Running quote of the week

“We run because it makes us feel like winners, no matter how slow or how fast we go.” – Florence Griffith Joyner and John Hanc, Running for Dummies

Sunday, September 27, 2015

What I did on my run times 2,000

This is how it started
Today's run (street): 4.9 miles

During yesterday's run, my buddy Steve asked me the reason why I started my running blog. I told him I'd started it as a journal of my running experience and I had no expectation that, seven years and 2,000 posts later, I'd still be regularly writing about my running. Emerging Runner is still mostly about the simple experience of running, although I do occasionally venture into the areas of news, reviews and opinion.

I've made some great friends and running buddies through emergingrunner.com whose support and snark motivate me to keep running and writing. Runsketeer buddy She is Out Running will be running the St. George Marathon in Utah this coming weekend (in 95° weather). Last weekend she ran the Reach the Beach 200 mile relay. Her hilarious relay writeup should not be missed.

I managed to get myself out the door early today and kept it local, since yesterday's trail run satisfied my need to break out of my neighborhood. It was cooler and drier than yesterday, and it took me a full mile to build a mild sweat. This was the first run in recent memory when I didn't pay attention to how much distance I had left to cover before heading home.

Ignoring my Garmin was liberating, but I lost track of progress and ended up back at my house a tenth short of my 5 mile target. All the same, I strung together four good runs this week. I'm expecting the coming week to be very busy and I'm hoping that doesn't interfere with my workout schedule. With this weather, I want to get outside as often as I can.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stillwell running with my fiscally fit buddy

Post-run photo at the Emerging Runner HQ
Today's run (Stillwell Woods): 4.25 miles

It's hard to believe that a couple of weeks ago I was cursing the August heat and humidity. This morning our local station reported a temperature of 58° at 6:00 AM, signaling fall is truly here. I was pretty psyched about that because my friend and financial guru Steve was coming by to discuss the Emerging Runner family portfolio. We planned to follow that with a run.

Near perfect conditions during our run
Steve is a dedicated CrossFit guy who has focused lately on weight training. Although running is only a component of his workout regime, he is always up for a run on the road or trail. A few years ago, when we both had offices in midtown Manhattan, we'd meet for runs along the West Side bike path and around Central Park. Steve and his family moved to Atlanta a couple of years ago, but he comes up frequently to see his clients in the NYC area. We're always talking about fitting in a run when he comes up, and today was the perfect day to do it.

We decided to run at Stillwell Woods today. It's been months since I've done a real trail run and the cool conditions made it a perfect choice. I wore my Brooks Cascadias but Steve had his Brooks Glycerins, so I routed us along a less technical section. Giant Bicycles was running a clinic at the western end of Stillwell and I feared that we'd be overrun by mountain bikers. That didn't turn out to be the case, but we ran into swarms of high and middle school cross country runners who frequently blocked our path.

Today's route
Considering my current struggles with speed, we moved along nicely and I was able to maintain my end of the conversation. The weather clearly helped both my breathing and my energy level. Although Steve hasn't run in a while, he had no trouble with the course or the distance. We ended up covering 4.1 miles per Garmin, but I mapped the route using Gmaps and determined that we'd actually covered about 4.25 miles.

Considering the fact that one trail mile equals 1.18 road miles in terms of effort, it was as though we ran 5 miles today. Actually, I made that up, but I'll bet you believed me, I may aim for an actual five miles tomorrow. If weather conditions are anything like today's, I might even do more.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Garmin design failure no excuse for a new watch

Mis-connection
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

Having a day off on Wednesday certainly made my work week go by quickly. Before I knew it, Friday had arrived. Yesterday was an interesting day. Some organizational changes meant that I had a new team to manage. I was fine with that, although I only found out about it that morning. I was thrilled not to have to drive to my office today, and that allowed me to do my usual Friday morning, pre-weekend run.

I work from home most Fridays, and the lack of a commute gives me plenty of time for a run. I had an early meeting happening via Google Hangout that put pressure on me to run and get back in time to look presentable on camera. That meant getting my procrastinating butt out the door early. On the positive side, the recycling trucks had not yet made the scene. On the negative side, our quiet neighborhood was already being overrun by cars and buses speeding their way to the middle school.

It was 64° with a little more humidity than on Wednesday, but it felt cooler. This was likely due to wearing short sleeves this time. The middle school traffic eventually disappeared and I thought I'd caught a break. But right on cue, I saw a stream of cars and buses heading to the elementary school. I avoided those roads and finished up my run.

Later in the day, I took a break to download my Garmin data and discovered the charging-data connector had broken since its last use. The design of the FR210 is a step backward from my old (non-GPS) FR60 that connected to my PC wirelessly and downloaded data automatically. The FR210's connector has a set of copper pins that match up with contacts on the watch. The connector is held in place by a spring driven clasp. It's a terrible design and, now that it's damaged, I'll need to figure out a way to keep it connected for charging.

Although this would be a great excuse to upgrade to a more contemporary model, I really have no need for a newer GPS watch. A quick search on the web showed that I can replace the connector for $15 through Amazon - so that's on order. I have my issues with the FR210, but after almost five years, it continues to be a very reliable unit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Atone deaf

It's not kosher to sample this artwork
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

This seems to be the week for religious observance and celebration. Apparently the pope is in Washington D.C. today (you'd think the news would cover that). Today is also Yom Kippur, a holiday dedicated to self reflection and atonement. I don't personally subscribe to any religious dogma, but I do think there's value to taking a day to appreciate what you have. My kids have the holiday off from school, so I took the day off as well. Not that I've done much reflecting or atoning.

I suppose I did a little of the former during my morning run. It was a cool 64° with low humidity. I miscalculated on my gear and wore a long sleeved shirt with running shorts. I was comfortable at first, but began to regret my clothing choice after a half mile. Fortunately, there was a strong breeze coming from the northeast that kept it tolerable most of the time.

Given the holiday, I had the roads pretty much to myself. I gave thanks for the lack of school buses and maniacs driving sanitation trucks and atoned for not doing speed work on a day that would have been perfect for it. I didn't push too hard, but still ran a little faster than my current normal. The low humidity probably helped there.

Yom Kippur is a holiday where observant people fast until sundown. I broke that rule about fifteen minutes after waking up this morning. Maybe earlier, if drinking coffee is also out of bounds. In between not reflecting and atoning, we took a drive over a nearby college to see a great exhibit by the artist Kevin O’Callaghan. The above picture is an example of his work. In the spirit of fasting, I didn't take a bite.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Supinating is how I roll

Virrata out-sole wear courtesy of supination
Today's run (street): 4.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 5.1 miles

Fall is almost here and I'm loving the cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, the humidity still thinks it's summertime. That's true, but running conditions have improved over August's dog days. Stepping out to mid-60's temperatures provided a welcomed boost this morning. I had two good runs this weekend, even though my positive performance from Friday wasn't duplicated on either day.

Yesterday I broke out of the boundaries of my neighborhood, venturing into the nearby business park and the neighborhood that connects to it. I'd targeted 5 miles and ran easy. That turned out to be a good idea because the humidity was an oppressive 88%. This morning felt cooler and a moderate breeze from the north provided a nice offset to still-present humidity. I'd considered a trail run but didn't want to deal with mountain bikers at Stillwell. I ended up staying local.

The best thing about today's run was that my energy level was running a few notches above usual. Feeling stronger prompted me to step up my pace and open my stride. It was during my run on Saturday that I noticed how my form has changed since dealing with my herniated disc. I still have slight discomfort in my left thigh, especially when I push my speed.

After yesterday's run, I looked up strides and landing styles and realized for the first time that I am actually not a pronator. That label was given to me seven years ago by the salesperson at Super Runner's in Huntington after she watched me walk across the store. That resulted in my purchase of a pair of Brooks Adrenaline 9's that I loved dearly and wore for 1,000 miles.

Although pronators are supposed to wear stability trainers, I've always felt comfortable running in neutral shoes, especially the minimal variety, That explains my love for the Kinvaras and my appreciation of the Saucony Virratas that I recently replaced with the Kinvara 5s. The article I read showed wear patterns and connected them to different types of strides: pronator, over-pronator, neutral and supinator.

According to the illustrations, I'm a supinator, someone whose foot rolls outward on landing. I looked at my Virratas, the shoes with the most outdoor mileage, and the wear pattern clearly shows that I do this. So now I'm confused. Stability shoes are built with a medial post or some type of multi-density material in the mid-sole to neutralize inward rolling. I get that. What I don't get is when I look up "best shoes for supination" most results point to stability shoes. But since it's the opposite problem, wouldn't stability shoes amplify supination?

While the running world works to figure that out, I'll stick with my minimal neutral models. The only downside to that is my preferred shoes use a fairly soft material on the out-sole that is apt to wear out from all my supinatin'. Still, I'd rather run in shoes that feel right, rather than ones that are made for people who supinate. So far, that seems to be the right approach.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Kenyans are faster than my commute

These cars were new when I started my commute
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

If you took every car on Long Island and laid them end to end, it would stretch all the way to my exit off the Long Island Expressway. That is the reality of my daily commute home. 35 miles in 150 minutes is an average of 14 MPH. An elite runner could run home faster. This is the reason I like Fridays, because working from home saves me one day of all that aggravation.

Last night it took 2 1/2 hours to get from my office to my house. I had every intention of doing a post-work elliptical session, but my night was getting short and I decided to forgo it. Today I had no excuses. I was pleased to see the below 70° temperature and feel the cool dry air when I stepped outside this morning. I felt good from the start and that continued throughout the run.

It's getting close to fall, my favorite running season, and I'm wondering if I'm finally turning the corner on my lethargic performance. Little by little, I've increased my effort on my runs and have started to see incremental improvements to my pace. Today I focused on increasing cadence and a more dynamic leg motion.

The end result was a substantial improvement in my pace compared to a few weeks ago. As impressive as that sounds, I'm still over a minute per mile slower than I was last year. On the other hand, today's pace was half a minute faster than last Sunday. This type of progress is very encouraging. If it continues, I might get fast enough to out run the Expressway traffic.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Happy on the Bethpage trail

Trail appreciation day
Today's run (Bethpage trail): 5.4 miles

The best part of today's run came during the last half mile. I'd spent the previous five moving at my usual pace (slow) but opened up the throttle on the last stretch of the path. I ended up with a final split in the range of my old normal pace. That contrasted with the rest of my data and really highlighted how much my performance has dropped off over the past few years.

I wanted to break out of my typical 3 to 4 mile rut and I knew the best way to do that was to run the Bethpage bike trail. There was partial sun breaking through the clouds and the humidity didn't seem too bad. But humidity can be deceiving and, a few miles in, I began to regret leaving my water bottle in my car. Garmin data says humidity was 83%. On the other hand, there was a steady breeze coming from the west that acted like a cooling fan, especially when I was heading south.

Rather than go north as usual, I decided to run south to Bethpage State Park, turn around there and head north to Old Country Road. I figured that would get me my targeted five and then some. Soon after I'd started, I saw a couple of people running ahead of me at about the same pace that I was running. Well the guy was running my pace and the woman was running faster and looping back periodically to run with him. It reminded me of running with TPP and SIOR!

I eventually caught up to them, but they kept going south while I turned around. I was feeling good and took the time to look around and appreciate how fortunate I am to have this beautiful trail ten minutes from my home. The abundant trees and well maintained paths make it a happy place. I noticed that they've put in water coolers near the end of the first section of the northern path. Very civilized. I wish I'd drank from it when I had the chance.

For some reason, I expected that my run north would feel short because I'd covered 2.75 miles by the time I'd looped back to where I'd started. It wasn't a slog covering the remaining distance, but it seemed to take longer to cover slightly less distance. As it turned out, I went much faster during the second half. That was probably due to my more urgent pace towards the end.

The fact that I could hold a much faster pace for a fairly long stretch reinforced that my speed issue isn't physical. I've definitely fallen into the habit of running comfortably rather than with a performance goal. My absence from racing explains that to some degree. I'm not sure that I want to start folding in faster paces in all my runs, but with cooler weather coming, it might be a nice thing to try.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to SIOR who finished in the top 8% of the Suffolk County Half Marathon this morning. It makes me proud to be a Runsketeer. Even if I'm the slowest one.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Thankful for the weekend

 
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

This was a weird week and I'm glad it's finally Saturday. Although it was one less work day due to Labor day, the next four days were among the longest I've ever endured. Some of that related to business and some was due to ridiculous traffic on Thursday and Friday that resulted in 2 1/2 to 3 hour commutes. On top of that, I received tragic news yesterday about a close colleague and needed to pay a condolence call last night. That yesterday was 9/11 did not help my mood at all.

It was difficult to find time to run this week due to the above. I usually work from home on Fridays, but I had so much going on I needed to go into the office. That eliminated the opportunity to do my usual Friday morning run. The upside to that exhaustion was that I managed to get a full eight hours of sleep last night. I needed that badly and looked forward to getting back on the road this morning.

It took an extraordinary amount of time to get myself out the door today. My watch said 10:00 exactly when I hit the start button. With the low sun, 72° temperature, and still-green trees, it felt more like an early summer morning than almost fall. It didn't feel humid at first, but the skies soon began to darken and I started feeling more moisture in the air. I wasn't aiming for much distance and hoped I could get through my planned 3+ miles before the predicted downpour.

I lucked out with the rain and didn't notice the effect of the humidity until I'd finished. It took a lot of water and electrolytes to get me feeling back in balance. Tomorrow is supposed to be less humid and I may head over to the Bethpage trail to pick up some longer distance.

I continue to like the Kinvaras and I'd like to see how they do on a five-plus mile run. SIOR is running the inaugural Suffolk Marathon tomorrow. I think she's doing the half because she's got a destination marathon happening in less than a month. I'm curious about the route and I'm looking forward to reading her race report.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Cow-leg running science explained

Leg stomach-ache
Today's run (street): 3.8 miles

Happy Labor Day. It's always nice to have a three day weekend, although I keep thinking today is Sunday. It sure felt like a Sunday when I went out this morning, and I appreciated the car-free roads. I almost skipped my run in favor an elliptical session, but my wife encouraged me to get outside and I listened to her. I'm glad I did.

The reason I'd considered forgoing my run was because I woke up with an acute pain in my right calf. According to Dr. Google, this pain was emanating from the Medial Gastrocnemius. I always thought gastro meant stomach, but apparently there's also a gastro in our leg muscles. It sort of makes sense because cows have multiple stomachs and they also have calves. Science is very logical.

I was a little concerned that the calf pain resulted from wearing my new Kinvaras that are lower and flatter than the Triumphs. I've never had trouble transitioning to zero and near-zero drop running shoes, but I was concerned that they might be the culprit. I decided to keep it under four miles today, and if the pain got worse, I'd work them in with even shorter distances.

My first steps off my driveway were pain-free and that was the case throughout the entire run. I continue to like the feel of the shoe. Compared to both the original and the K3, the K5 is equally comfortable. But the K5s are more responsive and have a smoother toe-off.

Hours after the run, my calf feels fine. I don't know what caused this morning's soreness, but at least I know it wasn't the shoes.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

End of the road of my favorite street

The long and potholed road
Today's run (street): 4.6 miles

It felt cool this morning when I stepped outside, and I looked forward to a comfortable running experience. That was a miscalculation. Still, the still-high humidity and some rough road conditions did not prevent me from enjoying my workout. There was plenty of shade throughout most of the run and I wore the new Kinvara 5s for the first time. I'm happy to report that they exceeded expectations.

The long weekend gives me an extra day for a run, so I didn't feel pressured to extend my distance beyond the 4.6 miles that I covered. I went south to neighborhood #2 for a change of scenery. I've always liked to run the long stretch along Elderberry and Ashford Drive. This is a straightaway that seems to go on forever (it's actually .67 miles) and that lets me zone out for a while. But today I realized that there's some real problems with that road.

The winters are harsh on Long Island streets and new potholes are always showing up. The town usually repairs them with patches until the roads begin to resemble the surface of the moon. Eventually they resurface the street and the cycle starts again. Elderberry/Ashford has reached lunar territory and I worried about tripping on the broken pavement with every step. Suddenly my favorite road was feeling like a safety hazard.

Most of the broken pavement was on the left side of the street, so I looked forward to a less treacherous experience coming back on the other side. The road back was smoother, but it had some hidden dips. I had a few scary moments when my foot kept going after I expected to reach the pavement. I've decided to avoid that section until new blacktop is laid.

I'm planning to do an early Labor Day run tomorrow to complete five consecutive days of running or cross training. If I can get out early, I may get out of the neighborhood and head to the track or the trails.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Kinvara 5s with a side of sausage

Thinking out of the box
Today's run (street): 3.8 miles

We had early plans this morning so I had to get out early to meet our schedule. Like yesterday, I was tight on time and that caused me to cut my targeted distance short. I didn't cover five miles as planned, but I ran an interesting route. The run seemed to go by fast. After checking the data, I saw that I'd averaged 20 seconds a mile slower than yesterday.

Today's route
When we got home I saw that my new Kinvaras had arrived. Over the years I've received shoes from manufacturers for review (most recently the Saucony Triumph ISOs) and that's always fun. However, test models are not necessarily the shoes that I'd buy for myself. The Kinvara 5 definitely seems to meet my needs. In fact, it's the third version of the Kinvara that I've owned, and I was happy to pay for them.

My Kinvara collection
I immediately replaced the K5's original laces with a pair of "sausage" style. These laces never untie and I use them with most of my running shoes. The Kinvara 5s have a feature called "Pro-Lock" that provides a more secure mid-foot fit and I wondered how that would work with new laces. After trying them on and taking some steps around the living room, I determined that the combination worked.

I plan to use them for the first time tomorrow. I have no expectation that these new shoes will give me more speed or provide a noticeably better running experience than the Triumphs. But from the first time I put put on a Kinvara in 2010, I knew it was the shoe for me. I hope it still is.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sidewalk running on a busy Friday morning

Hurry home K5s
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

It's Labor Day weekend and the end of the first week of school. Despite the heat wave we've had over the past few days, I know that fall weather will soon be here. I'm pretty excited about that. This morning's temperature was closer to 70 than 90, but it was still extremely humid when I stepped outside. I patiently waited for a phalanx of buses to go by and then I was off.

I knew it would be humid, so I kept a low effort for the first ten minutes. I've been eagerly anticipating the arrival of my Kinvara 5s, but I had to go with the Triumph ISOs today. That turned out to be a good choice because the high volume of traffic forced me onto concrete slab sidewalks a few times. The Triumphs provided a nice cushion from the extra hard surface, but I was still concerned about the possibility of tripping on the uneven sections. Halfway through the run, it seemed like all the school drop-off traffic was finished and it felt a little safer to be on the street.

Along the way, I ran by one of my wife's friends who was chatting with a neighbor in front of her house. We exchanged quick hellos, but I didn't have time to stop because I was on a split second schedule. I needed to be showered and dressed in time for a video call that was happening in 30 minutes. I got ready with only seconds to spare and did the call wearing gym shorts. Since my colleagues could only see my top half, that will remain a secret unless they read this post.

I did pretty well today despite the humidity and the fact that I haven't taken to the Triumphs. My new Kinvaras are due to arrive by 8 PM tomorrow, so I may not get to run in them until Sunday. I think it will be a little cooler on Saturday and plan to cover a little more distance.

 

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