Thursday, May 8, 2008

Integrating Fitness

I went on my treadmill today for the first time since last weekend, after doing my "usual run". It was a rough one, primarily due to the fact that I hadn't run since last weekend, and last night involved one rum drink (literally - Mount Gay on ice), two beers and a huge steakburger, with little hydration between then and the run.

Which is a by-product of using my increasingly hectic spring/summer public schedule as an excuse to skip workouts. And when I don't workout, I feel less inclined to eat the way I should. If I could stop staying up and watching the Sox game, post game, and all the ensuing BS it would be easier for me to commit to waking up at 5 am to work out.

It's been difficult lately to integrate the kind of fitness program I am used to into my life. In the past, getting into and maintaining shape had always been a major endeavor. I mean serious weight training and cardio, planned and recorded workouts, six meals a day, really rigid stuff. Which works well when you are single, or at most married with one child, or on easy shore duty, or anything but "in charge at at work and a large family of small children at home".

Not that it doesn't work with the super-full life; it just requires a lot more internal commitment and external deconfliction, which I need to work on.

My "usual run" is a 32 minute affair with three phases.

1. 20 minutes of interval training (1 min intervals) in the 50-100% exertion range. Level of exertion is determined by "feel". At 50% is basically a warm up, and 100% (next to final minute of the phase) is definitely in the anaerobic zone, as I am breathing hard (without gasping for air) and definitely unable to do anything but keep the legs moving and listen to the iPod.

2. 10 minutes of slow jogging, focused on getting my heartrate down into the low aerobic zone, and burning some extra calories.

3. 2 minutes of cool down with the intent of getting my heart rate below 120 bpm.

When my "100% level" becomes just a shade too easy, I bump my intervals up by about 0.1 mph. Across a 20 minute run, that can be a huge leap.

Not incredibly scientific, but I find it keeps my heart rates about "equal" across each phase. I finish phase 1 at about 155 - 165, phase 2 in the mid-130's and by the end of my cool-down I'm around 110.

I love this run - because I HATE running. I've always been better at strength training. Even outside, I hate the monotony of running. So having interval targets ramping up and down by minute, pushing to a new level, it keeps it interesting. I'm usually half way through the run before I know it. Which is's like half-off suckitude.

With my condition coming into today, my phase one heart rate was slightly elevated - around 171 at completion. I was right about where I should have been for the remainder.

I'm not completely happy with the heart monitor on my treadmill, so I'll probably get a personal one. Not that I don't trust the "by feel" method (it's certainly a lot easier than trying to figure out your Max VO2). I just want to get a more accurate idea of where my heart rate is at. And I want a new toy.

So what I really need to do is sit down, think about how I really need to tailor my "usual program" to meet my life, set aside what is not important, and move ahead.

Like, tomorrow.

By the way, I find this to be a very good fitness page.

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