Keeping a positive attitude after a negative run

Yesterday was another rough run!

It was hot, humid and I was tired.  But rather than going on and on about how difficult my run was, I decided to look to the positive and think of why I am thankful.  I learned from my mom over the years that being positive is always better than being negative.

So here I go…

  • I am thankful that I am able to run.
  • I am thankful that even on hot days, I can come home from work, put on my running shoes and head out the door.
  • I am thankful that my lovely wife and kids encourage me on this journey, even though it takes up more and more time.
  • I am thankful for my mother and brothers and friends who are excited to see my progress with my running and weight loss.
  • I am thankful that I have kids who also run and are excited about it with me.
  • I am thankful for TJ running who runs with me at times.  Without him today, I would have given up much earlier.
  • I am thankful that I have been running for over a year and never gotten hurt.
  • I am thankful that I have gotten a lot of people from work (with family and friends) to run the 5K with me in May.
  • I am thankful that I have lost 100 lbs since the height of my weight gain (and kept it off).
  • I am thankful that I am alive and healthier than I’ve been for most of my life.
  • I am thankful that I have gone from obese to (soon) running marathons in just a couple of years.

Yesterday’s run was hard.  In fact this week has been one hard run after another.  But looking beyond a difficult week,  I am thankful that I can run.  It has been a dream since I was 18 and now 32 years later it is a reality.  I am also thankful for this blog and the people who read it each day.  It has been so rewarding and has helped inspire me to run harder and work to excel in this sport.  I may or may not ever be known to the running community as anyone, but for now, I am thankful that I am a part of this community and for the support of my family, friends, and fellow bloggers and Tweeters.

What are you thankful for?

Think about it the next time you have a rough day at the very thing to which you look forward.  Running has taught me that every up hill I face, there is a down hill coming soon.  Don’t give up.  Just be thankful.

Hill run and weight loss. Great day!!!

My hill run days are not days I look forward to. However I must say that I like them more than my tempo runs.

Yesterday went well. It was still cool and overcast but not raining. I got my 2 warmup miles in and then headed for the hills!

I did better this time. As I’ve mentioned this hill is very steep on the first half and then less steep but longer for the last part. This time I decided to time my assent on each half with the stopwatch in my phone.

So… I ran the hill 4 times up and down. This was the first time I ran down as it is so steep I was concerned running down it, but I figured eventually I’d have to start, so I went for it. The first time up I ran the steep part in 1 minute and the long part in 1 minute. Not bad. After going up and down 3 times, I went for my forth. It was tough. I did it in 1:11 for the steep part and 1:04 for the long part.

All in all it was my best hill run so far. My splits were in the 8:00 range until after my fourth run up the hill, and I finished the last two miles in the 9:00 range. The whole run was at 8:49 for 7 miles and 6:00 faster than last week.

One last note: This morning I got on the scale and weighed 176.9. That is lower than I have weighed since college. Wow, it has been a strange week. I started weighing 184 and ended lower than after my diet. Must be because I added some carbs to my diet.

7 miles today and then the weekend. I decided to take today off from work, so it is going to be a nice 3 long weekend for me. More time to run 🙂

How to run and gain weight: reduce carbs?

Yesterday was my off day, so I went for a 2 mile walk (part way with HM before he had to go to work) and then TJ and I drove a new 8 mile course he mapped out in our neighborhood.  I really can’t imagine that it was only a year ago I was pushing it to run 2 miles every other day and now I am working toward 7-8 a day.  How things have changed in such a short time!

Now to the subject of this post: I have written in the past on this blog about my struggles with running and losing weight.  I have been really perplexed as to the reason I can run 35 miles a week and eat well and still not lose (or even gain) weight.  I found an article the other day that really seemed to nail my issue.  It is from Bodybuilding.com and deals with people who workout  and have an issue with weight (in this case body building, but I know it could apply to running also).

Here is a quote: “Our bodybuilder suffered metabolic damage: a drastic slowing of the metabolism that is caused by excessive caloric restriction, cardio, and stress on the body.”

Essentially, working out hard, eating low carbs and pushing your body can kill your metabolism.  What is confusing is that I can run 10 miles and my app says I burned 1,400 calories.  Wow, then I should be able to eat a bit more than normal.  NOT.  I gain weight.

Metabolism Massacre: 7 ways to avoid undermining your fat loss

Here are some highlights of the article:

It’s All about Survival 

Let’s clear one thing up right now. It is normal for the metabolism to slow down on any diet or calorie restriction. This is all due to metabolic adaptation.

As soon as our hypothetical competitor cut calories from 3,000 to 1,600, his metabolism began to downshift. Many people do not realize that the body uses calories simply through digesting and processing food. This is described as the thermic effect of food. The simple act of eating less causes lower energy output.

Once the body senses a loss of body fat, it will begin to lower thyroid levels and diminish nervous system output in an effort to stop the weight loss. Once further calorie cuts are made and cardio is increased, fat loss will resume again, and the body further lowers thyroid levels and nervous system output. It also lowers testosterone levels and raises cortisol levels, both of which eventually lead to muscle loss. Since muscle is a metabolically active tissue—it consumes calories simply to exist—the metabolism will drop even further.

So why does the body sabotage effort like this? It’s simple: survival. If our bodybuilder ate 3,000 calories per day, cut his calories to 2,500, and his body did not have these adaptive abilities, he would lose weight continually without stopping until he eventually died. Luckily, nobody starves to death on 2,500 calories per day—even though it may feel like it sometimes. These normal adaptations are necessary for survival.

The human body is an amazing adaptive machine that always strives for homeostasis. Whatever condition the body is put in, it will strive to survive within that new norm. For a successful prep, you need to understand how to work with your body as much as possible, and understand that your body will automatically take measures in response to calorie intake or expenditure.

5 Tips to Prevent a Slowdown

Luckily, there are several ways to prevent serious metabolic issues from occurring. The metabolism will slow a bit on any diet, but this does not and should not lead to extreme calorie deprivation and hours of cardio.

This isn’t healthy, and in the end it won’t get you lean enough. Here are the rules to follow for a better prep.

1 / Practice Patience

Fat loss should not be rushed. It takes time, and plenty of it. Aim to lose no more than two pounds of fat per week, and preferably closer to a rate of 1-1.5 pounds. This ensures that muscle loss is minimized. Muscle tissue consumes calories all the time. You don’t want to cannibalize this metabolically critical tissue.

2 / Keep The Carbohydrates

If you want to get lean, you sometimes have to drop carbs to low levels. This does not mean that you should eliminate them.

Carbs increase cellular hydration, and therefore cell volume. When muscle cells are hydrated and have greater volume, this signals the body that it is in a satiate state. The body, sensing it is fed, keeps the metabolic rate raised. Obviously if carbs are too high, fat loss cannot occur, but for continued fat loss, carbs should remain in the diet.

This next tip was very interesting to me:

3 / Utilize High-Carb Days

I believe carbohydrates are essential to keeping an elevated metabolism. Leptin is a primary reason for this. Leptin is a fat-burning hormone; its release is directly related to carbohydrate intake and body fat levels. Leptin serves many functions, including the control of energy expenditure.

As carbs get low and body fat levels dwindle, the body inevitably lowers leptin levels. You can combat this to an extent by adding in high-carb days. A high-carb day once every 4-8 days can boost leptin levels; leptin is highly responsive to glucose metabolism.

Add high-carb days to boost leptin, and it will lead to a more positive hormonal profile in general. High-carb days can lead to higher levels of the thyroid hormone t3, as well as help to keep testosterone levels elevated, both of which can further your fat-loss efforts.

4 / Don’t Cut Fat Too Low

Fatty acids must be available in the body to create cholesterol, which is eventually converted to testosterone. If fat intake is too low, there won’t be enough fatty acids available for optimal testosterone production.

This leads to lower testosterone levels, which lead to greater muscle loss during prep. The two combine to lower your metabolic rate.

5 / Reverse Diet

A reverse diet is where you add calories back into your diet slowly, much the same as when you cut them slowly in order to get lean. This will prevent copious amounts of adipose tissue from collecting within the first month or two after a show. Reverse dieting is essential to prevent the cycle of metabolic slowdown, or stop it if you are already in the situation.

I’m going to stop here.  The article mentions two more tips (even though it says there are only 5) but these were the most interesting to me.  I cut a lot out of the article to get across the main point, so go there and read if for yourself.  http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/metabolism-massacre-7-ways-to-avoid-undermining-fat-loss.html

This article rang true to me and my experience, which is what this blog is about.  I began to run to lose weight.  I now run because I have an ultimate goal of the Boston Marathon.  Either way, I know I need to keep my weight and diet in balance and anything that explains this complex body to me is helpful.

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.

The running/carbs balance – Ugh

Today is a much needed day off.  I ran a lot last week and I feel it.  The good news is that my hip hasn’t been hurting much and I am still taking no meds for pain!!!  The bad news is that I carbed out over the weekend.  Yes, I eat Pizza and a couple cupcakes and…  I won’t go on, you get the picture.

As I was running Thursday and Friday, I could feel that my carbs were low.  Those runs we not easy and I felt like I was doing everything I could just to keep going.  Friday night I bought the family some pizza.  I was famished. I had 5 pieces.  The rest of the weekend, I didn’t do much better.

I gained 4 lbs over the weekend.  I assume some will leave if I eat well this week, but with 2 work lunches and a work breakfast on the calendar this week, it is going to be hard.

Anytime I hit a wall, I try to figure out how to get over that wall.  My plan this time is to eat my low carb diet this week, but eat 1 whole wheat bagel each day.  These bagels got an A- on my Fooducate app, so I thought I’d give them a try.  My thought here is that one bagel a day will give me enough carbs that I won’t go crazy by the weekend and I can continue running without feeling like my legs are going to collapse.  Since today is my day off, I won’t eat one today, but starting tomorrow, I am going to give it a try and see if I can’t reach some type of balance.

I hate this whole running/dieting thing.  According to my app, I used up 1,400 calories in my run yesterday, and I still gained 2 lbs from what I eat.  This is crazy if you ask me – which you didn’t – which is why I am writing about it in my blog in order to blow off some steam.

Thanks for listening – reading – whatever.

Ultimately, balance is the key.  It is the key to life, running, eating, sleeping, just about everything.  I hope I can figure out the balance between eating and running.  If anyone has ever been successful in this area, let me know.

Updates on running and dieting

Training has been a bit hard lately.  Not too bad, but I’ve increased my mileage this week quite a bit from last week.  Most people say to only increase 10% over your previous week, but I am trying to get back to my 35 – 45 miles a week.  I figure that I was only out of running 2 weeks, so it really shouldn’t be that big of a jump to go from last week (my first week back) running 23 miles to this week running 35 miles.  Overall it has gone well.  I am back to sub 8:30 pace and am taking no anti inflammatories or fish oil.  I really am trying to run without any meds now that I am in the low 180s in weight.  So far so good.  I am a little sore, and have a little hip pain, but that is all.

Next week I begin training to run my next 5K.  TJ has some workouts for me to do that he has been doing since last week.  I have just over 2 months to be able to bring my 5K time to 20:00.  As I’ve said before, this is my goal and I hope to achieve it, but if I don’t, that’s okay.  I just need something to shoot for that will motivate me to do these workouts.  Also, these workouts will help my overall running time and that will be crucial as we kick into training for our marathon beginning in July.

Just an FYI on my weight.  I finished my diet at 177.  I got as high as 183 over the weekend which was rather depressing.  So this week, I have worked hard at trying to stay away from the carbs.  The main carb I eat is a piece of bread before I run, which seems to really help.  So I am, as of this morning, back down to 180.  That is exciting since I was afraid my body was dictating that it wanted to go back to the high 180s.  I hope to get back in the mid 170s if only to keep my hips and back out of pain and not need to go back on pain meds.

Keeping motivated!

Running, Weight and Boston

It was a good first week back to running.  My long day was Sunday and I chose to run only 6 miles, which put me at 23 for the week.  Not bad for the first week back after a 2 week break.  I think the cardiovascular effects of the time off surprised me most.  On Tuesday, I ran 3 miles at a 9 minute pace – ugh, had I fallen that far back in only 2 weeks?  No, it only took a couple of days to be back in the 8:30 pace.  Yesterday I ran 6 miles at an 8:23 pace.  I am happy with that result.  Although my hips are acting up some, I am still trying to stay away from anti-inflamatories to keep the pain down.  It is tolerable, so I will keep with my hope of not needing to go on them again.

All in all, things are progressing, however I am fighting my old friend, carbs.  I am back to battling the intense need of carbs and my need to keep my weight off.  As of this morning I have gained back 5 lbs.  I am not happy with that.  I can see where I went overboard this weekend a couple of times and eat too much bread, but I also ran quite a bit. This is the most difficult thing about running for me.  How do I control the urge to eat and run at the same time.  My metabolism isn’t strong enough to just keep the weight off.  I don’t eat a lot, but evidently it is enough to gain weight.

Ultimately running will win out and I’ll just work at keeping the weight off.  This is not easy, but neither is running 6 days a week.

Finally, I have decided to make a real effort to qualify for Boston in the Jacksonville marathon this next December.  I will do all I can do to make that goal.  Goals in running make it that much more interesting and fun for me.  I will do my best and see what happens, but I wanted to put it “out there” to make it more real to me.

Today is my off day.  Tomorrow… It all starts over again.

Very interesting article about losing weight with exercise!

Researchers Claim To Discover the Single Most Efficient Exercise Regimen

Scientists in Australia claim to have discovered the exercise technique that burns the maximum amount of fat with the least amount of work.

4 mile run – better than dieting

Three days this week I ran 3 miles a day.  Three days this week I gained 1 lb each day.  So 3 runs and 3 lbs gained.  Hmmm.  I am not eating poorly.  Of course I am eating more than when I was on the diet, but I could never run without some food and carbs.

Yesterday was my 4th run of the week.  I ran 4 miles rather than 3.  I am gradually increasing my mileage this week and going to try running a normal week next week.  It was a good run with some hip pain in the beginning, but the pain went away as I concentrated on relaxing and my keeping my running form.

This is the interesting part.  I lost a half pound when I weighed in this morning.  The reason it is interesting is that I remember last summer as I graduated from 3 miles to 4, I began loosing weight.  Each day I ran 4, I lost some. Each day I ran 3, I didn’t.  Now yesterday I ran 4 and lost weight.  I don’t know what that one mile means, but 4 seems to be the magic number for me to loose weight running.

All that to say, when I was running 5 to 7 miles a day and 10 on Sunday, I rarely lost any weight.  It was always confusing to me.  I think that at that mileage, my body is trying to hold onto fat since it knows I will need it for my runs.  That is the only reason I can come up with as to why I can run 40 miles in a week and sometimes gain weight.

Today is a 4 mile run.  I’ll be interested to see if I loose weight in the morning.  At least I am back under 180.  I don’t want to go back to the 190’s.  Right now I am off all meds and for the first time in a long time my blood pressure is down to normal.

I’d say my 2 weeks off and my diet was a good idea.  I love wisdom!!