December 2006 Archives

The Race Year in Review

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I was looking over my running log for 2006. I finished off the running year with 3314 kilometers, or 2259 miles. This was around 800K/500M more than I had planned, but my original schedule fell apart, then evolved into a much more ambitious training year.

I began the year with high hopes of setting a new marathon PR in March, but ended up dropping out after 32K/20M due to a cold and too fast of a start. Devastated, I brooded for a couple days, than decided that this was not the end of the world and went back to training and finished a hilly marathon a month later in April. With my re-found confidence I decided to try my first 50K in May, then my first 80K/50-miler in June.

I ended up completing 23 races in 2006, as follows:

1 x 8.2K Road Race
1 x 8.8889 Road Race (new PR 42:57)
8 x 10K Road Race (new PR 46:37)
1 x 10K Trail Race
1 x 11.8K Mountain Run
1 x 15K Road Race
5 x Half-marathon (new PR 1:41:44)
2 x Marathon (hilly) (new PR 4:30:07)
2 x 50K (PR 6:23:11)
1 x 80K/50M (10:19:06)

All in all it was a good running year. My running didn’t improve in leaps and bounds like I hoped, but at 47 I think the leaping and bounding days are behind me, now it more of a matter of gradual improvements and maintaining.

So as I peer over the fence into 2007 I wonder what’s ahead…to be sure I’ll be running and racing. I’m already signed up for a marathon in March, a little unfinished business with the Bienwald Marathon that I DNF’ed in 2006. I am also looking forward to the Fidelitas 80K/50M in June. Anything else will depend on whether my wife finds a new job or not after her contract ends in April. There are other priorities in our life that have a higher priority than my racing, so I’m have to be patient and see how the year goes. In any case I’ll still be out there training…

Forchheim 10K New Year's Run Race Report

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It was a cold -2 C/28F when I woke up this morning (Saturday). Luckily my 10K race, the Forchheim New Year’s Run was first at 2 p.m. and it was supposed to warm up through the day. By lunchtime when I drove to Forchheim it was up to 3C/37F and the sun was starting to peek out from behind the clouds. After finding a parking place, I collected my start number and chatted with a couple guys from my running club that were running today. I also kept an eye out for a couple coworkers that said they were running today.

About 20 minutes before the race I peeled the outside layer of clothes off and took a 10 minute jog around the town, then made my way to the starting line. I didn’t see my running club friends or my coworkers, so found a place in the middle of the pack. It looked like there were around 5-600 people running the race.

My goal today was to break my course record of 52:04 which I set last year. As this was almost 5 ½ minutes slower than my best time for a 10K, I figured I wouldn’t have too much trouble, despite not having done any speed training for several months.

When the starting pistol went off I let the crowd carry me forward until I could break free of the crowd. I passed the first kilometer marker in 4:55 (7:55/M pace) and the second in another 4:47 minutes (7:42/M pace). From here I stopped looking at my watch and just concentrated on trying to maintain a smooth pace as best I could. I did look at my watch again at the 5K point, and noticed I was at around 24:30.

I kept pushing on and by the 7-8K point I could feel myself slowing down some. I tried to relax and stretch out my gait a little. The time seemed to stand still as I fought to keep the pace up. I was relieved to finally see the 9K point, but I also knew from last year there was a short and steep hill climb right after this. As I started up the hill the woman in front of me came to a dead stop and started walked, I just about flew over the top of her (she was a shorty). I powered my way up the small incline and tried my best to fall back onto pace. Down, the last street, around a corner, another 1 minute stretch around the last corner and a quick sprint to the finish line. I lost a second or two because I got trapped behind someone in the finish chute, but I still finished in 49:52, well ahead of my goal!

After catching my breath I drank a cup of hot tea and ate a soft sweet pretzel that were offered to the finishers and finally found my coworkers. After chatting awhile I made my way over to the nearby school for a shower then again joined my friends before heading home. All in all a great way to finish off a race year!

Happy New Year Everyone!

A Couple Cold Runs

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I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas holiday. On Tuesday I began working off the holiday calories with a 16K/10M run on the flat trails around my town. It was a fresh 2C/36F with cool breeze that kept me moving. I averaged around 5:31/K (8:52/M), which is a fair tempo for me for this time of year.

Yesterday (Thursday) I went for a long run on my hilly trail around the neighboring town of Weingarten. It was 0C/32F with a bone chilling wind as I stepped out of my car at the trailhead at high noon (okay 12:45). My goal was 30K/18.5M, or around 3 hours 15 minutes. I set out over my normal loop, first a kilometer warmup on semi-flat trail, then an 8 minute climb up the mountain. This was followed by a 30-35 run over rolling hills, then a downhill and another climb up the mountain. I felt adventurous, so tried a new trail, which brought me down the mountain again and up for a third major climb. I tried to circle back to my car on my normal route, but the trail was closed due to a logging crew working in this section. I found another way around and completed my first loop, which took about 1 hour 40 minutes.

At the beginning of my second round my legs were already feeling really cold and getting stiff, it made me wonder if I have rheumatism or something…in any case I kept moving. As I looped back around I was getting colder by the minute so decided that a 3 hour run is enough and took a shortcut back to the car. As soon as I stopped to stretch I started shivering, so knew I had made the right decision. After stretching a bit, I through on an old winter jacket I had brought along and fired up the car and drove the 12K/7.5M home. I estimate I ran about 28K/17.5M in 3:01:00, an average pace of about 6:28/K (10:24/M) - a little slow, but I’m a wimp in the winter.

When I got home I hurried out of my sweat-soaked clothes, took a hot shower and sat down to a hot meal. This morning I am a little stiff, but feeling fine otherwise. Tomorrow I am meeting a couple friends for a 10K race in Forchheim, the town where I work. I’m not looking for any speed records, I just want one last fun run to close the year out right.

I wish everyone a safe and festive New Year, don’t drink & drive, and be sure to remember those around you who may not have enough to eat and drink!

Seeing at Christmas

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During the Christmas season of 1879, an agnostic reporter in Boston saw three little girls standing in front of a store window full of toys.One of them was blind. He heard the other two describing the toys to their friend. He had never considered how difficult it was to explain to someone without sight what something looks like. That incident became the basis for a newspaper story.

Two weeks later the reporter attended a meeting held by Dwight L. Moody. His purpose was to catch the evangelist in an inconsistency. He was surprised when Moody used his account of the children to illustrate a truth. “Just as a blind girl couldn’t visualize the toys,” said Moody, “so an unsaved person can’t see Christ in all His glory.” On that first Christmas, only a few people understood who Jesus really was. Many heard the report of the shepherds and were amazed, but they didn’t view the baby in the manger as the Son of God.

Today, multitudes are unaware of the true identity of Jesus because they are spiritually blind. If this describes you, ask God to open your eyes. Believe that the Lord of glory died for your sins. Then trust Him. Your eyes will be opened, and you’ll recognize who He really is. - Herb Vander Lugt

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping? - Dix

Bad Blogger

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Sorry I have been neglecting my blog, I was sucked into a wave of Christmas maddness.

At least I kept running, although my schedule ended up in the rubbish container:

Thursday: 26K/16M medium long run (32K/20M scheduled).
Friday: 9K/5.5M (14K/8.7M scheduled).
Saturday: 8K/5M (9.1K cross-country race scheduled).

The race fell apart because the friend that my wife wanted to visit has the flu. My wife was going to visit her when I was racing. I thought about going myself, but I noticed my wife was kind of down in the dumps so I stayed home. Later this afternoon I went for a 45 minute run.

The next few days I will be spending most of my time with my wife, so I don't know if I will be posting again. In any case Merry Christmas to everyone, don't forget to chill out and enjoy your family, the training can wait until after Christmas. God bless you!

Let me tell you Customer Service in Germany is an almost unknown concept. When I have a problem with a product I expect help in solving the problem, especially when the seller is at fault, I mean is that too much to expect? Our big Christmas present this year is DSL dedicated Internet service with flat-rate telephone, all the rage this year. Lots of standard packages available, I ordered mine over the Internet site from the Deutsche Telekom, because they are supposed to have the best service by far! So what happens, they got the main order right, but tacked on a flat cell phone option and forgot my router. So I was in the city of Karlsruhe last night and stopped at their store, I figured it would be easier to square it away in person than over the telephone, logical right! Well, according to the Telekom store all Internet orders have to be handled by their national hotline. Ugh, so I go home and call their hotline – after 35 minutes I finally got through to a human being. The friendly lady straightened out the order and listened patiently while I expressed my displeasure with their store. She replied that the store can and should have taken care of the mistake, and asked if I would like to submit an official complaint (yes, thank you). Well, maybe there still is hope for customer service in Germany, but for now they are still in the Stone Age.

In any case by the time I finished fooling around with all this I told my wife I was in dire need of a run, which she apparently noticed, because she didn’t even complain that it was dinner time. I did at least cut my run short, running an easy 8K/5M instead of the planned 16/10. The dinner my wife made still tasted great warmed-up, and I made sure I said this several times. Later in the evening when she was busy surfing I slipped upstairs in the shed for a 15-minute weight training session, better than nothing.

Today is my last day of work for this year, but the only person who knows is my boss. I learned years ago never to let anyone else know, because they all come to me with last minute requests "that have to be done before the end of the year". I explained this to my boss and he understands and supports me on this. So about 10 minutes before its time to go home I will walk through the offices and wish everyone happy holidays.

Tonight I want to run a 16K/10M easy run. And what am I going to do on my first day of Christmas vacation? Well I have to wake my wife up at 5 a.m. for work, so while I’m up I might as well run, right! I have a cross-country run on Saturday (9.1K), so I want to do my long run tomorrow morning at 5:30. Weather prediction, clear sky and about 0C/32F!

After the run I want to take the streetcar to Karlsruhe and pick up a couple presents that are missing under the tree.

Tagged for Christmas

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I actually enjoyed this one from Rich:

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate, egg nog redefines running for me.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa wraps.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? No lights.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Only when I feel like standing around and waiting for a kiss.

5. When do you put your decorations up? The first week of December.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Turkey with stuffing.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? Family get-together’s.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? When I caught my father putting the present’s under the tree.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Sometimes.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? This is my wife’s department.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Love it as long as I don’t have to drive in it. Running is pure lust!

12. Can you ice skate? On my feet or on my rear?

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? My wife (okay that wasn’t Christmas).

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Jesus’ birthday.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Anything sweet.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Sleeping late.

17. What tops your tree? The heavens (the tree is outside).

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? Away in the Manger.

20. Candy canes? Pure poison.

21. Favorite Christmas movie? What’s that one with Chevy Chase.

22. What do you leave for Santa? We all know the deal on Santa, right? And besides, Santa doesn’t run all year just so he can pig out on cookies on Christmas day. Or does he?

I don't know who's done this before, as I'm behind in reading blogs, but I'll tag Rae, Dawn, Thomas, and Stefano just to keep it international.

Busy, Busy, Busy, but Running Anyway!

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Where did the weekend go? Between running, Christmas preparations and an array of other tasks, the time just seemed to melt away! At least our Christmas cards are done, we only have to mail them out today.

Yesterday afternoon it was slightly warmer, around 7C/45F, so I headed out for an hour plus run. After warming up a bit, I increased the tempo, as my legs felt good despite the long run on Saturday morning. About halfway around my normal 14K/8.7M loop I decided to run just 12K/7.5M instead of my usual 14K/8.7M - I mean I have to be lazy once in awhile, right. I ended up with an average pace of 5:26/K (8:45/M), which is okay for this time of year.

Tonight I need to do some Christmas shopping, so I will probably do my weight training when I get back and save the run until tomorrow. This week I have to rearrange the normal running schedule due to pre-Christmas activities. However I have vacation on Thursday and Friday, so I should have no problem getting all the training in. On Saturday afternoon I have a 9.1K/5.6M cross-country race, just for fun. Hopefully it will be nice and wet and muddy ;-)

A 03:24:00 Long Run

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Yesterday morning I got up around 6:00 for my long run, which a little later than normal. I had my company Christmas party the night before and got home rather late. I had driven my car, so stayed away from any alcohol the night before. The only problem was that I ate like a glutton and carrying about 5 pounds of good food with me. In any case I skipped breakfast, food just didn’t sound good.

Around 6:30 I drove to Weingarten, 11K away, to my hilly running route. I hadn’t run this route for awhile and felt the need. It was still dark and 0C/32F as I arrived and strapped on my CamelBak. Due to the large quantity of food from the night before I figured 2-2 ½ hours would be enough, especially since I haven’t run hills lately.

So I turned on my headlamp and set out of my hilly loop, first the semi-flat kilometer warmup, then the 8 minute climb up the mountain. I wound my way up and down and over the rolling hills, eventually circling back to the car and up the mountain again. By this time it was light out and I enjoyed seeing the frosty grass, bushes and trees, this is my favorite time of year!

After about 2 ½ hours I circled back toward my car, but had to detour because the logging crews had blocked the trails. So I tried a couple other trails, but kept running into closed trail signs. I should add all these trails were still open the first time I ran through. Anyway I ended up having to turn around and run all the way back around the mountain to my car.

I ended up running for 3 hours and 24 minutes, around 31-32K (19-20 miles), which is close to what was on my schedule anyway. The one time I try to be lazy and cut the distance of my long run I end up getting it in anyway due to the trails being closed! At least I burned off all those calories from the Christmas buffet!!

This morning I have a big blister on one of my little toes, but I think this is from my dress shoes that I wore to the Christmas party Friday night. My legs are comfortably tired, from a totally satisfying run!

Have a nice Sunday!

Busy/Run/Whack

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Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity. First we had the roofer’s finishing up repairs on our roof, so I spent the day trying to get work-work done on my notebook while running back and forth fooling with the roofers. Luckily they left around lunchtime and I could work in peace the rest of the afternoon. I stopped working just in time to get ready for my run with the running club. My wife showed up late from her work right before I left so we basically passed one another on the way through the door.

It was already dark as I ran the 4K/2.5M to the trailhead and met my running group. We did our 11K/6.8M loop, then all went home to get showered and ready for our Christmas party. Including the 4K back to the house I squeezed in a 19K/12M run at around a 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace. When I got home my wife was surfing on the Internet and didn’t seem to want to be bothered so I showered and left for the restaurant.

I got home about 10:30 p.m. and surprisingly my wife was still awake on the couch. I asked her what’s up with that, and she replied that her boss told her that the woman on maternity leave that she was filling in will be coming back and that no other positions are available. So now my wife needs to find a new job before April. Merry Christmas indeed!

So tonight I am meeting my wife after work and taking her out to eat, maybe this will help sooth the pain a little. Poor girl, it just breaks my heart because she really loved her job. It just makes me feel like cursing.

An Active Cross-training Night

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Last night I sought out a new way to induce pain on my poor old body, or in other words did some calisthenics and weight training. I am a complete beginner to weight lifting, so more or less do whatever pops into my head. I am working on a more serious plan, I just haven’t seemed to get around to finishing it yet. I think what I have been doing is effective, as it is putting muscles into action that have been neglected for a long time.

I jotted down my workout last night as a means to document my progress. If any of you are familiar with crossfit you may notice some resemblance:

25 jumping jacks
20 toe-touches
20 pushups
20 sit-ups
20 abdominal stretches
20 squats (body weight)
(pause)
20 pushups
20 sit-ups
20 abdominal stretches
20 squats (body weight)
(pause)
10 chin-ups (3 correct/7 jump)
20 pushups
20 sit-ups
10 ring hangs (jumping up and locking my arms straight on the gymnastic rings and holding in this position for 5 seconds)
10 bench press (approx-55-60 lbs)
(pause)
50 jump rope
10 chin-ups (jump)
10 shoulder press (machine)
10 squats (machine)
20 pushups
20 sit-ups
(pause)
10 bench press
20 leg curls
10 bench press
10 ring hangs
10 bench press
(pause)
10 chin-ups (negative)
10 bench press
10 squats (machine)
10 barbell rolls
10 clean and jerk
(pause)
20 seated cable rows
20 abductor press
20 pushups
20 sit-ups
20 abdominal stretches

This took about 55 minutes to complete. The “pause” between groups was usually between 30-60 seconds, so this was a fairly intensive workout (for me at least). I know I need to organize the workout so I am exercising all the major muscle groups and in the right order. But this combination of calisthenics, gymnastics and weight lifting is the direction I am trying to take this cross-training effort.

As always I am open for suggestions.

Yesterday we had roofer’s fixing a problem with our roof at home so I didn’t have to commute to work. The problem is that instead of working 8 hours I worked 12, at least I made a dent in the project I’m working on. I still managed to get in a 16K/10M run in the dark last night. It was 8C/46F earlier in the day, but as I ran my loop the rain changed to sleet, then snow – so I guess it was more around freezing by the time I ran. Despite the cold and darkness I still managed to keep up a fair pace, 5:36/K (9:00/M). The rest of the week will be getting even colder – time to dig out the hat and gloves.

Ranting and Raving

You may have noticed that I posted my tentative race schedule for 2007 yesterday. On the way to work this morning I was thinking about my training schedule. Over the next couple months I won’t be making any big changes, maybe a little more training on asphalt. The biggest challenge for 2007 will be time, it looks like I am going to have to be satisfied with a maximum of 80K/50M running per week squeezed into probably 4 days. This should be more than enough to complete all my long race goals, but probably not enough to improve my speed much.

I have had people tell me that you make time for things that are important in your life. I know people who put their hobbies first, even before their jobs or families, and usually they excel. But at what price? Some fortunate people seem to be able to juggle better than others, maybe they have a flexible job and a spouse who is super-supportive (or are single).

I could drop all my cross-training, home improvement projects, time with my wife etc. and squeeze in 5-6 days of running and more mileage, but I ask myself if the price for, e.g. a 30 minute marathon-PR, is worth throwing my life out of balance.

This may sound boring, but I am content to just run my races (as opposed to race my races). This doesn’t mean that I am not competitive and don’t at least try to improve. Rather it is more the acceptance of the fact that I am not willing to devote the time required for big improvements because I know that this would offset the balance that I seek so hard to achieve in my life.

For some wishy-washy, for others you know what I’m talking about. Each of us has to decide what is more important and adjust our lives accordingly. Sometimes our circumstances make the decision easy, other times it can be a real juggling act. But I think for most it is the love of pounding the pavement/dirt that keeps the fire burning.

Tentative Race Schedule for 2007

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I decided that I want to concentrate on marathons and ultras in 2007. I may need to reduce this if my wife becomes unemployed, but I hope that I can do most of them. I will be using the marathons mostly for training runs, I'm not going to train extra for a PR, if I acheive one good, when not phooey!

Any clever Northerners may figure out that a couple of the races are not in Germany. That's cause we are hoping to visit my parents in upstate New York in June or October.

My tentative race schedule for 2007:

Rodgau 50K – January 27, 2007
Bienwald Marathon – March 11, 2007 (registered)
Eschollbruecken 50K –March 25, 2007
Egenhausen Marathon - April 22, 2007
Schwabish Gmuend 12-hour – May 19, 2007

Fidelitas Night Run 80K (50 miles) – June 23, 2007 or
Finger Lakes 50 Trail – June 30, 2007

Buehlertal Marathon – July 22, 2007
Peter 100K Run – September 9, 2007

Schwabish Gmuend 50K around October 30, 2007 or
Canandaigua 50M Ultra - October 6, 2007

A 3-hour Long Run

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On Saturday morning I was up at 5:30 and out the door by 6:00. It was a cool 7C/45F as I started out on my long run. My plan was to take the 11K/6.8M asphalt bike trail to the city of Karlsruhe and return on a parallel path on the way back. The air was moist and it felt much colder out as I wound my way through town and onto the bike path on the other side of my small town. Most of the houses were still dark, who but a runner would be out this early…

The moon was full so I left my headlamp turned off, I could see just fine. I did turn on my little blinking armband in case a hunter was lurking in the woods. I reached Karlsruhe and the end of the first 11K without seeing a soul. I turned right, ran a couple minutes then turned right again on the straight parallel path that would bring me back in the same direction.

After another half hour I stopped quick and packed my lights and warning vest away in my CamelBak, it was light enough outside now. As I started up again I passed a couple runners coming from the other direction, obviously it was a nice morning to be out for a run.

I covered almost 19K/12M, then turned off the path and headed right toward the neighboring town of Blankenloch. I would run past this town, then wind my way back to my own to town, hopefully this would bring me up to my goal of three hours.

I was still running on asphalt and I could feel the familiar tightness in my legs that is foreign when I run on dirt trails – I could only wonder why I have such a problem with hard streets, somehow this can’t be normal. My pace was easy, so the pounding was less than during a race, so I didn’t lose any speed as I wound my way between the fields and back to my town.

I arrived at the house after 3:08:48, mission accomplished! I ran roughly 30K/19M and, with the exception of about 5 minutes, all on asphalt or concrete surfaces. Not my surface of choice, but necessary for my next racing goal.

This morning my legs were kind of stiff, but otherwise fine. We have a Christmas market across the street from us again this year, so I will have plenty of opportunity to stretch out the legs this weekend. I wish you all a nice weekend, don’t forget to do your Christmas shopping!

Rest Day

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Thursday = Rest Day

I did do 20 push-ups and 20 sit-ups for breakfast.

Upcoming training:

Friday = Weight training
Saturday = Long run, about 3 hours
Sunday = At least an hour run, easy pace.

Where is this road going?

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I was poring over various race list for 2007 on the train this morning. It is still too early to be making too many commitments, as we are waiting to see if my wife either receives a new contract at her present job or finds a new job. I am signed up for a marathon on March 11th, and am about 90% sure that I will be doing the Karlsruhe Fidelitas 50-Miler in June. Otherwise I don’t know yet.

I was also wondering a bit about what my fitness goals are for 2007. Like many people, I usually express this in terms of racing times, weight goals or something to this effect. This year I tried to squeeze enough time out of my seemingly hectic life to improve my running. I did improve, going farther and faster than ever before, but I still did not reach the level that I think that I could have if I had the time and desire to do so.

So I find myself wondering what I want to achieve in 2007. As Father Time quickly spins his wheels I also wonder what my body will let me achieve as I approach age 48 in 2007. And along with these I wonder how much time I want to commit to achieving fitness goals. My running over the last couple years has taken the majority of my free time that my other responsibilities have not claimed. And lastly I wonder how much longer my wife will remain tolerant of my obsession.

At the moment I am having a hard time finding answers, so for now I am going to train for my marathon in March and see what happens. Maybe things will be clearer by that time.

Another 14K Training Run

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Last night’s training:

25 Jumping Jacks
25 Toe Touches
2 x 20 Push-ups
2 x 20 Sit-ups
2 x 20 Pelvic Lifts
14K/8.7M run (first 10K in 54:34)
25 Jumping Jacks
25 Toe Touches
3 x 20 Push-ups
3 x 20 Sit-ups
3 x 20 Pelvic Lifts
20 squats (body weight)
5 minutes stretching

Weight Training in the Home Gym

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I am having another busy week at work this week so have limited time to blog. Last night I did a good gymnastic/callisthenics and weight training workout at home.

By the way my “home gym” is growing. I picked up a weight bench, barbell, 2 dumbbells and about 60 kgs. of free weights for around $12 on e-bay last week. I also found a set of new gymnastic rings for about the same price. The weight bench and weights are old, but totally functional. I only need to build a squat stand and I should be good for anything that I want to do at home.

Tonight will probably be another run with my headlamp, as I expect I will be working later. We have been having a lot of rain this week so it will be interesting trying to stay out of the mud puddles.

Back to my beloved trails...

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After work I slipped off into the dark for an easy 16K/10M run in the rain over my favorite trails around the fields and woods near my town. Whether it was the slower pace, soft trail or just the lack of pressure to push, I don't now, but my legs felt great and I thoughly enjoyed my run. I think I was the only runner out there last night, I didn't even see any dog walkers. I guess the cool wind and rain discouraged most, but for me it was the right answer to another busy day at work. Have a great week!