Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dog Bite On Run


Get a text from my workout partner to meet in our new training area. As I pulled up next to his vehicle I didn't see him so I started running along the river towards an area he and I had scouted the week before as a swimming hole. I thought maybe he started over there. As I ran along the trail next to the river, I passed a few isolated little areas that people used for enjoying the water. The last area had two dogs playing in the water. 

I slowed down to a walk, not wanting to scare the dogs. I smiled at the owner, we exchanged pleasant words of passing and as I got to the other side of their site I started running up the trail again. That's when one of the dogs came up behind me and bit me on the calf and then ran away. 

I looked down and saw several areas that were bleeding. The owners came over and started to ask how they could help me. Surprisingly I wasn't mad. I should have been furious. I should have been scared. I suppose had the dog latched on and shook I would have had the time and reaction to defend myself. However the dog was far away by that time. 

In my pack I carried a small med kit. I kicked myself for taking half of it, the larger items, out just before coming to the workout. I knew I was going to get the pack wet and just didn't want to pack more stuff in ziplock bags. 

I pulled out my kit and the dog owner used some of my prep wipes and bandaids to patch me up. We exchanged information, I asked some questions about the dogs health. They offered ice from their igloo chest and I asked for a beer instead. 

I ran back to my vehicle and saw my training partner and his wife and they helped me with a second and third cleaning.. I had a half gallon of water that had sat in my the car for a couple days and was probably 150 degrees. I pored that over the wound area and used a towel to clean scrub the skin. Pored more water, used some more alcohol wipes, snapped a photo, wrapped it up with gauze and duct tape and attempted to continue with the workout. When I got home I showered, scrubbed the wound area again, applied hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic cream, more gauze and some ice packs. 

Its a couple days later now and it appears so far to be healing okay. Last night was a rough night of sleeping. I think every time I rolled over to that side it bothered me. Mistress says that I screamed a few times in my sleep, something I don't normally do. My running has been difficult but doable, my gait has been slightly off due to the obvious damage the muscle took from the trauma the bite caused. 

The owner did call me, left a message, asking about how I was doing. It was nice gesture. I was clear at the time of the incident I am not a litigious person but if I ended up going to the doctors I expected them to pay my expenses and they agreed. So far I haven't seen a reason to go to the doctors, not a popular position in my family and peer group. I think I am still within that window that an infection could be incubating so I am being cautious with how I this could end up. 

Bled in a workout. Got a free beer. (shrug). If I don't end up with an infection and the bite area heals, I could say I've had worse workouts...

(after third cleaning, appox 15 min after bite)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Push Up Challenge Completed

I was able to complete my 10,000 push ups in July challenge six days early. A lot of effort went into those 10,000 repetitions. As I counted out my last ten I thought back to all the days a shoulder would ache. I thought of the week I suffered a bruised bicep when a log fell off my shoulder; a knot of muscle fiber in my lower bicep that with each push up would pinch or snap over neighboring muscle fiber. 

Using my daily calendar as my guide, I knew that I was ahead of schedule for the month. Doing some final calculations on the 25th I realized if I did 956 push ups I would be done. So I went after it with the goal to be done before midnight. Which I managed to do with a quarter hour to spare. 

I didn't do this challenge to learn anything new about myself. I didn't have a spark of inspiration or transformative moment. I know how mentally tough I am. I know what my limitations are. It was hard. It was a challenge. It was a goal to work towards. Sometimes thats all the inspiration needed. 

In my last challenge update, I had not decided if I would continue my daily quota and run up the total till the last day or just acknowledge that the race is over and rest up. I've decided on a compromise. 

I am going to continue with my pushups as part of my morning routine, a circuit of push ups, abs, burpees and air squats, done continuously until I complete my biggest challenge number of the day. This will help split up my ab and burpee challenge exercises that continue through October. As those reps increase, so do the sets. I could very easily be doing 300+ pushups a day just to take a break from something else. 

Last days push up total. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July Fitness Challenge Recap Week 3

This is part of an on going series of reports for the month of July 2012. To read previous updates the links are provided, OVERVIEW, WEEK 1, WEEK 2

Honestly, juggling all four challenge's on top of my normal training and daily routines is starting to take its toll. I am glad that this upcoming week will see the end of two challenges. Lets get into the details. 

100 Day Burpee Challenge. Haven't missed a day yet during this challenge. The reps are not difficult to handle yet. What I have found myself doing is breaking the numbers up into sets of 15 or 20 at a time. This fits well into a continuous speed circuit I do of push ups, abs, burpees and air squats most mornings while I loosen up from a night of sleep. I am still not happy with my foot placement on the way back to the start position but doing the reps faster helps with more of a pop up than normal. 

1,000 Ab Rep Challenge. 300 daily reps this past week has not been as big an adjustment as I thought it would be. Like it has been in the past. By rearranging my sets to a more familiar rotation, mentioned above, I can easily get my numbers in. I have already noticed a bit more striated muscle around my ribs and diaphragm. If I could get to a two and half pack by the end of the challenge I would be happy. While that seems absolutely paltry, let it be known I have never had well defined abdominal walls even at single digit body fat training for contests. For the vast majority of  us average folk, noticeable abdominal muscle has very little to do with exercise and everything to do with genetics and long term nutritional considerations.  

10,000 push ups in July. I am on track to hit my total around the 26th or 27th of the month, way ahead of schedule. Last week I had not decided if I was going to continue with the daily quota all the way through the month and just keep running up the total or not. I probably will not. Instead of averaging almost 400 push ups a day I will probably go back to my standard 100-150 a day as part of my morning circuit. 

30 Day Run Challenge.As I predicted the run has been the hardest for me to keep going. There have just been so many days where fitting it in has been a burden or chore instead of something to look forward to. In fact the lack of rest I am giving my legs has caused me to cut back on my overall distance for the month. I believe the continuous fatigue from the burpees is playing into it. The good news is I haven't missed a day of running in three weeks. The bad news is my long runs have suffered significantly due to lack of proper recovery of my legs or my normal ability to remove certain exercise to prepare for longer runs.  I look forward to having to a run rest day on August 1.

july week3 challenge
Clockwise: Run Challenge, Burpee Challenge, Push Up Challenge, Ab Challenge

What has really frustrated me at the end of Week 3 is that my normal daily workouts suffered from staying on track with these four added challenges on top of it. I missed a couple of longer runs and performance drills so that I can recover my legs and shoulders. Especially hamstrings and calves. I do not normally do this many challenges concurrently. As I said, I do a circuit of pushups, abs and burpees almost every day but just not in this type of concentration. The completion of the push up challenge will be in a couple day during Week 4 and the culmination of the run challenge the beginning of Week 5. I think it has been good to push myself with all these events but the experiment finds me longing, especially for, longer runs. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Decided to surprise my neighbor by working out in his yard

The other day I saw my neighbor cutting back some bushes in his yard. Not uncommon to see in Suburbia, USA. A few days later I saw he had cut them all the way down down to the stump and was frantically using a come-a-long to try to pull them out, to less than ideal results. Now, my neighbor is not young and had a fairly extensive neck surgery last winter and to see him doing this was concerning, I didn't want him to hurt himself, so I went to talk to him. He said the project had taken more time than he had for it and was mad he couldn't get back to it for couple weeks. He was pulling the stumps so he could lay more grass. So I decided when he went to work the next day, I would go over and pull the stumps for him. Without telling him. Surprise.

It wasn't all that hard to do. I used my ax, a Fiskar x27, to break up the ground and split the main root system of the four stumps. Unlike my palm tree stump removal last month this was a typical root system so not all that difficult to accomplish. As I pulled the stumps out by hand, I used a reciprocating saw to cut any small roots that where holding it in underneath. 

I didn't start with the reciprocating saw until after I cleanly sliced through my neighbors drip system pipe with an ax swing, man that was too easy. I realized I needed a little finesse when it came to working around the pvc pipes so I started using the saw to churn up the hard soil and map out the pipe line. I debated on running up to the hardware store to get a new pvc pipe to glue in a repair, but I am not a perfect neighbor, he can fix the damn pipe himself. I did the dirty work. Even though he didn't ask me too. Okay, so I am still a bit conflicted over the cut. 

It didn't take long to pull the four stumps out but it was a lot of good swings with the ax during a typical Sonoran Desert summer day. I was glad to be done and even more glad to not get caught doing a good deed. 

When I told Mistress what my plan was earlier in the day, she was very point blank in her response, "You're going to pull those stumps so you can use it as a workout.. Aren't you?" Gulp. Guilty. Who says a good deed can't benefit the person doing it too? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Don't forget to do the simple things differently

Am I the only one who does uniform repetitions for a workout?  I once road my bike a little over 97 miles but because it wasn't exactly 100 miles or what in parlance is known as a 'century' ride, I rode in a circle around the parking lot until my cyclocomputer read exactly 100.00 miles. When I run I don't stop at some random distance that perfectly aligns with my car door or driveway. Oh no. I will run past or stop short so my GPS sport watch has a specifically aligned number in American or Metric standards. Running 3.1 miles is acceptable because its a 5k, but  running 3.3 miles is not because it doesn't equate to a quarter, half or full  increment. When doing cardio on a machine it's a debate to stop on a rounded off distance or a rounded off assessment of calories burned. 

Here is photo of a recent day of push ups. Notice those sets are perfectly rounded numbers. I do my pushups in sets to 50 to track them while out and about. When I get home I tally them up on my dry erase board in the kitchen. But always done in sets of 50. You can see that when I finished them up watching tv at home that night. 

I realize that even as difficult as it is to knock out regulation sets throughout the day I am doing myself and my fitness a disservice by conforming to an arbitrary number. It makes adding up the reps in my head easier but my body and mind get to a point where 50 is the expected number and I am putting the result before the effort. 

I have now started to push my repetitions beyond 50 per set. No specific number, just as many as I can do without injury and able to continue with more later in the day. My body is ready for it and my mind is not. The perfect storm for improvement. 

When you think about it, 97 miles is a pretty awesome distance to ride. 8.8 miles is a pretty awesome distance to run. 64 push ups is a pretty awesome number to do all at once. Why add more OCD to my life when the effort provides its own reward? New lesson learned, don't get bogged down in symmetrical distance and repetitions. Just do. Just be. Just act. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

July Fitness Challenge Recap Week 2

Week two went better than I expected with all metrics met or exceeded. If you don't remember the physical challenge I set before me for the month of July, you can read those HERE. And a recap of week one, HERE.  No fancy photos this week I am afraid. I'm impressed I included two hyperlinks in the opening paragraph.

Sit Ups. I always feel like weeks one and two are the easiest, not just physically but mentally.  Doing 200 abdominal repetitions isn't all that difficult and take almost no time. I've been getting by with just a couple different movements to fill this quota. Today starts Week 3 so my reps are now 300 per day. To me 300 a day starts to equal real effort. I need to start adding different ab exercises, doing at least a couple more sets a day. In a couple more weeks I'll be too numb to care if its 300 or 600 reps but today the jump seems to affect me the most. Probably because I have to think about it now. 

Push Ups. No stopping on this one now. The momentum has been created and the body does these automatically. Even if I wanted to I couldn't miss completing all my reps this month.  Yesterday everything seemed to come together and I was able to complete 1,000 repetitions over the course of the day. As I totaled up my numbers for the month I was only 15 away from 6,000 push ups so I completed those just to put a nice fat '6K' on the calendar. I am split on how to end this challenge. My projection is to end on the 25th of the month but mentally I am committed to doing it for the entire month of July. I've done both in the past. 

Running. The weather cooperated with me this week and got most of my runs done outside. A heavy downpour started during one of my runs which allowed me to do one of my favorite things in the world, run in the rain. I stretched out my run by an extra 30 minutes just to enjoy the experience here in the desert. I predicted this would be the hardest of the challenges and its turning out to be true. My legs are not used to day after day of running along with all the other exercises and training. My glutes and hamstrings have been fatigued thus more effort put into stretching and taking care of them. One day last week I was particularly tired and decided to do a mile on my home treadmill just to get it out of the way. After 5 minutes of occasionally putting my feet on the belt but mostly having it roll away between my legs while I was distracted doing three other things, I got seriously P.O.'d with myself, reset the unit and made that mile a true speed test. I don't like half-assing my workouts and hold myself accountable. 

Burpees. I don't treat burpees with any great reverence. I do them and I get them out of the way. I am not scared of them, I don't try to ignore them. We co-exist. I have never liked my form though. I can fairly easily perform a squat thrust and complete my push up (not counted in my other challenge by the way) but bringing my legs back under me I have to constantly work to improve. In my mind to do the exercise correctly when the legs retract both feet are facing forward, knees facing forward, like a gymnast sticking their triple flip from the high bar. For my efforts, my feet plant under me as if I was standing at military attention, heels touching, feet at 45* angles. This forces my knees to shoot out at angles as well. The standing and hop  are as I want. Luckily with the next 78 odd days remaining I will have thousands of opportunities to work on this aspect of my form. How that is different from the last 20 years I have done burpees I have know idea, but perfection is always desired. 

The effort continues. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I won't be defeeted

When it comes to endurance pursuits and most adventures, it comes down to the condition of your feet. Wear a pair of ill fitting or inappropriate footwear and simple walking becomes a chore. Shod your feet correctly but wear the wrong socks, hot spots and blisters are assured. Yet even when you do it correctly, and have the right sock and shoe combination for the job, all you have left to think about is, "How tough are my feet?"

Wearing the perfect footwear, socks, even after market or corrective insoles still can't help our feet if they are not toughened up by repeated abuses. Wearing your perfect foot gear still doesn't address the actual foot in terms of abuse some events put on it with constant movement compounded with hours of being stuffed in wet, muddy, silty, hot constrictive devices.  

(scene from movie Die Hard)
So I am working on toughing my feet. The actual soles of my feet. Regardless of the fact that I am a lifelong hiker and spent a decade of my life in Combat Arms carrying heavy packs in standard issue boots, I am somewhat of a tenderfoot to be honest. I don't usually get blisters or hot spots from my longer runs or events and I am good at changing my socks and treating my feet but my bare feet are still in my opinion soft. I do not ever enjoy walking around outside in my bare feet. Every little pebble is a sharp rock, every twig a thorn. Sand is always too hot. Grass is always to prickly. I will continue to wear some sort of footwear where ever I go, thank you very much. Yes even in the hallways of a carpeted hotel on a lazy vacation. I feel that I have watched Die Hard far too many times. Okay, okay, I don't always were slippers or house shoes in my own home. 

(oh God, no. Creep me out)
This week instead of a WOD of run drills and conditioning, I decided to run a mile barefoot. Nothing fancy, nothing fast, nothing on my feet. I found the absolute greenest, most lush park area of grass in my neighborhood and took off all my clothes below the ankles. I felt naked and exposed. I would have rather ran nude in just my shoes rather than the reverse, which was what I was going to do. 

I can't say I was looking forward to this, by comparison, very short training session. Just run a mile. Slowly even. A 'sing a song ten minute pace'. As I left my shoes and socks in a pile, all alone in the grass, I felt as if I was leaving kids for a one year deployment overseas.

When I finished my mile, my feet were feeling surprisingly fine. I had not stumbled or been jabbed, stabbed, poked, itched, bite by ants or run into any snakes. (Its an irrational thought I know. Honestly and rationally there were no snakes I could have ever run into at the park but it was the same feeling and instinctive thoughts I get whenever I swim at the lake and think to myself, "There are no sharks in here."). I put my footwear back on and headed home. 

A little later, showered and walking around my own house the aching started. The hot spots I picked up but hadn't presented now started to affect me. Crap they started to hurt. It was a good lesson. It was a good workout in that my feet will learn to adapt. Distance be damned I am toughening my feet up. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Juggling 4 Fitness Challenges

To hold myself accountable I will try to post each Monday where I stand in the four challenges I am attempting in July. These are above what my normal workout is for the day. Luckily, two will be completed by the end of the month which will make my daily regime feel less like a part time job going forward. Though it would be pretty cool to be paid to do this all the time. 

The first box is July 1, the last July 8. 
I took the family wall calender in the kitchen and divided each day into four blocks, one per challenge. Clockwise, is my Run for 31 days straight challenge, a 100 Days of Burpees adding one rep per day, 10,000 Push Ups in July averaging 325 per day and finally a Ten Week Ab Challenge doing 100 reps the first week and adding 100 reps each week.  I wrote a more thorough description earlier this month. 

So far so good. I haven't missed any days and on track for all to be done on time. The burpees have not been uncomfortable though if I go too fast my breathing is labored. The abs, which increase a hundred reps today to 200, are the easiest to complete. Push ups I know from experience become an accumulative strain on the upper body and the strategy becomes doing more sets rather than larger rep numbers. 

I still think that the run challenge is going to be the hardest of the to complete. The rest can be done anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Running at least a mile a day involves some planning. 

My normally scheduled training, be it a WOD, cycling, running, Death Race training or hiking is not listed on the calendar. As that never has an end date or need to be tracked for reps or streaks. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fitness Challenges in July

I have restructured my training for July by adding some challenges ON TOP of my normal workouts. I thought I would let you all take a peek and maybe find some inspiration for your own training or spark an idea to challenge yourself in a meaningful way. 

100 Day Burpee Challenge. This actually started on June 25 and concludes on Oct 3. Began on Day 1 by doing the most amount of burpees you could comfortably do without stopping. Normally on this challenge you start at 1 repetition. Then for the next 99 days add one burpee per day. I suppose I was lucky enough to establish my base number at the very end of a three training rotation where I did 15 hours of hard exercise. My body was pretty hammered, ready to collapse and did 18 burpees. The simple way to think of this challenge is that I will do 118 on the last day. In reality the number of reps doesn't matter at the end, its the action of doing 'one more' burpee every day consistently for 100 straight days. There may be some people who do not know what a burpee is or confused on how to do them. Here is a blog I wrote on the burpee and a video I like to use as a visual. 

1,000 Ab Challenge. This is a ten week challenge starting the first Monday of the month. For the first week do 100 total repetitions of abdominal exercises every day. How they are done, in what order and how many reps per exercise is completely up to the individual as long as 100 reps are met every day. Do 100 crunches or 100 flutter kicks, do 10 reps of 10 different ab exercises, its the reps that matter not a prescribed doctrine to follow. On the following Monday and for the next nine weeks add 100 repetitions each week to the routine until the last week you are performing 1,000 abdominal exercises per day.  

10,000 Push Up Challenge. This is a one month challenge to do a total of 10,000 push ups in the calendar month. If spread evenly the number of reps would be 323 per day. If a day is missed it could be spread out over the rest of the month or 323 x 2 push ups the next day. Or do 1,000 a day and get the challenge done in ten days. The calendar is the frame, the effort is the individual.

1 Mile Run Every Day Challenge. This is a one month challenge to run every day a minimum of one mile. While this seems incredibly simple, it is so hard to string together consecutive days of running. All the other challenges can be done almost anywhere over a 24 hour day. Running requires some planning that can easily be derailed. I have gone longer with the challenge in the past but feel this one may be the hardest to complete. 

To keep all these straight I write my daily totals on a wall calendar in the kitchen. Each daily box is divided into quarters, one for each challenge, that are filled in daily with my totals. However you decide to spend your month or your entire summer the most important thing is to challenge yourself with habits that are fun.