Finally got low carb and running to work together

For the first time ever, I’ve figured out how to be on a low carb diet and run at the same time. I’ve tried this in the past, and as soon as I did any exercise that took my heart rate very high I immediately felt sluggish and out of breath.

I just assumed that fat took too much oxygen to metabolize and my poor inefficient lungs couldn’t’ keep up. But it turns out that I just wasn’t eating enough. Eating enough on a low carb diet is hard – very quickly the awesomely rich and forbidden foods become tiring.

The key was to add some heavy cream to my coffee, adding some fat calories first thing in the morning. Turns out I wasn’t eating enough. I’ve always been a black-coffee guy, but I gave this a try to get rid of ketone flu, and it worked.

So, with that problem solved I have lost some weight while getting mileage in.

Now my pace isn’t getting much faster, but for now the weight loss is what I’m after.

Running Revisited

I’ve started running again, as you might have noticed from some of the tweets that RunKeeper has produced. It’s going better than last time, and I’ve even signed up for a 5k in April.

Here are some neat things I’ve discovered this time around:

  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen [affiliate link] is a very good read, exactly the kind of running book I needed right now. Along with a gripping story that was a little slow to start there are a few digressions into shoes, nutrition, and other running topics. I found the arguments for vegetarianism and barefoot running pretty compelling.
  • I don’t think I’m ready to swear off meat – and those who know me know how much I love red meat – but adding more beans and veggies to my diet to displace some of the lower-quality meat in my life would be a good idea. Heck, last night I even ordered fish while out with my father for dinner. I’m usually not too fond of finned food, but the mahi-mahi was very good.
  • As for barefoot running, I had already been a bit unhappy with my old running shoes, and based on the comments in the book I decided to try the cheapest shoes I could find. The theory is that the excessive padding in higher-quality shoes is actually causing injury. I found some $15 Jacek shoes at Target, and they do exactly what they were supposed to: Discourage heel strikes, and promote mid or fore foot strikes. It worked like a charm. Yesterday I ran faster and farther than I had before, and today I have the pleasant mild soreness of muscles that are being productively reawakened. One run doesn’t make a conclusion, but so far it’s encouraging. $15 isn’t so much to experiment.
  • I’m oogling a pair of Vibram Five Fingers, and when I can get to an REI I think I may get a pair. My wife will enjoy another ‘I told you so’ moment, as she’s always enjoyed going barefoot, and I’ve been the one saying she should wear shoes. I think I will start wearing my thinner-soled dress shoes to work to provide whatever foot conditioning they can.
  • RunKeeper and Runmeter are two neat iPhone apps that track runs. RunKeeper is more polished, a bit more beginner friendly, but it’s also apparently not very reliable. I’ve had it get very confused about locations, and others in RunKeeper’s forum seem to have the same problem. Runmeter is more techie, so far is more reliable, and is more iPhone centric where RunKeeper is really an interface to a website. Both are cool, and I wish I could use both simultaneously.
  • I’ve been tracking my weight with Track Your Weight, which seems unique in its ability to track % water and % body fat, which I like to keep track since my scale measures both. I find that when my weight is unexpectedly climbing, it can be traced to changes in water and body fat.
  • My wife bought me a Brooks Men’s Nightlife Vest , which is about as visible as anything can be. My running time is usually in the evening, when it’s dark this time of year. It’s got a nice pocket for stashing my iPhone, and it blocks the wind nicely.

Run Log Ressurected

I’ve just ressurected my run log, which is really also a workout log, after it being inactive since last August. Try as I might last year, I never could get to the point where I could run continuously. I finally pushed hard enough that my knees started bothering me again, or something else would get sore, or whatever. It just wasn’t working.

So I gave up.

This year I once again got some resolve together, and instead of running I tried weights. I just got some dumbells out after a few weeks of doing pushups and crunches, and eventually started following the Men’s Book of Muscle routine. It’s been working ok, I’ve lost about 8lbs and a few inches off my waste, and things are fine.

But Tuesday I decided to see how far I could run, and the results were much better than I expected. Yee Ha!

Now, I’m not yet going to start thinking about a marathon this year, but if I could get to 3 miles/day by April…

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Another Blog?!?!

Well, it’s not really another blog, I just wanted to take advantage of the ability to put graphs and charts in a WordPress blog, as I saw on someone else’s nifty “Jog Log“. You can get to it by hitting the “RUN LOG” link at the top of the page, or by going here.

It’s pretty cool stuff, really, and when you think about the ability to add charts to a blog the business applications really start coming to mind. You could probably do a pretty effective dashboard system using this stuff, and given that it is driven by PHP it probably wouldn’t be that painful to interface it with many systems.

So, effective now I’ll put a probably-weekly running/workout-update post up there instead of here.

A bump in the road…

I had a feeling it would happen and it has – knee pain has struck. I’ve felt a moderate amount of pain each time I’ve run, but it was always not much and disappeared shortly after. This morning was different, and I came home very nearly limping. Some Ibuprofen made things feel better, but not pain free. It’s amazing how, when we have pain we’ll make elaborate promises to ourself regarding it, but as soon as the pain is gone all is forgotten.

I’ve looked it up, and I’m convinced it’s Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. It’s caused by several things such as shoes, muscle imbalance in the muscles around the knee, and tight leg muscles. I’ve got new stability shoes that feel good otherwise so I’m ruling them out for the time being. That leaves the muscles, which I know are very tight, and the imbalance, which given my previous 12-ounce-curl-based exercise program, is very likely.

This unfortunately means I will have to skip any running for at least two workouts, but fortunately that will actually get me 5 days because of some rest days. Long enough? I don’t know, but I think that’s my plan for now. If I still have pain by next Wednesday, then I’ll have to wait longer. In the mean time, it’s some one-legged squats to strengthen some muscles, ice and Ibprofen.

Will this interfere with my overall plan? I’m not thinking so. I will walk and ride as I can to keep any cardio benefit I’ve gotten so far, and frankly other than my knees I felt strong as a horse this morning. I think if I can get them in line, I can still reach my overall goals of 3 miles in mid-June to begin training for a marathon in October.

Running progress #1

I’m not sure the title is exactly honest – as part of my 56 minute workout today, only 9 minutes total was running. Not very impressive to most, I’m sure, but when you’re a flabociraptor like myself you’ve got to give your working parts plenty of time to adjust.

An adjusting they are. I’ve had a more or less steady parade of aches and pains, but nothing serious. They come and go, whether I run or walk, or whatever. The regular, stated-on-the-bottle dose of aspirin takes care of them, so they can’t be too serious.

Anyway, I started the week running for a total of 4.5 minutes on a 1.88 mile route, with 105 seconds of walking in between 30 second running bursts. I have four workouts per week, with Sunday being the “big” one – it’s pretty much a direct ripoff of the plan from the Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer, but tailored to mix running & walking. Each week I up the total amount of running time and alter the ratio of running to walking. The first week has gone well, but the real test will come on Wednesday – when the second week starts.

Because anything worth doing is worth a new gadget or two, I picked up two of them. First was a Timex 100-lap Triathlon watch. This is one of the few models that has a programmable interval timer, to do the 105 & 30 second periods. It was about $30. It might seem silly, but running while looking at a second hand is really no fun. You might even call it dangerous, and given the copious amounts of canine fertilizer freely distributed where I run, I need my eyes on the road.

The second was a heart rate monitor, for no specific reason other than it’s another metric to record in Steve’s Obssesive Chart of Progress. Or actually several metrics because there is minimum heart rate, maximum, average, along with time “in zone”, calories burned, and other cool things. It is the Timex 30-lap heart rate monitor, but since Timex has so many frigging products and variations, it’s much safer to call it the 5c401 hear rate monitor. There are lots of places it can be bought at a pretty hefty discount – I got mine at, through Amazon. Pretty neat. I’ve always wanted one, but they were always either too expensive, or two primitive – I mean, it’s gotta be a watch, too, right? This on is one of the cheapest, but has lots of features.

So far so good!

I’m still crazy…

I finally decided to post my marathon goal, which you’ll find below. Like I wrote in that post, I actually wrote the post some time ago, but hesitated to post it – sometimes I take myself, and this blog a little to seriously. After a little reflection, I decided to post it. The worst that could happen is that one of my 6 loyal readers will give me a ribbing if I don’t succeed 😎

Something else that got me thinking is seeing Bren’s Bravery, which he talks about here and while I’m not quite ready (in guts or technical talent or free time) to make a “joglog” like Bren and others, I think it’s a pretty neat idea.

So where am I? Still not running continuously – one has to start slowly – although I have missed only one workout, that when my daughter was born. She’s perfect, by the way 😉 I am up to 6 minute’s running out of a 30-minute workout, and that’s not straining me too much.

I sat down and worked out a plan to get me to 3 miles solid running by 6/15/2005. I think the schedule is a bit tight, and to be honest looking at it makes me a little nervous. But we’re talking about running, for Pete’s sake, not studying for the medical boards. One day at a time.

A crazy goal?

I’m posting this on 4/19, but post-dating it to 4/4 because that’s when I wrote it, in the iinterest of chronological purity.

I wrote it, and then hesitated to post it because, well, I didn’t want to make an idiot of myself 😉 Anyway, on the 8th my wife and I had our first child, and that’s had me distracted for a while. Now that things have calmed a bit, I decided to go ahead and post it.

I call it couvade syndrome, but my wife says she knows a beer-belly when she sees one 😉 As her pregnancy has advanced, so has my own re-emerging guttisorous. I hopped on a scale a last night, and when it got done crying and begging for me to get off, it’s statement was a clear explanation for all sorts of issues.

A few years ago a bout with Atikins brought my shape under some control, and I was fairly content with my figure. Not ecstatic, mind you, but content. These days I find Atkins still works a bit, but the real problem is a lack of exercise. I think about chasing a few toddlers in 3 years, and I get scared – I can’t climb stairs without running out of breath, and that surely isn’t good. I would remove the stairs, but then our basement would become nearly inaccessible.

So this, of course, led to various exercise goals, and promises to get in shape, etc., etc. The purpose of this blog isn’t to extol the virtues of exercise, or healthy eating, so I’ll not embark on a long sermon about these things. Instead, I’m just going to describe my latest obsession, and what I’m learning about it.

I’ve become obsessed with the idea of running a marathon this October. Anyone knowing me, or even just looking at me would probably put the back of their hand up against my forehead upon hearing me say such a thing, but I believe it can be done.

This began with a simple interest to start running. That isn’t too crazy. I ran for a while in college, and did close to 3 miles a day for a while. So the first thing I did when this idea popped into my mind was look for the book that got me going last time, Jim Fixx’s Complete Book of Running. Alas, it’s out of print so I started hunting around on Amazon for the latest equivalent. That’s when I found The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer. The premise of the book is that if you can run 3 miles fairly comfortably, in 16 weeks you can learn to run a marathon – 26.2 miles. Along with many glowing reviews written by people who’ve used the book with good success are a few reviews from intelligent-sounding folks who say it’s a bunch of suicidal rubbish. The mileage increases needed to pack the training into only 16 weeks will result only in a more intimate relationship with your doctor. I won’t debate this, except to say I trust my ability to not kill myself, having had many years of practice.

Now, working backward from October 2nd, the date of the Lakefront Marathon here in Milwaukee, 16 weeks puts me in the 2nd week of June. I have until then, about 9 weeks, to determine if I can get to running 3 miles fairly comfortably.

I figure if I can get to the point where I actually need to decide if the 16 week plan is feasible or not I’ll have already made a fairly substantial achievement.

While looking for a good running book I came across another book that was closer to what I was looking for in the first place â?? The Courage to Start. This book is written by a man who began running quite late in life, and considers himself a â??Penguin.â?? A Penguin is an individual who is running for the pure enjoyment of it, with no real competitive drive or extensive natural ability. The kind of person who’s content to simply finish a race, who considers getting to the starting line the real victory. That sounds good.

Last but not least, I ordered a copy of Jim Fixx’s book, used. It would seem that despite many advances in everything else, running has stayed pretty much the same, and I really enjoyed it the first time around.

So, what about the running? Well this all started pretty recently, like two days ago. So I am doing some brisk walking and even mixed a few 30 second bits of running in last night. Tonight is a scheduled off night. More to follow.