Friday, July 25, 2008

Bodyweight 500

Unrelated to my normal obsession with workouts, I'm going to talk about work for a minute. Last night, I made a presentation to the Board of Trustees of the hospital where I work. It was a short presentation about a project that I've been working on for the past 18 months. I wasn't able to report to them that things have been an overwhelming success, but I think we're doing the right thing and making slow but steady progress on some performance improvement techniques.

My boss was nervous about the presentation and she and I worked together all week to re-word my slides. I was looking forward to making the presentation; it's something that I really love to do. Yet my boss, who was only introducing me and then observing, seemed worried.

I only had 15 minutes and I spent the first 3 minutes or so on a "Why am I here right now" story - giving the history of my involvement in the project and why I like it so much. Then, I went into the meat of the presentation. Along the way, I picked on our CEO in front of the board. I also picked on my wife, who was taking the minutes of the meeting. And, I included a story about my daughter near the end. I really enjoyed making the presentation.

When my wife got home from the meeting, she told me that she'd heard positive things about the presentation after I was gone. Of course, people aren't going to tell my wife directly that I gave a crappy presentation, if that were the case.

Many, many years ago, I started a doctoral program in mathematics at Penn State - a top 10 program at the time. Financially, it was difficult for me, but the reality is, I wasn't really mature enough to handle that level of program at that point in time. All my life, I'd gotten by on smarts rather than hard work, and suddenly, for the first time in my life, everyone around me was really, really smart, plus they all had great work ethics. I was overwhelmed and bailed out of the program.

Yet, the reason I'd gone into the program was because I wanted to teach. I know that my friend Ollie, a math professor finds many frustrations in teaching math at the college level, but I've always enjoyed teaching, no matter what the subject.

I love the ski teaching I do in the winter, where I know that I'm a better teacher than I am a skier. The program at work I was discussing last night is a program where I do most of the teaching within our hospital. I really enjoy the work and I think we're making good progress. Yet, I have to make sure that my love of teaching doesn't blind me to the real progress (or lack thereof) in this program.

Anyway, enough about work. This morning, I did the Bodyweight 500 workout for the first time in a few months. It took me 41:13 vs. 43:38 last time, so I was faster. Yet, in some ways, I don't think I did some of the lifts as well. My form on inverted rows was not as good as last time. And, I did very heavy lat pulldowns instead of pull-ups and chin-ups. I added some Abmat sit-ups, but didn't add the burpees I'd planned to add. Gaining just a few pounds since I left for Western States, and doing less weight training has really cut into my chin-up and pull-up ability.

Tomorrow morning, I'll do a moderate pace 12 miler before heading to Fenway for the Red Sox-Yankees game.


Speed Racer said...

I think it would take me 45 minutes just to do the pull-ups alone! Man, it seems like everyone's doing their strength training for time these days, but the day I thought I'd see an ultrarunner do it...!

Is the weight training just a vanity thing, or do you find it helps with your running. I'm going to try to do the 50 at Stone Cat this year. Any suggestions other than just "run a lot"? Body weight exercises for time?

Damon said...

Most of my strength workouts are not based on time. I use a lot of workouts from a book called The New Rules of Lifting. There is a version for women as well that my wife uses for most of her lifting workouts.

I use lifting for two primary purposes. The first is that lifting helps me to drop fat mass, a battle I constantly fight. When I only do long, slow workouts, it's easy for me to gain weight. Lifting or short interval work is a much different kind of stress that helps me with my weight.

Also, I'm 20 years older than you are, and I've run 40K miles in the past 23 years. I've started to notice creaks and groans from the body and I started to worry about injuries from accumulated miles and advancing age. Last year, I decided to try lifting to see if it would help me to balance out some muscle groups and hopefully help me to stay injury free. I was very surprised to see that I started to see benefits in my running as well, especially on the ups and downs. So, I try to lift 3 times per week now, but if I use iron for all 3 workouts, it takes a lot out of me. By doing the fast bodyweight day for one of my 3 workouts, I don't end up so beat up from the gym.

Anyway, the lifting certainly has a vanity element, but it helps me as a runner as well. When I was your age, I didn't lift at all and I stayed healthy. But, I'm finding it more valuable now.

As for Stone Cat, it's a great race that I've run 4 times. It's not super hilly (1250' of climbing per loop), but the trails are technical - way more technical than Pineland Farms. I'd suggest finding some technical trails to train on and spend time there focusing on footwork and getting your muscles adapted to the odd foot placements that you'll make on tough trails. You have a great base as your cycling has shown, but trail runs on tough trails can really beat you up if you don't train on similar terrain.