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Getting Healthy

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A little background: I'm 6'4" and have always managed to hide and distribute my weight fairly well. I have never had any massive spikes in gain or loss and for the last 10-12 years or so my avg. weight has hovered between 220-230lbs. In reality, FAR from ideal, but i was comfortable. Then some events this year changed all that.

First, my weight began to push above the 230 mark for the first time ever. By May or June I was around 235-240. This brought me size 38 pants (TIGHT!) and a general sense of lethargy and disastifaction. I looked in the mirror and didnt like the bloated, doughy goon staring back at me.

At the end of June, we had one of those blasted HR-driven Health Fairs at work and I attended--not because I suddenly wanted to become Jack Lalane Jr.-- but because there was a beautiful brunette giving free table massages. The massage was amazing, but some other things were not. My blood pressure was lousy and so were my cholesterol levels. With the history of heart disease in my family, the prognosis was jarring.

The remedy was fairly simple: consistent exercise and moderate eating. I was so pissed off with myself that day, that i committed then and there to a different approach to my daily eating HABITS. The exercise thing would have to wait for another day, though. I mean, why go crazy?

Three days later, our family was at the beach in the blazing South FL sun, having a blast. My wife (who also happens to be a VERY CUT and healthy, size 1, BTW) took some photos of me with the kids in the water. When we got home, I looked over the digital photos and was repulsed by the semi-obese, man-boobed, pot-bellied man in the water. I couldnt believe that sad-looking middle aged man was actually me. I've heard people say this before and it always sounded corny, but it really was something of an ephiphany for me-- I looked at this drooping, unhealthy dude and protested "THAT is NOT the way I feel inside!"

It was then I grudgingly realized that for me to be healthy, moderate and wise dietary choices were not enough. I was going to have to commit to consistent physical activity/exertion. That week, with advice from a doctor, my wife (who trains and works out at a gym 5 days a week) and friends who do more that walk around the block once a week for "exercise", I embarked on a boot camp regimen. No blabbing about it. No crutches. No lame excuses. No fudging. No quitting.

The gist of the regimen involves a strict lowering of the daily calloric intake, laying off saturated fats and the usual baddies. The key is moderation. And knowing, with every meal, what's going into my system. No Atkins-style carb starving.... Actually no starving at all. Two smaller meals a day, high protein, easy on the carbs and then one "typical" meal that is simply reasonably portioned. No snacks after dinner. No formulas or detailed menus, just pretty basic stuff

The hard part was the exercise. I'm an air-conditioned gypsy. 30-40 minutes of elevated cardio, DAILY??? For me, this meant running early in the morning. 4:30am to be precise. Pure suicide.

I started with two miles and slowly built up to five. I'm fortunate to live a couple blocks away from a lake that's exactly a mile in circumference, so I could always know exactly how far I was running every morning. This squashed any temptation to rely on the old "well, it FELT like four miles to me" excuse.

Yes, the weight started dropping off, but more importantly-- I started feeling 100% better. More "engaged" at work. More energy. More confidence. Basically, all the crap they tell you you get from working out hard. It's not BS. There is indeed a runners "high".

Next weekend will be my fourth month of the routine, going seven days a week-- stopping only briefly while we away on our vacation in August and the handful of times when nasty weather has precluded me from outdoor activity. I started at 239lbs. This week I topped the scale at 197 LBS. I'm shooting for 189 to make it a 50lb weight loss. I'm down to size 34 pants and even they are a little too loose on me this week. Also last weekend I wore a Large shirt comfortably, something I havent been able to do since my teens.

Anyone else here "dieting" or just struggling to find a healthy balance?

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WOW, you've got me beat. Dena and I have been on a radical program since late June and the excercize regimen has been the struggle for me. I'm still above program design of losing 1 to 2 pounds a week, but am doing well. I'm 6' 1" and now about 234, down from a high of 265. My target is 205-200. I'm allowed 1800-2000 calories a day, but am still working on portion control (mainly on the protein sources).

Why does it have to be that you are in Dade County and I'm halfway up the continent? I could use a running/swimming partner right now. I'm having a tough time scheduling meaningful excercize. I've replaced all my belts and am at the last notch in the new ones, but tests show I'm losing muscle with the fat (big surprise. You start losing muscle mass in your early 30's. I'm mid-fifties).

On a positive note, I've been asking so many probitive questions in my consultations and in classes about food, and Dena has been bragging so much about our meals, that "they" are talking about having me develop a class segment on cooking, largely around cooking fish. This program is still in the "beta" stage, which is why we have to go across town to be in the program. What these guys recommend is MANY meals. Small meals every three hours.

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Congrats Rich! 30lbs is a major deal.

The committment to exercise was flat-out one of the most difficult things i've ever done. I just started the process with my mind set that this component was NOT negotiable. I ran thru heat, pain, stray dogs, lightning and weariness. Even now, some days are easier than others, but often that first mile can be nightmarish. I have been amazed at how loudly the human mind still protests this initial step--BEGGING you to TURN AROUND. The broken record answer I've given myself for the last four months has been "NO WAY". My dad is 76 and has been running for over 30 years. He tells me he STILL has that "WTF moment" the first few minutes after he starts. It's war, plain and simple.

I've found music helps tremdously. Because the second obstacle to exercise for me was boredom. Running for 45-50 mins straight can get mighty tedious. Again, some days it's not an issue-- it just depends on your mood and how your body feels. Being engaged by nature around you also seems to break up the monotony.

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I had a reasonably successful high school Track career and know well what you talk about. Initially, I pretended I was running away from school for road work. It was the only thing that worked. By the end, I could not make one lap around the track alone. At the same time, I was undefeated in the Mile in dual meets and in our conference. I'm heading up to Bay City this coming Wednesday to pick ip an Ebay purchase of a 10mph treadmill. Let's see if that works.

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You guys are both inspirations, although the "carb starving" on Atkins has a purpose -- it's controversial, but it's also temporary (14 days). I'd be more open to criticism of Atkins if the critics could actually explain how to "do Atkins" correctly.

Nevertheless, results matter, and if you're getting results, more power to you. Exercise is important but overrated IMHO. Yes, it makes you feel good, but it does it actually help you lose weight? Maybe, but not nearly as much as people say it does. Portion control and appetite control are the keys. Whatever helps you achieve those things -- whether it's eating saturated fat (oh no!) or exercising or just learning to say "no" -- is beneficial.

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Christian, the trouble I have with Atkins, South beach or any of the popular "diets" is that they DO work temporarily, but that they dont seem to address the practical model for good, long term dietary habits. I have tried to find a healthy model that I could adopt for the rest of my life and be OK-- because yes, i wanted to lose weight, but more importantly I wanted to have a healthy heart, body and mind. Everyone I know who has done Atkins HAS indeed lost the weight, but the model doesnt seem to be something that folks can practically maintain over a lifetime. Thus the weight gain after the diet period.

For the record, I have been mindful of carbs, but still have one meal per day where I pretty much can eat what I want... till I'm full. This has included pasta, wheat breads, rice and other Atkins no-no's. They key has been portion control and limiting my intake of things that push my binge buttons. Also, i now reserve chocolate, burgers and even fries to a once-a-week treat (or sometimes just a couple times a month) I'm sticking with the moderation motto-- nothing fanatical. I feel like I can maintain this easily until Jesus comes... and my BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are all in excellent shape now. And yeah, I look and feel different.

Yes, it makes you feel good, but it does it actually help you lose weight?
Most certainly. It's math. Burn more than you consume and you WILL lose weight. It also ramps up your metabolism. I went on vacation in August-- my one respite from the cardio routine-- ate and drank to my hearts content in typical vacation style, and still lost two pounds by the end of the week. This included alcohol and saturated fats. I was shocked. My metabolism has definitely changed. Also with a history of heart disease in the family, it is a real concern.

My dad began having heart problems in his late 30's. He was not overweight, but just sedintary. He began a moderate diet combined with cardio, which he has maintained since the mid 1970's. At 76, he still runs three days a week (4 mile runs) and goes to the gym twice a week. He takes no heart medication or any other meds and remains in excellent health. The doctors say he has the heart of a very young man. This was not always the case.

For me, the cardio has been key. Like brushing ones teeth or taking out the trash, i have adopted it as a necessary daily routine. I have four kids, so initially it was exeedingly difficult. But I figure if i can spend an hour per day on the internet and an hour or so watching the tube, then I can exercise. My intake is between 1500-1800 calories a day. Often more on weekends. My runs can burn something in the neighborhood of 400-500 calories, depending on distance and speed. At one point about two months ago, I kinda plateaued and became a little frustrated. As it turns out, i was not consuming enough calories. I bumped up my intake, kept the same cardio routine and the weight resumed it's drop immediately.

Once I reach my goal weight, which will probably be in another 3-4 weeks, I will cut back the cardio to just three or four times a week and do weight training on alternate days.

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Christian, the trouble I have with Atkins, South beach or any of the popular "diets" is that they DO work temporarily, but that they dont seem to address the practical model for good, long term dietary habits.

I admit that I haven't stuck to the long-term eating plan of ANA (the Atkins Nutrional Approach) because I choose to eat junk food, but that's a huge pitfall for any approach to healthy eating.

As far as your statement above, though, it's just incorrect, unless by "practical" you mean "always convenient."

A few things about your post stood out. You mention you will "will cut back the cardio to just three or four times a week (ed. -- gosh, is that all?) and do weight training on alternate days."

So cardio is key for now -- at more than four times a week! -- with time for weight training on every other day? You better be feeling and looking better, Coltrane. :)

This is mind-boggling, but so common that it's become conventional wisdom. More power to ya if you have the money (gym fees?) and time -- and desire -- to do this with four kids, but I have no doubt that this type of over-the-top gym regimen (sorry, but that's how it strikes me) is a huge detriment to others who could lose plenty of weight just by making some dietary adjustments. Exercise has become an albatross for many, and your comments show why. Although you're happy and eager to share your experience, it's a giant hurdle for most folks to not only rethink everything about their approach to food, but then be made to feel guilty for not "working out" several times a week. And that "several times a week" is key. You make a change from "sedentary" (your words) to a couple of 20-minute walks. You feel good, but friends then tell you that you need to walk longer -- that your "maximum heart rate" isn't even achieved UNTIL 20 minutes into a workout, and that's when the serious impact begins.

So you lengthen the walk. Others recommend jogging. Others tell you to get a home gym. Some encourage gym membership. Oh, and change it up day to day. Walking isn't enough. Do more vigorous cardio. Push-ups and weights. Sit-ups. Swim, if you have access to a pool.

What's that? You go to the gym but spend ONLY a half hour working out?? Ramp it up to an hour. What? Only three times a week? No, you need to go at least four days a week. Do cardio every other day, and weights on the alternate days. Yeah, now you're at the gym at least an hour (add in commute time) five times a week, away from your family, but aren't you feeling better? No? You must not be working out hard enough. If you were, the endorphins would tell you otherwise.

It's exhausting just writing that out. Change the way you eat, and you'll see a dramatic impact on weight and bloodwork. Add in exercise, but be reasonable about it -- know when you need to stop (just as you need to learn when to put the fork down and stop eating). That's my philosophy. I have my ups and downs, but I try not to despair. If I look back on the changes that have occurred in the last five years in terms of my eating and exercise, it's been all for the good. Is it good enough? No, I wouldn't say that. But I don't go around kicking myself.

Edited by Christian

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Christian, points well taken. Listen, i have termed my course of action "boot camp" for a reason. The goal with my running regimen was to push myself to the limits for three months and then at the end, evaluate the progress to determine whether I wanted to go further. I figured three months was a reasonable time frame to see results. Now keep in mind, I didnt read this in a book or have someone recommend the course of action to me. I checked with a doctor to make sure I was up for the task and I received a thumbs up. I was just fed up with my overall malaise and run-down appearance.

Yes. Seven days a week. It began with two-mile runs and went as high as five. I've since brought it back down to four, which my knees seem to agree with. I have not tried to sell my "regimen" to anyone and I realize that most people who dont exercise will find the actions extreme. Whatever the case, it's what I needed to shake me up. Also for the first time in my life, I have pushed myself physically to the limits of my endurance and that has been a truly exciting journey.

It sounds radical. But it's forty minutes out of my day. Forty minutes. Forty minutes a day for three months and I'm lanky again. Not a bad trade off in my book. AND, I am disciplined with my eating, but I do not starve myself. And I eat plenty of carbs. Usually one meal a week I eat whatever the heck i want, just as a reward. This has included McDonalds and other junk food of little redeeming value. The only thing I'm trying to say is that if I can squeeze in forty minutes, with a wife and four kids and working what amounts to a 12 hour day, then anyone can. It was meant to be an encouragement, not some outrageous un do-able marathon.

Almost any doctor will recommend DAILY cardio. As you hinted, walking and other more leisurely forms are beneficial too, but for someone to reap the desired results WALKING would require a fairly long regimen. Running clearly reaps the maximum cardio benefits in the shortest amount of time. And if fat-burning is what you're interested in, people should know, sporadic strength training at a gym or yoga exercises on DVD will have very limted results. I have a coworker who goes to a gym three or four times a week. She works out for 20-30 mins, mostly light weights, sometimes aerobic stuff, ocassional cardio. She's about 60-70lbs overweight and feels extremely frustrated that her hard "work" has not yielded a better body. She's looks as heavy now-- a year or so into her routine-- as she was at the start. If she were to look at some charts and see what she's actually burning during her casual workouts, it would become crystal clear. Most studies say you dont start tearing into that fat until you're at least 30 mins into rigorous cardio. Your maximum benefit is going to be between the 30-60 min mark. Walking wont take you to that place if you need to lose 75 lbs and you're strolling for only 25 mins. Very few exercises will.

For the record: when i began this regimen I was also doing strength training at night for 30 mins on my back porch with a Bo-Flex system. This included 100 crunches. My abs looked amazing. I think. I mean, I still had a massive layer of fat laying across my gut, so you couldnt really see. The point is, weight training when you're tubby (and I was) can be pretty frustrating. It simply doesnt burn that much fat and you FEEL like you're working your ass off. Many trainers suggest getting lean via cardio and then work on sculpting (if you're into that thing). I have found this to be sturdy advice.

As far as your statement above, though, it's just incorrect, unless by "practical" you mean "always convenient."
I disagree. All the popular diets can help you lose weight. But very few of them provide a template for how to eat the rest of your life and maintain your weight loss. Nearly all are all based on some form of radical abstinence. Sorry dude, it's neither practical or convenient to live without carbs. If it was, it would be easy to maintain the Atkins model for four or five years. I've never known anyone who could. I'm not saying there not out there-- they're just as rare as hens teeth. Edited by coltrane

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You guys are both inspirations, although the "carb starving" on Atkins has a purpose -- it's controversial, but it's also temporary (14 days). I'd be more open to criticism of Atkins if the critics could actually explain how to "do Atkins" correctly.

Heh, my pastor is nothing if not dogged in his carb refusal the entire time I've known him. Little evidence of success though.

Nevertheless, results matter, and if you're getting results, more power to you. Exercise is important but overrated IMHO. Yes, it makes you feel good, but it does it actually help you lose weight? Maybe, but not nearly as much as people say it does. Portion control and appetite control are the keys. Whatever helps you achieve those things -- whether it's eating saturated fat (oh no!) or exercising or just learning to say "no" -- is beneficial.

It has been common knowledge for some time now that one consistently loses muscle mass from some point in the early mid-thirties on. Consistently. Yearly. Excercize with diet programs are universally recommended for this reason because the body will want to absorb whatever it can to make up the difference during dieting. It is thought that one loses fat at a better rate while building and sustaining muscle mass. Besides, the only feelgood I ever got was in winning a race, or playing good cover defense, or more sacks/forcing out of bounds behind scrimmage. Either that, or I just wasn't/am not attuned to the endorphines. For me, excercize is all pain whether there is gain or not.

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On a related topic, how much water do you guys drink each day? I drank a LOT of water in my early days of doing Atkins, but I've read several doctors who say that while liquid is important, water itself is not as essential as some claim.

That may be true, but I've seen my water intake slide back down in the past few years, to a few mugs a day, if that. I've also put on a few pounds, and have been feeling hungrier. And we all know correlation equals causation, right? ;-)

So, on Saturday, I purchased a 32 oz. water bottle at Bed Bath & Beyond, hoping to fill it just once each day and consume the recommended 64 oz. a day. (That figure is a rough estimate; body weight supposedly determines the "proper" amount, but I, uh, don't have the energy to figure out the proper amount for me.)

Edited by Christian

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I've always been a big water drinker--even more so now. With the reduced intake and the exercise, failure to drink enough water can have some fairly unpleasant and immediate repercussions. :o Yow!

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Speaking of exercise and the benefits thereof, and of carbohydrates and their downside, this is well worth watching. I was surprised how much agreement there was among the main panelists.

UPDATE: Whaddya know? More evidence that body weight may not be related to exercise:

It’s drilled into us that we need to be more active to lose weight. So it spins the mind to hear that a key to staying thin is to spend more time doing the most sedentary inactivity humanly possible. Yet this is exactly what some scientists seem to be finding. In light of Van Cauter’s discoveries, sleep scientists have performed a flurry of analyses on children. All the studies point in the same direction: On average, children who sleep less are fatter than children who sleep more. This isn’t just in the U.S.; scholars around the world are considering it, as they watch sleep data fall and obesity rates rise in their own countries.

Three foreign studies showed strikingly similar results. One analyzed Japanese elementary students, one Canadian kindergarten boys, and one young boys in Australia. They all showed that kids who get less than eight hours of sleep have about a 300 percent higher rate of obesity than those who get a full ten hours of sleep. Within that two-hour window, it was a “dose-response” relationship, according to the Japanese scholars.

In Houston public schools, according to a University of Texas at Houston study, adolescents’ odds of obesity went up 80 percent for each hour of lost sleep.

Sleep’s role in obesity is a comparatively new theory, and one difficult to prove in a controlled experiment. But the traditional approach to solving childhood obesity is an abject failure. The federal government spends over a billion dollars a year on nutrition-education programs in our schools. A recent analysis by McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that of 57 such programs, 53 had no effect whatsoever, and the four remaining programs’ results were meager at best.

Edited by Christian

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Sleep

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New bloodwork results!

June 2007 Levels (the LDL level had shot up five points with this test.)

Overall: 219

HDL: 44

LDL: 157

NEW November 2008 results

Overall: 216

HDL: 45

LDL: 145!!!!

So my "good cholesterol" is up 1 point, and my "bad" cholesterol is DOWN 12! I'm thrilled! Gotta keep this going.

I received my results over the phone and forgot to ask about my triglyercide levels. That level went WAY down between my two previous tests. Based on the information above, someone in another forum plugged the numbers into an equation and speculated that my triglyceride number had shot back up somewhat, although it's still in the acceptable level. That tempers my enthusiasm somewhat over these otherwise good results.

Maybe I should start eating four eggs a day instead of three. ;)

Edited by Christian

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Thanks for the update and congrats on the reduced LDL, Christian!

I haven't posted anything here since last year... In November of 2007 I got the weight down to 188lbs. I took some time off in November and then on the advice of a marathon runner friend started training hard in December for the Miami Half Marathon. In January of this year I ran the half in 2 hours and 7 mins, a time I was really proud of for my first distance race. I continued a fairly light running regimen (3 days a week) for Feb and March and then in April-May started meeting with a distance running group every Saturday morning. This included weekly runs alternating 11, 12 and 13-mile runs. I started really getting into a groove. My weight was hovering between a comfortable 192-195 lbs. At the beginning of May, in preparation for our trip to Kauai, I had Malia train me after my evening runs, cranking out about 20-30 mins of crunches and other core-strengthening exercises. When we left on May 18, I was in the best shape of my life and felt great. It's a good thing too, because the centerpiece of our trip was a three-day hike and camping expedition to Kalalau Beach, which ended up being a 12-hour, 15-mile jaunt with a 50lb pack on my back. By far, the hardest physical challenge I've ever experienced. (anyone interested in the whole story can search kalalau on youtube for the complete tragi-comedy that unfolded on our journey) The half marathon was a cakewalk in comparison. Returning home, i found my weight the lowest its been in 20 years-- 187lbs. After years of only being able to wear the most tent-like XXL shirts, it was great to buy my first "medium" shirt and have it fit comfortably.

I still run 4-5 days a week. I try and do 4-mile runs Mon-Thursday and then a distance run on Friday or Saturday. The last few weeks have been really hot here and Ive skipped the distance run. My weight is right at 195lbs at the moment, which is a size my body seems comfortable with. I'm aiming for the Full Miami Marathon in January.

Yeah, I proud that I havent bloated back up and that ive been able to find a comfortable habit of moderate eating and exercise that agrees with me. I think the key has been finding a form of exercise that suits my personality. For me, it's running. No driving necessary. Minimal clothing. No boundaries. And plenty of solitary headspace for my three other favorite pasttimes--meditation, daydreaming and arguing with myself. If I had to go to a gym I'd probably never exercise.

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In January my work responsibilities increased, on St Patricks Day, while trying to make a healthier choice than meeting friends at the Irish Bar, I fell off my bike and fractured my right radial head. A few Days later my 92 year old Grandmother collapsed and I took over as her power of attorney. On April 3 my wife and the other 134 employees were called in at 5 and told the company would pay them through the week, lock the doors and close.

The first half of the year was a challenge. Working a lot, relocating my grandmother and managing her affairs, trying not to freak out over my wifes work.( She was called back along with 35 others a week later, the company was bought and she was offered a full time permanent slot only this past week) Stressful! I was able to avoid old habits and keep surprisingly even keeleed however, my weight blossomed and I felt worse and less energetic than I ever have.

I wasn't cleared for physical activity until June, the length of recovery was depressing. Though cleared to lift (not more than 10 pounds or whatever was pain free) I couldn't ride without pain. I started running, slogging really. Using my heart rate monitor to pace my self, I started the embarrasing and painful process of trying to get 1. limber. 2. active 3. in enough shape to climb Mount Whitney.

Through the Summer I decided that the discipline to excersice daily was the important goal. I ran first 1 then slowly 2 then 3 miles a day. I started mixing it up with intervals and hills. I spent a week above 10,000ft in August day hiking, with about a 20lb load and doing my best to set a pace above leisurely. I hated running. First it hurt, second it was embarrising to be the red faced sweaty guy getting passed in the park by everybody. I kept going.

My Whitney trip was scheduled for the last week of September, I had lost 15 pound by the time I strapped on my pack. I summitted. It felt great.

I tend to do most of the cooking at our house, lots of vegetables, an emphasis on Asian/Japanese cooking. We eat far more fish than poulty and more poultry than either pork or beef. Over the Summer I was a little bit more careful, watching snacks, choosing fruit more often. I trimmed portions a little. I all but quit drinking soda and increased my water intake significantly.

After Whitney, I kept running. Riding has finally become less painful and I have started mixing up 10 mile rides with 3 or 4 mile runs alternate days. Weekends I am stretching it out longer. I am looking for a 10k for January.

I am down between 20 and 25 lbs. I actually feel good. Running has become dare I say, fun. Ok, fun might be an exaggeration, but it has become as posted above useful time for daydreaming and meditation.

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I am down between 20 and 25 lbs. I actually feel good. Running has become dare I say, fun. Ok, fun might be an exaggeration, but it has become as posted above useful time for daydreaming and meditation.
That's terrific MP! Congrats on Whitney challenge... and the weight loss.

Fun? Yeah, i'm with you... it's probably somewhere in between pure joy and torture. After almost a year and a half of running, I still find that first half mile to be tormenting. It always seems like exorcism to me. I get in a really foul mood, ask myself what the @#! i'm doing and debate about turning around. Of course as I ignore all this and press on, the surly spirit departs and within a few minutes God's drugs start shooting thru my system and I feel euphoric.

My dad's been running for close to 35 years. He's 77 and still runs three times a week around the community college (4 miles). I asked him recently about the "first half mile struggle". To my surprise he told me "After all these years I still argue with myself vehemently in the first half-mile, debating about whether to go home or continue the run" This was a huge relief to me. With the exception of running in really hot weather (90+ degrees) I find the physical component to be the easier challenge. By far, the most daunting obstacle for me is the mental one.

I read Haruki Murakami's book, "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" this summer. It's a great little book packed with nuggets about discipline, life and what goes on in his head while he's running.

Edited by coltrane

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These are great testimonials, fellas. Coltrane: I love your dad's comments about the first half-mile, which has proven to be the reason I've avoided disciplined running my entire life. If I ever try it again, those words will be ringing in my ears.

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Thanks Christian. In about 45 mins I will be leaving on a 7-mile run which will take me on a path to Biscayne Bay and back. Even now, I am arguing with myself about doing it tomorrow instead. It's all a matter of gearing yourself up for that small window of initial unpleasantness and I guess that part will always be a struggle.

Edited by coltrane

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It is good to hear that your Dad has the same emotions I do. I start with stretching and as I stretch my anxiety starts. Like you said, if I can get going and past that roughly half mile mark it starts to be good.

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For the last three weeks I've been upping the ante, pushing myself to see whether this tumbledown shack has got what it takes to do a full marathon by the end of January. There's still some doubt. I think by the end of December I'll have a better grip on my state of being in the sketchy 15-20-mile territory. I've started taking one small break to adjust the ipod playlist on the longer runs. Even though it usually lasts no more than a couple minutes, it gives me an opportunity to stop and look around at the scenery and get my second wind, mentally. I've found if i dont have an interesting daydream to kick around, a new project to map out or a good argument to engage in, the skull goes hollow and the run becomes something of a Bataan Death March, no matter if it's four miles or ten.

Last week was one of the more strenuous schedules I've ever done. Mon & Tues- 7 miles. Wednesday-- 8 miles and some change. Thursday-- just a hair shy of 12 miles. Then Friday I dialed it down to 4 miles.

Yesterday I did 8.6 miles. (it was BTW one of the more pure and effortless "long" runs i've ever experienced... there's no rhyme or reason why this happens.) Today my time was limited and i ended up only being able to do 4. Ironically it was one of the toughest i've done in a long time. By the time i was finished, i felt completely wiped out. My goal for the rest of the week is another pair of 8's and maybe a 15.

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Well, I ran my first full marathon on January 25th. I finished in just under 5 hours, which i'm not happy about. (I held a 10-11 minute mile steady for most of the race and drooped considerably in the last 4-5 miles) My goal going in, based largely on several of my training runs, was to finish in the neighborhood of 4:20-4:30. Eh. It is what it is. I trained throughout December and January, but at some point early this month just had trouble pushing the distances because of the warmer weather and considered bailing altogether.

The weather on the morning of the race was gorgeous; probably in the upper 50's. However, by about 9am any cloud coverage had completely disappeared, replaced by that unrelenting South FL sun. Temps inched near 80 degrees and the last 10 miles were brutal, particularly around the bridge area on Key Biscayne.

In retrospect I'm glad I did it. The discipline required for training and the physical and emotional "stretching" needed to accomplish the task provided some great life lessons. I think my next goal is to tackle another full marathon, preferably somewhere further NORTH of this tropical wasteland, and try to nail a time closer to 4 hours.

Edited by coltrane

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Well, I ran my first full marathon on January 25th. I finished in just under 5 hours, which i'm not happy about. (I held a 10-11 minute mile steady for most of the race and drooped considerably in the last 4-5 miles) My goal going in, based largely on several of my training runs, was to finish in the neighborhood of 4:20-4:30. Eh. It is what it is. I trained throughout December and January, but at some point early this month just had trouble pushing the distances because of the warmer weather and considered bailing altogether.

Is that really your natural stride? Basically, if you were happy with 2:07 last year, doubling that would be 4:14 plus your first ever 22 mile wall. Not bad. What I'm curious about is the 10-11 minute mile. Now that you are in peak condition, I would experiment with stride and pace if I were you. You are considerably taller than I am. If you can fit into a medium shirt (without the shirt flashing your abs everywhere you go) you are all legs and your inseam should be at least a 36. You have legs. Use them. You might be wasting effort limiting your speed. I'll bet you can get down to 9 mph without much additional effort. Maybe more if the competitive itch strikes. I'm just thinking anatomy and technique and nothing else. (full disclosure, when I ran I couldn't "do" a seven minute mile. Too slow. I'm six feet tall).

In retrospect I'm glad I did it. The discipline required for training and the physical and emotional "stretching" needed to accomplish the task provided some great life lessons. I think my next goal is to tackle another full marathon, preferably somewhere further NORTH of this tropical wasteland, and try to nail a time closer to 4 hours.

Come on up here. No races scheduled, but there's plenty of roadwork to be had in the teens and single digits right now. Most of the snow has been plowed despite budget cuts.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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Basically, if you were happy with 2:07 last year, doubling that would be 4:14 plus your first ever 22 mile wall. Not bad. What I'm curious about is the 10-11 minute mile. Now that you are in peak condition, I would experiment with stride and pace if I were you. You are considerably taller than I am. If you can fit into a medium shirt (without the shirt flashing your abs everywhere you go) you are all legs and your inseam should be at least a 36. You have legs. Use them. You might be wasting effort limiting your speed. I'll bet you can get down to 9 mph without much additional effort. Maybe more if the competitive itch strikes. I'm just thinking anatomy and technique and nothing else. (full disclosure, when I ran I couldn't "do" a seven minute mile. Too slow. I'm six feet tall).
Thanks for the advice Rich.... My inseam is actually a 34, so for a 6'4" dude i reckon thats shorter than average. I have a longer torso and monkey arms. I'm tall, awkward and rather gangly. I'm certainly not "built" for running in the classic sense. Even though i'm about 195lbs at the moment, there's nothing particularly streamlined about me.

Looking back on my performance, i really think the heat was the biggest factor. Otherwise, i'm convinced i couldve held to a 10-minute mile, which i wouldve been very happy with. When i crossed the 13 mile mark on Sunday, i was right at 4:12. A little slower than my half marathon pace from the year before, but i was naturally holding back this time because i wanted to make sure i had enough juice to carry me another 13. It was what happened after this juncture that affected me the most. The course passed through a couple areas with minimal shade in the 18-23 mile area. I can recall just feeling really beat up at that point. I knew i was slowing down, but at the time it was all about finishing. Strewn along the course were quite a few guys who had blown their wad in the early going and who were barely able to continue walking. There was a kind lady holding a big sign at the 24-mile mark that just read "Ignore the Body"... Sage advice. I dug deep, put my head down and pushed for the finish line.

I'm actually anxious now to try one up north and see if the lower temps and humidity, help my pace.

Edited by coltrane

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Basically, if you were happy with 2:07 last year, doubling that would be 4:14 plus your first ever 22 mile wall. Not bad. What I'm curious about is the 10-11 minute mile. Now that you are in peak condition, I would experiment with stride and pace if I were you. You are considerably taller than I am. If you can fit into a medium shirt (without the shirt flashing your abs everywhere you go) you are all legs and your inseam should be at least a 36. You have legs. Use them. You might be wasting effort limiting your speed. I'll bet you can get down to 9 mph without much additional effort. Maybe more if the competitive itch strikes. I'm just thinking anatomy and technique and nothing else. (full disclosure, when I ran I couldn't "do" a seven minute mile. Too slow. I'm six feet tall).
Thanks for the advice Rich.... My inseam is actually a 34, so for a 6'4" dude i reckon thats shorter than average. I have a longer torso and monkey arms. I'm tall, awkward and rather gangly. I'm certainly not "built" for running in the classic sense. Even though i'm about 195lbs at the moment, there's nothing particularly streamlined about me.

Looking back on my performance, i really think the heat was the biggest factor. Otherwise, i'm convinced i couldve held to a 10-minute mile, which i wouldve been very happy with. When i crossed the 13 mile mark on Sunday, i was right at 4:12. A little slower than my half marathon pace from the year before, but i was naturally holding back this time because i wanted to make sure i had enough juice to carry me another 13. It was what happened after this juncture that affected me the most. The course passed through a couple areas with minimal shade in the 18-23 mile area. I can recall just feeling really beat up at that point. I knew i was slowing down, but at the time it was all about finishing. Strewn along the course were quite a few guys who had blown their wad in the early going and who were barely able to continue walking. There was a kind lady holding a big sign at the 24-mile mark that just read "Ignore the Body"... Sage advice. I dug deep, put my head down and pushed for the finish line.

I'm actually anxious now to try one up north and see if the lower temps and humidity, help my pace.

Greg, I swear this isn't meant to diminish your accomplishment (I've rarely run more than 26 yards at once) but seeing this post made me think of a guy I met recently who goes to my church named Tim Borland. He's a "super-marathoner" if that's a real title, and I honestly thought I misheard him when he told me about the task he had just completed. Push here for an NPR story on it, but the gist is - he ran a marathon every day for 63 straight days! :o

Hmm, I just google'd Tim and realized that he has an even newer feat he's accomplished: 50 miles per day for 13 days. What, the guy can't run 24 hours without stopping for sleep? Some people are just lazy I guess...

Edited by popechild

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