My fitness re-boot has been going a little slower than I’d hoped in the beginning, but if yesterday’s workout is any indication of how things will be going, then I’m really excited. I started with my StrongLifts 5×5 workout with 75 sit-ups (total) done between my squats and 7 assisted pull-ups (up from only 4 on Friday). I also did some barbell curls during and after the workout.
I then went out and ran 2 miles in the 95-degree heat. It wasn’t nearly as hard as it was on Friday, and that made me feel great. There was one point during the run where I actually felt okay. Not great, and nowhere near a “Runner’s High,” but I felt good. My first mile pace was also the fastest since my surgery, and my overall two-mile time was also the fastest.
What gave me the most hope, however, is how I felt afterward: I felt good. My limbs had that “Recently worked out” feeling to them, but I wasn’t in pain. More importantly, when I woke up this morning, I felt decent. Again, I still had the post-workout soreness, but nothing more.
That bodes well for the rest of the next three months as I prepare for Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC) in October. I need to be able to participate in daily PT, and I need to be at a decent level of fitness to not embarrass myself. Now, I’m confident I’ll get there.
Tomorrow, I will outline my fitness plan in detail. It’s something I developed through trial and error, and it’s a plan designed primarily for people over 50 (but truthfully, I think it’ll work for anyone and will even give better results for younger people). It’s been proven to work for me three times, and now on my fourth time, I’m seeing the same results already only three weeks in.
This morning at 5:30 a.m., the alarm went off for me to wake up for my run. I really didn’t want to do it; the bed was comfy, it was warm, and it just felt nice to lay in bed. But, I have set Alexa to tell me the weather when I stop the alarm, and something she said stirred me; “The temperature is 71 degrees. Expect thunderstorms and a high temperature of 89 degrees with a low of 71.” I knew what this meant; 71 was the coolest it was going to be all day.
I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get a nice, cool run in. Especially here in Texas where it gets very hot in July, taking advantage of cool mornings is not something you take lightly. I pulled myself up and out of bed and got dressed. I stepped outside and felt the cool, albeit humid air, and smiled. “This run is going to be perfect,” I thought to myself.
As soon as my GPS watch was synchronized with the satellites, I took off for my run. I’ve been running a 2-mile course during my recovery and rebuilding period, and I set out for that same course with a goal of being a little faster than the last three runs. With that said, I didn’t really push myself hard. It’s not time for me to do that yet. But I did make sure that I was moving well.
When I hit the half-way point, I found that I’d cut over a minute off my previous one-mile time. That felt great! I knew my second mile would be slower, but that didn’t deter or dissuade me from continuing with a comfortable pace, pushing only as far as to run within my comfort zone. I also decided that I was feeling amazing, and that adding a little bit of distance would be a good thing. My goal is to run 4 miles per run, so adding a little distance every few runs is part of my long-term plan. I added a quarter of a mile, and when I finished, I found that I’d cut two minutes off my two-mile time.
I did my quarter-mile cool-down walk, and when I got in the house for my shower, I found that I felt great. No muscle pain, not winded, and generally mentally sharp and ready for my day.
As I look back on the series of events that took place this morning, it’s funny to me that there was a moment when I almost stayed in bed and skipped this run. I’m glad that I didn’t.
Mentally, I’ve been struggling with motivation. I’ve allowed myself to talk myself out of runs lately, and I found it’s because I’ve had an aversion to adding to the pain my body is in. I decided to go back to an old trick I used when I first started running; I tell myself repeatedly throughout the day whenever I think about running and start feeling any kind of dread that I am fortunate that I can still run; I get to run.
I get to run.
In other words, I am not only able to run, but I’m healthy enough to be able to run. I’m physically fit enough to run. I’m not injured, and I’m not disabled. I’m not wounded and I’m not dead.
I get to run.
So I run. After I repeat this to myself over and over throughout the day, I find that it changes my mindset and when the time comes to make the decision to run or not run, I am far more likely to decide to run. The decision is easier, and it even affects my attitude and performance throughout my run.
Our mindset is the most important ingredient to our success. We become what we believe, and what we think. If we think we can’t do something, the chances of us being able to do it are decreased.
If you want to make a serious change in your life or just get back to some good habits, start telling yourself that you can do it, that it’s a good thing, and that you get to do it. There are many out there who don’t have that ability or luxury, and you should treasure it.
Those were the words my daughter left me with on Friday afternoon as I ended our call before I went on post to attend my first official week of Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS). I had expressed to her some anxiety and a little bit of fear about some of the physical aspects of the training I was about to undertake. Later that day, I was to take the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) which is a newly-implemented fitness test that currently has a high failure rate. I had taken one three weeks prior, but I was unable to complete one primary event (the leg-tuck) and had to substitute it with a 2-minute plank (which I was able to complete).
I had set my goal on improving each of the six areas of the ACFT which include:
Repetition Strength Deadlift (three deadlifts)
Standing Power Throw (throw a 10 lbs medicine ball behind you)
Arm Extension Push-Up
250-Meter Sprint, Drag, Carry
The 2-mile Run
My results last time were good enough to pass:
140 lbs deadlift
7.2m standing power throw
20 arm extension push-ups
2:30 250m sprint-drag-carry
0 leg tucks, but successful 2-minute plank
19:47 2-mile run
Those were good, but personally, not good enough. I wanted to not only be able to show improvement through my efforts between drills, but I wanted to push myself to improve for personal reasons. I never like passing any sort of assessment with bare minimums; I want to have some wiggle room just in case I’m not able to perform at my best, I know I can still pass. So, I put in the work, and the following were my results:
180 lbs deadlift
8.5m standing power throw
26 arm extension push-ups
2:12 250m sprint-drag-carry
4 leg tucks
19:17 2-mile run
These are good improvements, but I’m setting a goal for myself to reach the next level of success. There are three levels of testing: Moderate, Significant, and Heavy. As a Warrant Officer, we are required to pass the ACFT at the Moderate, or “Gold” standard which is:
140 lbs deadlift
4.5m standing power throw
10 extension push-ups
3:00 250m sprint-drag-carry
1 leg tuck
21:00 2-mile run
The Significant standard is:
180 lbs deadlift
6.5m standing power throw
20 extension push-ups
2:30 250m sprint-drag-carry
3 leg tucks
19:00 2-mile run
Comparing my results against the Significant standard, I completed everything go Significant standard except for the run. For me to get there, I just needed to run a little faster. It is kind of painful knowing I missed making the significant standard by 17 seconds. 17 seconds is what seperated me from making significant standard across the board.
However, like anything, I have a goal, and I have a process to get me there. I will continue to train and push myself to attain the results I want. Will I ever make it to Heavy standard? Here’s what it takes for the Heavy standard:
200 lbs deadlift
8m standing power throw
30 extension push-ups
2:10 250m sprint-drag-carry
5 leg tucks
18:00 2-mile run
I think that getting the deadlift will be easy. My workouts will have me at 200 lbs deadlifts within the week, so doing a three-lift repetition for the test when I do 5 lift repetitions will be easy. I already can meet the standing power throw, and getting to 30 push-ups shouldn’t be problematic. The 2:10 sprint-drag-carry is a goal I’m already very close to, and with some more High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), I should be able to meet that standard. I’m only 1 leg tuck away from meeting the 5 leg tucks standard, and I think I will be able to get there and beyond soon enough. The most challenging of the six events for me will be the 2-mile run in 18 minutes. I have short legs, and running has never been my forte. However, I’ve actually run as fast as 16:47 in my two-mile runs in the past, but not after a smoke session like the ACFT.
The ACFT, unlike the older Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) is an endurance event that tests not only our physical capabilities and strength, but also our ability to balance our effort between the six events. If I smoke myself on the deadlifts to get a high score, that could detrimentally effect my ability to complete the sprint-drag-carry and the 2-mile run later in the test.
So, how does my daughter come into play with my experience this past friday with the ACFT? It’s because her words echoed to me throughout the entire text period. Every time I had some sort of doubt in myself or my abilities, I heard her saying, “You’re stronger than you think you are. You’ve got this.” Every time I heard those words, I pushed harder. I didn’t want to let her down, and I also needed to take her words to heart. It’s easy to slow down on a run when you’re feeling tired, but her words made me analyze how I was feeling. Am I out of breath? No; just breathing hard. Are my legs smoked? A little, but they aren’t sore or hurting. Can I push a little harder? Probably; let’s do this!
I challenge anyone reading this to consider that you are stronger than you think you are. There is more inside you than you likely are willing to admit, or want to admit. It’s easy to slow down or to stop, but if you slow down and aren’t breathing hard or aren’t exerting yourself during exercise, are you realling going to get the results you’re after? My dad always used to say if you’re going to do something, do it right the first time. That can apply to exercise: put in the work, and make it good, solid work. You will never see the results you’re after unless you push yourself, and the strength within you is greater than you think.
When I was in boot camp, the drill instructors would sing songs they called “Jodies,” and I remember one of the verses went like this:
Up in the morning with the rising sun,
We’re gonna run all day ’til the running’s done.
Mile one; just for fun
Mile two; just for you
Mile three; a PFT
Good for you; not for me
Mile four; want some more
Mile five; I feel alive
Mile six; just for kicks
Mile seven; I’m in heaven
Mile eight; feels great
Mile nine; doin’ fine
Mile ten; let’s do it again
Ooh-rah; feels good; oh yeah!
So, I never get past the “…a PFT,” on my runs, but it’s good enough. Many times when I’m running, even if I’m listening to music, my mind will wander, and I will hear these Jodies as sung by my drill instructors going on in my head. I hear their voices, their motivation, their yelling at us to keep up the pace. 32 years later, I find myself bringing up the pace to not let them down.
I ran hard yesterday. Probably the biggest effort I’ve put into a run in about a year, and I surprised myself. I also tried a new breathing technique that didn’t tie itself to my steps. Usually, since running in the military forces you to have to time your breathing so you can sing on cue, you get used to running with a pattern of breathing. This is good, because it helps build stamina. But for speed running, it’s not quite so good. Yesterday, I let myself breathe as I needed while running as hard and as fast as I could. The result was the fastest two miles I’ve run in nearly a year, and a great 3 mile time.
I felt good afterward, and as I did my nearly mile-long cool-down walk with the dog (who always enjoys my post-run walks), I looked at my run data on Strava and found that my heart rate stayed about 20 BPM lower than slower runs where I tied my breathing to my steps. It seems that the key to running faster for me is to breathe independent of my steps and more in line with the effort I’m pushing with.
This is earth-shattering.
I have, as I have mentioned yesterday, an APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) coming up in a month, and while I could pass it well today, I want to do my very best on it. I will continue to work hard, and I will crush that APFT. I don’t know if I can beat my last APFT run time, but I’m hoping for it. With a little luck and a lot of sweat, I’ll get there.
As for my weight, I was back down near my lowest this month even after a weekend of food and alcohol. The body is resilient, and if you treat it right, it will reward you. I also feel like a pair of trousers I wore in Ireland and Scotland were much looser today off the hangar than they were when I was there on vacation. So, even if the weight isn’t coming off right now, my size is decreasing (which is good).
Stick with it, keep your eye on your goal, and never waver.
I’ve decided to start a separate blog for my running. I feel that my running is a separate journey from Paleo. Yes, they are connected: Health and fitness go hand in hand. However, my post-run reports are a little more specific to running and more personal in nature, so it makes sense to segregate them.
The url for the new site is running.paleomarine.com. You can visit, subscribe, or ignore. Either way, that’s where my post-run reports will be going from now on. I’ll leave the post-run reports already posted here, but I’ve already migrated them over to the new site as well, so they are all there in one place. I will cross-post from my running blog when it’s applicable here as well.
Today was an interesting run. I set out to take my time and have a comfortable run. I also set out to do over 4 miles, which I did. What surprised me was my pace: 9:34. This is within my happy range. I am able to consistently run within the 9:30’s, which is good for a comfortable slow run. When I kick it up, I can hit sub-9’s, which is my PRT goal (that’s what they call PFT’s in the Army/National Guard).
As for push ups, I did 70 and called it good. I could have knocked out the last 10, but I wasn’t feeling it. The day was long and a little stressful, so I felt I could use an easy workout day. Oddly, running 4.13 miles felt good, and the last mile was really very pleasant.
I’m getting the hang of this running thing more and more. I can’t say I love it when I start a run, but by the end of it, it’s actually pretty nice, and when I finish? Even better. It’s a great sense of accomplishment, and the stress or anxious feelings I’ve carried with me for the day all melt away. After a nice hot shower and then dinner, all is good with the world.
I’m grinning like an idiot because I achieved one of my big goals in running: I had an average pace tonight in 3+ miles of 8:57!!! My first half mile split was 8:08, second half mile split was 9:00, and the third split was 8:42. From there, I had TWO 9:06 minute half miles followed by the slowest (ha!) which was a 9:30. All in all, it was a hard run as I pushed myself to keep my pace up, but it was well worth it! I’ve been wanting to hit sub-9’s, and I did it!
As for push up, I also hit a new personal best: 80! Once again, these were easy and without really pushing or straining. I could do more possibly, but I am really happy to be progressing without feeling spent afterward.
As for post-run, I do feel a bit tired in my leg muscles, but it’s not any worse than usual. Again, I didn’t really go all-out, but I did keep myself right at the top end of my comfort level and didn’t push past it.
I feel great. This is a huge accomplishment for me. I ran an actual USMC run pace for the entire run. Had this been a PFT run, I’d have done it in 26:35 which would have been a pass for me when I was 31. Now at 49, it’s actually a decent time! I’m hoping to hit low 8’s by summer. I don’t know if I’ll get into the 7’s, but being in the 8’s is a happy place for me and soundly puts me into the category of “Runner.” I never thought that would be me, yet I’m happy to be here. Ecstatic, truth be told.
Last Friday, I had more personal bests in the first half-mile pace and overall pace: 9:10! I’m SO CLOSE to getting sub-9’s, I can taste it! I also discovered something again on this run. As I ran, I set a breathing pace (I know it sounds weird; stick with me) and whenever I found that I was getting too much oxygen, I would run harder to match the oxygen intake to output. It really worked to keep me going fast!
As I run, I tend to forget to keep focus on either my pace, my breathing, or sometimes even both. I feel like I now have a decent grasp on how to keep myself going as fast as I physically can without going past a certain “You’re going to hurt yourself” barrier. I also found a small lake I can run around that keeps me safely away from streets and even sidewalks where kids play. It’s a little boring running in circles, but it helps me keep the pace up and with my headphones on, I can listen to a podcast or some music in safety.
I’m looking forward to today’s run. After Friday’s run, my legs felt tired. Not too tired, but definitely a post-workout kind of feel. They were still a bit sore yesterday as well. Today, they feel ready to go, and I’m ready to stretch ’em out and let ’em loose!
In the push ups department, I stuck at 70 again. I may go to 75 today; we’ll see. But 70 is my new minimum. I feel pretty good about that.
I’m really proud of today’s run. Once again, I hit a record pace, and I was only 6 seconds away from breaking a 9 minute mile for the first half and only 15 seconds from breaking a 9 minute mile for the first mile. My average pace for the 3.81 miles was 9:26 which is better than my last run by a whole second (lol). I’ll take it! I was worried about being able to run with any kind of speed today as I still had some muscle burn from my Monday night run, but once I got going, I was able to push and keep my pace up.
I started with 70 comfortable push ups, which was nice, too. I could have ripped out at least another 10 more, but I’d have been worn out afterward, so I stopped at 70. Maybe 75 or 80 next time. But the biggest victory came after the run was done. I weighed myself and hit a new all-time low: 173.5 lbs!!! I couldn’t believe it!!! I’m super-psyched to finally start seeing some movement on the scale again! That makes a total of 135 lbs lost so far!
I felt great after the run as well as hungry, so my son and I went to a local food establishment called Nik’s and I had some salad with vinegar and oil, grilled redfish with grilled shrimp, grilled veggies, and sweet potato fries. I am stuffed right now, but it’s all good Paleo-friendly food, and in the grand scheme of things, while filling, there’s not a lot of calories in it. The calories that are there are all good, whole food calories.
I’m forgoing any treat I would have had after a reasonably sized dinner. The dinner, in and of itself, was a treat that I won’t repeat anytime soon (but it was delicious!).
Tonight’s run was another one that made me really happy. I ran it with the average pace I was shooting for: under 9:30 (I got an average pace of 9:27!!!). It’t not my fastest, but it’s very, very close (fastest was a 9:24 pace for 3.53 miles). This is, however, the first run I’ve had yet that every split (half mile) was under 9:30! That was my goal, and I did it!
The best part: the fun felt great. I felt myself pushing, but not over-exerting. My breathing was good, and the legs felt good. They were just on the very edge of pushing hard, but not quite. It felt amazing.
On the push up front, I only did 70. I’m okay with this, though. My goal is 80, but I’m sure I’ll get there within the month. There’s no rush to 80.
If you think you can’t do it, or that you can’t ever like running or any kind of exercise, think again. I can point you to ALL of my friends who all heard me say for the past year that I’ll never get into exercise. Yet, here I am, and it feels great. I love how I feel afterward, and I love how much stronger I am.