Sunday, July 22, 2018

Alcohol-Free Weekend and Perception of Time

These days I feel time ticks a lot slower than it used to. I attribute this change in my perception of time to my recent weekends being alcohol-free.

When you are under the influence of alcohol, a relaxed moment lasts only for a moment, and as time goes by, depending on the amount of alcohol you take of course, you come to feel tired and sleepy, and can nod off before you know it. When you wake up again, hours have already passed, and after you wake up, it's hard to get immediately active because your system is tired from breaking down the alcohol from the previous night. As a result your active time gets shortened. This sucks.

On the other hand, when you have no alcohol in your system, your mind is sharp and your body active.

Now ever since I became an owner of a large motorcycle, I have been taking every opportunity to ride the vehicle, and because I want to spend as much time on it as possible, I try not to drink on weekends since they are the only time I can go for a long ride.

Last night, for example, as I had dinner after coming home from work, I had no beer which used to be a regular companion of my weekend dinner. To my surprise there is little crave for it since the prospect of a fun and refreshing midnight ride around town is much more attractive.

Because I do not drink on Saturday nights, I wake up Sunday mornings, feeling very refreshed and full of energy. I am active right from the start, watering my backyard and taking care of the veggies that I'm growing there.

Because my system is not forced to do the extra work of breaking down alcohol on the previous night, it's fully restored and ready to do a challenging workout like this.

Then comes the most refreshing part of the day: traveling from point A to point B on the bike. Time ticks away very slowly when I'm doing what I love doing, undisturbed by anyone. I even let overtake me by pulling over to the side those nearing from behind because I want travel at my comfortable speed, which is usually very, very slow, like 40 to 45 km/h. (Maybe a bit of a disgrace to the monstrously powerful engine of the Vulcan S?)

It's 6:20 p.m. now. And as I'm writing this at a lounge in the AEON mall in Yuukarigaoka, I feel like it is the end of a two-day holiday, because I feel like I have already spend so much time doing so many of my favorite things. But it's not. It's still the middle of the first day of a three-day holiday. I still have two full day-offs to myself. Unbelievable! What a wonderful windfall of an alcohol-free Saturday!

But of course, I'm not saying that I'm going to be a teetotaler. I'm not. I still enjoy drinking socially so long as it is moderate. Chatting with my runner friends over glasses of beer after running races is so much fun. It will continue to be a pleasant part of my life until the day my body's stock of enzyme to break down acetaldehyde is completely depleted.

But still, benefits of alcohol-free weekends seem enormous. I am beginning to suspect that health benefits stand out among others. The quality of sleep, for instance, seems to have improved. My eyes also seem to be less easily tired. My skin generally feels moister and smoother when I do not drink on weekends even though I am inevitably subject to ruthless bashing by aging.

I will continue to take riding over drinking, because it's more fun, and is likely to keep me younger not only at heart but also physically.

Why I Do Muscle Training

My posts here in Caveman's Mindbody Quest center around long-distance running training. But I do muscle training alongside it. There are a number of reasons.

The biggest reason is I don't like the typical runner's physique. It does come across as a fit body, but does not do so as a strong one. I want to project myself not only as a fit person but also as a strong man. The typical runner's physique doesn't do the job well. This is my aesthetic reason.

There is also a physiological reason as well. When your body has a decent amount of muscle mass, it burns a very large number of calories daily through basic metabolism and exercise metabolism. Suppose there are two people of the same weight. One has 10 % less muscle mass than the other. The one with less muscle mass burns fewer calories after doing the exactly same workout. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn from any exercise.

However, there is a demerit as well. In long-distance running, light body weight offers an immediate advantage. Imagine you weigh 63 kg at one time. Then imagine you weigh 61 kg at another time. Suppose your cardio-vascular capacity is the same, you are mostly likely to run a lot faster when you weigh 61 kg. If you weigh 1 kg more as a result of increasing the muscle mass of your chest through muscle training, it means you carry one extra kilogram of dumbbell that makes no positive contribution whatsoever to improving your running ability. So that's bad news if you are trying to renew your PR in a race.

But then again, running my best time is not the most important goal of my fitness endeavor. I want to continue to become a stronger version of myself in terms of many criteria. Endurance is one of them, but not the only thing I'm after. Strength is important. Explosiveness is necessary. Agility is also a must. Flexibility, in my opinion, is also part of the total picture. So I do not want to sacrifice muscle mass too much over the athletic advantage associated with the lightness of the typical runner's physique.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday Night Intervals

It's that time of week again! Thursday night intervals. I was a bit hesitant to do it at first, because I have a corporate seminar starting at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow night, and I should take a good rest for the event. But at the same time I want to keep the promise I have made with myself. So I decided to do it.

The training began with a 20-minute job in split-toe minimalist running shoes MUTEKIs. I had some water after this warm-up run, and walked to the nearby park to do intervals. Tonight's target is 3 K, 2 K, and 1 K all at 4:30/K pace. If I finish in 13:30, my goal is achieved. Last week when I did it, I came back in 13:45, 15 seconds later than the target. So I ran the first lap around the 880 M loop a bit faster than usual. I felt strong because I gave myself a full rest for two days after a 30 K run on Sunday. I maintained the pace and finished the first two laps at a brisk pace. Then I got into the 650 M inner loop to lap it almost twice to cover 3 K. Slowly it became harder to maintain the pace, so I slowed down a little to save some energy for the final kick in the last lap. When I stopped my watch, it said 12:37. That's 53 seconds faster than planned. I ran at 4:18 pace. I was glad. But then the effect of the faster pace immediately showed in the next 2 K session. As soon as I started running after one-minute break, I couldn't pick up the pace at all. I knew a minute was too short a rest to enable a fast run. I decided to give up at 650 M from the start. Instead of carrying on, I chose to do a wrap-up jog twice longer than usual. I ran 6 K in 35:53 without shoes.

The intervals were a miserable failure, but I ran 12 K with a good fast 3 K run in it. I'm not overly exhausted after the training. I'm sure I will wake up tomorrow morning, feeling great.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

What I Do When I Do Not Run

I do a number of things to stay fit when I don't run. I do stretching sometimes. I sometimes simply go for a short walk just to relax. Other times I do high intensity cardio to improve my cardio-vascular capability. Yet other times I do body weight endurance training. This is an example of the last type training. It's one hundred percent body weight. You can do it from home. You need nothing but a towel for the very first back exercise. You can be drenched in a little more than ten minutes, burning many calories. Highly recommended when you had just a little too much to eat late at night but want a flat stomach when you wake up the following morning.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

30 K Run in Socks and Alcohol-Free Sunday

Today is Sunday. Tomorrow is Marine Day, one of Japan's national holidays. For many people in the country it's the middle of a three-day holiday. For me it's the beginning of a two-day holiday because I worked on Saturday.

The day is about to end as it's almost midnight. It was such a fulfilling day, and feels twice as long as most other Sundays as I look back on it. I wonder why. It's probably because I did what I wanted to do. A psychologist once said in a TV program that your psychological sense of time is determined by the number of tasks you assign yourself. If you spend a day with no plans, it ends quickly. On the other hand, if you make plans for the day, and spend the day accordingly, the day feels longer. I feel it makes sense.

I had three goals in mind:
1) Some cardio workout in the daytime
2) Some fun bike ride
3) Blogging
4) 30 K run

They were all executed, and executed well. I'll pick up 4) and write about it below.

<30 K Run in Socks>
Today I ran 30 K in the Oleno running socks manufactured by socks company Showa Meriyasu. According to Katsuaki Inoue, the owner of the company, the Oleno running socks were made to help runners make use of their full potential to run bio-mechanically most naturally. In my understanding, many minimalist running shoes have also been made according to the same philosophy. I have worn both. I would like to make a few comparisons:
1) Running socks are less protective than minimalist running shoes such as MUTEKIs, and Baretreks, but they still ease the pain caused by edgy pebbles and rough road surface.
2) Running socks are a lot cheaper than most minimalist shoes.

When running in the Olenos, I almost feel like I'm running barefoot. Showa Meriyasu produces several different kinds of running socks, but with mine the toe is exposed. So there is some direct contact with the ground. However, much of the contact area is covered with garment, so the sole receives some protection against edgy pebbles and rough surface of the road. Eventually I am hoping to run the entire race distance without shoes, but the Olenos serve as a good transitional tool to bridge between shoe-clad and barefoot running.

Today I aimed to reach the target distance by flexibly combining a 2.5 K loop and 6 K shuttle course.

First I ran the 2.5 K loop twice in 28:15.30.

Next I repeated it once in 28:01.45 to reach 10 K. But I took a water and food break because I was both thirsty and hungry. I had a quarter a pineapple.

After the hydration & food break I ran the same loop twice in 28:11.64, and took a brief water break for 16.93.

I was going to run another 5 K without a stop. But then after running one lap in 14:11.22 I got hungry again, so I made a stop at home for 6:34.20 to eat and drink. This time I ate one whole peach, and a third of a banana.

I ran the loop again in 14:41.30. By this time I was getting increasingly dehydrated and had to drink more water, and more often. Also, my legs were getting tenser and tenser, so I had to loosen them up a little by stretching. I made a brief stop of 34.38. Up to that moment I had covered 20 K.

I chose to change the course, and started going the 6 K shuttle course, remembering that in Aqua Line Marathon there are more hills in the second half of the race. The 6 K shuttle course has hills. Very steep ones. So that sort of simulates the actual race. But by this time I was already pretty exhausted, so I had to slow down quite a bit. Ordinarily I would come back in 30 minutes, but today it took me 38:39.31 including a brief water break I took at a park along the course. When I reached home, I had covered 26 K.

The I had to eat something again to keep on going. And drink more water also. I took a break for 6:26.87 to eat another quarter of a pineapple and drink water.

Four more kilometers to reach 30 K. I ran the 2.5 loop once, and went the same route halfway, and took a U-turn after running about 750 M to run the remaining 1.5 K. It took me 28:06.34 to run just 4 K, because I took two water breaks at a park, but I completed it anyway.

I ran 30 K in 3:20:02. Time-wise it sucks, but feeling-wise it's AWESOME!

When I got home and took a shower, I was so tired that I couldn't bring myself to eat anything. The only thing I could have was water, nothing else. Even beer seemed unappealing. Just water. But as I watched World Cup final on TV, appetite slowly came back, so I finally had dinner that was made up of grilled beef & celery and asparagus, horse mackerel sashimi, and cubes of tuna boiled in sweet and salty sauce. I thought I would celebrate my achievement with beer, but somehow I never felt like drinking any, so it ended up being an alcohol-free Sunday. It's actually not such a bad idea. 

Mindbody Experiment

My mind is my body. My body is my mind. I am a mindbody. What is it capable of doing at age 51? Well, it is at least capable of this.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Night Barefoot Run: 8.5 K

I am at hamburger steak restaurant "Bikkuri Donkey" (Surprised Donkey) in Inage, Chiba, waiting for my order to arrive. It's a little past 2:00 a.m. I have a very, very early start tomorrow, and I am usually already in bed, sound asleep, recouping for a busy day to come at this time of day. Why am I still up? That's because I am more refreshed than tired, and more hungry than sleepy. I will sleep in no time once I finish my late-night reward meal for an 8.5 K barefoot run that I did two hours ago.

My training on Friday night is irregular. I sometimes run on Friday nights. I sometimes do not. Most of the time I don't, mainly because I am afraid of tiring myself too much to wake up early the following morning. If I wake up any later than 7, I will miss the train that I must catch, and if I miss the train, I'm certain to be late for the first lecture of the day. I cannot let that happen.

Tonight, somehow, I should have been very tired, because it was such a hectic week with so many important jobs that I had to get done. It was a crazy multi-tasking week! But I finished most of them, and the only thing that is yet to be done is not that hard, and is sure to be completed easily by tomorrow. So I was mentally fairly relaxed, and that probably allowed me to go for a practice run.

I ran very slowly, mainly paying attention to my running form and cadence instead of keeping some target pace. I didn't even decide how far I would go. I just went with the flow. I was originally planning to go around a 2.5 K loop a few times, but after the first lap I was in a mood for a bit of a variety, so I changed the course and went into a 6 K shuttle course rich in undulation. I enjoyed kicking when climbing hills because keeping the same slow pace became boring at some point.

Overall it was a pleasant run that didn't leave me overly exhausted.

Now with my stomach reasonably filled with a 150 g hamburger steak, Chinese radish salad, and steamed rice, I think I can crash for the night after a short bike ride home and sleep like a log for three hours.