Feeling my stride

I noticed something different during my runs this week.  Even yesterday on my 4 mile run (it was my short day before my long day) I noticed the same thing.  I seem to be “feeling” my stride.  I don’t know if that makes sense, but I have finally been noticing that my stride is consistant and feels right.  I have never noticed that before.  I guess that I have been working so hard on running faster, that I never just sank into my run.

I think putting my iSmoothRun app to only give me an update on my average pace each mile rather than per quarter mile gives me time not to think about my pace and to feel the way I am running.  I also think that my tempo runs help.  During these runs I have to push and run a lot faster than normal.  I notice my legs running hard and fast and keeping a steady stride.

It has been over a year since I began running and I’m just now noticing all this.  I find that strange.  I hope it is a good sign that I am becoming more consistent in my running form.

One more thing…  Last night I dreamt that I was running in a marathon.  As I was running I thought to myself, “I have only run 13 miles as a long run, how am I going to make 26”?  It was actually a fun dream.  I have never dreamed about running a race before.  It was a lot of fun and I ran without getting tired.  I hope that becomes a reality!!!

Happy Easter!

Run then Starbucks

Yesterday was my 4th 7 mile run in a row.  I’m pretty excited about that since I have been wanting to get my mileage up and wasn’t sure how my body would respond.  But other than being a little sore, all is well.

Today is a short run so my body can rest some before the long run tomorrow.

Short post, but Starbucks awaits!

Hill runs and races – workouts and payoffs

Hill run day yesterday… Need I say more.

Hill runs are good for you I hear.  TJ has really helped me in understanding the reason for the various workouts we do. Hill runs are just another part of the puzzle.  I’ve mentioned this hill we run before, but just to say it again, it is huge.  It goes straight up it seems for about a tenth of a mile and then levels out a bit and then is just semi steep for another tenth of a mile.  In fact the first part is so steep, I can’t run down it.  I’ve tried and it is more of a defensive run than a run.  Also, if I try to run down it, my knees are killing me afterwards.  So now I run up and walk (or walk in a falling forward motion) down.

All this for the workout.  I must admit that workouts really help break up the routine of running 6 days a week.  I start with a tempo run (I’m at 3 miles now) and then 2 days later do my hill run and then 3 days later do my long run.  Unfortunately I don’t recover very well from the hill run.  As of yet, though I’ve only done a few hill days, it takes until my day off (Monday) to get over the soreness.  I know that will go away, but wow I am sore afterwards!!!

The good news is that yesterday I was able to do 4 repeats up the hill.  That is the most so far and wasn’t too bad.  I didn’t sprint up the hill, but just tried to keep a steady pace.  I can tell that it really works out my lower body, which is good.

The 5K is just under 2 months away and I really want to do well.  I don’t know about other runners, but TJ and I really work at speed and distance.  I love 5Ks because they allow you to push hard for a short distance and really see how good of shape you are in.  I really enjoyed the half marathon because I had to pace myself and not push, but try to hit a sustainable pace for 13.1 miles.  That took much more strategy than the 5Ks I’ve run and in some ways made it more enjoyable.

Ultimately it is the races that make running fun.  They keep me pushing forward, up and down hills, fast and slow runs, over and over, week after week.  On race day, it all pays off.  I can’t wait for May 18th, our next 5K.  I only hope I can make my goal!!!  Only time (and workouts) will tell.

Yesterday, a good, easy run

Yesterday I felt good.  It was a good day from the moment I woke up.  Why yesterday, I don’t know.  Maybe because I was thrilled with my tempo run the day before.  Maybe because my goal of a 20:00 5K in May now looks possible.  Maybe it was just a good day!

After work I went for my run.  It was to be an easy run day, so I wanted to keep my pace slow.  Usually I work at going as fast as I feel comfortable, but I now realize that in doing so, I was actually hurting my overall running ability.  My goal now is to take my easy days easy and my workout days hard.

I want to also concentrate on increasing my mileage.  I have been “stuck” between 35 – 45 miles a week for a long time.  Our marathon isn’t until December and I know I have  plenty of time, but I want to begin the task of upping my mileage now, so I can slowly get to where I need to be rather than only having 12 weeks to get there.

So how did my run yesterday go?  Good.  I ran 7 miles for the second day in a row.  I thought of going 8, but knowing that today is a hill run workout, I didn’t want to do too much.  But it was a good run.  I averaged an 8:30 pace and, except for a couple of twinges, felt great for most of my run.

This is my new goal.  To enjoy my easy runs more.  To feel like I am running at a good pace, but to also feel like I could go farther at the end of my run.

Today the hill stands in front of me.  Not looking forward to that.  But I have learned by my years of living on this planet that the best things come by enduring through the hard things.  Hill runs are tough.  Tempo runs are tough.  But a 20:00 5K… priceless!

5K tempo run… The best one ever!

I’m very excited about my run yesterday.

It was my tempo run day and I was dreading it.  Running that hard for that long is difficult for me, but it always benefits my running.  After my tempo day, I run easier, faster and with less effort.  So I make myself do them and I never regret it.  I do dread it through.

Yesterday I ran 2 warmup miles in my Saucony Mirage 2 shoes (my favorite shoes) and then came home and changed into my Saucony A5 racing flats and went for the tempo run.  TJ started me doing this where he changes his shoes before beginning at tempo pace.  It not only gives a chance for a little rest, but it is amazing going from a regular running shoe to a light racing flat.  It feels like there is nothing on your feet.

My hope was to run 2 of my tempo miles under 7:00 pace and then the third as fast as I could, knowing that I would be tired.  I have never run 2 miles under 7:00 pace before, but I wanted to get use to the feeling of running that fast.  I wanted my brain to learn how fast that was and my legs to know how to keep at that pace.  So, I went for it.

I finished 2 miles feeling pretty good.  From my iSmoothRun app, I could tell that I should be averaging under 7:00 pace.  The third mile was an effort.  But the idea behind a tempo run is to hit the wall.  To know that feeling when your body says, “No more”.  Well after yesterday, I know that feeling.

So how did it go?  Here is the breakdown of my tempo miles:

Mile 1 – 6:50 pace
Mile 2 – 6:50 pace
Mile 3 – 7:02 pace

Wow, I set a person record.  My last 5K race I ran at a 7:09 pace and a total time of 22:10.  I was not in a good place when I finished as it took 10 minutes of medical attention to get me back to a normal breathing state.  I ran this 5K at a 6:54 pace and a total time of 21:29.  I couldn’t be happier.  It was hard, but I was able to get in 2 recovery miles afterwards.

TJ, RS and I are training for a 5K in May where my goal is to run it at 20:00 (6:26 pace).  It is a big goal, but this will be the first 5K I have ever actually trained for.  I’ve also learned that I need to run my easy runs at a slower pace.  I’ve read that those who run too fast all the time end up running slower and getting hurt more than those who run 80% easy and 20% fast.

Today is an easy day, and I need it.  I am a bit sore this morning, but not too bad. It was worth it!

With all the dreading of my tempo day, it was the best day ever.

Running has made me love the outdoors!

Yesterday was my off day from running to let my body recuperate, and my body needed that day.  Our workouts last week were the first I had done in a month or so and though it had positive effects on my running, my muscles didn’t like it much.

So yesterday I got home from work and went for a two mile walk.  It is funny how after running each day for a year now, I enjoy the outdoors for the first time since my childhood.  I had gotten into the routine of essentially being outside for a little as possible.  I’d go from my house to my car and from my car to my work and then eight hours later reverse that processes.  I hated to be outside.

Now, I am outside about an hour a day and I love it.  I think that because I decided to run in any weather (except for lightening), I have begun to enjoy all weather.  In the summer I really appreciate rain and wind, since it is so hot.  In the winter I appreciate the cold and the feeling after a mile or so of my body heating up under my running clothes like a furnace.  I really have learned to appreciate the days with moderate temperatures and no clouds in the sky.

I tend to learn from experience rather than from what people tell me.  Experience has taught me that being outside helps my mood.  Running does a lot of help for my mood also, don’t get me wrong.  But there is something about the outdoors, especially in the sun, that makes me feel better and seems to keep me healthier and happier.

Of course you don’t have to run to get outside and experience this feeling of, ahhhh.  But for me, running outside in all types of weather has made me a better person at home, at work and in general.

Okay, these are just my experience as I mentioned before.  But I have been challenging those I know who suffer from depression and health problems to just get out of the house.  One day, if it hasn’t been done already, researchers will prove that being outside and hour a day will make you healthier, happier and live longer.

Experience is a great teacher.

My one year anniversary of running

Today is my one year anniversary of running.

Wow, what a year. I started running last March 25.  I weighed 220 lbs on that day after completing the first leg of my diet.  I ran 1.5 miles in a 12:44 pace.  The  next day I did run 2 miles at about the same pace.  So in one year, I went from running 2 miles every other day to running 35-45 miles a week, 6 days a week.  It really amazes me as I look back on how far I have come.  I am thankful and I hope I can continue this journey for a long time.

So yesterday was my long run day and it went fairly well.  I ran 10 miles in just under a 9 minute pace.  I must say I was spent by the end of the run.  I was still sore from the workouts I did last week, but I was able to complete my goal.  I read an article yesterday saying that most runners run too fast for their easy workouts.  It said that the research shows that running 80% of runs at an easy pace and 20% at a tempo or fast pace is the best way to build up endurance and speed.  By running most runs at a fast pace, people are not only open to getting injured more often, but also do not perform as well in races.  So I took the advice, turned off the audio on my app, and just ran what felt good.  It was a better long run than last weekend at least.  One thing that helped was I decided to run early Saturday morning rather than in the afternoon and to run low miles on Saturday.  That way I was more rested and ready to run the miles I wanted to run.

Today is my day off.  I may walk this afternoon since I really enjoy the outdoors now.  I thought about running 1.5 miles and see how I do compared to a year ago, but I really need the day off for my body to rest.

Keep running!

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A new blog name to reflect my story and a thank you!

You may have noticed that I now have a domain name, 278toBoston.com. Of course you can still get to me via runat49.wordpress.com.

Those who follow this blog know that less than two years ago I weighed 278 lbs. I was pre diabetic and on a CPAP. My breathing was so bad while I slept that my oxygen level got down to 60% and I had over 100 times an hour that I would stop breathing for at least 10 seconds. Let’s just say, my life wasn’t going is a good direction health wise. According to my mom, my grandfather died in his mid 50’s from a heart attack and was my same stature and weight.

One day back then I decided to try running which I had tried in the past but always stopped after a month or two. I ran a quarter mile and had to turn around and limp home.

It was truly the grace of God that brought me from there to here. I met the right doctor, I went on the right diet, I started running at the right time, I never had an injury that took more than a day or so to get over. Everything fell into place. Why now? I don’t know. I think it was so that I could appreciate where I came from, the journey to where I am and also look forward to where I am going.

I want to help inspire people with the fact that if I can do this, so can they. I haven’t excelled at much in life. I am average, ordinary and very fortunate to have found the perfect wife for me and to have raised great kids. Their support and, as I said earlier, the grace of God, brought me here.

Where is here? 95 lbs lighter and I run 35 – 45 miles a week. My ultimate goal is to qualify this fall for the Boston Marathon and to one day run the Boston Marathon. All this within just a few years.

I have changed my blog name to “278 to Boston” because that is my journey, vision and goal summed up in 3 words (I guess I should say 3 numbers and two words :)). I want everyone who comes to this blog to know that it is possible in just a few years to go from being obese to running marathons. They can look in the mirror and be thankful. They can get beyond high blood pressure, pre diabetes and high cholesterol and can succeed in becoming a healthy person once again.

If I can do it, anyone can do it!

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and gives me encouragement. I have only been blogging for a few months, but it has added a whole new level of support to my life.

Finally, I am an IT guy who doesn’t do much social media. I have my reasons. However yesterday I did sign up for a twitter account where I will post articles that I find helpful, inspiring quotes and my daily run log. I hope to link it to my blog when I get a chance, but you can find it at @278toBoston. Catch, huh!

I hope I have encouraged some who read this as I have been encouraged by the blogs I follow and read.

Thank you!

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The perfect end to a long day – Run, eat pizza (surprise ending)

Yesterday was a long, but productive day.  After a 10 hour work day, I headed home planning on my 6 mile run and then PIZZA.  Okay, I have a problem with eating too much pizza, but I wanted to find a way to eat it and not gorge myself.

First the run!  TJ and I ran together again.  I enjoyed the time running and talking.  The run began rather slow as I was very sore from my hill run the day before.  I still am not taking any Ibuprofen for soreness since it is just muscle soreness and not pain in my hip or back.  So, we began our run and shortly into it I decided to cut it back to 5 miles.  It was getting late and, need I say again, pizza was needing to be bought.

About half way through the run, TJ mentioned he read that it is good to run the last part of an easy run day fast.  This has two benefits.  You get the mileage of an easy run and you get the workout of a tempo run.  Also, as I mentioned in an earlier post, new research has shown that running hard, even in short intervals, burn more fat in one hour than 7 hours of regular running.  I had that thought in mind as we began our last mile.  So I picked up the pace (my tempo pace is TJ’s easy run pace).

As we began the final leg of our run home, it began to sprinkle.  Since I run with my phone to track my pace, I thought I should run even faster to beat the rain (rain and iPhones don’t mix well).  As we were a quarter mile from home, TJ asked if I wanted to sprint the last part of our run.  My reply was, “Arn’t we already sprinting?”  He smiled.  So, we got to the last turn before our home and we sprinted.  I don’t know where I found the energy, but I think I ran faster than I ever have.  I had nothing left by the time we hit our street, but I still had to go a little farther to make the 5 miles.

We started the run at an 8:26 pace and ended the last mile at a 7:15 pace.  It was exhausting for me at the end, but very rewarding.

To finish this up quickly, I got home, took a shower and we to Dominos and got our pizza.  This time I listed to my brother Jeff and ordered a cheese pizza for me and stayed away from my favorite (fattening) white sauce pizza. Plus I stopped at 3 pieces rather than my normal 5 or 6.  Now to the amazing part of this story.  Saturday mornings after pizza night I always weigh a pound or two more than Friday.  BUT, this morning I weight a half pound less!!!  In fact I was one tenth of a pound below 180.  Wow, eating pizza and loosing weight.  Who would have thought that was possible!

Life is good.  I am thankful.  Keep running, it really pays off in many ways!!!

Hill runs, Carbs, Bagels and Pizza. What could go wrong?

As I promised I want to explain what I have figured out in regard to dieting, running and carbs.

But first, hill runs!  Yesterday was my first hill run day since before the half marathon (over a month ago).  The day overall was a long day.  I woke up at 4:00am as usual and didn’t get home until after 5:00pm – not usual.  So needless to say, I wasn’t in the mood to run up a huge hill, let alone several times.  Fortunately TJ was home and asked if I wanted him to come with me.  That was a huge help.  We ran a couple of miles and then headed for the hill (or mountain as I call it in a previous post).  In the end, I ran up and walked down (to preserve my knees) 3 times.  The hill is really steep for an eighth of a mile and then medium steep for another eighth.  We ran up the whole way the first time.  The second we only ran up the steep part, but ran as fast as we could (I’m sure TJ had no problem keeping up with me).  Finally we ran the whole thing again.  It was tough, but the benefits outweigh the incredible effort that I had to exert.  The last time up, I stopped at the end of the steep hill and said I couldn’t go on.  It was only for a second and then I continued.  TJ reminded me that you are never to make a decisions while running up hill.  Good advice.  So it was a good run, made much more fun with TJ along for encouragement.

Now on the carbs.  My love hate relationship with carbs has been well documented on this blog.  If I eat them I gain weight.  If I don’t eat them I can last a couple of days, but finally I crash and devour half a pizza.  My question has always been, how to run, not gain weight and still eat carbs for energy.

The answer…

I thought to myself, what if I eat carbs every day?  If I can eat some carbs, that will help my running and maybe I won’t crash at the end of the week.  So I went to the grocery store and looked down the bread isle.  I looked at the bagels.  I’ve always been warned that bagels are the worst food for anyone trying to loose weight.  They are great before a long run or a race, but not on a daily basis.  Then I found what I wanted.  I picked up Thomas’ Hearty Grains 100% whole wheat bagels.  I scanned the barcode with my fooducate app (great app BTW) and it came back as an A-.  Wow, very few foods are ranked that high, let alone bagels.  These bagels had only 2g of fat and 49g of carbs.  They are not heavy.  In fact they are rather light for a bagel.

So I eat one on Tuesday morning as a snack.  It helped.  I didn’t feel like I had to eat junk that night.  I eat one each day this week and felt great.  It took the edge off and I lost the 4 lbs I had put on last weekend.  I am back to 180 and feel so much better.  Tonight will be the test.  Pizza night…  I’ll try to report the results, but pizza is my favorite.  I may end up doing what my brother suggested and just eat plain cheese pizza so that I don’t get too much junk in me.  Also I have to stop at a piece or two and not go on to eat 5.

On to my busy day at work and then a 6 mile regular run this afternoon.  Looks like rain all weekend.  I guess I’ll be running in the rain.

Life is good.

Days like yesterday are the reason I love running

Awesome day running yesterday.  There has to be a correlation between tempo runs and performance.  Before my tempo run, I was having a hard time to get below 9:00 pace.  Last Sunday for my long run I was way over a 9:00 pace.  Yesterday I started out a bit slow, just because I was sore from the tempo run the day before.  After the first mile it was all “down hill from there”.

Here are my splits:


And it felt great.  I was a bit tired at the end, but not bad and I had almost no pain, except a little in my knee.

Now to the amazing part.  Those who follow this blog know that TJ and RS run also.  Yesterday RS had a great run and is getting back into the game after getting over some injuries.  As I got home from my run, HM was playing a video game.  HM doesn’t like to run but I keep trying to get him going anyway because I know he would do great if he just tried.  Anyway, I got home after my 6 miles and he looks up at me and says, “Hey dad, do you want to run a mile with me”.  Two thoughts go through my head.  First, wow he rarely asked that before.  Second, he thinks I am so tired I’ll say no. Before I could think, I said, sure, get on your shoes and let’s go.  After 5 minutes of trying to find his shoes (they haven’t been warn much), we go for the run.  RS joined us and we went for a slow mile.  It was a recovery mile for me and a good starting mile for HM.

All that to say, days like yesterday are the reason I love running.  I haven’t had one of those days in a while, so it was great getting to enjoy a fun, fast run and run a mile with two of my kids.  Quoting from the Christmas Story, “All was right with the world”.

Tomorrow: I think I figured out the carb/diet/running problem that has plagued me for the past year!!!