Change of Plans, and with Good Reason

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I went to CPMC's Running Clinic yesterday and had my gait and physiology analyzed. It was an absolutely fascinating experience, and I'm going to report on it in detail on But, as a quick takeaway, I learned that my hips—not unlike our German Shepherd friend here—are perilously weak.

Halima, the running guru mastermind at the CPMC program, ran me through a variety of tests and examinations, and pointed out a true weakness in my hip muscles (and a potential skeletal issue with my right hip joint). I've been given a list of things to work on and have been instructed to cut down my miles. For now.

Soooo, that means my plans to start the Cool Running 12 Week 10k Training Program, which would have started next week, have been temporarily put on hold.

Basically, until I get my hip flexibility and strength up, I'll be running and lifting three times a week and swimming on off days. That's cool, because I've been meaning to start swimming again, and I'm looking forward to checking out the pool at the local gym. Hopefully it's not full of hair and bandaids, like the 24 Hour Fitness pool in San Diego (I wish I were kidding).

I'll be updating the calendar to reflect my new plan.

Man oh man what an amazing experience it was to be examined and talk about it with Halima. She really knew her stuff, and it was incredibly eye opening. Seriously folks, for about the cost of a new pair of running shoes you can get invaluable information that could affect your entire running (and otherwise) life. I strongly, strongly recommend it.

I'll be going back in a month for a follow-up exam and to talk about my progress. Here's to it!

Image courteys WikiPedia and Photoshop.

A Run and a Lift.

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Storm Sabrewin'Morning sunshine gave way to a big temperature drop and a torrential downpour; it was crazy to see roll in—it was like one of those late summer days in the midwest when the temperature drops 40 degrees, the sky goes all green and people start looking for funnel clouds and tornadoes. (Hmmmm... spellcheck says there's an "e" on the end of the plural "tornado"...looks weird to me. Anyway, moving along.)

Of course the temp drop was probably only 10 degrees or so, but San Francisco weather generally sits right on the sweet stop between comfortably cool and chilly, so the drop was noticeable.

With my plans to run outside thwarted, I headed over to the gym to get my run in on the treadmill. I wish I could report a great run, but alas it was not to be.

As cool as it is in San Francisco, places generally seem to be stingy with letting fresh air in. The 24 Hour Fitness I generally work out at down in the Marina tends to be a little stuffy. On rainy days, it becomes a bit of a sauna; no fresh air, high humidity, rising temperatures. If you can't find a treadmill in front of one of their few fans, you're in for a weight-cutting session.

I wasn't lucky enough to get one of those fan-blessed spots; the woman next to me was the lucky one, and at maybe 95 lbs and fit even she was sweating buckets. But she was also smoothly cruising at 7.7mph.

Yes, I do check to see what speeds other people run at. I'm always curious. There are some smoking-fast folks out there, for sure. I remember one day in San Diego going down to the fitness area in my apartment complex and seeing this absolute gazelle flying on the treadmill. Just all grace and good form and speed.

When she finished and it was my turn, I had to compliment her—I remember telling her that watching her run was probably one of the most athletic feats I'd seen in person in a long time, which it was. She looked like she was put on this earth to run. We chatted a bit after, I asked her some form questions, and she kept telling me that I needed to loosen up. It was like a friendly gait analysis lesson from someone who was apparently a track star at UCSD. I'll take free coaching wherever I can get it, and I still try (with varying degrees of success) to stay loose and not tense up when I run. Thanks for the tip, random track star lady!

Anyway, I digress. It was hot at the gym, I got all hot, and my left lower leg started to bind up a bit. Screw it. With ramping up my weekly miles and the heel lift changing my gate, I feel like I'm playing with injury fire here. So I stopped short and hit the weights. Maybe I'll run tomorrow, maybe I'll R*I*C*E it and put in a good effort on Sunday.


Bench Press: 3 sets of 5 reps @ 195lbs
Deadlift: 3 sets of 5 reps @ 135lbs
Still Dips: 3 sets of 5 reps
Pull-Downs: 3 sets of 5 reps @ heavy weight
Seated Rows: 3 sets of 5 reps @ heavy weight
Ball Crunches: 3 sets of 10 reps

Weights went a lot better than the run. Deadlifts are beginning to be fun, but you can definitely chew the crap out of your shins with the barbell. Good form dictates that you keep the bar close to your lower legs as you lift (to protect your back), and the roughened bar grip gives your shins a deep exfoliation with every rep. Good times.

I'll be adding more reps to the dips and crunches soon. I also just picked up a couple books on core training and lifting, so I'll probably adjust my routine once I've read them.

Man I was wordy today.

Have a happy Valentines Day tomorrow; even thought it's a Hallmark holiday, take it as an opportunity to enjoy whoever special you have around you, and remember (at least for one day) not to take their specialness for granted.

Photo courtesy Jpeg Jedi on Flickr.

What Are Your Goals?

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Golden Gate Bridge at nightI started my run at around 5pm, so the sun was beginning to go down. It was pretty darn cool out. Chilly, you might say.

Since my left lower leg has been tight, I warmed up my calves and tibialis muscles a little bit more before starting up, and then eased into the run, going slow at first and shaking things out.

Felt good. I'm not sure I'll be running tomorrow, but we'll see how my legs feel.

With the cool weather taking care of any overheating issues, I felt like I had all the cardio in the world. I could have maintained my pace for at least another couple miles.

Running seems to be a negotiation between your cardio, your skeletal muscles and your mind. As with any trio, one party is frequently in discord with the rest, and the strong have to either give in to the weak or try to coax them into playing along.

The cardio element really only gets me when I'm either starting up after a long layoff or when I'm overheating. If I can't dissipate heat quickly enough, I get exhausted.

When my cardio is there, the next thing to start complaining is the skeletal muscles. My hip has occasionally gotten wonky, but it's usually lower leg issues that arise. Shin splints or some type of tibial muscle fatigue and pain.

If my cardio is good and my muscles are adequately conditioned, then it's my brain's turn to be the weak link; every now and again, it starts thinking about quitting.

I'm no great runner. My goals are not to qualify for Boston or win first place medals in my age group. Ultimately, I'm doing this for two reasons:
1. To fend off my genetic predisposition for heart issues.
2. To look awesome naked.

I think these are understandable goals. Right?

So, if I keep working, and keep element of the Triumvirate (cardio, muscles, mind) healthy and supportive of each other, hopefully I'll train farther and farther, get better and better, and achieve my goals.

What about you? Why are you running? What are your goals?

Photo courtesy Go Card USA on Flickr.

Ugh, Terrible Run; Decent Lifting

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Yeesh, terrible. Terrible terrible.

It was raining and hailing and acting all crazy outside, so I resigned myself to get my miles in on the treadmill. I moved yesterday's workout to today (was feeling a little funky and a little sore), so I was slated for 4 miles and a bunch of lifting.

I don't know what went wrong, but my left lower leg muscles were going nuts. Just knotted up and not into running today. It was one of those things where my right leg stride is normal, but my left foot is just flopping on each step. Ever have that? Weird.

All signs point to the lift I've put in my right shoe; my armchair physiologist theory is that to some extent I'm getting in realignment, and my left lower-leg is having to do a little more work than it's used to. Hopefully I haven't created a brand new problem. It really doesn't feel like it.

By the time I quit (2.5 miles short) both my lower legs were bound up and tight.

I've had the last 2 days off, so I'm not sure if I slept funny or have been eating poorly or what. But it's weird, fo sho.

Anyway, lifting went better. I'm now starting to add weight a little bit at a time. Since the weight of the pull-down and row machines are arbitrary—it says "12" instead of "___lbs"—I won't bother recording it here, but I've gone up a plate in both instances.


Bench Press: 3 sets of 5 reps @ 195lbs
Squats: 3 sets of 5 reps @ 135lbs
Still Dips: 3 sets of 5 reps
Pull-Downs: 3 sets of 5 reps @ heavy weight
Seated Elliptical Rows: 3 sets of 5 reps @ heavy weight
Ball Crunches: 3 sets of 10 reps


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RAIN! Rainy day.

I was scheduled for a 4 miler and was going to do 5 miles, but the light drizzle turned to rain, which turned to soaking wet clothing which led to me tapping out at a little under two-and-a-half miles.

It was fun to run in light rain—certainly kept me nice and cool. And I wasn't the only one out there. Aside from the folks trotting on the streets, Kezar Stadium track had 5 other people running when I got there. They eventually all petered out when the rain picked up.

I was soaking wet when I got in my car and headed home. Fun. Not dying to do it again in the near future, but fun.

It's Feb-Uhr-Yoo-Airy

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The stunningly beautiful, sunny, warm weather we've had recently is yielding to the grey sort of blech stuff we normally get this time of year. It could be worse—much worse; it could be bitter cold and snowing. Or slushy.

Today was only a little gray and cool. Honestly, I might not love San Francisco weather for hanging out or having a BBQ, but it is FANTASTIC running weather. It really helps mitigate the heat.

My running feels like it's coming along nicely, and lifting's going well as well. I'll be starting the Cool Running 10k Training Plan beginning in March, and I think I'll be in the right spot for it as far as pre-training. Looking forward to it!


Bench Press: 3 sets of 5 reps @ 185lbs
Deadlift: 3 sets of 5 reps @ 115lbs
Still Dips: 3 sets of 5 reps
Pull-Downs: 3 sets of 5 reps @ heavy weight
Seated Elliptical Rows: 3 sets of 5 reps @ heavy weight
Forward/Backward Lunges: 3 set of 5 reps each side
Ball Crunches: 3 sets of 10 reps

Although my weight is still up, I think I'm getting a lot closer to pull-up strength. I'll probably start in the next month or so. I'll also be bumping up my bench, squat and deadlift weights now that I'm feeling comfortable and confident with my form again.

It's good, babies; it's good.

Final Test Run with Hella Sound Running Music

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Oh babies.

We are so very close to wrapping the first release of running music at Hella Sound. Today was spent fine-tuning the first song for the various stride-rates, and I took the 160bpm version out on the road to test.


I'm giddy like a schoolgirl to share what we got brewin'. I have some more fine-tuning to do (and then some technical stuff to wrangle on the site), and then we'll be releasing the running music doves (as it were).


My Nike+ run data graph kinda looks all over the place, but it felt like a great, energized, consistent run. Me gusto.

Also, to keep y'all updated on the shoe-shim: as you may recall, I put a little lift in my right shoe to make up for the slight difference between the length of my ol' pegs. Well, it's been good. My right lower leg and hip have been pleased as punch, and my gait feels very natural.

I will say, though, that my left lower-leg is a little sore, and my lower back is a little tight. My rationalization-slash-armchair-podiatrist explanation is that my body is adjusting to being back into alignment when I run. So it'll take a little while to get used to it. It doesn't seem to be causing any issues or problems.


Bench Press: 3 sets of 5 reps @ 205*, 185lbs
Squats (Smith machine): 3 sets of 5 reps @ 135, 185, 185lbs
Still Dips: 3 sets of 5 reps
Pull-Downs: 3 sets of 5 reps @ heavy weight
Seated Elliptical Rows: 3 sets of 5 reps @ heavy weight
Ball Crunches: snicker snicker
*When I got to the gym, both benches were taken. I ended up working in with a guy, and it looked like he was lifting 185lb. But man, the first set was harder than it should have been. While he did his last set I did some math and realized there were 45x2 and 35x2 on the bar (instead of 25x2). Heh heh heh. Hehe. *sigh*

Cocoa Pebble Pancreatitis

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I am sugar-coated crack!Notice how Fred is running in this picture? He seems energized? In full stride? Elated? In no way suffering some sort of horrible insulin flux?

This was not me.

Against my better judgement, I ate Cocoa Pebble Rice Crispy Treats instead of real food for breakfast and lunch, and suffered dearly for it during my run.

Didn't know you could make Rice Crispy Treats with Cocoa Pebbles? Yes, my friend. Yes you can. Normally I would never create such a high-fructose-corn-syrup-disaster, but I was cooking up a storm for the Superbowl and needed to supply something sweet for @LosBee. She's got celiac, so I couldn't use normal Rice Krispies (notice the "K"... I think there's a konspiracy in there somewhere...) because they gum them up with malt flavoring, which has gluten in it. Whole Foods was out of reach, so I grabbed our pal Cocoa Pebbles off the shelf.

Cocoa Pebbles Rice Crispy Treats are actually okay. Really, really sweet, but okay. Edible. They do in a pinch. But they are, to say the least, nutritionally unsound. But, being knee-deep in work and not having a moment to whip up something better, I chomped 'em down. And started wigging out in a sugar frenzy.

For the whole run I felt like I was dragging a piano behind me. After the first mile or so I started feeling a little bit better. But woof. No bueno.

I should probably check to see if I somehow gave myself Type I diabetes or something.

866 Calories Later...

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Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous day in San Francisco. Again! I'm starting to think I've died and gone to Southern California. Or something.

I spent the majority of the day getting food going for the Super Bowl. On the menu:
Grass-fed beef sliders with caramelized onions and Parrano cheese
Slow-cooked BBQ pork shortribs
Homemade guac
7 layer bean dip

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Knowing I was going to pound down enormous amounts of calories during the game was a motivator to get my run in today. I skipped yesterday's run because by the time I got around to it I was feeling sorta crappy—like I got a little micro-cold or something. @LosBee says it is possible to catch a slight little cold, so I'm going to believe that's what I was feeling.

It was pretty warm and very sunny out there. I was glad that the warmth didn't completely crumble me. If I had more opportunities to run in heat at this level and a bit higher, I think I could get past my inability to handle it.

I felt like I was going pretty slow, but I was going steady. I cruised until about mile 2, then started focusing more. By mile 3 I was trying to focus on relaxing—relaxing my shoulders, relaxing my back, relaxing my arms. I even relaxed my face a little, like you do at the end of a yoga class. It was good. I felt like I had more energy and felt less fatigue in my upper body.

I'm not built like a runner. I'm pretty much built like a linebacker that's gone to seed. But I like having upper-body muscle that's ultimately impractical for running—just one of those things. It's how I'm built. Granted, I have quite a bit of non-muscular weight along for the ride, which sucks, but that's why I'm running. At some point I'll hopefully run that extra non-muscle meat off.

Tomorrow's a rest day for me, but it's also GROUNDHOG DAY! (W00T!) Growing up in Chicago, I know Groundhog Day psychologically matters more to folks that are struggling on the frozen tundra. Out here in San Francisco, I can't complain about sunny, 65+° days in January. So to all y'all that wake up to an ice-cold bedroom and have to scrape the ice off your cars every day, hopefully Punxsutawney Phil doesn't see his shadow tomorrow, and winter is over sooner rather than later.

(Oh, BTW: the little gel lift I put in my right shoe seems to be working nicely. I feel really comfortable with it, and so far my hip and other pains seem to have gone completely away. Pretty sweet, huh?)

Photos courtesy of rick and fauxto_digit on Flickr.