Running quote of the week

“I love track running. There’s something about that red 400-meter circle that lets my brain switch off—no roads to cross, no bikes to watch out for.” – Kate Carter

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Managing through the pressure

Still plenty of choice at Chez Emerging Runner
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Happy Halloween! So far I've successfully avoided the candy we bought for Trick or Treaters. Among the mix are Mounds and Almond Joy bars so you should be very impressed by my willpower.

I've had a couple of days of sinus pressure and the headaches that come with that. I decided to do my workout on the treadmill today to keep things simple. I also had early morning calls and needed to save some time. My goal was to move but not push enough to exacerbate my sinus issues. It was a decent session and I learned that the average commercial break on CNN is .36 miles.

I'm hoping that sleep and a change in the weather will bring me back to feeling strong enough to run hard this weekend. It's my last chance to train for the Hope for Warriors 10K on the 10th. My base is definitely below 6.2 miles right now, but I'll give it my best shot.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lies, damn lies and Garmins

Look how fast I didn't run!
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

I was in meetings all day on Tuesday and didn't get a chance to do a run. I did cover a lot of ground on foot, so that should count for something. Along the way I noticed many marathon tourists (after all these years I can easily spot them) enjoying the sights prior to running the race on Sunday. A couple of my meetings were held near Time Square, where sports demonstrations publicizing the Sochi Olympics were going on. It was a mob scene, but fun to watch.

I had no city meetings today, so I resumed my run schedule this morning. I've been running with my foot pod so that I can capture my cadence, but I still use the Garmin's GPS to measure my mileage. Due to that, I haven't bothered to calibrate the foot pod for distance. When I fire up the Garmin, it detects the foot pod and asks whether I'm running indoors. If I say yes, it will turn off the GPS radio and use the foot pod for measurement instead.

Today I went through the routine and when it looked like the signal had locked in, I was on my way. I hadn't gone half a mile before the Garmin chirped saying I'd reached my first mile. I figured that the GPS signal must not have actually acquired before I started and the watch was working off the (uncalibrated) foot pod. I didn't care much, because I always Gmap my run to get exact distance.

The watch did switch to GPS mode shortly after that, and my remaining splits were in line with my normal pacing. While I would have liked to meet the performance that the Garmin recorded for today's run, I must admit to a far less impressive pace in the mid-9:00 range. So the Garmin lied, but I'll forgive it. If I could run five minute first miles for real, I might actually break an 8:00 pace on my training runs.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Progress made on a progressive run

Progressively paced
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

I've been feeling a little down about my running lately, because I haven't been able to generate much speed on my training runs. I feel I should be meeting certain paces and I've come up short over the last week. The fact that my race times have been going in the wrong direction has fed into this frustration. Today's run didn't completely reverse my perspective, but it certainly helped my confidence.

It's hard to explain my current issues. I'm not running to exhaustion, but I've felt like the effort I'm putting in isn't translating into commensurate performance. I haven't been pushing the pace like I'd do if I was training for a race, although I do have a 10K coming up in three weeks. I shouldn't be expecting greatness, but perceived effort seems greater than observed performance.

I started out slowly and expected this run to be another disappointing effort, but I picked up speed every mile, finishing up a minute and half per mile faster than I started. This improvement was not apparent in the moment. It wasn't until I'd downloaded my Garmin's data that I saw my negative splits and realized I'd managed to hit an acceptable overall pace.

I'm glad to have tomorrow, my weekly rest day, for further recovery. I'll need to turn my attention to race training soon. For now I'm just happy to have broken my streak of sub-par runs.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Neighborhood run and CSH Lab fun

Monkey business at CSH Laboratory
Today's run (street): 5 miles

After a surprisingly difficult run on Thursday, I decided to take yesterday off. I had business that needed attention and that bought me some useful time in the morning. My wife and I had considered a walk after lunch, but time caught up with us. Guilt from skipping a workout wasn't even a consideration. I really needed the rest.

This morning we had plans to visit nearby Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where we'd tour the grounds and buildings and learn about the institution. Due to that, I had to get out early for today's run. A tight schedule discouraged me from going far from home, so I decided to target the neighborhood that's located directly south of ours.

I started with a loop along the northern part of my neighborhood to get a sense of my fitness. I wasn't feeling tremendous energy (certainly not at the level I'd hoped to have coming off a day's rest) but it was better than Thursday's experience. I settled into a pace that I could sustain for five miles and made my way south to "neighborhood #2" for a change of scenery.

The run was fine, I'd mapped out the route I'd take and only made one change along the way because I was curious to see where a certain road led. The southern neighborhood has a lengthy section that runs close to a mile. I like that part of the route because it's primarily straight and allows me to tune out and just run. I made my way back home in time to (just barely) remain on schedule.

Our tour of the CSH Labs was really interesting  and we discovered a lot about the current research as well as the impressive and important history of the laboratory. My son has attended DNA camp at CSH over the last three summers and he was thrilled to learn more about the essential research. Our tour guide was a first year Ph.D student at CSH's Watson School. She shared a lot of information about the work she is doing, along with many interesting stories and facts about the Lab.

Harbor view from the Lab
A workout for the mind and the legs
The CSH Lab's campus is beautiful, with great views of the harbor. We walked a lot, over many hills, and the tour could easily count as a second workout. Apparently, the campus is open to the public and the rolling and picturesque grounds would make for an interesting run. It's ten minutes from my house so perhaps I'll do that this fall. I was glad to get back into the workout groove this morning and spend some quality time with my family at the lab.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A run most difficult. Please explain why.


Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

Today was a tough one. I don't know why I had so much trouble getting through the run but it was a heavy-footed plod from start to finish. There is nothing I can point to that would explain my struggle. I got a good night's sleep, have no symptoms of a cold and the weather was cool and dry. Yet no matter what my mind was telling my body, my body answered, "Don't expect much."

Yesterday's route seemed short and I was surprised at the end to see the distance I'd covered. Today was opposite of that. My route was circuitous and I expected to consume most of my miles within the northern part of the neighborhood. I had a time target, but I wasn't as pressured as much as I was yesterday. I thought I was racking up the distance until I reached my turnaround point and saw that I was well short of my expected mileage. When I approached my home street, I realized that I needed to run another half mile to make my goal.

Although I ran at a sustainable pace, I felt like I was carrying an extra 30 pounds throughout the run. This wasn't the first run I've had like this, and I know that tomorrow's may be far better. I hope that's the case. One bad run is a statistical probability. Two bad runs in a row is a trend.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beware the race day balloon ladies

Step it up Donald!
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

I read a funny article on WSJ.com about the "balloon ladies" that Disney World uses to sweep back-of -the-pack runners in their races. These women work to get the slowest racers off the course so that Disney can open up their streets to theme-park customers. Apparently the balloon squad is viewed with terror by runners who can't maintain the minimum 16 min/mile pace. The next time you finish a race and hang out near the finish line watching the stragglers come in, think about the fact that finishing means as much to them as it does to you.

This morning it was cold and gray, with only 66% humidity. In other words, near perfect running weather. I got out a little earlier than normal because of scheduling pressure, so I tried to avoid roads that are heavily trafficked by school buses. My timing was pretty good and every time I saw a bus it was a safe distance away. Changing up my usual route helped alleviate the boredom that comes from running the same streets, day after day.

My run was unremarkable, except for the fact that I ended up finishing a little faster than expected. That made me happy. I really didn't put too much effort into it, but I did step things up a few times during the run. A little extra speed, when added to a moderately paced run, can result in a satisfactory effort. The cold, dry weather was also helpful, with no energy sapping heat or humidity to slow me down.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fitbit value to be determined.

Planned obsolescence
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

The best time to value your personal technologies is when they stop working. Do you fix, replace or discard? Years ago, I actually paid money to have my VCR repaired. It was worth it because a functioning VCR was important to me. An issue I'm having with my Fitbit has forced me to decide whether I'm in for a penny or a pound. Actually, 6.2 (British) pounds.

Worn and torn
The thing is, my Fitbit's "belt holster", a spring clip with a rubberized housing, is falling apart. The rubber that protects clothing from the sharp metal clip has ripped and detached. This makes the process of attaching the device to pants or a belt so difficult that I've stopped wearing it. I thought I might write to Fitbit and mention their poor clip design. I figured they'd be horrified and would immediately send me new one for free. When I went to the Fitbit site, I saw that my problem can be solved with the purchase of a replacement holster for $9.95 plus tax and shipping.

I probably won't bother to get it. It's not about the $10+ required to buy a new clip that will likely need to be replaced again in six months. I get that things cost money, though I find it offensive that they make money off their own design flaw. I've discovered that, despite the Fitbit's great features and attributes, I don't really find it that useful anymore.

The excitement of occasionally reaching 15,000 daily steps or 25 flights of stairs is mitigated by the frustration that comes from forgetting to transfer the device between sleepwear, running shorts, and pants. What's the sense of tracking only part of your activities? I'll give it another week to decide between purchasing a new clip or relegating the Fitbit to the technology junk drawer. It comes down to whether the value of the Fitbit is closer to pennies or pounds.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Comparing race times is easy but results are confusing.

A tale of three races
Today's run (street): 5.25 miles

This morning I downloaded my recent runs to Garmin Connect. I noticed a feature that compares selected runs, allowing users to see performance data by split (click above picture to read). The difference between this year and the last two year's times are easy to see. One thing that puzzles me is that the times on split 4 are really inconsistent. This year I covered .11 miles in 50 seconds at 7:55 pace, Last year it took me one second less but the pace was 7:18. In 2011, it took one second more to cover that distance, yet the pace showed 23 seconds per mile faster than this year. Very strange.

Today my thoughts were on recovery rather than performance. Due to my tapering, I covered far less than my normal 18-20 weekly miles since last Sunday. I took it easy and aimed for five miles. Although the temperature was a moderate 54°, it felt colder. I wore a light running shirt with 3/4 length sleeves and shorts, along with a pair of light running gloves. It was a good combination to start, although by the end I was wishing for shorter sleeves and no gloves.

I ended up running faster than I planned, but not all that fast. Recovery runs are a strategy to facilitate muscle repair and eliminate the built up lactic acid that causes soreness. I wish I'd taken it just a little easier. I'm looking ahead to November 10, when I'll be running the Hope for Warriors 10K. It's a great event (although the course itself is only so-so). My prep for this weekend's 5K fell short, and I want to do better. 10K means more base runs as well. Better get started soon.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Race report: 2013 Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor's Run

Seconds after crossing the line
photo courtesy of The Petite Pacer
Today's run (Town of Oyster Bay 5K): 3.1 miles - 28:39

This morning I ran the Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor's Run for the third time and had a great time. My performance was puzzling because I thought I'd do better than I did. I had an RPR (reverse PR - just made that up), having run my slowest ever 5K. Aside from that, it was great. I met The Petite Pacer for the first time in person and she was every bit as personable and charming as she is on her blog.

The morning started out well. I arrived a few minutes before 8:00 AM and parked at the high school. It's a fairly short walk the hill up to the Community Center where they do registration and hand out race numbers and sweatshirts (hoodies this year!). I gave them my name, but it wasn't on the list. After being referred to some GLIRC volunteers, I realized I'd never actually signed up. Not too smart of me. The GLIRC people were incredibly nice and gave me a race number after I'd filled in a registration slip. They didn't even ask for money, but I had the cash on me and insisted they take it.

After pinning my race bib, I ran into The Petite Pacer. We headed toward the starting line that's located about a quarter mile away on South Street. TPP suggested doing some strides so we ran a few hundred meters and returned to the starting area a couple of minutes before 9:00 AM. Our position was at the front and I mentioned that we should probably move back to keep from getting run over by the 6 minute milers.

The race started, but I found it hard to move in the crowd. I regretted suggesting that we move back before. TPP broke away and I saw her farther ahead before losing sight of her as we turned on Berry Hill Rd. I could not get past the clumps of runners ahead of me and I think it lengthened my first mile time quite a bit. According to my Garmin, I ran the first mile at 9:35 and came through mile 2 around 19:18. I did the last 1.1 miles in 8:21.

I thought I was in better shape for this race and didn't struggle on the long hill, so I was puzzled by my time. The hill gets steeper after the first mile and I remember feeling the increased burden. Still, I felt like I was maintaining a decent stride. I obviously made up a lot of time on the mostly downhill second half and passed a lot of people along that pretty tree-lined road. The peacefulness was broken only by a runner behind me who was singing loudly and off key to the music on his iPod.

All hope of finishing under 27:50 (which would put me below a 9 minute pace) was dashed when I saw the 3 mile clock. I pushed as hard as I could and crossed the line at 28:39. TPP was already there, having finished a few minutes before me. She videoed my crossing the line which was an unexpected surprise. I'll return the favor the next time I finish before her, which will probably be never.

Post race recovery with TPP
TPP and I got our time slips and I saw my official pace - 9:13. It was far slower than I expected to run this race. Last year I averaged 8:22 per mile. I have not had a good year in terms of race times but I still have a few more races on the schedule to improve my standings.

More important than my time was the great experience I had with the kind volunteers who helped me get registered and the opportunity to spend some time with The Petite Pacer. Tomorrow I'll get out and go as far and fast as I feel like running. That's the best part of a Saturday race. You have a bonus day to do another weekend run.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Managing the pre-race energy

 
Why is it that I usually feel energized the day before a race? Could it be that I'm closest to my training peak at this point? I suspect it's related more to wanting to run because I shouldn't. I always take one or two rest days before a race and that seems to work for me. In the few times where I've violated my taper plan with a run or hike, I've regretted doing it the next day.

I'm sure it's more psychological than physical, because I should be able to do a moderate workout the day before a race without penalty. But a positive attitude about my state of conditioning on race day is almost as important as the work that it took to get me there. I need to ensure that I'd done everything I could to be prepared.

So even with this extra energy today, along with perfect fall weather, I won't give into the temptation to walk the hilly bike trail at Bethpage. It's been a low mileage week and even with the race I won't have covered ten miles. The good thing about a 5K is that I usually don't need to take the next day to rest. I can make up for the shortfall on Sunday. I hope that the energy I have today will still be present tomorrow morning.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Making my last taper count

A serious threat to pant-kind
Today's run (street): 3.1 miles

As much as I love running, business needs to come first. For that reason, I was unable to get in my workout yesterday. I was in the city all day for meetings so the opportunity for a run didn't surface. I'm temporarily boycotting my Fitbit because the holding clip has deteriorated to the point where I fear it will rip my pants when I wear it. Without it, I don't know how much distance I covered yesterday on foot, but I'm estimating it was between 4 and 5 miles.

Today I had no excuses. Without a commute into the city, I had enough time for one final run before Saturday's 5K. Although I've heard that I need to do weekly speed work in order to avoid embarrassing myself on race day, I think I've prepared well for the race. I decided that a good hard run over three miles would be a nice way to end my taper.

I took off at a brisk pace and tried to maintain that turnover throughout the entire run. The difference between this type of workout and a race centers on two factors: the influence of other runners and the psychology of competing in a timed event. Without those two things, my expectation was to see a very good, but not spectacular performance today.

That's exactly how it came out. I'd kept my heart rate around 85% max and covered the distance in a little over 28 minutes. For me, that was exactly on the mark. I could have pushed harder and dropped my pace into the 8:00 range, but I didn't see any reason to do that. 9:06 was a decent average under the circumstances. I'm making no predictions for Saturday. A lot of it will come down to how I feel on race day morning.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A good day with a bonus run

This won't hurt a bit - but watch out for later!
Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

I had a great day today in the city. I saw friends and got some business done. My schedule was tight and I had written off the opportunity to get in a run, but I managed to get on the treadmill for 25 minutes. I set a faster pace than usual because of my limited time. I was pleased that my legs responded well. I think the speed work I did on Sunday helped get me into fast turnover mode.

I met my friend FS for lunch today. She and her husband are dedicated runners and they do many NYRR events as well as destination races. FS has been training for the NY Marathon that she's running for the fifth time in November. She did her 20 mile long run this past weekend. FS was planning to get a flu shot in the next few days but I suggested that she wait until after the race. I know there should not be any side effects from the vaccination, but my experience over the last few years has made me a little skeptical.

Tomorrow is another long day in the city that starts even earlier than today. I'm debating whether I should go for a run in the dark, or let all the walking I'll do stand in for a workout.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Speed in the morning, lost in the afternoon

Quiet at the track this morning
Today's run (track workout): 3.3 miles - 1 mile warm-up, 8 x 200m repeats, 1.3 mile cool down 

With its forgiving and flat surface, I should love the track. But, believe me, I don't. Running around a big oval is boring. It's not as tedious as the treadmill, but the repetitive scenery undercuts a sense progress in a similar way. My difficulty with the track also relates to the type of workouts I do there. If I'm at the track, I know I'll be feeling some pain.

If I do have to run at the track, I prefer to do it with as few other people around as possible. I try to get there early, before the crowds, but it's rare that I get the place to myself. This morning was very quiet, with a lone woman walking around the outside lane and a couple walking together. A little while later another man joined us, walking at an impressively fast pace. Even with that, it seemed peaceful, with the low sun illuminating the track and field like a scene from Field of Dreams.

I started with a mile warm-up at an easy, mid-9:00 pace before shifting to my speed workout of 8 x 200m intervals. I usually go for 10-12 repeats at 100m, but I thought it would be useful to stretch out the distance this time. I averaged 54 seconds for each repeat and covered that mile in 7:18. Not exactly burning up the track, but good performance for me over a series of 200m segments. The two workouts this weekend represent the last real race training I'll do prior to the 5K.

One of Muttontown Preserve's descending trails
Later in the afternoon my son and I paid a visit to the Muttontown Preserve to see if we could find the ruins of the old mansions from the 1930's. We didn't locate them, but we managed to get very lost, something I do every time I go there. It took us about 20 minutes longer to get through our hike than planned, because we got turned around a few times. No matter, hiking places like the MP are fun, even when you're not exactly sure where you are.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bethpage run and a surprise in the mail

A Garmin it's not
Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 4.5 miles

I'm in the middle of some high intensity work related to a new project that's requiring some focus over the weekend. This morning I felt a lot of pressure to get out early for a run. I needed to be back in time to accomplish some work before shifting gears toward my son's birthday activities. I couldn't face another run in the neighborhood, so I went to Bethpage to run the hills.

With my 5K coming up in a week, I have a limited amount of time to train and I wanted to make today's count. The weather could not have been better and that helped motivate me up the hill toward the start of the newest part of the bike trail. I felt very good and moved along at a decent clip. At least I thought it was decent until the first of many runners passed me like I was standing still. There was an extraordinary number of capable runners this morning and I wondered if there was a low key race going on.

Overall, I was pleased with my performance on the hills and I'd maintained a pretty good pace. Some of that came from running the last mile at my most sustainable speed. I would have liked to cover a another mile today, but I was concerned about staying on schedule.

Yesterday I was surprised to receive the above watch in the mail, the result of my renewing my subscription to Running Times. I didn't even realize it was coming. I spent many years with a large magazine publisher and I know subscription premiums can be a little chintzy, but his one brings it to new level. The watch seems to work fine (no running features besides a stopwatch) but the metallic bezel is actually "chromed" plastic. But I'm not complaining. After all, I can always use another stopwatch.

Friday, October 11, 2013

No rain, pain, or running strain

Today's run (street): 3.6 miles

Earlier this week the weather people on TV were talking about significant rainfall and flooding by the weekend. I was resigned to the probability of having to do my longer runs on the treadmill. While yesterday's run was wet, it wasn't anything like running in storm conditions. I expected this morning to be much worse. Happily, it was much better.

Sometime between 7:00 and 8:00 AM this morning, my energy sapping pressure headache disappeared. Between that annoyance, and the cold and rainy weather we've had, running can be more pain than gain. When I realized that the pounding from my sinuses was gone, my outlook brightened. After looking outside and seeing white, rather than gray skies, I felt even better.

Yesterday's run, while feeling low, was more symbolic than beneficial. Although my headache had cleared, I still held the expectation that today's run would be challenging. I considered not tracking my speed and distance so I wouldn't feel bad about my expected mediocre (or worse) performance, but I decided that I needed to face up to it. Besides that, I'm racing in a week and I have to focus on speed at some level.

Since you are reading this, there's a good chance you're a runner. And being a runner, you know that the first minute of a run can speak volumes about how the rest of your run might go. This morning I was surprised, in the best of ways, to find my energy level at the high end of the spectrum. I knew right away that this run would be much faster than yesterday's, and it was. The fatigue I experienced on Thursday was completely gone, replaced by the feeling that I could run all day.

I felt great all the way through but, due to my business schedule, I needed to cap the length of my run. This was quite a contrast from yesterday when, by the end, I felt like I'd just run a 10K at race pace. It was a nice way to finish out the week, especially one as tough as this. I'm looking forward to my last race training workouts this weekend before I taper down throughout next week.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wet and chilly, but back to the run


Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

This morning I actually felt apprehensive before going out for a run. I was concerned that I hadn't recovered from two exhausting days that were accompanied by a cold. I still had some symptoms, but felt strong enough to give it a try. The rain seemed to be holding off so I chose the outdoor option.

By the time I got outside, the skies had darkened and I saw that water was collecting on the driveway. I considered heading inside and using the treadmill, but I decided to go for it. After all, what would be the harm of running in chilly and wet conditions while battling a cold? I didn't really consider the implications, but conceded that I'd head back if the skies really opened up.

Despite having three days off from running, I didn't feel much energy as I made my way through the neighborhood. This run was about getting back on schedule and I didn't push the pace. The rain didn't let up very much, but I dealt with it. By the time I reached three miles, I was ready to head towards home. I may have pushed a little too hard too quickly, but I was glad to be back in running mode.

I'm probably going to be stuck doing indoor workouts over the next two days due to a storm that's predicted to come through, bringing flooding rains. If I get to full strength by the weekend I'll work on hills, since the Town of Oyster Bay 5K, with its very long hill, happens the following Saturday.

On hiatus

This has been a tough week and it's only Thursday. I developed a cold that may have been triggered by my flu shot and it's creating sinus pressure and affecting my vocal chords. Unfortunately this cold (or possible allergy) coincided with public speaking engagements on Tuesday and Wednesday. Between my schedule and feeling low, I haven't run since Sunday.

Today's weather is expected to be stormy so I'm not sure what my options will be for a run. If it's raining, I'll need to use the treadmill to get back on schedule. I haven't taken three consecutive days off from running in months, hopefully the rest has done me some good.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

It ain't the cold, it's the humidity

The one-two punch
Today's run (treadmill): 4 miles

I'm definitely working through a cold this week. What started as a sore throat on Thursday is now just an annoying combination of congestion and coughing. I don't think it's related to the flu shot. My policy has usually been to run through a cold and hold off running when I have a fever. With the exception of an unscheduled rest day on Friday, I've continued doing my workouts.

Last night my coughing woke me up and that prompted me to take both an antihistamine and a decongestant. I went for the minimal dosage, because too much of either would interfere with my sleep. That helped and it carried through until 5:00 AM when my body clock decided it was time to get up. I spent the early morning hours trying to decide what to do about a run. My plan was to go to Bethpage and train on the hills, but the weather was rainy and the humidity was high.

Although I got a decent amount of sleep, I don't think it provided beneficial rest. I decided to return to bed for a 20 minute nap and that helped bring me back to strength. At that point I'd decided to run inside. I didn't want to find myself trapped in the pouring rain on the Bethpage trail. In consideration of my planned hill training, I got on the treadmill and did the first ten minutes at a modest incline.

The humidity was really awful, so I kept my pace well below LT. The purpose of today's workout was to run about 40 minutes, keeping my heart rate between 80 - 85% of max. That was an easy target and I got through it without a problem. I resisted the temptation to hammer the throttle for the last few minutes, as I often do on runs like this. It was enough to run through a cold and it would make no sense to push so hard as to make it worse.

I thought about the folks like The Petite Pacer who were running the LI Diva Half marathon this morning. I'm sure the humidity was extremely unpleasant. But with no baking sun and moderately cool temperatures, it may have equaled out. Still, I was happy not to be racing 13.1 miles this morning.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Why running is like dreaming

But what do you think about?
Today's run (Stillwell Woods): 4.25 miles

One of my favorite quotes from Haruki Murakami's book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is, "What exactly do I think about when I'm running? I don't have a clue.” I identify with that because so many things go through my head while I run, but I'm hard pressed to recall most of them. It's like waking from a vivid dream at midnight, thinking you'll remember every detail. By morning, it's all a blur.

I'm not saying running causes temporary amnesia. In fact, I've worked out many problems in my head during training runs. While I may not remember the process, I can always remember the resolution. Perhaps that's the way it should be, both with dreams and running.

What I do remember from this morning's run was how perfect Stillwell Woods can be on a day like today. The humidity was high and the skies looked like they could open up at any minute. I knew that the woods would shelter me from a light rain so I wasn't concerned. The weather stayed dry and, despite the humidity, I was comfortable. This was mostly due to the lack of sun and fairly cool temperatures.

I didn't try to be a hero and take on the bike trails that drop and rise like an organic roller coaster. I stayed on my usual loop and made two circuits before heading back. I kept an easily sustainable pace (still not at 100% since I got the flu shot) until I encountered another runner merging onto the trail that runs around the big field. I thought that runner might follow me on that narrow path as I went west, and I was determined not to let him overtake me. He never did, and I ran my last mile significantly faster than the prior three.

I probably need to return to Bethpage to do my usual long hill repeats that are part of my training for the Town of Oyster Bay 5K. That and some base mileage may be a good workout for tomorrow. At some point I need to return to the track to run intervals. A 5K may be an easy distance, but speed requires some special focus, especially since half this race is uphill and the other half is down.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tough Thursday, restful Friday

A well timed break
Yesterday's run (street): 3.5 miles

I'm not sure if it's connected to the flu shot I received on Tuesday, but yesterday I went from feeling tired to feeling exhausted. On top of that, I developed a sore throat that grew worse as the day went on. Unfortunately, I needed to be in the city to kick off a project, and that involved a lot of talking. It wasn't an ideal situation, but I managed to get through the discussions.

Earlier in the day, I did an easy run around the neighborhood. I'd woken up lacking energy and modified my original plan to work on increasing my cadence. I got out a little earlier than usual when temperature was still pleasantly cool. The run felt great and I thought I was off to a good start for the day. By mid morning that had all changed.

I've decided to forgo my run this morning. This is starting to become a habit, with the last couple of Friday runs being substituted for walks at Bethpage with my wife. We both have busy schedules today, so there will be no opportunity to get there today. I'm hoping that getting some additional rest today will get me back to full strength. I need to increase my hill training as I prepare for my upcoming 5K.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Nostalgic for those self illuminated runs

Need to spend some time with my Tikka Plus
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

I'm up every morning at 5:00 AM, but I usually don't run until the kids have left for school. I've thought once or twice about getting out on the road earlier, like I did when I commuted. I considered doing that today, but by 5:30 AM, I was already in work mode. Maybe tomorrow.

I wasn't sure what effect (if any) yesterday's flu shot would have on my run today. To be on the safe side, I planned an easy workout. To be even safer, I left the foot pod and heart rate monitor home and didn't turn on my Garmin's GPS. I didn't want to see any evidence of my pace or effort I was expending, lest I be influenced to pick up my speed. I did capture my time, so if I really wanted to know how fast I ran, I could calculate pace based on my distance. So far I haven't been tempted to do that. Okay, maybe a little.

Besides waking up feeling fatigued, I don't think I'm suffering much from the vaccination. Today's run was a pleasure because I wasn't thinking about speed and effort. I did experiment a little with my form at times, but it was an easy run. Tomorrow I may step it up a bit more.

I'm going to be the city late tomorrow, so I may not try to do an early run after all. Still, it would be fun to go out again with my headlamp and run the empty streets of my neighborhood. I don't miss doing that at 4:00 AM, but with no need to catch a 6:20 AM train, 5:30 running might provide a nice change.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A good run today, but what have I done?

Maybe I should have thought this out
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

Despite having my Garmin GPS, heart rate monitor and foot pod on my run today, I felt like a purist. That's because I chose not to use the metronome app. Instead, I tried to meet my targeted cadence only by feel. Like the old joke about hitting yourself in the head with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop, today's run felt extra peaceful without all that beeping.

This change seemed to pay off, as I hit 87 SPM just by focusing on a brisk cadence. I felt some awkwardness in my gait for the first 20 minutes of the run, but still achieved a mid-9:00 pace in the process. I'll take that for now. I think I understand how much harder I'll need to push to get more improvement.

Things have gotten busier in terms of work and I spent much of the day on my laptop. I did take a break before lunch and got a flu shot a the local pharmacy. Although the CDC claims that flu shots don't make you ill, last year I felt very run down a couple of days after getting mine. I really hope that was just a coincidence. But if I have any bad workouts later in the week, I'll know what to blame.
 

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