Tag Archive for running

Is There a Trainer in the House?

I had a good run tonight. I’m repeating Week 3 of the Cool Running Couch-to-5k-Run Progam, and as I burned through the first 200-yard stretch tonight I thought I was toast. I got my head right by the end, though, and pushed through the last 400 yards and stacked on a few extra yards for good measure.

The problem is my right leg is killing me. My left’s a little achy, but my right is hurtin’. It might be shin splints, but I’m starting to worry it’s skeletal rather than muscular this time around. Each impact brought a zap of pain, so I started concentrating on the way my foot hit the track. I’m not 100% sure, but it feels like I’m landing flat-footed and rolling onto the ball of my foot a little too quickly.

I’ve read a few sources discussing the proper stride, but my question is how do you train that stride. I try to alter my stride on the track, but it’s tough; I keep falling back into the bad habit. That makes me wonder if I’ve got tight muscles or screwy joints that are preventing me from doing it right. If so, what should I be doing to correct this?

I let an ingrown toenail get out of control a decade ago, and I dealt with it for far too long by limping around. Then I did it again with the other foot a year or so later. That screwed up my gait for a long time. I caught myself walking on the outside edges of my feet and not rolling off the front of my foot, and I’m worried this may be a lingering problem.

So, again, any trainers in the house?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

I Shall Call Him Mini Me

Nike+ has added a new feature to their website, the Nike Mini, which is a customized, animated avatar that reflects your energy level. You can check out my Mini here.

Cute little devil, ain’t he? He’s a better dancer than I am, too. I’ve just made him the screen saver on my iMac, so if he starts slowing down or running of out energy, I’ll know I need to get my ass back on the track. The program’s still in beta, but I’m hoping in the future I’ll be able to add him to my sidebar as a small Flash applet or something; it’ll be more interesting than the current Nike+ goal window.

Speaking of, those of you who visit my website directly (as opposed to reading in RSS or on MySpace) may have noticed the return of the Nike+ goal window. I’ve set another goal for 10 runs in 4 weeks. I may bump that up next time, but for now with Wizard World coming up at the end of the month and a probable short trip next month, 10 runs in 4 weeks is a reasonable goal.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

And I Lived to Tell About It

A month ago, I made it a goal to run 10 times in 4 weeks. Having never been a runner, I wasn’t sure I’d make it.

Tonight I’m happy to report I just barely met the goal:

Tonight’s run was very uneven (I didn’t drink near enough fluids this weekend and my calves are paying the price), but it’s there and it turned out to be my longest distance so far. 3.41km may not sound like a lot to many people, but I think it’s pretty damn good for a 200+ pound guy who’s about as fond of running as the Pope is of death metal music.

On a side note, I’ve only been posting occasional workout or fitness information here because I don’t want to bore anyone with it. For those of you who are interested in more detail, some friends and I have started up a separate blog called Burn With Us. The contributors are all looking to get in better shape, and we felt a group blog would be a great way to encourage one another and share our experiences. Drop on by and check it out.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Lose the Gut, Save Your Mind

A follow-up to some old studies on belly size has shown there’s a possible link between obesity and dementia. This seems to coincide with a new study demonstrating a relationship between insulin and Alzheimer’s; if you’re at risk for diabetes, you may be at risk for Alzheimer’s.

That’s all I needed to hear to get out on the track or on the mat more often. If there’s one thing I fear about getting old, it’s losing my mind. Even if I were to lose function in my arms or legs, I could still find a way to write and create. If I were to become a vegetable, then that would be a lot more difficult. I can’t even begin to imagine what Terry Pratchett is going through.

I’d read about the insulin relationship before, and while it wasn’t the main reason I started exercising a couple of years ago, this new study is bumping the priority up some. Physical handicaps are easy to overcome, relatively speaking. If we lose our minds, that’s all she wrote. If a little bit of running is all that’s required to keep my brain in shape, then I think I can handle it.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Done Already?

Spring Break is officially over. I work in education so I got the week off, but it went by so fast it felt like just another weekend. It was one of those weeks I was constantly on the move, out running around for one reason or another or working on things at home. Today we even did spring cleaning and rearranged the living room.

I made fitness a priority, though. I still made it to my karate classes, and if you check out the Nike+ badge on the right you’ll see I managed to keep up on the running program as well. On Monday I visited the doc for a brief check-up, and on Tuesday I got my cholesterol checked (borderline total/HDL/LDL numbers, but triglycerides were nice and low). Not too shabby.

We upgraded the family ride this week. We had a bland, boring minivan and now we have one that’s a little closer to a man’s van. No flame job or anything like that, but it’s black and it has a lot of the electronic gadgets like navigation, Sirius satellite radio, and drop-down video screens for the rugrats. It also has a bigger set of balls under the hood, so I feel a lot less like a closet soccer mom when I’m sitting behind the wheel.

As of this week, I’m jamming the Blu-ray on an upgraded theater setup. I didn’t catch Full Metal Jacket in the theaters, but watching it in 1080p high definition gave me a craving for a bucket of popcorn. The setup took a while, but it was totally worth it.

Speaking of movies, I snuck out to see Doomsday with a friend. It’s one of those movies that’s so bad it’s good. It’s best described as a cross between 28 Weeks Later, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and, of all things, Robin Hood. I wasn’t particularly taken with that third bit, but I had a blast through the rest of it and I really dug the subtle jokes. Clark, meanwhile, loved it all the way through. It was exactly what we expected and awesome in its badness. (By the way, Doomsday‘s site makes a big deal of it carrying the trailer for the new The Incredible Hulk flick. Meh. Doesn’t seem to be much better than Ang Lee’s lackluster version.)

The rest of the time I visited family, did some shopping, played the buy/pick-up/go-back-and-exchange game with Best Buy, and last night played a couple hours of Halo 3 co-op with some friends online (gotta put the new TV through its paces, don’tcha know).

Did I get any writing done? No. Did I catch up on my comics reading? No. Did I read anything besides magazines on the crapper? No. Those were also my goals for the week, but I did a piss-poor job of making them happen and I’ve been flogging myself for it. I need to finish reading The Road so I can get started on Brian’s Dark Hollow. I feel like magazines, websites, and even the odd style of The Road haven’t been providing the fuel for the writing urge that many books give, so hopefully jumping back into the horror genre with both feet will give me a much-needed jump start.

I wonder if I can get the school board to extend the Break another week…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

And So It Begins

Started the running program tonight.

Did not die.

Actually, it felt pretty good. The alternating run/walk routine was easy to follow without completely wiping me out, and a quick blood pressure check afterward showed a small spike in my systolic digits but the diastolic was fine. I’ve got a slight tightness in my shins, otherwise no pain. Even the late hour, which I worried about at first, proved quiet and relaxing.

My dog, however, thought I was nuts. He may not get invited Wednesday night.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Run for Your Life

Tomorrow, Troy and I officially start the Cool Running Couch-to-5k Running Program. The late cold weather delayed us several times this month, but now it looks like weather for both of us will be more cooperative this week and we’re going to get started. Anyone else feel like joining us?

I spent some time the last few days preparing for the program. I’ve never been much of a runner, so I’m doing everything I can to eliminate excuses and make it as fun as possible before I even get started. I set up some running tunes on my iPod nano (lots of punk and metal), injected a little tech geekery by setting up a Nike+ account, and selected Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell” as my PowerSong.

I’m finding the Nike+ site is flexible with its goals and resolutions, letting experienced runners set up marathons and sprints or allowing folks like me to set simpler goals. For now I’ve set a goal to run 10 times over the next four weeks, which should be a piece of cake if I follow the Cool Running program properly. It recommends running three days a week, so if I stick to it I should hit 12 runs. I’ve made my progress public here, and there’s also a new widget to track my goal in the sidebar of my blog.

I’ve mentioned the plan to several of my friends and family member, and by far the first question they ask is “Why?” Two reasons: lose more weight and to increase my endurance.

I’ve already mentioned I lost about 35 pounds in my first year of karate, and there’s no question it has helped me make dramatic improvements in my overall health. However, my weight loss has kind of stalled out since December. I’m thinking I’m making a trade off by packing on new muscle, but in general I’m floating in the same five-pound range and I wonder if I’ve hit a plateau. A running program should help me get past that point and burn off some more fat.

The endurance is also karate related; when I spar, I come away gasping for breath. The matches rarely go the full two minutes allotted, and they’re mostly bursts of activity rather than constant motion because we’d trade a few blows, one of us would score, and the judge would call a quick stop to award a point and reset. The few times we’ve done Judo matches I’ve been even more exhausted, and in one match my body just about quit on me before the match was over. Don’t get me wrong, I expect to be at least winded. However, I feel like I should be able to last longer than I do, and that I should be less exhausted and recover faster when a match is over.

As a bonus it will help my endurance when we do our hundred front kicks, ideally preparing me for having to do 500 front kicks in a black belt test at some point in the future. It should also be helpful for running strings of wazas in rapid succession. For example, running the first four ippon kumite katas out of kiba dachi for my first review as a blue belt wasn’t terrible, but those numbers will increase as I climb in rank and I’ll perform the technique to multiple directions, so I had best prepare now.

So the motivation is there and my intentions are good. Let’s see if I can’t make this happen.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Plateaus

I hit a definite plateau in my weight loss recently, holding the same weight from late December through the middle of February. I thought I was going to have to start the running program before I saw any change, but then I got sick. That fever and infection knocked seven pounds off me in a week, and I’ve only gained one back since I started feeling better on Monday.

The good news is I didn’t let that plateau discourage me. I practiced my karate as often and as hard as ever, and I continued to set the same weight goal for January and February rather than trying to compromise and find a middle ground. Now that I feel better, I may up the intensity of those workouts and see if I can’t sweat a little more.

I expect the running program will be the next real breakthrough, though. I like that it’s simple and realistic, especially given that I normally hate running. I like how the goal is just to do it, not attach any kind of speed or time limit to it. That should help me burn some weight as well as build up my endurance for sparring matches and our more intense karate class workouts.

I’m also happy to report the same plateau didn’t hit my karate progress. I learned a new speed form that I struggled with at first. Given I spent all of last week on my ass, I worried I’d have some trouble with it again. Fortunately on Tuesday night, the first of two review nights this week, I was able to bang it right out on request, and I nailed it the first time through. Same goes for the two new Judo throws I had to demonstrate. Not too shabby.

Tonight’s the second review, and I’ll finish it by interpreting my kata, Anaku, and doing some form sparring. I’ve been reviewing the interpretation in my head most of the day, so I should do fine. If all goes well, I’ll make my next belt in April.

If anything demonstrates I’m not stuck on a plateau, I would think a new belt would be it.

This weekend I buy some new running shoes for the running program. The high school staff at the district I work for surprised me with a Visa gift card, so I’ll be taking that to the local Dick’s to grab a pair of Nike+ shoes and the Nike+iPod transmitter.

As soon as the warmer weather hits, I hit the track.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Need for a New Maxim

Is anyone else sick of “No pain, no gain!”

I thought that died in the early nineties, but occasionally I’ll hear it pop up again. In most cases it’s at a gym or similar workout setting, and it always makes me think of some steroided-out musclehead getting in someone’s face, thinking it’s going to pump them up. It works for other steroided-out muscleheads, but the rest of us just want to reach for a towel and wipe the guy’s spittle off our face.

Not to mention the idea of pain makes Average Joe all the more reluctant to get off his duff and start working out. It’s exactly what makes a lot of people say “To Hell with this! I’ll eat what I want and die happy.”

There is truth in the quote, though. It comes from Nietzsche’s “What does not kill me makes me stronger.” In fitness, if you’re not getting outside your comfort level, you’re not doing yourself any favors. You need to get outside of that comfort zone, to force your body to adapt to new levels of activity, if you want to see any improvement.

Working on the stretching machine in karate class last night, however, it occurred to me there’s a fine line between discomfort and pain. When I cranked the machine out to the point my legs were just a bit tight, I was at still in my natural range of motion (albeit the limit of that range). I can already do it, so stopping there isn’t going to make me any more flexible or get my kicks any higher. I cranked the machine a bit further and I started to feel a strong pull. It was uncomfortable, and sure, a little painful, but bearable.

It was outside the comfort zone, and a sign I’m pushing for a new limit. Now I’ve got something to adapt to, without it being so unbearable that I want to quit. On this machine, we start at that point, stretch, and then we crank the machine another notch and do it again.

The machine has a handy measurement of the angle of your legs. As I pushed for that third click, I was fine halfway through. When it clicked into place, though, I had a jolt of pain and let out a grunt. It would appear 125 degrees is my absolute limit at the moment, and if I had started there I have no doubt I would never want to put my ass in that machine again. It’s not going to do me any good if I’m afraid to use it.

So I propose a new maxim:

“If you’re not feeling it, you’re not fixing it.”

There’s no reason to be in pain. But if you’re not breathing heavy or working up a good sweat while you’re working, you’re not going to change anything. If you’re not sore in the morning — I’m talking discomfort, not in pain so terrible you can’t move — your body’s not adapting.

Get out there and feel it. Find your limits and exceed them, without killing yourself.

I hope I can remember that when I start that 5k run program next month…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

2008: The Year to Come

It’s been an interesting start to the year already, but there’s a lot on the horizon.

For starters, Muy Mal is officially back, complete with a rockin’ new look provided by Russ Dickerson. John and Weston have already posted their first contributions and mine won’t be far behind. I’ll be wrapping up Down Vendetta Road and sometime this Spring I’ll tackle the next volume of Bastard Precinct. Our plan is to tie up all the loose ends on the site by June.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve got two book releases due. The German edition of Deadliest of the Species, Das Tödliche Geschlecht, will be released soon, and I’m writing a novella to go on the back of a second book that I’ll be able to announce soon.

I’ve signed the signature sheets for both In Laymon’s Terms and Brimstone Turnpike, so we should finally see them on the market. It’s been so long for both of them that I’m a little worried they will no longer be representative of my current writing style (especially In Laymon’s Terms), but that’s just part of the business. I dug around, and it turns out I was hoping to see the release of both books at least three years ago. Argh. ILT contains a short story and Brimstone has a novella.

I actually made progress on the To Fight With Monsters front, completing To Confront the Enemy over the fall. To Rise from the Ashes is next, and the whole package will go to a publisher as soon as possible.

There’s a spark of interest in Powerless, which I’ve decided will be my next novel. I’ve written two other novels since Deadliest, but I’m really not happy with either and they’d just about have to be rewritten from the ground up. Given I’m more excited about Powerless and it needs the same amount of work, I may as well pour my concentration into it. At the moment, all I’ve written on it so far is printed and waiting for me to edit and reintroduce myself to. There’s at least one chapter that will be excised, one that will be chopped in half, and then I need to tweak the location and geography throughout.

Last week I sat down with a publisher and discussed several things. It’s too early to announce anything, but we had a great conversation and we’ll be getting together again soon. Our conversation includes Wounded Gods and at least one other project which I’ll slap with the working title The Shattered Man. I’m excited about the direction we’re headed in, and if it continues I’ll be talking a lot more about these projects soon.

That’s only the projects already lined up, of course. The next step is to build toward the future, to put together some more sales and make sure 2009 will look as promising as 2008 does.

On a personal note, I’ll be continuing my karate training. If I work hard, I could (and should) be a purple belt by the end of the year, which is two ranks from my current blue belt. I’m also going to try to attend more kendo classes at my school, and I may even explore aikido in the fall if a local community college continues to offer it.

I’ve officially changed the Fatty post category to Fitness. I think losing 30 pounds last year has earned me that much. This year I’m setting a smaller goal to cut 20 more. When the weather warms up, I’m going to try to motivate myself to try the Couch-to-5K-Running Plan. It’s a long shot because I hate running, but I’m realizing it’s the best way to both cut weight and improve cardiovascular health. I’m trying to think of it as a good way to improve my endurance for karate class and sparring matches, too.

I’m going to try — again — to do more with my camera. I consider myself an amateur photographer at best, but I really do enjoy taking and sharing pictures. I’ve still got a lot to learn about digital post-processing, so that’s one of the areas I’ll concentrate on this year. It’s also high time I start saving up for a good DSLR camera and dump my aging, point-and-shoot PowerShot G2. If I get active enough I’ll start a Photography category on this blog.

That about covers it. I’d say it’s more than enough to keep me busy this year, too.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.