On the wrong path

Last night I was thinking about my next race, the 80 km (50 mi) Fidelitas Night Run, and looking over my race reports from past years for this race. I have run the event 7 times already, but the last two times I didn’t prepare a race report, which disturbs me as I like to use these to document what went right or wrong. This led to thoughts about why I started blogging in the first place back in 2005, to document my running journey, especially the training aspects which are a valuable tool in training for and running races.

In the last couple years I guess I have had blogger burn-out, which I now find regrettable as I now have a very large gap in documenting my running journey. In the same timeframe my running has changed, the running flame has gotten dimmer, partly due to other commitments in life, but also partly due to a lack of motivation. After running the 100 mile race in 2010 I was tired, physically and mentally. I have kept training and running races, but only half-heartedly, really not striving for anything more than to run “just to finish”.

As I stand in front of the door of my 55th birthday next month, I ask myself whether it is because I’m getting old or what? But when I look at the older members in my running club I know that’s not true, they may not run marathons any longer, but what they do run, they run with their heart in it.

No, I think I am just getting soft and lazy, unfortunately quite in the literal sense, my weight has crept up, the muscles lack the tone they once had, the clothes are too tight, terrible, just terrible. Even without having documented my training in the last years, I know what the problem is, I have no real plan, I run mostly at casual speeds, I rarely do any crosstraining, and my eating habits are way too similar to before I started running.

My training this year began with good intentions, I was going to lose weight, I was going to cross train, I was going to do speed work, I was going to blog…yeah I was going to. Now midseason and only 3 pound lighter, and still 20 pounds too heavy, I need to make some changes, and I need to stop putting it off any longer.

So as I taper for my race on Saturday I have some time to work on a new training plan.

Last nights training: 10K in 1:06:12 (6:37/km, 10:39/mi)
Weight: 77kg
Weight at beginning of 2014: 80kg
Goal weight: 70kg

Humid and Getting Hotter

We have been having fairly hot and definitely humid days for the past week or so. Last night was 30C/86F, but the air thick and uncomfortable. I saddled up and went for a run anyway, the next day might be worse…
I set out at a fair trot, around 5:30/km (8:50/mi), but after about 30 minutes the humidity started zapping my energy and I started braking. After a bit I forced myself to speed up again and gradually got back up to speed again and held this for another 20-25 minutes. By this time I was about 8-10 minutes from the house so let my pace decrease again. I returned to the house looking like I had just dived into the pool, I was literally soaked with sweat.
The forecast for today is thundershowers, with a gradual increase in temperatures the rest of the week. I think I will have to get up early on Saturday and do my long run, I can’t imagine doing it in the heat of the day.
On a side note, I have been doing really well on my non-diet this year. This morning I reached an all-time low of 70 kg (155 lbs), I believe the first time that I have weighed that less since I was about 12. I attribute my success to careful eating, including eating lots of raw fruits and veggies, and staying active. I am really close to my goal now, then it is only a matter of holding it the rest of my life…

So How is the Diet Going?

The heat and humidity that we have been having is still lingering. It was nearly 29C/84F as I made my way out the door, but with a little wind for a change. For the second day in a row I had 20km/12.5mi. on my schedule, but this time I wanted to run at least part of it at a faster pace.
I ran to the trailhead from my running club and set out over the 11K route that I usually run there. This route is advantageous for a faster paced run as it is flat and consists of well maintained dirt-gravel logging trails without any roots to trip over. I gradually increased my pace until I was running around 5:30/km (8:50/mile). This was roughly the point where my legs warned me that if I kept increasing the pace they would be dead in the morning. So I ran about 4-5 km at this pace, then slowed down again for the rest of the run.
So what’s up with the title? If you have been reading my log for awhile you might have read that I started running about 4-1/2 years ago to lose weight. After many years of too much food and too little activity my weight was surpassing the 240 lbs. mark, which was enormous for my 67 inch height. Through walking, then running I got my weight down to around 170 lbs. and have held it for over three years now. Generally during race season my weight drops to around 165, but I was never able to get under this for more than a day or two at a time.
This race season I also dropped my weight to 165 lbs., but in the last few weeks I have managed to drop below that. This week I am down to 161 lbs. and so far have been able to hold it, even while fuelling some longer runs. I am hoping that I can continue and bring my weight down to a lean (for me) 155 lbs. by July 30th (my birthday). If that doesn’t work, than I hope I can maintain the 161 lbs. Worst case I hope I can stay under 165 lbs. over the winter. Nothing like a race-of-my-life, good day, and bad day goals for my diet too, huh!
Oh, and for any of you searching for a diet plan, mine is simple:
1. Eat healthy, but in controlled quantities.
2. Cut out as much fat and sweets as possible.
3. Drink lots of water.
4. Run at least 50 miles a week, preferably on hot, humid days.

Discovering the Secret to Weight Loss

Many of us began the New Year trying to get rid of the extra pounds accumulated over the holiday season. Whether fine food, sweets or whatever I think we were all guilty of a little over indulging (if not, then why not?). Anyway the solution is quite easy, you only need to follow the simple formula:
Calories IN < Calories Out (burned) = Weight Loss Who knew that it could be so simple, right 😉 Some have more luck than other implementing this formula, myself being one of the unlucky ones who seems to fail with the Calories IN part. I have decided that the main reason that I run must be so that I can eat more of what I like without fear of bursting out of my clothes. Last night I was home a little early from work so headed out for a 14K/8.7M run. My goal was to try to pick up the pace compared to most of my runs over the last couple months. I warmed up with a 6:00/K (9:39/M) paced kilometer, then took it up a notch, around 5:15/K (8:30/M). It was still light out so I was able to keep up the pace for most of the run, finally slowing down over the last couple kilometers as dusk settled in. After the run I did a modified version of the daily Crossfit workout (WOD). The WOD consisted of: Five rounds for max reps of: Body weight bench press Pull-ups I’m not strong enough (yet) to bench press almost 170 lbs., so I tried 35 kg (77 lbs.), which is the weight that I left off with the last time I bench pressed. I used my bench press machine rather than free weights, because I don’t have a spotter. The machine is actually much harder and I can’t lift as much weight when I use it. For pull-ups I did as many normal pull-ups as I could each round (6 being my max.), then did jumping pull-ups to bring the total to 12 for each round. It ended up being a good workout, but I could have probably gone with a bit heavier weight and more jumping pull-ups. Tonight we are meeting friends for dinner, so will take a rest night. On Saturday morning I want to do a long run on my hilly route in Weingarten. Have a nice weekend! Ich schätze wir haben alle ein bisschen zuviel über die Feiertag gegessen. Die Lösung ist eigentlich ganz einfach, die Kalorien wir konsumieren muss weniger als was wir brennen. Es klingt so einfach, aber ich, zum Beilspiel, habe Problem mit dem ersten Teil weil ich esse so gern. Gestern Abend habe ich ein 14 km rund gelaufen. Ich habe versucht ein bisschen Gas zu geben, auf Grund meine Tempo ist im letzte paar Monaten etwas langsamer geworden. Nach die erste Kilometer habe ich die tempo auf 5:15/km gesetzt. Ich konnte dieser Tempo halten bis die letzte paar Kilometer wenn es war etwas zu dunkel. Nachher habe ich die Tägliche Crossfit Training gemacht. Cross fit ist ein Mischung von Krafttraining und Gymnastik. Die „Workout Daily“ oder „WOD“ war fünf Runden von: Bankdrücken (Körper gewicht) Klimmzug (maximal Wiederholen) Ich kann mein Körper gewicht nicht drücken, so habe ich weniger gewicht benutzt. Ich kann auch nicht so viel Klimmzug machen, so habe gemacht was ich könnte. Nach die fünf Runden war ich müde, aber nicht ganz kaputt. So morgen früh will ich einem Langelauf in Weingarten auf die Weinburg laufen. Ich hoffe du hast mein schreckliches Deutsch verstanden, Schönes Wochenende!

Post-marathon Critique

On Monday, the day after my marathon, I was on vacation so took advantage of the beautiful weather outside and went for a 30 minute bicycle ride. I also had vacation yesterday (Tuesday) and went for a 50 minute recovery run later on in the morning. My legs were a little stiff, but no aches or pains, I think my recovery will go quickly. I felt so good in the afternoon that I cleaned up the yard in the back of the house – of course the sunny 17C/63F day made it a real pleasure. Today I’m back to work and looking forward to a run with my running club this evening.
Post-Marathon Critique
Last Sunday was my 8th marathon (11th if you count the three I walked in the 1990’s) and I am satisfied with my finishing time and new PR of 4:29:36. As with every marathon I like to list what I felt worked/didn’t work with my pre-race preparation. I find this to be an invaluable tool for future race training.
Pre-race Training: I think my average 4-days a week training was adequate for a 4-1/2 hour finish. My average long run pace of 6:30/K (10:28/M) was 15-30 seconds slower per kilometer than previous training periods, but this is normal through the winter months. Other deviations in training include almost no hill training, cross-training and racing. I did train more on asphalt in anticipation of the all-asphalt race.
Tapering: I tapered for almost three weeks, which was almost too long of a break. I think I could have done better in the sleep and eating department the last week prior to the race. I put in a lot of overtime at work prior to race weekend which left me somewhat sleep deprived and more stressed out than normal. I did get a couple good nights sleep before the race.
Race day: Race morning went smoothly, everything seem to fall into place as planned, no problem.
The race: I ran out of energy much sooner than I did during any of my long runs. By mile 20 I seemed to be running on empty. I am still trying to decide if I am still going out too fast, didn’t fuel properly during the run or am just a wimp.
Post race: I think I have the post-race plan down – following the race immediately went into recovery phase, drinking a glass of sports drink and eating a banana and walking around for awhile at the finish line. After showering I carbo-loaded with a beer and a sandwich, then ate a meal within 4 hours of the race. I drank water throughout the rest of the day. I had some cramping of the feet while changing and showering at the sports center following the race, but was fine the rest of the day. My legs were really tight the next day, but I made it a point to move throughout the day. By Tuesday my legs were almost normal.
Lessons learned: I think I did a pretty good job adjusting my pace during the race whereas I at least finished with my head high. On the other side I think I need to work on my overall endurance, so I can hold my race pace throughout the race and don’t need to adjust my pace (e.g. slow down).
So send me your ideas on how best to build myself up for those post-20 miles.

Wrestling with the Diet Monster

If you have ever tried to lose weight you know that it is not easy. I have fought this problem off and on since I was about five years old. I know very few (if any) people who lose weight slowly, steadily and according to plan. I usually do good for a few days then binge, get frustrated, binge, feel guilty, binge, and end up having to start all over again. Dieting is all about burning more calories than you take in. For me this is a delicate balance and when I mix this with an over gluttonous appetite, I have a very tiny fuse before blowing up an entire weeks dieting efforts in a matter of hours.
Okay I binged and I’m frustrated, but I am putting myself in the corner and facing the Diet Monster and his companions Miss Frustration and Dr. Guilt. I’m breaking the cycle that has cost me so much frustration in my life. Rather than straying frustrated, guilty and beating myself with more calories I’m drawing the line and daring the Diet Monster to cross it. The only way I (and you) can beat the Diet Monster is to fight like an alley cat backed into the corner. If you slip up and indulge, don’t drop back and lick your wounds, rather jump in the middle and fight back – run, walk, swim, bike, or just drop down and do some pushups!
My weight this morning 74kg/163.5 lbs., up 1kg/2.2 lbs. from Tuesday, DOWN 1 lb. from yesterday!
Last night I stopped at the pool and swam my laps, 1000 meters plus an extra 100 for the Diet Monster, take that whack!

Diet, Running, Race Planning

The Diet
My diet is going pretty well. As I mentioned a week or two ago I was up to 77 kg/170 lbs. the days following my 50K on October 21st. I’ve managed to bring my weight back down to 73.5 kg/163.5 lbs. as of this morning. Another pound and I will be back down to my lowest weight of the year.
Here is an example of what I’ve been eating (from Sunday):
Breakfast: A half-cup of granola with lowfat milk, 1 slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter and honey, 1 glass of tomato juice and two cups of coffee.
Snack: 1 apple
Lunch: 1 cup of spaghetti with a broccoli sauce and 1 cup of broccoli.
Snack: 1 cup of broccoli soup with some cooked broccoli and 1 raw carrot.
Dinner: More broccoli soup, 1 slice of bread with a fried egg (cooked in virgin olive oil), 1 slice of bread with lowfat cream cheese (with chives and dill pickles).
Snack: 1 8 oz. glass of tomato juice and a raw carrot.
I had two cups of unsweetened tea during my 20K run and probably three liters of water during the day.
I eat meat every 2-3 days, but use peanut butter and eggs as an alternate protein source. I don’t know if I would get a gold star on the nutrition side, but it’s working for me so far.
I generally have been keeping the distance of my long runs down the last two weeks, partly because I am still recovering from my 50K and partly to make my dieting easier. I have also been running slower for the same reasons. I still ended up with almost 62K/38.5M last week, about 20% more than I planned. But I don’t think it affected my recovery too much as I kept the pace down. Tonight I’m going for an easy recovery run.
Next Long Distance Race
At this point it appears that my next long distance race will be the Bienwald Marathon in the Rhineland-Pfaltz (Rhineland-Palatinate), Germany on March 11th. This is a flat, mostly asphalt-covered route.
I am also leaving the door open on the Rodgau 50K near Frankfurt, Germany at the end of January. This is an asphalt loop course, 10 x 5K. It will probably be a last minute decision as it is a 2 ½ hour drive in the dead of winter. There are other races later on in the year that would be more important to me, so I am not making it a priority. I expect that the training that I do in the next couple months suffice to come over the finish line under the 6-hour time limit if I decide to do it.

Swim Night

Last night I stopped at the pool on the way home from work and swam a 1000 meters, alternating breast and crawl strokes. I felt a little run down from a lack of energy as I started out, but once I got in the groove it was fine.
When I got home my wife had dinner ready: a pasta dish consisting of elbow noodles, cooked together with chopped up low fat ham slices, parsley, and an egg or two. Oh, and a green salad with low fat dressing on the side. As I am always starving after going swimming I added a slice of the filling German potato bread with some honey.
I started having hunger attacks around 8 p.m., so went upstairs in the shed and lifted some free weights and rode my wife’s stationary bike for a few minutes. This seemed to get rid of the hunger pains (it’s all in the mind). Actually I think it froze my hunger sensors, as it was only 8C/46F in the shed and I didn’t have my jacket with me.
This morning the scales were still stuck on 75 kg./166 lbs., which was no surprise, I know I have to be patient. From my experience it is better to lose weight slowly, particularly when I am exercising frequently.
Tomorrow afternoon is my 11.8K/7.3M mountain run in Neckargemund, near Heidelberg Germany. If you have ever seen pictures of the Heidelberg Castle, it is the same mountain range. I’m hoping the rain will hold off tomorrow so I can get some pictures.

Dieting vs. Training: Who will win?

Phil left an interesting comment that totally sums up my present state of dieting and running:
“I realize you are trying to lose weight and I know that you already know this, but, make sure you’re getting enough carbohydrates in your diet. Running is no fun without glycogen.”
Losing weight is hard, especially when you get down to those last 10-15 lbs. after losing over 60 lbs. Losing weight and trying to train for a marathon/ultra is even more challenging! However, it is not impossible, as Lora has recently proved.
For all practical purposes my weight loss program has failed the last two years because my average weight has stayed the same. Granted, I have toned up and added muscle so I could probably reason out a good excuse. But the mirror at home reveals the naked truth and with his buddy the scales remind me that I still have work to do.
Now that my wife has decided to start her diet, I have run out of excuses, I have decided to finish what I started almost 4 years ago! Since I am not actively training for an event for the next 4-6 weeks, now is the time!
I have been hovering around 75 kg/166 lbs. for almost two years, basically since I started training for my first marathon. The weight has fluctuated from a high of 77 kg/170 lbs. (tapering/recovery weeks) to a low of 73 kg/161 lbs. (peak training weeks). As I write I weigh 75 kg, having lost 2 kg/4+ lbs. in the last week.
My weight goal is 68-70 kg. (150-155 lbs), whereas my doctor’s recommendation is 68 kg. (150 lbs.). That’s only 5-7 kg. (11-15 lbs.), shouldn’t be hard, right! This brings us back to what Phil indicated, not getting enough carb’s can lead to early glycogen depletion, which can really take the fun out of training.
So I’m going to be running on thin ice for the next month or two, trying to find the delicate balance between eating enough to train, while reducing calories to lose weight – oh and trying to stay warm as winter sets in with a vengeance.
Anyone want to trade places for awhile?

Swim Night and The Diet

I stopped at the pool last night on the way home from work and swam 1200 meters, half with the breast stroke, half freestyle (crawl). The pool was not as busy as normal so I guess I was more relaxed, the swimming came easier than usual. For anyone new to my blog, I am a relatively new swimmer, having only one swim course (breast stroke) under my belt from last winter. I more or less taught myself some resemblance of the freestyle. I wanted to take a crawl/freestyle course this year, but the courses are few and fill up almost immediately (first come, first serve, no waiting lists). So basically I’m not fast, but I get the job done.

The Diet

I continue to half-heartedly try to lose the last 7 kilograms/15 pounds that would leave me at my dream weight of 67 68 kg/150 lbs. I was down to 73 kg/161 lbs. for about five minutes this summer, but have been fluttering around 75 kg/166 lbs. for most of the rest of the year. Following my marathon in September and the vacation right after this I shot up to 78 kg/172 lbs. and it has taken me until this week to bring it back down again. This morning I was 74.5 kg/165 lbs. and hope to drop another pound or two by the middle of next week. My goal is to still be under 75 kg/166 lbs. the days following my 50K race in ten days.
For the rest of the year I want to decrease running slightly and add more crosstraining, including weight lifting. I hope that, together with a serious diet plan, that I can lose make a serious dent in my weight loss. Pretty ambitious during the holiday season, right!