1,000 miles and counting

At the beginning of this week I made a promise to myself to step up the intensity of my workouts. Well, three out of the four days I have. After tonight's workout at the gym, I'm at a total of 35.6 miles of walking, biking, running and elliptical machining (is that a word?). While this blog has always been about running and logging those miles, I'm finding it to be a fun and exciting new challenge to count all these other miles I've never done.

Interesting enough, earlier this week I went back to recalculate all my miles for the year to make sure everything is accurate. Of course I was off here and there, but nothing drastic. Anyway, with all my miles this week, I have eclipsed 1,000 miles of exercise for the year. I hit that 1,000th mile on an exercise bike yesterday. While I want to eventually have 1,000 running miles in a year, this will have to do for now. I hope that by taking this approach to less pavement running over the next few months, my body will be ready for longer distances again next year. After dealing with injuries on and off for the first half of the year and then being completely lazy in September, the 1,000-mile milestone feels great no matter how its counted.

A double digit day

Walk: 1.7 miles; Run: 2 miles; Bike: 6.8 miles. All that on a day in which I didn't really feel like exerting energy. I managed to get a walk in with my dog before a cold rain came along, and by the time 7 p.m. got here I really didn't want to go to the gym. Since it's still not a full habit yet, I forced myself to go.

When I got on the treadmill, I didn't really want to run, so I stopped at 2 miles. My initial goal was just 3 or so anyway and then bike a few miles. I ended up doing a little more on the bike to compensate. The more run-bike routines or bike-run routines I can do, the better prepared I'll be for a duathlon next year. I'll save run-bike-run workouts for the weekends. It feels good to get that started now. Plus one point of joining a gym was to do less running, so it seems to all be working out so far.

October is turning out to be a very interesting month for me mileage wise. I've ran almost 50 miles so far -- twice as much as lowly September -- and I'm looking to intensify my non-running workouts this week to end the month strong. All in all, I really like where things are headed with winter quickly coming.

A mini duathlon

One of my goals for 2009 is to take part in a duathlon, preferably the National Duathlon Festival, which will be in Richmond for a second year. If you're unfamiliar with a duathlon, it's a run-bike-run race. I've gone out for a run and then biked, and I've biked and then gone for a run, but I've never done a run-bike-run workout ... until today.

I did 2 miles on the treadmill, 4 miles on the stationary bike and then another 2 on the treadmill. Everything felt pretty good, although my legs were a bit wobbly the second time I got on the treadmill. That seemed to work itself out after about a half mile. This workout is a good start to know what those transitions feel like. I like trying it out in the gym first. Eventually I'll take it outside. It was a good day to try it too since it was raining this morning.

My running on the treadmill has gotten steadily faster in these few runs I've done. It's tough to just set a speed and do it on the treadmill, so today I played around with bumping the speed up 0.1 mph every minute from 6.5 mph to 7.5 mph during the first 2 miles. On the second two miles, I worked my way up to 8 mph, bumping the speed up every tenth of a mile once I got to a half mile.

Thankfully today I remembered my iPod ... but I forgot my towel and my usual water bottle. I'll get it right eventually.

On tonight's episode of "Treadmill Running"

I'm not a person to "need" headphones when I workout, but in a gym I find them very, very good to have. Well, tonight I forgot them and I'll take it as a lesson learned to always remember my headphones.

Anyway, tonight I had planned on running 5 miles on the treadmill, but it just wasn't going to happen. Headphones make treadmill running much easier, but without them it's just dull. I did pull out 3.5 miles with a half mile at a 7:53 pace and four quarter-mile intervals steadily faster. The last one was in a 6:58 pace. All told I actually ran 4 miles today since I got in a half mile with my dog earlier. I closed out the night at the gym with 1.1 miles on the elliptical machine.

Now that I've gone to the gym a few times, it definitely feels normal. I can't believe it's something I have never done before. I think there are so many assumptions about who goes to gyms, but none of them are true. All sexes, genders, races and weight classes are well represented where I go. With the gym moving in a couple of months to a nicer facility, I'm sure the crowd of all faces and body types will continue to grow.

A 10k of a day

Here's an interesting way to hit 6.2 miles: 1.9 miles walking my dog, 2.3 miles on the elliptical machine and 2 miles on the treadmill. That's what I did yesterday, and I found it to be a great workout all around. The walking miles were split between morning and evening, but it all adds up, right?

The 5k experience isn't always about racing

For those of you who only like long-distance races, you're missing something special in your community. It has taken me a long time to realize this, but 5ks have a way of bringing together a lot of different people.

There's the fat dad looking to get into shape; there's the mother of three who runs no matter how busy her life is; there are runners who run so fast that it doesn't make sense; there are people who run so slow that they get passed by walkers; there are the teenage girls who have on way too much make-up at 7:30 a.m.; there are kids who walk after a half-mile, but keep on trucking it; there are cross country teams; there are neighbors who join together to pass out water ... this list could go on and on, but the thing I like most is that there's nothing wrong with any of these people. We're all there for the same reason.

Today was one of those races (5k Eagle Challenge in Bon Air) in which people of all shapes, sizes and ages were well represented. There were probably way too many kids up front , but this was their event at their school after all. I actually didn't mind too much (except for the one girl who decided to stop a half mile in and turn around and let her friends catch up) and nobody else seemed phased either.

Like I said in my post last night, I just wanted to have fun. In my head I wanted to beat 25 minutes and hit close to 8-minute miles -- actually putting that down in words last night seemed difficult. Well, at the first mile I was at 8 minutes exactly. I was kind of surprised considering how slow the first quarter mile felt, but I was feeling great. The first mile was essentially flat until about the last tenth, which was uphill.

The second mile was up and down some hills -- for what I'm used to, they weren't that big. If you live in the Mid-West, they might have looked like mountains. I ran between miles 2 and 3 just under 8 minutes. Still felt great. Between miles 2 and 3 weren't too bad either -- I'd have to say it was relatively flat. I hit that mile in exactly 8 minutes. The last tenth was as smooth and consistent as the first 3 miles. I probably could have pushed it a little harder, but considering it wasn't anywhere close to a PR, I wanted my first 5k experience in 420 days to be one that would have me happy to be doing a 5k again. I didn't want to do anything stupid, in other words.

My finishing time was 24:45 (7:58 pace) -- good enough for third in my age group (out of eight, unless one of the unnamed runners listed in the results is in his 30s) and 48th out of 301 runners (should I be happy that I beat so many kids?). While it's a couple of minutes off my PR, it is a new mark to beat for my 30s. I'd love to get back to where I was last summer with my speed. Eventually I will, but considering my injuries in the past year and my focus on longer distances, I'm certainly happy with what happened today.

To close this post off, I highly encourage everyone out there to take part in a community 5k. If you can get your mind off racing for 10 minutes while you're there, take a look around you and you'll quickly realize what a great experience it is.

The 420 day streak is about to end

Last August in the middle of marathon training, I ran my first 5k under 23 minutes. It was part of a streak of PRs in a 5k. I had a 23:03 the month before and 23:49 in November 2006. It was my 11th 5k since late 2004 ... little did I know it would be 420 days later that I would be doing my next 5k. That's my longest drought without a 5k since 2006 when I went about nine months without racing that distance.

The check is written and the entry form is filled out to run a 5k at 8 a.m. tomorrow. It's looking like temperatures will be a bit nippy with lows forecast in the mid-40s tonight. It was 85 degrees two days ago. For the record, this race is called the 5k Eagle Challenge, which benefits St. Edward-Epiphany School on Huguenot Road in the Bon Air area of Richmond.

As you know it's not like I haven't entered races. Since that time I've done a 4-miler, an 8k, a 10k, a virtual 8 miler, three half marathons (Lynchburg, Shamrock, Rock 'n' Roll), a 30k and a marathon. But I've gotten away from this great distance, and I'm looking forward to it. I don't really have any goals -- how can I when it's been that long? I just want to have fun, and that's what 5ks have always been for me. I've missed it ... just how much is something I'll find out in the morning.

The DREADmill isn't so bad ... not yet anyway

I was almost at a point in which I was going to have to take a "starting over" approach with running. But tonight I prevented that. Instead of starting over, I can comfortably say "I'm back."

I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I hit the treadmill tonight with anticipation. I went away having the best run in a long time. One thing I plan to use the treadmill for is speed work, so tonight I did several quarter-mile intervals as part of a 5-mile run. After a warm up, I did two quarters at an 8-minute mile pace (with quarter-mile breaks at a 9:13 pace) and then two quarters at a 7:30 pace. Then after a half mile at a 9:13 pace, I mixed it up so much that I lost track of what I did exactly. That's one drawback of not having a Garmin to help me out on a treadmill, but at the same time it's nice to end a workout trying to figure out what I just did.

Hitting the 5-mile mark is a great milestone as well. It's my longest run since the Rock 'n' Roll Half, easily beating out 4.1 miles on Oct. 5. I've had several runs between 3 and 4 miles, but I've had no urge until tonight to even think about 5. It's nice to do it in the middle of the week too. I get wrapped up into thinking I'm too busy to run much in the week, but I know how much of an excuse that is.

I didn't join the gym to do much treadmill running, but it was much better tonight than I thought it would be. My goal with the gym is to mix it up a lot, but tonight I just wanted to run. Even though I wasn't going anywhere, it worked out pretty well.

I'm glad that I didn't have to work my way back to a workout like this. I've said it already, but joining a gym is one of the smartest things I've done in some time. Had I not done this, darkness would have been an excuse and I would have ended up only having a walk with my dog as my exercise for the day.

Easing into fall

There's part of me that feels like this was a disappointing week, yet there's another part of me that feels completely satisfied. In the end, I think it's what I realized this week with getting in better overall shape that has me happy.

It's been an interesting week with my mileage. All told I have 32 miles -- 10.6 running, 10.5 biking, 8.6 walking and 2.3 on the elliptical machine. I missed a run this week to get into the teens, but I did do a little more biking -- all this weekend. Adding it all up, it's more than last week and that's really all I was seeking. My desire to run still isn't very strong, but as I've mentioned this week my desire to stay in shape and get in better shape is growing.

I don't have any specific injuries, but I've had a lot of dull, aching pains this week in my feet and my knees. It's nothing major and it's nothing I haven't trained through before. Perhaps its the changing of the seasons and the cooler weather, or perhaps it's because I need the break from pavement. I'm not going to push it right now, but I'm not going to completely stop either. Getting in 10 miles or so a week right now is sufficient for me, as long as I'm doing other stuff.

This coming week, my goal is to increase my overall mileage from this week -- it's nice to be able to take a different approach to fitness with the ability to ease off the running. You may have noticed that I took my 8k counter down. It's not that I don't plan on doing it, but for personal reasons I can't commit to it until that week. I don't need it sitting there if I end up not running it. There's also a 5k next weekend that I'm considering, but I probably won't make that decision until the night before. It sure is nice to be able to do that.

Lastly, I wanted to give a shout out to my friend Vicki, who also ran the Rock 'n' Roll Half in August. Yesterday she completely the Baltimore Marathon in just under 5 hours -- congrats to her and all the other finishers out there!

Sooner, rather than later

If I had known that joining a gym would be such a big motivator, I would have done this a long time ago.

Due to various things at home, I ran out of daylight to get a run in, so I headed over to the gym I joined yesterday. I thought that it would probably be a few days before I felt the urge to go there -- the weather has been gorgeous and there's just enough daylight for another week or so to get in a run or bike ride after work. Anyway, when I was there I started thinking about all the benefits I can get with the ability to control my speeds with the click of a button.

I didn't do anything drastic this evening -- it was more of me getting familiar with the machines and the gym itself. I got in 30 minutes on the elliptical machine for a total of 2.3 miles. I hadn't been on a elliptical since early 2005 when I was in an apartment. It was very different. I was going to head on home after that, but I felt the urge to run since I've only ran once this week. I'd have some nagging knee pain out of nowhere this week, so I've taken it kind of easy. When I got on the treadmill I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it. Just like the elliptical, I haven't been on a treadmill in a few years and I had really forgotten about that ability to be in control.

I ran 2 miles on the treadmill experimenting with different paces up to 7.5 miles an hour. I had a ton of thoughts running through my head on speed work I can start doing. I also was pleased with how smooth the treadmill felt. Lately I have felt like my body is taking a pounding on the pavement, thus the knee pain I think, so treadmill running will be a welcome break on my joints.

The biggest thing I realized tonight was how important it is to get in good overall shape before I focus on a longer-distance race again. In the past couple of years I have really gotten caught up in just running that I think that it automatically keeps me in shape. Well, 30 minutes on the elliptical machine tonight and a weigh-in on the scale this morning make me realize that I'm not where I want to be. Tonight is a great start on a completely new journey.

I did it, now I just have to do it

With a deal of $19.99 a month for two years, with a possibility of that price lasting a lifetime if I can convince my sister and/or brother-in-law to join, it was hard to not join a gym this evening. For those who may be reading this in Richmond, the Gold's Gym off Midlothian Turnpike has a sweet deal going on.

I left there paying a little less than $100, which consists of the first month and a "processing" fee. The rest of October was "free." And, like I said, it was only $19.99 a month for two years, with the benefit of being able to suspend during that time. The current facility will be moving in January into a much bigger place, complete with a swimming pool, basketball court and almost three times the space. For those who may reading this in Richmond, the current location is moving to the American Family Fitness location (which is temporarily moving to Steinmart before moving farther down Midlothian Turnpike next year). There's also a new Gold's opening at 288 and Midlothian Turnpike in early 2009 -- that location is part of the deal if that's where you want to work out. You can actually pay a little extra to have access to both facilities. (Click here for more details on what's going on.)

OK, enough PR talk. Now comes the fact that I actually have to use my membership. I think in the winter this will be no problem. It's really going to help when it comes to cross training. I'll likely put my home gym up for sale soon. Simply put, I just haven't used it consistently. I have gotten my money's worth, but with a baby on the way and no basement in my house, it's starting to take up space. (Anyone in Richmond interested? Just shoot me an e-mail.)

So in addition to running, walking and biking miles, I'll soon be counting elliptical machine miles. I'm looking forward to the challenge ...

To join or not to join

The question of joining a gym has followed me around for years it seems. Why can't I commit? Am I afraid I'll throw money away? I know that if I sign up, I'll use it -- I have to. Even though I don't like the elements outside, I still get out and run anyway. But in the winter, my efforts to stay in shape always seem so worthless. I hope, very soon, that I will put my mind at rest a join a gym ... or not. Those details are coming soon ...

My bailout plan is working

While September was a great month to get some rest, I can't continue with that mind frame. That's why this week was all about getting back into the groove and getting October started on the right foot. If I'm going to get back into being consistent, I have to start now.

This week I was able to log 13.9 running miles, 9.6 walking miles and 7.1 miles on the bike. While this is nothing overly impressive, it's far better than anything else I've done since August. With an 8k now less than six weeks away, it's a good place to be. My "long" run this week was 4.1 miles, which is a good starting point. Being just shy of 14 miles for the week, I'm right where I want to be to get consistent with miles in the mid-teens. And I definitely plan to build on my bike mileage too for a few weeks. I'm starting to run out of daylight, so I'm figuring out what to do about that. I continue to ponder joining a gym, but it's a tough commitment.

All in all, I am happy that October has started off well. I've kicked off the last quarter of the year better than what the economy is doing, so I guess I'm doing something right.