Running on the elliptical is not the same as running on the street

Running on the elliptical is not the same as running on the street

As some of you know, I am currently following Hal Higdon’s 10K Novice Program. But I haven’t been actually running—on the street. Instead, due to a lingering left foot injury, when Hal calls for a run I have happily hopped on the elliptical cross-trainer at the gym and ran the prescribed miles. For example, this past Thursday Hal asked for a two mile run which I dutifully completed in 15 minutes and 49 seconds.

Sixteen minute aerobic sessions just don’t seem like enough! Thus, from this point on when Hal calls for a run and I use the elliptical, I’m going to multiply whatever milage he requests by 15 minutes. So, the next time he asks for a two mile run I will use the elliptical for 30 minutes. Three miles will have me on it for 45 minutes and so on.

This seems like a better way to go—getting a minimum of 30 minute aerobic sessions being that Hal always calls for at least two miles. The key thing here is I’m still a newbie at all this and want to keep my current injury-free streak going and yet continue to increase my fitness in a timely manner. What do you think?

February 15, 2013: Day 12, Walk & Groceries


This was day 12 out of 56 of Hal Higdon’s 10K Novice Program which called for rest. But, as some of you may know I am carless so when I need something at the market I usually walk there.

Time: Afternoon

Shoes: Brooks Ravenna 3

Podcast: Software Test Podcast

Walk (street): 1.24 mi | 19:43 @ 15:47 min/mi

Groceries (all organic):

  • 1 – bunch kale
  • 1 – 8 oz box mushrooms
  • 5 – yellow onions
  • 2 – apples
  • 4 – oranges
  • 2 – tangelos
  • 1 – 4.5 oz jar minced garlic
  • 1 – 2 lb bag carrots
  • 1 – stalk celery

Note: Felt okay, although on the way home I experienced a few of those damn hot spots on my left foot as per usual.

Think different.

Think different

As previously mentioned, I woke up this past Tuesday with an achy lower back—actually if I move wrong it feels like someone stabbed me with a knife! What did I do to cause this you may ask?

I’ve had lower back issues since my early teens brought on by a whole host of things such as my right femur being 1.5 inches shorter than my left, playing Evel Knievel with both bicycles and motorcycles, getting my back crushed while playing “smear the queer” (yeah, I know but what can I say, that’s what we called it!), and on and on and on.

But, I haven’t had any lower back pain for the last six months until now. So, what did I do this time to cause it? My best guess is I changed from mild-mannered crunches to harsher (for me) sit-ups, a lower back protective lever seated row to a lower back involved cable seated row, and added rowing as well as a back crushing (again, for me) lever standing calf raise (plate loaded), all at pretty much the same time. Thus, as my theory goes, my back just couldn’t take it!

So, what to do? Well, my first inclination has always been to rest and wait the typical 7—14 days for it to completely go away. But, this time I decided to think different. Yes, that’s AppleTalk (I’m on a roll today!) for making a dramatic change from the norm.

Therefore, instead of resting an inordinate amount of time—all the while my body parts decondition—I decided to carry on as usual doing what Hal’s 10K Novice Program suggests—as long as it doesn’t hurt my back any further.

And, guess what? So far so good! Sure, my lower back still hurts if I bend wrong—that’s what ice is for—but overall it’s getting better not worse. Oh, and of course I have switched back, for now, to crunches, the lever seated row, and less harsh calf raises. And yes, I love Apple. :-D

Hal Higdon’s 10K Walking Program Recap

Hal Higdon’s 10K Walking Program Recap

Since today is the last day of Hal Higdon’s 10K Walking Program, I figured I should do a brief recap of the various things that happened along the way. First and foremost, as you can see from the list below, I hurt myself a lot. That is, I’ve already got my money’s worth out of the Large ACE Reusable Cold Compress with “soft touch fabric” I purchased near the beginning of this program.

  1. Right ankle
  2. Left foot
  3. Left knee
  4. Right shoulder
  5. Left hamstring
  6. Left hip

Due to the above minimal to moderate injuries, I ended up taking seven more days of rest than Hal recommended:

The worst injury award goes to my suspected metatarsalgia which continues to plague me even on short walks to the store. Hence the reason I recently switched to alternative forms of aerobic activity such as rowing on an ergometer, biking on a recumbent, and running on an elliptical.

But, it hasn’t been all bad. Heck, I even won a race! Plus, I got to celebrate my 52nd birthday by running (on an elliptical cross-trainer) for 52 minutes and had at least one smoking fast walking outdoors day!

Do I blame Hal (shown in the picture above) for all the bad stuff? No way. I just obviously need more basic conditioning with the focus on strength, muscle balance, and flexibility before I take another one of his programs outdoors. Plus, of course, my left foot issue needs to go away before I can even think about walking fast or running again.

So, what I am going to do now? Great question. For the next 56 days I will continue rowing, biking, running, and strengthening at the gym. See my Training page for more information.

January 28, 2013: Day 50, Strength


This was day 50 out of 56 of Hal Higdon’s 10K Walking Program which called for either rest or an easy walk. Thus I chose weightlifting.

Time: Afternoon

Shoes: Brooks Ravenna 3

Strength: Using novice guidelines and the Legs, Back, Chest, Arms template found at One warmup set per exercise using 50 percent less recorded weight for 12–15 reps. After warmup, one set of 8–12 reps per exercise to volitional fatigue. Once 13–14 reps has been achieved, increase weight 2–10% for next workout.

  1. Lever Seated Leg Press: 23 reps @ 190 pounds
  2. Lever Lying Leg Curl: 12 reps @ 55 pounds
  3. Lever Standing Calf Raise (plate loaded): 16 reps @ 0 pounds
  4. Cable Straight Back Seated Row: 12 reps @ 85 pounds
  5. Lever Bench Press: 13 reps @ 70 pounds
  6. Barbell Upright Row: 12 reps @ 30 pounds
  7. Barbell Curl: 9 reps @ 40 pounds
  8. Cable Pushdown: 9 reps @ 30 pounds
  9. Sit-up (arms crossed): 15 reps
  10. Hyperextension (arms crossed): 15 reps

Note: Finally feeling the after effects of Saturday and Sunday’s elliptical-thon. That is, things felt a bit tight in my left hip. But, other than that—okay I also felt a few hot spots on the walk home—all went well.

My name is Randy, I’m an ellipticalic

My name is Randy, I'm an ellipticalic

I cannot express the feelings I have for the elliptical cross-trainer at the gym. They’re magical exercise machines. They easily raise my heart-rate to whatever zone I wish to train in, they’re fun to use—like running and cycling combined—and they haven’t hurt me—yet!

That is, too much of any one thing can become a problem. Thus my goal is to break away from my current elliptical addiction and branch out to other forms of aerobic equipment, while still dodging walking and running due to my left foot’s suspected metatarsalgia, such as a recumbent cyclerow ergometer, and stepmill. And then, of course, mix back in a wider assortment magical ellipticals.

January 15–20, 2013: Days 37–42, Rest


This was day 37 out of 56 of Hal Higdon’s 10K Walking Program which called for a 55 minute walk at a comfortable pace. Unfortunately, due to both my hamstring as well as suspected metatarsalgia issues, I took today off.

In fact, I will be taking the rest of the week off any kind of physical activity including walking and weightlifting and most likely return Monday, January 21. When I return I will not immediately resume walking outdoors. I can tell my foot needs more rest than that. Instead I will use my gym’s elliptical trainer and treadmill so I can stop the moment I feel any kind of hot spots arise.

Hot Spots, Rocks & Messed Up Socks

Hot Spots and Rocks

I first reported having hot spots on my left foot on December 23rd, then again on January 5th, 6th, and 8th. All the while I thought they were simply preludes to a blister. Nothing serious.

During that same period of time I felt like there was a little rock in my left shoe or my sock had gotten messed up. Both near the area where my hot spots were—the ball of my foot. In particular, between my first and second toes where the little guy in the illustration is pointing to. But when I would check there were no rocks and my socks were fine.

What I learned this past weekend, thanks to my friends Christi and Google, was that hot spots on the ball of one’s foot along with the feeling of phantom rocks or messed up socks are major symptoms of what is known as metatarsalgia. Which can be caused by many things including running and walking.

Frighteningly, Morton’s neuroma has similar symptoms. But, “[p]eople with Morton’s neuroma may experience toe numbness in addition to pain in the forefoot” which thankfully I do not have. Thus I am hoping I only have metatarsalgia because it’s much easier to cure.

I’d love to go see a specialist to know for sure. But unfortunately I am one of those broke US citizens you’ve heard about that cannot afford health insurance. Thus I’m just going to rest, ice, compress, and elevate it along with my rapidly healing hamstring and hopefully be back in the game soon.

January 14, 2013: Day 36, Rest


This is day 36 out of 56 of Hal Higdon’s 10K Walking Program which calls for either rest or an easy walk. And, for the first time since starting his program, I’m going to choose rest rather than lifting weights. Mostly due to my hamstring issue but also because I just want to. :-(

Carless in Oregon

Carless in Oregon

On my current budget I cannot afford to purchase let alone insure, gas up, repair, etcetera, a car. Plus, I like that I’m helping keep the planet cooler by not burning fossil fuels. Thus, I am carless in Oregon. Which, isn’t that bad really.

Thankfully I work at home as a Software Test Engineer at beAutomated—where we make custom WordPress Plugins—so my commute is from my bedroom to my living room. And, as you’ve seen in a past post, the majority of what I buy food wise (and pretty much everything else) is well within walking distance at the local Fred Meyer store. Fellow nerds will appreciate that I also live right next to Fry’s Electronics as well.

But, the point of this post is to let you know that injuries or not I walk more than I state here on this site. As for the image I used, it’s a scene from the film Dude, Where’s My Car? which is how I feel sometimes being that I’ve always had some kind of motor vehicle since I was old enough to drive. But hey, who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? ;-)