Running quote of the week

"Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing." - George Sheehan

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Underdressed and overburdened

Warmer gear was out of reach
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

I could tell before I went out this morning that I'd have a difficult time, but that didn't actually happen until I was on my last mile. It's been a busy weekend and I (once again) got outside before our guests awoke. The temperature was 54° around 7:00 AM and I wanted to wear a long sleeved running shirt. Unfortunately, all my running gear was in a cabinet behind the guest room door.

Prior to the arrival of our visitors, I'd taken two sets of running clothes from the cabinet. With the relatively warm weather, I didn't anticipate the need for warmer choices. I have many long sleeve race event shirts in my bedroom, but even with a temperature in the 50's and 72% humidity, I didn't want to wear cotton. I decided to tough it out and go with short sleeves and shorts.

Stepping outside, I was reminded of the feeling I get the morning of a fall race. The temperature felt chilly, the way it often does when we line up for the start, under-layered to help manage the increasing heat later in the race. I was tempted to push hard to build some heat, but I wasn't feeling energetic enough to do that. Last night's high carb dinner failed to translate into a hoped-for glycogen payoff.

It didn't take long to get used to the cool air and I ran comfortably through the neighborhood until about the 2.5 mile mark. At that point I encountered a woman who was running north slightly ahead of my direction and I tried to stay on pace with her. After a few minutes I realized that she had an eight cylinder engine working at max capacity and I was a steam engine that was almost out of steam.

I managed to recover enough to resume my pace, but I was ready to return home short of my originally targeted distance. In a way, I lucked out by running with lighter clothing than I thought I'd need. The persistent chill likely energized me through this run.

I'm getting a little tired of under performing on my runs. I realize that I have to put some hard work into my training to get to prior performance levels. I can't face intervals, fartleks and hard tempos these days. I'm hoping that the increasingly cooler weather will motivate me to do those things.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lots of company on a neighborhood run

The neighborhood gang
Today's run (street): 5.3 miles

My schedule this week threw off my options for weekday morning runs. I've committed to running at least once during the week, plus on Friday mornings when I generally work from home. Yesterday required a trip into the office, so I missed that running opportunity. The only workout I've done since last Sunday was Thursday's 20 minute treadmill run that I did at a 4% grade.

I got home early on Friday and considered doing a run. We were expecting guests later in the afternoon so I decided not to do that. I didn't want to get sweaty and have to shower so close to when people were arriving. We had a nice evening that included my wife's college friend who she hadn't seen for almost 20 years.

This morning I got out early, happy to see that the rain would hold off until the afternoon. The temperature was in the low 60's and the heavy cloud cover blocked direct sun. These conditions brought out a lot of people, including dog walkers, run-walkers, walker walkers and runners. I saw the same woman in pink four different times along my route. It seemed as if she was running my exact route from the opposite direction.

I was pleased with the feel of my run. As usual, I started easy and picked up speed after a couple of miles. I'd planned to run between 3-4 miles so I'd be back before our weekend guests got up, but I felt so good I decided to run five-plus.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a better day weather-wise, and I'm looking forward to another early run. We have a big family event happening tonight so I'll have plenty of carbs to fuel my morning workout.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Do you have running amnesia?

Today's run (street): 4.3 miles

I think about many things when I run, but I rarely remember the details once I've finished. I've heard the same from others, that thoughts while running evaporate soon after a run is completed. It may be due to the fact that we aren't paying attention to our thoughts when we run. It's similar to dreaming. When we dream we're actually experiencing a situation, not creating a memory.

Today was no different and the only things I remember clearly were those situations where my attention was disrupted. I was really looking forward to getting out today after seeing the weather report that said the temperature was in the sixties and humidity was way down. I started my run a little after 7:00 AM when the sun was still low in the sky. That created a blinding glare when facing east and I was careful to pay attention to the possibility of cars whenever I turned in that direction.

I had a few surprises. The first was when I reached the top of a street and saw an unleashed dog coming out of the bushes and heading directly at me. People in my neighborhood are generally good about keeping their dogs leashed, so I was a little alarmed when this happened. The dog was not dangerous - just curious - and its owner soon appeared, saying something like, "He's friendly." I just looked at her and moved on.

Soon after that, I turned left onto a road where my vision was suddenly obscured by the brightly shining sun. It was like a thousand lumin spotlight and I couldn't see a thing. Due to that, I missed a large sprinkler run-off puddle that was directly in front of me and my left shoe got completely immersed. That meant I'd have to do the rest of my run with a soaked foot.

Besides those two experiences, I don't remember much more about the workout and that's fine. If I ever think of something important on a run, I'm sure it will be memorable. I ended up covering just short of 20 miles this week - something I haven't done since April. I seems that my running/working balance is improving.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bethpage running, followed by an assembly

Avoided the hills on the north service road.
Today's run (Bethpage bike trail): 5.15 miles

I went out to Bethpage this morning for a change of scenery and a little elevation. Except for a few streets with noticeable inclines, my neighborhood roads are mostly flat. I don't like running up hills and - despite what some friends have told me - I will never learn to like them. But I recognize that hills exist, so with regular training my hill-bilities may improve.

I don't actually go to Bethpage State Park anymore to start my bike trail runs. I didn't purchase an Empire Passport this year and that means I'm subject to the $8 entrance fee every time I go there. I know the money helps pay for the upkeep of the park, but I give back in other ways. Besides, If I park along the trail further north, I'll avoid the need to run up a big hill.

I knew it would be humid today, but I was not prepared for what I encountered on the trail. My Garmin data said humidity was 94% at the time that I ran. I had my wife's car today, and did my best to protect the interior from my saturated clothes (I have sweat-proof liners that fit over the seat). However, I forgot about the seat belt. My wife went out for an errand after I'd returned home and was horrified when she put on the still-soaked belt. No one should have to experience that.

My run was pleasant and straightforward. Although the humidity was high, the clouds shielded me from direct sunlight and the temperature remained a reasonable 75°. I dealt with the hills and did better on them than I'd expected. Did my five hours standing as I worked yesterday help there? I doubt that's the reason, but it didn't seem to hurt my performance.

Owing to the humid conditions, I limited today's distance to 5 miles. When I got home I took on the task of assembling my stand up desk and I'm using it now to write this post. With all the standing I did yesterday, the humid and hilly run this morning, and the hour or so of aggravation that comes from assembling an item of furniture from Target, my legs feel remarkably good.

I'm excited about the possibility that standing while working on my laptop could yield some running benefits. It's too soon to tell, but I think it might.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Trying to be a stand-up guy

I'll soon be making a stand
Today's run (street): 4.1 miles
Tuesday's run (treadmill): 2.3 miles

My neighborhood is a great place to run most of the time, but at 7:30 AM on a weekday, it should be avoided at all costs. I sort of knew that, but I didn't really have a choice. I work from home on Fridays and that gives me time to fit in a run before I start my day. If I'd tried a little harder, I could have got out at 6:00 and avoided the chaos. I'll have to remember that next week.

7:30 AM is the witching hour for my neighborhood, when school buses are rolling, recycling trucks weave from side to side across the road, landscaping trucks create narrow passageways and sprinkler systems soak runners who take to the sidewalk to avoid all these hazards. I ran cautiously and got sprayed a couple of times.

It was very humid this morning which set the tone for my run. I thought I'd only go out for three miles today, but I started feeling more comfortable as I ran. I added another mile by taking a few more roads and would have done more if I hadn't run out of time.

I spent the day standing at the kitchen island while working on my laptop. There's been a lot of articles written about the hazards of sitting and I tend to do that when I work from home. My office is located in a big wide building with weird architectural features (it used to be a copier factory). There's a long ramp that is used as the main route between floors and steep staircases with 18 steps. I go from one end of the building to the other, multiple times a day. That minimizes sitting time during the week.

Today I received the stand up desk that I ordered for my home office. I'll put it together over the weekend and use it when I work from home on Fridays. After about five hours on my feet today, I felt fatigued. I guess that means it's doing some good. I'll be curious to see if this helps build up my glutes. If so, it could improve my running performance. I can only hope.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Laboring through another humid run


Today's run (street): 3.6 miles

It's been years since Labor Day weekend signaled a return to classes for me, but ever since my kids reached school age the holiday invokes some anxiousness. My kids have had a great summer and they're prepared for tomorrow. They're excited to see their friends, but not for the sudden return to early mornings, long school days and evenings full of homework. This is the last weekend before we close the pool and that always makes me a little sad. But the kids have enjoyed every minute of the day.

September 1st is still summer and the humidity is abundant (94% today). I got out this morning and did a short, flat run around the neighborhood. After yesterday's similar weather, I had no performance expectations on the run. I kept to shadier roads and appreciated the slight breeze that came from the north. Though still slow, I ended up running half a minute per mile faster than yesterday.

I've run every day since Friday, totaling almost 18 miles. No special venues or social running this weekend -- I stayed local but mixed up my regular routes to keep it interesting. I'll likely rest tomorrow and do a treadmill run on Wednesday. Tomorrow is just another work day, but I'm feeling the back to school vibe. I'm hoping everyone has a great day tomorrow.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cool, energizing, hot and humid

Saturday's run - negative splits
Today's run (street): 3.9 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 5.5 miles

This weekend has turned out to be busier than I expected and all my hopes for running with friends has gone by the wayside. I did manage to eke out ten miles between yesterday and today, but only by wedging those runs between other activities.

Yesterday's run was great. It was a little warmer than Friday, but still cool, dry and energizing. I did a tempo run, keeping my pace moderate for the first 20 minutes before increasing my speed throughout the rest of the run. I ended up running negative splits, with the last mile equaling my 2012 training pace.

This morning was so humid that I almost skipped my run in favor of an indoor elliptical workout. At least I could do that with my big fan cranked up to hurricane setting. TPP, SIOR and I tried to coordinate a run the day before, but I couldn't allocate the time to do anything but a short local run. As it turned out, that was probably for the best, since weather conditions were draining.

I knew from the start that I'd be in for a tough time this morning. All the moisture in the air inhibited oxygen flow and I adjusted my speed to maintain a good aerobic balance. I had no breathing issues but the sodden air did not help my energy level. I'm sure I'll cringe when I see the Garmin data from today's workout. My cadence was probably 5 SPM slower than on Saturday.

Tomorrow is the last day of summer vacation for the kids and we have a lot planned. I may squeak in a few miles or do a short elliptical session in the morning. Depending on the weather later in the day, I may end up doing my workout in the pool.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Good with my running right now

Give me a Boost?
Tuesday's run (treadmill): 2.3 miles
Today's run (street): 4.3 miles

Happy Labor Day weekend. It's been a busy week, but I was able to get in a treadmill run on Tuesday. But after a long day at the office on Wednesday, I was in no shape for a Thursday run. That leads me to this morning, when I went out for a pleasant neighborhood run before starting a busy (though holiday-truncated) day working from home.

Conditions were superb at 7:00 AM - 60° and not very humid. With the sun still low in the sky, it felt a lot like fall. Friday morning I'd driven through Bayville and Seacliff and counted at least a dozen runners along the way. I envied their freedom as I made my way towards the Cross Island Parkway on the way to work. I appreciated that today I got to be one of the people running.

I covered no new ground on today's route, but still enjoyed the experience. I thought about my current state of running, definitely slower than it was a year ago. I usually beat myself up at the beginning of each run, thinking about this difference. Am I not trying as hard as I used to? The effort feels the same, even if the speed has dropped. After going through both a stress test and physical that revealed no underlying issues, I don't have much to blame it on besides age.

I decided today not to care. I'm not interested in competing right now, so speed isn't that important. I'd like to get back to my previous level of performance and I think I can if I focus seriously on speed. Right now, I like my running for what it is -- a way to maintain mental and physical fitness. I ended up running a little faster today than I have in recent weeks. I attribute that to the cool weather and a good night's sleep.

I cut my day short since the office closed early for the holiday. The Emerging Runner family went out to finish our back to school shopping. We stopped into Dick's and I tried on a pair of adidas Boost Response trainers. I've been curious about these shoes because they have adidas' Boost foam that supposedly returns 30% more energy than EVA.

The fit was great and the shoe had a nice rocking effect that facilitated a rolling gait. I'm not quite ready to replace my Virattas at this point, so I put the shoes back on the shelf. In a few months I'll be looking more seriously and will give them another go.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Morning run and Trailview hike

            Today's route on an old school map
Today's run (street): 6 miles

I came into the weekend with two expectations for running - one that I'd do a speed oriented run and the other that I'd run someplace more interesting than my neighborhood. Neither happened, but I did manage to cover almost 12 miles.

This morning I waited too long to get out and started my run at 8:30 when the temperature was already 68°. I started out easy and figured I'd pick up the pace once I'd loosened up. Afterward, I was surprised to see that the Garmin showed my first mile to be the second fastest of the run. At around the 30 minute mark, I checked my heart rate and saw that it was at 75% of max - too low for what I'd hoped to get out of the workout. I pushed further until I reached 80% and tried to hold it there.

There was a time when I'd comfortably average 85% max on a training run, but holding it above 80% today was hard to sustain. Despite the higher effort, I did enjoy the run. I wanted to cover six miles and did exactly that, with my last mile clearly my fastest. Overall, I beat yesterday's run by 30 seconds a mile.

The Emerging Hiker, Jr.
It turned out to be a beautiful day, so my son and I went over to Trailview in the early afternoon for a hike. That section of the Greenbelt trail has some steep inclines and descents and we took them on without a problem. He and I have been hiking that trail for years and he always wants to follow the toughest routes. He's almost my height now and when we run the trails, I can't keep up with him. But I can still outlast him.

I'm satisfied with the weekend's running even if I didn't end up following my plan. The unplanned hike was a fun addition and helped make up for all the hills I missed by staying in my neighborhood.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Memories of an Autumn run

Top of the office park hill
Today's run (street): 5.6 miles

The gremlins that were messing with my mind and body on Friday seem to have moved on. I was prepared to cover more distance today and looked forward to running some roads I haven't traveled (on foot) in a while. After starting with a short loop in the neighborhood, I decided to run over to the local business park and follow that loop with a tour of an adjacent neighborhood along a stretch of Woodbury Road.

I wasn't feeling energetic enough to push pace today, but at least my gait felt smoother than it did yesterday. I got the uphill part of the business park loop out of the way first by running clockwise where most of the elevation happens over a half mile stretch. The park is a pleasant place to run on a Saturday morning if you like industrial landscaping and brick office buildings. To me it's a perfect place to zone out and run without having to think about my route.

I wasn't alone during that part of my run. There were a couple of other runners going in the opposite direction and I stopped briefly to help someone who needed directions. I considered doing two loops, but chose to head south instead, and ran through the neighborhood known as "The Knolls" until I reached Woodbury Road.

The section of Woodbury Road between Sunnyside Boulevard and Piquets Lane always reminds me of the fall. A few years ago I had a spectacular autumn run that included that stretch of road. The smell of maple trees, the cushion and crackle of their fallen leaves and the crisp morning air made for a memorable experience. There were no leaves on the sidewalk today, but the spirit was there.

I enjoyed today's run much more than yesterday's, and though I could have focused more on performance, I was fine with how I did today. I keep promising myself that I'll do an anaerobic workout soon, but I tend to default to my comfort zone. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but if I decide to compete in September, I'm definitely not in racing shape.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Attitude problem

 
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

I took a step backward this week by skipping my Tuesday morning treadmill run. I'd set up my gear the night before, and fully intended to do the workout. When I woke up, I felt exhausted and decided to skip my run. My schedule didn't allow for any running on Wednesday and Thursday, so I was excited to get back to it today. I shouldn't have got so excited.

Although my legs felt heavy and sore before I went out today, I expected to snap out of that once I got going. I headed out through the neighborhood, but couldn't generate much speed for the first few minutes. My stride was constricted and I felt a little queasy. I was uninspired and it didn't take long to realize that I was in for a tedious run. So much of running comes down to attitude, and this morning I had a bad one.

The thing that got me through today's run was knowing that I only needed to cover a few miles. I tried to think positively about the circumstances; the weather was good and I appreciated being back on the road. Yet, when my Garmin chirped at mile one, I didn't feel like I'd made much progress and I knew I had a lot more ground to cover.

Eventually my form improved and I began to feel better physically. I haven't checked the data, but I think I ran faster as the run went on. Even so, I was disinterested in the workout and only looked forward to getting back home. There are days when the experience of running turns around a bad mood and provides a great feeling of accomplishment. Today was not one of those days.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Great weekend runs despite the hills and rain

Today's run (street): 5.2 miles
Yesterday's run (Bethpage trail): 6.25 miles

It's been a good weekend for running, starting with Friday's morning's fall-like conditions. Yesterday I decided to break out of my neighborhood's boundaries and headed to Bethpage to run the bike trail. It was a little warmer than on Friday, but very comfortable in the shade. I got a late start and didn't arrive until 9:00 AM, and the trail was packed with happy looking cyclists, runners and walkers. I picked the northern direction, running towards Sunnyside Boulevard.

It's been some weeks since I've run the undulating hills at Bethpage and I felt every one. The stretch between Washington Ave and Sunnyside was the toughest section of my route and I felt some relief once I reached the top of the last hill. The rest of the run was easy and I was almost sorry to stop when I reached my endpoint.

Later in the day we hosted a dinner for friends and, by the end of the evening, I was ready to sleep where I stood. I worried that I overdid it on my run and that I wouldn't be able to go long today. I ended up getting an earlier start this morning and took off under dark cloudy skies. Around the two mile point it started to rain, and I thought about turning back home. I decided to keep going in the hope that it would soon clear up.

My gamble paid off, and the rain stopped about ten minutes later. I ran another 20 minutes before completing 5.25 miles. Running only four times a week (these days) requires that I cover at least ten miles on weekends. Less days mean longer distances per run, and his has helped me establish a pretty good base. My speed is still well below target and I think that's due to an utter lack of anaerobic training on my part. I plan for a speed workout some time next week and try to get  that back on track.
 

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