Sunday, December 28, 2008

Weight Progress

I am not doing so badly weight wise as you can see in spite of my inactivity.

I have cut out all exercise for the last three weeks. This week I will still be resting.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Quadriceps Tendonitis

Yep. Thats the injury I am suffering from. I think I will be out of action until 5th of Jan just to be sure that its fully healed. This site explains everything about it. I have been refreshing my driving skills and have succeeded in not straining my right knee for three days now. I suspect that in 4 days I should be fully healed but we will see. The diagram below shows the scene of the crime.

The Patellar tendon is the point of origin from which I exarcebated the injury. It has affected it and the Quadriceps tendon. I have rested for almost three weeks now. The Physicians say it takes 4 - 6 weeks to heal.
One of the things I like about my running is that its a hobby that has made me learn so much about my body and how it works. From the ITBL and shin splints to Plantar Fascitis, I have learnt something everytime I got an injury. I may consider opening a Physiotherapy practice when I retire. What do you think? Brilliant, huh?
Now that I am injured, I will need to redesign a program for easing back to action without injuring myself again.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Alchemist

I bought The Alchemist for a friend who later gave it to me after reading it. When I started reading it, I was expecting it to be a book about some wise sage whose world wise ways would have earned him the dubious title, "The Alchemist." And the alchemy in this case would be knowledge about how the world and especially the human condition, works and unravels.
My expectations were was a little off the mark. Instead of presenting a framework about how individuals can advance themselves beyond their mundane existence and overcome challenges and realize their fullest potential, its Paulo Coehlo's attempt at presenting his own worldview. A spiritual kind of metaphysics. A panpsychist world of omens and legends. Panpsychism is the theory that all matter has some form of consciousness.
Before reading The Alchemist , I had read Paulo Coehlo's Manual of the Warrior of light. It left some lingering interest about what that writer could write and hence my reading of the Alchemist, which is more reknown, notably read even by Bill Clinton.
The Alchemist is a captivating story written in metaphors, some explained through an interview that appears at the back of the book, some unexplained, or some the author is not aware of, or is not interested in interpreting and would rather the reader decides what the metaphor means to them. And whether they are metaphors at all.
It is a beautifully written story about a Shepherd boy whose journey for his personal legend leads him to meet the alchemist, someone who knows the soul of world. The storyline is fine but at the end, it is just an empty story that leaves the reader wondering what is there to learn about the events. It reads like a religious tract because it mostly talks of one believing and offers no tangible explanation, or more importantly, verifiable evidence that the world has a soul for instance, that water and stones have a soul and so on. So in a sense, it is mystical. There is nothing wrong with being mystical but I expected better from a writer of Coehlo's calibre. I now think that he is a man who has travelled far in his spiritual journey but he has wrapped his questions into boxes of mysteries and he now surrounds himself with these boxes. He now sees some of the boxes as gifts from his lessons and his struggles. Boxes that he leaves unopened and he looks at with wonderment and love yet he does not understand what is contained in them. Or what they can unravel.
I think he stopped asking himself the hard questions, or he found the quest so difficult and tiring that at one point, he stopped asking further questions and decided instead to enjoy them for what they are and trust that what they contain is good and beautiful. He crafted for himself a metaphysical worldview that explains boxes and their unseen contents and contented himself with basking in its glow rather than pick a hammer and tong and have a go at the boxes, one after the other.
As an illustration, at one point in an excerpted interview, he is asked whether human souls and souls of stones are different. He answers by saying he doesn’t know but that "I only know that I am alive...But I try to find good questions and not good answers"

This is where we part ways. This is manure. It is an attitude that fosters laziness and encourages an idle acceptance of our gaps of knowledge rather than a relentless pursuit for an understanding of the world and our existence. I am disappointed that Paulo Coehlo can sit up there and tell us that it is okay not to know and to content ourselves with "mysteries" and "spiritualism." That I find unacceptable. Scientists are engaged in serious research and this author who is advertised as some sort of guru tells us answers are not that important? All I can say to him and his ilk is "step aside." Because when you stop searching, your story is over.
If I would have bought the answer “you can’t know everything” to questions like “who created God?” when I started my personal journey, my journey could have ended in blissful ignorance in a few days. I strongly feel Coehlo does not live up to his billing. Examining one's life requires patience, courage, fortitude and patience and it is hard work through and through. Shortcuts and settling for what sounds good and beautiful should be left for feel-good religions and new age hucksters. The Alchemist sells Coehlo as the latter.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Car Arrived and I have Safcom Broadband

I finally got my 4 wheeler. I will go for a driving refresher tomorrow. I also have Safaricom broadband so I can be updating my blog from home.
I ran 1K yesterday. Knee not yet healed so I will hold on for a few days. My weight is reassuringly 77Kgs. I just need to watch what I eat and hang in there for a few days.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Knee Healed

I had a great graduation party. My knee has healed and I may just test it today with a 10k.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Taking a Break and Graduating

I am graduating tomorrow with an MBA and we are taking a break from group runs until 6th Jan. My knee had already healed by yesterday but while moving furniture, I reinjured it. So I need to rest some more.
Cheers and merry XMas

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

10K World Record Splits

Kenenisa Bekele is the holder of the current 5K and 10K records. He set the 10K record of 26:17.53 in Brussels, Belgium, set on August 26, 2005. Lets look at the WR splits.

The first pacemaker, Roberto Garcia of Spain, took Kenenisa to the 2km mark in the time of 5.15.63. Kenenisa's younger brother, Tariku, took over after the 2km mark and took Kenenisa to the 5,000 meters mark in the time of 13:09.19. For the final 5,000 meters, Kenenisa was left to run by himself. Apart from the two laps where he seemed to slow down [64 seconds], he run at the pace of around 62 seconds a lap making sure that he stayed ahead of the World Record time. In the final lap, he produced a magnificent sprint [57 seconds] and lowered the world record mark to 26.17.54.

1000m 11 GARCíA, Roberto (ESP) 2:39.85

2000m 11 GARCíA, Roberto (ESP) 5:15.63

3000m 10 BEKELE, Tariku (ETH) 7:53.02

4000m 10 BEKELE, Tariku (ETH) 10:29.98

5000m 10 BEKELE, Tariku (ETH) 13:09.19

6000m 3 BEKELE, Kenenisa (ETH) 15:44.66

7000m 3 BEKELE, Kenenisa (ETH) 18:23.98

8000m 3 BEKELE, Kenenisa (ETH) 21:04.63

9000m 3 BEKELE, Kenenisa (ETH) 23:45.09

If that ain't amazing shit, I don't know what is.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Inchoate Quarterly Training Plan

January - April

From my records, I am both tortoise (slow but has endurance) and a hare (has some speed, however laughable)


1. Do a Sub-40 10K and a Sub-19 5k. Current results are 45.55 and 22.10. I believe its doable if I can cut 15 seconds or so every week.

2. Seek to do 400m in 60 secs and a 3mins 1K (2.5 laps). Current result is 85secs 400m and 3mins 54 seconds.

3. Get a base mileage of 55-60Kms per week by end of April.

4. Get (a) Physiological adaptations - more mitochondria, more capillaries and slower pulse rates.
(b) Better running economy - better coordination of hands and feet, and use of stomach, pelvis and hips to generate running power.
(c) Higher AT and LTs

Weekly Base Training Plan

Sunday - Long Run - 24-35K AM - Run progressively
Monday - Recovery run easy 6Kms + Pylometrics AM
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - 10K - hard PM (alternate weekly between +ve and -ve splits)
Thursday - 8K easy + Pylometrics AM
Friday - Speed Runs 800 X 5 + 400m recovery jogs or 400 x 10 + 200m recovery jogs (6Kms) PM
Saturday - Rest.

Pylometrics = 1 legged hops, crunches, jumping pushups, pilates, leg bounds, heel/toe walks and knee tucks.
Approach: Start low and climb up gradually to 60K.
I will firm it up or adjust it later. But its the basic idea.

The video below demonstrates how alternate leg bounds are performed. They help develop explosive power and increase stride length.

The Purpose of Different Runs

I noticed from last week's long run that my legs felt stronger and more coordinated. I was able to land comfortably and my bones felt cushioned as I ran. This was clearly a benefit of the speed runs I had been doing.

There are several forms of running exercises, including endurance training, stamina training, speed training and sprint training. But for simplicity, I will group them into two main types of exercises: long runs (endurance training) and speed/stamina training for a proper treatment of the subject, please visit McMillan's Six-Step Training System from which I borrow the ideas summarized below. Below are the different purposes of each training:

Endurance Training/Long Runs

These are carried out with your heart rate between 60 and 75% of maximum and your oxygen consumption between 55-75% of your VO2max. In this zone, your breathing is comfortable and the effort is easy. Your lactate level is low or only slightly above resting levels.
Appropriate paces can be as fast as your marathon race pace plus 30 seconds or as slow as marathon pace plus two minutes, depending on the workout.

Physiological Changes:
"The key cardiorespiratory or "central" adaptations that result from Endurance training include an increase in your stroke volume -- the amount of blood that is pumped with each heart beat. The result is that fewer heartbeats are needed to deliver the same amount of blood to the working muscles. You experience this as a slower resting pulse and lower heart rates at a given pace.

In the muscles, there is a corresponding increase in the number of tiny blood vessels (capillaries) to deliver this greater volume of blood per beat. The number and size of mitochondria, the power plants of the muscle cells, also increase. You become more efficient at using fat as a fuel source, decreasing your reliance on your limited carbohydrate stores (muscle glycogen). Speaking of glycogen, Endurance training stimulates the muscles to store more glycogen making this fuel readily available for long duration efforts as well as high intensity workouts.

The nervous system becomes very coordinated in its recruitment and use of your slow-twitch muscle fibers, which helps improve your running economy. There's even a stimulus for your fast-twitch muscle fibers to become more "endurance-like"."

Speed/ Stamina training

Under this, "your heart rate and oxygen consumption go from 90% up to maximum. Your breathing is fast and labored. The effort is hard and your lactate level is high."

"...Training in the Stamina zone helps push several critical thresholds (lactate, ventilatory and anaerobic) to faster paces. The result is that you can run faster before crossing these thresholds. The key cardiorespiratory adaptations that result from Stamina training deal with what scientists call the "Lactate Shuttle". While we used to think that lactate simply started being produced and eventually accumulated to the point where fatigue sets in, we now know that lactate is always being formed, just at different rates. At rest and during light exercise, only small amounts are formed. During heavy exercise, large amounts are produced. Once formed, the body has mechanisms whereby the lactate is "shuttled" to other tissues to be used for fuel, sort of like recycling. This recycling or shuttling has a maximum capacity, however. Once reached, the production of lactate outpaces its removal resulting in the accumulation of it in the blood. Thus, the lactate threshold is reached."

"Speed training works to actually increase the capacity of several of your body's systems. Research shows that Speed training increases the enzymes that help liberate energy from our fuel sources, improves the lactic acid buffering capacity, provides a greater stimulation and training of the fast twitch muscle fibers and results in a greater ability to extract oxygen from the blood as it perfuses the muscles.

You experience this as increased speed-endurance, the ability to run fast for a long period of time. The running motion becomes more consolidated as all errant form changes (like flying elbows, funky foot plants) are eliminated. They require too much energy. Your breathing acclimates to fast, constant efforts and your legs begin to feel fast and strong.

"Research has found that during this fast sprinting, groups of individual muscle fibers become more coordinated in their "firing" (contracting) so that you can achieve greater power and speed. Likewise, different whole muscle groups (like the quadriceps, for example) get "in sync" with each other resulting in faster turnover and a smoother stride. Basically, the body becomes efficient and coordinated at turning your legs over very fast. Your running economy improves.

The second adaptation affects the bicarbonate buffering system that we discussed in the Stamina section. Since training at this pace creates large accumulations of lactic acid (lactate and its compatriot, the hydrogen ion), it challenges the body's ability to remove these by-products. With repeated exposure to elevated lactate (and associated hydrogen ion) levels, the body improves its ability to quickly remove it."

There you have it you gain three main things:

1. Physiological adaptations - more mitochondria, more capillaries and slower pulse rates.
2. Better running economy - better coordination of hands, feet and use of stomach, pelvis and hips to generate running power.
3. Higher AT* and LTs*

*AT is aerobic Threshold and LT is Lactate Threshold

Ten Reasons To Adopt Negative Splits

These are some of the reasons I have collected over the web over why one should go negative in their running strategy:

1. It can take your body several miles to get warmed up. After that, your muscles are charged, your joints lubricated, and mood-boosting endorphins flood your system. Your muscles increase in warmth and resiliency. You'll find yourself running faster without feeling any more effort.

2. Negative splits still hurt, but they hurt a lot better than positive splits. This means starting hard and trying to finish hard, and inevitably failing, is worse than starting easy and finishing hard.

3. You also gain a lot of confidence in your ability to finish strong and the more conservative early pace keeps your pain level down. Your faster pace at the end of the race will provide psychological advantages as u pass other runners with tired legs.

4. It allows for greater margin of error in case you miscalculated your ability on race day or any of many other variables bite you in the butt. If you go out a bit slow, you have adequate time to make up for it. So it’s better to err on the side of caution.

5. It results in slower consumption of glycogen, which means that your body becomes less dependent on fat for fuel earlier in the race. You will reach your lactate turn point later in the race allowing for more energy and speed in the last miles.

6. You reach your AT/LT later in the race, so a smaller portion of the race is spent running aerobically, i.e., the wall arrives later and easier. Its better to hit the AT/LT later rather than sooner.

7. Since it's so difficult to run even splits in a marathon, it's usually better to err slightly to the conservative side than to be a little overly aggressive.

8. The fast early pace is the very reason for the fade in the second half.

9. You can always speed up at the end if you're feeling good.

10. The crowded conditions at the start of many races make it impractical to start out at a pace close to target pace for the first mile or few, so we might "lose" some time.
However, it's a mistake to try to make up that slow start either in the earliest miles that we can or by waiting until the last few miles of the race. It's better to spread the "makeup" over all of the rest of the race with the emphasis on the middle miles.

Back on Blogging Business

We are back to daily blogging. I have an injury though. Was it caused by Pig-Headedness or Pure Folly?

I knew I shouldn't have jumped from 10K to 24K. But, whether out of sheer arrogance or stupidity, I did. And it went relatively well on Friday. And Saturday I was just fine. Then I felt some pain in my right knee on Sunday. Instead of leaving it alone, I did what any experienced runner knows I shouldn't have done. I reached for the painful spot and started massaging it. I successfully inflamed it.

In short order, a dull ache became an painful injury and I have been limping since. I should ave known that I should not have touched it. But I did because of sheer pig headedness. So I wont run today and tomorrow. I hope that by Wednesday it will have healed and I will be ready to run.
Otherwise right now I am nursing an injury - my right knee has gone to hell. I have got a few entries that I would like to make. Coming up shortly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Starting LSRS and Going Negative


From today I will be updating this blog once a week - unless something changes. This is mainly because and have been blocked at my office mostly due to individual assholery that is enjoying tacit institutional sanction.
Yes, some blogs have porn but what serious porn seller or consumer would use a blog to do their business? Duh! When the inane barricades get lifted, I will resume daily updates. Some nutjob is having a power hard on by being able to block sites. What’s worse, its not even his job.
I am considering using my phone to connect to the net but that will involve breaking one of my own rules: no internet at home. I have been avoiding that. But what the hell...

At any rate, I have been off form for about four weeks though not off training. I have been struggling and suffering and wondering what’s going on. I have been getting knocked out after 25 laps and have wondered what the heck was going on. I got a cold last week and as it wore off, I gradually came back. Taking 5 days off twice didnt help. But after the cold, I came back to become me last Friday November 28th 2008.
I think I probably hadn’t recovered from the Marathon until last week and I now feel okay when I run and when I sleep and wake up.
Yesterday, I ran with my running mate Sikuku, who I pace with and did 5K in 22:14 and completed the 10K in 46:17.

Its only after the run that we realized wee couldn’t have done better because we knocked ourselves out on Monday. But the statistics reveal interesting things:
The good news is that we can improve our speed and that our speed is not that bad. What we need to do is increase our lactate threshold and do long runs so that we are stronger even after several laps.
Here are the results of the 10K (25 laps)

Lap Time Duration (s)
1 1:35:00 95
2 3:16:00 101
3 5:02:00 106
4 6:50:00 108
5 8:39:00 109
6 10:30:00 111
7 12:20:00 110
8 14:09:00 109
9 15:58:00 109
10 17:50:00 112
11 19:42:00 112
12 21:30:00 108
13 23:18:00 108
14 25:11:00 113
15 27:10:00 119
16 29:04:00 114
17 30:56:00 102
18 32:54:00 118
19 34:52:00 117
20 36:41:00 110
21 38:32:00 111
22 40:26:00 114
23 42:27:00 121
24 44:27:00 120
25 46:17:00 110

Broken down to 2Km distances, our times were follows:

1st 2Km 8:39
2nd 2Km 9:11
3rd 2Km 9:20
4th 2Km 9:31
5th 2Km 9:36

What we need to do is attempt to do 95 secs per lap consistently and to ensure we don’t slow down beyond 110 seconds.
I want to read up stuff on how to increase lactate thresholds. Friday trainings will focus on that aspect of training.

5th Dec 2008
I am now in excellent condition. The pain in my upper thigh is almost gone and I feel strong and "healed." I am in that "do something incredible" mindset.
My training plan is still inchoate and I would like it to shape up and find what suits me and my schedule and work it for a few months. So I have been reading stuff on how to increase my AT/LT (Anaerobic Threshold/Lactate Threshold) and VO2Max(Maximum Oxygen uptake). From my 2Km splits above, we can see that this brother needs speed bro. He needs speed so bad, he doesn’t need ta tell ya.
The good news is that he has the hunger, the passion, the anger, the grit, the focus, the intensity, the perseverance and the guts to pour sweat, blood and guts to get that speed. Now (adopting a Cody Maverick demeanor), I am fucking serious bro and I want to go sub 1:30 next year, if it kills me.

There are Tempo Runs and Cruse intervals (fartleks), marathon pace runs and repetitions.
I have looked at all of them and since I don’t have hills and I am not exactly ready for speed runs of 100-200m, I will use 800m intervals EVERY FRIDAY. So Friday is speed work Time.
I will do 800m X 5 with 2mins jogs in between. And I will seek to do the 400m in 90seconds.
That’s it. The talk is over. The walk starts today at 5.30pm.

Now, what I want to target is 90 seconds per lap, which translates to 450 seconds for 2Kms, which is 7mins 30seconds. Which is pretty good if I can do it even as intervals. Remember Wanjiru mightily kicked ass in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with the first 5K in 14:52 which comes to around 3mins per Km.

I am still trying to figure out where to fit in my 24Km long runs. I will, pretty soon because they are indispensable. O'wise, I am cool. Staying off the radar of work politics and the asshollery going around like a bug.

Monday 8th Oct Update
I went for a 5k evening run with Sikuku, he took it pretty fast and we did the first two laps in 3mins flat. We struggled to maintain the speed in the next ten laps and my watch and count tells me that we did 5K in 20:20. He doubts it and has a different time for it. Hopefully, we can verify that today because I have fresh legs from two days of rest.
This Friday is a holiday. I will go for my 24Km long run then.

I took milk and that just messed me. I developed a bad, runny stomach. I still went for the run though and did 5K in 20:22 then slugged through another 14.4 laps. Maybe I will give it another try tomorrow.

11th Dec 2008
I ran a good 10K yesterday with my runningmate Skuks (as the gals call him) taking the time. I was in excellent condition. I had hydrated well, I ate well and had the psyche. In fact, it turns out we even had Ogutu's cousin available to take our timing for each lap. Sikuku was feeling tired from overtraining so I had the honour of having him take the time for me and I established my current times.
I started fast, this being the last positive split I would run. I cleared the first lap (by my standards) in 85 seconds and the next one in 98 seconds. I cleared the first Km in 3:43 and I crossed the 5Km mark in 22:10. The biggest problem was inhaling smoke from some burning rubbish nearby. It affected me accross some half dozen laps. But like they say, Africa is not for sissies.

I managed to sort of maintain an even pace of a 110.2 seconds per lap and cleared 10K in 45:55. This time I managed to keep all my timings below 2 minutes per lap.
At any rate, I will treat this as my PR and try to improve on it as we move along. Whats certain is that my speed has increased over the past two weeks: I have shaved off 23 seconds from last weeks 10K run.

My training is still inchoate right now. The only certain thing is that we run three times a week. Tomorrow being a public holiday affords me a chance to resume my long runs. I will do 24K and see what happens - its a huge one but what the heck. Lets see how it goes.

I am reading plenty of running literature for ideas that will go into a 9 month training plan that will hopefully culminate with me doing 60Kms per week and running a sub 19mins 5K and a Sub 40 mins 10k. That would be excellent.

And from next week, we are going negative as a strategy.

12th Dec 2008
I got up at 4:50am and went for a 24Km (approx) long run. My first LSR (Long Slow Run). I took it slow and basically had fun. I met close to ten runners and I was surprised that people are running at this time of the year. For the first time, I did the long run as I should: in a conversational pace. They bshould be run and 60-75% of one's VO2 Max and I did that and enjoyed myself. These endurance training runs help increase one's aerobic threshold by increasing the blood volume pumped by the heart and increasing build up of blood capillaries (tiny ones) and blood vessels in the working muscles. I concentrated on good form as opposed to speed and it went pretty well. I sorta speeded up in the last 3K as I should.

I am reading lots of text on running and running strategies and by the end of the XMas period, I will have devised a training schedule that can deliver Sub 1:30 half. I have realized that the speed runs have made my legs much stronger. I will factor them in with the necessary pylometric excercises. Ultimately, I know my training program will be very similar as that of one training for a marathon. Essentially, it will be a build up to my 2010 marathon debut.

Its Jamhuri Day. Some idiots in power are trying to gag our vibrant media. I am too annoyed to be annoyed any more so I just go about my business. I am looking for leather seats...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back on the Track - No More Speed Runs

After a 5 days break, I resumed running two days ago. My legs are much better. I did 10K with the first 5K in 23:15 and the 10K in about 46 minutes. I wasnt sure about the 10K time though my running mate, Sikuku, insisted it was 46mins.
I was weak even though after the run I managed 30 push ups, several crunches heel/toe walks and one legged hops. I had no energy but I weathered a stitch and some pain below in my shoulder blades between the 9th and 16th laps.
I chalked my weakness down to a low-carb lunch and so today I will take proper carbs for lunch. My quads are aching and I am surprised but I will go again today and see how it goes. I figure its the speed runs that fucked up my knees so I will steer away from them until I can manage a mileage of 50Kms per week - hopefully by March next year. In the meantime, I will stick to a staple diet of long runs, recovery runs, tempo runs and test runs. Meanwhile my weight is 77Kgs. Sometimes 76.5. Recall that 76 is my ideal weight. I will maintain at 75 if I can get there. I have lost 14Kgs since August.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Taking 5 Days off

My hamstrings, knees and calves have been painful. My leg muscles feel generally stiff. I guess the 11X2 kicked the shit out of them. Lesson learnt.
I resume on Tuesday next week. I am enjoying Obama's book.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tryin out new stuff and relaxin

I ran 11K yesterday and 11K today. Its mainly my knees that are suffering when I run two consecutive days. At any rate, it went well and I am not bearing any injury. I will rest tomorrow and run again on Friday.
This week I will probably do 33Kms tops because I am not doing a long run over the weekend.
I started reading Obama's book, Dreams From My Father yesterday. I had bought it close to two years ago but put it aside after reading the introductory chapter. I had plenty of other interesting books to read at the time so I let it gather dust.
I had thought that whereas Obama was a gifted speaker, his writing was not engaging. After a review I read in a newspaper on Sunday, I retrieved the book and cracked it open.
Obama wrote it when he was 33. His insights into the human condition are astounding. His introspection and artistic rendering of the events that surrounded his early childhood is astonishingly rich. In fact, his brilliance and artistic prowess dwarf that of several accomplished writers.
I am still in the first chapter. All I can say is that Obama is a gifted writer and the book is beautifully written.
Which brings me to my next point. What have I written lately? I am quickly growing old. Will I end up as a mediocre character who lacked the imagination and mettle to make his dreams come true? I am becoming someone who spends his time planning to write without ever getting any work written. Time to stop procrastinating. Friends tell me I am pissing on my talent.
Its time to act.

Friday, November 7, 2008

November Week 1 Done 42Kms

I went yesterday with colleagues for a speed run which we did in the rain on the rugby pitch. It was drizzling but we didn't let the rain Daunt us. Today I woke up at 8.30 am but after resting, decided to go for a 7K run, which I did, bringing my total mileage this week to 42. My right knee was painful at 500 metres and I seriously considered turning back but I pushed on and at the 1K mark it was gone. Another lesson to mean that you should not pay attention to your body pains too much especially if you know no proximate cause for a pain or injury.
I will be traveling and relaxing the next two days and may not run until Tuesday.

November week 1: 26+5+4+7=42Kms.

Next week will be tricky because my baby is coming and I will be traveling but lets see how it goes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's Acceptance Speech Brought Tears to My eyes

His speech is here and the last part here.
I shed tears. God damn. What he says, the thoughts he provokes, the perspectives he brings out, the poetry, the tapestry he weaves reaches in and takes my emotions away.
This guy is incredible. The story about the 106 year old woman, Anne Nixon Cooper, who voted and how he walks us through her lifetime, an entire century, is riveting. It drained me with its deepness. The question about what changes we can make in the world for our kids is just too deep. What change will they see. He asks. What progress will we have made? He continues. This is amazing shit. If you are drunk while listening, I am sure the alcohol will evaporate from your soaked brain and leave you fresh and alert to contemplate the implications of what he just said and the serious role we have and duty to generations to come. And how far Americans, and humanity, have come. From the dark days of racism and disenfranchisement of women. Its too much. Obama is the culmination of the social progress made by mankind in the past centuries. He is a collection of our fears, our pain, our dreams, our hopes and our joy.
I have cried with Oprah and Jesse Jackson. Obama has done it.
Now excuse me while I blow my nose and dry my eyes. I am choking with emotion.

Starting My Training - Why Negative Splits

I started my training for next year yesterday with an initial test of 5K. We started it too fast with my running mate of Sikuku and cleared it in 22.55.
This means we have 4 minutes to slash off our 5K time. We are using this as the baseline.
4 whole minutes. Yes, we were with a rookie (Wendy) who asked. "Why are you guys worried? 4 Minutes only? That should be easy". She should read Lance Armstrong's story.

Our strategy is to concentrate on speed and tempo runs for the next 4 months.
So below is my training plan. Towards the marathon next year, I plan to be clocking between 50 and 60 Kilometres a week. So this is a slow build up but more importantly, speed! Speed speed. If we can do a sub 19 5K, the better. I am ready to lose the remaining 3Kgs to reach my ideal weight, which is 86. At any rate, we have the fire burning in our belly and the hunger to be fast and strong.

Why You Should Run Negative Splits

Negative splits refers to a running strategy where one starts slowly and then speeds up in later stages and finishes faster than they started. Lance Armstrong, the former biker ran negative splits in his 2007 New York Marathon which he ran as follows and completed in 2:46:
Split, Time, Pace
5k, 0:20:01, 6:26
10k, 0:40:08, 6:27
15k, 0:59:54, 6:25
20k, 1:19:27, 6:23
Half, 1:23:41, 6:23
30k, 1:58:40, 6:21
35k, 2:18:00, 6:20
40k, 2:37:47, 6:20
Finish 2:46:43, 6:21

Even Marilson Gomes Dos Santos who won the NY Marathon 2008 ran negative splits. So its the best strategy to ran a marathon.

Negative Splits: Use Them to Perform Better in Your Next Marathon explains the reasons why negative splits can help you better your performance. Jim Fortner explains that you should not start out fast for the following reasons:
Why you should not start out fast

(1) Starting fast leads to faster consumption of glycogen, which means that your body becomes more dependent on fat for fuel earlier in the race;
(2) you reach your AT/LT earlier in the race, so a greater portion of the race is spent running anaerobically, i.e., the wall arrives earlier and harder; and
(3) it allows for less margin of error in case you miscalculated your ability on race day or any of many other variables bite you in the butt. You wind up running a greater percentage of the race in the less efficient mode, which exacerbates your late race “decline” and can lead to a hard crash.

Why You should Run Negative Splits:
1. “Ideally you should run the first portion of the race a little slower than your expected mean pace, thereby conserving carbohydrate supplies. Later on….adequate supplies will be available to provide energy for pace increases as well as a strong finish. This is the concept of “negative-splitting a marathon….” Martin and Coe
, Better Training for Distance Runners.

2. " is always preferable to speed up in the second half when others are slowing down. It gives you the impression that you are running faster than you really are, and the mental lift of passing others is great.” Tim Noakes, The Lore of Running.

3. If you go out a bit slow, you have adequate time to make up for it. So it’s better to err on the side of caution. Glover in The Competitive Runner’s Handbook.

But he concludes, "this stuff ain’t an exact science no matter how much we theorize it.".

Celebrity Runners
Here are some times set by celebrity runners:
2:59:37 - Lance Armstrong, cyclist - lowered to 2:45 in NY Marathon in 2007
3:30:18 - John Edwards, former Senator
3:31:00 - Michael Dukakis, former governor
3:44:52 - President George W. Bush (In January, 1993, George W. Bush finished the Houston Marathon in 3:44:52)
3:45:35 - Kristin Armstrong, ex-wife of Lance Armstrong
3:52:00 - Kim Alexis, supermodel
3:54:00 - Roger Craig, football player
3:54:40 - Justin Leonard, golfer
3:55:40 - Anthony Edwards, actor
3:56:12 - Will Ferrel, actor/comedian
4:12:06 - Kerri Strug, Olympic gymnast
4:14:54 - Sean (Diddy) Combs, rapper
4:29:20 - Oprah Winfrey, talk-show host
4:54:36 - Bill Frist, former Senate majority-leader
4:58:25 - Al Gore, former Vice-President
6:04:43 - David Lee Roth, rock musician (Ati?)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bursting my bubble - No More Excuses

I have written several times in this blog that running is just a hobby and I can never be that good a runner because I started running late and because my profession cannot afford me adequate practice time to be a runner worthy of mention. And I have other ambitions and all other kinds of manure excuses that are basically a whitewash of a man afraid of hoping, aiming and risking failing to meet a set goal. And of course the world being witness to that failure. So keep expectations low and manage them safely. Bunk.

In fact, I wrote last week, "I can never run like Wanjiru and I have no interest to ever win any money in a running event."

I have had some time to reflect about it and realized that this is loser talk. This is pure bunk and I have realized I have been rationalizing myself into having a safe little bubble wherein I live comfortably without having to exert myself too much or risk failure. This has been my way of avoiding something too challenging, something too difficult, something that would take something out of me. Unfamiliar territory. Something that would test me and stretch me to the limits. Something that would become my failure, or my greatness.

Today I realized that what I have lacked is someone to push me and encourage me. Someone to tap my bubble and tell me "Come out." But I did have that someone all along. Except I probably expected that someone to be Paul Tergat or some other accomplished runner. That someone came in an unexpected form of a plus three hours half marathon finisher. Last week, one of the people I practically persuaded and convinced to run in the Stanchart Marathon told me, "Why don't you just lose a few more Kgs and go for the jackpot". I dismissed that instantly and took it to be a mistaken inference that if you lose weight you automatically become fast. But I forgot that it is practically myself who pushed her to go for the race. "I cant do it. I will not" she had persisted earlier and I prevailed on her that she could do it and she would finish. "No way!" she insisted. But she finally showed up for the race. And when she finished, she remarked that one thing she realized was that she could run. And now she is fired up to improve her time next year.

There is a saying I have lost track of which says that nobody ever accomplished something greater than they could without someone else encouraging them and believing that they could.

I have been looking askance at running as if it will take away something from me if I let it in my life fully. But this has all been a cop out. My rationalizations don't withstand close scrutiny. I think I have just been afraid of failure. So I aim low and act like an outsider. How will taking running more seriously impact on my life plans? It wont stop me from achieving what I want. So I have decided I am bursting my bubble and making no more excuses. I want to see how good I can get at this. So sub 1:30 or better is what I will be going for. No limits. I want to break all barriers.

I ran 26Kms in 2:20 mins yesterday. I want to start keeping a log of the mileage I cover every week and every month. Hopefully, by September next year, I can cover more than 60Kms a week and I hope to clear that distance in under two hours by June. It has a hill and its long. Just what I need. I should be running that circuit every fortnight or three weeks trying to reduce that time minute by minute till I get below two hours. If that happens, I will be close to my best.
November week 1 mileage: 26Kms

I just discovered a great site that is authored by Constantine Njeru. He was with me in the Stanchart Marathon and he finished in 2:54, striving to maintain a 4min per Km pace. He is 28, Psyched to death and aiming to run sub 2:45. His site is full of tips for beginners and masters alike. I feel as if I found a soulmate. He has great tips on Hill Running, training plan and a running mantra. Check out that site.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Did it Again

I did 7K again today. Easy run. Met more than ten runners. My legs are fine. Knees feel sore a little but I can manage. So tomorrow, we go again.
I am preparing a four month training program for November to march.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Did 7Kms

It was an easy run. I go again tomorrow. 40 minutes. Target is to run 4 consecutive days.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Addicted to Running?

It is three days since I last ran. I have been struggling with whether or not to run. The last two days it was easy not to run because I had aching muscles. But now I have no aching muscles and the next marathon is twelve months away. I don't have to run now or next week or even next month. So do I continue with a "normal" life? I have tried doing push ups, squats and crunches and stretching in the morning but I don't feel challenged. I don't feel pushed. I feel numb. Sedated. I feel as if I have done nothing. I feel as If I am living in an egg that has not hatched. Like a parked car.

I have not developed a training program. I just ran a half marathon and I am happy with the results I got. I have lost all the weight I wanted to lose. I can never run like Wanjiru and I have no interest to ever win any money in a running event. So why should I leave my relatively warm bed, albeit lonely and without all the other facilities that make bedtime interesting, and walk into the biting 5 am cold risking death?

I can sit for some months and start training in January. So why the hell should I bother with running? Running is hard work. It can tear your muscles and shatter your ligaments and induce early arthritis (as some nutjobs allege). If I am to run, I have to wake up early then struggle with the hard tarmac and risk getting mugged. I have to risk stepping in some open manhole and breaking my leg. I have to risk being hit by a car when the street lights are off and I have to run on the road which is less treacherous than the pavement. Then I have to run back, warm down, stretch, hang my sweat-soaked clothes and be late for work.

I have a job, I don't look too bad. I have some money and an education. So why should I run? Running does not put any food on my table. It doesn't get me any promotion. It can wait. What the heck. Okay, it has helped me lose some weight but I was okay anyway. I didn't have high blood pressure or a big pot. In fact, now people are saying I look too thin. Ati I should change my wardrobe, ati I am floating in my clothes, ati I was looking okay before and all other sorts of inane blather. Most of the times I want to tell them to go and order one big bowl of shut up and sit down and enjoy it but I am too nice so I instead explain to them patiently that they need to adjust to the new me. But I digress.

So anyways, I have been struggling with the above questions. Today I was called for a meeting in the afternoon. There was plenty of sausage, samosas, croissants and mandazis to go with the tea and coffee. And I had a sausage and croissant. What will my body do with them if I don't exercise? It will carefully and dutifully store them. Easy as pie.

So I thought about this life of attending meetings, drawing models, solving business problems and tinkering with computers and I realized why I run: Its the only thing that stretches me and makes my life interesting. Everything else is so boring it essentially renders my life in a "shutdown" mode. Irrespective of how many tasks I do at work and at home. I feel as if there is something I haven't done when I haven't run. Running is the only something I can do to make me feel like I have done something. Nothing else registers. I feel like a zombie. Sweat pores blocked, heart rate flatlined, muscles flaccid, my vital signs in hibernate mode. Another bugger in the rat race that is life. Plodding along like a simple person with simple problems: bills, a boss from hell, traffic jam, little money, problematic relations with friends and relatives, uncertain future etc etc. I feel like a ship moored on a harbor, safe from the raging waves, away from the wind tearing the water. Yes anchored ships are safe but that is not what ships were made for. The brightest corals are the ones facing the sea, the ones regularly buffeted by raging waves. The ones in calm waters are dark and dull.

I don't drink beer or go for those out-of-town nyama choma experiences that people go for to break the monotony of town life. So how do I shake things up? How do I stay sane and balanced? How do I stay interested in life? How do I do anything else?

I have to run.

I have realized, with some measure of regret, that that is the only way I can maintain my normalcy. Its the only way I can stay sharp and on the edge. Its the only thing that makes me feel I am still here. It has grown on me. It has become a way of renewing myself, getting my "me" time, affirming myself and turning the page on old feelings and old experiences and welcoming the new, the unexpected, the fresh and the unpredictable everyday. Its a ceremony. Its a celebration. Its an outlet and its my only means of reincarnating. The very act of running represents freedom. Maybe I feel caged and running is my veiled metaphor for the freedom I subconsciously feel I lack. Could it be? I don't know. Do I have a restless personality? Am I on the prowl for a constant thrill that I get cheaply through running which gives me the "runner's high"? Maybe I am a drunkard in gestation getting drunk on endorphins instead of alcohol? After all, the runner's high is basically a euphoric feeling caused by a flood of endorphins rushing in the brain in the midst of exercise. Could it be? I don't know. All I know is I gotta put on those shoes and hit the road. Feel the cold wind and the early morning traffic.

So tomorrow I will be on the road at 5 am. I don't know whether it will be a recovery run or a fast one. All I know is that I have to run to get me back.
I think I should probably start working on running four times a week: something I have never done.

So lets see if and whether I can run continuously for the next four days and see what happens. Maybe I don't like running as much as I think I do. But hey, you learn a lot from discovering something you don't like just as much as discovering something you like. If its a mistake, the better because we learn more from mistakes than we do from non-mistakes so lets do it!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Have you Done Lately?

After taking out every piece of crap (s*itty friends, f**ed up bosses and other manipulative and evil forces) out of his life, Wesley says in Wanted (2008): "This *is* me taking control; from Sloan, from the fraternity, from Janice, billing reports, ergonomic keyboards, from cheating girlfriends and sack of shit best friends. This is me taking back control of my life."

I like the question he asks after he has shattered the cage he has been propped in his entire life:
What have you done lately?

Ask yourself that. I like that question.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Perfect Race. 1:40 - almost done. New Goal

I have a friend who is an UltraMarathoner going by the moniker StyrofoamDeity. He once told me, There is no failure, there is only the next race. I found that statement gripping. It embodied a competitive, indomitable, relentless spirit that appealed to my running self and I embraced it as a way of life. There is no failure, there is only the next race.

So yesterday, muscles torn, body aching, my entire system out of sorts, instead of licking my wounds and caressing my medal, I was busy trying to put together the building blocks for a sub 1:30 half marathon. It's easy to plan as you know and one thing you learn from the marathon is that reality cuts down your idealistic dreams to realistic sizes with hard surfaces, injuries, dehydration, time and the sheer attrition by the distance. But every time you meet your race objectives, you get galvanized and that is what had happened to me.

"When are you updating your blog?" one of my friends asked me. Interrupting my thoughts. "You know, I read it every day" he added. Okay two people had told me that but I didn't know there were others. It was good to know. In fact one finisher yesterday told me my blog made a big difference for him as far as completing the half marathon in the time he did is concerned. So anyways, here is the update. Shall I call it the race report?

Race Report

By the race day, I believed I had fully recovered from the stomach infection. My thinking was since it was a purely digestive problem, the losses made were recovered by my eating on Saturday. My lungs, heart and muscles were still OK. Or so I believe.

Making sure the target is clear to all and Sundry

Too Much Energy - Trying to Fly
So we gathered at the assembly area at 6am. And we are talking thousands of runners. Some with Obama messages, some wearing costumes that will take your mind off the race. I had my target time behind my back in cross hairs. The weather was perfect. I was strong. The crowd was perfect and the race was started in time. Nothing could go wrong. Except for some runners who thought they could be birds.

The lady on the left is frantically trying to fly with one hand. Rosemary clearly doesn't approve of the stunt. She is wondering: "Why cant some people just accept that they are not birds and settle down? What if she comes crashing down?"

After so not flying, she settles for being a bat instead and perches her excited wing on the nearest tree, er person, then flashes some teeth. Kamau thinks its a wiser move. Let her hang there. Flying should be left to birds. I agree. All she has to do now is learn to point her head downwards and her feet up.

Chaotic Start

After a few photos, stories, catching up and assuring the nervous first timers, the gun went off. But we weren't moving!
"Has the race started?" I asked Sikuku.
"It has"
"But people are not moving!"
"They are moving at the front"
So we sort of waited until spaces started opening between us and people around us started moving and we surged forward trying to occupy every single open space that showed up. We basically started running off the road on the pavement with Sikuku in a bid to overtake people. Its after one Kilometer that we started running on the road.

3rd Km
At the 3rd Km mark we were surging forward quite well. Overtaking dozens and hundreds of people every minute.
"One Forty!" Someone shouted behind my back. I didn't turn back.
"One forty! I like that. I am One forty five!"
"Hell yeah!" I shouted back without turning to record the face behind the voice.
"I am with you!" He shouted back.
"Lets go!" I said. I didn't want to engage in handshaking and a conversation while the clock was ticking.

And so we surged on. The road was white. It was white all over. Everyone was wearing a white t shirt and at the 4th Kilometer Mark, I passed Nderitu and some dude explaining that I was chasing a white lady ahead of me. "Sawa" they said as I raced after the lean lady in black.

The Elusive Lady in Black

There was this white lady that I chased for about 2Kms who I thought could be my pace setter since I could hand on her for that kind of distance. She was lean. She wore all black and seemed to run quite slowly. Her speed seemed manageable. Since she was in black, she was easy to spot so I decided to hand on her. But slowly, she opened the gap and by the 5th Km, she was gone. Sikuku told me his knee was acting up so I was on my own.

People around me seemed inconsistent. I passed most of them and did not see anyone interesting or consistent enough to use as a pacesetter. So I stuck to my pace and occasionally glanced at my watch.

10th Km Mark - behind time

I crossed the 10th K at 46mins. This was neither good or bad. I went on. Staying focused, taking a little water and thinking about speed and avoiding getting absent-minded and sliding into auto pilot. I met Shiko at around the 13th Km mark and passed her. She was going for the full marathon.
I also met a former schoolmate called Oscar and passed him at around the 16th Km Mark. Then a white muscular lady came from behind and passed me as if I were walking, so did some two Brazilians and a Chinese runner. They just zoomed past. Negative splitters, I thought.

The Champions overtake the runningwriter

At around the 18th Km Mark, I felt strong and my legs got into the routine of gripping the tarmac and pushing me forward and I passed several people. At the 20th Km, I was tired but not done and I maintained a comfortable pace to finish at 1:40:42 by my watch. The first guy crossed the line in 1:02 and the marathon winner finished in 2:10. Chiku's time was 4:23 Sikuku 1:46, Yvonne 3:01, Wangare 3:23, Maggie 2:55, GK in 1:54 and Ogutu 2:34.

The Next Race's Goal

My certificate time was 1:42:14 and I am happy with that. I consider my goal met and I am setting a new one for next year. I want to fly and I am aiming at 1:30.

According to Macmillan's calculator, I need the following:
Sub 19mins 5K
Sub 40mins 10K
1 Hour 1mins 15K

I intend to erect the following as the three pillars of my training:
Stretch my long runs to 30Kms every Sunday. Starting from 25Kms. Look for Hilly routes.
Run 4-5 times a week. One of these should be tempo and one a speed run. Do speed runs on the track from February.

The Entire Team Some still wailing in pain. But Maggie's feelings are much too deep to vocalize. They find expression in her face instead. Trick question: How many people in the photo above are trying to fly? Post the answer in a comment below. Which of the above runners wants to Kill the photographer with his/her bare hands? Correct answers will earn you a Kosewe lunch.

Dreams that were born and nurtured on the road become real at the Finish line. These three men are making sure they leave their footprints at the finish line. Kamau is assisting his left foot leave the footprint. Rigging!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recovering from a Yeast Stomach Infection

I ate some bad bread on Wednesday after the 10K and as a result got some serious yeast infection that wrecked havoc in my gut for 3 days. Stool test revealed massive yeast infection and I had to take the day off on Friday. It helped me get time to watch Fringe series even though I mostly felt like shit. Frings is pretty good with science fiction and it puts theoretical physics and biology on the stage. Very interesting stuff. Dark matter, psychokinesis, astral projection, etc etc.

I took some drugs and my appetite is 95% back and my form is almost there too. I did some squats, crunches, calf raises, pushups and heel/toe walks today and I feel okay. It's only my knees that feel woosy but I will take a 8Km walk in the evening to chase the lingering demons away. I also feel the fire in my mind but my mind is a little dull. I expect it to be in synch with my body by tomorrow morning.

I have created a bib for myself to motivate and challenge myself tomorrow about my goal

Here is wishing me luck tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Program Complete. I am no longer Overweight!

I started my 11 week Training program in August when I was 92Kgs and running 5K in 27 minutes and couldn't run more than 23Kms without incurring a serious injury. Now I weigh 79 and can run 5K in 21 minutes and can comfortably run 30Kms.
I started with weak shins (compartment muscles) and with the 100 pushups challenge which I later abandoned to concentrate on running.
Now I have strong legs and have set my sights on greater running ambitions. I will be shooting for sub 1:30 half marathon next year and will be going for sub 3hrs debut full marathon in 2010.

Below is my weight loss graph. Yesterday I had a bad stomach. Combined with the fast 10K I ran, its no surprise that I dropped 800grams.

I did my part and ran diligently and worked on my weaknesses. The program, even though developed by an amateur like myself, should pay me back with some decent half marathon timing in three days time.

Its all about resting and stretching now. I am not very big on carb-loading. I will just have a good supper on the eve of the marathon and have a carbohydrate-rich breakfast on DDay.

Did 10K Set PR: 44:13 A negative split!

Today I ran in a pair of shorts for the first time. I did this for two reasons: I wanted to test how it would feel like to run in shorts and it was muddy so I didn't want to give myself a bigger task of washing a muddy track. Shorts allow one to have a wider range of motion I think but I didn't feel any palpable lightness. I think I may run in tracks during the marathon.
So anyways, it had rained heavily yesterday but I decided my last run had to be today since I couldn't tell whether I would get an injury in the process (better to have 3days to recover than have 2 days to recover) plus I wanted to set a last 10K PB. I was strong. My legs didn't feel 100 percent because of the battering from the 27K but the first 5K were okay. I met much fewer runners today: around 7. Is everyone tapering?
Whats great is that I was strong at the 5K mark and I felt as if I had found my pace! so I ran the last 5K quite fast, attempting a negative split. I succeeded and set a 10K PR. I did the 5K in 22:10 and the 10K in 44:13. Meaning I ran the second 5K in 22:03 This is exciting news. This means next year, I should be aiming at doing long runs of 30K and above if I am to do a sub 1:30 half marathon. It means only mileage can give one the power of doing a negative split.
I don't have injuries so all I gotta do now is eat and rest. And oh, btw, I am 79.9Kgs. I have entered the seventies! Wooooo Haaaaaa!

Lets do it!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Last Run Tomorrow

I walked off Sunday's run yesterday with an 8Km walk. Tomorrow I will do a 10K run then rest for the next three days. I may walk again on Friday or Saturday just to ensure the system is well oiled. My weight is still stuck at 80Kgs.
All is well. Some of my buddies are panicking and trying of not registering but I have reminded them that Pain is temporary, while quitting lasts forever.
We run to test our willpower and to challenge ourselves. We also do it to get out of our comfort zones so its a means to personal growth.
Actually, the above quote is a corruption of PRIDE's slogan: "PAIN IS TEMPORARY, PRIDE IS FOREVER"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

27K Last long run

We were up at 4.30 and collected each other and drove to Zimmerman - the starting point. There was four of us. Then a lady joined us. We babysat each other for close to 12Kms then started serious running. I was ahead so I slowed down and started at the 17th Km and we sped for the last 10K.
Here is the route we used: From Zimmerman to Roysambu to all sops, utalii, muthaiga, pangani, forest road to museum hill and back to zimmerman. 27.2 Kms.
I was hungry as hell and ate like a hungry man. I hope I havent blown my weight. I watched surfs up and will be watching monster story tomorrow. I am damaged and hope repairs will be taking place in my body in the next 48 hours.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Six Basics of Weight Loss

Getting Skinny 101: The Basics of Weight Loss

1. Don’t lose if you can’t keep it off

First of all, don't lose any weight if you don’t plan to keep it off. It is pointless. Do not diet to lose a few kilos: change your lifestyle instead and stay lean. Most people who disparage weight loss programs tried and failed to keep the weight off. They thought its a temporary thing. Its permanent or nothing.

2. Gradual Approach

Do not try to make an overnight change. Remember that nothing worth doing can be done overnight. Change your eating habits slowly. If you feel too hungry its because you have made a drastic change. You make a drastic change because you want a short cut. There is no shortcut in this. Have a strategy and follow it. You will be more successful at staying with the changes you make if you pick just one eating habit at a time to work on. Establish realistic goals and work on them.

3. Why Are You eating?

Don’t live to eat, eat to live. Change your relationship with food. Eat when you are hungry and eat for a purpose. For example, eat carbohydrates if and when you will be engaged in some physical activity that requires energy. If you eat carbohydrates that you don’t lose, they will be stored as fat. This applies for fats and proteins.
Do not eat when you are bored, stressed, or sad. Do not use food as a reward. Find other ways of rewarding yourself.

4. Physical Exercise

Make physical activity part of your daily life. Move more. Incorporate some physical activity in your daily routine. Walk, run, take the stairs etc. Find something that will bring your metabolic rate up. For Christs sake, FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE DOING. I love running but you could swim, box, jump, dance, whatever. Anything that brings your heart rate up and makes you sweat. Just find it and do it.

5. Cut out the Bad food
Cut out deep fried food. No negotiation. That means french fries (chips), bhajia, fried chicken etc are out. Cut out ice cream. No debate. Cut out sodas and beer. No negotiation. Simply decide never to take such food under any circumstances. They have huge amounts of calories and burning them off is very difficult.

6. Negative Caloric Deficit is a Must for weight Loss - Eat Less!

To lose weight, the number of calories you use up must be more than the number of calories you take in. Let me repeat that. To lose weight, the number of calories you use up must be more than the number of calories you take in. Calories are the amount of energy in the food you eat. Some foods have more calories than others. For example, foods high in fat and sugar are also typically high in calories. If you eat more calories than your body uses, the extra calories will be stored as body fat. Easy as pie. More on this later.
You are overweight because you eat more than you use so at the bare minimum, you must start eating less.
The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat fewer calories and burn off calories. If you cut 250 calories from your diet each day and exercise enough to burn off 250 calories, that adds up to 500 fewer calories in one day. If you do this for 7 days, you can lose 1 pound of fat in a week.

More on food and Exercise Later

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Walked 17K Ran 10K

Yesterday the skies opened 60 minutes to our scheduled 20K run. But we were still determined to go and do our 50 laps in spite of the daunting downpour that was clearly a game changer . When we arrived, the track had pools of water and was evidently muddy. But we could use the rugby pitch, we thought, but we were told by the security that the pitches were closed because of the graduation tomorrow.
So we decided to walk home. We started from Museum hill roundabout, through forest road, pangani, muthaiga, Utalii, survey to all sops, to outering road, Juja road, kariobangi south, Buruburu, umoja to donholm roundabout via outering road.
It was a helluva distance in fact in the morning I woke up with pains in my inner thighs but I still went for a 10K covering 5K in 22 mins and the 10K in 46 mins.
Now I need to psych myself for my last long run this Sunday approx. 26Kms. From Roysambu to Museum hill roundabout and back.
God help us.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Introducing Getting Skinny 101

Humans Hate Weight Loss - Its a Bitch

I think we have evolved to know that weight loss is a sign of ill-health and in our HIV-infested and AIDS prevalent age, visible weight loss is a cause of alarm and it makes people uncomfortable, worried and concerned. Weight helps our species in selection of healthy mates and in general most illnesses, like cancer (chemotherapy is hell), diarrhea, cholera, AIDS, Tuberculosis, Pneumonea and so on are characterized with the patients losing weight. So its a mark of questionable health and we have evolved to be careful around such people lest we get whatever disease is cleaning them out. And that is fine but this is largely a third world perception. In the developed world, fat is bad (obesity, bulimia etc), just like very thin (anorexia) is bad. Skinny is not bad. Bony is bad.

Sample the interactions below between ordinary mortals in planet earth.

"Why are you losing weight?" A colleague asked me yesterday, fixing me with an accusing and betrayed look as she limply shook my extended hand.
"Because I want to" I replied to her demand, smiling easily as I surveyed her blood-red lipstick and remembered Sarah Palin's pittbull-in-lipstick slogan.

She did not bother to ask me why I wanted to lose weight. Instead, she stormed "You are so annoying!" and she turned away from me. I didn't know what to make of that. Annoying her for losing my own weight? Please. Plus, she is married. Why would she give a rat's ass whether I lost weight? And don’t get me started over whether she had tyres jiggling or not. It would be rude and insensitive and you know how sensitive women are about their weight. Was I supposed to seek her approval before starting to lose weight?

"Me [sic] I can’t go out with a skinny boyfriend" a girlfriend quipped as we were talking about weight loss.
"That’s enough, stop there. If you go beyond that, you will look terrible!" another female colleague told me recently.
"Ne kaka koro idhero!" the same colleague told me yesterday with a big-eyed, sad, pitiful, puppy look. That is translated to mean "Look how thin you are now!" This was delivered in the same tone of voice a mother would tell a child who has been playing in mud and is all covered in dirt except for his two innocent eyes.

"I wish you would stop now" My sister told me recently "You now look fine"
"Omera wiyi ema odong!" a friend told me when I was 85Kgs. That is translated to mean "Only your head is remaining!" I told him I have 6 more Kilos to go and he remarked that he can’t imagine how I will look like when I am 6Kgs less.

I am still overweight yet I am being assailed regularly with comments like the ones above. What if I lose another 5Kgs? (Which, by the way, I need to lose in order to reach my ideal weight – but I need to lose only a Kg to achieve normal weight). Will they start planning my funeral? Will they start to helpfully explain to me that stepping on a live wire does not mean the end of life? Will they start encouraging me to take walks near VCTs and give me booklets on how to live positively?

My mother should not see me now. She last saw me in July when I was 92. If she sees me now, she will automatically start losing weight and become my problem. First of all, she would never understand why I would want to lose any weight when according to her, I looked healthy at 92Kgs. Secondly, she wont ask me: she will ask my brothers what is stressing me so much. They will mumble inane answers which wont add up according to her arithmetic then she will proceed to conclude that it is because I don't have a wife that I am stressed and now wasting away. She will wonder quietly why God gave me education and money but denied me a wife. After that, she will proceed and conclude that the fees I am paying for my sister's college education is too much burden and it is the one clearing me. Then she will lose appetite worrying about how her poor son is suffering and she will lose weight faster than me as she starves herself in some weird form of penance. She did that last year when I was 84Kgs. Now I am 80Kgs. Quietly consider the catastrophic effect my "skinny" frame would have on her failing health. I may even have to wear three trousers and five coats just to stave off the disastrous consequence of her seeing me in this state.

Getting Skinny 101

Welcome to Getting Skinny 101. Getting Skinny 101 will help you deal with snide sound bites like the ones above when you are trying to lose weight and succeeding. You will be threatened with divorce, abandonment, threatened, inquisitioned, probed, innuendoed, ignored and ridiculed. If you are not prepared, you will give up and become one with the fatness. It is important to remember that 98% of people try to lose weight and fail. Or they succeed for 36hours only. Most of them join the anti-weight-loss mob. And they are quite vocal and defensive. Getting Skinny 101 will help you weather the shitstorm.

Getting Skinny 101 is about losing weight and keeping it off. One foundational maxim of Getting Skinny 101 is that, There is no point losing it if you cant keep it off. Now write that down and wrap it tightly round your brain. We will learn more maxims and develop laws as we go along. In a nutshell, it is not about dieting; it is about lifestyle.

Losing Weight is Not for Everyone

Losing weight is not for everyone. Some people are fat but don’t know it. GS 101 is not for them. Some people are fat but they don't care. GS 101 is not for them. Some people want to lose 5Kgs for their wedding or to participate in an event. GS 101 is not for them. Some people are fat but they are in denial with garbage excuses like "Its genetic, even my parents are fat." GS 101 is not for them either. Some people think they cannot live without ice creams and French fries (chips) and burgers. GS 101 is not for them. Some people are overweight but think its sexy and frigging classic to have a pot belly and tryes. GS 101 is not for them too. And if you don’t know what a tyre is, consider yourself fortunate.

Is GS 101 For You?

GS 101 is for people who are overweight or obese and want to gain normal weight. It is not about dieting: it is about changing our eating habits. It’s a change in lifestyle. For diets, look elsewhere. I was 12Kgs overweight two months ago and now I am 1Kg overweight so I think I can say a thing or two about weight loss that can help one who is interested in losing weight. After all, plenty of girls get married and think they have experience after their wedding and proceed to open wedding planning companies and make roaring business. Right? So, why not me? I could start some weight loss program and publish a potboiler with a title like “How to lose 10Kgs Every Month Without Excercise!”

Seriously though, hundreds of keyboards have been banged senseless and plenty of ink spilled over paper over weight loss programs, Atkins diet, diet pills, veggie diets and so on and so forth. Most of them is good but not necessary. The bulk of it is manure with different schools of weight loss trying to tear the other school down. I will stick to the basics and don’t care which weight-loss cult you subscribe to. I don’t care which brand of weight-loss you like, al just stick to the basics of how to lose weight in a third world country.

First of all, weight loss is a "rich" person's problem. Poor people are generally not fat. So if you are fat, you must be one able to get a excess supply of food regularly and must be enjoying a fairly sedentary lifestyle either crouching behind a monitor all day or generally having your butt in a seat for more than six hours daily. Maybe watching some football game or some other inactive past time like reading newspapers or chatting.

Losing Weight Saves Money and Brings More Joy

One thing you must realize is that weight loss can and will make your lifestyle cheaper if you want it to. For example, you can ignore public or private transport and walk home if your home is less than 10 Kilometers from your work place and you will thereby burn calories. You will forego buying certain unhealthy snacks (which are normally expensive) and thereby save money etc etc. But we will come to that later. Those who insist on enjoying their hard-earned comfortable life needn't worry too much about that.

Why Lose Weight?

Your life will also be cheaper because you will be less susceptible to getting injured (sprained joints, injured backs, broken bones, swollen legs etc), you will be less susceptible to suffering from type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, coronary artery disease, stroke, and sleep apnea. Because of the latter, your life will be happier. Better sex, better moods, less health problems, better performance at work etc etc. The benefits are countless. Any idiot knows so I won’t bore you with them. And one that doesn’t know them can Google and stop expecting me to teach them everything.

I think this is enough for a start. We will go into specifics in the next installment.

Did 10K - Mick Gives Me advice

I woke up feeling quite energetic even though there wasn't much energy in me (as I later realized). So I decided to do a 10K instead of an easy 5K run. I met several runners and covered the first 5K in about 22:15 and 10K in 46mins.
I had a pain and still have it in my inner left calf muscle. I bore it for 5Kms but hope it will clear up in the next 36hours, which is my rest period before another 20K.
My weight seems to be stuck at 80Kgs! Aargh!
Only two more practice runs remaining. Somebody shoot me.
Mick Advises me as follows:
You have two weeks to go before the 26th and I personally do like that depth of a taper. We are all different and if you feel you need to back off that much then go ahead. I would recommend that this week be a normal training week including at least one speed session. Next week ease off on the distance and speed work a bit, maybe throw in a session with some strides and dynamic stretches rather than intervals or tempo. I usually take the day off before the race, maybe give the dogs a longer walk than usual. It is a half not a full so I would do a long run the weekend before but not over distance unless that is what you normally do, 20k would be about right but easy.
As to your time, the first consideration has to be the weather. If it is hot then all bets are off unless your times were set in similar temperatures. Next the course itself, an undulating course with lots of ups and downs is very taxing especially if you take it out fast or close to your target pace.
Looking at your times and based on my own experience you are certainly in the zone. the 15k is particularly encouraging but in the half it is all won and lost in the last 5k. You have enough speed based on your 5k time so it is down to your endurance, do you have enough miles in the legs.
As it is not a slam dunk for you caution would be best. A sub 1:40 requires an average of 4:44 per km so I would go out conservatively at a 4:50 pace. It will feel slow but stick with it for at least 7 or 8k and then gentley drop a few secs per km until you are running around 4:42 and hold it but take a couple of km to get down to that pace, absolutely no surging and back off on the hills if any.
The pain will start at around 17k if you have gone out too hard, do not back off, you will slow anyway just try and hold it the best you can.
It is yours to do, you have the speed, just race smart not like a hero.
all the best

Thanks Mick, its a flat course. Lets hope the weather behaves.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Long run 27Kms

Today was going to be my long run day after close to two weeks since my last long run. We had decided to pick a new route with a challenging hill and more mileage. A route we had estimated to be around 25K. My running mate was nursing painful shins after Thursday's 16K run, so I was on my own, which is fine by me. Anytime.
So I was up at 4.30am. My weight is still 80Kgs (has been for the past three days), one more kilo to go. I took a banana and some water then stretched as I watched CNN's Jonathan Mann's electoral map showing Obama ahead of McBush. He also explained the Bradley effect, which the analysts said would affect 2-3% of the pro-Obama votes. Economy trumps race, they agreed. Cool, I thought, assured.

Knowing well that this would be a long run, I took with me 200ml of water, which I carried in my left hand - yes, left is weak, so let it learn to be strong. I just started with an easy pace along the 800m stretch of Outering Road toward Jogoo Road.
I met three runners in the first 1K on Jogoo Road; 2 girls and a guy and wondered who the lucky guy was. Considering it was around 5:06am, I was impressed that the trio were serious about running.
I took an easy pace; close to 6mins per Km since I was gonna clear upwards of 23K. I met a buddy at the 3rd Km mark but he was going in the opposite direction. At about 4K, my sweat was pouring freely and I wondered whether it was the sweatshirt I was wearing? Or was I leaking?
I cleared the 5.4K Jogoo road and weaved into Landhes road, and made it through the busy Machakos stage without incident and into Haile Selassie.
Anyways, I easily cleared the first 7K then my right foot developed a pain just after I had crossed Uhuru Highway and entered Ngong Road. It was a familiar pain so I just twisted my ankle around and around for some 5 seconds then shifted the load to my left leg. After about 400metres, it was back to normal and I resumed my normal pace. The hill to National Library is quite a challenging one and by the time I reached Nrb Hospital, it was 1hour and I knew that I was past 10K and yet was not even half way through. I reached Mbagathi way and turned left toward highrise. It was longer, far longer than I expected and by the time I reached Langatta Road, I had covered at least 7+4+4=15Kms. I met three more runners close to Nyayo Stadium and crossed from Langatta to Lusaka Road. Then my left leg started yelling.
I shifted the load to my right leg as I started down Lusaka road, meeting two other runners. The pain in my left leg abated and I resumed to normal running. I had run around 16Kms by the time I hit enterprise road, which stretches 4Kms. By the time I was clearing Enterprise road, I had cleared my water and thrown away the empty bottle. Then I tackled the remaining 7Kms that is likoni Road. I used my right leg to give my body a drag as the left one had shut down and had taken to yelling and kicking every time it was given some little work to do. So I let the bitch have her way and only occasionally gave her scraps of work. By the time I reached Jogoo road again, I was amazed that I was still running, one crazy driver forced me to sprint out of danger and I was excited to know I still had energy. Then I started flying the last one Km home and I did three impressive sprints before arriving back home. The time I had taken was 2:27:25. If I estimate my pace at an avg of 5.5mins per Km, I covered 27Kms. The longest I have ever covered in my life.
I knew I had pushed myself harder than I had planned. So I took my time to stretch thoroughly and comprehensively. Then took water, some nuts, yogurt, an apple and two slices of bread.
Almost miraculously, I have no injuries. I only have some painful bruises in my butt, which are puzzling me because I had skin tights on ?... I think my legs are finally strong. Or are they?
So, anyways, I will probably do a recovery run on Tuesday then a 20K on Thursday before a last 24K on Sunday.
I am eager to join weight watchers who are in the 70s and I think I will be firmly with them on Tuesday.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I am Close...5K PR 20:21 and 15K 69:11

We went running on the track yesterday. There was 9 of us: Three ladies and six struggling odd men. Anyways, we started late; at 5:45. My pacesetter, Sikuku was up to the task but unbeknown to me, he didn't have lunch. So after a blistering 5K, which we cleared in 20:21, (my current PR) he faded and I had to clear the next 10K without someone to pace with. It went well though. A double stitch hit me at the 10Km mark, which I crossed at a sluggish 46mins but I struggled on and picked up at the 12th K mark and finished the 15Kays in 69:11mins. I was happy. I was satisfied and proud because my goal was anything sub 70mins.
No injuries so I should be doing the 25K on Sunday.
I checked McMillan's calculator with my 15K time and it says I should be able to clear 20K in 1:34. I think my running yesterday was erratic and I could have got a better time with more consistency.

Here is my schedule. A few more runs left to the marathon.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Just Realized that I like Alexander Mahone. A Helluva Lot

I am a Prison Break fan. That has always meant I love the storyline and the actors and the punchlines and action sequences. I have been fascinated by Michael Schofield's, quiet, deep character with his shadowy green eyes. I was moved by his emotional connection with people and especially with his brother Link. I liked scenes where, after Michael has gone through a difficult moment, or after Michael has done something full of self-sacrifice for his brother, and Link wants to thank Michael or console him, and Link looks at him with grave eyes and starts "Michael..." and Michael says "I know."
I found that to be too deep and moving.

Michael Schofield

Then there was TBag and his brilliance and excellent linguistic skills marred by his murderous padeophilic character. Mane people still liked him despite his ill side because he was emotional, he was a coward who could do brave things like kill the sodomizer in the prison cell etc. I loved the head prison warden of Fox River, the most decent man I have seen on film.

I also like Sucre and his puppy love for Mario Cruz who he could do anything for. I mean anything. And Bellick who was selfish, short sighted but still witty.
But at season 4, one character has emerged head and shoulders over all the rest and that is Alexander Mahone (William Fitchner).
Alex has always been there from Season One but his acting has steadily won many, in fact, he is overshadowing the main character, Michael Schofield.
I like Alex because he is weak. He is weak because he is addicted to drugs. Because he is weak, we can connect with him because he reflects human frailty. He also loves his ex-wife to death and she is the reason he is still willing to live. He is also very strong because he has a steely determination and a will of iron. Once he sets out to do something, he does it, if it kills him. He is also loyal to those loyal to him. Those who screw him over have to be ready to deal with the consequences. He also beats the rest of the PB crew because his emotions come through. One william Fitchner fan writes:

"This episode, albeit an enjoyable one, served to showcase one of the more blaring downfalls of this series — the mediocre acting. The only one who manages to put on a superior acting exercise every time he’s in front of the camera is William Fichtner, who plays Alex Mahone. Fichtner doesn’t just embody his character when he has lines that need to be delivered, but he becomes this character even when he’s in the background contemplating or listening to the other characters engage. That is a true mark of a thespian of high caliber. Fichtner also has the ability to emote and show expressively what his character is feeling with the right amount of nuance and color. Sadly, having Fichtner in scenes with the other actors, notably Wentworth Miller, only makes it glaringly obvious that Miller doesn’t really have the talent to stand up to Fichtner’s remarkable acting prowess in their scenes together."

I think I agree. I like the character Alex Mahone. But the directors will probably kill him to ensure Michael remains the lead character.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Strength Excercises Obama cleans out McBush

I was up early to watch the Obama McBush debate and I was pleased as Obama wiped the floor with McBush. McBush looked older than he was, he was stuck to referring to the 60s and 70s, he disrespectfully called Obama "that one", he made strange, bland jokes, he was condescending as he kept repeating that Obama didn't understand and he appeared insincere, trapped and snarky.
At any rate, Obama nailed his ass and has widened the gap between the two of them in opinion polls and battleground states.
I think McBush is pitiful and I have this sad feeling that it is slowly sinking to him that he has lost this election. He is desperate, he has run out of ideas and he feels entitled to win but he is losing.
Thoughts & Analysis Of The Second Obama/McCain Presidential Debate says it all.
I did push ups, crunches, squats, calf raises and heel/toe walks and some little stretching. I almost tore my muscles yesterday with some overzealous stretching. I have a 15K battle tomorrow and I am psyching myself for it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

New PRs: 5K in 21.46 and the 10K in 44.27

I was up at 4.45am and took a banana and some water then stretched. Obama and McBush are set to debate again tonight. After calling a colleague who had asked me to call him to join me in my run, I hit out at around 5.05am (why do people who have no intention to run insist on being "alerted"?).
Anyways, the tarmac is always exciting because of its flatness, its reliability (consistency), its grip under the shoes and its openness - no hidden stones, holes or bumps. It leaves everything to you. In the clean and crisp morning air with little traffic and quiet, nothing is more welcoming and absorbing. Its liberating to lose oneself in it. After three clean days off running, I wanted to break both my 5K and 10K PR.
Anyways, I did a sluggish first Kilometer which is at a hilly section and took close to 5mins during which time two gazelles, er, runners, glided past me effortlessly.
They have always done that for the past two years. A lean tall one leading with long strides and a shorter one trailing him. From their strides and grace, one can tell they are not in my league. As I tried to keep up with them, we glided past a surprised lady running slowly who seemed to wonder who the heck we were.
Anyways, I was feeling good and decided to hang onto them without killing myself. They went past me but I kept them in sight until the 3Km mark then I lost visual contact with them. It was better than the past interactions when they would zoom past me and disappear within a couple of minutes from my vision as If I am standing still. But I was okay to let them drift away because my watch indicated that I was surpassing my past times.
Anyways, I competed successfully against myself and broke my PRs: I cleared the 5K in 21.46 mins and the 10K in 44.27 mins. This is great but I will confirm it on Thursday on the track where the exact distance is known. I will be attempting a 15K in 1hr 10mins. The most important thing is to be able to clear the first 10K in 45mins or less. I felt some tugs like injuries in gestation but shifted my efforts from one leg to the other to completion. I hope on Thursday, no damn injury rears its gratuitous and unwelcome head up.
At any rate, I am slightly optimistic that I can do 15K in under 1:10 mins (70 mins). MacMillan's running calculator says I can do it in 68.52.51 mins. I hope that the calculation is right. I have uploaded the relevant section and helpfully highlighted it below.