Slight concerns for my 10K readiness

Today’s run (street): 3.25 miles

I would have like to cover more distance this morning but I had an early appointment that limited my running time to about 30 minutes. It was 38° according to News12 when I prepared for my run and I bundled up with long pants, long sleeved shirt, a hat and gloves. I worried that I’d get too hot at some point but with only thirty minutes on the road I stayed fairly comfortable throughout my run.

Yesterday’s performance was sub-par and that workout served only to keep continuity in my schedule. I felt a little pressure when I went out today knowing that this weekend is the last time that I can train at any real distance for next weekend’s Hope for the Warriors 10K. I am still feeling under the weather so I compromised on intensity and focused on maintaining a pace that was roughly between my daily run pace and my targeted pace for the 10K.

I had no mechanical problems with my stride and felt no fatigue, but I wasn’t at the level I want to be on race day. I followed an extended version of my usual course and thought about form and cadence. The run began to feel harder at the two mile mark and this concerned me because that is only a third of a 10K. I decided to ignore the difficulty and worked to maintain speed by using arm swing to increase leg turnover.

In the end I achieved my pace goal but I still have some concerns about the fragility of my six mile base. A longer run tomorrow should give me a better sense of my readiness. I’m looking forward to watching the NYC marathon tomorrow and that will help motivate me to cover some distance. I have a few friends who are running the marathon for the first time tomorrow and I’m hoping that they have great experiences. Knowing how hard a half marathon can be, I admire them very much.

Bethpage base run better than expected

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 6.7 miles

With Cow Harbor happening next week, I knew I needed to put in a few more base miles before I begin my training taper. Last year I spent a lot of time focusing on the Cow Harbor route and the strategy to run it. I even did a trial run of the course to understand firsthand the challenges of James Street, Waterside Drive and Pumpernickel Hill.

I haven’t done too much thinking about it this year and I’m guessing that’s okay. I know from last year that I should take the first mile slow despite the temptation to sprint along Scudder Avenue’s downhill sections. Better to reserve energy for the end of Bayview Ave. and James Street’s “Widow Hill.” I’m really hoping that the weather will be cooler than last year, when the heat and humidity sent half a dozen people to the hospital. Even so, I know I’ll reach a point during that race when I’m questioning why I’m doing it. All it takes is all you got.

I went over to the bike path at Bethpage State Park this morning. It’s my favorite place for runs on pavement that are longer than four or five miles. The theme of today’s run was time, not speed. I didn’t care how fast I ran, I just wanted to run at least an hour to help reinforce my conditioning. Bethpage isn’t quite as challenging as Cow Harbor in terms of elevation changes, but it’s rolling. The bike trail has two hilly sections that can be tough to get over and the worst of it is at the end.

I brought along my hand bottle that I filled with Gatorade G2 and the air was so cool that I didn’t take my first sip until I was past the 2 mile mark. Although my perceived effort was fairly low I was maintaining a better pace than normal for this type of run. I was actually annoyed when I looked at my Garmin at the three mile mark to see I was pacing around 9:10 per mile because I wanted to do this run closer to 9:50.

There were many runners and cyclists on the path. I noticed more running groups than usual and I wondered if the Ocean to Sound Relay was happening today (I checked later and saw that it will be held on the 25th). I changed direction after a number of runners coming from the other side had passed by. I feared getting swallowed up by them and preferred to draft in their wake. Nothing surprised me more than when I started passing them, first a few single runners and then entire groups. I was simply maintaining my pace. Interestingly, I wasn’t passed by a single runner all day.

By mile five I was beginning to tire but I wasn’t losing much speed. I continued to drink the G2 and almost finished it just before I took on the long hill that comes at the end. I didn’t take the hill fast but I did maintain a steady rhythm as I ascended. I really appreciated the final 50 meters that is all downhill.

Most women ask for roses

I got to my car and was able to sit down immediately because I had placed an AllSport SeatShield covering on my car’s seat. I got a couple of these water/sweat proof covers after my wife (rightfully) complained that towels on the seats don’t do a good enough job. She gets mad when I occasionally take her car to runs and her seats end up moist from sweat. These covers, at about $20 apiece, seemed expensive when I realized that they’re made of material that’s similar to recyclable shopping bags. But the covers fit very well over the seats and kept them dry. If that result makes my wife happy then it’s worth every penny!

Racing the hurricane

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 7.1 miles

Apparently there’s some rain and wind coming our way as Irene makes her (its?) way up the eastern seaboard. At least we’ve had time to prepare, but with a million people in the NYC area under mandatory evacuation everyone is pretty much on edge. With the hurricane coming later, I went out early to Bethpage to get in some training miles.

There were plenty of people on the trails at Bethpage this morning, along with golfers who were getting in a few rounds before the storm. It was cloudy, but humid, and I was glad that I wore my new Mizuno singlet. I brought along my water bottle that I filled with 1/3 ice and 2/3 Gatorade G2 to help keep me hydrated. The combination of the two kept things bearable over my entire 7+ mile run.

My goal distance was eight miles but I decided that I’d shorten that by a mile because it’s been a long time since I’ve run more than a few miles in the Hattori’s. I didn’t want to invite injury andwith the high humidity, it was the right thing to do.

By the end of my run I was looking forward to getting past the last long hill and quite happy when I finally finished. Considering the weather, I thought I’d performed well and I was pleased that I was able to work on my base. I’ll either be on the treadmill or the elliptical tomorrow, unless we lose our power. That being the case, I’ll revisit my core workout in the dark.

Seven seconds separates two runs

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

This morning’s run was almost exactly like yesterdays. In fact, the only difference was that today’s run took me seven seconds longer than on Tuesday. Same route, same weather conditions, same start time. I think my seven second difference happened in the first few minutes when I got off to a slightly slower start. My standard practice has been to start at a moderate pace and gradually increase my speed so that I attain negative splits on every mile. I try to throw in some anaerobic sprinting at the end of my last mile which, at the end, tells me a lot about my state of conditioning.

Although Sunday’s 6+ mile run would have been a typical weekend distance for me a few months ago, it was a noticeable jump in length compared to my recent runs. I was glad not to have suffered any ill affects from going 30% longer than usual. No second day hamstring or calf aches like I’d get following a 10K race or a 10 mile recreational run. I’m thinking about upping my distance even further this weekend and targeting 8 miles of LSD. I think if I reestablish my long run base to the level I maintained in winter I’ll do okay at the Dirty Sock 10K later this month.

Protect the knee and then build the base

Half marathon finish

I went out after work with some friends and got home later than I normally do. That cut into my sleep and I decided to rest instead of running this morning. I’m very close to full recovery from my half marathon last weekend but my knee is still a little sore. I compare it to how it felt last Saturday, the day before my race. I didn’t feel guilty for skipping a workout today because I feel another day without impact on my knee can only help.

I had hopes of going out this weekend and doing at least one heroically long run to mark my post-half arrival. I’m now thinking about a different approach, where I cap my distance at around four miles on each run. That way I can protect my knee as it recovers and add distance each week until I’m back to 10+ mile base runs.

I had lunch with my friend CMc yesterday and he reinforced the need to do training runs at (or longer) than my targeted race distance. This makes sense since I’d never run 13 miles before Sunday and my performance took a tumble after 11. A steady diet of 10+ mile runs at least once a week will put me in good shape to run another half, should I choose to do so. Even if I stay primarily with 10K’s I’ll see great benefits from that type of training. I really want to be better prepared for my next race.

Quantity or quality?

Today’s run (street): 4 miles

I sometimes see references to “quality miles” and “junk miles” in running magazines and I’m still not sure what that means. I’ve always believed that any run that doesn’t contribute to injury or lead to exhaustion (and illness) are beneficial. Perhaps for people who run 20 miles per week (like me) every mile is a “quality mile.” Miles gained on hills or doing speed work may be of even higher quality.  It could be that for 70+ mile-a-week runners that an extra five or 10 could be considered gratuitous, with little extra benefit.  If I ever get to running 70 miles per week I’ll know if that’s true.

My thinking about quality miles started this morning as I considered my run. I’ve run or crossed trained every day since last Friday and my average distance per run has been longer during this vacation because I’ve had more time to run. We’re expecting rain and heavy winds starting tonight so Friday’s workout will have to happen indoors. I decided to get in my last outdoor run before the weekend on the streets of my neighborhood since the residual snow has rendered most other venues un-runnable. After a fairly average start I began to tire at the 2 mile mark. I’ve been concerned that my success building my base closer to 8 miles toward the end of last year has eroded due to the lack of opportunity for longer, wide open runs. Darn this snow!

As I ran around the local roads today I thought about the benefits I was gaining from this four mile run. Like yesterday, I completed my route feeling spent, but unlike Wednesday, I didn’t run all that fast. I guess I’ll consider today’s workout a “maintenance run.” That sounds a lot better than calling it “junk miles.”

Running cold and hot

Today’s run (street): 5.2 miles

How cold is cold? 30 degrees? 20? How about 13? That was the temperature that News 12 Long Island had at the bottom of the screen while I dressed for my run this morning. A switch over to channel 4 in NYC showed a significant difference: 28 degrees. I wasn’t sure what to believe. I geared up for sub-20 degree weather wearing half compression shorts under compression pants, calf sleeves and four top layers. I wore my warmest fleece hat and my ASICS glove/mittens and thick acrylic socks with my Kinvaras. It felt cold when I stepped outside but not really too uncomfortable. Cold minus wind is usually tenable until you get to the single digits.

I started the run by focusing on a shorter stride that allowed me to maintain a cadence in the high 80’s. This did not translate into any great speed but it got me warmed up quickly. About 30 minutes prior to my run I had a Cliff Gel that contained 25mg of caffeine. I have found that consuming a gel 30-45 minutes before a run makes the first mile a little easier. Once I hit my stride (pun intended) I decided to extend my planned route because I was really enjoying the run. I criss-crossed the neighborhood and as I got nearer to the end I was fairly warm. I wished at that point that I’d only worn three top layers. By my last mile I was pleased to note that I had enough energy to maintain a brisk pace. I still feel that my base is not as solid as it was in November when I could manage over 8 miles without a thought. I can do the mileage but my performance tends to degrade around the 6 mile mark.

I have a race coming up in three weeks and though it’s only 4 miles I want it to be four fast miles. I have tomorrow and the Monday holiday to get in some distance runs and it would be great to run some trails. This week’s snow will prevent that but I’m hoping to get to that soon. It was a good running start for the long weekend. I’m not really sure how cold it was on today’s run but I wouldn’t mind duplicate conditions tomorrow.