Welcome to my fitness blog, started in December 2005 and dedicated to tracking my two primary fitness pursuits: kendo and distance running. I went from 260 pounds in 2004 to my current 160 pound range. This blog is my daily record of trying to stay fit.

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 17: more stairs

Kendo: Thursdays offer a bit more room in my schedule for practice, and with an empty house in the early morning I can make all the noise I wish, so today after my usual suburi I did uchikomi-dai. I'm feeling some progress here; most of my strikes were right on target and crisp, and I think all the focus on katate-suburi is beginning to pay off with better and stronger left-hand-only strikes on my target men. I still need to improve my fumikomi, however.

Running: 4 miles. In my ongoing efforts to do targeted, focused runs with purpose (I still need to put up a blog entry about this), I ran another stairs workout in the Wellness Center: 21 laps, 42 flights of stairs. I was feeling it in my upper quads when I finished, but nevertheless a good run.

I'm also doing quite a bit of walking, as well, to add to the steps on my little pedometer project. This afternoon I arrived at my stepson's baseball game a bit early, and walked a couple of laps around Billericay Park--approximately two miles, I think. Along with my run, I managed over 22,000 steps today.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 16: long day, split run

Kendo: 5am suburi. I pursued my usual routine, and worked on kata, as I've recently begun to do. In particular I am trying to eliminate any unnecessary movements, and I'm trying to improve my men-nuki-men for the shidachi part of the second kata. I need to get my left foot much further back when stepping away from uchidachi's cut.

Running: 6 miles. Good day here. I ran a hills program on one of the Wellness Center treadmills this morning--level 2, which isn't much, but a good start to working hills training into my training.

Normally a short morning run in the Wellness Center is all I can manage on a Wednesday. But it so happened that my work schedule required me to remain on campus much further down into the afternoon than usual. I had about a two hour space in the early afternoon, so I climbed back into my running clothes and ran three more miles. A little sore by the evening, but a good running day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 15: better class

Kendo: a good class this evening in the dojo, better than last Friday. My various gaffes and failures Friday in fact helped make this evening a better experience; trying to learn from my shortcomings, I practiced tonight with a better focus and determination to avoid those errors. I had a pretty good kata session, discovering quite a few detail issues I need to address in my execution of the first three kata. In bogu, drills went well, and I had a good jigeiko bout with Park-sensei. A solid class.

Running: 3 miles (walking). I go back and forth on just how much running I should do on Tuesdays, when I attend kendo in the evenings. On the one hand, I need to save my energy for the dojo; on the other hand, I dislike missing a running day, especially given my usually light teaching load on Tuesdays, when I usually have a bit more time.

Today, I aimed for a bit of a compromise: a walk on the basement treadmill in the morning. This seems a good solution; I get a bit of light cardio, while still having something in the tank later for kendo.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 14: making changes

Kendo: added a few things to my usual morning suburi practice. I have what amounts to a core of activities I always do, and certain overall goals--tenouchi, relaxation of upper body, etc.--I always try to keep in mind during suburi, but I'm also trying every morning to maintain a sensitivity to whatever issues I think need to be addressed that particular morning (perhaps my footwork seems a bit off, for example) and act accordingly. And of course, I try to incorporate whatever I've discovered needs improvement during class at the dojo on that particular week.

A balance is necessary here, I think. I want on the one hand a stable routine by which I daily perform suburi to maintain ongoing efforts to integrate kendo into my everyday life and center my mind for the day; on the other hand, I don't want to just mindlessly perform the same activities over and over again--or worse, make the same mistakes repeatedly. Stability and flexibility; that's the key. At any rate, my suburi this morning:

1. mokuso (acting on advice from my sensei and focusing on proper breathing here).
2. sonkyo
3. kamae (always a detailed check of my kamae)
4. katate-suburi (60)
5. sayu-men (100)
6. sho-men (120)
7. kote-men-do (10)
8. men with fumikomi (20)
9. sonkyo.

I then take out the bokuto and work on kata. Right now I'm focusing on the first three kata, cleaning up some errors in the details that cropped up recently at the dojo. I must admit, practicing kata by myself at home has certain inherent disadvantages, but I can do some useful work here.

Running: 3 miles. Changes here, as well. I plan a more detailed blog entry later this week concerning just what exactly I'm doing in my running life right now. This morning, I did 16 laps (3.03 miles) in the Wellness Center, as usual, but ran the stairs--32 flights. A solid run.

I've also begun a new program whereby I'm wearing a podometer that tracks my steps every day--during a 90 day period, if I walk/run a certain number of steps, I'm eligible for gift certificates, etc. A nice little bonus to my fitness life. Today my podometer red 14,646 steps. Not bad, I suppose.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekly plan, April 14-20

Kendo: I like where I'm at with my kendo, right now--not despite the various failures I experienced last week, but because of those failures. Thanks to my excellent sensei, and a long conversation Friday (following a difficult and embarrassing series of mistakes on my part in class), I feel as if I've grown a bit in my kendo, and I have a clearer sense of my purpose and goals.

I'll blog about that in a future post. For this week, I'll pursue my usual kendo work--class Tuesday at Mudokwan, daily home suburi--but with I believe will be a renewed sense of focus and purpose.

Running (last week, 21 miles, 6 distance). I think this renewed sense of purpose and focus in my kendo is likewise having a positive impact on my running; in fact, I think I have a somewhat clearer sense of how I can integrate these two facets of my fitness life. This will be the subject of yet another blog post soon*; for now, the plan this week will be 30 miles, with a 10 mile distance run and some different, more specially focused runs--I'll explain at some point.

*Yes, I do actually plan to blog something other than my daily running/kendo diary 

April 13: finally, new shoes

Kendo: morning suburi, with the addition of the kata practice I have added recently.

Running: 5 miles. Finally, new shoes. My old pair lasted me through the winter (running almost exclusively on treadmills and an indoor mondo track I'm sure helped prolong their life), but by now they are just totally wiped out. Normally, I order my footwear from our excellent local running store, the Blue Mile in Fishers; but I have grown rather desperate, and it sometimes takes a week or more for my shoes to arrive (I wear an Asics 10 1/2 2E, with extra width for my overly wide feet). So, I went looking for a pair at Kohl's, where I frankly did not expect to find any wide sized Asics. But I was lucky; I located a pair. They are slightly shorter, a size 10, but even wider than my normal pair. I tried them this afternoon for an outdoor run around the neighborhood, and so far, so good.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 12: outdoors

Kendo: I managed to do quite a bit of suburi today. In addition my usual morning suburi (yes, I wake up at 5:00am, even on Saturdays--just can't help it), I found time to practice some of the finer points of kata. I need to address numerous detail errors: 1) proper breathing techniques, 2) the correct placement of my bokuto when cutting kote for the uchidachi part of the second kata (I tend to finish the cut too high), 3), the correct centering of the kensen when executing the blocks for the uchidachi part of the third kata (I tend to overswing and move the kensen off center). I also want to address some issues in the shidachi parts of katas two and three, towit: I need to be smoother in men-nuki-men for the second kata, moving my left foot back farther and executing the evasion and counter-strike in one smooth movement; I need to step back farther when evading the kote strike in the second kata; I need to work on the proper placement of my hands while executing the tsuki in the kata number three.

Running: 6 miles. A Saturday outdoor run, with perfect weather. I actually wanted very much to do a trail run with my son at Town Run Trail Park--in addition to just wanting to get out on some dirt, my trail shoes are in far better shape than my street shoes. Unfortunately, Town Run was closed; I suspect the recent heavy rains and flooding (the trail in places is parallel to the White River) have closed parts of the trail. So, Nathan and I ended up on our tried-and-true neighborhood route along Lantern Road/116th Street.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 11: kendo and failure

Running: off day. Just had absolutely nothing in the tank, after a long, hard trip to Tulsa and back. And since I'll be able to attend kendo class this evening, I felt it best to husband what little energy I possessed for the class.

Kendo: an old kendo saying holds that we learn far more by failure than success. This is something I've read in several places, and has been repeated often by our sensei, both Imafuji-sensei and Titus-sensei.

It is so true. I failed on several levels this evening, and my failures were all the more glaring in that I was the senior student. I'll not go into the details: suffice to say, I was (and am) greatly bothered by both my mistakes and the inadequate energy, spirit and focus which led to those mistakes.

And yet...it was one of the better kendo classes I have experienced. I had a very long and instructive discussion with my sensei after class, concerning just what I should be trying to accomplish in kendo: not technique, but rather development of my inner kendo spirit. I plan a more extensive blog entry concerning these matters soon, for they include not just my kendo, but the relationship between my kendo and my running. Suffice to say for now that this evening's class was humbling but quite valuable.