Category Archives: Inner Product

Six Minute Mile Training

Today was a good day in my inexorable progress towards running a six minute mile. I ran the 1.1 miles to Original Muscle Beach at 6:45 pace. This is quite a leap from my previous record pace of 6:53 a week ago, which in itself was a huge leap from the record before that, 7:02, set just five days before that.

My “training program” is approximately:
Monday – 2 x 1.1 miles, divided by 30 minute low intensity circuit training
Tuesday – Day off
Wednesday – 2 x 1.1 miles, divided by 30 minute low intensity circuit training
Thursday – 3.2 miles
Friday – 2 x 1.2 miles, divided by 30 minute low intensity circuit training
Saturday – 3.2 miles
Sunday – Day off

So really I don’t have a training program. I just do the runs a few times a week, and each time I try to do the best time possible. This is not what the books recommend, but it seems to be working so far. I think this is what is referred to as “low hanging fruit” – I’ve led a sedentary life for so long that my mile time started out so slow that it was inevitable I would make great strides initially. I still don’t feel like I’ve reached any kind of plateau, but I will, and that will be the time for a more structured training program.

For reference, I’m 40 years old, 6’2″ and 160lb. I’ve been running about nine months. I was sat a desk with very little exercise for 15 years before that.

Running a Mile

Holly started running long before I did, and she got very good at it. I’d tried to run with her before, but my knees flared up and so I stopped. I always had problems with my knees. If I walk down a mountain they turn into balls of fiery pain (no problem going up). So I’ve always assumed I had bum knees, and hence assumed I would never run more that a few yards

The thing that began to turn this belief around, rather oddly, was grippers. Yup, those hand exercise things that you squeeze to make your grip stronger. I got a set of them from Iron Mind, and they come in various strengths, 1,2,3 & 4, with 1 being the weakest. They also have an even weaker “T” (for “Trainer”) gripper. So I started on that. First attempt I could not even close that.

But closing grippers is a nice simple exercise, one you can do sitting at your desk, which is what I did. The goal with these grippers is to squeeze them closed. After a few weeks I could close the #1, but thought that the #2 was basically immovable. #3 and #4 were for the gods. But I kept squeezing away, and eventually I got the #2 closed.

I also noticed something odd. My hands hurt less than they used to.

I type a lot, and I move a mouse a lot. This used to cause me some occasional pain. But since I’d got much stronger hands, they really don’t hurt at all (except for when I over-train, but that’s another story).

So this got me a-thinking, what if my knees were not “bad”, they were simply weak. I just needed to ease into the running gradually, perhaps with some other low impact leg exercises to build up the strength in the surrounding muscles, and I could move my knees from weak to strong, and run again.

So I did. I started out doing a run to Old Muscle Beach, Santa Monica. A distance of 1.1 miles. I started doing this sometime last August (2006). My first attempt I only managed to run half way there before having to stop. I walked all the way back. But over time I improved, first being able to run all the way there. Then there and back. Then the time started dropping. I probably started around 13 minutes. By October I was doing it in 10:34, then just three weeks later I did 9:28, then the times continued to steadily drop.

There were setbacks. My knees (particularly my left knee), are not yet strong. If they get pushed too hard, they push back with pain. Sometimes I’ve had to stop because the knees hurt. Sometimes I’ve been almost unable to walk the day after because of the pain. But I just give them rest, (and, more recently, ice,) and they come back. My time has dropped and dropped, and I’ve now done it in 8:09. That’s 1.1 miles mind, so that’s actually one mile in 7:25, or if you believe the Garmin’s tracking, I’ve run a mile in 7:16. Not bad for a guy with bum knees.

The grippers taught me just how straightforward it is to build up strength in one part of your body, just with gradual exercise. It’s simple, and it’s obvious. The gripper training also comes in handy at the turning around point of my run, Old Muscle Beach, where I stop for thirty minutes and do various exercises on the bars and the traveling rings. I’m gradually strengthening up those other muscles that though they were in for an easy life.

Konnichi Wa! Words 1-10

We are going to Japan in six weeks, for my birthday. It’s the ideal opportunity to actually force myself to do something I’ve been wanting to do for decades – learn basic Japanese.

I’ve bought various course in Japanese over the years. I had one that I listened to in my car every day for several weeks. A few phrases stuck (“ginko wa doko desu ka?” – where is the bank?), but I never really practiced, and so thing did not really sink in.

But now I’m actually going to Nippon (Japan), I really have to learn some Nihongo (Japanese). To this end, Holly and I went to the bookstore and bought a few books on Japanese. The one this I like the best is a little blue book called “Instant Japanese”, the premise of which is that you need only learn 100 words, and with that learn 1000 things to say with those 100 words, and that will give you a solid basis for communication. This sounds like an excellent theory to me, and since I’ve got six weeks I have very high hopes of getting those 100 words down solid. I’m going to use my blog here to write about the words as I learn them, in hopes of making it stick.

The first ten words I was mostly familiar with already, here they are:

1. ohayo gozaimasu – good morning
2. konnichi wa – good day (your basic hello during the daylight hours)
3. konban wa – good evening
4. domo arigato – thank you very much
5. sumimasen – sorry/excuse me. Something I’m sure I’ll say a lot. You use it to stop people in the street when you want to ask for help in some way, and probably pretty much during every interaction.
6. dozo – please, as in “please do”, or “please, go ahead”, usually before the subject
7. kudasai – please, as in “some water please”, kudasi goes after the subject
8. mizu – water, important stuff, you need to know how to ask for water. mizu o kudasai = water please
9. watashi – I, the most common form of I
10. watakushi – I, a more formal version. Must be an important distinction to have the two version in the first ten words

There’s another word there: “o“, which is a particle used to indicate the preceding word is the object of the following action, so “mizu o kudasai” is kind of like “Water. (about which) Please.” I suppose you would summon a waiter with “sumimasen” then ask for water “mizu o kudasai“, and then thank them “domo arigato“.

domo” by itself literally means “very” or “many” or “very much”, and you can say “domo” as an abbreviated way of saying “domo arigato”. But “domo” alone is not really “thanks”, “arigato” is “thanks/thank you”

domo arigato gozaimasu = Thank you very much indeed! A more polite way of saying thank you. “Gozaimasu” seems to be just stuck on the end of things to make them more polite. Note back to word #1 “ohayo gozaimasu” (good morning). “Ohayo” is actually “good morning” and “gozaimasu“, is the polite word (meaning what?). Don’t say Ohayo to anyone you are not friends with. It’s kind of like the difference between “morning” and “good morning” used as greetings. Or perhaps “how are you?” and “wazzup?” :)

The Power of Technology

I ordered a Nintendo Wii a few weeks ago, and it finally shipped. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, I can tell that it left Dallas at 8:34PM yesterday, and arrived in LA at 7:00 this morning. Currently it’s “Out for delivery”, meaning it’s on the brown truck, somewhere in Santa Monica.

My UPS guy got tired of waiting for us to come to the door, so he’d just knock and run, leaving his deliveries on the doormat. Recently he does not even bother to knock, just leaving the packages, so we often only discover there has been a delivery when we walk the dogs at night.

But if there’s something I’m looking forward to, I could go and look outside the door, but instead, I just refresh the UPS query. Yup, instead of walking twenty feet to see if something is there, I get my computer to ask a computer in Mawah, NJ, to tell it all it has been told by the computers in Dallas, Ontario, Los Angeles, and a computer in a truck somewhere in LA.

And it’s actually easier. Here, one click, in five seconds I know exactly where my Wii has been, and that it’s not on my doormat. I marvel now at this new technology, but soon it will be as accepted as cellphones were – or a better example: trains.

[later] …. And eventually, I checked the page, it told me the package had arrived, I open the door, and there it is! Wiiii!