Showing posts with label stride. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stride. Show all posts

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Some improvement running at Bethpage

Making strides
Today's run (Bethpage trail): 5.1 miles

I'm happy to report that I was not the dog's dinner on today's run. I wanted to break away from my neighborhood and headed over to Bethpage to run the bike trail. I know I should be running 6 or more miles at least once a week to raise my base, but that hasn't been happening. I wasn't prepared to do six today, but I thought five was reasonable.

With 9 MPH winds, the real-feel temperature was 42°, although it felt much chillier. If my running jacket hadn't been ruined yesterday, I may have worn it as a top layer. I was lucky not to have that option because I heated up a lot as I progressed. By the end, I was regretting my second layer, hat and gloves.

The run went okay, but the hilly route felt ponderous. I felt a little rough throughout the first half mile and realized that I'd only covered a tenth of my targeted distance. I hoped that my aerobic engine would soon kick in. I cruised along, tolerating the ups and downs of the rolling course and dreading the mini-mountain I knew I'd need to climb at the start of my last mile.

Most of the run was at my usual speed but, near the end, I began experimenting with different pacing. I shortened my stride and increased my cadence while maintaining the same level of effort. I didn't know this at that time, but this change provided a measurable improvement in my pace.

I don't know if I can permanently adapt to this running style, but if I'm successful, I should be able to improve on my current performance. I plan to try doing it for longer periods in hopes that it will begin to feel more natural.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The paradox of high humidity and faster running

Part of today's route. Pretty. Humid.
Today's run (street): 4.5 miles

Happy 7th of July. For some reason, the company I work for has made both the 4th of July and today company holidays. That, plus working from home last Thursday, allowed me to run for five consecutive days. Counting this morning, I've covered 21 miles in that period. I wish I could do that every week.

Even though I was up before 6:00 AM today, I managed to squander the early hours and didn't start my run until a little after 8:00 AM. When I stepped outside it didn't seem all that humid. There was a slight breeze from the north that combined with the mid-70's temperature, creating what seemed to be comfortable conditions. That was an illusion.

The neighborhood looked very nice under sunny skies and the first mile of my route was fairly shady. From then on, the temperature seemed to rise by the minute, along with the humidity. I mixed up my route in an attempt to break the boredom of my local streets and found myself running up what passes for a long hill in my neighborhood. Between the treeless road and the thickening air, I moved into direct drive mode. That's when I put all resources toward getting through the distance.

I often forget that when I put a little more power into my stride, my running efficiency (speed benefit as a function of expended energy) increases. This is the trick I occasionally use when a faster runner begins to overtake me in the neighborhood or on the Bethpage trail. By lengthening my stride and increasing cadence a little, I can lower my pace by a mile per minute for short periods without feeling like I'm working that much harder. 

About half the time I can hold back speedy challengers until one of us turns off to another road. Running harder, despite the humidity, helped get me to the 4 mile mark faster than I expected. The only issue is that I usually reach a point where I can no longer sustain the greater speed. Fortunately, I was able to maintain the pace and I even took it up a gear for the final 200 meters.

When I went inside to cool off before my shower, I realized that my level of sweat was equivalent to having jumped into the pool. In fact my running clothes looked like I had just done that. I have a different schedule this week that will involve some travel, so I don't know when I'll get a chance to run again before the weekend. If the timing works out favorably, I may be able to fit in a couple of mid week runs.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Not a step back, but not what you'd call progress

Disappointing cadence
Today's run (street): 4.6 miles

I wasn't sure what to expect on today's run but I hoped I would find it easier to reach my targeted performance numbers after seeing some improvement yesterday. To my dismay, I felt less energy this morning and I hoped that I'd rebound during the run. Although I did quickly get into rhythm, I found even the first couple of miles difficult. I wasn't sure if I'd started too fast, or if I was simply too tired.

I've read numerous times that an ideal (non-competitive) pace will allow a runner to maintain a conversation while still providing some level of challenge. For most people, that's 75-85% of max heart rate. A check of the data from today's run showed that I stayed primarily between 76 and 79% of max for the first 3.75 miles. Even though I was primarily at the lower end of the HR scale, the going felt difficult.

My response was to pick up the pace and, for the last 3/4 of a mile, I kept heart rate between 80-86% of max. In terms of technique, I adopted an almost bouncing stride that I hoped would translate to greater speed. It did, but it still fell short of today's expectations. My cadence, even after using my new form, never got out of the middling range. The one upside is that getting my HR into the higher 80% range is good preparation for harder workouts.

I don't know if I can return to doing 8:00 minute range training paces, but even if I can't, I still have lots of room for improvement.

Friday, May 23, 2014

First run after Brooklyn

Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

It's only been six days since I ran the Brooklyn Half, but it seems like a long time ago. I'm sure that's due to a five day hiatus from running and the fact that my business focus is taking up most of my attention these days. I planned to take more than my usual three days off from running after Brooklyn and it wasn't until this morning that I finally got out on the road again. I'd hoped that all the rest I've had this week would result in an energizing run. Not quite, but it wasn't all that bad.

It was a gloomy morning and I'll admit to being less than motivated to do this workout. I had a lot of business items that I could manage from home today, so I replaced some of the time I'd be driving to the office with a short run. The skies were growing darker, so I got out early to try to beat the rain.

It took almost ten minutes for my Garmin to acquire its signal through the low cloud cover. I grew increasingly anxious as the progress bar on the watch moved slowly to the right. It repeatedly went 9/10ths of the way before dropping back toward the middle. I'd almost gave up on timing the run when it finally showed ready.

Once I got moving, I began to think about the run itself. Three miles was my target, give or take a few tenths. It seemed inconceivable that I'd participated in a 13 mile race less than a week ago. I wasn't feeling a long run, but I figured I could easily handle three miles today. The temperature was a mild 58°, yet I felt a slight chill with my short sleeve shirt and running shorts when I stepped outside.

With only one workout done in the past week (40 minutes on treadmill, not running), I was dealing with tight muscles. My stride felt cumbersome and mechanical. My form evened out after I'd fully warmed up and my cadence began to feel more natural. Even though it was a short run, my performance was marginal. I didn't try to push today as this run was primarily about getting back to routine.

I have hopes of putting in a couple of longer runs over the long weekend and, if possible, try to get in a trail run. My motivation remains fairly low right now, but that can probably be corrected with a couple of good runs.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A good run today - but why?

Today's run (street): 3.6 miles

I thought about yesterday's NY Times article when I went out for my morning run. As I took off, I realized how much I've focused on mid-foot landing at the start of every run. Today would be different. Let my foot fall where it may!

It was another perfect running day. I appreciated the experience, and was pleasantly surprised to see few cars and buses on the road. I went out earlier than normal because I had business in the city and needed to catch a morning train. My stride felt completely fluid and I wondered whether I was running more efficiently by not attempting to land on my mid-foot. It could also have been the cool, dry weather that was making the run feel easier.

Moving along this way, I'd hoped to see at the end that I'd compiled an amazing time. No luck there, it was just slightly better than my normal moderate pace (faster than easy, slower than brisk). Still, it was an improvement of 15-20 seconds (per mile) over what I'd averaged this past week. Was it the decision to run without thinking about where my foot landed? Or was it that I had some additional energy today? Perhaps it was the fact that I pushed just a little harder this morning.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Taking performance in stride

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

I'm not sure why, but I've woken up with more energy this week than normal. I don't feel like I'm sleeping any better, but once I'm up, I'm good to go. That helped today when I prepared to go out for my run at 4:00 AM. I felt ready, willing and able. Maybe it's the cooler weather.

I hit the road focused on form, paying particular attention to my stride length. It still puzzles me why I don't run faster than I do, and I think I may improve speed by opening up my stride. My Garmin 210 doesn't capture cadence so it's hard to know how I'm doing in terms of achieving 180 SPM. I suppose I could count steps but I find that hard to do accurately.

I ended up having one of my better 4:00 AM runs today and averaged 15 seconds per mile faster than usual. I had plenty of energy to draw on throughout the run and still had much in reserve. Opening my stride helped me move along better than I have in recent runs. If I can feel the same way on Saturday morning, I may just meet my target splits for Cow Harbor.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Great day 1 run, broken pavement notwithstanding

Bad sidewalks were no problem for the nimble Hattori's
Today's run (street/variable terrain): 5.5 miles

It's day 1 of my vacation and I thought I'd get out early to beat the heat. I ended up skipping my run yesterday morning and the weather negated any later opportunities for an outdoor workout. I figured I'd be able to cover lots of ground over the next nine days so I felt fine resting. It was comfortably cool when I left my house and the extra day's rest, combined with a good night's sleep, made it easy going for the first couple of miles.

I planned a route that took me through the neighborhood and out to the busy road that borders the streets on the western side. I went north along this road, over sidewalks that are in truly abysmal shape, with broken concrete and large sections of mud and grass. I was concerned about the way the Hattori's would work on theses surfaces but they did well. Landing mid-foot provided good stability, and my biggest concern was that I'd get my shoes muddy.

Once I reached Jericho Turnpike I headed east along a stretch that gains about 200 feet over a third of a  mile. I usually run this section the opposite way but today I felt like I needed some hill challenges. There aren't a lot of of choices for hills on the local roads. Once I crested that hill I turned back into my neighborhood and ran another 2.5 miles before returning home.

I thought a lot about my form and strike during the run. The efficiency of mid-foot running provides an easier running experience. My friend FS, who is a prolific runner, surprised me recently by saying that she enjoys cycling far more than running. I think that's because recreational biking provides more opportunity to be a spectator than running. Since I've switched my running form I really do feel as though I observe more and focus less at the job at hand.

I finished my run by pushing the pace for the last half mile and was pleased to note that I could have tacked on a few more miles without much trouble. The humidity was rough and the temperature had risen over the 50+ minutes it took to complete my route. It was a good solid run and a nice change of scenery. It's great to be able to focus on more than the road these days.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Running to the edge

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles at 8:59

I don't know if I'd call it running fast but I am definitely running with more urgency this week. Instead of falling into my normal pace I've attempted to push myself a little harder, enough to feel like I'm running and not "jogging." My expectations for performance are lower in the early morning, especially when it's hot and humid. Most of the time my pace at 4:00 AM averages about 15-20 seconds per mile slower than when I run at 8:00 AM. I also run slower in the summer months and the combination of these two factors has put me into the mid to high 9:00 range for most of my weekday runs. After reading some recent articles in Runner's World, Running Times and Men's Journal about performance and race training I decided to break free of my default morning pace and run with a constant focus on speed and form. I'm not pushing past my comfort zone but I'm traveling on the edge.

The temperature on the local station said 75 when I went outside but I immediately sensed that the humidity was back in full force. Ignoring that, I set out quickly and managed to keep my pace brisk over the first street that goes slightly uphill before it connects to another road that descends at about the same rate. I noticed that, despite the humid air, the moderate temperature and the lack of sun made for decent running conditions. I pressed on experimenting slightly with my stride and form. I followed some different roads to alleviate the tedium of always keeping to the same streets and that made it interesting. The new route helped distract me enough to maintain a fairly energetic run.

Throughout the run, I concentrated of front foot landing which was not that easy in my Brooks but I managed to land that way more often han not. I also tried to get more lift on my ascending leg while keeping my stride shorter to increase cadence. Sounds pretty technical but it translated to a decent time, just barely under 9:00 minutes, better than almost any other run I've done of late. This weekend I'll be doing a longer run in preparation for the Dirty Sock race and I don't plan to incorporate any speed technique for that. Tomorrow and Friday I will continue to push to the limit -- and hopefully push those limits even further.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hitting my stride again

Today's run (street): 2.3 miles at 9:19

I'm not sure why the feel of today's run was different from yesterday's but I had a far better experience this morning. Things didn't start too promising. I awoke with a sinus headache and felt sluggish. With that, I prepared for a slog of a run but was pleasantly surprised when I hit the street and felt balanced and strong. It was cooler than yesterday but only by a degree or two. Yesterday's issues with stride efficiency were gone and I was able to focus on moving along rather than thinking about the mechanics of my gait. I slightly altered my route which helps keep it interesting and when I hit my first mile it seemed to come quick. Compared to yesterday, it did, which pleased me further.

I spend some time yesterday with my friend CMc. He's one of my "Running Gods" who has many years and many marathons behind him. I'm usually the student but got a chance to be the teacher as we headed to Union Square at mid-day for lunch at Republic followed by a walk over to Jackrabbit. CMc is in the market for a new pair of trail shoes so we looked at what was on display. I had a great time explaining the differences between the models (including non-trail shoes). I may not be an accomplished runner like my friend but I do know a fair amount about the models and their various technologies. Perhaps when I know less about the shoes and gear it will be signal that I'm a more serious runner!

Tomorrow is supposed to be a scorcher -- 97 degrees with high humidity by noon. I'm going to need to get out early for my long run. With any luck, weather conditions will be similar to today's.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Unstable run

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles at 9:28

This morning brought a welcome break from the heat. According to the local news station the temperature was 71 when I went out for my run. I was hoping to experience the crisp air that occasionally appears on summer mornings when the humidity is low. It was certainly pleasant but there was too much moisture in the air to call it cool. I had a little trouble with my stride today and I can't really understand what was going on. I just felt that I was running unbalanced for some reason and my whole running process felt very inefficient. All the same I was pleased to get this run in on a day where the heat and humidity weren't overwhelming. I may run in Central Park tomorrow but if the weather reports are still calling for high temps and high humidity on Friday I'll do my run at the start of my day.

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