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

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Federal Reserve workout

Watch your feet
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

I spent yesterday in the city and covered about 5.25 miles on foot. Most of that distance came from walking from the Financial District back to Penn. I was downtown for a meeting that included a tour of the Federal Reserve Bank, which is located on the quaintly named Maiden Lane. It was an interesting experience that I highly recommend. We got to see lots of gold bars and learned (happily not through this experience) that each bar weighs 12.4 kg and if you drop it on your foot, your foot will break. Apparently the Federal Reserve manages the nation's monetary policy and inflation as well, but I think it's mostly about moving gold bars on a cart between lockers.

Due to my schedule on Thursday, I wasn't able to run, but all that walking provided a good alternative. Today was the first day in a long time where the temperature rose above 40°. Even so, the roads still have snowbanks so I elected to run again on the treadmill.

The warmer weather provided some additional humidity that I appreciated every time I reached for the remote or touched part of the treadmill during my run. Lately the cold dry air has been causing huge shocks from the built up static electricity. It can get so bad that it resets or even shuts down the treadmill's display. Not much to report on today's run except to say it seemed to go by faster than normal. I had a call scheduled close to my projected finish time and, as things got close, I amped up the speed to complete my targeted distance.

I'm hoping to finally get outside for a run tomorrow and perhaps take on the northern section of the Bethpage bike trail. It's been a long time since I've run on pavement, but I'm sure it won't be hard to re-adapt my stride.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

History shows that January is treadmill month

 
Today's run (treadmill) 3.25 miles

Today has been an interesting day, due to an odd combination of business and non-business related happenings. Amidst this jumble, I managed to work in a treadmill run. Although the roads are fairly clear, we saw snow overnight that made street running dangerous and sidewalk running impossible.

I've been somewhat frustrated by this January's weather that has forced me off the road and onto the treadmill so often. I looked at Garmin Connect and was a little surprised to see that 70% of my runs this year have been indoors. Curiously, a search of last January showed that I did the same percentage of treadmill runs in 2013. That made me feel slightly better.

The good news about frequent use of the treadmill is that it eventually becomes a manageable routine. I've found myself getting more comfortable with the different cadence and a more restricted stride. It's always a good workout and a safer way to get my miles than the road these days. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm liking these workouts, but I have started to appreciate them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I'm bound for the Brooklyn Half

Got my ticket
Today's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

I love the idea of running adventures, but nowadays I rarely venture more than a few miles from my house for a run. This is mostly due to time constraints and schedules. I'm fortunate that I live in an area that offers numerous nearby options, especially for trail running. But over the 5+ years since I've become a serious runner, I've only run two races outside of Long Island (NYC and Cape Cod, MA).

Last year was not my best in terms of racing. I only ran eight competitive events and I wasn't particularly competitive in most of them. Unlike the prior two years, I didn't run a half marathon, just three 5Ks, three 10Ks and a 4 mile race. Looking back, I wonder if the half marathon base training I missed last year correlated to my mediocre race times throughout the rest of 2013.

Well that won't be an issue this year because I have registered for the NYRR Brooklyn Half. This is new ground for me and I'm really excited to participate. I tried to get into this race the first time I was ready to run a half, but I was locked out. Subsequent to that, I've run the uninspiring Long Island Half a couple of times. Runner's World called the LI Marathon & Half a "Golden Oldie" that has aged well. I now have to question everything I read in that magazine.

The things that excite me about the Brooklyn Half:

1. It's in Brooklyn.
2. I get to run past the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Grand Army Plaza.
3. I'll finally get to run in Prospect Park.
4. Five miles of the race is a straightaway down Ocean Parkway through the heart of Brooklyn.
5. It finishes on the Coney Island boardwalk.

Both my Runsketeer buddies are running this race along with 20,000+ others. This will be the biggest race I've ever run and my first NYRR event. I'm also excited that I'll have motivation to do those 10+ mile runs on weekend mornings at Bethpage to prepare for the distance. The race is in May so that training will start before spring.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A harder effort, but an easier run

Today's afternoon snowfall
Today's run (treadmill): 3.4 miles

I had some early work that needed attention, so I didn't get to running until late morning. We saw some snow yesterday and I had little expectation that I could get outside for a run. The roads had improved, but not to the point of safety. It was back to the treadmill, once again.

Instead of music, I decided to put on Meet the Press for distraction. That helped a lot, especially the Rand Paul segment that provided some good energy-producing anger. I'd set the treadmill's speed 5% faster than yesterday's pace. It felt about the same and I hoped that would continue. Maintaining the same speed throughout yesterday's run had caused my heart rate to increase 16% by the end. Even with today's more challenging effort, I didn't reach yesterday's 88% of max.

My late start forced a shorter run than I'd usually do on a Sunday. I was fine with it, although I probably would have gone a little longer if I was running outside. Monday's temperature is supposed to rise to 37°. That, along with predictions of rain, could get rid of the snow that's been keeping me off the road for so many days (including today's mini-snowstorm). Clear roads would be a welcome sight, although a return to 11° temperatures is also part of the deal.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Running to positive distraction

 
Today's run (treadmill): 5.1 miles

My hardcore running buddy SIOR was planning a long run today along the Bethpage bike trail. After so many treadmill runs over the past couple of weeks, I really wanted to get out and join her (and possibly the Petite Pacer) for a few miles. Once it became clear that the trail conditions were icy and snowy, I became concerned about slipping. Despite suggestions that included putting Slinkys and Brillo pads on my running shoes, I ended up chickening out.

If Bethpage wasn't going to be an option, I knew my opportunity for an outside run would be low. I finally accepted my fate and prepared for five miles of fun on the treadmill. And when I say fun, I mean horrible boredom. I managed to find a bunch of distractions before I finally acquiesced to the will of the Sole F63.

As it turned out, my run wasn't as tedious as I'd feared. Early on, I switched to the uppermost cable channels (Music Choice) that play music without commercials. This was great because I could listen without needing to wear headphones. I also liked that I could switch back and forth between genres. The only negative is that the names of the artists and songs are displayed in very small text and it was hard to read that from across the room.

I maintained a pace that provided a challenging but sustainable perceived effort. I noted that my heart rate's rose from 73% of max to 88% throughout the span of my run. I'm used to stopping my treadmill runs after 3 to 3.5 miles (due mostly to boredom) so going past 5 today was a testament to good distractions. I don't think conditions will change enough to get outside on Sunday, so I guess I'll do this again tomorrow.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fighting a migraine to a draw

Helpful, but no cure
Today's run (treadmill): 3.5 miles

I woke up with a dull headache and pressure on the right side of my head. The telltale signs of a developing migraine. On occasion, I've been able to minimize the effect with a combination of Excedrin, Pseudoephedrine and coffee. It's an imperfect solution because, even with all that, there's usually some residual discomfort.

With icy roads and 12° temperatures this morning, I returned to the treadmill. I gave myself enough time to metabolize the Excedrin (analgesics can do damage when used during a run) but the decongestant had a tiring effect that discouraged me from pushing too hard. I didn't finish the run with my usual sprint at and beyond anaerobic threshold. Still, it was the right workout for the way I was feeling.

The endorphin response temporarily quelled the migraine's mild, but still present symptoms. I had a fairly easy business day today, which allowed me to catch a 15 minute nap. That got rid of any remaining pain, although the pressure remains. I'm hoping a good night's sleep will get me back to normal. I'd like to go for a long outside run outside this weekend, although predictions are for wind chill temperatures in the low teens. Even so, I'd rather deal with the cold than go through another migraine.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

When hearts attack

 
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

It was 8° outside when I was ready to run this morning. Between the extreme cold and roads that were coated with icy-snow, I had no choice but to use the treadmill. I have accepted that I'm no longer hardcore and I'm okay with that. My workout today was nothing special: A moderate start and a hard finish. But by the end, I was glad to have run for the first time since Tuesday.

After I finished my workout, I looked at my email and saw a note from my friend M. I was shocked to read that he'd suffered a heart attack the weekend before New Year's. M is a runner and triathlete and the day before this attack he'd played two hours of full court basketball. I immediately thought of Dave, an occasional running partner, also fit, who had a heart attack during a race a couple of years ago.

Interestingly, I had introduced Dave to M at the Dirty Sock 10K that we all ran last August and we talked about Dave's experience. Dave had recovered so well by then that he beat my time by almost seven minutes. M has quickly bounced back from his heart attack. Unbelievably, he is running again. In fact he's planning to compete in this weekend's Winter Run Series at Caumsett State Park.

It's scary to think that dedicated runners like Dave and M would be candidates for a heart attack, but it's also reassuring to see how quickly they were both able to recover. We tell ourselves that an active lifestyle will keep us healthy and I have no doubt that's true. But other factors can tip the scales and these things sometimes happen. Even so, I firmly believe the reason why M and Dave came through their experiences so strongly is because of the conditioning they got from running.

Monday, January 20, 2014

An unwanted source of running energy

 
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

When people talk about sources of energy for running, it's usually framed in terms of nutrition or rest. Supplements like gels can give you incremental energy while on a run. A good night's sleep can take away built up fatigue and tension. A far less considered (but equally effective) source of energy is anger and frustration. Case in point, today.

Although it's Martin Luther King day and my kids are off from school, not every business observes this holiday. This is especially true for those based outside of the US. Because of this, I needed to field a few calls, one of which generated a lot of frustration at my end. As I worked to address and resolve the issue, the level of stress built to a point where I needed to take a break.

Today is my usual rest day, but I have a big day tomorrow that starts very early. So early in fact, that I won't have an opportunity to run in the morning. Swapping my rest day made sense and the timing seemed right. Although the skies were clear and the temperatures weren't too bad, I didn't want to deal with gearing up for an outside run. Instead, I quickly changed into indoor workout clothes and hopped on the treadmill.

I had just come off two hard running days so my plan was to run at a more moderate pace today. Just hard enough to get my heart rate up, but not to the point where I could further stress my body. I found myself thinking about my last call and the result was faster stepping. This caused my foot to land frequently on the kick plate in front of the tread. In response to that, I incremented the treadmill's speed until this stopped happening.

The good news was that my frustration got channeled into a quick source of energy. The bad news was that all the hard running quickly drained this energy. The faster pace became increasingly difficult to sustain. I ended up backing down to my original speed but returned to the faster pace for the last quarter mile.

It turned out to be a harder workout than I would have tried under normal circumstances. The residual effect was a significant reduction in my level of stress. I returned to my business problem and satisfied the issue, at least for now. The frustration fueled a higher intensity run and the workout took the edge off my frustration. I don't want to depend on (or even invite) stress as a source of energy. But when frustration happens, I'm glad to have running to to manage that stress.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

At Stillwell, tie goes to the runner

Lots of time spent in the zone today
Today's run (Stillwell Woods): 4 miles

Back in the days when running Stillwell Woods meant seeking out the most technical and challenging trails, I would measure my performance in terms of who got the best of whom (me versus Stillwell). Prior to my bout of pneumonia in early 2010, I was dedicated to hard running on trails and I looked for the most difficult terrain wherever I ran. Two months after being hospitalized for pneumonia, I ran the Xterra race at Stillwell as a way to prove that I still had it.

While my performance in the Xterra race was very good, I found myself less inclined to take on Stillwell's steeper inclines and treacherous drops. I still ran there frequently, but I'd usually follow a loop that presented far fewer obstacles. Sort of a bunny trail, compared to sections of the black, yellow and white trails that have signs saying, "Most Difficult." I told myself that my loop was better, because I never lost my way on it. Deep down I knew I was avoiding the unrelenting challenge of Stillwell's inner paths, which I had nicknamed the "The Zone of Intensity."

Trail conditions were rough at first, due to the deep grooves left by mountain bikers that had frozen as hard as stone. This always makes for tricky footing and the lack of a rock plate in my Helly Hansen Trail Lizards made for some uncomfortable landings. As I moved deeper into the woods, the trail conditions improved greatly. This is probably because the trails I was taking on would have been too hard for bikers to manage during yesterday's rain, hail and snow.

Instead of my standard loop, I made a point of turning onto paths marked as more or most difficult. Yesterday's hard running and today's frigid cold had an energizing effect on me and I wanted to take advantage of that as long as I could.

On the tougher trails, very little time is spent on level terrain. You are either facing a series of climbing switchbacks or you're looking down at them. Some descents are scary and slowing down or stopping could cause you to tumble down backward. It was just like old times! I was glad to maintain so much energy throughout these sections. By two miles I felt like I'd run more than double that distance.

The only way out is up
Perspective showing steepness
At one point I found myself at the bottom of a section where all trails out looked like 20% grades or more. I took a few seconds to assess which hill to climb. I didn't want to pick the wrong one and find myself on the wrong side where I'd need to go through that exercise again. It turned out I chose wisely (I used the direction of the sun as a guide) and soon was on my way. A few minutes later I found myself in familiar territory outside the "Zone of Intensity."

The rest of the run was far easier and I encountered many more people hiking and running on the flatter trails. Looking at my data on Garmin Connect, I can see that my pace outside the the "zone" was two minutes faster than when I was running through the tough sections. It was hard to believe that whole run took me less than 50 minutes.

Today and yesterday were great workouts that tested me in very different ways. I'm happy with my conditioning, but I'm not quite at target in terms of speed. I'll continue to focus on that in the coming weeks and will continue to get trail runs in when practical. In the old days, I would usually report that Stillwell got the best of me on runs like this. Today, I'd call it a tie. And a tie at Stillwell is basically a win.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Graupel and snow, the track and the treadmill

Waiting for the skies to clear
Today's run (track & treadmill): 1.5 miles - track, 2.5 miles progressive speed run

My goal was clear this morning. Go out before the rain and do speed work at the high school track. Before I did that, I decided to finish up a small business project so I wouldn't have to think about it over the weekend. While I was pleased with the progress I'd made, the time had slipped and I was scrambling to get out of the house.

I noticed a few scattered drops on my windshield during my short drive to the track. I'd left under sunny skies, but five minutes later conditions had changed to cloudy and gray. Even so, I felt that the slight drizzle would pass and I set out on my first warm-up lap. There were a few walkers on the track and a guy I recognized running in the opposite direction. He seemed to recognize me as well and we exchanged hellos the first time he came around. I felt really good and ready for the intervals I had planned for later in the workout.

During the New Year's Hangover run, Runsketeer teammate TPP had showed me a technique for lengthening my stride while keeping a proper center. She demonstrated that form with an impressive burst of speed and I've tried to duplicate it for short periods during every outdoor run since then. I used the technique today and marveled at the effect. It is a far more potent method for rapid acceleration than what I've previously relied upon. I looked forward to using that on my repeats.

I'd planned to run six laps at around a 9:00 pace and then run a series of 100's and 200's followed by some cool down laps.  Once I was into my fifth lap, I started hearing what sounded like BB's hitting the ground. Later I heard on News 12 that this is called graupel, or small hail. I figured that if this was happening, I didn't need to worry much about rain. Wrong.

By my sixth lap the graupel had given way to wetter stuff and, when I ended the lap, I headed to my car to wait out the rain. My late start had put some time pressure on me and I knew I couldn't wait too long. Once I could see that this rain was not letting up, I decided to cut my losses and head home.

I changed out of my wet shoes and put on short sleeves to continue my workout on the treadmill. My new speed plan was to start fast and go faster. Since the treadmill's idea of speed is different than mine, I focused on perceived effort (PE). I'd just run my track warm up at a low 9:00 pace, so I was familiar with how that felt. The initial setting of 6.5 MPH felt much more challenging than the 6.6 MPH that I'd just run at the track.

I incremented my speed every quarter mile until I was running an 8:20 pace that felt like sub-8:00. I really should calibrate my foot pod and measure my true speed on the treadmill. Once my heart rate went over 90% Max, I held that speed for a quarter mile. I then began incrementally backing down my speed until I completed my run.

Second workout: view from the treadmill
The second workout of the day was pretty intense and I was pleased that I could maintain a high PE over a couple of miles. That was my goal today, as I prepare for February's trail relay. My wife had walked into the room during my treadmill run and opened up the shade to reveal heavy snowfall. I guess I made the right decision to come home. Tomorrow might be a good day to try some speed on the trails, though with this rain and snow it could get muddy. It was nice to be outside today but, surprisingly, my best running happened indoors.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Paging Dr. Bronner, stat!

 
Today's workout (elliptical): 40 minutes

I spent yesterday in NYC and ended up covering a number of miles on foot. I traveled crosstown for meetings and then WAY downtown for a lunch with friends. I'd bought some gel insoles over the weekend, because I knew I had some city walking planned this week. The bottom of my left foot was still raw from the previous week's high volume walks and I was hoping the gel liners would provide some protection.

Considering that my foot was sore from the start, I came through the day with far less damage then I'd feared. Still, I hadn't helped it in any way. By the time I got home I was walking with a limp to keep pressure off the bottom. I immediately pulled our "foot spa" out of the closet and filled it with warm water. This was a lifesaver the last time I did half marathon training. My feet would be sore from 90 minutes of pounding the Bethpage trail every weekend.

A foot bath is certainly beneficial, but the most therapeutic part comes with the addition of Dr. Bronner's Magic Peppermint Liquid Soap. My old running partner, Adventure Girl, gifted me a bottle a few years ago and I always add a half ounce of it to the water. The peppermint oil did an amazing job of calming the pain and, even hours after I finished, the cooling effect remained.

I soaked for about 20 minutes last night and that allowed me to walk without limping. My foot still hurt a bit this morning, so I opted to do an elliptical session, which put less pressure on the sore area of my foot. Even with resistance set to medium-high, I feel like an elliptical workout is far easier than a typical run. But by the time I finished my 40 minutes, my heart rate was at target and my clothes were satisfactorily sweat-soaked.

They are predicting a 30% chance of rain for tomorrow morning. I hope the odds are in my favor because I really want to get outside for a run. I want to do some intervals so I can support the Runsketeers in a few weeks during our trail race. If I do get rained out, I'll look to the treadmill to do some speed work, provided my foot can take it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Foggy sidewalk running

View at the end of my run
Today's run (street): 4 miles

Procrastination might have been a better strategy today than getting out early. I've been busy since the holiday break, but this morning was relatively open. I thought I'd take advantage of that and go out for a run before the streets became clogged with school buses.

The news stations were reporting 32° temperatures, but there was lots of moisture in the air, causing foggy conditions. I'd prepared for the cold, but I had no idea that when they said fog, they were talking about the pea-soup variety. Visibility was limited to the distance between houses. I decided that in the interest of safety, I'd do most of this run on the sidewalk.

I started out on a long road that borders the eastern edge of my neighborhood. This street only has houses on one side and it is often used as a service road by buses, town trucks and commercial vehicles. Running north on this road, I noticed that even without wind, the cold air felt freezing on my face. Not only that, the fog was so thick that cars, trucks and buses were nearly invisible, unless they were using their headlights. Even so, it was nearly impossible to see anything more than 20 feet ahead.

I don't love running on the sidewalks in my area, but it I was glad to have them. Not only is the concrete surface hard on my legs, but careful attention must be paid to avoid the many uneven or broken sections. Catching a toe is easy to do. There was no question that if I was going to run outside today I'd need to stay off the road. Even crossing the street gave me pause. I was disappointed to see half the cars driving without lights. I was even more disappointed to see a man walking in the road with his dog with traffic at his back.

I had hoped to work on speed today, but the sidewalks slowed me down. Also, even after a week, the bottom of my left foot is still a little sore. So this run will go down as another maintenance workout. No matter, it was fun running through the fog and the necessarily slower pace kept things comfortable.

It's official!
My GLIRC welcome packet came in the mail today and it included my membership card, along with four pages of information about volunteering at club events. That's a dimension I haven't experienced but I plan to participate in at least one race as a non-runner this year. It might be interesting to be the person on the other side of the table sometime.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Call me mister social

All for one, one for all, gluten-free! 
Today's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

Groucho Marx once said, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member." Perhaps that's been my policy as well, because I haven't been a member of any social group since Economics Club in college. After five years of talking about running clubs, I finally took the plunge this week and joined the Greater Long Island Running Club (also known as GLIRC).

My running buddies and race teammates SIOR and TPP are far more social than me and both are GLIRC members. They get a lot of value out of the club and have encouraged me to sign up. Every interaction I've had with GLIRC members has been positive and the Clubhouse Run that they held in mid-December (open to non-members) was great. I finally ran out of excuses and joined. I'm already benefiting from my new membership by getting a reduced entry fee in an upcoming race.

Our relay team, the Runsketeers, will be competing in the Runner's Edge 2x3 trail relay, held at Bethpage State Park on February 15th. I am the most experienced trail runner, but by far the slowest. TPP is quick and nimble and did really well in the Rob's Run Cross Country race back in December. SIOR is seriously fast and can probably do her entire leg as a sprint. I plan to put it all out there that day. It's Bethpage and it's trails, so what's not to love?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Oh pavement, how I've missed you

Nice to run again on terra firma
Today's run (street): 4.85 miles

Motivation was low this morning, even though weather conditions had greatly improved since yesterday. With temperatures in the low 40's and not a cloud in the sky, I should have been excited about the prospect of running outside for the first time in eleven days. My wife was on the treadmill and I thought for a moment how easy it would be to just throw on some shorts and hop on after she'd finished. But I was not going to let myself succumb to Treadmill Stockholm Syndrome, prompted by six straight runs on the machine.

According to weather reports, the relatively mild temperatures we saw this morning were countered by 20-25 MPH winds. That brought the wind chill into the low 30's. In deference to that, I wore a long sleeved shirt with a short sleeve layer on top and a pair of lightweight track pants. I also wore an over-the-ears hat that provided good protection when the wind hit at certain angles.

I mapped my route in my head, thinking it would get me to at least 4.5 miles, which was my target. Some people have told me they have trouble transitioning from treadmill to road after numerous indoor workouts. I didn't have any such problems today. In fact, my stride felt far better on the road than it had on the treadmill.

Early on, I saw a guy running towards me on the same side of the street and I was tempted to give him the, "it's safer to run against traffic" suggestion. I'd seen him running in the neighborhood for years, and figured that he's probably set in his ways. The last time I suggested the safer choice to a runner, she yelled back that she's been running that way for many years, that the neighborhood is very safe for runners and basically I should mind my own business. So for the most part, that's what I do now.

I didn't burn up the road in terms of speed but I did throw in some surges. TPP had suggested a technique for opening up my stride by launching off my trailing foot while keeping my legs under me. It seemed to translate into a faster pace. I focused on running that way over the last mile and saw a 40 second per mile improvement.

I could have easily gone the additional .15 and made it a full 5 miles but I decided to end the run when I reached my street. I felt good and my heart rate averaged 83% of max overall, finishing up at around 87%. That was almost exactly what I'd been averaging on my prior runs on the treadmill. I have a work-intensive day planned for tomorrow so I doubt I'll run. Mondays are usually my rest days, so no guilt. It was nice to be back on the road today. I definitely missed it. I will start adding a little more speed this week as I prepare for the GLIRC 2x3 trail relay in Bethpage on February 15th.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Angels, devils and blogger buddies

Today's run (treadmill): 5.25 miles

I looked outside this morning and saw that the wind was blowing hard and puddles were forming on the roads. The rain was moderate, but I was concerned that if I went outside to run, I could get caught in a downpour. I weighed the pros and cons of that situation and decided to take the drier path. A few minutes later, the rain intensified and I felt a little better about my choice.

Wet, wind and fog this morning
Even though I knew it was going to be a soggy day, I wanted to keep an open mind about getting outside. The reason for this came from two blogger buddies whose opinions I greatly value. In yesterday's post, I mentioned that the rain would probably put me back on the treadmill today. TPP commented that I should face up to it and do at least four miles on the machine. SIOR suggested that the three of us do our runs in the rain. I'm not sure if she meant that as an esprit de corps-type exercise or because misery loves company.

I thought about the image of an angel and devil on my shoulder, with TPP saying, "it doesn't matter if you use the treadmill, just get in the extra miles" while SIOR counters, "don't be a wimp, run outside in the rain." I'm not naming the angel and devil in this scenario.

I ended up on the treadmill and covered 5.25 miles, according to the machine's display. As much as I disparage the treadmill (I think treadmill bashing annoys my wife, who has no issues running daily on the machine) I'll admit that it wasn't too bad today. It may have had to do with my mindset, knowing I'd be covering at least five miles. Unlike my usual treadmill experience where I'm ready to explode from boredom by the three mile mark, I passed through that point feeling good that 2/3 of the workout had been completed.

I'm pleased to have completed my longest run of 2014 and I don't feel too guilty about avoiding the wet and windy conditions. Tomorrow promises to be a better day, with a high of 43° and sunny skies. That will be perfect weather for my first outside run since New Year's Day. If the ground is dry, I might even consider a run on the trails.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A streak of sorts

Helpful
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

My plan to get out on the road this morning was derailed by a combination of ice and rain that rendered the streets as slick as a skating rink. That was disappointing, but there's no way I was going to risk a fall or a confrontation with a wayward car. After two days without a run, I had to do something. So for the fifth workout in a row, I did my run on the treadmill. Not exactly the type of streak I aspire to maintain.

Not running on pavement might have worked in my favor today, as the bottom of my feet are still in recovery mode. I put a 2nd Skin blister bandage on my left foot to help reduce friction, but it was still a little painful with direct contact. Despite their 630 miles, my Kinvaras did a decent job protecting my feet while on the treadmill.

The cold dry air helped keep my sweating to a minimum until I was halfway through the run. I ran at my usual speed through the 2.75 mile point and then increased my speed by 10ths until I reached my targeted time. It wasn't the bracing outdoor run I'd been hoping for, but it was a solid workout. I was glad to be back to it after a two day absence. Weather.com says there's a 100% chance of rain tomorrow morning, so I guess my treadmill streak will continue on Saturday. Oh well, at least my feet will be happy.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Not the best excuse for skipping a run

Now where did I leave that phone?
After many months of intensive work, I brought a big project to a close yesterday. This involved me and my team giving a long presentation to our client in the city. Due to the timing, I didn't get a chance to run, but I did put in a lot of miles on foot. My victorious day was undercut when, on the train ride home, I realized that I'd left my phone somewhere in midtown. When I got home, I was thrilled to see an email from a friend saying she had my phone.

I had an important meeting in the city this morning but I'd planned to do a workout before I left. The missing phone complicated my schedule and I ended up skipping my run so I could catch an earlier train. I needed to get to my friend's office to pick it up before my first meeting. The walking that was required for me to get everywhere I needed to go around the city provided a quasi workout. It was certainly not the same as a run, but I covered a lot of miles.

The end result was another good day for business and a joyful reunion with my phone (try to get through a day in NYC without phone, email or text capabilities). The downside is that all the walking I did yesterday and today really roughed up and blistered the bottom of my feet. I'm hoping that the rain holds off tomorrow so I can get outside for a run. I'm counting on a pair of good wool running socks and the cushioning of my Saucony Virratas to get me through tomorrow's return to the road. As for my phone, it hasn't left my side.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Describing running in 419,000 words

 
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

It's amazing to me that, with today's entry, I've posted on Emerging Runner 1,700 times. Based on my average word count, I've published the equivalent of Brave New World 6.5 times over. It's interesting how quickly these posts have added up. Still, I'll need to post 509 more times before I reach the word count of War and Peace.

The incredibly cold weather kept me inside today so once again I used the treadmill. The lack of humidity kept me comfortable and I found it fairly easy to distract myself by watching the news. I can't remember the last time I ran outside, but it may be close to a week ago. I worry that using the treadmill all the time might change the way I run. On the other hand, it does force me to shorten my stride. That's something I want to do on the road as I work to increase my cadence.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy Blue Monday

I heard on the news that today is "Blue Monday", supposedly the most depressing day of the year. A combination of post-holiday reality (back to work and school, less daylight, gray skies, cold weather) all contribute to feelings of sadness.

Despite all that, I tend to look at the new year hopefully. Bad weather will pass, the days start getting longer after December 22nd and just because the holidays are over, it doesn't mean that you can't spend time with people who make you happy.

A good friend called me today and mentioned that he was feeling especially low. I told him about Blue Monday and he felt better. The fact that Blue Monday is a real thing may help depersonalize the sadness. Either way, I was glad that he felt more optimistic after we'd spoken. I told him that whenever I feel low, a good run all but guarantees a change of mindset. I'll bet if more people ran, Blue Monday would be far less blue.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

How many miles will you get from your running shoes?

Kinvara 3's: 1000 Km and still looking good
Today's run (treadmill): 4.1 miles

Besides race entry fees, shoes are usually a runner's biggest expense. If you look on the web, you'll find different recommendations for when to replace a pair. Running shoe companies like Brooks recommend replacement between 400 and 500 miles and even less for minimal models. However, a study conducted by a German University biomechanics lab concluded that "the lifetime for a high quality running shoe is expected to be much higher than 1000 km" (621 miles).

In an interesting coincidence, I saw on my Daily Mile gear tracker that my Saucony Kinvara 3's have just hit 621 miles. I had covered 470 miles running on roads and put on the last 151 running on the treadmill. Now that I've reached this point, I wonder how many more miles these shoes might have before they need to be replaced. Does "much higher than 1000 km" mean 200? 500? Even more? The shoes don't feel any different than they did when I got them, and I don't experience any knee pain after I use them.

The venerable GTS-10's
I retired my Brooks GTS 9's at 711 miles but stopped running in the 10's before I hit 400. That was because I moved to more minimal shoes (the original Kinvara and Hattori). Although the GTS 10's were retired for running, they have been my daily casual shoes for over three years. Further, they still feel good enough to return to my running shoe rotation.  

I've put more than 200 miles on my main road shoes (Saucony Virratas) and I'm expecting to get at least 500 more before I'm done with them. Since I rotate in my Brooks Puredrifts, Spira XLT's and Helly Hansen Trail Lizards, I probably won't be buying new shoes in 2014. But if one of these running shoe companies wants to send some new shoes to test on Running Gear Adviser, I would certainly give them a try.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Boredom is punishment for the medium-core runner

Don't let the smile fool you
Today's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

Whenever I have to run on the treadmill, I feel like I'm agreeing to a compromise. Were I truly hardcore, I would be out in every kind of weather. I used to be much more willing to run outside under bad conditions. In fact, in 2011, I did every run between April 13 to August 7 outdoors, despite rain, snow, ice or darkness. I've been less inclined to run in ice and snow over the past couple of years, mostly due to safety issues. Have I mentioned that the drivers in my neighborhood are careless maniacs?

My dilemma, besides feeling that I've slipped from hard to medium-core, is how to write an interesting post about a treadmill run. Here is a description of every treadmill run I've ever done:
"I turned on the treadmill and hit start. I set the speed to x. I set the incline to x (optional). I ran for a long time and looked at the the treadmill's display and saw that only a minute had actually passed. I ran for five more minutes and wondered if I could ever be more bored. I ran more and realized that, yes, I could be more bored. I continued until I had a quarter mile to go and increased my speed to race pace. I finished the run and immediately forgot how much I hated the whole experience."
There really is something to the "runner's high" concept, when your system releases endorphins after the workout is done. It's a good thing that happens. Can you imagine if you felt worse after a run? This morning I did my 3+ miles (I could only stand it for 30 minutes today) and felt great once I was able to step off, relax and shower.

I loved that I had the option of running indoors today when the roads were icy. Treadmills are boring and can be hard to write about. But unless I'm willing to harden my core, I'll be forced to use this machine. And you'll be forced to read about it.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Nature's gym: early morning workout

4:30 AM workout (Mrs. Emerging Runner)
The ten or so inches of snow that were dropped on Long Island today provided an excuse to skip my run and forced the need for some upper body exercise. I'm not a big snow-blower fan and hiring people to plow the driveway is a hit-or-miss thing (Are they coming? What if they don't?). Over the years my wife and I have followed a strategy where we shovel the drive throughout a snowstorm so we never have to deal with big accumulations.

In the past we've gone out in the middle of the night to shovel, went back to sleep for a few hours and went out again early in the morning. Those were the days when I needed to get to the LIRR by 6:15 AM to catch the train into the city. I'm happy to say those days are gone. So instead of getting up at 1:00 AM, we went out this morning at 4:30 and dealt with about six inches of snow, freezing temperatures and blowing winds. My glasses alternated between fogging up due to trapping breath in my balaclava and going opaque from the snow freezing on the lenses. It was not as much fun as I'm describing it.

That was the worst of of it and we all went out again later to clean up the residual inches and dig our way past the wall left by the town plows. Through all of that, I got to use many neglected muscles above the waist, but I pushed far more than I lifted. I could have done a treadmill run today but I thought the shoveling workout would suffice as my workout of the day.

I don't think the roads will be in shape for outdoor running tomorrow so I'll definitely be on the treadmill on Saturday. Sunday's temperatures are supposed to reach 41° and that might be an opportunity to get back outside. My 2014 running streak has come to an end all too soon, but 33% of my workouts this year have been upper body! If I could continue that ratio throughout 2014, I'd be in great shape.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Head for the treadmills, here comes the snow!

 
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Today has been highly productive yet I feel like something is missing. Perhaps that something is the storm that is making its way toward western Long Island. The town just sent an email saying that schools are closed on Friday, probably because the Governor is shutting down the LIE at midnight. I'm less worried about the snow than the 45 MPH winds that could cause a power outage or knock down trees.

Earlier today, I pulled the generator out of the garage and ran a test to make sure it will be ready if we need it. That went fine, but if I have a choice, I'd prefer not to be running 30 amp lines into the house to power hot plates and heaters. Predictions are for 5-8" of snow but I'm betting it will be closer to a foot. Either way, I won't be running on the road tomorrow.

It was snowing this morning when I got up and I knew I'd be better off with an indoor workout. I love running in the snow, but not running in snow with cars. I'm working on a big project, so I focused on that while I waited for my wife to finish her treadmill run. Once she was done, I headed upstairs for my second run of the year.

Yesterday's Hangover run was lots of fun. Being with friends and among a crowd of other runners helped distract me from the fact that we were running the same one mile loop over and over. Despite having the TV news for company, I found today's treadmill session extremely tedious. I set the speed a little higher than normal, hoping that would get me through the workout faster.

I tried to imagine being out running the trails, rather than suffering through the unchanging view of my snowy backyard. When you run outdoors you can tune your mental state to the task ahead. A third of the way through my daily training run, I can visualize the roads that I'll need to cover to complete my distance. On the treadmill, the first third is no different than the second. The only excitement comes at the end, when I usually increase my speed to the highest setting I can sustain over the last quarter mile.

The rest of the day was dedicated to my business project. I'm hoping to complete that by next Wednesday. Looking back on the day I'm realizing that a lot got done overall. But what's still to do can't be done until there's enough snow on the driveway to shovel. I guess that's what's missing. But an upper body workout at 10 PM tonight might make this an even more productive day.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

LIRRC Hangover with the Runsketeers

Hangover gang (from left: L, ER, TPP, SIOR)
Photo courtesy of LIRRC.ORG 
Today's run (LIRRC Hangover Run): 5 miles

It's always great to start off the year with a good run and that was certainly the case today. For the third consecutive year, I participated in the LIRCC 5 Mile Hangover Run. Unlike the past two years, I was accompanied this morning by running buddies SIOR and the Petite Pacer (TPP). We even had a guest Musketeer, L, who SIOR knew from a prior race. Even though we ran at different paces, it was fun to do this together.

The Hangover event consists of five laps around a one mile course. Although the four of us started at the same time, SIOR and L quickly put some distance on me and TPP. Left to run her own pace, TPP could have easily kept up with the other two (no one was focusing on performance this morning), but she stayed with me through the first couple of miles.

It was very cold, but we all dressed for that. The wind from the south chilled my hands and face, but after a couple of miles of running, I was sufficiently warm. TPP picked up her pace and then waited for me to catch up a couple of times, but then switched to overdrive for the remainder of the run. It was fun to see SIOR and L gaining ground the other side of the loop. By time I completed my fourth mile they were coming up on 4.5 miles.

My fastest laps were my first and fifth, both done around 9:20. My overall time was 48:34, just a few seconds off last year's finish time. The others had finished a few minutes before me and when I crossed the line, TPP asked if I wanted to go around again. I was pretty much done with running at that point. We headed toward the New Year's cake which, combined with a cup of instant coffee, tasted like heaven.

Post run refueling
After that, the four of us visited Starbucks, the official clubhouse of the Runsketeers (I just renamed us). As much as I loved the run, the apr├Ęs-run conversation was the highlight of the morning. All too soon it was time to leave. When I got home, my wife and kids had prepared all the fixings for tacos. It was a perfect way to refuel from a great New Year's Day morning. Happy New Year!
 

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