Monday, August 03, 2015

Where I'm going, August 3-9

Kendo: an interesting week ahead. In addition to my normal dojo class Tuesday, I plan to attend on Sunday a shinpan seminar in Ohio. This will be a very useful experience. When I attain the rank of sandan (3rd dan), I will be expected to act as a shinpan (referee) at kendo tournaments. I also think that knowledge of shinpan practices will make my shiai kendo better, and I'll be able to see Ariga-sensei again, who will preside over the seminar. So, it's all good. On another, relatively minor matter: I finally ordered some new shinai, good dobai shinai from Maruyama, with the thicker tsuka and better balance point (much better for my kendo than the thinner handled stuff I've been using lately). I hope my new shinai arrive in time for the seminar.

Running: week three: 39 miles with a 16 miler. I'll need to do that long run earlier in the week than my usual Sunday morning run because of the shinpan seminar.

Nutrition: this week will mark four months since I began my calorie counting program; I hoped to have lost 1 pound a week, so I should be at a 16 pound weight-loss point (164) sometime this week. I'll not think in terms of an exact day, given my sometimes extreme weight fluctuation; as long as I'm in or around that 164 mark this week, I'll be pleased.

Where I've been, July 27-August 2

Kendo: not a bad week, I suppose. A good class Tuesday, and I think I made at least some small progress in executing consistently straight cuts with zanshin (my two biggest goals in the dojo right now). Home suburi went reasinably well, as I've begun to alternate working with the bokuto and the shinai, to my kendo's benefit. I'd still like my work to be smoother, of course, but that's a long-term, probably perpetual goal.

Running: 38 miles with a 14 mile distance run; exactly what my training plan called for. I've fallen into a pretty comfortable routine, doing my long runs on Sunday mornings. Most importantly, those long runs are going well; slow, but steady and with minimal soreness afterwards. Feeling good here.

Nutrition: up and down, as always, and with far less consistent downward progress in my weight than I'd prefer. This is to be expected; the closer I approach my goal, the slower my weight loss will be. So, on the whole a not too discouraging week. Pounding the rock.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

August 2: feeling some optimism

Kendo: nothing today. Suburi is very difficult for me on weekends.

Running: 14 miles. An encouraging long run this morning, Lately, I've settled into a routine of weekly long runs on Sunday mornings, early enough to beat the heat, with my route taking me along 146th street towards Carmel, then down Hazel Dell Parkway, a very nice, shady route with good sidewalks and not a whole lot of traffic.

My pace wasn't so great--around 10:45--but I'm really not concerned with pace at all, especially on my long runs. My goal here--not just in my long runs, but training for the Monumental--is to get my ability to run long distances back. And to that end, I'm concentrating on getting my head in the right place, thinking in terms of conserving energy, playing the long game, and keeping a smooth, quiet stride--even if that stride is slow.

And I think it's paying off. My ongoing quad problem is diminishing, and isn't proving a serious issue on long runs, and I'm getting my confidence back. This last part is important. Over the last few years I've busted out on so many attempts to complete my seventh marathon (let alone my dismal failures at trying to an ultra) that I've begun to think I'll never do another serious long run. But today I did the miles I intended to do, and I wasn't overly sore when finished. A very good sign.

Nutrition: calories tend not to be a problem on my long run days.

August 1: off day in Cincy

Total off day. We spent day for the most part in Cincinnati, which was a lot of fun.

July 31: shorter run, and a bonk on the noggin

Kendo: morning suburi, with bokuto this morning.

Running: 4 miles. After yesterday's longish run, a bit shorter affair today, because we had tickets to the evening's Indianapolis Indians. Which was a lot of fun, until I get bonked right in the forehead with a baseball. No serious damage (thank goodness it was just a thrown rather than batted ball; the center fielder was trying to throw the ball to a guy sitting in front of me, and he just missed) but I did have a bit of a headache.

Nutrition: weight really dropped, all the way down to 161.5. I'm sure it'll go back up, at least a bit, but feeling pretty good for now. On the other hand, I can't claim to have eaten overly healthy food at the ballpark this evening.

July 30: working on integration

Kendo: morning suburi, but with a bit of a change by using a shinai. Recently I've been doing all of my suburi with my bokuto. This in keeping with my dojo's general approach: we practice kata during each class, and we perform our warmup drills using suburi, the idea being to grow comfortable with a bokuto, and to strike with our shinais and our bokuto in as close a manner as possible.

The point here I think is integration, an approach to kendo generally that my sensei often discusses with us, especially on broader, more philosophical terms. On a more micro level, I think I need to alternate using my bokuto and shinai to more successfully integrate the use of both. So I did so this morning, even using the shinai for my kata practice.

Running: 10 miles. I ran a pretty long run today--I had planned to do only 8--but I was feeling good, the weather was a bit cooler, so there it is.

Nutrition: weight back down around 163 today. Go figure.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July 29: fighting the humidity

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

Running: 6 miles. Tough run. I ran quite early in the morning, but it still wasn't early enough to beat the heat and especially the humidity. Really struggled, especially during the last couple of miles.

Nutrition: my weight is staying down around 163, so that's good. I do need to work on cutting back on my chocolate intake (no new problem for me). I stayed under my calorie goal, but too much of that was sugar/chocolate intake.

July 28: celebration at the dojo

Kendo: a seriously hot and humid day, which translated into a hot and humid class at the dojo this evening. We rarely use the air conditioner--a source of pride for us--and we did not do so this evening. Physically, it was a difficult class.

We actually had a good reason to be celebratory: Sugawara-sensei, who often practices with us, attained the rank of 7th dan this last weekend. This is quite an achievement (and it couldn't happen to a nicer man), and it underscores just how incredibly lucky we are to have so many highly skilled senseis in our class here in Indianapolis. Many kendo dojos are fortunate to have one sensei at 3rd or 4th dan: we have Imafuji-sensei (6th dan) leading our class, with Sugawara-sensei, Satomi-sensei, and Titus-sensei, all highly skilled kendoka. Amazing, really.

As for my classwork this evening: incremental improvements, I believe. I did jigeiko with Imafuji-sensei, and I believe I made straighter, more decisive cuts. On the other hand, my zanshin faltered a bit towards the end of our session. My kata was pretty solid, and I did some good jigeiko with ther classmates. I must admit, I was seriously tired--and getting dehydrated) towards the end of class. But I did make some small improvements.

Running: off day. The prudent thing to do, and hopefully avoided some quad issues.

Nutrition: always a problem on Tuesdays. I prefer to sort of frontload my calories, so that I head into the early evening a few calories ahead of the game. But on Tuesdays most of my calorie burn occurs in the evening during kendo, so during the day I actually exceed my calorie limit for the day, hoping to make it up by burning a lot of calories in kendo. I certainly think I did so this evening, but at the end of the day I was 7 calories over my limit. Not bad, I suppose. And my weight has dropped back down to the lower end of my range, around 164.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 27: downer start to the week

Kendo: morning suburi. I'm glad to have included kata in my suburi routine recently, for I am discovering all sorts of errors I need to correct.

Running: 4 miles. Slow run this morning around the neighborhood--again the quad thing.

Nutrition: weight back down in the 164 range. We'll see how long this lasts before it shoots back up again.

Where I'm going, July 27-August 2

Kendo: I need to make at least some small progress this week, particularly in my dojo training. I was very disappointed with myself last Tuesday: my discipline and spirit were found wanting. My overriding, primary goal this week, then, is to work on what my sensei calls kokoro: a proper, fearless, committed spirit. This should be the foundation of my kendo, and lately it is lacking.

At home, I want to make progress on the goals that have long been my focus in suburi: smoothness, a relaxed upper body, and good tenouchi. I do fairly well with these things, but I need to iron out the details, small errors I make in my strikes. And I need to find ways to integrate whatever progress I do make into my overall kendo.

Running: week two of my Monumental training plan: 38 miles, with a 14 mile distance run. I need my quad thngy to get better, but most importantly, I need to complete my distance goals.

Nutrition: more of the same. I know this calorie counting program works: I just need to stick with it, regardless of the up-and-down quality of my weight recently.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Where I've been, July 20-26

Kendo: a frustrating class in the dojo Tuesday, and some fairly sketchy home suburi (especially this weekend) made for a rather lackluster week overall here. I don't think my kendo is bad right now; I do some things well. But my kendo does feels rather stuck. I seem to be making little progress in fixing some of my recurring shortcomings.

Running: hit my goals for week one of my 16 week training program for the Monumental; in fact, I exceeded my goal mileage of 36 miles a bit (I did 40 miles) and I did a good distance run Sunday--a confidence builder, I think, and harbinger of better days. My quad injury is an ongoing concern, and my pace is slow, but I'm not feeling too badly at all about my prospects here. A solid week.

Nutrition: as with my kendo, so with my nutrition goals. I keep fluctuating up and down between 163-168, with little progress. I just have to stay the course here, with MyFitnessPal and my overall goals. By the time I run the Monumental in early November, I want to be at my goal weight of 154 lbs.

July 26: a good distance day

Kendo: nothing again. Just one of those weekends.

Running: 12 miles. Distance day. I did an out-and-back early this morning along 146th street and Hazel Dell (a somewhat different route; I've rarely run down Hazel Dell before). And despite the fact that my quad hurt and my pace was correspondingly slow, I think it was a pretty good run. I completed the distance that was my goal for the week, and when I finished I was tired, but not debilitated. That's all to the good.

Nutrition: not too difficult to stay well under my calorie goal when I run twelve miles.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 25: another one of those days

Kendo: nothing today. Weekends are always a challenge in this regard.

Running: 4 miles. And they were fairly painful, slow miles, too--my quad thing is really acting up today.

Nutrition. More weight fluctuation; back to 168 this morning, and there's no rhyme or reason. I did eat a bit better, having a fairly healthy fish entree for lunch at a local restaurant. It's not that things are going badly here; I just seem to have stalled, with my weight bouncing up and down from as low as 163 to as high as 168 over the last few weeks.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 24: adding kata

Kendo: I changed my suburi routine this morning. First, I shortened it a bit more; I feel as if I need to focus on quality over quantity, slowing things down and working on (in the words of my sensei) being sharp, rather than fast. My routine is therefore pretty compact, but I take my time and concentrate with strike:

1. sonkyo
2. kamae
3. joge-buri(20)
4. sayu joge-buri with hyaki-ashi(20)
5. katate-suburi(30)
6. sayu-men(20)
7. sho-men(20)
8. kote-men-do(5)

Second, I've decided to add kata practice (another reason to shorten my suburi somewhat). Granted, practicing kata alone isn't ideal. It is impossible, for example, to work much on distance, or the very important skill of gauging the speed, distance, etc. of one's partner. But there are aspects of my kata that I can address while practicing alone: breathing, proper posture, footwork, etc. So this morning I practiced the first five kata, both shidachi and uchidachi parts.

Running: off day. I'm trying to rest this balky left quad, which is giving me fits yet again.

Nutrition: absolutely not a good day; I just sort of grazed on junk, and ended up a couple hundred calories over my limit.