Monday, November 23, 2009

Recap: Training 11/16-11/22 (plus the usual digressions, random ravings, etc)

Actually, I'm going to begin my recap with Sunday 11/15. I ran a little 5k in Golden Gate Park and was quite disappointed with my performance in some respects but pleased in others. My overall time was a fairly dreadful 29 minutes and change, meaning I was running slightly under 10 minute miles on average. That would be a reasonable pace for a longer race, but for a 5k I would have expected to be a bit faster.

Here's where I went wrong: I started way too fast. I ran the first half mile in slightly over 3 minutes, and was completely gassed. My heart rate was through the roof and I had to slow way down to bring it under control. Unfortunately that was right where the race course got a touch hilly, and I never really felt I got a good recovery.

The problem was my training. I like to run on the beach. This is not a bad thing. When you run on sand you have to work a lot harder to push off, so you develop a lot of power in your legs. If you're a road racer it's overload training, which of course is quite useful. But if you do too much of it, you're going to use that same amount of power when you run on the road, meaning you're going to find yourself going very very fast. Not a bad thing if you can sustain it, but I couldn't.

So, if I were a serious runner what I would do in preparing for my next 5k is limit my beach runs to 1x per week, and do the rest of my running on the road, doing some longer runs to build endurance. But I'm not a serious runner, and if I'm on the road there's no chance of seeing dolphins during my workout so the heck with it ... at least until spring when the ducks in the park start having babies. I can run 4-5 miles in the park if I've got ducklings to look at :)

(I only do races that are fundraisers for causes I support. The race on 11/15, for instance, was a benefit for the San Francisco Food Bank. The amount of money I raise is the same however long it takes me to finish, which is the real reason I don't care that much about my time. It's mostly a matter of academic interest to me--as a trainer I like knowing what works and what doesn't, and why.)

I took Monday 11/16 as a rest day, then on Tuesday taught a 1-hour spinning class. It was endurance oriented, with 2 20 minute intervals at 75-85% MRH. I burned 501 calories over the course of the hour, which gives you an idea of the cumulative intensity. (That's a lot of calories for someone my age and size to burn in an hour!)

Wednesday I gave double kettlebell training a shot for the first time. It was ... interesting. I did 3 rounds of double kettlebell press 5x followed immediately by double kettlebell swings, 30x, using 12 kg kettlebells for both. After that I switched to double kettlebell press followed by regular 2-hand kettlebell swings with 18kg, and did another 3 rounds. Again, interesting.

The double kettlebell press was okay, but with the double swings I felt my form was way off. I can't for the life of me figure out how any person my size can do these properly. I felt I was initiating too low and not generating the power I needed, and it was just all wrong. So, no more of these until I can consult with an RKC.

I did, however, like the feel of swinging a heavier weight than 16 kg. But since I don't have anything heavier than that (are you listening, Santa Baby?), I tried affixing my "Kettlebell Buddy" to my 16 kg.

The Kettlebell Buddy is not a piece of equipment I recommend, and the only reason I own one is that I was new to kettlebell training when it first came on the market and was being heavily promoted by AOS/PerformBetter. For those who don't know, a Kettlebell Buddy is a 2-kg thingy that screws into the bottom of any AOS or PerformBetter kettlebell, and it's meant to make it easier to transition to a heavier kettlebell.

I certainly can't fault the theory--when you think about it, it's a bit ridiculous to go from, say, 4 kg to 8 kg, which is a 100% increase in weight, or even from 8 kg to 12 kg, which is a 50 percent increase. Even 12 kg to 16 kg--a 33% increase--is pushing it IMO. Intermediate sizes are very helpful but hard to come by ... and expensive. So the Kettlebell Buddy seemed to be a great solution, much like PlateMates which I do recommend.

The problem, of course, is that when you affix a 2 kg thingy to the bottom of a kettlebell of any size it suddenly stops acting like a kettlebell because you've completely altered the shape, changed the center of gravity, etc. You'd think this would be obvious, but as I said I knew nothing about kettlebells when I acquired my little 2 kg screw-in abomination.

So, anyway, don't make the mistake I did, not that any of you would. But if by some chance you did ... really I can't recommend using it for anything other than a paperweight. But if you want to try using it as intended, I suggest sticking with the squat and the get-up. These movements don't involve momentum, so the altered shape of the kettlebell is going to be less of a factor. I also didn't feel terrible using it for swings, which do involve momentum, because I didn't feel as though the altered shape of the kettlebell was forcing a change in form. I'm still not totally comfortable with it, though, and I don't really recommend it. Better to use a proper kettlebell and do more reps if going light or fewer if going heavy.

(The one good thing about my Kettlebell Buddy experience is that it's made me a somewhat better judge of kettlebells than I might otherwise be. Don't bother with anything that's not round or close to it, with no bumps, bulges, protuberances, flattened sides, or what have you. If you get such a thing it won't handle like a kettlebell, and your form will suffer as a result.)

Thursday I did one of Dave Whitley's 102 Kettlebell Workouts. This one involved 15 minutes of snatches, 12 R/L, taking rests as needed. I rested about a minute between rounds, and got 8 total rounds, so 192 snatches in 15 minutes using 12 kg. After that, 15 minutes of pushups (12) and pull-ups (5). I got 10 rounds. The pushups were no problem but the pull-ups were :)

Wednesday and Thursday were also ballet-intensive days: 90 minutes of class plus Nutcracker rehearsal. The show is a mess--we've had cast members dropping out in droves so we're going to have to rechoreograph Waltz of the Flowers and Party Scene. Goddess help us all, I'm probably going to end up being a Party Scene kid again this year, which will give the whole thing even more of a Trockadero touch than usual. Actually, "bratty teenager" is more like it. The cast is unusually short this year, and I can't pull off the illusion of being still in my Wonder Years if I'm taller than most of the "adult" party guests. But "gawky 15-year-old" I can just about manage :)

Then in Waltz--how to explain this?--the members of the corps are supposed to be lovely flower petals, while I am the messy pollen-shedding bit in the center :) That's how I think of it, at least.

Friday was another rest day--my arms were cooked from the pull-ups on Thursday!

Saturday I did a kettlebell workout intended to build upper body strength. I'm having a lot of trouble pressing and snatching 16 kg, so I did mostly assistance stuff aimed at helping with that. Lots of get-ups with the 16 kg, plus cleans, then windmills to help with my shoulder stability, followed by some high pulls and half snatches. I really think I'm close to making a breakthrough on the snatches at least. The heavy windmills really seem to help with arm and shoulder stability, which as always is my weak link.

Sunday I did 5 rounds of kettlebell snatches, 10 R/L; double kettlebell squats, 5; kettlebell clean & press 5 R/L, all with 12 kg. The idea was to do as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes, but since I didn't want to sacrifice form I opted for a somewhat leisurely pace. Basically, about 2.5 minutes of work to 1.5 minutes of rest.

And there you have it.