Am I creating a monster? A food-like blog post no less!



So my July 1 goal is to eat better, although I have been eating well before, I am really focusing on the ratio of nutrients/macros I eat on my nutrition plan. I have posted about this a few days ago and since then I have been monitoring my ratios every day and then recording them into my giant spreadsheet I keep.

So below is the table I am keeping of the ratios, I backtracked my nutrition for the last 10 days of June to give me a sense of where I was. I marked the days where I came within 10% of my goal in bold. In those 10 test days I had 4 successes, and 26 others. More depressingly only once did I come within 8% of my fat goal, most of the time I was double my goal percentage (Carbs are 50%, Protein is 30% and Fat is 20%) at this moment.

Since I started paying much closer attention (July 1) to the ratios I had 5 successes out of 15 days. In fact one day I was nearly perfect, all within 4% of the goal, I would qualify hitting the goal as 5% by the way, so certainly better performance.

Recognizing my fat needs to come down if I want to see how the 50-30-20 process works for me I focused on reducing my fat intake. In the process I have gone a little over the top with carbs, hitting percentages of 77% and 65% and reducing my fat the last few days to 10% and 8%

C50 P30  F20
43% 21% 36%
31% 26% 43%
35% 35% 29%
36% 20% 44%
33% 24% 43%
55% 16% 28%
34% 18% 48%
48% 17% 35%
39% 19% 42%
39% 24% 37%
26% 24% 49%
37% 21% 42%
48% 29% 24%
77% 14% 10%
65% 26% 8%

So I have very much focused on meal planning today, I have mapped out my exact breakfast for the next few days, as well as the exact lunch, and weighed and packaged it. Hopefully if I can avoid the stuff that pops up at work, I can manage to spend a week on the plan, at the right ratios and see how I feel.

So the picture above was today's lunch, it was a premade crust from Archer Farms a whole wheat thin pizza crust, half a cup of tomato sauce, a cup of diced shredded cheese, some mushrooms, diced onions and some Italian seasoning. According to MyFitnessPal its 681 calories, 116 grams of carbs, 27 of protein and 16 of fat. A little bit on the high side for the carbs, but my breakfast was 59, 42, 36, so my day is 60%, 22% and 18% after lunch. I happen to know I having some brats and coleslaw for dinner plus some BBQ sauce. So my ratio would be 52%, 23% and 25%, almost there! Plus I come in at 2,300 calories for the day.

Neighborly Goodness



I ran 7 miles with two of my neighbors today starting with a quick car trip to the Volo Village Hall at 5:30am to get on the trail. One of my neighbors is running the Rock and Roll marathon in a few weeks in Chicago. So she needed the miles, I was happy to oblige. Always good to run with someone and in this case two someones. Had a good time on this route, since I went 10 miles on it last week, as well. Hills, paved and gravel roads, all are on this route so its a good test.

Week 4-- Much much better!



This was supposed to be a low key week in terms of mileage and intensity, and it was. However I felt good on all my runs and surprisingly fast.

There were only three runs this week, since one of my training plans tenets is to do at least one of my long runs on fresh legs every month. In this case since my long runs are on Sunday, and I generally run on Saturday as well. It means dropping the Saturday run, which works perfectly into my cut back (recovery) weeks. I simply don't run on Saturday.

So Tuesday's leg workout went very well, I am slowly increasing my weights, I handle, and leg day is certainly paying off in terms of my running, the lunges, calf raises and most of all squats (smith, goblet and leg machine versions) all are making my legs feel strong when I run.

Wednesday was a day out at Ray Lake, after work I drove there and ran 2 laps of the Forest preserve trail (2.33 mile loop), Only problem here is I was supposed to run 6, and had run out of water, and while it was in the mid 70's, it was also about 70% humidity, and I was feeling it, so I cut it short. Went for a 2 mile walk with the wife about 2 hours later, so my guilt was removed about the lack of distance.

Thursday was speed-work, its was supposed to be at the track, but there was a monsoon dumping water all over us so I went to the gym and did it on the treadmill. I actually struggled during the warmup and the cool down portions of the run, but did 6 x 800 repeats with 90 second of rest, right in my goal time of 5:15. Felt awful warming up, and felt miserable during the cool down for some reason. I think I was irritated about being indoors.

Friday was upper body weights, and I did that just fine, the workouts I have are about 45-55 minutes long and I can feel progress and the "burn" in both the leg and upper body versions.

Saturday was a day of rest from my normal run, although I did the upper body workout a second time, just to have something to do at club, and figured it would not do anything adverse to my legs.

Sunday was long run day...I was up and ready to go (5:30am), before the gate at the Grant Forest Preserve I wanted to run at was even open, and rather then wait I went to the Volo village hall parked and ran a hilly 10 miler on an out and back course, that I felt fine with the whole time. The goal of the run was to run a few miles at better then race pace. So I decided mile 4-6  and mile 8 and 10 would be those and I would try to push each one slightly faster. I actually remembered to run those miles faster if you see my (bold type) splits below, but forgot that I wanted to go progressively faster.

12:16 12:02 12:06 11:25 11:35 10:45 12:38 11:01 12:27 11:49

So overall a good week hit my mileage goals (minus the one run) and my legs felt good throughout and 6 hours post run, can barely tell I ran today.

Next week is a step up week with runs of 8, 5 (speed work) 7 and 12 for a total of 32 miles. The next three weeks before my step down week consist of 32, 35 and 40 miles. So its an exciting few weeks ahead of me.

Nutrition for performance and weight loss? Can I do it?



The reason I started my entire fitness program, with the long range goal of running a marathon back in January of 2014, was to lose weight. I weighed 256 back then, and today I am right around 220 depending on the time of day. My weight loss has been steady and reasonably consistent in the last 18 months, and I am quite pleased with it.

To recap here are some of the thing I did to get to this point.
  • Spent the first 4 months on the Atkins diet which basically got the first 15-20 pounds off me. I also walked during this phase quite a bit as well as refereeing soccer.
  • I then started a consistent 3-4 days a week weight training program, focusing on overall body tone and developing actual muscles. I continue this program, although with changes, to this day.
  • I started training for the Madison Half Marathon with a 16 week program in the late summer, and then a 20 week program for the Wisconsin Marathon in December. Right now I am in week 3 of a 20 week program for the Chicago Marathon.
  • I use MyFitnesssPal to record everything I eat, in fact I have only missed recording one day in the last 18 months. (My birthday, when I was on a cruise on a sea day, and out of wireless range). This has helped me make better decisions about calories and keeping my weight loss moving in the right direction.
  • I have set goals for weight loss, which I have generally hit. I wanted to be under 220 for Wisconsin and I was, barely, and I want to be close to 200 for Chicago.
Which brings me to where I am now. I am hovering around 220-221 as I start to ramp up my program for Chicago. All my reading tells me that I can do better in terms of nutrition.

Studying my 18 month eating history via  has been quite educational. I appear to be averaging about 2,300 to 2,400 calories consumed a day and I have been averaging right around 3,000 total calories burned a day which is roughly correct in terms of how much weight I have lost. Basically my goal is a 500 calorie deficit every day, (more like 400 in my case) with a pound of fat being 4,500 calories its taking me about 10 days to drop a  pound, and that's right around where I am in terms of weight loss.

During most of that time my ratio of carbs, protein and fat (macros) has been 36% carbs, 23% protein, 40% fat. As I have read a variety of books about performance eating and eating for weight loss. I have pretty much deduced a few things about my diet:
  • I need to eat better.
  • My recording of portion sizes might be a little bit flawed, as in under counting calories.
  • My macro ratio of 36%, 23%, 40% is not optimal.
So starting in July I am going to do the following:
  • Eat better
  • Dial in on measuring what I eat to keep my goal calorie intake around 2,100 per day.
  • Change my macro ratio to 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat.
While running is seemingly my focus, in reality it is a means to an end, the end being fitter and trimmer. My ultimate goal would be 190, if I can get there, I am thinking my focus will then move to running faster times. At the moment weight loss plus increased fitness is leading to faster times but once I hit my ultimate weight goal, I am going to see what I can do in terms of training for faster race times.

Week 3 Highlights--- If you can call them that.



So it really wasn't a good week, was not feeling good all week which cut into my mileage by about 9 of my planned 29, leaving me with 20 for the week total. I am not terribly concerned because the "not feeling good" issue has been fixed.

The highlight of the week was the speed work I did on Saturday as I was feeling better. The workout had a one mile warmup, followed by 12 x 400m at 10:30 mile pace, with 90 second rest intervals, the mile pace is about 90 seconds faster then my hopeful marathon pace for this fall. Then there is 1.5 miles of cool down. For a grand total of 5.5 miles.

I thought the workout would be tough, but in reality it was not, maybe a moderate effort at best. The Garmin data from the run showed my heart rate rarely getting above 120. Which is hardly pushing it for me. The recovery was quick and dropped into the 80's almost immediately during the rest intervals.

Overall I am pleased with the workout, I am not so sure what the ease of completion means in the overall context of the training plan, I feel I could have run at a 9:30 minute mile pace and been challenged, which is way faster then I thought I could do, I may dial up the pace in this weeks speed training to test that hypothesis out.

So week 17 is done, and on to week 16, which is a bit of a step down week, although given this last week, not so much. Mileage is 6, 5 and 12, with the 5 being speed work.

Week 2 is complete...not the best but not the worst



So week 2 is over, I did 22.5 miles, when I was supposed to do 25, two things impacted that. First the speed work I did on Wednesday, mile repeats at 60 seconds faster then marathon pace, took something out of me for the the next run. Although I felt really good, during the second thing, the impromptu, trail race I ran on Saturday, I did a little less distance on Sunday because I did a little more distance then I was supposed to on Saturday. If that makes sense.

The weight training appears to be working as well. While its still very early, in the program (been doing it for 3 weeks), I can feel a springiness in my step from the leg days, and I can tell I am getting slightly more tone in the upper body, so its all on course right now.

Next week I am on schedule for 29 miles, two runs of 6 miles during the week, 6 miles of speed work on Saturday and then an 11 miler on Sunday. The work week is not super intense after Monday, so I should be okay with getting in the "following the schedule" groove, which I have not been the first two weeks as well as I would like to think.

Bonus!!! RACE REPORT-- the Coureurs de Bois Trail Race



So I decided at the last minute to run the Coureurs de Bois Trail Race in Kenosha Petrified Springs Park. It was advertised in laps of 4 miles, apiece, so you could run 8, 12, or 16 miles. Most opted for 8 it seemed. I have always wanted to do a trail run, so when I saw this race I was like why not!

Anyway I had never done a race like this so I opted for 8 miles, since it seemed like the best option given what I read about starting running trail races. That was the right decision because of the second thing I learned about 100 feet into the trail portion of the race. Racing flats are not designed for muddy slick trails, trails shoes are! if I do this again, I am running with trail shoes. I went down at least 3 times with significant splats, and had at least 4-5 times I went down to at least one hand on ground.

The good thing about crossing the Pike River 3-4 times per lap was the ability to clean up, but even then, 10 minutes in the shower, barely got it all off me.

Fortunately for me all the really good runners went 12 or 16, so I think I also finished in the top 15 in my race, but we shall see when results are up. What I do know is that I won my age group, which is not something I have ever done before, very pleased with that! The other thing I discovered is that the laps were closer to 3.5 miles, although my Garmin had some issues with the signal in the deep woods. I am guessing the 7 miles is correct since I was not running 1:51 for 8 miles, that was way to fast for me in that mud, although I am super pleased with my time. See the details below from Garmin.

My 20 week marathon program.



So here it is, my 20 week program, I love me some spreadsheet as you can tell. This is usually displayed in a 11 x 17 format but for some reason it imports here in 8.5 x 11 format. I wrote about the plan a few days ago (here). The abbreviations are as follows LB is lower body, WT is weight training, LSD is long slow distance, UB is upper body, SW is speed work and MM is Jeff Galloway's magic mile.

I also color code any run over 13 miles, and I use the color yellow in the weekly column to denote the hard week in my cycles, which are generally those over 35 weekly miles. Red is race day, and as you can see I have two half marathons scheduled for August. I have three weeks in late August & early September that concern me with 3 "yellow" weeks with mileage of 36, 40 and 42, before I start to cut back for the Marathon itself. I am sure if I follow my program, and more importantly handle the program, I can do those weeks.

Week 1 Report-- One word for it-- Blah!



So I had runs of 4, 6, 6 and 8 scheduled this week, for a week 1 mileage total of 24. Actual miles 4, 0, 5 and 8 for a total 17 miles. I did however do all my weightlifting workouts in a very positive fashion.

So whats up? I would guess that it was last Sunday's half marathon took something out of me, even today when I ran the full 8 my legs felt heavy and jello like. Two days off from running on Monday and Tuesday should see me fully recovered (past history tells me that).

The weight training this week was quite successful. Handled all the weights that I had set up as starter weights for the weight training portion of my 20 week. I think the 4 legs weight training days I did leading up the Northshore Half Marathon gave me quite a bit of leg strength, specifically the squats. I felt very strong in the second half of the run.

I am going to be much more focused on the weight training part of this 20 week program, since I think some of the cramping issues I had at mile 20 in the Wisconsin Marathon had something to do with lack of muscle strength, since I passed on quite a few weight training sessions during the Wisconsin program.

20 Weeks until the Chicago Marathon, starts now!



This week is week 1 of my 20 week training cycle to the October 11th Chicago Marathon. I am running as part of Team Ronald McDonald Charities (feel free to donate by following this link). I am using a similar plan that I designed for the Wisconsin Marathon, that involves 4 runs a week and 3 weight training sessions. This worked as best as I could have expected given my work schedule and my home schedule for Wisconsin so its a go again.

The plan basics are as follows, runs on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I have a rest day on Monday, and I do weight training on Tuesday and Friday. On Saturday after my run I have a series of body weight exercises I will do.

I developed the running plan with an eye towards Matt Fitzgerald's excellent book "80/20 Training". The concept of 80/20 is referring to the ratio of slow to high-intensity training. Research is starting to show that even for amateur athletes who train much less than elites, 80/20 training will better improve race performances than high intensity training alone. How slow is slow? Scientists recommend staying below your aerobic threshold, or just below the point where you can no longer talk comfortably while exercising. Which is easy to do for me!

So the plan I have taped to the door to our pantry has the following concepts ingrained in it, (as best as I could make it).
  • 3 weeks of increasing mileage then a drop back week for recovery.
  • Sunday long runs are never more then 40% of weeks total mileage.
  • Once every three weeks I will run my long run on a day where I have a longer then average time frame for recovery.
  • I have calculated the 80/20 ratio for each week and average about 82% for the 20 week program.
  • The 20% portion of the program, the high intensity stuff, speed work and tempo runs will take place on Thursdays.
  • No week will increase by more then 10% in mileage from week to week, obviously excluding the recovery weeks.
So the other things you see, other then my obsession with color coding things, is a total of 655 total miles, 2 half marathons in August as tune ups, and hopefully some major increases in fitness.
  • Weeks 7, 11, 14 and 15 I crest 40 miles a week, with a high of 42 for the 20 week cycle.
  • Average weekly mileage is 35, (Wisconsin Marathon training program averaged 28).
The Tuesday and Friday weight training sessions are focused on legs, upper body and the core. Key components that appear on all 3 days are planks, pull ups, dips and some flexibility exercises that are running specific. The Saturday workout will be all body weight, mostly focused on the core and stabilizer muscles.

I am going to focus on a few things with a little bit more intensity this training cycle.
  • Diet-- I weigh 220 this morning, and I would like to weigh 200-205 in October, which given my past history is doable. However I not obsessed with that, I think that will be a natural result of the above plan. My intent is to eat higher quality food when possible.
  • Mileage-- My body handled an average of 28 miles a week for Wisconsin with little issues, but the step up to an average of 35 miles per week is something I need to be aware of and monitor. Since I am 55 years old, and pushing my body to a place it has not been since age 22 or so.
  • Resting heart rate-- I monitored that constantly during the last 6-8 months and its interesting to see it slowly drop as I got fitter. My heart rate has always been reasonably low, and my resting rate when I started would average out to about 52-53 first thing in the morning back in October of last year, and slowly it dropped as my training got me fitter, until it was 46 the last week in April. I average the readings for a week to get these numbers. I do watch for large fluctuations which are indicators of impending illness and or over training. Usually a 8-9 beat jump is an indicator of that.
So this is quite a bit of stuff here, but hopefully it will get me to the Chicago Marathon start line in good shape and ready to go.

RACE REPORT: Northshore Half Marathon



So a very windy and cold day for late May, wait make that early February, or so it seemed this morning in Highland Park Illinois. Temps were in the low 40's and winds were off the lake at 15-20 mph, plus the course was a wee bit hilly (Profile here). So everything was primed to have a crap day, well not so fast, why? Because I was startlingly fast, breaking my Madison Half Marathon PR of 2:50 by 19 minutes. I finished at 2:31:19 on my Garmin, and 2 seconds faster on the race timer from the timing people (cool video of the finish is here).

So I got to the race site in plenty of time, and hid in my car until 15 minutes before the race started, which since they sent us off in waves, so in reality I stood in the cold for 30 minutes, which was miserable. Once I got started I went out pretty well, the first 5 miles passed quite easily, with no discomfort, as the blood returned to my extremities. I ran the first mile a little faster then I wanted to , but it was mostly downhill and I needed my body to heat up.

At mile 6 I had a 90 second pit stop in a porta-potty that was being buffeted by the wind, I was petrified that it was going over, with me in it. I had no contingency plan for that occurrence!

I deliberately did not pay much attention to my pace, I knew I was going well, but was unsure of where I stood, but when I hit the half way point I was at 1:15:52 and was very pleased with that. Knowing that I usually slow in the second half, I was still very happy with a potential finish in the 2:35 range, little did I know I would be accelerating to the finish. Which is exactly what I did finishing the second half in 1:14:27.

1 week taper to the Northshore Half



So next Sunday I am running my third half marathon, the Northshore Half Marathon in Highland Park. Its 29 days post marathon, and I have been feeling good, so I am excited to see if I can push my half marathon PR (currently 2:50 set 7 months ago) even lower. Many of my training runs and in fact the first 13.1 of the marathon have been well under 2:50, and my unofficial PR is 2:37 set during a long run in the buildup to the Wisconsin Marathon.

So my goal is to be under 2:37 if I can, but will be happy with a sub 2:40. After all is said and done dropping your PR by 10 minutes is not a bad thing. The 10 day outlook for race days says, 50-60 and partly cloudy, although that was the same forecast for race day in Kenosha, where it ended up 75-80 and sunny.

My schedule this week, was a 7 miler yesterday, a 4 miler today, 3 miles of speed work on Wednesday and 5 miles on Thursday, and then 2 days of rest, before race day. The only potential change to this would be if I get assigned a IHSA Sectional game, but I am guessing I will not.

My recovery for the Northshore Half coincides with the kick off of my 20 week program to the Chicago marathon, which I will write about in more detail soon.

Refereed 2 IHSA State Playoff games last night.



Had a good time in rainy cold conditions at Carmel High School who hosted two regional games last night. I was in the Center for Carmel vs North Chicago and was an AR for the Grayslake Central vs Wauconda game. I made no mistakes in either game (gauged by decibel level of coaches complaints generally) or self recrimination (not often).

From an exercise perspective I got in 6.5 miles of wind sprints, side to side running and running backwards. Which is not a bad thing. The second game where I was the linesman had more sprinting up and down, and given that Carmel has an old artificial turf field was somewhat hard on my feet. Plus wearing wet clothing for 4 hours is not pleasant.

National Physical Fitness and Sport Month Survey



So a few weeks ago I was asked to fill out a survey about my fitness habits and I was asked the following questions to contribute to this survey. Being an egomaniac of course I love to share my opinion with as many people as possible, so this was right up my alley!

Here are the questions with my answers:

  1. What is your favorite way to stay active? Running? HIIT? Weight training? Sports?
    I enjoy running although it can be dull, so I sprinkle in a liberal amount of speed work, its always fun to go fast. I also weight train to keep toned.
  2. How many times a week to you strive to workout?
    Generally I run 4 times a week, with 2 days of weight training, Saturday is combo day so I have two days off after my sunday long run.
  3. Is there a pre/post workout routine you would like to share?
    I really do nothing before or after, I generally warm up for the run by walking the first 1/2 mile or so.
  4. Do you have any tips on injury prevention?Knock on wood I have never had a serious injury, I attribute that to good genes, but I also weight train which I am a firm believer in for injury prevention.
  5. How does nutrition play into your fitness regimen?
    Hardly at all, but it should and its something I am starting to explore.
  6. What health benefits do you find most attractive about staying active? (Physical, psychological, or both!)
    Mental mostly, I like the way I look certainly, but it allows me to manage stress, and to be healthier which is great for the overall mental attitude.
  7. What do you do to stay motivated when you are exhausted/under the weather/etc.?
    Well it depends on why I am in that state, but generally rest, I have never been afraid of taking a couple of days off to recharge.
  8. How has your fitness routine/goals changed throughout the years? Why?
    I have changed from more competitive sports to more fitness based sports, for the physical/mental improvement process, while I am still competitive, its more with myself then in a team environment.
Here is some information about the surveyors. BHG360° conducted an informal survey of a variety of health and fitness bloggers (like me!), from active mothers like Mackenzie McKee to certified trainers like Leslie Ann Quillen. They asked them to share their tips and advice about working out and staying in shape—and how to keep up the motivation. As you can see from this snapshot of health-minded individuals, those of us interested in living well tend to use many different strategies and regimens to complement our lifestyle and reach our fitness goals. In the spirit of National Physical Fitness and Sport Month, we invite you to share these and other tips.

Sleep and Recovery



So I read an article a few months ago about recovery after a marathon. The central point was that for every mile, you need a day of recovery. I scoffed at that. 26 days to recover? How could that be? Well while I am still not sure about that today is 11 days post marathon and I feel pretty good.  I have noticed one thing that is quite interesting.

I track all sorts of bio-data with a Basis watch, so I know my resting heart rate, sleep time, type and quality as well as body temperature. My sleep which has averaged about 380 to 400 minutes a night in the 17 week intensive phase of training (about normal for me) jumped to 420-430 minutes during the taper as I focused on extra sleep, and getting up later.

So now post marathon I have been letting sleep do what it will. The last 11 days have all averaged over 450 minutes, with significant chunks of time spent in what Basis calls "deep sleep" where you body refreshes and renews muscles and boosts your immune system. I have averaged about 20% of my sleep time in this phase in the past. In the last 11 nights, I have been over 30% consistently. By the way 15-30% of your total sleep time is considered normal.

So one can infer that I am still recovering, even though my morning waking up heart rate has returned to its normal pre-marathon range days ago and I feel zero residual soreness (that was gone within 4 days) my inner workings are still repairing themselves.