Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Year In Weight Lifting

It really hasn't been a whole year since I started in June, see my post on that here.

I continued to add 5 lbs per week until about 105 lbs and then hurt my back trying for 110. I worked on my form and on getting my back well again and progress has been slow but steady. I have gotten to the point where I sometimes am able to lift 135 lbs over my head using the clean and jerk.

I have changed my routine a little: I used to just lift whatever weight I was at five repetitions. Now I start at 115 and then either lift 120 then 125, then 130 and then (sometimes 135). Other times I will skip increments in order to be fresher at the highest weight, so 115, 125 then 135.

Am I getting stronger?

The short, or as I like to call it sometimes--the Microsoft answer--is that yes, I must be getting stronger. But does it alone account for the fact that I can lift more weight? No, almost certainly not. When I make a successful top-weight lift, it often feels pretty effortless. The moves in a clean and the moves in the jerk are pretty acrobatic and require a lot of coordination. This difficulty is compounded by the stress and danger of doing it while holding a heavy barbell in your hands.

It is all for the best:

Whether I am purely getting stronger (which is the actual goal) or am getting purely better at the moves, it is fine. If I am becoming more skilled this helps in two ways: Going through the full range of motion which happens in the properly executed lift provides better training. If skill allows more weight on the bar, then eventually the weight will have to be lifted with strength and so my muscles will become stronger.

Learning to let go.

The thing I have to watch out for is hurting my back. As mentioned above, I did hurt myself at 110 lbs. This happened when I failed to make the clean and bent my back while under a load. Now what I do is drop the bar if I need to. The floor is concrete and an unfinished basement, but even if it was the finest teak parquet, my back is less replaceable. Still, my back does ache and it is hard to tell what the reasons are. It was totally fine a month ago and I was lifting 130 back then. I suspect it was other activities like snow removal and hauling around packages and heavy bags of salt. This current snow storm will not clarify matters, but back issues are something to watch out for.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Year in Running

I did my last run of the year today and it was kind of a pathetic effort but when it gets averaged into a whole year the stink is diluted.

The goal for the year was 30 miles per week at a pace of 8:00/mile or better. 30 X 52 = 1,560, which I cleared by a massive 11.5 miles!

The grand total is 240 workouts covering 1,571.55 miles and taking a total of 208 hours, 42 minutes and 36 seconds. The average is about 6 1/2 miles with a pace of 7:58.

It can be broken further into runs with shoes and barefoot runs:

Shoes: 161 runs in 133:23:53 with 993.78 miles covered. Average pace of 8:03, average distance of a little less than 6.2 miles.

Barefoot: 79 runs in 75:18:43 with 577.77 miles covered. Average pace of 7:49, average distance of 7.3 miles.

I experienced much greater soreness after barefoot runs than with shoes and one can wonder if it is due to more intrinsic wear-and-tear or from running more than a mile further and 14 seconds faster per mile when barefoot as compared to running with shoes on.

No Picture, So It Didn't Happen

Actually a picture wouldn't really have added much, other than, ironically, filler.

We had gone to the 99 (right by where I work) after seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and I ordered a seafood sampler which included one stuffed clam.

The thing about stuffed clams is that I have never eaten one that was home made--most were the ones you get at the grocery, ready-made and frozen. You put them into the oven and like them but feel like they could be a lot better.

I decided to try and make them because I wanted to see how good they could be and the large clams used (quahogs) are a much better deal than the small ones that you might use for linguine sauce.

The ones I made were the best I've ever had, so here is how I made them:

I started with about 10 large hard clams (around 4 lbs total) I soaked them in a bowl, with many water changes for about 6 hours. This was to get rid of any grit that might be contained in them.

While steaming them in a covered pot, I browned a medium yellow onion and a similar volume of finely chopped celery (inner leafy part) along with a couple cloves of garlic in lots of butter and olive oil. The usual clan of herbs were added: Fresh parsley, bay leaf, black pepper, sage, oregano and I could have added paprika but forgot it. Into this I crushed about one sleeve of Ritz crackers.

If the above seems familiar, it should: It is essentially the same stuffing used for any seafood. I minced-up the clam meats, which had finished opening up by then and added that, along with fresh lemon juice to the stuffing and packed all of this into a dozen of the half shells.

These were arranged into the same skillet I had done the browning in and I added a tablespoon of the clam water from steaming to each shell as well as a bit to the pan to avoid scorching. This was put into a 350F oven for about 20 minutes, till the tops started to brown.

They were, as my wife put it, "guest worthy".