Running quote of the week

"I'm always nervous. If I wasn't nervous, it would be weird. I get the same feeling at all the big races. It's part of a routine, and I accept it. It means I'm there and I'm ready." - Allyson Felix

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Shallow bins and recovery progress

Usability testing anyone?
Today's workout (elliptical): 40 minutes

I realize that there are many larger problems than this, but can someone please explain to me why the stuff holders on our elliptical and new treadmill are so shallow? I don't get it. Do the designers ever think about the fact that an 8" remote will probably fall out of a 4" deep console bin? This are the sort of things that go through my mind these days as I do my workouts without outdoor distractions.

Yesterday's treadmill run ended with an alarming jolt of pain as I pushed my pace beyond a moderate speed. Rather than signaling a new or deeper problem, I think this experience was a warning. Despite giving the injury plenty of rest, the root cause issue remains. If three weeks of no-impact workouts haven't resolved it, it may be time to see an orthopedist.

Today's workout was all about protecting the problem. Instead of running, I spent 40 minutes on the elliptical and followed that with ten minutes of (very) slow running on the treadmill with a 2.5% incline. It wasn't a particularly challenging workout, but that was the point.

I'll probably go back to a full treadmill workout tomorrow. The elliptical session seemed to reset whatever caused yesterday's pain and I'm feeling better. Just the same, I'll need to keep my speed in check tomorrow to prevent another cycle of pain.

Friday, February 27, 2015

97% of a good run

Unhappy ending
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles

When does a tenth of a mile make all the difference in a run? Today it was in the final 10th of my treadmill workout. It's been a lot of time since my last run because my business schedule is sucking up all my bandwidth. Today I worked from home and managed to get back to running, although I had limited time this morning.

It was my fourth run on our new treadmill and I continue to appreciate it compared to the old one. The Freemotion running experience is far better than the Sole's. Besides the much quieter motor and stable tread that doesn't jerk underfoot, the Freemotion unit feels more substantial and the running less tedious. The time - and mileage - seem to go by a lot faster.

So I had 97% of a great run and 3% of a really bad one. It was my own fault. The three weeks I spent exclusively on the elliptical helped heal my chronic sciatica. My return to the treadmill last week re-aggravated that injury. I hoped resting from Monday through Thursday would reverse the damage and, to a degree, it did. But I pushed too hard today and that set back my progress.

I only aimed to cover three miles and felt good running at a moderate pace. With half a mile left to go, I began increasing my speed. Everything felt fine and I decided to cover 3.25 miles. By the time I was on the last quarter, the speed felt challenging. At the 3.2 mile point I felt a searing pain in my upper hamstring/glute region and I knew I'd pushed too hard. Y'ouch!

I thought I'd seriously hurt myself. I immediately reduced my speed and stopped the treadmill. Walking felt painful and I hoped it was a temporary situation. I took Ibuprofen and hit the shower. I certainly did myself no favors today. After living with the result all day, it doesn't seem as bad. I'll see how it feels tomorrow morning. I may substitute a run for an elliptical session rather than further aggravate the problem..

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Treadmill running is almost like real running

Same same
Today's run (treadmill): 3.6 miles

I downloaded my Garmin for the first time since January and saw that my last run before Friday happened on January 31 (not January 25th as I'd thought). Still, it was three full weeks between those runs. Over four weeks since I ran outside. So far the transition from elliptical to treadmill has been seamless, but it will likely be a few weeks before I can run outdoors again.

I was wondering about the difference between treadmill and road running when I came upon an article on the ABC News website called Myth or Reality: Treadmill Just as Good as Road Running. The point of the story was that most of the differences between indoor and outdoor running are small:

- Treadmill running requires less force from the knees and hips but not to a significant degree.

- Calorie burn is about the same until you get down to a 7 minute pace.

The article goes on to say that transitioning from the treadmill to the road puts you at risk for calf strains, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. I'll need to keep that in mind when I return to outdoor workouts. I'm sure that, once I'm back to the street, I'll want to stay outside for my runs.

Today's run was a little longer and a little faster than yesterday's. I am trying to limit the time I spend on the treadmill while I transition back from the zero-impact elliptical. Again, the time went by quickly and I was pleased with the airflow from the two large fans that sit below the console. I suspect that the challenge will increase as I add more time and speed to my running.

Unlike warm weather days, I don't need to think through my venue options for a Sunday run. Like yesterday and today, tomorrow will once again be a treadmill day. And that's just fine.

Friday, February 20, 2015

First run: Freemotion 850 & Saucony Triumph ISOs

The new new things
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles? I forgot to check!

I listened to the weather on my way home from the office last night and was disheartened to hear that we'll be facing below-zero temperatures and more snow this weekend. But then I remembered that we have a new treadmill and suddenly all was right in the world. I was very happy after that, and even happier when my wife reminded be to swing by Panda to pick up our Chinese New Year dinner.

With all the snow and ice we've had this year, options for running have been limited. This was made worse with the failure of our treadmill. The only choice I've had this month has been the elliptical machine. While I've come to really appreciate the workout, I've missed running a lot. I work from home on Fridays and that gave me my first opportunity since January 25th to actually run. Not only would I be using this treadmill for the first time (the minute I spent on it the day it was delivered doesn't count), but I'd also have my first run in the Saucony Triumph ISOs.

I was curious to see how I'd do after three-plus weeks away from running. Did the elliptical sessions preserve my fitness, or would I find myself overtaxed? I plugged my phone into the sound jack and started up a podcast. The very large built-in speaker amplified the voices well enough to clearly hear over the motor. This is so much better than earbuds, which I despise. I stepped up on the new machine and immediately appreciated the quiet, shriek-free experience.

The Sauconys felt good underfoot. They are well cushioned but don't feel heavy. The Freemotion's deck suspension feels more responsive than the Sole's. I took it fairly easy to avoid aggravating muscles that are not used to running. Running felt surprisingly good and the first mile went by quickly. I thought the Triumphs felt more comfortable and ran a lot better than the Kayanos.

It's really great to be able to run again after almost a month and I was pleased that I got through today's workout without feeling like I've lost fitness. I may find it a bit tougher when I finally return to the road. Overall, I should do fine. I know I'll eventually disparage the idea of treadmill running, but for now, it's great to have that option again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Sole's last laugh

Kicked to the curb
We all know that what goes up must come down. That goes for our old treadmill and it didn't go without a fight. The good news is that our new treadmill was delivered tonight. That was the easy part. The hard part was getting the old Sole down the stairs and out the door.

The two guys who came to assemble our new Freemotion 850 agreed to remove the Sole and carry it to the curb. We were happy about that, because there was no way we could have done it ourselves. I was excited to be just minutes away from having a working treadmill and getting rid of a bad memory. The guys got the old machine out of the guestroom fairly quickly. Then the trouble began.

It was pretty tough to watch. Our hand-built wooden stair rail took a lot of abuse, but it held up well. The other side didn't fare as well. The rollers on the tread bed punched through the drywall leaving a couple of rectangular holes that will need to be patched and painted. It could have been worse, but it wasn't good.

New and improved
The guys set up the new treadmill and called us upstairs. At first I was taken aback by the size of the machine. The Freemotion's console stands half a foot taller than the Sole's and the frame is at least three inches longer. It's a substantial machine that (when you're standing on it) feels a little like a fitness center treadmill.

I ran on the new treadmill for a minute to make sure it worked. I'll wait until I do a real run before sharing my impression, but I will say, so far, so good.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Joining a gym is short term thinking

Save me a spot
Today's workout (elliptical): 60 minutes

This is has been a snowy winter, just like last year when I did over 70% of my running indoors. What's missing for me this year is a working treadmill, I decided to explore a short term gym membership to tide me over and started looking online at my options. 

You can learn a lot about joining a health club from their websites. For example, few sites will tell you the actual cost to join their gym. Instead of providing a price list, many say "call or click to request pricing." Why is this? Do they want to figure out how much money I'm willing to spend before committing to a cost? This is why people dislike shopping for a car.

For those health clubs that actually put their pricing on their website, I discovered a pretty wide variance in cost. Generally speaking, gyms with stark black and white designs with super athletic, good looking people seem to be very expensive (i.e., Equinox). They also tend to charge initiation or enrollment fees. Gyms with friendly designs and bright colors are much more reasonably priced and don't seem to add on extra costs (i.e., Planet Fitness).

10.5X more expensive than Planet Fitness
Most of these places offer either a day or full week free pass. I considered doing that, but I would need to go from gym to gym until our new treadmill is installed. I also envision a situation when, each time I go, the gym manager corners me and gives me a pitch like he's selling me a Florida timeshare. 

I happen to work in a place that has a well appointed fitness center and I can use it for free. I was hoping to do an occasional treadmill run there, but I concluded that I don't want to do a workout before my business day. Especially since it would require me to share a common shower and tiny locker room with my workmates. I really don't want to see that. Besides, when I get to the office, I like to get right to business.

We still don't have a date for our treadmill delivery so I may end up going for a couple of 7 day trials or joining Planet Fitness for a month for $10 if that's truly their deal. If I can drive to Bethpage State Park to run on the bike path, I can drive to a gym in the same town. Maybe someone should come up with a service model like Airbnb, where people let you come in and use their home fitness equipment. That would make it really easy.

I spent an hour on the elliptical machine this morning and actually liked the workout. But after looking at gyms online with expansive fitness rooms filled with high end treadmills, I'm ready for a change. Still, getting back on the road without worrying about slipping, or no sidewalk escape routes would make me the happiest of all.

Friday, February 13, 2015

In between runs

The thing I do now
Today's workout (elliptical): 45 minutes

Remember when I used to run? I barely do. In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to get a new treadmill before our old one finally conked out. The snowy, freezing weather has made outdoor running impractical, if not impossible, and it's been almost two weeks since I've actually ran. I am glad to have the elliptical machine. It provides a decent workout and it's helping me maintain my fitness until I can return to the road (or run on our yet-be-be-delivered new treadmill).

Not counting my 2010 bout with pneumonia that took me away from running for three weeks, this is the longest I've gone since 2008. The best part of this hiatus is that my sciatica has greatly lessened. People were telling me to take a break and recover once and for all. Nature and mechanical failure have taken care of that for me.

I'm curious to see how I do the next time I run and whether I've lost a lot of my base. My plan is to get to Bethpage once the path is clear to see how many miles I can handle. Temperatures are supposed to stay in the mid-teens this weekend and snow is expected on both days. Until then, it's going to mean a lot more time on the elliptical.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Some disassembly required

Treadmillectomy
Today's workout (elliptical ): 60 minutes

I know that treadmill delivery people will usually agree to take your old machine down to the curb if you offer them some cash. I'm hoping that will be the case for us. Even so, I decided to lighten the burden for whomever ends up hauling this metal monster down the stairs by disassembling the decommissioned machine. I discovered there's only so much you can do to reduce the weight of something that's mostly pieces of welded wrought iron.

My buddy SIOR and her teenage daughter assembled their new treadmill all by themselves on Saturday. Assembling a treadmill is not something I'd dare take on myself, but I thought that disassembling one would be fairly straightforward. In fact it was. I've replaced the console four times so I knew I could remove it easily. The motor was oily and dirty and it required some careful handling as I worked the bolts off the frame and worked the wiring from the logic board. Dropping this 40 lb unit would have resulted in a major grease stain on the carpet.

In all, I probably reduced the carrying weight of the machine by 50 lbs. If anyone needs a spare F63 console or a 3.0 CHP treadmill motor, feel free to make me an offer. I'll even throw in an incline motor. I'll be happy when we take delivery of our new FreeMotion 850 in the next couple of weeks. Out with the old and in with the new.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

New treadmill: Signed, sealed, but not yet delivered

Emotion for FreeMotion
Today's workout (elliptical): 50 minutes

The absence of a working treadmill prompted me to obsessively research replacements for our Sole F63. It's always a good idea to look at the models around your price range and then find the best value based on your requirements. That doesn't always guarantee success as evidenced by our Sole. Despite its high recommendation it didn't live up to its hype.

My starting point was to consider every treadmill brand in the universe (except for Sole) and work backwards from there. I am fortunate to have resources for research that aren't available to many people and quickly learned that most treadmills priced under $1,000 are really a crap-shoot. I was told that I should be willing to pay $2,000 or more for the quality that I'm expecting. I decided to reject that and focus on machines that are reasonably priced and structurally sound. I don't need built in fitness programs because we never use them, so why pay for them?

After coming close to pulling the trigger on a LifeSpan TR2000e that I could get for the price of a 1200i, I decided to wait until I had a chance to try out a few in person. We went over to Sports Authority to see what they had to offer. Big box retailers tend to stock the same brands: Bowflex. NordicTrak, Pro-Form, Sole and HealthRider. We had a Pro-Form treadmill before the Sole and we currently have a Pro-Form elliptical. Pro-Form equipment can be a good, inexpensive choice, but they sometimes feel cheap and rickety.

Sports Authority sells FreeMotion treadmills, a brand whose commercial grade units are often found in fitness centers. After looking at the Pro-Forms, we concluded that we'd do better paying a little more for a middle-tier FreeMotion 850 model. The differences in construction between this unit and the similarly-priced Pro-Form were noticeable. For example, the salesperson pointed out how the FreeMotion has shock absorbers all along the tread bed, while the Pro-Form only had them in the middle. That could make a big difference in how long the rollers will last.

I liked that the 850 had a basic interface but was iFIT compatible for people who want fitness features and device connectivity. I also liked the feel of the bed when I ran on it and the fact that this unit can incline  up to 15% and decline 3%. There was free delivery for treadmills at that price and we opted to have them assemble it. A 20% off coupon that I got for buying a box of Girl Scout cookies outside the store made it a pretty good value.

I spent 50 minutes on the elliptical this morning. Although it's a tedious workout, the session went by fast because my daughter kept me company the entire time. My wife and I are anxious get the new treadmill as we both view the elliptical as an occasional cross training tool rather than a primary means of working out. But until we take delivery, it's going to be our only option.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Banish the Sole and open up the room

One step closer to the trash
Today's workout (elliptical): 45 minutes

It occurred to me that I could temporarily recover some space in my guest room/office/workout room by folding the Sole and putting it into the corner. Once I did that, I changed the angle of the elliptical so that it faces the television (sort of) instead of sitting perpendicular to it. I never really cared about watching TV on the treadmill, especially in the last six months when the relatively quiet machine started sounding like an out of balance washing machine. But the elliptical is quiet because it's self powered, but so boring that the TV is an essential distraction.

Instead of using my Karhu Fast2s (shoes I product tested a few years back but never liked for running) I put on the new Sauconys for my elliptical session. Prior to that, I tried on the ASIC Kayanos to compare the fit. There was a very different feel between the two pair and I preferred the Triumphs.

Until I actually run in the Sauconys, I'll have to judge them on their indoor attributes. The Karhus have a fairly stiff mid-sole while the Triumphs are little more flexible and I liked them better. I would have preferred to run this morning but we have to use the tools we have. I really need to get another treadmill.

SIOR asked me why I'm not using the fitness center at my office and I was embarrassed to say that I'd forgotten it was there. I get into the office early but I usually start focusing on business right away. I need to remember to bring in running gear. I probably won't do that next week because my schedule is crazy and I'll be in the city on one of those days. I'll plan to try it the week after that. I may get out and run at Old Westbury on Sunday because the running club posts are saying it's clear. I'm curious to see how these Sauconys perform on pavement.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New shoes and nowhere to run

ISO excited!
It's a little ironic that my new Saucony Triumph ISOs came today. They look cool and my first impression of them is that they feel great. Unfortunately, all the snow we've had during the past two weeks makes outside running seem too risky. The treadmill has always been my alternative to the road, but that's no longer a viable option. Until we have a thaw or we get a new treadmill, the Sauconys will have to wait.

I'm excited about the Triumphs. They look to be the trainers I've been hoping for. My ASIC Kayanos, a similar type of running shoe, have been a disappointment. I can already tell that the Sauconys will provide a greater balance of energy and comfort than the ASICs and I expect that I will like them a lot.

With temperatures expected to stay around freezing this weekend, it looks like my only opportunity to try the Sauconys will be when I'm using the elliptical.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The little treadmill that couldn't

I'd like to sell this Sole to the devil
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 60 minutes

We're facing a perfect storm in the Emerging Runner household. It's actually related to the weather in my case. Last year we had a very snowy January and the weather kept me off the road most of that month. Despite that, I was able to do my usual miles on the treadmill. We had better luck this January, but circumstances have changed. Our treadmill's condition has gone from bad - to worse - to done. Fini.

A failed treadmill is inconvenient to me, but my wife depends on it for her daily workouts. We're both dedicated to our running, but I prefer to run outside while Mrs. ER likes to keep her workout indoors. With snow, freezing rain and sleet hitting us this week, we're both missing the treadmill.

It was clear yesterday morning that the treadmill was fading fast. No longer was the ever-increasing sound level the only issue. The machine was now giving off an unholy metallic screech at a decibel level that could only be described as dangerous. I decided to record the sound for posterity and had the brilliant idea of running the Sole at 12 MPH. I was curious to see what would happen and here's the result. The last moments of our treadmill...


video


I ended up spending an hour on the elliptical. It's definitely a good workout, but I never feel it equals a run. Until the weather warms enough to clear the roads we're stuck with that choice. I've been doing my research to find a replacement for the highly recommended but ultimately disappointing Sole F63. Everyone says you need to spend thousands of dollars to get a treadmill that won't fail with regular use, but I'm thinking that almost anything will be better than this retched Sole.
 

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