5-mile weighted run today with a friend. I put the 25lb vest in my backpack, so I thought I was running with 25lbs. I just weighed the backpack with the vest in it, and it came to about 32lbs. This is great news, and makes me feel a lot more confident about my joint and muscle strength under stress. I'm looking forward to seeing how the run feels with bricks instead of the vest.
My friend's usual pace (~11 minute mile) is a lot slower than mine (unweighted ~7:45-8, weighted ~9-10), so it was good to have her to keep me consistent. Here are the data:
The distance was fine. I actually pushed her a bit, but it ended up being a great run. I kept my head in it, and felt strong. My left ankle only briefly felt weak, but loosened up after running it for another mile. We did some small hills, and I would occasionally throw in a faster pace, but nothing too serious. I'm tapering my runs down a bit since Tough Mudder approaches.
As I mentioned in my previous entry, I've been taking cues from Ben O'Grady and incorporating a lot more running into my weekly routine. My strength training is almost nonexistent at this point, but it's entirely justified considering my current running ability and the intensity of the event for which I am preparing.
I have a bunch of data to share, and I'm pretty proud of my progress.
I've been going out for longer un-weighted runs simply to get a feel for the distance and I think it's paying off. Here is my run from this past Monday:
These data represent a run from my apartment to Jamaica Pond. I scouted the run on Google Maps before heading down there, and just made my way out. I didn't take exactly the route I planned in arriving to the Pond, but did eventually make it there. I felt light and strong for most of the run, and was just enjoying the exploration aspect of a new path. The Pond itself is about 2.6 miles from my apartment, and then about 1.5 miles around. I ran around the Pond, then made my way back up to my starting point with no walking breaks. I maintained a reasonably consistent pace with the exception of a few hiccups. 6.48 miles was also a distance record for me at the time, and I was quite happy about that.
Wednesday I went out and forged a new path north of my apartment, crossing the Charles. Here are the data from that run:
New distance record again! Almost seven miles now. This particular run felt more like an adventure than a workout. Rain was coming down hard that morning, and I was running muddy cracked-gravel paths along the banks of the Charles. I got a little turned around after finally finding a place to turn back towards my apartment, but my Forerunner has a Navigation feature that showed me an overhead view of my position relative to my starting point which helped me orient myself. From there it was simple to get home. No walking breaks this time, either. I do so enjoy running in the rain. My heart rate was significantly more controlled during this run, which is curious because I didn't feel particularly stable throughout. I ended feeling wiped out, but very accomplished.
And, finally, the data from this morning's run. Following Ben's advice I forewent my weight vest in favor of running with the weight in a backpack as we'll actually be doing in the challenge. Seems logical. I couldn't have known just how radically different it is.
Firstly, I was carrying more weight than the vest alone; the backpack itself containing the 20lb vest in addition to my hydration bladder in its own pack. I'd say I was carrying around 25 lbs.
As Ben mentioned, the weight sits completely differently on your body. Running with a vest - as it's evenly distributed weight over your torso and allows you to activate your spine in keeping a turning rhythm - feels easy compared to this. The backpack is not only heavy on the shoulders and compressing your back, but severely restricts movement of your torso when running. In addition to the restriction of movement the weight is concentrated behind you, rendering heelstriking a significantly more detrimental practice.
My backpack isn't built for this kind of use, either, so I was consistently adjusting straps and fiddling with zippers and the hydration tube while running. Not fun. My freaking iPod headphone cord was unruly, too, and wouldn't stay attached to my hip so I had to feel it tugging on my ears with every step. This latter concern, however, was easy enough to ignore considering the circumstances.
Here are the data from this morning's weighted pack run:
It was a spirit-crusher, but I survived. The mental game was intense and likely responsible for the majority of my inconsistency and the relatively short distance of the run. I'll be doing much more of this in the future.
I felt what I consider to be legitimate and unadulterated doubt in my ability to succeed at Goruck as a result of this run; hence "spirit-crusher". I need more of this, if only to prove to myself that I can get stronger and dismantle that ego barrier. Something that stands out is my outrageously high heart rate, especially during the middle portion of the run. My Forerunner was going crazy, warning me to chill out, and at the time I was not entirely resistant to the idea of slowing my pace. I did some walking during this run, but I never stopped. The peak around 23', and again at 35' represent walking or waiting at a traffic light. The huge plateau in my pace at the end is a period of time after I had finished running and was talking to a friend on the sidewalk as I was going back to my apartment.
I'm going to do A LOT more of this. Maybe 2 or 3 times a week, saving a long distance un-weighted run for the weekend. I think flipping the current setup would be the best way for me to get used to this style of running in a short time. I believe it's also worth noting that this was a solo run; I feel like had I been running with Pete or someone else who was also wearing a weighted pack it would have been much easier to persevere. Hopefully I'll get some of that in the next week or so.
I'm cautiously optimistic, but still very motivated.
Peter and I had an interesting romp through this park on Saturday. I went weighted with the vest at 20lbs and Peter ran with his belt, although I'm not sure how much weight he used. Pete suggested we meet at a place called the Odiorne Point State Park. I arrived after fiddling with a recalcitrant GPS, we saddled up, and went out into the unknown "trails" of the park. Here's a satellite image of the path courtesy of my Forerunner's data and Google Earth.
There weren't really trails out there, but we did a lot of running on the beach, jumping from rocks, and in the deep snow. We would randomly stop and pick up heavy driftwood or rocks and carry them for a while. At two different points we carried heavy logs switching shoulders and holding it up above our heads. We picked paths somewhat at random which led to some turning around but also allowed us to discover some cool opportunities to do PT in the woods.
It was a great run for me overall. I felt strong and solid. Pete was having trouble with the constant stress on the ankles from the sand, rock and snow running.
Here's the basic data from the run. It was not feasible to keep a steady pace during the run, but we did very little walking.
I went for a run with my friend Peter around Fresh Pond today and it was wonderful. The pond is almost 2.5 miles around. I ran it with my weight vest at 20lbs.
Here are the data from my Forerunner. Breakdown after the jump:
Lap 1 was the first run around the pond. We maintained a good pace and my heart rate stayed under control.
Lap 2 was our break for pushups, flutter kicks and leg raises in the parking lot. I was still feeling fresh and strong when we finished this part.
Lap 3 was our second time around the pond. This one got to me. As we were running along, about a half mile into the run, I stopped and grabbed a thick branch from a snow bank and shouldered it. It could have only weighed five pounds at the most but it made a surprising difference; probably mostly a mental difference. I carried it for about a quarter of a mile or so and handed it off to Peter and we took turns. By the time I reached the mile mark I started to really feel it and actually said: "I'm running out of steam". Peter was relentless and encouaged me. I pushed through it and let him carry the log a bit longer than I should have to catch my breath. My heart rate peaked at around 190bpm with a shockingly high average of 181bpm. I'm going to have to work on this. To my credit, I didn't stop. I took the log back at 1.2 miles then we started cadence chanting around 1.4 miles in which helped me take my mind off the run. I gave the log back at around 1.5 miles and let Pete carry it to the end. I ran all the way to the end of the trail where we recovered and walked out to our cars to enjoy the sweetest pear I've ever had.
Lap 4 is just the walk to our cars.
I feel good despite my apprehension about my stinging shin muscle on my right leg. I thought it might be a precursor to the old familiar shin splints, but it seems fine for now. I'm glad I went out, and it made it far easier to run with a partner. I'm really looking forward to making a routine of this run and I know that it's great training for the upcoming events.
This morning's run followed the same path as my last weighted run.
The data from the Forerunner are a bit botched since for some reason it took forever to find a GPS signal. I still have the heart rate information, though, which is somewhat more stable than last time. This is with the 20lb weight vest:
Unfortunately my pace wasn't tracked until about 11 minutes into my run since it took so long to find a satellite signal, which threw off the averages.
The spikes in my pace around 14, 15 and 16 minutes are when I was forced to wait at intersections or behind someone walking slowly on the sidewalk.
My heart rate was more consistent this time, as was my pace overall. I ran the whole path (3.5 miles) with no walking rests. I felt loose and strong throughout the whole run. It was a good mental day so I was in the zone. I felt tight and sore when I stopped for my cool-down walk to my apartment but it went away with some stretching.
The runs are going really well so I'll likely change the routine soon, maybe within the next two weeks. Instead of adding weight, which I thought I would do originally, I think I'll just increase the distance and focus on keeping a consistent pace.
In other news: I've officially registered for Goruck Boston! It's really exciting, and gives me great motivation for my workouts. I'll eventually register for Tough Mudder Vermont, likely this coming week. I'll still be running Tough Mudder PA on April 10th with my friend.
Overall my training is going really well and I feel great.
My run this morning was phenomenal. I tracked it with my Forerunner 305 and the data came out reasonably well.
To summarize I ran 3.5 miles in 36 minutes while wearing the weight vest loaded with 20lbs. It is worth mentioning that I ran in icy rain, there are a few feet of snow on the ground, and puddles at the crosswalks that are well into shin-height depth. Glorious.
Something I noticed from the chart is that my heart rate spikes up into Zone 5 and stays there for almost the entirety of my run. This is obviously not preferrable. It must be directly related to my pace, so there's something to work at which I never would have known otherwise. My pace stays very consistent at around a 10-minute mile.
I divided the sections of my run by Laps on the Forerunner.
Lap 1 was a straight run from the apartment.
Lap 2 was a brief walking break.
Lap 3 was a section of pushups in the snow. 4 sets of 5.
Lap 4 was a short walk before I decided to run again.
Lap 5 was a brutal stretch of running where I was verbally chanting to pull myself through the last leg. It was horrendous and I loved it.
Lap 6 was a short cool-down walk from the nearby fire station to my apartment. I stepped in a giant puddle of icy water and it totally filled my shoes. Until that point my feet were kept relatively dry by my inov8s. I love those shoes.
Overall I consider the run a great success. It blows away my previous performances, even in terms of Shawnee and Ruckus. I estimate both events to be around three miles in length. I ran Shawnee in 30:10 and Ruckus in 29:34. Today I ran farther, with weight, and in horrible weather and despite it all, faster in terms of my pace. It's also worth mentioning that this morning's run was completed in absence of any competition. Very reinforcing.
This new workout feels awesome. Here's my updated Strength routine:
The entire routine is completed while wearing my weight vest currently set to 20lbs and two 20lb kettlebells when appropriate.
10 standard pushups.
20 standard lunges.
5 full extension wide handhold pullups.
Shadow boxing (dynamic stretching)
Each exercise, as previously stated, is performed nonstop for 60 seconds. 15 second rest between exercises. I've been using a little stopwatch for which I've developed a love/hate sentiment.
1. Kettlebell Pushups + Raise
Dip down between kettlebell handles, push back up. Bring one bell up above your shoulders to form a vertical line with both arms, hold for a second, then bring back down. Next repetition is for the other bell/arm.
2. Kettlebell Swings:
Standard kettlebell exercise. Feet a bit more than shoulder-width apart, swing kettlebell between legs up to chin level, then back down.
3. Forward Lunges.
4. Kettlebell Rows:
Shoulder-width stance. Bend forward at the waist holding both kettlebells close to the floor. Bring both bells up to the chest, then lower without touching the ground.
5. Side Lunges:
Can be done while holding kettlebells, but I don't feel like it's as beneficial for me at this point.
6. Kettlebell Pushups + Rows:
Same as previous kettlebell pushup, except at the top of the push you bring one bell up to your chest, hold, then lower the bell back to the floor.
7. Forward Lunges with upper body twist:
Just as it sounds. I twist to both sides during each lunge.
8. Decline Pushups:
Prop your feet up on a chair, couch seat or other relatively low surface. I recommend doing sets of low reps (4 or 5) and taking a few breaths before the next set. I usually tap out of this portion around 40 seconds.
9. Mountain Climbers:
Pushup position, bring one leg up to chest then back to starting position and alternate quickly. I can't yet do 60 seconds of this nonstop after the other exercises. I'm improving, though.
The Tough Mudder site recommends chinups but I change the type of pullup each time I do this routine. I usually break it into mini-sets of 5-6 pulls and then allow a rest while still hanging. This is awful with the vest after having done the other arm-intensive exercises.
The familiar old plank hold. Grin and bear it. This is cake for me without a vest, and without having done all the other exercises prior, but doing it with those things in place is quite a feat. I finally held out for a full minute today for the first time.
12. Oblique Plank:
Then they hit you with this. You're supposed to hold each side for a full minute. I'm up to 45 seconds on each allowing a 15-second rest between the sides.
Just standard bodyweight (or weighted) squats. I'm planning on substituting this for one leg squats once I'm strong enough.
I originally planned for today to be a rest day but I'm too motivated. It's a funny sort of reversal on procrastination; I keep putting off my rest days. It's benefitting my in my training but I realize the necessity of rest. I'll get to it...eventually.
I donned the weight vest (weighted to 20lbs) and literally ran my errands. I stopped at a Walgreens, picked up some things (shampoo, body wash, etc - relatively heavy things) and put them in my drawstring bag. I got some breakfast from Peace O' Pie nearby and ran most of the way back to my apartment making the round trip about 3 miles.
The run back was awkward because of the boxes I was carrying but I did little walking. It felt good, but the weight vest does bounce around as I run. I found myself pressing my hands against my chest to stabilize it. This was a necessity besides since it was cold and I only wore my fingerless gloves. I'm going to find a way to make the vest more secure and be sure to wear more appropriate gloves next time.
I am still registered for Tough Mudder PA on April 10th. As of right now I have only one other team member; all the others I had hoped to recruit were too apprehensive or otherwise constrained to register in time (the event recently sold out). I expect Tough Mudder to now be more of a fun romp than a serious competition, but I know I'm going to love it anyway - and perhaps even more so.
I have a few new toys, thanks to the holiday.
My favorite: myVibram TrekSportshoes. I've been wearing these shoes almost non-stop since I got them. All the rave reviews I had heard (especially at events like Shawnee and Ruckus) are well-founded, and I find myself now an enthusiastic proponent of the brand. My feet are considerably stronger and I've even developed a considerable level of prehensility with my toes, although moving them independently is physiologically impossible. The Vibram shoes improve posture and practically force proper running form. I've used them for travel (almost exclusively during a recent family vacation) and I'm working my way up to running in them.
Next on the list is the weight vest. After some deliberation I settled on one from Dick's Sporting Goods called theFitness Gear Weighted Vest. I've been wearing it for daily use here and there, but its most profound impact has been on my workouts. I wore it during normal workouts at home (of which I did very little, I'm sorry to say, while I was on break) and it made a huge difference. Though I'm scaffolding the added weight, and only currently using 20lbs (of the possible 40), the impact on my endurance and strength in a routine, which was previously quite manageable, was considerable. I would do a set with the vest and the second set without. More recently, since coming back to Boston, I've been using it with a newer workout routine: it's essentially listed on the Tough Mudder site. I admit I didn't finish the full 60 seconds of some of the exercises at the end, but I think I did really well, especially considering I was wearing the weight vest at 20lbs the whole time and using two 20lb kettlebells for their respective sections. I'm going to use this workout instead of my old one because I want to change it up for my body and work some previously untrained aspects of my strength. Since it makes you switch between exercises so quickly with so little rest it also includes a considerably cardiovascular strain.
Finally, I'm impatiently awaiting the arrival of myGarmin Forerunner 305(GPS Heart Rate Monitor doodad). I'm pretty excited about having this gadget. I'm a techno-geek to begin with, and adding the tech to my fitness aspirations is just wonderful. Check out the specs and the user-submitted pictures on Amazon to see some of the capabilities. I expect to wear this during every workout to optimize my gains and keep track of my progress in a more objective way. I’ll likely upload some if not all of this information to my blog for some added cohesion (especially from big events like Tough Mudder and Goruck).
I'm proud to say that I'm holding strong to the vegan diet, and it's working out quite well. It's considerably easier now and I feel great about it. I'm going to be making an active effort to learn more recipes this semester and do more cooking for myself. I also got aJack LaLanne Power Juicer Express, which I use often. I love the convenience of it. I admit to not noticing a significant difference in my performance since switching to a plant-based diet, but I was basically in top shape beforehand.
As far as the supplements are concerned, it's all vegan or nothing. I’ve been supporting a product called Vega, and I use the Whole Food Health Optimizer as my post-workout recovery drink. It’s pretty ridiculous as a dietary supplement; it’s got 100% or more of basically everything you need daily. The taste is acceptable, even good sometimes (reminds me of Carnation Instant Breakfast), and it mixes rather well. I know that without this supplement I would be extremely sore after my intense workouts, so it seems to be doing its job. It’s expensive even when it’s on sale, but I feel that it’s worth the extra money, especially since I know I wouldn’t be properly nourished without it considering my relatively poor culinary ability.
Besides the gadgets my sights are set on bigger and more challenging events. The Goruck Challenge, as outlined here on the Tough Mudder site, is intimidating to say the least. I’m considering running the Tough Mudder PA with my weight vest on, effectively using the event itself as training for the Goruck Challenge. One of my friends, whom I met at Shawnee and with whom I competed at Ruckus, said he would be interested in doing the Goruck Challenge. We are going to get together and punish ourselves regularly (wearing weighted equipment and running in snow, randomly doing pushups in the mud/slush/highway, etc.) in preparation for Goruck. The distance concerns me (~17 miles I believe), but their pace seems far slower than my natural pace which I imagine might help.
I went running in the snow a few days ago and it was awful. Granted it was my first run since coming back to Boston, the snow was deep, it was a dry, bitter cold and I felt like I might die, but it’s a path I’ve run many times before so I felt like it would be manageable. I walked the last half of the run shamefully after having willed myself that far. I made it to the gym complex and proceeded to punish myself for my weakness in the elements. I did interval running (which is fantastic and will comprise a greater portion of my aerobic workouts henceforth), weighted jump rope sets (each handle weighted at 1lb – it’s a lot harder than it sounds), 30 minutes on the elliptical with medium-high resistance while randomly sprinting, more jump rope and finish with some isometric stretching. It was a great session but I’m worried about my poor performance outside. The Goruck and Tough Mudder runs will be significantly different just for the fact that it will be a different (more forgiving) season, but I expect more out of myself. Soon I will start doing my runs with the weighted vest.