Saturday, October 21, 2017

Adapting to my anti-running medicine

Problems (L) and problem solved (R)
Today's run (track): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 2.2 miles

I'm coming up on the nine year anniversary of The Emerging Runner and there's a certain irony that, for different reasons, I'm running at about the same performance level as I did back in 2008.  I started the blog as a public journal to record my transition from exercise walking to running. By my first post I was running more than walking, but my distances were fairly modest. Due to some unexpected medical issues involving my eyes, I'm now experiencing challenges that are similar to what I was dealing with all those years ago. However, I am making progress.

Back in September I needed eye surgery to address a couple of problems. This procedure is routine and performed about 4 million times a year in the US. Most go perfectly well. Mine only went okay and I'm dealing with a couple of issues that require medication, at least for now. Some of this medication addresses ocular pressure with a residual effect on heart rate.

One medication that is used for my condition is also the go-to drug for high altitude sickness. The first time I took it I felt extremely dizzy. I questioned why this drug would be a good choice for mountain climbers who really should not be woozy negotiating a couloir at 25,000 feet. I mentioned that to my ophthalmologist who also climbs mountains. She said the dosage for altitude sickness is half of what I'm taking. Good I guess, but I'd stick with Dramamine.

The net effect of a post surgery running layoff and all these medications has resulted in a performance setback. I had adapted somewhat to a couple of the post op drugs and was covering 3 to 4 miles a few weekends back with decent results. Last Saturday, with the addition of the altitude drug, I couldn't run a fifth of a mile without stopping. I recognized the problem and filled in the blanks with a lot of walking, but I really hoped I would be able to adjust to the new medication.

I worked from home on Friday and set a goal of running a mile or two before I started my work day. After last week's experience, I didn't know what to expect. I decided I would try to run as easily and efficiently as I could for as long as I could. If I only made it through a half a mile it would still be progress.

Most runners have a good idea about how their run will go within a minute after they start. Last Saturday I knew I was in bad shape before I lost sight of my house. Friday morning was cool and clear and once the middle school buses had wrapped up their routes, I took off through the neighborhood. I felt okay and made my way past the quarter and half mile marks with no thoughts of stopping. By the time I reached my first mile I knew I could manage two and probably three. I kept it to a little more than two miles and my pace was slow, but I was very pleased with the run.

Knowing that I could run, I set the bar a little higher for this morning's workout. I set off to the local high school to cover about three miles on the track. I left just after sun-up to avoid the crowd and to avoid the humiliation of being the slowest guy running. That was a bad plan because, when I arrived, there were two speedsters, another slowster and a couple of walkers. I lined up in lane 4 and took off at an easy pace that I knew I could maintain. Like clockwork, the speedy guys passed me about once a quarter. I picked up the pace as I progressed, which meant their passing orbit grew increasingly longer as time went on.

Besides running over a mile longer today, I paced 6% faster than on Friday. Still slow, but edging toward pre-surgery speed. I was told by my ophthalmologist that my new medication requires a high degree of hydration with electrolytes, especially potassium. There's something to that because when I do hydrate properly, the effects of the drug are minimized. I've been consuming a bottle of Drink Melon Organic Watermelon Water daily which contains 980 mg of potassium (compared to Gatorade which has a paltry 37 mg). It's pure watermelon juice and only 80 calories a bottle. 

I hope that I will fully adapt to all my medications soon and get back to running as usual. Last weekend was a setback but today was very encouraging.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Back to running and seeing

Prêt à porter
Today's run (street): 3.1 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 2.25 miles

Okay, I lied. It's still September and here I am posting again. On my last post (not the one that confused SIOR because I used a complicated word like hiatus) I wrote about my enduring problem with plantar faciitis. That was in late August. Although I didn't say it at the time, it was the start of a planned running break. I needed to have a couple of eye surgeries and my doctor said I wouldn't be allowed to run again until mid-October.

I had my first surgery a couple of weeks ago in my left eye. It went well but my recovery has been slower than expected. So much so that we ended up postponing the second one. It's been a roller coaster of experiences: frustration, surprise, concern, excitement. The exciting part was what happened after I stuck a contact lens in my other eye for the first time in 25 years.

After surgery I could technically see about 20/30 without a corrective lens in my left eye. With the contact in my right, I was able to look at the world clearly again without glasses.  I'm still dealing with some left eye vision issues but my ophthalmologist has cleared me for highway driving.

The doctor also gave me the okay to resume running. It was sunny on Friday morning and, without sunglasses, I opted for the treadmill. I was concerned that a month's layoff from running would mean a substantial loss in fitness, but I felt good the entire time. The secret to that was only running 2.25 miles at about 5 MPH. I didn't care about mileage or performance, I just needed to know I could run.

This morning was cool and overcast and I wasn't going to run inside again. I borrowed a pair of giveaway sunglasses that my daughter got from freshman orientation last year. They were fine except the arms were a bright Hofstra blue. They did the job but I didn't feel that comfortable wearing $2 novelty shades, especially after eye surgery.

My plan was to do the route I used to follow every morning at 4:00 AM before taking the train into the city. The distance is 2.5 miles, just a small increase from yesterday and something I thought would be easy to handle. My first steps confirmed that and I knew I would be in for a good run. It had rained overnight and the smell of ozone mixed with the aroma of maple trees was very pleasant. The 55° weather made me feel like I could run forever. Maybe not forever, but more than my planned 2.5 miles.

Still, the sunglass situation had to change, so this afternoon I drove over to Dick's in Melville to buy off the rack sunglasses for the first time in two decades. I had visions of getting some of those cool, aggressively shaped tri athlete shades with removable lenses for different sports. Dick's has nothing like that, and if they did, they'd charge $300 for them. They did have cheap lookalikes made of chintzy plastic that looked awful on me.

I found a decently made pair for $20 with a reassuring label on the front that said "Polarizing lenses, 100% UV protection." That may be the law but I wasn't taking any chances. As a matter of fact I was so risk averse I texted the above selfie to my wife so she could tell me it was okay to buy them. They were.

So I'm back to running and seeing, two things I really missed. I'll do the other surgery eventually but since it's not medically necessary right now I'll wait. I plan to go out again tomorrow and increase distance a little more. My plantar faciitis went away during my hiatus and I really hope it's gone for good. Or at least for a really long time.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Progress on plantar pain

Whatever gets you through the run
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

I just realized that it's been 20 days since I've last posted. That doesn't mean I've stopped running. But if you're counting the past six days, I hadn't. My layoff has been a combination of busy days and avoiding aggravating my plantar faciitis. I've substituted running with lots of walking and ellipticaling, but that doesn't really raise the bar in terms of fitness. The last time I ran before this morning was last Saturday. I was concerned I'd struggle a little today.

 My plantar soreness peaked last Sunday and it wasn't fun. I'd run with a lot of pain the prior day and toughed out a 3.5 mile run. I thought icing my foot on and off the rest of the day would help, but when I went outside on Sunday morning I didn't get very far. Every footfall radiated pain and I turned back before covering less than a quarter of a mile. I considered my options and headed upstairs to try my foot on the elliptical. The lack of impact and different motion made that a better choice.

I returned to work last Monday after a week's vacation and decided to wait until Friday for a run. My foot pain continued to improve, but I chose to give it one more day. Instead, I did an elliptical session which got my heart rate up, but not close to 80% of max. My foot felt okay after the workout and I decided I'd go for a test run today if the soreness didn't return

This morning's schedule was tight but I was determined to cover at least three miles.. I wore my Brooks Launches with Sof Sole plantar orthotics. I did feel some soreness at the start but it wasn't unbearable. I hoped that would go away once the tendon warmed up. I kept my speed moderate to avoid straining anything.

The easy pace and orthotics allowed me to keep pain to a minimum.That I could get through 3.25 miles without regret was a victory after two weeks of extreme discomfort. I'm not sure what type of workout I should do tomorrow but I'll probably do another easy run. I'm far away from the speed and distances I was achieving a year ago but I did feel stronger at the end than I expected. I hope  my right foot soreness leaves as quickly as it came. And when it does, I really hope it doesn't return to my left.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Born to Run with Plantar Faciitis

I wish it felt that good
Image from painscience.com
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles
Yesterday's run: (street): 3.4 miles
Friday's workout (treadmill): 35 minutes
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.3 miles
Last Saturday's run (street): 3.4 miles
Last Friday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

“One injury that I have always had that never seems to go away is plantar fasciitis..”
- Christopher McDougall July 20, 2010

I’m not really sure why our bodies punish us for doing things to keep it healthy, but it’s something all runners experience at some point. The ER family hosted some neighborhood friends on Saturday and, at one point, the discussion moved to running. It turned out that my neighbor used to run, but he stopped due to knee problems and spinal stenosis. Prior to that, he was a pretty active runner who’d completed a number of marathons, including two NYCs. I asked the question, if humans are designed to run, why do we get plantar faciitis?

If you are a fan of Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run, you might recognize that question because it turned out to be why he wrote that book. Plantar faciitis is a puzzling affliction. I went through a protracted bout with it in my left foot some months ago. Soon after that problem cleared up, I started experiencing similar pain in my right foot. The severity of this new pain is greater than with my left. That is no doubt related to recently doing nine runs in ten days while on vacation.

 I’d tried all the suggested approaches to minimizing plantar soreness, including using the CVS version of the Strassburg Sock along with another contraption that held my foot in place at the optimal position while I slept. Neither were pleasant experiences and I don’t think they helped very much. I switched to just using orthotics in my shoes and eventually the problem went away, only to resurface weeks later with my right foot.

 I resumed running on Friday on the treadmill after being chased indoors by a thunderstorm. It was probably for the best, because my foot pain had discouraged me from running very fast. After a while, I just gave in and moved to walking at a 1.5% grade.

I was concerned that Saturday would be a repeat of Friday. I was glad when I hit the pavement and saw that the pain was less pronounced. The plantar soreness was there, but manifested as a dull burning feeling rather than a sharp pain. I didn't love the experience, but I did get through my run.

This morning I wore my most cushioned running shoes and set out hoping for a less painful start. The pain was tolerable and I hoped it would decrease once my tendon warmed up. Ultimately it did, although the pain did not completely disappear. While running has been slightly painful, walking can be difficult. If I'm off my foot for more than five minutes, the next time I take a step I'll feel an intensely sharp pain in my heel. Fortunately, this measurably decreases after taking a dozen or so steps. It's good that the pain lessens, but it's unnerving that every time I get up from the couch I know will go through that experience again.

I expect that this problem will leave as mysteriously as it came. I'm unsure what I can do to help speed my recovery, since trying every Internet cure didn't really pay off the first time. I spent a little less time at my standing desk and more time working at my office table over the past month. That roughly coincided with the improvement that happened with my original foot. In the meantime I'll continue to put ice on the tendon when I can, and wear my recovery flats around the house.

I still don't understand why runners end up with these problems if we are truly born to run. The thesis of McDougall's book was that we are meant to run barefoot or, if we must, in minimal footwear. That craze has come and gone and I'll admit I drank the Kool Aid on the idea. I still prefer a lighter, less structured shoe and wear my NB Zante 2's most of the time. Yet this has been a year for plantar faciitis for me. The only positive is that, despite the affliction, even with the pain, I've managed to get through almost every run.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Seven runs in seven days

Vacation day on the 'ole North Fork
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.3 miles
Tuesday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Monday's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

Seven runs over the last seven days. So where's my parade? The last time I ran that many days in a row was in September 2012. I didn't cover that much distance over the past seven days (23 miles) but it brought me back to my old running schedule. Up until early 2013, I would run outside (or on the treadmill) six days a week. Monday was always my rest day. These days I typically cram my running in between Fridays and Sundays. Not the best recipe for continuous improvement.

Pretty good shot of a vineyard at 60 MPH
Since I'm on vacation this week, I had no excuse to skip a run on Monday. I ended up on the treadmill because it was raining. At least I think that's why. I have almost no memory of that workout. Tuesday was a typical neighborhood jaunt and Wednesday was more of the same but a little longer. Later in the day we went out to the North Fork of Long Island for the day and enjoyed the sights (and food) in towns like Greenport and Southhold. Between running and walking, I accumulated a lot of steps.

I considered making today a rest day since my right foot has taken over responsibility for torturing me with Plantar Faciiitis. The weather was too nice to skip a run, so I wore my cushy Saucony Triumph ISOs to minimize impact on my heel. The pain was bearable, but today I felt some pain and tightness at my right hip. That may be signs of Piriformis syndrome. I had similar sciatic nerve pain when I was recovering from a herniated disc a couple of years ago. It may be a recurrence of that, or it could be punishment for running so many days in a row.

I may end my running streak tomorrow and switch to the elliptical. Working out with different motion and lower impact may be the best way to proceed at this point. I can always resume running on Saturday. If the weather is nice  on Friday I may have trouble staying indoors.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fun with friends, Dim Sum and outrunning a drone

Run dad run!
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 2.25 miles 
Friday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Vacations are great, especially at the beginning. I took Friday off and it has been a busy three days so far. I kicked off vacation with a run around my neighborhood and followed that with a swim. It doesn't get much better than that, running-wise. That night we went to local fair and watched some spectacular fireworks later in the evening. Not a bad way to start a summer holiday.

Saturday morning's schedule was very tight and I went out early with the intention of covering just a couple of miles. I picked a few random streets and kept going until I reached the two mile mark and then headed home. I needed to get to the car dealership, buy a car for my son, and be home by noon to greet our guests. Somehow I managed to do that, although the car negotiation got a little tense and my daughter had to watch me thrash things out with the entire management team for an hour.

I got back home a few minutes after our guests KWL and his sister H arrived with a sizable amount of Dim Sum from Lake Pavilion restaurant in Flushing. With little delay, we got settled in the dining room and had a fantastic meal followed by an incredibly good (and huge) peach tart. It was all so good, and worth every carb and calorie.

Before the feast
And after
After Dim Sum, we walked to the neighboring middle school where KWL put his new DJI Spark into action. This drone has a high definition video camera and the controller connects to a smartphone. so you can see everything the drone sees while it's flying. It was amazing to watch the Spark rise up (and up) and see our earthbound crew getting smaller and smaller. At one point KWL had the drone track me as I ran around the field.

Rise of the Spark
This morning I got out a little later than I'd hoped, but the clouds were low and thick so I didn't pay a sun penalty. The temperature was cooler than yesterday, but the humidity was unpleasant and I didn't even try for speed. I avoided my usual route which made the experience marginally more interesting. Since I'm on vacation next week I plan to break away from my neighborhood roads as much as possible. We had a great time with KWL and H and we look forward to seeing them again soon. Next time the Runsketeers get together I think we may be joined by a new member who can really fly.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sometimes it's hard just getting out the door

Hooray, weekend runs are done
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.3 miles
Friday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

It seems like a long time since I updated the blog. You haven't missed much. Here are two things that are new since my last post.

1. My plantar faciitis in my left foot is pretty much gone but now I'm starting to have the same problem on my right.

2. I hate running.

Okay. I don't exactly hate it, but I'm having a lot of trouble getting myself out the door these days. One of the best things about being a runner is imagining the possibilities on every workout. You can run inside or outside, on trails, roads, parks and tracks. Do local runs, long distance adventures and all kinds of races. Over the years I've done a lot of that, but these days I can't seemed to break out of my same old route around my neighborhood.

I work at home on Fridays and, with limited time, have few options for my workout. That's actually a good thing because, in that situation, I don't feel guilty for following my quotidian neighborhood route. Still, I was not psyched to run on Friday morning but I knew I had to do it. I dressed and made my way outside only to discover a light rain was falling. Some people don't mind running in the rain but I'm not one of them.

I headed back to the house and changed my running shoes for my Kinvaras that I use only on the treadmill. My last few treadmill runs had been tolerable so I didn't think much of it, but a few minutes in I just wanted to stop. I was totally disinterested in the experience and considered shutting down and calling it a workout. I managed to bargain my way through the first mile where I promised myself I'd stop and reconsider the next couple of miles. I ended up doing my entire run but the entire time I was asking myself why.

Saturday was better, both in terms of attitude and weather. But not by much, and I managed to putter joylessly through my local route. This morning I had the same negative view of running. I looked at past issues of Runner's World and Trail Runner for inspiration but could not convince myself to get in the car and drive to Stillwell or Bethpage for a long overdue trail run.

I ended up going around the neighborhood once again. It was perfectly nice but the entire time I thought about the type of runner I have become. What happened to the person who wouldn't think twice about running the Bethpage trail to the Preserve and back on a Sunday morning? Or run the Dirty Sock course around Belmont Lake? Those workouts aren't even on my radar these days.

While I am having trouble with my run-magination, I haven't stopped running. I did consider cutting it short on Friday, but don't think there's a chance I would have done that. Let's see how things go this week. I have a vacation coming up soon and I plan to try some more interesting runs and cover longer distances. Maybe that will get me back on track.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Runsketeers get schooled

If you squint it looks like we're sitting by the water
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (Bethpage bike trail): 4.25 miles
Last Tuesday's run (street): 3.4 miles

Orthopedists and MRIs, contact lenses, laser surgery, religion and tribalism, genetic testing, cable provider frustrations, camping in France, speaking Italian and tachistoscopes. Those were just some of the things discussed by the Runsketeer gang after yesterday's Bethpage workout. Despite the steamy weather, we made it through our runs. TPP and I covered 4.25 miles while SIOR and guest Runsketeer, "Mike the Professor" (MTP) ran 7.2. He's an actual professor who teaches at my daughter's college.

We met up at 8:00 AM on Colonial, with TPP and I arriving first before SIOR rolled in with her new Jeep. After a few minutes reliving memories (I used to have a Jeep that I loved) SIOR decided that we'd run south because we usually go north. We started off together but soon split, with SIOR and MTP taking the lead while TPP and I adopted an easier pace. I thought I'd be running alone (which would have been perfectly fine) but TPP stayed by my side. That was great because we had some great conversations along the way. She told me about the cycling groups she rides with which go from brisk to insanely fast.

Running and talking made the miles go by fast, especially the first two. By the time we turned around at Picnic Polo Road, the humidity had gotten to me and my pace slowed noticeably on the way back. I managed through the big returning hill, but asked TPP to take a short break with me when we reached the top. Despite the humidity I loved the run, but I was very happy when we finally reached our end point.

My route looked like a 7 but we only ran 4
Once SIOR and MTP made it back, we convoyed to Starbucks for caffeine and food. It was chilly inside so we decided to sit outdoors. I was able to watch a number of dummies crossing Woodbury Road without a crosswalk while cars whizzed by them on both sides. I was amazed no one got hit. The weather, that felt so humid on the Bethpage trail, was really comfortable during our coffee time. I even got to use my cool Runsketeers, "All for One, Run for All" coffee mug that SIOR gave me at April's surprise birthday party.

It was nice having MTP with us. He's an interesting guy who usually races once or twice a weekend. TPP and I had met him at SIOR's BBQ a few weeks ago. We missed our buddy KWL but he was doing his final training for a triathlon that's happening next weekend. Like always, it was great hanging out with SIOR and TPP who bring the perfect balance of intellectual challenge and absurd humor. I'm looking forward to our next Runsketeer outing. Hopefully the humidity will a little lower than yesterday's 89%.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Giving humidity its dew

The muggy trifecta
Today's run (track): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.4 miles
Saturday's run (street): 4 miles
Friday's (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.7 miles
Last Saturday's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

There are two periods during the year when running conditions are consistently good. One of those times is late September when temperatures begin to drop and the stifling humidity starts giving way to crisp fall air. The other time of the year is around April, when spring starts to take hold and I can transition from quarter zips and track pants to lighter gear with fewer layers. But all conditions are temporary. By late June, short sleeves and shorts essentially become survival wear.

This weekend the dew point has been at or above 70°, a point that news stations characterize with words like tropical, uncomfortable and intolerable. Running in those conditions is extremely unpleasant. I suppose there's an actual limit to the amount of moisture wicking fabric can wick and I think I reached that point during each of my last four runs.

Even though I ran early, the temperatures were close to 80° and the difference in feel between shade and sunlight was huge. Some people thrive on these conditions, but to me it's krytonite. Not that I'm Superman or anything. Give me freezing cold temperatures any day. Except not when it's freezing cold and windy because my face hurts. Let's just say late September and April are really good for me.

I ran around the neighborhood Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This morning I needed a change of scenery and headed to the track. It was early enough to avoid the direct sun but not the humidity. I wasn't moving too quickly but speed is relative. A nice couple had started walking around the track and at one point the guy said, "slow down, you've already lapped us twice!" I laughed knowing how abysmal my pace really was.

I've managed four runs over the past four days and I have to admit that my running improves when I run more frequently. I'll squeeze in a fifth run tomorrow morning to celebrate our country's independence and then be back to running on Friday. If the dew point drops below 70, I will be happy but my expectations for that are pretty low.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A week of celebrations and bad running

Just a bunch of pomp and circumstances
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (track): 3.6 miles
Last Saturday's run (street): 4 miles

It's the end of the academic year and my kids have finished all their classes. My daughter just completed her freshman year at college and my son graduated high school Wednesday night. Last Saturday we hosted my son's graduation party and that was loud and fun. Mrs. ER and I had a table adjacent to the party space and the wait staff kept bringing us food. And then they brought cake.

Track be nimble, fog be thick
I definitely exceeded my calorie and sugar budget and hoped that I'd at least get some running benefits from all that carb loading. I didn't. I ran around my neighborhood on Friday and Saturday with mixed success and decided to run at the track on Sunday. Conditions were very foggy (according to Garmin humidity was 100%) so I knew what I was in for.

In celebration of my son's graduation and my daughter's birthday, I took a couple of vacation days this week. I've been fighting a sore throat since Tuesday and worked from home on Tuesday and Wednesday. That would normally prompt me to get a couple of extra runs in during the week, but I wasn't feeling up to it.

Even though Wednesday night went late due to graduation and post graduation festivities, I managed to get myself out the door for a run the next morning. I slept longer than on a work day, but was still tired when I got dressed for my run. Things didn't get any better once I hit the road despite another night of carb loading. Every time I have a run like this I start to worry that I've gone over the edge and will never run well again.

Thursday was more celebrating with food, this time for my daughter. I told myself that despite the gluttony, residual head cold symptoms and my less than impressive running, I would go out with a good attitude this morning. It was very humid when I stepped outside so I didn't overdo it. I ran far better than yesterday and felt encouraged that I've broken my streak of lethargic workouts.

Today was a vacation day from work but not from life and we all put attention to things that needed to get done. I spent a few hours replacing our home networking system which always brings joy and frustration in equal parts. But I got it done. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to post today.

I'm not sure what the weather will be this weekend but I hope things cool off. If I can follow through with it, I'll get out very early tomorrow to beat the hot morning sun. By 7:30 this morning things were barely bearable.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The mind is willing but the body is slow

Translation: Run faster jerk
Today's run (treadmill): 21 minutes
Yesterday's run (street): 3.9 miles
Friday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.2 miles

It has been a very busy June, but all for the best reasons. End of the school year, get togethers with friends and family and a heavy schedule at work. Make that mostly the best reasons. This has taken a toll on my running, especially this weekend. I keep telling myself that I'm going to get back up to my targeted mileage, but so far I'm falling short.

Last Sunday I did my usual neighborhood loop that I usually reserve for Friday mornings. I don't remember why I kept it so short that day, but I'll assume it was due to limited time and not laziness. It may have been an attempt to reserve energy for what was to come later in the day -- a great time at Chez SIOR's BBQ extravaganza.

When we arrived at SIOR's house we were greeted by two of her adorable girls who were carrying what appeared to be a very expensive plush toy. It was in fact a shiba puppy. We were ushered into the backyard to find a collection of friends and new faces who had the common attribute of being much faster runners than me. Mr. SIOR was manning the grill and the aroma of barbecue made me very hungry.

I'd call it a Runsketeer party but it was really RunsketeerPlus. I got to meet a Hofstra professor who races at least once every weekend and SIOR's buddy DL who paced her at the Main Coast Marathon and has a 2:49 PR. He is also the owner of the plush pup. It was great to see TPP and JC as well as KWL. I had a cheeseburger, half of my daughter's hamburger, two chicken legs plus SIOR's Brussels sprouts that we have since cooked at home using SIOR's recipe. And two beers which is exactly how many beers I can drink.

After a very busy work week, I finally got back to running on Friday. Like last Sunday, I followed my usual 3.2 mile route at a glacial pace. I'm not sure why I've reverted back to really slow running but I'm confident that it's more mental than physical. During yesterday's run I thought about René Descartes' concept of dualism, that the mind and body are distinctively separate. My challenge is bringing them back together.

When I went out on Saturday I was prepared to run well. The temperature was 72° but the humidity was low and I was out early, before the direct sun made 72° feel too hot. Almost immediately, the effort seemed uncomfortable. It wasn't the usual beginning of the run difficulty that sometimes happens when transitioning from anaerobic to aerobic breathing. If that were the case I would have been running a lot faster. This discomfort was more abstract.

Yesterday's struggle was odd because I wasn't feeling physically burdened. In fact, my heart rate averaged 77% max over the almost four miles and I never felt like I needed to back off my pace. However, I felt like any increase in speed would feel terrible. It wasn't until I was on my last quarter mile where stepped things up and discovered that the additional effort actually felt better.

My mind is holding back my body and I don't know why. I do have a lot of things happening these days and perhaps that's contributing to my slow performance. When I force speed, my body responds and it feels sustainable. What's interesting is that my pre-run intent is positive, but once I hit pavement I find it hard to conjure the motivation to hit my potential. Is there such a thing as a mental running coach? I think I need one.
 

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