Around the track without a buzz

Hey, you, get offa my track!

Today’s run (track): 4.1 miles

I did my best to get out early today and I made it to the track by 6:30 AM. The sun was still low in the sky and the temperature (73°) and humidity (69%) made for decent running weather. As I made my way down the drive toward the track, I looked over and  saw there was a runner making his way around. I was disappointed because I really hoped to have the place to myself. I’m not a misanthrope, and I love to run with my friends, but I do enjoy the solitude of the empty track. Oh well.

I started out easy, but I didn’t feel the energy I’ve come to expect since reducing my sugar intake. I worried that the lift I’ve been getting was a short term gain, and that my body has since adapted to the change. I did feel stronger as I ran, but still had some residual fatigue. I got through my intended laps without a problem, but stopped short of finishing the workout with a set of intervals.

Could this be less obvious?

When I got home, I grabbed a K cup from the same box I’d used for my morning coffee. I noticed that I’d mistakenly made decaf. So this morning’s track run was done with neither carb loading nor caffeine. Knowing that made me feel better about my run. Especially at the end, when I poured it on for the last 200 meters and had plenty left in the tank.

I suppose I could also consider reducing my caffeine intake at some point, but I’ve read that caffeine is actually health positive in moderate doses. I’ll stick with managing complex carbs and sugar for now.

Undone by a mis-selected K-cup

Dear Bro: can GMC increase the font size of its decaf label?

Today’s run (street) 4.2 miles

Our trip provided three days of high energy fun but rest time was at a premium. Last night, it was a treat to finally sleep in my own comfortable bed and I looked forward to waking up feeling refreshed and ready for good long run. I got up a little before 6:00 AM and made a cup of coffee to start my engines. Instead of feeling rested and energized, I felt like going back to bed. I decided to relax for the time being, even though I wanted to get out early to beat the heat.

I couldn’t understand why I felt so tired, but I managed to gather my gear for my run. I had been thinking about a six miler, possible at Bethpage, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of fatigue. I decided to stay local and modified my targeted distance to three miles. I figured it would be better to do something, rather than not running at all.

The sun was still low in the sky when I finally took off at 8:30 AM. I kept an easy pace that I knew I could sustain. The humidity wasn’t as bad as it was during yesterday’s afternoon run, and I knew I could get through a short workout without much problem. I thought about the track workout I did with SIOR and TPP a few weekends ago when I logged some decent 400’s. I tried to duplicate the turnover I used to make those sub-8:00 quarters, but the speed didn’t come today.

Surprisingly enough, I was able to beat today’s shortened goal. In fact, I covered more distance than yesterday, when I barely got through four miles. Still, I was unusually tired after I finished, and that fatigue continued after a cooling shower and lunch. I decided to have another cup of coffee, hoping that would wake me up and help me get rid of a dull headache. That’s when I discovered the probable cause of my lethargy.

When I removed this morning’s spent K-cup, I realized that I’d accidentally put in decaf version of Green Mountain Dark Magic. I had been operating caffeine-free all day, no small thing for me. I don’t need much caffeine, but I definitely need it in the morning. One cup is all it takes to return me to the world of the normal. I quickly made a cup of leaded and, within ten minutes, I was energized and headache free.

Tomorrow I’ll try to break out of my four mile range with a longer run. I’m not sure where I’ll go, but you can be sure I’ll be starting my day with an extra strong cup of caffeinated brew.

Trust your waiter at your own peril

Yeah, sure you are…

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

There are certain things we know we shouldn’t do, but we do them anyway. These things are often situational. For me, it’s the decision to order coffee after a business lunch. There’s nothing wrong with coffee, but I am extremely sensitive to the amount of caffeine I can keep in my system. A little goes a long way for me and I find it a legitimate performance supplement for running.  But having caffeine too late in the day generally disrupts my night’s sleep.

While caffeinated coffee affects me, decaf doesn’t. At home I can confidently brew a pot of decaf when entertaining friends at night and drop off to sleep without a problem. The problem happens when I order decaf in a restaurant and get regular coffee. I’ve had enough experience to know that, even after stressing the word decaf and then verifying that the cup placed in front of me contains it, there’s a percentage chance that I’ve been given the fully caffeinated brew.

Caffeine version please

That’s exactly what happened to me yesterday at lunch. I thought about the risk, but ordered it anyway. It wasn’t until I was tossing and turning in bed last night that I realized what I’d done. If I was a chemist, I’d look for a way of sampling coffee to instantly determine the presence or percentage of caffeine in the cup. It could be like the color-changing chemical that police use to determine if a suspected substance contains cocaine.

I think I could make a lot of money marketing that to caffeine-sensitive people. It would also allow me to take waiters to task for botching my order. That would be much better than cursing them at midnight as I wait to fall asleep.

Coffee powers an out of cycle run

Today’s run (street): 4.1 miles

I got out a little late this morning because I wanted to spend some extra time with our house guests. I’m used to early morning workouts and I always anticipate a tougher time when I run outside of my preferred window. It may have been the three big cups of coffee I had throughout the morning, but I felt ready to run when I headed out close to noon.

After yesterday’s change of scenery, where I covered some roads north of Jericho Turnpike, I was fine staying closer to home today. My energy level was high and my pace felt fluid, but stiff winds coming from the northwest brought the wind chill down to freezing. Running directly into the wind was uncomfortable, but a slight change in direction brought sudden improvement. I maintained good energy throughout the run, despite getting a late start. Hooray for caffeine.

I had planned to run four miles or 40 minutes, whichever came first. For performance sake, I was hoping it would be the former. I ended up covering a little more than four miles while coming in under forty minutes. This put me at 22 miles for the week, two miles over my weekly target of 20. The time off due to Thanksgiving contributed to a higher mileage week. Still, I need to start focusing on longer distances for my individual runs.

Revealing an imperfect placebo

Nothing works like the real thing

Today’s workout (elliptical): 40 minutes + 15 min light upper body work

It’s amazing how easy a moderate elliptical session can feel the day after a long run. Though I’ve read that the elliptical machine provides a harder workout than perceived, it still seems easier than running the equivalent distance. It certainly did today, and I think I know why.

Following the elliptical, I ran through a series of arm and chest exercises using a device I’d bought at Brookstone a few months ago. The device is short pole that’s weighted and sprung in a way that it can be shaken to provide unstable resistance. I think it has something to do with “muscle confusion” that supposedly yields fitness benefits through the technique of constant change. I used the device in the intended way and also used it in the more traditional way, by bending it to build up arm and chest strength.

After I worked out I decided to have a last cup of coffee. It was then that I realized I’d been drinking decaf coffee over the past week. My wife had bought a different brand of decaf (that I usually only drink later in the day when entertaining guests) and I thought it was the fully leaded stuff.

That may explain why I’ve struggled more than usual in my morning workouts. If that’s the case then I probably should be a little concerned about my dependency on caffeine. On the plus side, I did manage to run more than seven miles yesterday with no caffeine. I did not take a single gel or even drink water throughout my 75 minute run. That proves I can deal with having no caffeine in the morning. I’m just happier not to.