Thursday, May 16, 2019

Running mileage is up, performance not so much

Rat race
I think this running thing is starting to work. I knew that increasing my weekly run frequency would help my overall performance, but I didn't know where the benefits would come. Thanks to my Garmin F35 and Garmin Connect, I can compare my current performance metrics over the past 12 months. While I'm not quite at the pace and cadence levels I was achieving last July, I'm covering 10% more weekly mileage and my May performance metrics are up compared to the last five months.

That said, I'm still embarrassingly slow and that's primarily due to reduced cadence and shortened stride length. When I look back at my metrics on Connect from 2011, it's almost like I'm looking at a different person's numbers. I know I can knock a minute per mile (or more) off my pace if I commit to running at 85% of max. I'd still be well below my peak, but the improvement would be encouraging.

My plan right now is to continue to run six times a week. So far, that's been holding. I've been adding distance carefully and today I did my longest run in May, 3.3 miles. Not the six milers I used to do, but three miles a day, six days a week, would get me to my target of 18. If progress continues, I'll probably step down to five runs a week and go longer on the weekends.

I've needed to stay away from Bethpage State Park this week due to the PGA Championship. That has kept me in my neighborhood for most daily runs. I need to work on my timing to avoid the parade of aggressive parents dropping off their kids at the elementary and middle schools and escape the cavalcade of yellow buses. Just for fun, I Gmapped my entire neighborhood to see how much distance I'd cover if I ran on every street. It's a little more than 9 miles and it looks a lot like a rat's maze. That's definitely not the way I want to cover that distance. Happily, the golf tournament ends on Sunday and then it will be back to the trail for me.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Emerging Runner - Here we go again

Wet day, dry run
The Emerging Runner has re-emerged. I know I've said that before but this time it may be true. After years of almost daily posts, I slowed to a near stop at the end of 2017. I had reached a point where both my commute and the medication I was taking for an eye condition were exhausting me and affecting my running. Doing less running meant having less to write about. I never actually stopped running, but my weekly mileage had steadily dropped almost 60% from peak. Over the past two years I've maintained that plateau and I knew nothing would change without real disruption.

While I couldn't stop taking medication, I could do something about the commute. So I did. About a year ago I informed my company that I intended to stop working and a week ago I finally left. One week after leaving my job, I'm asking myself why I waited so long to do it. Instead of heading out to the office around 6:00 AM, I'm getting outside for almost daily runs.

I'm keeping my distances short, but the increased frequency has brought me up to 12 miles a week. My performance hasn't improved much, but my stamina seems better. My hope is to return to averaging 18 miles a week, which was typical when I was training 5-6 days a week. I'd like to meet that target by the end of June, which I should be able to do while increasing weekly mileage less than 10%.

Today's weather was windy and rainy but I wasn't going to let that force me onto the treadmill. I dressed lightly and wore a hooded rain jacket and a pair of running shoes that do well in wet conditions. Now that I no longer wear glasses, running in the rain is a viable option. The low cloud cover made it seem earlier than 7:30 AM, and the streets were quiet. The only annoyance was the pooling of water at some intersections that required some careful stepping.

I finished my run very pleased that I'd ignored the rain. I didn't see a single car the whole time I was out there and it reminded me of the days when I'd run with a headlamp and reflective vest at 3:45 AM. I always felt like I owned the road back then. If I can maintain the discipline, I will aim to get out by 6:00 AM before the garbage trucks, school buses and commuters invade my territory. The only guy I ever saw driving in the neighborhood at 6:00 AM was me and I would watch the occasional neighborhood runner with envy. Now I get to be that runner.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hanging Over with the Runsketeers

Flower inserted due to behavioral issue
According to my records, I only had three Emerging Runner posts in all of 2018. That's pretty pathetic. This was mostly due to the fact that I didn't post on the other 362 days. However, I am proud to say that I've posted every day in 2019. I've also run every day this year. Not so pathetic now, huh?!

I give credit for today's run to my long time running nemesis friend, She Is Out Running (SIOR) who decided that the Runsketeers would return to Eisenhower Park to do the 2019 LIRRC Hangover Run. For some reason we skipped it last year, but now we're back on track. While some Runskies weren't able to make it today, they were with us in spirit.

The Hangover Run is a great event because it provides all the great stuff about being in a race (organization, other runners, time clock, free food!) without the pressure of competing. Everyone starts together, but after that you're on your own to do as many loops of the one mile course as you'd like. Since the event happens on New Year's Day, it's usually a chilly proposition, but today's morning temperature was about 56°, albeit with some stiff winds along the route.

I arrived at the park around 9:20 AM for the 9:30 start and looked for SIOR. I knew TPP needed to work, but wasn't sure if Professor Mike (PM) or KWL would be joining us. I didn't see anyone from the crew so I lined up for the start, figuring I'd run into the others along the way. After the LIRRC guy counted down the start, we were off. I knew I'd be running this course a lot slower than in the past due to some medication I'm taking. It was both interesting and a little humiliating to go from being a solid mid-packer to back-of-packer. At least I was passing walkers!

About 3/10ths into the run, a couple of speedsters slipped by and were running directly ahead of me when I realized they were SIOR and PM. I said something snarky, which they ignored, so I tapped SIOR on the shoulder and surprised them. We ran together for a couple of minutes. It was probably my fastest quarter and definitely SIOR's slowest of the day. She caught up with PM and they resumed their pace. I watched them on the other side of the loop each time I went around, getting ever closer to lapping me. On my third mile, that's exactly what happened and I ran the remainder of the route with SIOR.

It was the fastest three miles I've run since April 1st of last year. Still nothing to write home about in terms of pace, but it underscored how much I'd regressed by running solo much of 2018. We grabbed some coffee and food and then SIOR decided to run one more loop before we headed off to Runsketeer HQ, also known as the closest Starbucks.

Rare pic of SIOR acting like a grownup
PM and SIOR were waiting at a table by the time I arrived. Starbucks was sparsely populated and I gave my buddies holiday presents because last year we skipped the Hangover and I didn't give them their gifts until July. I grabbed a coffee and we got into it right away -- politics, religion, medical issues, work, kids, anything but running. It didn't matter that it had been months since we got together, it's always as if we saw each other the day before.

Seeing my buddies and running better than I have in a long time was inspiring. I really hope we can get the whole group together soon. I wouldn't call it a resolution, but I am serious about getting back to 18-21 mile weeks before mid year. I have a strategy to get me there, and running more with the Runsketeers is part of that plan.
 

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