Monday, September 16, 2019

Emerging Runner Vlog #1 - Being Cheap Pays Off



Hey Emerging Runner readers. For a change of pace, I'm vlogging instead of blogging this post which is about my recent experience getting and using a rowing machine. Running will always be my primary workout, but I've been thinking of ways to supplement my routine and put more attention to areas that don't benefit from daily runs. I'll see how this works out and what kind of a response I get. Please forgive the low production values. I promise to upgrade my camera and editing software if vlogging becomes a regular thing.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Runsketeer reunion at the Massapequa Preserve

Usual suspects: Mike, TPP, ER, SIOR, KWL
Photo courtesy of woman SIOR asked to take the picture
For the first time in 21 months, the "gang of five" core Runsketeers came together on Sunday to run the Massapequa Preserve trail. It had been a while since we'd gathered for a track workout followed by post-run coffee and snacks at SIORs house. In between then, various Runsketeers had gotten together for runs, rigorous hill workouts (I missed the Selden adventure due to my hill allergy) or the year-starting Hangover Run (that one I did).

The plan was to meet in the lot adjacent to the trail head. We all arrived on time and it felt great to see the 'sketeers: TPP, SIOR, Professor Mike and KWL, together again. The weather was cool and dry and other groups were also gathering for their Sunday runs. We voiced our planned distances that ranged from three to six miles, and made our way out of the lot and onto the path. We normally go left, but Mike suggested that we take the unpaved trail  on the right that follows the side of the lower pond. It was a bit rooty and I worried that I might trip, but it turned out to be fine.

KWL graciously stayed by my side and ran at my pace. Soon we connected with the paved trail where SIOR, TPP and Mike were waiting. They were quickly on their way and out of sight. We saw them next at the Clark Avenue crossing, but not again until we all met up in the lot. KWL and I moved along, covering many different subjects: work, guitars, 3-D printing, glass blowing and driving in the Japanese countryside. When we reached Mansfield Park, I suggested that we turn around in a quarter mile at the Linden Street crossing.

We headed back and added another two miles to what turned out to be a 4.5 mile run. I kept waiting for our speedy run-mates to overtake us along the way, but we arrived first at the trail head. Mike had followed the dirt section at the end and we saw him shortly after we'd stopped. He was coming from the west and may have actually beaten us back. I think he did 6+ miles, SIOR did 6 and TPP did 6.06. She is amazing because she mostly cycles now, yet she did a six miler last week and impressive distance yesterday. SIOR and Mike are the varsity players (to be fair, so is KWL) who can bring it in fast at any distance.

By law, the Runsketeers headed over to the nearest Starbucks which was located on Sunrise Highway a couple of miles west of the trail. TPP thought we were going to the Massapequa Starbucks but she got back on the road and joined us a few minutes later. KWL brought gifts from his various travels and we settled around a long table with coffees in hand.

We talked about a lot of things: CBD and "pharmaceuticals", books, movies, soccer, academics, kids and parents, and (of course) the sorry state of leadership in DC. As usual, two hours went by like 20 minutes and we all agreed that waiting for months on end to do these runs isn't acceptable. I appreciate the friendship and fun and I selfishly benefit from the higher bar set by my buddies that prompts me to run a little faster and farther than I would have on my own.

Running in fall with cooler temperatures and low humidity is almost as good as it gets. Running with these guys is as good as it gets.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Shifting back to miles per run

Happy September, my shirt even had a post-run smiley face
Labor Day greetings. I'm glad to report that I logged 80 running miles in August. It was actually 80.46 but who's counting? And don't get me started with Garmin GPS variance that generally under-counts run distance by 2.4%. So I ran 80.46 but I may have run 83.4. My August goal was 75 miles so any way you slice it, I'm happy. SIOR, who is not delusional even though she considers her upcoming trek to Everest base camp an easy hike, thinks I should go for 100 miles in September. I think I'm going to repeat the 75 mile goal for September and see what happens.

Now that I'm averaging 18+ miles a week, I'm ready to shift focus to running distances. My 80 miles in August and 71 in July were built around a lot of runs. With very few exceptions, I've run six days a week since mid June. I ran 27 days last month to get to 80 miles and I'm wondering if it would be more beneficial to aim for 75 miles a month, running 5 days a week. That would give me the flexibility to add another rest day to recover from long runs that aren't happening right now.

Back when I was commuting by train, I would usually run 2.5 miles at 4 AM from Tuesday through Friday and do 8-10 miles over the weekend. When I switched to commuting by car, my run schedule got disrupted and my weekly mileage and run frequency plummeted. Now that I'm commute-free, I have more options.

One thought is to do three days running with one day resting. It works out to six runs a week, but I'd never be more than three days from a rest day. My current schedule has me running five days straight for every rest day.  I could also go back to short runs (less than 3 miles) 66% of the time and longer runs (4 or more miles) 33% of the time. I could do that running either 5 or 6 times a week.

Since September has already begun and I've already logged 3.4 miles today, I think I'll aim for at least one run a week over 3.5 miles and edge up that target as I go. It's been a long time since I'd consider it no big deal to run six or seven miles on a weekend day. Right now, I just want to get back to doing four.or more.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Emerging Runner origin story

Perfect weather for running in circles today
I returned to running just about eleven years ago, mostly out of impatience. I didn't make any great decision to run. I just started doing it during the walks I'd began taking to lose weight and reduce cholesterol. After a month or so, I grew restless walking and began to fold in short runs along my route. What started off as a sprint to the next corner quickly turned into quarter mile runs. One day I just stopped walking entirely.

Prior to 2009, I had a few brief episodes of running, but I never made it stick. When I lived in Manhattan in the early '90s, I had a friend who encouraged me to run with her. I agreed and even went to Paragon in Union Square and bought a pair of yellow and blue Nike Cortez shoes. I'd dutifully rise, put on my running gear and go out for a few miles along Third Avenue, dodging people and stopping every block or so for lights.

I would occasionally trek up to Riverside Park to meet my running friend where I could run free of traffic, strollers and other obstructions. I put little thought into the way I ran and mostly went out full tilt every time. Part of that was due to my friend being faster than me and my fragile ego not allowing me to be left behind. I no longer have that issue, just ask any of the Runsketeers!

I continued to try and even entered my first race, the Manufacturer Hanover Corporate Challenge, in 1991. I have no memory of how I did, but ironically, it was probably the fastest 3.5 miles I ever ran. I have no records of my performance from those times and it was long before data tracking via GPS or foot pods, but I was 28 years younger. So probably.

Running hard without any conditioning plan or progress strategy led to a lack of motivation. I was tired of coming back from every run feeling terrible. When my running friend went on a two week business trip to LA, I had no daily accountability and started sleeping in. And that was that.

So in late summer 2008, as I walked up Underhill Avenue, I decided to run the 100 yards or so to Cheshire and that's how it started. Or restarted. As time went on, these runs grew longer and more frequent. I thought about the circumstances that undermined my running in the '90s and committed to a different tactic:
  • Run only at a pace that provides an enjoyable experience. 
  • Have a route plan.
  • Keep to sustainable distances.
I knew that if I struggled every time I ran I'd grow tired of the whole thing. The trick was finding a balance between comfort and effort that I could advance as my conditioning improved. As most runners know, it's possible to make dramatic progress when you are just beginning. Discipline, structure and performance targets reinforce gains. By 2009, the internet provided tools like MapMyRun and the Nike+ system that gave runners a way to capture, record, visualize and analyze their workouts. I was hooked.

When I started Emerging Runner in November of 2008, I wondered if history would repeat itself and I'd find myself shutting it down after a couple of months. Somehow it stuck and, after 2,186 posts and counting, I'm still at it. I've had my ups and downs but I have never lost my love for the run. 

Sometimes I get tired of running my neighborhood (I am reasonably sure I have run down Lenore Street at least 2,500 times) so I'll go out on the Bethpage trail or (like today) take 13 laps around the track of a nearby high school. But I never get tired of putting on my running shoes and heading out the door.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

When it comes to pace, some things are obvious

Dare to believe
Some things are so obvious that we ignore what's right in front of us. I think I may have figured out something that could get me out of the performance stasis that I have struggled with for a very long time.

I've worked hard over the past 3.5 months to get back to my old running self. Since May, I've been consistently running six days a week. This has resulted in a 4X increase in mileage per month compared to what I was doing prior to May. My runs are peaceful, almost meditative. Compared to where I was, this all seems great. But it's not all great.

 According to Garmin Connect, almost every one of my performance metrics are at their lowest points in over a year. Speed, cadence and stride length are down compared to last summer and way down from where they were when I last competed (2014). I know I'm five years older, but I don't accept this level of decline. Some of it may relate to the medication I take, but I'm now rethinking that theory.

Back to the obvious. Most runners who focus on performance understand the basics. The harder the effort, the higher your heart rate. The higher your heart rate, the faster you go. Higher effort yields more steps per minute. A longer stride gets you there faster. So if your average heart rate on a run is 60% of max, your runs will be peaceful and meditative. But your cadence will be low and your pace will be awful.

I've always been a little suspicious of HR monitors because they occasionally give readings that would trigger a trip to the ER if they were real. It's a known issue across all brands, Garmin, Polar, Suunto, etc. I noticed that my heart rate on most runs was pretty low but I chose to believe the monitor wasn't accurate. If I thought about it more, I would have realized that I had fallen into cruise control running and I had no one but myself to blame for my poor pacing.

I decided to run 10 x 160 meter intervals to see if I could match my performance from years ago. I couldn't hit those numbers, but the times were faster than anything I've recorded since 2015. More importantly, my heart rate, cadence and stride length for those ten repeats were strongly correlated to the fast paces. One might say that was an obvious result, but I still didn't connect it to my daily runs.

It wasn't until I started tracking my all-day heart rate that I concluded that the HR monitor was fairly consistent from day to day. I realized that I should believe the readings I was seeing on my run. And if those readings were barely cracking 60% of max HR, I needed to ramp up my effort.

I look good in blue
So I did. Starting Monday, I focused solely on my HR on my runs with a goal of 70-85% max. The results have not been dramatic, but I'm running almost 2 mins per mile faster than I was a week ago. It's no piece of cake and I can feel the effort, but it's tolerable. Per Garmin Connect, my V0 max has moved from good to excellent for my age.

My challenge going forward will be to continue pushing on every run in hopes of making a higher HR my new normal. I don't think I'll be getting back to 9:00 paces too soon, but at least I know what I need to do to get there.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

SIOR and I hit the Massapequa trail

Well Preserved this morning
Happy Bastille Day! Despite meeting my distance target for June (goal was 65 miles and I actually recorded 66.84, but who's counting?), this is the first post I've written in July. I now have more time to post and I'm running a lot more, but there isn't a lot to write about when every run is pretty much the same. Today I had the pleasure of running again with SIOR who accommodated my mediocre speed and actually had me pacing at a level I haven't seen in a number of months, More on that further below.

Back to the monthly mileage goal for a minute. I measure my runs using Gmaps to get a more accurate distance number than the Garmin records. This is because GPS watches have a technical limitation with the way they track vectors around corners and sometimes on straight roads. You can improve the accuracy by increasing the number of GPS "pings" per minute. It would be an easy fix, but battery life would be terrible. I've figured out that my watch generally under counts distance by about 2% so (technically) I probably ran 68.17 miles in June. But again, who's counting?

Today was not about distance or speed, although I ultimately covered 3.4 miles and paced better than my average. It was about getting in an easy run and having good old conversation. I haven't been able to keep up with the speedy Runsketeers in the past year, but SIOR made it easy for me.

We met at the Massapequa Preserve trail head at 7:30 AM with a plan to do a three mile out and back. After the usual game of Marco Polo (SIOR was in the big lot, I was in the small lot) we found each other. I had a big day Saturday up in Putnam County at Cold Spring and Bear Mountain and wasn't feeling great. I told SIOR that I'd understand if she wanted to run her pace but she was having none of that and we took off together.

This looks like a lot more than 3 miles

SIOR claimed she also wasn't feeling great and we stopped from time to time and walked. That may be true, but I think she may have done that because 12 minute paces hurt her knees. Whatever the reason, today was a throwback to the "early" Runsketeer days when I was better able to hold my own in these group runs. Some pretty funny conversations used to happen back then, with me and SIOR verbally jabbing and counter punching and TPP laughing and encouraging it all.

According to my Garmin, me and SIOR covered 2.6 miles actually running. Since we turned around at the 2 mile mark (SIOR correct me if I'm wrong) I suspect that we ran more than that. After looking at the GPS map that cut out a lot of our route and my step count on my Garmin, I'm sure we covered at least three, if not more. Here's one example of GPS malfeasance:

I don't remember running across the water
No matter the actual distance, we enjoyed it. We saw a big dog chilling in a stream and lots of other runners on the trail. I felt 100% better after my run than before it. Then there was only one thing left to do: coffee at Starbucks! You'd think after all that trail conversation we would have covered every  possible topic. But you don't know us. The thing that always amuses me when the Runsketeers get together is how little we actually talk about running. And that's just fine with me.

I wanted to record at least three miles today so I ran over to the nearby middle school and did 4 x 160 meter repeats and ran back home. That added another .8 miles to today's total and finished off my week with 16.5 miles. According to Garmin Connect, I'm at 36.26 miles for July which they say is 48% of of 70 miles. But my math (backed up by a calculator) says that's actually 51.8%. So what gives Garmin? Either way, I expect to reach 70, even with GPS under counting and Garmin Connect's "math problem."

Sunday, June 23, 2019

I wish my run training worked like the movies

Another day, another 3.64 miles
There's a common trope in film, where the lead character goes all out training for a major challenge. There is usually one scene, played out in a series of quick cuts, showing the overwhelmed hero progressing beyond his or her physical limits. Typically, this is all done to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger." Two minutes later, the protagonist is ripped and ready to make something big happen.

I thought about that on my run this morning. Since I'm the hero of my own personal movie, I've set my sights on returning to performance levels I haven't seen for a few years. I'm not completely delusional. At my age, I know I'm not going to match my best times and that's okay. My issue is that I'm not where I feel I should be for my age range. In competition, I would usually finish between the 25th and 50th percentile (I placed best in 5Ks and worst in halfs). I'm not sure I'd even show up on the bell right now.

So my equivalent of this cinematic convention is the work I'm doing to build up my monthly mileage. In my movie, you would see a series of shots of me taking off on my daily runs, with a calender showing the day of the week superimposed transparently over my disappearing silhouette. In one shot, I'd pull up at the finish, look at my Garmin, and gasp at the evidence of improvement. My legs would bulge with muscle tone and I'd resemble one of those ectomorphs who start races in the front row and finish before most runners reach the halfway mark.

Well, in the 50 days since I rebooted my running approach, I've made some gains, but it's nothing dramatic. I've doubled my monthly distance in that time and my average run is a half a mile longer than it was in April. Despite all this running, my average pace has improved zilch. However, in the same period, my average heart rate during runs has dropped 8 bpm. That's telling me my fitness is improving, but I'm not taking advantage of it. I'm going to try to focus on that tomorrow to see if it's that simple. In the movies, the hero turns their hard work into victory. I'd settle for a mid-pack pace.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The shoes I run in, ran in and revere

All hail the OG Kinvara!
Unless you are a runner who follows in the barefoot steps of Abebe Bikila, chances are that you've put some time into selecting, using and eventually discarding your running shoes. In the ten years since running became an important part of my lifestyle, I've probably owned over 30 pairs of trainers. I still have a lot of them, but quite a few have been donated or trashed due to their condition. I have one pair that I no longer use, but will never give up. Yes, I'm talking to you, original Kinvara.

Now that I no longer spend 2-3 hours a day commuting, I have more time to focus on the details of life. Upping my running from three to six days a week has caused me to pay more attention to my gear. More running means more running clothes and I'm planning to go through my sizable collection of running shirts to see what to keep or donate. Today I took on the easier task of addressing the assemblage of running shoes in my gear cabinet and you can see the results further below.

Over the years I've owned just about every major brand of running shoe: ASICS, Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Saucony, Brooks, along with some less well known brands such as Karhu, Helly Hansen, Spira and Sketchers. Many of these shoes were sent to me by manufacturers when I was maintaining Emerging Runner's sister site, Runner's Tech Review. Some shoes were worn over 1,000 miles, but a couple of pairs were donated after only a few runs.

Right now, I have three categories of running shoes in my house: 1) regular rotation, 2) special conditions and 3) decommissioned. Category three is where I'll be getting rid of some pairs. Going through my shoe collection has caused me to reflect on all my shoes and I thought I'd share those thoughts here.

REGULAR ROTATION

I try to run in a different pair every day because I read that shoes need recovery time too. Happily, I have a lot to choose from.

New Balance Zante 2
Responsive and comfortable
If I ever race again, I'll wear this pair. Low and energetic. They remind me of the Kinvara 5, but feel a little faster.

Brooks Launch 
Smooth and stable
This shoe was a surprise gift from my daughter. They would be a great everyday trainer, similar to the Adrenaline, but lighter.

Saucony Triumph ISO
If the Toyota Avalon was a shoe
When my feet are sore and I have to run, this is my go-to pair.

Saucony Kinvara 5
Light and energetic
I stopped running in these for a couple of years because of heel wear, but now they're back in the rotation. Not quite as peppy as the Zantes, but they are running royalty nonetheless.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS

These are the shoes I wear for trails, bad weather or indoor running. I keep two of these pairs in a separate storage area and was too lazy to go get them when I was photographing my upstairs collection.

Spira Stinger XLT
Subtle as a chainsaw
This was a Runner's Tech Review special. Turns out they are pretty decent shoes, but the gimmick (springs in the mid sole) is ineffective. I use them when I run on pavement in the rain. Good traction.

Helly Hansen Trail Lizard
Not a good choice for technical running
Super lightweight and great for racing on hard packed dirt trails. No rock plate so they can be punishing on sharp stones and roots.

Brooks Cascadia 8
Unstoppable
Handles mud, rocks, scree and steep inclines like a Range Rover. Surprisingly runnable on pavement.

Saucony Kinvara 3
700+ miles on the treadmill
This was originally my primary 10K and half marathon shoe. I switched them to treadmill duty when I got the 5s. They still look brand new.

Karhu Fast 2
Alternative treadmill runners
These shoes were incredibly awkward on the road and only slightly better for track intervals. Stiffness lessened with use and they are now a decent treadmill and elliptical shoe.

DECOMMISSIONED

An interesting assortment of the good, the weird and the ugly. Sadly, the shoes with this little guy at the end of the description (🏃) will be recycled because they are no longer runnable.

Saucony Virrata
Minimal and cushy
I really liked these shoes because they were super light and near zero drop from heel to toe. I wore them out quickly because the out sole is primarily blown EVA. Tried them on to see if they were still runnable, but alas, they are done. 🏃

Brooks Pure Drift
Commonly asked at races: WTF are those?
Brooks sent me these as part of a wear testing program. Liked them a lot but wished I'd asked for a half size larger shoe. I thought they were as minimal as a shoe could get and then Saucony sent me the Hattoris. 🏃

Saucony Hattori
Weird but awesome
This is basically a pool shoe with better materials. No cushioning at all, no laces either. Ran a few PRs with them and used them as my daily trainers until I completely wore them out. 🏃

Saucony Kinvara
Perfect
I have never loved a running shoe as much as these original Kinvaras. I wore them out to the point where I risked knee issues running in them for more than four miles. Tried them on yesterday for the first time in seven years and they still feel perfect on my foot. No more running in them but they're staying in my collection.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

When your pace is slow, focus on the statistics

Saw this on a car in the REI parking lot today
Happy Father's Day. My goal of more frequent postings has been stymied (only six this year including today) but I'm definitely on track for running frequency. Over the 44 days since I finished up work on May 3rd, I've run 36 times (82% of days). Just to compare, I only did 33 runs from January 1st through April 30th (28% of days). So run frequency is good. End of statistical report.

June so far - 14 runs in 16 days
It's not all good news in the running department however. The three measures of progress I'm using are frequency, distance and speed. My plan is to meet a target for each point, hold that target and start focusing on the next point. I'm tracking just about 6 runs a week and have started to focus on increasing average distance per run. I'm going in the right direction, but the increase is small, up about 8% from May's average.

The third measure, speed, is my biggest challenge and I have done very little to address it. My pace is abysmal, but I'm hoping that by maintaining high run frequency and increasing distance, my fitness will unlock some of my old speed. I don't like being slow, but forcing my pace turns happy running into a dreaded chore. I guess I could go back to doing intervals which compartmentalize the discomfort. Once I reach my average distance goal, I'll start putting weekly track visits into my schedule.

I've been planning to buy a new hybrid bike to cross train. I'd like to ride some of the great bike trails on Long Island. Two of the other Runsketeers (TPP and KLM) are serious cyclists and I'm pretty sure Professor Mike knows his way around a bike. SIOR has a bike so she has one leg up on me. KLM has been giving me expert advice and will be helping me make a purchase in July. When that happens I'm I'll be looking to do the inaugural Runsketeer ride.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Building up the monthly miles

On the comeback trail
Happy almost Memorial Day. It finally feels like summer and I've been doing my best to get out for runs early to beat the heat. I did that today and was rewarded with a cool and comfortable 66° temp. I wore a mid-weight shirt and shorts and wished I went with a lighter top by the end. I recently read that a worn heel is not a good reason to discard a running shoe because, "to patch such a heel prevents proper adaptation of the shoe to the runner’s particular heel strike pattern." That inspired me to pull out my well worn Kinvara 5s for today's run.

One of my goals for my post-work life was a return to running 18 miles per week. When I was doing 2.5 mile runs on weekdays and 7-8 miles over the weekend, I averaged about 75 miles per month. Over the past five years, my monthly average has steadily declined. Now that I'm running almost every day, I'm looking to build back to the 70+ mile target. A look back over the last 12 months shows an embarrassing monthly average of 30 miles with some pathetically low totals Jan-March.

The highest monthly total I've reached since June 2018 was 45.9. Now that I'm running six days a week, I was expecting to easily exceed that high point. A quick check on Garmin Connect made me think it would come down to the wire for May whether I would hit a new monthly high. When I went out on Saturday morning, my May monthly total was 40.8 miles. I was thinking I'd need to cover 5.1 miles before Monday.

We were invited to brunch yesterday and I was pressed for time, so I finished up after covering 3.2 miles. That left me thinking that I still needed 2.2 miles to reach my highest monthly total in a year. I beat that easily, and when I uploaded my final May runs to Garmin I realized that May doesn't end on the 26th. I actually have until next Saturday to build on that total. My new goal for May is 60 miles, double my 12 month cumulative average. 60 miles a month is a big improvement, but it's still less than 14 miles a week.

I will be aiming for 70 miles in June which would get me to almost to 90% of my target (18 miles per week). That means another 2.3 miles per week, either added to my shorter daily runs or as a step toward returning to long weekend runs. In the meantime, my performance is steadily improving. The gains aren't dramatic but they're real. Is it more frequent workouts, more miles or getting more sleep? Yes.

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.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Runsketeers hit the track and the porch

Runsketeers™ L-R: KWL, Prof Mike, TPP, SIOR, ER
Today's run (track & street): 3.5 miles

Happy Bastille Day! In that spirit, the mighty Runsketeers™ got together this morning for the first time since last November. Today's run was at a high school track in Rockville Center, the same place where SIOR, TPP and I did speed work a few years ago. This morning we were joined by KWL, Professor Mike and a friend of SOIR's who is training for a big triathlon. SIOR needed to be home before 9:00 AM so our run was relatively short. The Runsketeers mostly ran in circles while the triathlete did ladders. Well that's what SIOR said he was doing, but I didn't see anything on the track that looked like a ladder.

When I arrived, KWL and TPP were already running on the track. SIOR and tri-man showed up soon after. They had run from SIOR's house and had already covered 1.5 miles. Professor Mike recently tweaked his back and was taking it easy and walking. I ran at times with KWL and TPP and with SIOR and Mike who decided to run easy for a while. Even with easy pacing, they broke away from me. I was happy to run at my pace with my buds joining me from time to time. I actually passed Mike on the track once.  Full disclosure, he was walking.

Due to time constraints, we finished quickly and convoyed to SIOR's house. SIOR hosted us to coffee and food on her enclosed front porch that kept us in shade and free of bugs. Happily, it didn't keep us free of daughters or dogs. Mike brought home baked banana bread and SIOR served melons, grapes and fruit salad. SIOR was having trouble getting the kettle to boil, but managed to get the coffee to us in short order. I, of course, brought my Runsketeer coffee mug.

Couldn't say it better myself

We hadn't all gotten together as a group in a long time. Besides being Bastille Day, it was also Christmas in July, as I FINALLY had the chance to give TPP her Christmas present. We covered the usual subjects: jobs, commutes, home improvements, cycling, movies, TV shows, file sharing, cable alternatives, running injuries and, as always, Stew Leonard's. Interestingly, we hardly talked about running.

I have a picture on my Facebook page that always makes me laugh when I look at it. It's a Runsketeer selfie where, at the last second, SIOR covered my face with her hand. I always think how that picture visually captures who we are. Today, TPP decided to continue the tradition (below).

The original
It was really great seeing all my buds and running together today. I ran another mile when I got home to get at least three miles in today. Although I'm still pretty slow by Runsketeer standards, I ran over a minute per mile faster than normal this morning. There's a few reasons why I think that's the case and I'm planning to continue what I'm doing to keep improving. More running with the Runsketeers will help get me there.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Running hot and feeling debris

Sorry, it's not my vault
Today's run: 3.2 miles

I recently looked at an old post about my experience dealing with a herniated disc I experienced a few years ago. That caused me to look at some related posts and then some unrelated ones. I appreciated how Emerging Runner served as a reliable, if narrow, chronicle of my life experience between October 2008 and February 2018. I also felt badly that I had let so much time go by since my last post, which was my only entry in 2018. I'll make no promises about what I do after today, but here is my second post of 2018.

As you'd expect, a lot has happened over the past five months. For one thing, I fixed the hand towel holder in the guest bathroom twice. Actually, that's about it. Last week we decided to replace the slate in our first floor hallway with oak. Between the jackhammer and bandsaw noise, demo debris, dust, stain and sealants, it's been a bit uncomfortable.

Due to its center hall location, the contractor needed to build a platform across the floors while they dried between coats. This created a ninja warrior-like challenge to get from one side of the house to the other. By the time the floors had dried and cured, we all became experts at vaulting from the den to the platform and back. Timing was everything. A misstep could easily land you on the sticky floor.

The other thing to mention, in light of this eponymous blog, is that I have continued to run. I'll give myself credit for lacing up and getting out as often as ever, but my workouts have become rote. I won't dwell on performance, but that hasn't gotten any better. Fortunately, I don't care much about that right now. I'm just glad to be out there, doing my run on my own terms.

That isn't to say that I'm complacent. Due to ongoing issues with my eyes, I need to take drops and, occasionally, other medicines. It's all good, but the drugs can have an effect on my heart rate, making it hard to exceed 75% of max HR. This has been going on for a while and I've adjusted my expectations accordingly. I've recently started incorporating moderate fartleks to keep my HR above a certain threshold, hoping to get closer to 80% at least part of the time.

Post run delirium 
This morning I got out a little after 6:00 AM. Humidity was already 79% and the temperature was pushing 80°. At that hour the trees were still casting long shadows and I took advantage of the shade as much as possible. Conditions were fine for the first couple of miles but the humidity began to get to me. I was sweating so much around my eyes that it was hard to see. I needed to clear them continuously with a cloth to maintain visibility and to minimize the sting from sweat.

I was about 2/3 through my route when my Garmin unceremoniously stopped working. It was my own fault because the battery had been running low and I kept forgetting to charge it. I wanted to make sure I covered at least three miles. Without the GPS for guidance, I quickly thought through a route that would get me my distance before returning home.

The sun had risen a lot in the 20 minutes since I'd started, upping both heat and humidity. I began to feel like I was on the last mile of a 5K. I soon turned onto my street for the final dash to my house and floated to the driveway, soaked with sweat and happy to be done.

I hope to get back to doing at least one post per week. Some changes to my medication may help me move the needle in a better direction for performance. If that's the case, I'll be a lot more motivated to share that progress.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Emerging or submerging?

The emerging will continue
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

Happy New Year! Okay, I'm about 40 days off the mark, but you get the point. Chinese New Year starts on the 16th so it's still valid to say that. Those of you who used to follow this blog may have noticed that I haven't posted since late November. There's a reason for that*. Anyway, it's 2018 and everything is great. The stock market is going gangbusters, Congress is unified and the White House isn't being led by an unqualified, dishonest, ignorant, racist, misogynist. I may have some of that wrong.

You're probably wondering whether my hiatus from blogging meant that I stopped running. The answer is no. I've continued to run, but frequency and distance have both come down. Speed? What's that? Am I emerging or submerging? Unclear.

I've had a cold for the last three weeks. It's not the flu. A doctor told me that. But I do have a dry cough that won't go away. The cough seems to be improving, but it's very disruptive at work when I have to interrupt conversations by coughing into my elbow. Every time I do that I'm sure my colleges are convinced I'm going to make them sick. Of course it was one of them who made me sick in the first place.

This morning was overcast but free of rain. I headed out in 50° weather for a run around the neighborhood. I'm not sure when I last ran around here, because the freezing weather kept me on the treadmill most of January and early February. It felt like good running weather, cool but not face freezing cold.

A few weeks ago I ran at the track in -5° weather. I had face protection, a winter weight hat, triple layers top and bottom, running gloves inside of running mittens and two pair of wool socks. I had to stop after four laps because my hands were stinging from the bitter cold. It took two minutes before they warmed up enough to wrap my fingers around the steering wheel. I finished my run at home on the treadmill.

I only ran outdoors once last weekend. Yesterday I stuck to the treadmill and tomorrow I'll go outside again, weather permitting. My stride has shortened and my cadence has lowered. Not the direction I need to go if performance is important. That's the thing. When I run without regard to speed, I enjoy the experience a lot. When I need to hit the gas to prevent being passed by a neighbor-runner I don't enjoy it. Plus I usually get passed anyway.

For the New Year, I hope to do more runs and miles than in 2017. In terms of performance, I'm guessing more running will lead to more speed. The groundhog community has spoken and it looks like six more weeks of winter cold. I'll do my best to get out more often. If I work from home more frequently, I can probably get in more runs. Emerging Runner will have its ten year anniversary in the fall. I need to live up to that name.

*I got tired of doing it.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Runsketeers discuss their interesting ancestors

L to R: KWL, PM, SIOR, TPP, ER
Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 3.1 miles

It has been a month and five days since I've posted anything on this blog. I can't really say why I'd stopped. I've continued to run, following the same schedule and covering the same distances, but my interest in documenting those runs had waned. It wasn't until today that I felt compelled to resume my posting and that's because the mighty Runsketeers all came together this morning for the first time since July. That's just crazy.

The last time we all got together, I ended my post with, "I'm looking forward to our next Runsketeer outing. Hopefully the humidity will be a little lower than yesterday's 89%." Well, my hopes were realized, because no one was complaining about the humidity today. We were supposed to get a lot of wind but it wasn't a factor this morning. A little chilly, but overall good running weather.

Shady shot along the trail
We agreed to meet at the Bethpage lot at 8:15 AM. Then it was between 8:30 and 8:45. Then it was 9:00. I won't say who kept changing the time, but it wouldn't be hard to guess. SIOR was probably frustrated that the park wasn't charging an entry fee because she likes to fight with the toll taker there. I always get my fee waved because I'm not pugnacious. Everyone arrived on time and we quickly made our way up the hill, turning left to follow the northern trail. SIOR and TPP took off in a flash while KWL and I ran a lot easier. We kept it to 3.2 miles and had great conversations on the path.

Once we got back to the lot, we convoyed to Starbucks for coffee and second breakfast (for me anyway). You'd think we would have spent time catching up on everything that had happened in the last five months, but we went right to what was on our minds at the moment: politics, races, racing t-shirts, running magazines, and KWL's and my long history working together. We also collectively agreed that Yonkers is a dump.


The usual suspects at the usual place
About halfway through our coffee time, we were joined by Professor Mike who had competed in Rob's Run this morning while we were at Bethpage. Rob's Run is a trail race that happens at Stillwell Woods. It's a grueling run but PM looked as refreshed as the rest of us. He had a Rob's Run thermos that was a giveaway to participants. That's what started the conversation about race shirts. TPP uses her old race shirts as cleaning rags (blasphemy) and PM raffles them off to his students. I've kept every one I've earned, even the hideously ugly ones.

At some point conversation turned to almost naked fathers and grandfathers. This started when PM showed us a picture of his dad from the 40's wearing little more than a loincloth. His muscles had muscles. KWL pointed out that was long before steroids. PM's dad was a circus performer who was once on the Ernie Kovacs show where he swung on a trapeze while eating pizza. Then SIOR showed us a picture of her half naked grandfather who was a professional wrestler back in the 30's or 40's.

Capping that off, TPP told us about her dad who is an amazing engineer who invented the jet ski and developed a bunch of other cool stuff while working for an avionics company. He still creates stuff like 3-D printers and robots. He does all that fully clothed. Amazing accomplishments from the Runsketeer lineage.

It was great to see my buds and get in my fourth run in a row, starting with Thanksgiving day. I may have run on Wednesday, but that was a lot of turkey and pie ago and my memory is shaky. I'd like to continue my streak but the work week makes it tough. I hope the Runsketeers don't go months again before we run together. We can't allow that. At the very least, we should all do the Hangover Run on January 1.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Adapting to my anti-running medicine

Problems (L) and problem solved (R)
Today's run (track): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 2.2 miles

I'm coming up on the nine year anniversary of The Emerging Runner and there's a certain irony that, for different reasons, I'm running at about the same performance level as I did back in 2008.  I started the blog as a public journal to record my transition from exercise walking to running. By my first post I was running more than walking, but my distances were fairly modest. Due to some unexpected medical issues involving my eyes, I'm now experiencing challenges that are similar to what I was dealing with all those years ago. However, I am making progress.

Back in September I needed eye surgery to address a couple of problems. This procedure is routine and performed about 4 million times a year in the US. Most go perfectly well. Mine only went okay and I'm dealing with a couple of issues that require medication, at least for now. Some of this medication addresses ocular pressure with a residual effect on heart rate.

One medication that is used for my condition is also the go-to drug for high altitude sickness. The first time I took it I felt extremely dizzy. I questioned why this drug would be a good choice for mountain climbers who really should not be woozy negotiating a couloir at 25,000 feet. I mentioned that to my ophthalmologist who also climbs mountains. She said the dosage for altitude sickness is half of what I'm taking. Good I guess, but I'd stick with Dramamine.

The net effect of a post surgery running layoff and all these medications has resulted in a performance setback. I had adapted somewhat to a couple of the post op drugs and was covering 3 to 4 miles a few weekends back with decent results. Last Saturday, with the addition of the altitude drug, I couldn't run a fifth of a mile without stopping. I recognized the problem and filled in the blanks with a lot of walking, but I really hoped I would be able to adjust to the new medication.

I worked from home on Friday and set a goal of running a mile or two before I started my work day. After last week's experience, I didn't know what to expect. I decided I would try to run as easily and efficiently as I could for as long as I could. If I only made it through a half a mile it would still be progress.

Most runners have a good idea about how their run will go within a minute after they start. Last Saturday I knew I was in bad shape before I lost sight of my house. Friday morning was cool and clear and once the middle school buses had wrapped up their routes, I took off through the neighborhood. I felt okay and made my way past the quarter and half mile marks with no thoughts of stopping. By the time I reached my first mile I knew I could manage two and probably three. I kept it to a little more than two miles and my pace was slow, but I was very pleased with the run.

Knowing that I could run, I set the bar a little higher for this morning's workout. I set off to the local high school to cover about three miles on the track. I left just after sun-up to avoid the crowd and to avoid the humiliation of being the slowest guy running. That was a bad plan because, when I arrived, there were two speedsters, another slowster and a couple of walkers. I lined up in lane 4 and took off at an easy pace that I knew I could maintain. Like clockwork, the speedy guys passed me about once a quarter. I picked up the pace as I progressed, which meant their passing orbit grew increasingly longer as time went on.

Besides running over a mile longer today, I paced 6% faster than on Friday. Still slow, but edging toward pre-surgery speed. I was told by my ophthalmologist that my new medication requires a high degree of hydration with electrolytes, especially potassium. There's something to that because when I do hydrate properly, the effects of the drug are minimized. I've been consuming a bottle of Drink Melon Organic Watermelon Water daily which contains 980 mg of potassium (compared to Gatorade which has a paltry 37 mg). It's pure watermelon juice and only 80 calories a bottle. 

I hope that I will fully adapt to all my medications soon and get back to running as usual. Last weekend was a setback but today was very encouraging.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Back to running and seeing

Prêt à porter
Today's run (street): 3.1 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 2.25 miles

Okay, I lied. It's still September and here I am posting again. On my last post (not the one that confused SIOR because I used a complicated word like hiatus) I wrote about my enduring problem with plantar faciitis. That was in late August. Although I didn't say it at the time, it was the start of a planned running break. I needed to have a couple of eye surgeries and my doctor said I wouldn't be allowed to run again until mid-October.

I had my first surgery a couple of weeks ago in my left eye. It went well but my recovery has been slower than expected. So much so that we ended up postponing the second one. It's been a roller coaster of experiences: frustration, surprise, concern, excitement. The exciting part was what happened after I stuck a contact lens in my other eye for the first time in 25 years.

After surgery I could technically see about 20/30 without a corrective lens in my left eye. With the contact in my right, I was able to look at the world clearly again without glasses.  I'm still dealing with some left eye vision issues but my ophthalmologist has cleared me for highway driving.

The doctor also gave me the okay to resume running. It was sunny on Friday morning and, without sunglasses, I opted for the treadmill. I was concerned that a month's layoff from running would mean a substantial loss in fitness, but I felt good the entire time. The secret to that was only running 2.25 miles at about 5 MPH. I didn't care about mileage or performance, I just needed to know I could run.

This morning was cool and overcast and I wasn't going to run inside again. I borrowed a pair of giveaway sunglasses that my daughter got from freshman orientation last year. They were fine except the arms were a bright Hofstra blue. They did the job but I didn't feel that comfortable wearing $2 novelty shades, especially after eye surgery.

My plan was to do the route I used to follow every morning at 4:00 AM before taking the train into the city. The distance is 2.5 miles, just a small increase from yesterday and something I thought would be easy to handle. My first steps confirmed that and I knew I would be in for a good run. It had rained overnight and the smell of ozone mixed with the aroma of maple trees was very pleasant. The 55° weather made me feel like I could run forever. Maybe not forever, but more than my planned 2.5 miles.

Still, the sunglass situation had to change, so this afternoon I drove over to Dick's in Melville to buy off the rack sunglasses for the first time in two decades. I had visions of getting some of those cool, aggressively shaped tri athlete shades with removable lenses for different sports. Dick's has nothing like that, and if they did, they'd charge $300 for them. They did have cheap lookalikes made of chintzy plastic that looked awful on me.

I found a decently made pair for $20 with a reassuring label on the front that said "Polarizing lenses, 100% UV protection." That may be the law but I wasn't taking any chances. As a matter of fact I was so risk averse I texted the above selfie to my wife so she could tell me it was okay to buy them. They were.

So I'm back to running and seeing, two things I really missed. I'll do the other surgery eventually but since it's not medically necessary right now I'll wait. I plan to go out again tomorrow and increase distance a little more. My plantar faciitis went away during my hiatus and I really hope it's gone for good. Or at least for a really long time.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Progress on plantar pain

Whatever gets you through the run
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

I just realized that it's been 20 days since I've last posted. That doesn't mean I've stopped running. But if you're counting the past six days, I hadn't. My layoff has been a combination of busy days and avoiding aggravating my plantar faciitis. I've substituted running with lots of walking and ellipticaling, but that doesn't really raise the bar in terms of fitness. The last time I ran before this morning was last Saturday. I was concerned I'd struggle a little today.

 My plantar soreness peaked last Sunday and it wasn't fun. I'd run with a lot of pain the prior day and toughed out a 3.5 mile run. I thought icing my foot on and off the rest of the day would help, but when I went outside on Sunday morning I didn't get very far. Every footfall radiated pain and I turned back before covering less than a quarter of a mile. I considered my options and headed upstairs to try my foot on the elliptical. The lack of impact and different motion made that a better choice.

I returned to work last Monday after a week's vacation and decided to wait until Friday for a run. My foot pain continued to improve, but I chose to give it one more day. Instead, I did an elliptical session which got my heart rate up, but not close to 80% of max. My foot felt okay after the workout and I decided I'd go for a test run today if the soreness didn't return

This morning's schedule was tight but I was determined to cover at least three miles.. I wore my Brooks Launches with Sof Sole plantar orthotics. I did feel some soreness at the start but it wasn't unbearable. I hoped that would go away once the tendon warmed up. I kept my speed moderate to avoid straining anything.

The easy pace and orthotics allowed me to keep pain to a minimum.That I could get through 3.25 miles without regret was a victory after two weeks of extreme discomfort. I'm not sure what type of workout I should do tomorrow but I'll probably do another easy run. I'm far away from the speed and distances I was achieving a year ago but I did feel stronger at the end than I expected. I hope  my right foot soreness leaves as quickly as it came. And when it does, I really hope it doesn't return to my left.

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.
 

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