Showing posts with label night running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label night running. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The curious case of the runner in the nightime

Thanks for nothing
Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

A short treadmill run at 4:00 AM on a weekday can sometimes seem harder than a six mile hilly run on a weekend. Going from sleeper to runner in just a couple of minutes is tough, but I've managed to fit in at least one mid week treadmill workout over the last few months.

This morning felt a little easier than in prior weeks. That may be due to the lowering humidity. The time went by fast and I was surprised how quickly I reached the 15 minute point. I considered taking advantage of feeling that good and increasing my speed. I thought about the long drive to my office, the busy day that lay ahead and the possibility of wearing myself out. I stayed with my normal pace.

Later, as I made my way through the neighborhood, I came up behind a guy running in the middle of the road. It was still very dark, but he had no reflective gear. I didn't see him until I was practically on top of him. My headlights were lighting up his path and yet he didn't make any attempt to move out of my way. I drove behind him at 4 MPH until it was time to take a left, while he continued going straight. I wanted to roll my window down and say something, but I've learned that fools can't be taught.

I've been thinking about returning to 4:00 AM outdoor runs with my reflective vest and headlamp. After today's experience, I think I'll stick with my treadmill workouts.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Off schedule run

Today's run (street): 4.8 miles at 9:21

I had appointments all morning and after that we spent the day celebrating my son's birthday. That threw off my running schedule and I didn't get out until a little after 5:00 PM. I'm definitely a morning runner in terms of energy peak but I've read numerous articles that claim performance is generally better between 4-8 PM. This is supposedly true for everyone, regardless of when they normally train. I was curious about that when I set off in 50 degree weather that was ideal but for the strong breezes coming from the west. I followed a different route than normal, just for the change.

Despite being somewhat tired from the day, I was moving along well and was surprised by how quickly I reached the first mile. I managed to string together enough roads to total 4.8 miles before finishing. Not too many people were out at this hour and those that I did see were walking their dogs. I was happy to have completed a Saturday run but I felt bad that I didn't even cover 5 miles. I could have easily run another quarter mile but when I got close to home I decided to call it a workout. I'm planning a morning run at Stillwell tomorrow and I think I'll aim for the more distance. I may also take on some of the challenging paths that I've avoided the last few times I've run there.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The one after 9:09?

You might recognize the subject of this post as an old Beatle's song. For me it's a question of how I'll do the next time I go out for a run at 4:00 AM compared to the last two days. This early morning outdoor running has been a great enhancement to my overall workout program. I cannot remember the last time I got up at 4:00 knowing that I would need to endure the tedious and percussively loud whine of the treadmill. I appreciate the machine and respect that after more than a decade it still does the job. I built my running fitness with this treadmill over many months. However, respect and affection can be very different things.

Moving from a seven-day-a-week (five on the treadmill) routine to five days running outdoors, one day of elliptical and one rest day schedule has been a big improvement. I've never been much of an outdoors person (ask my wife) but running has changed that. Give me the road and the trails (or, worst case, the track) and I'm happy. I get up excited at 4:00 AM knowing cool conditions and quiet streets await me. The only downside has been that my pace seems to suffer early in the morning, especially compared with my past treadmill experience. Where I was running 8:50 miles on the treadmill I was running 9:30 or slower outdoors. I guess it has to do with the machine providing more help than I thought.

This morning I went out fast and tried to maintain a fluid pace. I knew from experience that feeling like I was moving along quickly can be deceiving at that hour. I ended up covering almost the same distance as yesterday, 2.4 miles, but my pace had improved to 9:09. This is definitely the direction I want and I'm wondering if I can maintain this progress going forward. In the meantime it's another $20 into the Garmin fund for breaking 9:10 before the birds are up.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Trading pace for pleasure

I was woken up around 1:30 this morning and noticed that the rain was coming down hard. I went back to sleep hoping that whatever storm was passing through would be long gone by 4:00 AM. When my alarm clock went off my first thought was a concern that the rain was still there. If so, I'd have little choice but to remain indoors and run on the treadmill. Happily things were clear and I made way outside to run in the cool misty air.

It's been a long time since I've done an indoor run. Between my early outdoor runs in the dark, weekly rest days and elliptical workouts I've managed to avoid the dreaded tread. The last time I ran on it I had a fairly pleasant experience but most of the other times it was near torture. Now that I'm doing all my runs on trails and pavement I've noticed my average pace has suffered compared with where it was months before. I'll blame that on the treadmill too. Even though I disliked the experience the actual performance metrics were more impressive with most of my indoor runs clocking well below a 9:00 pace.

Still, I'll take the tradeoff of loving the run versus loving the pace. I've always felt that treadmill paces were artificially low because the motion of the tread does some of the work for you. This morning I hit the streets at 4:09 and ran a little over 22 minutes covering 2.43 miles. Although I tried to push it and really felt that I did I only averaged 9:12/mile for the run. When I compare this focused effort on a relatively flat route to yesterday's 8:49/mi Central Park run with lots of hills I'm a bit puzzled. No matter, 9:12 at is the fastest time I've done for a very early morning outdoor run. I'll call that progress.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In the dark about pace

I went back to my 4:00 AM run routine this morning. It was the first time in almost two weeks that I did this early morning outdoor workout. The stage was set for a good run as I was coming off a non-running day. The air was relatively cool and I'd had a good night's sleep although I did feel a bit tired as I made my way outside. I knew once I hit the street I'd be fine.

When I started my run I felt some initial leg tightness but not too much pain. I was conscious of my speed and I tried to maintain a brisk pace. I was slightly more alert than I'd been in previous runs in the dark and I hoped that this, plus top-of-mind awareness of my speed and form, would land me below 9:00/mile. I was at the 20 minute mark when I turned onto the road that would lead me home and I decided to put even more energy into my pace. Based upon how I'd run I expected to finish with about an 8:50 overall pace. When I arrived home I checked my Garmin: 2.44 miles in 22:55. 9:24 per mile. Huh?

I don't get it. I did everything I could to maintain a good pace. I lifted my knees, kept my head up and concentrated on staying upright and practically sprinted the last half mile. I'll Gmap my run later today as a check against the accuracy of the Garmin but I know that it will match closely. There's either something about the dark or a flawed expectation that I can run efficiently at such an early hour. No matter, it was still a good run and a good workout and I enjoyed being back on the street at 4:00 AM.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The running clothes make the man

There's something very motivating to me about running gear. Walking through the running sections at City Sports, Paragon and even Target sparks a desire to buy something and then immediately go running. Those who know me understand how much I usually dislike clothes shopping. Every weekend my wife suggests that I go get some "clothes that fit me." I almost never do because I find it tedious. But if she suggested that I go spend the day looking for running gear I'd be out the door in an instant.

Last night I placed my morning running gear on the bed in the guestroom. Just seeing it this morning generated excitement and anticipation of a run. There's something about putting it all together: the running shorts, HRM, Garmin watch, jersey, socks, shoes, vest, hat, headlamp and tail light makes it seem purposeful. I recall having the same feeling getting ready before a hockey game or karate class.

The whole process of preparing for my 4:00 AM run is becoming more efficient. I still get a thrill watching my garage door rise up slowly to show the early morning scene of mist highlighted by house lights, everything quiet save for the sound of a few sprinkler systems and an occasional bird chirping. I usually do some quick warm-up exercises to minimize the initial pain and stiffness I'm still feeling from my right leg. Then, with a push of a button on the Garmin, I get a jolt of excitement and start to run.

I'll admit that these early morning runs feel easier that those I do later in the day. It may be the cool air or the fact that I'm not fully awake but it feels almost like I'm riding rather than running. That may be a reason why my pace times have been a bit slow since I started this routine. Today I tried to keep my pace brisk and I felt as though I was moving fast through the run and especially near the end when I poured it on. I was surprised to see the Garmin report that I'd run 9:12 for 2.4 miles. I was convinced that I was running at least 8:50 and even faster on the last half mile. Well 9:12 is certainly better than yesterday's 9:40 pace so I'm heading in the right direction. The only thing better than putting on the gear is taking it off after a good run and celebrating with a cup of coffee while the world is still asleep.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

4:00 AM float

The skies were clear at 3:55 AM as I rose this morning, sleepy but excited to run outdoors. Every day I have the same reaction to the alarm: surprise that it's time to get up and incredulity that I'll be running in less than 10 minutes. When I run on the treadmill, or use the elliptical, the bright lights of the guestroom prepare me for athletic activity. Once I'm on those machines I'm fully engaged. It might as well be 4:00 in the afternoon at that point. Going from the darkness of the house to the darkness outside is a different story.

When I exited my house this morning equipped with headlamp and reflective vest I was struck by the way my neighborhood looked. There was a light mist, not quite fog, and palpable quiet. The darkness was peaceful and the streets looked inviting. As I made my way up the road the action of running felt effortless. It was almost as if I was still in bed while my body was outside doing this run.

My plan was to run about 2 miles to allow me to stay on schedule. I tried to maintain a brisk pace as I remembered my previous 4:00 AM run when the darkness made me think I was running faster than my actual speed. I monitored my time and distance on the Garmin and the Petzl Tikka Plus headlamp did a great job illuminating the watch and everything in my path. I tried to pick up the pace even more on my last stretch and when I finished the run I saw that I had covered 2.16 miles in a little less than 20 minutes. The Garmin showed this as a 9:17 overall pace which seemed a bit slow. I Gmapped it and confirmed that distance so the illusion of speed continues.

Like the first time, the experience of running this early was extremely satisfying and fun. I didn't encounter a single car or person this time. I wouldn't say the run was effortless but the cool air and light breezes felt great and counteracted the moisture in the air. The run was more like a float, part of that was due to not being fully awake by the time I hit the street. It sure beats the treadmill as a start of day activity. I can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Petzl postponement

I awoke this morning to the sounds of pounding rain and thunder. The room was illuminated by flashes of lightning and I knew there would be no outdoor workout today. I grabbed my morning cup and fired up the treadmill instead of heading outside with my new headlamp and reflective vest. My prior experience running at 4:00 AM was really nice and I had high hopes of doing that today. I visited Paragon in Union Square at lunch time yesterday and bought an AG- approved Petzl Tikka Plus headlamp and Nathan reflective vest. Last night I tried it all on for size and went to bed anticipating a peaceful circuit through the streets of my neighborhood. That will need to wait until tomorrow.

After Sunday's 8K race I decided to take a rest day to recover from that run. I knew, no matter what, that I would run today. My relationship with the treadmill has deteriorated - I don't like it and it doesn't like me. The display usually quits about a mile into a run so I depend on my Garmin for performance and timing data. I started at a comfortable pace and thought about maintaining that rate throughout the duration of the run. I wanted to cover at least two miles in my limited time so I pushed the speed slider further to the right and went with that. It was very hot in the guest room but that didn't bother me as much as I would have expected. In fact I enjoyed the run and finished with an overall pace of 8:57.

I'm really hoping for clear skies tomorrow morning. I much prefer the cool morning air and the quiet of dawn to the percussive noise from the treadmill. But I have to admit that the treadmill came through for me today: day one of training for my next race.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

BMW's look evil at 4:00 AM

Last week I borrowed a reflective vest, headlamp and tail light from Adventure Girl so I could try an early morning run outside. I'll admit that I was somewhat intimidated by the idea of running alone in what is the middle of the night to most people. I got up this morning and put on my running gear, taking some extra time as I figured out the right way to wear the vest and resizing the head lamp so that it fit around my big head. The last task was to attach the blinking red LED to the back making me visible from all directions. That done, I made my way out to the driveway for a few minutes of stretching before hitting the road.

As I turned off my street onto the road past the middle school I was surprised to see how well lit my neighborhood is at 4:05 AM. I felt really good as I ran, it was almost effortless and the temperature, dry, low 40's, was perfect. I also appreciated that there was no sun bearing down on me contributing to body heat.

As I exited the middle school grounds I was actually startled by the reflected light of a parked BMW whose Xenon headlights glowed malevolently in response to the blue LED from the head lamp. It looked like an eerie blue Jack-O-Lantern. I ended up seeing a number of other cars that reflected this way during the run. My goal was to duplicate the 2 mile circuit that I ran on Sunday and it went by quickly. Or so it seemed. As I ran the final leg up the service road that feeds into my neighborhood I upped my speed hoping to finish with an impressive overall pace. I finished the 2.04 mile run (the Garmin is spot on accurate now) averaging 9:20/mile. Clearly running in the dark alters your perception of speed because I would have sworn that I was tracking at a 9:00 or below pace.

In the end it didn't matter. It was one of the best morning runs I've had and I felt completely safe. I only encountered a car delivering the NY Times to homes and one truck during my route. Otherwise it was quiet and peaceful, just me, some scary car faces and lots of lawn sprinkler activity. I'll definitely invest in my own night running gear. It's a great alternative to the treadmill and it can be a good way to beat the summer heat for my daily runs.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


This past weekend was a busy combination of activities. Some I enjoyed (long runs, buying running clothes, swimming) and others I didn't enjoy at all (an all day reception on Saturday). In between that I spent a few hours organizing my workout storage area consolidating everything into a wooden wardrobe in the guest room. I placed my running sweats, compression tights, thermal wicking jerseys, winter head gear and gloves into their own section and created new spaces for summer jerseys, running shorts, socks, etc. Now I no longer have to bounce back and forth between the bedroom, cabinets and baskets to collect my gear for a morning workout. I'm hoping this better organized setup will shave off a couple of minutes of prep time for me in the morning. Every minute counts.

As I was doing this task it occurred to me that I still have drawers filled with clothes that no longer fit me. Over the past few weeks I'd transferred some suits into the donation bin but I still had dozens of tee shirts, polo shirts and dress shirts that now look huge on me. I've recently bought some new casual clothes so it was easy to let go of most of the tees. I drew the line at my MIT shirts since they are special and many still fit. There were some items that had me on the fence like long sleeve comfortable jerseys. I had to fight the urge to retain them but out they went. The purge continued with pants and shorts and by the end I must have had 50 lbs. of clothing ready for donation.

All the while I was throwing clothes into the donation basket I wondered if this was a fool's errand. What made me think I would continue to remain the size I am now? What if I gained 5 or 10 lbs? I decided that I had to press on as I fully intend to remain focused on fitness and running. I lost my weight quickly but I did that through a sustainable program of portion, sugar and (bad) fat reduction. I don't starve and running keeps my weight in balance. I could always buy bigger clothes if that became necessary but my dislike for shopping for (non-exercise related) clothing is so intense that it may be enough to keep my diet in check.

After all my dreading of the treadmill I did get on it this morning for a quick couple of miles. I started off at a comfortable pace and increased it periodically until finishing the last two minutes under an 8:00 pace. I ended up running 8:32/mi overall. It was fine but I miss the street. AG lent me a head lamp and reflector vest from her relay team supplies so I'm planning to try that as an occasional alternative to the weekday treadmill events.

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