Running quote of the week

“It’s an honor to hit the wall… If you hit the wall you know you gave it everything.” – Lauren Fleshman

Friday, June 23, 2017

A week of celebrations and bad running

Just a bunch of pomp and circumstances
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (track): 3.6 miles
Last Saturday's run (street): 4 miles

It's the end of the academic year and my kids have finished all their classes. My daughter just completed her freshman year at college and my son graduated high school Wednesday night. Last Saturday we hosted my son's graduation party and that was loud and fun. Mrs. ER and I had a table adjacent to the party space and the wait staff kept bringing us food. And then they brought cake.

Track be nimble, fog be thick
I definitely exceeded my calorie and sugar budget and hoped that I'd at least get some running benefits from all that carb loading. I didn't. I ran around my neighborhood on Friday and Saturday with mixed success and decided to run at the track on Sunday. Conditions were very foggy (according to Garmin humidity was 100%) so I knew what I was in for.

In celebration of my son's graduation and my daughter's birthday, I took a couple of vacation days this week. I've been fighting a sore throat since Tuesday and worked from home on Tuesday and Wednesday. That would normally prompt me to get a couple of extra runs in during the week, but I wasn't feeling up to it.

Even though Wednesday night went late due to graduation and post graduation festivities, I managed to get myself out the door for a run the next morning. I slept longer than on a work day, but was still tired when I got dressed for my run. Things didn't get any better once I hit the road despite another night of carb loading. Every time I have a run like this I start to worry that I've gone over the edge and will never run well again.

Thursday was more celebrating with food, this time for my daughter. I told myself that despite the gluttony, a residual head cold symptoms and my less than impressive running, I would go out with a good attitude this morning. It was very humid when I stepped outside so I didn't overdo it. I ran far better than yesterday and felt encouraged that I've broken my streak of lethargic workouts.

Today was a vacation day from work but not from life and we all put attention to things that needed to get done. I spent a few hours replacing our home networking system which always brings joy and frustration in equal parts. But I got it done. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to post today.

I'm not sure what the weather will be this weekend but I hope things cool off. If I can follow through with it, I'll get out very early tomorrow to beat the hot morning sun. By 7:30 this morning things were barely bearable.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The mind is willing but the body is slow

Translation: Run faster jerk
Today's run (treadmill): 21 minutes
Yesterday's run (street): 3.9 miles
Friday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.2 miles

It has been a very busy June, but all for the best reasons. End of the school year, get togethers with friends and family and a heavy schedule at work. Make that mostly the best reasons. This has taken a toll on my running, especially this weekend. I keep telling myself that I'm going to get back up to my targeted mileage, but so far I'm falling short.

Last Sunday I did my usual neighborhood loop that I usually reserve for Friday mornings. I don't remember why I kept it so short that day, but I'll assume it was due to limited time and not laziness. It may have been an attempt to reserve energy for what was to come later in the day -- a great time at Chez SIOR's BBQ extravaganza.

When we arrived at SIOR's house we were greeted by two of her adorable girls who were carrying what appeared to be a very expensive plush toy. It was in fact a shiba puppy. We were ushered into the backyard to find a collection of friends and new faces who had the common attribute of being much faster runners than me. Mr. SIOR was manning the grill and the aroma of barbecue made me very hungry.

I'd call it a Runsketeer party but it was really RunsketeerPlus. I got to meet a Hofstra professor who races at least once every weekend and SIOR's buddy DL who paced her at the Main Coast Marathon and has a 2:49 PR. He is also the owner of the plush pup. It was great to see TPP and JC as well as KWL. I had a cheeseburger, half of my daughter's hamburger, two chicken legs plus SIOR's Brussels sprouts that we have since cooked at home using SIOR's recipe. And two beers which is exactly how many beers I can drink.

After a very busy work week, I finally got back to running on Friday. Like last Sunday, I followed my usual 3.2 mile route at a glacial pace. I'm not sure why I've reverted back to really slow running but I'm confident that it's more mental than physical. During yesterday's run I thought about René Descartes' concept of dualism, that the mind and body are distinctively separate. My challenge is bringing them back together.

When I went out on Saturday I was prepared to run well. The temperature was 72° but the humidity was low and I was out early, before the direct sun made 72° feel too hot. Almost immediately, the effort seemed uncomfortable. It wasn't the usual beginning of the run difficulty that sometimes happens when transitioning from anaerobic to aerobic breathing. If that were the case I would have been running a lot faster. This discomfort was more abstract.

Yesterday's struggle was odd because I wasn't feeling physically burdened. In fact, my heart rate averaged 77% max over the almost four miles and I never felt like I needed to back off my pace. However, I felt like any increase in speed would feel terrible. It wasn't until I was on my last quarter mile where stepped things up and discovered that the additional effort actually felt better.

My mind is holding back my body and I don't know why. I do have a lot of things happening these days and perhaps that's contributing to my slow performance. When I force speed, my body responds and it feels sustainable. What's interesting is that my pre-run intent is positive, but once I hit pavement I find it hard to conjure the motivation to hit my potential. Is there such a thing as a mental running coach? I think I need one.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Blame my low mileage on the Throgs Neck bridge

Today's route
Today's run (street): 4.25 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

It's June and the weather's getting better, but the traffic is getting worse. I had thoughts about leaving the office a little early a couple of days last week to get in late afternoon runs. My aim is to increase my weekly mileage. Due to the MTA's brilliant plan to do concurrent construction on both the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges, my commute time is now averaging close to two hours each way. That got me home too late for running, showering and dinner before 8:00 PM. Lane closures are expected to happen throughout spring and summer until the work is completed. Fun!

So I'll keep running three days a week (Fri, Sat and Sun) until I can figure out something else. I can always return to 4:00 AM runs, but so far my tired morning self has consistently outvoted my aspirational evening self. What I can do is work on increasing the length of my runs.

I generally don't go into the office on Fridays, but it's still a workday for me. Without my commute, I can usually get in a three mile run and be working by 7:30 AM. I suppose I can go out a little earlier, but that puts me on the road when recycling trucks and high school bus traffic is at its highest. I can run more on the sidewalk, but the hard concrete surface is wearying and the uneven sections are a serious tripping hazard.

Friday's run went fine and I ended up pacing faster than I expected based on my perceived effort. This morning I considered other venues, including SIOR's organized run around the extremely hilly SUNY OW campus. I elected to stay local and was later glad about that, especially when I saw they did almost 7 miles. Although my level of effort never got too high, I found today's workout difficult. I would not have done well on the SUNY OW hills.

I hope they remember the roof
I did enjoy the overcast skies and 53° weather this morning. I never got my stride to feel right, so my performance was at the low end of the scale. Since I wasn't going too fast, I was able to take the time to look around and monitor progress on all the new construction in the neighborhood. Last weekend I saw a lot with nothing but a foundation and today it was a house. Well at the least the framing was in place.

Tomorrow morning's schedule starts early so I'm going to get out as quickly as I can and will probably stay local again to save time. I hear there's a big party happening at SIOR's in the afternoon and all the cool kids (plus me) are going.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Street, trail, track and treadmill

 Memorably running
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Sunday's run (track): 3.3 miles
Saturday's run (Bethpage Bike Trail): 4.4 miles
Friday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Happy Memorial Day. The past three days have been good for running, but this morning's weather wasn't very parade friendly. I found myself on the treadmill today and I think that was terribly unfair.

It's always nice to have an extra weekend day and we've made the most of our Memorial Day break. Schools were closed on Friday so I was able to get around my neighborhood streets without dodging school buses and distracted parents dropping off their kids. Getting in a run on a work day morning is always good because you start with an accomplishment. Friday's weather was cloudy and a little humid but, I managed to beat most of my recent paces.

Saturday was warmer and less humid. The early morning sun successfully tempted me to the Bethpage bike trail. I parked on Colonial and ran south to Bethpage State Park Picnic Polo Road where the northern part of the bike trail starts. That's a fancy name for the part of the road that connects the admission booth (manned by SIOR's bitter enemy) to the parking lot. He usually lets me in for free by the way, because I'm nice.

Anyway, as I approached BSPPP Road for my turnaround, I noticed a steady stream of people passing by the trail head pulling enormous coolers. I heard lots of cheering and yelling and determined that a big soccer tournament was happening on the polo field. I knew it was soccer and not polo because I didn't see any horses, ladies in big hats or VIP areas with tuxedoed waiters pouring mimosas.

I did fine on the bike trail although I wasn't able to match Saturday's pace. Every time I encountered a hill (and there are plenty despite what KWL says about that) I thought about the days when I was indifferent to elevation. My favorite experience at Stillwell Woods used to be running the most technical parts, like the Viper Pit that leaves no where to go but up, no matter what direction you're headed. Now I have to psych myself up to take on the handful of steep and mostly short sections that pop up every mile on the Bethpage trail.

Yesterday morning was a lot like Saturday, but the difference in humidity was measurable. I went to the track and was fully sweating by the second lap. Some of that had to do with my reaction to having a few other runners on the track which sparked what remains of my competitive side. One runner was positioned exactly half a lap behind me, so I could gauge my speed in relation to his. I did my best to maintain that distance and spent most of the run around 85% max HR. Despite the moist air, I ended up with my best performance of the weekend.

Which brings me to this morning. I thought I might wait out the rain, but the news reports weren't very encouraging. By 8:00 AM, my wife was done with her treadmill workout and I was ready to start on mine. With better than average runs the prior three days, I decided to start a little faster than usual. For music, I opted for the 70's channel and when "Low Rider" by War came on, I was inspired to hit the faster button. Today's music mix was runner friendly and it motivated me to keep increasing my speed every couple of minutes.

I got up to 90% HR max by the end and paced just a few seconds slower than Sunday's track workout. Overall, I strung four good runs together this weekend and determined that I can push harder than I have without feeling overextended. Even so, at 90% HR max I'm only hitting a mid 9:00 pace. That doesn't give me much room to improve until I can build a little more fitness. I guess it's time for intervals. And I guess a little hill training wouldn't hurt.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The only spring in my run is new construction

Springing up in spring
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.7 miles
Last Saturday's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Last Friday's run (street): 3.1 miles

I know it's been a while since I last posted, but here I am again. You're welcome. It's been a combination of busy schedules and the acknowledgement that my running journal-cum-social criticism blog has become somewhat redundant. The exception to that being my write ups of activities involving the Runsketeers. On the plus side, I've still been doing my runs and today I realized that the journal really helps me with the get outside and do it part. So here I am again.

Last weekend's runs were unremarkable, although I did have a good treadmill workout on Saturday. I don't remember the other two runs, but I know I did them because they're listed in my Garmin Connect log. Further, these runs even have my average stride length because I wrote to Garmin about that metric not showing up on Connect. Amazingly enough, Garmin responded that they'd corrected the issue. Apparently this was a problem for many. I was able to re-import my runs that lacked that data. and it showed up when I imported this weekend's activities.

My running has been dismal. With a few rare exceptions, I'm back to where I was last September in terms of performance. Slow doesn't begin to describe it. Yesterday morning I did an early run in light rain and just couldn't get into gear. I averaged 72% max HR which pretty much guaranteed a poor pace.

Today's route
Today's weather was far better, but my performance was exactly the same. I varied my route. Since I was running slowly, I took the time to look around my neighborhood. I noticed many new homes had sprung up in the places where prior dwellings were razed during the winter. These humble ranches and Capes Cods are being replaced big contemporaries that rise like Olympus above the Serengeti. Toto-ly stole that phrase.

Despite my lack of speed, I was happy to be outside on a cool and quiet spring morning. I know I can run faster, but lately I haven't been motivated to push too hard. SIOR is guilting encouraging me to re-enter the racing realm by running a 5K in July. She's even picked one for me. Okay, let's see what I can do.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Twofer on the track and road

One run already done
Today's runs: 3.5 miles (track), 1 mile (street) = 4.5 miles

For some reason my Garmin has stopped recording my stride length. It used to show up under "cadence" but it's no longer there. A search of the web yielded no useful information and Garmin Connect does not mention it in any of its forum posts. I'm disappointed and puzzled why stride length is no longer displayed. It's a useful data point that helps me understand why I'm hitting certain paces (or not). I looked to see if there was a new software update, but apparently I'm current. I sent a note to Garmin support and expect to hear back in one to never days.

My thoughts about running at Stillwell shifted to the track this morning. I felt like doing some mindless running that didn't include the paranoia of tripping on hidden roots or having mountain bikers stealthily coming up behind me on a single track path. It's hard to explain why I find the track so appealing. I think it may have to do with being able to run outside without too much distraction and no crazy drivers.

I had the track to myself until a woman showed up to walk. That was fine and soon another runner appeared. It was a woman who seemed to be moving along well, but somehow I caught and passed her. I was running okay but not all that fast. Just faster than her I guess. I did 14 laps and headed home. Along the way I started regretting keeping it to only 3.5 miles. I decided I'd add another mile when I got home.

Road & Track
Going out for my second run was strange. I was fully "recovered" from my track workout and probably could have repeated the same distance in my neighborhood. I decided I'd keep to the plan and followed a route close to my house. The whole time I felt I was running by remote control, as if I was still at home while my body was out doing the run on its own. That was probably due to being fully warmed up, making the run feel really easy.

After I finished I thought about my experience and realized that the second run probably felt effortless because I knew I only had to cover a mile. I started thinking about a "day of running", where I would run a mile in my neighborhood starting early in the day and come back home. At the top of the next hour (and every hour subsequent to that) I would run another mile. If I did this from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM I could cover ten miles. If every run was a little longer I could do a half marathon or more.

So if I cover 14 miles in one day, is that the same as doing a 14 mile run? Or would it be cheating to say that?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Once, twice, three times a lady runner

Today's route
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 4.7 miles

Yesterday morning was rainy, so I stayed indoors and cranked out a decent run on the treadmill. The music mix was worse than usual, causing me to toggle between multiple channels to escape a string of slow ballads from the 70's and what seemed to be the worst songs recorded between 1980 and 1989. For example, anything by Cher. I followed my usual technique of upping the treadmill's speed by a tenth of a MPH every quarter mile (or so) and by the end I was in a full sprint mode.

This morning's run was delayed due to an early morning appointment, but I still managed to get out the door a little before 9:00 AM. The weather was mild (57°) except when the wind hit. I dressed light and stayed comfortable. There are only so many roads to run in my neighborhood and the challenge is to string together a route that somewhat breaks the monotony. It can be as simple as running a street in the opposite direction than I usually run it.

Today I began with a run around the grounds of the middle school and while rounding the front drive I noticed another runner coming from the opposite direction. As we got closer, I recognized her from other runs. This woman probably has two decades on me but she's always out there, wearing her purple running jacket with a matching hat. We exchanged cheery hellos as we passed by.

About five minutes later I was heading up a different road when this woman and I crossed paths again. This time we exchanged shy waves. I thought that was that until I rounded another road and saw her once again in the distance. She wasn't fast but she got around. As she got closer, I saw her go up on the sidewalk and run on top of some driveway edging stones. When we passed, she said, "I have to do something to make this fun!" I could see TPP doing the exact same thing 30 years from now.

I had hoped that yesterday's good workout would continue into today, but I ended up having only a so-so run. That was okay because even a mediocre run is better than none. I'm thinking about a trail run and may return to Stillwell tomorrow. The last time I ran there I had a bad fall and now I'm a little gun shy. I love Stillwell too much for that to hold me back. So maybe.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

So many running clothes, so little time

Wanna buy some used Karhus?
Today's run (street): 4.7 miles

For the first time since fall, I've had two consecutive runs wearing short sleeves and shorts. Yesterday's temperature was moderate, but the humidity was anything but. Happily, today was cooler and far less humid. In both cases I was comfortable, helped along by overcast skies. I'm not looking forward to running in the summer heat and I hope I'll have the discipline to get out at dawn most of the time.

Today's run or Rorschach test? 
Now that we are transitioning to warmer weather, I've started to pay attention to my lighter gear. Over the past eight years, I've collected a lot of running clothes that I keep in a wooden wardrobe in the guest room.  I have at least three pairs of running tights, three pairs of track pants and a sizable collection of quarter zips, rain jackets and long sleeve running shirts.

My collection of short sleeve running shirts includes the first one I ever bought and every one after that. I also have a bunch of shirts I got from racing. Storage has extended to a dresser in my bedroom. I also have six pairs of running shorts and dozens of socks. Don't get me started on shoes. There are pairs I use and those I just can't throw out.

I swear I'm not a hoarder, but I find it hard to throw out perfectly good running clothes. Perfectly good may mean different things to different people. I don't think rips and tears necessitate disposal. As long as you can wear it, and it doesn't expose areas that need to be covered in public, I think a shirt should be kept in inventory.

In truth, I tend to wear the same gear, cycling through four or five pairs of shorts, the same number of shirts and about half a dozen pairs of socks. That changes a little when the seasons change and I put wool socks to the back of the drawer until fall. I know I should go through all this stuff and keep only those clothes and shoes that I actually use. I really should donate the undamaged shirts and recycle the old trainers. I'll make it a project for next weekend unless I can find anything else to do.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Running on a tight schedule beats a lack of sleep

Sleep deprived, heroic running
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

Today, while my friends were off doing noble things like marching in DC in support of climate protection, I was doing good work much closer to home. By that I mean going out early for a run after staying up past midnight last night. Hitting the road around 7:00 AM this morning was pretty heroic in its own right. The best part was I ended up doing pretty well.

It was overcast and misty when I went outside to start. The local temperature was 58° and though I didn't know it at the start, the humidity was 94%. It didn't take too long to figure that out once I got going. Fortunately, I'd dressed appropriately, wearing one of my favorite short sleeve running shirts and my awesome Adidas Response shorts. I also wore my new super lightweight Saucony running hat that my wife got me for my birthday.

Even though the streets were damp due to mist, I wore my new Brooks Launches because I wanted to see how they performed on pavement. Overall, I liked them a lot, although the flex grooves in the front somewhat undercut the response off my forefoot. The Zantes are definitely a quicker shoe but the Launches' balance of cushioning and mid-foot bounce will be better for longer runs when I finally get around to doing them.

I wasn't going for speed today, which is good because there wasn't a lot of it. I did manage to beat my average pace by about 30 seconds a mile. Given my late bedtime and early rise I was surprised. Was it the shoes or just how I felt today? I'm not sure, but I know the humidity didn't help. My early run allowed me to finish and shower in time to meet a tight morning schedule. Maybe knowing I was time-pressed made me run a little faster than I normally would. I'm sure that's why we tend to achieve our best times when we race.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Successful (Brooks) Launch on the treadmill

Special Delivery
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 4.4 miles

There are few things as delightful to a runner as receiving a pair of running shoes in the mail. Better than that is getting them delivered without even knowing they're coming. That's what happened to me a couple of weeks ago, thanks to my daughter, who surprised me with a pair of Brooks Launch 3s for my birthday. I was very touched that she surprised me like that.

The Launch isn't a shoe that I'd ever considered because it's not as minimal as my Zantes and Kinvaras. My daughter did some research and decided that the Launches would work for me. They arrived close to my birthday, but were (unfortunately) a half size too small. Although the Launches felt good on my foot, I've learned that any snugness in the toe box will result in pain on the road.

We reordered them in my size (11) and they arrived last night. I was going to take them out on the road this morning, but conditions were rainy. There was no way I was going to subject brand new running shoes to rain and muck and decided to try them inside. I was also interested to see how they felt on the treadmill compared to my Kinvara 5s that have been my only indoor running shoes for the past two years.

The Launches fit me well but felt very different than the Kinvaras. They reminded me of the Brooks Adrenalines but were much lighter. The forefoot is also far more flexible. I like the relative stiffness of the Zantes on the road and I'm curious to see how the Launches will run on pavement. The 10 mm drop may also help my plantar fasciitis that has minimized, but has not disappeared.

My first steps on the treadmill felt a little awkward compared to the Kinvaras, probably due to the higher stack height. I got used to them after a while, but it was hard to perceive the responsiveness that is the hallmark of this model. I always try to run negative splits on the treadmill and push my speed on the last mile, mostly to get the run done faster. The Launches had good turnover but I think the Zantes might actually have more pep. Hopefully tomorrow's weather will let me determine that.

I ended up having a better run than I'd expected. I got my speed out of my comfort range by the time I finished and decided that the Launches will have a regular place in my rotation. Tomorrow morning's schedule will be very tight so I may not end up going out until late morning. If it's supposed to get as hot on Saturday as it did today, I may end up trying for a 6:00 AM workout.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Runsketeer birthday surprise at Starbucks

Happy birthday to me!
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Last weekend the ER family celebrated my birthday with a dinner, even though my actual birthday was this past Wednesday. Mrs. ER informed me that we were going to bookend things with a walk on the trail in Bethpage today. What she didn't tell me was that she and the Runsketeers had concocted a plan more devious than you could ever imagine. Actually, it wasn't devious at all. It was really very nice.

Knowing that we would be heading to Bethpage fairly early, I got out at 7:30 AM for a neighborhood run. Yesterday's rain kept me indoors on the treadmill. Despite this morning's threatening skies, I wanted to run outside. The weather was a mild 50°, with enough wind to cool things into the 40's. Humidity was high, but with the low clouds blocking the sun, it didn't feel uncomfortable. I added a little more distance to my standard 3.2 mile route and felt great throughout the entire run. Friday's treadmill session was similarly positive and I'm hoping this trend will continue.

Pre-surprise walk on the Bethpage trail
We made our way to the Bethpage trail and parked on Colonial Road, just north of Haypath. I knew that SIOR was leading a Life Time run on the bike path this morning and wasn't all that surprised to see her and TPP bounding down the path. They were in quite a hurry and TPP was uncharacteristically impatient to go. I wouldn't have noticed at all if SIOR was the impatient one. I learned later why, and that the ER family was in on what was to come.

We finished our walk and made our way to Starbucks. Mrs. ER told me that she and the kids wanted to us to visit Bethpage and Starbucks just as I often do with my  running buddies. I was happy to comply. When we approached the shopping center that houses Runsketeer Starbucks, Mrs. ER's phone beeped and my daughter grabbed it before I could see it. That turned out to be SIOR texting her to say that they had arrived. While the ER family made their way into Starbucks, TPP and SIOR were right nearby, sneaking behind pillars and garbage cans to hide their presence. There's even a video of that. I'm surprised it wasn't Livestreamed.

Starbucks was packed and there wasn't even room for the four of us to sit down. I popped into the men's room and when I came out I saw TPP and then SIOR who yelled "surprise!" It turned out that Mrs. ER had been planning with these two since February to arrange coffee with my Runska-friends. It took me a moment to figure out that this was not a coincidence. We arranged ourselves around a table that had opened up when its occupants saw that the Runsketeers needed it more. We have that kind of power.

I was really happy to see my friends. SIOR was wearing her 2017 Boston Marathon jacket that she earned on Monday, completing her second Boston effort and qualifying for yet another Boston race. Check out her entertaining race report to get the whole story. TPP has recently started a new job and I was very glad that she was able to join us. The D'Artagnan of our group, KWL, also ran Boston last week. He's in Hong Kong right now, but he was with us in spirit.

The official Runsketeer coffee mug
While Mrs. ER collected coffee and food orders, TPP and SIOR presented me with birthday cards and presents. I loved the cards and TPP gave me a potential fortune (lottery tickets) and SIOR gave me an awesome coffee mug with my favorite Runsketeer picture. Emblazoned on the other side was the motto, "All for one and Run for all!" It will be my post-run Starbucks cup going forward. I'd been too intimated to scratch off the lottery tickets because I hadn't held one since the 1980's and wasn't sure how they worked. I let my daughter do it. Despite some close calls, I will not be winning $1,000 a week for life.

Once coffee was served (along with that chocolate cake that I've been thinking about since SIOR and TPP ran on goat-less mountain a few weeks ago), the six of us spent a couple of hours talking and laughing non-stop. As much as I like the running part, it's the post run time that I value the most. We covered an awful lot of subjects and I took advantage of the fact that SIOR is a certified elite running coach and trainer. I interrogated her about the best approach to getting back into racing shape and will probably do a 5K with this crew in July.

I think we could have gone on for two more hours, but practicality prevailed and we needed to say our goodbyes. We did remember to get our selfie, using my daughter's new iPhone that takes much better pictures than my Android phone. I had a great birthday, thanks to Mrs. ER, and it was fun to be surprised twice by my Runsketeer buddies.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A thousand runs within a mile

Didn't seem like the same old route when I ran it today
Today's run (street): 4.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Tuesday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Last weekend's run with goats was an unusual break from my quotidian weekend workouts. I always appreciate the runs I do that go beyond the constraints of my local roads, trails, parks or the track. More often than not, I find myself running on the same streets I've covered a thousand times before. So far this week I've managed to get in three runs, all within a mile of my house.

Sometimes I ask myself why I used to be so quick to jump in the car and head out to Stillwell Woods, Bethpage, Eisenhower or Belmont State Park every chance I had. I do that occasionally, but usually it's because I'm seeing my buddies. That trumps tops any laziness that keeps me neighborhood bound. This morning I ran through all the possible venues, but ended up taking the easiest route. That was the one that begins at the end of my driveway.

Besides expanding my running geography, I also need to work on increasing my distances and consistently getting my heart rate into and above the 80% max rage. I didn't make much progress on any of that today. I went out in 50° weather to run close to my home. My one concession to the mundane was to follow a new route. On the map, it may look like every other run I do. But today I ran it in a different direction. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be another nice weather day. It's Easter and I'm hoping that will mean quiet roads and empty trails. I may run outside my neighborhood this weekend after all. Meanwhile, Runsketeer buddies KWL and SIOR will be in my hometown to run the 121st staging of the Boston Marathon. I'm excited for them. They have both trained hard and I'm hoping that they have great experiences. If I were ever to run a marathon, it would be that one.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Not my finest run

A few tired miles around the 'hood
Today's run (street): 3.7 miles

Despite better weather, today's run didn't go all that well. I'm either run down or I pushed too hard on yesterday's run. I'm not a fan of running uphill and my legs reminded me of that today.  I was hoping that (sort of) keeping up with SIOR and TPP at the NJL park might have activated my fast twitch leg fibers. I actually think they were deactivated.

My goal every weekend is to do at least one run outside of my neighborhood. Since I did that yesterday, I figured a run around my local roads would be just fine. I started out well, although I did experience sinus pain when the wind hit me head on. Thankfully that went away once I'd warmed up. I began to feel lethargic the more I went on and I noticed that my heart rate was showing less than 75% max. Despite the fatigue, I picked up the pace until I was in the low 80% range. That was all I could manage today.

Yesterday's run was understandably challenging because I ran about 10% faster than I normal do. Plus there were some hills. Today's difficulties are a little harder to explain. I never struggled, but I did get tired. Perhaps it was getting up at 4:30 AM this morning that did me in. I'll get some rest tomorrow and try this again on Tuesday.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Runsketeers fail to see goats

ER, SIOR (with Easter Bunny), B, S, TPP
Today's run (Norman J. Levy Park): 3.2 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

According to Google Maps, getting from my house to Norman J. Levy Park (NJL) in Merrick, NY is fairly straightforward. Three short highways and then a right off a local road. Just to be sure, I used Google Maps navigation to ensure that I'd get there without a problem. However, when I got close, the navigation started to panic: "turn right, make a U-turn, turn left, take the ramp to the Meadowbrook..." and I ended up missing the entrance. I made the further mistake of letting navigation take me through the back streets that led nowhere. I ended up arriving fifteen minutes late after SIOR talked me through the landfill.

That's right, NJL is on a landfill. More specifically, it's landfill adjacent. The park itself is a circle within a circle of paths with 360° views of NYC, eastern LI and the ocean. Reaching the best view takes a little work. I'll get to that in a moment.

Today's run was organized by SIOR who is a run leader for Life Time Fitness. Today we were joined by a very nice couple, S and B, who have recently returned to running. SIOR and Runsketeer buddy TPP had been to NJL before, but the other three of us had never been there. SIOR promised us that we'd see goats, but none were around today. I wonder if they are used to trim the grass at the park.

S and B took off before I arrived, and SIOR, TPP and I proceeded south where we caught views of the Stadium Park Canal in Freeport before rounding back north. I was doing well and mostly keeping up with my buddies (or at least keeping them in sight). At one point the path split with the right trail following a downward direction and the left trail going up. And up. And up. I wasn't really expecting that and TPP assured me that the incline would end soon. I have a different definition of soon. We did finally reach the top, shortly after meeting S and B on the trail.

Middle loop is the highest point
There is a spot at the park's highest point (115 feet) where you can see for miles in every direction. That was cool and I wish I took a picture when we got there, but I was too concerned that SIOR was going to find an even bigger hill. For some reason, both TPP's and my Garmins registered the peak elevation at only 23 feet.

Happily, the route back was mostly downhill, although it did rise up again near the end. We covered about three miles, not the four that I expected we'd do. All the same, it felt like a good workout. That was due (I think) to keeping a faster pace than I've been running these days. Depending on if you accept my Garmin's read or Gmaps, I ran slightly more or slightly less than 10 minutes a mile. Given my frustrating experience with GPS navigation this morning, I'm going to give it Gmaps.

We finally gathered at the starting point and decided to head to Starbucks on Merrick Road. I drove the mile it takes to get there, while SIOR tricked the others into running there by saying it was only a half mile run. She also lied about the goats. Just saying. I got to Starbucks first and the others soon followed. We grabbed coffee and pumpkin bread, which TPP supplemented with a piece of chocolate cake that tasted amazing. Next time I'm getting that.

The Bethpage/Massapequa Preserve trail
We had our usual wide ranging and often ridiculous conversations that included city running, Brooklyn hills, scary Jeep stories and the origin of the name "Dirty Sock" (don't ask). Before we left for Starbucks we talked about the length of the Bethpage and Massapequa Preserve trail. I said the distance top to bottom was about 14 miles and SIOR said it was 7. TPP suggested I map it and saw that it's about 10 miles. So I was right.

I played Uber driver after Starbucks and dropped everyone off back at the park. Next weekend is Boston and SIOR and KWL will be running it. I'm going to get out tomorrow in what should be very nice weather. I'm taking Tuesday and Wednesday off next week and hope to get in a couple of runs on those days. It will be nice to run again sometime at NJL park, especially now that I know which entrance to use.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Going with the flow isn't very exciting

Going with the flow
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

For no good reason, I had a lot of trouble getting myself out the door for this morning's run. I knew I had to do it and that I would, but I spent a lot of time internally debating what my run would be. Normally on a relatively mild and sunny day, I'd consider my options and choose the most appealing option. Today nothing reached the level of appealing. I considered the treadmill because it's easier to throw on shorts and shoes and grind out a few miles than gear up for the outdoors, adding layers, a hat, gloves, SPIbelt, phone, Road ID and sunglasses.

The sun influenced me enough to go out, but not enough to get in my car and drive anywhere. That left me with routes that would start from the end of my driveway. I thought through all the places that I run: adjacent neighborhoods, the business park and even the northern end of the Bethpage bike trail. I took the easiest option and did yet another run in my own neighborhood.

I've been running in my ASICS Kayano 20s which are well cushioned and don't aggravate my plantar fasciitis. Just for a change (and because my PF has much improved) I went back to the NB Zante 2s today. I really like these shoes that are light as Kinvaras but have even more response. Today's run was easy and I remembered to look at my watch to make sure I was hitting my targeted heart rate. I didn't quite get there, but managed to stay around 81% of max.

Same old, same old
While I struggled to get my butt out the door to run three and a half miles today, my Buddies KWL and SIOR were running 13 to 20 miles respectively as they begin to wind up their Boston training. How do they get it done every day with all their other distractions of life? I know in the past I've followed a regimen that involved tempos, intervals and weekend runs as long as 12 miles. But marathon training takes a lot more dedication and motivation. My next frontier is to simply get back to 5-8 mile runs on weekends.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April fooled by the weather

Wind chilly
Today's run (street): 3.1 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

It being April Fools day, my daughter offered me a bite of her vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce. That turned out to be mashed potatoes with turkey gravy. Instead of being repulsed, I was inspired to add the rest to my lunch. The real April Fools joke seems to be today's weather trying to make us think it's still winter.

Yesterday started out rainy and cold and I didn't hesitate a moment before getting on the treadmill. That run was fine and I worked my pace into the mid nines by the end. I appreciated having the indoor option, especially on days like that.

This morning I was ready to get back to the road. The local news station was showing 37° and the view outside looked mild. The roads were still wet from the recent rain but it looked pleasant. I had just read an article in Runners World about Iditarod runners who drag their gear behind them along the 1,000 mile route. One runner mentioned the value of keeping your neck warm as that's an area where heat can drain quickly. I took another look outside and saw the trees were swaying a little so I put on my bandito buff to keep that area covered.

It took over five minutes to acquire a GPS signal through the overcast sky but soon I was off and running. I'd worn light track pants and a long sleeve quarter zip. That was fine until I changed direction for the first time and encountered a 19 MPH wind. Those blasts instantly brought the temperature down ten degrees. The buff helped, but my face was freezing. It was so bad that when I finally reach a point where I turned from north to east my glasses immediately fogged up from the sudden warmth combined with 93% humidity.

I took a roundabout route circling the neighborhood and covered my distance at a moderate pace. I was surprised to see that my average heart rate was below 80% max. I really need to look at my Garmin during the run to see if I should be picking up the pace. Tomorrow is supposed to be a lot nicer and, since I have a limited window to get in a run, I'm going to try to do it a little faster.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

This run was out of sight

Alone again, naturally
Today's run (track): 4 miles

Most of this weekend was spent celebrating Mrs. ER's birthday. That included a darn good dinner prepared by me and my daughter. My polenta, mozzarella and veggie crumble appetizers, along with garlic sautéed broccoli, were a big hit. My daughter rocked her chicken parmigiana and Francesco's provided the cake, napoleons and rainbow sponge cookies.

Needless to say, we all took the day off from watching our calories. I've done a good job reducing the amount of processed sugar I consume and expected to wake up feeling like I'd overindulged. I actually felt great this morning and ready to cover a few miles. That may have been due to having a full supply of glycogen in my system.

The outside temperature was in the mid-30's with a light wind that made it seem even colder. I didn't feel like running around my boring neighborhood streets again, so I headed over to the high school to run boring laps around the track. In truth, I never find the track boring. Despite the repeatable view and unchanging surface, I appreciate the serenity of the place. That was especially the case on a day like today where I had the entire track to myself.

One likely reason that I was alone (besides the early hour and overcast sky) was the cold. I wore track pants and a couple of sweatshirt-weight top layers that kept my core warm. Even though I brought mid-weight running gloves, my hands were freezing for the first twenty minutes.  It was especially bad when rounding the southwest corner of the track where the wind hit me head on. I didn't bring el bandito mask today and regretted it until I finally warmed up.

Since there was no one else on the track, I was free to run in whatever lane I wanted. Better still, I was able to close my eyes for a few seconds as I ran without fear of collision. I thought I was running straight and was surprised to see that I'd crossed over into the next lane. I've always thought running that way would be a Zen-like experience. Now I know not to try it on the treadmill.

Eyes open is recommended
I ended up doing 16 laps and running the last mile much faster than the first three. When I picked up my pace I felt like my running got somewhat easier. Is there something to that? Is there a threshold of efficiency when running slower actually takes more energy than running faster? I would have put that further to the test but I hit my targeted four and called it a workout. On my next run I'll increase my speed a little more than my natural pace to see how long I can sustain that. It's worth a try and probably a better idea than running with my eyes closed again.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Run interruptions, indoors and out

Tether and lace
Today's run (street): 3.6 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes
Thursday's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.2 miles

This week has been busy. For a change, it wasn't due to work. I took Wednesday and Thursday off for some family stuff, but that didn't give me much workout time. I did manage to squeeze in a treadmill run, but accidentally pulled out the safety tether halfway through. That brought the machine to an abrupt halt. I was upset for a moment because it caused my time and distance to disappear from the display. Fortunately, I'd set my Garmin for an indoor run that captured all that information.

The worst part of interrupting a good run is the drop in heart rate that follows. I've had occasions when a perfectly good workout became a struggle after an unscheduled stop. A few years ago I was on a brisk lunchtime run in Central Park with a friend who asked me to stop so he could shed a top layer. We were at the halfway point on Cat Hill when we stopped. I struggled from that moment on, and ended up cutting our five miler to three.

This morning I was anxious to get outside after yesterday's elliptical session and Thursday's treadmill run. The weather was pleasant, 52° and overcast, and the pavement felt good under my NB Zantes. I hadn't run in them for over a month due to their low platform and my plantar issue. I figured that I'd made enough progress to try them again. They really are great shoes and I had no post run heel problems.

Like the treadmill tether problem I had on Thursday, I found myself needing to stop a couple of times on my run. I hadn't double knotted my laces and they were whipping annoyingly around my ankles. It was no big deal, but I did feel light headed after bending down to retie the Zantes. My recovery from those stops went better than that time in Central Park but it did throw off my momentum.

Today's run
This morning, around the time I was doing my little run around the neighborhood, Runsketeer SIOR was running the Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon. She snagged an age group award and next month SIOR and KWL will be in Hopkinton, MA for the Boston Marathon.

Tomorrow will be colder than today and I'll decide in the morning whether to brave the outdoors or retreat to the treadmill. Either way, I'm hoping to get through my run without any tether or tying issues.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Runsketeers add a new member

L to R: ER, KWL, Bossy McBossy, AA
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.4 miles
Last Sunday's run (treadmill): 3.4 miles

Spring is just around the corner, that is if you consider Sunday a corner. But you'd never know it from the weather we've had this week. The "biggest storm of the season" turned out to be about 5" of snow that transformed into 3" of heavy slush once the rain came into the mix. The town plows turned that into a thick wall of ice that took us over an hour to clear. We're getting more snow today, but it doesn't look like it's going to stick.

Yesterday I worked from home and had a great run on the treadmill. I've definitely made my peace with the machine, but I far prefer running outside. This morning I participated in the Syosset Life Time group run that is led by Runsketeer SIOR. I was looking forward to running outside for the first time since late February and excited to see my buddies. We missed TPP who had to work today, but we were joined by a great guy (AA) who fit right into our group.

The plan was to meet at Life Time Fitness at 9:00 AM, but SIOR and KWL, who are training for Boston, were finishing up their "pre-run" at SUNY OW and were running to the gym from there. AA and I arrived at 9:00 and, after we met, I told him that our run leader was on her way. That gave us about 30 minutes to chat before SIOR and KWL arrived. After quick introductions and a hydration stop for SIOR and KWL, we were off.

My Garmin had a little trouble acquiring a GPS signal but our bossypants run leader had us running through the lot and into the adjacent neighborhood before I could start recording my data. I finally began capturing distance, pace and HR after going half a mile. SIOR and AA took the lead and KWL and I followed. Even after running 14 miles earlier (they ended up doing 18 miles today), KWL and SIOR were still raring to go and I appreciated that he hung back with me.

Today's full Life Time route
Although KWL was taking it easy, I was actually running 84% of max heart rate which resulted in a pace in the high 10:00 range. I never felt overworked but did fade a little close to the end. I managed to spring back enough to finish the last quarter mile in the 9:00 range. Once we'd all arrived at the gym, we made the decision to break tradition and have coffee at Life Time's café rather than Starbucks. It was a perfect place to cool down with plenty of space and good coffee.

Runsketeer graphic by KWL
It turned out that AA is an experienced marathoner and he has done three of the US majors (Chicago, NYC and Boston). KWL has done NYC, Berlin, London and Tokyo and will add Boston to the list in April. SIOR has done Boston, Philly, and a couple of others and is on track to meet her NYRR 9+1 to gain entry into NYC next year. I'm not in their league but I have done three halfs. I'm thinking of doing one race this year to see if I'm ready to return to competition.

One other positive today, besides getting to run and hang out with three great people, is that my plantar fasciitis seems to be abating. I ran in my Kaynos today and used the PF orthotics I bought a few weeks ago. No pain during the run and only mild soreness afterward. I'm hoping that conditions are okay for another outside run tomorrow, but if today's light snow makes for icy roads tomorrow, I'll be back on the treadmill. But as I said earlier, I'm good with that.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Stir frying and treadmill flying

Hot Hibachi on a cold day 
Today's run (treadmill): 3.6 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

A year ago I was writing about running in 59° weather and now we are bookending two March snowstorms. Friday's nor'easter turned out to be kinda lame but it did produce a couple of inches on Long Island. This Tuesday we are due to receive another 12"-18" which just doesn't seem fair. Because winter has been acting like winter I've continued to do my runs on the treadmill.

Although Friday's storm didn't cause too much disruption, it did delay my running schedule. I ended up fitting in a mid-afternoon 25 minute run between meetings. Not much to say about that except I made the mistake of selecting the classic rock channel and enduring back to back songs by Pink Floyd and Rush. On the plus side, my plantar pain was hardly noticeable.

This morning I considered getting outside but the temperature, with wind chill, was in the teens. Running in extreme cold would be fine if I could protect my face as well as the rest of my body. Even with a balaclava I didn't think being outside was worth the sinus pain. I elected to stay indoors which turned out to be a good decision.

My run was great, probably due to taking Pseudoephedrine earlier in the morning for a slight sinus headache. I started out at a moderate pace. After realizing I could handle more, I upped my speed and did the remainder of the run at about a 9:30 pace. That may not sound very impressive, but for me these days it was pretty good performance.

One buff, many uses
Midday the Emerging Runner family met up with Runsketeer buddy KWL and his sister HC at a local Hibachi place for lunch. HC is a master seamstress and the designer-creator of my beloved bandito mask. We had a great time and it was great meeting HC who, like KWL, is awesome. I'm looking forward to our next food adventure.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Hoping for some plantar relief in the Futuro

The futuro is now
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles

Earlier this week I was complaining to anyone in my office that would listen about my foot soreness due to plantar fasciitis. I am fortunate to work in a place that has many experts on health (along with other subjects) and one of them told me she got great results from something called the Futuro Night Plantar Fasciitis Sleep Support brace. The next day she brought it in so I could use it. Some people are really nice.

The brace seems designed to hold the foot in a way that prevents you from pointing your toes when you sleep. Apparently we all do that. Pointing toes aggravates the plantar fascia. That explains why every morning my heel feels like someone hammered a nail into it overnight. Unlike my "night sock" that yanks back my toes, the Futuro brace does its thing gently. I wore the brace extensively on Thursday night and on Friday (because I worked from home) and started feeling some relief.

I was encouraged by the improvement but felt concern that I'd undo my progress if I went for a run. I decided that it was worth chancing a relapse and did a treadmill workout on Friday morning. While I did feel a few pangs of soreness at different stages in the run, I experienced no residual pain. I've continued to wear the brace while in the house and it seems to be helping.

This morning I decided that 20° weather plus wind chill are not an appealing combination. Once again, I did my running on the treadmill. My current routine is to put on a music station and set my speed to a brisk but sustainable pace. No treadmill hating these days as I've learned to appreciate the more forgiving surface compared to pavement. Plus, did I mention the 20° plus wind chill outside?

I've often said that treadmill minutes seem twice as long as regular minutes. Today the time went by quickly. Instead of watching my time or mileage, I now run by songs. Roughly three per mile. Psychologically, it's a much better approach and probably why every runner but me listens to music when they run outdoors. I'm still not doing that.

My buddies SIOR and KWL have been tuning up for the Boston Marathon in April by running NYRR races the past two weekends. This weekend they're running the Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K up in Washington Heights and will be adding another 13 miles on top of that. With all those hills and a real feel temperature of 13°, it's going to be interesting. That is so beyond anything I'm prepared to do right now. I'll stick with the treadmill, a temperature controlled room and my borrowed brace.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Night socked and soda blasted

This won't hurt a bit
Today's run (treadmill): 3.5 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 1.5 miles

Before you judge me for for my abysmally low mileage this week, please know that I had plenty of excuses why that was the case. And by plenty, I mean two. First was my work schedule that required me to come into the office on Friday. I normally work from home on Fridays, but I had my buddy KWL come for a visit. It was great having him at the office, but I didn't get a chance to do my usual Friday run.

Plantar fasciitis is the other excuse for my five mile week. Despite my purchase of a compression sleeve and plantar orthotics, the pain in my heel hasn't gone away. This discourages longer runs because I'm concerned that I'm doing damage with every step. I don't know if that's true. Even though the Internet has plenty to say about the condition, I've found very little useful information about it.

Saturday morning I followed my usual routine of waking up and limping downstairs to make coffee. The limping hasn't always been usual, but this has been my experience over the past month or so. After I took a few hundred steps, the pain reduced from pointedly sharp to mildly uncomfortable. I started thinking about my morning run and considered driving over to the track where the surface is more forgiving. Then I remembered that I had my six month dental checkup in a couple of hours and went back to drinking coffee.

My dentist recently left the office that we've been using for the last 15 years but we've followed her to her new practice. I met her hygienist who turned out to be one of those judgy types who assume that no one flosses or brushes correctly. There aren't too many things I do well, but one of them is take good care of my teeth. I enjoyed listening to her compliment my excellent "home care" and prepared for an easy cleaning. I wasn't prepared for her.

My foot issue had made me a little grouchy and my annoyance increased when this woman started aggressively going through her routine. I thought about how running has made me patient about situations like this, where you have no choice but to ride out the discomfort. Then things got a little weird. The hygienist used what I can only describe as a miniature sand blaster to power wash the inside of my mouth using baking soda. Ouch and yuck. My tongue felt like it was being hit with shotgun pellets. I was really hating this woman by the time I heard the machine winding down to a stop.

I left the office feeling sorer than when I'd limped in. I headed over to a nearby CVS to buy their equivalent of a Strassburg Sock. The sock pulls back your foot and stretches out the plantar fascia. This is supposed to relieve the pain caused by tightened and inflamed tissue. I put it on when I got home. It was hard to tell if it helped, but I kept it on for about an hour.

Socks of the night: (left, CVS, right, the Strassburg Sock) 
Later in the day I decided I was ready to try a neighborhood run. The outside temperature was in the mid 50's and overcast. Pretty good running conditions. I geared up and headed outside, not sure how I'd feel once I got going. The answer was not very good. My plantar pain was influencing the way my foot was landing and my stride felt awkward. My legs were heavy and my energy level was low. I did my best to put the discomfort out of my head, but I eventually reached the point where I felt I was doing more harm than good.

I decided to cut the run short and hobbled home, discouraged by my poor performance and feeling concern that this pain would prevent me from running for a while. I figured I'd take it a day at a time and hoped for the best the next day.

This morning brought improvement, possibly due to sleeping with my stretchy thing. My energy level was better and I again debated running at the high school track. We had plans to get out mid morning so I elected to use the treadmill and see how it felt. I thought that running with a decline might take some pressure off my heel but that actually made it worse. I switched to a 2% incline and noticed that my landing shifted me closer to mid-foot. After ten minutes, the pain was barely noticeable.

Less pain is not the same as no pain so I kept it fairly short to minimize possible damage. I was happy with my stride and glad I could bounce back from the really bad run I had the day before. I ended up running only five miles this weekend. All things considered, I did what I could.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Embracing the Mindful and rejecting the Beast

I'm giving my Plantar my full support
Today's workout (upper body hand weights): 45 minutes

Happy President's Day.  This morning my daughter and I celebrated with a cup of coffee at Runsketeer Starbucks. She didn't have classes today because of the holiday. I'm off from work for the same reason. I always did like George and Abe.

After Starbucks, I coerced my daughter into swinging by CVS so I could purchase a couple of items that will supposedly help reduce the pain of Plantar Fasciitis. I bought a Plantar Flex Support Sleeve and Plantar Flex Orthotics. When I looked them up on the CVS site I saw that "related items" included Crest white strips, contact lens cleaner and razor blade refills. This Fasciitis thing is pretty complex. Now I understand why my heel pain hasn't gone away quickly.

White strips and support sleeves - a natural combination!
I'm not sure if any of the stuff I got at CVS will help. Another great president, Teddy Roosevelt, said, "The best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." Action is better than inaction. Otherwise the Plantar Fasciitis wins.

I dutifully placed the flex sleeve on my foot and put the supports in my shoes. I decided to forgo a run in favor of an upper body workout. Specifically, the Body Beast workout that TPP gave me last month. I put one of the DVDs into my laptop and as soon as I saw the Lou Ferrigno lookalike, I thought I might be out of my league. The warm-up was fine, but then they started doing push ups (push ups!) before the workout had even started. That did it for me.

Instead of giving up on a workout, I went online and found a video of a woman trainer with less muscles than Lou Ferrigno. Her routine, using hand weights, took 10 minutes and felt more like a warm up than a real workout. I decided to look at a few other websites and found a set of exercises on "The Mindful Body" that looked reasonable. Since every person I talk to uses the term "mindful" these days, I figured I'd try it out.

This routine was tougher than the ten minute warm up and took about 35 minutes to finish. I didn't work up a big sweat, but I know I hit every muscle group in my arms and shoulders. I'm curious to see how I feel tomorrow, as I haven't done a formal upper body workout since the London Olympics. While my arms will inevitably ache, I'm hoping my heel will feel a little better. If so, I'll take that trade-off.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

There's nothing acute about Plantar Fasciitis

This heel pain is making me nutty
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

If you're ever looking for ways to ruin your appetite, I suggest looking up foot pain on Google Images. I did that, and I'm now confident in saying that the foot is our ugliest external body part. The reason why I was looking at feety things was because I've been experiencing acute foot pain in my heel that the Internet thinks is Plantar Fasciitis. I usually associate the word Plantar with mixed nuts, but this seems to be something different. I learned, in terms of pain, that acute means short term and chronic is long term. At least that's what the trainer person said in an infomercial that I couldn't switch off because the remote was out of reach.

Whether my pain is here to stay or just visiting, I can tell you it's very annoying. I first started experiencing discomfort at the bottom of my left heel about three weeks ago. Interestingly enough, that's when one of my co-workers generously donated his standing pad to me because he decided that using a standing desk was dumb. Prior to using that pad, I had no pain in my heel. It seems counter intuitive that a pad made specifically to reduce leg fatigue for people who stand for long periods would create this problem. But when it comes to feet, all bets are off.

Plantar Fasciitis is a strange affliction. I'm not really sure what it is. As a matter of fact, I don't think anyone actually knows what it is. If you look it up, it's blamed for just about anything having to do with foot pain. My particular problem is when I put pressure on my heel it hurts. The pain is fairly sharp (one might even say "acute"), but it minimizes once I walk around on it. So far it hasn't interfered with my running, although it is noticeable at the start.

I did treadmill runs yesterday and today. They were fairly identical except that Saturday's music had more Sheila E while today's had more Prince. I think Price wrote some of Sheila E's songs so technically they were identical. But I digress. My treadmill experiences have been good of late, mostly because I limit my distance to 3.25 miles. My friends SIOR and KWL and a few work colleagues often spend well over an hour on the treadmill. I can't do that anymore but I can psych myself up to cover about 5K.

Despite this heel pain, I seem to be covering a lot of ground. According to my Garmin 35, I've taken about 14K steps today. A chunk of that was my morning run and another chunk was when I walked to the library to return a DVD. In both cases my heel pain was minimal. How it felt afterwards was a different story. I'm going to look up things you're supposed to do to address heel based Plantar Fasciitis. I'm also going to take a break from my standing mat to see if that makes it better or worse. If going mat-less makes it better, I'm going to give it to someone in the office whom I dislike. Maybe that's how I got it in the first place.
 

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