Running quote of the week

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

Monday, December 26, 2016

Good track run despite the hurdles

High school track, population: 1
Today's run (track): 3.6 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.4 miles

If you live in a country that puts a "u" in the words color and favorite, then I wish you a happy Boxing Day. For everyone else, I hope you are fortunate enough to bring this year to a close by taking this week off from work. That's what I'm doing. We have some fun days planned this week. If the weather holds out I'll get to run in a more interesting place than my local neighborhood.

Sunday morning was cold, but I got out on my local roads. I probably over-layered for the 35° "feels like" temperature and broke my rule about dressing for my second mile. Due to that, I ended up covering my distance rather slowly. But I did get out there for the fourth day in a row.

Adding to my streak, I headed over to the high school this morning for a change of scenery. I figured the cold temperature (25° real-feel with the wind) and early hour would keep most people away. Aside from some work trucks in the parking lot, I had the track to myself. Unlike yesterday, I picked the perfect gear for today's conditions. I even left behind one of my layers, knowing I'd eventually get too warm.

Since I had the place to myself, I had my pick of lanes. There were a few hurdles set up that were probably placed by the coach for track practice. I elected not to run over them since I wore my Opedix which were a little restrictive. Not that I had any chance of clearing one. With no one else on the track, I looked for distractions.

I noticed that someone had left hand weights in the shot put area. The owner correctly assumed that no one would come by and steal them today. I also noticed a couple of groups of people setting up to play tennis on the nearby courts. I shook my head as I drove by them on my way out as my cars's display said it was 30°.

I ran faster today than on Sunday and managed to string five runs together It was the longest streak I've had in months. That may end tomorrow, but I'm hoping to start a new one on Wednesday.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Awesome holiday running gifts

ER posterized
Today's run (street): 2.5 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Thursday's  run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.8 miles

It's the first day of Chanukah,  Christmas Eve and of course Holiday, the arbitrary period of time of celebration for Pastafarianism. I finished up business for 2016 on Thursday and worked from home which allowed me to get out for a run in the morning. The day before, when I was still in the office, one of my managers gave me a very thoughtful holiday gift - an Under Armor hat and running gloves. I wasted no time trying them out and wore them on my Thursday morning run.

I was off from work as of Friday and out until January 3rd. That should give me an opportunity to get in some extra running miles. Yesterday's run was similar to Thursday's. I mixed up my route but ended up covering about the same distance as the day before. We were expecting overnight visitors, so I had to be finished up and presentable before they arrived.

Winter running gear makes me happy
This morning I got out early  so I could get in my run before our guests woke up. I dressed for 43° weather and clipped a flashing light to a pocket in my running pants in deference to the still dark skies. I was almost out the door when my daughter mentioned that it had started raining. I took a quick peek outside and confirmed that she was correct. I added a running rain jacket, switched my Zantes for my Cascadias and went out into the dark, wet morning.

I don't love running in the rain but with good gear it's not really a big deal. My jacket kept my upper body dry and I was careful to avoid the puddles that form where streets intersect. I wasn't feeling particularly ambitious and, as the conditions for running weren't particularly good, I ended up cutting it short. I felt that 2.5 miles was more than enough today.

Later in the day we had a family holiday lunch. That included my drinking a Guinness that (surprisingly) didn't put me immediately to sleep. Gifts were exchanged and I was very excited to see that my wife had made me an awesome Emerging Runner collage. She took many photos and images from my posts going back to the start of the blog in 2008. It includes a lot of artwork I'd made, as well as pictures of friends and family. It will go up in our guest room / office / "fitness center" to inspire me, along with the other bibs, pictures and other running mementos.

We have a lot planned over the next eight days and I'm looking forward some rest and relaxation. I'm wishing my friends and family great holidays and great running as this weekend.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

I found something to make the treadmill better

Performance supplements
Today's run (treadmill): 3.7 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 30 minutes

I ran out of time for an outside run on Friday morning, so my only option was the treadmill. I don't know how many times I've written, "my only option was the treadmill" in a blog post, but I'm guessing the answer is "a lot." That's because it's my workout of last resort. I guess the elliptical is also an option, but elliptical-ling is not running. My three weeks of using the elliptical (which coincided with my testing zero impact "running" machines) while recovering from a disc problem clearly proved this.

I had what you might call a bad attitude when I got on the treadmill. I didn't want to use it and did everything I could to make the experience better. That included running shirtless (sorry ladies, no pictures), blasting the fan and putting on what I'd hoped would be decent music to run by. The run never got better, the music sucked and my schedule limited me to 30 minutes. And they were very long minutes. I also forgot to record my distance.

After a busy work day, the ER family went over to our favorite Thai place for a get together with friends. Consuming food that registers high on the Scoville scale makes me happy. I'm wondering if that was the reason why this morning's treadmill run was far more pleasant than Friday's.

Mother Nature had covered the roads with a few inches of snow overnight, so for a different reason I was stuck inside today. Like Friday, I dressed lightly, cranked up the fan and put on the music channel. I was prepared for the worst because I'd planned to run even longer today. Although I'd set the speed the same as yesterday, the effort seemed lighter and the music seemed better.

It must have been the Kaeng Phanaeng Neua and Tom Yum Goong. I was happy with today's run despite the fact that it happened on the treadmill. I ended up pushing my speed progressively and didn't feel overtaxed like I did the day before. I've done enough running to know that good runs often follow bad ones for no explainable reason. But I'm going to assume todays better experience was due to the food.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Solo bandito on the track

We don't need no badges! But handwarmers would be good.
Today's run (track): 3.5 miles

The news said today would be a little milder than Saturday. I headed over to the track in the morning because I felt like running around in circles. Ovals actually. The wind was present, but less intense than yesterday. I prepared for the 28° temperature and chose similar gear as the day before. One addition to my setup was an ASICS windbreaker. It was the same model I was wearing when a dog tried to eat me (but in black).

I arrived at the track with no one else in sight. No other cars in the lot or track teams doing drills. Just me, the rising sun and the bitter cold. I parked my car and walked over to the track. I was deciding which direction to run when I felt a stabbing pain in my left quad. The gate latch to the track fence caught me just above the knee and it hurt like heck. I worried that the latch had done enough damage to make today's workout a DNS.

Attacked by a sneaky gate
Once the initial pain subsided, I did some leg swings to stretch my leg muscle. After a few minutes I decided I could run. I started out counter-clockwise and immediately caught a blast of air to the face. My layers kept my torso warm, but my face and extremities were freezing. I pulled my buff up over my nose and under my sunglasses (to prevent fogging) and ran like that for a few laps. I looked like a masked bandito, but fortunately there was no one around to call the Federales.

I rounded the track, keeping my eyes on the road for interlopers who might come by and ruin my serenity. I really like having the track to myself. I started getting warmer after a mile and a half and took a quick break to put my jacket back in my car. That was a good move and my last eight laps went by very quickly.

My performance this morning was only so-so. Nine hours later, my quad is still a little sore but I don't think my run-in with the gate latch did any long term damage. It wasn't a great weekend for weather but not a bad one for running. The cold weather is here and I'm fine with that. Just as long as the snow stays away on days when I want to run outside.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My first winter run but it's still weeks away

Face freezing run
Today's run (street): 4.3 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

Brrrr. There are still twelve days until winter, but this morning it felt like January. Even with moderate wind, the 30° temperature felt like 23°. Yesterday morning was a little milder, but still very cold. Due to that (and an early work schedule), I opted to run on the treadmill. I felt like I should get outside even though today's conditions were even worse than yesterday's.

My treadmill experience on Friday was actually pretty good. By wearing only running shorts and cranking the fan on my treadmill to maximum, I remained comfortable through most of the run. I set a challenging pace and put on a cable music channel in the hope that it would distract me from the usual tedium. And wouldn't you know it, it did. Time didn't stand still as I'd feared and I got to the end faster than expected.

I knew it would be chilly today so I took a little extra time to decide what to wear. Wool running socks, check. City Sport track pants, check. A Nike DriFit base layer, winter weight half zip, lined winter beanie and ASICS mitten gloves rounded out the gear. I added a thin buff that I could pull up to my chin when the wind hit straight on.

Even with that getup it still felt frigid when I stepped outside. Fortunately my Garmin acquired its signal immediately and I was on my way.  A half a mile in, I was still waiting to warm up. The cold wind amplified the low temperature and made my sunglasses feel frozen against my skin. I didn't began to feel comfortable until I was halfway through the run.

It looks like tomorrow's weather will be more of the same so I'll do my best to protect my face from the freezing wind. I know there's always the treadmill option, but I'll tough it out as long as I can. If this January is anything like the last, I'll be spending plenty of time running indoors.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Low volume this week but a decent run today

At least I didn't skip today
Today's run (street): 4.3 miles
Friday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.2 miles

This has not been a good week for my running. I'm at that point in the year where business activity peaks for a few intense weeks in December before going quiet as everyone shifts into holiday mode. That's meant longer days and less inclination to work out when I get home. I know I should try to run a couple of miles in the morning before I start my day, but I can't get into that mode right now. Making things worse this week was a Saturday schedule that had me out the door before 6:00 AM. That kept me busy the rest of the day, so no Saturday run this week.

I did run on Friday and it was fine, but slower than I've been averaging. I don't know if it was due to my busy work schedule, but I felt tired throughout the run. I had no time to get out before my early start yesterday and thought I'd go for a late afternoon run when I got home. I ended up feeling too tired to run, but I did do a long neighborhood walk and ended up with over 10K steps for the day.

I turned in early last night and got a rare 8 hours of sleep. Even so, my energy level was low when I got up. After a small breakfast and a big cup of coffee I was feeling more energetic. I put on my new ASICS Men's Essential Pants that I got for a great price from Running Warehouse. The weight of these pants is lighter than my beloved City Sports track pants, but perfect for this morning's 39° weather. I added my ASICS thermal beanie and a winter weight half zip and my Balston wool socks. I looked in the mirror and realized I was head to toe in black like a very slow ninja.

I've lost a little speed over the past few weeks and I'm pacing about 5% slower than I had throughout November. My cadence hasn't dropped but my stride length has shortened a bit. I'm not too concerned about that. My heart rate has been averaging about 75% of max so I should be pushing harder. My running hasn't felt particularly easy so perceived effort is obviously higher than my real effort.

Today's runaround
Today's run was a meandering tour of my neighborhood. I enjoyed looking at the holiday decorations and laughed at the deflated Santas, snowmen, reindeer and elves laying across lawns, waiting to be filled with air after the sun goes down. There were a few hardy souls out walking their dogs, some walkers and a runner who suddenly appeared from a side road. I came close to overtaking him but he split to the left while I continued heading right.

I wanted to cover at least four miles and managed a little more than that. I did step up my pace as I got closer to home and proved to myself that I could move back into target range if I was willing to maintain the intensity. At this point I'm still running better than I have over the past two years but I need to decide how hard I'm willing to work to continue improving. The Runsketeers had planned to run a 5K on Saturday until we encountered scheduling conflicts. I didn't feel ready to race this weekend so it's probably for the best.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The crowded track and the happy trail

Full house in the Bethpage lot
Today's run (Bethpage bike trail): 4.6 miles
Yesterday's run (track): 3.6 miles

I'm very much enjoying my Thanksgiving break that feels a lot like a mini-vacation. I'm happy to have one more day off before returning to the office. We've kept busy this week but I've done my best to avoid anything resembling a mall or store. If on-line Black Friday sales are legitimate, there are a few running related things I'd like to get. But to do that, I would need to make an effort to look at a bunch of websites to find what I want. Why does this have to be so hard??

I ran in my neighborhood on both Wednesday and Thursday and that was pleasant, but I felt the need to do something different on Friday. Running laps at the high school seemed to fit that definition so I headed over to the track. A second cup of coffee delayed my getting outside and I got to the school a little later than planned. Luck seemed to be with me, because it appeared as though I had the place to myself. Just one other car in the lot and its owner was nowhere in sight.

The empty track didn't surprise me. I figured most people would have either slept in or headed out to the stores. I made my way to my starting point and noticed a stream of athletically suited people gathering along the opposite end of the oval. I took off counterclockwise and, as I approached the crowd, I saw that it was the Syosset girls cross country team getting ready to take over the track. "Oh good," I thought, "Now I get to be humiliated by 30 teenage girls who will pass me like I'm walking."

It didn't actually turn out that way. We managed to coexist perfectly. The runners ran together in a clockwise direction and left an open lane for me. I considered running some repeats but due to the crowded lanes, I elected to stick with laps. Running a flat route with little wind, I averaged a few seconds faster than usual.

Yesterday's scenic route
This morning felt colder than what was reported by the news. I resisted the temptation to bundle up and wore shorts with a long sleeve shirt. I went over to Bethpage with no particular workout or direction in mind. When I got to the park there were a lot of cars making their way toward the lot which was almost full by the time I parked. A big soccer tournament was going on and I saw a lot of runners standing around in groups. There may have been a cross country meet taking place closer to the woods.

I decided to run north beyond Haypath Road and back. There were many people on the trail and I wondered if some organized event was happening. Every runner I encountered gave me a wave or a hello, as did lots of walkers. It was a happy time for people on the trail.

Today's more scenic route
I went as far as Old Bethpage Road and turned around. I ran well and while the hills looked big today, they didn't feel as challenging as usual. My cadence was slightly better than average, so I was a little surprised that my data showed middling performance. That didn't matter a bit to me, because the run felt solid and it was great to be out among the trees, accompanied by nice people.

I can't believe I have yet another day before I have to go back to work. I'm looking forward to doing my fifth run in as many days. So far my Thanksgiving to New Year's streak is 4 days, but it's likely to stop there. I'll see how I feel on Monday morning when I wake up many hours before sunrise.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Effortless Thanksgiving run, but not in a good way

Today's run (street): 3.6 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Happy Thanksgiving! I worked from home yesterday and have been feeling the holiday spirit since wrapping up work on Wednesday afternoon. SIOR is shaming encouraging everyone to do the Thanksgiving to New Year's streak that involves running at least a mile every day. So far, I'm good. I even ran yesterday, and I'm wondering if I can apply that to a day during the streak when I can't run.

Yesterday's run was fairly textbook. Usual route, usual pace. I'm hard pressed to recall anything interesting about it except that the roads were almost completely free of cars. Neighborhood running is much better when schools are out. No buses or parents doing drop offs. I enjoyed having the streets to myself.

During that run, my heart rate was hovering around 75% of max, which did not match my harder perceived effort. I found it interesting that I matched my usual pace with a 6% lower heart rate. Is that an indicator of improved fitness? If so, then why did it feel so challenging?

If you look carefully, today's route resembles a turkey
This morning I went out fairly early when the real feel temperature was 31°. I wore two top layers and track pants. At the last minute I added a fleece vest. That helped a lot, because running directly into the wind was pretty unpleasant. I originally thought about going to the track this morning but decided that a Thanksgiving run should happen closer to home. I chose a different route than normal and looked forward to another traffic free experience.

Like Wednesday, my perceived effort on today's run was greater than my actual heart rate indicated. I was puzzled to see that the Garmin showed my HR at around 71% of max. I felt like I was working a lot harder than that, closer to 80% range. By the time I finished, I'd managed to push it to 79%. My pace confirmed the data and I saw that I ran 50 seconds per mile slower than yesterday.

I'm not sure why my running is feeling a little tough right now. Last night we went out to dinner and saw a good friend. It was a big meal and maybe that bogged me down a bit this morning. If that's all it takes, tomorrow should be more of the same. We had quite the Thanksgiving feast today, put together with the team of Mrs ER and ER daughter. Feeling sleepy now, but I'm sure I'll get my second wind soon.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Runsketeers have the run of a "Lifetime"

SIOR asked me to substitute her face with the first lady's 
Today's run (Bethpage State Park Bike Trail): 5.1 miles

After Friday and Saturday's mild weather, today's 32° (with wind chill) felt darn cold this morning. I met SIOR and KWL at the lot in Bethpage State Park where SIOR was scheduled to lead a run for Lifetime Fitness. Unfortunately, our stalwart pal TPP was not able to join us today. She does very long bike trips with her cycling friends (I suggest she nickname them the Bikesketeers) and needed some recovery time.

KWL and I hung out in my car while we waited for SIOR to arrive. There was a guy dressed for running who was waiting in the lot, but we couldn't tell if he was there for the group run. Once SIOR finally showed up, I tried to subtly convey that we were the Lifetime group by saying Lifetime really loud a couple of times. The guy didn't respond and I'm guessing he looked at us and decided he'd be better off running alone, which he did. That turned out okay because I'd brought fresh pumpkin loaves for my Runska-buddies (baked by Mrs ER and ER daughter) and it would have been embarrassing not to give him one.

With that settled, we decided to run six miles. When I say "we", I mean SIOR. I wasn't sure I'd be up to doing six today and as it turned out, I was right. The plan was that KWL and SIOR would go three miles, turn back and intercept me as I progressed to the turnaround point.

The first obstruction to the plan came about a mile and a quarter after we'd started, when SIOR and KWL saw a sign that the bike trail was closed. We decided that meant closed to everyone but the Runsketeers so we kept going. That meant occasionally squeezing through barriers that reinforced that the trail was closed. We weren't the only ones who ignored the sign's suggestions.

I saw a few other runners and a father and his pre-adolescent son riding bikes. The bike riders ignored the fact that cars come quickly off the roundabout west of Quaker Meeting House Road and I almost witnessed a terrible accident. Thankfully the SUV's driver was paying attention and stopped in time to let these oblivious riders cross. I yelled at the father who didn't stick around to debate me.

Felt like freezing
I decided to run five miles rather than six, and turned around after I'd reached the  2.5 mile mark. I wondered how long it would be until I heard the footsteps of my run mates coming up behind me. I was surprised when I reached the final mega-hill without being overtaken. I made it back to my car and waited for my friends to come in.

It turned out that SIOR had experienced a problem with her toes and needed to walk that off before resuming her run. Soon enough, I saw KWL coming down the final hill into the lot, followed a minute or so later by SIOR. We immediately headed to our post-run coffee spot.

There were no free tables at Starbucks, but SIOR managed to intimidate a couple into leaving. I didn't complain. KWL, SIOR and I covered a lot of topics including fasting and nutrition, Orthodox practices on the Sabbath and how we will survive despite the awful thing that happened on November 8. We spent time talking about guns and the dumb things that happen when people use them (let me be clear - we are not gun supporters). Without TPP, the technology talk was minimal and we missed her. I'm really hoping the gang can get in another run in December

I ended up having a busy afternoon spending more time than advisable in the windy freezing weather. It's not getting any more pleasant outside so I'm going to stay in for the rest of the day. A slice of pumpkin bread and a cup of dark roast sound like a good way to round out the day.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

It's not fair that I have to try harder to run better

Apparently you also need to put in more effort 
Today's run (street): 4.1 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Considering how much I run, I'm not really that good at it. People tell me that I need to run more intervals, do more hill, core and strength training, run longer distances and run more frequently. I'll concede that those things could help, but they all require more time and/or the acceptance of more discomfort. I'm not a physiologist, but I've always understood that if you do something a lot, you get better at it. If I'm putting in a dozen or more running miles a week, shouldn't I see continuous improvement?

My running experience since late summer has been positive. I reduced my intake of sugar and simple carbs and that led to some weight loss. Running with less weight would usually yield direct improvement, but it wasn't until my friend KWL surprised me with a Garmin 35 watch that I started to see gains. That's because I was paying closer attention to my running data, especially heart rate. Using percent of HR max as a guide to pacing myself on runs helped me improve my average pace by almost two minutes a mile.

While I did see a measurable improvement from that, I've still been averaging 30-40 seconds a mile slower than my average pace from a few years ago. I know some of that is due to getting older, but it hasn't been that long since my overall performance began to noticeably drop. Of all the helpful suggestions people have made to me, the point about running frequency probably hits closest to home.

This morning seemed like a perfect running day and I expected to run as well as I did on Friday when I exactly matched my current pace. But today felt much harder. When in doubt, I always look at the data. My average heart rate for my last two runs were exactly the same. Rate of effort was the same -- 76% of max with the last six minutes pushing closer to 85%. Today's run also matched yesterday's for average cadence. The only variable was stride length, with Friday's being a foot longer than today's.

So if effort was the same, why was my stride so short? I did feel fatigued throughout run and that surprised me because I'd had a good night's sleep. There's really nothing that can explain why I did worse today (by 50 seconds per mile) except that every stride carried me 175 feet less every minute than yesterday.

I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll bounce back and open my stride enough to get back to current pacing. I know that some of my friend's suggestions for improvement would yield a quicker cadence which is the other lever I can pull to improve. But increasing cadence is tough and I still maintain that I should be getting faster because practice alone should be enough to make perfect.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A race happened in the middle of my run

Today's colorful route
Today's run (street): 5.1 miles

For no obvious reason, my performance took a small dip this weekend. I hit my average pace on Friday, but came up about 20 seconds per mile slower yesterday and this morning. Saturday was chilly and the wind made it feel like 35°. I know there were points during the run when running directly into the wind slowed me down. Overall, I felt like I moved along fairly well.

The good news, I guess, is that this 20 second penalty still put me a minute and half per mile faster than my abysmal August average. I had plenty of rest over the last two days so I'm puzzled by these numbers. It's not like I've returned to the "running by rote" style that I'd defaulted to after my lower back disc injury in late 2014. It may simply be a case where some runs just go slower than others.

Setting up for the 5K
This morning's conditions felt a little warmer, but there was still some wind. That made the real feel temperature closer to 41°. I dressed appropriately and felt like I was running okay. I started with a loop around the business park where I noticed a bunch of traffic cones on the road and concluded that the were setting up for a race. It turned out to be the Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer® 5K that goes through both this business park and Syosset-Woodbury Park. I briefly considered running the race, but I was already a couple of miles into my run.

My route today turned out to be interestingly circuitous. After completing my loop of the park that traced miles 1 and 2 of the 5K course, I ducked into an adjacent neighborhood and ran to Woodbury Road where I picked up the tail end of the Bethpage bike trail. I followed that to Froehlich Farm Boulevard and ran through the office park, where both my dentist and my opioid dealing orthopedist practice. I doubled back along Woodbury Road, through the other half of the neighborhood, and finally back home.

I really pushed on the last mile, but the numbers don't reflect my perceived effort. The important thing was that I tried and my heart rate confirmed that. Garmin Connect showed that my cadence was good, but my stride length was about 10% shorter than where it should be to get the speed I want to run. My dad sent me a link to this video in the NYTimes that looks really interesting. I'll try it and see if it yields any performance benefits. I'm going to skip the barefoot requirement because I'm not Tarahumaran.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Neighborhood walkers explain Tuesday's results

Good decisions require good judgment  
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

Happy Veteran's Day.  This is a holiday that actually means something and I always take the time to appreciate the men and women who have served our country. I'm disappointed that our country will soon be led by a man who has neither served nor sacrificed, but thinks it's okay to insult Gold Star families and expresses disrespect for war heroes, "because they got captured."

As I ran through my neighborhood this morning, I thought about Tuesday's election result and the fact that close to half of American voters voluntarily chose a woman-hating racist over his far more qualified opponent. That had made no sense to me until I rounded a corner and saw two people walking abreast on the right side of the street.

It clearly didn't occur to this pair that they had better, smarter and safer choices, such as the sidewalk. If they absolutely had to walk on the street, they had the option of staying on the left side where they could see oncoming cars rather than trust the drivers behind them. I'd never understood why people will make such clearly bad decisions until I saw the election results on Wednesday morning. I finally understand that many people just aren't smart enough to anticipate the consequence of their actions.

Do I think people who voted in the president-elect are stupid? How about people who walk on the right side of the road and trust that distracted drivers aren't going to run them down? That's not for me to say. But I will suggest that both are examples of bad judgment, something usually correlated to low intelligence.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Run (painfully) interrupted at Stillwell Woods

Scene of the crime
Today's run (Stillwell Woods): 2.5 miles

I never saw the rock that took me down at Stillwell this morning but I knew it would be bad before I hit the ground. I'd been extra cautious throughout the run, scanning my path for roots and artifacts that could trip me up. The section where I fell was directly in front of a fork that I normally follow to the right, but I'd decided to go straight this time. Big mistake. I ended up with a bunch of bad cuts and scrapes and a slightly dislocated shoulder.

Today was supposed to be an easy trail run and I planned to follow that by watching the NYC marathon when I got home. Although the temperature showed 54°, it felt colder. The interior of Stillwell Woods is usually cooler than the general temperature. Knowing that, I elected to wear light track pants, a long sleeve tech shirt and a pair of running gloves. That turned out to be the best decision I made today. As bad as it was, it would have been worse with shorts, short sleeves and no hand protection.

I started off well enough and came through my first mile and a half ready to run another two. I encountered another runner whose path intersected mine as I came up a hill. I pushed a little to gain some distance from him and veered onto another trail to continue my usual loop. I stayed ahead of the runner, but took a loop trail off that path. The other runner reappeared when that loop connected back to the prior trail.

As we ran together, the runner asked me if he was going in the right direction. I said that depended on where he wanted to go. He needed to get to the high school and I told him he'd reach the main field in a couple of minutes and that the ring path would take him back to the main trail head. We said our goodbyes and I decided to do another small loop which led to my unexpected catastrophe.

The scariest part of my fall was feeling my shoulder go out of alignment when I hit the ground. I'd dislocated that shoulder years before playing hockey and later during karate training, so I wasn't surprised that happened. I was concerned about being able to move under my own power, but my shoulder reset itself. I had no idea how much I was bleeding so after I established nothing was broken, I continued on. At that point I only wanted to make it back to my car that was parked almost a mile away.

Red: cuts & scrapes, blue: shoulder injury
The fall deflated my energy level and I struggled to get through the remainder of my run. Oddly, the Garmin data showed that I covered the post fall distance at my fastest pace of the day. Sure didn't feel like it. I got home and took a hot shower before my wife dressed my wounds. I elected not to show a picture of the damage, but the above illustration shows all my impact points. I tried to watch the marathon but my heart wasn't in it. I still have it on DVR so I might watch some highlights tonight.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Giving some credit to my NB Zante V2s

These are a few of my favorite things
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

I didn't really think much about running this week but it didn't stop me from having two good runs since last Sunday. Friday was a work from home day and I ran early so I'd have time to shower. I needed to be presentable in video meetings. Although they can't tell I'm wearing sweats, they can still see my face.

It was 48 degrees but the air felt chilly when I got outside. I probably overdressed but the weather didn't make me regret the light short sleeve shirt that I wore under my top layer. The cool weather prompted me to start fast. Looking at my splits, I saw why that pace wasn't sustainable. All the same, I missed averaging in the nine minute range by only a few seconds.

As I ran along, I thought about my New Balance Zante 2s that I bought to replace my venerable Kinvaras. I think the Zantes may be my favorite running shoe of all time. Like the Kinvaras, they are light, low and surprisingly well cushioned. Unlike the Kinvara, they are slightly less flexible and that's why they're working me for right now. The energy return is good and they respond very well on grass.

Since switching to the Zantes, my cadence has increased 1.2% and my average stride length has increased 5%. Some of that increase is due to my focus on heart rate, but I do credit these shoes for helping me move along.

This morning was ten degrees cooler than Friday, but I dressed about the same. That worked out, although, in the 40 or so minutes that I ran, the temperature rose almost five degrees. I tried to push as hard as I did on Friday, but I wasn't quite able get to match yesterday's speed. I see that my pace has increased in recent weeks relative to HR, which I see as evidence of improved fitness. I'm almost 30 seconds per mile faster at 80% HR max than I was a month ago.

I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow but I'm thinking about running in the woods at Stillwell or Bethpage. I'm curious to see if my newfound speed will carry over to more technical terrain. I'd also like to do some speed drills to help further increase my cadence. If I can get myself out early enough, I may go to the track instead so I can run before the crowds show up.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Faster cadence is my next frontier

All clear on Colonial Road
Today's run (Bethpage bike trail): 5.1 miles

I found it hard to believe that the weather on October 30 could be as mild as it was this morning. 64° with a little humidity made for pretty good running conditions. I'd decided to run the Bethpage bike trail and thought it would be a nice change to start in the park. I figured that the season had ended and the were no more admission charges. At the last minute I changed my mind and headed to Colonial Road. That turned out to be a good decision because, when I came through the park, I saw that they were still collecting parking fees.

My plan was to run five miles. Had I started in the park, I would have run to where the bike trail runs under Hempstead Turnpike and come back from there. I haven't run that section of the trail in a long time but that would have been a nice change of scenery. Since I was closer to Haypath, I took off north and did a two mile out-and-back to my starting point. I kept going and ran towards the park all the way to the big hill that's south of the lot. I returned from there for a tidy five.

The good weather conditions should have helped today, but my pace was 20 seconds per mile slower than my current average. Based on heart rate, I should have been faster. I have opened up my stride a little and that's accounted for most of my recent gains. My cadence hasn't really increased and I think it's the key for me to move to the next level. I'm not sure what I can do to address that. I found an article that suggested downhill sprints. That sounds good. Anything downhill is good.

I need to get serious about adding another workout to my weekly schedule. With my current commute, I'm not going back to 4 AM street runs and the treadmill isn't too appealing. My best option is to get in a short run or elliptical session before dinner one night a week. Increasing my running frequency will definitely help. And I have the perfect street for those downhill sprints.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Not every run is stimulating

Four miles in da hood
Today's run (street): 4.2 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 2 miles

Friday morning was cold and blustery and I needed to get out early for an errand. Due to major time constraints, I opted for a quick treadmill run that I figured would be better than postponing my workout until later. I wasn't sure how long my work day would go and it was also my anniversary. I didn't think it would be polite to delay our dinner by doing an early evening run.

I ended up running a couple of treadmill miles and loved that the Garmin FR 35 captured all my metrics without a foot pod or chest strap. I should have gone all out during that short workout, but I chose to start off at my current pace. I bumped up the speed once I reached the second mile and I finished in the mid nine minute range. It was a good use of the small window of time that I had.

This morning's schedule was a little more flexible and the weather was decent. It was 39° when I went out and I wore track pants and two light layers on top. That would have kept me comfortable throughout the run, but the temperature rose four degrees in the 40 or so minutes I was out there.

I'm still not used to starting strong since most of this year I've lacked energy during the first minutes of my runs. I expected to go easy today and was prepared to run a little slow. Somehow I ended up doing better than normal. I'm improving but still running half a minute off my targeted pace.

Today's run was pleasant but my neighborhood roads were not very stimulating. The only interesting thing on my route was the work being done using heavy equipment at the middle school. Steamrollers are cool. I hope to go somewhere more interesting tomorrow and cover about five miles. I may do even more if conditions are good.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Runsketeers take on Eisenhower Park

The homeless guy offered to take this picture but I wanted to keep my phone
Today's run (Eisenhower Park): 6.4 miles

As I selected my gear this morning for today's run with my Runskebuds, I was a little concerned about the howling winds outside. I wondered if the story of the day would be about our group being blown all around Eisenhower Park. The wind didn't turn out to be much of a factor after all, but we did literally run all around the park.

I met the usual suspects in the Bear Park lot (#2). I don't know why it's called that. In fact, there isn't one sign calling it that, but SIOR told us to go there. It was pretty damn chilly and most of us dressed for the weather. One of us wore shorts. Guess who that was. We debated whether to run through the park, over to Hofstra University or along the perimeter of Eisenhower. We decided on the latter and off we went.

We stayed together for about a half mile, long enough for me to think I might be able to keep up my fleeter friends. KWL stayed with me and videoed our progress while TPP and SIOR burned up the bike trail. I did run close to my current pace which is much better than the last time I ran with this bunch. We regrouped around the two mile mark and made our plan to continue circling the park. I naively assumed that would total about four or five miles, but it turned out to be over six.

My splits were fairly even as I made my way around. My slowest mile was my 4th because I elected to run on the grass strip along Salisbury Park Drive because I didn't want to run on that road due to cars. The surface was pretty runnable but the uneven surface slowed me down. The slope at times was a foot higher on my right leg compared with my left.

We regrouped again when we reached Carmen Ave, just short of five miles. My friends fed me a line that we were "very close" to our endpoint. I appreciated that because running Salisbury seemed endless. As it turned out, running Carmen was more of the same. When it spilled out to Hempstead Turnpike, I realized I'd been duped. I had no choice but to keep running and I eventually made it back to reunite with my friends at the Bear lot.

It seems smaller when you're driving around it
We headed to Starbucks, as is our wont, and the place was crawling with Alpha Epsilon Phi sisters who were getting their mid-morning caffeine rush. By the time we got our coffee, the big table was free, so we swooped in. Well the table was mostly free. There was one guy sitting there who may or may not have been a homeless person. He was kind of creepy but we were nice to him.

SIOR sent a group picture via Instagram and Facebook and hash tagged some of our conversational highlights: Garmin, Shoekicker, Sketchers, Underarmor, ASICS, Brooks, Apple, Time Warner, Jeep Wrangler, politics, flashers, clowns, Berlin Marathon 2016. There was certainly more than that, but I thought that was a great summary.

The time went by unbelievably fast, but then again it always does. We agreed to meet again in November and the plan right now is to run a 5K in early December. It will be my first race in two years. I'm not quite where I want to be for a race right now, but I'm getting there.

I love the Runsketeers and today was great as always. They made me run over six miles, something I probably wouldn't have done without their company. Despite feeling like parts of the run would never end, I really liked today's workout. I feel like I'm holding my gains and I know I will soon be a little faster. KWL, SIOR and TPP inspire and motivate me to push harder than I have in a long time. Our Starbucks conversations go everywhere and are always entertaining. I look forward to the day when I can join the conversation while we're still on the road.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Denial of both service and stimulation

Treadmill data more stimulating than treadmill
Today's run (treadmill): 4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.1 miles

This weekend's weather isn't great for running, but I managed to get in a couple of workouts today and Friday. Yesterday my friend and portfolio advisor (Steve) came by for one of our periodic financial reviews. Before we got down to business, we hit my neighborhood roads for a tidy 5K run.

Steve is a Crossfit guy whose workouts focus primarily on strength training and high intensity activities. Cross-fitters incorporate running into their training, but it's typically 400 meter intervals between squats, push ups and other dynamic stationary exercises. I imagine it would be hard to adapt from intensely anaerobic workouts to an aerobic training event like running. Steve said the first mile is always his slowest. I'm guessing that's due to the heavy cardio aspect of running.

Steve and I ran my typical Friday route and the pace we set seemed challenging to us both. We were surprised to discover that our speed did not reflect our perceived efforts. After Gmapping the route, I calculated that we'd averaged about 10:30 a mile. We did talk the entire time and that's an indicator that we weren't pushing all that hard. According to Garmin Connect, I averaged 76% max HR which is about nine percentage points lower than what I've recorded on recent high 9:00 runs.

After Steve and I finished up, I settled into my work, only to discover that my company's email system was down due to the massive DDoS attack on Dyn. That was fine as I had plenty of non-email work to do and, fortunately, our other systems were accessible through the VPN. By 5:00 PM, our mail server started pushing through messages. I caught up with the most important stuff and left the rest for Monday morning.

This morning the weather had taken a turn for the worse. I'm willing to run in sub-optimal conditions but the howling winds, steady rain and chilly temperatures forced me to accept the treadmill as my only real option. My enthusiasm for today's run dropped a few levels, but I dutifully got on board.  I set the speed to 5.6 MPH and edged it up to 6.1 throughout the run. Unlike running outdoors where you can see your progress, the treadmill provides very little sensory stimulation. I spent the entire time thinking about the wonderful moment when I would hit the stop button.

With humidity close to 100%, I felt all used up at the end. I've been hoping for more dramatic improvement in my performance but I'm leveling right now. Still, at this level, I'm running almost a minute per mile faster than I did in September. Yesterday's humidity was 94% and today's was worse, so I'll blame that for not pushing any harder.

I'm excited that I'm going to see the Runsketeers tomorrow. Per my opening reference to the weather, the winds on Sunday are supposed to be fierce, with gusts up to 40 MPH and a real feel in the high 30's. Should be fun.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Back to the track, two years later

Run fast, repeat
Today's run (track): 1 mile warm-up, 1 mile intervals, 1 mile cool down (total 3.1 miles)

Unlike most weekend mornings, I woke up knowing exactly what my workout would be. I knew it had been some time since I did speed work, but it wasn't until I looked at Garmin Connect that I realized I hadn't run a full set of intervals since June 15, 2014. I've been noticeably improving my performance over the past few weeks and I figured doing repeats would be a good way to end a great week of running.

It was cool but humid when I started this morning. I did a mile warm-up at 9:53 and followed that with 10 x 110 and 4 x 125 meter sprints, separated by 30 second rest periods. I'd read that rest time for short intervals should be three times the run duration, but I was impatient. Surprisingly, my speed remained pretty consistent from start to finish, and even improved a little by the end. The other surprise was that my heart rate stayed at around 77% max while running. I would have expected it to spike a lot higher.

After I finished my speed work, I thought my cool down would feel easy. That was not the case, although it started feeling easier by lap two. I ran the last mile at 10:27 which was faster than it felt. I'd averaged 6:32 for the interval mile.

I was fortunate to be home for three days last week and got in six total workouts. I always perform better when I run with greater frequency. I'm concerned that I'll fall back to three to four workouts a week. In any case, I'm hoping I'll be able to hold the gains I've made this week.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A good Bethpage run guided by heart rate

85% maxed out
Today's run (Bethpage bike trail): 4.4 miles

The air felt chilly this morning, but I resisted the temptation to add an extra layer on top. That was a good move, although I do wish I'd run in shorts rather than track pants. I've had a good week of running that included spending a little time on dirt trails. Today's trail was paved, but still preferable to running on the road.

I wasn't sure if Bethpage State Park is still collecting tolls on the weekend so I headed over to Colonial Road to park. The wind made the 45° temperature feel closer to 41° and that prompted me to go out fast to generate a little heat. My second mile was slower than the first, but I settled down and had negative splits on the miles after that. My overall pace wasn't in the nine minute range, but it was better than my current average. And that pace is a significant improvement over where I was at the beginning of this month.

The section of the Bethpage trail that runs north of Haypath Road is rolling with a few noticeable hills. Those hills have roughed me up at times and I didn't enjoy them today, but they didn't slow me down at all. The weather brought out a lot of runners, many in groups, and I wondered if these people were training for fall races. I'm considering a return to racing this year, targeting a 5K that I'd do with the Runsketeers in December.

From Haypath to Washington and back
That said, my training still has a ways to go. I pushed to stay over 80% HR max throughout most of today's run and stayed between 83-86% throughout the second half. I ran the last half mile at 9:36. Perceived effort was high considering the unremarkable speed. Still, I'm pretty sure running mid-9's would have put my heart rate above 90% max a month ago and I appreciate the conditioning gains so far.

I may head to the track tomorrow to do some repeats. I'm hoping that will unlock a little more speed. My first performance improvements happened on the track earlier in the month. Perhaps these intervals will take that a little further.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Back on the trail with Adventure Girl

Adventure on the OCA
Today's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes
Yesterday's workout (OCA Trail): 3.5 miles

It had been more than five years since I ran with Adventure Girl, but when we got onto the Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA) trail yesterday, it was like we'd never left. AG was in town from her home in Missoula for a college reunion and then some. Her schedule this week was very busy and I was thrilled that she came to my office on Thursday to run the OCA with me. Although it's less than a half a mile from my office, it was the first time I've been on the OCA since we ran it back in 2009.

The plan was for AG to accompany me home after the run so she could join the ER family for dinner. Our challenge was getting on the trail in time to get a few miles before we made the long drive back to Long Island. We'd considered running at Rockefeller State Park, but the extra driving would have gotten us home too late. Instead, we relied on AG's supernatural navigation skills and found parking that got us very close to one of the OCA entry points.

After running a steep grade north of Greystone station, we reached the trail and proceeded north. This trail runs from the Bronx to Croton and passes through a number of towns. The trail sits between residential areas yet feels as remote as being in the woods. We were able to see the Palisades and the Hudson River and shared our path with a couple of deer. We turned around when we reached Hastings-on-Hudson. Our pace wasn't especially fast, but we moved along. I gave AG details about my back injury and recovery and she told me about her adventures running an informal 54 mile ultra across the Bob Marshall Wilderness and a 50K she did in Oregon.

Our run seemed to go by in minutes and we managed to get back to my house in enough time for dinner and a birthday celebration for both AG and my son. AG is like a family celebrity and we had a great time catching up with her. All too soon we were putting her on a train back to NYC so she could continue her New York adventures for one more day.

Between the two weekday holidays and yesterday's run, I managed to get to the weekend with more miles than usual. I did an elliptical session today as a change of pace, but I'm expecting to get back out on the trail (paved or otherwise) tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Breaking the nine minute ceiling

Can you tell I ran faster?
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles
Monday's run (street): 3.25 miles

Two very different holidays this week provided me opportunities for weekday runs. My company was closed for Columbus day so I had a nice three day weekend and was able to fit in an extra workout. I took advantage of being home and accompanied my daughter to her college to hang out before her classes started. It was great spending time with my her. Even with that, I got home early enough to get out for a run before 8:30.

Conditions were chilly, 50° with 14 MPH winds, making it feel like low 40's. With those strong winds, I kept my expectations moderate, but I found the conditions energizing. I haven't radically changed my approach to my running, but I'm increasing my effort a lot more right now. Over the past few years I've slipped into an easy running style. Some of this was due to carrying extra weight, making any level of effort feel hard. I'm now at the same weight that I was when I was running faster. There's definitely a correlation between weight and performance.

I finished my run and calculated my true pace (elapsed time and Gmap'd distance) and saw that I'd averaged 10:08 per mile. On many people's scale that might look slow, but for me it was a big improvement over where I was a month ago. My goal right now is to run consistently in the 9's (9:59 is okay) but according to Garmin Connect, I haven't broken 10 minutes on a run since December 2014. That was the Jingle All the Way 5K that I ran shortly before I suffered a herniated disc.

Today was a different holiday, Yom Kippur. This is a day when the observant fast and atone and the non-observant think about life and get in a few miles. I didn't go out with expectations of speed and would have been glad just to come close to Monday's pace. The weather was cool but a little humid (87%) and I gave no thought to my performance until I came through my first mile a few ticks over ten minutes. That made me think I had a real chance of breaking the 9:00 ceiling.

I maintained this level of effort and noticed that my heart rate was still at 75% of max so I stepped it up to 81% through the second mile and did the last mile (my fastest) at 86%. The highest I got was 88% so I know I have  more to draw on. I ended up breaking into the 9 minute range on this run, with an overall pace of 9:48.

I'm going to try to consistently hit high 9's before I start thinking about even greater performance. Getting in some extra runs and miles has helped. My biggest challenge right now is to keep that going. Tomorrow Adventure Girl and I will do a trail run near my office. I can't remember the last time we ran together, but it's been years. Me and my family are excited to see her and catch up on her wild life in Montana. AG taught me almost everything I needed to know about running when I took it up in 2008. I look forward to more lessons tomorrow.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Good running beats treadmill tedium

Oh, hello deer
Today's run (treadmill): 4.1 miles

Mother nature can be thoughtless when it comes to my running preferences. I woke up this morning to driving rain that wouldn't stop no matter how many times I looked out the window. Once I started to believe the weather reports, it became clear that my only option would be to run inside on the treadmill. I really didn't want to do that, and thought one more time about braving the rain and the accompanying high winds. Ultimately, I decided that running outside in those conditions while wearing glasses would not work too well.

I stalled as long as I could by setting up the floor fan and gearing up for my treadmill session. As I did all that, I thought about the performance gains I've made in recent weeks and hoped they would translate to this type of workout. I finally hit the start button and set my speed to what I averaged for pace on yesterday's outdoor run.

I know I keep mentioning the Garmin FR 35, but that's because it surprises me (in a good way) every time I use it. This morning I selected "indoor run" and hit start. Once I got going, I saw that it was tracking my pace and distance (and of course heart rate). That's a huge upgrade from my old FR 210 that required a foot pod to capture any run data. As I went along, I compared my speed and distance between the treadmill and watch display that were roughly equivalent.

The tedium of the treadmill experience motivated me to dial up my speed throughout my run. I ended up pacing only 19 seconds per mile slower than my next big performance target. I would have hit that had I done today's run one minute faster. Still, it was my fastest pace on the treadmill since I ran intervals on it earlier this year. My cadence and stride length were also captured and showed improvement from yesterday.

Later in the day, the ER family went out to lunch and then stopped into Dick's in Mellvile. This store has just doubled in size with the addition of a Field & Stream store. My efforts to find some decent lightweight track pants went nowhere (and by the way Dick's, have you heard of any other clothing brands besides Nike, Under Armor and Adidas?) but it was fun to explore the adjacent Field & Stream store.

I don't do guns and have only fished a few times, so I wasn't interested in any of that stuff. However, the outdoor clothing was fun to look at and I always want to buy one of those Carhartt heavy duty hooded sweatshirts when I see them. The showroom had a big display with a bunch of real (stuffed) animals, including elk, moose, wild turkeys and this caribou (see picture at the top) that took a selfie with me.

Tomorrow is Columbus day and that will give me another weekend day to get in a run. There's no rain expected for tomorrow, so I'll be doing that outside. Today's treadmill experience was mostly positive and I was pleased with my performance. But ten times out of ten, I'd rather run outside.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Performance gains from running by heart

Getting to the heart of the matter
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Monday's run (street): 2.1 miles
Sunday's run (Bethpage bike trail): 4.2 miles

I've been doing more running than blogging these days, with four workouts since my last post. Every time I've gone out since last weekend, I quietly thank KWL for sending me my FR35. While I have made stamina gains resulting from cutting out most processed sugar in my diet (and losing a few pounds in the process), it hadn't done much for my performance. The FR35 has been a real catalyst for some measurable gains in that area. So thank you once again KWL.

Last Sunday I went to Bethpage to run the bike trail and ended up covering a little more than 4 miles. I ran it about 9% faster than my average pace over the past six months. Having my heart rate showing in real time helped me apply more effort that resulted in better performance. I respond to HR feedback positively, while tracking pace tends to discourage me.

I went home from work early on Monday and went out for a rare afternoon run. It was only two miles, but it was the fastest two miles I've run all year. Yesterday morning I did my usual Friday route. I didn't get around as fast as I had on my prior three runs, but it was fast compared to a couple of weeks ago.

This morning I aimed for a little more distance and headed out with performance running on my mind. Performance is relative of course, but my perceived exertion matched the 80%-92% max HR that my Garmin recorded. I ended up pacing around my new average, but I'd hoped for more.

In terms of performance, I'm still 5% slower than the top end of my current target and I'm 10% away from where I really want to be. More significantly, I'm running 30 seconds to a minute per mile faster than just a few weeks ago. When I get to the pace range I'm aiming for, I'll consider racing again.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Putting the Garmin FR 35 to the test

First time with the FR 35
Today's run (street): 5.2 miles

It's October and I'm loving the cooler weather. But I wasn't loving the light rain that greeted me when I stepped outside for today's run. I considered staying inside and running on the treadmill, but I really wanted to see how my new Garmin performed. I learned later that the FR35 will actually track my distance indoors using its built in accelerometer. Better yet, no foot pod is needed, although the pod may provide a little extra performance data.

The 57° air felt chilly when I stepped outside. I decided to add a lightweight rain jacket that helped keep me dry, but I started heating up after a couple of miles. Had I run without the jacket I may have clipped a few seconds off my pace. Even with that, today's run was the second fastest pace I've held since February.

It took almost five minutes to acquire a signal on the Garmin, probably due to the cloudy and raining conditions. I had hoped that would improve with the new watch. Perhaps it will on clearer days. Despite the rough weather, I encountered a number of runners and walkers within the first few minutes. My running felt strong and I looked at my watch to see my progress. It was then that I realized that I'd set up the display to show heart rate, running time and pace, but not distance.

That was frustrating, but I was able to estimate how far I'd run by dividing elapsed time by pace in my head. The Garmin connects to my phone through Bluetooth and acts as an activity tracker. When I got home, I discovered that my run data, along with all my steps, had been automatically uploaded to the Garmin Connect app on my phone. Even without the foot pod, I still got cadence and average stride length along with pace, elevation, heart rate, route map and a few other metrics.

I'm very happy that fall is happening and I'm excited that Adventure Girl will be coming for a visit in a couple of weeks. We're going to run the Old Croton Aqueduct trail near my current office. I haven't run that trail since AG and I took the train from our office in NYC to Irvington seven years ago.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Garmin FR 35: I never saw it coming

Welcome back data
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

This afternoon the fine folks at UPS dropped off a package at my house. I opened the box and saw that it contained a Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS watch. I really wanted the FR35 to replace my FR210 that I lost on the Bethpage trail a couple of weeks ago. Interestingly, I never ordered the watch. It wasn't until my wife told me that my friend and fellow Runsketeer KWL had sent it. I couldn't believe it, but I was very excited.

One of the reasons KWL wanted me to have the watch was to encourage me to focus again on my performance when I run. The FR35 has a lot of tracking features including an optical heart rate monitor that obviates the need for a chest strap. I prefer to run by heart rate/zone rather than pace and I'll be able to do that easily. It also works as an activity monitor. I didn't realize that until it rudely beeped at me and said "Move!" on the display.

I wish I had this watch when I went out this morning on my run. Instead, I ran with my stopwatch. That was fine, but I missed being able to track time and distance. All the same, the stopwatch did give me some useful feedback. I generally run the same route every Friday and knew exactly where I'd hit the one mile mark. Although my stopwatch was securely attached to my SPIbelt, I was able to catch a glimpse of the elapsed time. I saw that I ran the first mile 30 seconds faster than my most recent (improving) pace.

Going forward, my challenge will be choosing to push performance rather than enjoying the experience of a free form run. Today's conditions were cool and fairly dry and my running felt easy. I ran faster than I have in many months but it didn't feel hard. It felt great. I can push even harder and run even faster, but I don't know how far to go with that. I'm going to target 85% max HR tomorrow and see how that feels. If it feels okay, maybe a little speed will be worth the extra effort.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This fail is all on me

Post-fail elapsed time
Today's run (street): 4.5 miles

Once again, I encountered a problem timing my run and this time it was self sabotage. Without a working watch to help me keep track of time, I took my stopwatch that I sometimes use for intervals. That simple tool would give me everything I'd need to calculate my performance on today's run. I've had so much bad luck with the devices I use to capture my running metrics that I decided going low tech was the right path. What I didn't count on was how easily I could screw that up.

The weather was perfect when I went out this morning. There was no sign of humidity and the strong breezes cooled without biting. I love fall running and easily settled into a steady rhythm while I mentally mapped out my route. I've been taking advantage of the new sidewalks along SOB Road that provide a nice straight section that goes on for a while. As I neared the end of that road, I stopped for a moment to check my time. I put my hand in my pocket to pull out my stopwatch and my finger brushed the reset button. Before I looked, I knew I had wiped out my time.

Gmap'd route
I stood in front of the town library and thought about what to do. I had only a hazy idea about when I started my run so that wouldn't help me calculate my overall time. The one thing I knew was where I was when I checked (and screwed up my time) so I could use that as a starting point for timing the rest of my run.

Now where did I put that cheap trinket?
I restarted the stopwatch and continued along through my last miles, pushing harder than I had before my timing failure. The cool weather helped a lot and I probably would have gone further if I was able to track my actual distance. Now that I know how easy it is to accidentally reset the stopwatch, I'll be a lot more careful. A few years ago Runners World sent me a "running watch" as a subscription premium (see above) that was laughably cheap looking. I put it away somewhere. At the time I dismissed it as junk, but who's laughing now?
 

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