Sunday, March 31, 2013

Holiday stalking run

I do celebrate these

Today's run (street): 3.75 miles

Today is Easter Sunday, a religious holiday observed by a majority of the population. Happy Easter, if you celebrate. I don't, so I tend to look at the day a little differently. I had considered a morning run at Bethpage State Park, but I was concerned that the main gates might be locked due to the holiday. It occurred to me that the neighborhood might be quieter than usual this morning so I opted to stay local.
Though sunny, it was a chilly 32°, so I added an extra layer and hoped I wouldn't regret it later. I was doing some pre-run stretching when I noticed a runner going by my house. A moment later, the GPS signaled "ready", so I set out behind the runner. I'd planned to run slightly faster than yesterday and thought this fit-looking guy could pace me. After a few minutes, I realized that I was gaining on him. When he looked back, I think I spooked him. I should mention that I was dressed in bright yellow and black, and he may have thought I was a really large bee.

I ran straight when the other runner turned right, and noticed a couple of runners coming from the other direction. As I made my way further through my neighborhood streets, I saw four more runners. Lots of runners and very few cars. I liked that ratio. I did have one car related incident, though incident is probably too strong a word. There was a Lexus RX 350 driving along the route I was following at approximately the same speed that I was going. It may have been a mother teaching her daughter to drive, but I couldn't be sure. I felt like I was being stalked. Perhaps they were curious beekeepers.

I accomplished my goal of a faster run and I'm feeling ready to start introducing more speed to my training. With all this stalking, I had completely forgotten about my sore hip. That's because it was no longer sore. It was an Easter day miracle! Okay, maybe not, but I celebrated just the same.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Running within a palooza

Lacrosse day on fields 1-5
Today's run (track): 4 miles

Today my goal was to increase outdoor running mileage without hurting my recovery from the sore tendons around my hip. That meant another moderately paced workout on a softer surface than pavement. My choices were either to run the trails, or to go to the local high school and run on the track. I chose the track option because I wanted a surface that was harder than dirt, but softer than the road.

When I arrived at the high school, I saw hundreds of parked cars and many more drivers looking to do the same. I almost turned around and drove home, but decided to try a remote lot near the track in case there were any spots. Luckily, I found a space and walked over to the track where I saw hundreds of lacrosse players and their coaches on the field. Adjacent to the main field, baseball games were being held, and lacrosse players from various towns were warming up everywhere.

I saw a single runner and a couple of walkers on the track. I figured that if they were there, it would be okay for me to join them. I set off at a high nine-minute pace, hoping to avoid collisions with parents standing in the track lanes. A few players and lacrosse balls whizzed across the lanes as I went by, but there were no close calls.

As I made my way around, I observed hundreds of players in the surrounding fields and noticed some concession stands that were branded with the NY Lizards logo. That explained the crowds. Apparently today was a Lacrosse-a-palooza, with games and (possibly) a clinic. Later, when I was leaving, I saw many cars parked across the road at Stillwell. After seeing that mess, I was glad I didn't opt for a trail run today.

I think the players would've noticed if I ran across the field
I ran well today. I split my direction halfway, first running counter-clockwise and then reversing after two miles. I suffered no hip pain, although I did begin to sense some tightness by the first mile. I kept my speed moderate except near the end, when I picked it up a step. I couldn't determine my true pace because the Garmin's tracking was way off. I knew this because the watch chirped for its first quarter mile a good thirty meters before I'd lapped it. After looking at the run map (above), I could see that it had also recorded me in places I didn't travel.

I finished my four miles feeling like I could easily go another few. I decided to stop at that point, because I'd achieved my goal of progressive distance. I saw no reason to risk further aggravating my injury. Another run like this will work for me tomorrow, perhaps at Bethpage where I would encounter some hills. I'll give it a few more runs before I restart speed-oriented training. Right now, it feels great to run, both physically and psychologically.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Definitely the second title

On the road
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

Even before I run, I'll usually have a good idea of what I'll write in my daily post. If my plan is to go out for a few miles, the variables are basically the route I'll take and how I performed. Today was different, I'd decided to try a return to the road. That invited the real possibility that I'd undo all the recovery work I've done over the past seven days. I wondered if I'd title today's post, "Too much too soon", or "Victory on the road."

I was genuinely nervous when I stepped outside. I took extra time to do some dynamic stretching, especially with my right leg. The GPS took its time to acquire signal but it finally went to ready state. I hit the start and set off in my usual starting direction, hoping for the best.

The first test came quickly, just 50 steps away from my house. It was here that my hip injury announced itself two weeks ago, causing me to immediately stop my run. No problem this time. One hurdle cleared.

The next point of concern came up three minutes later, near the top of the first road on my route. That was how far I'd gotten the last time I attempted a street run. The pain at that time was excruciating. Later, it took almost an hour, an ice pack and an Aleve before it began to feel better. I cringed when I passed that point today. Happily, there was no pain.

I continued on, feeling increasingly confident as I made my way through the first mile. My hip felt okay, but there was some tightness. I was running very easy and that probably helped. Around mile two I started to detect a dull pain around my hip. It was barely noticeable but I became concerned that I was pushing my luck. I was about a mile from my house, so I considered my options. I could either walk back home, or continue along my route. I chose to keep running.

The final 1.3 miles went fine. By the end, I knew I'd done no harm to my hip. The important thing was that I'd successfully completed a run on pavement. Hours later, my hip still feels fine. We had a family get-together in the afternoon and I didn't notice my hip at all. The question is, do I go longer than three miles tomorrow? Further, since this injury has improved with rest and careful workouts, is it necessary to keep my appointment with the orthopedist next week?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Viva revolution (per minute)

In my case, best divide by ten
Today's workout (treadmill): 40 minutes

Today's session wasn't tough, but it was indeed a workout. The elliptical machine provides low impact, moderately aerobic conditioning with great cardio benefit. There is a small percentage of people who despise the elliptical, while many have told me that they find it far easier than running. I've observed that the elliptical challenge varies greatly with the level of resistance I choose. Level 2 is a breeze, while level nine is a hill climb.

Owing to my hip issue (are you as tired of reading about this as I am writing about it?) I set the level at 3 and focused on keeping my "speed" above 55. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I suspect it's revolutions per minute. I ended up at close to 2,200 revolutions by the end, so the math works. I do miss my old BH Fitness elliptical that actually displayed distance, MPH and effort expended (by watts). That's what paying 3x as much gets you. Plus construction that doesn't feel like a metal tinker toy.

At the end of my session, I noticed that my hip felt fine. Happily, that hasn't changed throughout the day. I'll assess its condition tomorrow and will hopefully be ready for a neighborhood run. I won't count on that, but it would be great to be back on the road again.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Is it progress or stasis?

Today's run (treadmill): 30 minutes

I spent the day in the city, so I got up early this morning and ran on the treadmill. I'd considered the elliptical, but I had some cognitive dissonance after yesterday's run. I wasn't sure that I was making much progress in my recovery and wanted to retest my hip. I'm not sure what that accomplished, because my experience on today's run was exactly the same as yesterday.

As I ran on the treadmill, I thought about my decision to run, versus other alternatives. I knew I'd be covering a lot of ground on foot today, so I could have easily used city walking as my workout. I chose to run because I really wanted to gain some aerobic benefit. If my hip felt better today, I'd know I was on the right track.

I got through the run without much trouble, but my hip soreness remained. The pain was no worse than on Tuesday, but I wondered if I'd traded a recovery opportunity for some marginal conditioning. There wasn't any post-run pain, so I don't think I did any damage. Tomorrow I'm definitely returning to the elliptical for a lower impact workout.

The question right now is when to try another street run. The last two times I did that, my recovery was set back for days. I need to get back to race training mode, but I'll need to be sure that I've passed the risk point for re-injury.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

NE recap and a return to the run

Ambivalence in Vermont (Go Sox, boo Yankees!)
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

The problem with vacations, even short ones, is that you often end up less rested by the end than you did at the start. This weekend was like that. We returned home exhausted, but for the best possible reasons. Our weekend started with a visit to Vermont, where we were excited to spend time with my brother, sister-in-law and their adorable 6 year old boys. They've recently moved to the greater Burlington area. Besides being visually beautiful (it's adjacent to the Green Mountains) there's plenty of places for trail running. Unfortunately, my injured hip disqualified me from doing any of that this weekend. 

Green Mountain highway view

Green Mountain Coffee HQ
Minuteman Centennial statue, erected in 1875
After spending midday in Stowe on Sunday, we finished up with a visit to the Green Mountain Coffee visitor center in Waterbury. We said our goodbyes there and headed south through New Hampshire, bound for my home state of Massachusetts. The rest of our trip took us to Concord, where we visited the Old North Bridge and battleground and then to Plymouth. That brought back memories of my primary school visits there, many years ago.

I was hoping that I'd make up for a lack of running by walking longer distances while I was away. I fell short of my daily goals, but only by a small amount. My decision to skip my run yesterday morning worked out well. I still felt some residual muscle soreness today, but didn't think an easy run would invite further injury.

I was a little gun shy about running on the road today, since my last two street runs had ended rather abruptly. I compromised by doing a treadmill run and closely monitored my hip for signs of weakness or pain. I set the speed to a moderate pace that didn't cause me to sweat until I'd reached the 15 minute point. Performance was my least concern. I began to feel slight discomfort at the two mile mark and decided to limit my distance to about three miles. I planned to stop right away if the soreness increased.

The good news is that I completed my run without any additional discomfort. It was good to get an aerobic workout done after three days away. I'll probably do an indoor workout tomorrow, either on the elliptical, or on the treadmill again. Either way I'll take it easy. I'm hoping that by Friday I will be back to form. If not, I still have my appointment with the sports doctor next week.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Travel trumping training

It's been a great few days in New England, but I'm working on my third day without a run. We left Vermont yesterday (mountains below) and we're in the Boston area today. It looks like we won't see the snow that's hitting the Midwest, but we may encounter some rough weather on the way back to New York.
I considered heading to the fitness center to run on the treadmill when I got up this morning. Today is my wife's birthday, so I'm opting for a family breakfast instead.  My hip has improved a lot since Friday and I'm planning to try a street run tomorrow.  I really want to do a test run today, but one more day of rest seems like a better idea.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Resistance is Useless - Hooray!

There's another way
Today's workout (elliptical): 40 minutes

You may recognize the phrase, "Resistance is useless!" as the battle cry of the Vogons in Douglas Adam's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." So what's all this about resistance? I discovered this morning that by using the elliptical machine with zero resistance, I can still do a hard workout without hurting my injured hip.

I woke up this morning and tested my hip as I made my way downstairs. It still felt a little sore, but my mobility seemed fine. I wasn't fooled into thinking that I could get away with an outdoor run today, but did consider other options. It seems that the intense pain that I'm experiencing while running manifests only when I run on the road. A recent trail run had gone well, and a handful of treadmill sessions have caused me little problem.

After some gentle dynamic stretching, I decided to test things out on the elliptical while my wife did her morning treadmill run. My theory that I would do okay with lower impact workouts quickly proved out. I started my session at neutral resistance and, instead of ratcheting that up to a mid-high level as I normally do, I just began moving. It felt a little too easy, so I increased my speed to get my heart rate going.

This session provided a good aerobic workout and I generated enough of a sweat to be satisfied with the effort. My hip felt the same from start to finish, with none of the stabbing pain that caused me to cancel yesterday's run after three minutes. I'm pleased that I have an alternative to running while my hip gets better.

I will miss the opportunity to run the trails of Vermont this weekend, when we visit my brother and his family. I'll gladly settle for a hike though. With only three weeks to go until my next race, I don't need to make my injury any worse than it is already.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A painfully abrupt end to an outside run

Medical description of my hip problem
Today's run (street): .38 miles

Yesterday I took it easy, covering about five miles, all walking. My hip soreness remained, but it felt closer to a dull ache than a sharp pain. Last night, I walked through the neighborhood and my hip felt nearly okay. I was energized and thought about completing the last mile of my route with an easy jog. I didn't do that, mostly because I wasn't wearing the right clothing. Had I tried it, I may have better understood that this injury is far from over.

I haven't run on the road for a number of days. I've either used the treadmill or the elliptical over the past week. The only recent outdoor workout I've done was a trail run on Saturday. I thought it was time to go out for a street run this morning and gauge the condition of my hip. I wasn't looking to burn up the road, but I wanted to stay within my normal pace window. I was conscious of my last run on pavement and figured if I could get past the first fifty steps, I'd be fine.

That assumption turned out to be wrong. Like really wrong. I was fine for the first moments, though my stride felt slightly off. The pain level seemed low, but quickly sharpened. I still thought that I could manage through it. A minute later, the pain became pronounced and I had to stop right away. It became clear that I was going to do some damage if I continued through my planned route.

I had barely been on the road for three minutes when the pain reached its peak. I started to walk, but the pain still felt very intense. I hobbled home and immediately put ice on the sore area. I then took Aleve and called a sports orthopedist. No more fooling around. Unfortunately I won't get in to see the doctor until April 2nd so I'll need to manage until then.

I guess this means I'll have to focus on upper body and core workouts until the pain subsides. Walking seems to be okay again, but it's clearly not the cure-all I thought it was.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My go to workout for running injuries

Cures all running ills
I decided to substitute this morning's run with a walk that I did on the treadmill at a 5% incline. I'm not fully convinced that my injury is related to my IT band. That's because I don't really know exactly where my IT band is. All I know is that the problem suddenly popped up, got worse and then steadily improved. From everything I've heard about Iliotibial band syndrome, it doesn't improve that quickly. Besides that, the Wikipedia definition states that ITBS is a lateral knee issue and (thankfully) that's not part of my problem.

The reason I chose to walk was simple. In the almost-five years that I've been running, I've noticed that there's no injury that walking hasn't helped. It may be the reduced impact, plus some physiological intangible, but a good walk seems to be the best method to combine conditioning with recovery.

Hours later, the pain and soreness have fundamentally subsided. I'll continue to apply ice and some massage via a small roller that I have. If time allows, I may take another walk, this time around the neighborhood after dinner  If a little walking helped akready, a little more can't hurt.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Band on the run. IT band that is.

Strike up the band
Today's run (treadmill): 3 miles

It was cold and rainy this morning, as expected, so I wasted little time deciding between an indoor and outdoor run. I had things to do this morning, so I got on the treadmill earlier than usual and set my usual starting pace. This pace, which feels like 9:00/mile, can seem either easy or hard, depending on the day and circumstances. Today it felt relatively easy, but the soreness near my hip came back in a big way.

I wasn't really concerned about the pain. It was there, but my tolerance to pain is fairly high. I was troubled that the soreness persisted even as I ran. It made me wonder if this was a bonafide injury. Running on an injury is never a good idea, but I wasn't ready to cut my workout short. Instead, I dropped my speed back about 5% and my hip began to feel better.

I finally called it a run after reaching three miles and noted that my hip still felt tight and uncomfortable as I stepped off the treadmill. I did a little research online to see if I could identify the muscles or tendons that were causing this pain. I think that it might be my IT band. The pain is localized near my lower hip but the pain does travel a little. It's not as intense as sciatica, but the symptoms seem to coincide with Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

I'm continuing to ice the area and I took Aleve which helps the pain. The practical next step is to rest a couple of days before I run again. Maybe I'll do that, or substitute an elliptical session for my Wednesday run. I'm also thinking about resuming my Uechi-ryu (Okinawan karate) workouts now that I have a little more time. That will provide another cross-training option and also provide me with some much needed upper body exercise. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Time for new shoes or just wishful thinking?

Ready and willing to test again!
Mondays are rest days and that's what I did today - sort of. I didn't run (or cross train) but I did get all around the city on foot. I'm happy to report that, even with all that walking, my hip is feeling much better. I'm hoping the pain won't come back tomorrow when I go out for a run. Of course, running outside may not even be an option in the morning. According to, we'll be seeing showers throughout the day.

I've been thinking about my hip pain and wondering if this a warning that my Kinvaras are beginning to break down. I haven't been wearing these shoes much lately, so it's not clear to me if there's really a correlation. I've been fortunate to get close to 500 miles on the Kinvaras and they still look good, but I've noticed some pronounced wear on parts of the outsole. I just got an email from Brooks asking that I update my testing profile. Perhaps I'll be getting another pair to evaluate, just in time.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

NYC Half coverage: it's time to give me the mic

image courtesy of
Today's run (treadmill): 4.25 miles

Last year, NBC surprised me by actually covering the NYC Half Marathon. Running is so invisible on television that I'm thrilled whenever it is shown. Still, I was critical of the 2012 broadcast because the NBC folks failed to make the event interesting for viewers. It so happened that both the men and women's races featured two runners fighting it out for the win, while the rest of the field followed far behind. NBC had a chance to cover the experience of fifteen thousand people, but it barely covered four.

This year, it was the local ABC affiliate that covered the race. I was hoping that, this time, the focus would be on the event, not just the lead runners. Unfortunately, channel 7's execution was just as disappointing as last year's. Races like the NYC Half are rare, because they are both a spectator event and a shared experience. If there were 15K people on the course, there were undoubtedly more than 100K friends and relatives looking for them during the race. Not only were 99.99% of participants ignored, the elite runners who finished second and third were barely acknowledged.

I thought about the race as I ran my distance on the treadmill this morning. With so many knowledgeable people writing for running magazines, websites and blogs, the opportunity to hire compelling broadcasters is there. Think about the level of detail and background that's provided by qualified announcers for every MLB, NBA and NFL game. Today's race announcers were so inept, they didn't even know the names of the two elite women who were bearing down on eventual winner Caroline Rotich as they approached the finish line.  

Running will never gain traction on television unless the networks commit to treating the sport like an event, instead of a news story. People won't tune in if the coverage is dull and the focus is so narrow that they'd be better off skipping the broadcast and waiting for the recap to be published. If channel 7 had given me the mic this morning, I would have done it a whole lot differently.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Stillwell trails and a mystery solved

My Stillwell Loop x 2
Today's run (Stillwell Woods): 4.2 miles

The Garmin power loss mystery was solved this morning when I uploaded my week's runs to Garmin Connect. The duration of Thursday's treadmill run was recorded at sixteen hours and forty-one minutes. I had forgotten to turn off the timer after my run, and it dutifully recorded time until it ran out of juice. I was happy to see that it was my lack of attention, and not an issue with my battery, that caused the power drain.

The Garmin was back to full power this morning when I headed over to Stillwell Woods. It was freezing cold at the start and I expected the dirt paths to be rock hard. Surprisingly, the ground had plenty of give. As I traveled further, I even encountered some muddy sections. My hip did not bother me like yesterday, but I could still feel some soreness.

I followed my usual loop, a route that I favor for two reasons: I don't get lost while on it and it doesn't subject me to the extreme inclines that exist further to the east. I was careful not to push too hard and further aggravate my hip, so I locked into a comfortable pace and enjoyed the scenery as I ran.

I saw a few groups of high school-age runners moving rapidly along the trail and figured they were training for cross country. There were some mountain bikers as well, and one rode behind me for a while, but didn't pass. Knowing he was there made me nervous. I moved far to the right, hoping that he'd take the hint. At that moment, the rider turned onto a connecting path and my problem was solved.

I ended up covering my route twice and even added a little extra distance to make sure I made my targeted distance of four miles. So far my hip is still behaving and I'm hoping the residual soreness will go away. It was nice to be back in the woods and I look forward to more trail running as winter turns to spring. You can run the trails all year round, but it's far better when the paths are clear.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Today's fifty step run

No power, no problem, today
I originally thought the theme of today's post would be about my discovery that my Garmin was out of battery and that would force me to run outside without capturing any data. But that wasn't the way it played out. Instead, I ended up stopping my run almost as soon as it started. Nothing to do with technology this time.

I was actually looking forward to running free of big brother NAVSTAR as I geared up for the cold morning temperatures (29°). I'll admit that I wimped out and put on my Garmin 60 to use as a stopwatch, but I didn't connect the foot pod or the HRM. So technically I was running free. However, between elapsed time and Gmaps, I could still calculate pace and distance. And you know I would have.

After running fifty steps from my house on my way around the neighborhood, I realized that my hip soreness had not gone away. In fact it was fairly painful and I worried that continuing my run might only exacerbate the problem. I decided that getting in a routine run was not worth the possibility of further injury so I stopped, turned around, and headed home.

I iced the spot for about 30 minutes and then continued my day that included lunch with a good friend. I considered doing an afternoon run if my hip felt better (it does) but decided instead to give it additional rest until tomorrow. I may go for a trail run at Stillwell on Saturday. In the past, the dirt surface has provided a good, softer alternative to pavement. It's a good surface to run on when dealing with an injury. Of course, if the temperatures are still below freezing tomorrow, the dirt may be just as hard as pavement.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Echos of schedules past

Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes
Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

It's been a very busy week and my schedule has interfered with my ability to publish my posts. I've had to resort to using the Blogger app on my phone in between engagements. I'm not sure how this will work, but here goes!

I've been going into the city the last two days for some industry meetings. The early morning wake-ups and commuting on the train were great reminders of my former daily grind. On both days I added long walks between Penn Station and Columbus Circle on top of my morning workouts.  I'm hoping I've impressed the Fitbit enough to earn another I LIKE U.

Yesterday morning I had one more go on the elliptical. I'm still not loving its rickety build, but it does provide a decent workout. I woke up this morning with some hip pain and I'd hoped that it would pass when I started my run. It didn't, and the pain continued throughout the day. The three additional miles I walked later in the morning probably didn't help it.

My hip's not bothering me too much at this point and I'm hoping to get back outside for a run tomorrow morning. I'm also hoping that the freezing temperatures and stiff winds are gone by then. I'm truly looking forward to a less intense day on Friday. How did I used to do this city thing five days a week?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fitbits don't work across the room

Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

About halfway through this morning's treadmill run, I spotted my Fitbit sitting on the guestroom bed. I'm really into capturing my activity through that device, so I was a little nonplussed by the situation. While I was still capturing metrics like time and heart rate on my Garmin, all those steps would be lost to my daily and weekly totals. I considered stopping the treadmill to retrieve the device but decided that it wasn't worth the disruption.

Years ago, when my first Garmin failed during a run, I felt frustrated and asked myself, "If the run didn't record, did it really happen?" I know it sounds silly, but I once felt that way. A documented run is a tangible entity. Something that happened. Something to look back upon. A run performed independent of a watch or device doesn't become part of recorded history. I'll admit that on the rare times when I've gone out "watchless" on a run, I later Gmap'd my route so I could at least capture my distance.

Even without a device, running data on the treadmill is always available via the display. I don't fully trust the accuracy, but at least it provides ballpark metrics. I maintained a challenging pace through the workout and that took my mind off forgetting my Fitbit. So it looks like I'll need to wait a little longer to get my next Fitbit badge. Further, today's totals won't approach my daily goals. But I got a good run in today, despite the lack of evidence.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

DST run with KWL at BSP*

*Bethpage State Park

Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 6.25 miles

Daylight Savings Time (DST) starts today and (for this one) we "Spring" forward. I wasn't thinking about that yesterday when I committed to a 7:00 AM run with a friend. In DST world, 7:00 AM is really 6:00 AM. By the time I got to bed, it was almost DST midnight. I somehow miscalculated all that and got up at 4:50 DST. So I ended up getting less than five hours of sleep.

My friend KWL arrived a little before 7:00. It was still dark when we headed over to Bethpage but it had lightened up in the ten minutes it took to get there. As I feared, the gates were up at the park so we quickly headed to Haypath Road. We were able to park the car in a spot that was adjacent to the Greenbelt trail head. This southern entrance put us on the newly paved section of the Bethpage bike path.

KWL and I started our run in 30° temperatures. We'd both dressed for the cold so we were comfortable as we made our way through the first mile. Our plan was to cover 10K easy, but easy is a relative term. KWL is a triathlete, accomplished cyclist and 1:40 half marathoner, so his "easy" pace is somewhat challenging to me. We happily compromised and settled into pace that worked for both of us.

The new section has some hills which I tackled easily, using my early run freshness to power through.  KWL loves inclines and I don't. On the other hand, he dislikes running downhill and I can do that all day. So in the rare times when I held the forward position, it was usually on a downward slope.

Along way we encountered a group running in brightly colored outfits. Both times we saw them they were about to run up a hill as we were running down. They were a cheerful, talkative bunch, undaunted by the challenge. KWL and I reached the 3.1 mile mark and immediately turned around to complete the out and back route. I was feeling a little tired at that point and wasn't looking forward to scaling the upcoming hills.

A few minutes after we'd met that challenge, I began to feel stronger. We picked up the pace with about 2K left to go. I'd thought that the trail extension would be easy, since (this time) we'd be on the better side of the hills. I'd forgotten that there were still some inclines going north. Before long, my Garmin chirped for 6 miles and we picked up the pace as we completed final quarter mile.

KWL and I both found the run exhilarating. Despite the DST change, we still had plenty of morning left. Today's experience reminded me how enjoyable it can be to run with company. I really should do that more often. Perhaps it's time to do something about joining a running club.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Searching for NAVSTAR and my next running shoes

Today's run (street): 3.1 miles

Wait time: 8 minutes
We had a late night last night and I didn't get up until 6:15 AM. That threw me off this morning's very tight schedule. By the time I went outside, my window for running was only 40 minutes. It was sunny and bright and I was glad to see that the roads were clear and runnable. This was somewhat surprising, since the temperatures were hovering around the freezing mark.

When I started the Garmin it looked like it would acquire a signal right away. Despite the clear skies, it took almost eight minutes before it finally locked in all the NAVSTAR satellites. This narrowed my running window down to 32 minutes. I'd watched the progress bar go almost to full, only to pull back to the middle. I had considered heading back inside to run on the treadmill, but I ended up waiting it out.

I set off on a rapid pace to help ensure that I'd make my minimum distance of three miles. A slight wind made the first half mile a little chilly, but it disappeared at the first turn. I felt fairly strong and figured I could maintain a low 9:00 pace without much trouble. I chose a set of roads that I expected would get me around the neighborhood and back in three miles and I ended up covering 3.14. It was an invigorating run and I made it back home a with a few minutes to spare.

While we were out this afternoon, I had the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity about two pairs of running shoes that I've wanted to try. I put on a pair of Brooks Pure Drifts that were one-half size up from the ones I'd tested for Brooks. My biggest criticism of the pre-production Drifts was the tightness on my toes on the lateral side. The toe box on the production shoes felt roomier, but I felt some ridging from the mid-sole on that side.

The other pair I tried was the new Saucony Virrata, a zero drop trainer with a surprising amount of cushioning. The shoe reminded me of the original Kinvara, but with even better response on toe-off. The shoes fit perfectly and I wanted to them on the spot. I decided to wait it out a little longer as my Kinvaras still have some life left in them.

Brooks Pure Drift production model
Saucony Virrata with zero drop mid-sole
My verdict on the two was that I'd run in the new Pure Drifts if I had them, but I would still want to compare them further with the NB Minimus, the newest Hattori and, just for fun, the INOV-8 Road X-Treme. The Virrata is another story. It's not a question of if I'd buy them, only when I'll do it. I'm hoping that the Kinvaras will last me another 100-150 miles. But if the stability of those shoes changes sooner, I'll be going Virrata shopping that day.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Do U really like me or is it just the code talking?

Today's workouts (treadmill): 3.2 miles + 1 hour shoveling 

My Fitbit likes me. I know this because it told me so. Right on the display it said, "I LIKE U." Every once in a while it will tell me something like "LET'S GO!" or "MOVE IT." It's kind of pushy. I think the reason it was liking me right now relates to my double workout, courtesy of today's snowfall.

Believe it or not, this is a color photo
The neighborhood was already covered in snow by the time I woke up and it hasn't stopped yet. I went out early to shovel and was surprised to see 4" of the heavy stuff already on the driveway. It took almost an hour to clear both the drive and the walk. By the end, my Fitbit showed I'd covered over 4,000 steps and almost two miles of distance. I did go back and forth and up and down quite a few times.

After taking a break for a cup of coffee, I changed into running clothes and started a treadmill run. I decided that my morning effort gave me license to set an easier pace than normal. Shoveling all that snow had provided a nice (and well needed) upper body workout and running took care of the balance. By the time I finished my run I was almost to 10K steps and approaching 6 miles for the day. I didn't do it so my Fitbit would like me. But I'm glad that it does.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spinning companies and flywheels

Getting dizzy
Today's workout (elliptical): 35 minutes

There is a (supposedly) ancient Chinese curse that goes, "May you live in interesting times." Interesting is usually considered a positive word, but the curse implies otherwise. 2013 has already turned out to be an interesting year for me and for many of my ex-colleagues. Yesterday, Time Warner announced that it was spinning off its publishing division into a separate company. I worry about my friends who remain at this division and may be affected by this change. I am merely a spectator at this point, but I'm happily watching the stock's price rise.

Speaking of things both interesting and spinning, I decided to use the ProForm elliptical machine for only the third time since we've got it. My wife and kids use it all the time, but I've preferred to use the treadmill for most of my indoor workouts. The biggest reason I've neglected the elliptical is that I haven't liked the ProForm's user experience compared to the prior unit (BH Fitness X1). As disappointed as I was when the X1 broke a main part (and couldn't be fixed), the unit itself had been solid as a rock.

Today, I found no issues with the ProForm. I started at light resistance and increased that every few minutes until I reached my targeted heart rate. I liked the relative quiet compared to the treadmill that allowed me to focus on other distractions, like the television. The ProForm reports distance as revolutions, so you don't get a great sense of progress. I was primarily concerned with getting my time in and, by the 35th minute, I was satisfied with my workout.

Today has turned out to be an interesting day. Between company spin-offs and spinning flywheels I had plenty to think about. The snowstorm, part 1, has been a non-event. We're supposed to see 2"-4" inches overnight and into morning. If it's on the low side, I may go for an outdoor run tomorrow. If there's any accumulation, I'll want to avoid contention with snowplows. That would make things just a little too interesting.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The persistence of memory (non-Dali version)

Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

You know the feeling you get when you think you're forgetting something? It's frustrating because you can't put your finger on it, yet you can't leave it alone. It was like that for me today. I had an early start with some business calls (this "not working" thing is turning out to be a lot of work). Before I knew it, I lost my window for my morning workout. All throughout the morning, I kept thinking something wasn't getting done. By noon I realized what it was: my run.

I'd been sequestered upstairs in my home office until midday. When my last call was finished, I came down to see that my wife had cooked up a mixture of fresh veggies and turkey burgers. Any ideas of getting in a run before lunch were dashed. The aroma of the food was just too seductive. Unfortunately this only added to my concern that today's workout would be lost to afternoon obligations.

I waited 30 minutes after lunch to start of my run and used the treadmill to save time. I was happy to finally be running and thought I'd go easy since it was right after a full meal. That plan was soon ignored and I found myself running a more aggressive pace that allowed me to hit my targeted distance within half an hour. It was a tough workout but, by the end, I was happy that I'd taken a bigger challenge. Best of all, that feeling of missing something was no longer there.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Close to greatness, but only by coincidence

One of my celeb hangouts
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

I didn't post yesterday. When that happens it usually means one of two things: either I didn't run or I had no opportunity to write during the day. In yesterday's case, it was both. I was in the city most of the day and had some good meetings. I met an industry friend for coffee at Bouchon in Time Warner Center and we shared a table with John Lithgow and his wife. Later, I had lunch with another friend at the Harvard Club where Bill Clinton was (supposedly) holding court on the third floor. In any case, I didn't see him.

Okay, enough obnoxious name dropping. Yesterday's time in the city did remind me of what an interesting place New York can be. I love having more time now, but I do miss the energy of the place. I've been going into the city a few times a week and it's a nice balance, rather than the daily grind of a 6:26 AM commute.

This morning I was not at all excited to go out running. In fact, I used every excuse to stall before I finally made it outdoors. The 30° temperature made me seriously consider the treadmill or the elliptical. Knowing we'd be getting some precipitation tomorrow and Thursday, I decided I needed to run outside while it was clear.

I bundled up so I wouldn't be too uncomfortable as I stood waiting for my Garmin to acquire its signal. The roads were clear of buses and there were few cars. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing hard from the northwest. I cringed every time I moved in that direction, but I lucked out a few times when the wind was behind me while I ran along a road with an incline.

I'm not achieving particularly fast paces on my daily runs, but that doesn't bother me much. I factor in the bulk of having additional layers of running clothes and the prevalent headwinds. After the Snowflake race in February, I figure I can generate some additional speed when I really need it.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Trailview fun along the "Danger Zone"

Greetings from Trailview
Today's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

Yesterday morning I went out for a 4.8 mile run that took a lot more out of me than I'd expected. I recovered quickly from that, and a few hours later, my son and I headed to Trailview State Park for a hike. The weather was chilly and we did our best to dress for the cold while planning for the heat we'd generate during the hike.

We chose the path on the left and followed the winding trail up a few steep rises. The maintenance that was done after hurricane Sandy left many sections of cut-up tree trunks along the way. My son stopped to count the rings from one tree and determined that it had stood about 35 years before it was knocked down by the storm.

Sandy's impact was everywhere
My son and I continued north until we reached the point where the trail overlooks the road separating Trailview from the southern end of Stillwell Woods. We followed the trail down to where Woodbury Road and Syosset-Woodbury Road intersect. We then crossed the street and entered Stillwell where we negotiated some difficult hills covered by gnarly roots and sharp rocks. We reached a point on the trail that had a substantial drop and decided to double back towards Trailview.

We crossed Syosset-Woodbury Road and re-entered Trailview through the western trail head. We followed a different path for a while, stopping a few times to explore interesting rocks and large branches. We found ourselves at a place marked "Danger Zone" and I asked my son if we should continue. He's a 13 year old boy. Of course he said yes.

Double diamonds mean danger
The danger zone required some deft footwork but we made our way through it without incident and eventually picked up our original trail. It was there that we found a flat square rock that my son decided to keep as a souvenir of our hike. We finished our walk and went over to the Stop & Shop that's located adjacent to Trailview's parking lot. We bought some goodies in the bakery section to surprise my wife and daughter who were waiting for us back home.

Souvenir rock on the trail head sign
Between my morning run and the hike I covered close to ten miles outside yesterday, exceeding 17K steps. The best part, for me, was spending time with my son. We had great conversations and took on some tough hills. I slept eight hours last night with 97% sleep efficiency. Gee, I wonder why.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Correlating my sleep time and run fatigue

Frozen Fitbit
Today's run (street): 4.8 miles

Yesterday afternoon I checked my activity progress on the Fitbit only to discover that the readings hadn't changed since morning. The numbers displayed at 5:00 PM were almost the same as they were at 9:30 AM. I took some steps to see if they would record but the numbers didn't change. I connected the Fitbit to my laptop using the USB charging cable and that seemed to jolt it back to life.

I was happy that the device was working again, but disappointed that I wouldn't get "credit" for the steps, miles and flights of stairs that didn't get captured yesterday. I'll watch the display a little more closely, now that I've had that experience. It was working fine this morning and I took it along during my run.

I again recorded my sleep pattern overnight and saw that I'd slept a total of six hours. The good news was that I "only" woke up six times instead of twelve. The Fitbit site assigned me a sleep efficiency rating of 96%, far better than the first time I tracked my sleep cycle.

Perhaps it was a lack of sleep time that factored into the fatigue I felt during today's run. I'd averaged 40 more minutes of actual sleeping time prior to last night. After yesterday's rest day, I expected to feel slightly more energized than normal, but a few minutes into the run I knew something was missing. I set the best pace that I could, determined to cover my distance target of 4 miles.

When I run, I often think about racing and how I'd feel if I was in a race in that moment. I'll often tell myself that I could manage more speed, if needed. Depending on the distance, I can usually muster enough energy to pick up my speed and sustain a better pace. Today I hoped I had enough in the tank to get me through the route I'd planned.

I was determined to get in a full workout and, after making a few loops through my immediate neighborhood, I crossed into neighborhood #2. I had this dual sensation of feeling tired yet ready to cover my distance. There were a few points where I could have cut the run short, but I didn't. In fact I ended up running almost a mile longer than I expected. I was plenty tired by the time I got home and a little puzzled that my heart rate didn't reflect the perceived effort I was experiencing.

Tomorrow I may keep it short, as I'm close to reaching my weekly mileage goal. If my energy returns I may even do some speed work. I'll try to extend my sleep time 40 more minutes and get back to average. I think that contributed greatly to my tiring experience this morning.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Falling short of daily goals

I'd been thinking about taking another rest day this week because I ran Monday through Thursday. This morning I needed to get into the city for some meetings and I figured today would be as good a day to skip a run. I'm tempted to get on the treadmill and do a quick three miles this afternoon, but I'm sticking to my plan.

I only covered 10,000 steps yesterday and fell short of both my daily distance and flight (staircase) goals. I'd hoped that walking in the city would get me close to today's step goal, but I've still got a ways to go. Even though I rested both Sunday and today, I'm still slightly ahead on weekly mileage. I'll target a couple of longer distance runs this weekend and get my Fitbit stats back in line.

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