A 5k To Kick Off The 2017 Race Season

My first race of 2017, appropriately, was a 5k. I have been searching my memories and I really think this is the first 5k I’ve run since I was in high school. Since then I have run lots of other races: A 4-miler, 8k, 10k, Spartan’s Sprint, Super and, Beast races (The Beast is usually around 11-13 miles). But this is the first 5k. While I’m not 100% happy with the results, I think I learned a lot in this race.

It was on a cool and cloudy Saturday morning, really a great day for a race. It was in the mid-40s (~8 C) so some complained of it being a little chilly, but once I get going I prefer it to be cold over hot. It was a small event held at a local shopping center; the race is a nice tour of all their shops. I actually used to work in this shopping center so it was fun to come back and visit it. The course itself is mostly flat though there is a gradual quarter mile incline in the first mile.

Some years ago, when I was still working in this shopping center I, on a random whim, decided to run this race. Since I hadn’t pre-registered I woke up a little early and drove over to do the day-of registration. Once I got there I started feeling really anxious. I hadn’t been working out and I hadn’t run in ages. I was pretty fat and didn’t feel at all comfortable being there. There was that runner inside of me somewhere telling me to do it, but my conscious mind was freaking out. To do day-of registration you needed cash, which I didn’t have, though there was a bank with an ATM in the shopping center. I was seriously looking for any excuse to not run this race. After hanging out for around 15 minutes I shamefully trudged back to my car, got in, and drove off.

Being able to run this race had a certain amount of significance; proof to myself that I not only could do it, but that I did belong there. I was, however, a little nervous about the race still. I’ve been battling some potential injuries lately and I wasn’t sure how I was going to hold up. I’ve had a little pain in both of my Achilles tendons and both of my knees have been acting a little funny. These problems are both more pronounced on my left side. I’ve taken a couple of weeks off from running and really doing any leg exercises. I’ve been doing a lot of stretching and foam rolling to attempt to resolve these issues and I’ve actually been seeing a lot of good success. Nothing was hurting while I was at the starting line, so that was a relief, but I was worried somewhere on the course something was going to flare up.

The race itself was pretty easy, as far as the course was concerned. I was hoping that since it wasn’t a challenging course that I’d have a pretty easy time of beating my goal time of 27 minutes. Most of my training runs have had me at or better than that pace without even really trying. I was also hoping that the time off would have given my muscles enough time to heal that I could maybe even surprise myself with an even better time. Sadly, I think it had the opposite effect. Once the race started I realized right away that I was not performing very well. Despite all the stretching I felt pretty tight and clumsy. Even though it has only been a couple of weeks I could definitely tell I hadn’t been running; this didn’t feel at all like my training runs. Even so, I wanted to do my best so I tried to not let it get to me too much. At this point my real goal was finishing the race without getting hurt.

The first mile, while not fast, didn’t feel too bad. About halfway through the second mile I was really feeling it though. It took a good amount of mental strength to keep myself moving during that second mile. I hate to admit it, but the thought to stop and walk did pop into my mind once. I quickly dismissed it, kept running, and didn’t look back. Mile 3 wasn’t as bad as mile 2 even though I was definitely getting fatigued. I know that I can usually finish a race pretty strong and I should have studied the end of the race a little better. I spent the mile desperately trying to figure out when I should pick up my pace. Well, I think that lack of focus on my running ended up doing more harm than good. And even with all that extra work I still misjudged the distance and started picking it up too early and got tired and had to slow back down. Once I made the last turn and started on the straight shot to the finish line I did pick it up though and sprinted what was probably the last .1 of the 3.1 mile race.

I finished the race in 27:37.13. This result is 37.14 seconds slower than I wanted to finish. I was really bummed out with that time. So close to my goal, but still missing it. I had all sorts of negative emotions when I first crossed the finish. You know the ones: the thoughts that you could have trained better/more, that you could have run faster at the end of the race, but you played it safe, etc. I was blaming my injuries and the time off from running for my poor results. I think that’s natural; it’s always difficult to fall short of a goal. As time passed and I had more time to think about it I became a lot more comfortable with it. I’m still mad I couldn’t beat my goal, but I should be proud of myself for doing as well I did. When I first started this I could event run more than one mile straight without stopping: this weekend I ran 3.1 (and could have run more). When I first started, the fastest mile I could run was a 9:45: I just ran three consecutive miles, all under 9:10. There is no denying I’m making progress and that should be celebrated.

Overall, I would say the race was a success. I might not have met my goal, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get anything out of it. I think I did learn some things about myself not only as a person, but a runner. It also injected a nice dose of humility. Some of my more successful training runs had inflated my ego a bit, and it’s good to be reminded that you’re still human and you’ll have better and worse days. It’s important to not get bogged down by the details. I not only finished it, but I finished it injury free. I am pleased with my progress on resolving my injuries and I am encouraged to get back out and to start running again this week. My races really start to pick up next weekend. After this race, I’m not expecting to pull off anything impressive, but if I can continue to show improvements and I can perform better than I have in the past I will consider myself successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ketosis: Six Months of Eating a Ketogenic Diet

Well, it has officially been six months since I started eating a ketogenic diet and the results are in! I seriously never thought I’d make it this far; I’ve always been such a food junkie I thought I would have cracked by now. I think the most remarkable thing from this whole journey is how easy it was to not crack. The hardest part is just figuring out how to eat differently. All of my favorite foods were very carb-heavy: Burgers, fries, pizza, pasta, sweets, rice, anything breaded and so on. It took a few weeks to months to figure out how I was going to live without carbs. It’s funny because I figured the cravings and temptations would be what got me, but really the challenge has been restructuring the way I eat. Once I got the hang of it though it has all been much easier. I don’t even really have to think about it anymore, it’s almost second nature.
I posted recently about what the past few months on a ketogenic diet has done to my bloodwork. It’s amazing to see such positive results in such a short time. These results are really only half of the picture though, the half that you can’t see. I think, even though the numbers in your blood work aren’t very glamorous and you’re not going to get any compliments on them when you walk into a room, that they are probably even more important than numbers on the scale. It feels great losing weight. It feels great having more energy. It feels great not being hungry and grumpy all the time. Even better than all of that is knowing that you’re not only looking better but also that you’re healthier on the inside.
I will get to the weight loss numbers in just a moment, but first I want to talk about my experience with working out while on a Ketogenic diet. Conventional wisdom states that you need to be fueling your body with a good amount of carbs to be able to perform athletically. Conventional wisdom states that you need to be guzzling protein to build muscle. Conventional wisdom tells you to cut calories to lose weight. I can’t stress enough how shocked I was to find all that wisdom was so wrong. Ok, well, it’s not wrong, but it’s by no means a definitive rule. I haven’t been watching my calories, I haven’t been eating carbs and I haven’t taken any extra protein, just what’s already in my diet. I have been doing this for six months now and have experienced more weight loss than I did in a year when I tried this the conventional way. I kept records of all my old workouts and I am pretty much in the same place after six months as I was after a year of doing the same workouts before. There are some moves that I’m still lagging in, but there are some where I’m actually doing better than my previous workouts. I am not having any trouble finding energy to get my workouts done. I’m able to push myself hard and can sustain that effort just as well as I ever have. I had my doubts about it when I first started, just because it was going against everything I had ever heard, but I’m living proof that this diet gets results!
data
Here is all of my weight/fat data for months 3-6. The data for the first three months is available in a previous post.
You can’t talk about a Ketogenic diet without talking about fat loss! I am pleased to say that I have plenty to talk about in this department. In six months of eating a ketogenic diet I have been able to lose 50 total pounds! Of those 50 pounds 43 of them came directly from fat!! When I had lost weight several years ago it took me an entire year to lose this much weight. I am beyond impressed with my body’s ability to shed this excess fat. I had always assumed that body fat was just stubborn and that it was a constant uphill battle to lose it. How wrong I was!
I was hoping to be able to write in this post that I had made it under 250 lbs (113 kg) in the six months. Unfortunately, I didn’t make that goal. I finished right at 250. You can see me stall out in the graph below. I was trying really hard to be extra Keto those last few days and shed just one extra pound, but my body wasn’t convinced. I think that I learned an important lesson though. I have made great progress and I need to be more appreciative of what I have lost and I need to stop focusing so much on what I need to lose. My body is smart and it knows what to do; I need to trust it. Once this realization sunk in I calmed down a little and gave control back over to my body. My body responded positively to that and it was kind enough to drop me below the 250 mark, albeit a few days after the six months were up. I’ve been fluctuating a little the past few days, but my overall weight and body fat have dropped a good amount in the few days following the six month anniversary.
graph
This is a graph for the entire six months. As you can see at the end I hit a wall right at the 250 mark. I’d be more upset about it I hadn’t already broken through that wall. 🙂

 

I still have about 35 pounds to go before I get to a point where I feel like I’m comfortable, but if I keep this up I should easily be there before summer’s end. It’s a good feeling to have worked toward a goal and to finally be able to see the finish line. That’s not to say I’m going to quit Keto when I’ve reached my goal, I think I’ve learned that my body does much better in Ketosis than out of it. But at least I won’t have my body image haunting me every time I look in the mirror.

If you haven’t tried a Ketogenic diet yet, I highly recommend it. Of course, it’s not for everyone  and you should do your research if you’ve got any pre-existing medical conditions. I have had great success with it and I can easily say, without being cliché, that it has changed my life. I only wish I had learned about this sooner. Is anyone else out there on a Ketogenic journey? Do you have any Questions? I’d love to hear about what is working and not working for you. I know everyone is different and I think it’d be interesting to compare experiences.

Review: ShoeCue Running Insole

Review: ShoeCue Running Insole

A while back I had mentioned that I purchased some ShoeCue insoles. I have been trying them out recently and I wanted to share my thoughts on the product.

First off, what are they? They are insoles for your running shoes that actually replace the insoles that came with the shoe. They are a nice, bright orange color with a black area in the heel. The actual insole itself is made of a soft, spongy material just like most other shoe insoles. The black area on the heel is more of a plastic. The interesting thing is that this black section has a whole bunch of little nubs that stick up. The point of this and the insoles in general is to help you improve your running form. Heel striking is overly prevalent in runners these days and has resulted in many runners having poor form and injuries. Recent studies have shown that really it doesn’t matter which part of your foot hits the ground; it’s more important that your foot is coming in contact with the ground directly under your center of gravity. While that may be true, the ability to heel strike with super padded running shoes has encouraged people to over stride and are instead landing in front of their center of gravity. I think that it is easier to land properly when you are landing more on your forefoot. And the fine folks at ShoeCue agree. The textured heel they designed for these insoless is designed to give you biofeedback when you’re running so that you can, over time, gradually eliminate your heel strike and develop a solid forefoot strike.

dsc_1312_66b9cbfe-1b22-41aa-8d75-94c4ed1ef47a_1024x1024
Free drawstring bag with order! I didn’t think to take a picture of mine and mine wife has made off with it. I borrowed this picture from the ShoeCue website (Please don’t sue me).

When you order the insoles they come in a universal size set and, at the time of writing, come with an attractive, free drawstring bag. You actually need to cut the excess off the front of the insole before you can use them in your shoe. There are pre-marked lines that indicate where you need to cut depending on your shoe size. They did a good job with their design because I cut mine as suggested and they fit perfectly in my shoes. Once they are cut down you simply remove your old insole and put these bad boys in their place.

You will definitely feel the difference right away. The spongy forefoot actually feels really good, and I actually think I like it better than the insole that came with the shoe. The heel of the insole is immediately noticeable. It’s a hard sensation to describe, but it almost feels kind of like when you have sand inside your shoe; it’s not uncomfortable and it doesn’t hurt, but you can’t help but notice it’s there. Walking around with them feels really strange at first. We all heel strike when we walk and the insole is definitely noticeable when you’re walking. Again, it’s not painful at all, just a constant sensation. Interestingly, that pretty much all goes away when you’re running, if your form is good.

When I first ran with these insole it revealed a few things to me. The first thing I noticed was that my form wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’ve been working hard at moving away from the heel strike and it’s definitely been paying off! One thing that I found interesting though was the textured part of the insole actually extends, at least for me, a little bit into my mid-foot as well. When I was first running I definitely could tell when I was mid-foot striking instead of forefoot striking. Amazingly, even when you’re running and putting all that extra pressure on your feet the insoles still never hurt. I even let go of my form for a little bit and let myself slip back into a heel strike just to be able to determine if there is a difference. I could definitely tell when I was running on my heel  over the other areas of my foot, but it never got too uncomfortable or painful.

Near the end of my first run with these insole I was starting to lose steam. Throughout the run I had been focusing on my form, but after the last big hill I just couldn’t keep it together anymore. For me, when I get tired there are a few tell-tale signs: I break at the hips, my shoulders go up, my torso rotates, and I heel strike. I actually thought my form was still pretty good but once I crested that hill right away I knew, without consciously thinking about it, that I was heel striking again. I was impressed that these insoles were able to point out to me that I was slipping back into my old patterns. If I didn’t believe in the product before I did after that run.

I have taken these insoles out for all my successive runs and I think I am getting better each time. I still think it’s a really strange sensation when I first slip them on and I am walking around, but as soon as I start running I pretty much all but forget about them even being there, unless my form gets sloppy. I am now able to tell right away and fix my form for the rest of the run, rather than reinforcing the bad habits by continuing to run like that.

One word of caution while using these: Don’t try to change your form too fast! It may be exciting to try to finally nail that forefoot strike and you might like how the changes feel, but your body needs time to adapt to the new  running style. Running on your forefoot places a lot more strain on your Achilles tendon. Without a proper adaptation phase you’re running the risk of getting Achilles tendinitis. The whole point of correcting your running form is to prevent injury, not cause it, so please be smart. My calf muscles were on fire the first time I used these; a small change in form can affect your body in a major way.

I would suggest getting a pair of shoes just for your ShoeCue insoles. Not that you couldn’t just wear it all the time, but I’d imagine you’d wear them out a lot faster if you just walked in them all day. Also, I could see your body adapting to them too much and you wouldn’t get that instant feedback while you’re running if you form starts to suffer. I could also imagine that switching insoles in your shoes whenever you wanted to go for a run could get pretty old. Even if you have to go out and buy a new pair of shoes, I say do it. Put in your ShoeCue insoles and be done with it. And seriously, who doesn’t like buying new running shoes??

You may also need to pay attention to what socks you wear while using the insoles. I found I can still feel them with thick, traditional cotton socks, but not nearly as well. I have been using a thin, synthetic sock and I feel the response is much better with the insoles. If you’re one of those strange people that don’t wear socks while you run, well, carry on.

One other recommendation I would give is to make sure your shoes are laced tightly. And if your shoe does come untied, stop to tie it. In one of my earlier runs I didn’t tie my right shoe well enough and eventually it came untied. My foot was a little loose in there and my heel was sliding around a little and was rubbing on the textured part of the insole. I can see someone, especially starting out with the insoles, getting blisters from the friction caused by the ill-fitting shoe. Make sure your shoes and on well and laced tightly. When they are you’ll have a great experience with them.

Overall I would definitely recommend this product to anyone who runs at all. I know that a lot of pro athletes have started using them for anything from road races to obstacle course racing. They feel well made and are surprisingly comfortable to run on. They are a well designed and helpful product. I think what you get for the price is well worth the investment.

If you’re interested in taking them out for a spin you can buy them here:

If you decide to pick some up please come back and tell me what you think of them!

 

 

** Please be aware that I purchased this product at full price with my own money. It was not a gift and there was no compensation for this review. I have not and will not receive any compensation for this review. This is just me, sharing my opinion.

 

#2017ofEverything – March Edition

As you may know, I didn’t complete the January challenge in January and have committed to keep trying until I do get it. Well, the February challenge ended up about the same way. Well, maybe a little worse. I have been keeping up with my normal workouts just fine, but I really lost focus on these auxiliary goals this month. That being said, I really think I have a shot at getting gold this month! Here is the challenge for March:

16908626_411619302520454_6028930754006745088_n

This one seems quite doable actually! This challenge requires you to set a timer for 20:17 and the complete as many rounds of the listed exercises as you can  within that time. Going for Gold means completing this workout 15 times in the month of March. Since it is timed it removes that pressure to keep up with any specific goal on any specific day. And since you only need to complete 15 workouts in the month it means I can do one of these workouts every other day and reach that goal!! I did my first one yesterday and I was able to get 5 rounds in before time was up. I was pretty impressed, I didn’t think I would perform quite that well. It’ll be interesting to see how many rounds I can complete at the end of the month.

January’s challenge was a little out of my league (but I haven’t given up on it yet!) and I was bummed about February because I knew I wouldn’t finish it because I don’t think my knee can handle the 17 mile requirement at this point. March seems like it will be something that will challenge me, but is also something that is achievable. I think it’ll give me a nice confidence boost to complete this challenge and be doing something good for someone else. An ego pick-me-up will be welcome as race season is less than a month away!!

Getting to 5 minutes – Monthly Milestones

So you may be aware the main reason I started this blog was to discuss my journey to reclaiming my health and getting back in shape. I am on a quest to not only lose all of my excess body fat and improve my health, but I feel like I need to beat a goal that has been haunting me since high school: The 5 Minute Mile.

I’ve been working hard these past few months to eat right and stick to my workouts. I’ve been making really good progress, but I need to keep my goals in mind or I feel like they are going to slip through my fingers. A sub-five minute mile isn’t something that is so easily achieved, especially when you are starting from such a bad place. I have been satisfied with my progress thus far and I feel like I’m finally reaching a point where I can and need to step up my efforts and really go at it hard!

To stay on track I took the time to figure out what I need to run each month in order to reach my goal. I am basing this on my previous fastest track mile. Being that I am starting to beat that time without that much effort in my regular workouts I am pretty confident I can lower my best mile by a good margin at this point. I wasn’t able to make it to a track in February so I am going to try to go within the next week. Hopefully I can beat the February time goal by a decent margin as I’ll have to test again in just a few weeks when trying to reach March’s goal.

So, based on my recent mile time of 8:44 these are the results I need to have for the rest of the year to get to 5 minutes by the end of August:

  • February: 7:48
  • March: 7:20
  • April: 6:52
  • May: 6:24
  • June: 5:56
  • July: 5:28
  • August: 4:59

Pretty ambitious, huh? I think if I am feeling good and I really push it I can beat March’s goal by the end of the month. Before starting this I was worried I was going to hit a wall somewhere in the 7 min/mile range. Based on my progress and how it’s been progressing it looks like that might be accurate. I think that if I follow my plan and step up my training, while working on my weak spots I might be able to just break through that wall!