Injury & Weight Gain: An Update

The Bad News

About a year ago I started to gain weight, and went from 165 lb average, to a 175 average, and that creeped up to a 185 lb average. Waist size went from a rather loose 34 to a rather snug 36. The problem started when I tried to maintain my weight at 165, then 170, and failed.  In the meantime I injured my left knee, and have just confirmed that it has arthritis.  I will know more after May 22ed when I visit an orthopaedic sports doctor.

The Good News

There is still lots of good news. My peak weight, before I started to loose, was up around 245 plus pounds, and a size 46 inch waist size was tight. I would have been satisfied with 185 if I had been convinced it would stop there.  I did not.  I have given up running for the meantime, but suspect that the doctor’s advice will be to continue to avoid the sport I love.  During the process I learned a lot, and am taking up competitive race walking under the theory that it will not be so hard on my knee. The weight is starting to go down, partially because it is warmer now, and I am out of school with more free time.  Less stress.

What I Learned

What did I learn?  A lot, and I plan to learn more.  First of all I think I lost the weight too fast, and that steep weight lose has had an effect on my metabolism.  Most BMI calculators say that I should be able to eat 2000 calories net per day.  I have found that number to be too high.  For me it is 1400 calories.  I suspected my metabolism might have had something to do with it, but was pretty much convinced after I went back down to 1400 net calories per day, renewed  a stricter diet  (avoiding high glycemic  foods such as pasta, potatoes, etc.), and then started to see the weight come off again.  At around the same time the Biggest Looser story broke which told how research had shown that most of the contestants gained back a lot of weight, and an altered metabolism was suspected as the culprit.   Thinking it was starving, the body wisely went into a survival mode as it slowed down metabolism. We use a scale, the body seems to have other metrics. You can read the article online at the New York Times. Was that what had happened to me?  Maybe, and then again maybe not.  I suspect there are a lot of factors that come into play with weight loss, and the science is just not there yet.  In the meantime, I have resigned myself to the 1400 calorie ceiling and found a way to keep it that seems to work for me now.

The Way Forward

One strategy that I found that worked for me was a schedule that included shifting my meals to later in the day, and essentially eating four of them.  Around 300 – 350 calories at noon, the same amount at 4 p.m., and then 600 – 800 for supper at around 7:30, and finally a late snack.  Noon and lunch do not vary much at all.  Supper and the late snack calories vary depending on how active I have been. I know it breaks a LOT of the rules but it works for me.

I also discovered how much it meant to me to have fitness goals, and  incorporate competition into my goals.  Not that I was that competitive for my age class as a runner, but because I found those competitions to be tremendously motivating.  What to do?  Race walking. It has always appealed to me since I was a kid when the renowned race walker Larry Young could be seen around town training.   Walking VERY fast. By the way, Larry Young competed in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, and is the only American ever to medal in race walking in that venue.  Larry attended Columbia College on the ONLY race walking scholarship ever awarded by a college in the United States.  Hometown boy made good.

Race Walking

I know I could just go out and walk.  There is also Nordic Walking, and fitness walking, and then just kind of making up your own thing. Strolling.  While walking is natural to us, race walking requires a very specialized technique that you have to learn. Starting with Larry Young  I have a rather long history of being interested in race walking which I will write more about later. For now, suffice it to say that the first and only time I have race walked was over thirty years ago, with my oldest daughter and we were both disqualified.  I plan to do something about that.  I will compete again this summer, fully expecting to be disqualified, but have decided that next year my goal is to be competitive in my age group while  avoiding being disqualified for the wrong technique.  Stay tuned.

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Before & After: What Running Ugly Did for Me

What a winter!  Every February is a trial and now that we are into March we are one day away, this Friday, from mild weather.  It is not so much the cold here in Missouri as it is the huge variability. If the weather would stay the same I would be able to get used to it.  It is amazing that after all these years it still effects me so strongly.

Instead of running as much as I would like,  I have been working out inside at home, and at the gym.   I found a great weight routine that I will be sharing in my next post.  However today I thought I would share a before and after picture of me.   I found them this evening when I was going through photos.

man and women running outside
This is a picture of me running my first 5k after loosing about sixty pounds. You can see I still have a long ways to go.

The first picture is what I looked like over two years ago after I had already lost around sixty pounds.  This was my first 5k in over thirty years and I ran it with all my kids – three young women, and my son, as well as my daughter in law. It wasn’t pretty but I got it done.  My maiden voyage.  It was a bit cool, but otherwise a beautiful day, and it was good to be with my family. By the way, the shoes pictured in the masthead are the very ones I was wearing in the above picture.  I still have them in my closet. I lost a lot of weight walking and running in those shoes.

Man holding bab with three young women.
Me holding my first grandchild, pictured with my three daughters. Very blessed to have them all.

This next picture is the after picture – about a year and a half later.  In the meantime I have lost  another forty pounds or so, and gained a granddaughter. You can see my three beautiful daughters, as well as my granddaughter, in this picture. I have a lot to be grateful for.  It has been a wonderful journey.

When I started running again (after a thirty year layoff following the untimely  death of my running mentor Arnie Richards), I had made the decision to start running ugly.  I decided to throw my ego to one side and do it regardless of what I looked like.  I didn’t even think about it.   Otherwise I would have never moved on.  And, if  I can do it anyone else can.  You just have to start.  You don’t have to run fast, you don’t even have to run far, and you don’t even have to start running at all – just walk.  The secret is to just start.  I started by walking one mile and kept at it.  I was absolutely thrilled when I worked my way up to running a mile without stopping. Every time I run I am thankful for one more opportunity to move, feel alive, and be in this wonderful world.

Coming up a story about weight lifting for masters/senior runners as well as an article about running safety.

Galloway’s 5K and 10K Running – A Review

Jeff Galloway promotes the run-walk-run method of training, and he has written about it extensively in other books. Jeff Galloway competed in the 1972 Olympics in the 10,000 meters, and has been a runner for over fifty years. As an authoritative figure in the running and fitness world he is somebody you want to listen to.*  In this book Jeff Galloway applies the run-walk-run method specifically to training for a 5k and 10k run.  It is an intriguing idea that taking walking breaks systematically throughout your run can decrease recovery time between runs, decrease injuries,  and actually improve average time over a given distance.

5k/10 Running by Jeff Galloway
5k/10 Running by Jeff Galloway

So far I have only experimented with the Galloway method, but it is something I plan on implementing this spring. The one barrier to me has been psychological.  Having been conditioned to see walking as cheating or showing weakness, walking in a race, or a training run, doesn’t feel right.   Back when I was running a 5k at the 12 minute per mile, or slower, pace I would regularly be passed by people who took turns alternating between walking and running. I would pass them while they walked and then they would fly by me when they ran. I hated them.  I was delighted that not all of them beat me. At the time I was vaguely familiar with Galloway’s theory, and wondered if there was something to it. It was that interest that eventually brought me to read this book several years later.  However several years later, this past season, when I was running between 8 and 9 minutes per mile nobody using run-walk-run method finished ahead of me.  I am not sure why. Maybe there is a sweet spot for this method with diminishing returns as your speed improves, or it  could be this method is counterproductive for the competitive runner.  Or, just as  likely, it could be that as runners improve their speed over distance they are more reluctant to slow down. I know I am. I also suppose there is a very slight chance that this method might not have the benefits of sustained running, but I seriously doubt that.

At the start of this review I noted that he has written other books.  Well, he has written a lot of them, and there is a lot of overlap in their content, but also something for just about everyone. This just happened to be the first book of his I have had the pleasure to read.  Before buying this book, or any of his other books, I would recommend looking at his titles and finding those that appeal the most to you.  For example, he has a book for women, for walkers, and even for people who are trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  He also has a specific book on the run-walk-run method.

The final word? I think this is an outstanding book for beginning runners who want to compete in a 5k or a 10k for the first time, and helpful to those who want to improve their times at those distances. It provides structure, and a plan, from an experienced coach. Personally, I am interested in the run-walk-run approach that Jeff Galloway advocates, particularly as I get older, if it will make me more durable, and allows me to run longer.  I am more interested in running for my own pleasure,  to keep the weight off, and stay fit.  I compete for fun.  I do recommend this book, but also recommend checking his other titles to see if there is something that might be a better fit for your particular situation. In addition to his books, Jeff Galloway’s  web site, www.jeffgalloway.com, is worth visiting.

I would also like to see research comparing this and other training philosophies. What works, and under what circumstances?  From time to time future posts will be dealing with what I call data driven fitness, powered by best practices.  That is, using data to track fitness, and being guided by empirical evidence as to what works and what doesn’t. There is a lot of good research out there we should all be aware of.

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*I am not alone in that opinion. Joe Henderson, a former columnist and editor for Runners World, and best selling running author himself,  is another person I have the utmost respect for (he also knew my late friend the legendary distance runner Arne Richards), and he thinks very highly of Jeff.  Not only as a coach, and runner, but especially as  a person.  See Going Far:  Reflecting on the years when running grew up, and a writing career took off,  pages 117-120.

Running in Nasty Weather – the right shoes

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This is a review for the Saucony Progrid Razor Trail Running Shoes.  I purchased these shoes at an end of season sale from Tryathletics, a locally owned athletic store here in Columbia for around $60 (they retailed for $135), and now I wish I had purchased two pair at that price. Especially after finding out they have been discontinued despite positive reviews all over the web. Latter I will tell you why I decided to go ahead and do this review despite the fact that this particular model has gone the way of all flesh.

The first day I saw these shoes I decided to pass them up.  The next day the weather had turned cold and wet for the first time this winter, and  I decided to go back and see if they still had a pair left.  Thankfully they did. These shoes may not be for everyday, nor all conditions, but for the right day and the right conditions they have no equal.  Since then I have put about forty miles on them, in wet winter weather.  They are not the kind of shoes you are going to want to race in, they are pretty heavy, but they are the kind  of shoes you want when the weather gets nasty outside and you would still like to train. I  have put over 40 miles on my pair so far, including one five mile run, without discomfort or blisters. My feet remained warm and dry despite the cold and wet conditions.

DSC_0011In this next picture you can see the outside waterproof gaiter folded down to reveal what looks like a pretty conventional running shoe nestled inside. In all the photographs you can see the thick Vibram sole which provides good cushioning.  The only real complaint I have about the shoes has to do with those soles, and it will probably not be an issue for most people.  The trail I run on has old railroad bridges   withDSC_0009 wood flooring.  The soles of these shoes were unbelievably slipper on that surface. I do not know about snow yet.

After the first snow I want to come back and do an update on how these shoes handled under those conditions, and if I had to add screw lugs to the soles to keep from slipping and sliding.   I plan on doing an article later on running on ice and snow, if the conditions are not too dangerous, and how you can increase traction in that kind of weather by adding screw lugs to the soles of your shoes.

As I mentioned earlier, these shoes are discontinued.  I was also unable to find any indication that Saucony plans on releasing an updated model, so why bother doing a review? Because the concept is sound.  I think there is a place for this type of shoe for serious runners or walkers. Other makers have not abandoned the concept.  New Balance has a similar shoe with the Trail 110, and Saloman makes a more radical model called the Snowcross, but I have not had the pleasure of trying them.  If anybody has any experience with either of those shoes, or something similar, I would like to hear from them.

Coming up next week is a review of Olympian Jeff Galloway‘s famous, or infamous (?), book 5K/10/K Running.

By the way, I know the snow is a bit cheesy, but I like it.  It is an option hid deep within the bowels of WordPress controls (which I am still using), and I couldn’t resist.   Especially since most of my articles for the next several months will deal with running and exercising in winter weather.

Personal Best: A Thanksgiving Reflection

You always wonder when it will be the last time.  The last meal, the last book, you read, and if you are a runner your last personal best.  Since my running comeback, starting about three years ago, I have had a lot of personal bests up until now.  I started running the 5k at a bit over 38 minutes, and last Thanksgiving managed to to get my time down to just over 25 minutes.   Today, running the same race, I thought I might have a shot at beating that time for a new personal best but fell short finishing sixth in my age group a minute slower than last year.  Maybe these leg have another personal best left in them for the 5k and the 10k, or maybe even a half marathon (my marathon days are over), but then again, maybe not.  But, as I was thinking about this post, feeling a little too sorry for former olympian jeff gallowaymyself, it occurred to me that today was a personal best.  I just started out used the wrong measure.

This year two daughters and my son-in-law ran with me.   Last year only one other daughter ran with me, so I improved by two people this year.  Also, I have two grandchildren now, and I had only one, freshly minted,  this time last year.  I am the second person on the left and clearly the senior in the picture.

trukytrak2014
The four of us at the end of the 5k on Thanksgiving Day. A personal best.

So it was a great day after all when you think about it.  Especially if you consider what really matters.  Four of us got up early and braved a bitterly cold day to run together, and then we spent more time together at my parents house for Thanksgiving with the rest of the family.

I have so much to be thankful for, too much to even begin to mention all of it here now, and the four of us are already talking about doing it again in a couple of weeks for the Jingle Bell Run.  Personal bests happen everyday if you only take the time to identify them, recognize them, and appreciate what you have.

You can see some more pictures of todays race at my other blog.