Monday, June 24, 2013

STR: Days 13-15

In the last three days, my workouts have included another body weight workout, running with a jogging stroller, and sitting around reading and watching Game of Thrones. Can you guess which was my favorite day?

Day 13
As planned, Saturday was a big day of nothing. We sat around reading, we got caught up with the last four or five episodes of Game of Thrones. No strength training, no runs.

Day 14
No real plan for Sunday--it could have been another rest day and maybe it should have been another rest day, but I was feeling an itch to do something and my wife and 3-year-old both seemed like they'd be happier if our nigh-on-15-month-old was out of the house (or at least somewhere she couldn't knock down their block castles). So I decided to give the jogging stroller a try.

I didn't like it; I had a lousy run.

Now, maybe some of that is because I'm not used to it. Maybe some of that is because I'm no longer used to evening runs and have gotten to where I really prefer a run first thing in the morning. Maybe it's because--wheels or no wheels--I've got something like 30 pounds or more to move around besides the pounds that I carry around on a normal day. Whatever the reason, I was slow and I knew I was slow, because I felt all out of sorts.

This seems like a good time to talk about one aspect of the way I run: I focus a lot on stride rate, working to keep it above 90 steps per minute with each leg. This idea came from The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris, and it was a big help--everything feels easier when I get this right. How do I get this right? I could use the metronome app on my iPod, but that would get awfully boring awfully quickly, just listening to the tick-tick-tick mile after mile. So I went for a different type of crazy and went through more or less all of  my music library with the "tap" function of the metronome (you tap a beat, it tells you how fast it is) to figure out which songs in my library were at the right tempo to keep me going at 90+ steps per minute.

In general, I've found that--at least where I am in my running right now--a higher stride rate doesn't necessarily translate into a faster run. Because I can't find an hour or so of music that's all right at 90 beats per minute (or the subdivision of that, 180), my mix goes from 90 up to around 102, and everything in between. On a treadmill, I've run at a constant pace with my running mix on, and I find I'm keeping the same pace regardless. The same, I think, can easily be true out in the real world, because in order to keep up with the faster pace, it's probably natural to shorten my stride, so that even though my steps are faster, I'm taking more steps per mile, so it all comes out the same (except that I'm working harder at a faster stride rate).

I mention all this, because it relates to why the run felt wrong with the jogging stroller. Except for the songs that were right at 90 beats per minute, I couldn't get my legs to keep up. Just couldn't do it. Normally 90 is easy and 102 is a nice challenge, and most everything in between feels good too. Not last night! Everything felt like a struggle. I wasn't planning on a long run anyway--which was fortunate, since I don't think I had a long run in me. It ended up being 2.58 miles in just under 25 minutes, which put me at a 9:37 pace. I was afraid it was going to be slower than 10:00, so I guess there's that.

I really do have to look at it as a whole different beast from a regular run. Even though, compared to a regular stroller, the jogging stroller moves pretty easily, it's not like it can somehow overcome the laws of physics and have no effect on my run. There's a 22-23# child in it, plus whatever its effective weight is, and the energy to move that has to come from somewhere. I suppose if I could get myself to do this kind of run more often, it would probably be good for me--certainly, it was good for mommy, sissy, and maybe even the little nugget herself, though it was hard to tell if she enjoyed it or not (no squeals of delight, but she wasn't crying or fussing, either--at least, not that I could hear over my headphones...).

Day 15
Start of a new week, back to the body weight workout (except for the kettlebell I brought into the workout). And it goes like this:

5 sets of 5 reps of one-legged squats: I'm still building up to doing real one-legged squats, with a tiny little chair behind me. I'm basically doing negatives here, but once I get down to that point, I don't have the oomph to get back up. To be clear, I "should" be going this low (basically parallel) or lower, but I'm not there yet. Again, I added 10 regular, unloaded squats after each set, then took 2 minutes of rest.
5 sets of 5 reps of handstand push-ups: still the ultimate shoulder exercise, still couldn't actually get 5 sets of 5 reps--once again, I did what I could and then did five with my feet up on a chair.
1 set kettlebell swings: I have a love/hate relationship with kettlebell swings. I feel like I'm not quite getting the form, because I feel something uncomfortable in my knees. And once upon a time, I threw out my back, and I know that wasn't how these things were supposed to go. I did one set of 75 reps with a 60# kettlebell, but I'm thinking next time this workout comes around, I may drop down to the 35-pounder and really focus on form.
3 sets of pull-ups to failure: Always fun. Note to self: switch grip to chin-up next time this workout comes around, just for the sake of variety.
3 sets, alternating between 60 seconds of plank and 60 seconds of bridge: Last time, I did 30 seconds each. Is anyone surprised that it was harder this way? I mean that in a good way.

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