Monthly Archives: July 2008

One Hundred Push-Up Challenge

100 push-ups in a row.  6 weeks. 3 days a week.

That is the plan.  Doing a prescribed set of push-ups 3 days a week for 6 weeks should allow you to complete 100 push-ups in a row.  That is the claim of the latestet Internet fitness revolution.  Bloggers (and non-bloggers) everywhere are taking part in the Hundred Push-Up Challenge created by Steve Speirs at Run Bulldog Run.

If you’ve been following my marathon training, then you know that I’m in the middle of Week 4 3.  I’m almost up to 100 push-ups total in one setting – but within 5 sets.  It can be pretty challenging some days.

I decided that I wanted to add a little something to my workout and started the challenge using a swiss ball. In addition to the regular benefits, I get a little extra benefits for my overall core.  During an exhaustion test at the end of Week 2 my arms felt great doing the push-ups but my abs couldn’t hold my legs on the ball anymore and I fell over.  My plan is that this will greatly strengthen my overall core and I’ll reap a little extra benefit for the marathon training.

It seems that pretty much everyone has had to repeat at least one week, including Steve himself.  If you fail to meet the required workouts you should repeat the entire week to make sure you get the strength needed later.  I repeated Week 2 because I skipped a workout! If you are thinking about starting it now, make sure that it fits in with your training schedule for fall races – you don’t want to try doing 100 push-ups the day before your marathon!

Are you one of the thousands doing the push-up challenge? Where are you at in the challenge and how does it feel?

[tags] push-ups, Hunderd Push-Up Challenge, Core [/tags]

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Beauty of Africa

So far I’ve talked a lot about the negative sides of Africa.  But there are many great things about the continent.  Proud people, great traditions, beautiful scenery, lots of natural resources, and much much more.  While both of my trips to Africa were service learning, I was allowed to have some fun!

In South Africa we tried to take 2 days each week to do something as a team that was enjoyable and outside the routine.  We went on a Safari, did some hiking, lounged around, and spent some time in the city of Johannesburg. We did all of these activities as a group and had some fun adventures!

Ghana was a little different as I was living in the village for 8 weeks.  Most of my weekends were spent relaxing and trying to read a book.  As the only “Obruni” or white guy in the village I was a novel attraction. So every time I would sit in the little Gazebo someone would come talk to me.  It was a little annoying sometimes but it also produced some great conversations and I was really able to learn more about the people and culture.  I also took a couple of trips around the country – seeing some of the coast line and some of the major heritage sites of the Ashante people (most of Ghana was originally part of the Ashante Kingdom – before colonial rule).

The accompanying picture is from Kakum National Park. This bridge is about 100 feet in the air and is suspended between trees.  There is a whole Canopy Walk which is really pretty cool and on a good day you can see lots of animals (we didn’t see any) in the canopy. The rope bridges do sway back and forth while you walk and if I remember correctly, only one person is allowed on a bridge at any given time.

This is one of many great historical and natural wonders that dot the countryside throughout the continent.  It may seem a little silly to talk about natural beauty while children are starving, however I want to make sure I present a realistic picture of what I saw.  Great beauty, great wealth – next to great poverty.  There is a balance and World Vision is one organization that is working to help create the balanced picture.  Please consider supporting me in my quest of running my first marathon by donating to World Vision today.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

[tags]  World Vision, Team World Vision, Africa, Ghana, Kakum [/tags]

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Book Review: Marathon Preparation & Recovery

I just finished the 75 page e-book, Your Comprehensive Guide to Marathon Preparation and Recovery written by accomplished marathoner and blogger Blaine Moore. He recently won the Cox Sports Marathon in Rhode Island in 2:43 (I’m not sure what his PR is).

According to his blog he has finished 9 marathons and has been competitively running since 1992.  He establishes his credentials for the book during the introduction.

The book is well written in an easy to read and follow format.  E-books are a new trend and make for great portability and ease of reading and re-reading no matter where you are, assuming you have a computer or cell phone!

He easily walks the beginning and experienced marathoner alike through the 4 major parts of a marathon – deciding to do one, pre-race training, the actual race, and post-race recovery.  His goal is to simply make the marathon as painless as possible!

This book isn’t a training schedule like you might get from Hal Higdon or Jeff Galloway, but it adds insights that are sometimes left out of those training schedules. Some of the advice and tips might seem like common sense, but I think that is sometimes the things we forget to pay attention to.  The facts are interspersed with links to past race reviews and stories of his different experiences at the various races he’s run.

I enjoyed the “What to do during the race” section which hit on my most common ailment – starting too fast. I also resonated with other points, like not walking through aid stations if you didn’t do walk breaks in training.  I’ve done that before and it never helped, Blaine has experienced that and explained that it makes your legs stiffen even that short amount of time.

I’d say give it a read, its quick and easy and contains lots of valuable insights for every marathoner.

[tags] Marathon Training, Blaine Moore, Training, Marathon, Book Review [/tags]

Disclaimer: I won my copy in a recent contest at Blaine’s blog.

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Marathon Training: Week 8

This was a pretty good step back week.  For the most part the temperatures were great although the humidity tried to ruin that whenever it could. A good week was topped off by a good weekend of camping and hiking around to celebrate my 27th birthday!!

Monday:Four comfortable miles. It was a little hard to run comfortably with 80% humidity but I managed to run 4 easy miles in the 70 degree temps. I tried out a new loop downtown running to Nicollet and making a square through the middle of downtown.  I probably won’t do it again because I had to stop at a lot of intersections which really broke up the run (good and bad!) I did the 4 miles in 30:49 threw in a couple of accelerations and completed Week 3 Day 1 of the hundred push-up challenge (completing a total of 64 push-ups), and other core work.

Tuesday:7-9 miles. Met the training class at the Edina Community Center again (for the last time) for a 9 mile run.  We had a good run and I felt pretty good throughout. It was to be a conversational run and we had discussions during the early parts as to what a conversation actually meant! We did 3 loops around Bredesen Park; 2 on the inside and one on the paved outer loop.  Our leader got us a little lost on the first loop! Our overall run was 9.75 miles in  1:12:17 which is 7:24 pace.  Our fastest mile was a 7:08 and our slowest was a 7:54 (1st mile).  Overall it felt like a very solid run with a lot of pace variation throughout.

Wednesday:Four comfortable miles. I ran in the evening again and didn’t really like it! It was 83 without any real humidity so it should have been fine, but I felt tired and sluggish.  I was a little impressed to see that I ran 29:07 for 3.75 miles which is around 7:40 pace.  Most definitely a little tired! A total of 72 painful pushups for Week 3 Day 2.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it through.

Thursday:Rest Day! It was a nice day of rest!

Friday:8 mile run. This was a very wet run so I was quite glad when it started raining.  It was about 70 degrees at the start but 98% humidity – so it could have rained pretty much at any point.  I ran toward downtown – across the Stone Arch Bridge – around Hennepin and Boon Islands across the Plymouth Bridge and back home for a nice 8.75 mile run! I did this easy run in 1:12:57. It spit a few rain drops while on Boon Island but didn’t start raining until I was on the West River Parkway heading home!  This is a very scenic run. 82 pushups on Day 3 of Week 3!

Saturday: 10-12 miles. After the run Friday morning we packed the car and headed to the Minnesota North Shore and went camping at the Finland State Forest Campground. I almost didn’t run but decided I really couldn’t miss the opportunity to run on some very scenic trails.  I decided to run on the Superior Hiking Trail, north from Lake County Rd 1. I had to power walk within the first mile as I hit some steep inclines! The trail was quite rugged, as to be expected, with a lot of rocks and tree roots, so even the downhills where quite hard and dangerous. It was worth every second of the 1:20:25 run and every inch 1,500 elevation gain over 4 major “summits”. Talk about some amazing vistas!  They made it worth the effort for the ~7 mile run. It was cool up there as well – not sure an actual temp, but I started in long sleeves and got cold even while sweating.  The air off Lake Superior has a nice cold tinge to it.  After the run I waded into the Baptism River at Lake Superior for a nice ice bath!

Sunday:Cross training. Lots of hiking and exploring waterfalls for my birthday!!

Weekly Mileage:

Running –  33.3 miles

Hiking -15 miles

Hal’s Tip of the Week: To improve your ability to concentrate, visualize your race during workouts, particularly during marathon pace runs. “Put yourself into an emotional marathon mode,” says Bob Williams, a coach from Portland. Oregon. “Picture different parts of the course.” One workout, practice cruising miles 8-12; the next, rehearse miles 12-14. If you’re running a hometown marathon, run specific portions of the course during practice for familiarization. If it’s an out-of-town course, and you’ve run it before, replay the memory. Running Boston: Is there a hill similar to Heartbreak Hill near where you live? “Training on terrain similar to that on which you plan to race is essential,” emphasizes Williams.

Week 8

[tags] Marathon Training, Hal Higdon [/tags]

Foto Friday

These friendly little paintings are all over the Twin Cities, marking a lane for runners/walkers. Sadly many people don’t understand what it means and bike or roller blade on the same path. This particular walking man was seen on the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge on the Greenway.

[tags] Foto [/tags]

Studying Runners

Two studies are currently underway testing runners in the Twin Cities area.

The first is a study is for any runner who is running either Chicago, Twin Cities, or the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. From the studies site:

We are inviting you to participate in a study on the relationship between marathon performance and satisfaction. The study is being conducted by researchers at The University of Chicago.

The study will take a total of 30 minutes of your life during which you’ll complete 3 different surveys – with the first being 2 months before the marathon and the last will be post-marathon. Anyone is eligible to participate as long as they are training and plan to complete the marathon. There will be random drawings conducted at the end of the study where they will be giving away 14 prizes for each marathon. The prizes include an iPod Nano and a Garmin 305.

Thank you MDRA for pointing out this study – I signed up.

The second study is being conducted locally by the University of Minnesota.  They are looking for 18-45 year-old’s who are participating in a regular running program and are otherwise in good health. The study will involve one outpatient visit for a total of 2 hours.  Participants will get paid $30 for their time. $15 an hour isn’t too bad for most of us working folk!  E-mail for more information. From an e-mail I recieved back from the study:

The reason why we are interested in intramuscular fat is because intramuscular fat levels generally relate to insulin resistance (ie more fat, more insulin resistance). However, this is not the case in endurance athletes and we are studying this apparent paradox.

I submitted a short questionnaire to be considered for the study.

Also the USATF Stretch Study is still going on. Be sure to check that one out too.

[tags] Research, Marathon, Medical Research [/tags]

Ghana: A Shining Star

As the first majority African country to gain independence in 1954 Ghana was the hope of a continent. Things didn’t quite work out that way as the human nature of greed and corruption took over some of those in leadership positions.  By the time I visited, 50 years later there was still a long way to go on the road to self-sufficiency and prosperity.  Nevertheless they had made some amazing progress.

After my 8-week internship in rural Ghana I made numerous presentations about my experience. I presented to grad students, my church, and even at a national social work conference.  It is important to share the story so that other may “get a whiff of the fragrance of Ghana,” as one Ghanian put it.  But it is important that others get the chance to see what is happening – both the good and bad, so they can understand.

Below is a copy of the standard presentation that I gave upon my return.  You are saved from hearing all of my rambling stories that accompany each slide.  There are a lot of picutres and probably some terms you might not know.  Here are a view important ones:

ICT – Information and Communication Technology    Telecentre – basically a community center with a technology emphasis.

So without further ado:

I would be happy to answer any questions you might have in the comment section.  During my time in Ghana I actually saw several World Vision vehicles driving around – they have several programs occuring throughout the country.  Team Cross actually supports a child in northern Ghana.  You can read about the country and World Vision’s work there.  Some of the projects are updating classroom facilities, drilling wells for clean water, and helping immunize children.

Please consider supporting World Vision’s great work in Ghana and the rest of the world by clicking here.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

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