I was ready to tackle my first 20 miler!

Ready for my cold run and 45 pounds lighter than my 1st blog's pic!

I had purchased Under Armour Cold Gear ($100 worth!), bought a hat, gloves, extra GU packs, running socks and I was ready! Why special Cold Gear you ask? Because it was going to be a bit chilly out in Indiana that Saturday morning. The low temperature was to be 25 degrees with a high of 41 in the afternoon. I grew up on a farm. I’ve gotten up at 5am to feed cattle in blizzard conditions. This felt colder. There was just a slight breeze, but at 25 degrees a 5-8 mph breeze can be biting and it was!

I ran down the trail and was doing well. I took a side route to add a couple miles early and then came back to the main trail and kept going. Starting out at 156th I was aiming to turn around at 75th street for a nice out and back. 136th and 116th whipped by. The next thing I knew I was at the tunnel near 96th street.  I was tired but I was in familiar territory. I had run the same route for my 17 miler save for the extra 2.5 miles at the beginning. Then I was at 75th street again. I was ready to turn around and when I did, I came to face that little 5-8 mph breeze…and it stopped me cold, literally. The breeze had been behind me and now I felt it fully on my head and chest. I wear a camel back for water on long runs and it had been protecting me from the cold plus you all know it feels different when the wind is at your back. Not nearly as cold.

By the time I got back to 86th street I was at 12.5 miles…and 7.5 miles away from home.  A knot had formed behind each of my knees and I was chilled to the bone from my own sweat. I was in bad shape. I had tried a run/walk routine for a bit from 75th to 86th street, but it wasn’t working. My hips and legs were done.

Normally I run a 10 minute mile. I was 20 minutes off the pace for the 12.5 miles I had run so far.

This is when you realize there is no shame in knowing when you’ve had enough and a 12 mile run is good enough when the temperature is still in the low 30s.

I whipped out my cell phone and called my life line!  My gf was kind enough to come get me as she lives 15 minutes away.  As we were talking she asked if I was feeling okay. I thought I was and realized that since turning into the wind my lips had gotten cold and I sounded like I had just come from the dentist….numb face/lips and all! I was talking funny. I stepped into the nearest super market and out of the cold. I looked a little funny walking around the store in full running gear, camel back, hat, shades & tights while the regular Saturday morning shoppers went about their business. I got a few odd looks. So I went and hung out in the power bar/health food aisle. Not surprising, no one came down that aisle for my 15 minute wait!  🙂

So I want to talk about limitations and listening to your body. I hate to admit it but that little voice in my head (we all have it) had tried to talk me out of running in 25 degree weather. I ignored it though….it was just a little cold out after all. Buck up, be a man and go run! People run in the cold all the time! You have the right gear so “just do it”! When I had passed my gym at mile marker #3 that voice had told me to finish up the remaining 17 miles inside on the treadmill. I could see the front doors of the nice warm gym! Again, I ignored the voice. I was doing okay, just a little off pace…it WAS cold so it was to be expected. When I had crossed 111th street that same voice tried compromise instead of all out orders. The suggestion came to turn around at 96th street instead of going on down to 75th. I could loop closer to my car “just in case”. A third time I ignored the voice of reason.  Heck, I was just 2 miles from the turn around and I would be headed home! No worries right?  Right??? I only heard from that voice one more time the whole day and that was when I limped back up to 86th street near the grocery store. “I told you so.” is all that little voice said. I hate that voice. He can be a real jerk sometimes.

I think it’s great to push and challenge yourself. I do it all the time. I regularly test my one mile best time, I’ve ran two half-marathons only two weeks apart, I’ve ran a 5K race at 7am and a half-marathon that same night at 10pm. I’m signed up to run a full marathon now and I have plans to run The Goofy Challenge in the future which will have me running a half and a full marathon on consecutive days. I’m not sure if I’ll ever want to do an ultra, but we’ll see. Challenging yourself is good.

Regardless, it’s important to train well, know your limitations, still push it a bit, but remember to listen to what your body is telling you and know the difference between an ache and a pain. Had I just looked at the evidence on my Garmin watch I would have turned around early and finished at the gym. And I WOULD have finished! By mile 7 or 8 I was 20 minutes off my regular pace and I certainly wasn’t going to pick up speed on the last half of my first 20 mile (near-zero degrees) out and back.

Now I can’t wait to get back out there, run in the cold some more with my new Under Armour (it worked great by the way) and allow my body to acclimate to the lower temperatures while still delivering a good performance! I didn’t fail, I just learned something new! This coming weekend I have a 22 mile run on Saturday and I can’t wait! Weather permitting I’ll do much of the run outside, but I’ll also be listening closely to how I feel so if I need to duck in and finish on the treadmill I can. The distance is more important than the location for these last few long runs before my first full marathon January 9th!

Happy Training!

Follow me on Twitter  ”@TheRunningMan23″

Food = Fuel.

I have a friend who refuses to view food as fuel, but that is what it really is, just fuel for the body.  He continually struggles with his weight and only finds temporary fixes with increased exercise over short time spans.  He’ll workout for a a few weeks or so, lose 10 pounds and then gain it all back because he still eats like he is in college.  He’s only addressing the symptom, not the problem…putting a bandaid on a broken arm.

Now I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy your fuel, but once you start looking at food as a source of what your body needs to function and less about eating just to satisfy a craving then the sooner you will gain control of the ultimate habit we all have, eating.

BTW, I read a lot of research articles on diet & exercise mainly because I’m a big nerd for that kind of thing… I try to learn as much as I can about how everything works.  Knowledge is Power.

Let’s get started…back to Food = Fuel.

My Metabolism.  When I started back in December 2009 my metabolism was messed up! It was slow and definitely working against me.  My metabolism was programmed to do exactly what I had told it to do…store as much fat as it could for the up coming winter.  I might as well have been a bear ready for hibernation.

I worked with a couple different trainers at my gym to get a plan together.

My Plan Components:

  1. Food (Fuel)
  2. Cardio (Walking, Running, Biking, Elliptical, Stairs, etc)
  3. Strength Training (Lifting Weights)

Of the three things above, trainer after trainer has told me FOOD accounts for at least 60% of the equation in weight loss.  No matter how hard you work the other 40% can’t make up for the 60%.  How much we eat, how often we eat and what we eat are all a part of the mix.  Unfortunately, just like in high school though 60% isn’t enough to be successful.  You DO need the other two parts. Today however, we are discussing food.

My Pre-December 2009 Diet:

  • Breakfast: Coffee
  • Lunch: Eat out at a restaurant with a co-worker
  • Dinner: Whatever I wanted
  • Snack Later: Potato Chips, ice cream, cake, pop corn, or a 2nd meal (no joke)

This diet was killing me slowly and I had the 75 extra pounds to prove it.

*My Diet Today: Serving sizes are all 1 single serving.

  • Breakfast (Pre-Workout): Coffee and a serving of Original Fiber One Cereal.  Sometimes a half glass of OJ too!
  • After Workout Protein: EAS Advantage Protein Shake (Chocolate!)
  • Mid-Morning Snack: Chewy Quaker Granola Bar (PB & Choc. Chip) or a banana/apple & water
  • Lunch: I bring my lunch a lot (Soup, lean hamburger, chili, grilled chicken, salad, lean steak) & water
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack: Chewy Granola Bar again or a piece of fruit again & water
  • After Work Snack: Dannon Light & Fit Yogurt, a piece of fruit or a cheese stick!
  • Dinner: Baked fish, lean hamburger, chili, pork, turkey, spaghetti, etc.  I take the time to cook ahead so if I’m busy I always have something in the freezer/fridge that I can reheat in a pinch.  Planning ahead is a key to eating healthy!
  • Late snack: Yogurt again or a glass of skim milk

If you hate being hungry then my plan or something similar may be for you!  I eat 8 times a day.  I eat every 2-3 hours.  Some “meals/snacks” are only 100-200 calories.  No meal is over 500 calories.  By the end of the day I usually have consumed 1700-2000 calories.  Take away the calories I burned with exercise and I’m losing weight.  By the way, if you DON’T eat your body will store fat.  So not eating is counterproductive to your goal.

Why does eating every couple hours work?

Answer: Think of a fire.  You start a fire and it blazes to life.  After a while the fire dies down.  Throw on another small stick and it blazes up again.  Now this is SIMILAR to metabolism.  If you only throw on three large logs the whole day then there are a lot of times when the fire is really low and it takes some work to get it blazing again.  If you add some twigs and leaves every once in a while (small meals/snacks) then the blaze stays more even and it’s easier to get the large stuff to catch.

I have a small office at work and I find it interesting to watch the thermostat on the wall after I eat.  The room temperature goes up about 2 degrees 15-20 minutes after my snack.  Why?  My body’s metabolism is increasing and a by product is heat.

Some Things to Consider:

  1. A lot of hunger/cravings is mistaken thirst.  You need water, not food.
  2. Fiber makes you feel full.
  3. Eating smaller portions several times a day keeps the fire burning.
  4. Portion size is key.  Retrain yourself to know what a real portion size looks like….not what a restaurant tells you it is.
  5. Mom was right!  Chew your food slowly!  Once you are full, it takes your body 20 minutes to send the signal to tell you to stop eating.  If you scarf down a huge burger & fries in 10-15 minutes then the signal to stop eating won’t get to you in time.  Enjoy it, don’t inhale it!  🙂
  6. This one kills me, but I know it’s true…Diet Soda make you fat.  Regular Soda is even worse than diet soda.**

By the way, while I was writing this blog I had two snacks and a meal.

*Disclaimer: I plan for celebrations so I can take part in BBQs, holidays, birthdays and weddings.  On Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, The 4th of July, Elvis’ Birthday and other national holidays I eat what I want and indulge a little.  I don’t eat everything in site for an entire week though.  I have some of my Aunt’s applesauce cake at Christmas, enjoy my mom’s pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, eat a burger AND a brat on the 4th and drink a Bud Light or two at my Super Bowl Party.  I don’t indulge daily, I don’t indulge weekly, but when the time comes to celebrate I make sure I’ve worked hard enough to deserve that extra piece of mom’s fried chicken.  That’s why I don’t skip workouts and that’s why when I weigh myself October 8th my birthday cake from the day before is already a memory!

**See the video on my Links & Resources Page to learn how/why Diet Soda makes you fat.

17 miles

Ever want some time to think about practically everything?  Run 17 miles on a Saturday…or any day of the week for that matter.   You’ll have about three hours to ponder things assuming we run about the same speed.  For the last couple weeks I’ve left the iPod at home and enjoyed the confines of my own thoughts while running.  Money, job, school, girlfriend, family, Disney, my next run, vacation, the upcoming week, last week, past relationships, my next promotion, my next degree, my next job, my last job, my best friend, my worst enemy, those whom I inspire, those who refuse to be inspired, Disney, buying a house, that girl who just ran by (hey, I’m a dude!), renewing my apartment lease, my knee hurting, my knee not hurting anymore, and a host of other things.

In all that time suddenly I’m turning around and heading back to my car. I’m halfway finished.  Where did the last 8.5 miles go?  I’ve been lost in the run, not thinking about breathing, not thinking about running, not thinking about how far I have left, not thinking about any imaginary pain or real pain.  Is it time for  GU yet?  Yep, it is!

In all that thinking I realize that having balance in life is key.  Work, school, social life, family, alone time, exercise and everything else needs its little piece of my time.  Many things take priority and those priorities will shift throughout the year.  Right now I’m training for my first marathon so going out with my buddies is not at the top of the list on the weekend….a 17 mile run is.  During the week my lunch time diet tends to be geared toward fuel more than “the business lunch”.  Everything is preparing me for January and the long run.  After that I will start to see if a social life on Friday night can be explored again.  I’m sure it will!

So my advice is to have balance, but also have priorities for the time being knowing that those priorities can shift once you cross the finish line.

Goals and Getting Started!

Welcome and thanks for reading my blog!  In time I will discuss all sorts of things related to my fitness journey such as exercise, strength training, walking, running, diet and hopefully the motivation to keep at it!  Happy reading!

Where to start?  Perhaps a little about me.  I started my fitness journey back in December 2009.  Last December I wanted a change so I made a plan.  I decided the only way to keep training was to have a reason to do it.  At the time I was +/- 75 pounds over weight weighing in at close to 245 pounds.

That’s me on the right weighing in at 245 pounds.

So I signed up for a 5K in March and a half-marathon in May.  I put the cash down and actually registered.  I wanted to give myself a reason to really go for it and not slack off so I added a second half-marathon in May just two weeks after the 1st one.  Looking back maybe I was a little too ambitious.  But darn it, I wanted results!

I was afraid that I would train a bit, eat healthy for a few weeks, finish the second half-marathon and stop training like I had in the past so I started to look at running events later in the year.

This is the time I should let you know that I am a Disney fan.  I had heard of the “runDisney” series and started looking into the race Disney puts on in January that goes through all four Disney parks.  Considering I had a year to train I decided to register for the full-marathon and put down the cash.  I figured if I was going to run that far I might as well run the 26.2 most magical miles on Earth!

Still, I was worried.  There is a lot of time and great BBQ weather between May and January. What if I slacked off after the May events?  What if I lost focus later in the year?  Or worse, what if I saw all that time to spare and decided I could afford to be lazy again and started to regress?

So I decided to add one more event later in the year to get me through.  I looked for another half-marathon and found a small local event in early September.  This would keep me training through the summer and I’d be set to push through to January and my first ever full-marathon.  My running schedule was set or so I thought.

As luck would have it I received an email from runDisney.com advertising a half-marathon in October called the Disney Wine & Dine Half-Marathon.  It was the inaugural race!  I couldn’t resist!  It was Disney after all and it was to be the kickoff event to Disney’s Food & Wine Festival!  So I registered and wondered if I could handle four half-marathons in one year!  At this point I had barely ran a single mile for my first half of the year!  My friends may have started to doubt my sanity.  🙂

Fast forward to present day.  I am happy to say that I completed all four half-marathons and even did three 5K runs in total including that first one in March.  I have lost 45 pounds and I am approaching my goal weight slowly but surely.  I’m in no hurry.  Progress comes slow at times or stops all together when I hit a plateau.

So what’s the point?  A blog post should have a point right?

Goals.  What’s yours?

My goal is to enjoy life as long as I can.  My goal is to earn a PR (Personal Record) during an event every once in a while.  My goal is to be fit so I can do more.  My goal is to combine my love of travel with my new running habit!

Your goal could be to look good for a friend’s wedding, it could be to lose 10 pounds for your 20 year high school reunion, it could be that your doctor told to get active “or else” or your goal could be to be around to see your children grow up.  These are all goals, but I encourage you to find a goal that is all yours and no one else’s.  Remember though that this is when it’s okay to be a little selfish and do it for you.

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