Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Back again: both "back to pushups" and "back to an earlier program week."

I had let them slide. They were discouraging. I was regressing.... not able to do as many as I had a week or two earlier.

Maybe low on glycogen with my low-carb nutrition?

Maybe, as a friend suggested, spreading my restorative resources too thin, doing intense upper-body training while the same body is trying to heal a serious Achilles injury.

Maybe just good old overtraining.

Whatever it is, I've decided to drop back, not an ability level as I had previously, but a couple progress levels. I'm staying at Level 3 but dropping back to Week 2. The number of reps will not stress me, and I'm thinking they'll serve as a warm-up for the final Max effort at the end of the session, where I hope to make my real progress.

Over my 22 years as an adult-onset athlete, I've become notorious for tweaking programs and doing my own thing. I've also found I don't respond well to too much training. I get overtrained very easily.

BTW: With low-carb nutrition I've lost 8 pounds in 3 weeks, and 2 inches off my waist. Skeptics might call the 8 pounds "just fluid," but the 2 inches are hard to argue with.

How it went:
Sets: 12, 12, 9, 7, separated by 60 seconds each. The second 12 was a little hard (I'm dipping lower than I was before, my son said I wasn't going low enough.) Then the max effort after 2 minutes -- I did 20. Felt OK. I'm back!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


My last two posts have been about whether I'm addicted to computer communication and the internet. There's no doubt in my mind that I am, but.... there are a lot of other things I'm about, and I need the computer to tell the world.

But that's not what my blog is about, so I'm going to leave the pity party and drop that topic.

My blog is about endurance. Endurance in sports and endurance in life. It's about long-distance hiking, and long-distance biking, and long-distance running, and healing up my Achilles tendons so I can do those things, and about what to eat to support those long distances AND fix my lipids AND lose weight.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that low-carb is the way to go. Granted, since I'm injured I haven't been able to see yet what effect this way of eating has on my endurance performance. But what I'm reading about glucose-vs.-fat metabolism, and insulin response and fat storage, and availability of fat for fuel, is making me think maybe the high-carb/low-fat approach is just plain all wrong. And it doesn't work well for weight loss either, as many of us have found, and continue to find over and over again, much to our consternation.

Clearly, there's more to be learned. Check out the two blogs I just listed in my sidebar under "Low Carb." Especially LivinLaVidaLoCarb.... beaucoup information in that blog!!


I took this quiz to see what the "pros" think about my internet use. Here's what they said (sorry about the spacing, couldn't seem to HTML it out.)

(41% - 60%)
You seem to have a healthy balance in your life when it comes to the internet and life away from the computer. You know enough to do what you want online without looking like an idiot (most of the time). You even have your own Yahoo club or online journal! But you enjoy seeing your friends and going out to enjoy life away from your computer.

I don't agree. I think if something's negatively impacting your life, and you don't seem to be able to resist doing it to the exclusion of what you should be doing, that's not good. Maybe "average" is just plain too much. I check my email before doing my therapy stretches and end up not doing the stretches because I stay on until the last second before I have to start something else. That's negative. And that's just an example.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I can't imagine how many hours I spent on the computer yesterday. I worked 3 hours at the campground where we live, spent an hour and a half in church, an hour or so cleaning and testing my bike, maybe another one cooking and eating dinner; the entire remaining time I was doing email (several active groups) and looking up stuff. It's getting out of hand; my kitchen floor is covered with dog hair and onion skins, my bedroom floor with shed clothes and shoes. My husband sits outside in the evening gazing at the stars by himself.

Other than logging on FitDay, checking my %$&^* insurance status, and glancing at the weather map, I'm declaring the computer off-limits today. I've got to break the addiction.

You folks are the best, reading my stuff and commenting, letting me know I'm in your life. I will respond to all of you when I'm back in control, I promise!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Well. Progress!!

I have lost 1.8 inches from my waist since I first measured it 3 weeks ago.

I am down 7.6 pounds in 3 weeks; 15.8 in 7 months. The sudden acceleration must be due to my low-carbohydrate intake. There's no other explanation. Watch out, I may turn into a pusher.

Speaking of pushing...

Today I started Week 4 over again, at level 3. Sets went like this:
27; 20; 20; 17; then max possible, at least 27, all separated by 60 seconds or more.

Well, I waited 90 seconds. The sets were hard but not impossible, until I got to the "max, at least 27."

I made 16 before collapsing. So I added that to my total for the day, and waited 5 minutes, then tried again.

I did 35. Total of 162!! Tracking your total each day isn't part of the program, but I'm going it anyway.

I've updated my tickers to reflect all of this, and moved them so you can see them without scrolling down.

My right Achilles tendon is a lot less swollen than it was. My left, well, not as good, but it doesn't hurt at least. I still get shooting pains in the right one. My physical therapist measured the angle of flexibility on Monday and I've progressed a couple degrees on each side. Normal is 10-20; I started at 9 on the left, 5 on the right; I'm up to 11 on the left and 7 on the right. Slow progress, but progress. She is also giving me lots of leg- and ankle-strength work, as explained in my previous post, so that I don't lose ground there while I'm sidelined. In fact, I should be a lot stronger when I return to training than I was before.

I'm encouraged.

By the way.... I was not sore after my pushup binge the other night! (see last post.)

Monday, July 21, 2008


I did my end-of-week-4 progress trial for the Hundred-Pushups Challenge.

I was able to do 35.

This is 20 more than I could do 4 weeks ago, but it puts me into Level One, and I started in Level Three. Despite my progress, I feel like I'm losing ground.

However, after the 35, I rested awhile, then cranked out 20 more. Then 10 minutes later, 25. Break for 5 minutes, 20 more. Five minutes later, 22, which was all I could manage, but my total was 122. This whole workout exceeds Day 3 of Week 4 at Level 3.

So I don't know where I am.

I think I'll do Week 4 over again, at Level 3. You may remember I dropped down to Level 2 at the end of Week 3. But now I seem to be back up to Level 3, if I repeat Week 4.

Maybe what Shirley said in her comment.... that, in running, a recovery week after a couple weeks of building puts you ahead for the next cycle of building -- maybe it's the same for strength.

Anyway.... I can tell I'm going to feel this tomorrow. On top of the increased lower-body strength routines my physical therapist upped me to today. I did "progress tests" there my last visit and today she increased my reps, tied me into heavier resistance bands, added tricky balance moves. Just when I thought I was a hot shot, she ups the ante.

But I have to appreciate that she is working on keeping up my conditioning so that when I can return to endurance sports I'll be strong. She said I'm a challenge: "We have to work hard to challenge a high-level athlete like you."

She called me a high-level athlete. I'll be darned.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


My weight is down a little.
My waist is down a little.
My mood is down a little.

I am discouraged with the progress (or, more appropriately, lack thereof) in healing my Achilles tendons. They haven't been getting worse, just not better. My physical therapist is abandoning the ASTYM for the present, since it doesn't seem to be helping, and doing more ultrasound treatment and physical realignment of the foot and ankle joints. My podiatrist is going to cast me for orthotics at my next visit. This is a good thing. I've thought for years I could benefit from custom orthotics; just never had a medical excuse to get them. "Well, you've got one now," said the podiatrist.

I feel a little negative about having had to drop back a level in the Hundred Pushup Challenge. I wanted to be at the TOP level. I wanted to be Super-Jock Granny right from the get-go. However, I did more pushups than called for, my last session: I was caring for the little son of our managers, had forgotten my printed-out pushup schedule, and "wung" it. Sets went like this: 25, 18, 18, 15, 20; then got ambitious and did another 20, then another 21.

Weight and waist: Since I'm not doing any endurance training, I've gone to low-carb. You read right. Actually there's news splash lately that the medical profession is acknowledging more and more that in fact it may be healthy. I was on it before the most recent study was published last week so I feel I've one-upped the media. I've been doing some studying and believe there's a lot of information supporting the safety and efficacy of restricting carbohydrate and acquiring a greater percentage of calories from protein and even fat, even saturated fat. Not Crisco, but I'm eating butter and whole eggs and bacon and beef. Imagine. Even though I'm as concerned about cholesterol as weight (actually, more so), what I've been reading about the interaction of carbohydrate intake, insulin, and glucagon in fat storage and conversion has me fairly convinced that the higher-fat, lower-carb nutrition will have a favorable effect on my lipid levels, which I will have re-checked in a couple months to see. In the meantime, after about 10 days I'm down 6 pounds with an inch off my waist.

Hope all is well for everyone!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


A group of my girlfriends have a challenge going: do something each month that stretches and scares them.

Since this is a group of athletes, the challenges are pretty much athletic in nature: hit a new PR for a distance, do a triathlon, cycle a time trial, do a different kind of race.

Me with my Achilles tendons, my challenge for this month is to clean out my closet and cupboards. Definitely a stretch and scary..... we have so little space in the RV, it's all at a premium, and I tend to accumulate stuff, and what will I do with the stuff I clean out of the storage space???

I got the closet done; cupboards are next. The closet only took 2 hours. I had to store my hiking backpack and all its contents in the backseat of the car, which we rarely use, to make room in the closet, which I do use.

I think my scariest and most difficult challenge, though, is sitting out this Achilles issue. I'm afraid losing my cardiovascular fitness. Running, walking, and even biking are out. Swimming.... well, I don't swim strongly or fast enough for it to count as aerobic. It's more like stretching. I asked the PT about pool-running and she was afraid of that much resistance causing dorsiflexion and extension of my feet, so that's out.

I'm getting stronger with my pushups and PT, but I am going to need to build my aerobic base back up when this resolves. I'll probably be out for another month at least. Then I need to rebuild slowly, being extremely careful of my tendons and guarding against too much too soon, to walking 8-10 miles at a time, to be ready to start the AT in the spring over mountains with a 30-pound backpack on.

I find this very scary.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Since I had such a hard time with Saturday's Level 3 pushup workout, today I dropped down to Level 2, where today's reps were slightly less for Day 3 than Saturday's for Day 2. (25, 19, 19, 17, 22 compared with 27, 19, 19, 15, 25.) That's 102 today; 105 Saturday/

Even so, I could hardly make it.

But I made it.

Last week I found the requirements easier if I rested two days in between, instead of just one. I think I'll go back to that, as well as continuing in Level 2.

Week 4 will go like this:
Day 1: 22, 16, 16, 14, 22 (separated by 60 seconds, more if needed.)

Day 2: 22, 17, 17, 15, 20 (separated by 90 seconds or more)
Day 3: 25, 19, 19, 17, 24 (separated by 2 minutes or more)

It looks easy enough.

At the end of Week 4 comes another Progress Trial of as many as possible.

I may not be quite the stud I thought I was, but I'm still a stud :-)

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Double-entendre here.... this post relates to the little progress-meters in my sidebar (scroll down) AND to my heart.

I have lousy lipids. I've gone the medication route but it gave me muscle pain. I've made a modest improvement via oat bran, kidney beans, apples, and Metamucil capsules.
I've been doing some reading on the relationships of body fat, body weight, cholesterol (and all its variations, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, etc., none of mine are good), weight loss, BMI, etc., and playing with online fitness calculators. I'm deciding that weight and BMI are not reliable measuring sticks; they don't tell the whole story. Especially for athletes who may weigh more because they have more muscle mass and don't fit the charts.

The new kid in town is waist-height ratio. Ideally, as an indicator of lower risk for cardiovascular disease related to body composition and lipids, one's waist should be half one's height, or less. Here's a site I like for calculating it all out and explaining it. There I found out about the Willoughby Model, after the researcher who developed it, with "normal" and "athlete" or "ideal" WHR's. "Normal" WHR is under 50%; "Athlete" or "Ideal" is 45.8%, which for me would be 28 inches.

So that's what I'm aiming for, and I've added a new ticker to my sidebar to track my progress. Twenty-eight inches would represent a waist loss of 2 inches. Unbelievably, with a new food plan (but that's another post) I'm down 0.8 inches from when I started (a week ago?) already. Or else I just measured my starting waist wrong. But I'll take it!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I just struggled through Day 2 of Week 3:
27, 19, 19, 15, 25, separated by 90-second rests.

Except on 90 seconds I was only able to do 17 for Set 2, so for the next one I rested 2 minutes; barely cranked out the 19 so after that I rested 3 minutes. The 15 were hard but not impossible. I rested 4 minutes before the 25, which were j-u-s-t b-a-r-e-l-y d-o-a-b-l-e. Just barely.

Day 3 calls for 30, 22, 22, 20, 27.

Ack. I'm thinking I might have to repeat Day 2, or drop back from Level 3 (the most advanced) to Level 2 (intermediate.) Level 2's Day 3 is the same as the one I did today. I might have to stay at Level 2. This is getting really hard.

On the Achilles front:
Turns out that on the right it's not just tendonitis, it's actually a small tear, which will take longer to heal although the treatment is the same. I've been allowed to bike 10 miles but even that is causing a little aching and burning so I'm down to swimming, pool-running (great, I'm not crazy about swimming, it's the part of the triathlon I do as a required formality; pool-running has to be about as exciting as watching cows chew cud) and strength-training. I've got my pushups. And PT, where I do foot/ankle/leg/hip strengthening.


Saturday, July 05, 2008


So I've been doing this hundred-pushup challenge, and just finished my workout for Day 3 of Week 2.

The program called for sets of 15, 15, 12, 12, all separated by 2 minutes, followed by a final set of as many as possible, minimum-recommended 15.

I was able to push to 25.

That's the most I've done in a row EVER!! Even when I was doing pushups all the time! This program is WORKING!!

Plus I whipped easily through the 15, 15, 12, 12, not struggling with the last ones in each set as I have on all previous days.

I took two rest days instead of just one after my last session, and I think that made the difference. So I'm going to do that from now on. It'll lengthen my "weeks" to more than 7 days, but as long as I do the workouts in sequence, I don't think that matters.

Next challenge is to rest a couple days and then crank out as many as possible consecutively. The results of this trial determine the level of the next couple weeks' training.

I'm getting TUFF!!! Look out, world.... Ellie may be pushing 60 but she's pushing iron.

Friday, July 04, 2008


41-year-old Darra Torres just won a spot on the women's Olympic swim team for the upcoming games. FORTY-ONE!! Her FIFTH Olympics. Go, Darra!

At 41 Darra's lived enough years to be more than a one-sport wonder. Besides being a world swimming champion, she's a racecar driver, journalist, and model, to name a few of her activities.

She's also gorgeous. Check out the links.... there are photos.

Is it too late for me to be Darra when I grow up?

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I'm coming to the conclusion I can't do both. Sometimes (much of the time, most of the time) I spend so much time online emailing and blogging about my life I don't have much time left over to live it. I'd make bigger strides in the practical world if I didn't spend so much time ruminating about it on the Internet.

Time to ponder.