30 December 2008

Repeat Threshold Test

Duration = 30:01
Distance = 2.30
Calories = 238
Max HR = 181
Avg HR = 145
Running Index = 40
Max Cadence = 97
Avg Cadence = 86

This was basically a repeat of the test I did on 19 November. This was modified a bit. Warm-up was 7 minutes at 4.0 mph and a grade of 1.5%. At 7:00, I increased the grade to 3.0% keeping the speed at 4.0. The test was 0.3 mph faster after each 90-second interval. Final speed today was 6.7. This is 1.0 mph faster than last time with a lower heart rate.

I'm going to push the time trial back to Friday. While I showed improvement since November, I didn't have the ease that I'm used to. I may still be recovering from the hill runs. At least my form was better. The next one of these will probably be at the beginning of March. I will start that test with a warm-up at 5.0 and increment from there.

28 December 2008

Colder Hilly Run

Duration = 36:43
Distance = 2.95
Calories = 314
Max HR = 173
Avg HR = 151
Running Index = 37
Max Cadence = 99
Avg Cadence = 87

Little wind and around 45 F when I started. Same route as last time. A little stiffer and my form suffered. I will definitely make the point to get outside and actually run as much as I can this winter. I was wearing the long leg covers in addition to the hat, jacket, shirt and shorts I was wearing last time.

The major issue is lack of familiarity with hills and maintaining a set pace. I did much better on keeping the cadence up.

I will be taking tomorrow off and then redoing the threshold test. This will be follow on New Year's Day with a time trial to set my targets for the next month. I'm hoping to run a 5K on the 1st of February in Novi, Michigan. This will allow me to set February unless I do particularly poorly.

26 December 2008

Hilly Easy Run

Duration = 36:32
Distance = 3.02
Calories = 303
Max HR = 165
Avg HR = 147
Running Index = 44
Max Cadence = 97
Avg Cadence = 88

I managed to get out and run today before the rain got here (still hasn't as I write this). I did two laps around the neighborhood. This route has a steep hill on one end and a shallow hill at the other. A creek runs across the middle of the route. Weather was 60 degrees with overcast. There was some wind, but it was rarely an issue.

I was able to maintain my target cadence during the run. My pace was faster than my target (11:16 vs 12:00). Reviewing the data from the HRM, my heart rate is perfectly in line with the range for the easy run. I need to work on getting more used to managing my pace better when running outside. I'm looking forward to the weather improving up home in Michigan and I can spend more time outside instead of running on the treadmill.

25 December 2008

Christmas Lights Stroll

I'm currently visiting my father in Oklahoma. My father, my wife, and I went for a walk to look at the lights in the local neighborhood. We spent about a half hour at an easy pace.

23 December 2008

Full strides session

Duration = 50:04
Distance = 4.04
Calories = 467
Max HR = 178
Avg HR = 153
Running Index = 40
Max Cadence = 114
Avg Cadence = 87

Plan for today was a repeat of the plan for Monday: 30 minutes E-pace followed by 6 strides and a cool-down. Plan fully executed.

Comparing the two, I did better in every measure today. I felt better and that may be all the difference there is. My peak heart rate is on the end of the last stride and is lower than the peak of each of the five strides yesterday. The normal drift was a bit slower. In fact, there is a fair portion of the steady pace section that is flat. Yesterday had a steady rise for the entire session. Finally, after only two minutes from the end of the final stride, I had already recovered to a lower heart rate and maintained that all the way to the end of the cool-down.

In cadence, I'm getting better control of the faster speeds. The peak cadence came in the first stride. The rest were all under 105. Also, there is a sharper adjustment at the beginning and the end of each stride. I think part of the rapid improvement I seeing currently is due to significant improvement in my running mechanics. I feel there is some additional efficiency to be gained here before I plateau. As I'm happy with the pace of aerobic development, I focusing on the mechanics for this current cycle. The current sequence completes at the beginning of April.

22 December 2008

Making great strides

Duration = 50:03
Distance = 4.06
Calories = 485
Max HR = 181
Avg HR = 157
Running Index = 39
Max Cadence = 111
Avg Cadence = 87

I came up with a protocol for strides on the treadmill. I'd do them as 30 second intervals. I picked 8.0 mph (7:30/mile) for the speed as it is a single button on the control panel. My E-pace is currently 5.0 (12:00). This is a slight increase in pace for this week. The plan calls for 6 strides with a 1 minute rest at E-pace between them. I did the first five with little difficulty. The treadmill takes a bit of time to build up (and slow down) which works well with the intent of strides. I wasn't sure about the last stride and decided to drop it and finish the time at E-pace. I then did a 10 minute cool-down from 4.5 to 4.0 and 3.5 for a minute each and 3.0 for two minutes. I then dropped the speed to 2.5 for 5 minutes. 30 minutes at E-pace ended at 82% of heart rate reserve (HRR). Peak for the strides was 93% HRR and the end of the 5.0 after the 5 strides was 85% HRR. The end of the cool-down was at 55% HRR.

While I didn't do all the strides, I'm still happy with this session. I looked at a previous session that was shorter, slower, and had fewer bursts to a lower speed. That session developed at higher heart rate and peaked at the highest heart rate I've yet seen (which I'm currently using as my 100%, or HRmax). This shows definite improvement. I'm going to stay with the slight increase in pacing.

Today, I hit a milestone in my weight loss effort. My weight this morning was 170. This is the first time I've seen this weight since September 2003. This is 9 pounds since I started this effort last month. Short term, I need to get through the holidays without going crazy, but the extra calorie burn form the training helps. I'm keeping a eye on things to make sure I don't lose at too fast a rate as that way lies injury.

21 December 2008

Sunday Long Run

Duration = 45:03
Distance = 3.52
Calories = 411
Max HR = 166
Avg HR = 152
Running Index = 39
Max Cadence = 93
Avg Cadence = 87

Simple Long Run today at E-pace (12:11/mile for my current fitness level)

I set the treadmill at 4.8 and ran that, paying attention to my cadence and foot strike. My target is a cadence of 90. I averaged this during the work phase of this session. The 5 minute cool-down with a stepped reduction in speed is working well.

One advantage of the treadmill is that my wife will read while I run. (I return the favor while she does her session.) Upcoming travel will be interesting to see how I get my time accomplished.

19 December 2008

Shoveling 10 inches of snow

Duration = 1:39:08
Calories = 583
Max HR = 145
Avg HR = 119

When we got the 10 inches of snow, I was ready. I wore the strap and wrist control while shoveling the driveway and walks. I used cleaning off my car as the cool-down.

Steady Zone 1 for the first 8:15, then steady Zone 2. The last 8 minutes of shoveling was in low Zone 3 as I was dealing with the car and the last of the snow. I was moving a bit faster and it was a bit more difficult. I hit the lap button at this point (1:27:24) and called my wife. I then cleared the snow off my car. This final effort was all Zone 1. I figure this is because there was very limited lifting involved.

18 December 2008

Cruise Intervals

Duration = 40:06
Distance = 3.28
Calories = 389
Max HR = 175
Avg HR = 155
Running Index = 40
Max Cadence = 96
Avg Cadence = 85

I missed the Quality Session scheduled yesterday, so I did that session today. Tomorrow will be an Easy session, dropping the second Quality Session this week.

I need to convert the distance based workout to a time based workout. This was billed as 3 x 1-mile with 1 minute rests. I noted that the target distance was too high for my current weekly total. I dropped one of the repeats. Then I noted that I had the wrong time for the work phase. I ended up with 12 minutes of work which is short of the target of 20.

After the planned 10-minute cool-down, I added an additional phase where I step the speed down to 4.0 mph then to 3.5, 3.0, and 2.5 after 1 minute each. I then stay at 2.5 until I have a heart rate below 130. I may try this with a final speed of 3.0 and see if the heart rate drops low enough.

16 December 2008

Unplanned cross training

Duration = 45:00

Tonight, I spent 45 minutes shoveling snow. As this was an "easy" day in the plan, I used this as an impromptu cross training session. Shortly after I started, I thought about getting the HRM to track the effort, but decided that I'd rather just finish than go through the effort of getting undress enough to put on the strap and then dress again for the cold. I booked it as Zone 1 time for the record I keep of exercises.

[Posted 1100, 18 December 2008]

15 December 2008

Red Level 1 - Week 1 Day 1

Duration = 40:01
Distance = 3.23
Calories = 357
Max HR = 159
Avg HR = 148
Running Index = 41
Max Cadence = 91
Avg Cadence = 88

The start of a new program. Day 1 of Level 1 (Weeks 1-4 of the Red Intermediate Plan in Daniels' Running Formula (2nd Ed.)) calls for 30 minutes of E pace (currently 12:11/mile) followed by 6 strides. Strides are hard to do on a treadmill, so I just added 10 more minutes of E pace. Today was immediate start quickly ramping the treadmill up to 5.0, then adjusting until I was as close as I could get to the target pace. 4.8 was best today yielding an average pace of 12:14. My wife read to me as I ran which really helps the time go by. I stopped immediately at the end of the 40 minutes and did several stretches. The immediate start is okay, but I think I will slow to a walk before stopping the treadmill. It is also possible that this pace a touch fast for its purpose. On a track or trail, I expect that getting back to the car or the house will be sufficient cool-down.

Goals update and current plan

Now that I've passed the USAF Fitness Assessment, I can review my fitness goals. My first goals post is a good starting point (and changes are marked relative to that post). I want to give myself some breathing room on the assessment, so I'm adding the following goals: Run 1.5 miles in 12:00 (this will give me three more points) and complete 30 crunches in 1 minute (improving my current weakest segment). I've replaced the 1.5 miles in 10:30 short term goal with the two long term goals of maxing out the run.

Short Term Goals

  • Run 1.5 miles in 10:30 (7:00/mile)
  • Run 1.5 miles in 12:00 (8:00/mile)
  • Complete a 5K run (Done, 1 FEB 2009)
  • Complete a 10K run (Done, 11 APR 2009)
  • Complete 30 crunches in 1 minute
  • Body fat percentage < 25%

Long Term Goals

  • 6 miles in 42:00 (43:24 for a 10K; 7:00/mile)
  • Max the 1.5 mile run for my age group, currently 10:24
  • Max the 1.5 mile run for any male, 9:36
  • Body fat percentage < 20%
  • Complete a marathon

Current Plan

Over the next four months, I will be completing the Red Intermediate Plan from Daniels' Running Formula (2nd Ed.). I will continue to run 6 days a week and include 5K to 10K races as opportunities allow. I will workout with sets of push-ups and crunches on three "easy" days during the week. I will also continue my diet which should achieve my current target (155 lbs.) at the end of April 2009.

[Edited 2009-02-01 to noted 5K completed]

[Edited 2009-04-11 to noted 10K completed]

13 December 2008

Fit-to-Fight, December 2008

Duration = 13:36
Distance = 1.5
Calories = 169
Max HR = 190
Avg HR = 177
Running Index = 38
Max Cadence = 100
Avg Cadence = 91

This month, the assessment was Saturday afternoon. The conditions were good. We were indoors and the run was on a short track.

This month, I had the same waist measurement as last month, 35 inches (22.5 points). I did 24 crunches (7.1 points) and 40 push-ups (10 points, maximum available). Going into the run, I needed 35.4 points or 14:24 for the 1.5 miles to pass. This track is real short (9 laps to the mile), but the surface is great. I was shooting for a 9:00/mile, or 1:00/lap of this track. This would give me a nice cushion against the 14:24 I needed. I had a good start and ran a very consistent pace. Part way through the run, I noted I was ahead of my target (my laps were less than 1:00). I let up just a touch (later review showed my heart rate dropping from 180 to 176) as I didn't want to burn out short of the 1.5 and I was currently running faster than I have ever run for that distance. Once I got closer to the finish and still felt good, I started to pick up the pace a touch and ran the last lap in a nice kick. (The only problem I had was the corners were sharp enough that I had to lean well inside to make them at speed.) Final time was 13:36 (37.5 points). I passed the assessment with 77.1 points.

Next Steps

My waist measurement and the crunches are the weakest parts of my assessment. I've lost 5 pounds already and plan to continue the pound/week rate for the next few months. Now that I have met the standard, I can back off a bit on the intensity and replace that with strength training (including crunches). I intend to increase my score. I expect that the waist will eventually respond to the weight loss. I intend to continue training on running. I just plan to increase the intensity at a slower rate (closer to once every four weeks). I also plan to start a longer range running program starting with building a proper base. I'm looking at entering my first 5K race. The plan I've been following is modeled on training for that race, so I should be ready for that distance though not necessarily at the speed I used here.

[posted 2130, 14 December 2008]
[Edited 1300, 15 December 2008 to fix font]

11 December 2008

Last Easy Session before assessment

Duration = 30:00
Distance = 1.80
Calories = 169
Max HR = 137
Avg HR = 116
Running Index = 44
Max Cadence = 83
Avg Cadence = 70

This was an easy session. I made a bit shorter than normal. I'm almost to the point where the easy sessions have me running more than walking.

This weekend (I expect Saturday), I have my next assessment for Fit-to-Fight. As it stands, I expect it to be quite close as to my passing. I know I've taken at least 1:30 off the last time. I hope that I have most of the next 1:30 that I need if nothing else changes. I know I've done everything I could do to advance my performance on the run.

I also hope that I have made other advances; but, as I've focused on the run, I don't expect much else. I am losing a pound a week, so I will have lost 5 pounds since the last assessment. I hope I get some credit there in lost inches, but that will depend on the measurement. I hope I don't run into any problems with the push-ups or the crunches. I've done a little with them, but there is more that could be done.

On Sunday, I will know whether I passed and what areas need the more work regardless. I will add the push-ups and the crunches as a regular part of strength training in the new plan.

10 December 2008

Tempo Run

Duration = 30:05
Distance = 2.25
Calories = 262
Max HR = 176
Avg HR = 145
Running Index = 37
Max Cadence = 94
Avg Cadence = 80

Using what I learned from Monday, I started with a 10 minute warm-up. My goal for this tempo run was to maintain 6.0 for the 10 minutes of the run. I succeeded. I then did a 10 minute cool-down and stretches.

10:00/mile is a bit fast for a tempo run at my last time trial, but is right at the pace called for by my target assessment pace of 8:51. A tempo run pace is described as "comfortably hard" with a heart rate in the 85-90% of Heart Rate Reserve (range from resting to maximum). I would agree that the effort tonight was comfortably hard and review of the HR data from the session puts the heart rate at 84-89% Heart Rate Reserve.

09 December 2008

An "easy" pace targeted session

Duration = 30:07
Distance = 1.88
Calories = 206
Max HR = 151
Avg HR = 128
Running Index = 38
Max Cadence = 86
Avg Cadence = 75

This was an "easy" session using a performance-predicted pace. I have a chart using my current time for the 1.5 miles (linearly prorated to 2km as the calculator didn't have 1.5 mile as a distance option) to determine the correct pace for different types of training. I set the treadmill for this pace and ran that for the stress phase of today's session. When I downloaded the information from the HRM to my computer, I determined that my heart rate actually settled in the expected range for Endurance-targeted training.

While the blister is still there (checked before the run), it didn't seem to get worse during this session. It looks like the toe nail might, indeed, have been the culprit.

In Fit-to-Fight news, I have acquired a sit-up bar (goes under a door) to help with training for the strength portion of the assessment.

08 December 2008

I learned something new

Duration = 30:01
Distance = 2.21
Calories = 261
Max HR = 184
Avg HR = 145
Running Index = 38
Max Cadence = 100
Avg Cadence = 79

Several things actually.

I got a new book, Daniels' Running Formula (2nd Ed.) by Jack Daniels. He covers a lot of ground I've already seen, but one new thing stuck this time through: cadence. My wife had recently said that I needed to make sure I wasn't spending too much energy bounding up and down. This primed me for the comment with respect to cadence that higher cadence was more efficient as you spent less time in the air which also reduces the impact of the heel strike. I tried this in today's session. I need to work on it, but it did seem to help. This may have given me a key to my next improvement in speed. Now all I need to do is get my stamina to match.

I need to make my warm-up longer. I will now work with a gradual increase over 10 minutes to get ready for these sessions. I initially backed off the pace I had set as it just didn't feel right. A bit later (just over 10:00), I noted a stable heart rate and my legs felt better, so I started increasing the speed. I had initially planned on 5.0, but actually found that 6.0 felt better with the faster cadence. I didn't have the stamina for this level yet, so I backed off to 5.5. This felt better, so I bumped the speed a bit, and then went back to 6.0 for another 2 minutes. I finished the last 30 seconds at 8.0. A 10 minute cool-down and stretches and I was done.

A bit later, I noted a small blister on the toe next to the big toe on my left foot. I have tended to run in the socks I wear to work. I will find and wear the exercise socks I have. I will also trim the nail on the big toe which could be the culprit.

Finally, the Running Index of 38 is my best to date for a pure running session. The continues the positive trend of the three weeks I've used to heart rate monitor for these sessions. Somewhere around 45 would correspond with a strong running score on the USAF Fit-to-Fight assessment.

This was a good session: I feel great as I type this.

07 December 2008

Better Long run

Duration = 1:30:02
Distance = 5.66
Calories = 627
Max HR = 144
Avg HR = 129
Running Index = 42
Max Cadence = 75
Avg Cadence = 67

Today's long run was better than the one last Sunday. The pace was much more consistent. Warm-up started at 2.0 mph, then 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5. After 5 minutes, I started stress phase at 4.0. I maintained this until I had finished the first mile. Then I dropped the speed to 3.5. I stayed with this for a while until I noted that my heart rate was dropping a bit. I bumped the speed to keep the heart rate over 130. I ended that phase at 3.7. Cool-down was 10 minutes starting at 3.5 and ending at 2.5 to complete the 1:30 for the whole session.

I'd have liked to have done better, but my body was unhappy with me. I had just gotten home from dinner. I need to have had more fluids in my system and I should have allowed more time after eating.

05 December 2008

Last Pacing Exercise Before Assessment

Duration = 31:06
Distance = 2.42
Calories = 297
Max HR = 183
Avg HR = 153
Running Index = 36
Max Cadence = 96
Avg Cadence = 75

I did this very similar to my trial on Wednesday. I did the crunches and push-ups (this time with help from my wife). I did the warm-up, then restarted the treadmill. I set a speed of 6.0 mph. I was able to maintain this for just over the first four "laps". I dropped the speed to 5.0 until I had less than half a "lap" to go. I then pushed right up to the end of the "lap". There followed the normal cool-down, but this time I stopped decreasing the speed at 2.5.

I have a new best time for the 1.5 miles (as indicated by the treadmill) of 15:51. This is only 3 seconds from another break point. If I can get those three seconds, I have 5 of the 11.5 points I need in improvements to pass the assessment. It's going to be close this month.

04 December 2008

Easy Thursday

Duration = 45:03
Distance = 2.79
Calories = 288
Max HR = 138
Avg HR = 124
Running Index = 44
Max Cadence = 71
Avg Cadence = 67
OwnZone Target = 109-139

A good easy workout. The hardest part of these is getting the heart rate up during the OwnZone warm-up. Today was one speed, 3.7 mph (0.1 faster than Tuesday). Heart rate slowly built until 10:00 then the rate of increase slowed until 15:00. From 15:00 to 25:00, the heart rate stayed mostly level around 129. From 25:00 to 30:00 was a slight increase to around 135. This was maintained until the start of the cool-down at 35:00.

03 December 2008

Pre-assessment Time Trial

Duration = 31:40
Distance = 2.39
Calories = 305
Max HR = 183
Avg HR = 153
Running Index = 35
Max Cadence = 90
Avg Cadence = 75

This was a test to see how I would do relative to the 1.5 mile run I need for the USAF assessment in a week and a half. I did my push-ups and crunches before the run. I started with a 5 minute warm-up including short bursts of speed. (I will do strides to prepare to do the run for real.) I restarted the treadmill to use its display for the laps. I started at 5 mph and ramped quickly to 6.3. I added 0.1 after each lap. This would have finished with a last lap of 6.8. This represents the target range for this part of the assessment. I didn't do the bump after the third lap. I wasn't sure I could handle it. Then I wasn't sure I could hold what I had either. I dropped the speed a bit and then a lot. After two minutes, I started to increase the speed again. I finished with 6.0 and started the cool-down. Final time for the 1.5 mile was 16:22 which is marginally faster than my November assessment time.

I should have started slower (~6.0 mph) and maintained that until at least half-way before trying to increase speed if I feel I can. This would have been nearly a minute and a half off the time from November. Other good news is that I still feel good mechanically.

I will keep with the MWF hard and TTh easy with a Sunday long run through the assessment during my December UTA. I will adjust my plan as needed after I have those numbers.

02 December 2008

Easy OwnZone Session

Duration = 45:01
Distance = 2.64
Calories = 287
Max HR = 137
Avg HR = 122
Running Index = 43
Max Cadence = 70
Avg Cadence = 66
OwnZone Target = 108-138

OwnZone warm-up: Under 100 bpm for the first minute; 100-120 bpm for the next minute. It took me longer to get my heart rate to respond upward than in previous OwnZone sessions. I was into the third minute when the HRM settled on the range 108-138. I was looking for a fairly easy session so didn't work to raise the heart rate higher in the range. I ended up with a speed of 3.5 before I was solidly in the Zone. At about 5:30, I was trending down, so I bumped the speed to 3.6. The heart rate rose very slowly, but steadily until a bit after 15:00. The plateau is basically from 20:00 to the start of the cool-down at 35:00. In fact, the Max HR was at 32:50. The cool-down started with 131. I dropped the speed by 0.1 each every 30 seconds down to 2.0. I had recovered to under 108 be the end of the cool-down.

I would have dropped the speed if I had actually hit the top of the Zone. As I was just under that limit near the end of the stress phase, this was just about as perfectly paced as a session can get. Reviewing this session compared to the earlier sessions of the same type show improvement. I have a lower heart rate for similar or slightly higher paces.

[Edited 1039, 3 December 2008]

01 December 2008

Slow rise

Duration = 30:01
Distance = 1.48
Calories = 136
Max HR = 132
Avg HR = 105
Running Index = 42
Max Cadence = 76
Avg Cadence = 60

I started this session at 2.0 and added 0.1 each minute to 4.0. I held 4.0 for the one minute and then started the cool-down at 3.5 dropping 0.1 every 30 seconds to 2.0 and finished the 30 minutes there.

I now have a better idea how I warm up. I graphed the HR data against the speed. Looking at the raw data, there is an element of time involved as well. Next time I do this test, I will bump 0.2 every 2 minutes and see if the HR data develops steps. For now, I will ramp up to my target speed over a longer time and keep an eye on things.