Running quote of the week

“Running isn’t a chore to fit in, but a privilege … I’m not trying to figure out the least I can do to keep up with my goals, but the most I can get away with.” – Jonathan Beverly

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Powerless

I am still without power due to the storm and have been unable to post since Saturday. I will resume as soon as possible. I've been getting in my runs and look forward to publishing my posts. Thanks for checking in. -TER

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Racing the hurricane

Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 7.1 miles

Apparently there's some rain and wind coming our way as Irene makes her (its?) way up the eastern seaboard. At least we've had time to prepare, but with a million people in the NYC area under mandatory evacuation everyone is pretty much on edge. With the hurricane coming later, I went out early to Bethpage to get in some training miles.

There were plenty of people on the trails at Bethpage this morning, along with golfers who were getting in a few rounds before the storm. It was cloudy, but humid, and I was glad that I wore my new Mizuno singlet. I brought along my water bottle that I filled with 1/3 ice and 2/3 Gatorade G2 to help keep me hydrated. The combination of the two kept things bearable over my entire 7+ mile run.

My goal distance was eight miles but I decided that I'd shorten that by a mile because it's been a long time since I've run more than a few miles in the Hattori's. I didn't want to invite injury andwith the high humidity, it was the right thing to do.

By the end of my run I was looking forward to getting past the last long hill and quite happy when I finally finished. Considering the weather, I thought I'd performed well and I was pleased that I was able to work on my base. I'll either be on the treadmill or the elliptical tomorrow, unless we lose our power. That being the case, I'll revisit my core workout in the dark.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lonely runner in the city

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

Today is my last "Summer Friday" in the office and I slightly regret not planning a run in Central Park. This would have been the day to do it, with moderate temperatures and partially cloudy skies. Unlike the last two summers, I've barely hit the city venues on Fridays. Instead I've opted to do my morning running in my neighborhood. Some of that is due to the high mid-day heat we've had this summer, but really it's because most of my running partners are no longer in the city. I still enjoy running alone in NYC, but I didn't feel like it today.

This morning I went out and followed my usual route, all the time thinking about the effort it will take to meet my predicted finish time for Cow Harbor. I covered the first mile at a moderate pace but picked up my speed to the point where I was running in the high eight-minute range by the time I finished. I know going directly from sleeping to running affects my performance so I was happy where I ended up.

As long as hurricane Irene waits until Saturday afternoon to come through the NY area, I should be good to go for a long morning run tomorrow. With only three weekends left to train for Cow Harbor's challenging and rolling 6.2 mile course, I need to reinforce my base and work on those hills.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Update on Emerging Runner's 2011 goals

Today's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

This has been a big week for nature, first with the earthquake and now hurricane Irene is threatening to disrupt my weekend running. When you're a runner, it's all about the weather. Since there's not much I can do about that, I thought I'd focus on things where I have some control.

2011 Goal review

It's almost September and we're through 75% of the year. Let's see how I've done.

1. Run a half marathon.
Did it! I ran the LI (Half) Marathon in May and I'm still tired.

 2. Score settling: Run my best times ever on the Dirty Sock and Cow Harbor 10K's. Beat my time in the New Hyde Park 8K (44:42 two years in a row!).
So far I'm on track. Achieved best ever times in both the NHP 8K and Dirty Sock 10K. Cow Harbor 10K happens in three weeks.

3. Running tourism: Run outside of Long Island at least six times. Bonus for competing in a race outside of LI.
I ran in Florida in January and Massachusetts more than once this year. Lots of running in New Hampshire and Maine. Still no races out of Long Island.

4. Hit those trails: Add Caleb Smith, Sunken Meadow and one more state park to my trail running experience.
Still no runs at Caleb Smith or Sunken Meadow but that could change by year's end.

5. Performance: Run 1 mile under 7:50/mile or 2 miles under 8:00/mile.
My last serious speed workout in July did the trick. First mile at 7:50 and did 8 x 200's at 6:50. I also ran two continuous miles at 8:20 which doesn't meet the goal, but it's not too far off.

With four months left in the year I'm hoping to fully meet every goal. Right now I'm pleased with my progress.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Post-earthquake run

Did you feel that?
Today's run (street): 2.65 miles

Yesterday afternoon, the city was abuzz with excitement about the tremors from an earthquake that had hit the DC area. Though I was out at that time, I completely missed the experience. Buildings were evacuated and even my wife and kids felt it in Long Island. To me, the most amazing thing about it was that the LIRR still ran on time last night.

This morning I knew I needed to step up the pace for my run. Yesterday morning I gave myself a break and did a slow recovery run. It's seductive to do that because it feels great to run without straining. This is especially true when you go out right after waking up.

I wore my Hattori's for the first time in a week, having switched to the Mirages for Dirty Sock training and recovery. It was nice to have lighter shoes, but I noticed the zero drop more than I usually do. I worked on keeping my turnover steady and hoped that my cadence was edging toward the high-80 SPM range. I ran a different route and covered a little more distance than I normally do. I was satisfied with the effort, overall. Though my pace performance wasn't above average, it was solidly back to normal. I hope to improve that this weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Here comes the Great Cow Harbor 10K

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

Well, it's official. I'm signed up for this year's Cow Harbor race in Northport, NY. Dirty Sock is probably a more difficult race, with the high heat, oppressive humidity and variable surfaces. But with its scale and national attention, Cow Harbor looms larger. Cow Harbor is an interesting race and a fascinating experience. The course has a number of "features" that need to be understood, like the James Street hill that rises steeply over a 1K distance including a section that rises over 100 feet in less .2 of a mile.

I read yesterday that your first run after a hard race should be slow and easy to allow your muscles to repair. I took that to heart this morning and went out at a comfortable pace. It seemed to take forever to complete my route, but it only took two minutes longer than normal. With the temperature at 65 degrees, I was hardly sweating by the end. Despite that, I felt it was a beneficial workout. This weekend I'm looking to put in some long miles and spend some time on the hills. Cow Harbor is coming and I plan to be ready.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thoughts on yesterday's race

Yesterday's race wasn't the toughest run I've faced this year, but in some ways I consider it my best effort. That's true, even with the LI Half Marathon I ran in May that was both difficult and humbling. On that race, I missed my performance target by a significant sum, but I am proud that (even with an injury) I didn't walk a single step over its 13.1 miles. Still, I feel that yesterday's Dirty Sock 10K represented my competitive best. There wasn't a single moment when I backed off the throttle, even as my energy levels dropped sharply near the end.

You'd think I would have done better than I did with the effort that I put forth on Sunday. I'll admit that I felt dismay at the hordes of people who caught up and passed me at various times during the race. I thought, "Why are they all running faster than me? How have they trained compared to me?"  The answer is probably a mix of things. First, I'm no longer in my 20's or 30's. Second, I suspect that many participants in yesterday's race probably train regularly at 10K-plus distances with an effort that I usually reserve only for race day.

With that, I'm pleased with the work I did on Sunday to achieve the best time I've ever attained in that race. Like this year's NHP 8K, I've done better the third year than in any previous year. As long as I can hold the gains I feel that I'm on track with my training. It will be interesting to see how I do at the Great Cow Harbor 10K. I don't know if I'll improve over 2010's time, but I know I won't regret my effort.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Race report: 2011 Dirty Sock 10K

Third time's the charm
Today's run (Babylon Village Classic - Dirty Sock 10K): 6.2 miles (net time 58:26)

Sometimes we anticipate a difficult race experience and hope that we're overestimating the challenge. We do everything we can to mitigate the pain and enhance our performance. That doesn't necessarily make the experience any easier, but in the end the pain is usually forgotten. Not entirely, but enough to make you decide to do it all again.

Today's Dirty Sock 10K was exactly like that for me. It was my third consecutive time running this race and for the third time I wondered, in the end, if I will ever do it again. The course is straightforward, an out-and-back 6.2 mile run, mostly on dirt trails. The heat and humidity determine the level of difficulty and the last mile (for me) is always the hardest part.

Team Emerging Runner arrived a little later than usual but I had plenty of time to collect my race bib, along with my race tee (an attractive faded blue this year) and the requisite pair of socks. When we walked into the registration area I saw a rock band on the stage and that made me and my daughter smile. It was a nice moment and we felt we were at an event. I caught up with Dave who was there with his wife and we all hung out until we were called to the line around 10 minutes before the start.

By now I recognize many people who compete in local races and it's a nicely familiar experience when we congregate behind the faster runners. The trails are wide, but with about 500 people at the start, the runners are pretty crammed together. Soon the horn sounded (oddly it sounded like a ship's whistle) and we moved en masse, somewhat slowly, until the crowd began to break up.

I ran the first mile in 8:46, which was good, considering my initial slow start due to congestion. I knew I couldn't sustain that pace and it was obvious that I was running with a faster crowd when they began to gain ground on me. My buddy Dave, who did very well today, had moved ahead and I soon lost sight of him. I tried to use the runners ahead of me as pacers but, by mile two, I began to feel like I was going to have some trouble getting through the entire distance at a competitive pace.

Dave (left) and me post race
Usually I see the winning runner coming back in the other direction around the 2.75 mile mark, but not today. I'd hoped that meant that I was running better than prior years, because that meant the eventual winner would still be circling the lake. Soon I was on the path around Belmont Lake and it felt hard. I was frustrated by the number of people who had passed me, but I knew I was leaving nothing on the course.

Psychologically, I was pleased by how quickly I lapped the lake and passing under the bridge meant that I had less than halfway to go. I continued to get passed and wondered whether I'd finish last. After the race Dave pointed out that we'd started somewhat close to the line so it made sense that faster runners would make their way past me. For the record, I finished where I usually do, right in the middle of the pack.

I did begin to pass some runners as I made my way between miles 4 and 5 and I took water every time it was offered. I also took sips from my hand bottle that was filled with electrolyte mix. Mile 5 finally came and I prepared for the worst and maintained the best pace that I could. Soon we were following the path along Southards Pond. When we turned right I knew we were about a kilometer from the end, perhaps the longest thousand meters I run every year.

Dave and I ran this course last weekend, so I was familiar with some of the features on this section of trail. When I saw the first foot bridge I knew I'd soon see the clearing and then the finish line. I came around the corner and gave my final push, crossing the line over a minute faster than last year. The race announcer even pronounced my last name correctly.

Team Emerging Runner was waiting for me at the finish line and I grabbed some water and drank the rest of my electrolyte mix. I saw Dave and his wife and found out that he finished about a minute and a half before me. He had told me that he planned to go faster than in 2010 and he was right!

Me with Beth and Paul, after the race
I found Paul, who I had met at the NHP 8K race, and his wife Beth. They both ran today's race and did well. Paul's very fast, he came in more than 10 minutes ahead of me. I mentioned to both Dave and Paul that I didn't think I was going to run Cow Harbor but I was overruled. The pain of today's run has faded to the point where I'm prepared to sign up for the race.

Well another Dirty Sock is on the books and I'm happy to have bettered my previous times. More importantly, I fought off fatigue and pain but I still maintained my targeted race pace. I guess I'd better get started on my Cow Harbor training. Preparation will be the key and I'll try not to think about the pain.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Liquid strategy for the Dirty Sock 10K

Performance in a pouch
Tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM I should be off and running on the Dirty Sock 10K trail run. It will be the third time that I participate in this out-and-back race that circles Belmont Lake State Park and passes Southards Pond on the return leg. The last two year's weather was brutal, hot and humid and even some rain. Predictions for tomorrow show 77° and 71% humidity for the start. Not ideal but better than last  year when rain threatened and finally started falling about 45 minutes into the race.

Low cal libation
Favorite fuel
I've trained the best I could with the time I have and I'm planning to use GU Roctane gels for pre-race energy and to help get me through that endless last 2K. I picked up a packet of Gatorade G Series Prime 01 that I will add to my G2 (low sugar) Perform that I'll carry in my water bottle. Both times I ran Dirty Sock I finished low on electrolytes and fairly dehydrated. Generally I prefer simplicity, but if these supplements help me through my expected struggles then it's worth the extra care.

I'll file a full report on the experience. My taper is complete, the race day gear selected and my nutrition plan is set. I'm hoping for the best, but mostly I'm just excited to run this course again and see my family waiting for me at the finish line.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Time for some needed rest

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

This morning I went out for my last run prior to Sunday's race. I wore my Mirages to acclimate to their feel, although the trail surface at the race will be different than pavement. I'll admit that I liked the luxury of this minimal, yet well cushioned, shoe. It's a nice change from the harder ride of the Hattori's.

It's often recommended that runners leave their watches at home and run by feel. I bring my Garmin because I have an irrational need to capture the metrics of every run but I rarely look at the display for anything except elapsed time. I purposely ignored my watch this morning and only checked it at the end when I pulled up by my house and hit the stop button. I saw that I'd averaged 9:14 per mile, which made sense based upon the effort I had made.

I'm still battling the feeling of tiredness and, although I was happy to have run 15 seconds per mile better than my July average, the fatigue was noticeable. Along the way I encountered both a car and a walker at the same intersection -- unusual because I rarely see either at 4:00 AM. That woke me up a bit. I'm done with running until the race, although I may do some less strenuous activities between now and then. Rest, I believe, will be the best thing to do before I line up for the Dirty Sock 10K on Sunday morning.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I did my run, so why do I feel guilty?

Today's run (street): 1.2 miles

I know that I give up some performance when I get up and run at 4:00 AM. I know this because I typically do better on mornings when I put an hour or more between waking and running. There's probably a physiological explanation for that. Let's assume there is. Still, it bothers me when I go out and run at a moderate pace and see that I've averaged on the high side of 9:00.

Since I'm tapering for the Dirty Sock run on Sunday I decided to go out fast this morning. The bargain I made with myself was that I'd only run a mile or so. That got me out the door on a day when I really wanted to remain in bed and finish the sleep that was interrupted by my alarm. I took off faster than normal but not in a sprint, as I would have were I doing intervals. I stepped up my cadence after 30 seconds and tried to generate some speed.

I hit the mile mark at around 8:37/mile which is a 5K race pace for me. I really pushed as I completed the loop back to my house and finished my short run averaging 8:28 overall. Good, not great. In the end my satisfaction with my performance was somewhat deflated by the guilt of running less than half my normal distance. I guess that's why we call it a taper.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The good and bad of late summer running

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

I had mixed emotions when I began this morning's run. The air was cool, almost cold, and so different from the humid conditions over the past weekend. I appreciated the energizing weather as I made my way along the route but felt a little sad that the cool conditions and low humidity were signaling the close of summer.

After Sunday's treadmill intervals I found it easier to run with some speed. I knew that I was pacing better than I had in a while. I followed my usual route and moved along at faster than conversational pace. I was trying to imagine if I could sustain that rate over the length of Sunday's race. I pushed hard over the half mile and finished close to 9:00/mile.

One year ago I was averaging about an 8:45 pace on my morning runs but my speed has slipped over the last six months. I'm happy with today's run because (at least) it's an improvement from what is now the status quo.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Singlet minded planning


I need to decide if less is more
With only six days before the Dirty Sock 10K, I'm working out my race day preparations. I've been thinking about whether to buy a singlet to wear as a hedge against the historically high humidity. The idea is sound, having less material on your body will allow more efficient evaporation of sweat. However, I've never run in a singlet and I don't know if I'd like it or if I would find it a distraction.

My fallback is my Craft Performance running tee that does an excellent job of wicking and evaporating sweat. I'm not sure what conditions to expect on Sunday but, if it rains, efficient evaporation becomes less important and, to the prior point, less material would be beneficial. I'll take a look at City Sports this week to see if there are any summer clearance bargains. If I get a singlet I can try it on one of my morning taper runs to see if I like it.

While I'm in shopping mode I need to remember to pick up more GU Roctane gels for the event. There aren't too many products that I think can make a noticeable difference, but this one does.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kinvara retirement run

You served with distinction but now you're hurting my knee
Today's run (treadmill): 3.15 miles

After yesterday's long run at Belmont Lake State Park I felt no urgency to get out this morning for my Sunday run. That, and the booming thunderstorms that came through around 4:30 and stuck around most of the morning. While I looked out at the drenching that my lawn and trees were getting, I debated whether I should run indoors, do an elliptical session or do nothing.

It wasn't until after lunch, that my wife said I should at least do something. She didn't want me to regret missing my workout after it got too late to do it. She knows me well. I decided to do a mixed session on the treadmill, combining intervals and recovery runs.

The rains have continued all day but it hasn't helped the humidity level. I wore minimal gear -- running shorts and no top. That probably helped, although you couldn't tell by the amount that I sweated. I began at an easy pace, below 6 MPH and eased up to 6.3 through my first mile. At that point I hit the 8 MPH button and ran a few minutes at that speed before backing down to 6.5.

I repeated that cycle a few times until I passed 3 miles, where I dropped to a sedate jogging pace to cool down. I had worn my Kinvaras for the first time in months and, just like the last time I wore them, I experienced residual knee pain after my run. On top of that, I had a hot spot on my mid-foot that may have been caused by my sock. To be safe, I'm going to officially retire the Kinvaras that served me very well for almost 600 miles.

I'm going into my taper now, in fairly good shape. Today's speed work will - hopefully - help me next Sunday. The chaotic weather wasn't only a factor here on Long Island. My friend KWL and his team did not participate in Gran Fondo bike event in Philadelphia today because they were suffering similar conditions. Must be very disappointing. I have no worries for that next week. The website says the Dirty Sock 10K will happen -- rain or shine.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pre-race training run at Belmont Lake State Park


2010 Dirty Sock race shirt. They also give you socks!
Today's run (Belmont Lake State Park): 6.2 miles

It's been more than two months since my last race (the NHP 8K) so I'm excited that I'll (once again) be competing next weekend. If we have weather like this weekend's on the 21st I'll be very pleased.

This morning I met up with my running buddy Dave at the south end of Belmont Lake State Park. We decided to do a last long training run along the Dirty Sock race course to prepare for the big event. We had plenty of company on the trails at 7:00 AM when we started. There were people with dogs, walkers, bike riders and a handful of other runners.

We took off at a pace that allowed for comfortable conversation and. before I knew it, I heard my Garmin chime the first mile. We reached Belmont Lake and chose to follow the same route that we'll take on race day. This involves a short section that crosses a highway access road and goes under the LIE. We circled the lake in short order and I was pleased with my energy level at what I knew to be the halfway point.

I never noticed before, but I determined the main trail runs uphill in the southern direction. That may be a reason why I have a tough time in the latter half of this race. Checking our watches we saw that we were coming on the one hour mark and I couldn't believe that much time had passed. Having an interesting guy like Dave as a running partner certainly helps on long runs.

At the last leg of the run, where the trail twists south after paralleling a section of  Southard's Pond, Dave stepped up the pace and I followed. He's a strong finisher and I did my best to stay with him. This last half mile is always tough on race day because it's hard to discern how much more trail is left before the finish line. I know to listen for the race announcer over the PA, that tells me to start my final sprint to the line.

The humidity finally kicked in and at the end we were a pretty soggy pair. I was extremely pleased with our run and I know I could have put another 10% into my effort if I had been competing. I'm saving that for race day. The taper starts tomorrow. Let's hope that the heat and humidity take a holiday next Sunday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

No power leads to unexpected power

Note to Sports Authority: sale items are supposed to cost less
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

I worked from home this morning which allowed me to sleep in a little later. Sort of. At around 4:00 AM our house alarm started bleeping, indicating a loss of battery power. I noticed that the digital clocks had no display and that we were having a power outage. I went back to sleep for an hour, but when I got up for good, I was suffering a bad headache. The power had come back on, so I had a couple of strong cups of coffee and headed out for a neighborhood run .

The humidity was low at 6:30 and the temperatures were in the 60's, so my run was pleasant. I started slowly because my headache was sapping some energy. I picked up the pace and covered a little more than 5K. I was moving steadily but it didn't feel especially fast. I lamented the fact that I hardly ever manage paces faster than mid-9:00 these days and I expected today's to be even slower.

I finished my run and was surprised to see that I almost hit 9:00 overall. It may be that I'd had about an hour between getting up and running or that the weather helped me. Probably a little of both. Either way it was nice to break out of my normal metric and show some better performance.

I had much to do between 11:00 and 5:00 and, throughout the day, I had periods where my headache made me want to lie down and take a nap. Ibuprofen helped a little but, once again, it was Sudafed that did the trick. Pseudoephedrine is wonderful thing. I take it sparingly and I'm always happy when I do.

At one point this afternoon, we stopped into Sports Authority to get my son a new pair of water shoes. I'm very disappointed in their decision to drop brands in favor expanding their floor space for more Nike and Under Armor clothing. I guess people like that, but I don't. My son and I were amused to see this great deal on Adidas running shoes in the kid's section (above). I think their marketing people need to rethink both their merchandise lines and their pricing

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The thing about the Dirty Sock course...

Link to picture at Bill McBride Photography

Today's workout (elliptical): 28 minutes

I'm thinking of heading to Babylon this weekend to run the trails in Belmont Lake State park. This is the location for the Dirty Sock 10K that's being held next a week from this Sunday. The course itself is straightforward, mostly flat and non-technical, and, unless it's been raining, well groomed. The thing about this race is the weather. On a cool fall morning it's as good as trail running gets: picturesque woods, a beautiful lake and some interesting sections with that cross over brooks or pass by another lake. But the weekend of Dirty Sock can show a different side of this course - the heat and humidity envelope you and the last mile of the race is plenty tough.

The last time I ran this course was in the spring when I closed out my half marathon training. I wore my Kinvaras on the trails and thought all was well but that night I awoke to significant knee pain that followed me for months. I've since gotten past that problem but I'm a little concerned about a recurrence of this problem. In truth, I had probably over trained the week that I did that run and the knee pain was likely a result of running 30% more mileage than normal.

I'm planning to run in the Mirages, a minimal stability shoe, this weekend and for the Dirty Sock race. I've been running almost exclusively with the Hattori's but I seem to adapt well between those shoes and Mirages. This will also be a big weekend for my friends who race. KWL will be competing in the Philadelphia Grand Fondo bike race (108 miles) and FS is due to run a race on Cape Cod. However, she is "day to day" on deciding whether to participate, due to an injury. I hope everything lines up for both of them this weekend (including good weather) and that we all have great experiences.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A run without purpose

Today's run (street): 2.25 miles

Runner' World has a story in the August issue that suggests that you have a purpose for every running workout. Examples include building endurance, getting faster and simulating race conditions. This morning the purpose of my run was simply continuity.

It's been a taxing week in the office and I count on my daily run to bring balance to life's pressures and stress. Some mornings I get up and run hard, usually when I'm training for a race. Other times I'm happy to complete my route after averaging a mid-9:00 pace. In both those cases I usually feel like I've contributed to my fitness.

Today's run was more obligatory than tactical. I started out slow, almost as a concession to my begrudging agreement to run. I reached my first mile two minutes later than I normally do and that prompted me to step up the pace. As much as I'm told to run without a watch, seeing my performance playing out on the digital display can motivate me to work harder.

My increased focus on speed allowed me to make up for that first mile pace and I completed the last third of a shortened course at 10K race pace. In the end I was glad to have run and satisfied with my performance recovery. Still, I'm hoping for a more purposeful attitude when I go out for my next run.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Runners: know thy enemy!

Today's run: 2.6 miles

Hoping to keep my cool
Like most runners, my performance degrades with a rise in temperature. Adding humidity makes it worse and it all makes sense scientifically. If your body needs to cool itself, it will deplete your body's fluid level through sweat. This leads to a loss in plasma volume and a reduction in oxygen to muscles because blood low is being pushed to the surface of the skin. Humidity prevents efficient evaporation of sweat that dissipates heat and helps regulate body temperature.

It seems like every running magazine I read has an article or two about running in the heat. They all say basically the same thing -- that proper hydration (including electrolyte balance) is key. They are also pretty clear that running in extreme heat can drive your body temperature up to dangerous levels. At that point it goes from bad to worse.

I'm thinking about this because I'm two weekends away from the Dirty Sock 10K trail run. It's a great race that goes through the woods and around a lake. It's always held the third weekend in August and the two times I've run it conditions ranged from high heat and humidity to high heat, humidity and rain. Last year I drank 24 ounces of water after I finished and still felt depleted. It wasn't until my daughter brought over an electrolyte drink that I finally felt restored and balanced.

This morning's run did not feel humid (though it was) and I appreciated the temperatures that were still in the 70's. I had a decent run and by the time I came home I was drenched with sweat but I didn't feel overheated. I'm looking for a singlet to wear on race day. Despite the "wife-beater" look that I've always avoided, that may be a good tool for keeping my body temperature down. One thing I'm counting on is that Dirty Sock will fall on a hot and humid day.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Puzzling find beneath my Hattori's


Hey, that's nowhere near my mid-foot!
I did both of my weekend runs on the treadmill and used my second pair of Hattori's that have yet to see pavement. Out of curiosity, I looked at the bottoms to see if the tread picked up a wear pattern from the belt and noticed some evidence of impact on the front medial side. That looked like I may still be pronating, even with a mid-foot strike. I also thought that it may just be belt dust that attached to the out-sole.

When I looked at my primary pair of Hattori's I was quite surprised to see that both heel pads showed clear evidence of wear towards the outside edge of the shoes. These are outdoor shoes and there's no other explanation except that I'm still pushing off the heel at some point in my strike.

This is puzzling because I know I'm landing on my mid-foot when I run in the Hattori's and the white EVA shows an imprint that supports that fact. Clearly there are two points of contact when I land and I'm guessing that I glance off the heel and then strike ahead of the arch. No too bad but not what I want. Perhaps I'll make a trip to a local running store in the next couple of weeks and ask to have my gait videoed. Even if my theory is confirmed I'm not sure if there's much I can do unless I want to go back to a lightweight stability shoe.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dirty Sock prep: 60 humid minutes on the treadmill

Today's run (treadmill): 5.5 miles

The rain was coming down hard at 6:30 AM and the frequent thunder told me that the storm was close. I hoped that it would move through quickly so I could go out for a long run later in the morning. A check on weather.com showed no hope for a letup so I changed my plans in favor of an indoor workout.

If I had gone to Bethpage State Park I would have targeted 8 miles, but I knew that spending that much time on a treadmill would make me a candidate for the insane asylum. I decided that I would run for 60 minutes, including some time for warm-up and cool down. At the start, the temperature in the guest room seemed pleasant, and I had my trusty water bottle to help keep me hydrated. At the ten minute mark I still felt relatively dry and I wondered how long I would go until the sweating began.

By the time I reached the 15 minute mark I felt like I was in a sauna and I questioned whether I could really go the full 60 minutes. By 20:00 I noted that I was 1/3 my planned time and my running shorts were just about soaked through with sweat. I didn't bother wearing a shirt because I could get away without one indoors. I regretted that I'd forgotten to wear a HRM. It would have been interesting to record my physical response to the heat and humidity over the duration of my run.

I kept drinking water and by the 30 minute/halfway mark I knew that I'd be okay for 30 more. Passing 40 minutes was a welcome milestone and I reached five miles a little before the 50 minute mark. I continued for another 5 minutes and then dropped my pace and finished with a five minute cool down at around 11 minutes per mile.

I wasn't delirious when I stepped off the treadmill but I was sweating profusely and I made a beeline to the refrigerator and grabbed some Gatorade G2.  The very humid conditions, heat and 60 minutes of motion were exactly what I was after today. The conditions at the Dirty Sock 10K are usually brutal, not unlike today's. It occurred to me near the end of my run that I must be in decent shape to have gone through today's workout without quitting or collapsing in exhaustion afterward. I'm hoping that hard workouts like the ones this weekend will yield a good result on race day.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Weekend video report: The Emerging Runner Hill Challenge

video

Today's workout (treadmill): 24 minutes

Saturday has been a busy day and an early morning appointment prevented me from getting out for my run. That was too bad as conditions were perfect at 8:00 AM when I would have run. By the time I got free, it was already well after lunch. I had just read about TrailRunner Magazine's Hill Challenge that is going on at the Outdoor Retailer show right now in Salt Lake City. I thought that might be the perfect workout for me, given my limited time.

The TrailRunner hill challenge pits two people against each other on treadmills where they compete to see who can cover the most distance in 15 minutes while running at a 10% incline. 15 minutes seems like a short enough time to endure almost anything but I'm not a 20-something super athlete and I know my limits. Instead I did the Emerging Runner Hill Challenge which involved running 24 minutes with increasing speeds and inclines in the first half, followed by decreasing speeds and elevation during the second.

I began the run at 4 MPH with a zero incline and at 00:59 bumped to 1% and 4.1 MPH respectively. I continued this way until I reached 10% and 5.1 MPH which I held for a couple of minutes. After that I decreased by .1 MPH and 1% incline until I finished. I kept my Amphipod hand bottle filled with icy water at the ready and drank liberally throughout my workout. I was sweating profusely by the 10 minute mark and, despite the increasingly easier conditions the run still felt like hard work. 

It was great to complete a hard workout in less than 30 minutes -- perfect for the time I had. Thanks to my daughter (and camera person) I was able to file this weekend's video update. I hope to get out for a long run on Sunday. Let's see if the rain will hold off, at least throughout the morning.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A change of course, ever so slight

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

I've been working half days on most of the Fridays this summer. It's a great way to extend the weekend and since many people don't even come in on Friday, I find these mornings especially productive. The only issue I have is whether to run early or wait until noon and run in Central Park. We're having an impromptu pizza party at noon so I opted to go out for my run this morning.

I just couldn't bear to run the same route that I've fallen into over the past couple of months. The advantage of repeating this course is that I can know instantly, after I finish, how well I did compared with other days. I also know that following this course will get me back home in time to stay on schedule. But after a while the same course grows tedious, so I set out on a different path and chose streets randomly.

I ended up covering just about the same distance as I do on my regular route but at least the scenery was different. I came home a few seconds later that I had on runs earlier in the week, but overall I was running the same. I'm looking forward to a run without time restraints tomorrow and I hope to cover at least 8 miles on one of the days. In the meantime, this morning's route was a nice change from the usual roads.restraints

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Why runners should be kookoo for Coco Puffs

Probably too processed to deliver epicatechin - but yummy!
Today's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

I know that they don't sell Count Chocula at Whole Foods but maybe they should. According to an article in yesterday's NY Times, epicatechin, cacao’s primary nutritional ingredient, has been identified as a factor to measurably improve athletic performance. In a study with mice who were tested using epicatechin against mice that didn't, "The fittest rodents...were those that had combined epicatechin and exercise. They covered about 50 percent more distance than the control animals."


Now mice and people obviously differ but the findings were that epicatechin facilitated the creation of new capillaries and new mitochondria. The study said that the combination of exercise and epicatechin yielded the clearest benefits. This morning I had a small piece of dark chocolate before my elliptical workout and I did well, although there are multiple reasons to explain that. The fact is, epicatechin is a flavonol, and, as the Times puts it, "a class of molecules that are thought to have widespread effects on the body." 

I don't believe in supplements but I do think it makes sense that better nutrition will lead to better performance. If that nutrition comes in the form of dark chocolate, who am I to complain?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Seven seconds separates two runs

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

This morning's run was almost exactly like yesterdays. In fact, the only difference was that today's run took me seven seconds longer than on Tuesday. Same route, same weather conditions, same start time. I think my seven second difference happened in the first few minutes when I got off to a slightly slower start. My standard practice has been to start at a moderate pace and gradually increase my speed so that I attain negative splits on every mile. I try to throw in some anaerobic sprinting at the end of my last mile which, at the end, tells me a lot about my state of conditioning.

Although Sunday's 6+ mile run would have been a typical weekend distance for me a few months ago, it was a noticeable jump in length compared to my recent runs. I was glad not to have suffered any ill affects from going 30% longer than usual. No second day hamstring or calf aches like I'd get following a 10K race or a 10 mile recreational run. I'm thinking about upping my distance even further this weekend and targeting 8 miles of LSD. I think if I reestablish my long run base to the level I maintained in winter I'll do okay at the Dirty Sock 10K later this month.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Listen to your body, not your mind

Today's run (street) 2.5 miles

I suspect that I'm behind on my sleep since I've been depending on my alarm to get me up every morning. It's funny how the same thought plays in my head every morning as I pour my coffee: "You're obviously tired so why not rest today?" Somehow I manage to ignore that suggestion and head back upstairs to prepare for my run. I'm learning that the voice in my head has no credibility.

I always turn on bright lights when I'm getting ready for my morning workout. I've read that light signals the brain to stop producing melatonin and that seems to work as I'm generally alert by the time I've dressed. A couple of bites of an energy bar tells my body that I'm fueled and I top it off with a few ounces of coffee.
 
My Garmin found its satellites quickly this morning which saved me some valuable minutes. I took off expecting my legs to feel less than responsive after doing a long-ish run on Sunday. That wasn't the case and by mile one I was cruising. I didn't break any speed records but I did maintain my target pace without much trouble. It's going to be very humid today but at 4:00 AM the air felt a little chilly. That surely contributed to my positive performance. I completed my run feeling as though I could have run for hours. Unfortunately, I had a train to catch.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I've found my minimalism threshold

Dare I say "a little too minimal"?
It wouldn't meet the definition of a "Two-a-day" but I did get out late in the afternoon on Sunday for a bike ride. My wife and daughter had gone over to the middle school to play tennis and I thought I'd surprise them with a visit. After I saw them I did a ride around the neighborhood and followed a route that I commonly run. Once again I was amazed how quickly I covered the roads on my bike compared to when I run them. It's also a lot easier to ride these roads, especially the hills, but there's something about the simplicity of running that I far prefer. Must be this minimalist mindset I've adopted.

Regarding minimalism, I made my second attempt to run in the Invisible Shoes huaraches yesterday and it didn't go well. I tried the sandals with socks (much to wife's horror) but kept in the backyard to prevent her any further embarrassment. I'd hoped the socks would protect my toes from the lace but it actually exacerbated the discomfort. I shed the socks and tried another run but it was so uncomfortable I had to stop.

I really wanted to reach the point of minimalism where all that existed between my bare foot and the road was a thin layer of rubber. The Hattori's get me very close to that and it feels correct and natural. The huaraches may be a good solution for others, but I know I'd need to invest a lot of time acclimating to the feel of these "shoes." The Hattori's work for me already. I think I'll stick with them.
 

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