Showing posts with label experience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label experience. Show all posts

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Great treadmill run. This is not a typo.

Oh, we can be heroes, just for one day
Today's run (treadmill): 3.5 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3. 2 miles
Tuesday's run (treadmill): 1.25 miles
Last Sunday's run (street): 4.1 miles

It snowed this week and the streets have been very unfriendly for runners. The treadmill likes to use these times to prove its worthiness to me. Over the years I have learned to appreciate the indoor option but that doesn't mean I particularly like it. Our FreeMotion machine has been a big improvement over the tortured Sole F63 it replaced and I am grateful for that. Today it was my hero.

I worked from home on Tuesday. Although I had an early video call, I managed to squeeze in a short treadmill run. Very short. But every mile counts and I'm counting that one. I worked from home on Thursday, but limited my exercise to multiple shoveling sessions in order to get through 13" of snow. It turned out to be a good leg and upper body workout, especially when digging out the huge snowbanks at the end of our driveway that were left by the town plows.

I stayed home yesterday because the Long Island roads were still a big mess. I dutifully hopped on the treadmill and cranked out a three miler, the same distance I would have done had I been able to run on the road. I approached yesterday's run like a 5K, starting easy and increasing speed as I went. The last half mile was run about two minutes per mile faster than I've been averaging this year.

This morning I noticed that the streets were relatively free of ice and snow. Unfortunately, the sidewalks were buried under three feet of snow, leaving no place to escape from cars on the road. I elected to run inside.

For those of you who are expecting me to write about how today's treadmill run was just terrible because treadmills are soooo boring I'm afraid I must disappoint. I put on the cable music channel and was rewarded with some great songs. I only wore my Kinvaras and compression shorts and set the treadmill's fan to "stun", so I felt cool and dry most of the way through. I didn't attempt the same challenging pace as yesterday, so the run felt much easier. Dare I say, enjoyable?

Even though I could have gone longer, I elected to cap it at 3.5 miles. Rather than duplicate Friday's progressively faster pacing that left me worn out by the end, I finished feeling energized. I liked that feeling and the treadmill is my friend. At least for today. Tomorrow may be a different story.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

I found something to make the treadmill better

Performance supplements
Today's run (treadmill): 3.7 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 30 minutes

I ran out of time for an outside run on Friday morning, so my only option was the treadmill. I don't know how many times I've written, "my only option was the treadmill" in a blog post, but I'm guessing the answer is "a lot." That's because it's my workout of last resort. I guess the elliptical is also an option, but elliptical-ling is not running. My three weeks of using the elliptical (which coincided with my testing zero impact "running" machines) while recovering from a disc problem clearly proved this.

I had what you might call a bad attitude when I got on the treadmill. I didn't want to use it and did everything I could to make the experience better. That included running shirtless (sorry ladies, no pictures), blasting the fan and putting on what I'd hoped would be decent music to run by. The run never got better, the music sucked and my schedule limited me to 30 minutes. And they were very long minutes. I also forgot to record my distance.

After a busy work day, the ER family went over to our favorite Thai place for a get together with friends. Consuming food that registers high on the Scoville scale makes me happy. I'm wondering if that was the reason why this morning's treadmill run was far more pleasant than Friday's.

Mother Nature had covered the roads with a few inches of snow overnight, so for a different reason I was stuck inside today. Like Friday, I dressed lightly, cranked up the fan and put on the music channel. I was prepared for the worst because I'd planned to run even longer today. Although I'd set the speed the same as yesterday, the effort seemed lighter and the music seemed better.

It must have been the Kaeng Phanaeng Neua and Tom Yum Goong. I was happy with today's run despite the fact that it happened on the treadmill. I ended up pushing my speed progressively and didn't feel overtaxed like I did the day before. I've done enough running to know that good runs often follow bad ones for no explainable reason. But I'm going to assume todays better experience was due to the food.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Back on the trail with Adventure Girl

Adventure on the OCA
Today's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes
Yesterday's workout (OCA Trail): 3.5 miles

It had been more than five years since I ran with Adventure Girl, but when we got onto the Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA) trail yesterday, it was like we'd never left. AG was in town from her home in Missoula for a college reunion and then some. Her schedule this week was very busy and I was thrilled that she came to my office on Thursday to run the OCA with me. Although it's less than a half a mile from my office, it was the first time I've been on the OCA since we ran it back in 2009.

The plan was for AG to accompany me home after the run so she could join the ER family for dinner. Our challenge was getting on the trail in time to get a few miles before we made the long drive back to Long Island. We'd considered running at Rockefeller State Park, but the extra driving would have gotten us home too late. Instead, we relied on AG's supernatural navigation skills and found parking that got us very close to one of the OCA entry points.

After running a steep grade north of Greystone station, we reached the trail and proceeded north. This trail runs from the Bronx to Croton and passes through a number of towns. The trail sits between residential areas yet feels as remote as being in the woods. We were able to see the Palisades and the Hudson River and shared our path with a couple of deer. We turned around when we reached Hastings-on-Hudson. Our pace wasn't especially fast, but we moved along. I gave AG details about my back injury and recovery and she told me about her adventures running an informal 54 mile ultra across the Bob Marshall Wilderness and a 50K she did in Oregon.

Our run seemed to go by in minutes and we managed to get back to my house in enough time for dinner and a birthday celebration for both AG and my son. AG is like a family celebrity and we had a great time catching up with her. All too soon we were putting her on a train back to NYC so she could continue her New York adventures for one more day.

Between the two weekday holidays and yesterday's run, I managed to get to the weekend with more miles than usual. I did an elliptical session today as a change of pace, but I'm expecting to get back out on the trail (paved or otherwise) tomorrow.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

First impression: running in the New Balance Zante v2

Better watch out Kinvara!
Today's run (street): 4.9 miles

It's so annoying when business gets in the way of running, but that happened this week. I missed my Friday morning run because I had to go into the office for a meeting. I did run on Monday because I was home for the Labor day holiday. I don't know if that counts as part of last weekend's activities or it it's part of this week's. I'll have to look in the rulebook to get that answer.

One other thing I did on Labor day was order a pair of New Balance Zante v2s through the Shoekicker site. It was just about a year ago that I got my Kinvara 5s the same way. In both cases I got significant discounts. I have no affiliation with Shoekicker, but I recommend it if you are confident enough to buy a shoe without first trying it on.

I picked the cheapest shipping option and didn't expect to get them for at least two weeks. Last night, in the middle of dinner, Mrs. Emerging Runner said, "Oh, I forgot to tell you, your shoes came today." Here's the thing about me and running shoes. I like them a lot. Especially new ones. I couldn't believe I'd just wasted the past hour having dinner when I could have been trying on my new Zantes. I hurried through the rest of my meal and then scoured the den in search of a box from Jackrabbit Sports.

I purchased the Zantes because my beloved Kinvaras were getting deeply worn on the medial side of the heel.This is the curse of the pronator and, due to the type of shoes I favor (blown rubber out-soles) I tend to wear them out after 500-600 miles. It was the exact reason why I'd replaced my Virratas with the Kinvara 5s last year. Years ago, I ran in less minimal shoes like the Brooks Adrenalins that had EVA and carbon rubber in high wear areas. They were heavier, but I could get over 900 miles out of them.

I've had shoes sent to me by manufacturers to review or mention in the blog. Due to a possible conflict of interest with my day job, I no longer do that. I wasn't paying for those shoes, so I didn't particularly care if they fit me well. When I'm paying, I'm very concerned. There's a moment of truth when I first try them on because there's something at stake and a decision to be made whether to keep them.

Once the Zantes were unboxed, I began to gather impressions. Lightweight, but not as light as the Kinvaras. Nice, breathable one piece upper. Slightly higher drop than the Kinvara, but similar stack height. I've always liked New Balance shoes, but did not like their Minimus models that I felt ran too narrow and had a pronounced bump toward the forefoot. The Zante v2 is very new school, similar to Saucony and Asic's newer, less structured models.

I tried on the Zantes and my first impressions were mixed. The toe box is roomy. That's something I like due to the shape of my foot. However, I was concerned that I ordered them in too large a size. I have to be careful about sizing. I normally wear size 11s and run mostly in Saucony models. The size 11 Zante felt a half a size larger than the Saucony size 11. Due to that, I was concerned the Zantes might run a little sloppy. When I cinched the laces, the upper wrapped securely and held my foot well. A few quick steps around the house and on the treadmill confirmed that they were keepers.

I went out early this morning because I needed to finish my run in time to make an appointment. I also wanted to beat the heat, but there was little chance of that. At least the sun was low and mostly hidden by cloud cover. It was humid but still runnable. I paid close attention to the feel of the Zantes as I took my first steps from my house. They felt stable with no issues with the fit. Toe-off was smooth and responsive. The forefoot was supportive but not overly firm. I felt a little more cushioning than I get from the Kinvara. To be fair, the Kinvara has 500 miles on it and the Zante is brand new.

Just shy of 5
I moved along well and my run felt faster than the numbers indicated. The Zante's mid-sole promotes a rolling gait and the overall firmness gave it a fast feel. I wasn't tracking my mileage but in the almost five miles I ran with them, I could tell that this would be a good distance shoe. I picked up the pace on my last mile and got some decent speed despite the increasingly oppressive humidity.

I'm looking forward to my next run in the Zantes. I decided to get them after reading a review in Runblogger that suggested the Zante as a strong competitor to the Kinvara 7. I wanted a change and I was curious to see what New Balance had to offer. So far, it's an offer I can't refuse.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Yelling nice things on my runs

Weekend route triptych
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday's run (Bethpage bike trail): 5.1 miles
Friday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Every once in a while my enthusiasm for running ebbs a bit. I'd guess that most runners experience peaks and valleys over the years but sticking with it is the thing that defines us. I am doing better these days in terms of stamina, but, right now, I view running mostly as a means to retaining fitness. I'm not detached from it, but I don't think about it as often as I usually do. I know my enthusiasm will eventually return.

Even so, I am getting my workouts in. Friday I ran around the neighborhood before my workday started, covering my usual 5K route under very humid conditions. I'd hoped to defray some of the heat by getting out early enough to avoid direct sunlight. Unfortunately, the sun had other plans and it ended up being a hot and soggy run.

Yesterday I headed over to Bethpage to run the bike trail. I started about 8:00 AM which was probably two hours later than I should have gone out. Running in shade made it bearable. I've minimized my  sugar intake for over a month now. Besides losing ten pounds, I've also come to expect easier runs. For the most part I have, most noticeably in the way I feel at the beginning (no more starting struggles) and at the end (plenty in the tank for finishing fast). Yesterday, that was the case, except when I had the dual displeasure of dealing with big hills and baking sun.

At one point in yesterday's run, I was coming down past the water fountain south of Haypath when two guys started calling to me. As I got closer I heard one of them say, "Is that Greg? We thought you were our friend Greg." I said, "No, but I'll bet he's a good looking guy!" (yes they laughed).  Later on, after I'd turned around at Bethpage Park, I saw a guy who was dressed like me: white hat, sunglasses, reddish running shirt and gray shorts. I wanted to yell, "Hi Greg!" but I didn't want to freak him out.

This morning I managed to get out a little earlier because I wanted to be back in time to watch the start of the Olympic men's marathon. I was really happy to see Galen Rupp get the bronze, but disappointed for Meb who had an issue mid race that put him far back in the field. The other American, Jared Ward, finished 6th. Go USA!

I stuck close to home for today's run, and changed up my usual route. I was coming down the hill on Jericho, past a Starbucks, when I saw a guy walking out to his car eating a bag of chips. He looked at me as I went by and said, "You're making me feel guilty for eating this for breakfast." I shouted back, "There's no bad time to eat potato chips." I'm such a wit.

I ended up covering 3.4 miles, a little more than I planned. I was also extremely lucky because the moment I finished my run, the skies opened up to a downpour. Like my prior two runs, I didn't know my distance until I'd finished. That's because I have to stow my Garmin in my SPIbelt due to the broken strap. As much as I'd like to continue to run with the FR210, it's impractical. I need to decide whether to replace it with a new Garmin or look at models from the numerous competitors that have come into the market with reasonably priced GPS watches since I bought mine in 2010.

We're supposed to get some relief from the humidity next week and I would welcome that greatly. Perhaps the cooler, pre-fall weather will restore my enthusiasm for all things running.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Fitbit fits and multicolored running

These colors do run
Today's run (street): 3.6 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

I really liked my Fitbit yesterday, because it showed that I had reached 6,500 steps after my morning run. I really despised my Fitbit this morning when I checked post-run and saw that it didn't record a single step. What a waste of exercise. The saving grace is that my Garmin captured my run and, using the SPM metric and elapsed running time, I estimated that I ran about 6,400 steps. My Fitbit will never know this. Adding insult to injury, I expect the Fitbit to put a message on the display tonight shaming me for moving so little today.

After eight straight runs over my vacation break, I had a long layoff. My return to the office resulted in no running until yesterday. I was able to determine that my average step count during a work day is about 5,500 and I've been adding about 5,000 more when I got home. If I can't fit in runs Monday through Thursday, I need to generate more steps at work. I've been using a stand up desk in my office for the last year and that's better than sitting, but it's impolite to stand during meetings and worse to pace around the conference table.

The weather this week has been cold and rainy. Yesterday I stayed inside and used the treadmill. As I ran, I thought about how much I dislike the treadmill experience. I tried to think about the positives - the softer surface, no wind resistance (except for the fan), no broken pavement, no cars, and no hills. I had the TV to distract me and I could just set my pace and zone out. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work that way for me. I usually turn off the TV after a few minutes because it starts to annoy me. The lack of true forward progress feels futile. My only thought is that every step gets me incrementally closer to finishing.

This morning started with rain, but I had to bring my son to the high school and wouldn't have been able to run before then anyway. By 9:00 AM the skies had cleared, and I got outside for a neighborhood run. There was a lot going on for us, so I wasn't able to cover that much distance. I appreciated the cool air and the cloudy skies. My run almost felt automatic. It was as if I was riding along, rather than doing any work.

While my son was getting through his SAT and I was running through my neighborhood, my wife and daughter were at Citi Field participating in the Color Run. This is a non-competitive run where participants get sprayed with colored corn starch along the way. The "race" starts in the corridors under the ball park and winds through the playing field and then around the stadium area. It was a fun pre-Mother's Day activity and definitely more fun than taking the SATs.

Tomorrow is officially Mother's Day so I'll need to get out early. I hope the rain will stay away long enough for me to get a few miles in.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Middle school snow shoe adventure

Trekking along the glacial firn
Today's workout (snow shoeing): 1 hour (2.75 miles)

I decided to go straight for an outdoor workout today and headed over to the middle school for some snow shoe trekking. There's still plenty of snow cover, but the roads are free of it. Wearing snow shoes on pavement is a no-no because of the crampons, so I elected to take a short drive over to the school. It's difficult getting my boots into the bindings, so I put them in beforehand and then stepped into my shoes when I was ready to start.

Once equipped, I walked onto the field and headed out. The school field's perimeter is about a half a mile if you keep to the far edges. I thought I'd do a few laps around and see how it went. I started moving at a brisk pace but had to ease up a bit after a quarter mile. Like running, you need to anticipate that you will heat up over time. Unfortunately, I didn't do that. After ten minutes I was ready to shed my top layer and ski mittens.

ER was here
Instead of laps, I followed the snow where it drifted and where there were interesting areas to "explore." I criss-crossed in both directions and, just for fun, spelled out ER in honor of the eponymous blog. Going in a straight line over a period of time (versus the frequent slowing and turning required in my backyard) was ultimately wearying and certainly a good workout.

I tried to gauge my level of exertion compared to running and ellipticalling. Running in snow shoes felt comparable to hard track intervals, while brisk walking felt like a challenging hike. Overall, I'd position the effort of snow shoeing as somewhere between running and the elliptical. Of course, that comparison only applies to me. People who are elliptical maniacs may consider that a harder workout. Then again, those people would probably be snow shoe maniacs too.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Perfectly pleasant, yet forgettable run

 
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

I usually stall before I run on Friday mornings, but I got out early this morning, The rhythm of my neighborhood shifts from minute to minute. Leave too soon and you risk running into a caravan of middle school buses. Leave too late and you're dealing with the maniacs driving sanitation and recycling trucks. I managed to time it just right today.

Someone described perfect racing weather as 50° and overcast. Those were the conditions this morning. I felt strong from the start, and enjoyed the peaceful experience running along quiet roads. Without the distraction of traffic, I was able to mentally prepare for my first video call of the day. It was just me, the sound of my footsteps and the bare December trees to keep me company.

I made my way around my route and felt as good at the end as I did at the start. It was a completely pleasant run, but so indistinct that, hours later, I'd forgotten whether I'd done my workout. I'm not sure where or when I'll run this weekend, but I'm glad I got a few miles in today. It may be time to get to the track for some intervals. If I want to break out of my "easy does it" running habit, I need to work a lot more on anaerobic conditioning.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Wrong day for a runner's mullet

Not a good choice for 63°
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

My new role at work is turning me into one of those people who need to schedule meetings in 15 minute increments. Some of this is due to absorbing a lot of new groups and responsibilities all at once. In the short term, it will be long days. Things should ease up eventually. Last night I left the office a little later than I wanted. By the time I got home it was too late for a run or a workout.

I worked from home today and that saved me approximately three hours of total commuting time. I started working at 5:00 AM and took a break around 8:00 to do my run. It was 63 degrees outside but it felt cold in my house. I probably should have gone with short sleeves, but I went with long sleeves on top and shorts on the bottom. It's what I call a runner's mullet.

Halfway through my run I renamed it the "runner's bad decision" because the low clouds had given way to sunny skies and I was heating up fast. My distance target was modest and I knew my run would be short enough to bear the heat. About 2/3rds through my run, my cell phone rang. It was my office and I had to think about whether I'd cop to running when I answered it. Luckily it took so long to fish my phone out of my SPIbelt that the call went to voicemail. On the bright side, that short break cooled me down nicely.

The fact that someone was waiting for me to respond motivated me to pick up my speed. I covered the last mile much faster than the previous two and I was back home and on the phone in 10 minutes. I'm glad I had the opportunity get my run in today. Next week will very tight and I'll need to go into the office on Friday. Monday is a holiday so I'll get to string four runs in a row. That's good because, after Monday, I'll probably go run-less until next Saturday.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

What I did on my run times 2,000

This is how it started
Today's run (street): 4.9 miles

During yesterday's run, my buddy Steve asked me the reason why I started my running blog. I told him I'd started it as a journal of my running experience and I had no expectation that, seven years and 2,000 posts later, I'd still be regularly writing about my running. Emerging Runner is still mostly about the simple experience of running, although I do occasionally venture into the areas of news, reviews and opinion.

I've made some great friends and running buddies through emergingrunner.com whose support and snark motivate me to keep running and writing. Runsketeer buddy She is Out Running will be running the St. George Marathon in Utah this coming weekend (in 95° weather). Last weekend she ran the Reach the Beach 200 mile relay. Her hilarious relay writeup should not be missed.

I managed to get myself out the door early today and kept it local, since yesterday's trail run satisfied my need to break out of my neighborhood. It was cooler and drier than yesterday, and it took me a full mile to build a mild sweat. This was the first run in recent memory when I didn't pay attention to how much distance I had left to cover before heading home.

Ignoring my Garmin was liberating, but I lost track of progress and ended up back at my house a tenth short of my 5 mile target. All the same, I strung together four good runs this week. I'm expecting the coming week to be very busy and I'm hoping that doesn't interfere with my workout schedule. With this weather, I want to get outside as often as I can.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Runs go by fast in good company

 
Today's run (street): 3.8 miles

Running with friends, even when I'm not technically running with friends, is always a positive experience. I've had numerous running partners over the past eight years and I can't remember a single run that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. As a result, some of the longest runs I've done have felt much shorter. It's all due to the company I keep.

It used to be easier for me to run with other people, because our paces would generally match or I would adjust to other's slower paces. I've lost a lot of speed over the past few years and I've now become "the slow one." Whether I can come back from that is another story. In the meantime, my "group running" is usually done mostly on my own, with a mile or two spent with friends who slow down to accommodate me.

Even with that, I still enjoy group runs because much of the experience involves the planning, the meet-up and the moments where we do interact. Yesterday, while my friends did multiple loops around the lake, I followed the trail back anticipating our reunion at the trail head and the time we'd spend together afterward.

A shared experience can be defined a number of ways. I may have covered half of my miles by myself on Saturday, but I still felt connected to the group. Time went by faster than it would have if I'd done this adventure on my own. The apr├Ęs-run coffee provides a chance for everyone to interact when it's not possible to do that on the road or trail. Yesterday I ran my longest distance to date in 2015 and it seemed to take less time than the two shorter runs that bookended it.

Today's run around my local roads was perfectly fine. Conditions were great and there were enough runners out this morning to make me feel like I was part of something. I'm very pleased with my activity this week, both in terms of running volume and number of workouts. I hope I can maintain that level going forward.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Learning to love the run (again)

Friend of the devil
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles
Saturday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

We spent most of this weekend in the city and that somewhat altered my running schedule. We had to get downtown fairly early for a college tour, so I did a quick elliptical session before we headed out. I figured that the amount of walking we'd do would compensate for a longer run I would have done this weekend. I'm not sure that's true, but we certainly covered a lot of ground up and down the streets of Manhattan. This morning we visited Madam Tussaud's. Touristy but fun. I even got to hang with my buddy Jerry Garcia.

SIOR and family were also in town last night taking in different sights. It would have been fun to run into them. She did eight miles yesterday and 15 today. When I expressed my view about running that many miles (ugh) I was sharply rebuked. I decided to try to see her point and view summer running as a positive. When we got back home I decided to cap today's city walking with three miles of afternoon running.

I had in my head that it would be an easy workout. It didn't feel too hot when I started and I immediately began thinking about the experience. Was I enjoying this run or was I doing what was necessary to maintain my fitness? I realized then that I am coming up on seven years as a runner and wondered if my current view of running (necessary but not particularly fun) coincides with that span of time.

Is there such a thing as the seven year running itch? The point where you're pretty much the runner you're going to be? There aren't a lot new experiences and surprises when you've run the same basic route 1,000 times. SIOR has been running a lot longer than me and she still looks forward to fifteen mile training runs. How do I get there?

I ran my route and, like always, thought about my arm position, stride and cadence. I still care about how I run and that was an important realization for me today. The heat and fatigue from a busy weekend eventually got to me and, although the run was short, it couldn't have ended sooner. Perhaps I need to rethink my running goals and even sign up for another half marathon. It's not about the race. It's about the training that I need to do to look at 10+ mile runs as fun again.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Crabby on Friday, better today

Don't eat at Joe's
Yesterday's run (street): 3.5 miles
Today's workout (elliptical): 40 minutes

I work from home most Fridays and that experience (no commuting or multiple meetings) usually provides a nice segue to the weekend. My responsibilities have ramped up in recent weeks and Fridays have become a blessing in terms of catch up time. Except for yesterday, where I started at the crack of dawn and didn't stop until close to the crack of dusk.

My one concession to the Friday workday madness was to break away for a short time to do a neighborhood run. Once I was satisfied that I addressed some overnight business issues, I quickly changed into running gear and headed out the door. The humidity and temperature were both surprisingly low and I looked forward to a pleasant experience.

It's much nicer running on Fridays without  buses and school drop-off traffic. But the recycling manics remain. These guys drive their ten ton truck around my neighborhood streets like it's a Porsche, exceeding the posted speed limit by 20 MPH and ignoring stop signs. Whenever I hear the roar and rattle of the truck, I make a beeline to the sidewalk. Even though there are 5+ miles of road in the neighborhood, I always end up encountering them at some point on my route.

Except for the truck, the run went fine. I had some slight breathing issues when I tried to push my pace, and I'm thinking that my aerobic threshold may have dropped over the last couple of years. If that's the case, it would explain my measurable reduction in speed. I had hoped last weekend's intervals would have gained me some improvement, but perhaps a mile of repeats at around 92% of max heart rate was not enough to make an impact.

Even with decent weather, I ended up feeling depleted. I had a fast shower and then it was back to work for the rest of the day. We had planned a family dinner last night at Joe's Crap Crab Shack which recently opened in our area. We'd gone to one in Orlando years ago and had a great time. We all looked forward to this dinner.

I don't know if I happened to be getting sick (perhaps my hard run and the long day standing in front of my laptop were responsible), but by the time we left the restaurant, I was feeling awful. The experience at Joe's was interesting. Here is my recommendation: Don't eat at Joe's Crab Shack. At least don't eat at the one in Westbury, NY.

We arrived at the place before the busy hour and although the room was more than half empty, we were told we'd have to wait for a table because they didn't have enough servers. My wife wanted to leave, but we were all hungry and chose to stay, since they managed to "find room" for us in the back. This back area resembled the dining room of a highway truck stop circa 1973. The photo at the top shows the room full of invisible diners we needed to walk through to get to our table.

The greasy fish I had was terrible and no one else liked what they'd ordered. By the time we got home, I was feeling sick and had to lay down for a few minutes. I rallied enough to go out back for our Friday night fire pit and even managed enough of an appetite for a S'more. We have seen some interesting things on these nights, like an extremely porcine raccoon "sneaking by" atop the fence. Last night we were again dive bombed by a bat, who perhaps thought the pool was a pond.

This morning I was time-pressed because we had an early appointment at a local college. I probably could have fit in a short run, but I was still feeling iffy and decided to do today's workout on the elliptical. Despite my opening windows on both ends of the room for air flow, it was humid as heck. Even so, the workout was pleasant. Some people don't like the elliptical, but I do, mostly because it's not a treadmill.

Tomorrow I'm heading to Massapequa Preserve to meet up for a Runska-run. I'm hoping that I'll be in ready shape for the six miles I plan to cover. The heat and humidity are supposed to be off the charts, so I'm not planning to do these miles very fast.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Beefs and intervals on the track

Making great strides
Today's run (track): 3 mile run, plus 8 X 200

Although my pace throughout last Sunday's Bethpage run was s-l-o-w, I was encouraged to see my speed improve once I started running with SIOR. Unfortunately, my speed dropped again once she who was out running brought her pace back to target. Left to pace myself, I'd defaulted to a lower performance level.

My orthopedist told me that my ruptured disc won't return to its prior state on its own and he warned me of pushing my speed too hard. I've been very careful to avoid circumstances that would aggravate my lower back and my recovery has been excellent. The near trip I experienced during a trail run last weekend didn't cause a relapse, so I decided it was safe to push the envelope a bit this weekend.

My morning schedule was tight so I needed to get out for an early, fast workout. When I arrived at the track there was the usual mix of people -- mostly walkers and others who were alternating between running and walking. I had no plan, other than to run intervals that I would start after some warm up laps. I ran clockwise, on the inside (right) lane, to help counter-balance my usual running position on the left side of the road.

GPS inaccuracy: I swear I stayed on the track the entire time
After I'd completed my second lap, I noticed a guy wearing a singlet on the track about 100 meters in front of me. He looked like he was about to start his run, but pulled up short behind a man who had been walking laps. Once I reached them, I heard the runner arguing about the walker's rudeness. In the seconds that I passed them, inferred that the walker had bumped into the other guy and failed to apologize.

I continued on my way but noticed that they were still in a heated conversation when I circled back toward where they were standing. I was prepared to give them the, "C'mon guys, let it go" speech but they stopped on their own before I reached them. I continued rounding the track until I'd completed twelve laps and saw that the singlet guy had started running 200's. Instead of taking a short rest or running a slow jog before resuming, he slowly walked 200 meters to the next starting spot and rested a few minutes before resuming. I ended up doing two 200's for every one that he did.

My feeling of superiority was quickly dashed. A young woman, who was also running strides, overtook and passed me like I was walking. At that moment, I was running a 7:15 pace. No matter how fast you run, there's always someone faster. In my case, that's usually everyone else.

I'm pleased that I got in some speed work today. I haven't checked Garmin Connect, but I think that was my first interval session in 2015. It was a pleasure to see the histogram on Connect that showed my cadence firmly in the green zone throughout most of the workout and my average stride length ten percent longer than usual. Mostly, it was great to see a mile split in the low 8 minute range for a change.

Friday, May 1, 2015

So-so on the ISO

 
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

I went out for a run this morning with the hope that I'd be back to pre-injury form. The temperature was in the high 40's when I first went out. It felt chilly, but once I got out of the shade I was glad I'd worn shorts. I decided to give my Saucony Triumph ISOs another try despite the difficulties I had last time with my feet getting crammed at the front. I did fine with the Virratas last weekend and I'd go back to them as my primary shoe if they weren't so badly worn.

While there was no real pain during the run, I did feel that now-familiar discomfort in my hamstring throughout the first mile. My gait felt restricted, but that dissipated over time. Even though I didn't burn up the road today, it ended up feeling like a pre-injury workout. I'm going to do some dynamic stretching before I go out tomorrow. That warm-up may help me get comfortable a lot sooner.

I paid attention to the Triumphs because I agreed to evaluate them for Saucony. They were the Spring 2015 Editor's Pick in Runners World based on their construction and cushioning. I realized, after spending time with both the Kayanos and these Triumphs, that I prefer a more minimal trainer. I know that I'm striding differently these days due to the disk issue and that could be influencing my experience.

As I continue to recover, I'll be curious to see if my opinion of the Triumphs will change as my stride starts feeling more natural. I had three great "running inspired" workouts this week, bookended by some good actual runs. I'm hoping the good running experience continues throughout the weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Somewhere between running and not really running

Running-ish
Workouts this week (running fitness machines): 60 minutes 
Today's workouts (treadmill): 1 mile plus (elliptical): 20 minutes

I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in a test of fitness machines that mimic the motion of running. Unfortunately, I can't share the brands or models until after the study is completed. At this point I'm thinking that the only fitness machine that actually makes you feel like you're running is a treadmill. However, if you keep an open mind, these machines can provide a great workout.

The concept of running comes up a lot in discussions about the test subjects. It's probably more accurate to look at these fitness machines as variations on an elliptical trainer. If you don't like ellipticals, your opinion won't change much when using this new design. Runners who do like elliptical machines will probably appreciate the key differentiator: user controllable stride length.

I've had orientation sessions using three different machines that have provided distinctly different experiences. On the positive side, the lack of impact produces a pain-free workout. Each machine approaches the motion of running differently and my acclimation to the "running" process varied greatly, based on the design. Not so positively, I've noticed a slight pain in one heel and at the side of one knee, although this may not be related to testing. I had a stand up desk installed in my office and have been on my feet a lot more this week.

High stand-ards
The pain from my herniated disc has noticeably diminished but hasn't disappeared. My orthopedist has once-again canceled my follow up appointment, so I need to look into finding a different doctor. The improvement I've been seeing is encouraging, but I suspect that it may still hurt if I try another road run,

I decided to test the waters with a one mile treadmill run this morning. The forgiving and flat surface provided the best possible scenario for protecting my injured disc. I feared that the pain in my upper thigh that made Saturday's run a torture session would reappear. The pain didn't return, but my gait felt awkward throughout the entire session. I followed the treadmill run with 20 minutes on the elliptical, making it a well balanced, moderate workout. I may hit the road tomorrow and I hope it doesn't hit back.

Friday, February 20, 2015

First run: Freemotion 850 & Saucony Triumph ISOs

The new new things
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles? I forgot to check!

I listened to the weather on my way home from the office last night and was disheartened to hear that we'll be facing below-zero temperatures and more snow this weekend. But then I remembered that we have a new treadmill and suddenly all was right in the world. I was very happy after that, and even happier when my wife reminded be to swing by Panda to pick up our Chinese New Year dinner.

With all the snow and ice we've had this year, options for running have been limited. This was made worse with the failure of our treadmill. The only choice I've had this month has been the elliptical machine. While I've come to really appreciate the workout, I've missed running a lot. I work from home on Fridays and that gave me my first opportunity since January 25th to actually run. Not only would I be using this treadmill for the first time (the minute I spent on it the day it was delivered doesn't count), but I'd also have my first run in the Saucony Triumph ISOs.

I was curious to see how I'd do after three-plus weeks away from running. Did the elliptical sessions preserve my fitness, or would I find myself overtaxed? I plugged my phone into the sound jack and started up a podcast. The very large built-in speaker amplified the voices well enough to clearly hear over the motor. This is so much better than earbuds, which I despise. I stepped up on the new machine and immediately appreciated the quiet, shriek-free experience.

The Sauconys felt good underfoot. They are well cushioned but don't feel heavy. The Freemotion's deck suspension feels more responsive than the Sole's. I took it fairly easy to avoid aggravating muscles that are not used to running. Running felt surprisingly good and the first mile went by quickly. I thought the Triumphs felt more comfortable and ran a lot better than the Kayanos.

It's really great to be able to run again after almost a month and I was pleased that I got through today's workout without feeling like I've lost fitness. I may find it a bit tougher when I finally return to the road. Overall, I should do fine. I know I'll eventually disparage the idea of treadmill running, but for now, it's great to have that option again.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The man I most envy

 
Today's run (street): 4 miles

Envy is one of the "Seven Deadly Sins" and it relates to many aspects of running. Unless you are an elite runner, there's always someone faster than you. For the most part, I don't begrudge the running achievements of others. In fact, when I see my fellow Runsketeers PR and podium, I'm sincerely thrilled. A lot of that has to do with the work they do to get there. It's far more than I'm willing to do.

When it comes to running, the person I envy most is me. Huh? Let me explain. I don't envy myself while I run. That would be more like self pity. For instance, this morning's run was really cold and I was very uncomfortable. I tried to get some speed going, but my lower layers were restricting my full range of motion. My eyes were watering from the wind hitting me in the face.

It was then that I started to envy myself. Not the me of the moment, but the future me. The me who, thirty minutes later, would be sitting in my warm dining room with a hot cup of coffee and a Kind bar. Oh how I envied that lucky bastard as I ran along the uneven and unyielding sidewalk so that I could avoid all the cars, recycling trucks and school buses.

Just to be clear, I don't always envy my future self. Running can be hard, but it can also be a great experience that's looked back on fondly by future me. While envy is a sin, it can provide great motivation. How many of us have stepped up our pace during a miserable run just to get through it faster? Technically, that's impatience, which I don't think is a sin. But that impatience does lead to the fifth Deadly Sin, "Feet that are swift to run into mischief."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Running along the Shining Sea Trail

Watch out for turtles!
Yesterday's run (Shining Sea trail): 4.2 miles

We've just returned from a mini vacation to Falmouth MA. This is a favorite spot for the Emerging Runner family and we've been going there for years. The last two times we've visited the Cape, I've taken advantage of Falmouth's Shining Sea Bikeway that goes 10.7 miles from North Falmouth to Woods Hole. Yesterday I covered 4.2 miles of the path and saw some beautiful sights.

The trail was created along the former Plymouth and Vineyard Sound Railroad line that was built in 1861 to run trains from Sandwich to the southern tip of Falmouth. Train tracks are usually constructed on level terrain so the converted bike trail is fairly flat. While the trail did gradually slope up and down at various points, the grade was small. This made the shifts in elevation barely noticeable.

Park and run
Getting to the trail is easy with numerous access points along the way. Last year I entered at the northern trail head and ran a five mile out and back route that brought me through a few cranberry bogs. Yesterday I entered the trail farther to the south where I could park my car and jump right on the path. It was similar to how I access the Bethpage trail after parking on Colonial Road. The Bethpage trail is scenic, but the Shining Sea Bikeway provided some truly stunning views.

I want that shirt
Soon after I started, I saw what appeared to be a dog sitting on the side of the trail wearing a yellow jersey. When I got closer I realized it wasn't a real dog. I was amused to see that jersey was an event tee from the famous Falmouth 7 Mile road race. Not long after that, I saw the first of many ponds and marshes that appeared along the trail. The areas that didn't face water were densely lined with trees on both sides, making the experience more intimate than Bethpages's more open space.

Swans and ducks on Oyster Pond
I imagined that this all looks pretty much the same as it did 100 years ago to people riding the train to Woods Hole. There were a lot of people on the trail yesterday morning walking, riding and running. My route took me to the mid-point of the trail, where I turned around and headed back. If I'd had more time, I would have added a couple more miles. The straight flat trail made me feel like I could run all day.

The only downside of this workout was that it amplified the soreness I've had over the past few weeks. We did a lot of walking yesterday and I was concerned that I had re-aggravated my injury. Instead of running when I got home this afternoon, I went for a 3 mile walk around the neighborhood. So far so good.

If it's better tomorrow morning, I'll try to go out for a few miles in the morning. I have an early obligation so I'll need to get out before sunrise to fit it in. I wish I could run on the Shining Sea Bikeway again, but that will have to wait until our next Cape Cod visit.

Friday, December 5, 2014

First impression of the new Kayanos

So far so good
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

It wasn't until I was ready to put on my running shoes that I remembered I had a brand new pair of ASICS Kayanos sitting in a box in my gear cabinet. I was excited to try them out and experience a very different platform. After years of low, minimal running shoes, I'm returning to a more cushioned trainer. It's a little like going from a sports car to a luxury sedan. Both are great, but for different reasons.

Today was going to be busy and long and I was grateful not to have to do my long commute. I got myself out the door early enough to keep on schedule but (unfortunately) it was just in time to play "dodge the school buses and recycling trucks" in my neighborhood.

Once my Garmin got its signal I was off. The Kayanos definitely felt different from my Virratas. It wasn't the pillowy float that I had expected. Instead, my impression of the shoes was a combination of comfort and purpose. The shape of the mid-sole facilitated a good rolling gait and that meant something today. My legs were not feeling too springy.

I really liked the Kayanos but, as short as it was, I didn't enjoy the run all that much. It may have been due to all the things I needed to do once my workday started, but it was probably more related to how I felt. Despite being far below aerobic threshold, I had some labored breathing during the first half of the run. Warming up corrected that, but I began to feel some leg fatigue near the end. Some days are like that, even on shorter runs.

I ended up pacing decently - still below target, but better than prior weeks. I think the responsive Kayanos actually helped me today. I'm disappointed to read that rain is expected overnight and into the morning. I really don't want to face the roar of the treadmill, so I'll run with my rain jacket if it isn't a downpour. If that's the case, I won't be wearing my new shoes.
 

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