Running quote of the week

“I felt like I was breathing like a freight train and everything hurt, [but] somehow it didn’t bother me. The joy of moving and getting started overwhelms the negativity.”– Lauren Fleshman

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Listening to my body, finally

 
My cold started on Saturday morning, leading to a terrible treadmill run later in the day. In the past, my position was to always run through a cold, but rest with a fever. This was clearly a cold, so I was surprised to have such a difficult time getting through my workout. I felt okay on Sunday morning when I joined the Runsketeers at Eisenhower Park, but the fatigue soon returned and I had trouble maintaining our very easy pace.

In retrospect, I'm happy to know that it was just a cold that was affecting my stamina and not something more serious. I took my usual rest day on Monday and, by Tuesday, it was clear that a run would do me more harm than good. However, I did cover five miles walking in the city that day. By Tuesday night I was officially exhausted. I spent much of Wednesday trying to rest and recover.

I'm still dealing with a full blown head and chest cold, so running is out of the question for now. I'm feeling a slight improvement today and I'm hoping that continues. I doubt I'll run tomorrow, so this may turn out to be my lowest mileage week in over a year. That's fine, since I run 5-6 days a week, it's probably good to take a long rest every once in a while. It took a bad cold to make me stop, but maybe all this rest will do me some good.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Runsketeer run in Eisenhower Park

Well at least I can drink coffee as fast as them
Today's run (Eisenhower Park): 6.7 miles

It took a lot of late night planning to choose today's running venue, but it paid off for the Runsketeers this morning. With Bethpage's trails still "out of operation" and the Runner's Edge Fun Run taking place on public roads, we decided to meet at Eisenhower Park. SIOR qualified for Boston and has been following a training program that required her to cover 14 miles today. She ran 7 miles around her local roads and then met me and TPP at the park to run seven more.

I've been dealing with the beginnings of a cold that has sapped a lot of my energy. Yesterday's run on the treadmill was very difficult and I wasn't confident that I could run the miles that my Runska-buddies were planning. I was also concerned about maintaining a pace that wouldn't bore them silly. Their support got me through the distance (I hadn't run more than five miles on pavement this year). As usual, they were extremely gracious about accommodating my pace.

I don't know why my stamina and performance have been so poor the last couple of months. I suspect it's due to my lack of focus and boredom from running on the treadmill. SIOR runs faster on the treadmill to get through her workout faster. I run slower so I can be more easily distracted by the TV. In less snowy times, when I'd run outside every day, it was easier for me to add speed into a run. I would also add chunks of distance by spontaneously choosing different roads to follow. I know I can easily add speed and distance when on the treadmill, but I don't.

All around the park today
Graphic courtesy of The Petite Pacer
Our route today went all around, due to construction being done to build ice rinks in the park. I lagged behind my buddies by a few feet much of the time, but they worked to adjust their speed to keep me within talking distance. There was one point when we followed the same route that we ran on the New Year's Hangover Run. This allowed me to rest a minute while my friends followed the end of the loop and met me on the other side. So in terms of total distance, I probably ended up covering fifth of a mile less than my running partners.

With the exception of a few parts on the path that required careful stepping (and a short walk) over icy snow, Eisenhower's trails were fairly clear. I didn't think I would be able to go more than four miles early on the run, but the fun of being with my little group made the distance fully manageable.

Despite another snowstorm predicted early tomorrow morning and the return to Polar Vortex temperatures, I am hopeful that this snow will soon be gone and I can get outside and resume performance-focused training. I'd like to be able to keep up better with the Runsketeers so I participate more in the conversations during the run.

The good news is that it takes no effort to sit in Starbucks and recount the experience after the run. We were all time constrained today, but we made the best of it. It was so great to see my friends and spend time doing something we all love to do. I almost ran seven miles today after weeks of treadmill 5K's. I couldn't have done that without the Runsketeers.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Zapped and tired

Zapped again
Today's run (treadmill): 45 minutes

I woke up feeling tired with a scratchy throat this morning. Morning is when my energy level peaks, but even with two cups of coffee, I felt fatigued. It was "near-end-of-vacation-pancake-day" so I had to participate. I added a cup of decaf to my coffee intake and figured the extra carbs from the pancakes would help fuel my run. If that was the case, it was a short term benefit.

My treadmill workout did not go very well. I knew I'd have trouble maintaining Friday's pace, so I started at a speed that I thought I could sustain for 40 minutes. Although the temperature has risen throughout the week, the humidity has remained low. About three minutes into the run, my hand brushed the treadmill's HRM grip. This caused a spark that wiped out the display but I didn't notice it for another minute. I reset the treadmill without knowing how far I'd actually gone.

The next ten minutes went okay, but I soon felt tired. I usually wouldn't stop a run due to fatigue, but today I made an exception. I gave myself a minute to recover before restarting the machine and dialed down the speed a half a MPH. I was able to manage through for another 30 minutes, though I don't know if it was wise to continue.

I'm hoping my strength will return so I'll be on my game tomorrow. I keep expecting a cold to come, but so far it's mostly just fatigue and an irritated throat.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Tuning up for an outside run

Foggy view from the treadmill
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles

This has been a great week with the kids being off from school. I've had to work on projects, but I've also had a good amount of family time. My business in the city yesterday produced the need to do lots of work today. I didn't get to run on Thursday, but I covered a few miles on foot. I'm loving those gel insoles.

I'd hoped that this morning would provide an opportunity for me to finally get outdoors and run. However, the snow hasn't melted much and there was a thick fog that was produced by a rapid change in temperature. Both of these things made street running too dangerous, so it was back on the treadmill. I no longer curse my fate as I look outside at the still-icy roads. I know I'm fortunate to have the option to run indoors.

I'm planning to run with my Runsketeer buddies on Sunday, so I tried to up my game in terms of speed. I've been extremely complacent in terms of performance and I shocked my body a little by doing a progressive speed run. This treadmill regimen has taken me out of race shape so I hope I'm able to keep up with the "twin turbos" this weekend. I usually do better on the road than on the treadmill in terms of pace, but the last time I ran on pavement, my legs did not like it at all.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Missing my houses and cars

 
Today's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

The biggest difference between today's and yesterday's workouts was the timing. I got to it early and my energy level and mental engagement were much improved. Even though I set my speed faster than on Tuesday, I felt far more comfortable. There's always an element of tedium on the treadmill, but today it was bearable.

A good run that follows a bad one helps us keep our perspective. The sameness of the treadmill experience, with the unchanging view out the window, can easily sap motivation. But physically, your body doesn't know the difference. I'm ready to return to my neighborhood roads where the scenery is constantly changing. As far as that scenery goes, it's just houses and cars. But those houses and cars are all different in their own way.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wishing for a DVR for running

 
Today's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

The kids are off from school this week and that can effect the rhythm of my day. I usually see the kids off to school each morning before heading outside (or upstairs) for my run. My timing is often very tight, leaving me just enough time to work out (and shower) before my first business call. When the kids stay home, my schedule tends to slip.

This morning brought distractions, including shoveling a few inches of fresh snow. I lost my running slot and had to start my work day without my usual post run rush. Worse, my missed workout made me feel guilty all morning. I decided then to switch around a couple of calls so I could take a mid afternoon break and do a treadmill run.

I prefer to run in the morning because my body responds better to activity before noon. A mid afternoon run wasn't ideal, especially since I'd had lunch only a couple of hours before. The run was okay, but tedious. I found myself wishing that I could fast forward through it like a DVR. I did get my run in, even though it extended my workday another hour. The temperature rose above freezing for most of the day today and they are predicting rain for tomorrow. An outside run by Friday is a possibility. Can't wait for that.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Run, interrupted

Reset, you bet
Today's run (treadmill): 4.5 miles

My son is hosting a competition with his buddies today and our basement is filled with the loud noises and trash talking that you'd expect from a bunch of 9th grade boys. Due to this, our morning schedule was compressed and I strongly considered skipping today's run. Yesterday's snowfall put four additional inches on top of Thursday's accumulation and I shoveled a lot of wet, heavy snow on Saturday. By the time I finished, it was after 10:00 PM.

I mentioned to my wife that I was considering taking a rest day. She suggested that I do an alternative workout, either a walk or an easy run on the treadmill. With that in mind, I got myself situated. I set the speed a little lower than yesterday's and let it go. Things went well, but I felt the tread slip about halfway through the run and then stop. I checked that my safety cord was still in place and there was no power drop. It seemed like the treadmill console had just spontaneously reset.

This reset wiped my distance off the console's display, as well as my elapsed time. I hadn't been looking at my distance when the machine stopped, but I had an approximate idea where it was. Based on the speed I was running, and the time captured on my Garmin, I was able to back into the number. I restarted the treadmill and kept going until I reached a calculated 4.5 miles. From there, I reduced my speed to a fast walking pace and increased the incline to 2% for a half mile cool down.

It was a good decision to run easy today rather than put off my workout until tomorrow. With two days in the city this week that interrupted my workout schedule, I would have fallen very short on mileage. No more snow today, so my upper body is finally getting some rest. Do I dare hope to get an outdoor run in next week? More snow is expected on Tuesday, so I'm thinking that's not likely.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Forget running shoes, this is what I want

On my wish list
Today's run (treadmill): 4.5 miles

Hey guess what, it's snowing again! I really don't mind all the snow this season, since I no longer need to commute every day on the Long Island Railroad. What I don't like are the limited options I have for running these days. The treadmill is a handy choice, but even with the TV or music on, I find running in place to be tough on the mind.

Last week I was in industry meetings and I had a chance to catch up with my friend (and occasional running partner) KWL. We were talking about how the weather has affected our training and we agreed that snowshoes would be a handy thing to have. I've considered buying them in previous years, but the cost seemed high for the use I'd get out of them.

Now that we're into the last months of winter, I've noticed prices are dropping. But the lowest cost I've seen for adult snowshoes is still over $100 a pair. If I was confident that we'd see similar levels of snow in 2015 I'd certainly consider the investment. KWL, who is a master craftsman, suggested that we build our own. Easy for him to say.

This looks like a lot of trouble
Without snowshoes to get me outside, I wound up on the treadmill again today. It was a fine workout and I went as long I could with the time I had. The light snow coming down right now shouldn't amount to much, compared to everything we've seen this week. My kids go out in the snow at every opportunity. Even without snowshoes, they always seem to have a great time. Maybe that's a workout I should consider.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine's running treat

I heart insoles
Today's run (treadmill): 3.5 miles

Happy Valentine's Day. This is a nice holiday because it's providing a nice diversion from all the cold, ice and snow we're having. I got some shoveling in today so I can check the cross training box once again. I also ran on the treadmill this morning and can check the running while un-stimulated box. But I did give my feet a Valentine.

A few weeks ago I bought two pairs of gel insoles for my shoes, so my feet wouldn't end up blistered and sore after a walking around NYC all day. They do a good job compared to regular insoles and I've felt much better after covering five or more miles on city streets. My Saucony Kinvaras have about 700 miles on them and they have served as my treadmill shoes for the last 200. The Kinvara 3's have held up very well, but I think the mid-soles have lost a lot of their support. I decided to try the other pair of insoles for today's run and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

I was concerned that the gels would be too mushy, but they turned out to be very supportive. My Kinvaras suddenly felt more like my old Adrenalins which provided a nice combination of cushioning and response. The biggest benefit came from lower fatigue in my calves and less strain underfoot. The tedium of the treadmill was somewhat mitigated by this additional comfort. Why hadn't I tried this before?

Time for a snow bank withdrawal
Today's weather took a turn for the better and the temperatures finally rose above 32°, allowing some snow to melt. There's still plenty left and the snowbanks along my driveway remain about 4' high. I had hoped this would be enough to clear the roads for weekend running, but today's melt hardly made a dent. Temperatures have dropped again and we're expecting about three more inches tomorrow. So more treadmilling this weekend. At least my feet will be happy.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hey, remember me?

Hence, the treadmill
Today's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

It's been a few days since I last posted due to both a lack of time and subject matter. It's Thursday and my grand total for the week is three and a quarter miles. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in the city. Those days started early and went late and I didn't have an opportunity to work out. I covered plenty on miles on foot, so that counts for something, right? Most of that walking was done at a brisk pace due to the face-freezing temperatures that were caused by head-on winds.

But I write about my running, and not my walking (generally), so I didn't have much to post. I suppose I could have written about my meetings, but this blog isn't The Emerging Business Guy. I've felt weirdly out of the running loop, especially since the Runsketeers were due to dominate on Saturday's trail relay and there were probably things to discuss. We learned that the race was canceled due to the two feet of wet snow that's being dumped on us right now.

I have to admit that I'm partially relieved that this race has been postponed until March. I have not trained well for the Bethpage relay that requires full tilt running for two miles. All the treadmill running that I've been doing has taken away whatever edge I had. My treadmill sessions haven't been as performance oriented as an equivalent run on the road. My experience on Sunday, running on pavement for only the fourth time in 2014(!), revealed a conditioning gap caused by a lack of road time.

Today's run was on the treadmill, due to the foot-plus of snow already we've received. I'd shoveled in the morning and I suspect that explains the lack of focus I had on my run. I ran at my normal speed but I felt detached and unconnected the whole time. On the plus side, I got in my first run after three days off, but I'm definitely not in the zone. I'll blame it on the weather and look forward to the clear roads and warmer temperatures that will eventually come. Unless we've just begun a new Ice Age...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Snowed out at the track, but not at the park

Track was snow go
Today's run (street): 4 miles

I ended up wimping out of the GLIRC run today. I debated whether to head over and see the condition of that route (it would have been a five minute drive), but finally decided to pursue a different workout. I haven't focused much on my speed lately and the Bethpage trail relay is next week. A track workout would be ideal so (after much preparation and stalling) I made my way to the high school track.

I was hoping the track would be clear, but when I arrived I saw that it was covered by at least three inches of snow. It would have been perfect conditions for Yaktrax or snowshoes. I was dressed for a cold outdoor run and didn't want to return home to the treadmill so I thought about my other options. First was the paved area at Stillwell that was right across the street. I knew that I could run a .6 mile loop there. Similarly, I thought about running the half mile route around the driveway loops at the middle school in my neighborhood.

Neither choice appealed to me, so I started to head toward the GLIRC office. I figured that I could park around there and pick up the northern end of the bike trail where the Clubhouse runs start. On my way there, I swung through the local business park and saw that it had clear roads and sparse traffic. I pulled into one of the lots and started a run going clockwise around the loop.

I had put on a lot of layers and immediately noticed how it restricted my stride. The 1.2 mile loop rises and falls with the clockwise direction, providing about 40 feet of elevation gain within a .4 mile section. I usually run it that way, rather than going in the opposite direction where that elevation stretches across 3/4 of a mile.

After so many treadmill runs in the past few weeks, I found the pavement a little jarring. I thought about my blogger buddy SIOR who goes out for runs in the double digits a few times a week (20 miles yesterday!) while I struggled to get my road legs back. Soon enough, the snow will leave us and I'll begin my base training runs for the half marathon that will culminate with 12+ mile runs.

At 2.8 miles I needed to stop at an intersection where a few cars were taking a left toward Jericho Turnpike. I hit stop on the Garmin while the cars went by and (apparently) did not properly restart it. About five minutes later, I heard a beep and saw that the Garmin was shutting down to preserve battery. I restarted the watch and tried to estimate how much further I'd need to run to cover four miles.

Round and round the park
I figured that a side route towards the Route 135 underpass would gain me the distance I'd need to make four miles. I would have aimed for more distance, but my right knee was feeling slightly sore. I finished up fast, with my best pace of the run on the last quarter mile. I knew it was the right time to stop when I reached the lot where I parked. I Gmapped my route when I got home and confirmed my distance.

I only covered about eight miles over the weekend, despite my goal of doing ten. That was fine because my legs got a good workout, especially today. I do need to dial up the speed to help prepare for next weekend. With snow falling tonight, that will probably have to happen on the treadmill.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snowbound and demotivated (but still running)

Our snowman is happy, but I'm tired of the treadmill
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles
Today's run (treadmill): 4.3 miles

I've been off the grid since yesterday morning, so I didn't end up posting on Friday. It was a busy day, but I was able to work in a treadmill run in the morning. As much as I would have liked to run outside, the snow has been a barrier. I'd briefly considered running around the clear and relatively safe driveway loops at the nearby middle school, but I determined that would be trading one boring situation for a another.

This morning my motivation meter was very low. The thought of another indoor run was disheartening. I considered doing some type of cross training, but my options were few. On a day like today, having access to a gym would be great. I got on the treadmill and told myself that I'd mix up the workout, either by switching up the program, or folding in an elliptical session.

I ended up staying with the treadmill because I became distracted by Olympics coverage. I made it past four miles, but tedium prevailed and I couldn't convince myself to go a full five. I was happy that I did the run, but I felt guilty for not doing more. I'm debating whether I should do an additional workout on the elliptical. The only problem with that is the need to go through the whole showering process again when I finish.

I saw in Footnotes magazine that GLIRC is doing another Clubhouse run tomorrow, although it's not listed on the events calendar. I check the date again. I don't know if the bike trail I ran with TPP and SIOR during the last GLIRC run are clear of snow and ice. If they aren't, I'm not too sure that I want to risk a slip. But it would be nice to run outside. I'll see how adventurous I feel in the morning.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The freezing rain workout

 
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

Yesterday morning did not work out for a run. The overnight snowfall was saturated with freezing rain and my schedule was too tight to allow time for both shoveling and doing a workout. I was due to give a webinar later in the morning, preceded by some planning calls. Weather conditions were so bad they closed the schools and I figured that was due to the ice covered roads.

We only received a few inches of snow so I thought I could easily push it off the driveway. That was a bad assumption. The weight of this snow made it hard to move it more than a couple of feet. A full shovel's worth of the stuff probably weighed over 30 pounds. I figured out a way to clear the drive and walk, but it took me three times as long as it did during the last snowfall. After about 40 minutes, my wife was able to join me and that cut the time considerably. No run yesterday, but I did get a good upper arm workout.

The still icy roads made the treadmill my only option this morning. I could have also used the elliptical, but I wanted to run. I had an early call scheduled, so I set the speed slightly faster than my comfort level. If everything went according to plan, I'd be able to finish, shower and still have a few minutes before the start of the call. I ended up cutting it close, but I made it. I was very tired by the end.

I'm in there!
Earlier this week I received my first copy of Footnotes, the Greater Long Island Running Club's (GLIRC) official magazine. That, added to my recently received GLIRC 2014 calendar, made me feel like a real member. It was interesting to see that there are group activities listed in the magazine that don't seem to be on the website (if they are they're hard to find). Looking further, I saw that I was mentioned as a new member. Yay!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An amnesiac run

 
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

I found out this morning that an industry presentation, scheduled for the 14th, has to be given tomorrow. That certainly changed my priorities for the day. Once I learned about the date change, I had every excuse to skip today's workout. I didn't skip the run, but it's almost as if I did.

We got about 8 inches of snow yesterday, so an outside run was out of the question. I organized my materials and took a break at 9:00 AM to start the run. I hopped on the treadmill, set my speed, put on CNN and ran until the display showed 3.2 miles. No playing around with paces or inclines. No last quarter mile at an otherwise unsustainable speed. Just start, run and stop.

Almost as soon as I hit the shower, the run was out of my head. I must have been thinking about the work I'd need to do over the next few hours. On the whole, I guess I'd rather have running amnesia rather than suffer through half an hour of treadmill tedium. Best of all, I won't have to give a presentation on Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday but not a Super run

Go teams!
Today's run (treadmill): 5.1 miles

Apparently there's some big football game happening today. I'm not much of a sports fan (except for running), especially at the professional level. My youthful obsession with the Boston Red Sox and Bruins gave way to the practical realization that a favorite player's loyalty only extended to the length of his contract. In terms of my interest in today's Super Bowl, I'll go as far as to say that I'm curious to see some of the commercials.

My plan this morning was to get outside and run in my neighborhood, something that I have not done since January 15th. Conditions were okay to do that, with moderately warm temperatures outside and fairly clear streets. There was fog, but it was dissipating. I have some high visibility clothing (and pulsating LED lights) that would have ensured that I'd be easily seen.

I was tired after I'd woken up and I found it hard to motivate myself to get out and run. I knew I'd do it, but as the morning grew long, I decided to follow my wife on the treadmill after she'd completed her workout. I was determined to put in my five miles, even if it was going to happen inside.

I started my run at a brisk pace, but dialed it down at the two mile point. I wasn't fatigued, but I thought the original pace would be hard to sustain throughout the next three miles. The warmer temperatures outside translated into hot conditions inside. By mile three, it felt as hot and humid as summer. I ended up bringing my speed back up to my original pace for the last half mile. When I finally finished, I debated whether a nap would be preferable to a shower. I went with the shower.

Tomorrow is my rest day and I'm looking forward to some recovery time. I'm debating whether I'll even turn on the game later, but I am interested in the fact that it's taking place in the NY area. Either way, I'll be glad when I'm finally be able to walk through Time Square without dodging Super Bowl events. Even more, I'll be thrilled to get past the ongoing debate between New York and New Jersey on the provenance of the Super Bowl.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Black ice and snowy running at Bethpage

One of the clearer spots on the trail
Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 4.3 miles

Enough was enough after two weeks of nothing but indoor running. I felt the need to get outside and reacquaint myself with the road. My neighborhood streets have pretty much cleared and yesterday's "warmer" temperatures exposed a lot more of the sidewalks. Safer for running, but not ideal. Assuming the Bethpage bike trails would be similarly clear, I figured that would be a better bet. This is why I don't gamble.

I'd traded Facebook notes this morning with The Petite Pacer (TPP) and She Is Out Running (SIOR) and mentioned my plan to run at Bethpage Park. TPP expressed some interest in running there as well. I wasn't sure I would be heading there, but I hoped I'd see her if I did. When I arrived I was disappointed to see that the trails were covered in white. The only views of the pavement came from the narrow tire-tracked sections.

View of the southern trail head
I parked in the lot and was delighted to see TPP's very distinctive car pull in a minute later. I think I surprised her when I walked over while she prepared her gear. We noted the poor condition of the trails and started our run at the northern trail head along the 4" of exposed asphalt. Soon enough, we reached sections consisting only of ice over snow. This forced us to the edges, that were a more stable crusty snow.

Most of our running required side stepping between tire exposed asphalt, packed (but not icy) snow and compressed leaves flattened by vehicle traffic. I followed TPP for the most part, and she did a great job of guiding us through the more treacherous segments. Every once in a while she'd point to black ice. I did have a couple of missteps along the way, but thankfully nothing that caused a fall.

Can you believe we just ran that?
My plan, after seeing the poor trail conditions, was to cover four miles rather than my original target of five. My reasoning was that every step I took was a potential chance for a spill. That, along with the additional work that was required to avoid hazards, made four miles a great workout. We returned to our starting point where I finished my run and TPP headed off to do another couple of miles.

I would have liked to cover a little more distance today, but perhaps I will tomorrow. The temperatures are supposed to remain above freezing through the weekend, so I may try a neighborhood run on Sunday. With most people staying home to watch Superbowl pre-game shows, the roads may be fairly free of traffic. At the very least, I won't be dealing with the hazardous conditions I saw at Bethpage this morning.
 

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