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.
 

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