Category Archives: Big Ideas

Loving the second week of streak

Yesterday and today were pretty amazing runs. Beautiful running weather – 40’s and mostly windless. Last night was kind of an interesting situation, though. Busy day at work, so I was initially going to do the run after I walked the dog with Mrs. Jank. But, I got home with some time to spare before we sat down for supper. #2 son was cooking, and it was going a little slow, so I popped out the door for one lap of the neighborhood (~1.5 miles); ate a light-ish supper, and then walked the dog and ran another lap for another 2.7 miles on the day. Legs felt good.

Today was AWESOME. The Nike+ app suggested I do 5x400m repeats, so, sure! That meets the intent (2 miles on my feet each workout, at least 1 “running” – actually exceeds the intent in my set of rules for this year, which was going to give me the “cheat” of only having to sweat for 1 minute out of the two miles). Rather than do them on the track, took advantage of the GPS and did them on the trail alongside Narragansett Bay by the office.

And, I’m pretty pleased with the result. Nike+ says I did about 7:10 average for the 5×400 intervals; even though I walked the breaks from interval 2 on, Strava says I did 2.5 miles at under 11:00/mile overall. Not gonna qualify for Boston any time soon, but I’m really starting to feel stronger.

Today was also the second day in the pool this week. I had a pretty rough swim on Saturday; decent swim Monday afternoon, but today was another “meh” day. Regardless, I gutted out 1 KM. Form didn’t feel bad; I think it was mostly light breakfast + intervals + no lunch yet.

Tomorrow and Friday are big meeting days at work. I’m going to try running before work. I don’t usually have good luck with that, but if I don’t, I’m probably not going to get it done. So – wish me luck!

Week of Streak

So, I’m a week into my second run at the Runner’s World Run Streak, and I’m completely loving it.

Tonight – late leaving the office (Story of my life), but had a transcendent run. Yesterday was an almost cheating long run – it was

    long – 6.7 miles, pretty reasonable
    slow – Walked the first and last miles; Galloway’d the rest
    distance – Having run marathons, it’s tough to remember how amazing it is the first time one runs for a mile; or three; or five, or for an hour…

Tonight, I thought I would bang out the 2.4 miles I needed to keep pace with 500 miles for the year. But, when I got to the turnaround, I realized that the legs felt good, and extended for another .3 miles for the evening.

Chunked out 1200m in the pool after the run. More LSD; felt great to be swimming until the close with fewer and fewer folks in the pool.

Autumn is a time for new starts

It’s been a … well, pretty good year. I’m still not quite back from 2016’s episode with Lyme disease, but I’m pretty good for consistency since about September. The summer was a little more sporadic than I hoped; partially driven by work and non-work activities; partially driven by a little bit of slack.

My current battle is to catch up with my (very modest) Strava goals for 2017 – 1,200 miles cycling; 500 miles running; and 50Kyds swimming. The Cycling is pretty much in the bag – 150 miles to go; if I were really ambitious, I’d knock that off between Turkey Day and the Sunday after Thanksgiving – it looks like the weather should be pretty nice in New England; not many horses are going to be pulling the sleigh through the white and drifting snow.

Swimming: I’m not quite sure if I’ll nail this one. I set it pretty low – 1K/week, but took a hiatus from actually swimming from about April through September. I need to do about 2.5K/week, which, for me is really only two half hour sessions; but that’s consistency I haven’t been able to muster so far. I think I can nail it, but this will be the first one that I’ll let slide of the three.

The challenge that I’m pining my hopes on is hitting the running goal. I set it at 500 miles for the year – a relatively easy 10 miles / week, but let things slide while finishing grad school, traveling a bunch for work, and trying to keep up with life. August, September, and October were all good months, with mileage at or over 50 miles for the month; November, I’m behind – sitting about 28 miles with 10 days left in the month. Strava tells me I’ve got 100 miles left for the year, which, on one hand is pretty easy – only 2.5 miles/day; on the other hand, it’s doubling my mileage for November and hitting a PB for mileage in December.

Which brings me back to one of the things that really got me going last year: The Runner’s World Run Streak. I can’t tell you HOW MUCH it meant to me to have this going with my brother last year – really pulled me through a rough time physically and psychologically. So, I’m back in this year, but I’m setting a personal baseline at 2 miles/day, and I’m starting today. Not quite the 2.5/day that I need to make my annual goals, but more than the bare minimum.

The second modification I’m making is that I’m going for #100DaysOfNewYear, starting 23 November and going through Saturday, 3 March 2018. For this year, my rules are as follows:

  1. Until 31 December, the streak is completely a run streak.
  2. After 1 January, the streak can take four forms: Run, Bike, Swim, or Nike Training Club workout.
  3. Run is defined as: At least a mile (2 miles from 23 Nov through 31 December) during which a sweat is broken and a heart rate of at least 120 is obtained for a minute.
  4. Bike is defined as at least 10 miles or one hour. Either on the road, or trail, or Zwift, or a crappy stationary bike in a smelly hotel gym.
  5. Swim is defined as 1,000 yards, any stroke.
  6. NTC is defined as at least 15 minutes of some workout. Admittedly, this is a cop-out, as there are some gentle stretching routines, but, I’ve become convinced that there’s something to a strong core.

Anyone else in?

Looking forward to 2017, piling on 2016

So, I hate to pile on 2016, but, for purposes of me staying fit, it kind of sucked.

The year got off to a good start – overweight but had stuff to work with. My overall goal of about 30 minutes/day of actual exercise (not what passes for exercise on the Apple Watch) was more or less on-track. May was a low point, but I think i’d tweaked my knee.

Then, I found a tick after a scout camping trip. Went into the doc for antibiotic prophylaxis, and she told me that I’d start seeing symptoms in about 6 weeks if I had Lyme. Sure enough, Lyme it was. Started in early July while I was on travel, and laid me out. Felt like crap until I got on antibiotics; then haven’t been right since.

Anyhoo, it’s been a long, long road back (though not enough of it actually ON the road). During Thanksgiving, though, I caught Runner’s World Run Streak post, and thought “Hey, why not?” A (semi-sober) tweet at my little brother and it was on.

It’d be a lie to say that I crushed all 39 of those runs – a couple of them were phoned in, but runs nonetheless. Vast majority were <1.5 miles, but they got done.

Interestingly, when New Year’s rolled around, and when I did my last mile at 1:40 AM in shorts and freezing rain (my typo was “freeing rain”), I woke up later that same day and thought “Maybe I’m not quite done. The weather was good, so I went out and got in a decent ride on my favorite loop to really kick off the new year. Since then, I’ve been still going, despite being back to work, the winter kicking in in earnest, and my general lazy nature.

Weight’s still a huge issue. I’m ashamed to admit where I am, but I believe I may be fatter than at any point in this blog’s history. But, with a great bout of stomach flu hitting Chez Jank this weekend, I may have turned the corner the right way.

So, what are the #streak2017 rules?

  • Do something every day to get the heart rate up. 1 mile running is ~150 calories for me, so that’s the general ground rule
  • One mile walking =/= one mile running. It just isn’t. (At least not for me – though back in August it would have counted)
  • For cycling, I’m setting 2,000 watt-minutes as my mile equivalent. 2,000 w-min means that I take the watts I put out and multiply that by the number of minutes I ride. So, 20 minutes at 100 watts (which is zone 2-3 for me, pretty easy to breathe and talk but not like strolling), or 10 minutes at 200 watts (which is zone 4 – breathing really hard and starting to get uncomfortable) would count. When the weather gets nice, it’ll be a 3 mile outside equivalent).
  • Swimming is 1,000 yards, again, about 20 minutes. 500 yards seems too short (10 there and back laps in a 25 yd pool barely breaks a sweat), and I can’t really figure out where to draw the line between 500 and 1,000. Maybe 800 with swimming twice as hard as running? Dunno. Willing to talk.
  • In any case, I’m pretty psyched. 8 days in and still going (plus the previous 39, so – wow! 47 days). Feeling good. I think that as I’m getting older, keeping moving actually does better for me than taking rest days, provided that the “rest” days are really easy, easy days.

    28 Days of March to Go

    Mother Nature continues to be a Mother*.

    Today, I went to pay my respects to the waters, to spend some time immersed and moving through them. A lovely mile in the pool ensued. “Ha”, I thought, pictures of lovely summer days swimming in the sound, bay, ocean, and lakes running through my head. “It can’t be winter while I’m swimming, right?”

    The swim was good. Not noticeably faster, but still good. Form felt good, lungs felt good, and there was a little bit left as the pool closed and I had to call it quits. But, I felt good; convinced that I had this winter thing licked.

    Winter had other plans.

    As I left the pool, snowflakes were beginning to fall, and by the time I reached home, they were coming down pretty well. But, as Tony Robbins told me, I can’t let other people set my own reality – I must take control of what’s been given to me. So, after supper, Missy and I set out for our after-dinner stroll of the neighborhood. Tons of snow coming down; about an inch in the hour we’d had supper.

    But, as I’ve unilaterally declared Winter over, we went for our usual after supper stroll. Kind of a lovely walk, with snow crunching underfoot, and gentle flakes falling down. Which would be great, ‘cept winter is done.

    Wish it believed it.

    Didn’t step on the scale today, but had a bad, bad eating day. Calorie counting says I ought to have broken even, but it needs to wait until I get back on the scale.

    29 Days of March to go

    Tony and I still have much work to do.

    I arrived at the office today after a 2 hour work delay to allow New England to shovel out. Winter, it seems, doesn’t really believe in the power of positive thinking and goal setting. Or at least that’s what it thinks. So, I set a determined face, and decided to double down on my quest to end this season until sometime later in 2015 when I decide it’s time to break out the skis again.

    Plowing being what it is, and work being what it is (namely, a time sink into which daylight hours disappear), resigned myself to a little bit of time riding the rollers in the basement. Fortunately, the past weekend was the beginning of the Belgian spring classics season, so there were plenty of quality youtube videos from Cyclocosm and others to get me through 50 minutes of trying to simultaneously:

  • Smooth out my pedal stroke
  • Not Puke
  • Not ride off the edge of the rollers
  • Playlist can be accessed here, or watched below:

    Quality pool of sweat under the bike when I was done.

    Progress to date:
    Still 4 lbs above beginning of winter weight, 19 lbs to semi-fighting weight. Winter gains an additional 4″ of snow.

    30 Days of March to go

    Screw it, I’m done with winter.

    There, I said it. D.O.N.E. Done.

    Part of the beauty of living in Southeastern Connecticut is that Winter’s usually sort of tepid. Sure, we’ll get a nor’easter once in a while, but those are generally to scare off the snowbirds or other folks who’d also complain that there’s no AC in summer, or that there’s no parking, or whatever. But usually, the winters come with breaks – snow one week, mid-40’s the next week. So nothing’s ever iced up too long, and you have to treasure snow the few times a year you get it. Makes the shoveling easy, too, since you don’t have to toss the snow up too far.

    But, Saturday rolled around and, since the temperatures were within spitting distance of freezing, I busted out the trusty old Cross bike and rolled down to the package store to pick up some beers. Mmmm, beers.

    Later that evening, drinking said beers with some like-minded neighbors, I came to a decision that kind of surprised me. Namely, that I could, unilaterally, declare winter over. Done, finished, finis, ended, omega. Power of positive thinking, right?

    I’d been catching up on TED talks Friday afternoon while working, and had caught this one by Tony Robbins. In general, I think he (and many other power of positive thinking folks) relies too heavily on anecdote, single examples, and survivor bias, but, sitting there Saturday night and then Sunday morning with a little bit of fuzzy head from the night before, I kind of wondered if maybe he wasn’t right? Maybe life is choices; maybe we do have the power to shape our reality.

    So, Sunday afternoon, I headed out for a run. Even though it was 20 degrees and snowing. “Winter,” I thought, “Tony Robbins and I are going to make you my (censored)”.

    5 miles later, sitting on the porch, ice falling off of my eyebrows, I looked around through the falling snow and gloated. Tony and I are going to kick this.

    Seven Days in a Week – Advent Day 7

    An unusual thing to think of when one considers fitness gifts, but 7 days in a week works out extremely well for periodization.

    Monday’s a success just to get out of the door, and can be turned into a great day with a great workout. During the fall and darkest winter, it’s also usually a pretty great day to spend an evening in the pool when others are plunked down on the couch watching the gridiron.

    Tuesday’s great for continuing momentum, or as a second chance when Monday just doesn’t happen. Natural day to ride if you’re doing a 4 or 5 day per week running program (Easy run Mon, ride Tues, Track run Wed, ride Thurs, race pace Friday, long run Saturday, long ride/easy run Sunday). And, it’s not Monday.

    Wednesday – Stupid camels. But, it’s halfway to long-run Saturday, and a great, great chance to either kill an early AM hard workout, take a long lunch and do a mid-week stretch workout, or still salvage a slow start to the week.

    Thursday – Full of grace. Good time to do some Pilates and think about long, lean, and strong, or ride, or spend some time in the pool working on smooth strokes and tight flip turns.

    Friday – School’s out for summ… er, yeah. Great day to make sure everything’s loose and ready for long run Saturday.

    Saturday – Fire up the smug, ‘cause when you get to your kids’ soccer game, everyone will be in awe that your big mileage is done. The downside is that the alarm doesn’t stop for the weekend – good runners are good parents. The sweet, sweet reward is not feeling guilty one bit when the feet go up on the couch or hammock, and the eyes go shut until the first “Hey, my brother just…”

    Sunday – Honor the Sabbath and keep it rolling. A-Merckx.

    RoadRunner, I’m in Love With Massachusetts – Advent Day 6

    Until about 6 months ago, I’d never heard of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Then, Wilco does a night of covers at Solid Sound 2013, and once I’d gotten over the brilliance of “Get Lucky”, I picked a new favorite song. Roadrunner, with its name check of Stop and Shop (Groceries) and cold weather, and driving past neon lights full of angst.

    Obsession again, would’ve worn out a cassette tape of the concert if we were still living back in 1987. Then, my internet man-crush on the cataloger of complete world knowledge doubles back on itself, with John Hodgman getting involved with the Bay State’s legislative process to make Roadrunner the official state song of Massachusetts.

    Oh, yeah – running.

    One of the joys of my work is that I get to go talk to folks who are like wicked smart on a pretty frequent basis. Friday, I got to head up to MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory for a day of getting my mind blown. On my way out, a colleague who knows I like to go strange places and run says “Hey, are you running this afternoon?”

    “Sure”, I say.

    So, we trundle off to the base gym, change, and he points me over to the MinuteMan Trail.

    And for the next 40 minutes, I, like Jonathan Richman and John Hodgman, was in love with Massachusetts.

    New England late fall is gloriously gloomy – dark early, grey skies, biting cold – and yesterday was about as textbook as it gets. Whisps of fog blew across the ancient track, past the spot where Paul Revere was captured by the British, past stone walls older than the country, and past anything other than the sheer joy of oxygen, gravel crunching underfoot, and feeling coming back into my cold fingers. The ghosts of the Regulars and Minutemen came into mind from the fog, and the hoofbeats of horses carrying news of a single lantern were echoed in my sneakers.

    Running in a new place is a joy. No better way to get a feeling for a location. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling all over the world, and my finest memories tend to revolve around sneakers and exploring. Even places I know take on a new look when the ground’s passing underfoot at 80 steps/minute.

    Finished up the run as the last light faded and the fog turned into rain. And spent a quality drive out of the state with rock ‘n’ roll cranking out of the speakers.

    (At the risk of too much Masshole-ism, don’t forget to listen to “Case Your State“, which is NSFKids, but is comedic genius.)