Kendo quote of the week:

"Strike, and reflect; be struck, and give thanks."--ancient kendo saying

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 22: working on basics

Kendo: another fairly large class at the dojo last night. Hot and humid, too. We did not activate the air conditioning--a decision of which I for one entirely approve--but our sensei was cognizant of the heat by building in a couple of brief water breaks during class. Still, it was quite a test of our endurance--or at least my endurance, anyway.

Since returning from the AUSKF nationals in San Diego, our sensei has spoken a great deal about the need to  "break" our kendo, to rebuild it with a stronger foundation. The idea is to refocus our attention on the details of our kendo, correct a great many nagging little errors (I confess I am especially guilty here, as I tend to commit small mistakes, often with an unawareness that I'm not doing a given thing correctly), and a better sense of self-awareness and self-correction in our kendo. Last week, for example, sensei wanted us to think in particular about the exact placement of our back left foot during kirikaeshi and men. He wanted us to avoid moving our left in front of our right foot, avoid any unnecessary movement while getting set for a strike, etc.

This is kihon--basics, and of course we've heard this many, many times before. But, as sensei points out, we still all habitually make these same basic mistakes in something so simple and basic. I am as guilty (or more so) than anyone in our dojo, and this reflects the basic lack of self-discipline and focus that plagues my kendo--and life in general--and highlights one reason why I do kendo in the first place.

During this evening's class, our focus was again on kihon, details and the very fundamentals of our kendo. During kata we did nothing but work on the first kata, for thirty minutes, trying to correct errors in distance--in sonkyo, the men strikes for uchidachi and shidachi, etc. In bogu (or rather, kendogu, the new terminology recently approved by the WKF) we performed a great deal of kirikaeshi, small men and kote. On the latter point, we focused on putting pressure on the center, and then using our opponent's pressure to either strike a correct men, or a correct kote. Jigeiko was a bit brief (and in fact I was unable to do much myself, since two of my three partners had to stop and correct some loose do himo), but productive.

And on the whole, it was a good class for me. I need to work on these details of kihon, like everyone else, but I think I made at least a bit of progress this evening. I felt more centered and focused, at any rate.

Running: 6 miles. A good run today along Lantern/116th street. A good pace, too, averaging around a 9.30 mile.

July 21: day off

Kendo: morning suburi, a good way to start the week. In addition to the benefits to my kendo, suburi helps me focus my mind and center myself for the day.

Running: off day. Seemed like a good idea, as I heal up from yesterday's trail running mishap.

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 20: ugly little accident

Kendo: off day. Sundays are my normal kendo off days, since I plan to do my longest distance days for running here.

Running: 5.4 miles. Found time for another trail run at Town Run. I looked forward to this: perfect weather, I love trail running, and this was the first time I could run the entire Town Run route using my Runtastic app, tracking my distance with GPS. I've never known the exact distance for Town Run; it doesn't have markers, and it does have many twists and turns. The bicyclists who ride the trail (it's actually about 90% bikers) have told me the distance is around 7 miles, but I've never been sure if they knew what they were talking about.

The run was going quite well, until the last leg of the trail. I tripped over something--tree root, rock, who knows?--and did a face plant right into the trail. I got banged up pretty badly, with numerous cuts to the face, swollen upper lip, and some scrapes here and there. Nothing serious, really; I did know better than to stick my hands out (no broken bones into the bargain); I just looked like I went fifteen rounds with Clubber Lang. And I finished the $#%! run. But it did put quite a damper on what was otherwise a good run.

I also discovered those bikers don't really know what they're talking about. The total distance of the Town Run Trail is around 5.4 miles; the shorter leg (too the I-465 overpass and back, sort of a natural turnaround point for shorter runs) is not 5 miles (again, as I was told by some bikers) but rather a bit less than 4.

Nutrition: pretty good day, with a return to my veggie ways, after yesterday's meatfest at Texas Roadhouse.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Huff50K Training Plan

My weekly training plan for the Huff50k in Albion, Indiana.

         Week of:       D1/D2/total

  1. July 7:            6/6/26
  2. July 14:          8/6/30
  3. July 21:          10/6/34
  4. July 28:          12/6/36
  5. Aug 4:            14/6/40  
  6. Aug 11:          16/16/43
  7. Aug 18:          18/8/48
  8. Aug 25:          20/8/52
  9. Sep 1:             14/6/40 
  10. Sep 8:             20/10/54
  11. Sep 15:           16/14/58
  12. Sep 22:           24/10/62
  13. Sep 29:           16/10/50
  14. Oct 6:             24/12/66
  15. Oct 13:           20/16/66
  16. Oct 20:           16/10/48
  17. Oct 27:           26.2*/8/64 (*Monumental Marathon)
  18. Nov 3:            22/16/68
  19. Nov 10:          16/10/50
  20. Nov 17:          24/16/46
  21. Nov 24:          25/12/69
  22. Dec 1:            20/5/52
  23. Dec 8:            10/5/36
  24. Dec 15:          50k*/-/42  (*Huff50k)

July 19: off the wagon

Kendo: morning suburi:

1. mokuso
2. sonkyo
3. kamae
4. joge-buri (20)
5. sayu joge-buri with hyaki-ashi (10)
6. katate-suburi (40)
7. sayu-men (100)
8. sho-men (100)
9. kote-men-do (10)
10. sonkyo.

Lately, I'm doing my 100 sho-men strikes, thinking in terms of sets of 20 each. I'm looking for precision here--breathing, the balance issue I recently identified, etc.--and I want to concentrate, rather than hurry myself through my suburi.

Running: 7 miles. Due to my consecutive off days early in the week, I'm putting in a lot of weekend miles, so today was a pretty long run, through the Harrison Parkway subdivision, and along 146th street towards Carmel, a stretch of road that I've not run for quite a while. A good run, though I developed a bit of a blister on the right foot; hoping I don't regret running in New Balance shoes, rather than my trusty, tried-and-true Asics.

Nutrition: pretty much fell off the veggie wagon this evening, after several week's worth of good work: by this I mean Texas Roadhouse, and a "Road Kill" chopped steak. I don't want to let this happen very often, of course.

July 18: short little run

Kendo: morning suburi, with some progress on the breathing, again. I find it difficult to both breath smoothly and with good kiai, but I think it necessary to find a balance point, a way to do both.

1. mokuso.
2. sonkyo
3. check kamae
4. joge-buri (20)
5. sayu joge-buri with hyaki-ashi (10)
6. katate-suburi (40)
7. sayu-men (100)
8. sho-men (100)
9. kote-men-do (10)
10. sonkyo

Speaking of lack thereof in another sense has been an ongoing source of some frustration. I find that my footwork, and body balance generally, is off whenever I step backwards, in sayu-men, sho-men, or sayu joge-buri with hyaki-ashi. I tend to place my feet too narrowly, with my left too close to my right, and a subsequent loss of good balance. It's an annoying little habit I want to correct; not because in my kendo I strike so much while moving backwards, but rather this sort of thing would tend to indicate a lack of control and balance generally.

Running: 3 miles. A short, dumpy little run, during a very busy Friday.

Nutrition: a pretty good day here, though my chocolate habit is sneaking up on me again.

Friday, July 18, 2014

July 17: breathing

Kendo: some good suburi this morning:

1. mokuso
2. sonkyo
3. kamae
4. joge-buri (20)
5. sayu-joge-buri with hyaki-ashi (20)
6. katate-suburi (40)
7. sayu-men (100)
8. sho-men (100)
9. kote-men-do (10)
10. sonkyo

I'm trying to smooth things out with my morning suburi; that's the overall goal. I've been told by numerous people that my kendo often has an unfortunate stiff quality. I want my kendo to be smoother, less herky-jerky. Better breathing is the key here; smoother, proper breathing will I think eventually translate into smoother, better form and technique. I also want to eliminate that shortcoming my sensei mentioned to me not long ago of inhaling as I strike--really bad idea, especially in shia.

Running: 6 miles. I'm even thinking about this breathing issue while I run. Interestingly enough, some recent articles I've seen in Runner's World and elsewhere emphasize breathing techniques that are quite similar to kendo: breathing in through the nose, slow exhalation through the mouth, and smoothness throughout. I focused on that quite a bit this evening, during my neighborhood run.

Nutrition: one of those vegan in/vegetarian out days: namely, a vegetarian omelette at Bob Evan's this morning, and vegan salad for dinner (not much of a lunch; just a quick hummus on flatbread). Pretty healthy day, on the whole.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 13-16: to blog, or not

I haven't blogged about anything at all so far this week (I'm writing this on a Thursday). in fact, for a few days I contemplated shutting this blog down entirely, and working instead with a private journal.

There would be advantages to this. I certainly don't blog about everything that's going on in my head while I pursue my fitness life. For example, I avoid as much as possible mentioning my dojo mates by name, by way of courtesy and protecting their privacy. There are things that occur in the dojo that have no business appearing on a public blog, and I hope that I've done at least a halfway decent job acting with discretion.

Also, there is the stark fact that hardly anyone reads this blog. I'm not at all surprised; this is actually a daily activities diary, which makes for dull reading, I'm sure. And I've wondered lately if I need some sort of radical change in how I approach fitness altogether. I've been blogging about my fitness life since December 2005; this blog has been an excellent tool, but it can also become a crutch if I'm not careful.

But at the end of the day, I've decided to stick with it, at least for the foreseeable future. Whether anybody reads any of this or not, the simple act of writing what I do every day has a definite value for me. Besides, it would be a shame to end this blog now, when things seem to be going quite well.


Kendo: an excellent week so far. Suburi at home on Monday and Thursday, following my established routine:

1. mokuso
2. sonkyo
3. check kamae
4. joge-buri (20)
5. sayu joge-buri with hyaki-ashi (20)
6. katate-suburi (40)
7. sayu-men (100)
8. sho-men (100)
9. kote-men-do (10)
10. sonkyo

Tuesday's class went generally quite well. Sensei talked about the need to periodically "break" our kendo, to remake it stronger. This means, among other things, a focus on kihon (basics) and the details contained therein. In this case, he asked us to think about the placement of our feet, in particular our left foot, during kirikaeshi. We need to eliminate all unnecessary movement, once we are set and have attained proper striking distance. We also need to think about what the proper distance might be for rach of us, and how to attain this without excess movements.

Wednesday was a bit of a bonus. Okada-sensei from Chicago visited Indianapolis on a business trip, and our sensei arranged for a special Wednesday practice session at the dojo--most unusual. Normally I'm unable to attend such things, but this time I was able to do so--again, most unusual. Sensei again asked us to focus our energies on good kihon, and we enjoyed some extended jigeiko with Okada-sensei, as well as the others who attended.

Our kendo classes have been quite well attended lately: Tuesday's class hosted approximately sixteen participants, and even our special Wednesday session was pretty crowded--around a dozen kendoka. This affords us all an excellent mix of opponents, ranging from higher-ranking kendoka to our dan-ranked sempai, down to several new and promising beginners.

As an added little bonus to myself personally, I received a new batch of shinai from Maruyama, just in time for the Wednesday practice. These are shinais of my favorite type, with thicker tsukas and better balance than an average shinai.

So, life is good right now, kendo-wise.

Running: 4 miles. I've re-tooled my training program and my 2014 goals, focusing my efforts on running the Huff50k as my first ultra. I'll post the entire training program on this blog soon.

My reasons for changing horses in midstream, so to speak, are numerous. I needed a goal race that was quite a bit further down into the year than the Nashville ultra (first weekend in November), because my 24 week training program for Nashville took such a hit during my multi-week trip to San Antonio. I just couldn't run the way I wished in Texas, for a variety of reasons; and rather than get into a big rush to recoup those lost miles for Nashville, I thought it best to begin from scratch, with the Huff50k on December 20 as my ultimate goal, and my first ultra.

The Huff50k fits the bill in several ways. It is located reasonably close to my home in Fishers (Albion, Indiana), and the date is perfect for my schedule. It is also a trail run, which is my favorite way to run. And while I would prefer a 50 miler, 50k is challenge enough, especially a trail run in early winter.

In the short term, I've only done one 4 mile trail run at Town Run so far this week, taking Tuesday and Wednesday off to accommodate my kendo schedule. I'll do as much trail running as possible, of course, and hopefully work in a bit more during the week. My overall goal for the week is a modest week 2 for my 24 week program: 30 miles.

Nutrition: good things happening here, as well. I'm doing about 90% vegan. I still haven't found a way to get entirely rid of what might be called incidental animal products: i.e., the dairy contained in even relatively healthy saad dressing, that sort of thing. I eventually want to go totally vegan, but this takes time, information, and (most of all) education. On that last point, I'm reading a very good book as a starting point, Main Street Vegan, by Victoria Moran. I'm building a cache of recipes, and I'm gaining good knowledge on just how to make this transition, on a budget and without going to live in a commune, or Seattle.

All of this takes time; so, while I figure it all out, my approach has been to eat animal-product free as much as possible, vegetarian when vegan isn't practical, and avoid super unhealthy stuff (Taylor's Bakery sugar cookies, for example).

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 12: night running, and bad shoes

Kendo: morning suburi turned into early evening suburi, due to my busy Saturday schedule. One slight advantage to this was the opportunity to do some work on fumikomi and small men. Both of these create a fair amount of noise, so I can't very well practice them early in the morning in a sleeping household. But I did manage to do a bit today.

I'm entirely unhappy with my footwork; my fumikomi is weak, my right foot tends to land badly, and I feel as if my footwork is just generally too small. I wish I could find a way to work on this.

Running: 6 miles. A very busy Saturday also made for little running time, at least until around 8:00pm. I am actually pretty well prepared for night running; I have a lightspur for my show that flashes a very bright red light, and my neighborhood is quiet enough that I can run after dark without too much fear of ending up a bug on someone's front bumper.

Nutrition: good day here, especially given the time I spent at a local youth baseball field. The fare in such places is awfully thin under even the best of circumstances, so I've gotten into the habit of packing a Clif Bar or two along, which helps.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 11: Potter's Bridge

Kendo: made up for yesterday's slothfest by awakening at 6:00am and getting in some decent suburi. Still working on my breathing more than anything else; that, and relaxing those shoulders.

Running: 6 miles. I ended up on the far side of Noblesville (after a trip to Anderson), which means reasonable proximity to Potter's Bridge--probably my favorite running spot. A perfect day for a run, too, with warm but not overly hot weather and bright, sunny skies. A really good run, and an 8:30 mile at mile 4--a good day.

Nutrition: a bit off from the vegan plan, in that I ate one of my favorite breakfast sandwiches at Panera's this morning, which included an egg (and likely similar things in the bread). I'm finding that, at least for now, I need to think in terms of eating vegan at home, and vegetarian out.

July 10: off day

Kendo: nothing today; missed out on morning suburi, mostly through sheer laziness. Got to stop oversleeping.

Running: off day here, too.

Nutrition: I did have a pretty good day here; eating healthy enough, even during busy family days like today.

July 9: moving towards the vegan option

Kendo: suburi in the (late morning). Followed my normal routine, sans kata (ran out of time). Still working on getting my sense of focus back; that long layoff in Texas did more damage in this regard than I had thought.

Running: 5 miles. Good evening run around the neighborhood. I was able to use Runtastic to map out a new route that's a bit bigger than my old "Little Dog" route (the "little dogs" are gone, anyway; they moved, and I kind of miss them yapping away at me when I run by).

Nutrition: making very good progress here. I've been a vegetarian for a while, so that's not a problem, but it is a real challenge to eliminate all animal products. Following the advice I'm reading in this book, I'm doing this gradually and systematically. I've eliminated beef, chicken, and fish. Next step is dairy products (a real challenge), and the covert as well as overt dairy contained in, well, pretty much everything. Suffice to say, I'm doing a lot of careful label-reading at the grocery store, lately.