Here's the skinny: I've been near 300 lbs. for years and need to lose weight. I'm married to a wonderful lady, and we have a family. One of our boys often asks if I'll run with him. I've always had to tell him, "No." In August of '09, my wife learned about a couch-to-5k running program, and I agreed to try it with her. This blog chronicles our progress on that training program. I hope I'll soon be able to surprise my son by telling him, "Yes, I'll go running with you!"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 20 (week 3, day 6)

A day of rest. No lingering aches or pains. Well, I had one--hunger pangs this morning. It's been a long time since I've had full fledged hunger pangs in the morning. I guess that means my portions last night must have been right on.

We had a picnic scheduled at a park in a distant town, so we ended up away from home all day. Charcoal-grilled foods are some of my favorites, but I did a good job of sticking to my limits today. We soaked some sweet corn in a cooler on the way down, and then we cooked it over the coals. Roasted that way, it always turns out wonderful. I managed to keep it to one ear, even though I could have downed a half-dozen!

I paid off my running debt to our son today. He was impressed that I made it two minutess. Won't he be surprised in another six weeks!? I didn't have my running shoes on, so I took it easy. Even so, I could feel a differnce as I ran--definately more strain on my shins and my knees. I'm glad it was only two minutes.

Just resting now at home with the family. The little ones are down for the night, and the rest of us are enjoying some TV on DVD. We each had a little ice cream (emphasis on little for me), and the rest are enjoying some popcorn now (I took a pass on that). I'm looking forward to another day of rest tomorrow. I'll need to review the Week 4 plan, so I'll be ready for Monday, but otherwise, we have nothing planned, and that's the best kind of weekend day in my book.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 19 - injury report

Well, on her way back from her weight check, the rear fender on Mrs. F's bike came loose and caused her to wipe out. She got a good amount of road rash on her rear end and on her two forearms, plus a deeper scrape on her left wrist. Her head hit the pavement, but she was wearing her helmet, so we're thankful for that. Overall, she came out fine, but I'm guessing the road rash is going to bother her going into next week. She said it already feels like it is bruising. I'll bet it is!

Anyway, at least it wasn't a running-induced injury, and at least it wasn't serious.

We're both looking forward to a good weekend.

Friday weight check (week 3)


Last Friday: 296.4

Today: 292.1

Gain/Loss: -4.3

Goal: 210.0 lbs.

Pounds to lose: 82.1

It feels good to see that I lost some weight again this week. I was a little nervous going to weigh in, but I reminded myself that I did better on portion control and avoided extra food in the evenings. Of course, not having a birthday in the family this past week did help. I weigh at our local clinic, so I'm using the same scale that will be used when I have my next appointment. To make sure my doctor is aware of my progress, I also jotted the weight onto a slip of paper with my name and birthdate, so they could add it to my chart. Speaking of charts, we have enough data now that I'll try to pull together a chart in Excel that we can export and post here. I really like charts (when they are showing positive results).

That's almost a 10 pound drop since when we started three weeks ago. That helps explain why my sugar levels have been so good. My doctor said that every 10 lbs. I lose will reduce my insulin resistance. That, my friends, is a very good thing!

Mrs. F
Last Friday: 180.9

Today: 179.4

Gain/Loss: -1.5

Goal: 150.00

Pounds to lose: 29.4

Woohoo! Not getting a Moolate paid off. Why does it seem men lose weight faster than women?

Day 19 (Mrs. F - The mental battle almost did me in)

I did not want to go today -- I did not want to run today -- I did not want to be in shape anymore. For me, I knew (since I ran the previous 2 days of the week) that I could do this pysically but I plain just didnt "want" to.

I went to bed early but a good book kept me up longer than intended. Add to that two kids waking up in the middle of the night and just really not sleeping well. So I knew it would be a challenge today.

I have been suffering from some knee discomfort(more below and in front of the knee though). Its usually gone by the next workout day, so I havent bothered too much with it. I did concentrate some today on doing heelstrike -- making sure the heel hits before the toe. While it feels a bit arkward, it doesnt seem to strain the knee as much. It definitely takes some getting used to. My left knee is moderately sore but my right is a bit painful. Guess I need to take it a bit easier next time!

I did not want to do the first set. Or the second. Or even the third. It wasnt until the 4th set that I wanted to run! And run I did, this time it felt good so i pushed a bit harder and faster than Mr. F. I may pay for that, only time will tell!

Off to do my weight check, will report that later

Keep on running,
Mrs. F

Day 19 (week 3, day 5 - Week 1 training complete)

We just got back from the final day of training for this week. The running was harder than Wednesday, but we did finish the week! It does match last week, where it was much harder at the end of the week, though I'm glad to say I wasn't anywhere near beat-down-dead at the end of today's session. I'll hold out hope that Monday feels a bit better after two resting days, just the way it felt better this week.

The firs two sets (90s/90s run/walk, 3m/3m run/walk) were okay. They didn't leave me feeling pretty good, like on Monday, but they left me confident I would finish today's paces just fine. I needed every second of the final walk set of the first half, but it wasn't as if I was fighting for breath--I could just tell my body needed that respite.

The first 90 second segment of the second half wasn't too hard. I tried thinking about my arms again, but deliberately letting them hang low felt really awkward. I think I ended up with them somewhere between my armpits and my thighs, and that's just fine by me.

I'm looking forward to my weight check today.

I've scheduled a follow-up visit with my doctor for two weeks from today. That will be just past the half-way point. Although I normally get lab work done every three months, she'll probably pull lab work then, and she'll have a formal record of my weight for my file. I'm hoping that the changes will be visible to her (beyond the weight and the lab work)--if she can tell, walking into the room, that I've made progress then it'll make the whole thing feel worthwhile. I know it's worthwhile regardless, but those external affirmations really help--that's a big reason why I so enjoy seeing comments and followers here!

Anyway, I owe my son two minutes of running tomorrow. I asked him a moment ago if he wanted to do it now. He said he can't run well in his jeans. I told him that even in a straight jacket he could run faster than me. He still opted to wait for tomorrow.

Happy day! We're one-third of the way through the Couch to 5k program! Yippie!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 18 (week 3, day 4)

What can I say? It was a non-running day, and I'm not suffering a bunch of aches or pains. I'd say that's a really good sign.

I had good portions at of each of my meals, and my sugars have been in a good range all day. My trousers and shirts hang a bit more lose than they ever have. It's not a big difference, but I can feel it (and Mrs. F can see it).

I'm excited because tomorrow markes the final training day for this week, and that means we're 1/3 of the way through the program. Honestly, I didn't think I'd even stick with it for this long.

Our boys had another cross country race tonight. Our younger son took 17th place again, but this time running 3000 meters with a time of 00:14:30. Our elder son completed his course in 00:20:03, coming in 11th place. The course had more hills than the one he was at on Monday, but that's not the only thing that slowed him down. He was in 5th or 6th place through most of the race, until he came to one of the bigger hills. On the way up the hill, he got a side ache. Instead of giving up, however, he pushed through it. By the time he got to the top of the hill, he had been passed by around 10 other runners. Instead of slowing his pace, he poured it back on and passed a few of them before hitting the final stretch. Then, he burst into one of his fastest sprints, overtaking another runner to get that 11th place finish. He had really wanted to finish in the top 10 at this one, because the first ten runners got medals (while the next 10 got ribbons).

That determination--that striving for a goal--that is inspiring to me. No one would have faulted him for finishing slower since he had a side ache, but he was somehow able to push through the pain and finish strong. That's just amazing to me.

Well, I'll be out early tomorrow to work on my determination.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day 17 (late)

Well, the day has come and gone. This morning's session was harder than I hoped (after how well Monday went), but, hey!, I still made it. Biking to and from work wasn't as hard today as it was some days last week. In fact, I felt like I was keeping a better cadence in the saddle. [I should note that a few days during the past couple of weeks had me riding into a head-wind--basicly making me like a sailboat trying to go against the wind--so that might have been why it was harder then.] My legs are still reminding me that I put them through their rounds this morning, but there's no back pain, no shin pain, and my feet feel fine.

It was tough to stay to a reasonable portion tonight--spaghetti and our own homemade meatsauce (with fresh oregano and rosemary from my herb pot), but I did it. Not too much when served, and just a nibble more for the taste. Okay, a couple of nibbles for taste! Far better, however, than eating two full plates as would have been my pattern before. Baby steps.

Day 17 (week 3, Day 3) - Mrs. F

Today was the first day I thought of quitting before even starting. I was tired! Some added extra stress in life, combined with not enough sleep and it was a disaster. I even thought briefly of asking Mr. Fatmanrunning if we should just stay in bed. I didn't though for the fear of him actually saying yes. I knew we needed to go even if it felt hard.

And it was hard. I deliberatly took it a slower pace this morning, knowing that I hadnt won the mental battle for the day. So for the first two sets, I ran a slower pace with Mr. F and it was okay. I had some knee pain, not so much in the joint itself but right below and front of the knee. So that didnt help matters. I was pleasantly surprised though that my chest didnt burn and ache today. Not in the middle of the sets after the first 3 minute run, nor at the end after the 2nd 3 minute run. Whether it was because of taking it more easy or that my endurance is increasing, I'll take it!!!!

Im glad to find though, that even when the mental battle is hard, I can still persevere and do the workout. Im a bit sore and achy and definitely tired. I find though when I concentrate on one of the goals -- surprising our son by running a 5k race -- my enthusiam comes back and its easier to "want" to do this. Ive been a bit disapointed( even though I really did know better) that the added movment and workouts arent resulting more weight loss. If I really thought about it, I probably knew that the weight loss would be tied to eating less. I guess I just had hoped that perhaps I could lose some weight simply by being much more active. After all, I am RUNNING! Running is hard!

Keep on Running

Mrs. F

Day 17 (week 3, day 3)

Perhaps the best part of this couch to 5k running program as that it is in manageable chunks. Since the goals change each week, and since each week is broken down into three separate workouts, it seems less intimidating. That's not to say it's been easy, however. At the end of last week, I talked to Mrs. F about repeating Week 2, but she wanted us to try at least the first day of Week 3 before opting for a repeat. We still could end up repeating a week. I think that would be tough for me to handle (mentally--it would feel like a failure). I'm just hoping we can complete the program as written.

It wasn't as easy as I had hoped it would be this morning. Our plans for a 7:30 PM movie start in the living room got delayed, and though we considered breaking our watching over two nights, a compelling plot kept us watching. We didn't get to bed until 10:30 PM. So, we had about an hour less sleep than we had planned.

I believe one of the greatest evils in this world is the snooze alarm. I was introduced to it years ago and have had mornings where I've reset the snooze over and over again without ever realizing it. I've been at all out war with our snooze alarm lately--I'm trying to get up right away--but my success has been mixed with failure. Today, the snooze alarm won one round, but we were up and moving shortly thereafter.

As I sit now, writing this, I have a couple of minor reminders of today's session. I still have a little discomfort just below each knee, but that is likely to fade in a few hours. I have one tight spot that's bringing some discomfort along my right shin again, but I guess I'll see how that feels later today. I was well winded on the longer running sets, but didn't feel like dead weight until I got to the end of the second three minute run.

We extended our warmup walk by a little over a minute, did some final stretches, and set off. It is nicer running along this segment of trail--we get much more light from the lights of town over the lake, and from the open space on the other side. Fewer overhead trees also means less chance of tripping on sticks or branches--something that became more likely on the other segment, with its thick canopy of trees.

My shoes are holding out well--no obvious signs of wear. I know I've only had them for less than a month, but when you weigh nearly 300 lbs., you find that a lot of things can wear out more quickly than expected.

It was a colder morning, so I did wear my gloves--a really lightweight fleece. I had tried putting on the arm warmers we received from Asics, but my arms are too thick for them to fit right now. That might change in the future. So I just wore three layers: a long-sleeved elastic/spandex type shirt (it does so well at wicking moisture that it almost always leaves me feeling cold), another long sleeve athletic shirt, and then a plain cotton t-shirt for the top layer. I figured the t-shirt would keep me warmer than without it, but that it wouls also be cooler than wearing my fleece vest. It seemed to work well--I was neither too hot nor too cold today.

I tried running with my hand down and loose, "almost brushing my thighs" as Mrs. F related from the site she was reading, but it felt awkward. I tried to remain conscious of any times I was fisting up, or pulling my arms up high. Other than that, I just tried to ignore my arms, and that worked better than trying to think of brushing my thighs.

I allowed myself to slow my pace on the longer segments. My heart rate was still up, but it allowed me to finish without being so winded that the recovery period would have done nothing to settle me down. I think that was a good call for today. I think Mrs. F had a tougher go at it today, but I'll let her speak for herself.

I guess I just enjoy getting the time with her, too. We don't get to converse much, but we're together. For me, at least, that means a lot.

We only have one more training day left in Week 3, then our weekend rest before starting Week 4. If we make it through Friday, we'll have completed a full third (1/3) of the program. That's exciting to me.

I'll probably post another update later today after I get a chance to feel the effects in my body.

Before our run, I half of an English muffin with peanut butter. Afterwards (while I was writing this), I had ham and egg on an English muffin with a slice of American cheese. I'm going to nab a cup of coffee now, before heading in to work.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh, the food...

Okay. It was not my best food day. Someone left a bag of sugar cookies in the breakroom again. I thought I'd have just one... Well, you know how that often goes.

I did manage to keep from cleaning my plate at lunch, and I deliberately took a smaller portion at supper. What should be done when you blow your diet? Should you try to compensate by eating less (or nothing at all)? I figured that skipping a meal would simply leave me more hungry later and would leave me with less energy in the morning, so I opted for a smaller supper.

I guess I still have a lot to learn on the nutrition front. I mean, I know what I should be doing, but I guess the hardest part is putting it into practice (and being realistic about it, too).

Not to get too tangental here, but finances affect nutrition. Things are a bit tight right now (especially with the extra expenses we incurred getting our running shoes, spikes for our veteran cross country runner, and shoes and gear for our newest cross country runner), so that means we have a lot more pasta on the menu. I'm just annoyed that the whole-grain pastas costs so much more--you'd think that less processing of the flour would translate to less overall cost, but it just isn't the case. It's hard to fight the economies of scale that the processed flours and sugars can leverage when food makers are considering ingredients.

Okay, enough of my tangent. My legs feel pretty good, and I'm going to be in bed by 9 PM tonight. I really hope tomorrow's session goes well.

Day 16 (week 3, day 2)

It's a non-training day today, and for the first time, I have mixed feelings about it. Don't get me wrong--I'm glad to have the rest--but I find myself looking forward tomorrow, hoping that I can do just as well, if not better than I did on Monday. My legs feel pretty good, though I still can feel their use. They were a bit sore last night, as I did run a bit to watch my boys race (see below). I think I felt it more because I was in my flat Wonderlite casual shoes--the shoes I wear all day at work. It's amazing what a difference a change of footwear can make.

I feel it going down stairs this week, whereas last week going up the stairs required a conscious effort. Blood sugar levels remain good, and I'm doing okay on portions. There was that Heath bar last night, but I talked to Mrs. F about it later. If she has the hankering for chocolate that's fine, but I need her to be deliberate about not offering to get me any.

My two eldest sons had a cross country meet yesterday at a golf course with some significant hills on the course. The younger of the two, who only joined the team last Thursday, came in 17th out of a field of about 40 with a time right around the 9 minute mark (I couldn't see the clock, and he didn't pay attention to the time) on a 2,000m course. It was a great first race for him. Our eldest son, who runs 3.125 miles (just over 5k?), had a 20:02 on his last race, so I made a little wager with him. If he came in under 19:10, I'd give him two minutes of running. He wasn't sure he'd be able to shave that much time off his pace, but he accepted the deal. He was a bit concerned because one of the top runners in our state was at the meet. It was a smaller field of runners this time (fewer schools were there), so he was out there with about 25 other young men.

We cheered him on at the start, and then moved over to a vantage point where we'd see him at about the one mile mark. He came through and we cheered him on--he was just forward of the middle of the pack. We moved up hill to see him loop around the start area to begin their second time around the course, and he held his own, perhaps giving up a position or two on the hill. Again we moved downhill to our spot, and I watched for him across the greens and fairways, where we would see the pack running on the far side of the course. He had moved up again and was, by estimate, about 10 runners back.

The first three runners had a commanding lead on everyone. The leader, of course, was the top contender my son had identified, followed, 30 and 45 seconds later, by two other runners from the same school. Then there was a bit more of a gap before we saw the lead pack that was trailing the breakaway runners. White shirt... Red shirt... White shirt, white shirt... White shirt, white shirt... and then we saw our son. He was tangle up in a small pack of other runners--five or six--as he rounded a corner and came into view. We started yelling and encouraging him, and then we heard his coach call his name--I was surprised because his voice was probably as loud and distinct as my own--and it told him to make his move. It seemed that was all he needed to hear. He started passing other runners who may not have held back enough reserve. As we lost sight of him beyond some trees--and headed toward the final up-hill run before the flat stretch to the finish line--he was in 10th position. I turned and ran up his (surprising, I might add, two of our other boys who were with to watch), and I took a position near the chute. He was now in ninth position.

We, and some other parents with our team, shouted and called to him. I heard another coach or parent saying that he needed to sprint, so I yelled "Sprint!" on the top of my lungs. He poured it on and overtook one other runner as he approached the chute. Eighth place, garnering him a ribbon, but the best news was his time: 00:18:55. He shaved a full 01:02 01:07 [Thanks, Mrs. F] off his previous best! That finish meant I owe him two minutes of running.

He just doesn't know that I'm ready for two minutes. We'll run on Saturday (after Mrs. F and I finish this week's training on Friday). I can't wait to see how he responds to my little run. It will be a wondeful foretaste of what it will be like when he sees me run a 5k in November!

While it was warmer last week, it was chilly again this morning as I biked in to work. I'll wear my gloves again tomorrow. Reading some tips on, I learned that I'm keeping my hands too high and tight when I run--I keep them almost in my armpits with my hands in fists. I need to keep them more relaxed and down nearer my waist.

It feels funny to be writing this stuff. Simply the fact that I've gotten to week three is pretty amazing to me. The fact that I'm looking forward to my Wednesday morning session is completely foreign to me. Well, the only time I ever looked forward to such strenuous activity before was when I studied karate years ago. Sunday morning lessons were my favorite time of each week, and I practiced regularly because I loved the sport. It shocks me to think that I could ever get to the point where I enjoy running that much. For now, I'm just taking what comes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 15 (continued)

Okay, I have a little time now. Let me reiterate that I was pleasantly surprised that this morning was nowhere near as difficult as I expected it to be. This may be another tick mark in the column that says that the real battles of running are mental ones, not physical ones.

As I biked home for lunch, I noticed that that litte ache in the area below my right knee. Apart from that little ache, and some minor protests from my muscles as I came up the house steps, I feel surprisingly good. It's not just the lack of aches. I feel up, with plenty of energy. My blood sugar levels yesterday and today have been the best they've been in years. In fact, they were still so low after breakfast today that I needed to grab a banana. Now that's a good problem to have.

So, while I'm not quite ready to jump onto the "running is awesome" bandwagon, I am quite surprised that we've made it this far, and am pleasantly surprised that I'm feeling as good as I am today, especially after how bad I felt last week.

Because it was so dark this morning, we decided to go the other direction on the trail. The way we normally go is under a thick canopy of trees for much of the length we use, and since it was still dark this morning [Ah, the joy of living in the northern lattitudes!] and we had only a sliver of moon, we decided to try the other route. It worked out well. Lights from town reflected over the water to give us some light, and the path was much more open to one side. This is likely the route we will use going forward.

After completing our warm-up walk, we had turned around and walked back to a bench where we adjusted our shoes and did some last minute stretching.

Like Mrs. F, I did restrain myself a bit on our first set, but my pace was right on what it had been most of last week (Friday excluded). The 90 second walk was plenty of time to recoup, and the first half of the second set was no problem. I figured the set would be difficult, so I worked on pacing myself. It definately took more effort to get through the second half, but it was still managable. The three minutes of walking was just about right, too. Boy am I glad the plan called for doing 90-90 for the next set--I think doing another three minute set would have made this morning a nightmare!

Knowing that the last three minute set was coming, the 90 second walk seemed too short, but I picked up the pace and moved on. I had ridden alongside one of my sons yesterday as he ran three miles, and I was encouraged to see that his primary cadence was not much faster (or so it seemed) than what I was doing in each of our sessions. [I'm sure his stride was longer, but that's something I'll need to improve on another day.] I just kept going--footfall after footfall. I found myself checking the watch more often, announching "half way," "two-thirds," "three-fourths," and finally, "ten seconds," "five," and "done!"

While we technically only had a final three minute walk ahead of us, with the extra distance from our starting bench to the car we ended up walking almost five minutes. Unlike some days where we have been completely drained, however, the extra walking felt good today.

I must say that I am looking forward to Wednesday. If it is anything like today, I might actually enjoy it. I didn't get to bed as early as 9 PM last night, as planned, but it was still early. I think the extra rest did me good.

Day 15 (Week 3, Day 1) - Mrs. F

The anticipation of todays workout was much harder than the actual workout. Don't get me wrong, it was not easy by any means, but it was doable.

I took the first set deliberatly slow, anticipating that longer,harder set yet to come. Then set 2 came(3 minutes running, 3 minutes walking) and well it was hard. The first 90 seconds came relatively without trouble but the last ninety seconds was really tough!!!! I so relished the 3 minutes of walking.

The 3rd set was okay. It came without much fanfare. The last set was hard to do but the most encouraging. I was surprised at how fast(this is all relative, we still had a 21 minute workout) the sets went. When there is only 4 sets it feels quicker. In this last set, Mr. F announced how far we were into the set. He called out 1/3 there, or 1/2 half there. For the first half of it, Im like what, it felt longer. But hearing him call out the last parts of the set was awesome! And the cherry on top of the cake was the 3 minute walk to end our workout set. Very nice!

It was great to know that I had accomplished the workout set that haunted me to think about. I did it~

Keep on running,
Mrs. F

Day 15 (week 3, day 1)

Wow! This morning was nowhere near as bad as I expected it to be. I don't have a lot of time to post details right now (I had PC problems this morning, and resolving them ate most of the time I set aside for blogging), so I'll need to post more details later.

In short, we survived the morning's training session. It was definately hard, but knowing there were only a total of four sets really did help. The three minute jogging sets were definately tough, but other than general soreness-from-use, I have no specific aches or pains. Even the blister on my left foot (reported earlier) didn't cause me any grief, although it was sore when I first put my shoes on. It did seep a little bit, but other than that it was fine.

Here's this week's routine:

Week 2 Routine

  • 5 minute brisk walk (warm-up)

Then, this pattern repeated twice:

  • Jog 90 seconds
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk 3 minutes

I'll post more later.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 14

It was a pretty nice Sunday. No running, thankfully, but I did get in a couple of brief bike rides. One was alongside our newest cross country runner, to help him measure out his three mile run. So the pace was quite relaxed.

It still feels a little tight along my right shin today, but it's not hurting at all. That's a good thing.

I'm not sure about Mrs. F, but I'm trying to prepare myself for tomorow, the beginning of Week 3. While, technically, we'll be running the same amount of time we ran this past week, it is grouped differently so that not all the sets are of the same duration. Here's the week three plan:

Week 3 Routine

  • 5 minute brisk walk (warm-up)

Then, this pattern repeated twice:

  • Jog 90 seconds
  • Walk 90 seconds
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Walk 3 minutes

Mrs. F and I are going to watch a moving together starting at 7 PM, and then we are going to bed at 9 PM. I'm not looking forward to tomorrow morning.