Random Thoughts on Training

Rev. Moon says, “There is no substitute for training. Don’t depend on miracles to bring about restoration. We also need training–not random training, but well planned and practical training.” He goes on to say that, “It is training that makes an army efficient and feared by its enemies.” From: Single Mindedness at the Risk of Your Life.

A co-worker gave me American Sniper for Christmas. This quote is what came to mind as I was reading the chapters on Navy SEAL training. Efficient and feared indeed. It was those stories of SEAL training that motivated me to get my sorry butt in gear and get in shape this year.

My usual routine would have been to take a rest day, but these thoughts motivated me to get out and walk anyway.


My intention was just to walk, but longer thatimage usual. The these stairs started calling my name. I went up and down three flights of stairs to get my heart rate up.

I walked a total of 3.25 miles in just over an hour. (My pedometer app says I set a record with a total of 12,414 steps today.)

I concentrated on gratitude and appreciating nature, the ocean, the sky the birds. I always enjoy watching pelicans skimming the leading edge of the waves. I always hope to see the diving for fish.

Amazingly, a bunch of them started diving just opposite my position. Out of a two-mile stretch of beach, they started diving just near me.  Synchronicity. Just as I got to the pier, a guy on a bike started hollering and pointing,”Wales! See the spouts?” He must have had sharp eyes, because they were pretty far offshore, but sure enough, there were several whale spouts out in the offing.

I’m glad I made the effort to go out this morning. I felt really blessed all day.



The G.I. Train Wreck

No, it’s not a real train wreck, but it sure felt like it.  In January last year, just a week into my resolutions to run more, read more and write more, I hit a major speed bump and everything got derailed.  Including this blog.

The short version, without all the gory details, is that I had a major flare up of a mysterious intestinal disease.


It took forever to get a diagnosis, and even longer to recover. My running regimen was completely derailed.  It was hard to run anywhere besides to the bathroom. I was tested for everything by my Gastroenterologist (GI). Nothing showed up.  My primary care Dr. mentioned the possibility of Celiac.  I’d never heard of it.  I asked the GI to test for the antibodies, he said it was negative.

By this time it was five months. I would have bought stock in Imodium AD if it had provided any relief!  As a last resort the GI Dr. scoped my entire digestive tract.  The biopsies showed definite damage due to CD.  Suddenly my blood tests made sense and he declared them positive for CD. LOL.  Make up your mind!

As a final proof positive,  he had me swallow a capsule sized video camera to get pictures of my guts.  It was all transmitted by wifi to a receiver on my belt.  I was officially diagnosed on June 4th, 2012.  I officially began my gluten free journey.  That is a whole ‘nother story!


The treatment for Celiac Disease (CD) is a very strict gluten free diet.  No wheat, rye or barley in any form whatsoever.  That is another whole ‘nother story.

Gluten plays hide-n- seek in so many places that walking through the grocery store is like walking into a minefield.

Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disorder where the body reacts to gluten in the small intestine by attacking itself.  It severely damages the small intestines ability to absorb nutrients.

This manifests in a myriad of mysterious ways.  I’ve had this all my life.  I just didn’t know it. Most of my earlier symptoms were fatigue, depression, forgetfulness and other things that come & go.

Finally, after a whole year of pretty discouraging symptoms, I began to feel better last week.  I finally have the energy and inspiration to get back to blogging, but I wanted to give an explanation of my absence to my faithful nine (9) followers!  LOL.

Mental Running

That’s the funny thing about running. The deceptive thing about it. It may seem mindless, but it’s really largely mental. If the mind’s not strong, the body acts weak, even if it’s not. If the mind says it’s too cold or too rainy or too windy to run, the body will be more than happy to agree.The Running Dream, by Wendelin Van Draanen

Running is Mental – What keeps you going?

What got me started running was a review of Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. That was the best book I read in 2010.  I loved the stories combined with cutting edge science and medical data.  That book, along with the C25K running program got me started. That was the hook and the bait snagged me.

My problem is that every October, right around the time-change, I get derailed.  My exercise program falls apart.  It doesn’t matter where I am, I get clobbered by SAD and the first thing to go is my workout.

Then sometime after the winter solstice (December 21-22) when the days start to lengthen, I slowly get back on track.  This year it started with a dream.  A running dream.

I was running up and down hills out in the countryside, surrounded by sunlit green fields. 

I fill my head with thoughts of running.  I have to get my mind in gear before my feet begin to move.  Browsing the library catalog I discovered a movie called The Long Run, about an African woman who trains for the most arduous ultra-marathon, the Comrades.
While I was browsing, the keyword, running, brought up a book, The Running Dream, quoted above.  I was intrigued by the title, because I had just had my own running dream. Jessica is a high school track star who loses her leg in a tragic accident. The road to recovery is a long one, full of challenges and growth.

In Born to Run, one of the people interviewed mentions that you need a heart to be a champion. The best part of the story is the way Jessica grows her heart, not just feeling pity, but real empathy for others that she encounters.  I won’t post any spoilers, so you have to read it for yourself.  It looks like this will be my favorite book for 2012, and I have barely started.  Wendelin Van Draanen also brought us Flipped, which was one of my favorite books last year.

What is your favorite mental motivator?  Is it a book?  Movie? or . . . ?

Monday’s Illustrated Run

The view from the parking lot at 7:00 AM

Start here.

Looking south along the Strand from the one mile mark with the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the background..

My time at the turnaround: 1.75 Miles in 23 minutes.

Monday, August 29th, 2011.           I drive about a mile and a half down to the Redondo Beach Pier.  I park on Esplanade because there are no meters on Esplanade.  There’s offside street sweeping a couple days a week so I usually find a parking spot. I just have to get back to the car before 8:00 AM.

I walk down the parking lot to the pier and turn south on the bike path. Just to the right you can see the SUV with port-a-potties on a trailer. Beverly Hills 90210 was filming at the Pier for the past couple of weeks.  It looked like a beach concert scene.

The Marvin Braude Bike Trail is marked off every 1/4 mile, like this picture on the right.  The Pier is 1.75 miles from the starting point at Torrance Beach.  I start running here and head south toward Torrance Beach.

This is a point on the trail about one mile from the end, way down by the Palos Verdes Peninsula that you see in the distance. It looks like a long way, but it really isn’t.  It just feels like a long way for an overweight 55 year old guy with Poly-cystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

Twenty three minutes later I get to the end, seen here with my watch documenting my time.  I stretch and breathe.

Then I watch the surfers for a minute while I catch my breath.  Torrance beach is a popular surf spot in the South Bay.  My cell phone isn’t the

My final time at the end of my run 7:49 AM

best camera for distance shots like this.  In addition to surfers, I see pelicans, seagulls, and an occasional pod of dolphins.

I turn around here and head back to the pier.

I made it!

Here’s my watch with my final time, looks like 7:49 AM.

Here’s my victory grimace.  The beach grooming tractors are out and sun is up.  A great day.

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Zero to 5K in Six Weeks! Vemma Rocks!

Zero to 5K in Six Weeks! VEMMA® Rocks!

Today I ran a total of 3.25 miles on the strand from the Redondo Beach Pier to Torrance Beach and back with one 1/4 mile walk break at the turnaround.

I started running again on Friday July 15th after taking five and a half months to recover from a bad gout attack. In only six weeks I’m back on track. I give full credit to Vemma, the liquid vitamin and antioxidant that I started taking back in May this year (2011).  Vemma stands for Vitamins, Essential Minerals, Mangosteen and Aloe.

When I first started running I used the C25K (couch to 5K) program from coolrunning.com.  C25K is a structured interval training program designed to bring a complete newbie up to speed and ready to run a 5K in just nine weeks.

After getting myself off the couch and out on the road the first time, it took me nineteen weeks to get up to 5K (3.1 miles). Along the way I was sidelined for two weeks by a cold, a week or so by shin splints and a few weeks in physical therapy for other aches and pains. I guess I wasn’t your typical newbie.  I was overweight, 54 years old and totally out of shape.

My usual time to run is for about an hour in the morning, between 6:00 to 8:00 AM, three times a week. I allow one day for rest and recovery in between runs.  Last year I would start to feel stiff and sore in the hips and legs about 10:00 AM on run days.  I experienced a lot of aches and pains, but kept going in faith that I would get better.

When I started up again in July I expected to have the same stiffness by 10:00 or 11:00 AM on run days but it never happened.  I progressed quickly as I pushed myself through longer intervals, using the 1/4 mile markers on the bike-path as a guide.  I haven’t done anything new this time around except for taking a daily dose of Vemma.

I’ve been taking two oz. of the standard Vemma formula every morning since May.  I have tried some of their other products as well.  Verve! is the Vemma energy drink, The Verve! Shot is a concentrated, insanely healthy energy shot that provides a real boost to your workout. My best run in the whole six weeks was the morning I tried a Verve! Shot before going for my run.

Vemma THIRST is a powdered hydration formula that includes all the basic Vemma formula plus electrolytes and amino acids to assist recovery after a workout.

What keeps you going during your workout?

The Running Bookworm

The Dreaded Bathroom Scale

The dreaded bathroom scale kept inching its way upward, pound by pound. It wasn’t supposed to do that, not when I was walking two or three miles five or six days a week. “Briskly“, as my doctor ordered. Once it hit 210 I knew I had to do something drastic and push my fitness routine up a notch.

On the day the scale hit 210 I started running. After warming up for about a block I started jogging at a fairly slow pace. By the end of the block I was wheezing and gasping for breath. And that was on the short end of the block. I was in worse shape than I thought!

Memories of running laps in middle school filled my head. I was the scrawny guy lagging the pack, behind even the chubby guys. I never learned the basic fact that you have to push yourself a little bit more every day. That nugget of wisdom came later.  I wouldn’t give up. Not if I want to live long enough to dance at my daughter’s wedding.

As I walked to the end of the next block to catch my breath I remembered something I’d read in my Dad’s old Boy Scouts of America, Official Handbook for Boys.

I remembered reading a chapter about alternating running and walking. Walk one hundred paces, then run one hundred paces, then repeat. Or was it a thousand paces? I mentally gave myself permission to take walk breaks and started running intervals.  I didn’t even know what intervals were. That first day in December 2009 I ran six half block intervals during my regular two mile walk.

After about a week of this a book review caught my eye. I can’t recall the magazine, but the book review was for Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Something caught my eye. “His feet hurt”. I was captivated by the article. I immediately went to the County of Los Angeles Library online catalog to put a hold on this book. There were 18 copies in the county library system, but it still took six months for my hold to come in. I have to vote Born to Run as the best book I read in 2010.

I couldn’t wait so I stopped by the Redondo Beach Public Library to check out some back issues of Runner’s World Magazine. I also did some searching online and found CoolRunning.com’s Couch-to-5K ® Running Plan (C25K). This is an incremental interval training program that gets you up from the couch to running a 5K race in nine weeks.

I followed the link on CoolRunning.com and downloaded one of the free iPod apps and started the program. With time off for a cold, shin splints and other issues, it took me 16 weeks to finish the program.  And I’m a runner now!

I’d love to hear from you.  Do you run?  What got you started?  What was the best book you read in 2010?