Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Workout pending...

Today started early and was spent in the city. Last night I'd considered pulling out my headlamp and reflective vest and doing a 4:00 AM run, just like old times. But reality prevailed when I got up and I decided to forgo my workout. While nostalgia has its place, so does sleep.

By the time I got home, it was a sunny 86 degrees (according to my car's display). That discouraged me from going outside for an afternoon run. I'm still considering a climate controlled workout on the treadmill later, but then again, it may be better to wait and resume tomorrow. With my friend Chris coming by for a Stillwell run tomorrow, I'm going to need to conserve some energy. His idea of an easy run differs greatly from mine.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Speed decline, is it nature or nurture?

My story in two axis
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

Conditions were near perfect when I went out for my morning run. The 7:00 AM sun was low enough to cast great shade along my route and the air felt cool and dry. The neighborhood was quiet, with just a few cars and a couple of walkers. I moved along well and thought about the fact that my running performance has suffered greatly this year.

A few years ago, I would average around 27 minutes for a three mile training run. Over time, my normal training pace has edged up almost a minute per mile. Back in 2010, I went out on every run with a pace goal in mind, and I was racing far more frequently than I have this year. That may explain some of the loss of speed.

I'm not willing to concede any performance drops to age at this point. Although I really want to run for the sake of running, I do find myself thinking about turnover and stride length while on the road. If I look at my pace on the Garmin during a run, I'm often surprised by how much effort it takes to break 9:00 minutes.

Every time I find myself on a run, struggling to stay under 10:00/mile, I vow that I'll go back to doing core exercises and speed work at the track. Somehow I forget that commitment once I get home. I think it's time to get serious about speed. I'm due to run with a friend this week who tends to push me past my comfort zone. Maybe that's exactly what I need right now.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Two part post on this Stillwell Sunday

No actual pandas sighted today 
Today's run (street): 3.8 miles
Today's hike (Stillwell Woods): 3.7 miles

Part I - Running
Yesterday's run at Stillwell Woods was a nice change from the road and it presented a nice level of challenge. Although I started out feeling strong and energized, after 20 minutes I reached a point where I needed to take a short break. It wasn't the first time I had to take a minute to reset myself while running at Stillwell. What surprised me was how quickly I went from feeling fit to feeling fatigued.

I recovered quickly and had no issues for the rest of the run, but I was frustrated that I needed to take a break. I take it as a point of pride that I never stop during road or bike trail runs. While the shaded woods helped keep me cool, the inclines and careful footing on more technical trail sections took a toll. I've had weekends where I ran with difficulty on Saturday, only to rebound with a great run on Sunday. I was curious if that would be the case today.

I got out early this morning, before the sun became a factor. We had hosted friends yesterday afternoon and evening and I'd done a lot of unintentional glycogen loading. I figured the upside was the possibility of having more energy for the run today, but I was a little tired at the start. I tried to get my speed up during the first mile but my legs weren't cooperating. I eventually loosened up and, by the last mile, I was running at a decent pace.

I would have liked to perform better overall, but achieving negative splits was good consolation. More importantly, I experienced no fatigue during the run. This confirmed my theory that yesterday's tough times had mostly to do with the challenging terrain. While that's good, it also confirms the fact that my conditioning isn't where it needs to be.

Part II - Hiking
I downloaded my Garmin after today's run and looked at Saturday's Stillwell route map. I saw that Trailview intersected with my standard loop and decided I'd follow it south the next time I ran there. My son has been asking me to go on a hike so, I figured this was good opportunity. After preparing for the bugs with an application of OFF, we headed over to Stillwell. A light rain that had started to fall, but we figured that once we had tree cover, we'd be fine.

Once we cleared the big field, we moved south and then east, until we reached the Trailview path. At that point, the trail is rugged, with lots of steep rises, drops and gnarly roots that could easily trip someone up. We made our way carefully down the path until we reached the point where the trail paralleled the LIRR tracks. I knew that there was a trestle located east of our position and we navigated to it. We ended up in a mini bamboo forest that felt like an enclosure. My son asked, "Where are all the pandas?"

Adjacent to this section was a small road leading to a private neighborhood on the left and the trestle on the right. We passed underneath the tracks and into the northern part of Trailview Park. The sign said "Trail Closed" but we concluded that was just for one path. The trail rose from there and made our way up without much trouble. We decided to turn back after exploring Trailview for about ten minutes.

Our hike back went by quickly and we soon encountered a group of mountain bikers looking to take on the difficult terrain of that area. None were wearing helmets, a bad move generally and an especially bad idea on these treacherous sections. They didn't appear to be experienced riders either. I hope no one got hurt.

Next time we may start at Stillwell and follow the trail all the way to the trail head on Jericho Turnpike. Eventually, I'd like to hike it north all the way to Cold Spring Harbor. Today's hike was just the right distance and a nice adventure for me and my son. I was thinking recently that I haven't spent enough time at Stillwell. I certainly don't feel that way after this weekend.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Choosing the difficult path

The trail rarely taken
Today's run (Stillwell Woods): 3.5 miles

I went to Stillwell Woods this morning for a change of pace and the opportunity to run in shade. The clouds have moved out and the humidity (and dew point!) is higher than yesterday. Even though Stillwell offers a nice break from my neighborhood streets, I don't feel like I've taken full advantage of its breadth of choices. Nowadays, I tend to follow the same few trails, but I decided to change that today.

When I arrived at Stillwell Park, I saw an open tent with mountain bikes set up by Santa Cruz, a bike manufacturer. A few months ago Scott bikes did the same thing, offering people the opportunity to test their bikes on Stillwell's trails. Due to that, I was a little concerned that I'd get over-run by mountain bikers on the trails. It turned out that I only encountered a few groups of riders who shared the path nicely.

Unlike the route I normally follow, I turned left on a path marked "most difficult." In the past, I would take on Stillwell's hardest technical trails. Over time, I've found myself running the same, less challenging loop. The trees were doing a nice job of blocking the sun as I made my way through the ups, downs and root covered paths. After a couple of miles, I started to feel fatigued and I needed to take a minute to rest before continuing.

It turned out to be a more difficult run than I'd intended. The upside was getting through a good workout with scenery far more interesting than my neighborhood streets.

Friday, July 26, 2013

In running, this point is most important

With all dew respect
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

People always say "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." In fact, it's really the dew point that determines the level of comfort (or discomfort) in hot weather. Before I went out for my run this morning, I checked which reported a temperature of 66° and humidity at 91%. "Ugh", I thought. "It's going to be just like Tuesday, when you could literally feel the moisture in the air." But then I checked the dew point and saw it was 61. That meant 66° would feel like 64°.

That changed my attitude and I got out the door in record time. It felt pleasant and slightly cool, with a mild breeze coming from the north. I took off feeling fortunate to have dodged what I expected to be sticky, hot weather. I guessed that the 91% humidity related to the cloudy skies that looked mildly threatening. I ran with a little rain yesterday and I was willing to risk it today.

As it turned out, the rain held off, but I could smell its aroma mixed with the scent of sugar maple. That combination followed me throughout the entire route. I threw in a little speed in the second half and ended up having a very satisfying run. A low dew point was all it took.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Adidas and Reebok jump the shark

I find the look of this shoe disturbing
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles

Earlier this week, I was walking up 7th Avenue when I noticed a guy wearing a strange looking pair of Reeboks. They looked like a chromosome-damaged version of Nike's Shox, a shoe I'd disparaged in what has become my all-time most popular post. Amazingly, these shoes looked even weirder than the Nikes. It turns out the guy was wearing Reebok ATV19's, ATV standing (I guess) for "All Terrain Vehicle.

It's no secret that I despise Reebok's line of running shoes because they significantly miss the mark in terms of both quality and style. I'm sure there are plenty of middle school-aged boys who would disagree with me on this. That's my point. I've wondered how a respected company like Adidas, that makes some very good running shoes, would also have a brand (Reebok) that produces such gimmicky footwear. And then I got a PR mailing from Adidas that's helping me understand that better.

A picture's worth a thousand words
When I first saw the press release for the Adidas Springblade, I thought it was a parody. While the Springblade isn't the first running shoe to use cantilevers to promote energy return, the design they came up with looks completely ridiculous. Or, in the words of those middle schoolers: Awesome! I'm curious to see if anyone ever shows up for a race wearing these monstrosities. The only thing worse would be if the wearer won the race.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ten hours late for my run

I would have preferred AM to PM
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

As I made my way up the road to start today's workout, I thought about how much I prefer to run in the morning. Too bad it was 5:00 PM and the sun was high in the sky. I had a lot going on today and missed my morning window for running. I had a schedule change right after lunch that opened up some time. I thought about going out for a few miles, but I was concerned about being back home in time for a meeting. I was almost at the point when I'd write off today as a rest day and resume my schedule tomorrow.

Once I finished up at 4:30, I needed to decide whether to run or start work on a new project. I stepped out to the deck and saw that the humidity had dropped since morning. I figured that I could pound out three miles fairly quickly and still make the rest of the afternoon productive. It took a long time to acquire a signal on the Garmin, surprising on such a clear day.

It may have been due to running later in the day, but I was experiencing some soreness in my right quad. I was concerned that if I pushed too hard I could pull a muscle, so I didn't. Not that I have that much horsepower late in the day. Holding back a little helped get me through the route and the time went by quickly. Tomorrow's schedule is more manageable than today's, but I plan to get on the road as early as possible.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A return to my happy place (City Sports)

It looks better in the picture
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

Much of today was spent in the city and I began the day with a high energy treadmill run. I'd considered running outdoors, but outside conditions looked a little soggy. I'm trying to focus on performance running as I prepare for my next race, and set the speed faster than normal. Soon after that, I was wishing the workout would end. I figured that the faster the pace, the faster the run would get done, so I steadily increased my speed.

I was pleased with my workout performance, although I regretted pushing so hard. With a full day's work ahead of me, I should have thought through the amount of effort I'd expend. I ended up doing fine and didn't fall asleep once in my meetings.

I was on my way to see friends for lunch in midtown, so I stopped into nearby City Sport to see if they had anything new. The store is only a couple of blocks from my old office and I'd go there often at lunchtime for stress relief. I'm in the market for a lightweight running raincoat and found a Brooks LSD jacket on clearance for $59. It seemed like a good deal, but unfortunately they didn't have it in my size. I consoled myself with the thought that the black and red color scheme was fairly unattractive.

Altra Instinct
Topo RR
I checked out City Sports' running shoes and saw that they'd added some interesting brands, including Altra (a zero drop brand with a wide toe bed) and Topo (a low shoe with a split toe design) that reminded me of my Brooks Pure Drifts. I decided I'd come back when I had more time to try them on.

Between all the walking in NYC and my treadmill run this morning, I'm up to 16K steps for the day. After the heavy downpours this afternoon I became concerned that I could be be rained out again tomorrow. The skies have since cleared and I'm hoping that lasts through morning.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Membership has its privileges (and issues)

Last week I received a mailing from my old company, inviting me to join their alumni association. This offer was packaged like a wedding invitation, with a tasteful note along with the requisite response card. The value proposition was tempting, but I chose to decline, just as I have each time I've received solicitations from my high school and college alumni groups.

I mention this because I've recently thought about joining GLIRC, the local running club in Long Island that boasts a membership in the thousands. I usually enjoy running with other people, but I also find solo runs very fulfilling. But just like alumni groups, I can never bring myself to sign up.

I first wrote about joining a running club four years ago. At that time (and ever since) I've dismissed the idea. I wrote that, while I liked to run with others, it was, "mostly because [they've been] discreet events: assemble, run, depart. No barbecues, fund raisers, meetings, bylaws or committees. I'm not saying these things aren't great, they're just not for me."

It may be worth re-thinking running clubs now that I have a little more discretionary time. Perhaps there's an option to just do meetup runs, with no further obligation to participate in club activities. In that case, I might be tempted. Especially if they send me a nicely worded invitation in the mail.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bethpage base run and a new pair of "minimal shoes"

Justifiable replacement
Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 5.9 miles

I needed to do some base building as I prepare for my next race, so I headed over to Bethpage State Park to run on the northern bike path extension. The section between the trail head at Bethpage and Old Country Road is a personal favorite, due to its rolling terrain and handy distance markers. For longer runs, I cross Old Country Road and follow the trail as far as I wish. Running it to the end leaves me off near my neighborhood, allowing me to run all the way home.

I managed to stall a full hour between the time I dressed for the run and when I actually left for Bethpage. Despite a later start, weather conditions were still good, due to heavy cloud cover that prevented direct sunshine. Humidity was much lower than yesterday and I felt energized as I took my first steps from my car to the trail.

My goal today was to cover 5 to 6 miles at around a 9:30 pace. My ideal goal pace for the Dirty Sock 10K is 9:00/mile (or better), which will be hard for me to achieve. The best I've ever done on that race is 58:26, so I'd need improve on that by over two minutes. My 10K PR is around 54 minutes, but that race wasn't a trail run held during the dog days of August.

I didn't quite make today's performance goal, but I came respectably close. The cyclists were out in force today and I was disappointed by their lack of trail etiquette. A number of bike riders zoomed by very closely without giving any "On your left" warnings. Are they aggressive because they resent all the runners and walkers on the path, or are they just selfish?

I was humbled early on by a woman who came off a wooded trail that intersected with the paved path. She appeared to be running at an easy pace as she came up beside me, but left me in the dust before ducking back into the woods. It's really hard to gauge a runner's speed just by looking at them. There was a group of high school aged boys doing a training run and a family of five (including three pre-teens) who were all running together.

Most of the run felt good. It was only near the end, when I faced the biggest hills, that I began to feel some fatigue.  Despite that, I pushed hard during the last half mile and I was surprised to have the energy to do that.

After I got home, my daughter and I went to Modell's in Plainview to buy ourselves new pairs of pool shoes. My old pair (top), which served me well for at least five years (including time on the road as "poor man's" minimalist running shoes), are starting to disintegrate. I'm not sure I'll use my new pair for running, but they worked great in the pool today!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Conditions are ideal for Dirty Sock race prep

Today's run (street): 4.3 miles

I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming Dirty Sock 10K that happens on August 18th. I ran this race in 2009, 2010 and 2011, but I skipped it last year. It's a hard race, especially at the end. Conditions are often brutal, with temperatures near 90° and humidity approaching 100%. The website describes the course as "USATF Certified and Sanctioned, fast, mostly flat, picturesque, wooded trails, only 2/10 mile paved. Splits, water stops, road apples, uneven terrain." The last mile of this race always feels as long as the previous five.

The best way to train for this race is to run the course, something I'm planning to do with my friend Mike in early August. In the meantime, I'm planning to push my speed more often in the training runs I do each day. This might be a challenge if the weather remains hot and humid, as it was today.

This morning I got out reasonably early. After a quick loop around the northern section of my neighborhood, I headed to the middle school where I could access the foot path that leads to a service road and local business park. I ran the park loop clockwise so I could take on all the elevation at once, rather than endure the long, but less steep elevation I'd encounter going the other way.

During yesterday's run I'd moderated my pace in response to the sweltering heat. Today was slightly cooler and the sun was less intense at the start. I focused on my turnover, in hopes of achieving a faster pace than Friday's. I ended up with a respectable time, although I'd like to improve that by 20 seconds per mile by race day. I'm thinking of visiting Bethpage tomorrow and hoping that this evening's rainstorm will chase away the heat and make running conditions more pleasant on the running trail.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Turn down the heat and turn up the speed

Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

My joyful reunion with my neighborhood streets was mitigated by temperatures approaching 90° this morning. And that was at 7:00 AM. Still, it was good to be back on the road. It wasn't too bad at the start, but that didn't last. I had a modest distance goal, so I figured I could get through the increasingly hot and humid conditions. I looked for the shadiest roads and followed them whenever possible.

Despite my recent race, I haven't been achieving very impressive training paces. Some of that is surely due to this heat wave, but I haven't been running fast for a long time. As I ran today, I thought about people who are now training for the NY marathon. It's one thing to get through a hot weather run on your own terms, but it's a lot harder when you are following a prescribed schedule of tempo runs and intervals.

The heat should finally break over the next two days and I'm looking forward to that. Although I won't be racing again until mid-August, I really have to up my game. Perhaps I can do some real training starting this weekend. I'm pretty much past my respiratory issues and ready to push the pace.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

No runs or posts, but plenty of excuses

Reston runners Tom (left) and Ryan (right)
Last run (Sunday 7/14): 5 miles

Hey, remember me? It's been a long time since I've posted and this is due to two things. The first is the distraction of being on the road for nine days, as we traveled to various places between Long Island and Florida. The second thing is my failure to notice that I'd left my laptop in the hotel in Virginia Beach. Despite the fact that my laptop bag is bright red and I'd actually gone back to the room to look around "one more time", I still managed to miss it. Thanks to UPS, we were reunited today.

I didn't do too much running while on vacation, so my guilt meter is at an all time high. I did get a couple of great runs in while I was in Sarasota. However, with a different destination almost every day and a full schedule of daily activities, I couldn't coordinate around hotel treadmill availability. That said, I did manage to rack up 18K steps the day we visited Universal Studios, so at least I got some exercise.

We returned home this afternoon, and our last stop was Reston, VA where we visited some friends. While in Reston, I stopped into Potomac River Running, a really nice store that's located in Reston Town Center. I chatted with Tom, and told him about the Dirty Sock and Great Cow Harbor races that are held on Long Island. So even if I didn't run, at least I paid homage to the sport.

Tomorrow will be a busy day, as I catch up on business. But before I do any of that, I plan to revisit the streets of my neighborhood for the first time in ten days.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Remotely running

Today's run (Sarasota FL): 3.5 miles

We've been off on vacation since Wednesday and I haven't had a chance to run until this morning.  We've had a great experience traveling the eastern part of the country and I had a scenic run today where I saw flamingos, cranes and many signs warning me not to feed the alligators. I had no problem complying with that.

There's a 40 mile rails to trails path close by, but I think I'll stick to the adjacent river path tomorrow.  The palm trees and local color are more than enough to inspire me this weekend.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Running efficiently is naturally wrong

Does form follow function?
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

Remember when you were young and your parents taught you how to run? Of course not. Kids learn to run naturally through a combination of confidence, impatience and excitement. I was thinking about this on my run this morning, as I put attention to where my feet were falling and the length of my stride. It occurred to me that all the books, magazines and web articles I've read about improving running technique are only corrupting what we comfortably do by nature.

I realize that this is a provocative statement. Landing on your fore foot and shortening your stride will make you a faster and more efficient runner, right? I'm not sure. I've observed enough runners to confidently say that the way you look while running is not a true indicator of how well you can actually run. I remember running on the Bethpage trail and seeing a woman ahead of me who was pronating so badly that it was making me dizzy. I increased my pace to pass her, until I realized I'd never catch her. Inefficient as she looked, she totally outclassed me in terms of speed.

I haven't given up on improving the way I run, but I'm no longer willing to fight nature to do it. I've been running in minimal shoes for three years to promote mid-foot landing, but all my running shoes still show wear on the lateral heel, along with the mid-foot. I'm okay with that because (knock wood) I've had very few running injuries during the same time period. I'll still think about the position of my arms and height of my knees when it crosses my mind during a run. The fact is, whether I do everything "right" or go with what feels natural, I tend to run just about the same.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cool run on a very hot day

Seconds off the line
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

I'm not sure how high the temperature got today, but the weather report predicted that we would reach 103° by afternoon. I had trouble getting outside early this morning, which was my plan to beat the heat. Not that 80° at 6:30 AM was that much better. By the time I was ready to go outside, the idea of a neighborhood or Bethpage run had lost all appeal.

I decided to go the weather-controlled route by doing a treadmill run. Between the air conditioning, floor fan and shelter from the sun, I knew I'd be more comfortable inside. In fact, it was a pretty good experience and I got to watch Meet the Press while I ran. I only did about three miles today, but that got me to my weekly target of 20. Later in the day we kept ourselves cool in the pool. It was the only thing that would get me outside today.

It's been a week since I ran the Marcie Mazzola 5K. A fellow runner/blogger, The Petite Pacer, has been battling some calf issues that are interfering with her usually active race schedule. On Sunday, she attended the race, not as a participant, but as a photographer. She took some great shots of the start and the end, capturing virtually every runner who finished under 60 minutes. Check out her post with the link to her pictures. The one at the top shows me and the pack about to take the right onto Woodhull Rd. With a half mile of hill to climb, I'm glad it wasn't 103 degrees that day!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Stillwell Woods running, made in the shade

Out of the woods and into the sun
Today's run (Stillwell Woods): 3.4 miles

With temperatures reaching the 90's by midday today, I decided that a sheltered run at Stillwell Woods would be a good bet. Even with heavy tree cover, I knew it would be hot at 8:30 AM, so I did what I could to stay comfortable. I wore my white, terrycloth Jackrabbit running hat, a white technical jersey and a cooling bandanna that I'd prepared by soaking in water and placing in the refrigerator. Due to the high tick population this season, I traded coolness (both in look and comfort) for safety, with a pair of mid-calf wool trail socks.

The beginning of my run was great. I had none of yesterday's fatigue and, this being a trail run, I moderated my pace and prevented any anaerobically-induced coughing. The shaded woods kept conditions bearable and the short segments of unprotected sky reinforced my decision not to do a street run today. It wasn't very crowded and I only saw a few mountain bikers on the paths. At one point, I was overtaken by three high school-aged girls who were running along the trail. They seemed to have little trouble speeding along in the hot and humid weather.

About halfway through my run, I began to think about the Dirty Sock 10K in August, when conditions will likely be similar. On that day, I'll need to cover almost double the distance I was running today. I have some hot weather training to do. I think the bandanna helped at first, but after a while the heat rendered it ineffective. By the time I reached the trail head, I was soaked with sweat and ready to stop.

In the end, I felt great. A change of scenery was needed, and I enjoyed the experience far more than my recent runs on local roads. Stillwell is only 5 minutes from my house, so it's an easy choice to make whenever I'm feeling bored of my running routine. A harder choice will be taking on some of Stillwell's tougher trails that I've come to avoid, in favor of more familiar (and easier) routes. I'm going to take on that challenge, but not with 90° temps and 90% humidity.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The will is there, but the spirit needs some help

Getting out of the ordinary
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

I have definitely reached a point where my running routine has become just that -- routine. I was hoping that last Sunday's race would reset my focus, but I seem to be caught up in a cycle of three to four mile neighborhood runs done with mediocre pacing. I could blame the hot, sticky weather and my seemingly endless bout of coughing and chest congestion to explain my current state of stagnation. I think I need some sort of change to reignite my running excitement.

This morning's effort was done more of habit than to help reach a specific training goal. While running for the sake of running doesn't generate a lot of progress, it does have its benefits. Having the will to run, even in the absence of adventure, novelty, stimulation or objective, reinforces overall commitment.   Like so many other runners, I've reached the point where lacing up my shoes and going outside is no longer a choice, but a necessity.

So what's the thing that projects my running beyond the routine? Is it a return to Central Park, a destination race or a new trail location? I don't know if any one thing will get me there. It could come down to something as simple as a new pair of running shoes. Yesterday I noticed that the combined mileage of my Kinvara 3's and Pure Drifts (my two main trainers) now totals over a thousand. I'll admit that my level of excitement was raised when I looked into pricing deals on a new pair of Virratas.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day run, but not quite as planned

Today's route - Happy 4th!
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

For some reason, this entire week has felt like a weekend. I was in the city on Tuesday and the whole time I was there, I kept thinking it was Friday. It probably relates to having a holiday midweek, with everyone anticipating an early break and long weekend. Today feels like a Saturday and that's fine with me. The weather is sunny, hot and humid. A perfect day for the pool.

After yesterday's midday run, I thought I'd go out early to beat the heat. I did get up early, but I didn't make my way outside until 9:30 AM, when the temperature and humidity were on the rise. I had considered heading to Stillwell Woods, where the tree cover helps block the sun. I like to do different types of runs on holidays and a trail run would have fit the bill. For practical reasons, I chose to stay in the neighborhood. So no early run and no interesting destination. Maybe tomorrow.

I did break up my usual route today, and that kept it moderately interesting. The weather was oppressive and I looked for shade wherever I could find it. I continue to deal with chest congestion that is finally breaking up and making me hopeful that I'm nearly through it. The downside to that is deep breathing prompts me to cough. Between that and the humidity, my time was sub-par. But a run is a run, and a good workout is valued, regardless of pace.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cow-themed glycogen fueling station

One cow out front. 1,000 more inside
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

I spent yesterday in the city, on a day that started early and ended late. It was was hot, humid and generally uncomfortable, but I was fortunate to see a lot of business friends throughout the day. I switched my usual routine and ran on Monday and took Tuesday as my rest day.

Today, I worked out of my home office and that gave me the flexibility to join my wife and kids at Maureen's Kitchen, a local breakfast place that is famous for its cow theme, large portions and cash-only policy. I usually eat a small breakfast (less than 400 calories) but today I indulged and ordered Maureen's French Toast. I even paid the extra $1.75 for genuine maple syrup. My brother would have been appalled. He lives in VT where good stuff practically flows from the tap. The meals they served us were almost laughably huge, but I managed to get through most of mine.

Due to my schedule, I had calls that prevented me from getting out for a run until 1:30 PM, when the temperature and humidity were at their peak. The heat notwithstanding, it was probably good that I had a chance to digest all those carbs from my morning meal.

I had good energy, probably due to an over abundance of glycogen, and I got through the first mile fairly quickly. I might have turned this into a performance run, but I'm still dealing with chest congestion that caused me to cough whenever I increased speed past a certain point. My cough has improved, but it's still present, even after three full weeks.

Between pushing my speed as far as I dared, the baking sun and the moist air, I finished feeling like I'd just raced. It didn't take long to get my heart rate down, but it was a tough workout. I'm aiming for an early Independence Day run tomorrow that may end with a dive into the pool. Unlike last summer, I will be sure to put aside my phone before I take the plunge.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Considering a new concept: running fast

Comfort or competitive?
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

It was nice to put some speed into my running yesterday, after so many weeks of moderate workouts. It's easy to fall into the trap of running an equilibrium pace, something that I define as the speed I run when I'm not thinking about running. Enabling this behavior are all the articles I'm reading that challenge the long term health benefit of high intensity workouts. But if you want to be a competitive runner, you need to train fast every once in a while.

I envy people who have trouble running slowly. In the early '90's, I went out fast on every run and I think that led to my eventual disenchantment with running. When I returned to running in 2008, my strategy was to ease into my training, building my fitness over time. My enjoyment of running was tied to the experience of being outside and active, without suffering every time I did a run. That's possibly why I am perfectly comfortable running easy.

Every time I race, I want to race again soon. I'm debating whether to subject myself to a July race, or wait until the Dirty Sock in August that has always been the kickoff race to my busier fall and winter race schedule. 

This morning I broke from tradition and did a run the day after a race. I usually take Monday as a rest day, but an early day tomorrow prompted me to do the day trade. In deference to recovery, I ran easy, but the humidity made it feel hard. The wet weather kept me inside on the treadmill so at least I had the floor fan to mitigate the heat. I was happy when I finished.

Weather permitting, I'll be back on the road on Wednesday. My plan is to add some speed to my run, at least during some segments. Who knows, some day I could be one of those people who have trouble running slowly.

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