Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Morning Run, Ninjas and Afternoon Swim

So why didn’t you tell me running in the morning was awesome?

Almost every plan I had for training on Tuesday was thwarted (the pool was packed to the gills and beyond, it started hardcore storming one mile into my evening run), so I focused on weight training last night, had a restful sleep, skipped yoga this morning and took to the neighborhood streets at 6:30 a.m. for a really great run.

And boy was it muggy! I think I live with the blind notion that mornings are almost always cool. Not so. It had to be at least 80 degrees this morning with air so thick with moisture that I felt like I had a sticky film all over me. Yick! It did not, however, affect my run.

Nor did the ninja warrior practicing his nunchucks in the leasing office parking lot. Neil and I first saw Mr. Ninja, a stout and bulky man with a cleanly shaven head, when we dropped off our rent before taking off for New York last Friday morning. He was standing in the parking lot next to his Beethoven-blaring Rav-4 spinning, swinging and switching nunchucks from hand to hand. Since I am obviously the ninja in this relationship, I was the one who got out of the car to hand in the rent.

Oddly enough, Mariel and Eric introduced us to Ninja Warrior—a Japanese physical challenge show that is half Most Extreme Elimination and half superhuman Double Dare obstacle course (without the nose-picking event)—during our Brooklyn trip last weekend. It really has nothing to do with ninjas or warriors, but is one of those shows you catch on a lazy Saturday afternoon and secretly try to find on Sunday when nothing else is on. Not that I’ve ever done that.

But back to my run: I weaved through the parking lot, gave Mr. Ninja a nod and continued to feel great in my new Mizunos. All due respect to my previous life as an ankle-roller, but the greater ankle flexibility I have in these shoes has loosened up my stride and eased the warm-up period that used to burn my shins. What’s more is that my upper body even feels relaxed and my arm swings have finally begun to feel natural. I’m on my way, baby!

My goal for the morning was to run for 30 minutes. It’s not as much time as I would like to dedicate to running, but I a) am trying to rest a bit this week, despite my lazy-training in recent weeks; and b) had to get showered and to work by 8 a.m. Sticking around my neighborhood, however, enabled me to hit some minor hills and a few grades, check out a ninja dude and work on picking up the pace a bit.

I’m only running with a watch these days, so I had to guess my distance during the run and measure for certainty later (one of these days I’ll get back to that HRM). At least I know my times. In fact, my first “lap,” 2.06 miles down my street and around the condo community, went by in 17:55; the second lap, which was an abbreviated 1.3-mile cool down trip around the neighborhood, clocked in at 12:05. My total run was 3.35 miles around 8:57/mile pace.

I realize that while I felt great running today that I can’t quite expect the same miracle of energy from my shoes on Sunday. That whole swimming and cycling first thing might get in the way!

Today’s run left me wanting for water, however, so I skipped lunch and cut out of work early to get a full no-rush swimming workout for the first time in way, way too long. While I’m a strong swimmer, I know that I’m not near peak shape or speed… and I can’t expect to be with my poor excuse for a swim-training regiment of one 30-minute swim each week.

Thus I was surprised at how easily I completed my 4,000-yard workout this afternoon:
  • 1,000 yards free warm-up
  • 8 x 50 yards “perfect” stroke down, spotting stroke back (:15 rest)
  • 3 x 500 yards free (1:00 rest)
  • 300 yards one-arm butterfly
  • 300 yards reverse IM kick
  • 500 yards free cool down

What I call “perfect” stroke is essentially swimming with a correct stroke. In an ideal world I would swim that way all the time. But for this set I focused on every single inch of my stroke—from entry to pull and breathing to follow-through—for the first 25 yards, and then swam with my head above the water on the way back. I imagine that spotting might come in handy while swimming with many other people in open water on something of a “course.” But it gets tiring!

The only problem with today’s regiment: man, was I flippin’ hungry on the drive home! I was just lucky I hadn’t decided to bike to work today because I may have actually eaten my helmet or my cell phone.

For the past several weeks, however, I’ve been trying to pick up more protein than the average electronic and protective device. I’m not really a meat-eater (I’m big on fish), so I’ve been pretty protein-lacking for much of my life. No wonder I’m so short! And while I’m utterly crazy about cheese, I have a natural (read: hereditary) and slight cholesterol almost-problem that prevents me from fulfilling my protein needs with feta, cheddar, gorgonzola, chevre, soft swiss, hard swiss, colby, havarti, smoked gouda, brie… I’m sorry: I just went somewhere else for a minute. And now I need some fresh French bread.

One of the foods I’ve recently used to supplement my training diet is Think bars (i.e., Think Thin, Think Organic, Think Green, etc.), which provide up to 20 grams of protein, have one of those wholly appealing all-natural ingredient lists and are pretty darn dee-lish.

It’s only taken me nearly 30 years to realize that I need protein to grow and repair my body. And I’ll definitely need that protein as I train for the triathlons and road races to come.

Four days to go! Countdown with some Ninja Warrior...


JenC said...

I love Ninja Warrior and have a few episodes saved on DVR for some lazy afternoon that has yet to occur.

Good lord, 4000 yards! I think you will be more than prepared. For IM training, I rarely swam 4000. Of course, I'm not a natural (or even good) swimmer.

See you Sunday! Happy taper!

jkrunning said...

Have you tried Protein Shakes? I love the chocolate one's from EAS. They are called Myoplex Lite and are really good. I blend mine with water and add in berries or a banana. Sooo good.

Bex said...

I saw Ninja Warrior for the first time a few weeks back and loved it. I just wish more women would try the challenges.

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