Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Good First Day

Monday, the first day of my break, was a good one. I drank plenty of coffee, of course, and then took a nice run, 4.31 miles with one main change of pace. I didn't have a plan when I left the house, but by the time I reached the Tallahatchie Bridge, I had decided to retest for my vVo2max pace. The testing protocol I read is extremely obfuscated, but the bottom line is you run for 6:00 minutes as fast as you can and your average pace is your vVo2max, which means the minimum velocity to produce your maximum aerobic capacity. I have been reading Owen Anderson's Running Science with great interest and enjoyment, which is where I ran across this and a whole lot of other stuff.. The last time I tested a few months back, it came out as 8:16 per mile. This time it was 7:47 per mile. That means I am somewhat more fit than I was, which is good news considering I am still way overweight. The test provides more than just a gauge of progress, but those tempo numbers factor into training paces for several kinds of run workouts.

After lunch, I did some yard work and lifted weights. That's how I like to lift. I do a circuit on the weights, then do a few laps mowing or weeding or something. This gives my heart rate a chance to come down and my muscles the opportunity to recover before the next round of weights. I wear my Garmin while I lift and mow, and I write my ambulating numbers in my workout journal. Today, I walked 1.96 miles while lifting and working the lawn. No, we don't have a large yard. We do have a large Magnolia tree in the front and it requires huge amounts of work or we would literally be buried in leaves. We have been here thirty-seven years. The tree was large when we moved in. If I could afford it, I would have it cut down in a heart beat, and it is way too large for me to take down by myself. It could crush our house or fall across the street blocking it and most likely do severe damage to the roadbed. In short, it is just not a do-it-yourself job.

On the weights, I did both upper and lower body with the focus on the upper. I am slowly working my bench up, and although I have not hit the legs hard, I have been consistent in giving them the strength work they need. For years I under worked my legs because it added a recovery issue that competed with my ability to run the mileage I wanted to run. Strictly by accident, however, I have stumbled upon a method that allows me to lift with the legs and recover better than if I had not.

The method involves splitting the run and the weights, doing one and then several hours later doing the other. It doesn't seem to matter if I run first or lift first. If I lift first, I take a recovery shake after the weights. Then, typically, I go to work and run several hours later when I get off. The legs have recovered some and after the run I take another protein shake. Probably it is the added protein that is supercharging my recovery. I also speculate that it has something to do with insulin sensitivity in addition to the added protein. Exercise makes the muscle cells extremely sensitive to insulin. Normally, people think of insulin and sugar, but insulin is the key that unlocks the cells to receive not only carbohydrates, but protein as well. In fact, muscleheads will tell you that insulin is the body's most powerful anabolic hormone, more efficacious even than testosterone. By lifting and running several hours apart, I am giving my leg muscles TWO insulin sensitive windows per day and then providing the bio-available whey protein immediately after each workout. The results have been that I am working harder and recovering better. BINGO!

For years, recovery was my biggest issue. Whenever I ramped up my mileage, I inevitably crashed after a few weeks. Now, despite being older than I have ever been, I am tolerating more training than previously I was able. I often think if I knew as a young man what I know now about my body and how to care for it, I could have been a bad man, I could have been a contender.

Now I am wondering how to apply this to my swimming. It seems simple enough, right? Well, I have not had the same success with swimming and lifting on the same day unless the swimming comes first. But that presents issues with my training partner who only wants to train in the afternoons. Maybe I will experiment with getting up early and lifting in the morning and then seeing how an afternoon swim goes. Training for the Chicot Challenge doesn't allow room for a bunch of sub par swim practices.

Speaking of the next Chicot Challenge, the date has been set for June 6th, and the course is already laid out. I plan once more to start at Ditch Bayou but this time head south for a bit to make up the needed distance before turning up lake and swimming towards the State Park. That will keep us out of Conerly Bayou, which I found during last year's swim to be a bit creepy. It was fun but spooky for me and when we made it back to the main lake, I had a huge relief. The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi has already set up an event page on Facebook. This makes me very happy, and it causes me to push a little harder when training in the back yard. The weights I lift now will help my muscles to be strong then. Not only that, but they will enable my upper body to have the capacity for the voluminous training needed this spring. Oh yeah, the distance for the 2015 swim is a planned nineteen miles. Prayers appreciated.