About Distance Running and Pullup Progress

Last month (October), the Nairobi Marathon was held. I have not participated for two years now. I sent a congratulatory message on Facebook to those who ran. Turns out a number of my friends did not run this year either, though a number of others did run. Maybe next year I will run, just for the challenge and to improve my time.

I once read an article that pointed out that it is only human beings that engage in distance running. Animals in the wild run to catch food, to avoid being caught, or to play. All this running is normally relatively short distance sprints (especially if the animal is about to be eaten). Animals sometimes play by chasing each other in small areas, and the movement is somewhat similar to various ball games that humans play like soccer or basketball. Such playing involve short runs and turning this way and that, and not continuous running for a long time. In other words, long-distance running isn’t really natural. Long-distance running also often comes with injuries . In fact, two avid distance-runners that I know have been off running for a while now due to injuries. For fat loss and fitness, high-intensity interval training, such as sprints, are more effective than distance running. However, like I mentioned, I may participate in next year’s run just for the challenge and to be part of something big.

As for my pullups, I was away from home for a few nights and my pullups stalled a bit, but I resumed. I did the Week 9 workout of the Recon Ron program. I completed the first three sets without getting off the bar, but had to get off during the last two sets. I was about 4 weeks behind schedule.

On Friday the 13th I did Week 11 and on Monday the 16th, I did the Week 13 workout. I am now about two weeks behind schedule. I think I will be able to get back on track and achieve 20 pullups before this year ends.

Renewed Goal of Twenty Pullups

I have decided to again go after my goal of 20 pullups. I intend to achieve this goal by the end of December 2015. I think the reason I did not succeed the last time was simply that I did not have sufficient motivation. This time, I have two things motivating me:

One is the realisation that time is passing by and I should not keep on putting off my goals, or else I will one day realise that the window of opportunity has closed or narrowed considerably. (This realisation seems to dawn on many people when they turn 40, like I did in 2014).

The second thing motivating me is that I’d like to blog more on pullups and I think actually getting to do 20 pullups myself will give credibility to what I say.

 

So I have been doing pullups, following my favourite program, the Recon Ron Pullup Program. Counting backwards from the last week of December 2015, I saw that I would need to start at Week 7 of the program, so I did. That was the week of 21st September.

Today, I was able to do the sets for week 7 as specified (10, 8, 6, 6,6). I’m supposed to be on Week 9, but I was still quite pleased.

 

It Works! How My Wife Lost 22 Pounds

Hello dear reader!

I hope you are keeping healthy. It has been a while since I posted, but here we are, and I have a fat loss lesson that I have learned.

In December 2014, my wife slipped and fell and broke two ankle bones. She underwent surgery and started using crutches to move about. At that time, we were living in an apartment on second floor (what Americans call third floor). There was no elevator or ramp, so the only way up or down was using the stairs.

This meant that every day, as she went to work, my wife had to use the crutches to get out of the house, move down the corridor, down the stairs, to the car, and after I drove her to the office, up one flight of stairs to her office. In the evening, it was the reverse.

English: Short flight of stairs in the fire ex...

English: Short flight of stairs in the fire exit stairwell. Huntsville, AL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Using crutches means supporting your weight on your arms as you swing your good leg forward, then supporting yourself on the good leg as you move the crutches forward. On stairs, she would hold the railing and lean on it as she lifted her body up one stair (or down).

This went on for weeks, and it was tough! For the first time, after more than four years of marriage, I saw my wife actually sweating due to physical exertion. I’m not sure I had ever seen her sweating at all.

Consistency

The distance to be covered was fixed – our house remained at a fixed location, as did her office. She could not say “Today I will not go all the way to the house. Let me sleep in the car.”
The frequency of activity was fixed – she had to do this every day when going to work and coming back, and on weekends if we went anywhere. She could not quite fail to go to work.
The weight to be carried was fixed – her own bodyweight.

How To Lose Weight

The result: she lost weight! She lost 22 pounds (10kg). Twice as much as she had lost through rope-skipping. There were no fancy exercises, no switching up the routine after a while (though she started panting less and stopped sweating). No alternating of exercises to target different muscle groups. She just did what she had to to get to work and to get home.

The lesson of the story: If you want to lose weight, one simple way is to pick a challenging exercise and do it consistently. No excuses to get yourself off, no lightening of the load, no reduction of distance. Just stick with it. Change will come.

20 Pullups Progress Update

After deciding to prepare to do 20 pullups straight on my birthday, I have not been consistent in my pull-ups. (Yeah, what’s new?). Today I decided to do some, before things get too far out of hand. I thought I had reached Week 13 on the Recon Ron Program. When I counted backwards on the calendar from the week of my birthday (Sep 11th), I realised that I am supposed to be on Week 15.

However, I did the Week 13 pullups as specified (14-10-8-8-8) without breaking any set, so I was happy about that. I think on Wednesday I will jump to Week 14 and hopefully on Friday I will be able to take on Week 15. So this week or next week I should be back on track to doing 20 pullups straight on my 40th birthday.

A US Marine Doing Pull-ups.

A US Marine Doing Pull-ups. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keep working out!

 

Recon Ron Pullup Program

You may know from my previous articles (like this one) that I like the Recon Ron Pullup program, mainly for two reasons:

1) It is simple to follow – you just read and do.

2) It is realistic in that the first set in a workout has the most pull-ups and the number decreases as you do the subsequent sets.

The program can be found here as a web page [Jan 2019 Edit. Page seems no longer available]. I recreated it here for those who may want it in a vertical format (with the weeks coming one below the other, rather than across). There is also a copy similar to the original one here.

I also extended the program by a few weeks.

For the sake of clarity, here are the links again. (Links will open in new window).

Vertical (Portrait) version of Recon Ron Pullup Program.
Horizontal (Landscape) version of Recon Ron Pullup Program.

Enjoy!

Goal: Do Twenty PullUps In A Row

The Goal
I will be turning 40 on September 11th 2014. That is 77 days, or 11 weeks, from today (26th June 2014). On that day, I want to do twenty pullups in a row. That is my goal.

The most I have done in one set is 19 pull-ups. That was in 2012, I think. I have since not done pull-ups consistently until I reached 20 pull-ups, though more recently – in April 2014 – I did 16 pull-ups (video below). So I have a goal and I have a time-frame.

The Plan
I use the Recon-Ron pull-up program. On the program, 20 pull-ups in the first set appears on Week 21. Counting backwards 11 weeks, I should start on Week 10 today.

Week 10 says 12, 9, 7, 7, 7. I should be able to pull that off.

Let’s see how it goes.

Keep working out!

Soccer

A group of men from our church organised a soccer event. It was no big deal, really, just guys (mostly in our thirties or so) coming together to play soccer on a Saturday morning. Some young men who teach children soccer at the church were around. They joined in and we played two matches. I noticed that the young men were in good shape – good body definition. I guess the running and jumping involve in soccer does them good.

A football (or soccer ball) icon.

A football (or soccer ball) icon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I also noticed that I did not feel tired immediately, as happened when I played soccer about eight years ago. At that time, after a few minutes of playing, I felt so winded that I just wanted to lie down and breathe. This time I was okay.

I was surprised to notice that after jumping for the ball, it mattered how I landed.  Once or twice, I had to stop and let my ankle recover before I could run around again properly. I had not expected that.

The effects of the vigorous exercise came later. At night, my legs were paining. I later thought it may partly be because we did not stretch after the matches. We just sat down and ate. I don’t know why I forgot this. I usually stretch after running. Of course it was also partly because I have not sprinted for a while, choosing to skip instead, and even with that I have slackened a bit.

Let me say that our team won 🙂

Meanwhile, a friend of ours was admitted at the hospital with heart problems. He is overweight. Take care of your health, people. It may seem trivial when you are just being told about it and you are generally functional, but when it gets to a point where you are actually sick, it will no longer be a trivial matter. The financial costs, the emotional cost on yourself and your family. The thought that you could have prevented it will weigh on your mind.

Make the changes you know you should be making. If you don’t know what change to make, I can suggest one: If you are overweight, change what you eat. Specifically, cut out sugary drinks or start by limiting them to no more than one small glass in total a day, with the aim of reducing such drinks to taking them only once in a while.

Live healthy. Take steps today.

Rope Skipping Continued

After failing to skip 1,500 times in 20 minutes, I tried again

Wednesday, 19th Feb 2014
I set my timer in order to limit rest intervals
I managed to skipped 1,500 in 20 minutes, with 10 seconds to spare

🙂

IMG_1456b

Monday, 24th Feb 2014
This time I used a simple countdown, without rest intervals specified.
I would need to skip 375 times every 5 minutes.
At some point there was a count discrepancy of 100 between what my wife had counted and what I had counted. I went with the lower figure.
I finished with 25 seconds to spare.
Did 70 extra

Rope Skipping

12th Feb 2014
My wife and I took turns skipping. I skipped, then she skipped as I rested and so on. She skipped up to 1,000 and I skipped up to 1,300. I did not really feel spent. I think it was because of the long breaks I had between skipping sessions while my wife skipped. I decided to have a time limit next time, so that the rest intervals are limited. I was timing my wife’s skipping and it worked out to about 125 jumps per minute.

SpeedRope

SpeedRope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

15th Feb 2014
I set myself a target of 20 minutes within which to complete 1,500 jumps. I set the timer on my phone and started. Twice, I managed to do 200 jumps non-stop. When the 20 minutes were up, I had completed 1,340 skips. I could probably have met my target with shorter rest periods at the beginning. I was sweating and could feel that I had exerted some effort.

17th Feb 2014
This time I managed 1,425 jumps within 20 minutes. I believe I can manage the intended 1,500.

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Skipping/Jumping Rope

Last week, I decided to skip (jump rope) as my workout. My target was 1,500 jumps.

I got into my workout gear, took the skipping rope and started.

SpeedRope

SpeedRope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The longest continuous skipping I did was about 180 jumps. (The most I remember doing was 350, one or two years ago).

When I finished the 1,500, I was still feeling quite strong and I was not really sweating much.
My wife joined me and skipped to 600.

I then posted on Facebook that I had skipped 1,500 times and urged my friends to try it this holiday season. One friend jokingly asked me how I was able to count 1,221  1,222… while skipping. I answered that I was counting 1,2,3,4,5…70…1,2,3,4…80 and so on 🙂

Some friends said that they cannot skip that much. One said he was unable to skip to 100 (or was it 50?!).

I think I will write a simple plan to get anyone interested to be able to skip up to 1000 times in a workout.

 

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