Running quote of the week

“I love track running. There’s something about that red 400-meter circle that lets my brain switch off—no roads to cross, no bikes to watch out for.” – Kate Carter

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Born to Run with Plantar Faciitis

I wish it felt that good
Image from painscience.com
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles
Yesterday's run: (street): 3.4 miles
Friday's workout (treadmill): 35 minutes
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.3 miles
Last Saturday's run (street): 3.4 miles
Last Friday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

“One injury that I have always had that never seems to go away is plantar fasciitis..”
- Christopher McDougall July 20, 2010

I’m not really sure why our bodies punish us for doing things to keep it healthy, but it’s something all runners experience at some point. The ER family hosted some neighborhood friends on Saturday and, at one point, the discussion moved to running. It turned out that my neighbor used to run, but he stopped due to knee problems and spinal stenosis. Prior to that, he was a pretty active runner who’d completed a number of marathons, including two NYCs. I asked the question, if humans are designed to run, why do we get plantar faciitis?

If you are a fan of Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run, you might recognize that question because it turned out to be why he wrote that book. Plantar faciitis is a puzzling affliction. I went through a protracted bout with it in my left foot some months ago. Soon after that problem cleared up, I started experiencing similar pain in my right foot. The severity of this new pain is greater than with my left. That is no doubt related to recently doing nine runs in ten days while on vacation.

 I’d tried all the suggested approaches to minimizing plantar soreness, including using the CVS version of the Strassburg Sock along with another contraption that held my foot in place at the optimal position while I slept. Neither were pleasant experiences and I don’t think they helped very much. I switched to just using orthotics in my shoes and eventually the problem went away, only to resurface weeks later with my right foot.

 I resumed running on Friday on the treadmill after being chased indoors by a thunderstorm. It was probably for the best, because my foot pain had discouraged me from running very fast. After a while, I just gave in and moved to walking at a 1.5% grade.

I was concerned that Saturday would be a repeat of Friday. I was glad when I hit the pavement and saw that the pain was less pronounced. The plantar soreness was there, but manifested as a dull burning feeling rather than a sharp pain. I didn't love the experience, but I did get through my run.

This morning I wore my most cushioned running shoes and set out hoping for a less painful start. The pain was tolerable and I hoped it would decrease once my tendon warmed up. Ultimately it did, although the pain did not completely disappear. While running has been slightly painful, walking can be difficult. If I'm off my foot for more than five minutes, the next time I take a step I'll feel an intensely sharp pain in my heel. Fortunately, this measurably decreases after taking a dozen or so steps. It's good that the pain lessens, but it's unnerving that every time I get up from the couch I know will go through that experience again.

I expect that this problem will leave as mysteriously as it came. I'm unsure what I can do to help speed my recovery, since trying every Internet cure didn't really pay off the first time. I spent a little less time at my standing desk and more time working at my office table over the past month. That roughly coincided with the improvement that happened with my original foot. In the meantime I'll continue to put ice on the tendon when I can, and wear my recovery flats around the house.

I still don't understand why runners end up with these problems if we are truly born to run. The thesis of McDougall's book was that we are meant to run barefoot or, if we must, in minimal footwear. That craze has come and gone and I'll admit I drank the Kool Aid on the idea. I still prefer a lighter, less structured shoe and wear my NB Zante 2's most of the time. Yet this has been a year for plantar faciitis for me. The only positive is that, despite the affliction, even with the pain, I've managed to get through almost every run.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Seven runs in seven days

Vacation day on the 'ole North Fork
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.3 miles
Tuesday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Monday's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

Seven runs over the last seven days. So where's my parade? The last time I ran that many days in a row was in September 2012. I didn't cover that much distance over the past seven days (23 miles) but it brought me back to my old running schedule. Up until early 2013, I would run outside (or on the treadmill) six days a week. Monday was always my rest day. These days I typically cram my running in between Fridays and Sundays. Not the best recipe for continuous improvement.

Pretty good shot of a vineyard at 60 MPH
Since I'm on vacation this week, I had no excuse to skip a run on Monday. I ended up on the treadmill because it was raining. At least I think that's why. I have almost no memory of that workout. Tuesday was a typical neighborhood jaunt and Wednesday was more of the same but a little longer. Later in the day we went out to the North Fork of Long Island for the day and enjoyed the sights (and food) in towns like Greenport and Southhold. Between running and walking, I accumulated a lot of steps.

I considered making today a rest day since my right foot has taken over responsibility for torturing me with Plantar Faciiitis. The weather was too nice to skip a run, so I wore my cushy Saucony Triumph ISOs to minimize impact on my heel. The pain was bearable, but today I felt some pain and tightness at my right hip. That may be signs of Piriformis syndrome. I had similar sciatic nerve pain when I was recovering from a herniated disc a couple of years ago. It may be a recurrence of that, or it could be punishment for running so many days in a row.

I may end my running streak tomorrow and switch to the elliptical. Working out with different motion and lower impact may be the best way to proceed at this point. I can always resume running on Saturday. If the weather is nice  on Friday I may have trouble staying indoors.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fun with friends, Dim Sum and outrunning a drone

Run dad run!
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 2.25 miles 
Friday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Vacations are great, especially at the beginning. I took Friday off and it has been a busy three days so far. I kicked off vacation with a run around my neighborhood and followed that with a swim. It doesn't get much better than that, running-wise. That night we went to local fair and watched some spectacular fireworks later in the evening. Not a bad way to start a summer holiday.

Saturday morning's schedule was very tight and I went out early with the intention of covering just a couple of miles. I picked a few random streets and kept going until I reached the two mile mark and then headed home. I needed to get to the car dealership, buy a car for my son, and be home by noon to greet our guests. Somehow I managed to do that, although the car negotiation got a little tense and my daughter had to watch me thrash things out with the entire management team for an hour.

I got back home a few minutes after our guests KWL and his sister H arrived with a sizable amount of Dim Sum from Lake Pavilion restaurant in Flushing. With little delay, we got settled in the dining room and had a fantastic meal followed by an incredibly good (and huge) peach tart. It was all so good, and worth every carb and calorie.

Before the feast
And after
After Dim Sum, we walked to the neighboring middle school where KWL put his new DJI Spark into action. This drone has a high definition video camera and the controller connects to a smartphone. so you can see everything the drone sees while it's flying. It was amazing to watch the Spark rise up (and up) and see our earthbound crew getting smaller and smaller. At one point KWL had the drone track me as I ran around the field.

Rise of the Spark
This morning I got out a little later than I'd hoped, but the clouds were low and thick so I didn't pay a sun penalty. The temperature was cooler than yesterday, but the humidity was unpleasant and I didn't even try for speed. I avoided my usual route which made the experience marginally more interesting. Since I'm on vacation next week I plan to break away from my neighborhood roads as much as possible. We had a great time with KWL and H and we look forward to seeing them again soon. Next time the Runsketeers get together I think we may be joined by a new member who can really fly.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sometimes it's hard just getting out the door

Hooray, weekend runs are done
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.3 miles
Friday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

It seems like a long time since I updated the blog. You haven't missed much. Here are two things that are new since my last post.

1. My plantar faciitis in my left foot is pretty much gone but now I'm starting to have the same problem on my right.

2. I hate running.

Okay. I don't exactly hate it, but I'm having a lot of trouble getting myself out the door these days. One of the best things about being a runner is imagining the possibilities on every workout. You can run inside or outside, on trails, roads, parks and tracks. Do local runs, long distance adventures and all kinds of races. Over the years I've done a lot of that, but these days I can't seemed to break out of my same old route around my neighborhood.

I work at home on Fridays and, with limited time, have few options for my workout. That's actually a good thing because, in that situation, I don't feel guilty for following my quotidian neighborhood route. Still, I was not psyched to run on Friday morning but I knew I had to do it. I dressed and made my way outside only to discover a light rain was falling. Some people don't mind running in the rain but I'm not one of them.

I headed back to the house and changed my running shoes for my Kinvaras that I use only on the treadmill. My last few treadmill runs had been tolerable so I didn't think much of it, but a few minutes in I just wanted to stop. I was totally disinterested in the experience and considered shutting down and calling it a workout. I managed to bargain my way through the first mile where I promised myself I'd stop and reconsider the next couple of miles. I ended up doing my entire run but the entire time I was asking myself why.

Saturday was better, both in terms of attitude and weather. But not by much, and I managed to putter joylessly through my local route. This morning I had the same negative view of running. I looked at past issues of Runner's World and Trail Runner for inspiration but could not convince myself to get in the car and drive to Stillwell or Bethpage for a long overdue trail run.

I ended up going around the neighborhood once again. It was perfectly nice but the entire time I thought about the type of runner I have become. What happened to the person who wouldn't think twice about running the Bethpage trail to the Preserve and back on a Sunday morning? Or run the Dirty Sock course around Belmont Lake? Those workouts aren't even on my radar these days.

While I am having trouble with my run-magination, I haven't stopped running. I did consider cutting it short on Friday, but don't think there's a chance I would have done that. Let's see how things go this week. I have a vacation coming up soon and I plan to try some more interesting runs and cover longer distances. Maybe that will get me back on track.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Runsketeers get schooled

If you squint it looks like we're sitting by the water
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (Bethpage bike trail): 4.25 miles
Last Tuesday's run (street): 3.4 miles

Orthopedists and MRIs, contact lenses, laser surgery, religion and tribalism, genetic testing, cable provider frustrations, camping in France, speaking Italian and tachistoscopes. Those were just some of the things discussed by the Runsketeer gang after yesterday's Bethpage workout. Despite the steamy weather, we made it through our runs. TPP and I covered 4.25 miles while SIOR and guest Runsketeer, "Mike the Professor" (MTP) ran 7.2. He's an actual professor who teaches at my daughter's college.

We met up at 8:00 AM on Colonial, with TPP and I arriving first before SIOR rolled in with her new Jeep. After a few minutes reliving memories (I used to have a Jeep that I loved) SIOR decided that we'd run south because we usually go north. We started off together but soon split, with SIOR and MTP taking the lead while TPP and I adopted an easier pace. I thought I'd be running alone (which would have been perfectly fine) but TPP stayed by my side. That was great because we had some great conversations along the way. She told me about the cycling groups she rides with which go from brisk to insanely fast.

Running and talking made the miles go by fast, especially the first two. By the time we turned around at Picnic Polo Road, the humidity had gotten to me and my pace slowed noticeably on the way back. I managed through the big returning hill, but asked TPP to take a short break with me when we reached the top. Despite the humidity I loved the run, but I was very happy when we finally reached our end point.

My route looked like a 7 but we only ran 4
Once SIOR and MTP made it back, we convoyed to Starbucks for caffeine and food. It was chilly inside so we decided to sit outdoors. I was able to watch a number of dummies crossing Woodbury Road without a crosswalk while cars whizzed by them on both sides. I was amazed no one got hit. The weather, that felt so humid on the Bethpage trail, was really comfortable during our coffee time. I even got to use my cool Runsketeers, "All for One, Run for All" coffee mug that SIOR gave me at April's surprise birthday party.

It was nice having MTP with us. He's an interesting guy who usually races once or twice a weekend. TPP and I had met him at SIOR's BBQ a few weeks ago. We missed our buddy KWL but he was doing his final training for a triathlon that's happening next weekend. Like always, it was great hanging out with SIOR and TPP who bring the perfect balance of intellectual challenge and absurd humor. I'm looking forward to our next Runsketeer outing. Hopefully the humidity will a little lower than yesterday's 89%.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Giving humidity its dew

The muggy trifecta
Today's run (track): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.4 miles
Saturday's run (street): 4 miles
Friday's (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 3.7 miles
Last Saturday's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

There are two periods during the year when running conditions are consistently good. One of those times is late September when temperatures begin to drop and the stifling humidity starts giving way to crisp fall air. The other time of the year is around April, when spring starts to take hold and I can transition from quarter zips and track pants to lighter gear with fewer layers. But all conditions are temporary. By late June, short sleeves and shorts essentially become survival wear.

This weekend the dew point has been at or above 70°, a point that news stations characterize with words like tropical, uncomfortable and intolerable. Running in those conditions is extremely unpleasant. I suppose there's an actual limit to the amount of moisture wicking fabric can wick and I think I reached that point during each of my last four runs.

Even though I ran early, the temperatures were close to 80° and the difference in feel between shade and sunlight was huge. Some people thrive on these conditions, but to me it's krytonite. Not that I'm Superman or anything. Give me freezing cold temperatures any day. Except not when it's freezing cold and windy because my face hurts. Let's just say late September and April are really good for me.

I ran around the neighborhood Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This morning I needed a change of scenery and headed to the track. It was early enough to avoid the direct sun but not the humidity. I wasn't moving too quickly but speed is relative. A nice couple had started walking around the track and at one point the guy said, "slow down, you've already lapped us twice!" I laughed knowing how abysmal my pace really was.

I've managed four runs over the past four days and I have to admit that my running improves when I run more frequently. I'll squeeze in a fifth run tomorrow morning to celebrate our country's independence and then be back to running on Friday. If the dew point drops below 70, I will be happy but my expectations for that are pretty low.

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, 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.
 

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