Saturday, February 23, 2008

Core Strength

ORN: 10.3 miles, 1:43:18, 10:13/mile, R5/W1

Several folks have asked me about my new work on core strength. Well, it sounds more ostentatious than it is…so hang on for the simple explanation.

I first heard of core strength back in the Michael Jordan/Scotty Pippen heydays for the Chicago Bulls. The team trainer worked overtime to build core strength for the Bulls, his theory being a strong core was necessary to hold up to the pounding of all the jumping and running in the NBA. Their data of lack of injury time seemed to support his contention.

Last fall, I wondered what I might do to keep injuries at bay and the subject of strengthening the core came up again. Cool idea, but how to do it?? Being a pragmatic guy, a card-carrying engineer, I needed to distill it to something simple I could actually do.

After a lot of looking, I realized the humble sit up and push up could do the trick.

With no equipment required, no traveling to a gym or need to go outside, these simple exercises just worked for me. Seeing as the Army has used these two, along with running, as the basis for it’s evaluation of fitness for a long time, I figured it had some merit.

What has surprised me is how I’ve grown to really enjoy these two simple exercises. I started them in late November and now am doing them almost daily. I usually do them in the morning, either just before or just after my shower, right on the bedroom floor. I actually look forward to doing them.

I started at about 12 each and have worked up to and am holding at 25 reps for each exercise, each day. Now, my challenge to myself is to do each of the 25 with perfect form. Sit ups with the back straight, head up, slowly and smoothly. Push ups with the entire body straight, smooth down and up, getting the upper arm parallel to the floor at the bottom of each cycle. It is amazing how hard it is to get perfect form for 25 straight exercises. Yet, I find it a really cool challenge. On a good day, I do about a third of them perfectly.

I’ve also added leg extensions on an only weight bench I had in the basement from before my current running era. 40 pounds with 16 reps is the current daily regimen there…I’m hoping to build the quads to compensate for my over pronating floppy feet.

It is amazing to me how much I notice the improved core strength. It just feels like I have a firm, wide belt holding my midsection in place. I particularly notice it getting into and out of chairs. Is it helping my running??? I don’t know for sure…this winter weather we’re endlessly having has made any objective assessment outdoors difficult. Yet I’m positive it is not hurting a thing. And I learn a lot from these simple, humble exercises, done in a simple disciplined way.

Thanks for asking. And persevere.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

New Treatment for the Common Cold

ORN: 8.2 miles, 1:22:07, 10:01/mile, R4/W1

The cough first set in late Tuesday afternoon. I knew what would follow. Three work associates had been hacking and sniffing for the previous week and I figured it was pretty much just a matter of time before my head plugged up too.

The combination of the cold and a bodacious work schedule caused me to flat out miss a run on Thursday. I flipped back through my logs and it’s been well over a year since I’ve missed a scheduled run. I felt really bad about missing the run and not just for having the miles short on my weekly total. I observed about 20 years ago three indicators for me to assess if my life is in balance, very much equivalent to the physical vital signs of pulse, blood pressure and respiration rate. The three indicators for me are running regularly, reading the Bible daily and flossing my teeth each evening. If I start missing any of these three, I know something else is amiss and I need to take stock.

While my teeth have been quite squeaky clean, the other two disciplines were slipping this week. So I opted out of some other obligations and spent some extended time this morning reading Scripture. It was deep and very useful. Then, this afternoon, an amazing 44 degrees of sunshine graced our fair city. Despite the head congestion, I went out and had a most enjoyable 8 mile run. It was the best my head has felt in 5 days.

I’m grateful.

Here’s best wishes to blogging buddy David who is running the hills of the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, Alabama tomorrow in near-perfect conditions. Rock on, David…your preparation will serve you well!!


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Quiet Running

ORN: 7 miles, 1:08:22, 9:46/mile, R5/W1

It has been fun over the past month or so to read of your marathon plans and maniac plans and triathalon plans and even green-hued automobiles. I’ve lived vicariously through all of you.

I’ve just been quietly running. Having abandoned plans for two spring marathons, I’ve relaxed and am just ramping up the mileage gently and consistently. I’m just enjoying running for the sake of running. And it is fun. I’m paying attention to form, keeping with the core and quad strength exercises. It is fascinating to note the impact of core strength; I’m surprised and liking it.

Good luck in all the races.