When your pace is slow, focus on the statistics

Saw this on a car in the REI parking lot today

Happy Father’s Day. My goal of more frequent postings has been stymied (only six this year including today) but I’m definitely on track for running frequency. Over the 44 days since I finished up work on May 3rd, I’ve run 36 times (82% of days). Just to compare, I only did 33 runs from January 1st through April 30th (28% of days). So run frequency is good. End of statistical report.

June so far – 14 runs in 16 days

It’s not all good news in the running department however. The three measures of progress I’m using are frequency, distance and speed. My plan is to meet a target for each point, hold that target and start focusing on the next point. I’m tracking just about 6 runs a week and have started to focus on increasing average distance per run. I’m going in the right direction, but the increase is small, up about 8% from May’s average.

The third measure, speed, is my biggest challenge and I have done very little to address it. My pace is abysmal, but I’m hoping that by maintaining high run frequency and increasing distance, my fitness will unlock some of my old speed. I don’t like being slow, but forcing my pace turns happy running into a dreaded chore. I guess I could go back to doing intervals which compartmentalize the discomfort. Once I reach my average distance goal, I’ll start putting weekly track visits into my schedule.

I’ve been planning to buy a new hybrid bike to cross train. I’d like to ride some of the great bike trails on Long Island. Two of the other Runsketeers (TPP and KLM) are serious cyclists and I’m pretty sure Professor Mike knows his way around a bike. SIOR has a bike so she has one leg up on me. KLM has been giving me expert advice and will be helping me make a purchase in July. When that happens I’m I’ll be looking to do the inaugural Runsketeer ride.

Cutting it short

Today’s workouts (street): 1.2 mile run and 7 mile bike

Happy Memorial Day. I went out for a run early in the morning and timed it imperfectly. What started as a misty drizzle turned into a hard driving rain by mile one. I headed straight home when I started seeing flashes of lightning nearby. Later in the day the skies had cleared and I considered trying another run, but instead decided to take the bike out for a ride. It wasn’t the long run I’d hoped to do today but I was pleased to get in a second workout on what turned out to be a very busy day.

Long run at Bethpage and REI is here!

My run among the bikers

Yesterday afternoon’s workout (biking): 5.8 miles
Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 6.6 miles

Yesterday afternoon I had a break in the schedule so I went out for a neighborhood bike ride. I kept it to about 30 minutes. The first three minutes had some stops and starts due to equipment issues that I needed to resolve on the fly. A half hour provided enough time for me to feel like I’d done some work. Still, it was easy enough that I didn’t need to disrupt our evening plans with another shower.

This morning I headed over to Bethpage to do my long weekend run. I haven’t done much more than five miles on any run since the half marathon. Even though my knee is still tender it’s ready for more distance. I targeted 6-7 miles for this morning and ended up running 6.6. When I arrived at the park the parking lot was 3/4 filled and I noticed a lot of bikers gathered near a table set up near the bike path starting point. I learned later that the were holding an event called Bike MS: Traffic Free Family Fun Ride.

I knew then that I’d have plenty of company on the trail and I worried a bit about inexperienced cyclists who didn’t understand how to share the road with runners. With one exception, a serious looking cyclist who came up behind me and passed to my left with barely a foot of clearance, the other bikers were extremely courteous. Most experienced cyclists provided the requisite and helpful “On your left” as they approached.

I had a PowerBar Strawberry Banana gel prior to my run and I carried my Amphipod hand bottle filled with G2. Both provided good energy. I ran at an easy pace and was able to manage the frequent hills without much trouble. Near the end of my run I was passed by a young woman who was moving so well that she soon passed me again,  going the other way. I wasn’t trying to break any speed records but she was probably running double my speed at that point.

The MS Bike volunteers cheering in another cyclist

Once I crested the dreaded last hill I was ready to call it a run. I was happy to note that my knee held up well till the end. As I made my way to the final downhill that leads to the start of the path I saw the two “cheerleaders” who were waving their pom poms to celebrate every charity biker who finished. The high school aged cheerleader even gave me my own rah! rah! finish that I appreciated. It was a nice event for an important cause and they had a great turnout.

Later in the day we went over to the REI that (finally!) opened on Long Island. I felt like a kid in a candy store and I could have spent the entire day there. We got our daughter a mountain bike and I also picked up some gels and Brooks running shirt that was on sale at a great price. It’s been a busy and active weekend. Since noon on Friday I’ve done almost 14 miles running and another 5.8 biking. I’m looking forward to my weekly rest day tomorrow.

Running in the morning and biking after noon

Yesterday afternoon workout (bike): 3.5 miles

Although I only logged seven miles running this weekend I felt like I made progress. I rode my bike on both Saturday and Sunday and added ten miles to my weekend total. In terms of conditioning and recovery, this was a good thing. To be sure, biking miles are not running miles, although the work that KWL and I did trail riding on Saturday definitely contributed to my strength and stamina.

After my Sunday morning run the rain came back and I was glad that I got out ahead of it by running early. By late afternoon the sun was shining and the air felt cool so I took a leisurely bike ride around my neighborhood for about 20 minutes. Just like at Stillwell, it’s a different experience when on a bike. You go twice as fast with half the effort. The best part is that biking provides a way to work on leg turnover without impact. My knee has improved well and I attribute that to this weekend’s mix of shorter runs and biking. I don’t expect to increase the length of my rides but I plan to take the bike out more frequently. It’s great to have another non-impact option for cross training. But in the end, the goal is to make me a better runner.