Reset: fitness

I’ve been rethinking my fitness and diet regime (again). As a dude in his mid-forties, I’ve begun to feel some of the aches and pains of middle age, and I’ve begun to think much more about how to train to be fit for a lifetime rather than fit for a specific high performance endeavor.

With that in mind, I’ve added back into my routine more strength training, more flexibility and mobility work, more balance drills. If I plan to be active and healthy well into old age, I need to focus on these essential skills now.

To make room for this work, I’ve taken the running back a step. Still doing it, but focusing on very slow MAF style runs*, and not at all concerned about weekly mileage or time. The goal is to be active every day in a production, injury free way.

Here’s the plan for the week:

Monday: The recommended routine from reddit’s bodyweight fitness group coupled with addition flexibility and mobility work and a short, extremely slow, run

Tuesday: An hour long, MAF style run

Wednesday: The recommended routine from reddit’s bodyweight fitness group coupled with addition flexibility and mobility work and a short, extremely slow, run

Thursday: An hour long, MAF style run

Friday: Off.

Saturday: a long run or bike ride

Sunday: an hour long run and an extended flexibility / self massage session.

Nothing fancy, nothing hard right now. In three months of so, if this goes well, I’ll reassess and determine if I its time to switch it up again.

*The MAF method, for those that don’t know, is the method of running developed by the controversial endurance coach Phil Maffatone. Maffatone has a whole philosophy for fitness, not all of which I buy it, but I do like the simplicity of his heart rate based training approach. It is’t simplest form, its 180 minus your age give you the highest number your heart rate should hit during training. For an old man like me, this means I never train above 138.  Clearly, this is an over simplification, but it’s one I find helpful.

Top 20 Posts and Pages

Milo just went over the 200,000 hit mark, which is pretty cool. By far the most popular section of this sprawling mess is the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire, which, if you’re a runner, is worth checking out. But in this post, I thought I’d highlight the 20 most popular posts on that aren’t related to the Boston Marathon.

Its an odd mix. Here they are in reverse order:

20 —  Book Nerds: Richard Prince — A look at the astounding book collection of one of the most important contemporary arts alive.

19 — Our Pre-term Baby — The story of my daughter Anna’s rather dramatic entrance into the world.

18 — How I Read 52 Books A Year — With illustrations from the Wire!

17 — Classical Sources of the Milo Stories — Just what it says it is, a resource page for some of the myths about our man Milo

16 —  Phil Coppess: Hero to Working Stiff Runners — Some thoughts on running legend Phil Coppess, who ran some incredibly fast times while also raising two kids on his own and working in a factory.

15 — Alex Honnold and the Viewers Guilt — My thoughts on watching the incredibly talented climber risk his life

14 — Weight and the Marathon– A look at the role weight plays in marathon success

13 — Some Thoughts On the Early Days of Strength Training — Just what the title says.

12 — The Hero Brought Low: Representations of Milo of Croton in Art – Some thoughts on the way our favorite Greek wrestler has been depicted in art through the ages.

11 — Running Heroes: The Women of the 1972 New York City Marathon — A brief peice about the women who staged a protest at the New York City Marathon and changed running forever.

10 — 2014 – My Year In Books — A round up of all the books I read in 2014.

9 — Divine Madness – A resource page collecting information on a now largely forgotten running “cult”

8 — 2015 My Year In Books – A round-up of all the books I read in 2015, the first year I start really paying attention to the diversity of voices in the books I read.

7 — Milo of Croton — A resource page for information about the Greek wrestler for who this website is named.

6 — The Egoist and the Fixed Gear A Polemic against a certain type of New York City Bike Rider

5 — S Town’s John B. Mclemore: A Reading List — A collection of the books reference by John B. Mclemore in the excellent podcast S-Town

4 — David Goggins Inspired Bodyweight Workouts — A collection of body weight workouts inspired by David Goggins training of Jesse Itzler in the hilarious Living With A Seal

3 — The Runnable Bridges of New York City — Just what the title says this is an interactive map of all the bridges you can run over in New York City.

2 — 2016 My Year in Books — My recap of my reading int he eyar 2016 when I tried to have my reading reflect the diversity of America.

1 — Fitness Habits of Disgraced Generals — And finally, number 1. A light hearted post about the fitness habits of Generals McChrystal and Petraeus that has now inexplicably become my most popular piece of writing. Go figure.

Friday Inspiration: Nassbaum’s Morning Routine

I’ve long admired Martha Nussabum’s work in philoosphy, now I have to admire her work-out regime as well. Should I mention that she’s 69?

 

She divides her day into a series of productive, life-affirming activities, beginning with a ninety-minute run or workout, during which, for years, she “played” operas in her head, usually works by Mozart. She memorized the operas and ran to each one for three to four months, shifting the tempo to match her speed and her mood. For two decades, she has kept a chart that documents her daily exercises. After her workout, she stands beside her piano and sings for an hour; she told me that her voice has never been better.

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Back to Basics (Again)

When was the last time you were fast?

Check the log. Winter 2010 to Summer, 2011.

What were you doing?

Running. A lot. Up to fifty miles a week, all of it easy.

Why did it end?

Too much too soon. Got greedy, started speed work, pulled you groin. Then the job got crazy, then the kid came, then another, and here you are. Older, fatter, slower.

What were those days like?

It felt great. You set a 5k PR at the end of a fifty mile week. You had a marathon PR in your sights. The daily miles flew by. You weren’t wearing a heart rate monitor. You weren’t fretting about zones or MAF ranges.

You were running.

Let’s give that a try again. Build up slowly. Take your time.

There’s no hurry.

Let’s not over think it. Let’s put in the miles. Do the time. Enjoy the process. See what happens.

 

62 Day Challenge: Day 4 Not Everyday Is Interesting

Reflection: Another long day of work and social engagements (PURIM PARTY!), but got the miles in and stuck to the diet. Not everyday is interesting. In fact, most days won’t be.

Day 3 done, 60 days to go.

Daily Weight 179.2 (weight, why you no move?)
Breakfast ½ avocado, 1 cup of strawberries
Lunch Hummus and tomato sandwich, fritos, diet coke. (I know, I know, I eat way too many chips)
Dinner Salmon with sweet potatoes and green beans. Apple tart. Boulevardier
Run: 5.25 miles in 51:39
Bike: 0
Swim: 0
Strength/ Flexibility: 5:00
100 push-ups (22,18,10,20,20,10)
Total Exercise Time(day/week) ~1:00:00/2:30:00
Mediation: 5:00
Steps (goal/actual) 12424/18555

2015: My Physical Year

What is there to say about my physical year? I did more than I did in 2014, but still not nearly enough. It’s never enough. I could beat myself up over that, but instead, I’ll let the numbers do the talking.

Running

  • I ran 1383.6 miles in 2015. That’s about 300 more than in 2014. I was shooting for 2000 (again) and guess what? I failed (again).
  • Those 1,383.6 miles were spread across 176 sessions, for an average of 7.85 miles per run. In total, I spent a little over 228 hours running.
  • Nearly half my running (631 miles) was done in Prospect Park where I ran 80 different times.
  • My longest runs were my two marathons, Vermont City and New York City. I also ran one other race, the Brooklyn Half Marathon.

Cycling

  • For my fortieth birthday this year, E got me a very nice bike. So far, I’ve put 416 miles on it.
  • I also put 206.8 miles on my dear old Pista for a total of 622.8 cycling miles in about fifty hours.

Swimming and other stuff

  • I swam a bit this year as well, not much, but some. It ended up being only about 5 miles in only about three hours.
  • In addition to my running races, I also did the New York City Triathlon, which I loved, and which I hope to do again this year.
  • I also did the occasional body weight work, but not enough to really track.

Conclusions

I had high hopes of this year, but again did not meet them. I think in the coming year, I need to revaluate how much time I really have, and how much commitment I genuinely have, and set my goals appropriately. But that’s for a post for a later day.

12 Thoughts On the New York Marathon Course

This past weekend, I ran the last twenty miles of the New York Marathon course, from Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn to the finish line in Central Park. Here are thirteen things about the course. Some I remember from the last time I ran this race ten year ago and some I remembered during my run the weekend.

You can see NYRR’s course map here, and elevation profile here.

Share your thoughts on the course in the comments!

1. Park Slope is where you’ll start to see real crowds. The New York Marathon is a street party from start to finish. You’re unlikely to go more than a quarter mile without a hearing the cheers, but the crowds really get going when you hit stroller Brooklyn at Fourth Avenue and about Tenth Street. There will be kids wanting high fives, and adults screaming your name. Use the crowds to keep you excited, but don’t worry if you’re too focused to miss a high five. And watch out for my running club, Prospect Park Track Club with the red banners, they’ll be cheering somewhere around Fourth Avenue and Union street!

2. Lafayette Avenue is going to be a blast. Coming down fourth avenue, you’ll reach the intersection with Flatbush and cross over onto the slightly uphill Lafayette Avenue. This will take you straight into one of the loudest parts of the course – Fort Greene comes out in force. Expect drums squads, cheering families, and possibly an actual band or two. When I ran this race the last time ten years ago, this was one of my favorite parts of the course. If you don’t love New York already, you will when you leave Fort Greene / Clinton Hill.

3. Don’t expect big crowds on Hasidic Bedford Avenue. From Fort Greene you’ll continue through to Clinton Hill, where the cheering will remain robust. But as you turn off Lafayette onto Bedford Avenue, expect things to quiet down a bit. Bedford Avenue from Flushing to Division is home to one of Brooklyn’s most devout Hasidic communities, and they tend not to be big marathon supporters. This is only about a mile of the course; it might be a nice respite between the big crowds of Fort Greene and the coming crowds of Williamsburg.

4. Hipsters be hip, but they’ll still cheer for you. Once you cross underneath the Williamsburg Bridge, you’re in one of the hippest (and most expensive) neighborhoods in Brooklyn – Williamsburg. Crowds will be armed with aeropress coffee, beards, and cheers. Expect ironic signs and families with expensive strollers. It’ll be fun.

5. Long Island City might slow you down. After Williamsburg, you’ll continue down Bedford into Greenpoint and then over the Pulaski Bridge into Long Island City. Greenpoint / Long Island City is one of the more maze like sections of the course with a number of twists and turns. Expect to slow down here as you make a series of turns through this formerly industrial, now high rise condo, part of Brooklyn and Queens.

Here I am on bridge number one, the Pulaski:

Bridge one, mile 6. Suns up! #nycmarathon #92bridges

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6. The Queensboro Bridge is long and it is steep. If you’re planning on running New York, someone has already talked to you about the Queensboro. Its long, and its steep, and there are no crowds. Coming at about mile 15 in the race, this is when things are starting to get real. Take it one step at a time and try to enjoy the view (if you can see it).

The view from bridge number two, the Queensboro. As you’ll probably be running in the middle of the road, your view isn’t likely to be as nice.

Bridge #2 mile 7.5 #nycmarathon #running #92bridges

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7. The crowds on lower First Avenue can’t be beat. Soon enough, you’ll have climbed and descended the Bridge and you’ll be coming around the sharp corner off the bridge and into the insane cheering scene that is First Avenue. With one of the biggest crowds on the course, First Avenue and 59th street will be a nice pick-me-up after the bridge. Use the crowds to keep your mojo going, but don’t get too excited – there’s still ten miles to go.

8. Upper Fifth avenue? Maybe not so much. As you head north to Harlem and the Bronx, the crowds will thin out some. This is where I plan to put on the music and just crank out the miles. First Avenue is a (basically) flat 5k. Get in the groove and click off the miles.

9. There are a number of turns in the Bronx. Similar to the twists and turns of Greenpoint / Long Island City, the Bronx involves some twists and turns, over some slightly rolling terrain. Expect to slow down a bit here as you navigate the turns.

You’ll enter the Bronx on the Willis Avenue Bridge. 

Bridge #3 mile 11.5 #nycmarathon #running #irunny #92bridges

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10. Fifth Avenue is uphill. After your very short sojourn in the Bronx (you’re only there for about a mile and a half) it’s back into Manhattan and down Fifth Avenue. And by down I mean heading downtown, ‘cause this is actually a sneaky little uphill and odds are by now you’re feeling it.

11. The park is rolling. At 90th street you’ll pull into the park for the home stretch of a little more than two miles. The crowds will be huge, and the road will be undulating. Don’t let the fact that your legs are killing you get in the way. Enjoy these last miles. Pass the historic reservoir, and the zoo, the quickly across central park south and up to the finish line where the music will be blasting, the crowds cheering, Congratulations, you finished!

12. The end of the race isn’t the end of your day. You’ll cross the finish line, get your medal and space blanket, and then you’ll walk. For a while. At the very least, you’re going to walking another ¾ of a mile before you get out of the post marathon scrum. Odds are, you’ll be walking even further than that. Take it easy though, you’re done.

So that’s twelve quick impressions I have of the marathon. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

EDIT: I’ve seen some great comments on this post on various running forums. I’m adding some of them here with the permission of the poster.

Runasics from runningahead wrote: Mile 2 is the fastest mile I’ve run a marathon.  I was ~50 seconds faster than goal pace.  It’s a ski slope, more so than the 1st mile at Boston (which was shockingly steep the first time).  Plus there was not the sense of being overly crowded.  And that was the surprising thing about NYC; beyond the 1st mile, it did not feel crowded like other big marathons I’ve run.

The 4th Ave stretch is awesome.  It gently undulates and you can get in a rhythm, which is then thrown off at mile 8 when you turn and get squeezed up that hill on Lafayette.  LOL.

I found the Hasidic neighborhood to be oddly comical.  The residents are going about their business as if the marathon is not occurring.

Queensboro Bridge isn’t THAT bad.  I slowed maybe 10 seconds per mile.  The off ramp onto 1st is where you can pick it up way too much.  You ride the wave until past mile 18 when suddenly, as you noted, it goes quiet.  I felt my pace drop at that point.  Then you head for the token Bronx visit, which is laughable ugly.

The welcome into Harlem is cool.  Then the stretch on 5th is indeed a long sneaky incline – it seemed to go on forever and I found this to be the toughest part of the race.  Going into the park and hitting some rollers after mile 24 was easy by comparison.  Just my experience.