Saturday, July 04, 2015

July 3: weight gain

Kendo: suburi, albeit it in the late afternoon rather than early morning. One of those days I had to adapt to a busy schedule. Still working on smoothness in my strikes, a very difficult thing for me. I tend to be too jerky and stiff, especially in my lower body. An ongoing concern.

Running: 6.4 miles. Another odd length; I have a route that I run lately that always adds a little extra at the end. I could just walk the last .4 mile and keep the math straight, but then I figure I can always use the extra distance, and it doesn't hurt to burn a few extra calories. I do need to think about new shoes again--I stepped on a rock today while running and the darn thing hurt like heck because it hit what amounted to a hole in my left shoe. On the positive side, the quad thingy did seem a little better.

Nutrition: my weight suddenly shot up this morning, all the way to 167.5 pounds, and for no easily discernible reason. Part of  my normal pattern of weight fluctuation, I suppose. I'm eating well (though fighting some ongoing GI issues of late), and the general trend of my weight loss is still in the right direction. This sort of thing certainly requires patience and perseverance.

Friday, July 03, 2015

July 2: resting my quads

Kendo: morning suburi, working as always on relaxed upper body and tenouchi. I find this is a good complement to my dojo work, which tends to focus on somewhat different facets of my kendo. I have compacted my suburi routine down into a relatively brief session--around 20 minutes--during which I try to focus on quality, not quantity.

Running: took the day off to rest my quads.

Nutrition: about 200 calories over my threshold. If I do not run, I almost always exceed my base calorie count goal (1460), but I'm not too worried since I ate healthy today (no donuts), and my weekly total is still well below my limit, and my weight still remains in the 163-167 range--right where it should be at this point.

July 1: day of donuts

Kendo: off day, as is usually my practice on Wednesdays.

Running: 6.4 miles. A solid enough evening run, following what has become my usual daily route--Lantern road/116th, with a few extra loops thrown in. I am still slow, however, averaging a 10:30 pace. I'm still dealing with lingering upper quad soreness, which is very bad when I first start running, but then tends to loosen after a mile or so. I imagine this is producing my slow pace.

Nutrition: right at my limit today. Rather a challenging day: I fell to the temptation of some seriously good (and high calorie) cream-filled donuts from a local bakery. This put me several hundred calories in the hole, so what I had planned as a 4 mile run I needed to stretch out to cover my calorie deficit. This is not what I should be doing: running to eat, rather than eating to run.

June 30: "time to start improving"

Kendo: great to be back in my dojo. All of my recent traveling has made my attendance a bit sporadic (never a good thing), and I always feel as if I've missed out on important matters when I'm not here. I'm still bummed, for example, that I missed a class during which sensei discussed the proper method for fumikomi, one of my ongoing challenges.

Anyway, this evening was a very small class, much more so than usual: only about a half dozen of us, and myself as sempai. But it was also one of the more interesting kendo classes I can remember in quite a while. Imafuji-sensei devoted the first part of the class to an interesting discussion of the various concepts in Japanese surrounding the idea of "heart." He listed several different ideas contained within the Japanese word that roughly coincides with "heart": "kokoro" containing multiple ideas of "soul," "commitment," etc. It is this that sensei is emphasizing in our dojo, more so than technique, shiai victories, and that sort of thing.

During jigeiko I had the occasion to practice with Imafuji-sensei, and he stopped the bout on several occasions to give me advice and instruction. And after class he told me that, while I am getting better and becoming more aware, it's time to start making progress in fixing those shortcomings in my kendo that keep appearing again and again: "time to start improving," he told me. I think this means I need to stop making the same mistakes. I've made progress in many things in my kendo, but I have some nagging, persistent bad habits which I must fix, and fix now. Above all, I need to make straight, fearless cuts (I tend to fall off during the right in my men strikes, in a subconscious effort to avoid my opponent's shinai), with proper zanshin. These are not so much matters of technique, but rather commitment and heart--"kokoro." Sensei also discussed with me what he called my "self-centeredness": my tendency to think about what I am trying to do, rather than finding an open mind to fully observe and react to my opponent--especially when my opponent is my sensei.

This was I think an important class. I believe my sensei is in essence serving notice that I must improve, and now. I'm trying not to over-think this--in fact, my sensei warned me against that very thing--but I found nevertheless this is a class that has resonated with me a great deal.

Running: 6 miles. A decent early morning run along Lantern Road.

Nutrition: a good day, several hundred calories below my threshold--usually the case when I both run and practice kendo.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

June 29: light day running

Kendo: morning suburi: trying to get my morning suburi routine re-established. I think this is important, beyond the mere matter of repetition. I tend to use morning suburi as a way to clear and focus my mind for the day. This works better some days than others; this morning I think my suburi did in fact help my get my head in the right place.

Running: 3 miles. Brief evening run around the neighborhood. Still a bit sore from yesterday's long run.

Nutrition: back down around 166, more-or-less where I should be.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Where I'm going, week of June 29-July 5



Kendo: I think this is my primary goal for the week; to get my kendo discipline firmly re-established. Not that I'm doing bad kendo, lately, or that I've actually been all that un-disciplined; I just feel the need to get my head back in that tightly focused, daily mindful place I think I had begun to achieve a few weeks ago, before all this traveling proved to be such an interruption. So, this week I want to re-establish daily, disciplined suburi, and a good class at Mudokwan. I want to keep working on this ongoing goal of mindful, daily integration of kendo focus and values into my daily life.

Running: already I'm in week 4 of my Tecumseh training plan. The first three weeks have actually gone rather well; my distance runs and weekly mileage have pretty much been right on target. This week's goal: 40 miles with a 14 distance run. I also really need to start doing some actual trail running: the extremely wet weather we've experienced here in Indiana lately has meant the local trails are all closed. Hope this changes.

Nutrition: doing well here, though last week felt like a bit of a plateau, with all the fluctuations evening out into a weight around 166. I know I'm on the right track here, and I also know that my rate of weight loss can be expected to slow. Still, I'll stay focused on calorie counting, eating healthy, and slow, gradual loss.

Where I've been week of June 22-28



Where I've been this week? To Yale University and back. My trip to New Haven and back dominated my week, fitness-wise. Not necessarily in a bad way, either; I was able to use this trip to run in some new places, and do kendo with the Miami Valley dojo: different experiences which were quite positive. Still...

Kendo: aside from the aforementioned visit to Miami Valley, really an off week. I was unable to practice with either the Yale or Pittsburgh clubs (I had high hopes there; thought I might actually turn the Yale trip into a bit of a kendo road trip), and suburi proved impractical in New Haven. Hoping I can regain my daily discipline next week.

Running: 35.5 miles, 12 miles. Missed my (somewhat modest) training goal by exactly a 1/2 mile; really more of a rounding error than anything else. I suppose this was a good week, then, although my slow pace is irritating.

Nutrition: all over the place here, with my weight fluctuating an unusual amount from day-to-day. Still, I met the challenge of continuing my calorie-counting and eating healthy while at Yale, and I feel pretty good about that. And I ended the week at around 166, which means I at least held my own.

June 28: distance day

Kendo: nothing today; I really need to get my suburi back on track, starting Monday.

Running: 12 miles. A good distance day run, albeit slow (as usual), with an average pace in the 10:45 range. I took a somewhat different route, along 146th street towards Carmel. I've often used this route for long training runs, because it has a nice, smooth asphalt sidewalk and just goes on forever. I can run right to the Rohrer Street head of the Monon, and then down the Monon itself--it would be possible to run a distance greater than a marathon on this route.

At any rate, overall a good run. I'm not happy about my pace--can't figure out why I'm suddenly running thirty seconds to even a full minute slower than normal--but I finished today with no undue soreness. In fact, I felt as if I could have run a bit further.

Nutrition: looks like yesterday's weight spike was indeed an aberration; today I was back down to 166.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June 27: getting back on track

This felt like a "getting back on track" day. As much as I enjoyed my trip to Yale (the long drives there and back again less so) it really disrupted my fitness routine. So today I just tried to re-establish that routine.

Kendo: early morning suburi, my first in a long while. I didn't focus on anything in particular: just tried to get my sense of form and focus back. Didn't go too badly, though (as is always the case when I've not done anything related to kendo for a while) I felt somewhat stiff.

Running: 6.4 miles. A pretty decent run along Lantern Road/116th street late in the afternoon. I am awfully slow lately, for no discernible reason, and the upper quad soreness persists (I'm sure the slowness and the soreness are related), but a solid run nonetheless.

Nutrition: got my calorie-counting back in gear today, and had a good day, though my morning weigh-in showed I had jumped up several pounds, to 168.5. Very annoying, though I suspect this is an aberration.

Friday, June 26, 2015

June 26: recovery

Very much an off day. Yesterday's drive back from Yale--800 miles--was a 16 hour slog through rain, traffic, construction, you name it. I left New Haven at 6:30am and finally arrived home at 11:00. So today I just spent doing the rest and recuperation thing. No running or kendo, and a bit over on the calories. Along with yesterday's 16 hour road trip--which of course left no time for any cardio--I ran my calories over the limit for two days straight--I'm not happy about this, but I do think I'll still be able to get me weekly average back down where it should be by the end of the week.

June 21-25: at Yale




I spent the last five five days in New Haven, Connecticut, at Yale University. I participated in a Gilder-Lehrman Seminar analyzing the use of slave narratives (Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, etc.) to teach, study and write about the history of American slavery. The seminar itself was absolutely first-rate in every way, and I really enjoyed every minute.

On the fitness side of things:

Kendo: nothing here. I did manage a nice class with the Miami Valley Kendo Club on Tuesday, but after that....well, it wasn't for lack of trying. I thought I might be able to practice with the Yale kendo club, but unfortunately their practice schedule conflicted with our (very busy) seminar schedule. I also hoped I could practice with the Pittsburgh kendo club on my return drive home, but the outbound traffic and construction delays meant that I just wasn't able to make it on time. As for suburi, the dorm room in which I stayed at Yale just would not allow for it.

Running: 17 miles. I had much better luck with my running, though it was not without its difficulties. Our seminar was very long, but I found that I could manage an early morning run if I started at around 5:30am. Yale proved to be a hospital enough place for running (there were plenty of other runners around besides myself) and I enjoyed seeing the sights on campus: the various buildings, and a cemetery that made for a very pleasant place to do laps. So this was all to the good. On the downside, my pace was unbelievably slow; I'm dealing with a lot of upper quad soreness right now, for some reason, and it showed.

Nutrition: I managed quite well here, all things considered. The food during the seminar was excellent, and we had healthy choices. We even had accurate calorie info posted by each item, a most welcome little bonus. I maintained good calorie counting with MyFitnessPal, and according to the scales I bought along my weight remained pretty constant, in the 167 lb. range.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

June 20: on the road, and at Miami Valley

Kendo: I left for my trip to Yale University fairly early this morning, and scheduled it in such a way that I was able to stop in Dayton and practice kendo with the Miami Valley kendo club. I've practiced with them a dozen or so times in the past few years, and it is always a very enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Miami Valley has a very strong kendo club, one of the best in the area. Ito-sensei, Koizumi-sensei (and Ariga-sensei, until he moved to North Carolina a while back) run a kendo club that is both very traditional and very friendly--good people, who do kendo the correct way. I have always felt welcome in their dojo, and I'm always impressed with their size (normally not less than thirty kenshi of all ranks) and the outstanding quality of their kendo. I can't say enough good things about Miami Valley.

Today's class was intense: 2 1/2 hours of kendo, covering pretty much all the basics and a long jigeiko session. We did not work on any particularly new techniques, but practiced sharpening our kihon, footwork, etc. I must admit, I was absolutely wiped out when I was done, and spent the evening in my hotel room in Wheeling, West Virginia, trying to dry out my equipment. But it was an excellent experience, and a very good way to start my Yale trip.

Running: 2 miles. Sad, I know. I wasn't able to even attempt a run until I arrived at my hotel in the evening, and kendo just took so much out of me (not to mention some painful blisters on my right foot from a lot of fumikomi) that a couple of miles was about all I could manage.

As I type this in my room Saturday evening, I realize I was a bit optimistic about what I would be able to accomplish with my running during my travel to and from Connecticut. I may need to adjust my training plan for the Tecumseh a bit.

Kendo: I did pretty well here, I think; I ate healthy enough on the road. I didn't burn many calories running, but I did a pretty effective job in what was a serious kendo class at Dayton.

On this last point; I do want to calculate calories burned by my kendo into my nutrition and MFP routine, but I'm not entirely clear just how many calories I burn in a typical calorie class. I've surfed the web and looked at what other kenshi have to say on this subject, and the general consensus--including a couple of kenshi who have actually worn heart monitors while doing kendo--that a typical kendo class burns around 900 calories an hour. At first I thought that sounded rather high, but on the other hand, it makes sense when I think about how much high-cardio work is involved in drills, jigeiko, etc. I certainly think I burned that much during my Miami Valley class.

June 19: bust day

Really not a good day (save a solid morning suburi session). I wasn't able to do a run, and I really blew the roof off my calorie limit for the day. I won't make excuses, or give reasons...just one of those days during which everything but my fitness activities went well.