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, October 3, 2009

Day 34

I still am riding the high from yesterdays run! I feel great. I looked outside today and lamented that it was rainy and cold. I had thought of going for a run. It sounds absolutely crazy to me that I even am thinking such a thought.

My muscles and legs feel great. I am much looking forward to mondays workout. I looked at it -- it seems strange to go back to the intervals after the 20 minute run. The intervals take us back to 5 minutes jogging, 3 minutes walking, 8 minutes jogging, 3 minutes walking and 5 minutes jogging. It seems like a piece of cake after Fridays run. I wonder though if it will be harder than I anticipate. Only time will tell.

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Day 34 - injury update

When I saw the doctor last evening, we discussed my progress so far, and had a look at my left knee. My doctor was very excited to see the level of weight loss I experienced this past month, and was also pleased with my blood sugar levels. In fact, she reduced the dosage of one of the medications to reduce the risk of my getting hypoglycemic. That's fantastic news.

As to the knee, I described what I was feeling and pointed out the painful location. It turns out that my self-assessment of the cause was right on: it has to do with my leg trying to rotate out as I run. She prescribed an elastic bandage (or a pull-on brace) for used during my runs. I'm also to rest it and ice it this weekend. It should clear up as my leg muscles strengthen. It definately became much more sore--even painful--later in the day.

I'm still riding fairly high from having completed the third workout of Week 5. I surprised myself.

We have no specific plans for this weekend, though I likely need to take some of the boys out for some door-to-door fundraising (I'll stay in the car). We got all of our shopping done earlier in the week, so that eliminated one major chore to which we usually attend on the weekend.

Somehow I beat most of the kids up this morning, so I'm going to enjoy the quiet.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday weight check (week 5)

  • Last Friday: 287.9
  • Today: 288.5
  • Gain/Loss: +0.6
  • Goal: 210.0 lbs.
  • Pounds to lose: 78.5
Comment: It's a bummer to see the weight gain, but I could see it coming. I ate a bit much on a couple of days.

Mrs. F
  • Last Friday: 178.9
  • Today: 177.9
  • Gain/Loss: -1.0
  • Goal: 150.00
  • Pounds to lose: 27.9
Comment: I was very happy to make my goal of losing a pound per week. Apparently bacon does the trick. ;)

Day 33 ( week 5, day 5) - Mrs. F

I did it! I really really did it! I wasnt really sure I could and I found the strength to do it. Although the earlier wakeup time wasnt fun, it wasnt all that bad either. Im thankful though that Mr. F drove, I was tired!

My anticipation of this workout was great -- I really was looking forward to seeing what I could do. I did a few stretches and then we began our warmup walk. Mr. F was off to a brisk pace right away. I did my best to keep pace with him. After about 5 laps on the track, it was time to run!

I took the beginning laps at a slow pace knowing full well I had lots of running ahead of me. I began pulling ahead of Mr. F after about 6 laps. I felt really good. I soon realized that I was doing about a lap a minute. This particular track was small, so it was 14 laps to a mile. That was encouraging to me, I quickly figured out this set then would take me around 20 laps. I really concentrated on counting the laps and not tripping over the cord on the track that was left there(as well as a table and two chairs).

I was very pleased to note that when Mr. F called out 10 minutes, I had no need to take a walking break. It felt really good and Im thinking, halfway done! I figured out by this point, that I was not going to make 2 miles running in 20 minutes. So I concentrated on getting to 21 laps which was a mile and half.

It was helpful to get the minute timings called out by Mr. F. When he called the last two minutes, I booked it a little faster as i had 3 laps to go to get to my goal. I did lap Mr. F twice since i was going at a different pace then he was. When Mr. F called time, I was halfway thru lap 21. I finished it up, since I really wanted to get the mile and half distance.

I was breathing heavy by end of the 20 minutes but my chest didnt burn. My endurance really has increased! My legs and feet felt good as well. I still cannot believe I ran for 20 minutes and not only lived but enjoyed it as well! I am so looking forward to being able to surprise our kids by running a 5k!!!

Keep on Running
Mrs. F

Ps check back later for our weight checks!

Day 33 (week 5, day 5) - the 20 minute run

We just returned from this morning's session. We both survived.

It rained through the night as expected. Anticipating this, we set our alarm for 4:30 AM (yech!) and got moving. It wasn't raining when we got into the car, but that was okay--we figured the trail would be a mud pit this morning. We drove 30 minutes to a college a few towns over. I'm in a degree program there, so my student ID gave us access to the building and the walking track. The track itself is just a concrete balcony above the gymnasium, with a layer of the utility carpeting often seen in churches and other comercial structures. If there was any padding at all, it was minimal.

My left knee was sore when I went to bed last night. I took some Ibuprofen before bedding down, and I wrapped the knee in an elastic bandage. Wrapping it did have it feeling pretty good through the night, but I could tell it was still sore when I got up and got moving.

The drive to the college passed fairly quickly. I used to commute to a nearby city, and it reminded me that I was glad that the commute was no longer part of my routine.

Thankfully, we had no problems entering the building. The track area was dark, illuminated only by lights from the hall and the windowed cafeteria that spilled light into the gymnasium. There was enough light to see an extension cord, a table, and a couple of chairs that were on one side--likely used for filming or monitoring various games in the gym.

It was a fairly small track area, with fourteen laps totalling one mile. We did some stretching, and then began our warm-up walk. It's been a very long time since we've used an indoor track. Having enjoyed a trail, however, I don't understand how people can stomach using a track every day. At least with a treadmill, you can watch television, but I guess not everyone cares much about the scenery.

When our warmup walk finished, I paused the podcast for a moment. I realized I had not removed the warm-up pants I wore on the drive over. I took them off and thought a moment about the seeming absurdity of what I was about to attempt. I'm a nearly-300 lb. guy and I'm going to try running for 20 minutes? What was I thinking?

Okay, so, perhaps I could get through 10 minutes. After all, that would be two minutes longer than our previous workout. I started running. My knee was pretty sore now, and I found myself concentrating on my stride so much that it wasn't easy to count my laps. The desire to quit came early today, around the second lap. My calves were already sore, my knee hurt, and I could feel how much harder my landings were on the track versus the trail. As has come to be my habit, however, I continued on. I wasn't joking when I told Mrs. F that I planned to run this session or die trying.

The five minute mark came and went. I asked Mrs. F is she wanted me to announce those times, and she did. So, I set about announcing each transition on the podcast, and relating it to our time (if not already made clear for us in the podcase). The eight minute mark came and went.

I was surprised by the ten-minute annoucement, the half-way point for today's run. It meant that I already had surpassed my previous runs by two minutes, and my body was not in shut down mode. Don't get me wrong: my legs were still paining me and I could feel myself slowing down, but my breathing was not hard and I sensed I had some endurance still in me. Mrs F and I were even through the first six or so laps, but from there on out she pulled ahead.

Even though I knew my breathing and body in general had the wherewithall to make it through the session, my legs were a different story. I tried a slower, longer stride; I tried a faster, shorter stride. Each of the changes brought temporary relief, but the discomfort persisted.

Mrs. F lapped me on about my 9th lap, and again on my 17th. The thirteen minute mark came and went. There was another one at the sixteenth minute--only four minutes left. I don't remember if there was another announcement before the end. I had no energy to sprint. I had asked Mrs. F what lap she was on. She was trying to reach 21 before the end. She was ahead by two laps, so I knew where I was. When time was called, I was just finishing my 18th lap. Mrs. F had just started on was halfway through her 21st, so she ran the rest of the way through it. I covered 1-2/7 miles (just over 2k) in 20 minutes. Mrs. F had completed 1.5 miles (just over 2.4k) in slightly over 20 minutes.

We took one cool down lap together at a walk, then walked to find the financial aid office so I could drop off some paperwork for the current turn (there's nothing like killing two birds with one stone).

Although I'm disappointed I was not able to cover more distance, the significance of my accomplishement did not settle in for me until we were in the middle of our drive home. "I just ran for 20 minutes straight," I exclaimed! Just five weeks ago, I could sprint a block or two if I had to, but I would have been in pain and desperate for breath for a long time after that. I remember how hard the first weeks were, and I remember how often I just wanted to quit. I know I'm only half-way through this program, but I've come so far! I'm a fat man! My highest weight was 348 lbs., and I started this program after years of yo-yoing below 300 lbs and back up to it. I was 302 lbs. on August 28. Last Friday, I was 287 lbs.--lower than I've been in a long time. What was I thinking when I agreed to try running? Wouldn't water aerobics have been a better choice? Yet, here I am, five weeks into this program, and I ran for 20 minutes! Sure, I'm not the fastest train on the tracks, but I was hauling freight! As I'm writing this, my emotions are overflowing.

I don't know what next week will bring. Having made it this far, I can't help but imagine that I'll be able to finish the whole thing. I do plan to book an appointment with a sports medecine doctor at the clinic, however. I figure that I should get this knee looked at before I do something that will really damage it. I'll ask my doctor about that this afternoon.

Because that appointent will be late today, our weight checks won't be posted until this evening. We did it. We really did it. We got through the final workout of Week 5.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Friday's forecast

Well, I'm not looking forward to our run tomorrow morning. The forecast calls for a low of 42°F and a high of 52°F, and there will be rain.

The rain started this morning, a cold, mild rain that is desperately needed in our area (where we've had draught conditions most of this year). Showers are expected to turn to heavy downpours this afternoon, and the rain is expected to continue through the night, all day Friday, and into the day on Satruday as well.

Mrs. F and I are trail runners. We have no access to a gym in our town, and we do not own a treadmill. The trail bed is some sort of crushed aggregate material. From the color left and some of the particles left on my shoes, I'm guessing it is a mixutre of sand, gravel, and clay. With 24 hours of rain preceding our next run, I'm afraid that the trail will be a mud pit in places. While I'm not looking forward to soiling my shoes, that's the least of my concerns.

My good old Boy Scout training made me very aware of the dangers of hypothermia (a dangerous drop of the body's core temperature). If it were just cold, we could layer, but with the combination of the rain and the cold temperatures, the risk will be very real. We could, conceivably, run in our rain suits, but my experience hiking in them tell me that they'd just cause us to sweat and feal hot after the first few moments.

We could run without any rain gear. I don't know enough about the science of heat loss to know if our bodies would lose heat more rapidly than we'd generate it by running, but I do know that we would cool down rapidly during the cool-down walk at the end. If the forecast for Saturday were not also calling for rain, I would suggest putting it off for a day.

Running along a road would be one option to avoid mud and muck, but I figure that running on pavement would be even harder on our feet and knees, so I think we'll pass on that option.

Does anyone have any suggestions? There's a college about 30 minutes from us that has an indoor track. I just don't know if we can fit in the extra hour of driving that would be required to get us there and back.

Day 32 - Mrs. F

Its very rainy and cold out today which makes me very glad to have this be a rest day! Unfortunely the weather is predicting rain tommorrow too! Im so hoping it will be a break in the weather pattern around the time we have to run.

My body feels great, no pain or pulled muscles. I am very excited bout that. It certainely makes it more challenging when somthing hurts. My leg/knee area feels fantastic. I only took ibuprofen at lunch yesterday and didnt even have to do any icing. Its perfectly fine today. Time will tell what tommorrows 20 minute challenge will bring.

I decided my primary goal is to run 10 minutes straight and if at that point, Im at the end of me, then allow 2 minutes of walking, then runnign again. Im hoping that as I have proved to myself in the past, my body is more capable of doing this than I think and Im able to run the whole 20 minutes. It just seems like such a big jump from running 8 minutes straight to 20 minutes straight. I realize on wednesday we did do 16 minutes of running, so Im telling myself that I should be able to do at least 18 minutes of running if I have to walk the two! Im not giving up, I just want to allow myself the grace if I need it!!!

Mr. F on the other hand is more dramatic, he said and i quote, " Im going to run the 20 minutes or die trying!" LOL, and if hes running, Im sure not stopping! Thats the benefit of running together, when one wants to quit, the other is usually there encouraging.

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 31 (late)

Well, here it is at almost 11:30 PM. We needed to run in to a bigger town to get some shopping done tonight as we were out of just about everything (it was payday today). It took a long time today, because we were checking out a different grocery store and trying to stretch every penny. At least, now, we won't need to run out over the weekend.

My legs were a bit sore while walking about, but that's my only nagging complaint from today's run. I'll ask my doctor about the pain on Friday, when I go in for a checkup. Sugar levels have been good, even a bit low. We have a big, old-fashioned scale at my workplace, and I snuck on to it earlier, just to see how it read (since I know what I weighed last Friday). If it's needle pointed true, I'm looking at another good drop of weight this week. That's still two days from now, so I'll try not to count my chickens before they hatch.

I'll likely not check my weight midday this week, since I will be in for an appointment later in the afternoon. If I can survive the Friday workout, I'll be looking forward to my weight check.

Day 31 (week 5, Day 3) - Mrs. F

It was cold this morning. Just for the record, it was really cold this morning! My current workout attire is a pair of capri length yoga pants and then a wicking long sleeve shirt, a 3/4 quarter sleeve cotton shirt and then a cotton tshirt over that. I add in a fleece hat and cotton jersey gloves.

It was pretty chilly during the warm up walk but I knew that the running would soon warm me. It was sorta weird to want to run just to get warm , lol! My upper body and head were plenty warm enough but even with the running, my legs were cold. I will need to investigate long running pants soon!!

I took the first set slow, knowing full well that I had plenty of running ahead of me. So I kept pace with Mr. F most of that set. It felt long, even though I realize 8 minutes really isnt that long. Mr F is the one who carries his MP3 player and the podcast, so I have no good way to tell how far I am, other than his periodic announcements that he calls out. I wondered could I keep going at the end of this 8 minute set-- my thoughts drifting towards Fridays challenge of 20 minute running. I dont know but today felt good.

My leg/knee area felt fantastic this morning, so I was really looking forward to seeing how the run would go. I had a little tightness in the right calf muscle but that went away after I began running. My leg/knee area did hurt some after we were done but not enough that I was worried bout injuring it further. It seems to be getting better very slowly. Since it didnt hurt at all to start with, I'm not concerned much with it right now.

The 2nd set felt really really good. I found myself with the urge to go faster, so I did. I did feel bad for leaving Mr. F behind though. It just felt good to run! Then I thought I heard him call time, when in reality he was just calling the last minute mark. So I stopped and then figured out he was still moving and my mind figured out ohh we're not done yet. That was much harder, after stopping, to get moving quickly again. So I ran that last bit much slower than my previous pace of the set. And I heard a runner coming quickly -- I really thought it was the runner we encounter on the trail every morning because he was going so fast. I was very pleasantly surprised to find out it was my husband, Mr. F!!!!! He was booking it.

So all in all a very good workout day! Im still plenty nervous bout friday. Im hoping I can go further than I think I can. But Im also preparing myself mentally that if I need to walk, Im going to. As long as I start running again, after the walk, Ill be pleased. I am though determined to make it as far as I can!!! After Mr. F was having much trouble with his legs this morning, i mentioned perhaps repeating today on Friday instead. So far though, we are still leaning toward doing as written!

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Day 31 (week 5, day 3) - Workout 2

Well, we did it. We completed the second session of Week 5: two eight minute runs separated by a five minute walk.

This was, perhaps, one of the hardest days for me. My breath control and overall endurance have improved significantly since we started, but they were not the area of challenge today. It was my legs. I still struggled a bit with my left leg and knee, particular in the second run, but my right calf was the real stinker today (though both were sore by the end). I could tell it was a bit tight even during our warm-up walk, but it was really tight at the end of the first run.

That first run, otherwise, was not too bad. It surely felt long, but I noticed that my body had found its own breathing rhythm, and I was not desperate for breath. It was warmer than we expected, 39° F (we had expected frost), and there was little wind--a nice change from earlier this week. I found a pair of warm-up pants in one of my drawer, something I had on-hand for a back country trip a few years ago. I wasn't sure how they would fit me today. They were a bit long, back then, and I had to wear them tucked into my socks. Today, I was surprised to find that they fit quite well for length. You see, before, I had been wearing them below my belly, on my hips. Today, I was wearing them properly and they fit quite well. I did have to make one adjustment--I had to tighten the drawstring! I also had a nylon windbreaker overshirt. I was quite comfortable today, but Mrs. F was quite cold.

I knew the point on the trail where we finished our five minute runs, so that was, perhaps, the toughest part of the first one. I knew we had about three minutes yet to go (as was confirmed by the podcast), and when the run finished, we were almost out of trail. We started our walk and then turned around. When the next podcast announcement came, I was surprised to realize we still had three minutes of walking yet to go. I was already feeling rested (regarding my breathing) by that point, but my right calf was sore. My left knee also set about to remind me that it still had its own issues.

I could feel the desire to limp as we began the next (and final) run. I kept concentrating on my stride, and I kept the discomfort to a minimum. I may need to visit a running shop, a sports medicine practitioner, or a podiatrist, to have my stride examined. I think I may be landing more flat-footed on my left foot, while my right strikes more at the heel and rolls.

What can I say about those final eight minutes? I wanted to quit after the first 30 seconds. My calves were already sore, and now they started to burn and pain with every step. Oh, I just wanted to stop, but I couldn't face the idea of sitting down and posting that I gave up on this blog. I couldn't stomach the thought of repeating this week because I failed to complete a session. In my mind, repeating a week because I want to improve my endurance is one thing--repeating it because I gave up on myself would be another thing entirely.

So, I plodded on. I could tell that that my stride had slowed. At one point, I was convinced that my younger kids could have passed me had they been walking by. The slower I got, however, the harder it seemed. By the beginning of the second minute (by my best guess), Mrs. F was already far ahead of me. I forced myself to pick up the pace as much as I could, but I did not want to push too hard for fear of being unable to finish. I was reading a post on a discussion board yesterday, where one of the writers derided those who stop or collapse with the finish line in sight. They reasoned that such people were pitiful, to give up so close to the end, and felt that the adrenaline of seeing the finish line would give anyone the juice they needed to finish strong. My only reaction when I read that was that the writer must never have been out of shape (not out of shape as he or she conceived of it, but really out of shape--the way I experience it). My heart goes out to those who falter in those final steps, because I have an idea of how hard it must be for them.

Because the podcast for this week included announcements for all three different workouts, I knew that the announced end for one of the first day runs meant we had three minutes left. I pushed a bit more, bringing my pace closer to what it was at the beginning of the first set. My calves burned so much now that they started to feel numb. My left knee, which was giving me grief, however, seemed to improve slightly. I could not see Mrs. F ahead of me at all. I heard the announcement for the final minute, and I felt desperate not to end so far behind. I found myself doing something I would not have imagined--I sped up.

It was not the kind of accelleration I had done on the days last week, where the podcast encouraged us to push it. It was something different. It was like that one day, early in our program (during Week 1 or Week 2), where I tried to end with a full sprint because I knew that's what our son did during cross country races. Having just been to one last night, I saw my son, who usually led his teammates by a great distance, just a dozen meters ahead of two of his teammates. In the final stretch, he was trailing behind one of them, and just ahead of the other. Each of them went all-in during that last stretch, but the young man in the third position, who was trailing quite a bit, really poured it on. I saw him during that sprint, and could not help but urge him on. He wanted to get ahead of my son so much!--I saw it in his face. My son, too, was not wanting to be beaten by teammates he had led all season, so he pushed hard. He closed the gap on the one who was in the lead. The three finished the race, each one second behind the other, with my son the third of the three.

Seeing that trailing runner sprint came to my mind in that final minute, as I felt myself speeding ahead. I swung my arms far and rapidly as my pace increased. I noticed just how much my stride lengthened. I felt lighter, as if I were bounding down the trail like a deer. There she was! I could see Mrs. F's shape ahead of me. I could not tell if she was pushing it, too, but I continued to gain ground. She had been at least 50 meters ahead of me. Then 40... 30... 20. I could not believe how fast I was moving. Then 10... five... three... one... and then it ended.

I was so close. Had I another five or ten seconds, I would have overtaken her. My body, however, now obedient to the announced transitions on the podcast, shut down immediately. My legs stiffened, and that wonderful feeling of freedom and mobility that came in the sprint was replaced by pain and numbness and a desire to collapse. I was breathing harder from that final exertion. I forced myself to walk, feeling my left leg trying to lock with each step. I tried to keep the pace up, but the discomfort kept me in check. I felt like my right foot just wanted to extend fully, toes pointed out like some ballerina preparing for a pirouette, with my calf knotted in a ball. We walked to the car. I stretched, got in, and drove home.

It wasn't until we pulled into the driveway that I realized that I was already feeling much better. My legs still were as uncomfortable as they were moments before, but the rest of my body felt surprisingly good, even refreshed. It was, perhaps, the most difficult workout of my entire life, but it was also one of the most rewarding. I did, after all, complete the session. I ran for 16 minutes, with only a five minute walk in the middle. Today renewed my fears about completing this coming Friday's run--a 20 minute run with no walking--but it also proved, once again, that my body is capable of far more than I often believe it can accomplish.

Oh, and by the way, today's run puts us past the half-way point!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 30 (late)

Well, my plans for a leisurely evening and early bedtime may be out the window. There are some problems at the office, and I'm the only one who has the skill set necessary to fix them. Becase of the nature of the problem, I can only work on it after hours, so I am headed in now to work on them.

The boys did well in their races, though our eldest is disappointed with his own time. He didn't rest well last night. Nothing like a little foreshadowing for my Wednesday workout, eh?

My left leg is still pretty sore. I'm wearing my running shoes in because I know I'll be doing a lot of walking.

(UPDATE: I was able to get things working again in a reasonable amount of time--under two hours. Mrs. F and I stayed up a bit to watch a short sitcom episode, and we're turning in at 9:45 PM)

Week 5, day 2

My legs feel fantastic today! I get a twinge here or there as i kneel or go down stairs but overall great! I havent had to take any ibuprofen since yesterday afternoon nor do any icing. Im estactic that it seems to be healing on its own and that i wont have to delay any trainings!!

I find myself getting excited gearing up for wednesday and Friday. I remember the beginning weeks, thinking week 5 looks really really scary! And now its here, it doesnt intimidate me nearly as much. Im still unsure if I can complete it but I sure am gonna try!!

Heading off to my sons cross country meet this afternoon!
Keep on running
Mrs. F

Day 30 (almost half-way there {Really!})

This is the second day of Week 5, a resting day. I got to bed late last night, but wasn't up dealing with bills or any household obligations--I was watching some TV online, and playing some online Scrabble. It was a good way to end a day for me--something relaxing amidst the stresses of life.

I went to bed late but slept in a bit, too, taking the edge off the shortened night. I dressed at a casual pace, sat down and enjoyed my breakfast, and headed in to work about 8 AM.

My left leg is still sore, but it now affects me most only when sitting or rising, and on the first step or two of a walk. I headed out the door this morning with a set of keys, planning to drive in, but biking is one habit that must be engained in me by now. I saw my bike in the driveway, with my helmet on the seat, and I turned around, went back inside, and hung the keys on the hook.

I biked in a lower gear today, both so as not to push too hard and also to keep my cadence up. My left leg muttered some protests at first, but it felt pretty good by the time I arrived. After dismounting, my first few steps were uncomfortable, but things are better than they could have been.

Mrs. F confirmed something I noticed last night--I'm a little thinner in the face. My ample double chin (a primary reason for my full beard) is receding. I still have belly fat, but I have lost much of it from the upper sides and front of my abdomen. I still cary it low on the sides and in the front, much like a full carpenter's apron, but it more clearly hangs on me now, rather than just being an indistinguishable part of my girth. She also noticed that my thighs are starting to thin--not a major change and certainly nothing someone other than my wife would notice, but I guess I had noticed it, too. Things are simply fitting better. Shirts are hanging on me again, rather than straining at the seams. When I breathe, I don't feel like I'm about to pop a button.

Don't get the wrong impression: I've not suddenly gone from fat to trim. It's just that I'm really starting to notice a difference when I see myself in the mirror in the morning. While I can't say that I yet like what I see there, I can say that I'm happy to be moving in the right direction.

I hope to be able to take a cool bath tonight, and I plan to take some Ibuprofen before I go to bed. Morning will come early, and the forecast is calling for frost. Before, I always thought runners were nuts, especially those who would run in very cold weather. Well, now I guess I can say that "it takes one to know one."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 29 (late)

Well, I'm starting to think my leg discomfort gets worse when I'm inactive. After sitting at my desk most of the day, I found my left let growing more sore and stiff throughout the day. When I got up to head home, it was particularly irksome. In fact, it was as sore and as stiff as it was at the end of our Friday session (day 26). Instead of sitting down when I got home, however (which is what I intended), I ended up helping to cook supper. Surprisingly, being on my feet for most of the past 90 minutes actually left my leg feeling pretty good. That helps explain why all of that hiking over the weekend didn't aggravate my leg as I thought it would. I guess I may need to work in some walking or other leg exercises tomorrow.

We have another cross country meet tomorrow evening. I'm looking forward to seeing how well the boys do. I'm getting to enjoy a Monday evening at home (I normally have a meeting), so I'm going to sit down and watch Heroes with the family, and plan to turn in early tonight.

Week 5, Day 1 - Mrs. F

I was a little nervous today thinking bout whether my legs would cooperate. Overall I felt okay. The weather though was frigid -- 50 degree temps with 20+ hr winds -- to think its only going to get colder!! I knew that, although i was pretty chilly on the warm up walk, once I was running, I'd be warmer.

The first run felt okay, my leg/knee area was a little sore but nothing bad. Mr. F noted at some point that we were supposed to be walking more briskly during the walking sets -- oops -- guess we need to work on that. The 2nd set felt great and I just felt like running -- so I did. I did feel a bit bad for leaving Mr. F a bit behind but I did walk back to him on the walking set!

The 3rd set was good, although my knee/leg area was still sore but not super painful. Its sore and hurts some but not the sharp kind of hurt that you know you have an injury. I probably need to bite the bullet and have the doc check it out. Im loathe to do so, because Im sure the prescription will include resting and not running. If I ice it and rest on the days off, its well enough to run on the next running day. I had the same area pain on the left but not as much and that cleared up. So Im hoping it will just ease up still ... sigh ... probably not.

Im still plenty scared for the 20 minute run on Friday! I just need to keep reminding myself that I have been able to do all the sets the weeks before and that I can do this!!!

Keep on running
Mrs. F

Day 29 (week 5, day 1)

Well, we just got back from today's session. I'm glad to say that we both finished without any major issues. Mrs. F's legs are still troubling her just below the knee, and I still had to deal with the motion on my left leg. Still, with all done, it was a good morning.

This week's workouts are each different. Here's the plan for this week:

Week 5

Session 1 (Monday)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Walk 3 minutes
  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Walk 3 minutes
  • Jog 5 minutes

Session 2 (Wednesday)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 8 minutes
  • Walk 5 minutes
  • Jog 8 minutes

Session 3 (Friday)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking

On each of the three days, we are adding a five minute cool-down walk, to match the Couch to 5k podcast (and recommended best practices).

It was a brisk morning. It was about 45ยบ F with winds in the 15-20 mph range (per the online weather station at a school in town). It felt fine when I first stepped outside, but when the first gust hit me, I went back in and grabbed my vest. Mrs. F went back in and threw on another layer. After the first week or so, I ditched my vest during the runs, because it was too hot. Today, with the wind, the vest was a welcome bit of warmth. When I finally did get hot, I ditched my fleece hat in exchange for a headband, and I unzipped the vest.

The warm-up walk was just fine--I don't think much about it anymore. The transition came about where I expected it on the trail. The first run wasn't too hard, but, I had to keep my mind on running the full five minutes. My body's clock must have sensed the three minute mark, or I must have recognized the end point on the trail from last week's runs. There was that moment where I wanted to stop, but I kept going. I was not pushing too hard, because I knew there was plenty of running ahead of me. This first part of the workout was running directly into the wind that was coming off of the lake. That made it feel even cooler than it was.

The recovery walk was certainly long enough--no problems regaining my breath. My left knee felt pretty good, though I could feel occasional twinges as I walked. Being heavy all of my adult life, I think I developed a habit of walking with my feet angled wide. While running, however, I notice that they tend to point straight ahead. I'm thinking that the discomfort I'm feeling is due to my body adjusting between those two leg positions. I definately felt it more if I tried to keep my feet pointed forward as I walked, but it was easier this week. I'm guessing that those inner-leg muscles are getting stronger and that they will eventually win the day.

At the start of the second run, I as ready for it, mentally, but my body did not want to continue. About a minute in, I found my body rejecting the thought of running any further. Then my mind came to play, and tried to tell me that we could alway repeat the whole week, or even just the day. I tried switching my thinking to something else and I found myself counting steps. I decided that the counting would make me think about how much time was left, so I did as best I could to simply stop thinking. I tried to focus only on the podcast music. If any of you know me or knew me, you'd know how hard it is for me to stop thinking. The first minute or so of the second run took us to the turnaround point on our trail. We made our turn and kept running. It seemed really, really long. By the end, Mrs. F was almost 50m ahead of me. She was so far ahead that I lost sight of her in the shadows of a wooded patch of the trail.

I was relieved when the next walk was announced. I was ready to be done for the day, but I knew we had one more set to go. I shouted out the end, and saw Mrs. F returning to my field of vision after a few seconds, seeing the white of her sleeves and her socks before anything else.

The funny thing here was the disconnect between my body and my thinking. When the next run was announced, my mind had already given up for the morning, but I found that my body kicked it in gear and began running. Both my stride and my pace were better, and I suddenly realized that everything felt pretty good. The discipline of following the Couch to 5k running plan had come to my rescue--my body acted to complete the routine because that's what we do on Mondays. It was a strange feeling for a man who often rates self-discipline as one of his weakest traits.

I can't say that the final segment was a walk in the park, but I found that I had the energy and new-found determination to finish it. When the final minute was announced, I pushed myself, hoping to close on Mrs. F who was about 10m ahead of me. She sped up as well, however, and I was only able to close the distance by a few yards before the end was announced.

That final push took some effort, so I drew some big breaths when we ended. Realizing that our recovery walks continue to be less brisk than they likely should be, we worked on keeping up our pace. Now, on the last stretch at the southeast end of the lake, we felt the full force of the wind again. Instead of making us feel chilled, however, it was a welcome friend, cooling us down was we walked back toward the dam and the parking area near the boat launch. We stopped and stretched when we reached the car, and I stood for a moment, letting the cold breeze wash past me in refreshing waves.

After a few moments, we got in the car and headed home. We made it! We finished the first workout of Week 5 without falling over dead! I can laugh at that last statement now, because I've learned that I have more endurance and ability than I ever knew. I now can run for five minutes at a shot, and do it three times over within 21 minutes. I'm sure Wednesday will be hard, with its eight minute sets, but I'm looking forward to surprising myself once again.

It's still early enough that I should be able to ride to work this morning (I skipped the bike rides during the last half of last week, in part to rest my left leg and in part because I had errands to run at different points during the day). I also managed to fit into a pair of pants that have been sitting and waiting in my closet for a couple of years. I'm a full two inches down in the waist, and I'm hoping to lose at least six more inches over the next year. It's a good start at any rate.

I ate my traditional egg sandwich today after the run. I had eaten a piece of peanut butter bread beforehand when I took some medication. I'm trying to keep my intake at or under what it was before the program started. I've lost over 13 lbs. since the start of the program, and I'm just hoping I can keep the progress going along that front (and middle and sides!).

Overall, it was a good morning session, and I'm looking forward to Wednesday. Friday intrigues me at this point, as I wonder if I really will be able to pull off that 20 minute run.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day 28 (back from the campout)

Well, we got back into town just before noon today. I'm not quite sure how ready I will be for tomorrow. We hiked about four miles, plus incidental walking and plenty of standing. My leg was still giving me trouble at the end of the day on Friday. I was limping enough during the evening that some of the other volunteers noticed it. I got a night of rest, but it was still a bit sore in the morning.

If anything, the walking might have helped. My legs don't feel too bad today, but I am tired.

I ate well and light over the weekend, snacking on nuts throughout the day when hungry (beyond our planned meals). The second night was not as restful. It was colder, and my gear just wasn't well suited for it being that cool. I had a very interrupted sleep, and developed a migraine headache at about 5 AM. Since we were not far from town, I got dressed and drove in to pick up some Excedrin Migraine. It made for a rough morning, but I got to it before it got too bad.

I can still tell that my left leg feels a bit off, but it's not bad. I guess I will just need to be careful in the morning. I hope to get to bed early this evening, both to catch up on sleep and to rest my legs. I want to see if I'm up to the challenge in the morning.