Showing posts with label expectations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label expectations. Show all posts

Friday, August 29, 2014

Good with my running right now

Give me a Boost?
Tuesday's run (treadmill): 2.3 miles
Today's run (street): 4.3 miles

Happy Labor Day weekend. It's been a busy week, but I was able to get in a treadmill run on Tuesday. But after a long day at the office on Wednesday, I was in no shape for a Thursday run. That leads me to this morning, when I went out for a pleasant neighborhood run before starting a busy (though holiday-truncated) day working from home.

Conditions were superb at 7:00 AM - 60° and not very humid. With the sun still low in the sky, it felt a lot like fall. Friday morning I'd driven through Bayville and Seacliff and counted at least a dozen runners along the way. I envied their freedom as I made my way towards the Cross Island Parkway on the way to work. I appreciated that today I got to be one of the people running.

I covered no new ground on today's route, but still enjoyed the experience. I thought about my current state of running, definitely slower than it was a year ago. I usually beat myself up at the beginning of each run, thinking about this difference. Am I not trying as hard as I used to? The effort feels the same, even if the speed has dropped. After going through both a stress test and physical that revealed no underlying issues, I don't have much to blame it on besides age.

I decided today not to care. I'm not interested in competing right now, so speed isn't that important. I'd like to get back to my previous level of performance and I think I can if I focus seriously on speed. Right now, I like my running for what it is -- a way to maintain mental and physical fitness. I ended up running a little faster today than I have in recent weeks. I attribute that to the cool weather and a good night's sleep.

I cut my day short since the office closed early for the holiday. The Emerging Runner family went out to finish our back to school shopping. We stopped into Dick's and I tried on a pair of adidas Boost Response trainers. I've been curious about these shoes because they have adidas' Boost foam that supposedly returns 30% more energy than EVA.

The fit was great and the shoe had a nice rocking effect that facilitated a rolling gait. I'm not quite ready to replace my Virattas at this point, so I put the shoes back on the shelf. In a few months I'll be looking more seriously and will give them another go.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The sad demise of our Sole F63

Anyone want a crappy treadmill with a brand new console?
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles

A treadmill is a substantial thing, a sturdy platform built for running. Treadmills are expensive because they are engineered to hold up over time. A good example of this is our ProForm L15, a modestly priced treadmill that we bought in the mid-1990's. Although it was used daily, the ProForm was a workhorse that served us well until February 2010. A bad example of this is the Sole F63, that has reached the point where replacing its worn parts will cost 70% of a new unit. And not a moment too soon. From what we were told, these parts are in serious need of replacement.

That was the assessment made by our treadmill repair guy whose opinion we trust. Adding to that, we paid $200 a month ago for a new console (the fourth one since we got the unit) and we needed to pay the tech for his house call to get the bad news. What's frustrating about our experience with this treadmill is that we've done all the right things to ensure a good outcome.

I had such high hopes when we got the F63 four years ago. Our due diligence included much research and a personal recommendation of the brand. My wife made sure the unit was professionally serviced and she was meticulous about following owner maintenance. In the short time that we've had it, we've experienced a motor failure, serious issues with tread slippage and the aforementioned console problems.

The treadmill still works, but it makes a huge racket due to the degraded rollers and failing frame. It could go tomorrow or in six months. The question is whether we should invest in a better brand of treadmill. The cost could be substantial, but the value of doing that would be that pro grade treadmills often come with long or even lifetime warranties. Between my wife and I, we use our treadmill a lot.

I'm now at the point in my week where I jam all my running mileage into three days. This morning I went out for the first time since I ran 400's with the Runsketeers on Sunday. The long rest period helped, and I felt great from the start. I wouldn't call today's run effortless, but it was certainly a pleasent experience. The temperature hadn't broken 70° and the sun wasn't too intense at 7:15 AM. If not for business obligations that required me to cut my run short, I would have gone for six miles.

I'm not sure about this weekend's running. A trail run would be fun. I'll see how I feel in the morning. No rain is scheduled for Saturday, so at least I won't be forced to continue torturing our ailing treadmill.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Humid, hot and foggy, but still a great run

Today's run (street): 4.4

Today was crazy busy, but my saving grace was working from my home office. At least I saved a lot of commuting time. I got in my run (my first since last Sunday) and though I went out early, I was already behind schedule by the time I got back home. I should add at least one more run during the week to maintain my targeted level of fitness, but for now I need to keep the schedule I have.

The weather hasn't been good for running lately. This morning it was 67°, humid and foggy. Rain seemed imminent, so I decided to try my new running raincoat. The jacket isn't vented and I knew I might regret wearing it, since I knew it would trap heat. Still, I was curious to experience running with it.

Surprisingly enough, I stayed fairly cool for the first couple of miles. Better still, I felt strong from the start and maintained great form throughout the entire distance. I ran faster than I expected and probably would have improved on that had I left the jacket at home. The lack of ventilation had trapped sweat and my running shirt was completely soaked by the time I finished.

Perhaps it's the rest time I'm getting by not running Tuesday through Sunday each week that helped me today. I'm time-pressed again tomorrow, and I'm not sure how I'll be able to get in my miles. One way or another, I'll get out there. When I do, I hope to see a continuation of today's good performance.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Brooklyn Half: The calm before the storm

7 miles around the park then five straight to Coney Island
The Brooklyn Half will happen in less than 24 hours. This will be my third half marathon and my first NYRR race. My training for Brooklyn started well and stayed on track until I accepted a full time position on top of my consulting practice. This caused my training program to go off the rails. However, until this week, I did manage to maintain my targeted weekly mileage.

Today is dark and gloomy and heavy rain is predicted for a good part of the afternoon, going all the way past midnight. Better that happen today than tomorrow. I'm working from home today, which will involve a busy morning. Later in the day I'll turn my attention to preparing for the race.

The increased security practices that have been put in place after the 2013 Boston Marathon are restricting what can be carried to races. I need to figure out my gear strategy since the only acceptable bag for race transport is being distributed today at the pre-race party that I cannot attend. Fortunately, SIOR and her entourage will be able to hold our stuff and hopefully get it to us at the finish.

I'm looking at tomorrow with a combination of excitement and curiosity, although I'll admit to being a little nervous about the logistical complexities. I also need to run 13.1 miles in the morning. I've done it before, and my weekend base runs should have prepared me for that distance. The last time I ran a half marathon was in 2012 and I managed to meet my performance goal. Unless I find some unexpected strength and energy that will allow me to maintain a competitive pace, I will be running this race purely for the experience tomorrow.

A large part of the excitement tomorrow is the shared experience. The Runsketeers (SIOR and TPP) will be there, plus friends LS, KWL, FS (among others). I've only run in Brooklyn once, when Adventure Girl and I crossed the bridge through DUMBO and then north to the water. I've always wanted to run in Prospect Park and, from the course map, it looks like I'll be spending more than half the race in and around it. Once we leave the park, it's a straight shot along Ocean Parkway. I hope the wind is coming from the north on Saturday!

Until then it's waiting time. Morning will come soon enough and my friends will be at my house by 4:30 AM as we begin our journey to Grand Army Plaza. This should be fun.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Back to the run, six days later

Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

I had high hopes for my 2014 running the morning of January 1st. I'd finished out 2013's racing season with a credible performance in the Hot Chocolate 5K and (unlike recent years) I'd come through the holidays with neither a cold nor the flu. Me and my running buddies met at Eisenhower Park on New Year's morning to do our first running event of the year, The LIRR Hangover Run. We had fun that day and I felt great afterward. I looked forward to winter running and a return to my old form.

Although my running year got off to a great start, it quickly stalled. The snow rarely stopped and the temperatures rarely rose high enough to melt it off. My choices were to compromise safety and run on narrow icy roads, or stay indoors and use the treadmill. Safety prevailed and, as of today, I've only run outdoors four times in the past two months.

This morning I did my first run in a week. It was a treadmill workout done at a very moderate pace. I believe that this was the first full week (since recovering from pneumonia in early 2010) where I didn't record a single mile of running. What I had wasn't the flu, but it sapped my strength and I knew that pushing myself would not be healthy.

I made the mistake of chipping down the icebergs at the end of my driveway on Saturday so I'd have some room to put the new snow we're supposed to get this week. That 40 minute exercise would have normally counted as a bonus cross training session, but yesterday it felt like I'd logged a long hard run.

I had a great night's sleep and this morning I felt closer to full strength. I exercised caution on the treadmill and dismissed any thoughts about performance. Today's goal was to start the process of recovering any fitness that I may have lost during my downtime. Even at my easy pace, I felt a burn in my throat that I used to get in my early days of running.

I further reduced my speed after each mile. It seemed like the right move since my goal was simply to get through a moderate aerobic workout, not to maintain a challenging heart rate. I'm clearly still recovering, so I'm not sure of my true level of fitness. What I do know is that I'm nowhere near the level of race readiness that I'd expected on New Year's morning. I'll forgo my Monday rest day and, perhaps, take another step forward tomorrow.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

How many miles will you get from your running shoes?

Kinvara 3's: 1000 Km and still looking good
Today's run (treadmill): 4.1 miles

Besides race entry fees, shoes are usually a runner's biggest expense. If you look on the web, you'll find different recommendations for when to replace a pair. Running shoe companies like Brooks recommend replacement between 400 and 500 miles and even less for minimal models. However, a study conducted by a German University biomechanics lab concluded that "the lifetime for a high quality running shoe is expected to be much higher than 1000 km" (621 miles).

In an interesting coincidence, I saw on my Daily Mile gear tracker that my Saucony Kinvara 3's have just hit 621 miles. I had covered 470 miles running on roads and put on the last 151 running on the treadmill. Now that I've reached this point, I wonder how many more miles these shoes might have before they need to be replaced. Does "much higher than 1000 km" mean 200? 500? Even more? The shoes don't feel any different than they did when I got them, and I don't experience any knee pain after I use them.

The venerable GTS-10's
I retired my Brooks GTS 9's at 711 miles but stopped running in the 10's before I hit 400. That was because I moved to more minimal shoes (the original Kinvara and Hattori). Although the GTS 10's were retired for running, they have been my daily casual shoes for over three years. Further, they still feel good enough to return to my running shoe rotation.  

I've put more than 200 miles on my main road shoes (Saucony Virratas) and I'm expecting to get at least 500 more before I'm done with them. Since I rotate in my Brooks Puredrifts, Spira XLT's and Helly Hansen Trail Lizards, I probably won't be buying new shoes in 2014. But if one of these running shoe companies wants to send some new shoes to test on Running Gear Adviser, I would certainly give them a try.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

No expectations, but plenty of Hope

Last year I participated in a race that was put on by my division's parent company. Before the race even started, one of my colleagues shared the tweet he planned to send after he finished. I told him that I never write my headline until I'm done with the race. Too many things can happen between the start and the finish lines. I don't know what my friend ended up tweeting, but I still hold fast to that policy. I ended up having a far different race experience than I'd anticipated that night.

Tomorrow is the Hope for Warriors 10K and I've set no expectations in terms of how I might do. I've done this event twice and have a good understanding of the course. Two years ago, I attained a 10K PR at HFW, after almost skipping it because I hadn't really trained. 2011 was a year of personal bests. I got a another PR at the Long Beach 10K Turkey Trot, just one weekend after Hope for Warriors.

This year has not produced many race highlights. My best performance came early on at the Long Beach 4 mile Snowflake race, where the Petite Pacer beat me over the line in an impressive burst of speed. Since then, I haven't broken a 9:00 pace in a race, even in 5K's. I'm going to run the best race I can tomorrow. As always, I'll wait until I finish before I compose my headline.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A run most difficult. Please explain why.

Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

Today was a tough one. I don't know why I had so much trouble getting through the run but it was a heavy-footed plod from start to finish. There is nothing I can point to that would explain my struggle. I got a good night's sleep, have no symptoms of a cold and the weather was cool and dry. Yet no matter what my mind was telling my body, my body answered, "Don't expect much."

Yesterday's route seemed short and I was surprised at the end to see the distance I'd covered. Today was opposite of that. My route was circuitous and I expected to consume most of my miles within the northern part of the neighborhood. I had a time target, but I wasn't as pressured as much as I was yesterday. I thought I was racking up the distance until I reached my turnaround point and saw that I was well short of my expected mileage. When I approached my home street, I realized that I needed to run another half mile to make my goal.

Although I ran at a sustainable pace, I felt like I was carrying an extra 30 pounds throughout the run. This wasn't the first run I've had like this, and I know that tomorrow's may be far better. I hope that's the case. One bad run is a statistical probability. Two bad runs in a row is a trend.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beware the race day balloon ladies

Step it up Donald!
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

I read a funny article on about the "balloon ladies" that Disney World uses to sweep back-of -the-pack runners in their races. These women work to get the slowest racers off the course so that Disney can open up their streets to theme-park customers. Apparently the balloon squad is viewed with terror by runners who can't maintain the minimum 16 min/mile pace. The next time you finish a race and hang out near the finish line watching the stragglers come in, think about the fact that finishing means as much to them as it does to you.

This morning it was cold and gray, with only 66% humidity. In other words, near perfect running weather. I got out a little earlier than normal because of scheduling pressure, so I tried to avoid roads that are heavily trafficked by school buses. My timing was pretty good and every time I saw a bus it was a safe distance away. Changing up my usual route helped alleviate the boredom that comes from running the same streets, day after day.

My run was unremarkable, except for the fact that I ended up finishing a little faster than expected. That made me happy. I really didn't put too much effort into it, but I did step things up a few times during the run. A little extra speed, when added to a moderately paced run, can result in a satisfactory effort. The cold, dry weather was also helpful, with no energy sapping heat or humidity to slow me down.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Arduous base run and an impromptu trail

Lots of cross country teams on the trails today
Today's run (Bethpage bike and dirt trail): 6.1 miles

Tough run today. I went to Bethpage to get in some base miles and a little hill practice. From the start, my level of energy told me that this would not be a high performance workout. My intention was to make it a variable run: 20 minute easy warm up, 20 minute tempo and a moderate pace to the finish. I even intended to cap the workout with a couple of runs up the big long hill at the start of the older bike trail.

As I made my way the hill leading to the north trail entrance, I knew that I'd be hard pressed to manage the planned tempo. I felt a buildup of excessive lactic acid in my leg muscles and I tried to keep my form correct. I hoped that my stride would soon loosen up. I picked up the pace around mile one, where the biggest downhill section starts. I gained more speed down the hill, but soon encountered the two uphill sections that come just before the Haypath crossing.

Once I got to the other side, I made a split second decision to duck into the woods and follow the dirt trail that runs roughly parallel to the paved trail. I was surprised by the number of twists I encountered along this path. It went on much longer than I thought it might. As expected, the dirt trail terminated at a point on the paved trail, just south of Old Bethpage Rd.

The run in the shady woods invigorated me, and I ran the last of my northern route to Old Country Road. Instead of crossing the street to continue on the bike trail, I followed the sidewalk south about a few tenths of a mile before turning back toward the paved path. At the point, my energy level had dropped to the point where I struggled to maintain speed. I decided to dismiss the plan to do hill repeats at the end of the run.

Th only thing left to deal with were the three consecutive hills that come a mile north of the trail head. I locked in a cadence, shortened my steps and made it through the first one, and was grateful for the slight slope that comes before the next one came. I knew I was less than a mile from the end, so I maintained the fastest pace I could until I reached the end.

Today's run felt far harder than the 7+ miler I did last weekend or yesterday's hilly workout. I suspect that today's difficulty was driven by too much hard effort over the prior six days. I've decided to take both Monday and Tuesday off from running this week to help me recover a little. I'll probably do another core session on one of those days and/or some upper body exercises. I didn't love the run today, but I'm glad I put in the miles.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Great progress, suddenly

Surprising results
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

I think my training program is working. I've been encouraged by the improving paces I'm seeing after taking a more performance-oriented approach to my training runs. Overall, my average pace has dropped about 5% since I started training for Cow Harbor. The trend line was getting me closer to 9:00 per mile, but I hadn't yet reached that goal. That is, until this morning, when I blew right past it.

I wasted no time getting out today, hitting the road about 7:00 AM under very cloudy skies. Going out fast is becoming easier now, although I still suffer through the first few minutes while I hit my aerobic stride. The visual I keep in mind these days is putting my foot on the gas with no letup. Just like in a race, I know that to run faster, I have to think about running fast. Complacency only leads to slow results.

Like yesterday, I used my heart rate as a guide and saw that I was pretty much where I wanted to be. I considered breaking out of my 3 to 3.5 distance range that I typically follow on weekdays. I decided that while I'm developing my speed technique, I'll take a careful approach to adding weekday distance.

When I reached the last few streets that lead me back home, I decided to step it up even more. No reason to reserve more energy than what was necessary to get me to my driveway. After reviewing the metrics, I saw that I'd covered the last half mile at 5K pace. After mapping the run, I calculated that I'd paced 8:50 overall for the run. That was the fastest training run (excluding speed sessions) I've done since early February.

I was both surprised and pleased to have cracked the 9:00 threshold and encouraged that I surpassed my target. Tomorrow may be a good time to start working in a little more mileage while I try to hold the gains. I'm not expecting to repeat today's performance, but hey, you never know.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Today's good run becomes tomorrow's expectation

The daily burden
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

I was a little sore this morning, possibly because my last three runs were done at high effort (though perhaps not at high speed). I haven't put up any sub-9 runs yet, but I'm moving in that direction. My saving grace today was the need to have an early call to Asia. That allowed me an extra hour to loosen up my leg muscles before my run.

Have you ever thought about how great everything seems after you've completed a fast run? You can point to it with pride and feel good about what you've accomplished. But as they say in Hollywood, you're only as good as your last movie. And when training for a race, you're only as good as the last time you ran. Time for resting on your laurels = 1 day. And that day ended for me this morning at 8:00 AM.

I started to prepare for my run after completing my call. Wednesday's good experience had now become today's burden. I knew I couldn't default to my easy running pace and, while I wasn't planning to go all-out, I had mentally set my target. I was determined not to come up short. 

A slight soreness in my legs threw me off on the first half mile. I willed myself to run faster, but I'm not sure the effort fully translated. I do know that when I'm actively thinking about performance, my speed will usually move into the acceptable range. My goal today was to do better than that, so I kept up the mental pressure and hoped that would yield a good result.

I was pleased to see that I ran 5 seconds per mile faster than yesterday. It was great to repeat a good performance and I feel I'm heading in the intended direction. I have the rest of the night to enjoy today's gains. Tomorrow morning, expectations return.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Reflecting on a mediocre race

The gloom of a dark, rainy Monday matches my mood perfectly this morning. One more weekend day would have been nice, even with this wet weather. Despite an hour's nap on Sunday, I think I need a recharge. I'm fairly certain that yesterday's race-day struggles relate to either a lack of sleep or fighting off a virus. I'm not sure there's anything in my training or preparation that I would have done differently.

While I am disappointed to have missed a PR by a large margin, I'm not down about my performance. One bad race is no longer enough for me to worry about my fitness or potential. I've been fortunate to experience most of my bad runs during training sessions, with the 2011 half marathon being a key exception. But yesterday felt like a really bad run.

I'm wondering if I should plan to go out tomorrow morning or take another day's rest before resuming my training schedule. At this point I'm not sure whether I'm better off getting back on the horse, or letting the horse rest a little longer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My perception was better than my reality

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

Getting up and out the door before 4:00 AM this morning wasn't as hard as I expected it would be. I even got up before my alarm and made it outside five minutes earlier than normal. That's always a bonus because it means that I get an extra five minutes to relax and recover before moving on with my morning routine.

My unexpected energy carried through to the road and I felt as though everything was working great. With the exception of some strong breezes that hit sporadically, conditions were pleasant. My stride felt balanced and my cadence felt quick. I didn't look at my Garmin because I wanted to be surprised by my pace when I completed the run.

I was surprised at the end to see how I performed, but not in the way I hoped. This run felt fast, but it took me almost 90 seconds more to complete than normal. I didn't get it and I still don't really understand how a run that felt so good resulted in such a mediocre time. I can usually predict my pace fairly accurately but I was far off today. No matter though. I enjoyed the run and I'll take experience over speed any day (except race day!).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My definition of victory

Today's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

I had lunch yesterday with one of my running mentors, a man who has competed for decades. I told him about Saturday's race and we laughed about my sprint to the end, where I beat out another runner by a second. That made me think about why I race and what I expect from the experience.

I know that there are many runners who line up at the start of a race expecting to win, or to place high in their age division. I know a few of those people, some of whom read this blog. I admire and envy them but I know that I'm never going to be a front of pack finisher. I'm not conceding that I'll never have another age-place win, but I usually come in right in the middle of overall finish order.

Despite the fact that I'm barely competitive in my own age category, I do get a lot out of competition. Every time I pass a person in a race, I feel like a real competitor. This past weekend, when I held my own on the hills while many started walking halfway up, I felt like my training had paid off. And yes, as I sprinted toward the finish and held off a young runner who may have thought he'd blow right by me, I felt like I'd won my own mini race.

I've often thought about racing while out on a training run and tried to imagine other people around me, pulling me along. That never resulted in a noticeably faster performance and I think that's because only real competition brings out the best in us. There are few things in life that feel better than crossing the line to see that you've beaten your targeted finish time. I don't worry about those who finished long before me in races, because I define victory many different ways.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Running difficulty? It's mostly in your head

I reached a point in both my runs this weekend where I thought "Gee, this is hard." But when I thought about it I couldn't really identify the thing that was making my run feel difficult. I wasn't having trouble with my breathing or my knee. My legs were beginning to lose energy but they weren't painful. I realized that the run felt hard because I had covered a certain distance and assumed that's how I should be feeling.

The mild discomfort I felt after four miles of steady pacing was nothing compared to the "I just want it to stop!!" feeling I'd experienced during last Sunday's half marathon. I tried to think about how I'd felt four miles into that 13.1 mile race. Four miles represented only 30% of the distance I'd prepared to cover, while on Sunday it represented my full distance. Had I previously decided to run five miles instead of four would my discomfort have started later? It's clear to me that the hardest part of running (until you reach your physical limits) is preventing a perception of difficulty from undermining a good run.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Which friend do you want to be?

Today's run (street): 2.6 miles

I know a person who runs about 40 minutes every few days. The time is arbitrary because he doesn't wear a watch. He thinks that he runs about four miles each time he goes out but he's not really sure. My friend has little idea of his pace but guesses he runs around 10 minutes per mile. I know another person who cycles through a weekly regimen of training: intervals on the track, tempo runs, strides, Fartleks and distance runs. He knows his paces for all these activities. He usually hits his desired numbers. These two people enjoy running, but the way they engage is very different.

I'm somewhere in the middle in terms of activity and expectations. I do care about my distance and pace but I don't devote much time to the core training activities that help make one faster or better prepared for tough conditions. I view my running satisfaction against two criteria -- performance and experience. Performance is defined for me very specifically: a pace as far below 9:00 per mile as possible or covering a challenging distance. Experience is much more arbitrary. That's defined by how I feel. Some runs are relatively slow but feel great. That's a successful experience. Other runs hit the mark on performance but the price paid is pain and/or injury. Not so successful. As a recreational runner I look for equilibrium between these two criteria. When that balance is reached I am a happy runner.

Today I was not a happy runner. I took my usual rest day on Monday and by last night I was feeling ready to run. We had kinetic storms overnight with wind, thunder and lightning and I feared I'd be stuck on the treadmill today. It was slightly rainy when I got up at 3:45 and I decided to go for it. From my first few steps off my driveway I could tell that I would have trouble on this run. I couldn't generate the leg turnover I needed to get to my desired speed and I felt a bit tired. I hoped that initial fatigue would give way to a boost of energy after a few minutes and while things did improve, it wasn't by much. I ended up running for 25 minutes and only covering 2.6 miles in total. Sub-par performance against my expectations and a fairly miserable experience in the process. On one hand I did go out under rainy skies and did my workout long before most of the world was thinking about waking. If I was friend #2 I'd be furious about my poor performance. If I was friend #1 I'd probably think "That wasn't as much fun as usual, maybe next time I'll feel better." I think friend #1 makes the better point.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Unexpectedly positive run

Today's run (street): 2.64 miles at 9:09 per mile

I was ambivalent about going for a run today. Tuesday and Wednesday's runs were tough and I questioned whether I was pushing myself too hard. The last two times I went out it seemed like I just couldn't get myself out of second gear and I wasn't looking to repeat that experience today. With the temperatures approaching 80 degrees by 6:00 AM and the dew point rising, I considered cranking the AC and jumping on the elliptical. I decided to run but to keep my pace moderately slow. I targeted a top end range on my HRM and I used that as a guide for my level of exertion. Wearing my Kinvaras I took off at a comfortable pace and I was surprised to find the effort was less than anticipated.

Although I had a little more time than usual this morning (I took the day off for my son's graduation) I wasn't planning to go out for more than 25 minutes. The tightness of my upper hamstring was hardly noticeable and, unlike yesterday's run, I had no pain in my right knee. After about five minutes I knew that it would be a good run regardless of my overall pace. Mile one seemed to come when I expected it and I hoped that last night's calibration had finally restored the Garmin's accuracy. I didn't feel like I was moving along very quickly but I refused to look at my watch because I didn't want to feel pressure to speed up. The second mile came faster that I expected it and I was farther from my house than I thought I'd be when I hit that mark. I finished the run with 2.64 miles recorded and thought that the Garmin was way off. My heart rate never climbed to a level of high exertion so I expected my true distance was far less than indicated. When I got inside I Gmapped my route and it came to 2.64 miles so not only is the Garmin accurate but I hit 9:09 on a brutally hot morning.

It was a great feeling knowing I was back running closer to 9 minutes per mile. My son's graduation followed and was also great. He was a host for the day so I got to see him up on the podium a number of times introducing speakers and talking about the school year. A great day with a great start. In terms of my runs, I'll see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hard to be fast when you're lazy

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles at 9:35 per mile

Things felt a little off today as I began my run. I had no complaints about the weather and I didn't feel particularly tired. I just didn't feel in rhythm with the process, either physically or mentally. Although this was my first run after a rest day my legs felt inflexible and heavy. It was almost as if  I was wearing ankle weights. The other analogy that fits is the feeling of being tethered to a weight that inhibited my speed. I tried to up my pace a couple of times but overall I defaulted to the rate I could sustain. Fortunately I've had enough experience running by now to know that unsatisfying runs sometimes happen and that bad runs are often followed by good runs. I'm hoping that will be the case tomorrow.

After a few weeks of very good performance that followed my receipt of two pair of lightweight Sauconys I have definitely moved back to averaging mid-9 minute paces. I want to break nine minutes consistently so I have to decide how serious I'm willing to get to add some performance training to my routine. Although I'm dedicated to my schedule I'm actually a lazy runner. It's rare that I push my speed during my training runs. It works for me because I almost always enjoy myself when I run but I also get frustrated with my lack of progress on speed. I read an article on this morning about using track work to gain speed that can be applied to distance running. I need to decide how serious I am about making a focused effort to improve. The only practical time to do that is on the weekend and I'm reluctant to give up a slot I reserve for longer runs. Perhaps I can do 20-30 minutes of running and then switch to speed work as the article suggests. Sounds worth a try.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pace perception, pace reality

I think I may have a distorted idea about what constitutes my "normal" running pace. In my mind I consider myself a 9:00 miler but in truth I'm not. Garmin Connect provides reporting tools that allow you to analyze your history and this helps me compare where I am today against previous periods. Sifting through the data and applying the appropriate filters allows me to see what paces I was doing last year on the treadmill, the road, the track and the trails. My overall pace, current or historical, means very little because it's a blend of those running types. Comparing or just reviewing anecdotal data, I see that my normal road pace is about 9:15. There is a margin of error because this data comes from my Garmin which has an over/under tolerance of about 3%, depending on its state of calibration. I often move the footpod from pair to pair depending on the type of running that I'm doing. When calibrate accuracy to .01 mile on my Adrenalines and then move the footpod to my New Balance trail shoes I'll get a different result. It's an inexact method but it's good for measuring trends over time.

Prior to last Sunday's race I had focused primarily on building up my running legs with less concern about pace. In the first two post-race runs this week I kept the speed dialed down in consideration of recovery. Today I decided to start faster and maintain a pace that was on the edge of discomfort. About halfway through I increased the speed a bit more and at the end I expected to see that I'd run the type of pace I do for road races (8:19-8:40). I was surprised to see the Garmin readout say I'd covered my distance at 9:00 per mile. It sure seemed faster than that. It's possible that the Garmin under-counted because of calibration variance and I was on the treadmill and not on the road. Next week we'll have our new treadmill that will provide a readout that I can compare to the Garmin's. It was nice to run my "normal" pace today, despite my delusions of grandeur.

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